Begin Transmission: Oct. 30 2013
Hey Satellite Subscribers, in response to the numbers on our transmissions, the number one Archived post was for one of my older Satellite posts called Forever Kayfabe, it was a history of one of my favorite wrestling publications from the 1980s Prowrestling Illustrated! In response to that this is for those who visit this blog regularly and who are die-hard wrestling fans…so strap in Heroes. Set coordinates for the mid 80s at approximately 2:30 am on a Sunday Morning..Welcome to the N.W.A.
Sitting on my bed late on a Saturday Night in the 80s waiting for Saturday Nights Main Event was a big deal for me, It was NOT to be missed at any cost. It was to the point I missed Scout camp trips just so I could watch late night weekend wrestling much to the dismay of Drill Sergeant Scout Leader Brian Durant. “Are you telling me you stayed home to watch wrestling!!” Yes sir I did! I literally did not receive the coveted Chief Scout award due to the fact I flat-out did not attend most outings all due 100% in part with WWF! Every weekend however WWF’s Saturday Nights main event did not air it was a Monthly to bi monthly event on NBC that I was a religious watcher of! On one occasion however I stayed up a little later and boy was I glad I did. At approximately 2:30 am a show flashed across my screen that changed my view on wrestling as I knew it! It was N.W.A. wrestling! A 1 Hour syndicated show that was new to my cable affiliate. It was something called the National Wrestling Alliance (N.W.A.) and it was amazing!
I had seen snippets of N.W.A. wrestling before from wrestling video tapes at my local video stores or through black market video tapes. I had seen some of the Wrestlers before such as Ric Flair, The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes on the covers of magazines and on a 2 minute clip from the aforementioned videos. N.W.A. was now on my TV screen and I was stunned at what I saw!
Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair was one of my favorite feuds.
It was during the mid to late 80s where I saw many of the episodes. I remember vividly seeing the Ron Garvin vs. Ric Flair feud. Garvin had upset Flair in a tag match to set up his World Title match and Garvin had won! It was in the middle of the Horseman angle and it was so different to see this gritty 4 man group running roughshod over the company. WWF sure didn’t look like this! It was chaos every time these men came on the show and I hated them! They were braggers, they held all the gold and seemingly invincible. They were a proverbial pack of dogs and they attacked anyone at any time. Usually Ric Flairs title defence’s ended with Horseman interference at the time and he was unbeatable. It would be heroes like Dusty Rhodes who would have enough. He ad beaten Flair on several occasions but more times than not he was left in a heap on the ground at the hands of J.J. Dillons men. Vivid memories of Dusty losing his mind..The suspension..Then The debut of the Mysterious Midnight Rider were engrained into my head! This was amazing material and had a much harder edge than the cartoon WWF.
The Midnight Rider was a character that captured this fans imagination! He looked a lot like Dusty though! Hmmmm..
With the harder edge can vicious teams like the Road warriors. There was an angle I fondly remember as the L.O.D. turned cold heel on Dusty Rhodes and attempted to mutilate him with a large sharp spike from their shoulder pads they customarily wore to the ring. It was a brutal and bloody attack and unlike anything I had seen on my wrestling shows before. I was hooked. The Road Warriors were massive, intense and sold for no one!
The NWA were promo professionals. They knew how to sell a match!
There were bright spots however, it was not all doom and gloom. Kerry Von Erich a wrestler from a company know as World Class Championship Wrestling (W.C.C.W.) was able to defeat Ric Flair on his home turf of Texas to a massive crowd and ovation for belt in a major upset. The reign was short lived it was amazing to watch. Flair of course would quickly sweep the rug out from in under Von Erich but it showed the world Flair was vulnerable. I had only seen clips of this match on N.W.A. wrestling but it was just one of those moments you never forget! I hated that Flair guy and could not stand the Horsemen..I was playing right into booker’s hands!
I was disappointed to see Kerry lose that belt so quickly!
Interviews as well were an extremely different. The sing along gaga of the WWF was met with dead serious Arn Anderson or Ric Flair promos. Heart felt son of a plumber promos by the American Dream, or vile promos from the Road warriors. Dusty in Particular had a believable cadence about him and he could sell any match. His promos leading up to things like War Games, and The Bunkhouse Stampede matches were just incredible. N.W.A. seemingly had a more legit approach to wrestling and even the magazines put them over. PWI played up the N.W.A. and their wrestlers and I read anything I could get my hands on!
The Dusty Rhodes Hard Times promo was legendary!
Tag Teams were a big deal in the 80s. I have two very vivid memories of N.W.A. tag team wrestling both involve the Horsemen which is very telling! I remember when Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson defeated Lex Luger and Barry Windham to win the N.W.A. tag straps.It was the heel turn that lead to Barry joining a new 4 Horsemen and it was done in a far different manner than anything I was used to on WWF. Heel turns had more of an impact at 3am too I guess.The Horsemen were the Elite in the N.W.A.and that greatly influence the prestige of the title belts as well. The Horsemen were a pack of wolves who did anything to retain the gold and as a result were tough to beat. When they lost the straps it was a big deal.
I think I am still mad at Barry for that Heel turn! Super Well done! Windham was an Elite Horsemen in NWAs dark period.!
Which leads to my second memory of great N.W.A. tag team wrestling. The Rock and Roll ExpressI had seen numerous times in my issues of PWI but in my narrow WWF mind I had placed them as a Midnight Rockers knockoff which of course was quite the opposite. PWI often talked up the R&Rs as the best tag team in wrestling of which I would chuckle loudly that is until I watched a Horsemen and Rock and Rolls match and I was won over.The angle involved Ricky Morton of The Express getting beaten up prior to a title match with the Horsemen and injuring his knee. His partner Robert Gibson a portly troll like Marty Jannetty character was now going it alone against Tully and Arn. The Horsemen devoured Gibson up until an injured Morton made the save only to finally succumb to injury. That was true emotion and skill unlike anything in a WWF ring. Morton’s selling, Arn’s perfect offense including the best snapping spine buster in the business!
As silly as the Rock and Roll gimmick was Ricky and Robert are still going with it to this very day!
Flair was the Ultimate champion! Surrounded by his Elite group of thugs Flair was the best wrestler in the world and PWI preached it over and over! It always frustrated me when PWI would rank Flair ahead of Hogan. I was a WWF fan and didn’t know any better. I thought Hogan was THE champ so he was number one. Then I saw N.W.A. on TV one evening and fully understood the Flair thing. This brash blond-haired loud mouth was unbelievable in the ring. He sold like no one in the WWF and held the World Title like it was the center of the universe. The title mattered. The title defenses mattered. There was always the moment of “This guy will beat Flair tonight” that always made his matches really exciting! Flair was the crown jewel of the N.W.A.and always featured prominently on their covers and inside the pages!
If there`s any wrestler better than Ric Flair in his prime then I dont know who that is!
Upcoming stars always seemed more “Something” in N.W.A.. Their booking during the mid 80s in particular challenged me as a fan and conditioned me to expect more from my wrestling! PWI was my source to find out what was going on with upcoming stars that I may have missed on TV! Stars like Magnum T.A. I discovered in the pages of the magazine and read all about his exploits and favorite feuds. PWI was my encyclopedia of the NWA. I was no longer confined to my Saturday morning WWF SuperStars Of Wrestling..I was now watching late night NWA wrestling with new faces all over the place! Magnum match with Kamala at a PPV was my first look at this star and I thought he was amazing! Combine that with an awesome belly to belly suplex..a move many of my friends wished I had not learned as they were on the receiving end of it many times! Thanks Magnum!
Magnums injury was indeed a tragedy to one of wrestling most promising future stars!
Barry Windham will forever be one of my favorite wrestlers ever in the N.W.A. From his battles with the Nature Boy, to his huge Tag team title win with Lex Luger, to his crazy heel turn to join the Four Horsemen. Barry was a big deal. PWI helped me keep track of Windham post WWF run in the N.W.A. I remember one article in particular that PWI covered the N.W.A. Clash of Champions Televised Special where Barry and Luger won the straps from the Horseman! They noted that the match blew anything that happened on WWF’s Survivor Series that Sunday out of the water. I was insulted yet again. How dare PWI take another stab at my WWF.. This match will be one of my favorites of all time! Luger and Windham were amazing! This promotion was ALL PWI said it was!! This match was actually my teaser Tweet for this entry!
While the WWF had the big lumbering Nicolai Volkoff..N.W.A. had the elite Russian Nikita Koloff. Huge, muscular and explosive Nikita was a REAL threat and one of the reasons I watched N.W.A.! His face turn to join Dusty Rhodes win the Crockett cup was a memory of mine. My friend Jason M. who had collected various wrestling magazines pulled out a shot of Dusty and Nikita as they won the cup!
The Crocketts were amazing promoters that Vince had to be legit concerned over.
The Road Warriors were a team that ALWAYS caught my attention. Seeing them in the pages of PWI wanted to make me track down what ever I could find in Warriors matches, posters, and articles. The poster, my good wrestling friend Jason, had featured one of Animal and Hawk with large black spiked shoulder pads and in full make up and it blew me away! I soon came into contact with a War Games tape after some rounds of trading which featured the Road Warriors! Then a Starrcade tape which had the Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express in a scaffold match! I loved these guys and was certain they would run roughshod over the WWF if they ever came to the federation! Years later they would, equipped with their long time manager Paul Ellering and a biker hand puppet named Rocco. That’s right a Puppet! The moment the WWF got their hands on the Warriors and rebranded them The Legion Of Doom (A name they used as a secondary name that represented an alliance they had made back in the early 80s with Ellering, King Kong Bundy and Jake Roberts), it was a slow career death after that. They managed to destroyed the aura this team had in the A.W.A. and The N.W.A.
What a Ruuuuusssshhhhh!!!
Some times the WWF would exile some very popular stars and they would land re-energized in the N.W.A. as was the case with our next N.W.A. star. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat suddenly disappeared off my radar after winning the Intercontinental Belt from Macho Man Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 3 in one of the most discussed matches of all time! Steamboat for no apparent reason on a TV taping had requested time off to be with his family as Rick and his wife had a new baby son that Ricky wanted to be home to see. WWF thought otherwise and opted to look at this time off request as a sign of non loyalty and quickly jobbed the popular star off to heel The Honky Tonk Man. I vividly remember Steamboats reemergence as a mystery partner for veteran Eddie Gilbert in a tag match and got an upset win over Ric Flair and Barry Windham in his debut on N.W.A. I was blown away. I watched in awe of the Flair/Steamboat series. I even loved the last Spring Stampede match they had in the late 90s on Pay Per View..that was W.C.W. but still damn good!
The Dragon arrived in style!
The N.W.A. represented to me was the FUTURE! They featured what I considered the best young wrestlers in the business. Sting was one of the reasons I tuned in week to week. He was like the Ultimate Warrior except he could wrestle! They had Lex Luger, Sid Vicious, The Great Muta,
I had somehow followed the career of The Stinger all the way from his time in the U.W.F. to his N.W.A.debut to his fantastic Clash match with Flair that went to a draw. Sting was Ultimate Warrior character done correctly. Sting brought a manic interview style, wicked face paint, and an electric howl! I loved this guy. The Stinger Splash was one of the biggest stolen moves in high school. Random Stinger Splashes into the lockers or in the middle of gym class were common place! All together Sting was simply cool! It always seemed I was behind him. I cringed and shouted at my TV when the Horsemen turned on him. I stood up when he almost beat Ric Flair! I pounded my chest as Sting battled the Road Warriors, and Great Muta! Sting will always be a big N.W.A. favorite of mine. I wished he would win that world title but no matter how many times he tried he would come within a hair of beating The Nature Boy! More on Sting later!
The Future of the Business!
The N.W.A. represented to me was the FUTURE! They featured what I considered the best young wrestlers in the business. Sting was one of the reasons I tuned in week to week. He was like the Ultimate Warrior except he could wrestle! They had Lex Luger, Sid Vicious, The Great Muta, The above PWI and many other featured these stars that I loved but only got to see 45 minutes of every week.. It wasnt enough. This was THE wrestling that I wanted and I got 1 crummy hour a week! PWI filled that gap! I wrongfully wished these stars to the WWF! Muta always stuck out to me! The few times I saw him on N.W.A. wrestling I fell in love with the moonsault and the green mist. This was truly something different and a big departure from the cartoon like feel of the WWF. The cover above ranks as one of my favorite of all time in my collection but looking back the crew at PWI clearly had not mastered the art of a Photoshop back then! Lex had a nice wicker chair though!
A Horseman no longer!
Lex Luger’s face turn (A turn into a “good guy”) in particular was a ground breaking moment in my life as a wrestling fan. His infamous break up with the Horsemen to his classic match with Nature Boy Ric Flair that looked as if Luger had beaten Flair for the N.W.A. World title only to lose the match due to blood loss! These matches had me standing on my feet..it was an emotion that WWF rarely had me do. Luger was the epitome of a young Hulk Hogan. Years were not kind to Luger but when the N.W.A. was in its prime these was no one more electric! Many of my friends submitted to my own personal torture rack! I loved that move!! Damn it..they should have let him beat Flair on that ill fated night I just wonder how the course of wrestling History would have changed!!
Flair vs.Luger was one of my favorite matches of my youth!
For me the era of the N.W.A. ended when Sting finally beat Flair for the World title. After that night it seemed like the final episode to a show you were watching for years..a series finale of sorts. Ill always remember NWA had been cancelled in my market before the big Sting and Flair showdown and the way I found out that Sting won the World Title was on the cover of one of my most treasured PWI’s! The Nov. 1990 edition sport a classic cover of Sting moments after winning the big one looking proudly at his newly won World Heavyweight Title.
Stings World Title Win: End Of An Era!
It was the passing of the torch and sadly an end to an era. W.C.W. would be born and replace the National Wrestling Alliance not only in name, but in quality as well. Key players exited the N.W.A. The Horsemen, Barry Windham, Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, you name them they left. They all came back at various times throughout W.C.W.’s history but the glory days of The N.W.A. for all intents and purposes for me ended the night one of my heroes won the World Title from Ric Flair. The N.W.A. will always mean to me the BEST wrestling, The freshest stars and is the measuring stick in my mind of what a promotion should be and the level of excitement it can bring.
Just one more time..here’s an episode of N.W.A. wrestling for all Satellite Subscribers! Hope you all have enjoyed this mega dose of Pro wrestling in its prime!
Even writing the end to this post saddens me just like it did on Saturdays nights when I used to see 3:30 am approaching and knowing that my favorite wrestling show was drawing to a conclusion..usually right in the middle of the main event..announcers going wild and Bob Caudell signing off with a hearty..
“We are out of time..we’ll see ya next week!!”