By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Assassins def. Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw
What stood out to me more than anything else while watching this match was how far tag team wrestling has fallen in the last three decades. It wasn't a phenomenal match by any means, but it was short, sweet and simple; a basic tag team match that the fans in attendance cared about. The Assassins played the heel role well and their unhanded tactics to pick up the victory were well done as the crowd booed them heavily for it (not because it was a cheap finish but rather because they're great at being heels; what a concept!). I wasn't familiar with any of these individuals before this bout, but I still enjoyed it as an opener.
Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin def. Scott McGhee and Johnny Weaver
While it wasn't as quick paced as the previous tag team match, it was still solid and more methodical and calculating. Some may not be fans of that style of wrestling, but if you are, this was the match for you. The heels (Sullivan and Lewin), similar to The Assassins, were great in the heel role, and even afterward when they decimated their opponents and busted them open which definitely added to it. My complaint would be that it felt like the finish came out of nowhere without any real build-up.
Abdullah the Butcher def. Carlos Calon
How crazy is it that both of these men are WWE Hall of Famers? They've both had Hall of Fame-worthy careers, but in WWE? That's another discussion for another day, so I digress. As for the match itself, the commentators mentioning that this match was banned in Puerto Rico and they took it to the United States to settle their differences was a great touch. It captured the big fight feel of a ruthless rivalry, and the interference protected Calon, but why was it over in only four minutes? It definitely could have gone longer than it did.
Bob Orton Jr. and Dick Slater def. Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel
Of the three tag team matches up to this point, I'd argue that this one was the best. It was the perfect combination of the energy the first bout displayed and the strategic wrestling .. The hot tag to the babyface team down the stretch was basic tag team wrestling, but because it was so well built, the crowd came alive for it. It was a well rounded matchup that once again saw the heels emerge victorious. The post-match attack on the babyfaces was too similar to the one from earlier, but it was an effective way of keeping the heat on the heels.
Charlie Brown def. Great Kabuki in a Mask vs. Title Match to Win the NWA Television Championship
There was actually a wrestler named Charlie Brown? That's pretty damn cool. Anyway, he was absolutely beloved by the crowd, and although the match was dragged down by too many submission holds in the first half of the match, I was glad that were given an ample amount of time given what was at stake. I questioned why so many heels went over in the first half of the show, but in retrospect, it made this moment of Brown winning the belt feel like much bigger. The crowd erupted for the title change and it made for a great moment.
Roddy Piper def. Greg Valentine in a Dog Collar Match
Piper and Valentine are legendary talents on their own, but together, they make for awesome rivals. They definitely brought their feud to the next level in this match, and although the "Dog Collar" stipulation seemed silly at the start, they made the most of it and felt fitting by the end after they used it to brutalize each other. It wasn't rushed at all and Valentine's post-match attack kept the feud alive.
Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood def. The Brisco Brothers to Win the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Angelo Mosca as Special Guest Referee)
It was very cool to see Steamboat early on in his career before he went on to make it big, and being exposed to the other three talent (although I was already vaguely familiar with The Brisco Brothers) was a treat as well. Much like the previous tag team matches, the action was enjoyable, they were given good time and the title change was well received by the live crowd. Plus, it was a refreshing change of pace for the babyface the pick up the win and fend off the heels afterward instead of taking a beating.
Ric Flair def. Harley Race in a Steel Cage Match to Win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (Gene Kiniski as the Special Guest Referee)
Man, talk about an amazing build-up! I know this was par for the course three decades ago, but I am a huge fan of how they spent the entire evening getting comments from not only Flair and Race but their allies as well. It added a lot to the matchup as well as Flair's quest for the gold. Needless to say, Flair and Race worked a very well-wrestled contest that felt fitting inside the cage. I would have rather seen them go a bit longer and the post-match celebration be cut short by a few minutes, but that was the only minor gripe I had with the bout as everything else about it felt special.
If you aren't a fan of old school wrestling and only enjoy the new stuff, then this show isn't for you, but for those hoping to learn more about the history of the sport (like myself), this is a good first show to start with. The three title changes made the event newsworthy and Flair's big win at the end made it memorable. Although it's a near three hour show, the time flies as each of the matches were decent to very good and they all had their own identity. If this was any indication, I anticipate watching more WCW pay-per-views going forward.
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