NWA Starrcade 1985: The Gathering Review


Hello everyone and welcome to the Starrcade 1985 review. I haven’t heard much about this show, but I am über excited to watch. I saw Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard a few years back and gave it 5*, so I can’t wait to see it again. Also, this show had the Flair vs. Rhodes rematch, which I enjoyed last year. Overall, it looks like its going to be a good show. Lets get started!

The show starts with Bob Codle and Tony Schiavone (sadly not Gordon Solie) in Atlanta welcoming us to the show. They introduce Johnny Weaver, who is at Greensboro Coliseum. Apparently this show is like Wrestlemania 2, with 2 venues with 2 separate cards. Schiavone, Codle, and Weaver hype the biggest matches on the card, and run down some feuds. This brings us to Greensboro Coliseum for the National Anthem. This leads us to…


Krusher Khruschev (AKA Barry Darsow AKA Demolition Smash) vs. Sam Houston – Vacant Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship Match

            This match told a basic story of speed vs. strength very well, but stalling, rest hold, and a less than stellar finish hold this match back. There were a few nice sequences where Khruschev used his strength, and Houston used his speed, but for every good sequence there was some stalling or a rest hold. The selling was really good though, and Houston made Khruschev look great, and very powerful. Although the finish does make Houston look like a complete moron, I like the parallelism of the rope breaks. This was better than it should have been, but still not good.

Rating: **


We go straight into…


“Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez vs. Abdullah the Butcher – Mexican Death Match

I can honestly say bad brawls are the worst. This match is essentially a sombrero on a pole match. SOMEBODY CALL VINCE RUSSO! This match dragged on forever, and never really got out of first gear. There were punches, weapon shots, more punches, more weapon shots, and climb teases galore. I never felt any intensity or urgency at all from these two. The icing on the cake is that the finish came out of nowhere. I almost fell asleep.

Rating: *

 Johnny Weaver interviews Krusher Khruschev, who does not sound a little Russian. He says Russians are the superior athletes, and he will keep the title forever. Also, he hypes the Russians vs. The Rock & Roll Express match later in the card. It was a nothing promo. This leads to…

“Cowboy” Ron Bass vs. Black Bull – Texas Bullrope Match – If Bass wins, he gets a 5 minute Texas Bullrope Match with JJ Dillon

            I FUCKING HATE THIS MATCH! It was so long, had little intensity, minimal variations of offense, and next to no back and forth action. Bart looked awful, as he was dominated by Bass for the whole match. The only things that happened for eight minutes were punches, cowbell shots, and choking. This is 80s garbage at its worst, and both men should be ashamed. I hate this so much. Calling it bad is giving it too much credit.

Rating: -*

 JJ Dillon gets the jump on Ron Bass immediately after Bass’ victory. This leads to…


Ron Bass vs. JJ Dillon – 5 Minute Texas Bullrope Match

Someone tell me why did Dillon took off his shirt? Also, why did Dillon (a manager) get so much offense of Bass (a badass cowboy wrestler)? Also, why did Bart have to wait for a ref bump to interfere in a NO DQ MATCH????? This was, again, just a few bell shots, punches, and some choking. Bart screws Bass after a ref bump, which makes no sense. Why does this feud need to continue? Bass beat Bart clean! Also, why did they give JJ Dillon, a manager, a win over wrestler Ron Bass? Seriously, this is some of the worst wrestling I’ve ever seen. Both these matches were garbage, and infuriate me. At least this match was short.

Rating: -*

This brings us straight to…


The Barbarian vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham – $10,000 Arm Wrestling Match

            It was a lot of stalling, followed by some boring fake arm wrestling. Graham makes a comeback and gets the win.

Rating: N/A

 Paul Jones hits Graham with his cane to start our next match.

The Barbarian vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham

            This match was too short to be anything. There were a few punches and kicks, before Graham locked in bearhug. Paul Jones saves the Barbarian by hitting Graham, getting the DQ.

Rating: ½*

Graham hits Jones with the cane, before Barbarian knocks him out of the ring. The Barbarian beats him into the audience, but the referee breaks it up. The ref raises Graham’s hand. This leads us to…


Terry Taylor (c.) vs. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell– National Heavyweight Championship Match

            This match had potential, and I feel these guys could have a 4*+ match for sure. The issue I have is that it was so bloody slow. Rest hold after rest hold after rest hold. They would string a fantastic, crisp, and exciting sequence together, but then they would lock in a rest hold for the next few minutes. The punches, chops and kicks were great, and both guys hit some stellar moves. Taylor hit a nice legdrop and a Misawa-esque running elbow, while Landell hit one hell of a lariat. The finish wasn’t ruined by interference, and actually looked very good. If there were fewer rest holds, I would call it great. However, the abundance of rest holds prevents it from even being good.

Rating: **¾

 This leads straight into…

The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (c.) vs. Wahoo McDaniels & Billy Jack Haynes – National Tag Team Championship Match

            This was the standard heat segment tag match done to perfection. It wasn’t anything that will blow you away, but the execution was superb. Haynes was very energetic, and impressed me, Wahoo was more motivated than I have ever seen him, and the Andersons were fantastic. Ole & Arn have to be the best at executing heat segments, no matter what side of it they are on. Ole & Arn only tag their parter in when they get in trouble, which makes sense and is forgotten in most modern tags. Once Wahoo made the tag, Haynes ran wild and had some nice offense. The right person ate the fall, and everyone looked strong. If this tag structure wasn’t so overused, I might rate this higher.

Rating: ***¼

Mr. Weaver announces a 15 minute intermission to set up the cage. My version jumps right to an interview with Mr. Weaver interviewing JJ Dillon and Buddy Landell. JJ cuts a nice promo putting over Landell, himself, and shows his disappointment in Bart. Dillon says he punished Bass, and is the new champion of the Texas Bullrope Match. That is great. Landell says Dillon turned his career around, and he has modeled himself after great champions, like Ric Flair. He then quotes Flair. Man, Flair fetish much? I loved this promo, though. FINALLY we get to the match I’m looking forward to…


Tully Blanchard (c.) vs. “The Vastly Popular” Magnum TA – US Heavyweight Championship Match – I Quit Steel Cage Match

            Oh my god what a match. This match had everything the other brawls on the card lacked. There was brutality, intensity, hatred, and story. These guys convinced me they really hated each other and wanted to hurt one another. The early story was Tully trying to slow down Magnum with wrestling, and double leg takedowns, but Magnum, being a hot head, came in guns blazing and shooting to kill. That isn’t to say Tully did not participate in some big shots though. He hit a few punches and a really beefy european uppercut. Magnum eventually gained control, and this devolved into a brutal brawl. This segment, however, wasn’t just mindless violence; as I said, it had layers. Magnum injured Tully’s arm by slamming it against the cage, so he ripped and tore at the flesh wound. Tully, however, worked over the eyes a bit to escape some tight situations (Remember this later, because I’m gonna blow your mind). I loved that the referee never obsessed with asking whether the wrestlers quit or not, and left that to the wrestlers. This caused a brilliant spot to occur, where Magnum wasted time asking Blanchard if he quit, which lead to Blanchard gaining the upper hand. Man, that is great. The finish, however, puts this over the top as something truly classic. A wooden chair gets thrown into the ring, and Tully breaks it to make a spike. The ref gets in is way, so, in a rage, he knocks over the ref and uses the spike to try to stab… THE EYE! HOLY SHIT! THAT WAS BRILLIANT PSYCHOLOGY! The finish is fittingly brutal and caps off this perfect match. The only flaw I can find is no one ever said I Quit, but instead said “YES! YES!”. That’s minor, though, and is completely irrelevant. Watch this match right now. If 6* matches existed, this would be one.

Rating: *****


After Tully quits, Magnum considers continuing the beatdown, but stops because he plays by the rules and is a swell guy. What a face he was. For our last match in Greensboro, we have…


The Midnight Express vs. Ms. Altanta Lively & (Fuck me I have to watch another of his matches. Just kill me now) “The Boogie-Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant – Atlanta Street Fight

            *sigh* Let me start with a positive. The Midnight Express tried really hard. There, I was nice during a Jimmy Valiant match. Any time a bash a wrestler’s match, I try to say that I don’t hate them, just their work, which is true. I can’t say, however, that I didn’t smirk whenever I saw Valiant get hit though. That was very rarely though, since VALIANT DID NOTHING DURING THE MATCH! He took 3 bumps tops and hit a few punches and a sleeper. Fuck off. Bobby takes a hip toss on the floor, but you can’t even bump? Come on. Also, apparently every match Valiant has needs to involve stripping. ’83, he has to strip off his mask if he loses. ’84, he strips a manager, may I repeat, FOR NO REASON. ’85, the gimmick is that the Express wants to reveal Miss Atlanta is a drag queen, so they try to strip ze (gender neutral pronoun) to show ze dick. What?!?! Also, Valiant gets in on the action by stripping off a Midnight Express member’s tux. Technically, this wasn’t negative star worthy, since the Midnight Express worked hard, but after such a great brawl, I get this? Come on.

Rating: DUD

Valiant strips Jim Cornett. What the actual fuck. A GROWN MAN IS IN HIS BOXERS! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA THIS IS COMEDY! Now can I be done with Jimmy Valiant. No? I have to watch him vs. Paul Jones next year? DAMMIT!

Mr. Weaver interviews Magnum TA, who says the title is back home, and says he will take all challengers. What a great and intense promo. Next up is…

Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. The Rock and Roll Express – World Tag Team Titles Match – Cage Match

            This was exactly what you would expect from these two teams. The Russians were two dastardly powerhouses, while the R & R Express were the spunky, fast-paced faces. The R & R express had some nice spots, and offense before the Russians began beating on Gibson. The cage was used sparingly, and only when necessary. The Russians used it to slow down the pace, while the R & R Express used it in tandem with some quick paced offense. A few things don’t make sense, like why, in a No DQ match there are rope breaks, and why Morton doesn’t just run in and save his partner since he can’t get DQed, and how tags have to be made in a No DQ match, but this was very good. While the ref bump was kinda unnecessary, the actual finish was great, and a nice way to end a good match.

Rating: ***¼

 The Russians attack Gibson post match, but Morton escapes the cage. Both members of the R & R Express are bleeding, and Morton looks horrible. The Russians hit a disgusting top rope clothesline backdrop driver combo, dropping Gibson right on his neck, before wrestlers backstage make the save. Now it is time for our MAIN EVENT.


Ric Flair (c.) vs. Dusty Rhodes – Worlds Heavyweight Championship Match

            There is some serious anger in both men’s eyes, and they look like they hate each other. Apparently Flair created the Four Horsemen before this match. This is a rematch from last year’s main event, which was pretty good. I hope this one is at least as good as last year.


I enjoyed this match quite a bit. It wasn’t the smoothest, or a 5* classic, but it was enjoyable. The idea of Dusty going after Flair’s leg was good, since it was vengeance for the Horsemen injuring him, but Flair didn’t sell the leg at all, which made a large portion of the match feel worthless. Dusty’s injury, however, was sold to perfection. Dusty tweaked it a few times, which was good foreshadowing, and he devastated it when he accidentally kicked the turnbuckle. Then, Flair ambushed the leg and got a figure four soon after. Other than that, the pace was quick, Flair played a good chicken shit heel, and Dusty was a fiery babyface. The finish may seem normal enough, and even good, but a little research reveals it was the dreaded Dusty Finish. If you’ve read my work at all, you should know I hate the Dusty Finish with a burning passion. I hate it. It really just made the match feel dumb, and worthless. Anyhow, good match with a seemingly good finish,

Rating: ***

You’ve all seen this before. All the faces rush the ring to celebrate with Dusty. A freeze frame on Dusty with the belt, and a guy is heard saying “Excuse me” increasingly angrily. The lights for the ring flash a few times, before we cut to the back with Schiavone and Dusty. All the faces hog the camera, while Dusty cuts a spirited promo celebrating his victory. Bob Codle and Tony Schiavone talk about the card, and hype Starrcade 1986. A highlight package plays us out, and reminds me how awful the first hour was.

            I can’t call this card good. There is a lot of good on it, and a recommend checking that out, but the first hour was one of the worst hours of wrestling I’ve ever seen, and the Valiant match was shockingly bad (or not shocking, depending on your perspective). If nothing else, watch Blanchard vs. Magnum. This show has a few gems, but it sucks that you have to search through shit to find them.

Overall Rating: **½

That was Starrcade 1985! I am currently bingeing random matches to stockpile reviews for RMR, so expect those to come out consistently soon. Also, those articles I’ve been suggesting forever are NOT coming out any time soon. Or are they… Anyway, if you want to contact me, or recommend some wrestling for me, go to https://myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com/contacts/. Anyway, see you next time at either a RMR or the Starrcade 1986 review.

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

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

-Terrance Smith

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