Each and every Thursday I will look back at a different pay-per-view event from the past via the WWE Network. Want to see a certain event covered? Send your suggestions to @VaughnMJohnson on Twitter.
Last time, I covered the WWE Survivor Series 2002.
Starrcade 1983: A Flair for the Gold
Date: Nov. 24, 1983
Venue: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
Some random notes
Now that the calendar has rolled over to December, I have decided to look back at Starrcade. Yes, I know that Starrcade started out as a November event, but there were actually more Starrcades that took place in December than November.
Before Starrcade, there was no marquee event on the professional wrestling calendar.
Sure, most of the larger territories had their big shows, which were typically done on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there was not one singular event that was the show of shows. The Super Bowl of wrestling, if you will.
But Jim Crockett Promotions thought a show of that magnitude was necessary and thus came Starrcade.
What separated Starrcade from all of the other major shows on the calendar? It served as the one event where the biggest stars and most heated rivalries from the major territories of the National Wrestling Alliance would be featured on one super card.
You didn't always get to see people like Ric Flair, Harley Race, Roddy Piper Abdullah the Butcher and Wahoo McDaniel on one card. But on this night in 1983, it happened, making for a monumental event.
On hand to call the action were Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle. Tony Schiavone conducted interviews throughout the night from the locker room while Barbara Clarey interviewed fans in the arena. She eventually received some help in the form of Dusty Rhodes.
Production was never necessarily the strong suit of Crockett Promotions and that reared its head on this night.
There were a number of production flubs, including odd camera movements and audio issues. Solie and Caudle had to essentially say Rhodes' promo for him at one point because his microphone died. He essentially reshot the promo later in the show.
It also didn't help that the copy of the event the WWE Network got a little fuzzy and disjointed at various points, but I guess that is how everyone watched it when it first aired back in 1983.
With that said, let's get to the matches:
The Assassins def. Rufus R. Jones & Bugsy McGraw
The show abruptly began with both teams already in the ring with Solie and Caudle welcoming viewers to the event. There was no grand opening with a video package or a voiceover or anything. The show simply began.
The match itself started fast, as McGraw got the better of The Assassins and danced his way into the advantage.
Both McGraw and Jones did everything with plenty of charisma and pizzazz, but I could not help but wonder what in the world was McGraw wearing on his feet? As the kids today would say, "What are those!"
They didn't look like wrestling boots and they looked too low to be low-top sneakers. They just looked odd.
The match was rather simple. McGraw and Jones took most of the offense, the Assassins cheated to gain control, but quickly lost it.
The Assassins made a tag that went unnoticed by McGraw in the midst of his showmanship. The other Assassin jumped into the ring and rolled up McGraw from behind.
Referee Tommy Young tried to alert McGraw of the tag, but it didn't help. McGraw was rolled up and The Assassins escaped with a victory.
Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin def. Scott McGhee & Johnny Weaver
This was a very technical match. It had a basic approach where the heels, Sullivan and Lewin, did something behind the referee's back to win the match.
The fight wasn't over after the bell rang, as Gary Hart, the manager for Sullivan and Lewin, pulled something out of his boot and handed it to Lewin. Lewin then went to town on McGhee's head with it, which caused him to bleed all over the place.
Angelo Mosca ran into to make the save, but got his arm cut in the process.
Abdullah the Butcher def. Carlos Colon
The story behind the match was that it was banned in Puerto Rico because the rivalry had become so heated, which was funny to hear now being as though Puerto Rico was known for hardcore wrestling.
It didn't take long for this match to get hardcore, as Colon got a hold of a foreign object that Abdullah the Butcher attempted to use earlier in the match.
Once Colon got a hold of the object, he began to pound away on Abdullah. He even bit him. It was only three minutes into the match and Abdullah the Butcher was already bleeding.
Colon then locked in the figure four and looked poised to vanquish Abdullah, but then someone jumped into the ring and hit him from behind. Abdullah the Butcher took advantage of the situation and pinned Colon to pick up the win.
The man that interfered in the match was Hugo Savinovich. Most wrestling fans of today only know Savinovich for being a longtime member of WWE's Spanish announce team.
However, Savinovich also enjoyed a successful career as a wrestler and manager in Puerto Rico.
Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater def. Mark Youngblood & Wahoo McDaniel
Before the match, the ring announcer was supposed to announce that there was special guest in the building. Unfortunately, his microphone malfunctioned before he could get it out.
The microphone eventually began working again and he announced that Rhodes was in the building. For some reason, Rhodes was not on the card on this night, but he was scheduled to challenge the winner of the world title match.
Mark Youngblood took on Slater and Orton first. He held his own until the bad guys got on the same page and took the upper hand.
After getting beat on for a couple of minutes, Mark Youngblood was finally able to crawl over to his corner so that he could tag in McDaniel. The fans exploded with elation, as McDaniel took over the match.
Things eventually broke down between the teams, which helped Orton hit a super-plex, which was his finishing move. McDaniel attempted to break up the pin, but was a second too late.
Orton and Slater continued to beat on the good guys after the match and focused their attack on McDaniel's left arm.
NWA World Television championship (Mask vs. Title) – Charlie Brown def. The Great Kabuki
When I first looked up the card to this show, I saw the name Charlie Brown and was curious as to whom in the world that was.
Upon seeing him in the ring, it was obvious that Charlie Brown was none other than Jimmy Valiant under a mask. Valiant kept all of his same mannerisms and didn't even bother to do anything different with his beard.
However, when the Boogie Woogie Man donned the mask, he was Charlie Brown "from outta town."
Everyone knew it was Valiant so this was all just in good fun I suppose.
If Valiant lost this match, he would have to unmask and reveal his true identity, which was obvious to Hart, who was Kabuki's manager. If he won, he was the new TV champion.
It didn't take long for Valiant, err, Brown to use a steel chair on Kabuki.
Brown then worked Kabuki over with a sleeper hold. Kabuki was able to escape due to grabbing Brown's mask.
Brown got Kabuki in the sleeper again, but Hart put his foot on the ropes, which forced Brown to break the hold.
Kabuki quickly took control with the help of the claw.
Brown was able to fend off Kabuki's onslaught, mount a quick comeback and defeat him to win the championship.
Dog collar match – Roddy Piper def. Greg Valentine
The one match talk about from this show, even more than the main event in some instances, is this match. It was essentially the match that stole the show.
Piper and Valentine began the match trying to tug each other across the ring with their necks.
When that didn't work, both moved their way to the middle of the chain until Piper hit Valentine with it.
Valentine retreated and attempted to pull Piper over to him again. The combatants then threw that tactic out of the window and simply met in the middle of the ring and began throwing punches.
Piper then got a hold of the chain, wrapped it around his hand and began pummeling Valentine.
Valentine quickly fought back with the help of some elbows and punches with the chain wrapped around his fist.
He then went after Piper's ear, which had been injured prior to the event and wrapped the chain around his eyes.
Piper turned the tables once again and wrapped the chain around Valentine's face and mouth. He then wrapped the chain around the ring post tugged on it to choke Valentine. Not long after, Valentine began bleeding.
Both men eventually made their way outside of the ring and the violence continued.
In the midst of all this, Valentine managed to hit Piper in his injured left ear with the chain. Valentine targeted the ear to take control and mess up Piper's equilibrium. Piper began bleeding from the injured ear.
Because Piper could hardly stand, Solie thought someone should throw in the towel for him, but Piper refused to quit and eventually made a tremendous comeback.
Piper prevented Valentine from hitting the ropes by yanking on the chain and dragging him to the canvas. He then got up and tackled Valentine, which was followed up by a series of punches.
As Piper stood up, he rubbed the blood running down the side of his face with his hand and looked at it. The sight of his blood only further fueled his comeback.
After both men brawled back and forth, Valentine climbed to the middle turnbuckle, but Piper yanked him off and got in a couple more punches before pinning him with the help of the chain.
After the match, Valentine attacked Piper and attempted to choke the life out of him. A referee jumped into the ring to try to thwart Valentine, but he swatted him away.
Valentine finally let Piper go before he turned purple and got a couple more licks in before leaving the ring.
NWA World Tag Team championship – Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood def. The Brisco Brothers
Long before Jay and Mark Briscoe won a slew of tag team titles in Ring of Honor, the wrestling world knew of a different brotherly tandem by the name of Brisco, but without the "e."
Most fans know Jerry Brisco by Gerald Brisco during his days as one of the Stooges in WWE. Before he was a Stooge, Jerry Brisco was an accomplished amateur and professional wrestler.
Jerry's brother Jack was even more accomplished than his brother, as he was a two-time NWA World Heavyweight champion. He held the title a total of 866 days during his two title reigns.
With Mosca as the special guest referee for the match, it started much faster than the other tag team contests on the card.
Jack and Jerry Brisco started the match by working on Steamboat. Steamboat gathered some momentum with a deep arm drag, but Jack Brisco quickly begged off and tagged in his brother.
This didn't bother Steamboat any, as he got the better of Jerry Brisco and tagged in Youngblood, which gave the advantage to the good guys.
Their advantage didn't last too long, as Jack Brisco came back in to swing the momentum back to the brotherly duo.
Steamboat eventually fought off the Briscos and tagged in Youngblood, but Jack Brisco quickly put an end to his momentum. Jerry Brisco then came in and kept up the onslaught on Youngblood.
Jerry Brisco wasn't happy with one of Mosca's counts and decided to shove him out of frustration. That proved to be a mistake, as Mosca shoved him to the ground, which allowed Youngblood to tag in Steamboat.
Steamboat mounted a big comeback in his own thrilling and charismatic way.
It wasn't long when Steamboat and Youngblood hit a series of double team moves that put the Brisco Brothers away and clinched the tag titles for the fifth time.
Jack Brisco was none too pleased with the loss, as he and his brother took out the frustrations on everyone not named Brisco in the ring, including Mosca.
Jack and Jerry Brisco attempted to seriously injure Youngblood, but Mosca intercepted Jack Brisco as he was jumping off the top rope.
With Mosca's help, Steamboat and Youngblood were able to dispatch of the former champions.
NWA World Heavyweight championship (Steel cage) – Ric Flair def. Harley Race
This was true passing-of-the-torch moment for Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA.
At this point, Race was looked at as a folk hero, according to Rhodes. He walked into the match in the midst of his seventh reign as NWA World Heavyweight champion, the most reigns of anyone in history to that point.
He was the unquestioned top man in the sport. He had done it all. He had seen it all. He was it all.
Then came a brash, young wrestler in Flair, who was a former champion in his own right. Flair only had to two title reigns to his name by this point, but neither were all that eventful nor did they help him assume the mantle of being the marquee name in the NWA.
The event was dubbed "A Flair for the Gold" after Flair's quest to become a three-time champion, but also because this night was to serve as Flair's true coming out party.
I loved the way the match was built up throughout the night. Caudle and Solie made constant references to it during the broadcast making it feel like the biggest match professional wrestling had ever seen.
In her interviews with the fans, Clarey asked them all who they thought win would win the match between Flair and Race. The majority of the fans were rooting for Flair.
Schiavone interviewed both men multiple times in their respective locker rooms, as they met with fellow wrestlers to strategize about their big match. It really lent to the big-fight feel.
The match was so big that former NWA World Heavyweight champion Gene Kiniski served as the special guest referee.
The match started slow, as Flair and Race took their time feeling each other out.
After about five minutes of exchanging holds, things began to slowly pick up between the two.
Race said during one of his locker room interviews that he was going to work on Flair's neck, as he knew that it was a weak spot for him due to breaking his back in that infamous plane crash.
He executed that game plan during the match and stayed Flair's necl
Things began to pick up a little more when Race tossed Flair into the side of the cage.
After being beaten for on for multiple minutes, Flair was finally able to turn the tables by tossing Race into the turnbuckle, which cut him open. Both men were bleeding at this point.
Flair bounced Race from one part of the cage to the other. Kiniski wasn't happy with Flair's use of the cage. He was more of a traditional wrestler that focused purely on mat-based tactics.
Flair and Race were hearing none of that, as they were prepared to brawl. Flair wore the signs of war on his face. His face was covered in blood and it even soaked his immaculate blonde hair.
But after a while it no longer looked immaculate. It looked haggard due to the battle he was having with Race.
In the midst of the battle, Kiniski was knocked down after colliding with Race.
Flair then climbed to the top rope and hit a cross body. Kiniski crawled over to count to three to give Flair his third world championship.
Mosca was the first person in the ring to celebrate with Flair. After all of the good guys crowded the ring to congratulate the new champion, Mosca hoisted Flair up on his shoulders and carried him around the ring, as he acknowledged the fans.
Flair's wife at the time also jumped into the ring to celebrate. Not sure which wife that was.
Flair then took the microphone and thanked the fans, saying that it was the greatest night of his life.
Schiavone then interviewed Flair in the locker room. During the interview he thanked Steamboat for helping him get ready for the match. After that touching moment, the champagne began flying.
Then Rhodes walked into the room and congratulated Flair on his victory, but reminded him that his chance at the title was coming in the future.