Crockett Cup 1988 Page 2

* Sting and Lex Luger vs. Dick Murdoch and Ivan Koloff: Sting and Luger are managed by Magnum T.A., and the faces are so over it's scary. Luger dominates the opening minutes with power moves, then Sting gets tagged in and the heels manage to take control after some chicanery. Sting is able to reverse an Irish whip to the corner by Murdoch and hits the Stinger splash, but a scorpion deathlock attempt is broken up by Koloff. All four men brawl outside the ring, and when Murdoch tries to bring Sting over the ropes for a slam, he gets small packaged and pinned. This one was OK. *1/2

* Midnight Express vs. The Sheepherders: Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton worked wonders back in those days, but one wonder they couldn't work was carrying the Sheepherders to a watchable match. Butch Miller gets whacked by Eaton with the tennis racket and pinned. Next. DUD

* Prince of Darkness match: Jimmy Garvin vs. Kevin Sullivan: No, the name of that match is not a fancy name for a street fight or steel cage match…it's a damn blindfold match. So, no, the WWF didn't come up with the idea first, and Lord only knows why Vince McMahon decided to steal this gimmick match several years later. As you can probably guess, this was a horrible match. Grope around the ring, fans cheer when the face (in this case, Garvin) moves in the right direction, lather, rinse, repeat. Garvin small packages Sullivan for the pin to put me out of my misery. Even with the clipping, it was THAT painful to watch this one. -***

* Bunkhouse Stampede match: A Dusty Rhodes innovation, in this case, a steel cage match under battle royal rules where you "come as you are," or dress in street clothes. Boy, was Dusty a fucking genius, or what? The match is joined in progress about halfway through, but I'll fast forward to the final minutes, where Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson are trying to get Lex Luger out, and all three end up tumbling out of the cage. That leaves Dusty Rhodes and The Barbarian, and they battle on top of the cage. Dusty with the bionic elbows to knock Barbarian down from the cage to the floor for the win. Figures. Match seemed about *1/2 from what I got to see.

* Road Warriors vs. Powers of Pain: Place your bets now: Which wrestler will be the first one to sell a move in this match? OK, so it's Animal, and it's a boot to the face from the Barbarian which he sells. This is actually a pretty decent power match, but things like this don't really keep my interest for long, so I'm not paying much attention. Animal accidentally clotheslines referee Randy Anderson, and then a four-way brawl erupts, which leads to Warlord getting hit with a double clothesline as referee Teddy Long runs into the ring to count the pinfall. However, Anderson alerts Long about what Animal did and…you guessed it…the Dusty Finish is what we get. Leave it to Dusty Rhodes to ruin what was actually a decent match. *

* Bullrope match: Midnight Rider vs. J.J. Dillon: Dillon swears to God that the Rider is really Dusty Rhodes, and he challenges him to this match to prove it. Gee, Dillon, if you really want to prove it's Rhodes, why don't you just grab the mic and yell "FREE ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET BACKSTAGE!" and if the Rider makes a mad dash for the back, there's your proof. But no, we have to get the match instead, with lots of plodding offense from the Rider (who is Dusty, BTW), and Dillon blades for the hell of it. Jim Ross mentions if Rider loses, he will be unmasked, and if it is Dusty, he is suspended. So of course, Rider gets the win after going to the second rope and nailing Dillon with the cowbell. But wait…it gets worse! Another masked Texan (wearing chaps, so you know he's a Texan) lumbers into the ring and beats down the Rider, until Steve Williams tries to make the save, but also gets beat up for his troubles. I can't believe Williams agreed to participate in this shit. No wonder the NWA did such lousy business in 1988. -**, and one of those negative stars is due to the post-match antics. All hail Dusty Rhodes' booking.

* Crockett Cup semifinals match: Sting and Lex Luger vs. Powers of Pain: Sting starts off, getting in a few licks on both Warlord and Barbarian, and then we get distracted with antics outside the ring between Magnum TA and Paul Jones. Barbarian gets the better of a test of strength, but Sting powers up and gets in a monkey flip, then dropkicks Barbarian out. Luger tags in, and he bodyslams Barbarian. The faces target Barbarian's arm, and Barbarian reverses a Sting Irish whip and powerslams him, then kicks him through the top rope. Heels take over as Sting gets the honor of playing Ricky Morton, but only briefly, as he makes the tag to Luger, who cleans house. It breaks down to a four-man brawl, with the faces getting simultaneous ten-punch counts, but Warlord is able to pick up Luger for a powerslam. However, it doesn't work, as Sting dropkicks him to put Luger on top of Warlord for the three count. Another clipped match, and it was fairly watchable. **

* The Fantastics vs. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson: I really hope that the Fantastics didn't face the Midnight Express in the third round, because I'd be pretty pissed to find out they cut that match out of the tape. Why the hell do you want to torture me with those godforsaken Prince of Darkness and bullrope matches when I could have watched the Express and Fantastics work their asses off and put on, you know, A GOOD MATCH. Anyway, Rogers and Blanchard start, and it's a slugfest. Blanchard blocks an atomic drop and tries one of his own, but Rogers flips over and nails Blanchard with a dropkick. He staggers into the wrong corner, getting pasted by Fulton, then by Rogers, so Blanchard bails out. Match gets clipped as we see Rogers and Fulton taking over Blanchard over with a double back body drop, then a double clothesline to put him back outside the ring. Anderson gets in a cheap shot on Fulton, and the Horsemen go to work. Anderson and Blanchard specifically target Fulton's back, proving how good those two were at psychology. Fulton manages to get a backslide, but Anderson tags Blanchard as it happens so it doesn't count. Fulton ends up outside the ring, and Blanchard rams him back first into the apron. Anderson clotheslines him for good measure. Fulton sunset flips back in to get a two count on Blanchard. Anderson tags in and locks on an abdominal stretch, and of course Blanchard reaches through the ropes to give Anderson additional leverage. Blanchard comes off the top rope for a two count. Anderson back in, but after an Irish whip, Fulton delivers a face slam, and tags Rogers, who cleans house. The Fantastics nail both Blanchard and Anderson with double dropkicks, then hit the Rocket Launcher (Rogers goes to the top rope, and Fulton tosses him off) onto Anderson, but Blanchard breaks up the pin. As the referee is distracted, Anderson grabs one of JJ Dillon's shoes and nails Rogers with it to get the pin. Arn was SUCH a sneaky bastard back in those days. Really good match, too. ***1/2

* World title match: Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff: Flair comes out with Barry Windham, who was fresh off of joining the Horsemen. However, he leaves ringside to join the rest of the Horsemen, who never show up at any other point during the match. Flair cuts a promo before the match, but I can barely hear him over the crowd noise. Basic stuff to start, with Koloff keeping the upper hand most of the time. Koloff delivers the ten-punch count, but gets caught in an inverted atomic drop. Flair connects with one kneedrop, but misses a second one, and Koloff goes outside the ring, dragging Flair to the corner and crotching him on the ring post. Koloff slaps on the figure four, but Flair makes it to the ropes. Koloff continues targeting the knee, and Flair bails out. He drags Koloff outside the ring, but Koloff blocks an attempt to ram him into the ringpost, and Flair takes the shot instead. Back into the ring they go, and Flair has bladed at some point. Another ten-punch count from Koloff, then the corner whip for the Flair flip. Koloff no-sells a Flair chop and pummels him in response. Koloff inadvertently nails referee Tommy Young, and that allows Flair to toss Koloff over the top rope, only Koloff grabs the ropes and lands on the apron. Koloff nails a second-rope lariat, and Young is late to come over to count the pinfall…and it's only a two count. Koloff hits another lariat, sending Flair over the top rope. Koloff tries to suplex Flair back in, but Flair slips out. Flair tries a rollup, but Koloff grabs the ropes, then hits a clothesline for two. Koloff goes for a third lariat, but Flair back body drops him over the top rope for the REALLY lame DQ. Damn, and that was actually developing into a nice match, but of course, Dusty couldn't bother to let Flair go over cleanly or anything like that. **1/2

* Crockett Cup finals: Sting and Lex Luger vs. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson: Man, Luger and Sting are just CRAZY over. Blanchard and Luger start, and Luger gets the better of him. Anderson tags in, and he doesn't fare much better. Luger biels Anderson, then hits a dropkick (!) and Arn bails out. Anderson walks off, but changes his mind and returns. Luger with a headlock, which Arn reverses into a headscissors. Luger slips out, as Blanchard tags in, and he gets bodyslammed. Tag to Sting, and the faces work on Tully's arm. He gets to the ropes and slides out of the ring. Match gets clipped as we cut to the crowd, then back to the ring, where Sting delivers an overhead press slam. Magnum TA gets a shot in on Tully, prompting Arn to enter the ring, and that brings in Luger, resulting in chaos. Anderson winds up taking over for his team, and getting his arm worked over by Sting and Luger, with Luger doing an ironic moment of psychology as he tries Arn's patented bodyslam (where you bend the arm behind the opponent's back before slamming him). Unfortunately, Luger can't pull off the slam and rams Arn into the corner instead, but at least Luger was trying, as opposed to today where he half-asses it most of the time. Sting tags back in, but misses a Stinger splash as Tully pulls Arn out of the way. Referee is distracted as Tully throws Sting over the top rope, then works him over outside the ring. Back in the ring, Blanchard nails Sting with a backbreaker for a two count. The Horsemen double team Sting mercilessly in their corner as Luger argues with the referee. Arn hits the spinebuster for two. So Anderson tries to power Sting's shoulders down, but Sting turns the tide, only for Arn to tag in Tully. Tully works over Sting in the corner, then brings Arn back in. Arn snapmares Sting to the mat, but Sting blocks a stomp, gets back up and clotheslines Arn down. Tully gets the tag and cuts off Sting, but Blanchard gets caught in the Stinger splash and scorpion deathlock. However, Blanchard is close enough to his corner to tag Anderson, who breaks the hold. Anderson delivers a WICKED DDT, but it only gets two. Sting fires off some desperation shots and makes the hot tag to Luger, who cleans house. Anderson is able to catch Luger in the spinebuster, but Sting makes the save. Tully and Sting brawl, and Blanchard ends up getting knocked through the ropes. Arn goes for a slam on Luger, but Magnum TA trips up Arn. Luger gets two, but Arn is pissed off at Magnum and goes after him, allowing Luger to schoolboy Arn for the pinfall, giving Luger and Sting the Crockett Cup and one million dollars. During the match, the commentators mentioned how Luger and Barry Windham were originally partners in the tournament, with Sting and Ron Garvin forming another team, but after Windham joined the Horsemen, Sting instead joined up with Luger, and this was a nice little blowoff to give Luger and Sting (and Magnum TA, for that matter) some revenge on the Horsemen. ***1/2

* Jim Crockett and his mother Elizabeth present Sting and Luger with the trophy and check.

Final Analysis: In retrospect, it probably would have been smart money to book a tag team title match with Sting and Luger facing the Horsemen, and then allow Luger to have his title that way, but instead, the politics began backstage between Rhodes and Flair, leading to that series of World title matches with those crappy finishes. Still, the final match in this Crockett Cup tournament was one of those times when common sense did prevail in the booking.

But aside from the final match and the Fantastics/Horsemen match, this tape doesn't really offer anything special. Can't really recommend it, unless you don't mind renting it and fast forwarding to the final three matches.

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