On This Day: November 28, 1985 – Starrcade 1985: The Best In The Series

Starrcade 1985
Date: November 28, 1985
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina/The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Bob Caudle, Tony Schiavone


So we’re here in 1985 now and on to a new city in Atlanta. Wrestlemania has now debuted as the WWF and Hulk Hogan in particular are clearly something to be reckoned with. By expanding down into Atlanta, the NWA is now trying to spread out and not just be a regional outfit anymore. Hopefully the card backs it up. Let’s get to it.


As I mentioned, this goes back and forth from city to city. The first match is in Greensboro and the second is in Atlanta. Each subsequent match will alternate with the last one being in Atlanta.


We open with a highlight reel, much like you would open a TV show with. This show is called The Gathering for no apparent reason.


Caudle and Schiavone (with a stupid looking mustache) are in Atlanta and will be calling the action in both cities. Apparently every major title is on the line except for the TV Title, which is vacant at the moment. You would think this would be a good place to crown a new champion but I guess not.


Johnny Weaver will be doing interviews in Greensboro.


National anthem.


Mid-Atlantic Title: Krusher Khrushchev vs. Sam Houston


Speaking of crowning new champions, this is a tournament final because former champion Buzz Tyler had left the territory. Krusher is more famous as Smash from Demolition and this is his power vs. Houston’s speed. Houston is a cowboy character and the half brother of Jake Roberts. There’s something wrong with Tony’s mic as you can only hear whispers of what he’s saying.


Houston slips down and sends Krusher to the floor before holding his own in a slugout back inside. Krusher will have none of that and grabs Sam by the throat to slam him down. An elbow drop misses though and we’re back to a standoff. Houston grabs a headlock and a headscissors to take Krusher down. Khrushchev tries everything he can to get out of it before just picking Houston up and placing him on the top rope. Houston comes right back with an armdrag into an armbar and Krusher is down again.


Back up again and Krusher just throws him into the air and lets Sam crash down onto his face. Why over complicate things when you can do them that simply I guess. Krusher does the same thing off a gorilla press before punching Houston right in the jaw. Off to a bearhug but Houston fights out of it pretty quickly. The Russian goes up but gets crotched down, allowing Sam to pound away in the corner. The bulldog (Sam’s finisher) hits but Krusher gets his foot on the ropes. Sam celebrates too much and Krusher hits the Russian Sickle for the pin and the title.


Rating: C+. Nice little match here with a basic power vs. speed formula. Khrushchev was your typical American Russian (he was from Minnesota) so thankfully he didn’t talk all that much. Houston was way too small to be taken seriously and his career never took off, even in the far less serious WWF in the late 80s.


Abdullah the Butcher vs. Manny Fernandez


This is a Mexican Death Match, but in reality you win by climbing a pole and grabbing a sombrero. Butcher knocks him down to start and stabs him in the head with a fork (a signature move of Butcher’s) to bust him open. The commentary is odd here as there are long gaps in between the announcers saying anything at all. Manny fights back with right hands and actually monkey flips Butcher down.


A boot (not on Manny’s foot) to Abdullah’s head puts the big man down but Manny misses a charge, allowing Butcher to take over again. Abdullah goes for the hat which he can reach while still on the middle rope, but Manny makes the save. Now Manny takes the boot to the head but he comes back with some belt shots to the back. Butcher knocks Fernandez down and stands in the corner, only to miss an elbow drop.


Fernandez pounds away with the belt around his hand before suplexing Butcher down. Not bad for a man in socks. Manny goes for the hat but gets hit low with the fork. Butcher chokes away a bit but Manny fires off the Flying Burrito (forearm) and a second one drops Abdullah. A top rope splash misses Abdullah but the Butcher misses a charge into the corner, allowing Fernandez to get up the ropes and grab the hat for the win.


Rating: C+. This was a pretty fun brawl and the more I see of Fernandez the more I like him. They didn’t try to have a wrestling match here and that was the right move all around. Butcher was a good brawler and Manny was able to hang in there with him, which made for a fun match. Good stuff here.


Krusher, with no Russian accent at all, says he’s ready to defend the title anywhere. He says the Koloffs are keeping the tag titles too.


Ron Bass vs. Black Bart


This is a Texas Bullrope match and if Bass wins, he gets a five minute bullrope match with JJ Dillon, his former manager and Bart’s current manager. You win by pinfall here. Bass immediately hits him in the head with the bell on the rope and Bart is in trouble. Bart is busted less than a minute into the match and Bass pounds him in the head with the bell over and over.


Bart tries to punch his way out of the corner and gets choked with the rope for his efforts. Bass pounds in more shots to the head as we have a recurring theme to this match. Bart finally gets in a bell shot of his own to bust Ron open, but after a few more he misses a charge and goes flying to the floor. Bass keeps pounding away with the bell on the floor, including with a shot off the apron. Back inside and you can insert your own NEEDS MORE COWBELL joke here.


Bass wraps the rope around Bart’s neck and pounds away as the match somehow gets even more repetitive. Both guys fall down as JJ, clad in a tuxedo t-shirt, screams at Bart to get up. Another bell shot sets up a crotching from Bass with the rope. A HARD bell shot to the head has Bart down yet again. Ron pounds on him on the mat but has to stop to yell at JJ, allowing Bart to get back up. The Black one misses a charge in the corner though and a middle rope bell shot from Bass is enough for the pin.


Rating: D+. I wasn’t wild on this one. The big problem here is that it’s the same stuff over and over and over again, meaning it gets really dull after the first few minutes. Some of the bell shots looked great but when you have like thirty of then in an eight minute match, they kind of lose their effectiveness. Not terrible but it’s the epitome of a one idea match.


As a result of that win by Bass, we get this.


Ron Bass vs. JJ Dillon


This is a five minute bullrope match and JJ jumps Bass as the bell rings. JJ chokes away with his boot and hits Bass in the head with the bell. Then he hits Bass again with the bell. Now JJ mixes things up by hitting Bass in the head with the bell. They FINALLY do something else as JJ chokes him down with the rope, only for Bass to make a comeback and slug JJ down with the bell for a bit. A big shot to the head has Dillon down but the referee gets bumped. Bart comes back in and piledrives Bass, giving JJ the cheap pin.


Rating: F. What was the point of this again? To give Bass revenge? I guess so, but I don’t call a few shots to the head with a bell and then getting beaten up by the guy he just beat getting revenge. I’m assuming JJ dumped Bass recently for Bart, but that’s one of those things that the announcers didn’t feel was important enough to explain to us.


Now we get some good old fashioned ARM WRESTLING between Billy Graham and the Barbarian. Graham finally puts him down but Barbarian’s manager Paul Jones whacks Billy with a cane as soon as it’s over. Apparently it’s time for a match.


Barbarian vs. Billy Graham


Barbarian rips at Graham’s face and chokes away like any good monster villain would do. He even bites Billy’s forehead but doesn’t bust him open here. We get a very early bearhug from Barbarian and he slams Billy down, only to miss his top rope headbutt. Graham stomps away and puts on his own bearhug but Jones comes in and breaks it up for the DQ.


Rating: D. Was there a point to this? It was barely long enough to rate and the majority of the match was spent in those bearhugs. Graham would be back in the WWF sooner than later and Barbarian would continue to be this same character for about twelve more years. Nothing to see here.


National Title: Buddy Landel vs. Terry Taylor


Landel is challenging and this is for the Georgia Championship Wrestling main title. Terry, I think the face in this match, takes Buddy down to start and gets some fast near falls off various leverage moves. Landel is basically a Ric Flair tribute wrestler, even using the Nature Boy as his ring name. Buddy fires back but runs into a boot in the corner from the champion.


Terry goes after the arm so Buddy pulls back and BLASTS him with a single right hand to knock Taylor down. That looked great. Here’s JJ Dillon to cheer on his man Landel. I’m not sure why he wasn’t here to start with but whatever. Anyway Terry gets clotheslined down but comes back with a counter to a suplex for two.


Off to a camel clutch by Landel which goes on for a bit as JJ talks a lot of trash. Terry starts to fight out and dropkicks buddy down before standing on his face. That’s a new one. The referee is knocked down so JJ throws in a foreign object and Taylor gets knocked silly for a very close two. Terry comes back and loads up a superplex, only to have Dillon trip him down and let Buddy land on top for the pin and the title.


Rating: D+. Not much to see here but then again neither guy was ever anything of note to begin with. Buddy would be thrown out of the company a few months later due to drug problems and Dusty would get the title as a result. Taylor would go on to the UWF and then the WWF, where he would become a half man half rooster. Wrestling is funny like that sometimes.


National Tag Titles: Minnesota Wrecking Crew vs. Wahoo McDaniel/Billy Jack Haynes


The Crew is Ole and Arn Anderson and they’re defending. This is again the Georgia title, but at least they’re being defended in Atlanta and not Greensboro. Hayes and McDaniel are the US Tag Champions but aren’t defending here. Cowards. Haynes and Arn start things off with Arn getting shoved around by the (allegedly) much stronger Billy Jack. Off to Ole vs. Wahoo with the Indian cleaning house.


Arn wants nothing to do with Wahoo and backs off a tag from his cousin. He finally comes in and gets caught in a fast headlock before putting Wahoo in one of his own. The Andersons get McDaniel in their corner and let the arm work begin. As mentioned last year, if there’s one thing you can count on from an Anderson, it’s working the arm over. They take turns with their armbars and hammerlocks, including the hammerlock slam from Ole.


Wahoo FINALLY gets in a chop to Arn and rolls his overly large self to the corner for the tag off to Haynes and house is cleaned. It’s quickly back to Wahoo for the big chop on Arn but Ole breaks up the near fall. Wahoo fires off chops in the corner, only to have Ole trip him up and give Anderson a cheap pin, much like the finish to the Taylor vs. Landel match.


Rating: C-. Another not great match here but I could watch the Andersons work on someone’s arm all day. It was a pure science for them and it worked for so many years. They would soon get involved in the greatest stable of all time while Wahoo would soon retire and Haynes would bounce over to the WWF a few years later. Not much to see here but the Andersons were their usual awesome selves.


Buddy Landel brags about being the “World’s National Heavyweight Champion.” Gee I wonder why he was let go.


US Title: Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard


This is definitely the biggest match of the Greensboro card and has a huge feud behind it. As mentioned, Tully stole the US Title from Magnum over the summer, setting off a war between the two based off the culture clash between the two. You had Tully Blanchard who was the wrestler’s wrestler. He was as technically sound as you could ask a wrestler to be, drank champagne and rode around in limousines. On the other hand you have Magnum who rode Harley-Davidson’s and drank beer. As mentioned, this storyline and characters would be copied almost identically for Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin in 1997.


This is inside a cage and is an I Quit match, which means anything goes and you lose when you make your opponent say I quit. Blanchard is defending if that wasn’t clear. Tully takes it into the corner to start but Magnum throws that great right hand of his to knock him down. The champ keeps taking it to the mat but Magnum turns it into a brawl. Back up and Tully starts pounding away on the ribs but Magnum comes back with some HARD punches to the face.


Magnum gets him between the ropes and the cage and rakes Tully’s face against the cage. Tully comes back with an elbow off the ropes to gain control before sending Magnum into the cage. Off to a reverse chinlock but Magnum fights out, only to be kneed in the back. Back up and Magnum pelts him with more right hands. The sounds as they hit make you cringe every time. Blanchard sends him into the cage and rakes at Magnum’s face as the brawling continues.


Now TA (short for Terry Allen, Magnum’s real name) sends Tully face first into the cage a few times and it’s off to an armbar. Tully is busted BAD already as Magnum keeps pounding away. Baby Doll screams for Tully to fight back so Blanchard gets in a right hand of his own, busting Magnum open as well. Tully gets the corded microphone and we get an iconic scene with Tully shouting at Magnum to SAY IT, Magnum shouting NO and Tully hitting him in the head with the microphone.


A top rope fist puts Magnum down but he still won’t say it. They get to their feet and Magnum slugs him back down before pounding him with the mic. Blanchard rips at Magnum’s eyes and POUNDS him with right hands. Magnum punches him down and tries to get Tully to quit but Blanchard kicks him down. TA punches him in the corner but Tully comes out with an atomic drop. Both guys look like they’ve been through a war.


Tully drops some elbows and throws the referee away. He brings in a wooden chair and immediately breaks it against the mat to get a nice jagged piece. Tully tries to drive it into Magnum’s already cut forehead but Magnum knocks it away and gets the wood himself with a crazed look in his eye. He knocks Tully down again and DRIVES THE SHARP EDGE INTO TULLY’S EYE, making Tully scream that he quits and giving Magnum the title. Magnums is fired up from winning the title but looks down at Tully holding his bloody eye and becomes very stoic, realizing what he did to win the title and beat Blanchard.


Rating: A+. Not only is this the best match of the night, not only is this the best match in the history of Starrcade, but it’s in the running for greatest match of all time. This was an absolute war and it felt like these two wanted to kill each other. If you’ve never gotten to see this, go check it out right now as it’s absolutely required viewing for wrestling fans. If you want to see a fight instead of a wrestling match, check this out.


Jimmy Valiant/Miss Atlanta Lively vs. Midnight Express


This is a street fight and Atlanta Lively is Ronnie Garvin in drag for no apparent reason. The Express is Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton. They’re in tuxedos for reasons not explained here and have Jim Cornette with them. Lively throws powder in Eaton’s eyes to start and chokes him with a necklace. This is a big brawl with no semblance of tagging or an actual match but the fans are WAY into it.


Condrey gets double teamed in the ring but Lively goes out to beat on Eaton a bit more. Valiant puts Condrey in the sleeper with the latter being busted open, continuing a running theme tonight. Now Dennis pulls out some powder of his own to throw into Jimmy’s eyes. Lively gets some of it as well and the Express takes off their belts to choke away.


Valiant fights back and it’s time to rip off the clothes. Cornette comes in with his signature tennis racket and blasts Lively in the head. The Express throws Valiant to the floor, only to have him come back in and pound away even more. Valiant is held down for a top rope legdrop, only to have Lively punch Eaton out of the air and score a fluke pin.


Rating: C+. This was a BIG brawl although I have no idea what the point was of Garvin being in drag. He never was revealed as being Miss Atlanta Lively here so I’m assuming it would happen at some point in the future. The match wasn’t particularly good or anything but at least it was short and energetic.


Post match Cornette is stripped to his underwear for fun.


Magnum cuts one of the best promos you’ll ever hear, talking about how he’s going to be a fighting champion with fire in his eyes.


World Tag Titles: Rock N Roll Express vs. Ivan Koloff/Nikita Koloff


The Rock N Roll Express are two pretty boys named Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson who could fly around a ring as well as any pair of guys you’re ever going to be lucky enough to see. They’re also challenging here and this is in a cage. I believe you win by pin or submission only. Ricky and Nikita start things off and the fans are already chanting USA. Ricky, a far smaller man, is shoved down by the more powerful Nikita. Morton fires off a quick dropkick and we’re at a standoff.


Nikita pounds Morton down and kicks him in the ribs before bring in Ivan. Ricky starts speeding things up by flying around and hitting a quick cross body. Ivan crotches him on the top rope and it’s time for Morton to play Ricky Morton. For those of you unfamiliar, Morton was so good at being beaten down and making a comeback that the beatdown leading to the hot tag is called Playing Ricky Morton.


Actually scratch that as Robert comes in for a quick rollup and a double chop to the head gets two on Ivan. Robert sends him head first into the cage and Morton does the same. The Express starts doing their double teaming jazz as is their custom. It’s off to Nikita though and there’s the bearhug on Robert. Nikita rams him into the cage back first and does the same with Robert’s head for good measure.


Back to Ivan who is busted open as well. Robert is sent into the cage yet again and an elbow drop gets two for Ivan. Off to Nikita for some biting to the head before Ivan comes in for some slow power offense. Robert rolls away from a legdrop but Nikita comes in for a chinlock. Gibson is busted open as well, which seems to be a requirement tonight.


A kick to the back keeps Gibson down and Ivan gets two. Back to Nikita for some more choking but Ricky makes the save. Don Kernoodle, the Express’ second, starts a USA chant as the referee is knocked down. He can’t make the count on Robert but as he gets back up, Ricky makes a blind tag and rolls up Ivan for the pin and the titles out of nowhere.


Rating: B. Good old fashioned tag match here with the Express getting destroyed until the very end where they won on a pure fluke. The fans were WAY into the Express at this point and Morton would even get a program with Ric Flair. The Russians were a great old school tag team idea with both guys looking like monsters and acting like it as well. Also this was nice to see a change in the usual Express formula with Gibson getting beaten down instead of Morton.


Post match the Russians beat up Gibson some more with a triple team clothesline (including Khrushchev, their second) and whip him with a chain.


NWA World Title: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair


This is the rematch from last year, but this time with a much better story. Dusty had his ankle broken by Flair and the Andersons after saving Flair from the Russians. Leading up to this, Dusty gave one of the greatest promos of all time, as he talked about how Flair and the Andersons put hard times on the American Dream. Dusty talked about how the people of the country were in hard times and he would be the man that would fight for them and stop people like Ric Flair at Starrcade. It’s arguably the best speech in wrestling and is still talked about twenty seven years later.


Flair is defending and this is the definition of a main event. Dusty is introduced at 275lbs, which is what The Rock was billed at for many years. For some reason I think they’re lying about Dusty’s weight here. Rhodes dances to start and it’s time to throw the punches. Dusty takes him down with a series of right hands and Flair bails out to the floor for a breather.


Back in and Dusty pounds away with elbows to the head and a big one to drop him down to the floor again. Back in again and Dusty puts on a hammerlock to take Flair to the mat. We’re four minutes into this match and Dusty already needs a rest hold? Why am I surprised by this in the slightest?


Flair takes it into the corner and fires off some right hands to the face followed by the knee drop for two. Dusty bails to the floor and is already limping on his bad leg. Or maybe he just wants a pudding pop. Flair tries to jump Dusty on the apron but gets caught in the back of the head by some elbows to put Flair in trouble again. Back in and Dusty goes after the leg with a leg lock on the mat for more resting.


Ric escapes with a rake to the eyes but can’t suplex Dusty. Instead it’s Rhodes taking Flair over with a suplex and it’s back to the leg lock. Back up and Flair puts on a sleeper hold but Dusty falls forward, sending Flair into the buckle to escape. Now Flair’s leg is wrapped around the post and Dusty stomps away but the champ pokes him in the eye to escape.


Back in and we get a somewhat famous moment as Dusty tries a snapmare but basically lays Flair down instead. It’s so embarrassingly bad that it’s hard to believe such a move exists. Anyway, Flair goes up top and if you’ve seen one Flair match over the years you know what’s coming: Dusty slams him down but Ric gets in a shot to the leg. The Figure Four is blocked but Flair goes back to Dusty’s bad leg.


Back up and Flair is whipped into the corner and goes up and over to the floor. Dusty stalks him like a big juicy hamburger with onions and sends Flair into the barricade. Back inside and the referee gets poked in the eye, allowing Flair to throw Dusty over the top. The referee gets his vision back and counts two off a cross body from Rhodes, followed by some right hands to the head.


Flair is busted open as is his custom so Dusty pounds away with rights and lefts. Ric backs away from the Bionic Elbow and there’s another Flair Flip in the corner, only to have Ric run the corner and dive into a punch to the ribs. Dusty goes for a kick but hits the rope and there goes the bad leg again. There’s the knee drop onto Dusty’s leg and it’s Figure Four time.


Dusty is in BIG trouble but he hangs on and screams at the referee to not stop the match. With the power of the fans Rhodes turns the hold over to escape and the big elbows crack Flair’s head open even more. A clothesline puts him down for two but the referee gets taken out on the kickout. Dusty accidentally throws Flair into the referee, knocking him out to the floor for good measure.


Now Dusty puts Flair in the Figure Four but here’s Arn Anderson. Dusty kicks him in the head with the bad leg with no pain in sight but we’re almost done so I can’t complain. Anyway Ole Anderson comes in and knees Dusty in the back to give Flair a near fall from a fresh referee. They get back up and Dusty small packages Flair for the pin and the title to blow the roof off the place.


Rating: B. This was a WAY better match that I remember it being. It’s far from a technical masterpiece or anything like that, but the match tells a good story and has the absolute correct ending. Dusty gets to fight off the men that hurt him and beats Flair in the middle of the ring as the fans wanted to see. Good stuff here.


Granted none of that mattered because the next week on television, Flair was given the title back because of the interference. This is known as the Dusty Finish, as Dusty, the booker at the time, was famous for having the match end and then change it later due to some technicality. At least it was a week later and not here though.


Overall Rating: B+. This is a really solid show and probably the best of the series so far. There are some definite weak spots in there such as the Landel match and some of the shorter stuff which didn’t accomplish anything of note, but the big stuff more than delivers and the crowd goes nuts for every major moment. It’s definitely worth seeing for Magnum vs. Tully alone but the rest of the stuff is good too. Very solid entry in the series here.


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1 comment

  1. Heyo says:

    Wait…Dusty did a Dusty Finish against himself, making himself lose the title? Um…yeah. I got nothing.