Starrcade 1987: I Love A Good Request
Date: November 26, 1987
Location: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross
The main event here is a cage match between NWA World Champion Ronnie Garvin and Ric Flair. Garvin won the title a few weeks back with the sole purpose of losing it to Flair here. In a logic that I’ll never understand, everyone else said no except for Garvin because no one else wanted to be a lame duck World Champion. Other than the Garvin vs. Flair title match, the other major match is the Road Warriors facing the Horsemen (Arn and Tully) for the tag titles in the Warriors’ hometown of Chicago. Let’s get to it.
We open with an intro sequence that looks like it’s out of a bad 1980s sitcom. It’s a bunch of headshots of the wrestlers with bad music in the background.
The arena looks huge but very smoky.
Sting/Jimmy Garvin/Michael Hayes vs. Eddie Gilbert/Larry Zbyszko/Rick Steiner
This is right after Jim Crockett acquired the UWF, so a lot of these guys are making their big time debuts. Gilbert was a big deal back there, as was Hayes. Sting didn’t mean anything at this point, but he would have his day very soon. He had recently left Gilbert’s stable in the UWF so they have a built in feud already. Steiner jumps Sting to start but misses a charge and falls to the floor. Sting dives out onto him as the lighting is really bad here. It looks like the lights haven’t been turned all the way on.
As they head back in, Sting hits a missile dropkick as everything breaks down. Sting’s team clears the ring until we get down to Hayes vs. Steiner. Michael pounds on the arm for a bit and it’s off to Garvin. Michael and Jimmy would wind up as a tag team in a few years but here’s they’re just randomly paired together. Off to Larry to fight Garvin and it’s time to stall already. Larry was legendary for stalling and it drove a lot of people crazy, myself included.
Back to Hayes who grabs Larry by the nose and pounds away. Michael struts and moon walks to get the crowd fired up as it’s off to Gilbert. Hayes avoids a right hand and struts some more before sending Eddie into the corner. Back to Sting as things speed up a bit, but at this point he’s not capable of carrying a match on his own. Sting grabs an armbar on Steiner and it’s off to Garvin for more basic offense on Rick.
Steiner takes him into the heel corner and it’s off to Larry for a spinning kick to Garvin’s ribs. A powerslam gets two for Rick and it’s off to Gilbert for an atomic drop. Gilbert stays on the back for a bit but misses an elbow drop. It’s not enough for the tag out though as Steiner comes in for the save. Off to a bearhug to further the punishment on Garvin’s back but Jimmy fights out. Larry saves another hot tag and puts on an abdominal stretch. Garvin finally hiptosses his way out of it and it’s off to Sting to pick up the pace.
Everything breaks down but Gilbert comes in with a cheap shot to the back to take Sting down. Eddie sends him out to the floor for a bit before throwing him back in for some triple teaming. It doesn’t seem to do much good as Sting counters a Zbyzsko suplex, only to be stopped by Steiner.
Sting avoids a charge from Larry and it’s off to Hayes with less than two minutes to go in the time limit. Everything breaks down and the good guys all pound away on a bad guy in a different corner. The DDT gets two for Hayes on Larry but he’s in the ropes. One minute to go as Steiner breaks up a sleeper on Larry. Steiner comes in legally for a bearhug of all things before turning it into a belly to belly suplex. Everything breaks down again and the time runs out with no winner.
Rating: C. This was probably the best opener the series has had yet and it’s very obvious that that’s not saying much. The main idea here was to introduce most of these people to the Jim Crockett audience and it only worked to a degree. Steiner actually came off looking the most polished here, but Hayes would have the immediate success. Sting would be several months away from his big break.
UWF Title: Steve Williams vs. Barry Windham
As mentioned, this is the final days of the title as it would be retired the next month. Williams is defending and is basically the Brock Lesnar of the 1980s: an All-American football player and a top level collegiate wrestler who looked and wrestled like a monster. If nothing else he has an awesome nickname of Dr. Death. Windham was considered the future of the company and potentially the business at this point, regularly tearing the house down with Flair everywhere they went. He’s also the Western States Heritage Champion, which might be the most worthless title in wrestling history.
We start with a crisscross before Williams throws Windham down and presses him over his head with ease. Considering Windham is 6’6, that’s rather impressive. Jim Ross LOVES Oklahoma so he’s a big time fanboy for Williams here. Windham tries to take it to the mat but can’t do anything with a wrestler the quality of Williams. Instead they take it to the floor and it’s a standoff. Back in and Williams easily suplexes out of a headlock, so Windham muscles him over with a gutwrench suplex of his own.
Williams puts on a headlock and Barry suplexes him down but this time the hold isn’t broken. It shifts into a chinlock but Barry shakes him off. They’re still in first gear here. They trade go behinds and Williams tries a leapfrog but Barry accidentally headbutts him very low. Barry stands around instead of going in for the kill and even stops the referee from counting Williams down.
Steve walks around holding his groin as the stalling continues. Windham finally takes him down with a headlock so Williams counters into a headscissors. That’s good for another standoff followed by a missed flying something from Barry, sending him over the top and onto the announce table. Back in and Williams grabs a quick rolling cradle to retain.
Rating: D. This was nothing and you can’t really blame the injury for it. They were looking terrible before the accidental headbutt and after that it somehow fell apart even more. I’m not sure what was going on here as these two are WAY too talented to have such a horrible match. To this day I’m confused by this match.
Rock N Roll Express vs. Midnight Express
This is another Skywalkers (scaffold) match which is an odd choice for these guys. These two teams redefined tag team wrestling with their incredible series of matches, so the company decides to put them in a match with no wrestling involved in it at all? The Midnights are the now Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane and they’re the US Tag Team Champions but this is non-title. They also have Cornette and Bubba with them.
Both teams are skeptical to go up but after over a minute and a half of waiting, everyone goes up top. Actually scratch that as Bubba pulls Morton down as he’s climbing and spikes him down onto the mat to give the Midnights a two on one advantage. Bubba tries to climb up as well but Morton gets up and steals Cornette’s tennis racket. A few shots to the back keeps Bubba down and Morton climbs up, still holding the racket. Eaton gets whacked a few times as well as the fighting really gets going.
Morton knocks Eaton around with the racket as Gibson pounds on Lane on the other end of the scaffold. Eaton busts out his trusty powder to blind Ricky and now Gibson is double teamed. Ricky gets the tennis racket back to stagger Bobby with as all four guys head back to the ends of the scaffold. Eaton drops the racket to the mat as Lane climbs under the scaffold.
Cornette throws the racket up to Eaton again so he can pound on Robert’s back. Morton heads under the scaffold to get at Stan, eventually kicking him down to the mat. Eaton and Gibson are up top still though until Ricky goes up too. The Rock N Roll finally knocks him down over the edge and down to the mat for the win. I know the ending sounds sudden but there really isn’t much else to it than that.
Rating: D+. Just like last year, what can you really expect from a match like this? They can’t do much without risking a very serious injury but you don’t want the fans to be bored out of their minds either. These guys had some of the best tag team matches ever when they were on the ground floor and I have no idea why they were given this gimmick of all things.
Post match Bubba goes up to fight Morton on the top, but, I kid you not, Morton points off in the distance to distract Bubba, allowing Morton to kick him in the groin and climb down. Ricky steals Bubba’s hat and coat for good measure.
NWA TV Title/UWF TV Title: Nikita Koloff vs. Terry Taylor
This is a unification match between the two Television Titles. Taylor has Eddie Gilbert with him as backup. Taylor grabs a headlock to start but is easily run over by a shoulder block. They head to the corner and amazingly enough we get a clean break. We go to another corner and Taylor tries a cheap shot, only to get punched in the face by Nikita. Taylor cranks on the arm so Nikita sticks his tongue out at him and puts on an armbar of his own.
Terry headbutts out of the hold but Nikita rams him shoulder first into the buckle. More right hands have no effect at all and Nikita cranks away on the wristlock into a hammerlock. Koloff muscles him down into a cover but Taylor makes the ropes and heads outside. Back in and Taylor talks some trash, earning himself a slap in the face. A backdrop gets two on Terry and its time for more stalling on the floor.
Nikita gets tired of waiting and pulls Taylor back in so he can put the hammerlock right back on. After a rope breaks saves Taylor, he pounds on Nikita in the corner but misses an elbow drop. Back to the armbar which has dominated this match so far. They get back up again and Taylor pounds away, only to be choked to the mat. The Russian Sickle misses though and Nikita charges into the buckle. They head outside with Taylor ramming Nikita’s shoulder into the post to take over.
The match slows down a lot as Taylor’s offense isn’t exactly suited to beat on someone like Koloff. He stays on the arm but can’t bring Nikita down into a sunset flip. Koloff blocks a suplex and takes the smaller guy down with a suplex of his own. Nikita has enough of the pounding and fights back with a bunch of right hands in the corner. Taylor comes out with an atomic drop to get two of his own and Koloff’s momentum is stopped cold.
A rollup gets two for Nikita as the fans are finally starting to get into the match. Terry loads up a piledriver but gets backdropped down and punched in the face. They head to the floor again but Gilbert hits Koloff in the knee to give Nikita control again. Off to a figure four on the Russian which gets a few near falls (the figure four can be used as a pin if the guy in the hold doesn’t raise his arms). Koloff finally gets the ropes and beats up Gilbert before hitting the Sickle on Taylor for the pin and the titles.
Rating: D+. This didn’t work for me. It was nearly twenty minutes long and way too much of that was spent in a hammerlock. I’ve never been a fan of Taylor but at least Koloff was there with the hard hitting stuff to make things somewhat interesting. This wasn’t terrible but it was too long and dull for what it was worth.
Tag Titles: Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard vs. Road Warriors
The Warriors are challenging in their hometown of Chicago. Arn and Hawk start things off with Hawk taking him down via a top wristlock. Anderson is sent to the floor for a staredown with the Warriors’ manager Paul Ellering. Off to Tully who is almost immediately sent to the floor. Animal will have none of this stalling though and sends him right back inside. Hawk pounds away even more and hits a dropkick for a quick near fall.
Off to Animal who catches Blanchard coming in off the top in a powerslam for another two count. Arn comes back in and manages to avoid a charge in the corner, only to have his head taken off by a clothesline from Animal. Blanchard tries to come in but gets punched right in the jaw as well. Both Horsemen try to go after Hawk, only to get clotheslined down for a near fall on Blanchard. Total dominance by the Warriors so far.
Back to Animal for a bearhug plus a right hand from Hawk. Animal drops Tully down and Blanchard goes bailing to the corner. A dropkick to the ribs puts Blanchard down again so he tags in Anderson. Animal has to chase Arn on the floor before coming back inside to gorilla press him down. A press slam on Tully by Hawk is broken up by Arn hitting Hawk in the knee and the Horsemen FINALLY take over.
Tully adds in a chair shot to Hawk’s knee on the floor and a DDT gets two for Arn back in the ring. Blanchard’s figure four is countered into a small package so Tully pounds on the knee a bit more instead. Arn’s spinning toehold is broken up but here’s Tully again for the figure four. For some reason he tags in Anderson with Hawk still in the hold, and it’s Anderson who gets crotched to allow the hot tag to Animal. Everything breaks down and Tully accidentally knocks the referee to the floor before Hawk throws Anderson the floor. Back in and there’s the Doomsday Device on Arn for the pin and the titles.
Rating: C. This took awhile to get going but once the Road Warriors got rolling it got awesome in a hurry. They’re such a physical and dominant team that it’s almost impossible to not get fired up watching them. The leg work here by the Horsemen was much more interesting than say the arm work by Taylor, as they have the size and ability to make you believe the Warriors were in trouble.
Oh and scratch that title change because Anderson was thrown over the top, meaning the Warriors are disqualified and the Horsemen keep the belts. Say it with me: Dusty Finish. The fans boo this out of the building and with good reason. Who does this help? The Warriors look inept because they didn’t get the win, the Horsemen look like weak champions because they got pinned, and the fans are mad because at STARRCADE we can’t change the belts. Just a dumb idea all around.
US Title: Lex Luger vs. Dusty Rhodes
Luger is defending and if he wins, Dusty is suspended for ninety days. This is also inside of a cage. Luger had recently turned on Dusty to join the Horsemen, angering the fat man. Legend Johnny Weaver has the key at ringside. They circle each other as Dusty pretends to have a physique to match Luger, who would be a guest performer on some bodybuilding shows a few years after this. Both guys seem tentative to start things off here. Luger pounds away to start but misses his big jumping elbow. Dusty goes to an armbar and pounds an elbow into the shoulder. The armbar stays on for a LONG time, as per Dusty’s custom.
Luger finally pushes him into the corner….but it’s right back to the armbar. Rhodes pounds on the arm in the shoulder but takes a knee to the fat stomach to put him down. Dusty goes face first into the cage and we’ve got some blood on the challenger’s head. A clothesline gets two for Luger and the beating begins. The big jumping elbow gets two on Dusty but Luger takes too long, allowing Dusty to hit a HORRIBLE dropkick to put both guys down.
Lex can’t quite Rack (his finisher is the Human Torture Rack, meaning he puts Dusty over his shoulders and bends Dusty’s back around Luger’s own neck) Dusty so he pounds away instead. Now it’s off to an armbar on Dusty to take him down, despite Luger spending the entire match working on the back so far. They get back up and a pull of Dusty’s hair takes him right back down. Luger pounds away in the corner and Dusty just stands there without reacting at all.
Instead he flips Luger off and pounds away before hitting a bad DDT to put both guys down again. Off to a sleeper by Rhodes with him jumping on Luger’s back for good measure. JJ Dillon, Luger’s manager, blasts Weaver with a chair before throwing said chair into the cage. Lex escapes the hold and spends a LONG time bending over to pick up the chair, allowing Dusty to “DDT” him onto the chair for the pin and the title.
Rating: D. This sucked for the most part, as Dusty spent WAY too much time laying around on the mat before we had that really lame ending. There’s no reason for Dusty to win this title other than he was the booker and decided he wanted it, especially given how Luger was the future of the company at this point. Terrible match with a bad looking finish to top it off here.
NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Ron Garvin
This is also in a cage with Garvin defending, having won the world title in September and then basically disappearing for two months because no one wanted to job to a guy who was going to lose the title in a few months anyway. Flair gets a tremendous ovation while Garvin is pretty much booed out of the midwest. They chop it out to start with Flair losing as it’s early in the match. We get the Flair Flop followed by a backdrop by the champion into an armbar.
Garvin pounds away in the corner with ten punches and Flair is in trouble. With Flair down we get the Garvin Stomp, meaning Garvin stomps in a circle, hitting every limb and culminating with the head. Flair wins a slugout but hits Garvin low to take him down. An atomic drop has flair in even more trouble and a big knee drop gets two on the champion. It’s time to go after the leg and just a few seconds later it’s off to the Figure Four. Flair cheats by using the ropes but Garvin finally turns the hold over, leading to a break.
Back up and the champion blocks a shot into the cage. He blocks a second one and manages to send Flair into the cage a few times in a row. Flair has his forehead raked across the cage before tasting the steel again. Garvin bites Flair’s head to bust him open as they go to the top rope. Flair falls down before getting some hard chops in the corner from Garvin. After an elbow to the head, Ric goes up but gets slammed down as per his custom. Garvin puts on his own figure four but Flair makes the ropes pretty quickly.
Ron rams him into the cage and gets two off a top rope cross body and the same off a backslide. The fans are starting to get into this a bit. More chops have Flair in trouble and they go up top again. Ric gets crotched on the top rope and Garvin tries the top rope sunset flip which won him the title a few months ago. This time though Flair falls forward and grabs the ropes for two. Garvin pounds away in the corner but Flair shoves him off and crushes the referee. Ron hits his big right hand for two and sends Garvin into the cage for the pin and the title.
Rating: C+. It’s not a bad match, but at the end of the day no one bought Garvin as having a change to hold the title here. Flair winning the title back isn’t really a big moment but the reaction from the fans was odd, given that Ric was the big face here. Garvin would never come close to this point again, which he likely shouldn’t have.
Overall Rating: D. This just didn’t work. It’s not a horrible show, but at the same time there’s nothing on here worth looking at whatsoever. The best match is probably the main event and that’s just ok at best. There’s just nothing to see here at all and the fans didn’t care either. The WWF dominated this night by having almost every cable provider air their far better show. Just not a good show, although it’s still better than 1984 by far.
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