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TIMELINE
Crockett Cup Shocker!
January 5, 2002

by Hatter X
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Saturday afternoons belonged to the NWA during the 1980’s, as World Championship Wrestling fulfilled two hours of wrestling viewing for all fans of, to quote Ric Flair, “the greatest sport of them all!” NWA Saturday wrestling gave fans many constants in their viewing; as fans we were certain to see Dusty Rhodes battle the Horsemen, The Road Warriors squash their prelim opponents in under 30 seconds and Jim Cornette running his mouth about whatever he didn’t like at the time. But one thing that was always presented to us, that we never really took notice of, was a virtually unknown tag team named Bill and Randy Mulkey; who every week would compete with big name stars, only to ultimately lose, usually in record time. That is, until a bright, sunny afternoon in March of 1987. On that particular day, The Mulkey Brothers were matched against the Gladiators, a much-hyped team from the Northwest, which was being brought in specifically for the Crockett Cup Tag Team Tournament. The match went on as scheduled, but then something happened that didn’t quite seem right. As one of the Gladiators had scooped up a Mulkey, prepared to deliver a huge slam, the other Mulkey was getting up off of the mat behind him. The Gladiator tripped and fell backwards, and the Mulkey that was certainly preparing for his doom, was suddenly on top of a pinfall win! No one really knew what had happened, but somehow, some way, Randy and Bill Mulkey had just pulled off a win, and they did it on live TV! David Crockett and Tony Schiavone proclaimed that Mulkey-Mania was running wild! The fans were on their feet and for the first time in history, the Mulkey’s were invited over to the broadcast area for an interview. The Mulkey’s were then informed that they, not The Gladiators, were set to join The Crockett Cup Tournament on April 10th and 11th. The Mulkey’s had made it, they were finally stars. However, on April 10th, Bill and Randy Mulkey, complete with new green letter jackets, proclaiming Mulkey-Mania, lost to Todd Champion and Denny Brown. All was right with the world.

 

But what if they hadn’t lost? What if The Mulkey’s had won their opening round match with Champion and Brown? That is correct, for in this reality, Randy & Bill Mulkey weren’t a flash in the pan, momentary heroes. No, in fact, in this reality, the Crockett Cup was the springboard for fame and fortune greater than even the most accomplish ‘80’s wrestler could imagine. In this issue of Timeline, we answer the question: What if Mulkey-Mania really did run wild?

 

Timeline: 1987

Location: Baltimore, MD

 

The Mulkey Brothers had just walked into the dressing room where many of their friends have bottles of Champaign waiting on them. Bill and Randy can’t believe that they just made it past Todd Champion and Denny Brown. Some of their pals, Rocky King, George South, Nelson Royal, Italian Stallion, Ricky Lee Jones and others begin to rib them about their match, saying they can’t believe that two weeks in a row they could screw up a finish. Randy doesn’t understand, he asks Bill if he knows what the guys are talking about. Bill doesn’t know and the guys begin to rib them even harder, asking if this is all one big elaborate work by Dusty and the Mulkey’s to get everyone wondering about the outcome of the Tournament. Stallion tells the guys that everyone knows that Dusty & Nikita are suppose to win the Tournament. Why would Magnum TA be here for the big walk down the aisle, if they weren’t going to win? The Mulkey’s still don’t get it. The guys give up hope for their pals and leave them to prepare for their next match.

 

Match time comes and Randy & Bill head to the ring where their opponents this round are Shohei Baba and Isao Takagi, who have flown in from Japan for this Tournament as part of the NWA’s good will relationship with All Japan Wrestling. As the Mulkey’s head out, Grizzly Smith, sitting at the gorilla position tells the guys “Don’t blow it this time alright?” Again, the Mulkey’s don’t have a clue and they head to the ring. Amazingly enough the pop for the beloved losers is deafening. There are many more signs than usual in the crowd, and most seem hastily made, as if in the past hour fans have scribed their love for the jobbers on the backs of posters and what not. In the back, Dusty Rhodes, watching the monitor alongside Ric Flair, Nikita Koloff and Magnum TA, turns to his friends and says that they may have something here. With about two minutes gone in the match, Baba has Bill Mulkey in the air, ready to drive him down to the mat; when Randy, who has been whipped to the corner post and kicked in the face by Takagi, stumbles back into Baba, who falls to his knees with Bill coming down and inadvertently hitting a DDT on the mighty Giant. Bill covers Baba, and referee Teddy Long, hesitantly counts the fall. Takagi shakes his head at Long and raises his own hand as the crowd erupts in cheers. Backstage, the other preliminary wrestlers laugh and applaud, at this point convinced what they are watching is a work! Flair looks to Dusty and asks what they are supposed to tell Baba when he returns to the backstage area. Dusty tells Flair that they will simply tell him that plans have changed. Dusty has dollar signs in his eyes.

 

Rhodes heads back to the dressing room and has a short talk with Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, The Rock and Roll Express. Dusty informs them that they are going to put over The Mulkey’s instead of advancing to the Semi-Final to take on the Lex Luger & Tully Blanchard. The Express are pissed at Rhodes, because they are Main Event talent and shouldn’t have to even wrestle the likes of Bill and Randy Mulkey, much less put them over. Robert tells Rhodes that it was bad enough that they were going to have to put over Baba and Takagi, two stupid Japanese wrestlers that no one in the US has ever seen, much less knows anything about. Now that the foreign talent is gone, they should advance against Blanchard and Luger. Rhodes understands they way they feel, but the crowd is behind The Mulkey’s and he wants the crowd to go home happy. The Express tells Dusty that they will not do the job and they threaten to walk out. Dusty explains that there is a young “Rock and Roll” tag team in the AWA that will work for less money and do what they are told, so Dusty tells Ricky and Robert to walk. The Express packs their bags and heads out of the NWA, only to begin tenure with the WWF two weeks later, which would eventually last until late 1992, when Morton would be given a singles push as a major heel, by tossing his partner Robert through the Barber Shop window. Meanwhile, back in 1987, The Mulkey’s advance to through the Quarter Finals with a shocking win over a team that were not scheduled to make their TV debut for another month or so due to the UWF buy out, The Fantastics!

 

Backstage, Dusty Rhodes meets with Blanchard, Luger, Nikita and Magnum TA. Rhodes explains that he understands that they had a plan going into the how to have the two teams meet in the final, with Magnum walking out to the ring to give Dusty and Nikita their “inspiration” to win. But Dusty is convinced that this Mulkey thing is going to bring serious money. Blanchard asks Rhodes if he is seriously considering allowing The Mulkey’s to win this Tournament? Rhodes knows that everyone is against this, but he just bet everything on these guys. Rhodes informs everyone of what happened with the Rock & Roll Express earlier and Luger and Nikita lose it. Blanchard accuses Rhodes of sabotaging the NWA simply to line his own pockets. Rhodes accuses them not seeing the bigger picture, but Blanchard makes it clear that unless the Mulkey’s lose in a squash that will make all other squash pale in comparison when they face Luger and himself tomorrow night, he will walk and he swears to take at the very least half of the locker room with him. Rhodes tells Blanchard to reconsider. Blanchard, Luger and even Nikita storm out of the room. Dusty is left with Magnum TA, who expresses his concern that Dusty may be wrong this time. TA then leaves Rhodes alone to think.

 

Noon, the next day, as the Baltimore Arena is beginning to fill up for the afternoon show, Rhodes arrives backstage to see a locker room half empty. Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Magnum TA and the Armstrong’s inform Dusty that the majority of the boys are back at the hotel. Flair tells Dusty that Blanchard and Luger have them all ready to walk. Flair asks Dusty to reconsider his decision to give this Tournament to The Mulkey’s. Barry asks Dusty if he really believe that losing Blanchard, Luger, Koloff, The Road Warriors, Jim Cornette, the Midnight Express and Arn Anderson… not to mention the countless others over at the hotel is worth this? At this point, Dusty asks them who all is left? Magnum says that other than the few UWF guys that are here to see how we do things, not many. Flair shakes his head and begs Dusty to reconsider this. Just then, Bill and Randy walk into the room and Dusty tells them that tonights match Tully and Lex has been changed. The Mulkey’s ask Dusty whom they are facing? Dusty looks around and sees the many distraught faces, then sighs and says to forget what he said. Dusty tells Flair to call Blanchard and tell him that he wins. The Mulkey’s won’t go over. Flair and Windham sigh a breath of relief and Flair goes to call the boys.

 

Match time comes, and Blanchard and Luger discuss the outcome of the match with Rhodes. Rhodes explains that Luger will give Randy “the Rack” to win the match. Blanchard asks if they should go discuss the ending briefly with The Mulkey’s. Dusty says not to, he wants the match ending to be shocking and unexpected. Dusty reasons that there are a large amount of fans out there who no doubt have caught on to the streak and are expecting Blanchard and Luger to lose by some accidental fluke. Blanchard agrees and they go to prepare for the match. Meanwhile, Rhodes goes to the Mulkey’s and informs them that they will be going over Blanchard and Luger and when they see the chance, he wants one of them to cover Blanchard. The Mulkey’s don’t understand what he means by “go over” but they will certainly try to win best they can. Rhodes seems puzzled and asks them if they understand that this is all a work? The Mulkey’s stare at Rhodes blankly and Bill says he doesn’t understand where Dusty is coming from. Dusty laughs and says, “You boys think this is real?” Randy says he just does what he has to do to put food on the table and if that means getting beat up, he’ll do it for his wife and kids. Dusty shakes his head and walks away, finally getting it. The Mulkey’s do not know that pro wrestling is a work. These guys have been showing up for work on the weekends and getting hammered for years and they have no idea hat is going on. Dusty says he is certain now that this is gold.

 

Bill and Randy are in the ring as Blanchard and Luger make their way down. The crowd boos the Horsemen and chant “Mulkey, Mulkey, Mulkey…” The match begins and Luger charges the duo and nails them both with double clotheslines. Blanchard tags in and hits a slingshot suplex on Randy, then follows with a session of knee drops to the head and few elbows to the chest. The Horsemen are really stiffing The Mulkey’s. The crowd erupts as UWF stars, Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, Eddie Gilbert, The Freebirds and Bubba Rogers run to the ring and attack The Mulkey’s. The ref, Tommy Young, has no choice but to call for the bell and disqualify Blanchard and Luger. The crowd erupts as the ring announcer proclaims the winners of the match to be Bill and Randy Mulkey! And with that, Bill and Randy have made it to the finals of the Tournament, and Dusty Rhodes has gotten his way. Or so it would seem.

 

Backstage, Blanchard and Luger are throwing a fit. Blanchard accuses Rhodes of screwing them and sinking a promotion on a whim. Rhodes tells Blanchard to leave if he is so upset with things. Blanchard attacks Rhodes and there is a gigantic pull apart in the backstage area. After everything is calmed down, Blanchard packs his bags and walks out of the promotion, along with Lex Luger and The Road Warriors, all of which would debut for the WWF with in weeks. Blanchard would fall into a program with manager Bobby Heenan, working the upper mid-card against Paul Orndorff. Blanchard then worked a hot summer program with Jake Roberts that saw Blanchard try to kiss Robert’s wife Cheryl. Then by mid-January ‘89, be deep into a blood feud with the newly elevated Lex Luger. Luger, who won the Intercontinental Title from the HonkyTonk Man at the WWF’s inaugural Summer Slam in August 1988, was in the early stages of a gigantic push that would see him defeat WWF Champion Hulk Hogan at Wrestle Mania 6, for the World Title. The Road Warriors would come into the WWF and immediately be thrusted into the top tag team slot as heels, managed by Mr. Fuji. Paul Ellering, their manager for most of their career would choose to stay in the NWA, as Dusty Rhodes offered him the most prestigious managerial slot of all, management of the 4 Horsemen. The Ellering-lead Horsemen would consist of Flair, Windham, Arn Anderson and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. Meanwhile, back in 1987, Rhodes informs the crew that anyone who wishes to leave the company over the decision to push the Mulkey’s to the Crockett Cup Championship can leave and not look back. Now faced with the reality of a choice, the large contingent that backed Blanchard just hours earlier, decide to remain.

 

The Main Event comes off without a hitch. Magnum didn’t walk the aisle as planned, for Rhodes decided to hold that off until the summer. The match itself sees Rhodes fight alone most of the match, as Koloff shows signs that there may be problems with the team. Nearing the end, Koloff turns on Rhodes, giving him the “Russian Sickle” and allowing a pin by Bill Mulkey on the American Dream. The fans celebrate the Mulkey win, but the win is over shadowed by Nikita’s betrayal. Regardless, The Mulkey’s celebrate their win and the fans get the Cinderella story they wanted so desperately. Mulkey-Mania had indeed run wild over The Crockett Cup Tournament!

 

The next week at the Saturday tapings, The Mulkey’s were booked to win a match over The Midnight Express. The Express sold for The Mulkey’s and the crowd favorites were given much offense. However, the fan support present at The Crockett Cup, wasn’t visible here. Had the fans given up on their heroes so quickly? Or was the problem the fact that The Mulkey’s were convincing clueless, accidental, champions of the people… rather than the confident, intelligent, ring savvy winners that they were now portraying? Rhodes took notice and sent word to the ring, where received by Jim Cornette that his boys were to turn 180 and annihilate The Mulkey’s in a stiff nature. And so, with a fury not seen since the early days of the Road Warriors, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane unload on the hapless Mulkey Brothers and the end of an era is seen. With in a period of two weeks, Bill and Randy Mulkey went from jobbers to superstars and back to jobbers. Meanwhile, the sudden change in booking at the Cup allowed for an interesting summer as Dusty Rhodes fought Nikita Koloff in a Best of Seven, in tribute to Magnum TA, who would come to the ring in their seventh and final match, as he was scheduled to months prior. Dusty would reconcile with Koloff in a touching moment after their match, based on the inspiration of Magnum TA, and then along side newly signed faces, The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) head into a series of War Games Matches with the Horsemen. The War Games would set the stage for the fall programs, and then lead into Starrcade ‘87 as Rhodes would face former friend Barry Windham, Koloff would face Flair for the second year in a row, and The Rockers would face Arn Anderson and Steve Williams. Incidentally, the opening match of Starrcade would see Bill and Randy Mulkey losing a one sided battle against newcomers, The British Bulldogs! Meanwhile a lone sign in the crowd reminded those in attendance that for moment time “Mulkey-Mania” did run wild.

 

As for The Bulldogs debut in the NWA… that is another story.

 

 

E-MAIL HATTER X
BROWSE THE TIMELINE ARCHIVES

Amarillo, TX, is home to Hatter X, a wrestling fan for 25 of his 30 years.  He enjoys pure wrestling, but its the edgy drama and quality storytelling that really frosts his donut.  E-mail Hatter X at ucw4life_@hotmail.com


  
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