Previously on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling: We witnessed the original, Juggalo-free Gathering, Starrcade ’85. Magnum T.A. made Tully Blanchard say something close to “I quit” in the best North American wrestling match ever, everybody bled, and Dusty Rhodes became the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Or did he?
Click here to watch this episode on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of World Championship Wrestling on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling tag page.
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And now, the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling for December 7, 1985.
Best: The Four Horsemen, Cowardly Losers (Who Make Good Points)
The best thing a heel can do, I think, is have a perspective on his matches and actions that’s maybe cowardly of self-centered, but not evil. A bad guy should never think he’s a bad guy. A bad guy should be able to say, “here’s why you don’t understand what happened,” and whether he’s objectively right or wrong, he should be justifiably right from his point of view. If he isn’t, he loses a core tenet of what it means to be a human being who’s also an asshole and becomes a cartoon character. It’s what made Jesse Ventura’s color commentary the best of all time … he sided with the heels, but only when what they did made sense from a heel point of view.
This week’s show opens with Tully Blanchard, the man who lost an “I quit” match to Magnum T.A. after being hoist (stabbed in the eye) by his own petard (a wooden chair leg) after months of insisting he was the better man. We’re used to seeing Tully in his “not quite as good as Ric Flair” suits and sunglasses, but he’s out here in a gym sweatshirt speaking meekly and quietly about how, get this, he was railroaded by the National Wrestling Alliance and didn’t actually lose to Magnum. His rationale? It was an “I quit” match, meaning you could only lose by saying the words “I” and “quit,” and he didn’t say them. And he didn’t! He just said “yes” repeatedly when asked if he quit. So he totally lost, but he’s got this stupid and also technically correct loophole that allows him to save face in his own mind.
Tully’s new plan is to regain the United States Championship in a wrestling match, emphasis on wrestling, because that presents a more even playing field and, more importantly, allows Tully to backpedal into a scenario full of rules he’s great at manipulating and breaking. It’s macho posturing to say he’s better at the actual “sport” of wrestling, when he’s just a coward who isn’t really better than Magnum at anything. *chef kiss*
Because Ric Flair is Successful Tully Blanchard, he pulls the same trick, but ends up doing it better and getting more out of it.
At Starrcade, the Andersons took advantage of a ref bump to try to help Flair retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Dusty Rhodes. Dusty managed to fight them off and still pin Flair to win the match and the title. But whoops, it turns out referee Tommy Young, despite being bumped, was able to recover for like half a second before being bumped again. In that half a second, he saw the interference.
The best part is that they have video footage to prove it, and it’s not just something they’re saying is happening. See Young down in the bottom right corner of the screen?
That means the original referee’s decision is a disqualification, which still gives the win to Dusty Rhodes, but keeps the 10 pounds of gold on Flair. It’s the O.G. “Dusty Finish,” and Flair completely leapfrogs Tully’s pretend humility and goes straight into full-on bullshit Ric Flair promo mode:
“I’m still wearing cashmere. I’m still walking around in alligators. Whoo! I’m still looking at the diamonds on this big ‘ol Rolex. I’m still riding around in a limousine. And I’m still driving the women of this world out of their ever-loving, cotton-picking minds because I am still, woo, the World’s Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. Do I make myself clear? WOO!”
That’s the guy who still lost the match and only retained the championship via serendipitous technicality cutting that promo. That’s why Flair’s the greatest, and why the original Horseman dynamic is still the best heel faction dynamic in wrestling history. He’s giving you (and Dusty) an all-new reason to want to kick his ass.
If you’re wondering what Dusty Rhodes’ response is, it’s pitch-perfect, classic NWA babyface. He isn’t going to badmouth the referee (who is clearly in Flair’s pocket) because like I said, there’s video evidence of the ref seeing the interference. It’s the right call, even if it sucks for him. But the match proved two things: that Flair can be beaten, and that Dusty Rhodes is the man who can beat him, no matter what happens to try to stop him.
It’s also worth noting that Dusty’s outfit consists of a suit jacket with a pocket square over jeans and a t-shirt, with Terry Richardson-style old man glasses. Because Dusty Rhodes succeeds in being the most fashionable person on this show by being its least fashionable person, 10 times out of 10.
If you’re wondering who succeeds in being the least fashionable person on this show by being the least fashionable person in the continental United States …
Worst: The Booger Wooger Man
Fresh off turning his complicated polyamorous sexual situation into a win in a wrestling match about getting naked and bleeding to death, the Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant asserts himself as a sort-of modern-day sexual Johnny Appleseed by saying he loves us all.
He dedicates his win over “Dean” Vernon Deaton to “Davey Crockett,” jams a thumb into Vern’s throat like a white trash Umaga and
pins him with an armpit drop. I imagine getting an armpit to the face from the Boogie Woogie Man would be like getting hit with a pillowcase full of stale outdoor ashtray water. Butts and all.
Best/Worst: Donald Trump Got His Administration From 1980s Wrestling Heels, Part One
Starrcade is as close to a happy “season finale” as the NWA ever got, so most of this week’s episode is about the heels who lost showing up and saying SHUT UP, STOP NOTICING I LOST.
One heel who doesn’t do that is Paul Jones, who executed two straight “heel manager jumps in and attacks the babyface with a weapon” finishes in a row to (1) bloody Superstar Billy Graham during an arm wrestling match, somehow, and (2) further bloody Superstar Billy Graham to keep him from beating the Barbarian. Jones doesn’t mention Graham at all, in fact, because the Superstar’s not around much longer and the Barbarian has to jump head-first into one of history’s worst pro wrestling feuds versus Billy Jack Haynes.
Barb gets a squash win over George South with a headbutt that lands about a mile south of George:
Best/Worst: Donald Trump Got His Administration From 1980s Wrestling Heels, Part Two
The Russians lost the Tag Team Championship to the Rock N’ Roll Express in a cage match at Starrcade, so they’re refocusing by, uh, challenging the Road Warriors? Good plan, guys.
The Russians get a squash win over Eagles studio musician Jimmy Blackland and Mark Cooper, and remove Cooper’s head from his body for not starting his entrance with “hey yo, what’s up? Where’s my theme music?”
In additional Russians news, Nikita Koloff manslaughters the Italian Stallion, who is more a big shitty domestic El Dandy and less Rocky Balboa. It’s supposed to be the Stallion vs. Arn Anderson, but the announcers explain that Arn “gave” the match to Nikita, because that’s something you can do when the graphics team fucks up and announces you for two separate matches.
Worst: The Assassination Of Buddy Landel By The Coward Buddy Landel
J.J. Dillon brags about Buddy Landel’s National Title win over Terry Taylor at Starrcade, and proclaims him one of the “top three” contenders for Ric Flair’s World Heavyweight Championship. If Tully Blanchard is the budget Ric Flair, Buddy Landel’s the Ric Flair you get free in the mail with samples of Tide.
What’s especially sad about this promo is that it was supposed to set up Buddy Landel defeating Ric Flair for the championship. No, seriously. But then Landel screwed it up by doing a bunch of drugs and being the world’s least responsible human. From a 2011 interview with The Post and Courier:
“I fell asleep at a hotel and took a bunch of good cocaine that whole night and did a bunch of valiums,” Landel recalls. “Black Bart (Rick Harris) was with me and told me that we had to go TV. I had just bought a brand new Lincoln and threw him the car keys and told him that I would catch a cab and be there later.
“They started (the tapings) at 9 o’clock that morning, and by 11 o’clock I had hung up on Dusty (Rhodes) and (Jim) Crockett and told them to not call me again,” says Landel. “I was National Champion at the time. When I got there, Dusty told me to give him the belt, and that I didn’t work there anymore. I said OK.”
Here, Landel gets a squash win over “Jeff Smith,” who I’m pretending is the guy who created Bone.
Let’s Just Get The Rest Of These Squashes Out Of The Way, Because It’s Seriously Two Hours Of Them
Indirectly speaking of the future Red Rooster, Terry Taylor quickly defeats Brody Chase, a jobber who looks like the Sixth Doctor from Doctor Who had sex with an adipose. He has a lightning bolt on his ass, because irony.
Having achieved her destiny of bloodying a couple of ugly dudes in tuxedos, stripping Jim Cornette down to his heart boxers and having a three-way with the Boogie Woogie Man and his tanning bed flotation device of a wife, Miss Atlanta Lively has gone back to being “Hands of Stone” Ronnie Garvin. He wins a quick match against Tomi Lahren … sorry, “Tommy Lane” … with the most complicated wrestling move he knows, the punch.
New Tag Team Champions the Rock ‘n Roll Express make quick work of Mack and Jim Jeffers, the future MOD Squad, when they were still in motorcycle cop school or whatever. You’ve gotta love these old NWA shows for managing to fit 600 matches into two hours. Raw matches maxed out at 90 seconds for like a decade and they couldn’t fit more than six on a 3-hour show.
Best: This Week In Ridiculous Shit The Road Warriors Have Said
The Road Warriors take way too long to defeat Paul Garner and Adrian Bivens, either because the NWA realized at least one of these matches had to go longer than a minute, or because Adrian’s original partners, Bel and Devoe, missed their cue.
They also cut one of their trademark Great Horrible promos written by third graders against the Russians, promising to keep the “artificial limb company business” afloat by ripping their “limbs off their stinkin’ hides,” and saying they’re so stupid they inspired someone to write a song called, ‘Brother Can You Spare Me a Brain.’ Looking back, it’s amazing how non-threatening two massive muscular leather daddies who paint spiders on their faces and wear spiked shoulder-pads to the ring but take them off before fighting anybody can be when they’re threatening to turn your doo-doo faces into pee-pee.
Best: The Smart, Cowardly Horsemen, Reprise
This week’s main event (in the middle of the show) is the Horseman squad of Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson vs. Magnum T.A., Billy Jack Haynes and Sam Houston. If your immediate thought here is, “the Horsemen could easily win this if they just drag Magnum away from the ring and trick his stupid, low-level partners,” congratulations, you’re thinking like a Horseman.
They execute a perfect game plan to win. We know that Magnum hates Tully Blanchard’s guts and will do anything Tully goads him into, so Tully starts fighting him on the floor. Magnum, the ace of his team by miles and miles, completely forgets a match is happening. Sam Houston gets a pin on Ole, but Billy Jack Haynes takes forever getting out of the ring (because he has the agility and dexterity of a turd rolling down a hill), allowing Arn to come off the top rope with a sneak attack to break it up. Arn knows that if Ole just makes the cover Haynes is gonna break it up, so he throws a big stupid wild haymaker and tricks Haynes into putting him in the full nelson. With Magnum distracted and Haynes obsessed with proving what a bad ass he is for having a strong grip, Ole easily makes the pin and gives the Horsemen the win.
With a “win over Magnum” via the lamest definition of those words, Tully puts on his suit and tinted glasses and ends the show with a promo where he gives advice to Ric Flair about how to deal with the NWA executive committee. Absolutely brilliant. Dude gets stabbed in the eye with a chair leg until he’s a blubbering mess, runs interference while his friends beat some low-level friends of Magnums and suddenly he’s back in position to give the NWA World Heavyweight Champion advice.
Next week: 650 additional jobber squashes, and, brace yourself, Krusher Kruschev vs. Pez Whatley. BE THERE!