Tossing Salt Presents:
Wrestling One On One
NWA 1987 versus WWE 2017
September 14, 2017
Are you ready for a little fantasy booking and comparisons between the stars of yesterday and the talents of today? I was sitting here at the Palace earlier, reading an old edition of Inside Wrestling from 1982, reading a great article about Ray “The Crippler” Stevens and a feud with Austin Idol, and it got me to wondering as I often do, how would the stars from that era, when I really started getting into professional wrestling, do in competition against the stars of today? So why not find out, right? So I went and, courtesy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, went and found their most recent set of “Official Rankings” for the WWE Raw Brand. And then I went and found the “Official Rankings” for the NWA, the group I’m most familiar with, from exactly thirty years earlier in 1987. And I’ll just go down the line with fantasy match after fantasy match, assuming that each person would be in their primes as they were / are when ranked, and just try to analyze who would win each match. I’ve listed the rankings below and we’ll start off at the bottom and work our way up to the main event. Who was better? Who will win? Let’s find out as the stars of the National Wrestling Alliance, per September 1987, face the Superstars of WWE RAW, as of three days ago. It’s the NWA versus the WWE as they go “One On One”. Let’s do this.
NWA Rankings – September 1987 (Pro Wrestling Illustrated)
WWE RAW Rankings – September 10, 2017 (Pro Wrestling Illustrated)
And now that we know the players, let’s get to the matches.
Wendell Cooley versus Elias Sampson
I actually had to go look up who Wendell Cooley was since I couldn’t remember him very well. A good looking guy who was somewhat of a Florida and Alabama mainstay. Stands about 6’1 and weighed about 230lbs. Feuds against the Studd Stable and the Armstrongs among others. Also wrestled under the name of Rick Casey. From what I could find, he was a good talent, but didn’t really last very long in the spotlight. And Elias, he’s been nothing but impressive since working in NXT and then WWE. I hate the song gimmick, but it is what it is. I really don’t think this would be much of a match honestly. The wrestlers of today, like Elias, are so much bigger and better and stronger than the guys back in the day, like Cooley. I think Elias would win rather quickly.
Winner: Elias Sampson
Big Show versus Rip Oliver
Rip Oliver was a major star in the Pacific Northwest who held the Pacific Northwest Championship more times than anyone. He also wrestled for the WWF under a mask, known as the Super Ninja. So he’s a tough guy with a lot of ability and talent and much success in the world of professional wrestling. But he’s up against The Big Show, a man who stands over 7-feet tall and weighs over 400lbs and is in arguably the best shape of his career. Oliver would make his presence known and give Show a short fight, but in the end, Big Show would definitely end up coming out on top.
Winner: The Big Show
Bray Wyatt versus Brad Armstrong
This would be one helluva great match to see. Wyatt obviously has the size and strength advantage, but Brad was so damn good in that ring. He may not have been the most charismatic guy in the business, but once he stepped into that squared circle, the man could go with anyone. He was easily the “wrestler’s wrestler” and could make a broom look like world champion material. But Bray, a third generation wrestler in his own right, is so good in that ring too. He’s hampered by his character, it seems to me, but if he was allowed to cut loose and just wrestle, I think that he could match up against anyone. This one would be a match for the ages and could easily go either way. I think Armstrong would take a beating, but sneak out a win in the end for the upset.
Winner: Brad Armstrong
Jeff Hardy versus Jimmy Garvin
This would be another fun match for the ages as two of the most entertaining and charismatic wrestlers of their era matched up against each other. Jimmy was on fire at this time, along with valet Precious, and was in Florida, I believe. Or maybe it was Texas? Who knows. But Garvin was at his peak at this time and could easily be matched up against anyone and make a great match of it, especially if Garvin was booked to be the heel. As he was often prone to say, “It’s not my fault” that he’s that good. Jaff Hardy has been more of a tag team wrestler since coming back to the WWE, teaming with brother Matt instead of wrestling singles matches, but it looks like that might be changing in the near future. Jeff is better at the hit and run wrestling and the flying moves. Garvin was better as a mat wrestler and working the gimmick, A real contrast of styles here and it would be a fun match, Nothing against Jeff, but Garvin was such a strong heel at the time, I think that he and Precious would be able to steal a win via shenanigans in the end.
Winner: Jimmy Garvin w/ Precious
Neville versus Mike Rotundo
“The King of the Cruiserweights” versus the future I.R.S. and tag team specialist. Rotundo was used more as a tag team wrestler in later years, but he was quite a good singles wrestler back in the day. Kind of bland as a personality, but in that ring, he could really go. Neville is so good in that ring, but can he overcome the size difference? I really don’t think so. It’d be a good match, but the differences in styles and size would make things a little awkward at points. I think Rotundo would manage to overpower Neville and capture the win.
Winner: Mike Rotundo
Finn Balor versus Lex Luger
Talk about a contrast in styles. Balor is so good and talented and can just do so many things in that ring. Lex is more just power and size, but he did it so well in his day. I don’t think this match would be good. The styles are too diverse and I just can’t see them coming together into anything special. I love Balor and watching him perform, but this match would be all Lex and in dominant fashion. Balor would get his spots, but once Lex locked in the torture rack, it would end quickly.
Winner: Lex Lugar
Dusty Rhodes versus The Miz
This match would be great just for the promos alone. Miz is probably the best all-around performer in WWE today and he has really busted his ass and worked hard to get to where he is today. And Miz has the advantage of the Miztourage. Dusty was, of course, the American Dream and one of the most popular guys of his generation and he didn’t work the small matches or do the job that often. The match would be classic Dusty with the Dream alone against the odds and in a fight for survival. And like all other classic Dusty matches of the 80’s, the Dream would clear the ring, throw some elbows and get the pin, baby!
Winner: Dusty Rhodes
Samoa Joe versus Tully Blanchard
Tully was and is a great wrestler. Joe is a freakin’ killing machine. If Tully in his prime was to face Samoa Joe, Tully would do everything he can to get the match over with and get away from Joe. Tully knows he couldn’t overpower Joe and Joe’s style is a mixture of MMA and wrestling, something Tully would have a hard time dealing with and matching up against. Tully would give Joe a fight, but in the end, resort to a DQ or count-out loss to live to fight another day. And if it’s No DQ, Joe wins. Just that simple.
Winner: Samoa Joe
Braun Strowman versus Barry Windham
Now this could either be a fun match or a total cluster-f*ck. It could really go either way. Barry had the strength and size, but moved like a man half his size with surprising speed. He was also a fantastic wrestler. Braun has the size advantage, something Barry didn’t face often and the strength advantage too. So long as Barry keeps mixing the wrestling with the brawling and tries to outsmart Braun, he might have the advantage. If it goes to total brawling, then Braun would take it. Flip a coin for this one, but I think in the end, the former Blackjack Mulligan Jr., would take home that check in the win column and take the victory. Just barely, but Barry would do it.
Winner: Barry Windham
Nikita Koloff versus Roman Reigns
Another strange match with a mixture of styles. Maybe against Nikita, Roman could even get cheered. Who knows? I think Nikita has the advantage in power and strength, but not by much. Roman is mighty strong too. Roman is a better wrestler though and more well-rounded than Nikita. He also has a better assortment of finishers to go to with the Superman Punch, the Drive-By and the Spear. Nikita relied too much on one move, the Russian Sickle, and while it was definitely effective, he was a one-trick pony in the ring. Roman would walk out with the win here.
Winner: Roman Reigns
NWA World Champion Ric Flair versus Universal Champion Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman
Ric Flair is arguably the greatest all around wrestler ever. He can wrestle, talk, fight, sell tickets and even make Junkyard Dog look like a great wrestler for sixty minutes. And in the mid-80’s and early 90’s, Ric was in his prime. Ric will go down in history as the greatest World Champion of all time. But Ric never faced such a physical freak of nature like Brock Lesnar before. And the Brock of today versus the Ric of yesterday would have the same final result as 99.95% of Brock’s matches. Ric would style and profile all the way to Suplex City and then Brock would conquer, dominate, repeat. Ric may have gotten past Vader in his prime, but when matched up against “The Beast”, I don’t think Ric would make it all night long that particular night.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
So for eleven matches, the NWA wins 6 and the WWE wins 5. So what do you think? Am I right in my picks or am I totally whacked and out of my mind? Thoughts, comments and feedback is welcome and appreciated. And thank you for reading. And now, I’m gone. Have a great night and I’ll catch you on the flip side. I have to go kill a freakin’ fly! Take care.