The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 03.25.84
I love these because I have no idea what’s coming up on them and the period is so under-represented that I’m guaranteed to have a bunch of stuff that’s new to me.
Taped from Madison Square Garden, and presented in the most complete form possible due to technical difficulties.
BUT FIRST! We actually get the playing of the national anthem, although here in Canada they just play “Limelight” by Rush before sporting events.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson
SD Jones v. Rene Goulet
It’s sad that we lost Special Delivery Jones because he would be making a killing working for Amazon, I’d assume. Goulet grabs a headlock and Jones calmly slips out of it and goes for a takedown of his own. Goulet goes to the ropes to escape a few times and then puts Jones down and stomps him to take over. Goulet goes to a bearhug and Jones claps out of it, so Goulet clotheslines him down for two, with Goulet landing on the ref on the kickout. Goulet loads up the SCORPION CLAW but it’s not exactly a Von Erich performing it. So SD quickly fights out of it and tries a slam, but Goulet lands on top and then goes back to the claw again. SD manages to escape again and puts the boots to Goulet, but he misses a blind charge, allowing Goulet to load the glove. But then Jones headbutts him and pins him at 9:22 anyway. *1/2
B. Brian Blair v. Charlie Fulton
But before the match, Fink encourages us to watch All Star Wrestling on Saturday mornings at 10am. Actually don’t, that show sucks. Watch Mid-Atlantic instead. So on the last episode, it was just “Brian Blair”, but he has now added “B.” to his name, which stuck for the rest of his career. Blair goes for the headlock while the announcers discuss that hot new tag team of Brian Blair and…Tony Garea? Well, work in progress I guess. Blair works the arm and takes him down as Gorilla puts over what a promising rookie that Blair is. He was around the business for nearly a decade already at that point! What next, talking about “youngster” Carlos Colon? They trade headlocks and Blair reverses into another armbar, and then transitions to a hammerlock and chickenwings the other arm with his leg. Oh that was slick. Fulton beats on him in the corner to break and puts him down with a knee to the gut. Fulton with a backbreaker and he holds that as a submission. Fulton continues working on the back and uses a patented CM Punk Bodyslam for two. They slug it out and Fulton rakes the eyes, which Blair way oversells before making a comeback and backdropping him out of the corner. Blair drops elbows, but misses one and Fulton charges at him, allowing Blair to hook him in the abdominal stretch and pin him with a rollup at 9:31. Blair was showing good babyface fire here but never went anywhere as a single. **1/4
In a minor note, I really like these are the complete shows, in that they show all the dead space between matches and Fink’s banter to the fans and such. Our next show is April 23, a Monday night at 9pm! I don’t feel like wrestling on a Monday night would ever catch on.
The Iron Sheik v. Ivan Putski
You’d think Sheik would have no specific issues with Poland. Unless he tweaked his gimmick to be like “Muslim #1, Jews HOCK-PTOOEY!” and then we’d have a whole different issue. Sheik pounds away to start after choking him out with the headdress, but Ivan fires back and slugs him down before choking Sheik out with his own belt. Putski wraps it around his fist and just beats the shit out of Sheik as the ref blatantly ignores it, and Putski beats on him some more to a monster reaction. Sheik keeps taking crazy bumps but finally comes back with an atomic drop and puts the boots to him while the crowd chants “USA” for the Polish guy. Sheik tries a suplex but Putski plants his feet and gets his own, and then hits Sheik with the Polish Hammer, at which point Sheik bumps into the corner and takes Putski down for the pinfall at 4:10, hooking his boots in the ropes. This was pretty entertaining while it lasted. **1/2
WWF International Heavyweight title: Akira Maeda v. Pierre Lefebvre
WHAT MADNESS IS THIS? Yes, Maeda on an MSG show in 1984, wrestling in a supposed tournament final for the “WWF International title”, which of course was a made up deal with one match in the “tournament” and then the title immediately disappeared again when Maeda formed the original UWF. I mean, the belt literally has a big “UWF” logo on the front so it’s not like it was a secret or anything. I’m not familiar with Lefebvre but he was a Montreal guy and his career was cut short when he died in 1985 at the age of 30. They trade hammerlocks to start and Maeda dropkicks him and gets a sunset flip for two. Gorilla is driving me nuts by calling him “May-Da” for the entire match. Lefebvre tosses Maeda to take over, as Maeda takes a crazy bump for 1984 and Lefebvre bites him on the way back in. He goes to the bearhug, but Maeda beats on him in the corner and hooks the abdominal stretch, and Lefebvre gives up at 5:00 to make Maeda the new International champion. Gorilla is flabbergasted that someone actually gave up to such a poorly executed abdominal stretch! **
Sgt. Slaughter v. Mr. Fuji & Tiger Chung Lee
This is a handicap match, but the heels have to tag in and out. Slaughter was freshly turned babyface at this point, which is crazy to think about. Man, there’s a guy who left at exactly the wrong time and could have retired even younger off all the money he could have made in the Ebersol era. Gorilla notes that Fuji is chasing away evil with the salt ceremony, using “6 or 8 pounds of iodized salt and no doubt hiding another 8 pounds of it on his person somewhere.” That feels a bit accusatory on his part. Slaughter quickly chases Fuji out and brings in Lee as we lose commentary for a while for some reason. Fuji traps Sarge in the corner and Lee gets some cheapshots on him, but Sarge rakes Lee’s back. Lee and Fuji double-team Sarge again, but Lee goes up and Sarge slams him off the top and clotheslines him to set up the COBRA CLUTCH at 4:10. Nothing to the match but the crowd was going nuts for all of it. *
Dr D David Schultz & Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Jimmy Snuka & Andre the Giant
Oh DAMN. Shit is ON. Piper does a whole bit where he gets annoyed by ringside fans catcalling him while disrobing, which is just another piece of his impending launch into superstardom. Piper challenges Andre to come in first, and then runs away and lets Dr. D handle it. Andre gives him a clean break off the lockup (Piper: “YOU GOT HIM, DAVE!”) and then tries a headlock, but D climbs over the ropes to escape. So Andre just hauls him back in and Schultz goes nuts in the corner and slugs away. And Andre just chuckles at him, so Schultz wisely runs away. Dr. D wants a test of strength and that goes nowhere for him, as Andre tweaks his nose and now Piper asks for a tag and then changes his mind and just offers some advice to Dr. D instead. That advice? “If anyone tries to get you to break kayfabe, make sure to teach him a lesson!” Well that didn’t work out very well for him. Piper finally does tag in, but then turns around and tags out again after sizing up Andre. D tries a headlock and Andre does the drop-down and butt-ram spot, prompting Dr. D to run away and get consoled by Piper again. Finally Schultz decides to attack from behind and actually gets some offense on Andre, at which point Piper bravely tags in and gets his punches in. And Andre just ignores Piper and SWATS him like a gnat as Piper takes crazy bumps off that. So Schultz comes back in and beats on Andre helplessly, getting nowhere, until Andre just casually throws him into the corner and beats on him with shoulders. But finally Dr. D gets a knee up to put him down and drops a knee for two. The heels double-team Andre and Piper uses a pair of brass knuckles to knock Andre down for real this time, and Piper comes in and goes to work as Andre is busted open. And he’s busted open big time as Piper puts the boots to him, so the ringside doctor comes in and checks Andre as the match grinds to a halt. So I guess the match is over, as they put Andre on a stretcher and good luck with that. The match is apparently a no-contest of some kind but there’s no announced decision. But Jimmy Snuka declares that he wants to continue alone and Piper is fine with that, so we continue on. Snuka dropkicks Piper and chops both heels to chase them, before beating on Piper and ramming their heads together as the crowd goes nuts. But then Piper pokes him in the eye and Schulz puts him down with a back elbow. Piper with a kneelift for two. D drops an elbow for two. Snuka fights to make a comeback, but Andre returns with a bloody bandage on his head and just kicks the hell out of everyone. They should probably just run away right now. Andre ties up Dr. D in the ropes and Piper saves him, and they wisely get the hell back to the dressing room at 20:30 so Andre doesn’t murder them single-handedly. However, the ref calls it a DQ for the heels, as Gorilla buries the incompetent refereeing job. This was an amazing, tremendously entertaining piece of business. ****
Tony Garea v. Iron Mike Sharpe
Time to cool it down a bit. Sharpe puts him down with a knee, but misses an elbow, allowing Garea to take over with some armdrags and Sharpe backs off. Funny bit as Sharpe hides in the corner and yells “GET HIM BACK!” while Garea is literally halfway across the ring. Garea with a Thesz Press for two and Sharpe bails to the floor for a breather and some rehab on his injured forearm no doubt. Back in, Garea gets a back elbow and tries a splash, but Sharpe gets the knees up. Garea rolls him up for two while Gorilla notes that the ref “should be down in Miami Beach relaxing in a rocker” and didn’t get in position very fast. Well that would put him right in WWE’s prime demo these days. Sharpe gets an over the shoulder backbreaker and Garea uses the ropes to flip out of it, but Sharpe continues with a slam and then misses his own splash. Gorilla talks about the matinee show and all the kids being in the audience as a result. Good thing they just had Andre do a gory bladejob in the last match. Kids love that. Garea slugs away on Sharpe in the corner, but Mike adjusts his forearm brace and knocks Tony down with it. Garea gets a bodypress for two while Gorilla continues insulting the referee, and Garea tries to take the forearm brace off. He’s violating Sharpe’s HIPAA rights! Call a lawyer! And then Sharpe chokes out Garea and the ref calls for the bell at 8:30, presumably a DQ win for Garea. When the referee is so incompetent that Gorilla sounds like he’s shooting on him, he’s pretty terrible. OK match with a terrible finish. **
Greg Valentine v. Bob Backlund
This is Bob’s return to MSG after losing the title in December. Valentine was quite the manager slut in the 80s, jumping from Albano here to Jimmy Hart in 85 to Johnny V in 86 and then back to Jimmy Hart again in 87. They fight over a wristlock to start and Bob takes him down, but Valentine slams him and Bob responds with one of his own. “Backlund held him up there like he was yesterday’s newspaper!” notes Gorilla. WUT? Is that a saying people were using in 1984? I wouldn’t know because I’m much too young and hip to the youths of today, of course. Bob gets a top wristlock and follows with an atomic drop, but Greg blocks it and knocks Bob down, so Bob cradles him for two. It’s so weird that they’re acting like Backlund was completely gone between the Sheik match and here, because he had an entire house show feud with Masked Superstar. Valentine takes Backlund down with a short arm scissors, the move probably invented for Backlund to power out of. Valentine holds the move while Backlund bridges out of it and rolls Greg over for two, and then finally powers Valentine up and puts him on the top rope to break. Bob SWEEPS THE LEG and gets a small package for two, but Greg takes him down and rams the leg into the apron a few times to take over. Bob kicks out of a figure-four, but Greg drops an elbow on the rebound. Greg goes up and misses an elbow, so Bob jumps on him for a chickenwing attempt, and they both roll to the floor and fight to a double countout at 9:25. These are some really bad finishes tonight. Match didn’t have a chance to really go anywhere, unfortunately. **1/4
Intercontinental title: Tito Santana v. Paul Orndorff
Oh this is interesting. Paul gets distracted by the disrespectful New York crowd and the transphobic chant that I won’t dignify here, and has to stall for two minutes as a result of his feelings being so egregiously stomped on. They fight over the lockup and Orndorff gets taken down as a result and bails to the floor to think it over. Back in, Tito works the arm and Paul takes him down, so Tito puts him in a headscissors. Orndorff rolls him over for two, so Tito goes back to the headlock. Paul escapes and leapfrogs him into a Thesz Press for two, but Tito goes to a facelock this time. Tito holds the facelock as Gorilla notes that he went right from “Rookie of the Year” to the title. Much like Blair, Tito started in 1977 and was the furthest thing from a “rookie” in 1984. Finally Paul beats on him with forearms to put him down and take over, and he goes to a facelock. Tito fights out, so Paul knees him down again. Tito fights back, so Paul WALLOPS him with a backdrop suplex and drops a leg on him. But he doesn’t cover, instead letting Tito up, and then punches him down again. He misses a dropkick, however, and Tito makes the fiery latin comeback, chasing Paul to the floor. So Orndorff stalls for a while out there until finally Tito attacks him on the apron and hauls him back in. he beats on Orndorff and goes up with a flying elbow into a rollup for one, but Orndorff thumbs him in the eye to escape that. Paul puts the boots to him and tosses him, and then drops him on the railing, which was pretty hardcore for the time. Tito fights to the apron, so Paul kicks him in the head and puts him back on the floor again before throwing him back in. But Tito is FIRED UP again and they slug it out, which puts Orndorff down as a result. Tito drops a knee on him for two and teases a piledriver, but Orndorff kicks him in the nuts behind the ref’s back and hits him with a clothesline. That gets two, but the bell rings at 18:39 for no adequately explored reason and it turns out to be a time limit draw. What kind of a title match has a 20:00 time limit? Ending up being a hell of a match with some awesome babyface fire from Tito, but four matches in a row with non-finishes is a bit much even for 1984 WWF. ***1/2
And apparently there was two more matches on the show but this is where we leave off.
Couple of spectacular matches makes for an easy thumbs up here, but the booking on the second half of the show was kind of a drag. Your mileage may vary with this one.