The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 02.20.84
Oh man, so glad to finally get some classic Hulkamania era stuff added to the Network, as they put 6 episodes of the MSG shows from 1984 on there today. And we kick it off with the first show after Hogan’s title victory.
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Pat Patterson
Jose Luis Rivera v. Charlie Fulton
Gorilla immediately ribs Pat by talking about how he won the Intercontinental title in South America and “defended it against all comers” while he was down there. I’m sure he did. They trade headlocks to start and Fulton works on that, but Rivera takes him down with his own. For some reason Gorilla calls him “Mac Rivera”, which I’m assuming was another nickname for him. Fulton slugs away in the corner to escape the headlock and puts him down with a back elbow for two. Legdrop gets two. Fulton goes to the chinlock but Rivera makes a comeback and dramatically misses a charge in the corner, which gets two for Fulton. Back to the chinlock and Fulton drops a knee for two. Fulton beats on him in the corner and puts him to the floor with a forearm and then brings him back in with a slam for two. Rivera with a small package for the pin at 7:03, however. Yup, that was sure a match. *1/2
Brian Blair v. Iron Mike Sharpe
Early in the career for Blair here, but Sharpe is a heat MACHINE. He’s going at it with the fans, the referee, the ring announcer, you name it. Notably, he’s also suffering from an injured arm even back in 1984. He tries to take Blair down and gets reversed, so he bails to take out his frustrations on the front row. Back in, Blair hammerlocks him and Sharpe LOUDLY protests and makes the ropes before going to a headlock. Blair reverses out of that with a wristlock, so Mike just grabs him by the hair and yanks him down. Blair tries a hammerlock and Mike makes the ropes, which Gorilla calls “the coward’s way out.” Blair with an armdrag, so Mike immediately goes to the ropes again to break. And now Gorilla thinks the ref should be admonishing Sharpe! For what? Competing according to the rules of the sport? Highly unlikely. Blair tries a headlock and Sharpe reverses to a headscissors and demands the ref ask him for a submission. Gorilla as usual is like “That’s not a submission move”, although he does concede that it can cause cauliflower ear. Blair escapes, so Sharpe goes to the ropes again and then uses his arm brace to rub on Brian’s face and takes over. Blair comes back on him and drops an elbow on him for two. Finally he gets that armbar, but Sharpe tosses out of it and then rakes the eyes to take over. Sharpe goes to work on him and beats him down with the forearm and a backdrop for two. This prompts a tirade on the referee, but he gets a hiptoss for two, making his own count because he doesn’t like the ref’s count. I like the initiative there but I question the legality. They slug it out and Blair makes the comeback and slams him and goes up with an elbow off the middle rope. Gorilla declares him a house of fire, which is a term I don’t often hear outside of tag matches. Blair continues hitting Sharpe with knees, but goes into the corner and Sharpe takes him down and pins him in the ropes at 9:39. This was the complete opposite of the opener, an energetic and fun match with a ton of heat and a good storyline. *** Iron Mike Sharpe is one of those guys I never really appreciated properly when I was coming up as a fan because he was sliding down the card at that point.
Tony Garea v. Afa the Samoan
According to the announcers, the Samoans were operating under some kind of Freebird rule at this point, where any one of them could fulfil a contract for a match. I’m assuming the third one was young Samu? Afa pounds on him in the corner, but Tony gets a crossbody for two and Afa bails to the floor off a dropkick. Back in, Garea works an armbar on him, but Afa chops him down and goes to a nerve pinch to hold him down. So that goes on for a while. Tony fights out of that a couple of times and Afa yanks him down with various cheating methods while they discuss Tony’s various championship partners, including Rick Martel and Haystacks Calhoun. I can’t even imagine the tag team championship duo of Garea and Haystacks. But it happened. Tony finally escapes to the apron, but Afa pounds on him out there while Gorilla bitches about the refereeing job of Dick Kroll. Garea comes in with a sunset flip for two and comes back with a dropkick, but he misses a second one. Afa misses a splash, but chops Tony down for the pin at 10:24. This was a perfectly cromulent match, but not very exciting. **
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon interviews the Iron Sheik, describing him as “unsuccessfully defending the WWF title against Hulk Hogan last month”, and Sheik gets pissed off and he’s going to take it out on Eddie Gilbert tonight and then take the title back from Hogan and return it to Iran.
The Iron Sheik v. Eddie Gilbert
This was the end portion of Gilbert’s WWF enhancement talent career, before he went to Memphis and reinvented himself as the person we know as Eddie Gilbert with a totally new look and personality. At this point he was a young babyface protégé of Bob Backlund and doing that whole deal. Sheik gets a couple of takedowns and Eddie reverses out of them. They do the old school criss cross and Eddie gets a sunset flip for two. Sheik beats on him in the corner and catches him with the LOADED BOOT OF DEATH, and the crowd erupts into a “We want Slaughter” chant. So Sheik gets all pissed off and beats on young Eddie even more with the loaded boots. Honestly it’s the crowd’s fault for egging him on. Gilbert fights back with AMERICAN right hands and puts him down, making the comeback with a backdrop. Eddie with a backdrop, but he tries another one and walks into a stungun, and Sheik HUMBLES HIM with the camel clutch at 5:29. Actually I can’t imagine Eddie ever being humbled by anyone. Another good one. **1/2
Rowdy Roddy Piper & David Schultz v. The Invaders
I feel like this might have some heat. So just to trigger my OCD about these things further, Dr D (who spells his name “Schultz”) has a graphic listing his name as “David Shultz” and his own ring jacket says “David Shults”. Look, Mike Rotunda/Rotundo and the Samoans drive me insane enough as it is, I don’t need Dr. D messing me up as well. And yet with the Invaders in the ring, he’s somehow not the biggest piece of shit in the match, so good for him. Piper was essentially brought into the promotion to be a manager for Paul Orndorff and Dr. D, the Adam Cole to their Keith Lee if you will, but managed to get himself insanely over in a short amount of time and turned himself into the biggest star of them all. Piper antagonizes the Invaders and then immediately runs away and threatens to leave, calling Invader #1 all kinds of names. Careful, you might get stabbed in the shower after the match. So then Piper lets Dr. D handle things after getting the Invaders all riled up, and he continues to run away and hide behind his larger and somehow crazier partner. Invader 1 immediately gets trapped in the heel corner, but D hits Piper by mistake and Piper takes a crazy bump to the floor off that. So he’s good and pissed off now and decides to tag into the match, calling for a test of strength, but Invader slugs him into the corner and Piper does the clown bumps off that. Invaders go to work on the arm and prevent Piper from tagging out in a funny spot, as Piper fights them off but JUUUUST can’t quite reach David’s hand. Invaders double-team the arm some more, but Piper finally manages to bully Invader 2 into the corner, and Schultz comes in to do some damage. Piper goes to a chinlock and continues to antagonize #1 on the apron, then hauls 2 back to the heel corner and drops him on the top rope for two. D comes in and Invader 2 gets a sunset flip for two, so Piper switches in and puts the boots to Invader 2. He misses a splash and it’s hot tag to Invader 1, who hiptosses Invader 2 onto Piper. But while the ref is putting 1 on the apron, Schultz comes in and CLOBBERS #2, putting Piper on top for the pin at 13:52. This was TREMENDOUS fun, with Piper and Schultz giving off major Shawn & Diesel vibes. Except they didn’t go to Vince and demand to win the tag team titles the night before Summerslam. ***1/2
Intercontinental title: Tito Santana v. Magnificent Muraco
Tito was fresh off winning the belt from Muraco in Boston, and this is his first title defense. They slug it out to start and Tito wins that battle. Tito slams him and Muraco backs off as Gorilla complains about the ref stepping in between them. We all know there’s only one referee that can do no wrong in Gorilla’s eyes. Tito works a wristlock and Muraco does a nice bit of wrestling as he looks to reverse, but Tito cranks on it even harder. Tito switches to a hammerlock while the announcers have an interested conversation about the physics of hammerlocks and wristlocks and how holding onto something with leverage can lead to you tiring out your own wrist. Muraco fights out of that, so Tito takes him down and goes to the armbar, then controls with a hammerlock on the mat. Finally Muraco uses his legs to kick out and hit Tito in the ears, but Tito goes right to the arm again. Muraco slams out of it and suplexes him, but Tito hangs on with a small package for two and then rolls right into the armbar again. Muraco finally clobbers him to escape and takes him down with a Russian legsweep, then drops him on the top rope. Tito gets tossed and takes a MANLY bump on the floor, where there are no pretty blue mats, and Muraco drops him on the railing as a certain percentage of the audience is REALLY into Muraco kicking the shit out of babyface hero Tito. Back in the ring, Tito is bleeding from the mouth and Muraco just puts the boots to him with disdain as the heel fans go nuts. Definitely not a modern phenomenon. Muraco slams him for two and puts him down with a back elbow, but Tito fights back and tries a rollup, which Muraco blocks by clotheslining him on the top rope. And then Muraco just levels him with his own version of the flying forearm, but he charges and misses, and Tito gets his own flying forearm. Muraco goes flying to the apron, getting his head tied up in the ropes, and the ref COUNTS HIM OUT at 16:34?!? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF BULLSHIT REFEREEING IS THAT? His head was TIED IN THE DAMN ROPES! I feel like Axel Foley when he got arrested for getting thrown out of a window and ranted about “What do you call getting thrown out of a moving car, jaywalking?” DAMMIT NOW I HAVE TO GO WATCH BEVERLY HILLS COP AGAIN, TOO. Thanks a lot. Anyway, this match ruled regardless of the dumb finish, go watch it. Muraco is great. FUCK I’M SO MAD BUT I LOVE WRESTLING. ****
The Masked Superstar v. Andre the Giant
Masked Superstar was apparently on the short list of guys who could have been in Sheik’s spot as “Guy who loses to Hogan to kick off Hulkamania” but honestly Sheik was the best choice. This is of course the collision of the future Machines. Andre overpowers Superstar while Pat talks about the troubles that Andre faces in everyday life, like dialing a phone or fitting into one of the tiny cabs in Japan. If Andre had lived to the smartphone era he’d have to use an iPad for a phone! Superstar tries a shoulderblock and just hurts himself, so Andre steps on his hand like a complete dick and goes for the mask and Superstar runs away lest his secret identity be revealed. Spoiler: It’s Bill Eadie. Back in, Andre does a drop-down and Superstar runs into Andre’s ass while running the ropes, sending him out of the ring again. This is proving to be a rough night for him. Superstar would like to call time, but Gorilla notes there’s not enough time in the world to escape Andre. Back in the ring, Andre beats on him in the corner, but Superstar finally gets his knee up and hurts the back, and whips Andre into the corner for a DAMN impressive bump from the Giant. Superstar works him over with axe-like forearms that are eerily reminiscent of a future WWF tag team champion but I can’t put my finger on it. Superstar with the cobra clutch, but Andre goes for the mask again to break and Superstar pounds away on him. But Andre is just annoyed now and beats on him with headbutts, hits the big boot, and then sits on him for the pin at 7:05. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love Andre more the more I get to watch him. I think if I ever stumbled on an Andre v. Bruno match from the 70s my head would literally explode with happiness. *** What a fun match. Andre goes for the mask again, but he manages to escape because there’s no money in the Unmasked Superstar.
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan does a supremely coked up promo about his first title defense tonight.
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff
Orndorff has a pretty sharp red and black robe tonight with coordinated red and black gear that I’ve never seen him use before. Hulk still has the ugly green belt at this point although they’d quickly switch that out. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start and Hulk bowls him over to escape, prompting Wonderful to bail to the apron to think it over. Back in, Orndorff gets a cheapshot and puts the boots to Hulk, choking him out on the ropes to take over. Hulk quickly tires of that and smashes him into the turnbuckles a bunch of times, then hits him with a clothesline to chase him to the floor. This gives me the chance to ask why Orndorff has “O.P.” monogrammed on his ass. Is he from Japan all of a sudden and now wants his name read as “Orndorff Paul”? Hulk squeezes him with a headlock and takes him to the mat with that as the announcers put over what a nice guy Hulk is and how no one has ever made any disparaging remarks about him. Well except for one group of people I suppose. Orndorff takes him down and drops elbows on him to take over, then puts the boots to him and drops a knee for two. Orndorff with a dropkick and he chokes out Hulk on the ropes. Backbreaker gets two. Paul reveres a corner whip and clotheslines him out of the corner to cut off another comeback, and he goes up with a flying knee for two. This finally sets up the piledriver and HULKAMANIA IS DEAD. Yes, Hogan is done less than a month after winning the title, and Orndorff gets…two. Oh, yeah, I forgot. And indeed, it’s the historic first ever HULK UP as World champ as he beats on Orndorff with a corner elbow, but walks into an eyepoke. So Orndorff tries another piledriver, but Hulk backdrops him to the floor and Paul bumps onto ringside chairs and gets counted out at 12:08, giving Hulk a cheap win for his first title defense. Well I hope he’s proud of himself. **1/2
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon talks with Orndorff, who rants about a conspiracy against him and promises that he’ll get another shot because Hogan didn’t beat him. He’s not wrong about any of it.
Jimmy Snuka v. Samu the Samoan
And we close with what I’m assuming is the traditional post-main event curfew match. So yeah, as I suspected, young Samu is the third Samoan in the stable. Samu attacks at the bell and Snuka gets all pissed off and slams him. Who would have thought that Snuka could have such a temper? Samu does a pair of leapfrogs and Snuka hits him with a bodypress for two. Snuka holds a facelock on him, but Samu headbutts him to escape and chokes him out in the corner while Gorilla wonders when young Samula became Samu. Hopefully he can used to that name change because it’ll last for a while. Samu holds a nerve pinch on Snuka and they’re clearly just burning time here as the show winds down. Meanwhile, Gorilla hypes one last six-man match for the evening, but the show ends with this match so it got cut out of the broadcast for whatever reason. Samu just holds that stupid nerve pinch FOREVER with nothing going on. I feel like they’ll get all the missing content uploaded to the Peacock by the time this thing is over. Snuka finally fights out and chops Samu down and then puts him away with a flying bodypress at 8:41. Not exactly a thrilling conclusion to the evening. ½*
Boring finale aside, this was a FANTASTIC show that was PPV quality and is well worth checking out on the Network, as we finally get some content from the dawn of Hulkamania and we can see how the explosion of the WWF started for real. I’m definitely continuing on through 1984 with these.