Straight Shoot Retro: Starrcade 1986

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The World’s Smartest Rasslin Talk Show’s curated walk through the last 30 years of professional wrestling continues onward as we discuss Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers this Wednesday, May 1 at 10pmET/7pmPT.

All you need to do to join in the fun is watch the pay-per-view beforehand on the WWE Network, then come ready to watch my co-host Jeff Schiller and I give you all the historical context, jokes and in-depth discussion you can handle. Plus, we’ll crown THE GREATEST WRESTLER OF ALL TIME…OF THE WEEK! So go ahead and RSVP and start submitting your questions!

Ways to watch/listen are below. Scroll down for more information on Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers.

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In the wake of the three-venue WrestleMania 2 (one-upping Starrcade 1985‘s measly two venues) and the appropriately, if uninventively titled Big Event (bazillion-upping the attendance record of any other event ever), Jim Crocket Promotions and the National Wrestling Alliance needed to strike back. They aimed to do exactly that with Starrcade 1986: The Skywalkers.

While the event, like the year’s previous, took place in only two venues (the Greensboro Coliseum and the Omni in Atlanta), it boasted a pretty righteous subtitle. But why was the event called “The Skywalkers,” you ask? Well, for two reasons:

  1. Return of the Jedi had just been released three years earlier
  2. An infamous “Skywalkers Match” that saw the Road Warriors take on the Midnight Express in one of the absolute worst types of gimmick matches, a Scaffold Match

The fact that JCP and the NWA were glomming onto Star Wars with the name of this event is pretty telling, as it could be interpreted as their attempt to make the type of pop culture inroads that Vince McMahon and the WWF were doing up in New York. But what’s really telling is that while WWF was partnering with the growing juggernaut of MTV and legit megastars like Mr. T, the NWA was naming its marquee event after a character in a movie that came out three years earlier. It’d be like if later this year TNA held Bound for Glory: *Insert Harry Potter reference* (sorry, I never saw those flicks).

Outside of the perhaps ill-advised Skywalkers Match itself, however, there’s definitely some stuff to get excited about on this card. Most notably is a NWA World Heavyweight Title Match between Ric Flair and…Nikita Koloff.

What makes the main event so interesting is that Flair was originally meant to defend the title against Magnum TA, dropping the belt to the former GREATEST WRESTLER OF ALL TIME…OF THE WEEK and minting him as a top-level talent, one that might even be capable of going head-to-head with Hulk Hogan in terms of popularity.

Unfortunately, a month before TA was meant to become NWA Champion, he was involved in a car crash that left him temporarily paralyzed and unable to compete. In a bit of extremely quick and extremely savvy thinking, booker Dusty Rhodes rearranged the entire promotion, turning Nikita Koloff face and inserting him into the World Title picture.

And how did Dusty turn Koloff face so quickly? By bringing him into the white-hot storyline that saw Rhodes squaring off against the newly formed Four Horsemen, consisting of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson and manager JJ Dillon. By this point, the Four Horsemen were starting to run roughshod over the promotion, with Blanchard taking on Rhodes in a First Blood Match, the Andersons taking on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express in a Steel Cage Match and Jimmy Valiant facing Paul Jones in a Hair vs. Hair Match with Manny Fernandez locked in a cage.

No, Valiant vs. Jones didn’t have anything to do with the Four Horsemen, but it’s a Hair vs. Hair Match with Manny Fernandez locked in a cage for crying out loud.

Matches from the card (minus spoilers, natch) are listed below:

  • Don & Rocky Kernodle vs. Tim Horner & Nelson Royal
  • Jimmy Garvin vs. Brad Armstrong
  • Shaska Whatley & The Barbarian vs. Hector Guerrero & Baron Von Raschke
  • NWA United States Tag Team Champions Krusher Khruschev & Ivan Koloff vs. Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel
  • Wahoo McDaniel vs. Rick Rude in an Indian Strap Match
  • NWA Central States Heavyweight Champion Sam Houston vs. Bill Dundee
  • Jimmy Valiant vs. Paul Jones in a Hair vs. Hair Match with Manny Fernandez locked in a cage
  • Ron Garvin vs. Big Bubba Rogers in a Street Fight
  • NWA World Television Champion Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard in a First Blood Match
  • The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express in a Skywalkers Match
  • NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Ole & Arn Anderson in a Steel Cage Match
  • NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs. NWA United States Champion Nikita Koloff

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