Wrestling Observer Flashback–January 1984

It was pointed out to me that there was indeed news and such in the January 84 issue, but it took 23 pages to get there.  So let’s jump back there before we continue on!

Also, the remainder of the ‘84 issues are going to be split into two parts because condensing those things into 1500 words is like trying to adapt Stephen King novels into half-hour TV shows.  So we’ll do half each day to let things breathe a little bit.

– Dave starts out the news section with the WWF, because more has happened in the past two weeks than happened in the past two years there.  Kind of weird to think of a time when the WWF wasn’t a national juggernaut.

– The top story is that Iron Sheik won the WWF title from Bob Backlund on 12/26 when Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel.  The match was set up when Backlund was doing the Iranian club gimmick and Sheik attacked him, causing a club to drop on Bob’s neck and injure him.  Or at least that’s what was SUPPOSED to happen, although what actually occurred was “clumsy Bob” falling and dropping the club prematurely, and then picking it up and hitting himself in the head with it.  Despite the sold out Garden (25,000 + overflow) there was no heat for the match at all, and Sheik doesn’t get nearly the reaction that heels like Muraco and Slaughter get.

– Dave notes that for the first time in modern history, it’s hard to figure out what will happen next in the WWF.  I’m assuming he’s referring to things like the talent raids, because everyone sure as shit knew what was going to happen next with the WWF title.

– Dave goes over the talent raids, starting with Hulk Hogan.  Verne actually got together enough cash to top Vince’s offer to Hulk and expected him to return from the Japan tour and work for the AWA again as a result.  However, apparently Vince Sr. was in Japan at the same time as Hulk, and Dave insinuates that there was a backdoor deal made while he was there.  One of Hogan’s demands was likely getting the WWF title.  Boy, talk about playing hardball!  I bet he really had to twist Vince’s arm to get that one in there!

– Also coming in are Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch after an impressive tour of Japan that actually won over Vince Sr. while he was there.  Apparently there was previous heat between the McMahons and Murdoch that got smoothed over on the tour.

– And of course, Hulk’s first few opponents will be newcomers David Schultz and Paul Orndorff, managed by yet another newcomer, Roddy Piper.  Dave thinks they might want to use him in the ring semi-regularly.  And the voice of the AWA, Mean Gene Okerlund, will be the new sidekick for Vince Jr. on TV.

– The WWF is now running in St. Louis, although it’s debatable whether they actually bought out the Gagne/Geigel twosome or they’re just running the Chase Hotel on their own.  Either way, Vince is charging admission to the Chase TV tapings for the first time ever, but on the bright side Dennis Stamp is there doing jobs, so at least someone booked him.

– Dave clarifies that in fact it was the TV station who initiated contact with the WWF, because the Bob Geigel version of Wrestling at the Chase was a complete flop.

– Apparently Bob Backlund was the recipient of massive boos in all his title defenses leading up to the Sheik loss, and they pretty much had to get the belt off him with houses dropping.  Dave suspects that houses will pick up with Hogan as champion.

– Speaking of which, 1/23 at MSG has the Backlund-Sheik rematch, although with Bob’s “injury” they might have to shoot some sort of angle.  Regardless, the February show is Bob’s sixth anniversary, so either way he’ll likely get another rematch at that point.  Yup, surely we’ll all remember January 23 1984 as the date Backlund got his rematch with WWF champion Iron Sheik.

– Over in New Japan, Hogan teamed up with Antonio Inoki to win the annual tag team tournament, beating Adonis & Murdoch in the finals.  There is some impressive powers of bullshitting on the babyface side.  Hogan even invited Inoki to his wedding on 12/18/83!  GET A PRE-NUP, HULK!

– Moving onto World Class, where the Star Wars show on Christmas drew 20,000 people to Reunion arena, with another 3000 turned away.  Where’s the Christmas spirit, asks Dave, when it’s the coldest day of the year and you’re making people go back into the cold weather?  I bet Fritz’s heart grew three sizes that day, and then when houses went down his heart shrunk another three sizes depending on gate receipts.

– The main event featured Kevin & Mike Von Erich v. Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts, with the loser of the fall having to leave for ONE YEAR, and further if the Von Erichs lost then Michael Hayes could return to Texas.  The finish saw Bronco Lubich getting bumped, followed by Kevin pinning Terry Gordy when David Manning ran down to make the count.  But then Santa Claus (Michael Hayes) came in to congratulate the babyfaces, and turned on Mike, allowing Gordy to piledrive and pin him when Bronco recovered.  So the refs argued and the original pin stands, sending Gordy out of town for one year.  As if.

– David Von Erich also challenged Ric Flair for the World title on the show, and leading up to the event they had been promising that David was going to retire if he didn’t win the title.  Well, apparently some plans must have changed because they completely ignored that stip and didn’t mention it when Flair got DQ’d and thus kept the title.

– The Freebirds, who are banned from Texas but not actually out of the promotion, won the six-man titles in a fictitious match somewhere “in Georgia” on a fake date somewhere between 12/26/83 and 1/2/84 when supposedly David Von Erich put the claw on a Freebird, not knowing that Georgia commissions were sympathetic to the Freebirds and thus the move is banned in that state.  So he was DQ’d and the Birds won the titles.

– Dave notes that they’re find some bullshit reason to bring back Hayes & Gordy in time for the next big show on 1/30, which is headlined by Flair v. Mike Von Erich (“I’m not making this up as I go along,” promises Dave) in the match where David gets to pick all the stips for his rematch with Flair if Ric can’t beat Mike in under 10 minutes.

– Over to Mid-South, where the talent exchange between Bill Watts and Jerry Jarrett has resulted in the debut of the Midnight Express, with their manager Jimmy Cornette.  Job guy Rick Rood will be going to Memphis as part of a deal.

– Dave thinks that Watts is going way over the top in his portrayal of Nikolai Volkoff and acting like World War III will break out if he wins matches.  No way, Dave, if hating on godless commie heathens is wrong, then I don’t want to be right!  BETTER DEAD THAN RED!  USA!  USA!

– Despite Hogan’s departure from the AWA, Verne still advertised him for an eight-man main event  that drew 18,000 people to St. Paul for the Christmas show, at which point he announced to the crowd that Hogan wasn’t there.  Taking his place was the Baron, who gave “the match of his life” in response, although Dave notes that even then it still wasn’t very good.

– The next night in San Francisco they did the same match again, except this time they announced Hogan’s absence in advance and offered refunds, which dropped the crowd down to 3000 people.  Ouch.

– To fill Hogan’s shoes, Verne has signed the Crusher out of retirement, and Dave doesn’t pull punches:  “In all seriousness, Crusher is the worst wrestler in the entire world.”  THE ENTIRE WORLD.

– One thing I’m noticing with these old issues is that Dave talks about “good guys” and “villains”.  Was it just not widespread to use babyface/heel at that point?

– In Memphis, everyone’s mind is blown when RANDY SAVAGE debuts for the group after years of running in opposition as an outlaw promotion.  Dave recounts the famous story from the year before when Savage and Bill Dundee got into a parking lot brawl and Dundee pulled a gun on him, only to see Savage steal it and smash it into his jaw.  But business is business, and Savage v. Lawler immediately boosted houses to almost 9000.  Yes, that’s right, it GOES TO 9000.

– Andy Kaufman is also back into the territory to oppose Lawler again, but the houses he draws this time around are about half of his last appearances.  And it would keep getting lower each time he came back.

– In Toronto, Bret Hart is working as Buddy “Heart Throb” Hart and doesn’t look good in the role.  You don’t say?

– It was Groundhog Day in the Carolinas, as Buzz & Brett Sawyer won the National tag titles from the Road Warriors in Cleveland, then again in Saginaw, then again in Lansing, and on and on for two weeks before finally winning them in a title change that the promotion actually decided to recognize for real.  Ah, for the pre-internet days where you could just fuck with the paying customer and no one would be the wiser.

– Tommy Rich wrestled Ted Dibiase on 12/25 in a match where he’d have to retire if he lost.  He did lose, and then kept on wrestling Dibiase every night for the rest of the tour with no mention of the stipulation.  Then he went on TV and just said he didn’t want to retire.  Power of positive thinking, I guess.  Also on that show, the original Sheik.  Dave is amused because Sheik is so washed up that even the AWA doesn’t want him.

–  Ricky Steamboat announced his retirement in Mid-Atlantic after an ankle injury.  Dave suspects that he’ll back in time for Starrcade 84.

– Jimmy Valiant lost his beard after an angle with Paul Jones, and Dave thinks it’s very unfair to make the bugs find a new home just before Christmas.

– NEWSFLASH:  Don Kernodle & Bob Orton won the NWA tag team titles in a tournament in Charlotte.

– FLASH:  World Class drops recognition of Flair as World champion and issues an ultimatum to strip Flair of the title or see World Class leave the NWA.  Well, it’s not 1986 yet, so we know how THAT one turned out.

– FINAL FLASH:  Hulk Hogan will win the WWF title sometime in the spring or summer of 84, says an IMPECCABLE source.  Bold predicting there.

Back to April of 84 tomorrow!