Ring Rust Radio's long-running fantasy draft series is back again, and this time the RRR panelists focused on the Pre-WrestleMania Era from 1980 through 1984.
Although it may be difficult for some current fans to fathom professional wrestling without WrestleMania, the business had plenty of success when territories ruled the roost, but popularity certainly started to increase in the early-to-mid 1980s with 'Mania on the horizon.
The particular draft lasted 25 rounds and was serpentine in nature. Only wrestlers who competed from 1980 through 1984 were available to be selected, and the RRR panelists have now put together the best possible fantasy cards with the rosters they drafted.
As a reader, your job is to vote on who put together the best overall card. When voting, remember that these cards would have taken place between 1980 and 1984, so nothing that the wrestlers accomplished after that time period in real life should be taken into consideration.
Don't forget to cast your vote and tune in to Ring Rust Radio on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET to find out who came out on top.
Brandon Galvin—World Class Championship Wrestling
|Announcers||Jesse Ventura||Gorilla Monsoon|
|Championship on the Line||Stipulation||Match||Winner|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Ric Flair vs. 'Superstar' Billy Graham (c)||Ric Flair|
|Television Championship||Ladder||Dynamite Kid vs. Kerry Von Erich w/ Fritz Von Erich||Kerry Von Erich|
|Brass Knuckles Championship||Cage||Jimmy Snuka vs. The Iron Sheik (c) w/ Freddie Blassie||The Iron Sheik|
|World Six-Man Tag Team Championship||Basic Six-Man Tag||Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas & Ernie Ladd vs. Ted DiBiase, Peter Maivia & Dory Funk Jr.||Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas & Ernie Ladd|
|World Tag Team Championship||Basic Tag Team||Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole Anderson & Gene Anderson) vs. Brisco Brothers (Jerry & Jack) (c)||Minnesota Wrecking Crew|
|Basic Singles||Tully Blanchard w/ J.J. Dillon vs. Magnum TA||Magnum TA|
|Basic Tag Team||The Blackjacks (Mulligan & Lanza) vs. The Strongbows (Chief Jay Strongbow & Jules Strongbow)||The Strongbows|
|Basic Singles||Pat Patterson vs. Eddie Gilbert w/ Jimmy Hart||Pat Patterson|
Pat Patterson vs. Eddie Gilbert with Jimmy Hart
For weeks, Pat Patterson had been attempting to sway Jimmy Hart to his side. Still, Jimmy Hart stuck with Eddie Gilbert, whom he had been managing for months, due to Gilbert's winning streak heading in to the major event. As their match progressed, Patterson began to take the advantage and when Gilbert showed signs of weakness, Hart turned on Gilbert by striking him with his megaphone. Patterson would win the match and celebrate with Hart over Gilbert.
The Blackjacks (Mulligan & Lanza) vs. The Strongbows (Chief Jay Strongbow & Jules Strongbow)
Both teams had been exchanging wins and losses within the WCCW tag team division. In order to move up the ranks and earn a future WCCW Tag Team Championship shot, both teams were pitted against each other. Ultimately, it was the Strongbows who won the match after a miscommunication by the Blackjacks.
Tully Blanchard with J.J. Dillon vs. Magnum TA
Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA had been feuding for months heading in to Star Wars. Their bad blood was well documented, and the two would engage in brawls in the ring, backstage area and even in the parking lots. Blanchard was even able to recruit J.J. Dillon as his manager to give him an extra edge prior to their match. However, Dillon would prove to be Blanchard's downfall as he would accidentally cost Blanchard the match. Despite the loss, Blanchard and Magnum TA would continue brawling even after the match, proving to fans that the war was far from over.
World Tag Team Championship: Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole Anderson & Gene Anderson) vs. Brisco Brothers (Jerry & Jack) (c)
The top two tag teams in the company were kept at a distance prior to Star Wars. Although they would engage in singles matches and verbal assaults, all four men had yet to be physical in the ring at the same time. In order to preserve the title match, each partner was banned from ringside when they would wrestle in singles matches. Fans were ready for the rivalry to truly take form at Star Wars, where they would have the opportunity to wrestle for the championship. In a classic display of psychology tag team wrestling, the Minnesota Wrecking Crew proved they were the top tag team in the company.
World Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas & Ernie Ladd (c) vs. Ted DiBiase, Peter Maivia & Dory Funk Jr.
Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas and Ernie Ladd weren't just beating other wrestlers in the company, they were putting them on the shelf. The trio dominated their opponents and had yet to meet a three-man team that could compete with them in or out of the ring. Given the lack of competition, they turned their attention to taking out individuals. However, when they attempted to take out Dory Funk Jr., they were surprised by Peter Maivia jumping in on Funk's behalf. Johnson, Atlas and Ladd demanded Funk and Maivia find a third partner to take them on at Star Wars.
Funk and Maivia would search outside the company and call upon Ted DiBiase. Making his debut, DiBiase proved to be a major player in the company. Still, Johnson, Atlas and Ladd had unparalleled chemistry together and experience in six-man matches. They were able to take out Funk and Maivia before isolating DiBiase. Although DiBiase put up a fight to earn the respect of the fans, he ultimately fell to the dominant trio.
Brass Knuckles Championship Cage Match: Jimmy Snuka vs. The Iron Sheik (c) with Freddie Blassie
Arguably the most heated rivalry heading in to the event, Snuka and Sheik had been engaging in brawls only rivaled by Tully Blanchard and Magnum TA in the company. Freddie Blassie had a vendetta against Snuka and would continue to mastermind ambush attacks on him. Blassie and Sheik's weapon of choice was the brass knuckles. When referees and management couldn't contain the brawls, they forced Snuka and Sheik to settle their rivalry inside the 15-foot-high steel cage.
The match was a bloody brawl as both men would use the steel cage to their advantage. Snuka would attempt to dive from the top of the steel cage, but Sheik rolled out of the way. Blassie would immediately toss brass knuckles into the ring for Sheik to use repeatedly on Snuka. After a brutal display of aggression with the use of the brass knuckles, Sheik locked in his patented camel clutch. As Snuka laid unconscious in the ring, Sheik exited the ring to retain his championship.
Television Championship Ladder Match: Dynamite Kid vs. Kerry Von Erich with Fritz Von Erich
Dynamite Kid and Kerry Von Erich proved each night that they had what it takes to be arguably the best wrestler in the world. Their athleticism was only rivaled by each other. After the Television Championship was forced to be vacated, a tournament was held to determine the champion, with the final match being a ladder match.
Kid and Von Eric were known for their speed and technical abilities, but also for their high-impact and no-nonsense styles. With a ladder at their disposal to coincide with their skills, the possibilities were endless. A dream match for many, they would put on arguably the match of the night.
World Heavyweight Championship: 'Superstar' Billy Graham (c) vs. Ric Flair
"Superstar" Billy Graham defined a generation and was a thought leader in professional wrestling. He was one of the first "cool" bad guys. However, tugging at his coattails in the same vein was Ric Flair, who was quickly earning his stripes and had fans calling him the best wrestler in the world. When Graham was in the ring running down the locker room for not having the skills to test him, Flair would interrupt him and demand a title shot to prove he was the best wrestler in the world.
Flair wouldn't just match Graham promo for promo leading in to the match, but he would outshine him hold for hold in the ring. With Graham heading towards the downside of his career, Flair would continue to poke at Graham for being past his prime. Graham would give Flair a run for his money in the squared circle at Star Wars, but Flair ultimately won the match. After the match ended, Flair would grab the mic and belittle Graham while proclaiming himself to be the best wrestler the business had to offer.
Tom Kinslow—American Wrestling Association
|Championship on the Line||Stipulation||Match||Winner|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Andre the Giant (c) vs. Harley Race||Andre the Giant|
|World Heavyweight Championship No. 1 Contender||Dusty Rhodes vs. Big John Studd||Big John Studd|
|United States Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Tito Santana (c) vs. Don Muraco w/ The Grand Wizard||Tito Santana|
|World Tag Team Championship||Basic Tag Team||The Heavenly Bodies w/ Sherri Martel (c) vs. The Midnight Express vs. Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts||The Midnight Express|
|Loser Leaves Town||Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher||Carlos Colon|
|International Television Championship||Basic Singles||Rick Martel (c) vs. Nick Bockwinkel w/ Bobby Heenan||Nick Bockwinkel|
|Basic Tag Team||Barry Windham & Jerry Lawler vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Ivan Koloff||Nikolai Volkoff & Ivan Koloff|
|United States Heavyweight Championship No. 1 Contender Battle Royal||Buddy Rose vs. Dick Murdoch vs. Kevin Sullivan vs. George "The Animal" Steele vs. Greg Valentine vs. Arn Anderson||Greg Valentine|
AWA United States Heavyweight Championship No. 1 Contender Battle Royal: Buddy Rose, Dick Murdoch, Kevin Sullivan, George “The Animal” Steele, Greg Valentine, Arn Anderson
A free-for-all started the event, with everyone looking to move up the pecking order and challenge the winner of the evening’s championship match. With so many valid contenders, eliminations were far from fast and furious, with each competitor having to earn his right to stay in ring.
However, as the match wound down, it was Greg Valentine who won the day, sneaking up on George “The Animal” Steele following an elimination of the very game Arn Anderson, securing his place as the top contender for the U.S. title.
Barry Windham and Jerry Lawler vs. Nikolai Volkoff and Ivan Koloff
With tensions running high internationally, the unlikely duo of Barry Windham and Jerry Lawler teamed up to take on Nikolai Volkoff and Ivan Koloff in tag team action. The crowd was hot for the match as the antagonists drew great heat from the crowd early in the match, controlling the tempo. Eventually Windham and Lawler fought back, building momentum and pushing for the victory, only to be denied when Koloff leveled Lawler with a chair behind the referee's back, scoring the pinfall.
AWA International Television Championship Match: Rick Martel (c) vs. Nick Bockwinkel with Bobby Heenan
Familiar foes stood toe-to-toe with the TV title on the line as Rick Martel looked to defend the strap against Nick Bockwinkel. Early on, Bockwinkel controlled the action, using technical wrestling to keep Martel wrapped up. However, Martel countered, working his way back into the match, sending Bockwinkel reeling.
Despite the counter from Martel, it was Bobby Heenan who saved the day, distracting Martel just enough for Bockwinkel to execute a small package and score the pinfall with the help of the tights.
Loser Leaves Town Match: Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher
Two heated rivals met in a match with the biggest stakes possible. With everything in their past, the two competitors put everything on the line, knowing that the promotion was only big enough for one man to remain standing when it was all said and done. It was a violent, brutal affair with both men bleeding at different points in the bout. In the end, Colon’s figure-four leglock won the day, forcing the Butcher to tap out of the match and the promotion.
AWA World Tag Team Championship Match: The Heavenly Bodies with Sherri Martel (c) vs. The Midnight Express vs. Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts
It was a wild tag team contest that got the fans going once again as the Heavenly Bodies had to fend off two other teams if they wanted to keep their championships. With the crowd heavily behind the Midnight Express, they fed off the energy, getting off to a hot start, sending both teams reeling.
This forced the other two contenders to align temporarily, looking to slow the Express down and regain some semblance of control. However, the unsteady alliance backfired, allowing the Express to take the advantage and pick up the victory and the championships.
AWA United States Heavyweight Championship Match: Tito Santana (c) vs. Don Muraco with The Grand Wizard
The tension ran high as two top competitors met with the United States title on the line. Muraco swore to get revenge for his previous defeats at the hand of Santana and humiliate him by taking the championship with him.
However, it was not to be as Santana fed off of the wild crowd, using their energy to dispatch his long-time foe once and for all, setting up a match with Greg Valentine for the strap at the next event.
AWA Heavyweight Championship No. 1 Contender Match: Dusty Rhodes vs. Big John Studd
Two icons clashed with the right to challenge for the richest prize in the game on the line as Dusty Rhodes took on Big John Studd. It certainly wasn’t a graceful affair. The two men’s meeting devolved into a glorified back alley brawl as both competitors clawed and scrapped to pursue their dream of becoming champion.
In the end, Big John Studd’s sheer power and strength won the day, taking down Rhodes with a heart punch, which allowed him to score the pinfall.
AWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Andre the Giant (c) vs. Harley Race
Two titans of the sport clashed in the main event, with the invincible and immortal Andre the Giant defending his championship against Harley Race. Race started the match at a severe disadvantage, with Andre’s sheer size forcing the challenger away from some of his staple maneuvers. With some of his move set unavailable, Race focused on the midsection and the legs of the giant, using his knees to weaken the champion’s base.
Despite the spirited challenge, it wasn’t long before Andre’s power took its toll, sapping Race’s strength with a bear hug, weakening him to the point of collapse, before Andre landed a big splash, winning the match. Following the bell, Big John Studd came out and stood toe-to-toe with the champion, setting up their match.
Mike Chiari—Jim Crockett Promotions
|Championship on the Line||Stipulation||Match||Winner|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Hulk Hogan vs. Bob Backlund (c) w/ Arnold Skaaland||Hulk Hogan|
|United States Heavyweight Championship||No Holds Barred||"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Terry Funk (c)||"Rowdy" Roddy Piper|
|Television Championship||Basic Singles||Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (c) vs. Curt Hennig||Curt Hennig|
|Tag Team Championship||Basic Tag Team||Fabulous Freebirds (Michael "P.S." Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) (c) vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton)||Rock 'n' Roll Express|
|Mask vs. Mask||Tiger Mask vs. Mil Mascaras||Mil Mascaras|
|Basic Singles||Antonio Inoki vs. Giant Baba||Antonio Inoki|
|Indian Strap||Sgt. Slaughter vs. Wahoo McDaniel||Sgt. Slaughter|
|World Six-Man Tag Team Championship||Basic Six-Man Tag Team||The Von Erichs (Kevin, David & Mike Von Erich) (c) vs. Mr. Fuji, Mr. Saito & Genichiro Tenryu||The Von Erichs|
|Retirement Match||Verne Gagne vs. Greg Gagne||Greg Gagne|
|Basic Singles||Stan Hansen vs. The Great Kabuki||Stan Hansen|
Stan Hansen vs. The Great Kabuki
The opening match of Starrcade featured two of the biggest stars in the history of Japanese wrestling. Although Stan Hansen was American-born, he made a massive impact overseas as well as in the United States. The Great Kabuki transcended international borders as well, which made this a true worldwide affair.
The card as a whole had a decidedly Japanese flavor due to a talent exchange with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the fans were treated to an entertaining affair to kick things off.
Hansen and Kabuki’s styles meshed well, with Hansen as the big powerhouse and Kabuki as the technical marvel. Kabuki attempted to blind Hansen with his signature mist in the latter stages of the match, but Hansen ducked it and hit an unsuspecting Kabuki with his signature lariat to score the pinfall victory in an exciting opener.
Retirement Match: Verne Gagne vs. Greg Gagne
Greg Gagne always lived in the shadow of his more famous father, Verne, and he was never able to live up to the massive expectations placed on his shoulders. In the weeks leading up to Starrcade, the burden became too great for Greg and he inevitably snapped.
Mired in a long losing streak, Greg couldn’t help but hear the whispers regarding his inability to reach his father’s level. In an attempt to prove once and for all that he was better than his old man, Greg challenged Verne to a retirement match.
Verne was reluctant to accept since he didn’t want to fight his son, but Greg gave him no choice after repeated attacks. The experienced Verne controlled much of the bout, but Greg turned to dirty tactics.
After the ref took a bump, Greg pulled brass knuckles from his tights and leveled his father. Greg then picked up the victory once the referee was revived and sent his father to the retirement home without remorse.
NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Match: The Von Erichs (Kevin Von Erich, David Von Erich & Mike Von Erich) (c) vs. Mr. Fuji, Mr. Saito and Genichiro Tenryu
The Von Erich brothers faced plenty of huge challenges throughout their wrestling careers, but perhaps none can measure up to what they came up against at Starrcade. Kevin, David and Mike Von Erich were considered the preeminent six-man tag team in professional wrestling, and that was buoyed by their status as NWA World Six-Man Tag Team champions.
The dastardly tag team of Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito threatened the Von Erichs for weeks and promised that they would find a partner to help them dethrone the trio of brothers. Fuji and Saito ultimately found a surprising mercenary to join their cause in the form of Genichiro Tenryu.
Tenryu is a Japanese legend who wrestled almost exclusively as a face, but Fuji and Saito proved to have enough influence to turn him against the Von Erichs.
The striking skills and ruthlessness of the Japanese triumvirate proved to be a major test for the Von Erich brothers, but cohesion ultimately ruled the day. Fuji, Saito and Tenryu find it difficult to stay on the same page, while the Von Erichs worked like a well-oiled machine.
When the match broke down into chaos down the stretch, all three Von Erich brothers paired up with an opponent and locked in the claw in stereo. Fuji, Saito and Tenryu had no choice but to submit as the siblings retained their titles in spectacular fashion.
Indian Strap Match: Sgt. Slaughter vs. Wahoo McDaniel
The rivalry between Sgt. Slaughter and Wahoo McDaniel is unquestionably one of the most personal feuds on the entire Starrcade card, so a brutal bout like an Indian Strap match is the only way to solve it.
Wahoo McDaniel was once a major fan favorite, but he grew disenchanted with the United States due to a perceived mistreatment of Native Americans. One man who simply wouldn’t allow McDaniel’s inflammatory words to go unpunished was American hero Sgt. Slaughter.
Slaughter desperately wanted to get McDaniel in the ring, but Wahoo refused unless Slaughter agreed to an Indian Strap match. Many viewed that as a death wish for Slaughter since it was McDaniel’s signature match, but Sarge unsurprisingly agreed to the extreme stipulation.
Wahoo’s experience in Indian Strap matches was blatantly obvious in the early stages as he had his way with the much bigger Slaughter. McDaniel came close to winning on numerous occasions, but Slaughter’s never-say-die attitude kept him in it.
Slaughter ultimately caught Wahoo in a precarious position as he locked in the Cobra Clutch and pulled his adversary to all four corners in order to win the hard-fought grudge match.
Antonio Inoki vs. Giant Baba
It is difficult to argue with the notion that Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba are the two biggest stars in the history of Japanese wrestling. Despite the fact that they crossed paths on multiple occasions, they never went head-to-head in a match due to their status as fan favorites.
The dynamic between Inoki and Giant Baba isn’t unlike the one between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. While Baba was perhaps a bigger attraction, Inoki gained more acclaim and was afforded more big-match opportunities.
This inevitably led to some jealously from Baba’s perspective, which led to him challenging Inoki to a once-in-a-lifetime match at Starrcade.
Since wrestling cards in this particular era generally featured a main event in the middle of the show and one to close the show, this massive contest was a great fit at this juncture. Baba’s size advantage played a big role in the match as Inoki found it difficult to execute the signature offense that made him one of the all-time greats.
This prompted Inoki to get innovative as he used the middle rope as a springboard and hit Baba with a thunderous enziguri to the back of the head. That was enough to incapacitate the giant long enough for a three count, but he reached his feet soon after.
A calm came over the arena as fans expected Giant Baba to potentially teach Inoki a lesson with a post-match attack, but the two legends had so much respect for each other that they bowed in the middle of the ring and celebrated what was a memorable clash.
Mask vs. Mask Match: Tiger Mask vs. Mil Mascaras
Tiger Mask and Mil Mascaras are unquestionably two of the greatest masked wrestlers and high flyers to ever step into the squared circle. Due to their status as fan favorites for the bulk of their careers, however, they never really had the opportunity to mix it up.
Both Tiger Mask and Mil Mascaras were used to being “the guy,” so it is only natural that some tension started to build between them in Jim Crockett Promotions. With the two masked marvels looking to prove that one was the best mysterious star in the territory, they challenged each other to a match with the highest of stakes.
Tiger Mask and Mil Mascaras went to great lengths to conceal their identities, but since there is only room for one masked star in JCP, they decided to put their masks and their livelihood on the line.
In what proved to be the best high-flying encounter of the night, Tiger Mask and Mil Mascaras traded planchas, moonsaults and countless other high-risk maneuvers.
Tiger Mask made a critical mistake late, though, as Mil Mascaras rolled through a crossbody and caught Tiger Mask in a pinning combination that he couldn’t escape. Tiger Mask was left with no choice but to unmask, but he covered his face and retreated to the backstage area in order to keep the mystery alive.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match: Fabulous Freebirds (Michael "P.S." Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) (c) vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton)
Perhaps no tag team was more hated during this era than the Fabulous Freebirds, but there is no denying the fact that Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Jimmy Garvin were a smart and savvy combination. After running roughshod over the JCP tag team division, the Freebirds finally got a true challenge in the form of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express at Starrcade.
Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton formed arguably the best high-flying team in the history of professional wrestling, and the fans couldn’t help but love them. That made them the perfect duo to take on the despised Freebirds.
Although Hayes and Garvin were able to control much of the match by bending the rules and isolating Gibson in their corner, they ultimately had trouble with the high-energy style that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express brought to the table.
After incapacitating Hayes with a double back elbow, the Express hit Garvin with a double missile dropkick off the top rope to pick up the victory and end the long-running title reign of the Freebirds.
NWA Television Championship Match: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (c) vs. Curt Hennig
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Curt Hennig are known for putting on some of the greatest matches of all time, but the two Hall of Fame competitors amazingly never crossed paths in the ring. It is hard to fathom since their wrestling styles and personalities would have clashed in a very entertaining way.
Starrcade made the dream a reality, though, as Steamboat defended the NWA Television Championship against Hennig in the best pure wrestling match on the card. The high-flying ability of Steamboat and pure athleticism of Hennig made this a contest that fans wouldn’t soon forget.
Neither man was able to gain the upper hand throughout the match since they always seemingly had an answer, but Steamboat made the mistake of underestimating the lengths that Hennig would go to in order to become champion.
After exposing the steel turnbuckle in the corner, Hennig evaded a splash attempt, which rocked Steamboat and allowed Hennig to roll him up while grabbing the tights to steal the TV title.
NWA United States Heavyweight Championship No Holds Barred Match: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Terry Funk (c)
Few antagonists have had more success in professional wrestling than “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, but what allowed him to thrive to the point that he did was his ability to back up his mouth. In this match for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship, Piper faced the biggest test of his career as he took on incumbent champion Terry Funk.
Funk was one of the toughest, no-nonsense wrestlers ever, and he didn’t take kindly to Piper’s repeated verbal barbs. Funk challenged Piper to put his money where his mouth is, and Piper agreed to do battle with Funk in a no holds barred match.
Few wrestlers are in their element more so than Funk in a match without rules, so the odds certainly seemed to be stacked against Piper. With that said, Piper doesn’t feel out of place in a hardcore environment since his brawling style is actually tailored to it.
Piper absorbed all the punishment that Funk could possibly throw at him in the form of chair shots, piledrivers on the cement floor and essentially anything you could think of.
With Funk unable to put Piper away, he went for the coup de grace by attempting to burn Piper with his branding iron. Piper resorted to a low blow, however, and turned the tables by branding Funk’s arm and then locking him in the sleeper hold for the win.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Bob Backlund (c) with Arnold Skaaland
As one of the longest-reigning world champions to ever grace the business, Bob Backlund gained quite a fan following. Times were starting to change at the tail end of the Pre-WrestleMania Era, though, and fans were craving something fresh and different at the top of the card.
Enter newcomer Hulk Hogan who took Jim Crockett Promotions by storm and electrified the audience. Hogan and Backlund were initially allies who even teamed up on occasion against some of the promotion’s top heels, but Backlund became disillusioned with the perceived shift in fan support toward Hogan.
Backlund always had somewhat of a sinister and insane side even as an All-American babyface, but it reached new levels when Backlund turned on Hogan in an attempt to prove that he was still the face of JCP. Backlund underwent this change much to the chagrin of do-gooder manager Arnold Skaaland.
Hogan was left with no choice but to seek revenge against Backlund as he challenged him for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at Starrcade. Despite Backlund’s long title reign, Hogan entered the match as the favorite due to his immense size and physique.
In order to prove to Hogan that he was no joke, Backlund grabbed Skaaland prior to the match and forced his own manager to pass out with the Crossface Chicken Wing.
This created the perception that Hogan could be in for a bigger fight than expected. Backlund used his elite technical acumen and submission ability to ground Hogan in the early portion of the match, and the Hulkamaniacs began to worry about whether or not their hero had what it took to end Backlund’s reign of terror.
Backlund eventually locked in the Crossface Chicken Wing and Hogan started to fade, but his famous second wind kicked in as he broke free and begun to Hulk up. A big boot and atomic leg drop later, and Hogan was finally able to dethrone Backlund as he posed for the crowd and established himself as the new top star in the business to close the show.
Donald Wood—World Wrestling Federation
|Championship on the Line||Stipulation||Match||Winner|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Bruno Sammartino (c) vs. Pedro Morales||Bruno Sammartino|
|Intercontinental Championship||Basic Singles||Randy Savage (c) vs. Bret Hart||Bret Hart|
|Tag Team Championship||Basic Tag Team||The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika) w/ Cpt. Lou Albano (c) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) w/ Paul Ellering||The Road Warriors|
|Basic Singles||Jake Roberts vs. Bruiser Brody||Jake Roberts|
|Junior Heavyweight Championship||Basic Singles||Rick Rude w/ Percy Pringle III (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith||Rick Rude|
|Dog Collar||Paul Orndorff vs. Junk Yard Dog||Paul Orndorff|
|Tag Team Championship Qualifier||The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) w/ Paul Ellering vs. The Vachons (Mad Dog & Butcher)||The Road Warriors|
|Steel Cage||The Sheik vs. Steve Williams||Steve Williams|
|World Heavyweight Championship No. 1 Contender Battle Royal||Dick The Bruiser vs. Larry Zbyszko vs. One Man Gang w/ Oliver Humperdink vs. Jim Neidhart vs. Adrian Adonis vs. Jim Duggan vs. King Kong Bundy vs. Bob Orton||King Kong Bundy|
No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal: Dick The Bruiser, Larry Zbyszko, One Man Gang with Oliver Humperdink, Jim Neidhart, Adrian Adonis, Jim Duggan, King Kong Bundy and Bob Orton
In the opening match of the night, the fans would be treated to an over-the-top-rope Battle Royal to crown the new No. 1 contender for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. With an eclectic mix of talents, the match would be the perfect way to start the show. Dick The Bruiser would be eliminated first, followed by Bob Orton, Larry Zbyszko, Jim Duggan, Jim Neidhart and Adrian Adonis, in that order. With just One Man Gang and King Kong Bundy the last two men in the ring, the giants exchanged blows before King Kong Bundy finally got the hard-fought victory.
Steel Cage Match: The Sheik vs. Steve Williams
After the ring was cleared from the Battle Royal, the WWF lowered the steel cage onto the squared circle for the next match. In what was undoubtedly the bloodiest of all the bouts on this card, The Original Sheik squared off against Dr. Death Steve Williams. This would not be a wrestling match, but instead a personal battle that had been brewing all year. After letting a heel like King Kong Bundy win in the opening match, Williams got the victory over Sheik via a clean pinfall.
WWF Tag Team Championship Qualifier: The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) with Paul Ellering vs. The Vachons (Mad Dog and Butcher)
The Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika, along with their manager Captain Lou Albano, were the tag team champions, and the WWF held a qualifying match between The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) and The Vachons (Mad Dog and Butcher). The winner of this match advanced to fight The Wild Samoans for the titles later in the night. While The Vachons were a great duo who pushed The Road Warriors to their limit, Animal and Hawk were just too good and would get the clean victory. The Road Warriors now faced The Wild Samoans for the WWF Tag Team Championships.
Dog Collar Match: Paul Orndorff vs. Junk Yard Dog
In one of the most brutal bouts imaginable—just ask Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine—Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff squared off against Junk Yard Dog in a Dog Collar Match. The rivalry between these two men would date back years, and after Orndorff continued to evade JYD, the dog collar stipulation would be instituted. After a 15-minute match featuring plenty of blood and brutality, Orndorff choked Junk Yard Dog with the chain and rendered him unable to continue. Orndorff would win, but the feud would be far from over.
WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Rick Rude with Percy Pringle III (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith
In one of the most anticipated matches of the night, defending WWF junior heavyweight champion Rick Rude with manager Percy Pringle III defended his title against Davey Boy Smith. Rude and Smith would put on a technical showcase, adding in plenty of power moves and showmanship to keep the fans enthralled. Using a little help from Pringle on the outside, Rude would get the roll-up victory to successfully defend the title and keep the feud alive.
Jake Roberts vs. Bruiser Brody
There is no steel cage. There is no stipulation. When Jake Roberts squared off against Bruiser Brody for the first time in history, the match was all about in-ring psychology. These are two of the best storytellers in the history of the business, and the resulting match would be an instant classic. With Roberts playing the role of the anti-hero face and Brody portraying the uncontrollable heel, the two men would put on a war in the ring unlike anything seen up to this point. While this match wouldn’t have the flash or glamour of the rest of the card, this would be one of the best matches in history.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) with Captain Lou Albano (c) vs. The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) with Paul Ellering
After defeating The Vachons (Mad Dog and Butcher) in a championship qualifier, The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) with their manager Paul Ellering would advance to the WWF Tag Team Championship match against defending champions The Wild Samoans, with their manager Captain Lou Albano. Despite constant interference from Albano, Ellering would finally get his hands on the opposing manager and they would do battle outside the ring. With the fight now even, The Road Warriors would gain the upper hand and win the titles to a deafening ovation. What a rush!
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match: Randy Savage (c) vs. Bret Hart
While many traditional wrestling fans were focusing on the main event between Sammartino and Morales, the diehard enthusiasts were salivating over the WWF Intercontinental Championship match between defending champion Randy Savage and No. 1 contender Bret Hart. Savage would be playing the role of despicable heel, keeping the IC title by any means necessary. One of the new wrestlers that would step up to the plate as a challenger was newcomer Bret Hart. Savage would spend weeks running down Hart’s family name, but would evade the challenger whenever possible. After the best technical match of the night, Savage would go for his signature top-rope elbow drop, but Hart rolled away and flipped Savage into the sharpshooter. Hart won by submission as Savage prepared to move into the WWF heavyweight title scene.
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match: Bruno Sammartino (c) vs. Pedro Morales
Who put together the best Pre-WrestleMania Era fantasy card?
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