He’s The Booker, I’m The Blogger: Starrcade 1983 Review

Starrcade 1983 reviewWe have a new feature on this website and as you can see from the above title, we’re going to look at old PPVs (thank you WWE Network) and give you a side-by-side view from the booker perspective as well as the hardcore fan/blogger perspective.

The booker who will be giving his insight is John LaRocca (@LaRoccaJL), president and co-owner of Premier, a Bay Area based independent wrestling company. On the blogger side is GG.

We’re going to go over the card match-by-match and discuss what we think about the matches and give insight on what goes on in and out of the ring. It’s great supplemental material to follow along if you’re watching this show for the first time.

We’re going to start with the old Jim Crockett Promotions cards and possibly branch out down the line. First up is Starrcade 1983 from November 24, 1983 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was titled “A Flair for the Gold” based on Ric Flair’s attempt to defeat Harley Race in a steel cage to win back his NWA World Heavyweight championship.

Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle are the announcers and Tony Schiavone is the backstage interviewer, giving fans something they weren’t able to see before; a look right inside the locker room.

1. The Assassins (#1 and #2) Vs. Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw

JL: The Assassin #2 is Hercules Hernandez under the mask.

GG: He was the one guy I feared as a little Hulkamanic. I think it was because he put Hogan in the backbreaker one time and Hogan nearly passed out. I thought that move was unbreakable.

JL: The young prospect gave The Assassin #1 (Jody Hamilton) a little extra life on his career. Hamilton gained weight and slowed down after years of the mat game. Hernandez has always been such a physical specimen.

GG: He’s super lean here too compared to when he was in his prime WWF years in 1986 and 1987.

JL: McGraw and Jones basically are the same worker. Very charismatic and a lot of fire.

GG: If you’ve never seen Jones, his comeback is an even more exaggerated version of Dusty Rhodes’ comeback. Lots of hip wiggling and gyrations.

JL: This match was okay and was decent way to open up the card. I felt the babyfaces should have been the ones to go over to open up the event.

GG: McGraw, whose wrestling tights didn’t even seem to fit his body, was played for a bit of naive babyface and was rolled up after just over eight minutes. The camera shots were off a few times and the finish looked a bit bumbled because I think the camera was in the wrong spot.

At this point, we see Schiavone in the babyface locker room. Ric Flair is talking to Roddy Piper. You can see Ricky Steamboat in the back as well.

2. Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin Vs. Scott McGhee and Johnny Weaver

JL: This match was mainly a backdrop for the Sullivan and his army versus Angelo Mosca feud in Florida. Johnny Weaver is a legend in the Carolinas and it seems he was put in this match for the local crowd.

GG: Lewin is pretty ripped in there. And I remember Weaver from when Dusty was using the sleeper and called it the Weaver Lock a few years after this show.

JL: Though he is at the end of his career, Weaver sure can move great in the ring. McGee is a solid worker and a hell of a hand to have on any roster, but just too small to be a main eventer.

GG: Caudle calls Gary Hart, who is with Sullivan and Lewin, Kevin Hart which I’m sure in 1983 made the then young comedian’s ears perk up.

By the way, my favorite part of the match is when Sullivan and Lewin tried to twist Weaver’s arm around three times. I don’t think the shoulder joint allows that to happen, unless Weaver is made of rubber. Though, it did lead directly to the finish after Lewin hit a knee drop from the top rope on the shoulder.

JL: After the match, Sullivan and Lewin bloody up poor McGee.

GG: Blood! And a lot! In the second match!

JL: The crowd is going nuts here and pop big for Angelo Mosca running and making the save. I liked how the heels got Mosca a bit first, but the big man made his own comeback.

Barbara Clary, a young attractive woman, interviews a family of Ric Flair fans in the front row who believe the Nature Boy is going to beat Harley for the title in the main event.

Schiavone is in the heel locker room now with the Jack and Jerry Brisco, Greg Valentine, and Harley Race who is wearing a fantastic suit.

Starrcade 1983 review

3. Abdullah the Butcher Vs. Carlos Colon

GG: Solie has put over the idea that this match was banned in Puerto Rico for being too violent.

JL: Typical Abdullah/Colon match with lot of blood. Abdullah is one of my favorite gimmicks of all time.

GG: Caudle calls Colon young here and he would’ve been in his mid-30s at this point. However, it’s not as bad as in 1993 at the Royal Rumble when Gorilla Monsoon called him a young up and comer.

JL: What I did not like was Colon used Abdullah’s foreign object right in front of the referee. Now, I know the babyface is getting revenge, but the referee never saw Abdullah use it. So why would he allow Colon to use the foreign object? It is always important to protect the credibility of the referees.

GG: The referee was powerless and seemed bothered.

JL: This match was probably just a favor for Carlos Colon and his territory.

GG: Hugo Savinovich, most famous in the US for being a broadcaster on WWF/E’s Spanish broadcast and also, the former husband of Wendi Richter, disrupts the match while the referee is knocked out thanks to an Abby elbow drop that misses Colon and hits the ref. Savinovich hit Colon and Abby covered Colon when the ref came-to. And that’s three heel victories to open the show.

Schiavone is back in the babyface’s locker room interviewing Angelo Mosca who is sitting next to Scott McGhee who is bleeding and looks dead. Mosca wasn’t happy with the dastardly duo who did what they did to McGhee.

Young Clary interviewed two women who were both big Ric Flair fans, though one of them said her favorite wrestler was Charlie Brown. She had to hold her smile for an extra three beats as the camera was slow on the trigger to go back to the ring.

4. Bob Orton, Jr. and Dick Slater Vs. Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel

GG: The background on Orton and Slater as it pertains to this show is that after Race beat Flair early in the summer to win the NWA strap for the 7th time, breaking Lou Thesz’s record of title reigns, he put a $25,000 bounty on Flair’s head so he wouldn’t have to worry about facing Flair again. Orton and Slater did the dirty deed and injured Flair’s neck.

JL: Orton and Slater’s run together was very short, but they were a great tag team. I really wished they would have gotten a long run as NWA World Tag Team Champions.

Hulk Hogan Starrcade 83GG: Interesting that Dusty wasn’t on this card and instead, before this match, the ring announcer Tom Miller said he was in the building, but there wasn’t a shot of Rhodes on camera. Rhodes was the next challenger to the World title.

They also used this weird sky cam in the match that gives you a view from the top of the building shooting down toward the ring and when they went back to the regular camera, it was disjointed.

JL: Youngblood worked most of the match and it was a very long heat.

GG: The crowd went nuts when Wahoo was finally tagged in. By the way, Hulk Hogan was actually scheduled to be in this match as Wahoo’s partner according to the show program. Of course, he was well on his way to WWF by the time this match came around.

JL: Wahoo was barely in, so I wonder if he was working hurt here.

GG: This was easily the best match so far as they gave it nearly 15 minutes. Orton hit a suplex on Youngblood from the second rope to get the pin. Orton and Slater worked on Wahoo’s arm after the match. Wahoo was inside the ring, but they draped his arm just over the edge of the apron. Slater jumped from the steps to hammer the biceps. And then Orton jumped from the top rope to drop a knee on the extended arm. That looked nasty.

Schiavone was back in the babyface locker room talking to Flair who introduced Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. Youngblood was rambling before Steamboat took over the interview.

Clary was back with big Dusty who is wearing the greatest glasses of all-time. Sadly, his interview wasn’t heard as the mic kept cutting out. When Miller tried introducing him earlier, his mic cut out. I wonder if someone was ribbing Dusty?

Starrcade 1983 review

5. Charlie Brown Vs. The Great Kabuki

GG: Charlie Brown from outta town!

JL: That’s Jimmy Valiant (Boogie Woogie Man) wearing a mask and calling himself Charlie Brown. If Kabuki wins, Brown would have to take off the mask. If Brown wins, he wins the Mid-Atlantic TV Title.

GG: But the TV title is only on the line for the first 15 minutes of the match.

JL: This was surprisingly a good match. Kabuki was great in this match, taking big bumps for Valiant’s offense including two very high back drops.

GG: There were some long claw spots. Kabuki even jumped off the top rope on Valiant to put the claw on him. Must’ve been a super claw.

JL: This fun match was perfectly placed between heels going over in the previous match and the revenge grudge match that followed it.

GG: Valiant’s Charlie Brown Boogie Woogie’s his way to come back and win the match and title with an elbow drop.

Schiavone was back to interview Slater, Orton, and Race. Orton and Slater say they jumped Wahoo because Wahoo interfered in their business with Ric Flair and if it wasn’t for Wahoo, Flair would’ve been in the hospital again. Race says he’s going for Flair’s injured neck.

Clary is back with Dusty. He’s redoes the promo that didn’t work because of mic problems the last time. He calls himself the man of steel. And he says he’s coming for the winner who he believes will be Harley Race.

6. Roddy Piper Vs. Greg Valentine

GG: The famous dog collar match!

JL: Both men worked hard to create a truly violent grudge match. Neither guy had to resort to taking a stupid bump off ladder or hit each other hard with a chair for a pop. Piper and Valentine created a very realistic fight.

GG: I can’t believe Piper and Valentine agreed to be connected via two dog collars and a link chain. They were pulling each other by their neck.

JL: Usually, in dog collar, bull rope or strap matches, you have to touch all four corners to win. Here it was by pinfall and it made this match more realistic. Both used the chain to brutal perfection.

GG: Piper wrapped the chain around Valentine’s face a couple times and I’m not sure how Valentine’s nose wasn’t broken.

JL: The storyline was that Valentine injured Piper’s ear leading into this match, so Valentine went to work on the ear. Piper gigged his ear and he was a bloody mess. Soon, Valentine was bleeding from his forehead as well.

GG: Piper’s ear was a grotesque mess.

JL: Piper got pin, but Valentine quickly got his heat back with a post match attack. Since Valentine was staying in the territory and this feud was continuing, that’s why it was done this way. Valentine’s US belt was not on the line, so now with this win, Piper would be receiving rematches through the loop and also seeking revenge for the post match beating.

GG: I liked Piper using the chain to hook the leg for the pin.

Schiavone is back talking to Flair. Flair gives credit to Wahoo for helping him. Wahoo says he’d bet all his money on Ric. Clary is talking to a suited Don Kernodle who gives some tag team wisdom. He also says he’d like to see Flair take the belt.

7. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood Vs. Jack and Jerry Brisco

JL: This match was perfectly placed between two violent gimmicks matches; the dog collar and cage match. Steamboat and Youngblood were probably one of the top babyface teams of all-time.

GG: Steamboat looked like a body builder.

JL: Briscos were also tremendous as cocky heel champions, especially Jerry who played the younger punk brother to perfection.

GG: This might be the first time I’ve seen Jerry work outside of the goofy stuff he did with Pat Patterson. What an easily hate-able heel.

JL: Special referee Angelo Mosca took the match down with being slow to make counts on a near falls. The finish could have been hotter as Steamboat and Youngblood hit a few moves and then got the pin. Crowd was not ready for finish.

GG: It did fall flat a bit, but other finishes on this show kind of came out of nowhere or didn’t get the proper crowd reaction based on timing or whatever.

Schiavone did super quick interviews with Brown, Piper, and the new tag champs. The reason for the delay is because they needed to put the steel cage up. Caudle and Solie wasted some time before throwing to Clary who interviewed Dusty again with three women under his arm. Caudle and Solie described the cage match a bit. A man nicknamed Tiny sang the National Anthem. He may have been bigger than Dusty.

8. Ric Flair Vs. Harley Race

GG: Flair is the only wrestler to come out to entrance music on the show. Race follows him with no music. You know who’s winning this match.

JL: Good match, but what took it down was once again the special guest referee. This time it was former NWA World Champion Gene Kiniski. Again, slow counts and also getting too physically involved in the match took away from the story Race and Flair were telling.

GG: I heard Pat O’Connor was supposed to be the original referee here, but for whatever reason it was changed.

My favorite part of the match is when Race runs a bloody Flair face-first into the cage and some of the blood spurts out onto the camera.

JL: The special guest referee was a slight overbooking on Dusty’s Dory Funk Jr’s part. Bumping the referee was bad as well and idea of Flair hitting the flying body press off the top and Race tripping over the fallen Kiniski in away came off like a fluke finish.

GG: Ric and Harley mis-shot the finish as Race missed Kiniski completely.

JL: I would simply have just had Flair win clean with figure-four leglock. Put Flair and his finisher over strong.

GG: I’m guessing Race didn’t want to lose to the figure four, or maybe they were saving that finish for some of the rematches.

Starrcade 1983 review

The babyfaces came out into the ring to celebrate with Flair. You saw his wife. He made a speech inside the ring and then again in the locker room with Schiavone. Ricky Steamboat told Flair that he owed him one. (They’d have to wait nearly six years for that one as Steamboat would be in the WWF shortly.) Dusty then came out and challenged Flair. (They’d headline the next two Starrcades.)

They cut to a smiling Barbara a bit early and she had to look sad and then tell Harley she was sorry. Harley said it was Flair’s night, but he’s not going away and he’s going to hound him.

Final Thoughts

JL: Minus a few things, Dusty Rhodes Dory Funk Jr. did a tremendous job with the first Starrcade. As it should be, feuds and important title chases should culminate and end at the biggest show of the year. All the fans in attendance went home happy seeing their heroes come out victorious. Though I would have booked Flair win with his finish, he still did come out a bigger star then he came in. It solidified him as the king of the mountain.

GG: I’d seen this show in bits and pieces before, but I was glad to watch it all and discuss it with John. I think the thing that stands out to me is how hard it is to put together such a big show. JCP tried to do some nice things by cutting back to the locker room, having several live interviews with fans, and treating it like a major sporting event. It made the show feel important. Also, the show was very serious, which made everything seem so much more important. There were no shenanigans and all the interviews were based on winning matches. Like John said, it felt like a true culmination to all the major feuds.

John and I will review Starrcade ’84 in our next, “He’s The Booker, I’m The Blogger” column. I can’t wait to see Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

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