NWA Starrcade 1986: The Night of the Skywalkers Review

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Hello everyone and welcome to my Starrcade 1986 review! I just looked at the card and wow. There is pretty much nothing to look forward to. The undercard has been getting progressively worse since Starrcade 1983, and the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping here. There is an Andersons vs. Rock & Roll Express match, that cannot be under 3*, and Ric Flair is talented. Other than that, it’s a pretty bland card. Lets dive right in…

The show starts off with a crazy shot of a scaffold positioned over the ring. I don’t know which match this is for, but it is a bad idea to fall off that. A pretty lackluster light show leads us into the national anthem. Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart run down the card in the Omni, while Bob Codle and Johnny Weaver run down the card in Greensboro. This brings us to Greensboro…

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Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. The Kernodle Brothers

            This match is a gem. I expected a shitty undercard tag match, but instead I got a really fast paced, exciting, well-executed match. Everyone kept the pace up and had good chemistry, but Rocky Kernodle and Tim Horner impressed me. Their opening sequence got me invested in the match, and wowed me. That being said, all the guys worked hard, and put on a good match. There were a few really innovative spots, like a diving sunset flip to reverse a rear naked choke, and I was never bored. I do feel they lost some fire down the stretch, though, and this match could have been cut a couple of minutes and be better off for it. Also, the finish was a tad sloppy and came off a bit flat. Those are minor gripes, though, since this was a wonderful hidden gem.

Rating: ***

This leads us back to The Omni for our next match…

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Brad Armstrong vs. “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin

            This match started strong, and ended strong, but the middle third was boring as hell. It began with some really intense and energetic technical wrestling, which helped display the hatred between the men. After a while, though, the match lost all steam, and became a rest hold fest. They just traded extended headscissors and headlocks forever, and it was just bland. After that, though, the match really picked up and had some nice, high impact action. Garvin looked very impressive, and Armstrong had some really nice, high-octane action. If the match just kept the quick pace throughout, it would be so much better. Instead, it went long for the sake of going long.

Rating: **¾

Brad Armstrong continues to fight Garvin after the bell because, apparently, faces can also be dicks. Precious enters the ring and distracts Armstrong so Garvin can attack him. Garvin and Armstrong trade a few punches, but Garvin gets knocked out of the ring. Garvin teases reentering the ring a few times before just leaving. We return to Greensboro for…

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The Barbarian & Shaska Whatley vs. Baron Von Raschke & Hector Guerrero

            This was a pretty basic tag team match done adequately. The beginning had energy, and was just chaos, which was fun enough. Also, I never thought I would see a plancha over the top rope in an NWA 1986 match. Wow! After that, though, the Barbarian and Shaska got the heat, and they just did stuff. There was nothing offensive, or poorly done, but it was just there. Hector taking the heat, however, was glorious. Most of the time he was just average, but two moments make this absolutely amazing. First, Hector was on his knees, trying to escape a heel, so he waddled on his knees over to the wrong corner. At this point I’m chuckling. Then Hector reverses one of the heel’s move by spitting in his face. That was how Hector made the hot tag! LOL. Then Baron punches a few people, gets the claw for a big pop, reverses a move, and gets the pin. There was nothing bad here, but nothing all that good. Perfectly average.

Rating: **

The heels beat up Von Raschke after the bell before Hector makes the save. We go back to the dressing room with Johnny Weaver and Dusty Rhodes. Dusty tells Johnny to leave his dressing room. This brings us back to the Omni for…

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“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff & Demolition Smash Khrusher Khrushchev (c.) vs. The Kansas Jayhawks – United States Tag Team Championship Match – No DQ Match

            Man, if nothing else, this match had a lot of energy. There weren’t any great wrestling sequences, or high form psychology; this was just a wild 80s brawl. The difference between this and, lets say, Black Bart vs. Ron Bass was that they constantly did stuff, and kept the pace up. Dutch Mantel and Bobby Jaggers made a lot of tags, and brought the fight to the heels. The heels would try to slow the pace, but the faces would manager to keep going. This built somewhat nicely to a wild outside moment where Mantel gets slammed into the announce table, and dropped onto the guard rail. After a very brief heat segment (if you even want to call it that), the chaos ensues, and the weapons come out. This popped the crowd pretty well, and added some juice to the match. The finish was nice, and utilized the weaponry well. Overall, this match was pretty decent, and does not detract from a rock solid show.

Rating: **¼

This brings us back to Greensboro for…

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Rick Rude vs. Wahoo McDaniels – Indian Strap Match

            What is there to say? Every strap match is, for all intents and purposes, the same. The wrestlers punch each other, whip each other, and choke each other. The only creative use of the strap was when Rude hog-tied Wahoo’s hands, but that spot was used 3 times after that by both guys. That is the story of strap matches; even the creative spots become old and tired because this match is so repetitive. This is made worse by a complete lack of wrestling by both men, and Wahoo holding a choke for what felt like years. This match was a boring slog for me. Just the antithesis of compelling. I hate strap matches.

Rating: ½*

Rick Rude and Paul Jones beat down Wahoo, and tie him to the rope before Baron Von Raschke & Hector Guerrero make the save. This brings us backstage with Ivan Koloff & Barry Darsow Khrusher Khrushchev. Koloff says he outsmarted his opponents, and hypes the bunkhouse stampede match. Ivan says he trained Nikita Koloff well, and he wants Nikita to win the belt so he can take it from Nikita. Darsow Khrushchev (in a distinctly American accent) says Nikita is greedy, and he wants to fight both him and Dusty Rhodes. Koloff says he can’t wait for the bunkhouse stampede, and it should be fun. We return to the Omni for…

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Sam Houston (c.) vs. “ Superstar“ Bill Dundee – Central State Heavyweight Championship Match

            This match did pretty much nothing for me. There were a few nice spots, and sequences, but it was surrounded by a lot of nothing. The majority of this match felt like stalling, and rest holds, with little compelling action. Also, Dundee on offense did nothing for me, and he was on offense for the majority of the match. The finish also sucked, and was insanely stupid. A ref bump? Why not just have a clean finish? Houston seemed to be in position for a push, since the commentators were putting him over big time, so why not give him the win? This match was really flat, and ended poorly. It was no good.

Rating: *¾

We return to Greensboro for…

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Paul Jones vs. (This is his last match on Starrcade! I want to celebrate) “The Boogie-Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant – Ragin’ Bull Suspended Over the Ring – Hair vs. Hair Match

            It was bad. It was really bad. Everything about this match, and what I gathered from the feud, was awful. I loathe this. Okay, so before the match even starts, they have to waste 5 minutes getting Ragin’ Bull in the fucking cage. This causes them to call down all the faces just to get him in the cage. It was such a waste of time for a match that was a waste of time anyway. Now, onto the stipulation, Hair vs. Hair. Now, you would think it would be the hair of Valiant vs. the hair of Jones, but you, sir or ma’am, are wrong. They put Valiant’s valet Big Momma’s hair on the line. Now, first let me say, FUCK YOU VALIANT! YOU CANT EVEN PUT YOUR HAIR ON THE LINE IN A BLOWOFF TO A FEUD! FUCK OFF! Second, before you say that the commentators said he already lost his hair, and this is for revenge, answer this: how could Valiant lose his hair, AND STILL BE THE HAIRIEST GUY ON THE SHOW?!?! So, in storyline, Valiant should be the heel, right? He has an unfair advantage, since he is allowed to have a valet, but Jones is not, and he refuses to put his own hair on the line, so he puts his innocent valet’s hair on the line. Now, onto the match. Valiant punches Jones a few times, Jones uses a foreign object, Valiant comes back, uses a sleeper, uses the foreign object in front of the ref, and wins via cheating. It was so dumb. Valiant did next to nothing, forcing a manager to try to carry this match. Valiant also cheated in front of the referee, making the ref look stupid, and then won via cheating, which should make him a heel. Not only that, but this match was boring beyond belief, and was horribly executed. Nothing was done well at all. Finally, though, the last Jimmy Valiant match comes to a close.

Rating: -**

Valiant shaves Jones’ head, before Ragin’ Bull and Rick Rude attack Jimmy Valiant. This feud continues? Good thing I don’t have to watch it anymore. Rude and Bull hit MNM’s snapshot onto a chair, and the heels escort Jones away. Big Mamma’ and a few faces check on Valiant’s condition, and carry him out of the ring. Back in the Omni, Schiavone hypes the Bunkhouse Stampede in December and a video with Bob Taylor, and Nelson Royal hypes the danger, and importance of the match. Next is the Jim Corckett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Cup hype. This brings us to…

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Ron Garvin vs. Big Bubba Rogers – Louisville Street Fight

            I thought this match was good, but the finish was a bit weird. Garvin was the faster of the two, so he would use quick punches to tire out Bubba. Bubba, however, was huge, and used his strength and size to smother Garvin. This was well-done, basic psychology that persisted throughout the match. The action was back and forth, with both men using their aforementioned strategies to gain the upper hand. The finish was really weird, and I’m not sure whether I like it or hate it. If you wish to avoid spoilers, skip the rest of this match review. For some reason, a ref bump was necessary in a no DQ, but lets look past that. That led to Garvin hitting a piledriver, but Jim Cornette “cheating” and clubbing Garvin with the tennis racket. That caused a double count out to occur, but, since there must be a winner, the referee declared the first person to his feet the winner. Garvin made it to his feet, but Bubba distracted the referee. This allowed Cornett to hit Garvin in the knee, so the referee only saw Bubba make it to his feet. I love how crafty Cornett looks, and how despicable he seems, but the referee’s ruling seems illogical. Why not just let the match continue? I dunno, it just seemed weird. Other than that, this match was better than it had any right to be. Smartly worked, and a well-utilized heel finish makes this match above average. I’m impressed!

Rating: **½

We return to Greensboro for our next matchup…

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Dusty Rhodes (c.) vs. Tully Blanchard – World TV Championship Match – First Blood Match

            This match just didn’t really work. There was good psychology of both guys protecting their heads from strikes, but this lead to a lot of stalling. To be honest, most of this match was stalling. I wish I could really analyze it, but it was just a few strikes followed by stalling, rinse and repeat. The finish kept this from being completely atrocious, though. The ref bump was hilarious, with him getting hit, then annihilated by a suplex. There was also creative and fun heel work too. JJ Dillon trying to stop Tully from bleeding was clever, and well done. Honestly, JJ Dillon is one of the best heels ever, and Tully is criminally underrated. Their heel tactics kept this match from disaster, and made it somewhat watchable. If the two wrestlers actually wrestled, this match could have been very good.

Rating: *½

Dusty is pissed after the bell, and yells at the referee. We return to the Omni for our next match…

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The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express – Scaffold Match

“This isn’t even civilization… It’s ludacris. It’s insane. Its stupid.” That quote by Jim Cornette in this match sums up my thoughts. I loathe this match more than anyone else I’ve seen review this show. I loathe this match more than I loathe most matches in history. I loathe this match so much. This is too dangerous, and the bookers should be ashamed of putting their wrestlers in a situation like this. Before you say anything like “what about ultraviolence and ladder matches”, let me counter that by saying, light tubes won’t be killing anyone on impact anytime soon, and the tallest of ladders I’ve seen in a ladder match are less than half the height of a scaffold. And for ultraviolence with scaffolds, the scaffolds there are about the same height as ladders in most ladder matches. This scaffold was 25 ft.! That fall could kill people. It can break limbs (like we will see soon). It can ruin lives (like we will see soon too). Because of that, all these guys couldn’t do anything without risk of death. That means this was all punches and kicks, with nothing looking particularly good. The only reason I don’t go all the way is because this is not the wrestlers fault. They were put in a stupid situation, sucked it up, and did the match. Compliments to them for having the guts to do this.

Rating: -****

Paul Ellering and the Road Warriors chase Jim Cornette up the scaffolding. Jim falls, breaks his leg, and now has a fucked leg for the rest of his life. This is shameful. I’m sorry Jim Cornette. A video hypes the Great American Bash tour. Credits for the production staff of Starrcade 1986 run. After, we return to Greensboro for…

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The Rock & Roll Express (c.) vs. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew – World Tag Team Championship Match – Steel Cage Match

Oh boy what a match! This is how you do a heat segment in wrestling. Nowadays its used in the same way a rest hold is, just to waste time until the finish. In this match, however, it was the bigger, burly heels overpowering and dominating the faces. This built drama, instead of bolster boredom. The Andersons went all out, and, first, worked over the leg of Robert Gibson, and then went after the leg of Ricky Morton. The Rock & Roll Express sold their limbs beautifully, and added to the match tenfold. They also were able to perfectly portray the exhaustion of an asskicking. Now, onto the cage. The cage was used to aid the Andersons in their domination, and assist the Rock and Roll Express in trying to make the hot tag. Instead of clashing with the work in the match, it accentuated the positives of this style. What made this match special, though, was the two heat segments. I know what you’re thinking, “He said he hated matches for this exact reason, right?”. Yes, I did. The difference is, quite simply, these heat segments were enthralling. The heat built drama, and crescendoed to a molten finish. The finish was a fitting climax to this match, making the Rock & Roll Express look good, while also not disregarding the domination of The Andersons. There really isn’t anything done poorly in this match. These teams worked a familiar formula in the best way possible.

Rating: ****

The Andersons continue to beat up the Rock & Roll Express after the bell. They escape, and the Andersons remain in the ring. We are brought back to the Omni for our MAIN EVENT!

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Ric Flair (c.) vs. Nikita Koloff – World Heavyweight Title Match

Let me just say Ric Flair’s entrance is always the coolest on the show. He carries himself like such a star, and times everything just right. Wait, hold on a minute. One minute I’m looking at Ric Flair, and the next second I’m looking at this…

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What the hell is going on?!?!

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What.                   The.                   Fuck.                     Is                   This?

There are no words. There are no answers. Just Magnum TA. Now it is time for Nikita Koloff. I have never been more confused, but I haven’t laughed this hard in a while. Okay NOW its time for our MAIN EVENT

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Ric Flair (c.) vs. Nikita Koloff (US Heavyweight Champion) – World Heavyweight Title Match – Champion vs. Champion Match

            Only Flair’s title is on the line.

This match felt kind of like a Samoa Joe match during his ROH Title run. Nikita was like Joe, superior to his opponent in most ways. He had strength, size, weight, and high impact offense. Flair had to try to weather the storm of Koloff through smart offense, and counters. One counter in particular opens Nikita up to leg work by Flair, which preps him for the figure four. Also, Flair would resort to less than sportsmanly tactics to try to beat Nikita. This basic psychology paid off, making this match better than I expected. Nikita was great as the large bruiser, and Flair was fantastic as always. The only issues I have are, first, Nikita did not sell his leg down the stretch, which renders the leg work as almost meaningless. Also, the finish was a real downer on an otherwise great match. I realized that a ref bump was inevitable, but two were excessive, and the actual finish sucked something fierce. Those issues aside, this was a great match I enjoyed very much.

Rating: ***½

Flair jumps Nikita from behind, and the locker room empties. Koloff murders everyone, but some heels and Flair beat him up. Faces come out, but the brawling continues. Everyone is eventually pulled apart, and Flair receives the belt. The brawl restarts, but Flair and Koloff are pulled apart again. Schiavone and Stewart reminisce about the show, and play us into the highlight video of the show. Close curtain.

Overall:

Minus one really bad patch in the middle, this was a good show. It started with a string of enjoyable matches, with one I would call a hidden gem. The show stumbled after the strap match, and fell off a cliff during the Valiant match, though. After one of my personal least favorite matches I have ever seen, the double main event happened, which was gold. The Tag Title match was phenomenal, and Koloff vs. Flair was tons of fun. Since this show had two matches I put in the minus star range, and other matches below two stars, I’m not sure this show is quite good. It is, however, above average and the good far outweighs the bad.

Rating: **¾

That was Starrcade ’86, which, in my opinion, was the best Starrcade yet. I am still bingeing on random matches for RMR, for reasons that will be made clear by summer’s end. Anyway, I really want your feedback. Leave a comment, or contact with the information here https://myjourneythroughwrestling.wordpress.com/contacts/. Anyway, see you at Starrcade 1987!

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

  1. Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA *****
  2. Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat – ’84 – ****¼
  3. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew vs. The Rock & Roll Express – ’86 – ****
  4. Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper – ’83 – ****
  5. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair – ’83 – ***¾

-Terrance Smith

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