The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA World Championship Wrestling — Saturday, April 13, 1985
– And now for something completely different, I thought I’d travel back even further in time (courtesy of the time machine known as WWE 24/7) and review an old show. Rogers Cable has been having a lot of issues with their on-demand services for the past few weeks which has resulted in 24/7 not being updated since about a month ago, but this show popped up over the weekend so I watched it and it’s pretty damn good. Hence, this recap, since it was apparently the very first wrestling program to be broadcast in stereo, which makes it historic. Now, I was only six at the time and I never saw the NWA on TV here until about 1989-90, so I’m no expert on this period. Let’s give this a shot, shall we?
– The WWE 24/7 Rewind prior to the main program shows us Sting’s heel turn on the yellow-and-red Hulk Hogan at WCW Fall Brawl ’99. I never saw this originally since I had stopped watching WCW for the most part, but what a stupid idea. I also question why they decided to show this. I’m sure there were more noteworthy things that happened in September, so the conspiracy theorist in me feels that maybe they want to make Sting look bad since he’s in TNA. But that’s just silly. Moving along…
– We begin with footage of the Koloffs beating the shit out of a bloody Ole Anderson in a cage before the funky World Championship Wrestling opening.
– Our hosts are David Crockett and Tony Schiavone, who run through some of the lineup for today’s program. Nice mustache, Tony.
– “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel vs. Sam Houston
James J. Dillon is managing the Nature Boy, who backs Houston into a corner and slaps him in the face. Landel controls the match as the commentators note that Buddy has been going after Magnum TA’s United States Title and that wrestlers all over the world want Dillon to manage them. Nice standing dropkick by Landel, who drops a big jumping elbow off the ropes on Sam as JJ says that he wants to see how the figure-four looks. Sure enough, Landel applies the figure-four and Houston submits as Schiavone mentions that the figure-four is a favorite move of another well-known Nature Boy and Crockett adds that Flair and Landel will have to settle that sometime. Afterwards, Landel won’t release the hold so Dillon comes in and acts like he’s trying to break the figure-four, but the commentators don’t buy it. Landel finally lets go and we get slow-motion replays of the elbowdrop and the figure-four.
– Schiavone interviews NWA US Champion Magnum TA, who discusses some of the stiff competition in the NWA such as the Russians, Superstar Graham, Barbarian, and Buddy Landel. Magnum claims that all they have to do is sign the dotted line and he’ll be there to defend his belt all over the country. Good babyface promo; Magnum would have been a huge star if not for his accident.
– After the break, Schiavone interviews NWA World Champion Ric Flair, who has three women with him and claims that he never leaves a lady without a smile on her face. The Nature Boy says that whenever he comes to Atlanta, the women line up to see him because they’re starved for the sight of a real man. Flair names off some of the contenders who want to be in his position such as Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, and Michael Hayes, but notes that he is forever and he makes professional wrestling what it is today.
– “Freebird” Michael Hayes vs. Joel Deaton
The commentators put over the Freebird as a serious World Title contender as he stomps Deaton before strutting and moonwalking. Hayes works a headlock, but Deaton rakes the eyes and bodyslams him for barely a two-count. The Freebird comes back with punches and Hayes plants Deaton with a running bulldog for the 1-2-3. I always liked Hayes as a wrestler and announcer in WCW and thought it was sad when the WWF reduced him to a laughingstock as Dok Hendrix.
– A video set to some triumphant music shows us the Raging Bull putting on his boots and getting ready in the locker room. The music gets funkier when we see him strutting in the ring with a sombrero.
– “Raging Bull” Manny Fernandez & Thunderbolt Patterson vs. Paul Garner & Mike Jackson
During the match, the commentators explain the angle where Thunderbolt & Ole Anderson were the NWA National Tag Team Champions, but they broke up so Patterson started teaming with the Raging Bull while Ole went back to his family roots and joined forces with Arn Anderson. The commentators wonder what will happen to the title since T-Bolt & Ole are still the champs even though they broke up. Bull looks good, while Patterson looks like a spindly-legged old man with some of the Road Dogg’s mannerisms. Sweet pump kick by the Bull, who keeps shouting for the Andersons as he chops away on Garner. T-Bolt whips Garner into the ropes and Bull puts Garner away with a flying forearm off the ropes.
– A bumper before the commercial breaks notes that the average cost of Ric Flair’s robes is $10,300. I wonder if that was true.
– Schiavone interviews the Andersons as footage is shown of a match between Arn and the Raging Bull: Arn & Ole assault the Bull at ringside and Thunderbolt comes out to ask Ole what he’s doing, but Arn attacks Patterson and they lay him out in the ring. Ole says that his partnership with Patterson is over and Arn states that this is a rekindling of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with a new face, adding that they’re the new “pain doctors” around here.
– Tully Blanchard vs. Paul Diamond
I believe this is the same Paul Diamond who went on to form Bad Company with Pat Tanaka in the AWA as well as portraying Kato of the Orient Express and Max Moon II in the WWF. Blanchard has “The Perfect 10” Baby Doll with him and the commentators note that he was the longest-reigning NWA World Television Champion until Dusty Rhodes recently dethroned him. Schiavone references Tully’s history as a college-football quarterback at West Texas State and notes that he translated his success from the gridiron to the squared circle as Tully drop-toeholds Paul and holds him in a leglock while taunting him. Blanchard drops a series of elbows and covers, but Diamond kicks out and mounts a comeback. However, Tully regains control and finishes off Diamond with the slingshot suplex.
– Schiavone interviews Dusty Rhodes, who claims that Jimmy Valiant & Buzz Sawyer are his family to combat the Koloffs and will take either the World Tag Team Title or the Six-Man Championship from them. The American Dream states that they’ll take the fight wherever the Russians want it.
– Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Rocky King & Gene Ligon
Schiavone calls Arn a “brash new star” as he displays the Anderson trademark of focusing on one body part, in this case Ligon’s arm. The Andersons tag in-and-out to work over the arm until Rocky gets the tag and he gets the same treatment. I love this stuff; you really feel like they want to snap their f*cking arms off, but they’re so businesslike as they do it. After Ole comes off the top with a knee to the arm, Arn slaps on an armbar and wrenches it until Rocky submits.
– Schiavone interviews Buddy Landel with JJ Dillon, who says that if you take away Magnum TA’s US Title belt, he’s just another musclehead with a pretty face and some nice hair. Landel claims that he’s on the scene to add some class and will take the US belt. You know, I always liked Landel from what I saw of him in SMW and his brief WWF run in early ’95, and I read that he was scheduled for a big push around this time but he f*cked it up by getting wasted and no-showing a TV taping. So sad, because he was a pretty good worker, a solid promo, and had JJ as a manager.
– “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer vs. Ivan Koloff
Ivan is one-half of the NWA World tag champs with Nikita Koloff and one-third of the World Six-Man champs with Nikita & Krusher Khrushchev, who are both in his corner for this match. Koloff complains about Sawyer’s furry boots (Buzz was way ahead of his time; now I see hot university girls wearing those same boots) and bites his hand as he applies a hammerlock, but the Mad Dog reverses it and bites Ivan’s hand. Buzz takes Ivan down and bites his arm on the mat as the commentators question whether anyone has gone against the Koloffs in such a fashion. Ivan chokes Buzz, who breaks it by choking the Russian Bear right back. Buzz throws chops but misses a charge into the corner and posts his shoulder, so Ivan works over the arm with a kneedrop off the middle turnbuckle and an armbar as the first hour of World Championship Wrestling ends and we go to break.
When we come back, Sawyer is at ringside and Nikita slams his head on the apron. Back inside, Ivan continues to zero in on the arm until Buzz surprises him with a powerslam off the ropes for a two-count, but Ivan gets his foot over the rope. Ivan escapes to the apron, but Buzz suplexes him back in for another two when Ivan gets his foot over the rope again. The Mad Dog bearhugs the Russian Bear, who tries to break it by pounding the shoulder, so Sawyer slams him with a crisp belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. Back to the bearhug to punish the back and Ivan breaks it by pounding the shoulder, but Buzz hits him across the back for two. Buzz bearhugs him on the mat, but Ivan escapes by raking the face and catches Buzz with a foot to the face when he charges into the corner. Ivan goes to the top, but Buzz slams him down for two and bearhugs him on the mat again while Nikita paces at ringside and a “USA” chant starts. Ivan escapes from the bearhug, but Buzz gets a textbook double-underhook suplex for two and reapplies the bearhug on the canvas. Ivan punches the shoulder to break it and headbutts Buzz, but it hurt Koloff more and Sawyer slams him with a gutwrench suplex for two before gripping the bearhug again. Koloff fights out, but Sawyer reverses an Irish-whip and Ivan squashes the referee in the corner. The ref falls out to the floor as Buzz rolls up Ivan, but there’s no ref to count so Jimmy Valiant runs in and makes the obviously unofficial three-count. The Boogie Woogie Man raises the Mad Dog’s arm in victory, but Ivan knocks Buzz through the ropes and the three Russians assault Valiant with Ivan’s chain until Dusty Rhodes makes the save. Really good stuff with each man working over a body part. This style should be used more in WWE and TNA, especially with the rise of MMA.
– Schiavone interviews Michael Hayes, who notes that the Russians call themselves the World Six-Man Champions even though they haven’t beaten the Freebirds. Hayes cuts a classic Freebird promo on Ric Flair, inferring that the Nature Boy’s women earlier were prostitutes and mentioning that he’s 26 (wow) and has had his head banged around for eight years already so he doesn’t need a “sissy-britch punk” like Flair to tell him what it’s all about. Hayes borrows a Lynyrd Skynyrd lyric as he states that the Freebirds have drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around and finishes by promising that “Hotlanta GA” will be behind him when he gets his title shot. Great promo, great voice, great image; why can’t WWE do something with all these legends they have working behind the scenes?
– After a break, Schiavone interviews Dusty Rhodes while Buzz Sawyer paces around holding his arm. The American Dream has the Russians’ chain in his hand as he says that if the Russians were looking for a fight, they found one. A frenzied Jimmy Valiant arrives on the scene and states that Buzz had Ivan beat and thanks Dusty for saving his life earlier, declaring the three of them brothers.
– Nikita Koloff vs. Josh Stroud
Ivan & Krusher are in Nikita’s corner for this semi-competitive squash. Nikita is just an awesome force and likely would have been a huge star in the WWF if his wife hadn’t died, leading to his several-year hiatus from wrestling. Nikita/Hogan would have been a dream match in the mid ’80s. After dismantling his opponent, Nikita locks Stroud in the Cobra Clutch for the submission victory. Afterwards, Nikita won’t release the hold until the other Russians finally pull him off and they all celebrate.
– Schiavone interviews Thunderbolt Patterson & Raging Bull, who promises to take care of the Andersons. T-Bolt talks like a spaced-out crackhead with a lazy eye as he notes that everybody warned him that Ole would turn on him and they were right. I sort of remember Patterson as a mentor to Ice Train in early ’90s WCW, but what was his deal? He seemed to lose several trains of thought during this promo.
– The Barbarian & “Superstar” Billy Graham vs. Jim & Mack Jeffers
Interesting combination here, as Graham has turned into an alleged martial-arts master and is carrying a little extra weight around the midsection, although his arms are still ripped. Paul Jones is the manager and I’m not familiar with him other than remembering his name from the PWI magazines, but he kinda looks like Bill Dundee when he played Lord Steven Regal’s manservant Sir William in WCW. Barbarian looks scary as he destroys one of the Jeffers boys while Abdullah The Butcher appears at ringside beside Jones. The Superstar dominates as Crockett announces that this is indeed the first wrestling broadcast in history to be presented in stereo. I never knew Graham was in the NWA at this point, but I like how they reinvented him here. Barbarian finally pins one of the Jefferses after a cool diving headbutt off the top from across the ring while Superstar grabs the other Jeffers in a full nelson. I really like how the NWA was using their veterans (Ivan, Ole, Thunderbolt, Graham) in tag teams with the young stars like Nikita, Arn, Bull, and Barbarian.
– A commercial bumper notes that Magnum TA is 25 years old. Damn, that’s crazy.
– Schiavone interviews the Russians, who have the tag belts and the Six-Man trophy with them. Ivan claims that he taught Buzz Sawyer everything he knows and had him pinned before Dusty Rhodes & Jimmy Valiant interfered. A little WWE 24/7 “Terri-Stories” graphic pops up to inform us that Krusher Khrushchev would go on to “WWE Superstardom” as Demolition Smash as Krusher vows that nobody will be able to take their titles, but doesn’t sound Russian at all. Nikita makes up for it with his bad Russian accent as he roars that all will go down to the Koloffs.
– Magnum TA vs. George South
I remember George South! He was a long-time “enhancement talent” for WCW and was considered one of the best at his job, pun intended. This is non-title obviously, as Magnum puts South away in about 15 seconds with the belly-to-belly off the ropes. I know some people never liked Shane Douglas using the Magnum belly-to-belly, but I think it was a logical finisher since he lands on top of his opponent, knocking the wind out of him for the quick 1-2-3.
– “Pistol” Pez Whatley vs. Vernon Deaton
Good ol’ Pez, I never knew he actually had his own squashes before he became enhancement talent. Schiavone & Crockett use this time to discuss some of the other angles as Pez hits a nice dropkick and controls Vernon for most of the match. Pez decks Deaton with a flying clothesline off the ropes for the 1-2-3 as Schiavone notes that this is “one good win” for Whatley, “one” being the key word.
– Schiavone interviews the Andersons again as Arn is wearing a Yankees cap and points out that they might not be pretty or flashy, but they get results. Ole claims that they are the best wrestling machine in the world today and don’t need fancy moves like Manny Fernandez & Thunderbolt Patterson.
– Krusher Khrushchev vs. Mike Somiani
The Koloffs are in Khrushchev’s corner as Krusher squashes the badly balding Somiani. Schiavone explains that Krusher was born in Russia but raised in America, where his American father left his Russian mother to raise him by herself, which explains his Russian patriotism and hatred of the USA. If only that much thought had been put into Rob Conway’s gimmick when he joined La Resistance, it could have been a lot more interesting and multidimensional. Krusher finally applies the Cobra Clutch for the submission victory like Nikita earlier. Afterwards, Khrushchev screams for Dusty Rhodes and Buzz Sawyer as he refuses to release the hold until Ivan pulls him off.
– Schiavone interviews Tully Blanchard, who has the rather hideous Baby Doll by his side as he brags about holding the NWA TV Title longer than anybody else. Tully explains that he started putting up $10,000 of his own money to anybody who could beat him and that it hurt when Dusty Rhodes won the belt and cashed the cheque, but promises to be a champion again soon because that’s what he was born to be.
– Credits roll to close the show, including Virgil Runnels as producer.
Afterthoughts: That was a really good show, with a perfect example of how squash matches can be effective and useful even today. Combine that with the solid Ivan/Buzz match and lots of good short promos to build the storylines and characters, and you have the type of wrestling program I’d love to see again today. Well, maybe not as many squashes, but the point is that now I can see why the NWA diehards hated the WWF product at the time. It’s like night and day. On paper, the formulas might have been similar but in the execution, the NWA is so much more realistic and mature while the WWF was basically a living breathing cartoon. Anyway, if you can get WWE 24/7 in your area, do it. I’ve seen so much awesome stuff over the past year from the NWA, WWF, WCW, ECW, and WCW, I highly recommend it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the future.