Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com throws it back to a time when the National Wrestling Alliance ruled Thanksgiving. We’re taking a trip through the vault of the WWE Network to revisit one of the greatest NWA events of all time: Starrcade ’86: Night of the Skywalkers.
Taking place in the shadow of tragedy after Magnum T.A.’s near-fatal automobile accident outside Charlotte, NC on October 14, 1986, Starrcade ’86 was as much a cathartic show of support as it was the NWA’s Super Bowl event. On the strength of the first mainstream “scaffold match” (and Cornette’s hellacious bump) Starrcade ’86 became the highest selling pro wrestling home video to that point and was certified gold after selling more than 50,000 copies.
Surprisingly, context isn’t an issue as all previous NWA World Championship Wrestling editions for 1986, as well as all previous Starrcade events, are now available on the WWE Network.
NWA Starrcade ’86: Night of the Skywalkers (WATCH)
Date: November 27, 1986 – Location: The Omni, Atlanta, Georgia & Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Attendance: 14,000 (Omni, Atlanta, GA) & 16,000 (Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC) – CCTV: 47,000
Commentators: Tony Schiavone & Rick Stewart (Atlanta) & Bob Caudle & Johnny Weaver (Greensboro) – Interviews: Johnny Weaver (Greensboro) & Rick Stewart (Atlanta)
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
NWA United States Heavyweight Champion: Nikita Koloff
NWA World Tag Team Champions: Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Russians (Krusher Khruschev & “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff)
NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes & The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal)
NWA World Television Champion: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion: Ron Garvin
NWA Central States Champion: Sam Houston
The show opens with Tom Miller in Greensboro, North Carolina introducing the national anthem. Next we head to Atlanta to check in with Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart, who talk about the “Skywalkers” match to come, before going back to Greensboro to check in on Bob Caudle and Johnny Weaver, who break down the the gimmick matches in Greensboro. Caudle throws it to the ring where the participants for the first match are waiting.
— Tag Team Match (Greensboro) (WATCH – 5:01)
Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. The Kernodle Brothers (Don & Rocky)
The opener is a fast-paced, enjoyable tag team match that is a helluva lot better than either of the WrestleMania openers to that time. There are a number of good spots in the match and plenty of stiff action. It looks like Rocky Kernodle has the match all but one when Tim Horner reverses a rolling reverse cradle for the surprise three-count at 6:19.
WINNERS are Tim Horner & Nelson Royal (Pin, 6:19)
— Single Match (Atlanta) (WATCH – 12:18)
Brad Armstrong vs. “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin w/Precious
Though this match is slow at times, it features some very good wrestling and psychology. It’s Jimmy Garvin’s match for the most part. Armstrong makes a minor comeback with two minutes left, but Garvin cuts him off. Jimmy Garvin misses a crossbody from the top rope as time expires at 15:09. After the match Armstrong defends a Garvin sneak attack and knocks Garvin to the outside. Precious holds Gravin back as Garvin yells, “I can beat him, baby, I can beat him.”
NO WINNER declared (Draw, 15:09)
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (Greensboro) (WATCH – 32:08)
Shaska Whatley & The Barbarian vs. Baron Von Raschke & Hector Guerrero
An old school grudge match, this one starts out fast and loose before the heels start dominating. Eventually Baron gets the hot tag and takes it to both Whatley and Barbarian. In the end, Whatley misses the running shoulder block in the corner which allows Von Raschke to land the elbow drop for the pin at 6:26. After the match Barbarian and Whatley beat the bejabbers out of Von Raschke until Hector makes the save.
WINNERS are Baron Von Raschke & Hector Guerrero (Pin, 6:26)
Next see Johnny Weaver backstage who is trying to get an interview with NWA TV & Six-Man Champion Dusty Rhodes about his upcoming “first blood” match with Tully Blanchard. Weaver peeks his head into the locker room to see if Dusty will grant an interview. “I told ya, Johnny, not now, leave me alone. Get outta here and let it be. Leave me alone.” Weaver tosses it to Atlanta.
— NWA United States Tag Team Championship – “No Disqualifications Match” (Atlanta) (WATCH – 43:46)
The Kansas Jayhawks (Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel) vs. The Russians (“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev)(c)
Though the stipulation is “no DQs” the match is anything but. Both teams work to bend the rules without being caught while referee Scrappy McGowan enforces all the rules and counts. In the end, it’s “Sue Baby”, Mantel’s whip, versus the Russian’s chain. Mantel whaps the Russians with the whip until Krusher waffles Mantel with the chain outside the ring. Krusher climbs on the apron and cracks Jaggers with the chain as Jaggers comes off the ropes, allowing Koloff to score the pin at 7:52 to retain the U.S. Tag titles.
WINNERS and STILL NWA United States Tag Team Champions, The Russians (“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff & Khrusher Khrushcev) (Pin, 7:52)
— “Indian Strap Match” (Greensboro) (WATCH – 54:16)
“Ravishing” Rick Rude w/Paul Jones vs. “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel
After Wahoo cracks a posing Rick Rude across the rear end with the strap the match quickly becomes the standard “strap” match, highlighted, though, by some rather intense fighting. Wahoo, who was undefeated in “Indian strap” matches going in, pulls Rude off the top rope, ties up his hands, and drags Rude around the ring. Nearing the fourth corner Wahoo fights off Paul Jones before Rude knocks “Chief”” into the last turnbuckle for the win at 8:13. Afterwards Jones and Rude pound on Wahoo until Hector Guerrero and Baron Von Raschke make the save.
WINNER is “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel (8:13)
Next we go to Atlanta where Rick Stewart interviews The Russians who rant and rave about everything from retaining the U.S. Tag titles to hating Dusty Rhodes to the upcoming “Bunkhouse Stampede” matches to challenging Nikita Koloff for the NWA World title should Nikita defeat Ric Flair.
— NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship (Atlanta) (WATCH – 1:10:00)
“Superstar” Bill Dundee vs. Sam Houston(c)
This was a rematch from November 16, 1986 when Sam Houston defeated Bill Dundee in St. Louis in the finals of the Central States tournament. This match isn’t bad, but it’s not a classic by any stretch. This one ends after Dundee collides with the referee (good ol’ Scrappy) and Dundee hits Houston with Houston’s own wrestling boot, which Scrappy sees, for the DQ at 10:21. Dundee batters Houston with the boot after the match.
WINNER and STILL NWA Central States Champion, Sam Houston (Disqualification, 10:21)
— “No Disqualification Hair Match: Paul Jones Hair vs. Big Mama‘s Hair – Manny Fernandez Suspended in a Cage Above the Ring” (Greensboro) (WATCH – 1:23:16)
Paul Jones w/Manny Fernandez vs. “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant w/Big Mama
A bloody, slow-paced brawl, this is a better fight than a match. In the end, Valiant gets a hold of Jones “knucks”, brains Jones with them, and scores the pin at 4:26. Immediately after the match Valiant shaves Jones bald while Manny slowly makes his way down. Manny gets free of the cage and beats down Valiant with the help of Rick Rude, nailing a brutal spike DDT. The heels escape as Wahoo and Von Raschke tend to Valiant.
WINNER is “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant w/Big Mama (Pin, 4:26)
It’s intermission time next. During the break we see a promo for the 2nd annual “Bunkhouse Stampede” with Nelson Royal explaining the history and rules of the match while highlights of Dusty Rhodes’ 1985 “Bunkhouse Stampede” win play. Next we see highlights of the”Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup” from April ’86 which The Road Warriors won over Ron Garvin and Magnum T.A.
— “Louisville Street Fight – Pinfall or Ten Count Only” (Atlanta) (WATCH – 1:47:16)
“Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin vs. Big Bubba Rogers w/Jim Cornette
This is a personal, bloody, physical war. Near the end, with the referee down, Garvin hits a crushing pulling piledriver on Rogers. As Garvin recovers on the mat Cornette smashes Garvin in the back of the head with his racquet. Both men are down for the first ten count. Rather than a draw referee Tommy Young decides the first one up will be the winner. Bubba holds the leg of Young’s pants as Cornette takes out Garvin’s knee with the racquet, allowing Bubba to stand up and take the win at 11:52.
WINNER is Big Bubba Rogers w/Jim Cornette (Ten Count, 11:52)
— NWA World Television Championship – “First Blood Match” (Greensboro) (WATCH – 2:04:11
Tully Blanchard w/J.J. Dillon vs. “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes(c)
Before the match Dillon tries first to put head gear on Tully before applying Vaseline, which the referee wipes off. Dillon gets in the face of Rhodes and earns an elbow for his troubles, cutting Dillon’s head wide open. At one point the referee, Earl Hebner, gets caught in the action before being hit with a suplexed Blanchard. With the referee down Rhodes splits Tully head with an elbow and punches. Dillon stops the bleeding with a towel and Vaseline and hands Tully a “roll” of coins which Tully cracks across the forehead of Rhodes, splitting “The Dream” wide open. The referee comes to, sees Rhodes bloodied, and calls the match at 8:40. Dusty is livid.
This marked the end of Dusty’s third and final NWA TV title reign at 79 days and the Tully’s third and final NWA TV title victory.
WINNER and NEW NWA World Television Champion, Tully Blanchard w/J.J. Dillon (8:40)
— “Skywalkers Match” (Atlanta) (WATCH – 2:22:02)
The Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Lover Boy” Dennis Condrey) w/Jim Cornette & Big Bubba Rogers vs. NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Paul Ellering
The Road Warriors had just returned from a tour with All Japan as part of the 1986 Giant Series, where Hawk would suffer a broken leg about two weeks before this match. This one is a spectacle and it’s a fight, still shocking in many ways, but it’s not a very good match. In the end, both Eaton and Condrey get stuck under the scaffold, where the Road Warriors kick them off at 7:08 for the win. After the match the Road Warriors chase Cornette to the top where Animal and Ellering force Cornette over the side. Cornette falls, Bubba misses him, and Cornette screws his knees up for life!
WINNERS are NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Paul Ellering (7:08)
Next we see some classic highlights of the 1986 Great American Bash Tour used to hype the 1987 GAB Tour, before sending it back to Greensboro where, after a second intermission used to construct the steel cage, credits for the event roll. Soon enough it’s time for the third of four main events.
— NWA World Tag Team Championship – “Steel Cage Match” (Greensboro) (WATCH – 2:49:36)
The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole & Arn Anderson) vs. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)(c)
This title match is often ranked among the very best tag team matches ever, and between the red hot crowd, the masterful psychology, and the realistic action, it’s not hard to see why. Part wrestling match, part fight, this bloody war finds both the Anderson’s and the Rock ‘N’ Roll at their best, the Anderson’s as the methodical, sadistic heels and the Rock ‘N’ Roll as never-say-die babyfaces who get the dog spit whipped out of them and never give up. It becomes an all out brawl in the closing moments. Ole Anderson picks up Ricky Morton for a slam when Robert Gibson dropkicks Morton down on top of Ole for the pin at 19:02 to retain the World Tag Team Championship. After the match Ole and Arn beat up Morton and Gibson until they escape through the door of the cage.
WINNERS and STILL NWA World Tag Team Champions, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) (Pin, 19:02)
Flair makes his way to the ring first. As Flair waits in the ring a music video airs of Magnum T.A. running on the beach and walking with his mother, along with clips of career highlights. The original tune, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, is replaced with rubbish, destroying the video’s emotional punch.
— NWA World Heavyweight Championship – “Champion vs. Champion Match” (Atlanta) (WATCH – 3:14:41)
NWA United States Heavyweight Champion “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c)
Originally this match was to feature Ric Flair dropping the World title to Magnum T.A. but, in light of Magnum’s career-ending automobile accident, Nikita Koloff was turned babyface and put in the main event. The match itself, though over, is nothing to write home about. And while Nikita looks good, he’s extremely green and is being carried by one of the greatest of all time. Tommy Young goes down late and Nikita hits the Russian Sickle. Scrappy McGowan takes over and gets wiped out with a Sickle for a great ref bump. Young reenters the match and gets pushed down again and again for a double DQ at 20:12.
NO WINNER declared (Double Disqualification, 20:12)
Flair and Nikita continue to brawl after the bell. The ring fills up with heels and babyfaces as they try to break it up. At last Flair is dragged from the ring by the heels as the babyfaces subdue Nikita.
Schiavone and Stewart run down the highlights of the night before a music montage of the event runs to cap off the show.
In the wake of this event, the first NWA event to gross $1 million dollars, JCP were as close as they would ever get to making a legitimate run at the World Wrestling Federation. Over-expansion and poor business decisions in 1987 would slowly kill their momentum while the WWF would land the death blow the next year by counter-programming Starrcade ’87 with the inaugural Survivor Series.
Despite all that, Starrcade ’86, even with the lackluster main event, remains arguably the best of the 5 NWA Starrcade events. If you already subscribe to the WWE Network then check it out.
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On behalf of everyone here at WDN, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving with you and yours.
Thanks for reading and until next time, see ya at ringside!
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