Throwback Thursday: Looking back at NWA Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers
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 NWA Starrcade 1983: A Flair for the Gold.
NWA Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers
Date: Nov. 27, 1986
Venue: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C. & The Omni, Atlanta
Some random notes
This was the fourth annual Starrcade and the second in a row that emanated from two different venues.
Just like 1985, the 1986 Starrcade took place at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. and The Omni in Atlanta. Earlier that year, WWE held the second annual WrestleMania in three different venues.
Coincidently, 1986 was the last year either event was held in multiple venues simultaneously.
You're probably wondering why the event was dubbed "The Skywalkers" or as they said during the show "The Night of the Skywalkers." That was due to there being a scaffold match between The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express in Atlanta.
Since the scaffold was very high above the ring, I guess the wrestlers were looked at as sky walkers on this night.
The show started with what was probably seen as a thrilling laser light show on the big screen. There were multiple light shows throughout the night.
Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart were stationed in Atlanta. Schiavone also did the ring announcing in Atlanta. Bob Caudle and Johnny Weaver called the action in Greensboro.
With that said, let's get to the matches:
Tim Horner & Nelson Royal def. Rocky & Don Kernodle
The event started off in Greensboro and rotated back and forth throughout the night. It was easy to tell the venues apart, as Atlanta had a scaffold surrounding the ring and Greensboro did not.
The pace was of this match pretty fast for 1986, but it did not last super long. It was pretty exciting while it lasted though.
Brad Armstrong vs. Jimmy Garvin ended in a time-limit draw
Brad Armstrong was from a family full of wrestlers. His father was "Bullet" Bob Armstrong. Both of his brothers both currently work for WWE. Scott Armstrong is a former wrestler and is currently a WWE referee.
Brian Armstrong is better known to wrestling fans as Road Dogg and is a producer for WWE. Unfortunately, Brad Armstrong's wrestling relatives will out-live him, as he died in 2012.
Among the three Armstrong brothers I think Brad had the most potential to be a huge success in wrestling given his physique and his ability, but he unfortunately lacked the on-camera charisma of his brother Brian.
The match was very mat based. Armstrong routinely out-wrestled Garvin, but the latter routinely used heel tactics to gain an advantage such as pulling Armstrong's hair.
The pace picked up toward the end, as each man attempted to win the match before the time ran out. However, neither man was able to defeat the other in the allotted time.
Brad Armstrong wanted to continue the fight after the match, but Garvin rolled out of the ring. Garvin' valet Precious then got into the ring and in Armstrong's face, which allowed Garvin to sneak up on him from behind.
However, Armstrong was ready and fought off Garvin.
Hector Guerrero & Baron von Raschke def. Shaska Whatley & The Barbarian
I have said it in past editions of Throwback Thursday, but Hector Guerrero, Eddie Guerrero's older brother, was a very a talented wrestler during his day, which made it more puzzling why he was saddled with donning the Gobbledy Gooker gimmick in WWE.
Whatley was better known as "Pistol" Pez Whatley. By this point, he was known as Shaska.
The match turned into a brawl right away with all four men in the ring. Things eventually calmed down and a normal tag match commenced.
Guerrero used his athleticism, but Whatley and The Barbarian got the better of him and isolated him.
Whatley spit in Guerrero's face at one point. Guerrero responded by spitting Whatley's face, which allowed him to tag in von Raschke, who locked in the claw and won the match with a simple elbow drop.
NWA United States Tag Team championship – Krusher Khruschev & Ivan Koloff def. The Kansas Jayhawks (Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel)
Long before becoming Zeb Colter, he wrestled as "Dirty" Dutch Mantel.
For a match that was supposed to have no disqualifications, all four men followed the rules and listened to the referee pretty well.
The Jayhawks held the early advantage, but the Russians finally took control after damaging Mantel's knee outside the ring.
All four men jumped into the ring again. Koloff then grabbed his Russian chain outside the ring and climbed to the top rope. Mantel grabbed his whip and whipped Koloff off the top rope and whipped Khruschev in the legs.
Khruschev recovered by hitting Jaggers in the back of the head with the chain, which allowed Koloff to pin him for the win.
Indian strap match – Wahoo McDaniel def. Rick Rude
Both men used the strap right away. Rude wrapped it around his fist and punched McDaniel in the head, which busted him open only moments into the match.
Rude was the first to attempt to touch all four turnbuckles, but could only get to two.
McDaniel fought back and busted Rude open. He then attempted to hit all four turnbuckles, but could only get to three before Rude thwarted him.
After a quick onslaught from Rude, McDaniel went for the turnbuckles again. He got the three and tried to drag Rude to the fourth, but Rude's manager Paul Jones jumped on the ring apron.
McDaniel knocked Jones down, but it opened the door for Rude to attack him from behind. However, Rude knocked McDaniel into the fourth turnbuckle, which gave him the win.
NWA Central States Heavyweight championship – Sam Houston def. Bill Dundee via disqualification
The Central States title was the main title for Central States Wrestling, which was mostly based out of Kansas City, Mo.
This was a good match, but it wasn't anything to write home about.
Dundee used Houston's boot as a weapon, which got him disqualified.
Hair vs. Hair – Jimmy Valiant def. Paul Jones
Despite being in the match, Valiant's hair was not on the line. Instead, he was fighting for the hair of his valet Big Mama.
One of Jones' clients, Manny Fernandez, was supposed to be locked in a cage above the ring so that he wouldn't interfere. Fernandez was reluctant, but Horner, Royal and McDaniel came out to physically put him in the cage.
Valiant beat the crap out of Jones the majority of the match. Jones gained the upper hand by using a foreign object twice, which busted Valiant open.
Jones tried to use it a third time to escape Valiant's sleeper hold, but it was knocked out of his hands. Valiant got a hold of it and used it on Jones to pick up the win.
As soon as the match was over, Valiant immediately began cutting Jones' hair with a set of clippers.
Street fight – Big Bubba Rogers def. Ron Garvin
Why was there a Louisville street fight in Atlanta? That's because Rogers' manager Jim Cornette is from Louisville. Rogers was billed from there as well, although he was really from Georgia.
Most of you may know Rogers as Big Boss Man in WWE.
Garvin was known to have hands of stone and could pretty much knock anyone down with his right hand. However, when he punched Rogers in the face and it barely fazed him.
Garvin had to hit Rogers with a slew of punches before finally knocking the big man off his feet.
Rogers used his strength to get the better of Garvin, but Garvin threw a drink in Rogers' face to temporarily blind him to get the upper hand.
Cornette handed Rogers a roll of nickels, which he eventually used on Garvin to regain control. Garvin was cut open as a result.
Garvin managed to get his hands on a rope and attempted to hog tie Rogers to keep him off his feet.
Rogers eventually tried to climb to the top rope, but Garvin tossed him off. Garvin attempted to pin him, but Rogers kicked out with such force that Garvin landed on top of referee Tommy Young.
Garvin then hit a pile driver and seemingly had the match won, but Cornette clocked Garvin in the head with his tennis racket.
Young began counting both men down and reached 10, but decided not to end the match. He then told the announcers that there had to be a winner and that the first man to his feet would win.
Garvin made it to his feet first, but Rogers had distracted the referee. Garvin then fell back down, which allowed Rogers to reach his feet first and win.
NWA World Television championship (First blood match) – Tully Blanchard def. Dusty Rhodes
Prior to the match, Rhodes had spent the entire day in his dressing room and did not grant any interviews.
He was shown making his entrance all the way from his locker room like Goldberg.
Once he got to the ring, it was clear that he had cut his hair short and had Blanchard's first name written in what looked like magic marker on each side of his head.
Blanchard attempted to wear headgear during match. The official, who I'm pretty sure was one of the Hebner brothers, ordered Blanchard to remove the headgear since it was a first blood match. Blanchard's manager James J. Dillon contested the official's ruling, but reluctantly took it off.
Dillon then attempted to put Vaseline on Blanchard, which would help Blanchard from being cut open. This is done in boxing and mixed martial arts.
The referee got a towel and whipped Blanchard's face. An irate Dillon eventually made his way over to Rhodes to yell at him. Rhodes gave him a bionic elbow for his troubles. Dillon was split open as a result.
To Dillon's credit, he stayed out at ringside and managed Blanchard with blood raining from his forehead.
Rhodes then cocked back the elbow on a number of occasions in the opening moments of the match. Blanchard, seeing that the elbow had already split open Dillon, avoided it like the plague.
Rhodes eventually hit Blanchard with an elbow, but it failed to open him up.
Dillon eventually tossed Blanchard his shoe, but he failed to use it. Rhodes and Blanchard managed to knock down the referee twice. Rhodes then went to town on Blanchard with elbows and fists, which busted Blanchard open.
However, the referee was still down. That allowed Dillon to play corner man of sorts and wipe Blanchard's head and put more Vaseline on it.
While Rhodes was gloating, Blanchard got his hands on a roll of coins and busted Rhodes open. Once the referee came to, he saw Rhodes bleeding all over the place and rewarded the match to Blanchard.
Rhodes was very upset at the decision and almost attacked the referee.
Skywalkers match – The Road Warriors def. The Midnight Express
Although the event was named after this match, it was not the main event.
The rules were simple: both members of a team had to be thrown off the top of the scaffold in order to win.
The Road Warriors came in and climbed right to the top of the scaffold. The Midnight Express were very reluctant to follow suit, as Cornette was crying before the match even started.
I probably would have been crying, too, as the railings at the top of the scaffold looked very loose and looked as though they could break off at any moment, which could send someone soaring through the air at any moment.
You could actually see Animal mistakenly break one of the railings before the match and rush to put it back together.
After a lot of posturing, Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton climbed to the top, but they came prepared, as they used powder to blind The Road Warriors.
Condrey almost got Hawk off the scaffold, as Eaton was hanging on literally by his one of his legs. He managed to grab hold of one of the support beams and climbed back up.
Eaton was the first to be busted open. Not long later, Condrey was cut open, too.
Condrey attempted to climb down so that he could escape without any further damage, but Hawk wouldn't let him. He wanted to knock him down and even climbed down a little to fight Condrey.
Eaton eventually made his way underneath the scaffold and began to traverse across like he was using the monkey bars at a playground.
Hawk and Animal were hanging along with him. Eventually, Hawk managed to kick Condrey off and he fell helplessly into the ring. Eaton didn't last much longer, as Animal kicked him off to win the match.
After the match was over, Cornette attempted to hit Road Warriors manager Paul Ellering with his tennis racket, but Ellering was able to get a hold of it, which suddenly left Cornette helpless. The Road Warriors were hot on his tail, which I guess left Cornette no choice then to climb to the top of the scaffold in an effort to get away from them.
This was a bad idea.
The Road Warriors simply climbed up and surrounded him. Cornette attempted to safely climb down to escape their clutches and hoped that Rogers would catch him on his way down.
Things didn't quite work out that. Instead of Rogers catching Cornette, he missed him all together and Cornette fell all the way to the mat. Cornette, not expecting to hit the mat, hit it awkwardly suffered a severe knee injury.
Cornette was clearly in a lot of pain and could clearly be heard be saying that something was wrong with his right knee. He cried on his way out of the arena, as he wondered why Rogers didn't catch him like he was supposed to.
Despite Cornette's obvious pain, the fans got a huge kick out of seeing the villainous manager get his comeuppance.
NWA World Tag Team championship (Steel cage) – The Rock 'n' Roll Express def. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew
Despite being contested in a steel cage, there were tags like a normal match.
Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson held the early advantage by quickening the pace.
Arn Anderson managed to attack Gibson's leg and slow down the match to the pace of the Anderson's liking.
Gibson took minutes worth of punishment before he was finally able to escape the Anderson's clutches and tag in Morton. However, Morton didn't fare much better, as he was tossed from one side of the cage to the next. Morton was busted open as a result.
Ole and Arn Anderson then worked on Morton's arm for a very long period of time.
Despite the beating, Gibson managed to lend an assist and help Morton pin Ole Anderson to retain the titles.
NWA World Heavyweight championship – Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff ended in a double disqualification
Koloff's babyface turn was as a last-minute decision, as Magnum T.A.'s career was cut short due to the injuries he suffered after in a serious car accident a little more than a month before Starrcade.
Magnum T.A. was going to be the man to dethrone Flair at Starrcade, but with Magnum T.A. out of commission, the powers that be turned to Koloff, who suddenly embraced his good side.
Before Koloff made his entrance, a video package played in tribute to Magnum T.A. The video was rather cheesy, which was to be expected for the 1980s, but it had a good motive behind it in paying homage to Magnum T.A., whose career was cut terribly short.
Koloff went into the match as the NWA United States Heavyweight champion and began the match by using his strength to overpower Flair.
Flair hit him with a flurry of chops, but none of them fazed the challenger.
Flair was eventually able to get in a vertical suplex on Koloff, but the challenger popped back up as if nothing happened to him. This caused Flair to leave the ring and regroup for about the third time.
The regrouping time paid off, as Flair was able to get in some offense. That flurry only lasted for a short while, as Koloff overpowered him again.
Flair, being the veteran that he is, used Koloff's momentum against him and evaded him, which sent the Russian flying out of the ring. Koloff's rough landing injured his leg, which provided the opening Flair needed, as he locked in the figure four.
Koloff used his power to reverse the pressure, which forced the champion to release the hold. Flair didn't let up, as he continued his assault on Koloff's legs.
Koloff eventually went flying out of the ring again. Flair saw this as an opportunity to ram Koloff's head into one of the scaffold's support beams, which cut Koloff open.
Flair tried to assert dominance, but Koloff fended him off and rammed Flair's head into the scaffold. As expected, Flair was busted open.
Referee Tommy Young was eventually knocked down again. A second referee came into replace him, but he was also knocked down.
Young got back up and tried to get in between Flair and Nikita Koloff, but they shoved him away. As a result, Young disqualified both men.
Fellow wrestlers then jumped and helped Flair beat up Nikita Koloff. That brought out the good guys to even up the odds and cause a melee.