FEEDBACK: NWA Starrcade '83

Rewind-A-Wai #59 will be released on Tuesday, April 14th and the subject our next review is NWA Starrcade '83 from Thanksgiving night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

This event was selected by Espresso Executive Producer MCF.

The full event is available on the WWE Network

Please leave feedback and any questions related to the event.

NWA Starrcade 1983
Thursday, November 24, 1983
Greensboro, NC at the Greensboro Coliseum
*Harley Race vs. Ric Flair in a Steel Cage match for the NWA heavyweight title with Gene Kiniski as the special referee
*The Brisco Brothers vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood for the NWA tag titles with Angelo Mosca as the special referee
*Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine in a Dog Collar match
*The Great Kabuki vs. Charlie Brown for the NWA Television title in a Title vs. Mask match
*Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr. vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood
*Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher
*Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin vs. Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee
*The Assassins vs. Bugsy McGraw & Rufus R. Jones

1 Like

Boyd - Glasgow

Excellent event. Until the BSB and Sky satellite platforms came along in 1989/1990 the only wrestling on UK terrestrial television was WOS and the occasional WWE syndicated show. ITV started showing NWA Main Event in the fall of 1989 and it was this (specifically the episodes showing highlights of the Marietta Massacre. And The Great American Bash ‘89) that got me in to JCP/WCW.

One of the few wrestling videos available at the time was the PWI branded Lords of the Ring which contained highlights of the The Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Brisco Brothers vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood, Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine and Harley Race vs. Ric Flair so these were some of the first American wrestling matches I watched.

The drama and realism had me hooked (especially the Piper and Valentine dog collar match) so much so that it prompted me to save my paper round money so I could purchase the Turner Home Entertainment PPV videos from the US that were advertised in the Bill Apter magazines available in the UK at the time which in 1990 was not easy. It wasn’t until I received them I found out about the difference between the UK PAL and US NTSC video systems :man_facepalming:t2:, therefore I had to convince my parents to buy a new VCR which could play NTSC videos which, at that time, were not cheap. What a difference 30 years makes!

1 Like

Michael from Newfoundland.

Man, crowds were a lot better back in the 80s. These fans were great. I have a theory that the abundance of cell phones has really dampened fans. The briefest lawl in the action can cause fans to start playing with their cellphones.

As for the show, this was something different. I don’t have much experience with watching the territories and seeing people extremely over in a Non-WWE/AEW show is bizarre.

Here are a couple of things that I noticed:

  • How old was Tony Schiavone? 23? 24? He’s barely recognizable.

  • Gordon Solie pronouncing suplex properly with its proper French inflexion.

  • I would like to learn more about Charlie Brown. Was that his real name? How could he get by with a name as obvious copy-write infringement?

  • Roddy Piper was great. That man understood pro wrestling.

  • Flair/Race was great.

Even without all of the context and history, this show was a good choice.

1 Like

Steve in the UK
I watched this several years ago and was glad of the excuse to watch it again, this show is a time capsule of professional wrestling. I’m interested in whether or not a ppv bump existed in this era, in tv ratings or live attendance, or did these events exist in their own bubble? The Estes family declaring their 180 mile drive worth the trip after two awful tag matches made my day.

1 Like

Jackie from Orlando
While some of this show is obviously dated, the crowd engagement, the star power of Flair, Steamboat, and Piper, and Solie’s brilliant call kept it engaging for a contemporary viewer like myself.
I was stunned by how much blood was on this show! I knew we had Flair in a steel cage match, but half the matches on this card featured someone busting themselves open. It was gruesome, but I couldn’t help but laugh watching a bandaged Angle Mosca be interviewed while poor Scott McGhee was bleeding out in the corner without so much as a bandaid on. That mat by the end of the show was tough to look at.
Was Flair a long term baby face at this point or was it only for this program?

1 Like

If I recall my NWA history correctly, it was only for this programme. Race won the title from Flair earlier in the year and put a bounty on Flair which Bob Orton Jr. and Dick Slater collected after piledriving Flair to utilise the neck injury angle from the plane crash years earlier. There is either a special or World Championship Wrestling episodes with the bounty hunter angle on the WWE network (I have definitely watched it somewhere on the network),

1 Like

Jesse in Taipei

I first suggested you guys review this back in 2013, so thanks to MCF for choosing it. I love these old school reviews.

Some questions and comments:

  • Starrcade '83 is seen as a seminal event in wrestling history, however it’s not nearly as celebrated as the first WrestleMania. I assume this is just because Vince has re-written history. But is there more to it than that? Was the first WrestleMania significantly more audacious or riskier than Starrcade? Presumably JCP saw this an annual event given that they named it “Starrcade '83” and not just “Starrcade”.

  • Why is this event seen as Ric Flair’s ascension to the top spot? He had been NWA Champion at least once before (there were several disputed title changes during that time). It wasn’t a short reign and he was already a big star as evidenced by his huge feud with Kerry Von Erich in World Class. So why is Starrcade '83 seen as the match that made him? It seems to me, he was already made.

  • Looking at the crowd reaction, Flair was a huge babyface. Why did they turn him back heel?

  • Was Greg Valentine ever good?

  • Have you ever seen anybody sell an ear better than Piper? Do you know what the circumstances were of his move to the WWF? His charisma was incredible. If I were Jim Crockett I would have offered him a huge contract to stay.

  • To what degree was Starrcade a JCP show and to what extent was it an NWA show? Were all these wrestlers Mid-Atlantic guys or were other territories represented? I think Solie mentioned the Briscoes were working in Kansas City and Harley was always a KC/St. Louis guy, right?

  • Lastly, Bob Coddle is underrated, Barbara Clary was the hardest worker that night, and the highlight of the whole show was Gordon Solie saying, apropos of nothing, “Many have accused Sullivan of being a druid.”

Take Care

Alexander from Portland

Due to being home a tremendous amount, I decided to watch every WrestleMania. I had no prior experience watching wrestling from the 80s, so these shows have been insightful and have provided a lot of context for what we watch today. While this show had technical issues, in-ring it was so much better than WrestleMania I. There were so many things that set this show apart from the first Mania: the overhead camera shot, the sheer amount of blood, the lack of celebrities, the match types, the credits, the fan interactions, the acknowledgement of other wrestling promotions (I believe it was Piper wearing a New Japan shirt early on in the show). Speaking of, after getting through this show and the first three WrestleManias, I’ve grown such an admiration for the Hot Rod. His promos are intense, his matches are always entertaining, and he was very equipped to be a top heel or babyface.

One thing I did notice was that both the first matches in the first WrestleMania and Starrcade featured masked wrestlers.

Comparing this show to what we get today from companies like WWE, AEW, and New Japan, it obviously lacks in the in-ring department. However watching this show with 1980’s wrestling eyes it’s hard to say this was a bad show. It’s difficult to complain about such a major wrestling event being three hours, especially coming after a two night WrestleMania where each night went beyond three hours apiece. Fun characters (even though I have no idea how Charlie Brown was legally okay as a name for a wrestler (after reading his Wikipedia, he supposedly is going to wrestle this year, making it his seventh decade of competing)), shorter show, great crowd. 7/10

Question: do you have a favorite wrestling event from the 1980s?

Thanks for reviewing Starrcade 83…it’s a year before I jumped into wrestling so it’s a great rewatch. Just wanted to add how amazing Bob Orton junior was. With the exception of Arn Anderson I have never seen anyone work so well in any situation, anywhere on a card. Tags, singles, manager role it didn’t matter. Main events or curtain jerking he was always solid. I saw him wrestle Lanny Poffo to a very good match in Toronto and then wrestle Hulk Hogan on tv for the title in a ring with broken ropes in a match just as good. Even with his son who he is, Bob Orton often gets forgotten, but he shouldn’t. Plus I loved his awesome overhand punches. Thanks for the review.