The Name on the Marquee: Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (07.23.1984)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 10.11.2013
THE BRAWL TO END IT ALL!
-Greetings from Pittsburgh!
-The Brawl to End It All
-We're in Madison Square Garden.
-It's July 23, 1984.
-Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Gene Okerlund.
SIKA vs RON SHAW
-Shaw stalls a bit while Gorilla draws attention to the unusual amount of tape that Sika is wearing on his joints. There even appears to be a visible blood stain on his ankle tape. Sika beats Shaw down and stomps him out of the ring. Back in, Shaw goes to the eyes and throws punches. Sika fires back and elbows Shaw down. Chops and forearms by Sika. He applies a chinlock, which Gorilla says is good for “cutting wind.”
-Shaw breaks free and throws punches, hurting his own hand. He tries a headbutt and makes himself dizzy with it. Snapmare and a chinlock by Sika. He gets bored with it and just goes to a diving headbutt to get the three-count. 0 for 1. Squash-o.
TONY GAREA vs IRON SHEIK (with Ayatollah Blassie)
-Sheik's Iranian flag has a giant, hooked pole. If that's supposed to match his boots, then it's a cute touch. Sheik attempts to cut a promo on the MSG crowd, but the MSG microphone gets away from him when he tries to grab it, which gets a laugh from the crowd. Mean Gene says he can't understand why Sheik talks to the fans, because all it does is cause them to get riled up and react.
-Sheik gets caugfht in a side headlock, and Garea connects with several punches. Bodyslam by Garea and the crowd goes NUTS for it. Gorilla notes that Garea is still searching for a tag team partner to help him go after Adonis & Murdoch. Did Brian Blair not pass the written portion of the test?
-Atomic drop and a side headlock by Garea, who has controlled the whole bout. Sheik comes off the ropes with a shot to the throat, and that finally gives him some momentum to work with. He puts the sinister boots to Garea. Garea comes back again with a hiptoss and a dropkick. Sheik reverses an Irish whip and capitalizes with a belly-to-back suplex, and that's enough to get the pin. 0 for 2. Abrupt finish and weird match; even Gene and Gorilla pointed out the match was almost all Tony Garea, and then Sheik wins on a total fluke.
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: TITO SANTANA (Champion) vs COWBOY BOB ORTON
-Howard Finkel completely gives away the finish by announcing a one-hour time limit, then introducing the participants and then hastily announcing that it's been changed to a 20-minute time limit. Ric Flair had an interesting tangent in his autobiography about how the real harm done by Hulk Hogan's title run was that Vince McMahon decided for whatever reason that everybody had to be “held down” to Hulk's standard. Hulk did not have it in him to go more than 20 minutes, therefore, nobody else in the company was allowed to go 20 minutes, either. What's silly about that is that nobody ever came to a Hulk Hogan match hoping it would go one hour. Everybody paid to see Hulk mow down his opponent, beat up the manager, drop the leg, and do his poses.
-They trade holds, each man trying to work the other's arm. Tito bridges out of a wristlock twice, but Orton goes to the hair to keep him in the hold. He misses a corner charge and Tito stomps all over his left shoulder, which Orton sells by clutching his right shoulder. Tito goes to work with an armbar. Orton gets fed up with scientific stuff and goes to work with punches and knees. Running powerslam gets two. Crowd absolutely rejoices for the kick-out.
-Orton, easily frustrated, just rubs Tito's face into the mat. Backbreaker by Orton, and he executes it with one arm, which is rather impressive. Tito gets a second wind but Orton blinds him and applies a chinlock. Tito gets free with an armdrag but again, Orton is ready to block the comeback, booting him down for a two-count. Orton climbs the ropes, but crashes on Tito's raised knees, and now Tito finally gets some consistent offense, and again, the crowd goes crazy for whatever Tito does.
-Tito faceplants Orton and Orton takes a shot to the throat. Tito fires back and applies the abdominal stretch. In the most amazing moment in the history of Gorilla Monsoon commentary, Gorilla is perfectly satisfied with the way that Tito has locked in the hold, but is extremely critical of him for being too close to the ropes. And then Orton reverses the hold, revealing that, in fact, Tito really didn't have it applied correctly.
-A back suplex leaves both men exhausted, with your ace commentary team totally exposing the hold by noting that the impact hurts both men equally. Orton goes for a suplex and Tito turns it into a cradle for two, with an audible “Awww” in MSG on the kickout. Tito goes for the flying forearm, but Orton actually ducks, Tito crashes, and Orton can only get two. Orton gets Irish whipped into the corner and does an incredible sell. They trade punches. Orton goes for a piledriver; Tito backdrops out but then collapses from exhaustion.
-Tito gets Orton in the corner for a series of right hands. Orton gets out with an inverted atomic drop. Orton tries to drop a forearm, and Tito just sticks a fist straight up in the air to counter it. The bell sounds, and they refuse to let that be the end of it, continuing to brawl. Tito pretty decisively wins the fistfight, but the official decision is a time limit draw. 1 for 3. I wish it had been an hour. EXCELLENT match.
BOB BACKLUND vs BUTCHER VACHON
-Butcher refuses to shake hands and tries to work the arm. Backlund gets free and sweeps the leg, while Gorilla Monsoon talks about a recent “TV taping session,” which is just a weird thing to hear a commentator say.
-Backlund reverses an Irish whip and slams Vachon. Crossface chicken wing gets the submission in less than three minutes. 1 for 4.
-Gene Okerlund talks to Greg Valentine. Hulk Hogan will feel “the wrath of Valentine.”
-Gorilla sends it back to the locker room where Gene Okerlund is standing by. Problem: Gene is very clearly visible on camera sitting at ringside and seems to realize it, grinning very awkwardly while Gorilla throws it to the locker room. Hulk vows to “put the Hammer” down.
WWF TITLE: HULK HOGAN (Champion) vs GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE (with Captain Lou Albano)
-Valentine attacks from behind, but Hulk is ready for him. Flurry of punches and kicks by Hulk. He faceplants Valentine and Valentine begs for mercy. He gets an atomic drop instead. Slam, elbow, boot, pause to soak in crowd adoration, and then a chinlock. He turns it into a side headlock, but Valentine is able to turn it into a back suplex. Valentine drops a series of elbows onto the back and applies his own chinlock.
-Hulk gets to his feet and rams Valentine into the corner. Valentine just seems pissed off about it and fires a series of forearms at Hulk. Series of pinfall attempts, but Valentine can only get two, which makes sense because I don't remember Valentine being WWF Champion in 1984.
-Hulk reverses a suplex and hits a shoulderbreaker. Big boot sends Valentine clear out to the floor. Out on the floor, Hulk executes an atomic drop, then goes back inside and makes faces at the referee. Role model. He goes back outside and beats on Valentine some more. But back inside, Valentine attacks. Headlock by Valentine, but Hulk hulks out of it. Valentine drags him by the leg out to the apron, hits the leg with a chair in plain sight of the referee, and then throws the chair into the crowd(!) Pretty funny to see the gaggle of security guards blitzing over there, and for once, it's the wrestlers freaking them out and not the fans.
-Backbreaker by Valentine. He drops an elbow from the second rope and Hulk kicks out. Valentine goes off the top rope again and Hulk meets him with a clothesline. Legdrop finishes immediately after. 2 for 5. Good little bout.
ANTONIO INOKI vs CHARLIE FULTON
-Inoki is introduced as the “Martial Arts Champion of the World,” a coveted title that must be earned by being Asian and being a wrestler.
-Inoki works the knee with a fucking painful-looking hold. Fulton gets free and throws punches. He applies a chinlock, but turns it into a choke and is forced to break. Inoki mounts a comeback with a series of kicks, and connects with an enziguiri for the win. 2 for 6. I'm dying to know what kind of business deal culminates with "fly halfway across the planet to beat a jobber in an unadvertised match."
TAG TEAM TITLES: ADRIAN ADONIS & DICK MURDOCH (Champions) vs SGT. SLAUGHTER & PVT. TERRY DANIELS
-Gene notes that Terry is a member of the “elite” Cobra Corps. I guess a group with one member would have to be pretty damn elite. Mid-Atlantic got that part of the gimmick right a few years earlier (aligning Sarge with a tag team instead of one guy) even if they did bungle the name (the team was called “Sgt. Slaughter's Privates”). MSG crowd is getting pretty damn rowdy, pelting the champs with garbage consistently. It's amazing, it's not like “You are heels, boo!” and throwing the trash at them during the entrance, it's just a constant barage even after the bell sounds, which is crazy considering that, as heels go, they weren't particularly heelish.
-Daniels catches Murdoch in an armbar. Murdoch gets free, rams Daniels, and makes the tag. Daniels immediately tags in Slaughter and Adonis freezes right where he is, terrified of having to wrestle him. Lord, could they do MORE to make Daniels look like gum stuck to this guy's shoes.
-Sarge and Adonis trade holds, with Slaughter getting the upper hand. Daniels applies an armbar while Gorilla notes that Adonis is chewing gum, which is the most dangerous thing a man can do while wrestling. Gene: “As long as he doesn't light up.”
-Monkeyflip by Daniels brings the crowd to life. Adonis tries to escape by going to the floor, but Daniels holds onto his arm and Sarge yanks him by the tights to force him back in. Murdoch tags in and gets trapped in the same hold. He gets free and targets the eyes with a foreign object. Irish whip, but Daniels raises the knee on a charge and then goes back to the arm.
-Murdoch beats on Daniels a little bit and Irish whips him. Sarge heroically gets in the way of the turnbuckles to absorb the blow, which he no-sells, then tags in and beats the shit out of both oppon ents. Then he grabs a magic marker from Gene Okerlund and writes “BITCH” across Terry Daniels' chest.
-Slaughter brings Daniels in on a fireman's carry and then kneedrops Murdoch with the added weight. Daniels gets caught in the wrong corner. Flying armbar by Murdoch, which is a surprisingly impressive sight. Daniels won't give up and Murdoch just gets fed up and releases. Daniels revives and throws a dropkick, then makes the hot tag. Again. Slaughter cleans house and applies the cobra clutch on Murdoch, and the crowd loses their shit, convinced this is going to be a title change, but Adonis breaks the hold with a knee to the back.
-Slaughter tags in Daniels. Daniels throws a series of dropkicks on Adonis and gets a 2.99999999 count. Donnybrook breaks out and Daniels gets caught in a decapitator while the referee deals with Slaughter, and the champs retain. 3 for 7. Hell of a match, wall-to-wall action, even if they did make Daniels look like a lesser star.
-Gene Okerlund talks to Captain Lou Albano, who says “Often imitated never duplicated” 300 times, and the Fabulous Moolah offers a polite hello to friends and enemies.
WOMEN’S TITLE: FABULOUS MOOLAH (champion with Captain Lou Albano) vs. WENDI RICHTER (with Cyndi Lauper)
-This match, the source of the event title, was simulcast live on MTV. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” is replaced by a REALLY catchy piece of stock music.
-Richter was actually trained by Moolah, and one of the differences between then & now is that now, they would acknowledge that and probably build the feud from it. They trade sloppy armdrags to start. Moolah takes advantage with a kick and sends Richter to the floor early on. Wendi making a comeback with a choke, followed by an armdrag and an armbar, but she misses a splash.
-Moolah snaps Richter over the top rope by the hair. I swear, the easiest way to defeat Moolah in any match would be shave your head; it would take away about 90% of her offense. Richter goes for a full nelson, and just for fun, Lauper whacks Moolah with her purse in full view of the referee. Uh, you’re supposed to be the faces here, kids.
-Richter gets a couple of near falls. Moolah gets a backdrop and a near fall of her own. She whips Richter into the corner and gets a German sup—uh, a German Fall Backward and Roll, and dammit, they’re gonna do THAT finish, aren’t they?...Yup. It’s a double-pin and Richter rolls her shoulder at two, giving us a new champ. 3 for 8. There you have it, your WON Worst Match of 1984. Even more irritating is the way Moolah stays in the fucking ring and parades around, protesting the decision and drawing attention to herself, taking all of the fun out of it and killing the crowd reaction.
-Gene Okerlund talks to Cyndi and Wendi post-match. Cyndi wants an apology, while Wendi says she's an example of what happens when a woman believes in herself. Gene brings in Kal Rudman of “The Today Show” for a few glowing congratulatory words. Dave Wolff, who is the spitting image of Warren Zevon, says women don't belong in the kitchen. Sgt. Slaughter comes in to offer his congratulations, and Hulk Hogan proclaims Wendi to be “the Marilyn Monroe of professional wrestling.” Albano comes in and bitches, but Hulk chases him off.
CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW vs “Mister Wonderful” PAUL ORNDORFF
-These two put on an absolute stalling clinic, with Strongbow chasing Orndorff out of the ring and Orndorff taking his sweet time removing his robe and putting on his elbow pad. They finally make contact.
-We finally get a match. Orndorff is trapped in headscissors. He slips out and applies a side headlock. They criss-cross and it ends with Strongbow catching Orndorff in a sleeper. Orndorff manages to send Strongbow to the floor. Strongbow is on the floor for about 12 minutes before finally going back in. They trade blows until Orndorff abruptly connects with a clothesline and pins Strongbow immediately. Guh. 3 for 9.
AFA vs RENE GOULET
-Rene loads his glove on camera and attacks Afa with punches and biting. Claw hold by Rene, but Afa won't give up. Rene goes off the ropes and runs right into perfect position for a Samoan drop. 3 for 10. The shits keep coming...
-Your participants are Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch, Jose Luis Rivera, Butcher Vachon, Antonio Inoki, Tony Garea, Chief Jay Strongbow, Steve Lombardi, Cowboy Bob Orton, Antonio Inoki, Sgt. Slaughter, Terry Daniels, The Wild Samoans, Rene Goulet, Ron Shaw, Charlie Fulton, Iron Shiek, Tito Santana, and Paul Orndorff.
-They brawl and brawl and brawl. Cameras actually catch Afa taking a time-out to pick his nose in mid-fight. Hey, when you gotta, you gotta. Slaughter eliminates Lombardi quickly. The tag champs gang up on Terry Daniels. A few guys combine resources to dump Paul Orndorff. Sarge and the Private double-team Sheik while Chief Jay Strongbow gets eliminated. Shiek get tossed to pop the crowd. Butcher Vachon's out, too. Gorilla is shocked to see that Jose Luis Rivera is still in there.
-Tag champs confuse the shit out of Gorilla by walking around the ring and making Gorilla think they were eliminated. Slaughter finally dumps both of them to end the confusion. Tito's gone and so is Sika. Good night, Jose. Good night, Samula. Enziguiri by Inoki gets rid of Bob Orton.
Final four: Inoki, Shaw, Goulet, Garea. Goulet and Shaw work together to dump Garea. They attempt to clothesline Inoki but Inoki ducks both of them. Goulet bungles a double-team move and eliminates Shaw, and then Inoki tosses Goulet to end the battle royal. 4 for 11. I'm a sucker for a battle royal, I think because there's at least SOMETHING happening at all times. Crowd leaves the arena with breaktaking speed as Gorilla signs off.
The 411: You might be able to make the "free pass for history's sake" argument, but even that's a stretch. Watch it for the novelty of watching the WWF officially hit their boom period and get running on all cylinders, but good god this was actually quite a terrible night.