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The 10 Best National Wrestling Alliance Feuds Of The 1980s

Prior to the WWF creating its own identity, the NWA was the largest wrestling organization in the world. Acting as an umbrella for a number of different territorial wrestling promotions around North America, the NWA featured many of the best wrestlers – and therefore some of the most iconic feuds – in wrestling history. Particularly in the 1980s, many of these feuds were as close to real-life as they could get, with each wrestler and organization fighting for bragging rights, and sometimes even the livelihood of their brand…

Photo: WWE

The Von Erichs vs The Freebirds

There was a period during the 80s when wrestling fans couldn’t turn on their TVs without seeing some sort of interaction between these two groups. The hate was so strong between Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, and Kevin, David, Kerry, and Mike Von Erich that you could feel it through your television or throughout any arena in which they battled. For nearly two years, whether it was individually or in tag team battle, the two groups would square off in many memorable matches that almost created a real-life state rivalry between Georgia and Texas.

Photo: YouTube/MegaSting1981

Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine

Prior to joining the WWF, the “Hot Rod” and “The Hammer” would do battle in an epic “Dog Collar” match at Starrcade 1983. The two would wage bloody war against each other for nearly seven months prior to their climatic final battle. During their last fight under Jim Crockett Productions, Valentine would end up busting Piper’s left eardrum. When you can steal the show from a Ric Flair/Harley Race heavyweight championship cage match, you know it’s a must-see fight.

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express Vs. The Midnight Express

During the 80s, these two tag teams were arguably the best in the business. For nearly four years the two teams would battle over the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson would engage in a memorable “Scaffold Match” with “Sweet” Stan Lane and “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton at Starrcade 1987, captivating fans with one of the greatest and most intense tag-team feuds of all time.

Photo: YouTube/Chesna’s Footage Room

Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA

The first ever Steel Cage / I Quit match put the cap on one of the most intense feuds in NWA history. Less than seven minutes into their United States Heavyweight Title fight at Starrcade 1985, both men were busted open, leading to one of the bloodiest matches of all time. For the better part of eight months leading up to their legendary match, the two men would wage war against each other before Magnum TA would have his hand raised in victory.

Photo: YouTube/Brandon Cooper

 The Super Powers And The Road Warriors Vs. The Four Horsemen

How can any list of NWA feuds not include the epic battle between eight of the top wrestlers in the organization at the time. Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes would team up with Animal and Hawk to battle Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger in a pair of War Games matches during the Great American Bash Tour in July, 1987. At the time the roofs of the cages were not as high as they are today, halting any high flying acts, but with these eight men, there was no opportunity for any aerial assaults.

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Magnum TA vs Nikita Koloff

In what was a battle of the USA vs. Russia over the United States Heavyweight Championship, Magnum and Koloff would wage war in a best of seven series for the title in the summer of 1986. Koloff would show his dominance against Magnum, winning the first three matches, before dropping the next three and sending the series to a tie-breaking seventh fight. “The Russian Nightmare” would end up winning the decisive final battle with help from his uncle, Ivan Koloff.

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Sting vs The Great Muta

Prior to becoming the Vigilante, Sting was an up-and-coming star in the late 80s NWA, battling many of the more established names for their respective championship belts. After capturing the NWA Television Championship, his first singles title, Sting would engage in his first long-term feud with Muta. Sting would eventually lose his 1-1 battle with Muta in a No-DQ match. Sting and Muta would continue their feud long after their individual matches, in a variety of tag team affairs, including a Thunderdome Cage Match.  

Photo: YouTube/Randall G

The Road Warriors vs The Powers Of Pain

After coming to wrestling fans’ attention during their short time in the AWA, the Road Warriors made their way to Jim Crockett promotions, eventually meeting up with the Powers of Pain. With similar wrestling styles and Mad Max-like appearances, the teams would participate in a violent feud that closed out 1987. Animal and Hawk would get the best of the Barbarian and Warlord during their feud in the NWA, winning matches that could only be described as stiff.

Photo: WWE

Dusty Rhodes vs Tully Blanchard

In 1985, the two met in a Steel Cage match at the Great American Bash with Blanchard’s NWA World Television title – as well as the services of his valet, Baby Doll – on the line. Two years later they would meet again in a “Lights-out” Barbed Wire ladder match with $100,000 on the line. While the two would swap the championship belt three times, Rhodes would come out the winner of the feud, securing both Baby Doll’s services and the money.

Photo: YouTube/Monsoon Classic

Ric Flair vs Everybody

NWA feuds and Ric Flair were like peanut butter and jelly during the 80s. Barry Windham, Lex Luger, Sting, Kerry Von Erich, Terry Funk, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, and Ricky Steamboat all went to battle with the Nature Boy during the decade. As the arrogant antagonist, Flair was more than happy to style and profile against his opponents, often coming out on top, and always looking like a million bucks along the way. WOOOOOOO!