Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Starrcade ’87: Chi-Town Heat
November 26, 1987
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross!
Michael Hayes, Jim Garvin & Sting (w/Precious) vs. Eddie Gilbert, Rick Steiner & Larry Zbyszko (w/Baby Doll)
Steiner surprises Sting early with a pair of Steinerlines. He tries a third one, but Sting sidesteps him and lets Steiner fall out to the floor so he can deliver what appeared to be a crazy plancha. Sting throws Steiner back in and comes off the top with a missile dropkick. It was SO crazy, that it caused a six-man brawl! The Freebirds and Sting dump the UWF guys for a huge reaction from the crowd. Once the action settles down, the Freebirds tag in and out dominating Rick Steiner. He finally crawls back into his corner and tags in Zbyszko to take on Garvin. After those two go for a bit, Hayes tags in and does his little strut and moonwalk. Gilbert tags in and he gets owned by Hayes, so he tags in Sting. He controls Gilbert’s arm, but then Gilbert slams out of an armbar and tags in Steiner. Sting immediately catches Steiner on his way in and hooks an armbar. Garvin gets a blind tag and comes in for a sunset flip for two. They lock up and end up in the heel side of town as Zbyszko tags in and pounds Garvin in the corner. The heels do a little cheating before Gilbert tags in to control Garvin. He hits an atomic drop and starts stomping on Garvin’s lower back before he delivered a backbreaker for 1, 2, NO! Gilbert sets up for an elbow drop, but Garvin moves out of the way. Steiner tags in to cut off Garvin’s from reaching his corner and delivers a powerslam for two. Steiner misses a charge in the corner, but is still able to keep Garvin from getting to his corner and tags in Zbyszko. He comes in and puts Garvin in the Abdominal Stretch. Garvin hiptosses out of it and makes the HOT TAG TO STING! He does okay against all three UWF guys for awhile, but then Zbyszko rakes Sting’s eyes and it’s all over. Gilbert becomes the legal man whether or not he was tagged. Gilbert tosses Sting out over the top rope and out to the floor, which was a DQ rule until around 1997 in WCW, but the ref did not see it. Back in, Gilbert delivers a suplex for 1, 2, NO! Zbyszko tags in and tries a suplex, but Sting blocks it and delivers one of his own. Steiner gets the tag and stomps Sting down in the corner. He whips Sting into the ropes and applies a sleeper, but Sting quickly counters out by driving Steiner’s face into the top turnbuckle. Zbyszko gets another tag, but his whip is reversed to send him chest-first into the corner. He tags in Gilbert just as Sting makes a HOT TAG TO HAYES! This causes another six-man brawl so that JR can pull out the “It’s breaking down in Chi-town!” line in the first match. Sting and Garvin set up ten-count corner punches while Hayes hits a bulldog on Zbyszko for 1, 2, NO! The ref notices Zbyszko has his leg draped on the bottom rope. Hayes celebrates too early because he thinks he’s won. The match resumes and Hayes locks on the SLEEPER HOLD, but Gilbert breaks it up with a double-axe handle. Steiner tags in and grabs a bearhug, and then releases Hayes into a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX for 1, 2, NO! Gilbert tags in and goes down to an inside cradle by Hayes for 1, 2, NO! It turns into a big brawl at the end once Hayes gets a sunset flip at the last three seconds of the match. The ref counts to two as the time expires to make this match a time-limit draw. (15:00) Pretty good energetic match capped off by a non-finish. That’s not a good way to start your first PPV ever. **¾
UWF Champion “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. NWA Western States Heritage Champion Barry Windham
The UWF belt is what is on the line here, and was retired shortly after this match. A criss-cross ends with Dr. Death delivering a big hiptoss to Windham. He slips out of a press-slam from Dr. Death and gets a rollup off the ropes for 1, 2, NO! They do a little mat wrestling, which ends with them both out on the floor. They’re all lovey-dovey with each other, which is no fun and the crowd lets them know it. Back in, Dr. Death counters out of a headlock with a back suplex. Then, Windham decides to go for a gutwrench suplex, and he gets it. Dr. Death has had enough of that and hooks on a headlock. Windham makes several attempts to get free from the hold, and Williams finally gets free on the third try. They run the ropes for a little bit until Dr. Death gets crotched on a leapfrog by Windham. Everyone in attendance wants Windham to take advantage of the situation, but he lets Dr. Death get back to his feet. They lock back up and do a headlock sequence. They run the ropes again, which has been a bad idea for this whole match, and Dr. Death ducks a charge and lets Windham flip over the top rope and out to the floor. Back in, Dr. Death grabs Windham and cradles him up for the quick pin. (6:50) This never really got started. *½
NWA U.S. Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette & Big Bubba Rogers) vs. The Rock n Roll Express – non-title Scaffold Match
Before Ricky Morton gets up on the scaffold, Bubba Rogers attacks and gives him a BUBBA SLAM! That leaves Robert Gibson all alone with Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton up on the scaffold. Bubba tries to climb up the scaffold, but somehow Morton has Cornette’s racket and beats Bubba back down the ladder! Morton climbs up to the scaffold and brings the tennis racket with him. He squares off with Eaton while Gibson hammers away on Lane. Oh man, Gibson is busted open after getting his head slammed into the scaffold and I’m guessing Eaton is busted open by way of the tennis racket. Eaton tosses some powder into Morton and Gibson’s faces to try and take them off the scaffold, but they fight back. Gibson tries to toss Lane off the scaffold, but Eaton comes over to save him. Eaton grabs the tennis racket and floors Morton and then goes over to Gibson, but that guy has a piece of the railing! He nails Eaton in the face with it, sending the racket down to the ring. Meanwhile, Lane nearly gets eliminated and hangs onto the ladder. Bubba tosses the racket back up to Eaton while Morton and Lane fight underneath the scaffold. Gibson takes the tennis racket away from Eaton and decks him with it. Morton finally kicks Stan Lane back down into the ring for the first elimination! Morton climbs back up onto the scaffold to meet Eaton with a right hand. Gibson tries to toss Eaton over the edge while Morton hits him with the tennis racket. Eaton goes underneath the scaffold and hangs on to it until he falls to the mat below to give the Rock n Roll Express the win. (10:23) Cornette tells Big Bubba Rogers to go up and throw Gibson and Morton off the scaffold. Gibson gets half way down the ladder while Morton accepts Bubba’s challenge. Morton points out to the crowd to distract Bubba and jimmy-taps him! He then shoots down the ladder to escape the big man’s wrath. You’re crazy if you think I can possibly rate this match.
UWF Television Champion Terry Taylor (w/Eddie Gilbert) vs. NWA World Television Champion Nikita Koloff – Title Unification Match
They do a little “feeling out” process to start. Taylor tries to get in a cheap shot out of the corner, but Nikita blocks it and gives Taylor a death stare. Nikita reverses a wristlock into one of his own and hooks an armbar, but Taylor jumps out to the apron to call for a break. Instead of breaking the hold, Nikita pulls Taylor back in and re-applies the armbar. JR does a good job of putting over Nikita’s strength by saying that because Nikita is so strong, even an elementary hold like an armbar could cause a man to submit. Taylor fights out with some headbutts, but then Nikita no-sells a head to the buckle. Nikita cross-corner whips Taylor and hooks on another wristlock. Taylor tries to punch out, but Nikita no-sells and changes to a hammerlock. Taylor counters into a hammerlock of his own, but Nikita quickly elbows out of it and returns to the hammerlock. Taylor gets to the ropes and rolls out to his buddy, Eddie Gilbert. Taylor gets back in and goes nose-to-nose with Nikita. They trade slaps and Nikita pounds on the arm. Backdrop by Nikita gets two, and Taylor rolls out again. Nikita pulls Taylor back in by his blond locks, but then he runs into a knee out of the corner. Taylor tries to get a cheap win by rolling Nikita up and using the ropes for leverage, but Nikita gets his shoulders up at two. Nikita gets right back on top and applies the hammerlock once again. He tries to hook Taylor over into a pin attempt with a half-nelson, but Taylor gets to the ropes for the break. Taylor goes to the eyes, but misses an elbow drop. Nikita gets back up and returns to the armbar. Taylor fights out again this time with a headbutt, but then gets choked down by Nikita! He sets up for the RUSSIAN SICKLE, but Taylor avoids it and lets Nikita charge into the corner. Taylor pushes Nikita out to ringside and throws him into the guardrail, then follows it up by applying a hammerlock and shoving Nikita shoulder-first into the ringpost. Back in, Taylor slings Nikita’s arm across the top rope as the crowd chants, “NIKITA!” Gilbert slings Nikita’s arm across the apron while Taylor distracts Earl Hebner. Taylor delivers a pair of knee drops and covers for 1, 2, NO! Nikita tries to elbow Taylor away, but he uses his hurt arm. Taylor capitalizes and torques the arm by using the ropes. Nikita punches out of a sunset flip, but Taylor is right back on top of Nikita. He tries a suplex, but Nikita blocks and returns the favor. Nikita starts to no-sells his head being driven on the turnbuckle and goes up for the ten-count corner punch. Taylor counters that after five with an inverted atomic drop for 1, 2, NO! Taylor gets into a tiff with Hebner about the count, so Nikita seizes the moment and rolls him up for 1, 2, NO! Taylor gets right back up and stomps on Nikita to set up a piledriver, but Nikita backdrops out of it. Taylor rolls out to ringside to sucker Nikita out so he can be the first man to enter the ring. Taylor nails Nikita on his way in, allowing Eddie Gilbert to hit Nikita in the back of his left knee. The camera missed the shot, but I’m guessing he jabbed the chair that he’s sitting on into the back of his knee. Taylor locks on the FIGURE-FOUR and even has Eddie Gilbert help out with some leverage. Taylor gets a few near-falls with the hold, but eventually Hebner sees what’s going on and makes Taylor break it. Gilbert gets involved again with Nikita, but his plan backfires and he collides with Taylor! Then, out of nowhere, Nikita explodes with the RUSSIAN SICKLE for the 1-2-3! (17:37) The finish earned a HUGE pop. Match of the night, bar none. ***½
NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering)
The Road Warriors overpower Anderson and Blanchard just like they do every time they meet. As if LOD wasn’t over enough in basically every American city at this point, on this night they are wrestling in their own backyard. Blanchard tries to leave early on, but Hawk brings him back in the ring and dropkicks Blanchard for two. Tully catches Animal with a knee out of the corner, but then gets caught coming off the top rope and takes a powerslam for two as Arn breaks up the pin. Arn returns to his corner, but then gets tagged in and doesn’t have any idea of what to do against the Road Warriors. Arn battles Animal back into a corner, but Animal reverses a cross-corner whip. Anderson flips out of the corner and then goes down to a clothesline. Tully runs in to save and he gets nailed as well. Even after the Horsemen slow down the pace of the match, Arn gets caught with a bearhug. Tully saves him, but then Hawk comes back with a double-clothesline. Animal tags in and catches Tully in a bearhug out of a military press from Hawk, and then breaks the hold with an atomic drop! Frustrated as can be, Arn tags back in and tries a piledriver. Animal is able to backdrop out of it and press slams Arn instead. Both men tag out, and Hawk gets clipped by the Horsemen to create the opening for their offensive attack. They are all OVER Hawk’s knee. Tully even whips out a steel chair and cracks it across Hawk’s knee out on the floor. Back in, Arn hits the DDT and covers for 1, 2, NO! Tully tags in and tries a figure-four, but Hawk counters with a botched small package for maybe a one count. Now Arn tags in and gives the figure-four a try, but Hawk kicks him off into the corner. He missed his cue, but they still pulled it off. Arn is still able to keep hold of Hawk and tag in Tully before Hawk can make the tag. Blanchard finally gets the figure-four locked in, but can’t make Hawk submit. Arn tags in and does the spot where he tries to get a pinfall out of a knucklelock, but gets crotched instead. HOT TAG TO ANIMAL! He dropkicks Arn, but then gets tripped up by Tully to end his hot streak. Blanchard gets chased into the ring by Hawk and tackles referee Tommy Young out to ringside. Animal backdrops Arn out to the floor, which Tommy Young saw happen. Blanchard receives a double-clothesline and Anderson gets the DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Earl Hebner comes in and counts the three-count! (12:17) The Road Warriors win the NWA World Ta-oh wait, Tommy Young tells Hebner about Anderson being sent over the top rope and awards the match to Anderson & Blanchard by disqualification. Ahh, nothing smells like crap more than a Dusty Finish. Match was okay, but the Dusty Finish is never good. **¼
NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes – Cage Match
If Dusty loses this match, his career is OVER. Johnny Weaver is the key-holder to the cage at ringside. We immediately clip to five minutes into the match. Luger tries for his jumping elbow drop, but Dusty rolls out of the way and hooks an armbar. Luger comes out of it, but then charges into the corner and Dusty returns to the arm. Luger goes low and stomps away on Dusty. The cage finally comes into play as Dusty goes face-first into the steel to bust him open. Dusty gets sent into the cage once more for two. Luger pounds away on the cut in the corner and then snapmares Dusty down to deliver the jumping elbow drop for 1, 2, NO! Luger hammers Dusty down to the mat, but Dusty comes back up with a dropkick. At least, as close to a dropkick as Dusty will get to it. Luger doesn’t let it bug him too bad and connects with a backbreaker to set up the TORTURE RACK. It turns out that Dusty is just TOO FAT, so Luger drops him in the corner instead. Luger chokes Dusty on the ropes for two. Luger goes to an armbar, and after about 3-4 minutes of that, Dusty “shakes it loose” and hits a Bionic Elbow. Dusty hits a bad-looking DDT for 1, 2, NO! Luger goes to the eyes, but misses a clothesline and runs into a sleeper. Meanwhile, JJ Dillon decks Weaver and steals the key. For some reason, he doesn’t use the key and just throws a chair into the ring. We don’t see it, but evidently Luger broke out and the ref is knocked down. As Luger SLOWLY goes to pick up the chair, Dusty hits Luger with a DDT on it! Hebner comes to and counts the 1-2-3 as Dusty Rhodes wins his last singles belt in the big two. At least as of 2006 it is, but this is the wrestling business. (12:22 shown) This was a pretty boring match even with the clip-job. I’m guessing there just weren’t enough bionic elbows for my taste. *
NWA World Heavyweight Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair (w/JJ Dillon) – Cage Match
When Flair regained the NWA World title for the fourth time from Dusty Rhodes the previous year, he had tied Lou Thesz for winning four World championships. In this match, he looks to surpass the legend and recapture the NWA World title for a fifth time. For Ronnie Garvin, this was his one and only shot at the big time. To prove that his title win wasn’t a fluke in Detroit, he has to beat Ric Flair once again to be taken seriously. At least, that’s the story here. The match cuts to Garvin giving Flair an arm wringer. Garvin backs Flair into the corner and delivers the ten-count corner blows and then whips Flair in the corner for the backdrop to set up the Garvin Stomp. Garvin wins a CHOP-fest, but then Flair goes low. Flair follows up with an atomic drop and then pounds on Garvin in the corner. Flair sets up for the rolling knee drop, and it’s right on target for a two-count. Now Flair goes to work on the leg and hits the shin breaker, followed by the FIGURE-FOUR! Flair grabs the middle-rope to gain leverage and gets a couple two-counts, but Garvin stays with it until he reverses the hold into the ropes. Flair tries to drive Garvin face-first into the cage for the first time in the match as the crowd begins to turn on Garvin. You know how I know that? The “Garvin sucks!” chants start to get louder. Garvin makes several blocks and eventually sends Flair into the cage. Flair gets busted open while he gets his forehead grated on the steel. Flair tries to climb out, but Garvin follows him up and smashes Flair’s face onto the railing. Flair falls back down to the mat to set up a possible top-rope sunset flip attempt that won Garvin the title, but Flair Flops back towards the opposite corner to avoid it. Garvin chops away in the corner, but Flair kicks Garvin down and heads up to the top. You would be correct in assuming that Flair gets slammed down to the mat. Garvin decides to slap on the FIGURE-FOUR to “Garvin sucks!” chants. Flair makes it to the ropes for the break, but Garvin continues working on the leg. Once Flair gets back to his feet, Garvin chops away and connects with a flying crossbody for 1, 2, NO! Garvin gets a backslide for 1, 2, NO! Flair gets his face grated on the steel again and then chopped in between the ropes and the cage. Flair heads up to the top of the cage again and Garvin follows him up just like earlier in the match. Garvin smashes Flair’s face into the railing once again and then causes Flair to crotch himself on the top rope with a headbutt. Garvin remains up on the top turnbuckle to set up the top-rope sunset flip! He leaps off, but Flair won’t go down. Flair grabs the top rope and falls down on Garvin using the ropes, but referee Tommy Young sees it after two and pulls Flair’s hands off the top rope. Flair falls back and Garvin gets a near-fall. Garvin backs Flair into the corner and chops away before the ten-count corner punches. Flair brings Garvin out of the corner after a few blows and backs Garvin into the opposite corner with Tommy Young getting in the way! Garvin levels Flair with a KO PUNCH (because he has hands of stone!) and covers for 1, 2, NO! Just as Garvin starts to get frustrated, Flair reverses a whip and sends Garvin face-first into the cage. Flair falls on top and Tommy Young counts the 1-2-3 to give Flair his 5th NWA World Championship. (14:52 shown) Chicago loves the result as Garvin would never headline another pay-per-view again. This was a solid affair with a great final three minutes. Although I can’t help feeling that the finish was a little weak. I mean, Garvin didn’t hit the cage THAT hard. **½
Final Thoughts: If Flair hadn’t decided to lose the belt just to win it back at Starrcade, this might have been a better card because no one wanted to be known as a champion like that. Windham vs. Flair would have been a better main event, but it’s really pointless to talk about what should’ve been twenty years later. This PPV was basically a breakdown of the Dusty’s friends vs. The Four Horsemen feud with the last three matches, which was only somewhat entertaining outside of Wargames. It felt like the Midnight Express/Rock N Roll Express match was wasted. But then again, those two teams wrestled all the time back then, so I guess they were just trying to change it up a bit. On the other hand, the opener and the Koloff/Taylor match was pretty good stuff. I’m going with thumbs in the middle, leaning down for Starrcade 1987.