Monday, May 25, 2020

Crockett Cup '85: First Round Matches Begin

by Mike Rickard
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Don't miss these first posts in this series:
Tournament Announcement
Seedings and First Round Pairings

The 1985 Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament is ready to begin. Wait, did you just say 1985? It’s time to take a look at one of wrestling’s biggest events from the mid-80s and see what it might have been like with a few historical alterations. What if Jim Crockett Promotions hosted its tag team tournament the Crockett Cup in 1985 and included teams from promotions outside the National Wrestling Alliance (“NWA”) including the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), All Japan Pro Wrestling, and more? In this case, you’d have 48 of the greatest tag teams in the world battling in a winner take all tournament for $1,000,000 and the prestigious Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Trophy.

First Round Rules
Here are the rules for the first-round matches. A pool of referees from the NWA, AWA, and WWF have been appointed for the tournament and randomly selected for each match. The first-round matches have a thirty-minute time limit and are sanctioned under NWA rules (throwing an opponent over the top rope is an automatic disqualification). The matches are one fall with a win obtained by a pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification.

The first-round matches will be held over two nights, with the first eight matches taking place at the Baltimore Civic Center on Thursday April 11. Bob Caudle and David Crockett will be calling the matches tonight. David Crockett gets word from Tony Schiavone that there is some sort of commotion backstage. Apparently, there are two teams that weren’t invited to the tournament and they’re making their displeasure known.

A camera crew makes its way backstage and we see the team of Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden along with the Nightmares protesting their exclusion from the tournament. NWA President Jim Crockett Jr. has made his way backstage and he tells the two teams that many teams were considered for the event, but there was only room for 48. This angers the two teams further and they tell Crockett they haven’t heard the last from them. Crockett orders them out of the building.

A sold-out crowd is on hand to watch the first four matches. Bob Caudle notes things are already off to a wild start and they’re only going to get wilder with the next two teams.

Match 1
Larry Hennig and Crusher Blackwell vs. Blackjack Mulligan and Wahoo McDaniel
All four men are rugged veterans with the size and power to punish any opponent. While Hennig, Mulligan, and McDaniel are older than some of the competitors in our tourney, don’t let that fool you. There’s plenty of gas left in their tanks and anyone who underestimates them is making a critical mistake. As for Crusher, he may be a big man, but he’s surprisingly agile. Referee Sonny “Roughhouse” Fargo will hopefully be up to the task.

The match starts with “The Ax” squaring off against the big Indian. Wahoo and Hennig respect each other but that doesn’t mean this is going to be a Greco-Roman match. The two trade stiff blows as they batter each other all over the ring while their partners watch on, waiting to get in on the action. All four wrestlers love a good fight and if they had any say in things, this would be a Texas Tornado match.

Hennig powers Wahoo into the corner and tags in Crusher Blackwell. The two whip Wahoo into the ropes and catch him with a double elbow smash. This does a number on Wahoo and Blackwell follows up by slamming McDaniel. Wahoo gets up and chops at Blackwell but the 477-pounder stops him with a headbutt that floors him again. Blackwell picks him up and whips him into the ropes. The behemoth from Stone Mountain Georgia dropkicks Wahoo, an impressive sight, but not for the guy on the receiving end.  Blackjack is rallying the crowd and while there are a number of AWA fans here, it’s still a hometown crowd of Mid-Atlantic faithful.

More punishment from Blackwell continues eroding away at Wahoo’s legendary resiliency and he whips McDaniel into the corner. Blackwell runs into the corner to deliver an avalanche but somehow the big chief gets out of the way. The ring seems to shake from Blackwell’s impact and the burly Blackwell crumbles to the mat. Wahoo is in bad shape, but somehow crawls to his corner, tagging in Blackjack.

Mulligan wastes no time and goes after Blackwell, but the Crusher has made it to his corner, tagging in Hennig. The two titans clash, trading punches. Mulligan catches Hennig with a big right to the head that dazes him. Side headlock by Blackjack on Hennig as looks to wear his opponent down. Hennig escapes and whips Mulligan into the ropes, knocking him down with a shoulderblock, something you don’t see too often. Mulligan quickly gets up and goes for a test of strength. The two lock up as Mulligan forces “The Ax” down to one knee. The fans are clapping as Mulligan looks to have Henning going down. There’s no quit in the man once nicknamed “Pretty Boy” though and he rallies back, getting to both feet. Hennig powers Mulligan into his corner and Blackwell drops a beefy forearm across Mulligan’s back. Mulligan lets go of Hennig and Hennig drives a knee into the gut. Referee Sonny Fargo is trying to restore order as Hennig argues with him. Blackwell must really want the $1,000,000 because he starts choking Blackjack with the tag rope. Wahoo isn’t having it and comes in, only for the referee to go after him and order him back to his corner.

Meanwhile, Hennig and Blackwell double team Blackjack in their corner, dropping forearms on him. Hennig tags Blackwell and “The Ax” restrains Mulligan in his corner while the nearly quarter-ton Crusher runs towards Mulligan. It’s avalanche time and Mulligan falls out of the corner as Bob Caudle notes Blackwell may have broken one or more of Mulligan’s ribs. Cover on Mulligan, but referee Sonny Fargo is still arguing with Wahoo. When he finally turns around, he makes the count, but Blackjack manages to get one of his big boots on the bottom rope.

Blackwell starts jawing with the referee about the slow count. Sonny Fargo tells him it’s a two-count and if he doesn’t like it, go home. Blackwell looks like he’s going to hit “Roughhouse” but he chooses wisely. He goes back after Mulligan and bounces off the ropes, dropping an elbow. However, no one is home as Mulligan rolls out of the way. Wrestling’s version of John Wayne uses the ropes to get up slowly as Blackwell staggers towards him, lifting both arms up in a double axe-handle. Mulligan bounces off the ropes and beats Blackwell to the punch, landing a clothesline. Blackwell staggers but he’s not down yet. Mulligan kicks Jerry in the gut then whips him into the ropes, hitting a flying elbow on his foe. Cover on Blackwell as Hennig comes in and goes to drop an elbow on Mulligan. The savvy Blackjack gets out of the way as Hennig instead drops an elbow on his own partner. Wahoo comes in and fires off a thunderous tomahawk chop, sending Larry through the ropes and onto the unforgiving floor. Chief Wahoo follows Hennig outside where the two begin brawling at ringside. Mulligan bounces off the ropes and catches Blackwell just as he’s getting to his feet, staggering the man-mountain. The titanic Texan applies the claw as Blackwell is bleeding. Mulligan presses down on the claw as he has Blackwell is in the center of the ring. The big man has taken too much punishment and with the claw locked in tightly, the referee makes the three-count.

Winners: Blackjack Mulligan and Wahoo McDaniel 

Match 2
Buzz Tyler and Pistol Pez Whatley vs. Mega Maharishi and Kendo Nagasaki
Mid-Atlantic babyfaces Buzz Tyler and Pistol Pez Whatley have teamed before, but not as much as the Pacific Northwest’s Maharishi and Nagasaki and announcer David Crockett tells Bob Caudle that could make the difference in this battle of two evenly matched teams.

The burly Tyler starts off against Maharishi, but the self-professed holy man
wants to share words of wisdom with the fans and takes the ring announcer’s microphone. Tyler isn’t having any of it and goes to confront Maharishi, only to get clubbed in the head with the microphone. The wrestler formerly known as Ed Wiskoski isn’t showing much peace as he hits Tyler a second time, apparently aware the match hasn’t officially started yet.

WWF referee Dick Kroll signals for the bell as the Maharishi starts dropping the boots on Tyler. Tyler is busted open from the microphone and David Crockett says we may need a new microphone. Bob Caudle replies Pez Whatley may need a new partner as the Mega Maharishi bodyslams Buzz. Big knee drop on Tyler’s head, opening up the forehead more. Series of punches to Tyler’s head as Kroll warns Maharishi about the closed fists. Maharishi tells Kroll that closed fists are allowed in Pacific Northwest and he’s just adjusting to the rules, but the veteran referee isn’t buying it and threatens to disqualify the Mega Man and his teammate.

Maharishi tags in Kendo and the vicious Japanese star goes to work on Tyler, targeting his body with precision martial arts strikes. Tyler is down on the mat and bleeding as Kendo drops a knee across Tyler’s head. Kroll checks on Tyler but Tyler says he’s okay to compete and Kroll agrees. Nagasaki continues pummeling Tyler while the Mega Maharishi is bowing towards the crowd and apparently encouraging them to pray.

Kendo tags in his partner who takes his time lifting Tyler off the mat. Tyler punches Maharishi, but he doesn’t have much behind the blows. Maharishi punches him then goes for a piledriver. If he hits this it’s got to be over. The Pacific Northwest star tries to lift up Tyler but Buzz is fighting with everything he can. He somehow reverses the move, back body-dropping the future Colonel DeBeers down onto the mat. Tyler makes the tag and in comes “Pistol” Pez, who’s been waiting to get in on the action.

Maharishi lunges at Pistol Pez who ducks under him and bounces off the ropes, hitting a dropkick. Using his precision timing, Pistol Pez lands another beautiful dropkick as the Maharishi gets up. Cover on Mega for a two-count. Whatley is making the most of his momentum and he continues using his speed advantage to land punches and dropkicks on Maharishi. Pez hits the diving headbutt on Maharishi and covers him as Kendo comes in, with Bob Caudle pointing out Nagasaki must know he needs to make the save. Kick to Whatley’s back breaks up the count. Pez starts fighting with Kendo as a bloody Buzz lumbers in. Referee Dick Kroll orders Tyler to the back and as he does, Nagasaki sprays Whatley with the poison mist. Whatley is down on the mat writhing in pain. An opportunistic Maharishi covers him as Kroll makes the count. 1-2-3 and the Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champions have stolen a win.

Winners: Mega Maharishi and Kendo Nagasaki

After the match, Buzz Tyler tries to help Pez as the ringside doctor enters. David Crockett informs the fans that he’ll keep you updated on Whatley’s condition as soon as we get an update. Tyler tells the doctor to do something because Whatley is the best black wrestler on the planet (fortunately for Tyler, he’s leaving the Mid-Atlantic area soon.)

Two big matches already done but we’ve got more to come. Join us next time as the WWF’s Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda take on the AWA’s Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito while Montreal’s Raymond and Jacque Rougeau take on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi.

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Tournament Announcement
Seedings and First Round Pairings Announced 
First Round: Matches 1 & 2
     Hennig/Blackwell vs. Mulligan/McDaniel
     Tyler/Whatley vs. Maharishi/Nagasaki