NWA Starrcade 1987: Chi-Town Heat Review


Hello everyone, and welcome to my Starrcade 1987 review! Well, this came out way later than I wanted it to. As I’ve said a million times before, I’m really busy, and these reviews take time I don’t really have. That’s why, starting in September, I’m going to use my stockpile of RMR reviews so this site has some content. I want to put out something every 2 weeks, but absolutely no promises. I will still do WWE PPV reviews every month, but Starrcade might take up to 2 months to do sometimes.

Now, about Starrcade 1987. This show seems like an odd one. There are fewer matches, and most matches are longer, which could either cause matches to have great stories, or be a boring slog. Also, most matches have talented wrestlers saddled with worse talent, and that may cause a lack of 4*+ matches. This is all speculation before watching, though, and I hope it exceeds my expectations. Anyway, on to the review!

Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross (!!!) open and hype the show. Unlike the last few years, the show is only in one city, Chicago. There is no dilly-dallying. Instead, we go to the ring for…

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“Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin, Michael “PS” Haynes, & Sting vs. Eddie “Hot Stuff” Gilbert, Rick Steiner, & Larry Zbyszko – Six Man Tag Team Match

            This match was shocking, and absolutely left me speechless. This was a real hidden gem on this show. Now, I will admit it wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was very good, and worth a watch for sure. The beginning was action packed, fast paced, and made me consider putting this into 4* territory. Sting looked pretty impressive, and Rick Steiner really looked like a monster. It slowed down a bit in the middle with the heat segment, but everyone played their role well, with the heel’s offense being especially impressive. Down the stretch the action was fast paced, but the finish was so predictable that it kept me from being completely invested. Really, it just felt like they went long for the sake of going long, with no real reason for it. Also, for what seemed like a blood feud, there seemed to be lack of hatred, but that is a minor complaint in a match like this. This is not a brawl; it is, for all intents and purposes, a spotfest by ‘80s standards. That makes the lack of hatred acceptable, if a little disappointing. This match was good, yet it was missing something, which kept it from truly being great.

Rating: ***¼

The wrestlers continue fighting a little until they realize it’s a timed limit draw. We return to Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross, who introduce the commentators, interviewers, etc. to us. We go backstage with Missy Hyatt, who hypes the card a little and says it’s so exciting. This promo by her was really bland and boring, and she only ran down one match. Ross and Schiavone run down a few other matches before we return to the ring for…

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“Dr. Death” Steve Williams (c.) vs. Barry Windham – UWF Heavyweight Title Match

            How can two wrestlers this talented have such a lifeless match? This just felt pointless and useless, really. The story was both guys were friends, so they tried to wrestle a purely sportsmanlike fight. I’m fine with that if, and only if, the intensity, and action doesn’t suffer. For example, most early ROH matches were sportsmanlike, but both guys still beat the tar out of each other to get a win. This on the other hand felt like these guys were holding back and never got out of first gear. There were some decent sequences, but they never felt important, or like they mattered. Also, down the stretch neither guy felt like they were going for a win. There was absolutely no urgency to anything, which caused a flat finish. This match was flat, plain and simple, and I have no need to ever see this again.

Rating: *¾

This brings us directly to our next match…

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The Rock & Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express – Scaffold Match

Great job on NWA for saddling two teams who can put on classic matches with a terrible gimmick match. I don’t have anything new to say because I said it all in the Starrcade 1986 review (which you should totally read right now). I mean, they tried to have psychology, with Big Bubba Rogers taking out an R & R Express member, but he did it in the ring, which makes no sense. Now you have to drag the R & R Express member up a scaffold, just to throw him right off. It was good effort, but just stupid. The only reason this isn’t negative star territory is because, first, no one’s life was permanently altered for the worse, like last year, and, secondly, Cornette was able to throw his racket up to Beautiful Bobby on the scaffold, and Bobby caught it. Those two things keep this match from being completely awful.

Rating: DUD

Big Bubba Rogers climbs the scaffold to attack the Rock & Roll Express. A low blow allows Ricky Morton to escape from Rogers. Bob Codle is backstage with Precious, Jimmy Garvin, and Michael Hayes. Garvin says his match was a good contest, and he is proud to be a part of Starrcade this year. He hypes the bigger matches on the card and talks about how he and Hayes wants the Tag Team Titles. It had good energy, but it went on for too long and dragged. It got to the point where he should have just been quiet. Next up is Steve Williams. He says that his fight was rough, but he is the champ. Williams states he thinks Barry is talented, but he will go 210% because he is the “wrestling machine of the world”. This brings us too…

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Terry Taylor (c.) vs. Nikita Koloff (c.) – TV Titles Unification Match

            This match was definitely a tale of two halves. The first ten minutes was mostly uninspired, with a lot of stalling, and a very basic story of Taylor’s speed vs. Koloff’s power. Also, Koloff working over Taylor’s arm was a void of entertainment. Then, these two went to the floor, Koloff’s arm was damaged, and this match went into another gear. Taylor’s work on the arm was very exciting, and Koloff’s comebacks were spirited and had lots of fire. On top of the arm work, Taylor would also abuse cheap tactics to keep Koloff’s power at bay. This built to a very climactic finish that had the crowd going crazy. The second half was honestly some of the best wrestling I’ve seen during this review series so far. If the first half was actually compelling, I may have given this 4*.

Rating: ***

We go straight to the entrances for…

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The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) (c.) vs. The Road Warriors – World Tag Team Championship Match

            This match was very good, fast paced, and fun. The Road Warriors used their impressive strength to run through the Horsemen, which forced the Horsemen to find a way to combat it. When they found a strategy that worked, Hawk’s knee, they relentlessly attacked it, often 2 on 1. The heels also cheated to maintain the advantage, which drove the crowd into a frenzy. Then, the finish happened, which was climactic, and made sense. Honestly, that’s about it. There was power, action, a logical story, and a good finish. That’s all I can ask for.

Rating: ***½

Oh wait. They used the Dusty Finish. The Road Warriors actually lose by DQ. Remember all that praise I gave the match. Forget that. The Dusty Finish is an automatic –½* at least. The Warriors were over, so why not give them the belts. Or, if the Horsemen really need the belts, why make them look weak. Fuck this finish, and fuck my life.

Rating: ***

Jack Gregory and Magnum TA waste some time talking about the last match while the cage gets set up. The two hype the rest of the card as well. Bob Codle (WHY ISN’T HE ON COMMENTARY) interviews Nikita Koloff, who cuts a promo is a super stereotypical Russian accent. It’s actually really funny. “I now have two belt! Two belt!” Nikita also says he want to be World Champion. Also, JJ Dillon enters and cuts a great promo about the last match, the main event, and the next match. He talks about how he feels confident that Luger can take out Rhodes. He is one of the best promo men ever. Just outstanding. Then Ross and Schiavone hype the next match, which is…

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Lex Luger (c.) vs. Dusty Rhodes – US Heavyweight Title Match – Steel Cage Match – If Dusty loses, he cannot wrestle for 90 days

This match felt like a perfect time for a nap. The first five minutes were nothing short of great, with Dusty being a veteran with an ace in the hole, the devastating Weaver Lock (which is just a sleeper). They put over this move as a one hit KO, where Dusty could hit it any time and win. That made it feel unique, with Luger not only having to deal with a veteran, but also a killer finisher that can come out of nowhere. Then Dusty forgot all that until the finish, and worked over Luger’s arm for what felt like years. Then Luger returned the favor by doing uninspired arm work as well. This just felt like they had 15 minutes to kill, so they stalled with this. Really, only the first 5 minutes and last 3 minutes matter at all. The middle is excruciatingly boring. Most everything is executed well, but there is nothing to sink your teeth into. There was no good selling or fiery comebacks. Then they had a very hot finish that the crowd dug a lot. It wasn’t really a clean finish, but it wasn’t a Dusty finish for once. Overall, a painfully boring match with a pretty hot finish.

Rating: **

Schiavone and Ross hype the World Heavyweight Title match. Now, it is time for our MAIN EVENT!

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Ronnie Garvin (c.) vs. Ric Flair – World Heavyweight Title Match – Steel Cage Match

Ric Flair feels like the biggest star on the show by far. No one touches him when it comes to pomp and circumstance. He exudes charisma. Ronnie Garvin, however, seems as bland as white bread with vanilla ice cream for dessert. He has no star power at all. He is so bland it hurts. I am not hyped for this match at all, but I hope it over-delivers.

The best way to describe this match is shock. I am absolutely shocked at how great this match is. It’s either one of the best carry jobs in history, or Garvin is underrated as hell. This match was the old guard vs. the new guard, like Starrcade 1983, but Flair now takes the role of the old guard. Garvin was the dangerous young lion with a new strategy that Flair didn’t know how to deal with. Garvin was not intimidated by Flair, like many were, and went tit for tat with Flair’s chops. This caused Flair to go to less than sportsmanly tactics, and work over Garvin’s leg. Down the stretch, Garvin got revenge for the leg work by using the figure four against Flair. Then there was the finishing stretch, which was, quite frankly, great. The near falls were very convincing, and the spots were high impact. After a physical match, they sold exhaustion without making the work sloppy. Also, the parallels to Race vs. Flair was brilliant. Similar story, with wrestlers who posed a similar threat to Flair, and Garvin even used the move Flair used to win the belt. That spot put it over the top for me. The finish was a bit anticlimactic, but alright, and Garvin’s leg selling went from over the top to non-existent in an instant, but those aren’t the biggest gripes. Sure, they keep this match from being a forgotten classic, but they do not keep it from being great.

Rating: ****

Tony Schiavone and Jim Rosstalk about the show a bit, before bidding us farewell. A highlight package plays. Curtain close.


Overall, this may be the easiest Starrcade to watch so far, which is ironic because the review took so long to come out. There was more good than bad, and the main event was a shock in the best way possible. There were a few DUDs, but fewer than years prior. Really, the only huge flaw is the baffling booking of the finishes. The amount of finishes with bullshit is far too high. I think only the scaffold match ended without at least a little bullshit around the finish, but it was still a scaffold match. All these flaws aside, though, the action was consistently good, and the pace of the show was brisk, without much wasted time. Watch it if you can get over finishes that can be the dirt worst.

Overall Rating: ***

Now that was the Starrcade 1987 review! Finally! Now, expect an NXT Takeover review and a Summerslam review about a day after the shows, and maybe a RMR in the next month. The Starrcade 1988 review will be out in approximately 1 month if all goes right, and my schedule stays manageable. But, as always, this is subject to change. My twitter and email are up above at the tab that says Contacts, or here if you want to keep up with this blog, suggest a match, etc. Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and see you at the NXT Takeover: Brooklyn review.

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

  1. Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA – ’85 – *****
  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. Ronnie Garvin vs. Ric Flair – ’87 – ****
  6. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair – ’83 – ***¾

-Terrance Smith

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