The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 11.26.84
Finishing up the 1984 shows on the Network with one I did years ago on 24/7, but that pretty much automatically qualifies it for a redo anyway. The next one in line was actually October, but I did that one a couple of years ago and I was literally falling asleep watching it and don’t really want to devote another 2.5 hours to it. Although it was written REALLY early in the WWE Network era, so I might swing back and do it again, I dunno. I’m thinking that from here, I might move up in time and start reviewing the MSG shows backwards from 1991.
Thing that drives me nuts about the Network today: When they added the 1984 MSG shows, they formatted the date as MM/DD/YY, but the other shows previously added are formatted as MMM. DD, YYYY. Like, it would literally take 5 minutes to go in and change the headers on those so they’re consistent.
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Lord Alfred Hayes\
Charlie Fulton v. SD Jones
They work for the lockup on the ropes and SD takes him down with a side headlock. Gorilla notes that SD is “Philadelphia born and raised.” I hear he spent a lot of time on the playground, but then had to leave and move to California. Fulton tries his own headlock, but SD fights him off, so Fulton clotheslines him for two and goes to a chinlock on the mat while the announcers discuss Jimmy Snuka getting taken to the hospital last time he was in MSG. So apparently that August show I review was indeed writing him out of the show for a while. SD fights out, but Fulton puts him down and drops an elbow for two, then goes back to the chinlock again. SD fights out again and tries a slam, but Fulton falls on top for two. Back to the chinlock again, but SD escapes with an atomic drop and kicks the leg out of his leg. SD hits him with headbutts and runs him into the turnbuckles, then wins a slugfest by poking him in the eye. Fulton charges and misses and SD hits him with another headbutt and pins him at 10:45. Gorilla notes that he didn’t even need to hook the leg. Well then maybe shut up about every other time the guy doesn’t hook a leg, Gorilla! *1/2
Moondog Spot v. Jose Luis Rivera
Gorilla and Alfred question how you can actually be from “parts unknown”, since you have to put down a location when you apply for a wrestling license. And what’s up with airline food? Also Alfred notes that he can barely tell the difference between the Moondogs. Is he literally drunk? Actually never mind, I know the answer. Rivera works the arm to start and then we go for the next five minutes with him holding an armbar on Spot. Not even exaggerating. Spot finally escapes with a knee to the gut and slugs him down to take over. Flying splash gets two. I should point out that in 1984, the Moondogs wearing torn-up jeans and a rope belt makes them seem like dirty hillbillies. Now it’s just normal fashion. Spot gets a vicious shoulderbreaker and a gutbuster for two, and then follows with a press slam and goes up with another flying splash for two, but he keeps picking Rivera up at two. Rivera fights his way back into the ring and comes back with a dropkick, but charges and runs into Spot’s knee. And Spot goes up with a slingblade off the middle rope to finish at 9:19. GODDAMN. Larry was here to WORK tonight, as this falls into that very specific but growing category of “hidden gems featuring Moondog Spot”. ***
Salvatore Bellomo v. Bobby Heenan
This was pre-manager era for Bobby in the WWF, before he quickly transitioned into full time manager for John Studd and then expanded to the Heenan Family. Bobby gives him a shot to the throat and runs away to the corner. Gorilla notes that he wouldn’t be bothered by that and would just attack his opponent if they were dumb enough to turn their back on him. Good lesson for all you kids out there reading this. Bellomo gets his own cheapshot on Bobby and runs him into the turnbuckle, and then whips him into the other corner as Bobby takes a ragdoll bump and runs away to the floor. Back in, Bobby tries a wristlock while Gorilla suggests that they should instead call him Bobby “The Smart Cookie” Heenan and then concedes that it’s not great as a nickname. Sal takes Bobby to the corner and hammers on him again and Bobby runs away again, and then heads back in and rakes the eyes a few times before going to a chinlock. Sal fights out, but walks into a backdrop, allowing Bobby to go to work on the back with kneedrops. They collide on a shoulderblock and Bobby goes flying into the corner and takes another wacky bump off it. No wonder the poor guy had all those neck issues later in life. Bobby tosses him and Sal tries a sunset flip, but Bobby punches him in the head and pins him at 9:03. Sal complains that Bobby was holding the ropes, but in fact the replay reveals that it was a completely clean pin, shockingly. Even Gorilla gives him credit! Match was nothing outside of Bobby bumping around for him. *
“King Kong” Angelo Mosca v. Mr. Fuji
Mosca is a weird choice for Vince to bring in at this point given the youth movement that the WWF was experiencing. Well we can at least be thankful that Mosca didn’t bring his son with him. Fuji hits him with a chop off a lockup and offers a bow, so Mosca does the same thing. Mosca takes him down and threatens a punch, but then lets him up and beats on him in the corner instead. Fuji threatens him with KARATE FINGERS but then accepts a test of strength. Who would be dumb enough to accept a test of strength from a guy literally named KING KONG? Mosca easily wins that one, so Fuji gives him a kick to the very inner thigh and takes over. Fuji with the dreaded nerve pinch, but Mosca somehow fights out of that until Fuji chops him down again. Mosca beats on him, but Fuji goes into the tights and finds his racist salt, only for Mosca to steal it and pour it out on the mat. So Mosca goes to the sleeper, but Fuji finds EVEN MORE RACIST salt in his ankle holster and throws it in Mosca’s face for the DQ at 8:12. Bad match, bad finish. DUD
Cowboy Bob Orton v. Swede Hanson
Swede is literally waving a confederate flag in New York and he’s apparently supposed to be a babyface. And then they tried the same thing two years later with Dick Slater! Swede quickly goes to a bearhug as Gorilla reads the legal disclaimer for MSG Productions, so I sure hope that WWE has the express written consent of MSG Productions in order to charge me $9.99 per month to watch this. That would sure be embarrassing for them if they didn’t. Swede goes to a headlock as Gorilla informs us that Orton is now the full time bodyguard for Roddy Piper and has been bestowed with the nickname of “Ace” as a result. Orton takes him down and drops elbows on him for two as Hanson is barely even trying to sell. They slug it out and Orton loses that battle, as Swede gets a big boot and goes to a chinlock. Orton escapes and runs Hanson into the corner to break and slugs away, and Hanson continues just standing there and barely acknowledging any of Orton’s offense. Finally Swede beats him down and goes up to try a splash, but Orton gets the foot up and pins him at 8;56. Really bad, and Hanson was basically moving into retirement by this point. DUD
Rowdy Roddy Piper v. The Tonga Kid
Jimmy Snuka returns from his injuries to corner Tonga Kid here, as the crowd is going banana. Alfred thinks that an “18 year old boy” might be giving Piper a challenge and that’s exciting, and I’m like “What?” but I checked Wikipedia and indeed Tama was only 18 here. He must have started REALLY young. Also he was astonishingly great for someone that young, then. Kid slugs away and chases Piper to the apron, and then drags him in by the hair, but Piper ducks a leapfrog attempt and slugs him down. Piper stops to mock Snuka, but the Kid pops up and hits Piper with the chops until Piper takes him down with a backdrop suplex. Piper tosses him and brings him back in for some choking and biting for Snuka’s benefit, and then he spits at Jimmy for good measure. Piper chops him down for two and follows with a kneelift for two. Piper with the sleeper and Tonga is fading, but he makes the comeback, because, as Alfred notes, “Polynesians never know when they’re beat.” The Kid proves that by fighting out, and then Piper makes the mistake of running him into the turnbuckles, which only fires up the Kid. He tries a bodypress, but Piper catches him and dumps him over the top rope, which allows Orton to earn his pay by putting the boots to the Kid on the floor. Jimmy Snuka has had ENOUGH and comes in to attack Piper, but the heels beat him down for the double DQ at 7:03. And then Snuka fights them off like Superman and makes the big comeback, at which point Piper is left alone and makes a terrified sprint to the dressing room to escape. This actually set up a hell of a tag team match that’s on a Coliseum Video. Incredible heat for this, but unfortunately Tonga Kid wasn’t able to move into the bigger role they wanted for him. **1/2
Barry Windham does a promo from the locker room in advance of his debut.
Barry Windham v. Moondog Rex
This is Barry’s MSG debut, and Gorilla notes that Barry could put on another 100 pounds and carry it very well. Well we’d certainly find out in a decade or so. Barry was supposed to be a big singles star for them before they pivoted to the US Express tag team soon after. Barry wasn’t going to get past a certain level with Hogan around anyway so it’s for the best. Barry hiptosses Rex to the apron while the announcers discuss the history of people from Sweetwater, and Gorilla is only able to come up with an obscure boxer from the 40s. Windham works the arm, but Rex grabs a headlock, so Barry slams him and goes to his own. Rex gets to the ropes, so Windham releases the hold and Rex falls on his face. Rex rakes the eyes to take over while we get a weird leftover graphic from the WWE 24/7 days, with “Old School Flashback” facts about 1984 overlaid in the corner, complete with the old WWE scratch logo. So they dump old content like this directly on the WWE Network without fixing it, and yet they won’t put that awesome Shea Stadium redo from 24/7 with Michael Cole and Mick Foley on the Network? Anyway Rex takes over with a backbreaker and goes to a bearhug, as this is hardly an electric debut for young Blackjack Jr. Gorilla notes that the eyes of Texas are upon Windham, but I think that would be tricky considering the MSG Network was probably not available in Texas, and also Texas was likely busy watching the Von Erichs anyway. Barry finally fights out of the bearhug and they slug it out, but Barry misses a dropkick and Rex drops an elbow on him for two. Rex goes up and Barry slugs him down, then dodges a blind charge and finishes with the bulldog at 12:54. Weird to book a guy who is blond and 6’6” as an underdog against a Moondog. **
Tony Atlas v. The Executioner
The Executioner was being played by Ron Shaw in this case, aka the guy in the infamous David Sammartino match in 1985. Executioner rakes the back a few times, but Atlas dropkicks him and slugs him down and then finishes with the gorilla press and big splash at 1:48. I’m assuming a young Jim Hellwig was in the audience watching and got inspired the same way Mick Foley did a year earlier.
Rocky Johnson v. Dr. D David Schultz
Gorilla is pretty sure that Dr. D is not actually a real doctor and doesn’t have a degree. Huge if true. He does speculate that it might be in sand-piling or knife-throwing. We get a lengthy stall to start as Dr. D basically refuses to lock up for the first three minutes and hides behind the ref’s back while Rocky wants to throw punches. Finally they touch at 4:00 in, and D immediately hits him with a cheapshot in the corner. Rocky tries to fight back, but the referee actually GRABS HIS ARM to prevent him from throwing punches and even I have to agree with Gorilla’s burial of the refereeing at this point. D gets another cheapshot and hides behind the ref, and the ref once again physically prevents Rocky from fighting back and pushes him back into the corner. So Dr. D tries to work the arm and Rocky dances out to escape, but Schultz hides in the ropes and the referee once again gets in Rocky’s way, allowing Schultz to lay him out and put the boots to him in the corner. Gorilla right questions how come the referee isn’t pulling SCHULTZ off if that’s the way he’s refereeing the match. Well, to be fair, Dr. D was pretty terrifying. D chokes him out, but Rocky is finally able to throw punches in the corner to fight back and hits D with the wind-up punch to send him running to the corner. Rocky slams him, but D reverses to a cradle for a ridiculously fast pin at 9:00. What the fuck was with that referee? Rocky got SCREWED. ½*
David Sammartino v. Ken Patera
This is Bruno’s return to MSG after his last match there four years earlier. You’d think it would have been against Larry Zbyszko, but it was actually a countout win over Sgt Slaughter in December 1980. Sadly that show is not on the Network. Patera wins a lockup battle and sits David on the top rope to escape a headlock attempt, but then David does the same escape and shows off his 100% natural physique. David with a press slam to chase Patera to the floor. Back in, David catches a boot attempt and slugs away, but Patera beats on him and chokes him out on the ropes. Patera puts the boots to him, but David slugs back and chokes him out in the corner. Patera bails to the floor and nearly runs into Bruno, so he decides to go back in the ring and take his chances with David. Patera dumps David to the floor and slams him out there. Back in, he puts the boots to David and follows with the slam toss. Patera suplexes him for two and goes to a bearhug, but David necks him on the top rope and makes a comeback, booting him down and choking him out. Clearly David was trying to do the mechanics of his father’s comebacks, but he just didn’t have any charisma or connection to the crowd to pull off the same act. His later comeback as a cruiserweight for WCW was probably closer to what he should have been all along. David boots him down and gets a small package for two, and a sunset flip gets two. They slug it out in the corner, but Captain Lou trips up David for the DQ at 12:49 and Bruno quickly chases off the heels. David looked really green here and Patera couldn’t get something out of him. *
Intercontinental title: Greg Valentine v. Tito Santana
So Valentine has now won the title in Toronto, kicking off a pretty good reign for himself. Greg quickly bails and Tito chases him back into the ring and works on a facelock. Tito rams Greg’s head into the mat a few times for two and goes back to the facelock, but Hammer fights up and drops Tito on the top rope to break. They fight to the floor and Tito gets fired up and runs him into the railing, and back in for a forearm shot that sets up a Flair Flop from Valentine. Tito slugs him down and hits him with a Perfect necksnap, but he goes for the figure-four and Valentine retreats to the ropes. Valentine with a shoulderbreaker and he drops knees for two. Tito fights up, but Valentine takes out the knee and beats on that, and a gutbuster gets two. Valentine elbows him down for two and tries for the figure-four, but Tito kicks out of that and hits the flying forearm out of nowhere to knock Valentine out. Greg clings desperately to the ropes, though, and Tito has to haul him to the apron and wraps the knee around the post. And then he beats on it with a chair as well! Surprisingly this is not a DQ, and Tito goes to work on the leg in the ring and drops knees on it. Hammer blocks the figure-four by grabbing the tights, and he tries for a leglock of his own before Tito makes the ropes to escape. Valentine with a butterfly suplex and he drops an elbow for two. Valentine goes to a chinlock as pass the 15:00 mark and thus Tito is DOOMED. GREG VALENTINE IS SUFFICIENTLY WARMED UP. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Tito fights up and Hammer drops a pair of elbows on him for two. Tito runs him into the corner to fight back and Hammer is BUSTED OPEN, so Tito puts the boots to him for two. This sets up the flying forearm for two, as Hammer surprisingly kicks out. Valentine tries to run away, but Tito hauls him back in and hits an atomic drop for two. Valentine fights from his back and they slug it out on the mat, but Greg bails to the apron. Tito suplexes him back in and makes the comeback, but Valentine catches him with his head down and they continue slugging it out on the mat until Tito gets a small package for two. And that’s curfew at 22:22. Hell of a fight to finish the show. ****
Sadly these 84 shows have been running out of steam as we get to the end of the year, but the Rock N Wrestling Connection and NBC deal would perk things up again soon enough into 85. Hopefully they start adding those to the Network at some point, but I’m not holding my breath.