NWA Starrcade 1984: The Million Dollar Challenge Review

Hello everyone and welcome to the Starrcade 1984 review. This is the second review in my Starrcade review series, and I’m excited. I heard this show isn’t very good, but I’m curious to see Dusty Rhodes wrestle, as I’ve never seen a match of his, and I heard that Steamboat vs. Blanchard is ****+. Without further ado, lets dive in!

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The show starts with a recap of the finish of Starrcade 1983’s main event. I just realized how shit Flair’s crossbody was. It looked awful. The announcers are again the wonderful Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle. These two are so good. From what I’ve heard of them they may be the best announce team of all time! Our first match tonight is…

Denny Brown vs. Mike Davis (c.) – Worlds Junior Heavyweight Championship Match

            Fun Fact: This is the same belt that was recently defended in NJPW, and won by Jushin Liger (not to be confused with the ZERO1 belt, held by Minoru Tanaka).

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Another Fun Fact: Apparently this match is for a fake championship. When the championship was vacated or something, NWA set up a fake tournament and crowned a fake champion. That mess was a year before this match occurred. Denny would later become the undisputed NWA Junior Champion when the other champion (named The Cobra) vacated the belt. Confused yet? Welcome to eighties wrestling.

This match was. It existed, then it ended. These two were very ambitious, but this was before many people knew how to work fast paced junior matches. It was slow and plodding, with a few decent sequences throughout, but it was missing any sense of intensity or spark. There was some decent back psychology for a minute with Denny injuring his back, but that was dropped rather quickly. Also, -¼* for the banana peel victory, and – another ¼* for the awful, awful headscissors early. The controversy surrounding this fake title was more interesting than the match.

Rating: *½

After a minute ironing out the controversy, we go backstage again with Tony Schiavone. I really had fun with these last year. They hype these interviews big again, but Tony flubs a few lines. Poor guy.

“The Japanese Terror” Mr. Ito vs. Brian Adidas

            Mr. Ito is like a WWII cartoon trying to make the Japanese look bad. Wrestling used to be so racist. Any foreign guy is either evil, or a savage. Not only is it racist, it gets boring after a while. This match was short, but action packed and really fun. There was some nice technical wrestling, decent strikes, and constant intrigue. They kept me compelled throughout, and that is all I can ask. The only real issue is it was too short to really be much of anything. What was here, though, was nice.

Rating: **

Next up is…

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Mike Graham vs. Jesse Barr (c.) – Florida State Championship Match

            I thoroughly enjoyed this match. There was a LONG slow portion in the middle, but Graham’s wonderful work from underneath, and Barr’s hateable personality kept me somewhat engaged. Barr using Graham’s hair for leverage, then screaming “I don’t have to use the hair” just to use it again is great. Also, Graham’s facials were fantastic, and he really sold the struggle he is enduring, and the anguish well. The opening few minutes were fast, too, and the finish had a couple nice nearfalls. Graham’s use of the figure four was very nice to watch, and the roll up sequence was exciting. Not really great, and I can’t quite get it to good, but it was enjoyable.

Rating: **¾

 

They show a clip of someone getting beaten up. I would’ve liked some context, because this was kinda confusing. Apparently, it was Steamboat getting injured in order to hype the match with Blanchard. A replay is shown of the finish of the previous match. This leads to…

The Zambuie Express vs. The Assassin #1 (Very creative name) & Buzz Tyler – Elimination Tag Team Match

            Assassin #1 gets an upgrade from last year, working higher up on the card tonight. Apparently he’s a face now. This match was a clusterfuck in every sense of the word. It was absolute chaos, with no sense for rules, and no way to tell what the hell is going on. I think 2 of the guys got counted out, then someone got pinned, but I’m not sure. This was just a lot of punches with no reason. Bleh.

Rating: DUD

 

The announcers still think the match was going on, that was how clustered it was. Again, bleh.

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Tony Schiavone is backstage with Dusty Rhodes, and Rhodes says his match with Flair is to prove who is the best in the world. The talk is over, he says as he talks, and the showmanship is over. He also says there will be no interference, and he will win. Good enough. This leads to…

Ragin’ Bull vs. Black Bart (c.) – Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship Match – No DQ Match

            I’ve always been curious, in a No DQ match, if someone has a gun and kills his opponent, what happens now. Does he win? Is he arrested? Obviously I don’t want to see someone die, but I’m curious. Sadly there are no brass knuckles, so I’m tempted to give the match a DUD for false advertising. This match was very boring. There were a lot of punches, and then there were more punches, and then there were even more punches. The last minute was alright because they did something other than punch, but as soon as they peaked my interest with a foreign object, they went to the finish without using it. This is tough to rate, should I give it a DUD or be nice.

Rating: DUD (I wasn’t feeling nice)

Sidenote: Is Ragin’ Bull named after the movie with Robert De Niro. If not, why is he named Ragin’ Bull? If so, why is he named Ragin’ Bull?

JJ Dillon is irate that he cost Bart the match. WAIT! RAGIN BULL HAS A NAME? WHAT? Apparently he’s Manny Fernandez.

Another replay is show of Flair winning the title last year. Next, Schiavone is backstage with Ricky Steamboat. He talks about his past year, and the struggle with JJ Dillon, Tully Blanchard, Black Bart, and Ron Bass. At this point, my network feed freaks out again. I come back to Steamboat describing his injuries. He is rambling and rambling at this point. He says he doesn’t want Blanchard to hear him say how injured he is, but proceeds to directly address Blanchard immediately afterwards. I’ve seen worse promos.

Schiavone is backstage with JJ Dillon and Tully Blanchard. JJ cuts a good promo selling frustration from the previous match, and hyping Tully Blanchard. Blanchard says Steamboat is making excuses and Blanchard has been carrying him. He is sad that Steamboat has to make excuses at the apex of his career. Nice promo! This leads to…

Paul Jones vs. “The Boogie-Woogie Man” Charlie Brown Jimmy Valiant – Tuxedo Street Fight – Loser Leaves Town

            Yay. Another Jimmy Valiant match. Less than a week after saying I won’t watch one of his matches ever again, I’m here. He’s probably a nice guy, I just don’t like his work. I don’t know where to start. I’m just going to make a list of my issues:

  1. The tuxedo match didn’t end when the tuxedo came off, so it wasn’t really a tuxedo match, it was a match with tuxedos
  2. Jimmy Valiant strips Paul Jones because… he has a thing for mostly naked managers maybe? It wouldn’t secure him a victory, so why do it?
  3. Valiant ties Jones to the rope, making it impossible for him to secure a victory without wasting time untying him.
  4. Jones actually gets offense on a trained wrestler, even though he is just a manager.
  5. Jones offense LOOKS BETTER than a train wrestler’s, even though he is a manager.
  6. Jones blades, even though this match does not deserve a blade job.
  7. The referee drops Jones’ arm three times in a submission, but doesn’t call for the bell.
  8. Valiant takes out the ref with the WORST PUNCH EVER.
  9. JJ Dillon did a run in for no reason at all.
  10. JJ Dillon used a big soda can to knock him unconscious instead of the bull rope, or a metal pole, or the brass knuckles missing in the Brass Knuckles Championship Match.
  11. A tuxedo match ends via pinfall.
  12. The announcers have to sell how this might become un-“Family Friendly”, which puts unwanted images in my head.

Can this be the last Jimmy Valiant match I watch please?

Rating: -**

 

Tony Shiavone is backstage with Ric Flair. Flair says he is honored to hold the title this long, and says he is the best in the world. Flair calls himself “the #1 stud”. 5*s! This leads to…

Dick Slater vs. “Cowboy” Ron Bass (c.) – Mid-Atlantic Championship Match

There is not much to say about this match. The action was perfectly average,, and there was some smart heel work from JJ Dillon. Slater was average at playing the face in peril and Bass was average at being the heel. JJ really stole the show here, and made this match better than it had any right to be. My issues are that Slater stalled too much with going after Dillon, and the finish was a real downer. I will forget about this in a week.

Rating: *¾

 

Slater runs wild after the match, and beats up everyone. Next up is…

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Ole Anderson & Keith Larson vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff

Both national anthems play before the match begins. The intensity in this match was through the roof. These four started hot, and ended hot; it was the middle that keeps this from being special. While the arm work from Ole and Larson was good, it was too slow and too long, especially since it wasn’t sold at all throughout the match. Also, that was immediately followed by a heat segment, which was good, but slow. Ole was a good face in peril, and the bearhug spot was really fun, and smart. Ole making the hot tag, however, is a thing of beauty. His facials, his body language, and him taking his time is perfect. It build to a great hot tag, and a wonderful finish. Nikita Koloff clotheslines the injured Don Kernodle to get massive heat. It was smart; slow but smart.

Rating: **½

 

The Russians try to beat up Larson, but Kernodle unloads on the Russians in a great moment. The crowd is pretty molten. He fends off the heels and saves his brother. This leads to…

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Ricky Steamboat vs. Tully Blanchard – World Television Championship Match – $10,000 on the Line – Title Can Change Hands on a DQ – Tully Blanchard Cannot run or he forfeits the Title

Sidenote: This is as good a time as any to say, there are a lot of technical difficulties. They were edited out in my version, but the jump cuts are obvious. Not to mention the ring announcer’s mic cut out. UGH!

Now, on to the match. I can’t gush about this match enough. They began hot and fast paced, but even when the pace slowed, the intensity was high. Tully worked over Steamboat’s ribs like a boss, and the selling was wonderful; it added a nice wrinkle to the match and changed the style of Steamboat. Steamboat was phenominal at takinging a beating, and his offense was hate-filled, and perfectly timed. The nearfalls down the stretch was just enough to leave satisfied, while still leaving the door open for a rematch. The cheating near the finish was awesome, and a textbook example of heel psychology done right. The stalling, while a bit long-winded, worked with Blanchard’s character and the no run rule. More matches need to be like this. This brought energy to a pretty dead show.

Rating: ****¼

 

This leads into…

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“Superstar” Billy Graham vs. “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel (c.) – United States Heavyweight Championship Match

This match was put into the death spot to cool down the crowd. It did just that. I hate Graham’s karate gimmick with all my heart, and he dragged down this match a bit. Wahoo had some energy, but this match wasn’t given enough time to leave much of an impression. Not offensive, but significantly below average.

Rating: *

 

Tony Shiavone is backstage with the judges. If this goes match sixty minutes, I quit. Joe Frazier is our referee tonight. Pretty cool. The interviews were pretty meh.

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Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair – World Heavyweight Championship Match – $1,000,000 Challenge Match

            The dub on the Network has Dusty coming out to some porno music. Jeez! Ric comes out to his usual music and B lines to the ring. This has much less of a big fight feel than last year. I can’t say I’m as hyped as I was for Starrcade ‘83’s main event.

The match was fun, but not great. It was fast paced, had some nice sequences, and the novilty of seeing Dusty work over the leg instead of Flair was cool, but it did not blow me away. Dusty showed some fire, and Ric was great, as usual, and sold very well. Some flaws, however, really hamper this match; there was some obvious spot calling and awkward sequences that hurt the flow and took me out of the match. Also, for the second year in a row, the referee slowed down the match very much, and hurt it as a whole. The finish was a downer as well. I had fun with this match, but it was far from blowing me away.

Rating: ***

 

After the match, Dusty goes after Frazier, but some wrestlers hold him back. Flair kisses the check in another famous shot before we cut away.

Tony Schiavone is backstage with Ric Flair. He cuts a good promo saying the finish was a shame, but he it thankful and proud of his performance.

Schiavone is backstage with Dusty, and he is pissed that Frazier stopped the match. He says this isn’t a victory, and the American Dream will live, and continue to live.

Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle play us out, as we see a video package of the show we just watched.

Overall:

Not a good show. It started off somewhat like Starrcade 1983 with fun, but not good, matches, but after Graham vs. Barr the show fell off a cliff. To put it in perspective, only 2 matches received 3* or over. Only 2. The rest were either average, or bad. Steamboat vs. Blanchard is a forgotten gem, but everythig else is skippable. Also, WHERE’S ANGEO MOSCA?

Overall Rating: *½

Starrcade has an Avengers-esque post credits scene with Schiavone and Frazier. A promo happened, and Frazier rambled. What a way to end the show.

Well that was Starrcade 1984! If you want to contact me, or want to suggest any matches or shows to me, the contacts link should be at the top of the page, or use https://myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com/contacts/. I have a RMR in the works and I will be watching Starrcade ’85 soon. Hopefully its better than this. See you next time!

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

  1. Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat – ’84 – ****¼
  2. Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper – ’83 – ****
  3. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair – ’83 – ***¾

-Terrance Smith

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2 Comments

  1. Paul Jones was more than a manager. he WAS a trained wrestler. He held many championships in the Mid Atlantic territory including the NWA World Tag Team Championships and the Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Championship on more than one occasion.

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    Reply

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