Back for round two of May, as we start the territorial news in the WWF…
(Previously in the Observer: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/04/26/wrestling-observer-flashback-may-1984-part-1/)
– Newly arriving into the WWF are Bob Orton, Akira Maeda for a few shots, and the team of Adonis & Murdoch. Apparently JJ Dillon is also coming in as a wrestler, which is funny because I’d assumed he was fully retired by that point.
– They still managed to sell out MSG with a crazy tag team on top, featuring Roddy Piper & Dr. D v. Andre the Giant & Jimmy Snuka, plus Bob Backlund returning to go to a double countout with Greg Valentine. No Hogan on this show or the next, but the next one has the first Slaughter v. Sheik match on top so it’s a sellout without Hulk anyway. Dave is confident that the show will be terrible because school is out and thus Vince will draw a crowd without having to work for it anyway.
– Maeda won some kind of WWF International title by beating Mad Dog Lefebrve but otherwise he’s mostly been doing jobs and hasn’t been allowed to do the shoot style stuff he’s known for in Japan.
– Over in Japan, Dave had thought that Bockwinkel would regain the AWA title from Jumbo Tsuruta on 3/24, but instead it was a DQ finish to keep the belt on Jumbo. Normally in Japan a DQ changes the title, but they announced that the match was under “American rules” and thus no title change. Fans were unhappy about that one to say the least.
– With the UWF shaking things up in Japan, Baba and Sakaguchi have come to an agreement not to raid each other for talent. That one lasted about 5 seconds in the grand scheme of things.
– Speaking of the UWF, they officially opened their offices on 3/8, and immediately got canceled from their proposed timeslot on Fuji TV. When they were making the pitch for their show, Shinma had promised that Tiger Mask and Riki Choshu would be under contract, and in fact neither of those things happened and they got dropped before even airing a show. Instead, Akira Maeda will bring his “WWF International” title to be the top star of the promotion, along with New Japan raids Ryuma Go, Nobuhiko Takada and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Without TV, it’ll be a tough sell, Dave notes.
– The WWF’s apparent involvement and cross-promotion with the new UWF is non-existent, it turns out, aside from letting Maeda win the International title at MSG.
– Meanwhile, the WWF is working closely with New Japan instead, sending a bunch of guys over for the next IWGP tournament series. In order to prevent any further jumps to the UWF, NJPW used the annual bonus from Asahi TV (around 3 million dollars) and paid out huge signing bonuses to anyone in the company who would sign a one year deal. A referee even got $10,000 to sign!
– Americans getting tryouts for the latest tour include Dizzy Ed Hogan (the future Brutus Beefcake) and Samula the Samoan (Headshrinker Samu).
– In Mexico, El Canek scored a clean pinfall win over Andre the Giant after a bodyslam, two things that the WWF later said never ever happened until Hogan did it in 1987. Even at that point it was something of a sore point with Dave that people thought Andre never did jobs, as he points out that this should hopefully dispel the myth that Andre never loses but probably won’t.
– Dynamite Kid managed to win the Stampede North American title from Killer Khan despite an 80 pound size difference (seriously, Kid was a beanpole at that point) and then retained it by winning a loser-leaves-town match via countout. Check out this finish: They’re brawling on the floor and Khan backdrops him so high that Kid lands in the ring, beating the count as a result.
– In World Class, they announced that the main event will indeed be Kerry Von Erich challenging Ric Flair for the World title. Originally there was going to be a stipulation that Kerry and Kevin would both have to retire if Kerry didn’t win, but current plan is for Flair to retain the title so they decided not to go with that one. Dave thinks that a short title reign for Kerry might be a good idea, because then Flair can win it back at the Meadowlands for the big NWA debut there on 5/26 and it would solidify Fritz’s standing with the NWA in general.
– Speaking of World Class, Dave reports that Waldo Von Erich’s legit son Lance Von Erich will be coming in soon. Crack reporting there, Dave.
– The big seller in Texas right now is “Heaven Needed a Champion”, a 45 dedicated to David Von Erich and selling for $5 each. People are accusing Fritz of exploiting David’s death for money, especially when Kerry goes on TV and “talks to David” while promising him a title victory at the big show. Fritz exploit a tragedy for money? NEVER!
– The Memphis facelift in Mid-South is turning the territory around in a big way, thanks to the Rock N Roll Express and Midnight Express, and the feud between Jim Cornette and Bill Watts specifically. Dave runs down the TV shows over the past month and it’s all classic stuff, like the Magnum TA-Mr. Wrestling breakup and Cornette getting his face shoved in a birthday cake.
– Dave gets a funny bit when he notes that ever since taking over as booker, Dundee has suddenly gained amazing recuperative powers in his matches.
– To the AWA, where oddly enough Jumbo Tsuruta is proving to be a draw as champion, at least in the short term. After the initial fan exodus when Hogan left, things are stabilizing again.
– Larry Zbyszko debuted and was immediately thrust to the midcard with a draw over Steve O. He’s not going to be a big deal, Dave thinks.
– Dave finally got to see this Randy Savage guy in Memphis for the first time and now he agrees with everyone who ranks him in the top 15 in last year’s poll.
– As a part of his makeover in Memphis, Rick Rood is now Rick Rude, as he’s aping Jimmy Garvin and Ric Flair now and doing pretty well with it.
– With the departure of the Fabulous Ones, Jackie Fargo has put together Eddie Gilbert & Tommy Rich as the NEW Fabulous Ones. Because if there’s one thing that history has taught us, it’s that replacing tag teams with “new” in the title always works.
– The Montreal promotion was co-owned by Andre the Giant, but he pulled out and Verne is now in, which is why he was there managing Rick Martel last month. Verne has promised Martel the AWA title “way down the road” (in fact it happened around the time this issue came out) because Martel was being wooed by McMahon.
– Vince continues to mess with Ole Anderson in Georgia, as he’s offering the Intercontinental title to Ted Dibiase if he signs with the WWF. Ole, meanwhile, is pushing the rookie Road Warriors like crazy and drawing huge crowds at the Omni, which Dave says proves that even a complete fool can sometimes make money in this business.
– More Dave humor, as Mid-Atlantic was doing a tournament to figure out who would oppose Flair at the Meadowlands. It came down to Jack Brisco, Tim Horner and Brad Armstrong to set up the finals the next week. Someone called the box office of the Meadowlands and was told the main event would be Flair v. Brisco, which Dave attributes to the “excellent foresight of the ticket seller and his ability to handicap wrestling matches.”
And finally, here’s a CLASSIC Dave Meltzer understated recap of one of the biggest angles in the history of wrestling, in the late notes section: “Snuka and Piper got into it on a Piper’s Pit segment. Rod busted a coconut on Jimmy’s head and mashed a banana into his face. Sounds childish to me.”