Previously on the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling: Television Champion Arn Anderson fought “top contender to be a pervert” Ron Garvin to a time-limit draw, Paul Jones announced that his war with Jimmy Valiant is back on, and Dusty Rhodes got so insulted by Ric Flair he flipped out and took it out on the studio audience.
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And now, the Best and Worst of NWA World Championship Wrestling for March 8, 1986.
Best: The National
This week’s biggest news is that we have a new National Heavyweight Champion, The Commodity Tully Blanchard Of Tully Blanchard Enterprises®. About a month ago, Blanchard and James J. Dillon announced that they’d be taking the belt off of Dusty Rhodes in under four weeks, and sure enough, they pulled it off in Spartanburg, SC, with a day or two to spare.
The match is joined-in-progress on this episode of World Championship Wrestling, and one of the best things about the NWA showing footage from marquee matches at live shows is how hype the live crowd is for anything. They’re just screaming at a steady volume the entire time. It’s as close as pro wrestling ever gets to one of those “wrestling show” crowds on sitcoms where like three rows of bleachers near a boxing ring stand up and clap their hands and throw their arms around for the entire match.
As per usual — especially since Dusty only got the Championship by defeating Buddy Landel in a “fire him in real life and pretend we had a match” match — the post-match stuff is more important than the title change. We know from Starrcade ’85 that Tully can’t win the big one unless somebody’s helping him, so now that he’s replaced Baby Doll with J.J. Dillon and the Four Horsemen, things are going much better. Flair gives Tully a foreign object and Tully completely whiffs trying to hit Dusty with it, but gets a second chance when Big Dust tries to backdrop him into the ring from the apron. That’s enough to give Blanchard the win and the National Heavyweight strap. If that finish sounds familiar at all, maybe you saw the Macho Man win the Intercontinental Championship from Tito Santana in the Garden with the exact same finish, move-for-move, a month earlier. SHAME.
But yeah, after the match Baby Doll decides to “make the save” for Dusty by attacking Ric Flair, which goes GREAT for her. In an hilarious “oh my god” moment, Anderson and Blanchard team up to hit Baby Doll with a DOUBLE CHOP BLOCK, then hold her down so Flair can come off the top rope and break her leg. Of course, Magnum and Sam Houston and Dusty’s friends get to the ring in time to stop it, but the damage is done.
In the studio, Blanchard and Dillon brag about how Bill Apter called them and said the National Heavyweight Championship bout was “one of the greatest matches of all time,” and how they think he’s wrong, because it was THE greatest. Tully also asks about how if Dusty Rhodes is the “greatest sports attraction of all time” like he claims, what does that make Tully?
Best, And Then Oh My God So Much Worst: Ric Flair Is Making All The Good Guys Lose Their Minds
Slick Ric shows up in a different segment to drive the final nail into the coffin, as only he can:
“Big Dust, you’ve got no belt! You’ve got no life! You’ve got nothing to brag about, nothing to stand on, and when I get to Cincinnati, Dusty Rhodes, we’re gonna finish it off because you not only will be without a belt, you’ll be without a leg. And Baby Doll, if you stick your nose in my business, I’m gonna break your leg too.”
Remember last week when Dusty screamed at a person in the crowd to get their “fat ass” out of the studio if they didn’t want to hear him? Remember how that kinda sorta felt like was shook and starting to lose his mind? This week, losing the National belt and having the Horsemen so thoroughly rub it has Dusty on the verge of a nervous breakdown like he’s Mariah Carey on TRL. Flair took his World Heavyweight Championship and his National Heavyweight Championship, so Dusty says you “might as well take his clothes too.”
AND THEN HE STARTS STRIPPING.
Eesh. And come on, Dusty, you know Flair better than that. He’s not going to wear blue jeans, he’s CUSTOM MADE.
The success of the Horsemen has everyone on edge.
Ron Garvin — seen here dissecting the human Baymax Tony Zane — announces that he’s added “part-time electrician” to his list of day jobs alongside “four-hour a week truck driver” and “carpenter who sometimes fixes doors.” “I shocked myself a few times because I didn’t know what I was doing,” he explains, perfectly encapsulating Ron Garvin in a sentence and making me wish he’d shown up this week as a wrestling Frankenstein.
Dusty’s good friend “Pistol” Pez Whatley — seen here “connecting” with a flying “headbutt” on George Carlin’s unfunny, less athletic brother Art Pritts — is still “in the middle a’thangs” in ’86. He cuts a promo about horses and birds I’m just gonna type verbatim, because otherwise I’d need Amy Adams’ character from Arrival to figure out what he means.
“Lemme tell ya another thing. ONE OTHER THANG, baby! I just want ’em all to know. ALL of ’em to know! Tully Blanchard, you and them Russians, and the Three Horsemen with Arn Anderson … we got some horses for y’all, too. I want you to know. And when we finish, showing off OUR horses, we gon’ look like thoroughbreds … goin’ against dead birds. AMEN HA HA.”
The worst reaction of all, even worse than Naked Dusty Rhodes, is Road Warrior Hawk. After they squash Good Brothers Carl Styles and Bill Mulkey, Hawk explains that he’s “got more women talking about his tongue” than talking about Flair’s custom made suits and cars. To make sure everyone at home throws up a little in their mouths, he illustrates:
Up next, Sam Houston commits suicide with a revolver in the TBS Studios because he can’t live in a world where Tully Blanchard is the National Heavyweight Champion.
Best: This Week In Russian Fashion
Early in the show, Magnum T.A. tells Nikita Koloff that he’ll wrestle him for the United States Championship, all he has to do is sign the contract. Nikita’s response, incredibly, is to show up with a big pile of letters like he’s trying to prove Santa Claus exists that he claims are from fans who think MAGGA TEEYAY HAVE NO GUTS TO FACE NIKITA. Ivan says they haven’t seen any contract.
Magnum’s fired-up promo in response to being jerked around is AWESOME, and much-needed in this bizarre universe where Dusty Rhodes can’t string two words together without falling apart.
“You can tell your Kremlin that I’ll wrestle you for nothing. I’ll give you my part of the money. It doesn’t matter. The belt is on the line, the contract is signed. Jim Crockett has seen the contract and if that isn’t good enough for him, I say that’ll never be good enough. We’ll finish this thing Nikita if I’ve gotta jump in your face, jump on your back or wherever it’s gotta be. The belt right here is mine. If you’re man enough to come take it away from me, go for it!”
It’s really wonderful going back and watching these shows and remembering a time when pro wrestling championships meant something to the wrestlers, and they didn’t just want to be champion because that’s what they’ve decided to do this cycle.
Best: NWA World Championship Wrestling On Netflix Was Really Good Until We Got To Episode 7 And It Killed The Momentum
I don’t know who these fans are, but they’re the most atypical fans I’ve ever seen in the TBS Studios. Crockett and Schiavone joke about how people are coming in “from all over” to see World Championship Wrestling. I guess “all over” includes Xavier’s School for Gifted Mutants? I mean, they’re either the John Byrne X-Men, or Ferris Bueller’s about to do a run-in.
Jobber Squash Lightning Round
Paul Jones’ Army is busy this week. Baron Von Raschke defeats Mike Jackson (Yeah! Mike Jackson!) and The Barbarian pulls Bill Tabb. The most notable thing is Jones retconning the “three feats of the strength” against the Barbarian thing that Ron Bass has been obsessed with by revealing that it was all a ruse to try to lure the Boogie Woogie Man into a trap. Sure thing, Paul. You know what cracked out dancing homeless man Jimmy Valiant really loves? Feats of strength.
Also hilarious this week is Valiant’s promo about The War, in which he reveals that his old lady has run off with his best friend, and he’s sad, because he “misses him.” He also drops a timely AUDIE MURPHY reference, because in the 1980s pro wrestlers were legitimate tough adult men who knew shit about WAR, and even the bad ones had better things to do than collect action figures and talk about them on the Internet.
This week’s show also sees the JCP debut of Leo Burke, the only person I’ve ever seen with an afro AND a widow’s peak. Burke was already a 20-year veteran at this point, but unless you grew up watching wrestling in Canada or followed the Puerto Rican scene, you probably know him best as the guy responsible for training Edge, Christian, Ken Shamrock, Mark Henry and pretty much everyone who note he came up in the WWF in the late ’90s.
If you’re wondering why he never caught on in the States, enjoy these next few sentences: “Leo Burke defeated George South with his finisher, which is a knee drop. Not a knee drop off the top rope or like, a jumping Old Glory knee drop, a regular knee drop.”
This shot of Jimmy Garvin before his match with Rocky King looks like the final shot of an inspirational ’80s sports film about an American Chippendales dancer who wins a dance competition in Asia and finally gets the girl. We’d call it Best of the Vest, if you were wondering.
My favorite squash of the week is definitely Black Bart defeating Dr. X, who didn’t spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called “mister,” thank you very much. I’m not sure there’s ever been a clash of lazier gimmicks than a cowboy guy named “Black Bart” going up against a nondescript masked guy whose mask doesn’t even match his gear calling himself “Dr. X.”
I really miss the days when jobbers could just show up as “Dr. X” or like, “THE EXECUTIONER” or some shit and get on television. My enjoyment of Smackdown would go up 100% if they threw a blue mask on Juan Francisco de Coronado or whoever before they fed him to the Bludgeon Brothers and called him Dr. X.
Best: Jim Cornette Gets His
Finally, it’s another week of dueling squashes for the top two teams in the promotion as The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express defeat Bob Owens and Larry Clarke, who I’m still convinced aren’t Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s dads, and The Midnight Express take on the naked drunken uncle superteam of Brodie Chase and Mike Simani (pictured). For you Cornette completionists out there, this week he says the Rock ‘n’ Rolls want to put him in the shark cage because they know he’d “beat their brains out” if he was in the ring with them, and condescendingly explains the seeds in the Crockett Cup to the announce team.
“For you people who are not sports-minded, for you illiterate idiots out there, I know that takes in 98% of the audience, the seedings mean the rankings.”
There isn’t much to talk about in the squashes other than the finish to the Midnights match, with Beautiful Bobby and The Miz’s real father tossing the chumps AND the referee to the floor to finish them off. That brings out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, who quickly knock Dennis and Bobby out of the ring so they can hit a backdrop and a Double Dropkick on Cornette. The crowd goes APESHIT, and Cornette sells it by jumping backwards and flipping over the top rope.
Tag team wrestling rules when the teams actually get stories, and don’t get broken up and made to feud with each other the second they start doing well.
The seeds for the Crockett Cup are announced, Mitsuharu Misawa gets an indirect mention on an NWA program in 1986, and Jimmy Garvin decides to pick a fight with an enormous Indian dude who can chop your ribcage out through your back. BE there!