Previously on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling: We talked about the rare pre-Clash of the Champions Clash of the Champions Superstars on the SuperStation, featuring four “dream matches” and a tag title change. This week, we’re skipping over a couple of weeks of filler to get to the next important thing that happens.
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 February 22, 1986.
Best: Betty Lou’s Gettin’ Out Tonight
The only thing of note you missed in the episodes we skipped — assuming you aren’t deeply invested in the Tully Blanchard vs. Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant Dusty Rhodes feud subplot — is Dusty’s suggestion to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express that if they want to keep Jim Cornette from interfering in their matches, they should suspend him above the ring in a shark cage. Conveniently, Dusty owns a shark cage he can lend them, and its name is “Betty Lou.” No, I don’t know why Dusty Rhodes names his inanimate objects like waitresses from the 1950s. “Here’s Peggy Sue, my weed whacker.”
As you might imagine, Cornette’s response to this is magical:
In a short, masterful promo, Cornette:
- declares that the National Wrestling Alliance should just give the Midnight Express the Crockett Cup and the one million dollar prize purse to avoid embarrassment because they’ve already prove they’re the best tag team in wrestling
- tells Paul Ellering that if the Road Warriors want a title shot against the Midnights, he should call Mother Cornette and see if she can work it into their “busy schedule”
- calls the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express “habitual, chronic losers” because they lost one (1) match to the Midnight Express via multiple pre-match attacks and cheating
- declares that he doesn’t belong in a cage, because he’s “not a criminal, a pickpocket, a gorilla or a parakeet,” and says he has a note from his mom’s physician explaining that he has a medically documented fear of heights and therefore can’t be lifted “150 feet” above the ring in a cage
The two teams continue their “anything you can do, I can do better” competition with dueling tag bouts, meaning they worked more tag division development into this one episode of NWA World Championship Wrestling than WWE does in a month. The Rock ‘n’ Rolls win a competitive match against guys who aren’t COMPLETE jobbers — Black Bart and the aimless wandering homie Thunderfoot — and the Midnights squash the two worst non-Tony Zane wrestlers on the show, Mike Simani and Larry Clarke.
I love the subtle storytelling that the entitled champions take the easiest route, and the scrappy challengers are trying to prove themselves every time they’re in the ring. Also, I can not hate on booking the Midnight Express to murder enhancement talent every week, because they’re the Michael Jordan and Second, Uglier Michael Jordan of jobber squashes.
Best: The Russians Are Digging Their Own Grave
The Road Warriors want a shot at the Midnight Express, but first they have to handle a very serious matter: beating the Koloff family so badly they leave the United States forever. Here, Hawk proves how tough he is by dominating and pinning Mexican wrestling legend Nacho Libre.
Here’s the thing about Russians, if you haven’t been following American politics for the past year: they don’t give a shit.
Ivan and Nikita Koloff are so confident that they’ll breeze through the Road Warriors (despite needing Baron Von Raschke to interfere in their match at Superstars on the SuperStation and attack Hawk and Animal with a chain) they’ve turned their focus onto Nikita getting “Magga T.A.’s” United States Championship. Nothing motivates a Russian pro wrestler like getting to own something that says “United States” on it. They LOVE IT.
Magnum closes out Bill Tabb in like 15 seconds to prove a point to Nikita, and it quickly turns into a huge pull-apart brawl that even the combined might of Ivan Dusty Rhodes and 10 jobbers who haven’t left yet can’t separate them.
A quick note about pull-apart brawls: they’re really cool and fun to do, but they’re absolutely 1000% a “sometimes food.” You can’t do pull-apart brawls every cycle. It feels like WWE does one every couple of weeks, which dilutes the emotional response of thinking the show’s been compromised and things are breaking down. That’s important. I wouldn’t recommend doing more than like, one a year, if THAT much. If I could offer one thing to improve nearly all wrestling shows, it would be spacing out how often you do specific tropes, and not assuming they have to be there to make a story work. Sometimes you can get from A to B to C without doing the exact same thing you did the last time you were stuck after B. And sometimes it makes sense that the extremely American guy would throw hands with the Russian asshole who stood around watching his match in a striped polo and sunglasses.
Worst: Paul Jones Has Added Another ‘Foreign’ Savage
Number One Paul Jones is stuck in a number two feud with Ron Bass over whether or not average cowboy-ass Ron Bass is stronger than THE BARBARIAN, which he is not. To make sure things go smoothly, Jones has recruited a newer, more exotic Barbarian type: Teijo Khan.
If you’re looking at that picture and thinking, “that looks an awful lot like a white guy making goofy faces,” congratulations, you’ve learned everything you need to know about Teijo Khan. He’s an “Asian savage” from either Singapore or Mongolia depending on the week, and his portrayal of Singaporean citizenship is pretending like Frankenstein has to take a shit. Khan wins his WCW debut against George South with his finisher, “a powerslam he can barely do.”
Jones is all over this week’s show, also showing up to manage Bubbarian in a victory over pro wrestling’s Isotoner Kent Glover, and gives Baron Von Raschke the helpful guidance of “grab the guy’s face and squeeze gently” so he can defeat Rocky King.
My favorite thing about any of these shows is how people choose to sell the Baron’s claw, which I’ve noted before is literally him placing his hand on your face in a non-threatening manner and asking you to die from it. Rocky’s sell is to pump his fists at waist level instead of, you know, using his two free arms to try to stop this 45-year old man who looks 450 years old from stinkpalming his brow.
Best: Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin Is Here
Meet your new favorite wrestler: Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin, future Fabulous Freebird. Here he’s one part Ric Flair, two parts heel Fantastics, five or six parts Columbia from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a dash of what appears to be poodle? He’s so good, he says, that he refuses to wrestle on television because nobody can beat him and the fans don’t deserve to watch him wrestle. He even makes them record his promo in an empty studio before the show starts, because he doesn’t want anyone bothering him.
His valet and wife, “Precious,” is by his side to kiss him when his mouth is feeling too dry from talking — seriously, this is great — and to punctuate his sentences with an aerosol spray can. Jimmy Garvin is totally and completely the opposite of Jimmy Valiant.
Best: I’m Sorry Mike Jackson (I Am For Real)
Yeah, Mike Jackson!
One great thing the NWA did was pick and choose the times when an enhancement talent would get off an unusual amount of offense, and explaining what that meant to the bigger stories happening around it. This week, Tully Blanchard brags about how easily he’s going to take Dusty Rhodes’ National Heavyweight Championship — he doesn’t want to be the only guy in the Horsemen without a belt — and then almost loses to MIKE JACKSON, a jobber who might also be Raffi.
Tully tries to sleepwalk his way through the match, and Jackson keeps one-upping him. It gets so embarrassingly inefficient that the crowd starts chanting “JACKSON, JACKSON.” Note: knowing the wrestler’s name used to be important, as today’s crowd would just chant “let’s go jobber.” But yeah, it’s not until the match goes on for way, way too long and Jackson punches Tully out onto the apron through the ropes that Tully says “FUCK IT, WE’LL DO IT LIVE” and slingshot suplexes him to death. Brilliantly laid out stuff, and another in an endless illustration that Tully Blanchard would be the best wrestler in the world if he’d get his head out of his ass and stop trying to be Ric Flair.
Best: Oh Hai Denny
Arn Anderson has similar problems with Denny Brown, but at least Arn has the excuse that he’s wrestling the current NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion. Fun note: the NWA World Heavyweight Championship can be traced back to Orville Brown in 1948, but the Junior Heavyweight strap goes back even farther to 1945. Ken Fenelon was given the title by the founder of the NWA, a guy named “Pinkie George.” And yes, if you wanted the guy who created the National Wrestling Alliance to have an appropriate name, it’s PINKIE GEORGE.
If you’re wondering why Dusty and Magnum are out there in the screen shot, we have to take a step back.
Best: World Class Dropping Out Of The NWA Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Championship Belts
You probably know a little bit about Texas’ World Class Championship Wrestling, the amazingly popular promotion from the 1980s in which an aging Nazi turned his five handsome and also extremely ugly sons into barefoot teen wrestling idols. What you may not know is that World Class and REAL LIFE MURDER are the reasons we have the “Big Gold” Heavyweight Championship.
In early February of 1986, World Class star Gino Hernandez was found dead in his apartment by either a cocaine overdose or a drug-related murder, depending on who you ask. NWA President Jim Crockett responded to this news by pulling Ric Flair and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from any shows in the state of Texas. That caused a pissed World Class to withdraw their membership from the NWA, rename themselves the “World Class Wrestling Association,” and declare that the NWA American Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude was now the “world champion.” The NWA’s response to THAT was to spend 40 grand on a brand new, beautiful championship belt and have Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes cut lengthy promos about how you can’t just say you’re the world champion and be a world champion.
Flair’s best quote of the week:
“It doesn’t matter, daddy. To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man, and whether you like it or not, you know, the only difference between me and the guy in the red cape is, I don’t need a phone booth to bring the action in. You understand what I’m telling you? I’m the best there is. Woo! I’m the World’s Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. Woo!“
Dusty’s promo is especially out of character, as he wears a promotional TBS sports hat, stands next to Baby Doll while she’s dressed like Jiffy Pop, and talks about how Ric Flair is the best wrestler in the world and the only recognized Heavyweight Champion. He’s like, “Ric Flair wrestles for 60 minutes!” Then he goes off on a weird tangent about how he’s been in Hollywood shooting sunglasses commercials with Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, and how he’s going to go have sex with Baby Doll because, and I quote, “it’s good, and there’s a lot of it.”
Speaking of wrestling and Nazis, Ron Garvin says that anyone who likes Ric Flair also likes Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson. So if you ever wanted a show that drew a direct line between Dusty Rhodes and HITLER, here you go. After defeating top threat Bob Owens, Garvin declares that he’s going to be the next Heavyweight Champion and that he’s been “driving a truck four hours a week” so he can say a truck driver beat Ric Flair. A truck driver who’d be great at arguing on the Internet!
That brings all of the stories together. In his promo, Flair says he considers it an “insult” that the NWA keeps showing footage of Ronnie Garvin punching him out all the time and mentions that he’s going to team up with Arn Anderson to win the Crockett Cup. So that has him at ringside for Anderson vs. Brown, which puts him in direct tag team competition with Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. It’s also distracting him from Garvin, who is relentless and still not being taken seriously. Magnum is also in an issue with the Russians, who are also in an issue with the Road Warriors, who are also in an issue with the Midnight Express, who are in an issue with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, who got help from Dusty Rhodes, who is being targeted by Tully Blanchard. God damn these stories are woven tight. And you wonder why I get pissed that shit doesn’t make sense from Monday to Monday these days?
Lethal Leap Year! No, not really.