The Best And Worst Of NWA World Championship Wrestling 12/14/85: The King In The South

Previously on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling: Tully Blanchard was briefly humbled before realizing he’s part of an elite fighting force of rich, talented douchebags, got his shit together and challenged Magnum T.A. to a “wrestling” match. Also on the program, the intern in charge of WWE Network’s closed captioning thinks Ric Flair’s “woo” is “whoa.”

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And now, the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling for December 14, 1985.

Worst: The Final Appearance Of Buddy Landel

Last week we wrote about the sad disappearance of Buddy Landel, and this week is the last time he shows up. He’s supposed to be in a six-man tag on next week’s show, to the point they announce it and pretend he’s gonna be there, but everything gets retconned and he gets written out.

His final NWA appearance of the 1980s is this promo where he straight-up cosplays Ric Flair to explain how he’s the number one contender to Flair’s belt. Imagine if Damien Sandow had done the Mizdow gimmick, but independent of The Miz himself, while claiming he was gonna take Miz’s shit. The only problem is that you can’t be a globe-trotting playboy with a deep-ass Tennessee accent, so you’ve got Buddy on here calling himself the “nay-shinnal chaimp-yen” and challenging “Ric Fullair.” He has to keep saying his own name over and over because he’s noticeably always two words away from forgetting it.

“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel returns to the company in 1990 to finally have the “Battle of the Nature Boys” with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, but his personal problems get in the way and he’s back on the indies three months later. There, he tries to face 71-year old “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers for the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship, because I guess “I’m ALSO a Nature Boy” was his one idea. The company goes out of business before it happens, though, and then Buddy Rogers dies. Landel bounces around in Smoky Mountain for a while, and when they go out of business, he signs a contract with the World Wrestling Federation. He starts on the same night as The Ringmaster, aka Stone Cold Steve Austin. He gets a title shot before Austin, too. On Superstars. Not a joke.

Best: The Ongoing Dichotomy Of Magnum And Tully

Magnum shows how threatened he is by “Street Hustler Selling Ric Flairs Out Of A Garbage Bag” Buddy Landel by winning one of his trademark lightning squashes with one (1) dropkick and one (1) belly-to-belly suplex. Magnum wasn’t getting paid by the hour, man. If you could get an armbar on the dude on Saturday Night it was like pinning the Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Two notes:

  • the jobber Magnum defeats here is Bill Tabb, aka The Black Assassin, probably best known for being one of the guys Colonel DeBeers refused to wrestle because the AWA seriously had a pro-apartheid white South African gimmick running in 1988. And while I wouldn’t recommend pushing him, you could definitely pull Tabb.
  • I’ve said it before, but David Crockett has gotta be the worst regular color commentator in wrestling history. The only things he could do were tell you to look at something, then tell you whether or not it was “good.” So it’d be dead silence, and Crocket would say “LOOK AT ‘IM, LOOK AT ‘IM. WATCH NOW. LOOK. GOOD DROPKICK. WATCH ‘IM. GOOOOD DROPKICK.” It’s like he was calling wrestling matches for happy dogs named Dropkick.

Meanwhile, Tully Blanchard takes forever to squash Gerald Finley. Why? Because now that he’s been beaten within an inch of his life by Magnum T.A. in a bloody cage match, he’s suddenly obsessed with proving he’s the “better wrestler.” So he meticulously works over Finley, working the transitions and cut-offs and putting together this three and three-quarter whatever with a total jobber. Tully insists upon himself, and Magnum just shows up and does his job. One guy has to work his ass off to get validation for the thing his rival does while yawning.

Later in the episode, still feeling the need to prove himself, Tully gets dressed up with Baby Doll and cuts another promo about how he’s not the best at I Quit matches, he’s the best at wrestling. I love that even in the aftermath, the Starrcade match broke him. At some point Tony Schiavone should’ve just been like, “Jesus, dude, we get it, your dick is small.”

Best: Trying To Arn A Living


Arn Anderson is tired of people saying he’s not the Television Champion just because he literally stole the belt from Dusty Rhodes and didn’t win it in a wrestling match, so he’s decided to enter the TV Title tournament and win it proper. He says he’ll “defend it nightly on a nightly basis,” winning this week’s Redundancy Award for Redundancy.

The Minnesota Wrecking Crew gets an extended squash of the “impressive young team” of The Italian Stallion and Rocky King. I put impressive, young, and team in quotes because none of those words are accurate. And unlike Tully, the Andersons aren’t taking forever to squash these guys because of inadequacy issues; they’re taking forever because isolating their opponents, wearing down their limbs and eventually stomping them into the earth is what they do. It’s their style.

Later in the episode, they come back out to cut an amazing promo on Dusty Rhodes, about how his threats to hurt them are meaningless. From Ole:

“We’re the ones that do it, Dusty! Let your eyes go down past your belly and take a look down at your leg, and take a look at that ankle. You know what it is? Broken! And you know who did it? The Andersons did it. When you talk about doing something like that, it’s just hot air.”


Best: Cruella If You Weel

That’s in response to this promo, wherein Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. show up in “$33,000” fur coats they got in Alaska. If you want to know Magnum T.A.’s weakness, watch him try to deliver half of a promo where the other half is Dusty Rhodes in a fur coat. But to be fair, that level of charisma makes a Rock promo sound like a Roman Reigns.

BEST: The RNRs Vs. Midnights Feud Begins

The opposite of Dusty Rhodes in a fur coat is Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson wearing anything. Look at this guys. I think the biggest mystery of the 1980s is how teenage Joe Diffie and his wall-eyed friend Bob were heartthrobs. Tony Schiavone is Tony Schiavone and he’s the most handsome and well-dressed person in that photo.

Of course, no matter how ugly they were, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express ruled, and the work they did with the Midnight Express in the mid-1980s not only redefined tag team wrestling, it DEFINED it. Everything you like about tag team wrestling, everything that works about tag team wrestling, owes a debt to those two teams. Nobody ever did it better, or more, or with more consistency. It’s like the best DIY/Revival tag match you’ve seen done in like five towns a week.

That all begins here, with the Express explaining that they are the only Express — this is important, somehow — and saying they’re tired of “Jimmy Cornette’s” mouth writing checks his boys can’t cash. This is gonna be so good, you guys.

Worst: Ron Garvin Predicts The Future

Ron Garvin announces that he has intentions for the Nayshnul Tahtle, will be signing his name on Buddy Landel’s open contract for title defenses, and that Buddy won’t make it to 1986 as champion. He’s correct about at least one of those things!

Garvin handily-of-stone defeats “Louisa May” Al Scott, incapacitating him the kind of hanging-between-the-legs bearhug and wristlock with balls on the chin you learn after a few months of dressing up like Tammy Faye Bakker to sex the Boogie Woogie Man:

I believe that move’s original name was, “a lion killing a gazelle and humping its dead body.”

Worst: A Bad Week For The Russians

Been a while since we typed that sentence in the United States, am I right folks

Anyway, here’s a picture of Krusher Kruschev attacking “Pistol” Pez Whatley with the 10 Beats Of The Babushka. Krusher vs. Pez is our Superstation Championship Challenge Series match of the week, meaning it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a main event, which is like, ‘Jurassic Bark’ sad. It’s also the worst match I’ve reviewed in these columns to date, as Kruschev is blown up and practically immobile like a minute in, and Pez Whatley isn’t exactly Ric Flair when it comes to holding a match together. He’s not even Buddy Landel. He’s not even whichever Nature Boy is below that. Pez knows exactly one (1) armbar, and keeps going to it over and over. Eventually they take a commercial break because they can’t stand looking at Pez’s shitty armbar for another second.

Krusher eventually wins with a Russian Sickle, and we learn that the real “Russian Nightmare” is having to watch this entire match. Absolutely brutal. Jim Ross and Lita could’ve gotten into the ring at the Mae Young Classic and had a better match than this. Izzy the Bayley Super Fan and one of Jazzy Gabert’s shoes could’ve gotten in the ring and had a better match than this.

In other Russian developments, Nikita Koloff squashes Mac Jeffers. Can we bench the Mod Squad for a few weeks and get the Mulkey Brothers in this piece?

And The Rest Of The Squashes

Speaking of guys who only know the armbar and their finisher, Sam Houston squashes Mike Nichols. If I had a nickel for every time Sam Houston impressed me, I’d have Mike Nichols.

Ragin’ Bull Manny Fernandez squashes Kent Glover, also known as the O.J. Simpson defense strategy. Shut up, that joke almost works. At least Manny Fernandez applied a headlock instead of an armbar. Teddy Long’s at ringside like, “if I was in charge of this, I’d give each of them a partner!”

The Road Warriors squash Larry Clark and Paul Garner. They’re especially mad this week because on World Wide Wrestling, The Russians wrapped a chain around Hawk’s neck and tried to hang him over the top rope. Classic wrestling was all about the hanging deaths. If you could go more than a month without someone getting a plastic bag over their head and getting hung over the ropes with a chain or a rope or an extension cord, it was unusual. I’m surprised wrestlers don’t have Aldo Raine neck scars to go along with their leaky scrotum foreheads.

Finally we have The Barbarian squashing Alan Martin, who might be the greatest of the unheralded jobbers. Martin had the two things that make a classic jobsman truly great:

1. He can bump his ass off, and
2. He’s a horrible looking human being

Like, he looks like an adult Beavis in loose-fitting underwear. He looks like the Tenacious D did the Fusion Dance. It gets even worse as he gets older, and his body starts to go so he puts on a King Kong Bundy singlet and grows out his hair. Long story short, Alan/Allen Martin was my jam. I see you out there making the Barbarian and Hercules look like Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.

Next Week: Ric Flair returns, and if you wanted to know what an MVP that guy was to the NWA, look at how bad the shows are when he’s not on them. Plus, the debut of my cousin Josh, the debut of the greatest jobber tag team of all time — finally, thank you — and the return of THUNDERFOOT. BE THERE.