The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 08.25.84
Well, I decided to take advantage of Cyber Monday and upgraded from my faithful iPhone XS Max to an iPhone 12, because it was crazy cheap and came with a gift card that was worth more than the value of the phone. It’s a little smaller obviously but I’ll get used to it. I also bought an SNES Classic off eBay because I never managed to get my hands on one originally and I’ve always wanted one. Not that I don’t have a million Raspberry Pi-based toys that can do the same thing, but it’s nice to have the real thing, ya know?
This show is of course less notable for anything in the main event than a random match on the undercard that manages to be even more batshit crazy than JJ Dillon’s appearance a few months back. Also this is the last of the MSG shows dropped onto the Network last month, for those keeping track.
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Lord Alfred Hayes
Iron Mike Sharpe v. B. Brian Blair
Sharpe immediately bails to the apron and complains about the refereeing job, while Alfred talks about the forearm guard and notes that, for example, a masked man has a “25% psychological advantage in a given match”. Maybe Blair should look at wearing a mask sometimes? Blair goes for the arm and Sharpe loudly complains and goes to the apron to escape. They criss-cross and Sharpe grabs the ropes to escape that, but then he points to his head to indicate intelligence, which is the fatal error, as Blair dropkicks him and sends him flailing to the floor. NEVER POINT TO YOUR HEAD TO INDICATE INTELLIGENCE! If I could pass on one bit of wisdom to the youth of today, that’s it. Back in, Sharpe pounds away in the corner, but Blair comes back with a monkey flip and flying headscissors to chase Sharpe onto the floor again, and this time he retreats right into the crowd and yells at all of them. Back in the ring, Sharpe offers a truce and a handshake, but those no-good fans try to tell Blair not to trust him. Look, Iron Mike is a Canadian, and we never lie. It’s in our Constitution. And indeed, it’s BLAIR who accepts the handshake and then turns on Sharpe, and it’s the Keystone pipeline all over again. So Sharpe gives him a well deserved beatdown for that act of cowardice and then hits a backbreaker and works on that as a submission hold. Blair rakes the eyes to escape, which Gorilla notes is “only fair”. That’s pretty specious reasoning. Sharpe throws him to the floor with a nice bump on the concrete and puts the boots to him from the apron, as again Alfred gives us a math education: When he was training years ago, he was told that wrestling is 90% conditioning and 10% skill. Sounds about right for some people these days. Finally, unable to get back into the ring, Blair retreats under the ring and emerges on the other side to make his comeback. I love the detail of tapping Sharpe on the shoulder to emphasize the element of surprise. They fight to the floor again and slug it out for a double countout at 13:04. This was a really fun match with a typically stupendous bullshit ending. ***1/4
Salvatore Bellomo v. “Quick Draw” Rick McGraw
Sadly, the world lost McGraw before he could team up with Bellomo as “Spaghetti Western”. McGraw works the arm to start as Hayes notes McGraw is a “thick healthy young man”. Well he was thick but he sure wasn’t healthy. McGraw continues working the arm and cradles off the hammerlock, which gets two. They do the test of strength and Rick wins that one, but Sal bridges and takes him down with a monkey flip before McGraw reverses him right back into a hammerlock again. Rick SHOOTS THE HALF for two and Gorilla is all proud of himself for calling that one, while meanwhile the crowd is completely bored and turning on the match. McGraw hits a pair of dropkicks and goes back to the arm again. So Sal takes him to the ropes to break and the crowd is booing the match out of the building because we’re at 10:00 in and NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Bellomo takes him down with a headlock as this drags on, and a crossbody gets two. McGraw takes him down and works the arm again and this continues going nowhere. Bellomo knocks him to the floor, but Rick comes in with a sunset flip for two. McGraw takes him down and slugs away on the mat, and they roll to the floor and back in for a backslide from McGraw that gets two. They both try a dropkick and collide for the double down, and then repeat the same spot two more times before Bellomo gets two. Sal with a slam for two. McGraw with a small package for two. And finally it’s a draw at 18:05, which is either a slow 15:00 or a fast 20:00. Either way, the match sucked stupendously. *
WWF tag team titles: Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch v. The Wild Samoans
This continues the unlikely babyface turn for the Samoans, with Captain Lou acting as equally unlikely referee for this match. I should note that although Adonis & Murdoch are popularly called The North-South Connection, they dub themselves “The Wrecking Crew” here. Well that one didn’t stick. The Samoans clean house to start and Sika chokes out Adonis in the corner for good measure, as the champs bail and regroup Back in, Murdoch beats on Sika with elbows, but injures himself in the process. So Sika rams them together and chases Murdoch out of the ring. Back in, Albano randomly counts at people to show how effective a referee that he is. Murdoch slugs away on Sika, but the Samoans chase them out of the ring and then slingshot Adrian back in again. The champs bail again and Albano again randomly counts while pretending to be impartial. Murdoch rams the Samoans heads together and that does nothing, but Murdoch charges and hits Sika’s knee. Adonis gets a slam on Afa and goes up, but he gets sent down with a headbutt and the Samoans double-team Murdoch with headbutts, but then Albano counts two and then changes his mind and calls for a DQ instead at 12:04. Hey, three stupendously great finishes in a row to start! ** This would seem to cement the Samoans as the next babyface challengers, but then the US Express happened and it was so long Samoans.
Pat Patterson v. Ken Patera
Interesting that Pat was still working this high up the card in 1984. Patera misses a clothesline and Pat gets a crossbody for two off that. Patera beats on him with forearms and they slug it out, which results in Patera getting tied up in the ropes. Patterson takes him down and wraps the knee around the post, albeit extremely gently, and chokes him out on the ropes. Patera comes back with a backbreaker for two and goes to a chinlock off that, but Pat reverses to a catapult into the corner, which gets two. Patterson goes to the top and Patera runs away and suckers Pat in for a clothesline on the top rope. This sets up the full nelson, but Patterson pushes off the middle rope, and Patera holds on anyway and puts Patterson’s lights out at 9:04. Hey, this one had an actual finish, that’s pretty stupendous.
Ivan Putski v. Jesse Ventura
Oh this is gonna be something. Given Jesse’s hatred of him on commentary in the years that followed, I’m delighted to see that they actually had a match! There actually was an angle to set this up, as they did an arm-wrestling contest and SHOCKINGLY Jesse was a sore loser who attacked him to prevent a loss. Also Jesse does a pre-match promo where he calls him “Ivan Padooski” about 17 times and promises to run through him on the way to Chump Hogan. So Ivan storms the ring before the introductions and beats the hell out of Jesse, who wisely runs away. Putski chases and sends him back into the ring, then grabs a headlock and just mauls Jesse before putting the boots to him on the ropes and sending him to the floor again. The announcers kind of dance around saying “Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the face” and thus pre-dating Mike Tyson by a few years, but Gorilla can’t quite put it together. Jesse decides to cheat to take over, but Putski just wallops him again and Jesse retreats to the floor while his hair gets crazier and crazier. Back in, Jesse goes for a wristlock this time and Ivan LAUGHS at that idea and casually reverses it, until Jesse grabs the hair to take him down for two. Putski manages to reverse from his back and Jesse yanks the hair again as Gorilla once again buries the shitty refereeing job here. Finally Ivan’s had enough and breaks free, beating on Jesse to send him to the floor again, and this time he gives chase in frustration and THAT’S what Jesse wanted, suckering him in for a shot to the throat to take over. So Jesse undoes his wrist tape and chokes him out with that and then wads it up and sticks it in his mouth to hide it from this stupendously idiotic referee. But then Ivan finds it and pulls it out of Jesse’s mouth, clotheslining Jesse with his own wrist tape and beating on him in the corner while Jesse does a hilarious sell where he jumps in the air and spins around 360 degrees after every punch. They fight to the apron and Jesse goes to his tights for ANOTHER object, knocking Putski out with that, and he falls into the ring to win by countout at 11:50. We’re just running through every screwjob finish available tonight it seems like. A really fun match regardless. **1/2
Ron Shaw, Butcher Vachon & Pete Doherty v. THE FABULOUS FREEBIRDS
Yes, the legend is true, the Freebirds were indeed in the WWF for one match and here’s video proof. The Freebirds were managed by David Wolfe here, and the music gestapo actually overdubs “Badstreet USA” over top of whatever they were using here, which I can only assume was “Freebird”. The idea was that Vince was going to bring in the Freebirds to appeal to all the youths as a part of his Rock N Wrestling Connection idea, but SHOCKINGLY the Freebirds self-destructed almost immediately and the deal fell apart. Now I think this was also notable for being the first time that someone used entrance music in MSG, pre-dating Hogan’s use of “Eye of the Tiger” by a bit. Might even have been the first time in the WWF, period, if we’re not counting Sgt. Slaughter or Roddy Piper’s national anthem usage for either category. Hayes starts with Vachon and chases him back to the corner, and then grabs a headlock on Ron Shaw and the Birds double-team him in their corner. Buddy Roberts comes in and works the leg a bit, and then Terry Gordy adds a press slam. I mean, I don’t discount the IDEA of the Freebirds working as rock and roll babyfaces, but they’re literally three Confederate sympathizers working in the home of the Yankees and that’s just not a dynamic that lends itself to success. Hayes gets trapped in the heel corner before scooting free and bringing Gordy back in to beat on Vachon, and a crossbody gets the first fall at 5:38.
Second fall and Gordy slams Vachon a few times and drops a knee on him while Gorilla keeps calling him “Terry Brody”, obviously confusing him with that other guy. Ron Shaw comes in and Buddy necks him on the top rope, so the Duke comes in and beats on Roberts in the heel corner until he runs away and tags Hayes in again. PS with a clothesline on Doherty and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, as Hayes and Roberts do a god-awful fucked up backdrop into a Gordy powerbomb, although Gordy completely misses the catch and drops him on his head instead, and then Roberts just drops an elbow for the final pin at 9:23 instead to wrap it up in decidedly non-stupendous fashion. That was “The Badstreet Bomb” if you’re keeping track and that’s certainly an apropos title for this match. This was a complete disaster and the Birds looked like they were in some other arena here, trying to work some other style of match and failing completely, barely selling for the heels at any point. ½*
Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Jimmy Snuka
OH YEAH HERE WE GO. This is the first big match after the coconut incident and the crowd is in stupendous form for it. For those keeping track, this is where Piper went from annoying manager to main event superstar on fire in one fell swoop. People are literally throwing trash at Piper while he takes his gear off, and they each give a war cry and start slugging it out. Piper goes down from chops but pops up and fires back with his own offense, which fails, so he pokes Snuka in the eye instead and that works. Piper takes him down and slugs away, but Snuka recovers from the eye poke and chops Piper out to the floor, and then back in for a sleeper, so Piper retreats to the floor to break the hold and then Snuka runs him into the post. Piper grabs a chair and Snuka steals it and nails him with it, and Piper is busted open and pretty terrified about the situation. Back in the ring, Jimmy goes BANANA on him and beats on the cut as the crowd is losing their minds, and he adds a diving headbutt. To the top for a bodypress, but Piper manages to swat him down and Snuka lands on the top rope instead, falling to the floor and getting counted out at 7:10 in yet another shitty finish in a series of them tonight. Piper then beats on him with the chair after the win, setting up a bunch of rematches to come. See, obviously they couldn’t do a clean finish in this match, but it would mean more if they hadn’t already done multiple countout finishes and a DQ and a draw earlier in the show. Really good while it lasted but it was too short and didn’t go anywhere. **
Private Terry Daniels v. Fred Marzino
We cut back to the doctor’s office as Jimmy Snuka gets examined by the doctors, in a catatonic state on a stretcher and not responding to questions. He probably just thought that he was being questioned in a courtroom. They basically ignore this match and keep cutting back to the doctors as they apply a neck brace while he’s laying on his side. Granted most of my medical knowledge comes from watching Chicago Med, so I’m constantly thinking everyone needs to be intubated and given a battery of blood tests for any injury, but I feel like that’s not stupendous strategy for treating someone with a potential neck injury. And we finally cut back to the ring where Daniels wins with a sunset flip at 4:12. This was literally all watching Snuka laying on the backboard while they treated him.
WWF Intercontinental title: Tito Santana v. Greg Valentine
They trade takedowns to start and Tito grabs a headlock and hits Greg with an atomic drop, and they get into a quick slugfest before Tito runs into a back elbow. Hammer slugs away on the mat and adds a shoulderbreaker before dropping a hammer forearm for two. Tito fights back while we cut to the back again, as Snuka gets taken out on a stretcher and moved to a local medical facility. Hopefully he doesn’t run into Nancy there because THAT would be awkward. Back to the match, as Tito accidentally bumps the ref while trying a leapfrog, but he recovers with a crossbody for the pin at 7:20 despite Hammer’s leg being in the ropes. So Valentine freaks out and puts Tito in the figure-four to get some measure of revenge. Nothing stupendous in this one. *1/2
This was actually a really disappointing show, with a string of bad matches and bad finishes. This is actually the end of this particular series on the Network, as the next one up is October 1984, which I already did in 2018, and then November 84 which I did on WWE 24/7. I love doing these but the 84 MSG shows struck a chord with the fanbase that none of the other “Old School” shows did. So we’ll see where we go from here.