Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Starrcade ’84: The Million Dollar Challenge
November 22, 1984
Your hosts are Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle!
NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Champion Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown
Denny Brown is kind of a nobody from Florida while Mike Davis is one-half of the Rock n Roll RPMs. Apparently it’s face vs. face. Brown delivers a few headscissors-type moves before going to an armbar. It was very different from what we would call a headscissors today. Davis escapes, but takes a shoulderblock. Brown comes off the ropes for another one, but Davis ducks and lets Brown fall out to the floor and hurt his lower back in the process. Back in, Davis snaps off a couple slams and gets two. Davis whips Brown into the ropes, but Brown reverses and hits a forearm. Small package from Davis gets another two. He whips Brown across into the corner, but Brown catches himself and leaps back onto Davis with a forearm. Backdrop and a dropkick from Brown gets two. Double-KO spot follows, but Brown is up first with punches. Davis reverses a whip in the corner and sends Brown in chest-first, setting up a bridging back suplex for 1-2-3! (5:40) Oh wait, Brown got his shoulder up at the two-count. Davis gets his shoulders counted so that makes Denny Brown the winner and NEW NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Decent enough, but the finish sucked. **¼
Mr. Ito vs. Brian Adidis
When Brian Adidis changed his last name to Adidas in 1991, Adidas made him change it. Why he thought that was a good idea, I don’t know. He would later become a fairly big star in WCCW. Don’t get Mr. Ito confused with the great Mr. Hito from Stampede. Mr. Ito looks to be the Samoan family’s Japanese love child, which is where he’s billed from. He’s built just like the Wild Samoans, but actually moves better than they did. He runs around a bit so Adidis can do some leapfrogs, which leads to a dropkick. Adidis works a headlock, but Ito changes over to an armbar. Adidis counters that and goes to work on the arm. They trade chops out of the corner, which leads to an Airplane Spin from Adidis for the win. (3:10) Pretty energetic squash match. Adidis definitely had the look, which is odd Vince didn’t sign him up. *
NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham
Jesse Barr was pretty awesome back in the day before he gained thirty pounds and wasted away as Jimmy Jack Funk in the WWF. Mike Graham is part of the Graham family that ruled Florida wrestling forever. Barr goes after the arm, Graham goes after the leg to start. Barr uses the ropes to gain leverage in a test of strength, but Graham headbutts out and applies the Figure-Four. Barr quickly gets to the ropes though and takes a walk. Back in, Barr grabs hold of a headlock and won’t let go until Graham executes a shin breaker to break it up. Graham punishes the legs and hooks on the Figure-Four again, but Barr makes the ropes. Graham gets a sunset flip for two, but then Barr throws him into the ref. Graham gets an inside cradle and everything! Graham tries a rollup off the ropes as Hebner awakes to count 1-2-NO! Barr turns the tables on Graham and pulls the tights for 1-2-NO! Graham atomic-drops Barr into the corner, but then Barr trips him up for the Ric Flair corner pin for 1-2-3. (11:47) Great back and forth match there with Jesse Barr ruling everything in sight. ***
They show a clip of JJ Dillon’s Long Riders gang (Tully Blanchard, Ron Bass and Black Bart) beating the crap out of Ricky Steamboat and Dick Slater. With Slater tied up in the corner, Bass and Blanchard hold up Steamboat for Black Bart to jump off the top and slam a boot in Steamboat’s lower back! OUCH! That stable should’ve been called the Killer B’s! It would’ve been gold!
Buzz Tyler & Assassin #1 vs. The Zambuie Express (w/Paul Jones) – Tag-Team Elimination Match
Buzz Tyler is basically a Mid-Atlantic territory mainstay. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Assassin. The Zambuie Express was Elijah Akeem and Kareem Muhammad. Hmm, I wonder if they’re Muslim. Anyways, they’re militants from Zimbabwe who also happen to be REALLY HUGE black guys. I’m talking two Visceras as one tag team. I can’t possibly tell them apart. The finish comes when Buzz Tyler goes to the floor with one of the ZE guys for a double-countout. Meanwhile in the ring, Assassin bumps heads with the other black guy and Tyler comes over and shoves Assassin on top for the win. (4:46) Real lame. CRAP
Dusty Rhodes interview with a kid named Tony Schiavone: He sits back and points his finger at Ric Flair. He’s going to win the title and the million dollars and he’s the prettiest man in the universe.
NWA Mid-Atlantic Brass Knuckles Champion Black Bart (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Manny Fernandez
There’s no brass knuckles involved, just taped fists. It’s basically a hardcore match as anything goes. Manny comes out to “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. It’s just weird imagining anyone using that song for an entrance theme in 2007. Along with Dusty, Manny is one-half of the NWA World tag team champs at this point. Just a big brawl, as both men bust each other open. The finish comes when Dillon tosses in Bart’s bullrope, allowing Manny to come up behind him with a rollup for 1-2-3 to win the title. (7:35) It’s like I said, just a slugfest. But what do you expect when you have a BRASS KNUCKLES title? CRAP
It’s seven-minute intermission time. They show the finish to Race/Flair from Starrcade ’83.
Ricky Steamboat interview: He’s hurting pretty bad, but he’s still here to BEAT the crap out of Blanchard.
Tully Blanchard & JJ Dillon interview: Blanchard makes fun of Steamboat for crying and whining about his injury. He also points out that he wants the winner of the NWA World title match tonight no matter who comes out the victor.
Paul Jones (w/The Zambuie Express) vs. Jimmy Valiant (w/Assassin #1) – Loser Leaves Town Tuxedo Street Fight
Wow, three stipulations all wrapped into one. It’s matches like this one that make anti-wrestling fans because it’s so absurd. Well I hate Jimmy Valiant, so I’m looking forward to this one. Valiant has a rope and ties Jones up his neck in the ropes so he can rip off everything on Jones but his skimpies. The Zambuie Express guy distracted Valiant long enough for Jones to get free and bury a knee into Valiant’s back. Jones stomps away, but Valiant fights up and hooks on the sleeper. More interference from ZE causes the ref to get hit, but Assassin gets rid of him. JJ Dillon runs in (huh?) and blasts Valiant with what appears to be a can of spray paint. Jones makes the covers and the ref wakes up for the 1-2-3. (5:21) Not sure why Dillon got involved, but anyways. CRAP
Ric Flair interview: He says if Dusty is the half the man he thinks he is, because he’s the #1 stud in the land. Woo.
NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Ron Bass (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Dick Slater
Bass ruled the Mid-Atlantic titles at this point, as he was also the current (and final) NWA Mid-Atlantic tag champs along with Black Bart. I don’t care what anybody says. Dick Slater as a face is weird. Slater punches away on Bass and then chases Dillon through the ring. Slater works a headlock for a while and then hits an atomic drop. The ref stops Slater in mid-stomp and allows Bass to rake Slater’s face to take over. Slater hangs out on the ropes while Bass and Dillon punch on him. Bass hits a suplex for two. Running bulldog from Bass goes nowhere, as Slater punches back for two. Bass goes to the eyes again and dumps Slater for some quick JJ cheating. Back in, Bass beats Slater into the corner, but Slater turns it around on him and fires back. The ref gets thrown aside because he won’t leave Slater alone. He’s busy! Slater hits a back suplex and covers, but JJ comes in to break it up. Slater NO-SELLS and clears Dillon out of the ring. Slater goes over and slams Bass and then hits a jumping leg drop. The ref comes out of his coma, but won’t count and awards Bass the match by DQ. (9:06) It was okay, I guess. The finish was lame. *½
Next up, they play the American national anthem on the bugle to get everybody in patriotic mode before the Koloffs come out. Not a bad move, I guess.
Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. Ole Anderson & Keith Larson (w/Don Kernodle)
The Koloffs turned on the Soviet sympathizer Don Kernodle after he and Ivan lost the NWA World tag team titles. They hurt him so bad in fact, that he’s now on crutches, which is why Ole & Don’s real-life brother Keith are here to defend his honor. You may know Keith Larson better as Rocky Kernodle. It’s also one of the few times where the crowd favored Ole because he was beating up on those evil commies. Anyways, all is forgiven and Don Kernodle is pro-American once again and loved by all. Nikita had only been wrestling for a few months at this point and was receiving a very mild Goldberg push by wrestling short matches and doing rare interviews. Anderson throws out Nikita while Larson isolates Ivan for a while. As per usual for the Anderson formula, they go after Ivan’s arm all day long and cut off the ring. It’s a good ten minutes work on the arm, but it’s never boring because they make frequent tags and don’t ever stop moving. Ivan finally gets a break and goes to the eyes to make the tag to Nikita. He rams his shoulder in Ole a bunch and then hits the Russian Bearhug. Ivan draws Larson in the ring so he can nail Ole with a double-ax handle before he escapes the bearhug. Ole still manages to punch out, but Nikita cuts off the tag. After Ivan tags and misses an elbow drop, Nikita grabs the bearhug again. Ole atomic drops out and makes the HOT TAG TO LARSON! He connects with some back elbows, but then whiffs on a dropkick. Desperation small package on Ivan gets two. Meanwhile down on the floor, Nikita runs by Kernodle and drops him with a RUSSIAN SICKLE! It’s a pier-six brawl now and during the chaos, Ivan blasts Larson with his chain for the 1-2-3. (15:22) Great match and very cool seeing Ole wrestling as a face. After the match, the Koloffs try and put Larson out of action, but Kernodle limps in and beats them up with his crutch. ***¾
NWA Television Champion Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat
Both guys put up $10,000 of their own kayfabe money and the winner takes all. The DQ/countout rule has even been waived, making it nearly impossible for Tully to cheat and hold on to the belt. Even JJ Dillon isn’t allowed at ringside for this match. I think I’ve told enough of the story throughout the show, so I won’t tell it again. Tully wants to go right after the ribs and Steamboat knows this, so he has to come back with quick offensive flurries. Tully tries to roll out to the floor, so Steamboat gives him a suplex back in for two. Steamboat grabs a chinlock, but Tully grabs the bottom rope. Steamboat hits a knee-lift and now the hurt ribs are starting to bother him. Poor Ricky. Tully goes to work on those ribs like there’s no tomorrow. He dances and prances around the ring because he thinks he’s got Steamboat right where he wants him, but that just fires up the Dragon. Steamboat drives Tully down to the mat and grabs a chinlock, but Blanchard stands up and drapes himself over the top rope to force the ring ropes into Steamboat’s ribs. On the break, Tully kicks him in the ribs and comes back in for a back suplex. Brief counter by Steamboat into a chinlock causes a stalemate. Tully finds it necessary to SPIT on Steamboat, which just puts gasoline on the fire once again. Steamboat drills Blanchard with a powerslam for two. Ten-count corner punches ensue and Blanchard blades. Swinging neckbreaker gets two for Steamboat. He goes for the ultimate insult by giving Blanchard the Slingshot Suplex for 1-2-NO! More chops from Steamboat sends Tully to the apron where he pulls out some brass knux. Blanchard misses though and Steamboat goes for a back suplex to bring Tully back in, but Tully nails him on the way down. Both men are flat on their backs. Once they get to their feet, Tully comes running at Steamboat with a crossbody for 1-2-NO! Blanchard wants a superplex, but Steamboat shoves him off and hits a FLYING BODYPRESS for 1-2-NO! Tully reverses a whip into the ropes, but ducks low allowing Steamboat to fly over him for a sunset flip. Once the ref hits the mat to check Steamboat’s shoulders, Tully whips out the brass knux again and nails Steamboat for 1-2-3. (13:14) The ref doesn’t even give it a second thought. Another good hard fought match. ***½
NWA U.S. Champion Wahoo McDaniel vs. Superstar Billy Graham
Wahoo was starting to hate everybody at this point because he felt he was being mistreated because he was a Native American. As for Superstar Billy Graham, he’s all about karate here. These two go back as far their early AWA days in the early ‘70s. Real short match as Graham works the Full Nelson in a lot, but Wahoo delivers the TOMAHAWK CHOP for the win. (4:12) Its kind of sad to see the #2 title being used as filler. ½*
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes – Special Referee: Smokin’ Joe Frazier
NASCAR driver Kyle Petty is guest judge for this match in case it happens to go 60 minutes. This is the million dollar challenge. Its like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, but you got to wrestle for it. Dusty hits a bunch of elbows and works a headlock until Ric goes low and fights back with chops. Rolling knee drop from Flair gets two. Flair tries another one, but Dusty rolls out of the way and quickly applies the Figure-Four. Flair makes the ropes, but Dusty stays on the leg. Flair rakes Dusty’s face, but the comeback is cut short with a press slam. Dusty sends Flair in the corner for the Flair Flip, which sends him down to the concrete floor. Dusty wants to suplex Flair back in, but Frazier gets in the way and screws up the execution for two. Flair hits a back elbow and heads up top, but Dusty slams him off. Flair reverses a whip and grabs a sleeper, but Dusty dumps him out to the floor. Dusty follows him out for a slugfest, but then Flair shoves him off into the ringpost to bust him open. Oh boy. Back in, Frazier holds off Flair so he can check on Dusty’s condition, but he gets shoved away. Flair works the cut “like a man possessed” until Frazier calls for the bell due to all the blood running down Dusty’s face. (12:10) Flair regains the belt and wins the million dollars. Dusty wants to go a few rounds with Frazier, but that guy is long gone now. Never really got going, but I think that was kind of the point. *½
Ric Flair interview: Flair isn’t concerned whether or not the match should’ve ended like that, but he went out there and achieved what he intended to do and that’s hold on to the belt and get that million dollar check.
Dusty Rhodes interview: He says Frazier better watch his back, because he wants to get his revenge. Manny Fernandez is there to comfort them though. I think he’ll be okay. THE AMERICAN DREAM LIVES!
Final Thoughts: Of course Solie and Caudle would say that it surpassed Starrcade ’83, but it definitely didn’t. Not saying that it was a bad show though, because I do feel it’s rather underrated. With no real amazing standout matches while still a solid show, I’ll go with thumbs in the middle for Starrcade ’84.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.