1985: It Was a Very Good Year. Part Four.
Originally published at Canadian Bulldog's World
1985 was a very good year for supercards and closed-circuit extravaganzas. Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) wasn’t the only promotion cashing in on arena shows. On September 28, the American Wrestling Association (AWA) held its first ever SuperClash show, an inter-promotional show at Chicago’s Comiskey Park (home of previous AWA stadium shows) which included a variety of stars from the AWA, National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and even other countries such as Japan and Mexico. The card drew 21,000 fans and brought in $288,000.
The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) continued exploring new markets. Following the success of WrestleMania, the WWF aired The Wrestling Classic, a show aimed at the still developing PPV market (although WrestleMania had aired in some homes through PPV, the majority of sales outside of Madison Square Garden were via closed-circuit broadcasts). The Wrestling Classic featured a sixteen-man tournament between a variety of WWF Superstars. Although the WWF had a strict policy of pitting babyfaces against heels, The Wrestling Classic saw a couple odd pairings featuring a face vs. a face and another with a heel vs. a heel. Babyfaces Ricky Steamboat and Davey Boy Smith squared off in the first round with Steamboat winning by forfeit after Smith suffered a (kayfabe) groin injury. Lower card heel Moondog Spot upset upper card heel Terry Funk by count-out. In the end, the Junkyard Dog won the tournament, defeating “Macho Man” Randy Savage by count-out in the final match. The PPV also featured a WWF title defense by Hulk Hogan against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The match ended in a disqualification win for Hogan after interference by Piper’s bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton. The Wrestling Classic was an entertaining show but the WWF would not revisit a tournament based PPV until WrestleMania IV where the WWF title was at stake. The success of Saturday Night’s Main Event (SNME) in May led to the show returning in the fall. NBC aired two more specials for the remainder of the year including a Flag Match between WWF champion Hulk Hogan and Nikolai Volkoff that aired on October 5, and a battle of the super heavyweights on November 2, that pitted the team of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant against the team of “Big” John Studd and “King Kong” Bundy. SNME was an immediate success and would continue to air on NBC until 1991.
Although no one knew it at the time, the fall saw an angle that would lead to the genesis of one of the greatest wrestling factions in the sport’s history. As detailed in my book Wrestling’s Greatest Moments, a post-match beatdown on Ric Flair by Ivan and Nikita Koloff saw Flair’s longtime nemesis Dusty Rhodes run in for the save. When Flair’s (kayfabe) cousins Ole and Arn Anderson ran in, the fans wondered whether Flair was going to thank Dusty or just walk away. Instead, Flair locked Rhodes in the cage, allowing his cousins and him to beat Rhodes mercilessly, breaking his ankle (kayfabe).
From that point on, Flair began associating with his cousins. They would help him in his matches, saving his title on many occasions. Then in an epic moment, Flair and the Andersons were being interviewed along with fellow heel Tully Blanchard. In an off the cuff remark, Anderson compared the four wrestlers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Before long, announcer Tony Schiavone told Anderson he thought he was on to something. In time, all four wrestlers would unite as the Four Horsemen with manager James J. Dillon leading the way.
As 1985 began to wind down, JCP aired its annual PPV, Starrcade. Now in its third year, the show featured a main event rematch between NWA Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (the two had battled at the previous year’s Starrcade). Once again, Flair would hold on to the belt in controversial fashion. Although Dusty Rhodes was awarded the title, the decision would be reversed (one of many “Dusty Finishes” that would erode the fans’ goodwill). The undercard featured two steel cage matches, including the now legendary “I Quit” Match between Magnum T.A. and Tully Blanchard as well as the historic upset where the Rock and Roll Express upended Ivan and Nikita Koloff for the NWA World Tag Team Titles.
1985 was a great year to be a fan of professional wrestling. Whether it was inter-promotional supercards, PPV’s like WrestleMania, Starrcade, or The Wrestling Classic, shows like Saturday Night’s Main Event, or home video releases, fans never had had so many opportunities to see the industry’s crème de la crème. Yes, 1985 was a very good year. Thanks to Graham Cawthon’s http://www.thehistoryofwwe.com/pwusa.htm , the knowledgeable fans at the Kayfabe Memories message boards, www.kayfabememories.com, http://prowrestlinghistory.com , and the Mid-Atlantic Gateway at http://www.midatlanticgateway.com, four excellent wrestling resources.