Ten Thoughts on a Memory
The Road Warriors turn heel on Sting
October 7th, 1988
“WELL!!” Ah, Hawk’s opening to every promo since the AWA days. That along with “Tell ‘em Hawk!!” holds a great place for me. Growing up as a child of the 1980’s, I certainly started my wrestling watching career, if you will, with the idea that the Hulkster was the be all end all of wrestling. I didn’t care about anyone else, other than Andre. But then something strange happened. I can actually vividly remember my babysitter, on a Saturday night when my parents were out to eat; telling me that there was wrestling on. “No way!”, I thought as he changed the channel. What stood out the most was that it was darker, more brutish, more gladiator like. I don’t know why I remember that. Just one of those things I guess.
But then as I watched, I realized something. These guys hit hard! Not only that, but they’re faster and more fun to watch as well. So in 1986, I became a faithful, and I mean faithful, NWA follower. I mean, I missed mixers or whatever the hell they were called to watch on Saturdays.
The Road Warriors, Sting, Dusty. For the love of god, THE FOUR HORSEMEN! Absolutely the coolest group of men in the history of wrestling. Hogan had nothing on these guys. You can have your 30 second Honky Tonk Man matches; I’ll take Dusty bleeding his guts out during the prime time dinner hour any day.
Sting & The Road Warriors Vs. The Varsity Club
October 7th, 1988 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdqFNV4OY6U
This match is famous for 1 main reason: That being the culmination of The Road Warriors heel turn. It had been led up to for months, with Dusty being the focal point, but with Dusty out doing charity work, Sting became the recipient of a hellacious Warriors beat down. Onto the match…
1. Sting had some seriously *WHOMP-ASS* theme music back in these days. That middle riff alone makes me want to jump in the ring myself whenever I hear it.
2. The Road Warriors were very, very intimidating throughout their NWA run. It really goes to show how Vince’s traveling merchandising show can turn certified bad asses into wimps with the red spikes and the different, happier face paint.
3. One more thought on Vince and the differences in his style as compared to the NWA. The work rate is just so FAR and ABOVE what the WWF (am I gonna get sued???) was offering at this point, it is ridiculous. Very quickly into the match, you see The Road Warriors just thumping away on the entire Varsity Club. After that, the Varsity Club picks a body part on Animal, and WORKS on it. And to that end, it actually AFFECTS the match! What a concept Vince. (and Hulk)
4. Jim Ross and Bob Caudle were the best serious announcing team of all time. Not my favorite, that would fall to Gorilla and The Brain. What do I mean by serious? They could put together the concept of what the guys in the ring were trying to accomplish. They talked about the action, and the circumstances surrounding it. They were not just there to put over merchandise or whatever the next show was.
5. Seeing Rick Steiner as the goofy heel is quite strange. He was always goofy when The Steiners were together, but at least he seemed to get the concept of the match. He seems like Kamala out there.
6. Mike Rotunda was a really, really good wrestler. He took it to the mat early and often, but he had the ability to brawl and fly as well. Too bad he got sucked up into Vince’s crap machine as I.R.S. (do I seem bitter?)
7. The crowd is so much hotter than the WWF at the time. Remember the Disney tapings from WCW? That’s what the WWF crowds seem like in comparison to NWA crowds. The coolest thing ever was Dusty throwing the Bionic Elbows and the crowd would in unison go “hoo-hoo-hoo”.
8. I like how they handled the Warriors heel turn. They went with the obvious “they won’t tag Sting and we’re wondering why” way, but it worked well here. Well, let’s be honest, it worked well in 1988, a simpler time.
9. Kevin Sullivan not being, uh, REALLY evil was strange to see. He was most certainly a heel here, but I’m used to him being the sick, evil bloodletting heel. I never got his inclusion into the Varsity Club. Yes, he was the supposed mastermind, but he just didn’t fit the amateur background of the rest of the group.
10. Luger as a bouncing babyface never worked for me. When he came out to save Sting, it was just a joke. Sure, the fans were behind him, but that is because he was just a cool guy back in the day, not because he was the virtuous face that you’re used to in the ‘80s.
I certainly hope you enjoy this match as much as I did. It is a great showcase of what the NWA was offering at that point, (not great WRESTLING) but the hot crowd, the brutish change from the WWF and the way they all worked in the ring are the glaring things that stick out to me.