Where the Big Boys Play is an old-school wrestling podcast focusing mainly on reviewing PPV shows put on by the NWA / Jim Crockett Promotions / WCW hosted by Chad (aka Soup23) and Parv (aka JerryvonKramer), starting with Starrcade 83. On occasion, we will also dip into supercards put on by the AWA and other territories as well as invite guests to take part in roundtable debates. We will not cover old WWF shows because they have already been covered so comprehensively by others.
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Where the Big Boys Play #1 – Starrcade 83: Part 1
After some brief self-introductions detailing their history as wrestling fans, Chad and Parv take a look at the first four matches of the so-called “Grandaddy of them all”, Starrcade 83. Highlights include: being a wrestling fan in the UK, discussion of late-70s dancing babyfaces, lame finishes, assessing Gordon Solie in general, the difference between Carolinas Flair and Minnesota Flair, and Dusty’s mic trouble.
Chad and Parv continue their analysis of Starrcade 83 by looking at the concluding four matches. Highlights include: extended evaluation of the Great Kabuki’s claw hold, Japanese wrestlers dogging it in the US, more assessment of Solie, picks for MVP, match of the night and worst performance, and we ask “does Harley Race really care?”
Before moving on to Starrcade ’84, Chad and Parv rewind back to March 1983 for this big show at Greensboro Coliseum — a good example of what a supercard in the pre-PPV era might have looked like and featuring a main event that has been mythologized by smart fans for years. Topics include: assessing Dr Tom Miller as a ring announcer, the concept of face managers including Arnold Skaaland in WWF, the plight of ageing 60s and 70s wrestlers in the 80s, Chad wonders why Gary Hart was known as “Playboy”?, the pod pays homage to the energy of David Crockett, and an unusually in-depth review of the legendary Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle vs. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood cage match for the NWA world tag titles.
Chad and Parv take a look at the first six matches of Starrcade ’84. Highlights include: Kamala’s wife and his payoffs, some thoughts on World Class, the definition of “catch-as-catch-can”, what the hell were the Zambuie Express meant to be? Dusty Rhodes looking the biggest he has EVER looked drapped in a tracksuit jacket, more complaints about the quality of finishes on these early NWA shows, some appreciation of JJ Dillon as a manager, Chad reveals his undying love for “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, and Parv wonders why heels are always intelligent schemers and why faces are always happy-go-lucky “not too bright” types.
Chad and Parv complete their review of Starrcade 84. Highlights include: Parv speculates over when Minnesota Flair became “Slick Ric”, discussion over the psychology of heel-in-peril sections in tag matches, Ricky Steamboat’s reputation and where it comes from, Chad judges the judges for the mainevent, Dusty’s atheltic background, and our picks for MVP, match of the night and least valuable player.
As Chad is out traveling with work, Parv is joined by Brian (aka Smack2k) to talk about the Great American Bash ’85. Show highlights include: Brian’s background as a wrestling fan, the transition from 84 to 85, Parv wonders why Buddy Landel stuck with the “Nature Boy Jr” gimmick for so long, Brian waxes lyrical about his love for The Barbarian, and speculation over how Baby Doll and Sam Houston’s relationship worked.
Brian and Parv conclude their round up of the Great American Bash 85. Highlights include: differences between perceptions of the cold war in the 80s in the UK and the US, more talk of the transition from “the Starrcade 83 Flair” to Slick Ric and the weirdness about him being heel vs. Magnum TA around this time but face vs. Nikita Koloff, speculation about Dusty’s secret (legit) dark desires for Baby Doll, the relative position of the US and TV titles in 85, and end of show awards.
Brian, Chad and Parv unite for the first three-man edition of Where the Big Boys Play to take on the first half of Starrcade 85. In this episode: Chad recounts the memories of his father- and brother-in-law of being at The Omni half of Starrcade 85 and talks about the importance of the Omni to the Atlanta area in general, the gradual transition from Charlotte to Atlanta of JCP / WCW, Sam Houston: stupidest babyface we’ve seen so far?, Brian explains how baldness can make you — or at least Barry Darsow — look bigger, Parv can’t substantiate the rumour that the ring announcer at The Omni is former AWA play-by-play man Rodger Kent, Manny Fernandez’s wild delusions of grandeur, Parv rants about Paul Jones’s lack of managerial acumen, and the missed opportunities of Buddy Landel’s career.
Brian, Chad and Parv wrap up on Starrcade 85. Highlights include: more talk of Baby Doll’s importance to Tully’s phenomenal 1985, David Crockett shouting “SHE LIKES IT” as Magnum TA steals a kiss, discussion of where the Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard “I Quit” match will rank in the eventual DVDR 80s project JCP set, Chad’s manlove for the Boogie Woogie man escalates even further, Brian is taken out by the raging Pittsburgh thunder storm, analysis of Flair and Dusty’s chemistry (or lack of it) and end of show awards.
Brian and Parv take a look at this TV special from February 1986. Topics include: differences between JCP and WWF in the booking of the tag division, who on earth is Linda Curry?, speculation on why Crockett gave the decrepit Baron von Raschke into the promotion from the AWA at this time, Willie Nelson, Dusty Rhodes and differences between British and American working class values, further talk about Dusty’s dark desires for Baby Doll, more classic moments from David Crockett who is on top form, analysis of Tommy Young’s (kayfabe) performance as a ref, and picks for match of the night, MVP and The Billy Graham award.
Brian, Chad and Parv travel across 14 different cities over 33 days (well just 3 cities actually) to bring you the first part of their look at the Great American Bash 86. In this episode: speculation over where the 1986 Crockett Cup is now, how well the GAB 86 tour drew across different towns, Parv rails on Tommy Young (yet again), Brian on his experiences as a “bald-headed geek”, the greatest haircut in the history of US wrestling, and the continued devaluing of the TV title.
Chad and Parv and an increasingly croaky-voiced Brian wrap up the Great American Bash 86. Highlights include: Brian vs. Dave Meltzer on the Nikita Koloff vs. Magnum TA feud, Chad on Dusty Rhodes’s Red Man tobacco hat and his possible chewing habits, debate: was Dusty Rhodes placating his own ego with the cage match against Flair?, did Flair and Stan Hansen ever have a match in the 80s?, and end of show awards in which Tully Blanchard continues his quest to be MVP seemingly every show.
Brian, Chad and Parv tackle the first half of Starrcade 86. Topics include: thoughts on Magnum TA and what could have been, how Ronnie Garvin and Jimmy Garvin are related, Chad’s dad’s love of Bob Armstrong and general assessment of Brad Armstrong vs. his rep, thoughts on both Hector and Chavo Guerrero, has Baron von Raschke ever had a good match?, Parv vs. Brian on the worth of the US tag belts, poor Jimmy Valiant and JCP’s fundamental inability to book decent pay offs for babyfaces.
Brian, Chad and Parv wrap up Starrcade 86. On this show: Chad reveals he used to babysit for the Big Boss Man, general feelings about scaffold matches, end of show award picks, and Parv recounts his online debate with PWO’s Matt D about Tully’s involvement in the Baby Doll face turn and the amazing intervention of JJ Dillon into that discussion.
In this show, after an almost two-month absence, Where the Big Boys Play returns for the Crockett Cup 1987! Before that, however, Parv goes through his notes for Supertowns on the Superstation from February 87, which ends up taking the first 20-minutes of the show. Highlights include: explanation of two-month absence, talk of Hollywood, Florida (including Hulk Hogan’s boat and house, and Ted DiBiase’s ‘seasonal residence’), more actual rock ‘n’ roll from everyone’s favourite band, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, more bashing of Paul Jones, how bad editing can really affect the flow and psychology of a match, Hector Guerrero as Laser Tron!, Chad talks about his love for Randy ‘Don’t call me Pee Wee’ Anderson, and about Bob Armstrong in Smokey Mountain, and Parv draws from Meltzer’s original Wrestling Observer Newsletters from early 1987 to fill in what we didn’t see on the tape and on some of the important backstage and onscreen stuff that was happening at this time such as the enduring mystery of Dennis Condrey leaving the NWA, how Mulkeymania was running wild, and JCP’s purchases of the Florida and Mid-South territories from Mike Graham and Bill Watts respectively.
Chad and Parv complete their review of the Crockett Cup 1987. In this show: thoughts on there being 24 teams in the Crockett Cup, general opinions of Lex Luger, appreciation of Jim Cornette’s antics during the Midnight Express’s matches during this tournament, has anyone ever taken a piledriver on the floor apart from Ted DiBiase in 1983 and Kurt Angle in 2001?, general surprise at seeing the attitude era / Flair-in-Legacy-era low blow in 1987, debate over whether Flair vs. Windham is really a ***** match, and Chad and Parv’s picks for the end of show awards.
Chad and Parv take a look at Great American Bash 1987. Highlights include: have the babyfaces ever won the coin toss for the Wargames?, views on Rick Steiner’s offense, and Chad gives extended thoughts on the careers of both Dick Murdoch and Steve Williams in the US and Japan.
Chad and Parv finish up their review of Great American Bash 1987. In this show: Parv reveals the extent of Vladimir Pietrov’s ‘legal problems’, an unexpected detour to discuss the current WWE product, Dusty Rhodes: weighing in at 285lbs, Chad tells a story about when his mum saw Ric Flair live and got an eyefull of more than she’d bargained for, picks for End of the Show Awards, and the pod says farewell to Brian.
It’s Starrcade time again, 1987 style. For this show Chad and Parv are joined by King Solomon who will be the first 3rd man / guest host of our rotating “hot seat”. In this show: Solomon talks about life growing up as a wrestling fan in LA during the 80s, analysis of JCP’s handling and booking of the UWF takeover, Parv’s wife threw out his notes so Chad takes over play-by-play for the first two matches, why did the Midnight Express keep agreeing to scaffold matches?, and the burial of Terry Taylor.
Solomon, Chad and Parv finish their review of Starrcade 87. In this show: To what extent did Dusty’s booking of the tag title match at this show “kill Chicago” for Crockett, were the Road Warriors ever been pinned in the 1980s?, Dusty Rhodes: 270lbs!, the difference between Dave Meltzer’s views in 1987 vs. our views in 2012, Parv mounts a defence of Ronnie Garvin, would you have bought this show or Survivor Series 87?, and picks for the end of show awards.
Chad and Parv talk about Bunkhouse Stampede 88. In this show: Chad talks about how he’s basically “the mini Big Boss Man”, some discussion of how tv ratings and PPV buyrates worked in the late 80s, evaluation of the roster at this time and how signing Ted DiBiase and Curt Hennig might have helped Crockett, Larry Zbyszko’s ultimate ambition in life: to win the Western States Heritage title!, young Jim Ross’s intense hyperbole, Chad rants about why Road Warrior Hawk is an idiot and Parv explains why he hates the Road Warriors in general, the mythical book of wrestling records, arguably the worst 10 minutes in wrestling broadcast history, why can’t the Warlord’s arms bend?, after 20 shows Chad finally lays into Dusty’s massive ego, comparison with Royal Rumble 88, and end of show awards.
Chad is away with work, but Parv welcomes Wrestlespective Radio’s Jason Mann to discuss the very first Clash of the Champions. This episode includes: Jason’s background as a wrestling fan, some random memories of the WWF Wrestlefest arcade game, Jason gives some background on the history of wrestling in the Detroit / Mid-West area, and Parv gets an education in US 1950s sitcoms, especially ‘Leave It to Beaver’, and Jason gives his thoughts on various wrestlers that Frances Crockett mentions as she runs down the top 10 teams from the upcoming Crockett Cup 88.
Parv and Jason Mann finish up on Clash of the Champions 1. In this episode: Parv questions the continued booking of Ivan Koloff against top babyfaces, Jason hypes the Warlord as a better worker in 2012 than he was in 1987 (based on his appearance in Chikara), discussion again of NWA-style booking of babyfaces vs. WWF-style booking, the relative merits of the fan-fake Sting and fan-fake Hogan, the life and times of the 1988 ‘Pet of the Year’ Patty Mullen, discussion of the decision-making skills of the NWA Board of Directors, Parv voices his controversial views on Sting vs. Flair from this show, and the sensational and much-anticipated return of Sandy Scott!
Chad and Parv are joined by Robert aka The Atomic Elbow, author of the print-only wrestling fanzine of the same name, to review the first couple of rounds of the The Crockett Cup 1988. In a packed show: Chad gives his thoughts on Clash 1, another look at the ongoing debate about Sting as a Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame candidate, Robert and Chad talk about the indy scene in Georgia including Peach State Wrestling, speculation as to who the hell Mighty Wilbur was and the limitations of internet research, Chad reveals the origin story of the AAA camera men, Chad and Robert plot their relative social positions on The Varsity Club Scale, WWE revisionism about the 1988 version of the horsemen (as opposed to the 1986 version), memories of various Italian wrestlers from the past mainly called ‘Salvatore’, Robert reveals that he is possibly the world’s biggest fan of ‘Pistol’ Pez Shaska Whatley, Dave Meltzer’s thoughts on little girls in the NWA crowds of 1988, and some criticisms of JCP video-tape presentation vs WWF presentation.
Robert, Chad and Parv wrap up their extensive look at Crockett Cup 88 from round 3 to the final. In this episode: ranking New Zealand on the list of countries to inspire ire from the patriotic US rasslin fans, wrestlers from Scandinavia, the realism of Rick Martel’s arrogance and 6-year-old Chad’s Christmas wishlist, a Big-Bossman-inspired wild tangent on US ‘biscuits’ that you serve with ‘gravy’ for breakfast vs UK biscuits that you dunk in your tea, the possible origins of the scars on Dusty’s arms, end of show awards, and much more.
Chad and Parv review Clash of the Champions 2: Miami Mayhem! In this show: Parv has a big announcement, a look at the state of American television advertising in 1988 including a veritable who’s who of d-list celebrities, discussion of the Lyle Alzado star vehicle “Learning the Ropes”, the big contract signing aboard the Black Hawk with Flair’s red sweater, Kevin Sullivan’s parchment plans for the Tower of Doom, Dr Death’s white-kid gloves, Al Perez: least talked about “lost worker” ever?, more discussion of NWA managers as compared with WWF managers, and Dusty Rhodes: 268.5 lbs.
Chad and Parv review Great American Bash 88: The Price for Freedom. In this show: Parv awkwardly reads some listener comments, the strange and wonderful world of the Pro Wrestling Only message boards, the financial performance of JCP in mid-88 and the Turner deal, Chad and Parv have a major disagreement over a match, thoughts on the infamous Tower of Doom match, Dusty Rhodes: 289lbs, and a sad farewell to Arn and Tully.
Chad and Parv review Clash of the Champions 3: Fall Brawl. In this show: some more listener comments aka the Lyle Alzado update, week-by-week Wrestling Observer updates leading up to the Turner deal and Arn and Tully’s departure including Steve Williams and a flight to Tokyo, Summerslam 88: rated 15 in the UK, the oddly non-standard format of the Clash shows, who is awarding Tommy Young “referee of the year” 6 times?, some thoughts on Mike Rotunda, Jim Ross’s chronic overselling on commentary and thoughts on the Ross-Caudle partnership, Parv continues his intense dislike of Steve Williams from this period as Chad continues his equally intense dislike for Dusty’s awful run of form as a wrestler and booker in 1988, and Meltzer on why John Ayers was no Lyle Alzado.
Marching bravely into the Turner era, Chad and Parv review Clash of the Champions 4: Season’s Beatings. In this show: Jim Herd’s never discussed wrestling background, the Road Warriors heel turn, Parv goes nuts over a match that no one else seems to rate highly, the long-awaited return of Jason Hervey, more Steve Williams hate from Parv, a totally ridiculous JYD promo, a critique of Matt Farmer’s method of ranking draws, where Rick Steiner rates among the people with mental disability gimmicks, who is better Bobby Fulton or Robert Gibson?, and a look at Meltzer’s big article from late in 88 on ‘how to save the NWA’.
Where the Big Boys Play #30 – Starrcade 88: Part 1
In this special episode, Chad and Parv welcome Scott and Justin for a joint show between Where the Big Boys Play and The Place to Be to review Starrcade 88. Topics include: Scott and Justin’s backgrounds as wrestling fans and how they started the podcast, how open are you in your wrestling fandom?, some general talk about AWA, Lyle Alzado update, final thoughts on Nikita Koloff, some talk about the ring announcers Tom Miller, Gary Michael Cappetta and Michael Buffer, NWA finishes vs. WWF finishes (again!), which is the best version of the Midnight Express?, Mike Rotunda’s tv title reign, some talk about our various screennames and AOL instant messenger in the 90s, thoughts on Bam Bam Bigelow, and Justin hypes the P2B’s upcoming interview with JJ Dillon.
Where the Big Boys Play #31 – Starrcade 88: Part 2
Chad, Parv, Scott and Justin wrap up their review of Starrcade 88. In this episode: thoughts on Bam Bam Bigelow’s career, why did Crockett wait so long before making the Road Warriors the belts?, another assessment of Paul Ellering, who would Jim Ross rather sleep with Lex Luger or Steve Williams?, as Justin has to step out Scott, Chad and Parv take an in-depth look at Flair vs. Luger, NWA booking philosophy vs. WWF booking philosophy, Meltzer ratings and end of show awards.
Chad and Parv review Clash of the Champions 5: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. In this show, among other things: Dusty out – George Scott in, ranking JJ Dillon among the great managers, the psychology of the Steamboat vs. Flair feud: do you relate to Steamboat or do you want to be like Flair?, The BLACKMAILER! Worst gimmick ever?, ranking The Fantastics among all the 80s US tag teams (are they better than every single WWF team?), sports and the question of class, Chad aka AC Slater talks about some of his amateur wrestling experiences in high school, the Lyle Alzado update and a big roundup on listener comments.
Where the Big Boys Play #33 – Chi-Town Rumble 89
Chad and Parv welcome WCW PPV reviewer extraordinaire Matt Peddycord to take a look at the Chi-Town Rumble. In this show: assessing the influence of Scott Keith, Greensboro vs. Atlanta as the heart of JCP/WCW, Mike Rotunda: Greatest TV champ ever (up till 89)?, Barry Windham: Greatest US champ ever (up till 89)?, Jack Victory: the amazing utility man, George Scott’s love of armwork and weird finishes, Chad and Parv disagree on Steiner vs. Rotunda, and in-depth analysis of the first match in the ‘holy trinity’.
Chad and Parv review Clash of the Champions 6: Ragin’ Cajun. In this episode: Wrestling Observer roundup from March 1989 including disciplinarian George Scott’s 13 new rules for the locker room and a look at Meltzer’s top 100 workers from then, tag match structure with two face-in-peril sequences, a first look at The Great Muta, Parv in liking matwork shocker, the Road Warriors’ 4-year streak of being unpinned, it’s Ranger Ross!, in-depth analysis of Flair vs. Steamboat including ‘the four faces of Flair’ theory, roundup of listener comments and some plugs and recommendations for recent podcasts by other people we like and forum activities.
Where the Big Boys Play #35 – Wrestlewar 89: Part 1
Chad and Parv welcome Lee Maughan, co-author of the multi-volume Complete WWF Video Guide, and Jason Mann, host of the Wrestlespective podcast. In this episode: Lee talks about his background as a wrestling fan growing up in the UK, his experiences writing the books and Ken Patera, round-up on April / May 89 newsletters including a Wrestlemania V vs. Clash 6 readers’ poll, Barry Windham’s status as an assistant booker to Dusty, The Oakridge Boys vs. Run DMC, Doug Gilbert, ranking Sean Mooney among WWF’s C-string commentators, it’s Ranger Ross!, would Michael Hayes make a top 10 promos of all-time list?, when precisely did Hayes go from being cool to lame?, and wrestlers who don’t wear boots.
Chad, Parv, Lee Maughan and Jason Mann wrap up their review of Wrestlewar 89. In this episode: does Summerslam 91 have the worst main event ever?, in-depth review of the third part of the Flair vs. Steamboat trilogy including comparing and ranking the three matches, analysing the motivations of Terry Funk in the famous post-match attack angle, the life and times of Joe Pedicino and Boni Blackstone, and end of show awards.
Chad and Parv take a look at Clash of the Champions 7: Guts and Glory. In this episode: some appreciation for Jason Mann’s Wrestlespective show, Meltzer’s best and worst PPV rankings to date, “Fist Fighter” starring Superstar Billy Graham!, The Parade of Champions: Chad reveals what Randy Rose and Ranger Ross are up to now in 2013, Johnny Ace / John John Laurinaitis, **Wrestlecrap spectacular featuring the many masks of Jack Victory, the Ding Dongs, Norman the Lunatic and, yes, it’s Ranger Ross!!**, thoughts on Terry Gordy and Scott Steiner, Mike Rotunda on career-best form, are the Varisty Club an all-time, top-10 stable or even a top-20 stable?, Flair the Lakers fan, and is Luger better as a face or as a heel?
Where the Big Boys Play #38 – Great American Bash 89
In the longest-ever bumper edition of Where the Big Boys Play, Chad and Parv welcome Kelly Nelson (Ricky Jackson) to talk about the Great American Bash 89: Glory Days. Among many other talking points, in this episode: Parv talks about electric kettles in America and how a proper cup of tea has milk in it, Kelly talks about growing up as a wrestling fan in Calgary, favourite Jack Tunney moments, Gordon Solie’s mythical news segment in which he talks about WWF and other promotions, Bam Bam Bigelow’s boxing career, favourite quick eliminations from Royal Rumbles, how has Teddy Long had a 20+ year career?, initial thoughts about Brian Pillman, Kelly tells us about how he used to be taught at school by Bruce Hart!, the long-awaited return of Jason Hervey, what if the Dynamic Dudes were in the Wire, Chad and Parv disagree on Luger vs. Steamboat and then on Wargames, is GAB 89 the best PPV of all time?, and Chad and Parv fail to read out any listener comments for the 4th straight show.
Where the Big Boys Play #39 – Clash of the Champions 8
Chad and Parv celebrate “Ric Flair Day” by watching Clash of the Champions 8: Fall Brawl. In this show: is it better to cater to core audience or try to expand to casual fans?, Jesse Ventura: colour commentator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, thoughts on both the Z-man and Tommy Rich, for the last time in a while … it’s Ranger Ross!, why would you ever ring the WCW hotline?, and (finally!) some listener comments.
Where the Big Boys Play #40 – Halloween Havoc 89
Sarp (aka Doc Sarpolis) is this week’s guest as he joins Chad and Parv to head into the Thunder! Thunder! Thunderdome! for Halloween Havoc 89. Highlights include: blood and violence vs. “mainstream sensibilities”, the problem with Tom Zenk, The Bobby Eaton Appreciation Society, The Mr. J mystery, assessing the Thesz press as a finisher in 1989, the college degrees of the Dynamic Dudes, should commentators acknowledge the crowd booing babyfaces?, and an extended Luger vs. Sting comparison as potential future company aces.
Where the Big Boys Play #41 – Clash of the Champions 9
Chad and Parv are back with a vengeance to take a look at Clash of the Champions 9: New York Knock Out. In this show: Chad recounts his experiences traveling with Scott, Justin and the Place To Be crew over Wrestlemania weekend, Chad and Parv break with convention to talk modern wrestling for a while and offer thoughts on Wrestlemania 29, John Cena, The Rock, comparing Taker vs. Punk and Taker vs. Shawn Michaels, the booking philosophy of “peaks and troughs”, Parv recounts meeting his all-time hero Ted DiBiase at Southside Wrestling’s Raw Deal 2 in Stevenage, who was the last act to make it with a masked act in the 1980s?, Parv talks about BrickHithouse’s amazing custom-made Gordon Solie WNN comp, some thoughts on Butch Reed, is Funk-Flair “I Quit” a 5-star match?, listener comments and much much more in a longer-than-usual show.
Where the Big Boys Play #42 – Starrcade 89
Chad and Parv welcome Charles (aka Loss) to discuss the Iron Man tournament at Starrcade 89: Future Shock! Highlights include: Charles’s background as a wrestling fan and the birth of the ProWrestlingOnly.com forums, imagining El Gigante vs. Zeus in 1989, the problem with Sting’s wardrobe, does crowd heat affect how you rate a match?, a farewell to Tommy Young and thoughts on referees in general, and end of the show awards.