The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 06.16.84
IT’S TIME, YOU SONS OF BITCHES.
Taped from Madison Square Garden with a mind-boggling 26,000 sellout and thousands more next door watching closed circuit.
Your hosts are Mean Gene & Gorilla Monsoon
Tony Garea v. Magnificent Muraco
At this point Muraco switches managers after returning from Mid-Atlantic, moving from Captain Lou to Mr. Fuji, giving us his most famous pairing. Muraco attacks at the bell and beats Garea down in the corner while Gorilla talks about how Muraco must have went back to Hawaii and relaxed because he’s in such great shape. Like, he’s SEEN Don Muraco in 1984, right? His shape was that of a tube of Pillsbury biscuit dough that’s exploded in a hot car. Muraco runs away from Garea’s retaliation and hides on the floor for a bit. Back in, Muraco wins a wristlock battle and then hides in the ropes again after using the hair, so Garea does the same because what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, although two wrongs don’t make a right and cheaters never prosper. Garea slugs away in the corner, and dropkicks Muraco into a monkey flip, but Muraco powerslams and pins him at 4:44. So although the match was not in any way notable, this is the first time I can ever recall the manager being allowed to remain at ringside in MSG, perhaps because Vince Sr. had recently passed away and Vince Jr. was quickly overhauling the business. DUD
Jose Luis Rivera v. George The Animal Steele
Speaking of which, the Fink takes a moment to eulogize Vincent J. McMahon with a moment of silence. You can already see the kids in the audience reacting big to George, so the babyface turn was inevitable. As usual, George comes equipped with an international object that he stashes in his mouth while the ref pats him down. George immediately tears up a turnbuckle after hitting Rivera in the throat, and then rams him into the exposed steel while Fuji, again remaining at ringside, directs traffic. Flying hammerlock finishes at 2:25. I liked Fuji’s white gloves here. Very classy. DUD
WWF World tag team title, 2 out of 3 falls: Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch v. The Wild Samoans
INTRIGUING! Captain Lou, much like Steele, was also on the verge of a very unlikely babyface turn later in the year and he quickly makes an appearance on his own before disappearing again. He was technically managing the Samoans at this point but was about to switch over to the incoming Windham & Rotunda. Not to be confused with Windham Rotunda, although Bray Wyatt managed by Captain Lou would have been an interesting combo. Murdoch and Adonis had won the tag team titles from Rocky & Atlas in April and had a pretty impressive title reign all things considered. It’s a DONNYBROOK to start with the Samoans clearly playing the de facto babyfaces here, and Adonis bumps all over for them right away. Murdoch tries beating on Afa to start and gets nowhere, making the mistake of elbowing him in the head repeatedly, as he only hurts his elbow and Afa puts him down with a headbutt. Murdoch regroups and brings in Adonis, who works a headlock, but he too gets headbutted. So Murdoch tries it again and the Samoans work his arm in their corner, but Murdoch fires back with bionic elbows and again that goes badly for him. Finally the champs team up with a double elbow on Sika, but the Samoans double-team Adonis and lay him out. Adonis gets a cheapshot on Sika and the champs work on Sika in their corner for a bit as Murdoch chops him down for two. Adonis exchanges chops with Sika and the Samoans double-team him with chops, but Adonis clips Sika’s knee and Murdoch goes to work on it. Dick with the Guardian deathlock and Adonis comes off the middle rope with a flying knee onto Sika’s knee. Spinning toehold, but Sika fights out and Adonis distracts the ref while Murdoch takes him down again. Murdoch actually pulls on his toes for some early SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION but Sika fights him off again and makes the hot tag to Afa. The Samoans run wild and ram the champs into each other, and Afa gets an awesome backdrop on Murdoch out of the corner. But then the champs hit Afa with a double elbow and double splash and Adonis pins Afa to win the first fall at 13:05.
Second fall and Captain Lou has returned, but now he’s in the corner of Adonis & Murdoch, turning on his Samoan team. Adonis attacks Afa in the confusion and splashes him for two. GOODNIGHT IRENE, but Sika quickly breaks it up, so Murdoch hits Afa with an atomic drop and puts the knees to him on the ropes. Everyone fights again as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and the Samoans hit Murdoch with a double headbutt and Afa finishes him with a samoan drop at 16:09 to even it up.
Third fall and now Lou is back in the Samoan corner because they won that last fall. So all is forgiven apparently and Sika goes to work on Murdoch with the dreaded nerve pinch, and headbutts him for two as Adonis saves. Afa comes in with his own headbutt and then drops a headbutt on the shoulder for two. Murdoch takes him down and drops an elbow for two, but he staggers to the wrong corner and pays for it. Adonis does manages to tag himself in, but the Samoans double-team him and Adonis goes FLYING for them, flailing all over the ring to put them over as monsters. Another samoan drop looks to finish, but Murdoch drops a top rope elbow to break and the ref calls for the double DQ at 21:49. I don’t recall the Samoans as a babyface act at all but they were good here and Murdoch and Adonis were working their ASSES off for them. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Lord Alfred questions where Lou’s loyalties lie, and his loyalties are only with the American dollar. Funny bit as Albano says he respects Adonis and also respects…his partner, forgetting Murdoch’s name, and Hayes cracks up.
SD Jones v. Jesse The Body Ventura
Jesse hits him with a pair of kidney shots to start, so SD returns the favor while the fans chant “Bozo” at Jesse, in reference to his unique hairstyle. And then a decade later we’d have an actual clown. Jesse goes with a bearhug, but Jones fights out and puts him down with a headbutt, so Jesse demands that the ref check his head. SD with another headbutt, but he puts his head down and Jesse drops the boom on him and finishes with the backbreaker at 4:44. *
Intercontinental title: Tito Santana v. Greg Valentine
Finkel points out Tito’s mother, Juanita Santana, who is apparently sitting in the front row watching. Man that’s just begging for a Bobby Heenan one-liner but sadly he wasn’t around yet. You could go so many ways with it! Will she be upset that the border patrol has been tipped off to her location, or is she making extra money by selling burritos? We’ll never know, because Bobby Heenan isn’t here to make offensive remarks just like those ones. They fight for a lockup to start and Tito starts cranking on the arm right away and hiptosses him out of the corner before going to the arm again. And then we get a weird spot as they fight to the ropes and they’re so loose that both guys awkwardly tumble through and fall to the floor. Back in, Greg slams him, but misses an elbow and Tito goes back to the arm again. Greg tries to throw him off and Tito hangs on, so Valentine takes him to the apron and drops an elbow on his throat out there to break free. Back in, Greg gives him a knee to the hamstring to start working on the leg and someone really needs to go tighten up those ropes. Tito runs him into the corner to buy time and slugs away with some STANK on the forearms, and then puts the boots to Greg and sends him to the apron. So Greg pokes him in the eye and drops an elbow on him, but Greg runs him into the turnbuckle to block a rollup. Figure-four, but Tito kicks him into the corner and rolls him up for one. They slug it out and Greg tries a piledriver, but Tito backdrops out and makes another comeback. Elbow off the middle rope gets two. Crossbody gets two. Tito works the arm again, but Greg drops him on the top rope to break this time as the video board in the background reveals that Billy Joel is playing, like, 7 shows in a row at the end of June. 10 year old me was deeply into “An Innocent Man” at that point and would have been all over that. It was the first cassette I ever got! Tito makes another comeback and beats the hell out of Greg on the ropes as the crowd goes BANANA, but the ref gets in between and Greg backdrops him over the top rope to escape the beating. They fight on the floor and Greg gives him an atomic drop out there, and Tito isn’t getting back in after that! Valentine wins by countout at 14:21, which is just as well for Tito because another minute and Valentine would have been nigh-unstoppable anyway. ***3/4
Meanwhile, Tito is busy selling his injured knee and Lord Alfred asks him stupid goddamn questions. The man is clearly in pain and speaking in tongues in some bizarre language because he’s so concussed! Alfred notes that in their eyes, Tito was the winner of the match. And yet, in a far more important way, he was a loser. In front of his mother no less!
Andre the Giant v. “Dr. D” David Schultz
Dr. D wisely chooses to run away and then tries for a bearhug, but Andre casually takes him down and puts the boots to him. D goes for a single leg and Andre just wallops him and steps on him. Andre with a cravat and he drops a knee on the back, so Shultz goes to the ropes and starts walking up them. So Andre just lets go and D falls on his ass. Dr. D charges in again and Andre just paws him away and beats on him. Schultz tries for a cheap knee and Andre just catches it and then takes him to the corner for the butt crush. And then Andre decides he’s had enough and puts him away with the big boot and splash at 7:20. Rough night for the Doc. ½*
Steve Lombardi v. Mad Dog Vachon
Yes, this is in fact the Madison Square Garden debut of young Steve Lombardi. Mad Dog terrorizes fans and security guards on the way to the ring and then immediately fish-hooks the young Brawler and beats the hell out of him in the corner. Vachon chokes him out on the ropes, but Steve gets some offense and then runs into a boot. Mad Dog bites him and chokes him out on the ropes and then piledrives him to finish at 3:22. And that’s not enough so he goes up and drops a knee on his throat for good measure. Quite the auspicious debut for Lombardi. ½*
Paul Orndorff v. Salvatore Bellomo
Orndorff is in NO MOOD tonight and destroys Sal before the bell, putting the boots to him before Sal gets a sunset flip to fight him off. Paul beats him down again as the announcers make a big deal about Sal’s brothers from Sicily sitting at ringside, perhaps seated beside Mrs. Juanita Santana. Salvatore comes back again with a bodypress for two but Orndorff just wallops him again and drops an elbow on his back, but he misses a knee and Sal makes another comeback by working on the knee. Paul throws him out to the floor to get rid of him, but Sal dives back in with a sleeper and Paul has to run him into the corner to break. Finally Paul has had enough and tries a piledriver, but Sal pushes off the ropes to block and falls on top for two. Orndorff hits him with a clothesline, however, and this time the piledriver finishes for real at 9:04, right in front of brothers Carlo and Phillipo or whatever their names were. Ended up a hell of a match, too! ***
Chief Jay Strongbow v. Cowboy Bob Orton
Yes, it’s literally a battle of cowboys and Indians. Sorry, that’s offensive, I guess they prefer to be called Cattlemen. Strongbow immediately gets a sleeper and Orton falls into the ropes to break, falling to the floor. Jay runs him into the apron and Orton runs away from him in the ring for a bit while Strongbow does his wardance. Finally Orton puts the boots to him in the corner and chokes him out, and Strongbow takes a gentle bump to the floor, looking 100 years old at this point. Man, Strongbow was a guy who got IMMEDIATELY purged from TV when Vince Jr. took over for good, although he stuck around house shows doing jobs for a while afterwards. Back in, Bob manages to hoist him to the top rope for the superplex, but Strongbow fights him off and Orton gets crotched on the top rope. Strongbow takes another bump to the floor, however, and back in Orton gets two. Strongbow makes the comeback, but Orton just cuts him off with a knee and finishes with a pump splash at 9:34. Strongbow looked ancient and Orton looked like the cool badass future at this point, and in fact this was kicking off the biggest run of his career. *1/2
BOOT CAMP MATCH: The Iron Sheik v. Sgt. Slaughter
I should note that the WWE Network description for this show lists it as a “Boot Strap match” which checks out given their attention to detail and care for the content. So this is a falls count anywhere match with no DQs, and fun fact, I’ve never seen it before because it was never featured on any compilations or DVDs that I’ve ever seen. Slaughter immediately attacks and beats the hell out of Sheik with his riding crop and then drops a helmet on him. So then he puts the helmet on and headbutts him as the crowd is going crazy, and catapults him into the corner, but Sheik whips him into the other corner as Sarge takes his bump to the floor. Sheik runs him into the apron and smashes a chair on his back for a two count on the floor. Into the ring, Sheik uses his belt to whip Slaughter and chokes him out, and then uses Slaughter’s crop against him for more punishment and he’s really laying it in. Sarge reverses him out to the floor, as Sheik bumps onto the announce table, and Slaughter gets the belt and whips him with it. So Sheik runs Slaughter into the loaded boot in the corner, but Sarge slugs him down and HURLS him over the top rope. They fight on the floor and Slaughter gets a backbreaker on the floor for two. Back in, Sheik loads up the boot, but Slaughter blocks it, so Sheik runs him into the post instead and you know what’s next. Hint: It rhymes with CRIMSON MASK. Sheik bites on the cut, which is more accurately a gash, as Slaughter bleeds all over and Sheik puts the boots to him in the corner. Sheik goes for a gut wrench, but Slaughter punches him in the ribs to block and then loads up his own boot, going to the top rope for a flying stomp to the head that looked incredible. Sheik is also busted open and Sarge hits him with another loaded boot and throws haymakers and the Popeye punch as the crowd goes nuts non-stop. That gets two. Slaughter slams him for two as Sheik has tapped a damn artery on top of his head, but Sarge goes for the cannon and Sheik kicks him in the nuts for two. Gut wrench puts Slaughter down again for two. Sheik with a suplex for two, and he gets desperate and takes off his loaded boot, dramatically whacking it on the corner to load it up even more. Slaughter hits him with the Cannon to knock it away, however, and they dramatically crawl for the deadly boot, as Slaughter wins the race. And he loads it up even further, nails Sheik with it, and pins him at 15:54 to win the feud and blow the roof off the building. ***** I have no idea why this basically sat in a vault for 30 years and didn’t get put on a million DVDs because it’s easily the best match in the career of either guy. This one lived up to the hype and then some.
One of the all time greatest matches in the history of the promotion, plus a surprisingly great tag team title match, makes this is an easy recommendation!
Next time: It’s the BRAWL TO END IT ALL. Well, not on the Network, because it got pulled soon after dropping a few years back. But I reviewed it before it left.