Starrcade 1984: Round One

Someone requested this a little while back so here you go.  Also, if you like this, I have a whole e-book of Starrcade reviews available right here.

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Starrcade 1984
Date: November 22, 1984
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Attendance: 16,000
Commentators: Gordon Solie, Bob Caudle

There isn’t much else to say here. Other than the main event all we’ve really got is Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat for the TV Title. There are a bunch of title matches but it’s for stuff like the Brass Knuckles Title, the Florida Title and the Junior Heavyweight Title. This show just isn’t remembered that well at all. Let’s get to it.

We open with a clip of the end of Flair vs. Race with Flair winning the title. A year later and Flair is much more of a tweener than a clear face as he was the previous year.

The announcers talk about the main event as the lights go out behind them. Some music plays and some lights flash as I guess this is the intro. Now there’s a spotlight on the ring and announcer Tom Miller introduces us to the show.

Junior Heavyweight Title: Denny Brown vs. Mike Davis

This would be the equivalent of the Cruiserweight Title back in the day but even less important. Davis is defending and I’ve never heard of either guy aside from this one single match. Brown seems to be the more popular one and takes early control with some dropkicks and headscissors. Off to an armbar on Davis for a LONG time but he comes back with some shots tot he back followed by a few slams.

Brown snaps off a forearm to the face but his back is too banged up to take advantage. Davis slugs him into the corner but walks into a dropkick for two. Back up and they collide to send both guys down. Back up and Davis tries a belly to back suplex into a bridge but Brown raises his shoulder for the surprise pin and the title.

Rating: D+. What in the world were they thinking here? Neither guy is a name whatsoever, the match was really boring and the ending was confusing (the announcer said Davis retained), making this one of the weakest opening matches I can ever remember. That’s not a good sign for a show with such a weak card already.

Tony Schiavone is in Flair’s dressing room….but doesn’t talk to him. Ok then.

Brian Adias vs. Mr. Ito

Ito is a career Japanese guy and Adias is a career Texas guy, which means the fans likely have no idea who either guy is. They go to the ropes to start and get a clean break. Adias is so generic it’s painful to watch. Adias takes him down with a drop toehold but Ito takes him over into a headlock. Back up and a dropkick puts Ito down and there’s a headlock by Brian. Ito armdrags him down and puts on an armbar as this is going nowhere. Adias (yes I’m spelling that right. It’s how it was spelled on his graphic) gets chopped into the corner but comes out with an airplane spin of all things for the pin.

Rating: D-. This is Starrcade right? The biggest show of the year and the show that was supposed to be the original Wrestlemania? We’ve twenty minutes into this shindig and Denny Brown vs. Mike Davis is by far and away the better of the two matches. At least last year I had heard of the people in the bad tag matches. Nothing to see here again.

The announcers actually talk about Adias for a few minutes. It’s so strange to hear what sounds like genuine talk about the match we just saw instead of hearing announcers talk about pitchmen for whatever the latest product WWE is schilling.

Florida Heavyweight Title: Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham

Barr is defending. You might remember him as Jimmy Jack Funk from the WWF but odds are you don’t. Again, why should fans in North Carolina care about the Florida Championship? Graham immediately takes it to the mat and puts on a leg lock. Off to a chinlock on Barr but Jesse comes back with a top wristlock. Riveting stuff again if you can’t tell. It doesn’t help that both guys are in blue trunks and have similar hair. Barr’s is slightly longer so that’s as good as I can get for telling them apart.

We’re like three minutes into this now and it’s been almost all arm work. Barr takes it to the corner and bends the arm around the ropes before being reversed into a drop toehold from Graham. Back up and we get a test of strength which literally goes on for two minutes. Graham takes over with another armbar before trying his Figure Four, sending Barr into the ropes.

Barr grabs a headlock as we’re somehow nine minutes into this match and still firmly in first gear. There’s no heat to the match at all and nothing as far as a story. It’s just trading headlocks and arm holds for LONG stretches. Barr puts on another headlock and shouts about Graham pulling his trunks.

AGAIN a basic hold goes on for a long time until Graham fights out and goes for the knee. The Figure Four goes on in the middle of the ring but Barr easily makes the rope. Mike tries an atomic drop and a rollup in the corner but Barr throws his feet on the ropes for the pin to retain. The wrestlers keep going for a bit for no apparent reason.

Rating: D-. From a technical standpoint this was fine, but good night this was uninteresting. I think Barr was the heel but I’m really not for sure. After a nearly twelve minute headlock and armbar marathon I really should be able to tell which is which. This was another dreadful match in a series of them tonight.

We get a clip of Dick Slater being tied up in the corner and choked while Ricky Steamboat is beaten up by Tully Blanchard. This is BY FAR the most interesting thing tonight. Black Bart drove a boot into Steamboat’s back off the top.

Zambuie Express vs. Assassin/Buzz Tyler

This is an elimination tag match and the Express is Elijah Akeem and Kareem Muhammad, with Kareem being the guy who trained New Jack. Tyler and Assassin are apparently your good guys here. It’s a big brawl to start with the Express being sent to the floor in a hurry. We start with Tyler vs. I think Muhammad, the latter being a VERY fat guy. Both Express guys are in what looks to be military fatigues and Tyler knocks Kareem to the floor.

Off to Assassin vs. Akeem with the Express being knocked to the floor again. We get back to Muhammad vs. Tyler with Buzz getting beaten down in the corner. The Express crushes Tyler with a standing double splash but Tyler fires off some punches to come back. Everything breaks down again Akeem is sent to the floor. Tyler and Akeem are both countered out and we’re down to the Assassin vs. Muhammad. Just to keep the entire show at an awful level, the two of them collide and Assassin falls on top for the pin.

Rating: F. Another lame match here as it was a brawl for the most part and I have no idea what the point of the gimmick was. Also again the announcers weren’t sure when the match ended as they missed the countout elimination of the two guys. Assassin seemed popular but the match was such a mess you could barely tell who was legal the entire match.

Dusty Rhodes is sitting in a chair with a jacket covering him up. Is standing up too much effort for him tonight? He talks about how awesome he and Flair are but tonight we find out who the better man is.

Brass Knuckles Title: Black Bart vs. Manny Fernandez

This is a kind of Hardcore Title for lack of a better description but falls have to be in the ring. Fernandez is defending and comes out to Beat It by Michael Jackson. We go to the overhead camera like last year which is still hard to get used to. All four fists are taped up and it’s a slugout to start. Manny punches him down to start but Bart goes to the eyes. Bull (Fernandez, who was nicknamed Raging Bull) chops him back but Bart pounds him in the head.

Bart keeps pounding away on the forehead and the champion is in trouble. Actually scratch that as Manny fights up and pounds away, knocking Bart out to the floor. Back in and Manny punches Bart down, busting him open in the process. Bart goes to the ribs for a change to take over and the punching continues. Bull is knocked down and we see him from the overhead camera again. Bart can still only get two so he drops Manny throat first over the top rope. Bart tries to bring in a bullrope but gets rolled up and Manny retains his title.

Rating: C-. Is it good? Not really. Is it really even wrestling? Again, barely. However, it’s BY FAR the best match of the night so far as it was at least intense and entertaining which nothing so far has been. Also it helps to have a clear face and heel, which we’ve been completely lacking so far. Not a good match or anything but this was water in the desert by comparison to everything else.

Since we’re an hour in, here’s a seven minute intermission.

We get the ending to last year’s cage match, which is already the best thing tonight event though we only get about fifteen seconds.

Tony is with Ricky Steamboat and the lights go out so no interview.

We see the attack on Steamboat again and head back to Ricky, who has put up $10,000 for a shot at the TV Title tonight. His back is really hurt but tonight is too important to miss.

The announcers talk about the TV Title match. Apparently if Tully gets disqualified he loses the title.

JJ and Tully think there’s a conspiracy against Blanchard. Tully says Steamboat is going down and then he’s coming for the world title.

The announcers talk about the remaining matches for a bit.

Paul Jones vs. Jimmy Valiant

This is one of the longest running and most worthless feuds in wrestling history. Jones is a manager and Valiant is a good guy. This is a loser leaves town tuxedo match street fight, which means the first person to strip the other down wins. Valiant gets a GREAT pop and comes out with the Assassin while Jones has a member of the Express from earlier who isn’t important enough to specify.

Jones cowers in the corner to start before Valiant ties him to the top rope with another rope. Valiant rips off both guys’ jackets and puts one around Jones’ eyes. Valiant strips Jones down to an open shirt and underwear as this is one of those comedy matches minus the comedy. Jones loses his shirt and is in his underwear but the match continues. Valiant pounds him down and puts on a sleeper as Jones is squirting blood from his forehead. Assassin and the Zambuie guy get in and the referee goes down. JJ Dillon comes in and knocks Valiant out with a shoe, giving Jones the pin. In a tuxedo match. Why am I surprised?

Rating: F. Let’s see. Valiant wasn’t funny, Jones wound up in his underwear, and then he won by pin after three people interfered in a five minute match. Is this the show that introduced Vince Russo to the world of wrestling? ANOTHER bad match here as this is rapidly approaching the worst shows of all time. Jones and Valiant would feud into 1986 after having feuded for ten months already.

Ric Flair is serious and says that he’s ready for Dusty because the only thing sweeter than winning the title is keeping it.

Mid-Atlantic Title: Ron Bass vs. Dick Slater

This is the other fallout match from the attack on Steamboat as it was Bass helping and Slater who was tied up in the corner. Bass is defending and is also half of the Mid-Atlantic tag champions with Black Bart. Slater knocks Bass to the floor to start and it’s time to stand around. Slater chases Dillon into the ring and out to the floor as we’re still waiting on any significant contact.

Back in and Slater suckers Bass into the corner before putting on the move of the night with a headlock. Back up and we go right back into the headlock as we wouldn’t want this to get too exciting. Bass bails tot he floor but gets pulled back inside very quickly. Back in and Bass rams Slater into the buckle and caught in the ropes where Bass punches him back and forth like….something that pops right back up when it goes down.

Slater comes back with some right hands and a boot over the face. After Slater is sent to the floor, Bass pounds him down but Slater starts Hulking Up. It’s short lived though as during the comeback, Slater hits the referee. Dillon comes in and gets beaten up as well but after a slam and legdrop to Bass we get the DQ.

Rating: D+. This wasn’t as horrible as some of the other matches, but again this was nine minutes of punching and headlocks. That’s one of the major problems with this show: everything is so basic and low level that it’s almost impossible to get interested in anything. Also great job here of having Slater get revenge: by losing.

Now, a VERY slow rendition of the National Anthem to make sure we don’t get excited about anything.

Keith Larson/Ole Anderson vs. Nikita Koloff/Ivan Koloff

Larson and Anderson have Don Kernoodle with them for no apparent reason. Ok so apparently Kernoodle is Larson’s brother (despite having different names) and the Russians injured him. Makes as much sense as anything else. The Americans jump the Russians to start and the beating is on fast. We finally start with Ivan vs. Keith and the Russian’s arm being worked over.

Off to Ole to crank on the arm like an Anderson can. Both good guys stay on the arm and there’s the hammerlock slam from Ole. Off to an armbar as it’s clear we’re in for a long one tonight. Back to Keith again for a wristlock as this match keeps going. At least it doesn’t have headlocks though. The good guys make probably their eighth switch as Larson comes in to crank on the arm. Ivan finally gets some separation and goes up, only to be slammed off the top for two.

Anderson and Larson stay on the arm before Ivan FINALLY drags Anderson over to the corner for a tag off to the monster Nikita. He pounds Anderson down and puts him in a bearhug as momentum has completely swung the other direction. As is the custom tonight, the hold stays on for several minutes before Ole smacks Nikita in the head to escape. Back to Ivan who gets two off a slam.

Back to Nikita to break up a hot tag and puts on another bearhug. Anderson finally punches out of it and makes the hot tag off to Larson. Keith speeds things up but gets run over by a Russian Sickle (hooking clothesline). Everything breaks down and Kernoodle is knocked down. As Ole and Nikita fight on the floor, Ivan pins Larson off a chain shot to the head.

Rating: D+. The frustrations continue here as the heels win AGAIN. Not only does Kernoodle not get his revenge, but we have to sit through fifteen minutes of arm work to get there. It is indeed a story, but it’s a dull story. Somehow this is probably the best worked match of the night though which says a lot.

Post match Kernoodle beats up the Russians with his crutch. Good to see that a guy on a crutch and in a neck brace can beat up two monsters who just beat his brother and Ole Anderson.

TV Title: Ricky Steamboat vs. Tully Blanchard

Steamboat comes out to Eye of the Tiger which is rather awesome. Blanchard is defending and both guys have put up $10,000, meaning Blanchard is getting shafted here. Also if Tully runs or gets disqualified he loses the title. They lock up to start and Tully goes after Ricky’s injured ribs. Steamboat fires back with chops and the champion heads to the floor. The crowd is HOT for this one. Back in and Steamboat suplexes Blanchard down and hooks a reverse chinlock.

Tully can’t shake him off for a bit so Steamboat knees him in the chest to take Blanchard down again. Ricky’s ribs are too banged up though and he can’t stay on Tully. An elbow to the ribs has the champion in control and he follows up with some knees to said ribs. Steamboat kicks his way out of the corner and chops away before putting on a chinlock. Blanchard fights up and gets to the ropes before hammering on Ricky’s ribs again.

Back up and they circle each other a bit with Tully backing away most of the time. Tully escapes a headlock and tries to bail, only to be rolled up for two. Steamboat pounds away in the corner and hits a kind of standing clothesline for two. In something you’ll never see again, Ricky spits in Tully’s face and chops away in the corner. A swinging neckbreaker gets two for Steamboat as does a great looking dropkick. I think the champion is bleeding as Steamboat pounds away.

Tully loads up a foreign object as Steamboat tries to suplex him in from the apron and knocks Steamboat out cold……for two. That would be the ending of Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage a year and a half later. Tully’s superplex is broken up and Steamboat hits a top rope splash for two. Steamboat tries a sunset flip but Tully, right in front of the referee, pulls out the foreign object and blasts Ricky in the head with it for the pin to retain the title.

Rating: B+. If this show doesn’t get a failing grade, it’s all because of this. This is one of those combinations that was going to be amazing no matter what they did due to pure talent alone. The story worked very well with the ribs being injured but Tully cheating every way he could to keep the belt. Very good match here which could have been amazing with more time.

US Title: Billy Graham vs. Wahoo McDaniel

Graham is challenging and is a kung fu master here in a dramatic gimmick change. He even comes out to Kung Fu Fighting. Tom Miller, the ring announcer, is actually taller than Graham. Billy is introduced as a former US Champion but I can find no evidence of him ever holding that title anywhere. Wahoo is teasing a heel turn at this point and starts with a test of strength for some reason.

Graham easily shoves him down so Wahoo tries to grab for hair. This completely fails since Graham is bald so Wahoo goes to the eyes instead. Graham comes back with a full nelson but the champion quickly makes the rope. Back to the full nelson but it doesn’t look to be locked in full. Billy tries some covers for two each before getting back up…..and getting chopped in the chest for the pin to retain Wahoo’s title.

Rating: D-. Erg this show is driving me crazy. The match was WAY too short and drags things back down after the great match we just got done with before this one. Wahoo was old and fat at this point but would be a good foil for Magnum TA in a few months. Graham would join up with Paul Jones to feud with Jimmy Valiant, much like a lot of other midcard heels.

We see the end of Race vs. Flair for the third time tonight.

Some Japanese guy, former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier and NASCAR driver Kyle Petty are the judges for the main event. Frazier is also guest referee and sounds like he’s taken way too many punches to the head.

The announcers say let’s go to the ring then change their mind because we’re not ready yet.

NWA World Title: Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair

Dusty is challenging and the winner gets $1 million. Flair is in pink and Dusty is in purple here which is a weird sight to say the least. Remember Joe Frazier is guest referee. Oh and Dusty is one half of the world tag team champions. Flair is the face here due to the hometown crowd but would be turning heel very soon. Thankfully only Dusty’s robe was purple and he has black trunks underneath. Dusty backs him into the corner to start and runs Flair over with a shoulder block. Off to a headlock by Big Dust before Flair takes him into the corner.

They trade punches and chops with Dusty taking over again with a headlock. We hear about Dusty trying pro football but not liking the team aspect of it. That’s hilarious when you think about it. Some elbows take Flair down as this has been almost all Rhodes so far. Ric goes to the eyes to escape and drops a knee to the head for two. Dusty will have none of this selling stuff though and puts on his terrible Figure Four.

Flair gets to the rope so it’s time for Dusty to lay on Flair’s leg for a bit. We’re five minutes in according to the ring announcer and Dusty puts on a top wristlock. Flair takes it into the corner as this is still going slowly. A bad press slam puts Flair down and Dusty chops away for no cover. Dusty pounds away in the corner and sends Flair into the corner for the Flair Flip. Frazier tries to break up a suplex back into the ring by Dusty but Rhodes does it anyway for a very slow two.

Flair elbows him in the face to take Dusty down, only to go up and get slammed down. Even in 1984 that didn’t work at all. The champion puts on a sleeper but since standing up is too much for Dusty, he rolls forward and sends Flair to the floor. They head to the floor for some brawling and Dusty goes into the post, busting him open. Oh man it’s a BAD one too, right above Rhodes’ eye. The referee looks at it but Flair starts pounding away at the cut, and that’s good enough for Frazier to stop the match. Seriously. In the main event of Starrcade.

Rating: D+. What a perfect way to end a terrible show. The match never got going and it doesn’t even reach thirteen minutes in total. What kind of an ending is that anyway? Here’s how you end this match if that’s what you’re going to do: have Flair either DESTROY Dusty to the point where Frazier stops it to save Dusty’s career or have Dusty blacking out from blood loss. Dusty was up and throwing punches when the match was stopped, making it look like a technicality than anything significant.

Flair kisses the million dollar check.

In the back, Flair celebrates with the check and says he left with what he wanted to leave with and that’s about it. Not really a heel promo but he didn’t say that was unfair or anything like that.

The announcers talk for a bit.

Dusty goes on a big rant against Joe Frazier while having a towel wrapped around his eyes. He promises to get Joe Frazier somewhere down the line. Dusty says he’s coming for Flair still. This could be seen as either an irate face promo or an evil heel one, depending on how you look at it. That’s the problem with a promo like Flair’s: it’s so neutral that you can’t really do anything with it.

The announcers wrap things up.

Overall Rating: F. Before I get into this, let me make it clear: this is excluding Tully vs. Steamboat which was a very good match and is worth checking out if you have time. Aside from that though, this is one of the worst shows that I’ve ever seen. It is PAINFULLY dull and never picks up any steam at all. I know it’s a different time period, but I’ve watched shows older than this which aren’t boring in the slightest, like last year’s Starrcade for example.

On top of that there were WAY too many instances of the heels winning here. Look at last year’s show: the heels dominated the first half before the good guys too over in the last bit and sent the fans home happy. While Flair won here, he was the only top face to win. Other than that, the biggest face to win was Manny Fernandez in a glorified gimmick match. There is nothing else on this show to watch and the show suffers greatly as a result.

As I said before, no one remembers this show at all and it’s not hard to see why. The show before and after it would be MUCH better with the same main event being done far better the next year. Not a good show, not memorable in the least, and definitely not worth torturing yourself with other than Tully vs. Steamboat.

 

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