5-Star Match Reviews: The Fantastics vs. The Sheepherders – NWA Crockett Cup 1986

sheepherders fantastics nwa 1986

Some matches age like fine wine while others age like milk. That’s one of the conundrums of watching older matches; you never know which ones will hold up well and which ones won’t.

While match quality is largely a subjective matter, there are some rare cases when even the most casual of fans can watch a match and think, “wow, that’s what went for 5-Stars back then?”

That’s what we’re dealing with here: one of the few cases that make viewers wonder what the Wrestling Observer and its readership were thinking when this match took place. And now, after over thirty-five years, we’re revisiting this largely-forgotten match to see how well it holds up.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.

The story

The Crockett Cup was a special all-day event held in 1986. 24 tag teams competed in a single-elimination tournament to determine one winner. Teams came from all over the NWA and its various regional divisions, including Jim Crockett Promotions, Central States Wrestling, All Japan, Quebec’s Lutte Internationale, the Continental Wrestling Association, Universal Wrestling Federation/Mid-South Wrestling, and more. included among the various teams were the Fantastics of Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton and the Sheepherders/Bushwackers of Butch and Luke.

The Sheepherders beat Chavo Guerrero Sr. and Hector Guerrero in the first round and then beat The Rock N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) to advance to the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, the Fantastics (who were UWF Tag Team Champions) beat The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) and then beat Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard in the second round.

The match

This match originally took place on April 19th, 1986. Also, for anyone interested in watching the match, I have a link below. However, the audio for this match is awful; you’re going to have to put your volume on full blast just to hear anything. Then again, that sometimes comes with the territory when we go back in time to review older matches.

The Fantastics start with the Pledge of Allegiance to Old Glory and then start brawling with the Sheepherders in the ring. Both Sheepherders get dropkicked to the floor. Luke gets into the ring and lands a headlock punch on Fulton. The Sheepherders trade quick tags and simple strikes to isolate Fulton from his partner. Fulton tries a hammerlock as an escape mechanism but Luke tags in and keeps him on the defensive with more punches. Luke counters an irish whip with a shoulderblock but then Fulton does a classic duck down monkey flip sequence. Then he dropkicks Luke a few times and then both he and Rogers dropkick Butch. Rogers tags in and takes Luke to the mat. Luke powers Rogers to the ropes to escape a headlock and Irish whips Rogers but Rogers counters with a sunset flip for a two-count.

Butch tags in as the crowd chants USA. Rogers slingshots Butch into the ring and tosses him into Fulton’s waiting boot. Fulton tags in and Rogers whips Butch into Fulton’s fist. Luke tags in and smashes Fulton into a turnbuckle. He chokes Fulton in one corner and sends him into another but Fulton dodges a charge. They slug it out a bit and Fulton lands an atomic drop that sends Luke to the floor.

Butch tags in and headlocks Fulton and then dumps him to the floor. The two legal men start brawling ringside and are soon joined by their respective partners. Chaos erupts with people being thrown around and stomped on, including some interference from the Sheepherders’ manager Jack Victory.

Fulton’s bleeding and struggles to make it back into the ring. But when he does, he ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own on Butch. The Sheepherders take turns working Fulton over with various strikes and then Luke, who is now legal, bites Fulton’s bloody forehead. Fulton gets thrown to the floor again and sells like he can’t even defend himself. He lands some desperation kicks and Luke tries pulling him away from his partner. But Fulton makes a tag, except the referee doesn’t see it. Luke goes to smash Fulton into Butch’s boot, but Fulton blocks and smashes Luke into it instead. Hot tag to Rogers. Rogers punches Luke until he’s a bloody mess and Fulton goes after Butch.

Suddenly, the ref gets knocked to the floor and the Sheepherders double-team Rogers. Rogers fights Butch in the ring as Luke brawls with Fulton at ringside. Jack Victory tries interfering again but Fulton catches him and stops him…for a moment. Butch attacks Fulton from behind and then takes the New Zealand flagpole and hits Rogers with it a couple of times. Butch teases a big pole strike on Rogers but Fulton pulls him down. The Fantastics get some revenge and hit Butch with the same flagpole. Then they hit Jack Victory with it as well. meanwhile, another referee comes down to help the first referee get up. Rogers and Luke (I think?) play tug-of-war with the flagpole as the bell rings. The match is ruled a Double Disqualification!

Match result: Double Disqualification after 14:26

The timekeeper rings the bell over and over but no one can stop these four wrestlers from fighting. Several managers and referees have to pull both teams apart as the Fantastics demand the Sheepherders return to the ring. The Fantastics have a brief celebration but they’re furious that they’ve been eliminated from the Crockett Cup tournament. Frustrated, they eventually leave the ring just as bloodied as their opponents.


There’s a wrestling term called ‘bonzo-gonzo’ which describes a match that ends in chaos when the ref can’t restore order. That’s what this match was: bonzo-gonzo and nothing else. But to be honest, there wasn’t much order to begin with. This was more of an extended angle than a proper match. It was just brawling and punching without much in the sense of structure. And while that tends to work from time to time (such as with Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk), it didn’t work here.

This was a decidedly average match that benefitted from a hot crowd. But a hot crowd alone doesn’t make a match special or unique anymore; after all, COVID was taught us that great matches can happen even with the smallest or quietest of crowds.

As for the action itself, it was painfully dull and simplistic. There wasn’t much to it beyond simple punching and cheap-shots. True, the Sheepherders played off the crowd’s emotion and acted like chickens**t heels. But they really didn’t do anything exciting beyond sluggish brawling. There was a mildly creative moment with the ref missing a Fantastics tag, but the payoff for it never really came. Once the referee got knocked out, the match just fell apart. And why did it take so long for the second one to come out? And why didn’t he just take over refereeing duties while someone else attended to the first one? Blatantly obvious holes like those make a match less exciting. The crowd basically died between the moment the ref got knocked out and the moment he woke up. All the nonsense between those two points got middling reactions at best, but they served no purpose since the match ended in a double-DQ anyway.

Final Rating: **

Maybe this was revolutionary in 1986 but it just doesn’t hold up well over three decades later. This match is basically an inferior version of the Lawler/Funk brawl from 1981 that started this entire series and the concept of the 5-Star match. This match was simply too chaotic to really enjoy. Ten minutes of brawling without escalation isn’t anything to crow about. The only reason it gets any sort of rating is because both teams played to the crowd’s emotion well. That’s it. Everything else in this match sucked.

When people think about 5-Star matches, this one is frequently overlooked. Hell, if it weren’t for all the lists and resources out there, most people wouldn’t even know that Meltzer rated this match so highly in the first place. But after so much time, there’s no way this match deserved such a rating. This is a completely forgettable match that really doesn’t hold up. There are better matches that took place before and after this one from the same promotion (including one involving one of these two teams) that do deserve the praise way more than this one does.

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.