(For completeness sake before I start the 84 run properly, here’s a repost of the 01/23/84 MSG show that I reviewed on WWE 24/7. I haven’t watched the Network version so if the matches differ there, you’re on your own.)
The SmarK 24/7 Rant for MSG – January 23 1984
– Taped from New York, New York.
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Pat Patterson.
– So the main event of this show was Iron Sheik’s first glorious title defense at MSG after beating Bob Backlund for the belt, but it’s nothing major, just some punk from the AWA. I doubt you’ve even heard of him before.
Jose Luis Rivera v. Tony Garea
They fight for the takedown to start and then trade hammerlocks, but it’s a stalemate. They exchange headlocks and the crowd actually boos them for that. Rivera gets a crossbody off a criss-cross, for two, and Garea comes back with an armbar. Garea tackles him down and it’s back to the armbar, but Rivera gets a rollup for two. Another try with the headlocks and Rivera blows a dropkick badly, nearly managing to land on Garea’s head. I’d have to give that one 0.7 Watts. Rivera with another crossbody and Garea rolls through for the pin at 6:45. Pretty dull stuff. *1/2
The Invaders v. Mr Fuji & Tiger Chung Lee
Never heard of the Invaders before as far as the WWF goes, although they’re from Puerto Rico so it’s fairly likely that Invader #1 is Jose “I murdered Bruiser Brody and I got was this stupid t-shirt” Gonzalez. Lee gives #1 a pair of clean breaks off the lockup, then gives him a cheapshot instead. #1 comes back with a sunset flip for two, and the Invaders trade off with arm-wringers. Good long series of double-teams ends with #2 getting put in the Asian corner, but he rolls away to save himself. Fuji comes in and gets slugged down by #2, and they criss-cross into a cross body that gets two for Invader 2. Lee wants in, so #2 takes him down with an armdrag and #1 switches in to begin the process of working on the arm again. Lee slips out of a headlock, which allows Fuji to choke #1 out with the tag rope and then come in with a headbutt to the groin. Back to Lee with the armbar, and he follows with a high kick for two. Backdrop gets two. And now Fuji comes in with the nerve hold, into a suplex. Another try is reversed by #1. Fuji tries to go up, but he gets slammed off and it’s hot tag Invader #2. He stomps away on Lee in the corner and Gorilla makes a huge Freudian slip, calling him “Johnny Rivera”. Whoops, guess we know the secret identity of that one. Unfortunately he misses a charge Lee hits a backdrop suplex, followed by Fuji with a gut wrench suplex for two. #2 fights up, but Fuji chops him down to cut off a tag. Lee pounds on the back and goes to a bearhug, then pounds him down again to cut off a tag. Back to the bearhug, but #1 breaks it up, allowing the heels to switch off. Gorilla calls him “Rivera” again and it’s hot tag to #1, but Lee no-sells his big chop. #1 tries a bodypress, but Lee catches him and turns it into an atomic drop. Lee pounds him down and goes to the chinlock, but #1 fights out…and misses a blind charge. Lee gets one off that. Back to #2, who comes in with a dropkick and rollup for two, and now he starts working on the leg. This is pretty clearly going to a draw. The Invaders switch off on the leg with some nice stuff, continually tagging to get the fans going, and then Fuji gets more of the same treatment. #1 gets two and hooks the abdominal stretch on Fuji, and take a drink because Gorilla rags on the poor execution of the move again. Lee comes in to break, but gets caught in the same move. Fuji breaks it up and Lee gets two. Back to Invader 2 and he also tries the abdominal stretch, and now Gorilla’s getting kind of pissed off. It’s pretty funny, actually. It’s BONZO GONZO and we get the rowboat spot, but it’s a draw at 20:20. The Invaders were a lot of fun and very marketable, and I’m not sure why they disappeared after that. ***1/4
The Masked Superstar v. Chief Jay Strongbow
Strongbow lays in the badmouth for some reason and grabs a headlock and they work off that for a while. Strongbow chops him down and goes for the mask, but Superstar escapes. Strongbow goes for the mask again, but Superstar pounds away, like an ax if you will, until Strongbow makes the comeback and gets the sleeper. Superstar escapes with a back elbow that puts him down for the pin at 7:20. Strongbow was not so much with the good. *
Ivan Putski v. Sgt. Slaughter
This is quite the loaded card. Sarge is still a mega-heel at this point. We get the mega-stall to start, as they play mindgames for the first few minutes before finally locking up at the 3 minute mark. Ivan wins that battle and adds a slam, then grabs a headlock and powers him down. Back to the headlock, but Sarge escapes with an atomic drop. Backbreaker gets two. He adds another one, for two, ramming Putski’s back into the turnbuckle first this time. Putski rams him into the post to come back, and Sarge is bleeding as usual. Ivan pounds on the cut and sends him into the corner for the patented Slaughter Bump. Putski whips him into the corner again, but Slaughter catches him with the Slaughter Cannon lariat. Slaughter tries a slam, but Putski falls on top for two. Putski puts him down with a Polish Hammer, and a second one puts Slaughter over the top…but his chin gets hooked on the bottom rope to leave him hanging there. Now that’s hilarious. They slug it out on the apron and it’s a double-countout at 11:21. Too bad, it was just getting going. **1/2 A giant brawl erupts between them afterwards, which seems to continue the feud.
Sal Bellomo v. Paul Orndorff
Orndorff is being managed by Roddy Piper here, which would have been pretty early in his WWF run since he was at Starrcade 83 in a pretty big role just a couple of months before this. It’s also Orndorff’s MSG debut according to Finkel, so we’re early in his run too. Another major stall to start, as Piper and Orndorff complain about Bellomo’s knee brace and choice of corner and anything else they can bitch about. Taking off the robe eats up another 2 minutes alone. Finally Orndorff attacks and drops an elbow, then stomps away on the ropes. He chokes Bellomo out while Piper lays the badmouth on him, then follows with a giant backdrop for two. Piper yells about the slowness of the count, but then Bellomo reverses a slam attempt for two and Piper starts yelling “Not so fast! 1….2! Like that!” You could tell he was going to be a big star. Sal fights back with mule kicks from the mat. Sal works on the arm while Piper screams about phantom hair pulling, but Paul escapes with a backdrop suplex anyway. Orndorff tosses him and Piper attacks his self-esteem, allowing Orndorff to run him off the apron with a running knee. Paul follows him out and slams him on the floor, and back in for a suplex that gets two. He chokes away in the corner and goes up to finish, but Bellomo dodges his flying splash and makes the comeback. Orndorff quickly catches him with a powerslam to end that, but picks him up at two and kills him dead with the piledriver at 15:00. Not a great match or anything, but you could tell they wanted him to be a star and that’s exactly what he delivered on. **
Intercontinental title: Magnificent Muraco v. Tito Santana
They fight for the lockup in dramatic fashion to start, and Tito switches to a headlock. He grinds on that and gets two. Back to the headlock, and he releases to drop a knee for two. And back to the headlock again, but finally Muraco gets offense at 8:00 with a backbreaker to escape. Tito immediately scoops the leg, however, and goes right to the headlock again. Muraco fights up to his feet, but Tito grinds in the headlock and puts him right back on the mat again. This is seriously the longest headlock spot I’ve ever seen, at 12 minutes and counting. And FINALLY Muraco escapes with a legsweep and takes over. He rams Tito into the corner and follows with a running powerslam for two. Santana fights back, however, and Albano gets involved, so Tito knocks them together, but charges in with a forearm and hits the corner instead. Muraco goes up to take advantage, but Tito follows him up and they slug it out until the bell rings at 16:07. Apparently it’s a double DQ. Tito would win the belt three weeks later in Boston, though. Really dull extended headlock. **
Haiki Kid & Tiger Jackson v. Dana Carpenter & Poncho Boy
Usual midget stuff, I can’t be bothered. If you want to know what happened, subscribe to the channel.
Meanwhile, Freddie Blassie and the Iron Sheik complain that they were preparing for Bob Backlund tonight but stuck with some big stiff who no one’s ever heard of before.
WWF World title: The Iron Sheik v. Hulk Hogan
You may have seen this match before. Hulk jumps him from behind and hits an elbow in the corner, then clotheslines him with the ring robe and chokes him down. Hulk follows with the clothesline and kneedrop. Big boot gets two. Axe bomber and he drops the big elbow for two. Corner clothesline misses, however, and Sheik starts stomping on the back, then follows with a backbreaker for two. The ref checks on Hulk, so Sheik loads up the boot and adds a shot with it, before putting Hulk in a boston crab. Hogan powers out of that, so Sheik hits him with the gut wrench for two, and it’s time for the Camel Clutch. Ha, it’s over, no one will ever hear from this Hogan guy again. OK, I lied, as Hogan powers up and rams Sheik into the corner, then finishes with the legdrop for the first time of many, many times, winning the WWF title at 5:34. The phrase “The crowd goes wild” is barely enough to cover the reaction here. The match was pretty much perfect for what it was, as Hogan completely destroyed the Sheik and it wasn’t allowed to run long enough to expose him in any manner. ** And this of course is the #1 moment in wrestling history, as Hulk blew up the rulebook of what the WWF had been up until that point, and recreated the sport once and for all.
And of course, we also get the famous post-match backstage interview, where Andre the Giant congratulates Hulk on his title win, a moment that would be echoed years later when he turned on Hulk to set up Wrestlemania III.
And there’s still two other matches? Geez, talk about a tough act to follow.
Rene Goulet v. Jimmy Snuka
You can really see the infusion of new talent in this show, like World Class after it launched, as suddenly you’ve got Hulk on top and guys like Piper, Orndorff, Snuka and Slaughter filling out the midcard to foreshadow the glory days of the promotion. And yeah, Snuka wasn’t exactly “new talent”, but he was a vital part of that new version of Vince Jr’s WWF. Goulet attacks to start and slugs away, then gets the Iron Claw on the mat. Snuka fights back and chops Goulet down, and they criss-cross into another chop from Snuka, and the Superfly splash is academic at 3:50. Obviously they’re just rushing through to the end now. 1/2*
Backstage, Mean Gene interviews Ruth and Pete “Hogan”, who hopefully were better parents than Hulk turned into.
Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas v. Afa, Sika & Samu.
Samu was a mere baby at this point. Atlas grabs a headlock on Samu to start and follows with a crossbody for two. They fight for a takedown and Samu gets led into the face corner, where Andre chops him down. Funny spot as they criss-cross and Rocky just stops running, leaving the frustrated Samu looking foolish. Rocky rams Samu into Afa, although he’s too young to know not to sell, I guess, because Afa just stands there. Atlas comes back in and Samu tries a full nelson, but Tony powers out easily, and it’s Andre time. Samu actually headbutts Andre down to block a backdrop, and that allows Sika to come in and throw more headbutts. Andre just kind of shrugs him off and levels him with a headbutt of his own, then rams the Samoans together, and this time they sell. Big boot and buttdrop kills poor Samu dead at 5:24. Just a fun little match to end the night with. *1/2
Well, the wresting was nothing great, but the show was MONSTROUSLY historic, kicking off what has come to be thought of as the modern era of professional wrestling. And that’s that.