MISSY’S MANOR: STARRCADE 1987 — THE RISE & SLAM

Posted December 12th, 2011 by 1Wrestling News Team

I was being interviewed a couple of years ago. One of the questions they asked me was my memories on Starrcade 1987. I honestly couldn’t even recall being at the event. I guess it must have felt like just another show for me in comparison to being at the “WrestleMania” of Jim Crockett Promotions. Even when the event was released on commercial video tape, I wasn’t even sure that I was there live, since Turner Home Entertainment usually edited out the interviews on their commercial tapes. Recently a fan sent me the WWE 24/7 version of the show & to my surprise I was actually on the show. Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross introduced me in conducting interviews & that was it for my appearance for the show. Geez, why wonder I don’t remember it. Even the former Florida Announcer in Jack Gregory & Magnum TA had a similar cameo appearance.

Enough about me & off to the event that was a variable in Jim Crockett having to sell his business a year later to Ted Turner. Crockett earlier in the year had purchased the UWF. The purchase was primarily for the rights to run the territory & to gain possession of the 70% of television syndication clearance in the U.S. Crockett’s plan was to posses more local TV then the WWF. This would allow him to tour more markets with localized promotion for the upcoming house shows. Plus many people fail to remember that not everybody was wired to cable or satellite TV in the 1980’s. TBS also had restrictions on what channels that Jim Crockett broadcasted his syndicated shows on, but by using the UWF shows, it would be his loop hole around any TV exclusivity that TBS wanted in certain markets {TBS didn’t want any NWA programming on the Tribune Network at the time].

Unfortunately Jim Crockett quickly lumped the UWF crew in to the NWA crew in less then three months of a half ass attempt to run two separate territories [best comparison would be RAW & Smackdown]. Both crews would tour together on the Great American Bash tour of 1987 to give more depth to the undercard & to run two shows per night. This was fine in theory, since in actuality the core guys of Jim Crockett promotions were on the brink of going stale from over exposure [4 Jim Crockett TV shows per weekend] & being on top for too long, without shuffling new talent on top to create new programs.

The UWF show required Jim Crockett to pay for the television time as if it was paid programming with the idea that profits could be recouped thru selling advertising & touring the new markets. Unfortunately several key factors threw a monkey wrench in to the business model. Television ratings plummeted nationally by 40%. The problem was this occurred early in the fall TV season & during sweeps week in which you need high TV ratings in order to sell advertising that you reach a certain amount of TV viewers in order to determine the price for advertising to sell to advertisers. The UWF TV shows dropped in ratings, since it no longer resembled the wrestling that they were educated to by Bill Watts.

The TV became redundant with 30 second squash matches & three minute interviews on almost all of the TV shows. No matter how great Flair, Dusty, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jim Cornette, & others were on the mic, a TV viewer could only sustain so many weeks of the same people promoting the same issues before it gets tiresome. Instead of switching the format to longer wrestling matches, Crockett retained this formula to the end.

Another problem going in to Starrcade were the UWF guys being lumped in to opening & mid card acts. Instead of protecting the UWF titles for the eventual unification matches, NWA created a situation in which a casual TV viewer would have a hard time deciphering which title was more valuable between the NWA champion, UWF, champion, US champion, Western States Heritage champion, NWA & UWF TV champion, NWA Florida champion, NWA, U.S., & UWF tag team champion. My god, there were more titles then boxing. I still wonder how you would gauge which title was worth more between the Western States, Florida, or UWF Title?

Unfortunately the advertising revenue for the syndicated TV shows was not meeting the expected ad revenue projections. Some of the new markets were having soft business, Los Angeles & NY were barely drawing enough on the live gates to cover the $6,000 week time slot in the largest markets.

To make matters worse, Crockett was rolling the dice on Starrcade being a big seller on Pay Per View in hopes of bringing in $2,000,000 in buys. The live gate was successful in Chicago, which in my opinion was short sighted. Especially since Jim Crockett had done big business for two years in a row by having the events in Greensboro, NC & Atlanta Georgia with a closed circuit feed. I rather have two big houses VS. a sell out in a mid sized building. Unfortunately the UWF territory was dead, so an additional show at the Superdome with a closed circuit feed was definitely out [the 1986 Thanksgiving show at the Superdome barely drew $76,000 with discounted tickets].

The final nail in Starrcade 1987 was WWF flexing their muscle in making the PPV carriers having to decide between carrying the first Survivor Series or Starrcade. By Starrcade only being carried on four cable systems, Crockett didn’t come close to his projected revenue that he needed to sustain his syndicated television network & guaranteed contracts to the talent.

The wrestling show itself was alright, but it was marred by questionable match making & booking that many wrestlers & fans still question to this day. Instead of having a NWA Title VS. UWF Title Unification match that would have been fresh, Flair was chasing Ronnie Garvin for the NWA title. I would have preferred Barry Windham in that spot. The Road Warriors getting the visual pin & the tag team titles to be later reversed was a finish that should had never been done. It pissed off many fans that had seen the finish in some form on too many NWA shows [the same finish would be recreated at The Great American Bash 1988 PPV less then a year later]. I always felt that Jim Crockett Promotions had the superior territory in the 1980’s in creating a great TV & live show product, unfortunately his final Starrcade was a dud.

The aftermath that went in to Jim Crockett’s final year as a promotion was pretty sad. The UWF crew was discarded with the acception of Sting & Rick Steiner who would become break out superstars. Many of the Crockett crew would leave over many issues, which sadly included Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson that marked the end of what many people recognized with fond memories as The Four Horsemen. Dusty Rhodes [who at times had the greatest booking mind, EVER!!!!] would leave. Sadly this whole domino effect started before Starrcade 1987.

I still believe that Jim Corckett & Bill Watts had the superior wrestling television shows in the 1980’s that still stands the test of time in angles, talent, booking, & work rate. I can still watch old school Jim Crockett or Mid South TV shows and think to myself that there are so many aspects of their products that still hold up today & are greatly lacking today in wrestling.

Missy Hyatt

1St. Lady Of Wrestling

www.missyhyatt.net

missyhyatt@live.com

Category: Wrestling.

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Comments

  1. By Jeff De Vito, posted

    Missy
    It’s good to have you back,I’ve missed your insight and commentary on the sport in both past and present day.Hopefully this means a regular return to your column,and I can once again enjoy the comments of someone who was there during the heyday of wrestling.
    Welcome back Missy!

  2. By Jay, posted

    truly one of the best articles from an insider on the two greatest territories! I grew up watching all of this and now enjoy hearing about it from a different aspect of the business. ON a side note, I got to see you up close before you were an announcer during your time in UWF. Even though you were the heel, you were very sweet,unlike Dark Journey who was very sarcastic…I was only 10! thanks for the article

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