Crockett Cup 1988 – Thank Goodness This Is The Last One

Crockett Cup 1988
Date: April 22, 1988/April 23, 1988
Location: Greenville Memorial Auditorium, Greenville, South Carolina/Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Attendance: 4,400/6,300
Commentators: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone

It’s the final one of these and this is by far the most complicated of all. As usual the tournament was scheduled to have 24 teams, but there were a bunch of messes involved in it, which I’ll get to in a minute. This is another two night tag team tournament for the sake of having a two night tag team tournament. The NWA is in trouble to the WWF at this point, but Ted Turner would be coming in for the save soon. Let’s get to it.

First off, the brackets. There are two teams with byes listed, which is the result of a lot of storyline stuff. If you’re not interested in why there are byes, skip ahead to the brackets themselves. Lex Luger and Barry Windham were world tag team champions as faces, but two days before the tournament, Windham turned heel and joined the Horsemen, giving Anderson/Blanchard the tag titles. Windham also took the spot in the Horsemen that Luger had been kicked out of, starting a huge feud. That’s one team gone.

The reigning champions of the tournament, the Super Powers (Nikita Koloff/Dusty Rhodes) were taken out because Rhodes was suspended from the company for 120 days because he hit the boss with a ball bat (also causing him to be stripped of the US Title). Since he was gone, Nikita had no partner so he was given a world title shot on this show as well. There are two teams gone.

Sting and Ronnie Garvin were scheduled to team together as one of the teams automatically in the second round. However, during another of the non-tournament matches, Garvin was injured by Kevin Sullivan so Sting was paired with Lex Luger and they would go on in the tournament. So to sum up, we’re down two teams of the original 24 to make it 22, meaning that one team is automatically going to the semi-finals after one win.

So you got all that?

Here are the brackets. As usual, the team in parentheses is the team that the winners will face in round 2.

Johnny Ace/John Savage
Brad Armstrong/Tim Horner
(Midnight Express)

Cruel Connection
Sheepherders
(Midnight Express)*

Ivan Koloff/Dick Murdoch
Mighty Wilbur/Jimmy Valiant
(Lex Luger/Sting)

Chris Champion/Mark Starr
Twin Devils
(Powers of Pain)

Rocky King/Nelson Royal
Tiger Conway Jr./Shaska Whatley
(Road Warriors)

Green Machine/Terminator
Italian Stallion/Kendall Windham
(Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard)

Bye/Bye
Bye/Bye
(Bye/Bye)**

Joe Cruz/Ricky Santana
Al Perez/Larry Zbyszko
(Fantastics)

Varsity Club
Ron Simmons/Steve Williams
(N/A)***

Ok so on to the asterisks.

* – Since there weren’t enough teams to have a first round, the winner of Sheepherders/Armstrong/Horner gets the match against the Midnight Express.

** – Anderson/Blanchard are in the spot where the winner of the second round match goes on to the semi-finals.

*** – For some reason the Varsity Club and Simmons/Williams are already in the second round. The winner of that faces whoever comes out of the three teams above them in the third round.

So you got all that too? Let’s have some bad tag matches!

Also remember this is the home video version, so there’s A LOT of clipping.

Crockett Cup First Round: Mighty Wilbur/Jimmy Valiant vs. Dick Murdoch/Ivan Koloff

Wilbur is a very fat hillbilly. He and Koloff start us off. There was no intro or anything like that so we’re really thrown into things quickly here. Wilbur throws them around with ease and it’s off to Valiant who dances a lot. Valiant takes over and it’s off to Murdoch. Koloff comes in and Valiant no sells a lot so it’s back to Wilbur. They’re clipping some here I think but it’s done better than usual. Murdoch hits a knee to the back of Valiant and the Sickle ends this.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Ron Simmons/Steve Williams vs. Varsity Club

Steiner/Rotunda for the Club here. Williams tries to wrestle Williams and he gets punched in the face for his efforts. Williams runs through both opponents as only he could. He was the Brock Lesnar of his day so expect some high impact dominance. After destroying Steiner for fun it’s off to Simmons who is no slouch either as far as power goes. Off to Rotunda again who is the talented member here.

Simmons keeps up the football power style but he gets caught by a cheap shot from Steiner to give the Varsity Club the advantage. A lot of Simmons getting beaten down is clipped here which is probably good due to the sake of time. Oh yeah there’s some clipping as we go from Rotunda hitting Simmons to a shot of the crowd to a big brawl. Simmons is sent to the floor and Kevin Sullivan gets a shot in on him, giving the Varsity Club the countout win.

Rating: D+. Not bad here but the clipping takes away however good it could have been. The Varsity Club reached some pretty high levels on the heel totem pole in the next year and you could see it starting with this one, as they were totally outmatched but used numbers and cheating to advance. Could have been a lot better with time and no clipping.

That’s all we see of round one but the brackets are really confusing so I’ll wait for round three before I update the brackets. Nothing of note happens in round one so you’re not missing any upsets.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard vs. Italian Stallion/Kendall Windham

The Horsemen are tag champions. Windham is Barry’s real life brother but he and Stallion are jobbers. Kendall looks like Magnum TA, almost the point where I’d believe he was copied from his look. Stallion is a big power guy. Anderson shrugs off some offense and pounds away on the arm and ribs before bringing Tully back in. I keep thinking that when they cut to a shot of the crowd that they’re clipping but it’s just an NWA thing.

Off to Windham vs. Anderson and there’s the spinebuster (has a name here) and we’re clipped to Windham fighting back. Stallion comes in and we’re clipped again to Stallion making the comeback. And never mind as he ducks his head in front of Arn and since that’s just stupid, the DDT sends the Horsemen on to the semi-finals due to a bye. Too short and clipped to be rated.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Road Warriors vs. Jive Tones

The Jive Tones are Whatley and Conway. Animal runs over Whatley and things break down quickly. Animal is all like oh please and throws them both off the corner at once. Hawk comes in and just mauls people. Animal just shrugs them off again and brings in Hawk who hits a dropkick (one footed but whatever) and a top rope clothesline ends Whatley. Total squash.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Fantastics vs. Al Perez/Larry Zbyszko

The Fantastics were US Tag Champions at this point. Perez vs. Rogers starts us off. I like the Fantastics so this should be good. Rogers tries to speed things up as is his custom but Larry slips in a knee to break that up. Larry tries a backdrop but Rogers lands on his feet (SWEET) and it’s off to Fulton. Fulton and Perez speed things up a bit and Perez is in WAY over his head here. The heels take over on Fulton and we’re told we’re ten minute in as Fulton gets the pin on Larry off a very fast small package. Again, not long enough to rate.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Dick Murdoch/Ivan Koloff

Sting is still very new on the national stage so Luger is the veteran here, despite having been in the big time less than two years. Luger runs over Koloff and must have done so for awhile because the opening has some clipping. Off to Sting who is as over as free beer. They have Magnum TA with them also so who do you think the popular team is? Sting escapes the corner but Murdoch takes him down by the arm.

Sting gets beaten down in the heel corner and Ross says don’t bother hitting Murdoch in the face because he won’t care. He gets knocked to the floor and Murdoch adds a chair to the back of Sting. Back in and Sting fires off a quick Stinger Splash to break things up. Everything breaks down and Sting reverses a slam into a small package for two that we’ll call three.

Rating: C-. Not a horrible match here but the clipping hurt it a lot. That’s the same thing that you can say about the whole show for the most part as it’s hard to get into a match when you keep clipping things up and taking out so much from each of the matches. Also, it’s not like there was any doubt as to who wins here, but that goes for almost all tournaments.

Crockett Cup Second Round: Sheepherders vs. Midnight Express

Big brawl to start and I think they’re all heels here. I can never remember when the Express turned face but it was huge at the time. Eaton gets double teamed and goes to the floor with Luke. Everything breaks down and Eaton pops Butch with the tennis racket for the pin. This was a mess.

That’s it for the first two rounds so here are the quarterfinals.

Midnight Express
Lex Luger/Sting

Powers of Pain
Road Warriors

Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard
BYE

Fantastics
Varsity Club

Jimmy Garvin vs. Kevin Sullivan

This is a Prince of Darkness Deathmatch, which means blindfold match. Clipped to them stumbling around until they get their hands on each other in the corner. Garvin keeps trying to point while the fans cheer him. Now logic would ask why he would do that if Precious is outside and he can presumably hear her. Also, if anything goes, why not rip the mask off? The idiocy of the match is that they keep stumbling around without any contact. And there’s a small package (move of the night so far) from Garvin for the pin. Horrible on all levels.

Rick Steiner and Ronnie Garvin come out for the beatdown and save. Ronnie takes a spike to the chest which would be the injury that kept him out of the tournament.

Up next is the final of the Bunkhouse Stampede, which aired on a PPV of the same name in January. The match is clipped here but I’m not watching it again so here’s the full version from the PPV.

Bunkhouse Stampede

Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Ivan Koloff, The Warlord (wearing a Lifeguard shirt for no apparent reason), Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, The Barbarian, Animal.

Dusty gets a big entrance of course with all his accomplishments listed. Did I mention he was booking at the time? Seriously, ONLY DUSTY had anything listed about him, including the match he won to qualify here, his world title reigns, his US Title reigns, and his TV Title reigns. No one else got anything but their normal entrances. This could get bad fast. All eight are in there at once. There aren’t any weapons like promised or anything.

Remember, it’s a battle royal in a cage where you have to throw them over the ropes or through the door. My goodness this is idiotic. Apparently it’s unheard of for someone to win three straight Bunkhouse Stampedes. That could be because this is THE THIRD ONE! Wow Dusty lowered some IQs. Everyone is in some screwed up street clothes of some kind and this is just idiotic.

Apparently the referee has to determine if a guy goes over the cage or through the door, since that’s overly complicated I guess. Wow shoving people OVER A CAGE looks stupid. See, when it was a regular battle royal, IT MADE SENSE. Blanchard and Anderson work together of course. Barbarian, Warlord and Koloff are in the same stable mind you so they’ll likely work together. Koloff and Dusty climb the cage due to idiocy.

I’m watching people try to throw PEOPLE over a cage. Does that sound stupid to you or is it just me? How hard would it be to throw someone that is fighting back over a cage wall? Because to me, IT SOUNDS IMPOSSIBLE. Also, there are a lot of people walking around on the top ropes which is just freaking stupid too. No one is out or anything yet.

Arn saves himself from being thrown out the door as I realize how much this sounds like a really bad comedy sketch. Koloff is bleeding. Winner gets half a millon dollars. Not sure if I said that or not but I don’t want to stop the tape long enough to go back and read it. I feel sorry for Ross and Caudle trying to make this sound interesting or intense or whatever it’s supposed to be.

Luger and Dusty just go off as we’re supposed to believe that a guy that is built like Dusty is supposed to be in the same kind of condition as a stallion like Luger. Right. Oh yeah, and keep in mind this whole cowboy southern thing is in NEW YORK CITY. They continue to try to make this sound good and it’s just failing. Wow this was ten days before I was born and 12 before Hogan lost the world title to Andre. Holy crap that’s weird to think about.

Still no one out and we’re almost 15 minutes into this. It’s mainly just people in jeans hitting people with belts and boots. Yeah it’s riveting in case you can’t tell. Dusty’s arm is bleeding from being worked over with a belt. Make this stop please. Animal tries to shove Anderson over the top. I want to break this match.

Koloff, like an idiot, although at this time he’s one of two former world champions in there somehow, climbs over the cage to get away from Animal and gets knocked out to take us down to seven. Oh sweet mercy kill me now. So let’s just keep the camera on Koloff FOREVER as we see the EPIC DRAMA of him standing up. Animal and Warlord fight to the door and Warlord gets knocked to the door. Animal gets kicked in the head by Barbarian and it knocks both guys out in a stupid looking spot.

We have Dusty, Luger, Anderson, Blanchard and Barbarian left. Blanchard gets put in the Rack which at least hurts him. Some fan shouts about how freaking gay this is. Thanks for that. Luger takes a Gourdbuster and the Horsemen try to throw him out. Since Luger didn’t have any gourds on him though, he was fine and stays in.

Anderson, Luger and Blanchard fight by the door and they all go out after like three minutes of fighting. Arn at one point stood on the third step and choked Luger. Yeah he deserved to lose. So we have Barbarian vs. Dusty. Any bets on who wins here? Barbarian gets some brass knuckles and pops Dusty with them. Barbarian hits like three of his top rope headbutt finishers but Dusty fights back baby!

They climb to the top rope for the epic move known as the OH NO THIS MATCH MAKES NO SENSE SO LET’S CLIMB UP SO WE CAN HAVE A REASON TO GET THROWN OVER THE CAGE! Yep, Dusty wins by hitting the elbow to the head and we’re done. Earl Hebner is the referee here but would be in WWF in 12 days for the famous twin angle. Dusty gets a big bronze cowboy boot. Give me a FREAKING BREAK!

We hear about Dusty was considering retiring before this but came back “for the people.” So he was about to leave and came back for the people. So apparently by coming back for the people, he just had to come up with a PPV for himself and put himself over in it. Sure why not.

Rating: F. There was a cage match with a battle royal going on. This was a MASSIVE love letter from Dusty to Dusty. This was all about getting him even FURTHER over and making things look even stupider. Somehow Dusty was the wildcard and the favorite at the same time. He’s US Champion already but was going to retire. I give up. Just a joke of a main event and a show.

Crockett Cup Quarterfinals: Powers of Pain vs. Road Warriors

This is the only match shown from this round. Barbarian vs. Animal gets us going and Animal sends him to the floor with a powerslam. It goes to the floor and the Warriors take over again. Hawk throws the wooden steps at Barbarian and kind of hits him. Paul Jones, the Powers’ manager, freaks out about it to no avail. Hawk vs. Warlord now and Hawk takes over, hitting a middle rope punch for two.

Double teaming by the bad guys take over and Hawk gets beaten down a bit. There’s a big boot to put Hawk down for two. There’s a powerslam for the same. This is kind of winding down I think. Bearhug time which is required in a power match. Hawk kicks him low to escape a full nelson but Barbarian comes in again for a bearhug of his own. There’s some heel miscommunication though and Hawk takes Barbarian down with a clothesline. There’s a hot tag to Animal who cleans house. Animal accidentally clotheslines the referee and everything breaks down. Animal pins Barbarian, Dusty Finish, Powers of Pain win. Blow me.

Rating: D+. The match was ok and then we get a bogus finish to tick off the crowd. It was about Animal hitting the referee by mistake so the Warriors get disqualified. This wasn’t much of a match but considering the circumstances, this was better than it could have been. Either way, it was nice to see a full match.

James J. Dillon vs. Midnight Rider

This is a bullrope match and Rider is Dusty under a mask, but the idea is he’s NOT Dusty which everyone, namely Dillon, knows. You win by pinfall here. Dillon is a manager and part time wrestler and if he wins here then the Rider is unmasked. If it’s Dusty, he’s gone for a year. Why not just write it on a freaking wall then? They’re in street clothes here and Dillon is busted open pretty quickly. Rider uses Dusty’s moves and it’s kind of a wink wink situation. A top rope cowbell shot ends this squash.

Post match another huge masked man comes out after the Rider and the heels beat Dusty down. Steve Williams comes out and gets beaten down as well.

Crockett Cup Semifinals – Sting/Lex Luger vs. Powers of Pain

Sting starts us off with the Warlord and they botch a headscissors spot. Sting gets beaten down again but comes out of the corner with a spinning cross body for two. Magnum goes after Paul Jones and hits him with the riding crop because he’s a mean person. Barbarian dominates a test of strength but Sting manages a monkey flip off the ropes, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Off to Lex and the good guys are in total control here. We’re at five minutes in and I think it’s been clipped at least a little bit. Barbarian takes over with a powerslam and a BIG boot to rattle Sting’s brain a bit. Everything breaks down again and the fans really don’t care. Know how I know that? The cameraman decides to put the camera on them and show us how boring they are. Warlord picks up Luger but Sting dropkicks Luger’s back so he falls on Warlord for the pin.

Rating: C. I’ve seen worse here and the crowd (while looking bored) at least made some decent noise. At this point and coming into the semi-finals you could clearly see what was going to be the finals and probably the winner. Nothing too bad here and you could see the great teamwork from Sting and Luger that would be around for years and years to come.

Crockett Cup Semifinals – Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard vs. Fantastics

This should be awesome. Rogers vs. Blanchard to get us going and as usual the Horsemen don’t start out that well. Double teaming puts Blanchard down and the Fantastics dance a bit. Off to Arn vs. Fulton as the champions take over. Fulton is sent into the post on the floor and rolls back in to get beaten up by Blanchard a bit more. Fulton’s tights are half down.

The heels naturally cheat because they’re Horsemen and that’s what they do. Anderson comes in and pounds away even more, but it’s Fulton with a facejam and there’s the hot tag to Rodgers. The Fantastics hit double dropkicks all around and the Rocket Launcher hits Anderson but he’s illegal. Teddy counts it for two anyway and Tully makes the save. Anderson pops in with JJ’s shoe and that’s enough to pin Rodgers.

Rating: C+. Short but it’s still pretty easily the best tournament match of the night so far. The Horsemen vs. Luger/Sting is something you really can’t screw up and I don’t think they will here. Not a classic or anything like that but it’s still a pretty solid match. There was clipping but that’s the nature of the beast on this show.

NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff

Flair runs his mouth a bit and ticks Nikita off. Great heat on the champ too. Barry Windham is here and is even more hated. Barry heads to the back after the entrances and is embraced by the Horsemen. Technical stuff to start and Nikita grabs the arm to start. We’re clipped a bit and Flair has no idea what to do to a muscle dude like Nikita. He finally gets an atomic drop out of the corner and Nikita is finally down.

Koloff fights back and works on Flair’s knee, wrapping it around the post and then slapping on the Figure Four. Out to the floor with Nikita still in control. Flair’s chops and strikes have no effect on Nikita and he’s mad. Nikita bites away in the corner and accidentally pokes the eye of the referee. Flair throws him over the top so Nikita kills him dead with a middle rope Sickle for two because Tommy Young was blind. He hits the Sickle again but he goes flying over the top rope. Back in Flair grabs a rollup for two and a backdrop for Nikita gets the same. And then Flair throws him over the top for the cheap DQ. I really hate that rule.

Rating: D+. The Nikita push was long since over due to his wife dying and him not being as roided up, but there was still enough heat here to make it watchable. That being said, the ending was really weak and hurt the match more than it was going to recover from. Not exactly the Flair vs. Windham classic from last year is it?

Crockett Cup Final: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard

The winner gets a million bucks. Tully vs. Luger to start which is fine for me. Off to Anderson quickly and it’s all Luger with him even busting out a dropkick of all things. Anderson makes a tag while on the floor which doesn’t count because it, you know, illegal. Off to Sting vs. Tully and even Magnum gets in a shot which just feels right. All sting/Luger for the first few minutes here.

Back to Lex and Anderson with some stuff clipped I think. Luger works on Anderson’s arm just like he’s an Anderson. Gee it’s like he learned something during his time in the Horsemen and is incorporating it into his offense now. What black magic is this??? Back to Sting who works on the arm again but the Splash misses in the corner. Back to the fresh Tully who throws Sting over the top for a not-DQ because Dillon had the referee. See how much a manager can help?

Spinebuster puts Sting down and draws some WOOs from the crowd. Not sure I get that one. It turns into a standard tag match now and Sting grabs a Stinger Splash out of nowhere but messes up the Deathlock so Anderson is able to make the save. There’s your tag to Luger and everything breaks down. Magnum trips Anderson and the distraction is enough for Luger to roll him up for the pin and the tournament win.

Rating: C+. Just a regular tag match here for the most part but the crowd carried this a lot. Sting against the Horsemen just felt right which is why I never quite got him being part of them later, even when they were faces. The crowd wasn’t as burned out as you would expect as this was the second night of the tournament which helped A LOT.

There’s a ceremony post match.

Overall Rating: D. I’ve seen worse, but by the end of the tape (just two hours) you’re going to feel worn out. There’s just way too much tag team stuff and REALLY bad non-tournament matches to make this work at all. It’s better than the previous two but that’s not saying much. I’m really glad this one got discontinued because I can’t stand watching them.

 

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2 comments

  1. Again, another example of why people shouldn’t review wrestling that was before their time. Context is everything. Crockett Cup was a big deal in the mid 80s (I was watching then).

    Crockett was never “feeling the heat” from WWF. They were still making money hand over fist, they just tried to expand beyond their reach and over spent their budget.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Oh I don’t know about that. Given how the NWA made next to no money off Starrcade and Bunkhouse Stampede, I’d think the WWF was indeed having an impact on them.

    Also the point of these is to see how they hold up. The fact that I wasn’t alive for them really doesn’t have a huge bearing on it. I’m looking at it later to see how it holds up. The build matters, but the excuse of me not being around for it doesn’t.