The Name on the Marquee: WWF Tuesday Night Titans (05.29.1984)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 09.22.2013
The beginning of a very odd two and a half years.
-Part of me feels like leading off with a history lesson, part of me feels this is a pointless exercise. Anyone who didn't click on this doesn't care about “TNT,” and anyone who did almost certainly already knows what “TNT” is.
-On the off-chance that you don't, “Tuesday Night Titans” was a weird little 2 1/2-year experiment from the WWF, in that it was a wrestling show that didn't focus on wrestling. It was an attempt to do a wrestling-themed version of “The Tonight Show.” For you younger kids out there, “The Tonight Show” in 1984 was funny, and people watched it, so it was an admirable goal to try and adapt its format. So here's a wrestling show that's 95% focused on interviews, remote pieces, and skits, and takes place on a traditional late night talk show set.
-Originally aired May 29, 1984.
-Your host is Vince McMahon, with Lord Alfred Hayes in the Andy Richter role.
-We go to the Kiel Auditorium for action pitting Brian Blair against Paul Orndorff. Orndorff gets the win, but Alfred Hayes suspects that the victory was largely due to Blair's youth and inexperience, and Blair has a bright future in professional wrestling; in fact, he may even have the edge in a rematch.
-Next, Vince and Alfred discuss David Schultz, who Lord Alfred dislikes because his accent sounds silly.
-We go to a backstage promo with Gene Okerlund and Dr. D. Schultz proudly shows off his photo on the cover of the latest WWF Program. He brags that he was a bully in school and if his mama talked bad about him, he'd slap her across the face because she knows better. Schultz finishes by calling attention to Gene trying to give him time cues. “What are you touching my leg for, Gene?!”
-We watch Dr. D squash Billy Travis.
AT HOME WITH DR. D
-The TNT cameras go to Nashville, TN, to a small cabin. Schultz is all smiles for the camera. He gathers his wife and kids and tries to have a pleasant chat with the camera to show everyone that he's not crazy, but he can't even finish a sentence without yelling at his kids. Mrs. Schultz complains that she didn't know a TV crew was coming into the house and she doesn't have dinner ready, and Schultz yells at her as she tries desperately not to laugh.
-Schultz gets back to his original train of thought and tells the camera that he's not insane and that he's actually quite a nice person. And then he bangs his head on a chandelier because his wife moved the dinner table without telling him. Dinner is pizza and wings with Dr. Pepper. Schultz yells at his family through the entire meal while apologizing to the camera crew for not having anything ready for them. Schultz can't figure out why he lets his wife out of the bedroom, and he winds up sending everybody, including his wife, to their rooms.
-Vince and Alfred look saddened by what they just watched.
-Tito is troubled by what he just witnessed in the David Schultz piece. We're treated to a slideshow of Tito having lunch with Chris Beavers, the winner of a “Lunch with Your Favorite Wrestler” contest. Every single photo of this looks like it was snapped, posed, and developed with the very expectation that Awkward Family Photos would exist in 20 years.
-We again go to the Kiel Auditorium for action pitting Tito Santana against Adrian Adonis. Crowd is solidly in Tito's corner and even gets a “New York sucks!” chant started to taunt Adrian. Action goes to a 30-minute time limit draw, and I'd actually really like to see the match in its full form. The edited down version was a blast.
-After watching the bout, Tito says that many were surprised that he was able to wrestle again at 100% capacity.
-From off-stage, a huge gray sack is thrown toward Lord Alfred, and Vince excitedly declares it's time for the Mail Bag!
-Letter #1: A kid in San Francisco asks Vince about his own personal experience as a wrestler. “Never professional, not big enough, not bad enough.” Times sure change.
Letter #2: Alfred starts to read a letter about the Queen of England, then stops himself and throws the letter away without finishing it, implying that it isn't suitable for broadcast.
Letter #3: Alfred reads a letter from Chicago. A viewer says she watches the wrestling on another channel, and some of the wrestlers on the other channel wear facepaint. She asks if this is legal. Vince is all, “Well...yeah.” And then he moves on.
-We go to the archives for a match featuring Arnold Skaaland and Joe Turko. Weird difference of opinion between Vince and Alfred during this segment, with Vince trying to put over Skaaland as having a storied career with very few losses, and Alfred fishing for a diplomatic way of calling bullshit.
-Samoans are cooking something that apparently stinks judging from Alfred's complaining. I always thought Alfred's shtick was weird; he was a face but he whined about absolutely everything. They clean a fish and then cook the head instead of the body. It must be a roly-poly fish head. Alfred gives the finished product a taste and hates it. They cook a lobster to round out the meal.
-We flash back to the night that the Samoans lost the belts to Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas, due to Lou Albano screwing up a chair shot.
CAPTAIN LOU ALBANO
-The Wild Samoans are still onstage. Vince speculates that they'd still be champions if Captain Lou hadn't screwed up. Captain Lou is speechless until the Samoans leave the stage. Once they're gone, Albano says it was an honest mistake, but three-time champions should be tough enough to overcome something like that. Albano says they shouldn't complain about anything because he took the two of them from nothing and made them into stars. Hayes says it's inexcusable, and Captain Lou just yells “Pip pip pip” at him and tells him to put spats on his shoes.
-Let's take a moment to wrap our heads around the idea that the face turn is spurred by Captain Lou costing his team the belts, but they didn't pull the trigger on the face turn until the guys who took the gold from them had lost the belts themselves. Timing, ladies and gentlemen.
-Vince asks about rumors that Captain Lou has been in meetings with Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch and says it sort of goes against his self-proclaimed “maker of champions” moniker to align himself with two guys who already won the gold on their own.
-Vince discusses Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou says he pulled her from the slums of Queens and made her a superstar, and he emphasizes that she's a woman because what woman could have ever made it on her own without a man like Captain Lou guiding her? He says that Cyndi probably has schizophrenia.
-We go to, apparently, a local talk show in New York City, where Vince takes goes through the audience and takes questions while a bunch of the wrestlers sit onstage. Captain Lou tells a black audience member to shine his shoes and then makes monkey faces at him. Audience member responds by giving him the double bird. When Vince finally asks him for a question, the guy freezes, and Captain Lou and Freddy Blassie both go off on him.
-We watch a montage of recent matches featuring Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Masked Superstar, Jimmy Snuka, Greg Valentine, and the Iron Sheik. Well, mostly recent. The Andre match was that seven-year old match against the three jobbers that they showed a few weeks ago for some reason.
-And that's the show.
The 411: Man, two hours of that was a LOT to take. A one-hour slot worked much better for this show, particularly because they figured out which elements worked best and played the show for comedy. In the early stages, they whiplashed back and forth between comedy (The Dr. D piece) and serious stuff (Vince and Alfred's somber reaction to the Dr. D piece) and it was just a very awkward seesaw like that for two hours. 60 minutes of silliness worked nicely and the show hadn't learned that yet.