Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The 1985 Crockett Cup Continues: Matches 3 & 4

by Mike Rickard
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Contributor

Catching up? Here is the background info:
Tournament Announcement
Seedings and First Round Pairings

Check out the updated brackets going into tonight's matches:
Crockett Cup '85 Brackets
[Links to previous matches at the bottom of this post.]

THIS WEEK'S MATCHES (begin below)
Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda vs. Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito
Raymond and Jacques Jr.  Rougeau vs. Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi

The 1985 Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament is underway. 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 are being 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 are calling the matches tonight. The first two matches saw Blackjack Mulligan and Wahoo McDaniel defeat Larry “The Ax” Hennig and “Crusher” Jerry Blackwell while Mega Maharishi and Kendo Nagasaki stole a win from Buzz Tyler and “Pistol” Pez Whatley.

Next Two Matches Get Set
Gordon Solie is backstage with “The U.S. Express” Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda. Windham and Rotunda are representing the WWF, but the team is no stranger to the area, having wrestled together in Championship Wrestling from Florida. Barry and Mike let Gordon know it’s great to be back in the NWA and they hope the fans haven’t forgotten them. They’re in for a real challenge tonight against the AWA’s Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito, but they know they’ve got the tools to win this one and advance to round two.

Match No. 3
Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda vs. Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito
It’s a battle of youth vs. experience as two of wrestling’s “young lions” taking on the veteran team of Bockwinkel and Saito. Referee Gary DeRusha checks all four men for foreign objects and regulation gear before calling for the match to start. Rotunda and Bockwinkel start the match with a collar-and-elbow tie-up, with Nick getting Mike in a side headlock. Mike escapes by going into the ropes and hits a shoulderblock on Bockwinkel, knocking him to the mat. The two lock up and Bockwinkel applies a wristlock, but Rotunda counters, hitting an arm-drag takedown. Bockwinkel comes at him again and gets another arm-drag takedown followed by a dropkick for good measure. Mike applies the headlock and takes Nick over to his corner, tagging in Barry Windham. Rotunda gets Bockwinkel in an armbar and Windham comes off the top rope at the arm, quickly locking in the arm bar and using his size advantage and leverage to bring Nick down to the mat. Bob Caudle says Barry Windham can wrestle with the best of them, but he’s in the ring with a master. We quickly see that as Nick gets to his feet and leverages Windham into the heel corner, with Mr. Saito making the tag. Bockwinkel keeps Windham tied up in the corner as the Japanese tough man comes in and unloads with a big chop on Barry.

Saito and Bockwinkel begin a seminar in double-teaming as they both whip Windham into their corner. Saito unloads with a chop and distracts DeRusha while Bockwinkel chokes Windham with the ring rope. Tag to Bockwinkel who comes in and drives a shoulder into Windham’s gut. Another one sends Windham down to the mat as Bockwinkel puts his boot in Windham’s face. The referee counts to four before Bockwinkel lets up, tagging Saito in. Bockwinkel and Saito can do this all day and that seems to be their game plan as they continue double-teaming Barry without leaving their corner. Finally, Mike Rotunda has enough, but the referee admonishes him as he takes him back to his corner. DeRusha is an AWA referee David Crockett points out, hinting that there might be some funny business going on. However, Bob Caudle reminds David that the referees from each promotion have been randomly selected for each match.

Twelve minutes into the match and the U.S. Express are in trouble. With Barry sufficiently weakened, Bockwinkel moves in for the kill, whipping his opponent into the ropes and locking in a sleeperhold. Barry is fighting hard; despite the pasting he’s taken so far. Windham is able to stay on his feet at first, but he seems to be going down. However, it’s a last-ditch gamble as Windham somehow leverages Bockwinkel into the corner, freeing himself from the hold. Nick’s head bounces off the turnbuckle and he falls on his back.

Windham crawls over to his corner and makes the tag before lying on the mat, pulling himself up slowly in his corner. Rotunda comes in and goes after Bockwinkel, hitting a dropkick that by chance, sends Nick into his corner. Bockwinkel wisely tags in Saito who goes after Rotunda only to get dropkicked. Rotunda throws Saito into the ropes and hits an elbowsmash on his foe. Rotunda picks Saito up again, throwing him into the ropes and hitting a big back body-drop.  Rotunda has excellent ring presence and sees Windham is back on his feet, his incredible recuperative powers coming into play. Headlock on Saito as Rotunda drags Mr. Saito into the babyfaces’ corner. Rotunda and Windham put their own double-team skills on display as they whip Saito into the ropes and catch him with a double elbow to the head. Barry drops an elbow on Saito then tags in Rotunda. Another dropkick on Saito and he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going. Another tag as Windham bodyslams Saito. Saito makes a desperate effort to get some breathing space by brawling with Windham. Both men exchange blows but Blackjack Mulligan trained his son well in the art of fisticuffs and Saito goes down. Windham whips Saito into a neutral corner and charges him, hitting an elbow to the face. Bulldog by Barry and he covers Saito. Bockwinkel comes in for the save but Rotunda cuts him off with a dropkick, sending him back into his corner. Gary DeRusha makes the three-count as Saito fails to kick out in time.

Winners: Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda

After the match, Nick Bockwinkel regales Mr. Saito with a tale of him appearing on Hawaii Five-O. Saito tells him he’s heard this story a million times and says it’s time to find a McDonald’s.

Match No. 4   
Raymond and Jacques Jr.  Rougeau vs. Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi 
This match is going to be a contrast in styles as the fast-moving, young team of the Rougeau Brothers take on the veteran team of Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi. The edge has to go to the Japanese team as both men are highly decorated, have been together for years, and have wrestled internationally.

Things start off with Jacques locking up with Seiji. Seiji gets Jacques into a side headlock and puts the pressure on. However, Jacques backs into his corner and makes a tag behind Seiji’s back as he pulls Jacques back into the center of the ring. In a good use of using your opponent’s energy against them, Jacques takes Seiji and escapes the headlock, whipping the Japanese grappler into the ropes as Ray surprises him with a high-cross bodyblock for a two-count. Ray drops an elbow on Seiji then puts him into a headlock, dragging his stunned opponent into his corner. Tag to Jacques who whips Seiji into the ropes, landing a dropkick. Kneedrop onto Seiji’s face and it’s clear to Seiji and Inoki that they may have looked past the Rougeaus. The Rougeaus continue with fast tags and quickly-executed moves, wearing Sakaguchi down until Raymond can slow things down, locking in a front facelock and taking Seiji to the ground. David Crockett says he’s impressed with these All-American Boys until Bob Caudle reminds his broadcast partner that the Rougeaus are French-Canadian.

Eight minutes in and it’s been all Rougeau Brothers so far. Raymond throws Seiji into the ropes and looks to be going for a back body-drop, but now it seems he’s underestimated his opponent. Seiji catches Ray with a boot to the head that rocks the 30-year-old grappler and allows him to tag in Inoki. Inoki isn’t holding back as he knows he has to salvage the match. Open-faced chop by Inoki followed by a kick to Raymond’s thigh. Rougeau winces in pain from both blows as Inoki hits an arm-drag takedown followed by another one, this time locking in the seated armbar. Bob Caudle tells David Crockett Inoki has quickly turned the tide for his team. Inoki has the armbar locked in right in the center of the ring so Jacques Jr. does the only thing he can do, he runs in and kicks Inoki in the head. Seiji comes in and begins brawling with Jacques Jr. Jacques dropkicks Seiji through the ropes and follows him out to the floor.

It’s Ray and the future House of Councilors representative smack dab in the center of the ring. Inoki goes for a kick but Ray catches his leg. Out of nowhere, Inoki hits an enziguri, nearly knocking Ray’s head off. Antonio climbs the top rope and lands a flying knee and covers Raymond while Jacques and Seiji are still brawling outside the ring. 1-2-3 and it’s all over for the Rougeau Brothers. A sensational start, but a fizzled finish for the two brothers.

Winners: Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi.

Four matches in, but things are only beginning for round one. Join us next time as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling’s powerhouse team of The Barbarian and Superstar Billy Graham battle the WWF’s Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) while the AWA’s High Flyers (“Jumping” Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne) take on Memphis Wrestling’s (aka CWA aka Mid-Southern Wrestling) brother team of  “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo.

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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
First Round: Matches 3 & 4
    Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda vs. Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito
    Raymond and Jacques Jr. Rougeau vs. Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi