In addition to the TNA weekly PPV recaps, I will also be posting reviews of WWF programming starting with this show. I will review all arena shows( shows that I have access to anyway)and episodes of “All-Star Wrestling” and “Championship Wrestling” in chronological order. I was always interested in the transition from the older WWF to the national phenomeon that it became. Anyway, here is the start of this installment.
January 23, 1984
Announcers are Pat Patterson and Gorilla Monsoon.
Howard Finkel is the ring announcer. He uses the MSG microphone that drops from the ceiling. He names off the athletic commission, judges, and medical staff in attendance. This was a common occurence in this era.
Jose Luis Rivera vs. Tony Garea
Patterson states how this will be a “very scientific” match, which is the code they use when two faces go against each other. They also discuss how Garea is looking for a new tag partner, and Gorilla mentions Tito Santana. Thank god Tito didn’t get stuck with him. Speaking of Garea, he was the most unlikely looking babyface I’ve ever seen. He had just one facial expression, which was absolutely fucking miserable. They shake hands before locking up. They do some counters and work a repetitive spot where Garea counters a headlock takedown with head scissors and the crowd grows restless already. The announcers run down the card as Rivera grabs a side headlock. Garea breaks out but Rivera comes back with a crossbody that gets one. Garea comes back with an armdrag and works the arm. Rivera gets him up and tries a scoop slam but Garea continues to hold the arm and goes back into another armbar. Rivera manages a reverse rollup for two and they go to replay and you can clearly see Garea guiding Rivera through the spot. Garea dodges a monkeyflip with a cartwheel and Rivera barely clears Garea on a leapfrog and then dropkicks Garea while his head was down. A miscommunication spot for sure as the dropkick didn’t even come close to landing but Garea sold it anyway. After another armbar, Rivera gets whipped into the corner and comes back with a crossbody but Garea rolls through and gets the pin (6:46) ¼*.
Thoughts: Damn, this was boring. These two had no chemistry at all and it was sloppy at points. The crowd was dead during most of this. Rivera was basically a jobber and Garea has the charisma of a blank sheet of paper. A terrible choice for an opener in any decade.
The Invaders vs. Mr Fuji & Tiger Chung Lee
The invaders are the faces. #1 has the hair sticking out the back of his mask so I can tell them apart. I’m not sure if #2 was the one who killed Bruiser Brody as that individual was an Invader during this time. #1 and Tiger start out. Tiger breaks a lockup cleanly and smiles, drawing boos from the crowd. He then lands an elbow but #1 comes back with a sunset flip. The Invaders then make rapid-fire quick tags to work the arm of Tiger. Eventually, Tiger places #2 in the corner and tags Fuji. Fuji gets in then #1 tags in and gets a crossbody for two. Tiger tags back in and gets a scoop slam but #1 goes back to work on the arm. #1 misses a move and Fuji is heard laughing loudly. He chokes out #1 with the tag rope before entering the match. He uses a scoop slam followed by a falling headbutt to the groin, prompting Monsoon to call for a DQ. Fuji knocks #2 off of the apron as the announcers make fun of the referee for his lack of awareness. Fuji with a suplex but has his second attempt reversed. He climbs up top but is tossed off and both men make the tag. #2 gets a backdrop but Tiger comes back with a nice looking back suplex. Fuji tags back in and gets a gutwrench suplex. Tiger tags back in and gets a bearhug before Fuji enters the match behind the ref’s back. The announcers make fun of the ref some more as #1 tags in but is caught then hit with an invereted atomic drop. The heels use some more illegal double team moves. #1 makes a brief comeback but misses a corner splash. #2 then tags in and gets a dropkick. The Invaders then make more rapid-fire tags to work the leg of Tiger. Fuji tags in and the same happens to him. #1 gets Fuji in an abdominal stretch. After Fuji breaks, #2 tags in and gets him in the same hold. All four men are in the ring as the Invaders use the rowboat spot as the bell rings for the time-limit draw (20:23) **1/4. The invaders then jump up-and-down like they have accomplished something.
Thoughts: Not a bad match at all but there was no need for this to go twenty minutes. It certainly dragged at points. Still, the Invaders were over with the crowd and worked at a faster pace than a majority of the roster at this time. Fuji was alright and even though Tiger Chung Lee is best recognized as a jobber during the mid-eighties, he held his own in there and was at least a better worker than Fuji’s old partner, Toru Tanaka.
The Masked Superstar vs. Chief Jay Strongbow
Gorilla throws out the “This could be a main event in any arena in the U.S.” line before the match begins. Strongbow looks absolutely ancient, he was 56 years old at this time. The Masked Superstar is Bill Eadie, who was best known as Ax in Demolition. The Chief grabs a side-headlock as Patterson states how he will eventually go for the mask. Chief keeps on going for headlocks and tries to take off the mask but the Superstar ducks out of the ring. He stalls for a while before re-entering the ring. Back inside, the Chief does his dance, to the delight of the crowd. He hits the Superstar with a bunch of running knee lifts then goes back to work on the mask. Superstar gets an elbow smash and works on the Chief in the corner, who no-sells and does the dance. He locks in a sleeper hold but Superstar breaks out and hits a clothesline for the pin (7:26) DUD.
Thoughts: I know the crowd likes him but Strongbow should not be getting in this much offense on the Superstar. It looked ridiculous.
Ivan Putski vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Slaughter enters to the ring with the song “Halls of Montezuma.” Putski, according to the announcers, has dropped down to 250lbs. He was 43 years old at this time but looked older. He was only 5‘6 as well. Putski goes after Slaughter, who ducks out each time. Slaughter taunts him by flexing his muscles, prompting Putksi to flex himself as Patterson and Monsoon discuss Putksi’s diet and his excessive garlic consumption. Putski gets a scoop slam and grabs a side headlock. Sarge counters that with an atomic drop. Backbreaker gets two. Putski blocks a turnbuckle smash and rams Sarge into the turnbuckle, causing him to bleed. Putski hammers away as Sarge oversells everything. He escapes and hits Putski with a clothesline but fails on a slam attempt as Putski falls on top of him, which gets two. Putski gets the Polish Hammer and then shoulderblocks him over the ropes as Sarge’s chin is caught on the bottom rope. Putski follows him and they brawl on the apron. Putksi knocks Sarge back in the ring right before the ten count for the win (11:29) ½*. Putksi beats on him some more and tosses him over the ropes once again. Sarge comes back and hits him from behind.
Thoughts: Poor Sarge. He had to dramatically oversell Putski’s shitty offense. Seriously, Putski was one of the worst wrestlers ever.
Gene Okerlund is with Paul Orndorff. He asks him about his upcoming match with Salvatore Bellomo. Orndorff says he is nothing but a “spaghetti eater” and demands some competition. He is then shown walking to the ring, accompanied by Roddy Piper. At this point in the show, Orndorff comes off as the biggest star by a wide margin.
Salvatore Bellomo vs. Paul Orndorff w/Roddy Piper
Piper and Orndorff have only been in the WWF for a few months at this point. They stall before entering the ring then Piper complains to the referee about Bellomo’s knee brace being a weapon. The two then head up the ramp but eventually come back to the ring. They demand that Bellomo goes into his corner. Outside the ring, Piper distracts Sal, allowing Orndorff to attack. He drops the knee and delivers a slam. He then targets the back as Piper is yelling in Bellomo’s face from the outside. Orndorff gets a two count off of a backdrop and yells at the ref for counting slow. Orndorff gets Bellomo up for a slam but he falls on top of him for two. Orndorff gets a few shots but misses a charge in the corner. Bellomo comes back with a few mule kicks and Orndorff is selling the arm. Bellomo then goes to work on the injured arm. After a bit, Orndorff manages a back suplex then tosses Bellomo through the ropes. Piper is taunting him and yells for him to go back inside the ring. Orondorff knees Bellomo off of the apron then slams him onto the floor. Back in the ring, Orndroff gets a vertical suplex for two. He heads up top but misses a flying knee drop. Bellomo lands a falling headbutt then a shoulderblock before getting caught in a powerslam. Orndorff then pulls Bellomo up and hits the piledriver for the win (14:11) *3/4. Bellomo eventually gets helped to his feet by the medics.
Thoughts: Match wasn’t bad, considering Bellomo was one of the wrestlers. He also sucked something terrible and throws some of the crappiest punches you will ever see. The heel act of Piper and Orndorff was a bit refreshing here and far more effective than the generic acts we have seen tonight.
WWF Intercontinental Title Match
Tito Santana vs. Don Muraco w/Capt. Lou Albano
Muraco is sporting a beard, somewhat similar to what Bobby Roode looks like today. The two keep locking up but neither man can get the advantage. Gorilla mentions how Hulk Hogan is subbing for Bob Backlund against the Iron Sheik as doctors are prohibiting Backlund from wrestling. Tito works a side headlock for an eternity until he breaks the hold to land a kneedrop, which gets two. He grabs another side headlock until Muraco gets a backbreaker. Tito then takes down Muraco with and slingshots him back into the center of the ring only to put on another side headlock. The crowd is getting restless at this point. Muraco finally breaks the hold and the crowd starts a light cheer. Muraco with an elbow smash to the back then gets a powerslam for two. The crowd gets behind Tito as Muraco is hitting him with elbows. Tito eventually powers up and knocks down Muraco. Albano gets in the ring and Tito slams his head against Muraco’s. Muraco is whipped into the corner but dodges a flying attack by Tito and heads up top. Tito meets him and the two slug it out as the ref rings the bell for the double DQ as the Announcers crap all over the decision (16:03) ¼* . They then brawl outside the ring for a bit as Gorilla states the double DQ was due to the wrestlers not listening to the official.
Thoughts: Wow, this was awful. I was expecting a lot better between these two. 75% of the match revolved a side headlock and the finish was idiotic. Even the announcers made fun of it.
Gene Okerlund is with Tito Santana, who is irate at the referee’s decision. He says he can beat Muraco at anytime and wants a rematch, with Capt. Lou barred from ringside. Tito isn’t the greatest promo but he got the point across. He closed by yelling “arreiba.”
Two out of Three falls match
Haiti Kid & Tiger Jackson vs. Dana Carpenter and Poncho Boy
This is billed as a “very special attraction” by Finkel. It’s a midgets match. Jackson is billed as 82lbs and Poncho Boy is being billed from Canada and I have no clue as to why that is his name. He is a husky white midget. Anyway, the announcers bring up how Jackson and the referee look alike with their bald heads. Tiger messes around with Pancho for a bit. Pancho coems back with a monkeyflip then starts slapping the head of Tiger. Tiger comes back with a dropkick and a flying headscissor takedown. Pancho fighrs out of the headscissors and spins Tiger on his head. Haiti Kid tags in and lands a few dropkicks to Pancho. Dana tags in and poses after landing a leapfrog only to get dropicked to the outside. Both men tag out and Pancho slams Tiger for two. He then charges at Tiger in the corner and hiptosses him across the ring. Tiger dodges another charge and gets a sunsetflip off the second rope for the pin (5:08). Haiti with a thump to Pancho to start the second fall. He no-sells a headbutt and delviers one of his own. Dana tags in and the do a comedy spot where they pile on the referee. It wasn’t very funny. All four men are now in the ring and they do a criss-cross pot ending with Haiti getting Dana in an airplane spin and after laying on him for a half-minute, gets the pin (6:43) ½*.
Thoughts: Typical 80’s midget match, meaning it had comedy spots and they tried to embarrass the referee. The action was fine for what it was.
Gene Okerlund is with Freddy Blassie and the Iron Sheik. Blassie says Hogan’s size menas no difference as Sheik has been training with larger men. Sheik speaks in his native tongue before Okerlund asks him to speak English. Sheik then states Hogan did not deserve this match and that he should be facing Backlund.
Hogan is shown in the back and then makes his way to the ring. His song hits and the place goes crazy.
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Iron Sheik (Champion) w/Freddie Blassie
The Fink refers to Blassie as “Ayatollah.” The camera cuts to a kid holding a “Sheik is a Freak” sign in the crowd. Hogan attacks before the bell and clotheslines the Sheik with his own robe. He chokes him on the mat for a bit then hammers away. A clothesline is followed by a kneedrop and the place is shithouse. Lifting chokehold by Hulk and he drops the Sheik down before spitting at him. Big boot by Hulk gets two. He elbows him down and gets an elbow drop for two. Hulk misses a charge in the corner and the Sheik takes the advantage. Backbreaker gets two. He loads the boot, according to Gorilla, and lands a few stomps. Boston Crab is applied but Hulk gets out by pushing up. Sheik then gets a gutwrench suplex for two. He beats on the back of Hogan before applying the Camel Clutch. Hulk eventually gets up and rams Sheik into the corner, who falls down in the middle of the ring. Hogan then hits the legdrop for the win and the title as the place goes fucking insane (5:40) **1/4. The medics work on Sheik but he pops up and goes after Hogan, only to get tossed outside.
Thoughts: The most action-packed match of the night. Hogan’s win is one of the loudest pops you will ever hear from a wrestling crowd. Hogan did a lot of heel antics here, but the crowd didn’t care one bit.
Okerlund is in the locker room with Hogan, who says this was the dream of a lifetime. He then states how Hulkamania is worldwide and that turns him on. Interesting. Andre the Giant comes out to celebrate by pouring champagne on Hulk. Putski and Rocky Johnson also join in on the celebration.
Rene Goulet vs. Jimmy Snuka
The crowd is a lot calmer now. Goulet attacks Snuka from behind. Bodyslam gets two. He stomps the groin of Snuka then hits a few throat thrusts. Snuka eventually fights back and tosses Goulet out of the corner. Goulet gets a throat thrust and applies the claw as Gorilla states how the whole wrestling world will suffer from Hulkamania. Snuka breaks the claw and does the double leapfrog into the chop shot before going up top and hitting the Superfly Splash for the win (3:54) ¾.
Thoughts: Short, inoffensive match that was used to calm the crowd.
Okerlund is with Hogan and his parents, Ruth and Pete. His parents re proud and Hogan praises them for all that they did. Nice segment, actually as it made the belt seem like a huge deal along with the champagne celebration.
Afa & Sika & Samula vs. Tony Atlas & Rocky Johnson & Andre the Giant
Capt. Lou is not with the Samoans tonight. Atlas & Johnson are the tag champs. Samula was brought in as a 3rd Samoan. He was later known in the WWF as Samu as part of the Headshrinkers tag-team along with other stops in WCW and ECW. Atlas and Samula start out. Atlas grabs a side headlock and then gets a crossbody for two. Samula retreats to his corner but Atlas brings him back and tags Rocky. A criss-cross spot ends with Samula running by himself. Rocky is backed into the Samoans corner but ducks a punch, which ends up connecting with Afa. Atlas tags in and quickly powers out of a full nelson. He whips Samula towards Andre, who knocks him down. Andre tags in but ducks his head, allowing Samula to get a heabutt then tag Sika. Sika lands a few headbutts but Andre comes back with one of his own. Afa runs in but Andre smashes him into Samula. Sitdown splash onto Sika finshes the match (4:56) ½*.
Thoughts: Short match that didn’t feature much action. I have no idea why they just didn’t close the show with Hogan vs. Iron Sheik. This match could have easily taken place earlier in the card. I get that Andre was a huge draw, but still.
Final Thoughts: The whole show was quite boring as a whole. It featured a lot of washed-up wrestlers (Strongbow, Putski, Fuji) and the WWF regulars (Bellomo, Garea, Goulet) who generally sucked. This was right around the time that Vince was starting to bring in other talent for his national expansion so we saw guys like Hogan, Orndorff, Piper, and Masked Superstar appear on the shows wthin the past few months. The Hogan title win was huge and the start of the wrestling boom, which would become greater within the next several months.