[WIW] Every PPV on the WWE Network, start to finish

Phil Said

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So I'm a long time fan of wrestling, but being as I'm from the UK that pretty much means WWF/WWE. I saw my first WWF TV in 1990 on Sky One and became instantly hooked.

The dawn of the WWE network has given me the chance to revisit a lot of great stuff. Its also given me the chance to look at how the other half lived. So, since I don't think anyone else has done it I present a thread that could go on for a fair few years to come...

I'm going to present my opinions on every match, every show, semi-stream of consciousness. If you choose to take part in this thread the only thing I'd ask is that you focus on the competitors or the events posted about. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert about 80s wrestling in particular, but looking forward to some other perspectives.
 

Phil Said

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NWA Starrcade ’83: A Flair For the Gold
November 24th, 1983
Greensboro Coliseum
Greensboro, NC

The event opens with the competitors for the first match in the ring and Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle on commentery. There’s no pomp, circumstance, or razzle-dazzle here just right into the show.

The Assassins (with Paul Jones) vs Rufus R Jones & Bugsy McGraw
A hot crowd meets every punch and hip toss by the faces in this one, the ‘unpredictable’ Bugsy McGraw and his partner Jones. The Assassins are masked and dressed in identical clothing, which to my modern sensibilities suggests that they may be up for some sneaky jiggery pokery. That doesn’t prove to be the case though as after the old school wrasslers of the babyface team control almost the full match the Assassins get a cheeky blind tag behind Jones’s back and one of them rolls him up for a schoolboy pin.
Winners: The Assassins by pinfall

Solie and Caudle appear on camera to talk up the importance of the show – “the wrestling event of all time” according to Solie. They also talk up the main event between 2 time world champion Ric Flair and 7 time champ Harley Race and let us know Dusty Rhodes will challenge the winner. They pass over to a ridiculously fresh-faced Tony Schiavone in the locker room

Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (with Gary Hart)
The super generic Weaver and McGhee are the babyfaces in this contest up against the far more physically imposing looking team of Sullivan and McGhee. The Sullivan/Lewin team control much of the match and the audience laps it up. I’ve never really heard Gordon Solie commentate before but as he gives an anecdote about Scott McGhee having to wash with a bucket of cold water when he started out you can really hear the influence he had on Jim Ross. After Sullivan blocks a bulldog attempt by Weaver he and Lewin effectively quick tag and beat down their opponent. When the double teaming causes the impetuous McGhee to come in it distracts the ref allowing the heels and their manager to triple team Weaver and pin him after a knee by Lewin from the top rope. After the match McGhee attacks the heels only for Hart to give his men a foreign object which they use to bust him wide open. Fellow wrestler Angelo Mosca, who we’ll see later as a special referee on this card, makes the save.
Winners: Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin by pinfall

Solie and Caudle pass over to Barbara Clary – apprenetly the “prettiest face you’ll see this evening” which may be true if you like small ponies – who interviews some fans who say Flair will win the main event. She passes back to Schiavone in the locker room who interviews a nicely intense Harley Race.

Carlos Colon vs Abdulla the Butcher
We’re told that this match was banned in Puerto Rico due to the brutality the two men had shown so Colon has come to the mainland to meet his much bigger enemy. Early in the match Abdullah uses a foreign object but minutes later Colon gets his hands on it and repeatedly uses it to assault the Butcher’s head and causing him to bleed. This all occurs in full view of the ref so I’m a bit confused at what the rues were on disqualifications back in the old NWA. As the ref is knocked out Colon locks the Butcher in a figure four leglock until Hugo Savinovich, who was a manager in the promotion but not formally managing either man in this match, enters the ring and strikes Colon with an object breaking the hold and allowing Abdullah to get the pin.
Winner: Abdullah the Butcher

Tony Schiavone interviews Angelo Mosca who was injured by Lewin while saving McGhee earlier. He calls out Lewin and seems to suggest that the villain had injured his son in a similar attack earlier. Barbara Clary then interviews some more fans who also seem to think Flair will win tonight.

Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood vs Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr
So we have two Indians on one side and a man, Orton, who’s gimmick would be as a cowboy on the other. McDaniel is the older, more experienced wrestler… the best part of 50 in this match whereas Youngblood was part of a wrestling family and only twenty at the time of this match. At one point Orton really ragdolls Youngblood with some backbreakers and its interesting for me as someone who had only seen him in a few WWF matches to watch Orton here and see some of the similarities his son has in the way he moves and even some of the facial expressions. After several minutes of Youngblood being dominated the crowd get the hot tag they’ve been waiting for as McDaniel comes in hard and fast with some harsh chops. A blind tag sees the heels on top again and as McDaniel is stunned following a brawl on the outside Youngblood is placed on the top rope and super-plexed by Orton for a pin to end a hot and very enjoyable tag match. After the match the heels attack McDaniel and set out to hurt his arm.
Winners: Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr

Schiavone interviews Flair, and his allies Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in the locker room. Barbara Clary then tries to interview Dusty Rhodes who will challenge the winner of the main event but audio problems mean that it’s a bust.

Title vs Mask Match for the NWA Television Championship
Charlie Brown vs The Great Kabuki (with Gary Hart) [C]
Bizarrely this match also had the stipulation that the match had to be won within the first 15 minutes for the title to change hands or the mask to come off. Early in the match Charlie Brown (who is surprisingly given their names the guy in the mask in this encounter) uses a steel chair and then a low blow in full view of the ref which suggests to me that Jim Crockett Promotions was much more hardcore in the 1980s than their WWF rivals. Brown is also known as Jimmy Valiant and apparently uses the masked “Charlie Brown from Outta Town” identity when he is kayfabe banned from the ring whie the crowd clearly know who is under the mask. That helps explain the title vs mask stipulation which the commentators don’t seem up for explaining to the audience. It’s a nice clash of styles with Brown a larger man utilising power moves while Kabuki uses the evil oriental’s toolkit of martial arts and nerve holds. By this match I’ve noticed that Solie really overuses the phrase “second effort” to describe a babyface’s resiliency. To end the match Kabuki misses a big martial arts kick into the corner and lands on his back allowing Brown to hit a big elbow drop and take the pin and the title. The audience lap it up as finally one of the good guys gets a win on this card. The match has gone about ten minutes so we have a title change on this one.
Winner: Charlie Brown by pinfall (new champion)

Solie and Claudle interview a local radio presenter about Ric Flair and again this guy believes Flair will take the win. They then talk up the rest of the card. Schiavone then interviews Orton, Slater and Race. Take off Randy Orton’s tattoos and give him a bit more flab and the similarities between him and his old dad at the same age are striking. Barbara Clary then repeats her interview with Rhodes, this time backstage to protect the sound.

Collar Match
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine
Valentine is the United States Champion but the title is not on the line. Both of the men are linked at the neck by a length of chain and the match is one fall to a finish with no count out or disqualification. Piper and Valentine start out with a sort of tug of war with each man trying to pull the other toward him and gain the advantage. Eventually the two fall back on the brawling style they are both known for both with their fists and with the chain. Neither Piper nor Valentine were famous for technical wrestling but they are both very capable hands and can make almost anything look good and despite a lot of breaks in the action they keep the crowd hot, and they get hotter when Valentine becomes the fourth man of the night to bleed. Piper soon follows him into the “crimson mask” territory after Valentine targets an ear that had been injured by Valentine in the past. Solie tells me Piper has a “great second effort”. When Piper does stage a comeback the audience lap it up and the fiery Scot (well, Canadian) smashes his opponent with the chain. At the end, seemingly out of nowhere Piper strikes Valentine in the head several times with the chain and takes the pin a disappointingly out of nowhere end to what has been an entertaining brawl. After the match Valentine attacks Piper with the chain and repeatedly strikes and chokes him.
Winner: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper by pinfall

The commentary team tell us theyre passing to Barbara but instead we get Tony Schiavone with Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel who say that Flair is winning the main event. Barbara then interviews former NWA tag team champion Don Kernodle who says he can’t pick a winner between the tag championship contenders but that he believes Flair will win the main event.

NWA Tag Team Championship Match
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs Jack & Jerry Brisco [C]
Steamboat and Youngblood look extremely freshfaced compared to their older and more old school looking opponents. The special referee in the match is Angelo Mosca who we saw earlier on making the save for Johnny Weaver and Scott McGhee. Its an old school match although Steamboat’s style with his chops and armdrags stands out. As competent as the match is though it seems to struggle to get the crowd going, possibly because it has to follow the exciting bawl that preceded it. A phenomenal feat of strength from Steamboat where he lifts Jerry Brisco over his head from a sitting start gets them going. Jack Brisco makes the mistake of shoving Mosca which sees him get planted on his rear end giving Steamboat and Youngblood room to take advantage. In the end Steamboat presses his partner over his head and drops him into a splash allowing them to pin Jack. The Briscos attack all three other men after the match but are soon overwhelmed by numbers and chased off.
Winners: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood by pinfall (new champions)

Following this match credits play across the screen as Solie hilariously tries to talk about how great all these folk are, reading the credits and delivering awesome platitudes. Its cringeworthy. Schiavone is in Flair’s dressing room where he interviews Charlie Brown, then Piper, and finally the new tag champions. The commentary team then mess up yet another pass to Barbara. They finally get to her and she again interviews Dusty Rhodes and some fans with the ladies of the audience again picking Flair as the winner. A Nashville recording artist by the name of James “Tiny” Weeks then gives us the US national anthem, its not awful, but its not great. Plus they foget totally to light him for most of the song.

Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs Harley Race [C]
A disco ball (seriously) and the strains of Thus Spake Zarathustra signal the arrival of the challenger in this match as Ric Flair makes his way to ringside. The cage in this match is a chain-link cage rather than the blue bar effort the WWF would be making famous in the 1980s. Flair is a two time former champion in this match while Harley Race is currently in an unprecedented seventh reign. Theres a speial referee for the match in the form of former wreslter Gene Kiniski who was an NWA champion back In the day. It’s a slow sarrt to the match with both men employing old school arm locks and head locks. These two guys have very similar old school styles, but Flair’s a natural antagonist and its odd to see him as the hero of the piece. The pace is methodical and Race dominates in the middle part of the match. The referee gets physically involved too man times, reeatedly physically dragging each man off the other and all it serves to do is give the other man the upper hand temporarily. As the match goes on both men bleed whch is pretty much how I think of Flair. Bizzarely Flair wins with a cross body from the top rope… really not normal from him.
Winner: Ric Flair by pinfall (new champion)

We see the major protagonists in the lockers room and Solie and Caudle talk up the card for far, far too long. Its anothers sign that this event is not as slick as even the worst produced effort by Vince McMahon that they try and fill twenty minutes of dead space with meaningless chat (and kissing Jim Crockett’s arse). Babs is back too and gives us another interview with a still-intense Race… I wasn’t blown away by his match but I love this guy’s persona.

Notes: So despite being a fan of the WWE for a very long time this is the first (non-TNA) NWA event I’ve ever watched and I would have to say its pretty good. Less obsessed with being entertainment than their rivals the NWA put on a good old fashioned wrestling show where they whet the audiences appetite with a string of heel wins before giving the babyfaces the big ones. Of note is the fact that this would be Jay Youngblood’s only Starrcade, he died of a heart attack while only 31 - less than a year later. Its interesting to note how Flair is treated in this card. Although a former 2 time champion he had never been perceived as legit so this entire card is focussed on making him legit with absolutely everyone talking him up. Going into this card he’s treated like Daniel Bryan was at Wrestlemania 30, the hero to come and beat all heroes. Its odd when we think of Flair as a living legend to know there was a time when he was struggling to be accepted. Overall though, a decent show with clean endings to every match, even if some of those endings come out of nowhere.
 

RK_Striker_JK_5

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I'm subsrcibed. I won't be able to make many meaningful comments, but dammit I'm following this as far as you're writing them up.
 

Lee Casebolt

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NWA Starrcade ’83: A Flair For the Gold
THE GRAND-DADDY OF THEM ALL!

Honestly, most of this show is kinda shitty, and I say that as a fan of Crockett Promotions in general. Still, you get a chance to listen to Gordon Solie working a major show, and that's not nothing.

Carlos Colon vs Abdulla the Butcher
We’re told that this match was banned in Puerto Rico due to the brutality the two men had shown so Colon has come to the mainland to meet his much bigger enemy.
Quality carnying there. Puerto Rico made ECW look like a pillow fight.

At one point Orton really ragdolls Youngblood with some backbreakers and its interesting for me as someone who had only seen him in a few WWF matches to watch Orton here and see some of the similarities his son has in the way he moves and even some of the facial expressions.
I need to go back and watch some Bob Jr, because my general impression of him was of a guy who's kind of awkward. Talented and skilled, but nothing he did looked smooth. By contrast, for all the complaints I have about Randy as a worker, he is one of the smoothest moving workers I've seen this side of Barry Windham.

Flair, and his allies Ricky Steamboat
I've seen this interview, I know it happened, and I still can't believe this.

Early in the match Charlie Brown (who is surprisingly given their names the guy in the mask in this encounter) uses a steel chair and then a low blow in full view of the ref which suggests to me that Jim Crockett Promotions was much more hardcore in the 1980s than their WWF rivals.
Man, wait a couple years. Magnum TA. Tully Blanchard. You don't know the half of it. And lucky you for having that to look forward to. Or we could just jump to...

Collar Match
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine
The finish isn't great, but this match is legitimately uncomfortable to watch in places. Really a great brawl.

NWA Tag Team Championship Match
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs Jack & Jerry Brisco [C]
...Its an old school match although Steamboat’s style with his chops and armdrags stands out.
Coincidentally, Steamboat admits to stealing that armdrag from...

Jack Brisco.


Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs Harley Race [C]
A disco ball (seriously)
It was 1983!

The referee gets physically involved too man times,
This is the biggest knock on this match, and it's no small flaw. Kiniski should know better.

Starrcade '83 is not a great show, on the merits. It's got a handful of highpoints - none higher than Piper/Valentine - but the work is uneven and the production is the shits. Still, in the context of its time it's a mindblowing card, and set the table for wrestling's PPV era.
 

ClassDunce

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Quality carnying there. Puerto Rico made ECW look like a pillow fight.
Shit Carlos Colon and Stan Hansen/Abdullah/Brody used to fill the streets with blood on a regular basis. If you get a few minutes you should really check out the Hansen/Colon Texas Bull Rope match. To this day if I ever discover where that blood covered Bull Rope is I will happily empty out my bank accounts to acquire it. I would take out loans if it is signed by both men.
 

Lee Casebolt

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Shit Carlos Colon and Stan Hansen/Abdullah/Brody used to fill the streets with blood on a regular basis. If you get a few minutes you should really check out the Hansen/Colon Texas Bull Rope match. To this day if I ever discover where that blood covered Bull Rope is I will happily empty out my bank accounts to acquire it. I would take out loans if it is signed by both men.
I was 25 years old and had been a wrestling fan 15 years before I saw a picture of Carlos Colon where he wasn't covered in blood.
 

CaButler

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Flair not being a champion of anything after a certain point just seems odd to me, given how many times he had a World Championship at any time in any franchise. Crazy.

And this actually makes me curious about getting a subscription just for some of the older classics.
 
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