Throwback Thursday – Dusty Rhodes vs Tully Blanchard (First Blood Match)

Starrcade 86So I was watching Starrcade 1986 today and was really trying to watch the psychology of each and every match. That is one of the things that is really missing in a lot of wrestling today, and is something that I hope doesn’t become a “lost art” to those who would rather do “moves” in the ring.

Dusty vs Tully 1Something that really stood out was just how much was lost with some of the early matches because the commentators simply didn’t recognize the stories that were trying to be told. If nothing else, that is something that the current WWE announcers try to do (although, in a lot of cases, they drift to OTHER stories during a match).

Dusty backstageOne match, in particular, stood out above the rest in terms of telling a story without actually saying a word. It was for the NWA World Television Title as champion Dusty Rhodes (who had a “Goldberg-esque” entrance with video of him walking through the back) defended against one of the Four Horsemen, Tully Blanchard (with manager JJ Dillon at ringside) in a First Blood match.

Now I fully recognize that WWE is a PG-rated product and I don’t really have a problem with that. The majority of people know that wrestling is performance and pre-determined, so the use of blood to make it more “real” just doesn’t seem necessary anymore in 2015. In a “blow-off” match of a major feud, like the recent Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar match at Hell in a Cell…a little bit of blood can go a very long way to show the world that this is more than just performance.

This particular PPV had blood in a lot of the matches. So much, in fact, that the announcers stopped noting the blood as the PPV went on. In this match, though, they had to because it was the stipulation. And let’s be honest…I think next to Ric Flair, Blanchard was probably Dusty’s longest-running feud and dance partner…so this was just one of the numerous stipulation matches that they had together.

JJ Dillon vs Dusty RhodesOnce introductions were done, Dillon tried to bad-mouth Rhodes…only to be given his “Bionic Elbow” in return. Immediately, Dillon went down and began to bleed…showing the world that a simple elbow from Rhodes could cut a man open. It was brilliant in its simplicity, even if Dillon was bleeding way too much. In fact, Dillon never even attempted to wipe off the blood as he stood on the outside of the ring, which made the point to remind everyone that any move to the head could make one bleed. Again…he had way too much blood for the move that he received, but it told a story.

Dusty vs Tully 5Dusty vs Tully 4The match itself was full of psychology as each man tried to defend their heads from elbows and fists. Again…the match was very simplistic and certainly not a “mat classic”, but it was incredibly entertaining from a psychology standpoint. It’s something that most wrestling matches are missing today and is one of the reasons I watch as much older wrestling as I can. While the in-ring performances may be better in 2015, the in-ring stories were much more entertaining in the 1980’s & 1990’s.

If you get the opportunity to watch this PPV, go out of your way to do so just for this particular match. You can thank me later.


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