Doing my best Scott Heisel with the indirect music reference subtitle.
Previously on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling: James J. Dillon manipulated his way to the top of Tully Blanchard Enterprises, but inadvertently sent Baby Doll in the direction of the man who could hurt Tully most, Dusty Rhodes. Dusty’s already broken Ole Anderson’s leg and threatened Arn, so Tully should probably be doing the opposite of this.
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And now, the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling for January 11, 1986.
Best: Dusty Rhodes Tells Ric Flair To Go Season Some Food
Before we actually start recapping this episode, Dusty Rhodes took us to church (in a Copenhagen hat, because he’s real) and explained two very important things.
1. How to clarify Jezebels.
“Well you know, it’s been a couple weeks now with Baby Doll, my mama wrote me from Houston and said, ‘this is the woman that you called a Jezebel on nationwide tv one time,’ I said, ‘mama, jezebels come in all shapes and forms. There are bad Jezebels, and there are good Jezebels. And Baby Doll is a good jezebel.”
2. Ric Flair, despite evidence to the contrary, can’t dance.
“Ric Flair is living proof that most white people ain’t got no rhythm. Brother, I never seen anything in my life, when he be snapping his fingers, and the music be going some other place, he is LIVING PROOF, LIVING PROOF, that white people ain’t got no rhythm.”
To be fair, when Flair says he can dance all night and dance a little longer, he’s not claiming to be great at it, he can just do it continuously for a long time.
Best: Arn Anderson Is The Television Champion Of The World (Of Television)
Several weeks back when then-Television Champion Dusty Rhodes was injured by the Horsemen, Arn Anderson just took the belt and started calling himself champ. That was disputed by everyone else in the room, so they held a tournament in Greensboro (that I was at, when I was six) and guess what? Arn beat homeless pansexual Santa Claus Jimmy Valiant, number one contender to the NWA World Heayvweight Championship somehow Ron Garvin and non-problematic baseball mascot Wahoo McDaniel in a single night to win it. Here he is dressed like Panama Jack and quoting “Julius Seger” to talk about it. Again, part of what made the Four Horsemen great is that they were assholes, and sure, they’d cheat, but they were good at their jobs, and competent enough to win matches and championships without every single finish ever making them look like they lucked into it. A hero’s only as good as his rogues gallery, you know?
Anyway, on this episode, Arn defends against “Main Event” Jim Jeffers, who looks like an old-timey strongman on St. Patrick’s Day. Arn’s promise is that unlike Dusty, he’s going to defend the belt on every television show every week. Dusty’s promise in response is to break Arn’s bones like he broke Ole’s and like the Horsemen broke his, because he’s not gonna let Arn change the subject. Baby Doll shows up during the match to talk shit, so when Arn is done stuffing Jim Jeffers into a fridge he rolls out of the ring and confronts her. “WHERE’S DUSTY?” Then Dusty shows up, and Arn’s like, “lol peace out.”
He should’ve stuck around to get his leg broken and/or a lesson on proper Jezebel classification.
Best: Attention To Detail
Tully gets the honor of squashing Mac Jeffers, the Justin Long of Jeffers. He’s wearing those green underwears too, so maybe it’s just Jim pulling double duty.
My favorite part of this match, and possibly my favorite part of the entire episode, is the announce team noticing that since James J. Dillon has wormed his way to the head of Tully Blanchard Enterprises, he’s dressing better. Just a few weeks ago when Dillon was managing Buddy Landel, Black Bart and the homie Thunderfoot, he was dressing like a colorblind carnival barker. One lied-about plane ticket to Acapulco later and Baby Doll’s out, Dillon’s in, and he’s rocking a classy three-piece suit.
I love that attention to detail, and you’ve gotta love those Four Horseman trickle-down economics. Ric-ledown economics.
Worst: It’s A Terrible Week To Be A Russian
We haven’t said that in the United States in a while, have we?
To actually open the show, Ivan and Nikita Koloff take on Rocky King and the Italian Stallion in a match Nikita could’ve won by himself with both arms and both legs tied behind his back. Hogtie the man, he’d just scream “TOYOTA, MAGGA TEE AY” and the Stallion would roll over on his back like an ashamed dog.
After the match, the Russians approach Tony Schiavone with a black and white 8×10 glossy of them winning a match in Japan (against SOMEBODY), because I guess Japan didn’t have video technology in 1986. They threaten Magnum and the Road Warriors, but meanwhile someone in the crowd or a particularly xenophobic intern at the WTBS Studios has responded to their ongoing request to get a Soviet flag hung up with all the other flags in the arena by drawing one on what’s either TP or a long-ass piece of dot matrix printer paper.
Later in the episode, Krusher Kruschev attempts to defend the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship in a match against Sam Houston. If you watch the match, it seems like Krusher’s supposed to let Houston have a bunch of offense and then finish him off. Instead, he tries to come off the top rope with a shoulderblock, and this happens:
If you look closely, you can see that Krusher’s right leg lands wrong, bends under him and goes the wrong way. As we find out later, dude blew out everything you can blow out in a knee, and ends up on the shelf for six months. You can tell something’s wrong immediately because not only does Krusher come up hobbling like that, he goes into a lateral press on Houston and they just lie there talking for like, a minute. The ref keeps counting these “pinfall attempts,” but it’s literally just Krusher Kruschev lying next to Sam Houston with his arm draped across his chest, assumedly going OH MY GOD MY LEG WHAT DO WE DO.
That sends the match into audible overload. The Road Warriors run out and attack the Russians. Krusher throws Houston outside of the ring and just stands in place hopping on one leg. Eventually Animal makes his way over, picks up Houston and throws him back into the ring ONTO Krusher, and poor Krusher Kruschev has to take a bump with a man on top of him without being able to bend one of his legs. Houston miraculously wins the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship, and then suddenly Dusty and Magnum are in the ring and everyone’s brawling. It’s fun to watch people who aren’t totally sure what’s going on wander over to Krusher and kinda kick at him while he goes JESUS STOP IT GO FIGHT SOMEONE ELSE.
After the match, the Road Warriors — the team that just showed up to attack the Russians and cost them a championship — announce that they’re coming for the Russians.
You’ve gotta love how that timing worked out, though. Last week, the Road Warriors started wrestling 3-on-2 matches so they’d be ready to fight all three Russians. The first time they attack the Russians after that, one of them’s injured and has go be on the DL for half a year. You don’t become a “legion” of something without effective organizational skills!
BEST BEST: It’s Also A Terrible Week To Love Rock ‘N’ Roll
Looking back, I can’t say strongly enough how Jim Cornette subconsciously influenced the way I watch wrestling. The guy (in his youth, before being bitter became his gimmick) could explain away ANYTHING as a logical act.
For example, before the Midnight Express take The Ragin’ Bills Bill Tabb and Bill Mulkey to the woodshed, Cornette gets on the mic to explain why the Midnights jumped the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express at a live event and guillotined Ricky Morton onto a tennis racket (pictured) until he was throwing up blood.
(1) Cornette insists that the double dropkick is an illegal maneuver, because you’re only supposed to have one guy in the ring at a time, so the Midnight Express came to the ring to explain to the referee that they were cheating. Amazing. (2) As mentioned before, the Midnights want to injure Ricky Morton so they can anger the RNRs into giving them a tag title match, have an easier time WINNING that match, and possibly injure him before it can happen so they have to forfeit the titles. That’s because (3) as Cornette admits, despite him hating their guts, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are his team’s “only competition in professional wrestling,” so if he can get rid of them, he’s got a free ride for life. He’s 1000% full of shit and it’s 1001% obvious, but he’s got this absurd circular logic that at least justifies it from a warped professional point of view. Heels should always believe what they’re saying, even if every word out of their mouth is a horse’s shit.
Cornette lays out some amazing rapid-fire insults during the match itself, talking about how he hopes the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express don’t have to do any interviews because Ricky “ain’t talking too well these days” (because Cornette crushed his throat) and Robert is “one step above a mongoloid,” and how the attack on them was 3-on-2 because while the Midnights can destroy them in a fair fight, Cornette wanted the “pleasure of being involved in it.” He considers trying to murder Ricky Morton the greatest thing he’s ever done in his life. Also, shout-out to calling Bill Mulkey an “emaciated goof.”
The only problem is that by attacking Ricky on multiple occasions, they’ve given him a mean streak, as seen here. Yes, that’s Ricky Morton, forever babyface in peril, going full Pentagon Dark on Randy Mulkey.
Even teaming with Vernon Deaton can’t save him. As a quick aside, how weird is it that the NWA had two sets of nearly identical brothers wrestling tag team matches every week — Bill and Randy Mulkey, and Mac and Jim Jeffers — and resisted teaming them up so often?
Worst: Every Week Is A Terrible Week To Be Ron Garvin
This week’s show is full of viewer participation for some reason, including well-wishes from Tony Schiavone for fans in the hospital, and this hilarious bit where “Tony from Montreal” — definitely Schaivone — wants to know Ron Garvin’s hobbies. Why? You trying to hook up with Miss Atlanta Lively? His hobbies are clearly punching people in the face, hardening his own skin and having sex with drifters.
But yeah, Garvin, looking like someone put a fat woman’s jean jacket on a bald eagle, says he’s the “real nature boy” because he loves nature so much. He likes scuba diving, flying airplanes, skydiving, fishing and hunting. What’s he supposed to say, that he loves dressing up like Delta Burke and perusing shanty towns for gross threesomes?
Best/Worst: Apter Laughter
Eat your heart out, Scott.
The other fan participation bit is this talk show segment with Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s Bill Apter called “The Scouting Report,” wherein he talks to a wrestler who’s on the show about a bunch of wrestlers who aren’t. I think the weirdest thing about this is that they spend the whole episode talking about how it’s the debut of the Scouting Report, and then when they send it to Apter he’s like, “last week’s show with Magnum T.A. was so well-received we brought him back.” Did y’all tape two of these and use the wrong one?
Apter asks Magnum about Portland’s Bobby Jaggers, who has moves like … someone, and Mid-Atlantic’s Ted DiBiase, with a current net worth of 999,999 dollars. Magnum’s like, “they’re both good,” because he’s done his SCOUTING REPORT. They then watch a clip of Nikita flipping Jimmy Blacklund for real. Apter calls Jimmy “Jerry” and says Nikita’s nickname is the “Russian Road Warrior.” Did Apter hit his head on a coffee table before he shot this? I’m surprised he didn’t end it with, “I’m Brony Schiavone and this was been the AWA Wrestler Mania.”
Note: they never air this segment on Saturday night again.
Best: The Only Thing I Have To Say About This Match Is This Joke
Barbarian wins this match after a powerslam, because while he can’t afford the original painting, he can pick up some Art Pritts.
Wait, no, one more thing. Remember last week when we discovered that the Road Warriors had no idea how to spell “weasel?” Well, one of the WTBS Studios fans who ISN’T in the hospital brought this sign for Paul Jones and, well,
Lee Marshall got a job with WCW just to correct this shit, didn’t he?
One more joke: pretty sure Art Pritts was George Carlin moonlighting as a professional wrestler.
Worst: Creative Has Nothing For You
Finally this week I want to talk about poor Pistol Pez Whatley, who defeats George South with a headbutt and then gets to cut a promo. He’s not bad at it, really. His presentation is there, and he mugs for everything, so if he had a story or a character or anything to do, he might show some charisma. But nope, Pistol Pez’s entire promo is about how Jim Crockett Promotions is doing well, he is an employee of Jim Crockett Promotions, and that he’s aware of ongoing storylines.
Seriously, after he says JCP is “alive in 85” and rhymes “86” with “grits,” he cuts a promo on Ric Flair on behalf of Dusty Rhodes. “Dusty Rhodes, he done broke on of the Four Horsemen’s legs, now everybody upset! Well let me tell you something, baby, World Heavyweight Champion? You better look out, ’cause he ain’t through, and the HOLNT [hunt? haunt?] is still on! I’ll be out there, be in the middle of this in ’86, WOO, SO PROUD TO BE HERE … [awkward pause] YEAH TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS Y’ALL.” It’s the GODDAMN, WOO! of 1986. Grits.
Ric Flair is back, Baron Von Raschke arrives, and we see the debut of a jobber who eventually gets a job as a prison guard and becomes a very big boss.