The SmarK Rant for The Brawl to End It All – 07.23.84
OH BABY. We’ve been waiting a long time for these shows to drop on the Network! These are the full MSG shows, which were then edited down for the MTV special later on.
First up, a strange bit of history, as I was always told that we got the first ever women’s main event when Charlotte and Sasha did it. And yet, unless I’m dreaming, this show is headlined by a women’s title mach!
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your hosts are Gene Okerlund & Gorilla Monsoon
Ron Shaw v. Sika
And nothing says the height of rock n’ wrestling like dad bod jobber Ron Shaw v. Sika the Samoan! Shaw stalls for a bit, but Sika stomps him out to the apron and onto the floor, but Shaw rakes the eyes and bites on the ropes. Sika takes him down and goes to a chinlock, but Shaw fights back with punches that have no effect, and a headbutt that backfires horribly on him. Sika goes back to the chinlock and then chops him down for the pin at 5:12. Yeah this was pretty lousy. ¼*
Tony Garea v. The Iron Sheik
So because this is the unedited version that was later edited into the MTV show, we get the banter from Gene and Gino between matches, which gives us Gene ordering “a couple of diet sodas” from whoever in the back. This is quite the fall down the card for the Sheik, who was just World champion six months earlier. As usual, Sheik stalls for the first couple of minutes while he glorifies Iran, but Garea grabs a headlock. An ALL AMERICAN headlock! USA! Wait, sorry, I’m just being handed a bulletin from Brian Bayless that Garea is in fact from New Zealand. Well, never mind then. Tony gets a sunset flip for two and goes back to the headlock as Gorilla notes that Tony is still looking for a new tag team partner to go after the titles. Don’t think he ever found one, in fact. Sheik breaks free from the headlock, but Tony gives him an atomic drop and goes back to it. Sheik finally escapes with a double chop of some sort and he stomps away with Gorilla’s hated pointy boots, but Garea fights back with a hiptoss and dropkick to set up a bodypress for two. Sheik whips him into the corner and kills him with a backdrop driver at 5:30 to finish. That was a pretty sick suplex and a good match. **3/4
Intercontinental title: Tito Santana v. Cowboy Bob Orton
Finkel informs us that the match has a 20 minute time limit, which gives away the finish before we even start. They had a 20:00 broadway in Boston that was on a Coliseum video and was pretty good, so hopefully this one is too. They fight for an armbar on the mat and Orton tries a hiptoss, but Tito reverses to a cradle and SHOOTS THE HALF for two. It’s not the same without Vince getting excited about it. Orton tries a wristlock and Tito reverses to his own as they duel over that. Tito of course wins that one, but Bob cheats and takes him down, forcing Tito to bridge out. And then Bob pulls the hair to regain control and gets a forearm for two. Blind charge misses and Bob hits the post as the ropes are REALLY loose tonight, and Tito goes up with a flying fist and Bob does an amazing sell where he actually goes rubber-legged and falls into the corner. Bob Orton was one hell of a worker. Tito works the arm, but Bob hides in the ropes. Tito tries another lockup but Bob clobbers him and stomps him down, as he was trying for the kneedrop but the ropes are so loose that he wasn’t unable to run them properly. So Bob hits a running powerslam and gets two instead. Bob bares his knee and beats on Tito’s back with it, which sets up a backbreaker off a press slam for two. Tito fights back and slugs away in the corner, but Orton hits him with a cheapshot and gets a Perfectplex for two! Bob goes to a chinlock and then goes up for a pump splash, but that hits Tito’s knees. Tito comes back with the punches in the corner and goes to an abdominal stretch, but Orton does a slick reversal to his own and Tito has to hiptoss out of it. Orton with a suplex that doesn’t work well, but he tries a second one and Tito reverses to a small package for two. Tito tries the flying forearm out of nowhere, but Bob ducks it and Tito splats on the mat as Bob gets two. Tito comes back again and whips Bob into the corner for a great bump, and a rollup gets two off that. They slug it out on the mat and Bob tries the piledriver, but Tito backdrops out of it and both guys are out. Tito is up first, but Bob reverses an atomic drop and drops elbows on him until the 20:00 time limit suddenly expires and we have a draw. This was GREAT. Hard work for 20 straight minutes and some really cool stuff here. ****
Bob Backlund v. Butcher Vachon
I kind of thought Bob was gone by this point. Gene already declares this one KATIE BAR THE DOOR, which I feel might be a premature declaration. Butcher goes for the arm and Bob reverses that and then casually takes Butcher down with a single leg. Vachon slugs away in the corner and pounds him with shoulders, but Bob comes back with a huge slam. On 300 pound Paul Vachon! Bob PROCURES THE CHICKENWING and that’s it at 2:43. Impressive! **
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Greg Valentine
Hulk promises that after the match, they’re going to call the New York City power company and shut down all the electricity in the city, since it’ll all be in MSG. That sounds dangerous to me. Hammer attacks to start and that goes badly for him, as Hulk fights off a trip to the turnbuckles and runs Greg into them for a corner clothesline. Hulk with an atomic drop and slam “like a bag of potato chips”, which is a unique metaphor from Gorilla. Did he mean “like a sack of potatoes”, I wonder? Hulk grabs a headlock and Hammer escapes with a backdrop suplex and drops elbows to take over. Greg slugs away on the mat and they fight over a suplex, but Hulk wins that one. Hulk with a shoulderbreaker and big boot, and Hammer bumps to the floor off that and brawl out there. Hulk beats on him and we head back in, but Valentine cuts him off with a knee to the head and drops an elbow for two. There is NO QUESTION in the minds of the announcers that Greg could be WWF champion at any time. I’d have some questions. Quite a few, actually. Valentine bails and hauls Hulk to the apron, then beats on the knee with a chair. You’d think that would be a disqualification, but apparently not. So Greg goes to work on the leg and tries the figure-four, but Hulk kicks off that and Greg bumps into the corner. Valentine gets a backbreaker, however, and drops an elbow for two. Greg goes up but gets hit on the way down, and Hulk finishes with the legdrop at 10:29 to retain. This was totally not the Hogan formula match that would turn into the norm soon after. ***
Charlie Fulton v. Antonio Inoki
Inoki is of course holder of the prestigious MARTIAL ARTS CHAMPION. And not just of one country or even one continent. OF THE WORLD! Fulton tries for a hammerlock and Inoki flips him out of it, using his martial arts. Inoki kneebars him, but Fulton makes the ropes. Fulton stomps him down and gets a snapmare for two, but you don’t pin the Martial Arts Champion of the World with a snapmare! That’s just science. Inoki fights out of a chinlock and finishes with an enzuigiri at 4:05. I feel like Fulton just wasn’t the level of competition to get the best out of a World champion of Martial Arts such as Inoki. Maybe if he had been facing a regional Martial Arts champion, like Ernest Miller, things would have been better for him. *
WWF tag team titles: Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch v. Sgt. Slaughter & Private Terry Daniels
DAMN this is an interesting card! This is about the leanest I’ve ever seen Slaughter, including his Mid-Atlantic run preceding this. Perhaps making shitloads of cash agreed with him. I’m still mystified as to why they went with dumpy little Terry Daniels as Slaughter’s protégé. He got a pretty big rub by being associated with Slaughter’s act and his career just went nowhere. They would have been better off had they brought in Kirchner earlier and paired him up with Sarge instead. He was also terrible but at least he LOOKED like a badass. Murdoch takes Daniels down, but Terry works the arm and brings in Slaughter. Adonis comes in and bumps for him for a bit and Private Jobber works on the arm some more. Daniels lands on his feet to escape a monkey flip and goes back to the arm. Daniels nearly overshot and landed on the floor on that one, actually. Over to Murdoch and he too is the victim of Daniels’ amazing array of armbars. Murdoch escapes that and pounds away, but misses a charge and Daniels goes back to that armbar again. Gorilla declares it a BARNBURNER while Daniels holds the armbar for extended periods of time. I see no barns burning here. Over to Adonis, more armbars. Finally Daniels does a couple of leapfrogs and Adonis catches him with an elbow to take over. Thank god.
They take Terry to the corner and Murdoch beats on him, but Daniels comes back with a dropkick and brings in Slaughter. Pandemonium breaks loose as Slaughter runs wild on them and drops a knee on Murdoch for two. Back to Daniels and Sarge puts Daniels on his back and then drops a knee on Murdoch, and that gets two. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, it’s back to the armbar from Daniels again. Daniels tries an abdominal stretch, but Murdoch escapes with a hiptoss and Adonis comes back in and drops a knee to take over. That gets two. Running powerslam gets two. He had some mustard on that one. The champs work Daniels over in the corner and then Murdoch ups his armbar game to a crazy degree, actually hanging Daniels over his shoulder while holding the move. OUCH. Back to Adonis and they double-team Daniels behind the ref’s back, and Murdoch slugs him down and drops an elbow for two. Finally Daniels gets a dropkick and makes the hot tag to Slaughter, who lays waste to both heels and puts Murdoch in the cobra clutch until Adonis makes the save. Daniels comes in for more useless offense and gets a crossbody on Adonis for two, but Slaughter gets escorted out by the ref, and the champs finish Daniels with a Demolition elbow at 16:52. Daniels’ entire offensive output was armbars and dropkicks and he looked 100% out of his league here. Match was fine otherwise and had tremendous heat. **1/2
WWF Women’s title: The Fabulous Moolah v. Wendi Richter
So we’ve got Lou Albano in Moolah’s corner, and Cyndi Lauper in Wendi’s corner. To say this was the beginning of a media circus would be an understatement. Albano had appeared in “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” playing Cyndi’s father in the video, and then started doing promos about how he was actually managing her career, which led to this. Moolah chokes Wendi out on the ropes, but she slugs back for two. Richter with an armbar and she works the arm while the ringside photographers all swarm Cyndi. Moolah chokes Richter out again and uses the hair for leverage, but Wendi escapes and pounds away in the corner. Blind charge misses and Moolah does more choking on the ropes, but Wendi ties her in the ropes and puts the boots to her. Richter tries a full nelson and Lauper teases interference, but changes her mind once before Wendi convinces her to hit Moolah with a cheapshot. How is that not a DQ? Richter with a dropkick for two, and a suplex for one. Backbreaker gets two. Richter goes to a chinlock, but Moolah pulls the hair to escape and monkey flips her for two. Backdrop gets two, but Moolah decides to pick her up. She does her own full nelson and wants Albano to get his shot, but of course it misses and they continue on. And then Moolah does the german suplex with both shoulders down, and Wendi gets hers up and wins the title at 11:20. The match was a complete disaster, of course, as they were stumbling around and missing spots like crazy, but the match did monster ratings on MTV. ½* I’m tempted to add an extra star for Lou Albano calling David Wolfe a “pre-fabricated dog biscuit” as his big insult.
Meanwhile, the parade of celebrations begins, as Sgt. Slaughter comes in to congratulate Cyndi on her managerial prowess, and of course Hulk Hogan also comes in to involve himself. Geez, Hogan, you’ve already been champion for six months, maybe step aside and let someone else have the spotlight. He suggests removing Moolah’s picture from the belt and putting one of the “New Marilyn Monroe” instead. How many drugs were they doing that anyone could think of Richter as a sex symbol?
Paul Orndorff v. Chief Jay Strongbow
Orndorff takes his time preparing his elbow pads and complains to Gorilla that the ref won’t let him into the ring. Finally we actually get contact after 4 minutes and they trade headlocks. Criss cross and Strongbow grabs the sleeper, but Orndorff manages to dump him to the floor to escape. Back in, Paul works the back and pounds away, but Strongbow hulks up and makes the comeback. Orndorff puts him down with an ugly clothesline that was more of a clubbing forearm, and that’s it at 6:11. What a weird finish. DUD
Afa the Samoan v. Rene Goulet
Afa attacks and backdrops Goulet before he can even put his loaded glove on, and goes right to the bearhug. Goulet escapes from that and puts his loaded glove on for some punishment in the corner, but makes the mistake of running into Afa’s loaded ass. Goulet begs for mercy in the corner and stomps on Afa’s bare feet, then uses the dreaded claw hold to really kill the crowd. He actually bites the midsection and Afa just shrugs him off and finishes him with the samoan drop at 5:28. DUD
So then Finkel reads off the card for the next show for August 25, and in the midcard there’s a six-man tag with the FABULOUS FREEBIRDS. Also, an intriguing tag title match with the Wild Samoans getting a shot.
We’ve got Sika, Jose Luis Rivera, Antonio Inoki, Tony Garea, Chief Jay Strongbow, Afa, Steve Lombardi, Dick Murdoch, Bob Orton, Adrian Adonis, Rene Goulet, Ron Shaw, Charlie Fulton, Terry Daniels, The Iron Sheik, Tito Santana, Paul Orndorff, Butcher Vachon, Sgt. Slaughter, and Samu the Samoan. So basically everyone from earlier in the show. Sarge throws Lombardi out right away. Wonderful gets thrown out by the various Samoans, while Sheik and Slaughter continue their private war in the corner. Daniels tries to save his mentor and gets attacked by the heels, but they’re not able to force him out. Sheik and Vachon both go out at some indeterminate point and it’s just the usual endless barrage of guys laying on the ropes and punching each other here and there. Slaughter puts out Fulton to really open up the field for everyone with dreams of winning. Adonis bumps through the ropes off Inoki’s enzuigiri, but he doesn’t go over the top. He comes back in and charges Slaughter and gets backdropped out for his troubles, but Murdoch sacrifices himself and pulls out Slaughter while going over the top himself. Tito gets thrown out off-camera, and Goulet manages to put Sika out. Samu charges Inoki and gets backdropped out. Inoki puts Orton over the top with the power of his enzuigiri, leaving the unlikely final four of Inoki, Rene Goulet, Ron Shaw and Tony Garea. The heels team up and toss Garea right away and go after Inoki, but they’re complete morons and Goulet puts his own friend out by accident, and Inoki tosses Goulet to win at 13:29. Apparently he’s also a World champion in crappy battle royales as well as martial arts.
This was a hell of a show up until the Women’s title match, which basically killed off the crowd because they had nothing to follow it with. This one is the very definition of “front-loaded” and I heartily recommend shutting it off after Richter’s win. Still, it’s a historical show of mammoth proportions, setting off one of the biggest storylines in company history and hottest times in wrestling history. So it’s certainly worth checking out for that.
Next up: We return in February of 1985 with THE WAR TO SETTLE THE SCORE!