Olde Timey #12 (NWA)
It's Phoebus Apollo again with some more old timer action. Since I skipped out from watching this Saturday's "Pro Wrestling Classics" on ESPN Classics for my normal Olde Timey Tape Review (on at 7:00AM, some of Pro Wrestling's greatest moments), I decided to go out and rent another old video tape to review like I did last week (when I reviewed the first Ultimate Fighting Championship). So what did I grab this time? The box is labelled "Ringmasters", and the subtitle is the "Great American Bash"! Hey-hey! Is this, nay-say, the first Great American Bash of the NWA? It sure is! This was back in a time when the NWA was still on air, and Ric Flair got his hair bloody when he wrestled. It was a time of great entrances and enraged fans bumrushing those evil Russians. Hey, it was a time when Arn Anderson wrestled with Ole to form the Minnesota Wrecking Crew.
It was a better time. (Or so they tell me.)
My disclaimer is a little different then normal. Normally I do play-by-play commentary, live action calls, trying to keep the actual first-moment impressions intact so you can see it the same way I do while I'm watching it. However, being this was a longer tape, with no commercial breaks unlike a normal tv broadcast, and the fact that I had the VCR remote not more than a foot away, I couldn't resist to do a non-live commentary piece this time.
So, here is the play-by-play, this time with a little rewinding, a little fast forwarding, and a lot of pausing.
Without further ado, let's get on with the "action"...
It's timey for Olde Timey once again!
32,000 people attending this event. The ring is in the middle of a wide-open stadium, as we get a overview of the show. "Hi, welcome to Pro-Wrestling Illustrated's 'Ringmasters - The Great American Bash'" says Gorden Sully, the host for the evening, from a faux-pax newsroom. Joining him tonight for commentary is Bill Actner. This is supposed to be the highlight of Jim Crocket promotions golden anniversy celebration.
So, let's recap some of this NWA history, as we find out the background of the first match. The "Cowboy" Ron Bass is jealous of his manager, JJ Dillon (the self professed "manager of champions"), who has chosen to support his new staple talent, the "Nature Boy" Buddy Landell, over Bass. The challenge came from Bass on the night of the Bash, and now it's time to see if he can get some revenge on JJ Dillon and Buddy Landell for what he sees as backstabbing.
We start the match with Landell and Dillon walking down to the ring, where a anxious Bass awaits the two. Landell comes out with a kick and blow to Bass and throws him out of the ring while Dillon gets a cheap shot on the downed Bass. Bass gathers himself while drooping his body on the guardrail and is obviously weary. Landell gets a chop on Bass and Dillon walks up and rakes Bass on the back. Landell gets out of the ring, slams Bass's head on it, and chokes him with a rope at the timekeeper's stand. Bass is down on the side of the ring as Landell awaits in the ring. The ref is counting Bass out, and Landell comes out of the ring to chop Bass. There was a quick skip in the tape here, so this is a highlight reel for sure. Oh well. Landell socks Bass and Bass continues to get beat by Landell. Dillon is being a useful distraction in this match, and Bass finally gets a good blow in on Landell and makes a comeback, outside of the ring, of course. Bass is getting some good right hands and there, they are both back in the ring. Landell begs off Bass in the corner and Bass kicks Landell and winds up for a right hand. He whips him across the ring into the other turnbuckle, and Landell falls to the floor. We skip ahead (damn highlight reels, can't they just show the whole match?) and Landell is whipped off the ropes and gets Bass's knee to the midsection, and promptly falls back to the mat.
A elbow on Landell gets a 2 count. Bass stradles Landell and punches him, beating his head on the back of the mat, and Landell rolls out of the ring. Dillon gets too close and Bass start going after Dillon, but Bass diverts back to the ring to beat on Landell some more. After a few blows and a big right after bouncing off the ropes, Landell falls flat on his back. Landell makes a comeback but Bass simply stares Landell down and Landell backs off as Bass taunts, telling him to bring it on. I think the time limit on the match expired. Bass gets hit and gets out of the ring and starts chasing Dillon. Dillon jumps in the ring and Dillon runs into Landell, both of them falling over, leaving Bass a clean shot on Dillon. He goes for his former manager and applies the "claw", basically gripping his upper face. Landell pulls Dillon out of it and they escape, with Dillon grabbing his face from the pain of the "claw".
I'm not exactly overwhelmed by that match. It was okay, but I have a feeling the highlight reel footage skipped over the best parts. Pheh.
We highlight the next match, a tag team belt contest between Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson, the "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" (champions), vs. the "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer and Dick Slater. Slater and Sawyer get into it early with Double A and Ole, as Sawyer gets up on Ole while Slater takes over Arn, and Arn takes a pummelling by Slater and is out of the ring, as the bell rings. The Mad Dog and Ole fight in the corner, and Ole takes a big swing with his tag team title belt at Mad Dog, missing his target. We take a look outside the ring while Sawyer gives Arn a BIG atomic drop, and Arn is down. Slater socks Ole and Mad Dog holds onto Ole's tag title belt. Arn gets back in and gets a few shoulders to the midsection of Mad Dog, gets whipped into the opposite ringpost, only to rebound out of the corner leaping up over Mad Dog. Mad Dog catches Arn with a big flying rear elbow and Arn falls to the mat. Slater rushes in to catch Ole who is rushing into the ring, and all four duke it out. We skip ahead in the match (damn highlight reel!) to Ole Anderson applying a armbar hold to Slater on the mat.
Slater tries to gather up the energy to get up, but I don't see it happening. Slater makes it, though, but Slater gets up only to get taken down by Arn. Arn works over SLater in the ropes, Ole goes to the top turnbuckle, Slater gets out and throws Ole to the canvas from the top rope. Mad Dog gets a powerslam on Arn, but Ole interrupts the pin. Mad Dog throws Arn into the ropes and topples him over, goes for the pin, but Ole gets a elbow to the head of Mad Dog while the ref is paying attention to Slater. Arn gets up and gets the pin... 1, 2 and 3! It's over. The Andersons retain the tag team titles. This highlight reel left out far too much of that match.
We now go forward to Manny Fernandez, Buzz Tyler, and Sam Houston vs. Konga the Barbarian, Abdullah The Butcher, and Superstar Billy Graham, in a six-man tag team match. Okay, Buzz Tyler and the Barbarian hook it up. The Barbarian goes after the Buzz, Buzz sidesteps and socks the Barbarian, the Barbarian wanders off into the wrong corner and gets socked again, and a third blow knocks him down. The Barbarian goes back to his corner to size up his opposition, and Manny gets the tag in. Manny and the Barbarian take it into the corner, the Barbarian gets a good chop, and Manny comes out of the opposite corner with a firm shoulderblock, some more chops, Manny is thrown into the adjacent ringpost, flips up over the onrushing Barbarian, and then rushes into the opposite corner, coming out with a flying cross-bodyblock. He gets a pin, only a 2 count. We skip ahead to Houston getting mauled by Abdullah in the corner, as he locks it up with Billy Graham in the ring. Graham tags Abdullah in and it's Abdullah plowing over Sam Houston. The tackle knocked Houston over, bounces off the ropes and Abdullah just pounds Houston with another tackle and steps on him. Abdullah tags in Barbarian and they give Houston a double headbutt. A big boot takes Houston down, and Houston comes back only to be powerslammed. The Barbarian comes up for a nice legdrop, and we skip ahead to Houston getting punished in the corner. Abdullah overwhelms Houston with his size, and throws Houston out of the ring like a rag doll. Houston is thrown and flips over the small blue guardrail, ouch. Houston gets back in the ring, Abdullah tags in the Barbarian, adn they all punish Houston. The Barbarian gets a tall press and slams Houston. The Barbarian picks him up, throws him into the ring ropes and gets a nasty clothesline. Graham in now, and Graham throws Houston into the ropes, goes to pick up Houston for a slam but Houston swings into the motion, taking Graham over into a pin, for only a 2 count. Houston gets a small package on Graham and gets the 3 count while everyone else rushes in and squares off.
That was a decent match. This highlight reel cuts a lot of the content, though. Next up is Jimmy Valiant vs. Paul Jones in a Dog-Collar Chain Match. Jones, currently a manager, seemed to have orchestrated attacks on Valiant. Valiant challenged Jones directly, and Jones who was previously a champion in his own rights, accepted. Jones is going to bring Abdullah to the ring with him. Let's get to the match.
Jones is putting on the collar... no, he goes to put the collar on the Butcher! Valiant's partner holds Jones down and puts the collar on him while Abdullah gets a nasty shot to Valiant's head with a foreign object. Valiant, weary from the attack, is getting attacked by Jones. Jones puts on the pressure, using the chain, and Valiant suffers. Valiant tries to get up, but can't mae it. Valiant is bloody and it skips ahead where Jones is still in control. Jones just grabs the chain and yanks Valiant around, but makes a critical mistake when he goes up to get on the top turnbuckle, as the dangled chain between his legs is yanked tight by Valiant, bringing Jones down to the mat. Jones flops around on the ring as Valiant takes control, and Jones gets out of the ring, only to have Valiant yank the chain and slam Jone's head into the back of the turnbuckle post. Valiant beats Jones, and Jones is bloody. Valiant put sthe sleeper on Jones as Abdullah comes intothe ring. Valiant comes after the Butcher, Jones comes up from behind and runs into Abdullah, falling down to recieve a elbow from Valiant for the 3 count. Valiant wins.
Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev vs. The Road Warriors Animal and Hawk, up next. We open the footage into the Legion of Doom's frontmen running out into the ring, and it appears the Russians have the tag team belts. Hawk throws Ivan into the ropes and flips him over his back, Hawk beats on Ivan, and puts him up for a big slam. Ivan rebounds, slams Hawk's head into the turnbuckle, Hawk throws Ivan into the opposite corner, Ivan gets the big foot up and slams a onrushing Hawk. Ivan goes up to the top rope but Hawk gets up, catches him on his way up, and tosses him back down to the mat. Hawk throws Ivan out of the ropes and takes him down to a chop. We skip ahead to more of Hawk's dominance over Ivan. Ivan gets a eye rake and kicks Hawk down, goes for a elbow but misses, Hawk gets back up, and chokes Ivan up against the ropes while biting his forehead, and Hawk gets in another sock to Ivan's gut. Hawk presses Ivan high, and slams him, and tags in Animal.
Animal pounds down a weakened Ivan and gets a two count. Khrushchev comes in after Hawk, while Animal holds up Ivan in a chokehold. The Krusher comes in and beats on Animal, throws Animal into Ivan's boot and Ivan gets tagged in again. Animal gets a kick to his stooped body, and then Ivan tags in Krusher for who keeps Animal down. Krusher yanes back on the Animal's face. Double clothesline takes down Krusher and the Animal at the same time, while Animal's manager beckons Animal to make the tag. Krusher gets a tag, Hawk comes in, and takes down both Russians. Hawk gets a big clothesline on the Krusher and gets a 2 count, Ivan interferes. Animal rushes up and beats the Krusher out of the ring, and Hawk gets up Ivan on Animal's shoulder who awaits him on the top turnbuckle for a powerslam, but the Krusher breaks that up with a firm chairshot to Animal. Hawk gets gets the chair from the Krusher, and beats down both Russians with it. Now Animal throws Ivan into an awaiting Hawk with the chair, the ref calls for the match to be over as all four men beat one another. The Road Warriors get a double clothesline on Khrushchev. We await the final decision... both teams have been disqualified. Earl Hebner was the ref for this match, if anyone's up for trivia.
Next up we have Magnum T.A. (NWA United States Champion) vs. Kamala. We open showing Magnum taking down various opponents with his belly-to-belly suplex, which the commentators shilled for. We get on to the match as Kamala beats down Magnum, and the Ugandan Giant misses a big forearm and Magnum knocks him off his feet. Kamala beats down Magnum as we skip ahead in the match, and bites Magnum's head. Kamala is choking Magnum, and holds him down to the mat. Kamala is keeping Magnum down, and continues to pound Magnum, gets a big splash as we skip ahead in the match and Magnum kicks out of the pin attempt. Another big splash and we skip ahead to Magnum coming back from all of Kamala's vicious attacks. Kamala hits the ringpost after missing a tackle on Magnum, Magnum holds his ground, whips Kamala off the ropes and gets a legdrop on him, two ledgrops, adn three, knocking him over. Kamala's manager interrupsts the match, and the match is thrown out. Kamala goes to hit Magnum but accidently hits his manager, Magnum whips Kamala off the ropes and gets his belly-to-belly suplex, but the match is over. He holds on to the title.
Now, the tape gets underway with one of the two main events, NWA World Title Match, the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (champion) vs. Nikita Koloff, the nephew of Ivan (who was in a earlier match). Ha, and now it goes into a bad series of skits where Ivan trains Nikita on a mission "from the Kremlin" to become the World Champion. Punching Ric Flair's photo on a boxing bag counts as training? Good lord. David Crocket gets knocked over by Nikita Koloff, and it shows a clip here of Flair stepping up to slam Nikita in the ring, starting the fued. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that was Tony Schiavone announcing the match with that short clip. Sheesh. Anyways, there you have it, the recap of the Flair/Koloff fued, not very spectacular, but you get what you pay for (and I only paid $1.50 to rent this tape, so there you have it).
Okay, let's see if the match makes up for the shoddy backstory. Here we have Nikita coming in with Ivan and there you have it.
Next Ric Flair makes his entrance, but by no means will walking down the pathway to the ring satisfy the Nature Boy! No, here comes a helicopter, landing in the middle of the stadium, as Flair's 2001 space oddessey theme starts up. The red carpet is rolled out for the Nature Boy, who comes out in his full garb. I gotta say here that Flair is in a physical condition he hasn't been in for a long time.
Flair is poised and ready, and they lock up, and Flair is thrown over by Nikita. Nikita overpowers Flair again, and they lock up again, only to see Flair thrown down across the mat. The tape skips ahead to a wristlock duel and Flair gets Nikita in the corner, elbowblocks and several huge chops, a big hiptoss and Nikita is dazed. We skip ahead, again, to Flair punching Nikita, Flair goes off the ropes for a tackle but Nikita takes it, Flair goes off the ropes again and Nikita catches flair with a good clothesline and takes him down. He chokes Flair on the mat as the ref breaks it up, and I gotta note now, David Crocket (who Nikita attacked) is the special guest referee. This is going to have some affect on the match.
Flair is in a bearhug by Nikita but Flair picks up Nikita for an atomic drop. Nikita beats Flair to his feet and nails him in the corner, but Flair gets up with some chops, and Nikita thrusts Flair back to the mat. We skip ahead in the match, again, to Flair lifing up Nikita for a suplex, and Flair goes for the Figure Four! Can he get it on? Yes he can. Nikita shuffers in the ring, trying to get out, but he's not going anywhere. One count as Nikita is held back, but Nikita gets Flair for a eye rake and that breaks the hold. Nikita gets a giant slam on Flair and Flair hits the turnbuckle as Flair fumbles over the turnbuckle down on the ground outside the ring. Nikita gets some heat in the ring, as we skip ahead (again, missing more of the match) to a bloodied Flair getting pounded by Nikita. Nikita has taken Flair down but he is taking a long time to go for the pin, only getting a 2 count.
Flair gets a couple chops in after Nikita tries a bearhug but fails to get around Flair, and Flair is extremely bloodied. Nikita is pounded down but still has more left in him than Flair. Flair gets another chop and rolls up Nikita for a 2 count. Flair is extremely hurt, and both men are exhausted. Flair chops Nikita, and you can see the mist from Nikita's sweat fly off into the air from the blow. Flair pounds Nikita in the midsection, gets another chop and takes Flair down. Flair gets down on Nikita and gets repeated blows to his forehead while Flair struts around the ring. High vertical suplex from Flair, and Flair goes for a big elbow out of the corner. He tries to pin Nikita but a 2 count. Flair gets Nikita into the corner, a few punches, a few big chops, a few more punches, he weakens Nikita in the ring. Flair gives Nikita a couple of uppercuts. Nikita gets down on flair and mauls him, choking him in the ring, the ref tries to break the choke and Nikita pushes him away. The ref out of the way, Ivan gets up on the top turnbuckle, but the ref rushes back into the mix of things and Ivan takes down the Crocket instead of the Nature Boy, and all men fall down. A fan gets in the mix of things! He comes in and rushes Nikita, but the security guards quickly clean up that mess. Nikita throws Flair into the opposite turnbuckle, Flair tumbles over the ringpost, gets a firm footing on the mat, runs to the adjacent turnbuckle, leaps up on it and tries to land a cross body on Nikita, but aims too high, more or less flipping him over. He takes Nikita down, tries for a pin, but only a 2 count. A couple of Flair chops, Nikita staggers, Flair gets some elbows on Nikita from the outside of the ringropes, Nikita picks up Flair but tumbles over, Flair is on top of Nikita for the one-two-three! Flair retains his belt. Ivan rushes in and Nikita teams up on Flair, beating Flair mercilessly in the ring as the announcer tells the fans "please stay clear from the ring". Heh. Sam Houston, from his earlier match with Ivan, comes in to help Flair. Flair's hair has turned from his golden-white color to a pale red with all the blood, and Nikita pounds on Flair. Other wrestlers come in to help Flair but nothing heps. The crowd is ready to riot! Well, that's the world title match.
Next, the second main event. The "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (champion) vs. Tully Blanchard for the NWA TV Title Championship, in a Steel Cage. Here they recap Tully throwing fire in Dusty's face, with the help of Baby Doll, Tully's escort. Here it shows Dusty's injury from the fire, as he pulls a promo with the interviewer, about his anger with the fire being thrown in the face. Oh, if Dusty wins, Dusty gets Baby Doll's services for 30 days.
We start with the two meeting inside the steel cage, and Dusty drops a big elbow on the inner thigh of Tully. Tully pounds on Dusty's head, and throws Dust into the cage. He gets a big elbow, and Dust is still down on the mat. Dusty gets up, and is thrown back into the steel cage. Dusty's eye is bloodied already, severly, and Dusty gets back up with some elbows to the head of Tully, and throws Tully into the cage. Dusty gets Tully's head and pounds it into the cage wall, and we skip ahead to some more battering of a now bloodied Tully, who is getting his face raked against the cage. We skip ahead some more, Dusty goes for a verticle suplex but Tully gets his way out of it, Dusty bounces off the ropes and catches Tully with a clothesline. Dusty goes for a pin, 2 count. Dusty goes for a figure four leglock and Tully is holding onto the ref to get leverage to get to the ropes, but it doesn't work. Tully reverses the figure four but Dusty gets it back on, and we fast forward past the rope break to more of the match. Dusty gets up, delivers another elbow to Tully, and Dusty backtosses Tully who failed to apply a piledriver. Tully is trying to get out of the cage, and Dusty gets up to meet him, headbuts him at the top rope, and now Dusty elbows Tully to the match. Dusty balances on the top rope, walks down, and misses a flying elbow. Tully gets up, Baby Doll gives him a loaded elbowpad, and Tully comes back down to be greeted to a vicious piledriver by the American Dream. 1-2-3, and the match is over. Dusty retains his TV Title, and Baby Doll whines. Nice way to not treat women like objects, eh?
Well, there we go, and that's the tape.
Overall, I enjoyed the tape, but got a lot distracted by things in-home, so that kinda diminished the experience a little. Oh well. Regardless, it was some good wrestling. If there was anything I hated about it, it was the fact that they didn't show the whole match, and that the commentators in the mock newsroom that filled us in on the backstory where overall horrible.
If you'd like to rent this, just sift through the dirt and dust of your video store's sports videos for a box labeled "Ringmasters", with Ric Flair on the cover over a downed Nikita Koloff. You can't miss it!
I'll try to get Xavier to post the feedback from this commentary along with his normal mailbag post. I'm looking for some stories and whatnot from you people who attended these events so I can post some memories with the mailbag, so if you remember these days of yore, maybe your brother was they guy who bumrushed Nikita from the crowd, speak on up!