The SmarK Rant for the Crockett Cup 86 – 04.19.86 (Part One)
This show has been sitting there in Hidden Gems on the Network, taunting me forever. 4 hours and a bit is a lot to take on, but hey, I’ve got the weekend off. To keep myself sane I’ll do the first two rounds tonight and then the second part with the quarter-finals through finals tomorrow.
So of course, the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament is the legendary two night show held in the New Orleans Superdome in April of 86, featuring a few different NWA members sending teams, with some decidedly wonky seeding and results at times, and the winners getting $1,000,000. And of course tournaments like the Dusty Classic are paying direct homage to this one.
Taped from New Orleans, LA, with a PRISTINE handheld camera. Like wherever they found the tape, good for them. They did 3500 people for the afternoon session, and then 13,000 for the night one.
Unfortunately this isn’t complete, as we just pick things up six matches into the first round, and WHAT a first round match they picked to start things with!
Round One: The Fantastics v. The Fabulous Ones
Stan Lane & Steve Keirn are just introduced as “The Fabs” here so I’m wondering if there was some legal issue with the name at this point. They’re also immediately playing heel, which is a smart move. The Fantastics were UWF tag team champions at this juncture, while the Fabs were hanging around Florida. Fulton works a headlock on Lane and the Fantastics double-team the arm before Rogers rolls him up for two. Keirn claims that this near-fall was a result of pulling the tights, just to reinforce who we should be booing. Keirn comes in with an armbar, making sure to pull the hair on the way down, but Tommy flips out of it and it’s back to Fulton so he can work on Keirn’s arm. We get a funny spot as Keirn rolls him up to reverse out of the armbar and gets two, but he hangs onto Lane’s hand on the apron and ends up pulling on him too hard and yanking him into the ring! Well, hard to argue with the ref on THAT one. Fantastics retain control of the arm, but finally Keirn rakes the eyes and goes back to Lane, and he too walks right into an armdrag. The Fantastics switch off behind the ref’s back and Lane stooges them out, but I feel like their credibility is damaged already in the match. Lane escapes with his WHITE GUY KARATE and kicks Fulton to the floor, and Rogers claims that he went over the top and thus it should have been a DQ. That’s weak sauce, just man up and deal with it. Back in, Lane with a neckbreaker and Keirn bites Fulton in the corner like some kind of, I dunno, ALLIGATOR MAN, and then rips at his eyes as well, like he’s trying to, I dunno, SKIN HIM or something. Keirn with a stungun and thankfully there’s always time to strut, but Fulton makes a comeback and slugs him down. So Keirn yanks down the tights to the delight of the female front row, and allows Lane to cut off the tag and then throw Fulton over the top rope for REAL this time. See, now that one Rogers should be griping about. Back in, Fulton gets fired up, but Keirn slugs him down for two. Bobby with a sunset flip on Lane for two, but Keirn cuts off the tag again and rolls up Fulton with a blatant handful of tights for two. Fulton gets fired up again, but Lane cuts him off AGAIN and then spits on Rogers for good measure. Keirn and Fulton collide for the double-down and it’s HOT TAG Tommy Rogers. And he runs wild, distracts Lane, and allows Fulton to roll up Keirn for the pin at 14:30 to advance to the second round. Hot opener for this version of the show but nothing mind-blowing. ***1/4
Round One: Rick Steiner & Buzz Sawyer v. The Italian Stallion & Koko B. Ware
We’re way down the bracket in the first round again here. Rick Steiner is VERY young here, as he and Sawyer are representing the UWF at this point. Buzz was TV champion here after being given the belt by Dick Slater in a memorable angle. Koko backdrops Buzz out of the corner and dropkicks him to the floor, and then works on a headlock back in the ring. Buzz escapes with a suplex and brings in Steiner, who at this point has no gear besides boots and disturbingly tiny shorts, not even debuting his trademark earguards yet. Like Tay Conti would look at those shorts and think it was a bit revealing. Koko fights off the heels and slugs away on Buzz as this is taking a while to get going, to say the least. Buzz gets a pair of leapfrogs and he’s proud of himself, so Koko hits him with a bodypress for two and brings in the Stallion. He goes to a headlock on Buzz that goes on for a long time. Over to Koko, but the ref is distracted and Buzz takes him to the floor for a suplex to take over. That was an awkward looking suplex, like he was thinking about a brainbuster but then changed his mind mid-move. Back in with a suplex for two, and Buzz goes to a bearhug on the mat. Koko fights out with a rollup for two, but Steiner takes him down with a side slam again for two and continues the bearhugging. Koko fights out, so Buzz puts him down and goes to the top, but misses a flying splash and Italian Stallion gets the saddest hot tag I’ve ever seen. Like no one cares. And Buzz quickly powerslams and pins him at 15:13 like a complete geek. Way too long, nothing happening match. *
Round One: Jimmy Garvin & Black Bart v. David (DJ) Peterson & Brett (Wayne) Sawyer
Bart works on Sawyer in the corner for a bit, but Brett comes back with a headscissor takedown and it’s over to Gorgeous Jimmy. Peterson comes in with a headlock and quickly gets caught in the heel corner, but he fights back on Bart and the babyfaces trap him in the corner and work on the arm. But then Brett gets caught in the heel corner and also worked over before making what appears to be a hot tag to Peterson. And then he promptly misses a dropkick and the heels go to work on him before Garvin finishes with a brainbuster at 6:06 to complete what was basically a squash. ½*
Round Two: The Midnight Express (3rd seed) v. Sam Houston & Nelson Royal
So onto the next round, with the various unseeded teams from the first round now facing the real stars. Houston & Royal advanced by beating The Battens from Central States in the first round, for those keeping track. Sam Houston gets a bit of shine on the Express, but Nelson Royal comes in and gets hit from behind from Bobby and pinned by Dennis at 1:47 and that’s that. DUD
Round Two: Ron Garvin & Magnum TA (2nd seed) v. Rick Steiner & Buzz Sawyer
That seems like pretty high seeding for Garvin & Magnum. They trap Rick in the corner and work on his arm to start, but Magnum gets CLUBBERED in the heel corner and Buzz chokes him out and engages in various skullduggery. Rick goes to a chinlock, but TA runs him into the corner to break, so Buzz comes in with a delayed suplex for two. Magnum rolls him up for two and gets a backslide for two, but still can’t tag. Garvin gets a hot tag and slugs away on the UWF heels, and Magnum puts Rick away with a belly to belly at 5:22. This was pretty messy and not much to it. *1/2 But I gotta say, we’re getting some crazy interesting combinations of guys!
And now we switch to the evening session, which I’m assuming is complete since the first part was less than an hour. Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone go over the rules for the tournament, as we learn that over the top rope is illegal, but piledrivers and coming off the top rope are legal.
Round Two: The Road Warriors (1st seed) v. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood
Wahoo and Youngblood beat the awesome twosome of Mean Mike Miller & Bobby Jaggers to advance past the first round, and I’m thinking that they’re not advancing any further. Just a hunch. Also I have no idea what the Warriors’ entrance music is supposed to be, but it’s unique. Animal misses an elbow on Youngblood, but the Warriors still work him over in the corner anyway. Over to Wahoo and he does a pretty good chop exchange with Hawk and takes him down for one. Hawk with the test of strength, but Wahoo fights out of that, so Animal comes in with a back elbow for two. Wahoo chops him down and it’s back to Mark, so Hawk quickly hits him with a shoulderblock and no-sells his offense. Flying clothesline finishes at 4:20. Well that was a bit of a disaster. ½* Also the finish saw Hawk pinning Youngblood and Wahoo just came in and stood there while it was happening!
Round Two: Ivan & Nikita Koloff (8th seed) v. Jimmy Valiant & Manny Fernandez
Shaska Whatley cuts a lengthy promo on Valiant before the match, accusing him of being a YELLOW DOG, although given Jimmy’s ridiculous yellow and black gear here he’s not far off. Noted Russian sympathizer Eddie Gilbert is accompanying the Russians tonight, as we cross over with the UWF and Gilbert’s ongoing storyline at that point. Valiant and Fernandez beat the Paul Jones duo of Barbarian & Baron Von Raschke to begin the tournament, although I suspect they’re out of their league now. Nikita is sporting a shiner here for some reason, even though he didn’t have a first round match. Nikita immediately demands a test of strength with the Bull, but Manny fights out of that and then gets a sunset flip on Uncle Ivan for two. Valiant comes in with the low stomp and Manny adds a trip to the post, allowing Valiant to do the ol’ thumb to the throat before slugging him down for two. Double elbow gets two for the babyfaces. Manny misses a dropkick and it’s over to Nikita, who drops Manny on the top rope and beats on him in the corner. Ivan drops a leg for two and goes to a bearhug, and then Nikita switches in for one of his own as they hold the Bull in the corner. Ivan goes to the top rope and Manny slams him off and makes the hot tag to Valiant as the crowd goes NUTS, and he gets a sleeper on Ivan. But the ref is distracted and Nikita breaks it up, hits a Sickle from the apron, and Ivan gets the pin at 9:00 to advance for Mother Russia. This was a fun match and Valiant was crazy over. **1/4
Round Two: Dino Bravo & Rick Martel (5th seed) v. Terry Taylor & Steve Williams
The Montreal contingent is a no-show for reasons I’m not clear on, with the claim being that Dino Bravo is in the hospital with appendicitis, so the UWF team advances by forfeit after beating the team of BILL & BUDRO in the first round, which I’m sad we didn’t get to see.
Round Two: The Rock N Roll Express (6th seed) v. The Sheepherders (9th seed)
The Sheepherders beat the Guerreros in the first round, another one I’d like to have been included. Robert gets trapped in the heel corner to start, but the RNR quickly double-team Luke out of the ring. Back in, Robert tries a wristlock on Luke and gets nailed from behind by Butch, but Ricky comes in with dropkicks to clear the ring. Back in, Luke beats on Ricky in the corner, but a crossbody gets two. Robert comes in and hits the corner on the blind charge, and Luke goes to work with an armbar. The Herders trap Robert in the corner and toss him for a shot to the post, and back in Luke gets a forearm off the middle rope for two. Robert comes back with a dropkick and it’s HOT TAG Ricky as he cleans house to set up the double dropkick, but Jack Victory comes in to break it up…at which point Ricky grabs the flag and nails the Sheepherders in front of the ref, drawing the DQ at 7:00. Whoops. So the Sheepherders advance to round 3. Crowd is not fond of that booking. **1/2
Round Two: The Fantastics v. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson (4th seed)
This should be fun! Tully and Arn were just a rando Horsemen team at this point and not, you know, TULLY AND ARN. Tully was National champion and Arn was TV champion, so they had matching belts at the very least. Rogers and Tully slug it out in the corner to start and Tully loses that badly as he flails back into the corner for a breather. Tully gets a cheapshot and tries an atomic drop, but Tommy no-sells it and dropkicks him to the floor. Arn claims he was tagged on the way by but the ref isn’t buying it and forces Tully back into the ring again, which is helped by Tommy slingshotting him in. The Horsemen regroup again and Arn works a headlock and slugs Rogers down, but Tommy comes back with dropkicks to put him on the floor again. Over to Fulton, who works a hammerlock on Arn, but Tully comes in with a knee behind the ref’s back and they beat on Fulton in the corner. It’s so cool to hear the match without commentary so you can get touches like Tully yelling “ARN GIVE ME A KNEE!” before running him into it. They toss Fulton and run him into the railing, but Bobby comes in with a sunset flip on Arn for two and the Horsemen put the boots to him again. Bobby fights back, so Tully dumps him and Arn gives him the BOOT LACES to the eyes, with JJ adding a poke to the eye as well. Bobby’s selling is so fantastic, pardon the pun. Back in, Arn slugs away and hits the spinebuster for two, but Fulton fights back and so Tully switches off and slugs him down for two. Then he works the count while blatantly pulling the tights but positioning himself so the ref can’t see. What a master class this is. Back to the floor and Tully tries a suplex out there, but Bobby escapes and frantically goes for the corner, only for Arn to cut him off again. AA misses a knee in the corner and it’s HOT TAG Rogers, but he walks into the gourdbuster! That gets two, but he goes for a slam and Bobby dropkicks them over and Tommy gets the pin at 11:28 to advance to the third round. Tremendous old school NWA tag team action! I really loved the story of the match was so clear and simple that you didn’t even need commentary to follow. ****1/4
Round Two: Black Bart & Jimmy Garvin v. Giant Baba & Tiger Mask (7th seed)
Yes, that is Misawa under the mask here. Tiger Mask exchanges headlocks with Garvin and then dropkicks him to the floor before following with a baseball slide and doing a back roll off it, immediately getting himself over with the crowd. Over to Baba, who chops away on Bart and hits a Russian legsweep. Garvin comes in and tries to fight him off, but Baba runs him into the corner and gives him a piledriver. Over to Tiger Mask, who backdrops Bart and drops an elbow for two, but the heels trap him in the corner and get the heat on him as Bart gets a suplex for two. Garvin drops him on the top rope and Bart chokes him out in the corner, and Garvin gets a small package for two and a slam for two. TM fights back with kicks and Baba comes in and stomps Garvin down and then hits Bart with more chops as he goes flying all over the ring for Baba. Mask comes in with a flying bodypress for two, and Baba adds a big boot to finish at 7:55 and advance. Tiger Mask got over pretty quickly but the crowd wasn’t really into the Japanese moving forward. **
And with that the second round is complete and we’ll leave it there and return with the second half of the show tomorrow, starting with the Road Warriors v. Midnight Express to kick off the quarterfinals!