1987 is an interesting year in WCW’s history. Still operating as Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW was treading water in late ’87. The WWF had presented Wrestlemania III that previous April, raising the bar of what a Triple-A Wrestling Show should be. WCW was gearing up for Starrcade on Thanksgiving of that year. WCW Saturday Night was the main show for WCW and featured many high profile stars cutting promos every week. Match wise, the show was mostly comprised of squash matches between stars and enhancement talent but always featured a fairly strong main event. 1987 WCW is an era I’ve always been interested in, but I’ve never fully immersed myself into this time period. The pre-Turner WCW is considered a golden age by many; so, let’s just dive into an episode of WCW Saturday Night from thirty years ago! Let’s see if it lives up to the legacy it has!
Show opens with a video recapping Tully Blanchard vs Nikita Koloff. Tully is going to steal a victory after clobbering Nikita with a foreign object, but Barry Windham breaks up the count. I paused the show here to take this opportunity to discuss the state of this ring. Black ropes, red turnbuckles in two of the corners, blue in the two other corners, a royal blue mat and yellow ring skirts. Garish, busy and hideous.
Blanchard and Windham brawl while Nikita gets back to his feet. Arn Anderson drags Barry out of the ring, while JJ Dillon rushes in and gets a clothesline for his trouble. Koloff grabs the foreign object and bashes Tully in the skull with it. Nikita gets the three-count and becomes the new WCW World Television Champion! The crowd loses their freaking minds as all of the babyfaces rush in to celebrate.
We then have our open for the show; the most 80’s thing I’ve seen in a while. Our hosts for the evening are David Crockett (brother of Jim Crockett, owner of the company) and a very young Tony Schiavone rocking an incredible mustache.
They recap Nikita Koloff beating Tully Blanchard and cover the cracks in the armor of The Four Horsemen. Tony tells us Nikita will defend the TV title tonight. Tony tells us we’ll hear more in the wars raging between Ric Flair and Ron Garvin as well as Dusty Rhodes and Lex Luger. David covers some of the other matches in store for us before Kendall and Barry Windham the walk onto the set for an interview. Barry looks like a star. Kendall looks like Magnum TA was left in a dryer for too long. Barry says nothing of much substance and Kendall mutters a, “Yeah, I’m ready for it.”
Judging by his lack of enthusiasm, I highly doubt he is. Tony throws us to the ring.
Match #1: Nikita Koloff vs Alan Martin
THIS is Nikita’s big title defense. Alan Martin…good God…the state of him. Balding, curly blonde hair, a big ol’ belly and cheap red tights. Hey, Teddy Long is the referee here! That’s hella cool. Who’d of thought a ref would make it into the Hall of Fame before Nikita. There’s a slow start to the match, but why? I think I know who’s gonna win this one. Good Lord, Martin gets in two punches! Aaaand then he gets utterly destroyed and thrown out of the ring. Collar and elbow number five of the match, followed by an arm ringer by Martin. Then, Nikita promptly makes his comeback, nails the sickle, and retains his title. This… this was a squash and boy, did it serve its purpose.
Cut to Nikita Koloff being interviewed by Tony Schiavone, and I honestly cannot understand a goddamn word he is saying. I’m not even joking. I can understand the names that he is saying but literally nothing else! I swear to God. I always knew Nikita did this but JESUS I had no idea it was this inaudible.
Match #2: Lex Luger vs Keith Steinborn
Luger is wearing one of the greatest robes I have ever seen. I can totally see why people called him The Total Package. Steinborn looks like the love child of Eric Embry and Mick Foley. Luger hotdogs for a while as Tony openly buries ol’ Keithy boy. Why even have the match then? Collar and elbow tie-up number four into a headlock. JUST RACK HIM LEX, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!
Teddy Long is referee again, and I guarantee he wasn’t paid double. JJ Dillon was managing Lex at this time (obviously, since Lex is a member of the Four Horsemen) and jumps on commentary briefly to boast on how Luger is not worried about Dusty Rhodes. Lex hits a powerslam and calls for the rack, which David Crockett plainly refers to here as a “backbreaker.” Did it not have a name yet, or was David just thick? Or both perhaps? Luger racked him, Steinborn submits and Luger picks up a win.
Back from break, Tony interviews JJ Dillon and Lex Luger. They mention the Weaver lock, which is a sleeper hold done by Johnny Weaver. Weaver has apparently taught Dusty the Weaver lock to combat Lex’s torture rack. Lex then mocks Nikita and says he talks, “like he has strep throat.”
Luger ain’t wrong. Lex’s promo was actually shockingly good. He tells Dusty to step aside and that Lex Luger is the future of pro wrestling.
Match #3: Tully Blanchard vs Ed Franks
JJ is still out with Tully, who looks pissed. AND HE SHOULD. He lost a title, and that means something. He should want to kill someone. Ed Franks is in shockingly good shape when compared to Steinborn and Martin. Looks kinda like B. Brian Blair. Teddy Long is AGAIN the referee. Jesus, was there a strike? Camera random-ass cuts to some kid chilling in the crowd. Tully rubs Frank’s face into the mat, which is awesome. Tully stomps Ed on the outside for a minute before a front facelock in the ring. JJ on commentary says lawyers are looking to get Blanchard his title back as well as saying the Horsemen were coming after the Six-Man Tag Titles. Blanchard slowly, methodically is beating down Ed Frank. Slingshot suplex and the three count.
Match #4: Arn Anderson vs Mike Jackson
Arn is wearing a beautiful baby blue bomber jacket, with the Horsemen logo embroidered on the back. Awesome. Teddy Long is back again, God bless him. Arn shakes Jackson’s hand, what a lovely man. Jackson looks like if your Dad hit the gym for two months and put on a singlet. Arn still had a decent amount of hair at this point, which I find completely noteworthy. Mike Jackson is actually not bad as this is already the best match on the show. Leapfrog off the second rope from Jackson. Arn is somewhat taken aback and asks, “Where did you come from anyway!?”
It’s at this point the crowd starts chanting, “Arn is a sissy!”
Ah, so innocent. Two drop down leaps as Arn finally cuts Jackson off with a punch to the stomach followed by awesome stomps. Big bodyslam by Arn followed by a knee for a two count. Jackson hits a headlock takeover and GETS A TWO COUNT. But Anderson has none of it and throws Jackson to the outside. Jackson hops up on the apron and attempts a sunset flip on Anderson, but instead we get ALOHA ARN. YES. Anderson nails the punch and hits wicked elbow for a two. Headlock because the match was too fun for this show. Double-A spinebuster finally gets the three and Arn wins.
Schiavone is standing by with Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and JJ Dillon. Hell yeah. Tully claims Nikita cheats better than him, which is true. Blanchard tells Nikita to hold on to that title real tight, because he’s not gonna have it for very long. Arn says he was simply having a warm up with Mike Jackson, since he is roughly the same size as Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. Luger and Ric Flair join the scene and we now have all Four Horsemen together.
Ric Flair video package. Kinda weird to see something like this from so long ago.
Back from commercial with Tony Schiavone standing by with Dusty Rhodes, wearing a yellow polo and blazer. Dusty talks about how whenever he says or does anything, everybody wants to do the same thing. Dusty wanders over to a TV monitor and shows us video of him choking out while Johnny Weaver stands by and applauds. Weaver wakes up by slapping him, somehow. Dusty talks about how, “WTBS, NWA pro worldwide wrestling, the UWF, Jim Crockett promotions is spreading the greatest wrestling people in the world.”
That was verbatim, if you couldn’t tell.
Cut to a women holding up her YOUNG BABY to see Dusty Rhodes. One lucky ass baby. He tells Luger, “You ain’t gonna be pretty no more!”
Rugged Ronnie Garvin is with Schiavone. He talks about how he wants the world title and $1,000,000 that comes with it. Garvin says he’s badder than Rambo and The Terminator. I highly doubt that.
Match #5: Ron Garvin vs Terry Jones
Teddy is back. Ronnie is pissed and chops the hell out of Jones. Big back body drop followed immediately by the Hand of Stone for the three count. He the shows us something new, The Garvin Stomp, making its debut. He literally just stomps Jones in a circle, then leaves. Short but…pointless.
Tony is back from the 90th goddamn commercial on this show. He throws to footage of a match between Arn Anderson and Ron Garvin. Where the hell is this show on the WWE Network!? This footage they’re showing, I’m 90% sure is in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, a building where next month I’ll be in attendance to see Terry Funk wrestle Jerry Lawler! I’m quite excited. This match looked awesome, way better than anything on this show. Garvin locks in the figure-four, Dusty runs down to stop JJ from interfering, allowing Flair to interfere instead.
All hell breaks loose as Luger and Tully run down. The Windhams and Nikita come to even the odds after Luger racks Dusty.
Ric Flair is next on the interviewing chopping block. Flair, a heel, is so great, even Schiavone can’t help but smile the entire time. Ric shows off his custom $6,000 lizard shoes and his $13,000 Rolex. Not a modest man. He says Garvin is not on his level and calls Garvin’s wife, “a golden retriever.” At least she’s a good girl. It’s your typical Flair promo, which means it’s better than anything to happen in wrestling in the last month.
Match #6: United States Tag Team Championship – The Midnight Express (C) w/Jim Cornette vs The Windhams
Teddy is back to make it a clean sweep. Bobby Eaton starts off with Barry Windham. The action between these two men is basic but so freaking smooth. Nothing awkward. Bobby tags in Stan Lane, wearing pink and green sherbet tights. Barry tags in Kendall, who immediately slows the match’s pace. Speaking of slowing the pace, Commercial #120 interrupts the match. The Midnights have cut off Kendall as Bobby hits an awesome top rope leg drop. Bobby Eaton really may be the most underrated wrestler of all time. And honestly, Stan Lane isn’t far behind. Kendall briefly gets a pin attempt, but Bobby and Stan tear him down again. Kendall isn’t as bad as I thought, but he does one of the most awkward leap frogs of all time before tagging in Barry Windham, who runs wild on the Midnights. Bobby and Kendall brawl on the outside, but Cornette whacks Kendall with the tennis racket. Out comes Nikita Koloff to save Kendall. The Express and Barry Windham beat down Bobby and Stan inside the ring as Teddy Long calls for the bell. The Midnight Express retain the titles via DQ!
Back from hopefully the final commercial, Cornette is screaming about Nikita Koloff interfering. He says Nikita doesn’t know a wrist lock from a wrist watch and says either Bobby or Stan could beat Nikita for the TV Title real easily.
He also informs Nikita that he is on Mama Cornette’s Bad List. Wonder who else is on there, bro? Cornette is so freaking good. He tells Nikita that after the Midnights get done with him, the only belt around his waist will be the one holding up his pants. Tony signs out and we are outta here!
I’m pretty torn about this show to be honest with you. A part of me wants to say that I loved it because of it’s simplicity. But another part of me wants to say it’s simplicity bored me to tears. I watched WCW Mayhem two weeks ago, a three hour pay-per-view. This is a one-hour TV show, and it felt just about as long.
Now, there were some things that I loved about this show. All of the forty-nine promos on the show were excellent, better than anything you’d see today. Arn Anderson and Mike Jackson had a very entertaining match, and the main event was awesome. However the pacing, the constant commercial breaks and television tropes of the time bring the show down. The biggest enemy to this era is time. If this exact same show had the production values of a WCW show from a decade later, it would be awesome, no doubt. But as it stands, it’s a harmless watch. You have to be in the right mood for it though, I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who has never watched 1987 WCW before as you can do wayyyy better.
Just try to pretend it’s a Saturday night at 6:05 pm, kick back with a can of Mountain Dew and watch some old school southern ‘rasslin. You might like a thing or two.
White hummer enthusiast, Tony Schiavone super-fan and the youngest WCW fan on the internet! Though my memories of watching WCW live are very few, my love and admiration for the company and brand run deep. I’ll be writing all sorts of interesting (hopefully) columns and opinion pieces about various WCW shows, many of which I may be watching for the first time. Proud to be on the website, where the big boys play!