This week Throwback Thursday travels back to the WTBS Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, via the archives of the WWE Network, for a classic edition of Jim Crockett Promotions’ NWA World Championship Wrestling that aired 32 years ago today!
1986 had been a banner year for JCP thus far. While other promoters and territories folded under the weight of the national expansion of both the World Wrestling Federation and cable TV, JCP thrived. Many of the sports biggest territories—St. Louis, Kansas City, Tampa—had, in the last year, either gone bust and sold to JCP or were on the verge of doing so as Jim Crockett, Jr., recently completing his second run as NWA President, began consolidating the National Wrestling Alliance.
By this time in 1986, with ten weeks to Thanksgiving, the push was just beginning for Starrcade ’86, JCP’s greatest financial success yet. Head booker Dusty Rhodes had just dethroned Arn Anderson for the Television title while Wahoo’s National Heavyweight title, won little less than a month prior, would soon be unified with Nikita’s U.S. Heavyweight title. But the big deal at the moment was the upcoming September 28, 1986 tournament at The Omni in Atlanta to crown the inaugural NWA United States Tag Team Champions.
So with Starrcade looming, tempers flaring, and the quest for gold reaching a fever pitch, let’s hit ‘play’ and see how this edition of World Championship Wrestling holds up on the WWE Network!
Edits, while they do exist, are minimal. All local promos and advertisements have been cut and some of the music, thanks to pesky rights fees, have been overdubbed. Context, meanwhile, is solid with editions going back to November of ’85 currently available on the Network.
NWA World Championship Wrestling (WATCH)
Date: September 20, 1986 (TAPED: September 14, 1986) – Location: WTBS Studios, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: N/A – Rating: N/A
Commentators: Tony Schiavone & David Crockett – Interviews: Tony Schiavone
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
NWA United States Heavyweight Champion: Nikita Koloff
NWA World Tag Team Champions (Mid-Atlantic): Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
NWA United States Tag Team Championship: VACANT
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 World Junior Heavyweight Champion: Denny Brown
NWA National Heavyweight Champion: Wahoo McDaniel
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion: “Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin
NWA Central States Heavyweight Champion: “Bulldog” Bob Brown
This week’s edition of WCW opens with a clip from the Saturday morning edition of WCW that aired earlier this same day of Jim Cornette challenging Paul Ellering to sign a contract for Ellering’s Road Warriors to face Cornette’s Midnight Express. After Cornette insults Ellering (“I think that if you took your brains and stuck ’em up a nut’s rear end they’d rattle around like a BB in a boxcar!”) Ellering slaps the taste out of Cornette’s mouth.
After the usual opening we go to Tony Schiavone and David Crockett at the announce position. After hyping footage of the Midnight Express injuring Road Warrior Animal they transition to the upcoming U.S. Tag Team tournament with David teasing that the Road Warriors and Midnight Express could meet in the finals.
Next “Superstar” Bill Dundee and “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel join Tony and David for a “daddy” filled interview. Dundee, who rants about everybody talking but not getting anything done, says he and Landel will win the U.S. Tag Team title tournament while Landel simply reiterates what Dundee just said. Dundee then calls out Dusty Rhodes for ducking both Dundee and Landel and then challenges Dusty and Magnum T.A. to a fight.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 3:22)
Baron Von Raschke vs. Tom Barrett
Barrett, for those wondering, is the future Tommy Angle and was making his JCP debut at this taping. During the course of this match Schiavone mentions that Rick Rude will be joining Paul Jones’ Army and that Rude will participate in the U.S. Tag Team title tournament. Rude misses the tournament, though, not arriving until the October 4, 1986 house show in Charlotte and on TV on October 10, 1986. As for the match, it’s a squash. Von Raschke batters Barrett until deciding to cinch in the Claw for the pinfall at 2:13.
WINNER is Baron Von Raschke (Pin, 2:13)
Next Jim Cornette (with Big Bubba Rogers) joins Tony Schiavone for an interview and says he regrets sending Bubba to visit Mama Cornette because it left Cornette open to being attacked by Ellering, a “filthy piece of human scum”. Cornette says that he and the Midnight Express shattered the myth that the Road Warriors were indestructible and tells David Crockett that the Road Warriors are out of the U.S. Tag Team title tournament thanks to the Midnight injuring Road Warrior Animal. Cornette says Animal is only the beginning, and that one-by-one he’ll get to Ellering.
After a break Tony Schiavone interviews World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Baby Doll. Flair calls out Dusty Rhodes for how Rhodes won the TV title from Arn Anderson before talking trash about Magnum T.A. Flair talks about going to former Central States strongholds Des Moines, Iowa and Wichita, Kansas, calling them “a couple of nothin’ happenin’ towns that the women are clearly starved for a real man in”, to face Dusty Rhodes and put the towns “on the map” and says he and the Four Horsemen will stay on top for as long as they want.
— “Non-Title Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 10:03)
Gene Ligon & Mike Simani vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
The Rock and Roll’s music has been overdubbed and the accompanying commentary muted. Ligon starts out strong before Morton cleans Ligon’s clock with a beautiful dropkick. Simani gets the tag and the RNR destroy him. Lots of tags and great teamwork on the part of the Express. This squash ends with Simani being wiped out with the famed RNR double dropkick for the pin at 3:14.
WINNERS are NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) (Pin, 3:14)
Next we cut to Tony Schiavone with Magnum T.A. and Television Champion Dusty Rhodes. Magnum, a mere 24 days from the October 14, 1986 automobile accident that would prematurely end his wrestling career, talks about teaming with Dusty Rhodes to win the U.S. Tag Team title tournament. Dusty Rhodes says that when “The Dream” and Magnum “want somethin’, they go get it”, that if and when either of them wants the World title, they’ll take it. Dusty calls out Tully Blanchard: “I’m comin’ for ya Tully Blanchard. If it’s the last thing I do I’m gonna cripple ya, I’m gonna maim ya, and I’m gonna send ya back to San Antonio, Texas, and that’s a fact, Jack!”
After a break Tony is joined by James J. Dillon and Tully Blanchard of the Four Horsemen. J.J. says that they’re not all that concerned about Dusty coming for them because they know he’s coming. Tully says that NWA is the “toughest of the tough” in wrestling and that the Horsemen are the elite of the tough. Tully reminds Dusty that it was Tully who took Rhodes’ National Heavyweight title in the spring and the Television title before that and says he’s not scared, that once a wrestler becomes a Horsemen they’re always a Horsemen.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 17:25)
Jack Jackson vs. Arn Anderson
As the match begins Anderson shouts to Tony and David that “whatever happens in this match, it’s on Dusty Rhodes’ head!” Arn then proceeds to maul poor Jack Jackson, tearing apart Jackson’s left arm. This is Arn Anderson at his vicious best, talking trash and calling out Dusty as he beats the bejabbers out of Jackson. Soon enough Arn ends things with a sloppy spinebuster and gordbuster for the pin at 3:53.
WINNER is Arn Anderson (Pin, 3:53)
After a replay of the finish Tony interviews Arn who says he doesn’t like hurting kids like Jackson to make an example but he did it anyways. As the youngest of the Horsemen Arn says he’s had to “qualify” to make it in the group and defended the TV title against the top talent in the sport. “One cheap-shot victory”, Arn says of Dusty, “doesn’t qualify you to tell me I don’t belong in the Horsemen!” Arn then reminds Dusty that Rhodes is “one individual” that must dodge the entirety of the Horsemen, and guarantees than Dusty will be finished by the end of 1986.
After a break Tony is joined by Jim Cornette, “Lover Boy” Dennis Condrey, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, and Big Bubba Rogers. Cornette calls the Midnight Express “giant killers” for taking out the Road Warriors and injuring Road Warrior Animal and blames Paul Ellering slapping Cornette for the attack.
Next we see the same footage that opened the show from that morning’s edition of WCW of Ellering confronting and slapping Cornette. Then we see footage, from the same morning edition of WCW, of the Midnight Express/Cornette attack on the Road Warriors as Hawk and Animal prepared to face Vernon Denton and Mike Simani. After Cornette glommed Ellering from behind Cornette and Eaton injure Animal’s lower back in the ring while Hawk beats down Condrey on the floor. As Hawk makes the save the Midnight and Cornette scurry to higher ground.
Back in the studio Dennis Condrey says if the Road Warriors want somebody to fight they’ve got a fight with the Midnight Express while Cornette says that, eventually, he will get even with Paul Ellering.
After another break we return to find the Russians, U.S. Champion Nikita Koloff, Krusher Kruschev, and Ivan Koloff, standing with Tony for an interview. Krusher says that he and partner Ivan won’t go out like the Road Warriors, that they’ll win the U.S. Tag Team title tournament. Ivan says being the U.S. Tag Team Champions will make the Russians the number one contenders for the Rock ‘n’ Roll’s World Tag titles the same way Nikita, as U.S. Champion, is number one contender to Ric Flair’s World Heavyweight title. Ivan briefly talks about the National/United States unification match to come on the 28th between Nikita and National Heavyweight Champion Wahoo McDaniel before Nikita talks about showing everyone what the Russians are all about and how everyone will fall to Russian superiority.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 31:30)
Tony Zane & Pablo Crenshaw vs. The Kansas Jayhawks (“Dirty” Dutch Mantel & “Hangman” Bobby Jaggers)
This match, like the others, is a squash. The Jayhawks dominate the action, particularly Crenshaw, with some great tag team work before crushing Crenshaw with a back suplex/guillotine legdrop combination for the pin at 3:55.
WINNERS are The Kansas Jayhawks (“Dirty” Dutch Mantel & “Hangman” Bobby Jaggers) (Pin, 3:55)
Next Tony is joined by Dick Murdoch who, with Mid-Atlantc Heavyweight Champion Ron Garvin, is a part of the big U.S. Tag title tournament. Murdoch talks about wanting Flair’s World title, having Dusty Rhodes’ back, and winning the U.S. Tag Team Championships. Murdoch talks about the potential of facing friends in the tourney, wanting to do their best, calling Garvin “a fine partner”, and Garvin & Murdoch’s desire to go all the way and win the straps.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 36:47)
The Mulkey Brothers (Randy & Bill) vs. NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion “Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin & “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch
The most famous “enhancement talent” in all of JCP, the Mulkey Brothers, have their work cut out for them in this main event. Murdoch and Garvin work over Bill’s arm with Garvin tying Bill in knots for a near submission. In the end Murdoch hits the back elbow and a great looking brainbuster for the pin at 3:05
WINNERS are “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch & “Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin (Pin, 3:05)
After replays of the brainbuster finish Tony is joined by National Heavyweight Champion Wahoo McDaniel to talk about the upcoming unification bout with U.S. Heavyweight Champion Nikita Koloff on the 28th. Wahoo says unification is a “good idea”, that both men think they’re the better of the two. Wahoo says Nikita can bring who he likes to the ring but “when the smoke clears” Wahoo will be the victor and the next in line for Ric Flair.
Tony hypes Wahoo’s chop against Nikita’s Russian Sickle on the undercard of the U.S. Tag title tourney on the 28th in Atlanta before hyping the TBS Sunday show and signing off.
At a time when house shows still ruled, this edition of WCW does its job by selling the big non-televised U.S. Tag title tournament event at the Omni on the 28th. At the same time, however, it also plants the seeds for what would be the marquee match at Starrcade ’86 between the Road Warriors and Midnight Express and, more subtly, the then-planned Flair/Magnum T.A. showdown for Flair’s World title.
It’s not a stellar show in respect to wrestling but it’s an entertaining hour nonetheless, full of great promos, and well worth your time if you’ve either not seen it for a while or never before.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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