They faced one another an astounding 130 times. From their first recorded match in 1985 as part of a 20 $50,000 Battle Royal in Greensboro, North Carolina, to their last one at the Met Centre in Bloomington, Minnesota, for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1986, Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard had one of the bloodiest and scathing rivalries of their era.
The Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard rivalry came after Tully’s feud with Dusty Rhodes came to an end. This feud, however, was over the prestigious NWA United States Heavyweight Championship.
While the title was held by Magnum TA, it was the means to for Tully Blanchard to direct his focus and energy towards. They battled one another all over the southern United States. Whether it be Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, these two raged war against one another time and time again.
Magnum TA vs Tully Blanchard –
One of the NWA’s Bloodiest Rivalries
In their first reported confrontation, Magnum’s title wasn’t a focal point but both men were part of a Battle Royal where a large sum of money was the incentive. There was no signs early on that these two would turn one confrontation into something more but as time progressed their in-ring chemistry combined with other intangibles involved as well. Early on their battles weren’t necessarily over Magnum’s United State Championship but rather over Tully’s NWA World Television title.
In a number of their matches during house shows the matches would end without a winner. These matches took place during house shows and really highlighted how both men could work a program with one another nearly twenty matches into their feud. Below during an episode of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, Magnum TA was so heated and focused on the Television Champion, that it could be argued that his focus was more about seeking revenge then retaining his United States Championship.
You know, the United State Heavyweight Championship is foremost on my mind but right now Tully Blanchard has done something that has made it a little personal issue between him and I.
If you look real close at the screen right here, you’ll see Babydoll once again interfere in the match, once again causing the disqualification and once again enabling Tully Blanchard to hold onto that title [NWA Television Title] by disqualification.
Now you see Babydoll, gets right up in my face and I have to say for a lady she sure doesn’t back down. But then Tully Blanchard taking advantage of his shot. Taking advantage of it right there and trying to knock my lights out.
Well, Tully Blanchard I am going to tell you one thing right now I’ve been hit hard before. I’ve been knocked down left layin. But you cannot keep me from coming after you because you didn’t get the job done right there.
Sure, you’ve gotten me in trouble and you’ve gotten me hurt but you had to use Babydoll to get it done. And the fact of the matter is toe-to-toe, one-on-one, you and I have a situation here that you can’t handle. So if forget about the United States Heavyweight title, let’s talk about your world television title that you stole to begin with.
Let’s talk about you and I getting it on without any Babydoll out there because you cannot handle me face to face, nose to nose in the middle of that squared circle and any day you think you can I’ll be more than happy to prove you wrong. – Magnum TA to Bob Caudle 05/15/85
A few months after sharing how he hoped to get his hands of Blanchard and the hopes that Babydoll wouldn’t be a part of the match, Magnum was seeing red. That likely was what got the best of him. On July 21st, 1985, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Tully Blanchard defeated Magnum TA for his NWA United States Championship, Mid-Atlantic version.
The two would continue to rage war over the NWA United States Championship throughout the balance of the Summer and into the Fall. Both men never hid their disdain for one another through their battles. They would beat and batter one another time and time again. Regardless of where it was the two would battle time and time again. As their war raged on the involvement of Baby Doll, Blanchard’s manager became paramount.
Dusty, did you pay all them bills yet? Because your buddy Magnum is paying the bills. You know every time he see’s me on television with what he likes to call ‘his’ belt The United States Championship it sticks in his stomach, probably sticks in yours too.
But you know, Magnum TA the end of your road is coming. And I don’t mean the end of your career and I’m not going to break your leg or anything like that but the end of your road and how your chase is going to be and chasing me is coming to an end.
For me, and because I tell you what from people that one end to the other there are people that are great professional wrestlers that deserve a shot at the United States Heavyweight Champion.
They deserve a shot at the esteem, the glory and the prestige. Ronnie Garvin, Terry Taylor, yourself Dusty Rhodes, Superstar Billy Graham, Arn Anderson. The list is on, Ole Anderson and they’re friends of mine.
But if they want to step in the ring for this, war will be on. Because when you’re on the top of the heap all people are coming for you and that’s fine. I plan on staying the United States Heavyweight Champion.
And you know Magnum every time I go with my lawyer and I see a contract and it says Magnum TA, Magnum TA, Magnum TA. Well, you know someday you’re liable to try to defeat me for that thing just on your pure odds and numbers. But that is why your road is coming up because I’m with my lawyer and I got a surprise for you, Jack. – Tully Blanchard – 10/05/85
It would finally come to a head between the two of them at Starrcade 85’ The Gathering in a Steel Cage ‘I Quit’ match. With the former United States Champion, Magnum TA already in the ring we see the current Champion, Tully Blanchard come to the ring with his valet Babydoll by his side.
As Blanchard approached the ring, he took a look at the cage that stood before him and both the menacing eyes of the former champion and the mesh designed designed steel cage. As Magnum was announced first the fans in attendance cheered with sheer delight. It was then Tully Blanchard who was announced and jeered quite heavily by those in attendance.
As the camera focused on the dimly lit ring before him, it would be Magnum that would walk towards the center with the light shining directly upon him. Bob Caudle and Tony Schivone are on commentary as this match begins. It is at this point when the ring lights up to show both competitors.
The two men lock up and Magnum tosses Blanchard off him. They do once again and Blanchard is once again thrown to the mat. Finally both men begin to battle on the mat with both men attempting to jockey for position.
Blanchard gets the upper hand on Magnum. He pursues him with uppercuts. But that seems to wake Magnum up as he begins to hit Blanchard with punch after punch. Tully attempts to stop being driven face-first into the cage. He then stops Magnum and hits an elbow from the top rope onto Magnum. Magnum TA is then whipped into the cage head first. He is already bleeding from what took place.
Magnum TA tries to fight Tully Blanchard off but its temporary. This eventually leads to Magnum regaining control but again that is temporary as well. A bloody Magnum is then whipped head-first into the cage. Blanchard continues to tear at the head, face and eyes of Magnum.
But Magnum continues to show resilience fighting back. He whips Blanchard into the steel cage. Blanchard is then cut open and bleeding at the side of the head. As Magnum picks up a microphone he refused to say he quit.
Both men continued to tear at one another causing both men to bleed. The left shoulder of Blanchard is covered in blood as Magnum’s forehead is covered in blood. He then hits Magnum with the microphone across the head forcing him to say I quit but Magnum refuses to say it. Blanchard lays on top of him as to catch his breath. He then picks up Magnum TA and drops him down across the top rope. Blanchard climbs the ropes and then drops down on Magnum with a clothesline.Blanchard and Magnum have come too far to simply quit. They are beating down on one another time and time again. Neither man appears to have their way about them. As the mat fills with blood stains, Magnum continues to ask Blanchard who continues to say no. The shrieks coming from the ring from both men reflected the utter disdain that they had for one another. As both men battle from their knees, we could hear Bob Caudle’s assement of them both being proud men refusing to give up.
Magnum then picks up a microphone and once again tries to ask Blanchard who kicks the microphone right out of Magnum’s hands. He then hits an reverse atomic drop on Magnum TA who then proceeds to hit him time and time again with a microphone. The microphone amplifies the beating both men are receiving. Blanchard then throws the referee to the side and continues to beat down on Magnum TA.
It is just at this point when a wooden chair is thrown over the cage and into the ring. Blanchard proceeds to smash the chair because he has other plans in mind. He proceeds to take one of the pieces of wood from the chair and attempts to use a wooden spike to drive into the head of Magnum TA. Magnum fights it off as both men clutch the wooden stake.
As both men break away from one another, Magnum TA picks up a loose stake that Babydoll attempted to pull away from him and throw the cage. But she wasn’t quick enough and Magnum proceeds to drive the stake into the head of Tully Blanchard busting him over as he cries yes…yes…yes..yes leading to a new United States Champion.
Magnum TA stood over top of the battered former champion with his hand raised in victory. It was finally over. All the attacks, the crosswords, the threats of losing opportunities were gone. Magnum TA had finally defeated Tully Blanchard and in the process captured the coveted NWA United States Championship. For nearly twenty minutes these two talented wrestlers battered and beat each other leaving one another a bloody mess until only one man was left standing.