This week's look at wrestling nostalgia takes us back 20 years, to the NWA promoted Starrcade 1987. Starrcade 1987, nicknamed "Chi-Town Heat" was held on Thanksgiving night, November 26, 1987. The event was held in the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois and live attendance was estimated at 8,000 fans. Looking at the old video footage of the event, it looks as if this number was heavily papered as there are a lot of empty seats in the arena. This was the first StarrCade event that was held outside of the Carolina's, as traditionally StarrCade had been held on Thanksgiving evening in the Carolinas. This was the first NWA event to be held on PPV. Vince McMahon ran the very first WWF Survivor Series PPV in direct competition to Starrcade and directed the cable companies they had to choose between which PPV they would offer and if the cable company did not air Survivor Series, they would not be allowed to air Wrestlemania the following year. Consequently, Starrcade 1987 drew a respectable 3.30 buy rate, however Survivor Series was available in more homes and drew a phenomenal 7.0 buy rate.
Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone are the announce team.
First match is a six-man tag team match with Larry Zbyszko, Rick Steiner and Eddie Gilbert taking on Sting, Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes. This match had great crowd heat from the beginning and all six guys worked hard in the match. Match ended in a 15 minute time limit draw.
The second match on the card is for the UWF Heavyweight Title. Steve Williams was the champion and defeated challenger Barry Windham by pinfall in 7:02. Jim Crockett Promotions had just purchased the Universal Wrestling Federation from Bill Watts and the UWF title was being defended for the last time as the title would be retired in December of 1987. Williams had defeated Big Bubba Rogers in July 1987 for the title. In the useless trivia department, when Watts changed the name of his company from Mid-South to Universal Wrestling Federation in an attempt to move from a regional promotion to a national promotion to compete with the WWF and NWA; he chose the name "Universal Wrestling Federation" because it would sound bigger than the "World Wrestling Federation". Lot of mat wrestling which had the crowd booing and chanting boring. Story of the match was Windham worked as a face and with good sportsmanship, but Williams would do whatever it took to maintain the title. Windham allowed Williams time to recover from a low blow, however Williams dragged Windham into the ring after Windham had hit his head on the floor outside. They told a story in the match, but the match itself was only average.
In a Scaffold Match, The Rock 'n' Roll Express defeated the Midnight Express with Jim Cornette in 9:35. The scaffold gimmick limited any mobility and workrate of the participants as the teams had to fight on a scaffold 15 feet above the ring. The rules were to throw your opponent off the scaffold and to the ring. Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane double teamed Robert Gibson on top of the scaffold until Ricky Morton got Cornett's tennis racket and climbed the scaffold to give the R&R Express the advantage. They had a decent match, despite the how limited they were by being on the scaffold.
Next match was to unify the NWA and UWF World TV Title. The NWA TV Champion was Nikita Koloff and the UWF Champion was Terry Taylor. Koloff pinned Taylor in 18:55 to unify the titles. Taylor worked on Koloff's left arm most of the match, which Jim Ross pointed out was a mistake as Koloff used his right arm to deliver the Russian Sickle. Finish came when Taylor ran into Eddie Gilbert, who seconded Taylor in the match and Koloff hit Taylor with the Sickle for the pinfall victory. Solid, old school type match.
In a match for the NWA World Tag Team Titles, the champions Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson of the 4 Horsemen defeated the Road Warriors by disqualification in 14:33. This was Blanchard's and Anderson's first tag team title reign, after capturing the belts from the Rock & Roll Express in September of 1987. The Road Warriors were the most over babyface tag team in the NWA at the time, after leaving the AWA and joining the NWA in 1986. The Warriors had feuded with the Horsemen all through the summer of 1987 to set up the opportunities to win the belts. The Warriors controlled most of the contest with Anderson and Blanchard both looking awesome in taking bumps for the Warriors. They did one of those "Dusty" finishes that killed the business as Blanchard nailed the referee and knocked him to the floor. Animal backdropped Blanchard over the top rope, then Hawk hit Anderson with the doomsday device. A second ref ran in and counted the pin on Anderson and they announced the Road Warriors were the new champs. However, the first ref called the DQ on Animal and gave the match to the Horsemen. The crowd hated the finish. It was a good match until the bad finish.
Next match on the card is for the NWA U.S. Heavyweight Title. Lex Luger came into the match as the champion, however Dusty Rhodes defeated Luger to win the title in 16:23. This match was fought inside a steel cage, which in the NWA in 1987 meant the match could only be decided by pinfall or submission victory. Luger was in the midst of his first U.S. title reign, having defeated Nikita Koloff on July 11, 1987 for the title. Dusty was trying to win the title for the first time. Luger was part of the Horsemen at this time and JJ Dillion accompanied Luger to ringside. Luger worked over Dusty most of the match to build heat for the finish which came when Dillion threw a chair into the ring and Dusty DDT'd Luger on the chair for the finish. Crowd popped huge for the title change.
Final match of the evening was also inside a steel cage for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. In the match, Ric Flair regained the world title by defeating Ron Garvin by pinfall in 17:25. Garvin had defeated Flair in September for the world title, however Garvin was not over with the fans at all and was booed out of the building as they did not see Garvin as a legitimate world champion. The booking committee wanted the belt off of Flair in the summer of 1987 and their first choice, Magnum TA was severely injured in a car accident and would never wrestle again. The second choice was Buddy Landel. However, was fired due to his drug problems before the belt could be placed on him, and Garvin was the third choice. Flair won the title for the 6th time in a match that Flair carried to a decent main event match. Crowd was solidly behind Flair and popped big time for the title change.
Summary: This was Jim Crockett Promotions first PPV and it was a very good PPV from a wrestling standpoint. However, their production and marketing was way behind the WWF at the time and consequently they were the second promotion in the world of public perception. I would highly recommend this PPV if you have a copy or can get one.
Next week we look back at WCW Starrcade 1992. As always, your comments, suggestions and feedback is welcomed. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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