WWF At Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
Janary 21, 1985
- Featured on the MSG Network, with Gorilla Monsoon and "Mean" Gene Okerlund at ringside to call the action. This is the version featured on "24/7 On Demand" service (the BETA version of the WWE Network, if you will), so we'll get random music dubbed in over the licensed stuff that we're supposed to pretend never existed.
Terry Gibbs vs. Moondog Rex:
What a choice for the opener, two heels. Should be interesting to see who tries to work babyface, if either of them tries it out. If I had to guess, I'd put my money on Rex. Before the match begins, The Fink announces a Main Event of Roddy Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton taking on Jimmy Snuka and The Junkyard Dog with Texas Tornado Rules. The referee doesn't even bother to ring the bell. Gibbs with a quick rolling cradle. Gibbs fights out of a waist-lock and grabs an arm-bar. Gibbs with a shoulder tackle, slam, and arm drag into the arm-bar. Rex counters a hammer-lock with a slam. Whip to the ropes and Rex with a punt to the chest to counter a back-drop attempt. Rex drops him across the top rope and follows with an elbow for two. They fight over a hammer-lock as one jerk screams "boring." Rex with a back breaker for two. Monsoon says Gibbs has YOUTH on his side. The guy must be pushing 40, but there's zero info out there on Gibbs, so maybe he's telling the truth. Gibbs escapes a chin-lock but misses an elbow drop. Rex meets knees going for a splash. Gibbs with a snap mare into a cover for two. Rex suckers him into the corner and decks him with a right hand. Gibbs escapes another chin-lock and takes Rex over with a back drop. Rex gets the better of a slugfest. Whip to the ropes and Gibbs surprises Rex with a knee lift. Gibbs with an inverted atomic drop as he plays to the crowd. Whip and an elbow to the chest for two. Gibbs with a back suplex but Rex is in the ropes. Rex surprises Gibbs with an elbow to the back of the neck and finishes with a hangman's neck breaker at 12:30. Decent work (for the territory and era), but no heat whatsoever. *1/2
Brett Hart vs. Rene Goulet:
This is Bret's MSG debut, having started working regularly for the WWF about two months earlier. Hart is wearing a leather vest and gets no reaction (as expected). He looks a little bulkier than I'd expect. Goulet shows off his sequined glove to work the crowd. Brett goes for a waist-lock, but Goulet hooks the ropes. Goulet with a side headlock but Hart quickly counters with a head-scissors. They trade wrist-locks, with Goulet going to the ropes for the break. Brett drags Goulet in from the apron with the side headlock and takes him to the canvas. Monsoon notes Goulet has "an impressive win-loss record". I'd say I accept that if this were 1968. Crisscross and Hart rolls through an arm drag to hook an arm-bar. Goulet misses a cheap shot in the corner, gets tossed across the ring, and finally taken over into another arm-bar. Whip to the ropes and Goulet with a knee to the midsection. He connects with a double stomp across the midsection and hooks a bear-hug. Okerlund says Rene was at one-time "one of Europe's Greatest Amateurs." Brett escapes with an ear smack, but Goulet remains in control. Goulet with choking and biting and he rolls Brett out of the ring, onto the timekeeper's table. Back inside, Goulet with a snap mare into a claw. Bret escapes, sending Goulet into the corner, but runs into a forearm. Goulet with a slam and knee across the chest for two. Whip to the ropes and Hart with a sunset flip for two. Goulet with a snap mare into a chin-lock. Goulet with a knee to the midsection for two. Brett gets the better of a slugfest, but Rene tosses him to the floor. Brett comes back in with another sunset flip for two. Brett with an atomic drop and a flurry of right hands. Whip to the ropes and Hart hooks an abdominal stretch. Brett with a back breaker and leg drop for two. Whip to the corner and Bret meets a knee running in. Bret avoids a shot with a foreign object and comes off the ropes with a sleeper hold for the victory at 14:26. You could see two different eras here, depending who was on offense. Brett's work was progressive, while Rene was stuck in 1971. *3/4
Tony Garea vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart:
Interestingly enough, Neidhart is making his MSG debut, as well. Tony Garea is my mid early-mid 80's Boris Zhukov. He's on every show and is just terrible. Okerlund mentions Neidhart's credentials as a Linebacker for UCLA and "for the NFL and Canadian Football League." Lockup and Anvil shoves Garea into the corner. Garea grabs a headlock, but a shoulder tackle doesn't budge Neidhart. Crisscross and Garea with a body press for two. They lock knuckles for a test-of-strength, and would you believe Neidhart hits Garea with a knee to take advantage? I know, I'm shocked too. Garea fights from underneath but more boots has the Anvil remain in control. Garea counters and takes Neidhart over with an arm drag. Neidhart with a slam, but Garea rolls through with the arm-bar. Whip and Garea with a sunset flip for two. Neidhart with an inverted atomic drop and a forearm across the chest. Whip and a forearm to the chest for two. The match is so boring, the camera randomly cuts to an attractive woman in the crowd, looking bored as hell. Snap mare out of the corner into a chin-lock. Neidhart cuts off another comeback and runs Garea over with a pair of shoulder tackles. Garea avoids a third charge and unloads with rights. He ducks a clothesline and goes for a Thesz Press, but Neidhart blocks it. Whip and Anvil finishes with a running Powerslam at 12:05. I almost fell asleep in my chair watching this. ¼*
Swede Hanson vs. The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji):
Hanson is introduced from Slaughter Creek, NC and is waving a Confederate Flag. IN NEW YORK. AND HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE THE BABYFACE. Muraco is making one of his first appearances since returning to the WWF and is already in line for a run with Hulk Hogan. For no reason whatsoever, Pedro Morales is introduced to the crowd before the match… and gets the best reaction so far tonight. I guess this is what they were going for with Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania V, but nobody cared. Lockup and Muraco grabs a side headlock. A shoulder tackle does nothing, and Hanson puts Muraco down with a slam. Hanson with a second slam sends Muraco to the floor for a breather. Back inside and they get into a shoving match. Muraco peppers Hanson in the corner, but the red-headed beast no-sells the turnbuckle and slams Muraco again. Shouldn't a top heel dispose of this geek with ease? Crowd taunts Muraco, probably with a chant of "Beach Bum". Hanson avoids a charge to the corner and works the arm. Muraco finally shows fire, driving a series of knees into the midsection of Swede. Snap mare and falling headbutt between the legs ("The Kamikaze Drop" as Monsoon calls it). Muraco hurts himself doing a headbutt. Hanson gives Muraco more headbutts, keeping him on his feet each time. Muraco goes for a slam but Hanson falls on top for two. Muraco slides out of a slam, dropkicks Hanson into the corner, and finishes with the Spike Piledriver (Tombstone) at 10:55. They could've trimmed this in half to make Muraco look better. DUD
- Before we get to the next match, The Fink makes sure to let the audience know that for THE FIRST TIME EVER, a LADY REFEREE will officiate a wrestling match under the New York Athletic Commission, and her name is Rita Marie. #Evolution.
Blackjack Mulligan vs. Moondog Spot:
Please God, be short. I keep forgetting Mulligan kept popping up throughout the 80's as a solo act (and briefly as a Machine, but we don't care to remember that angle). Mulligan is looking like late 90's Barry Windham (wink wink) compared to his younger days. Mulligan immediately challenges Spot to a test-of-strength. Spot rejects and grabs a headlock. Mulligan no-sells a shoulder tackle (theme of the night) and plants Spot with a slam. Whip to the corner and Spot slides on his butt. Then he almost does it again. Does Spot NOT know how to take a whip into the corner? Despite Spot getting to the ropes, Mulligan refuses to relinquish his wrist-lock. They take the action to the floor, with Spot hitting Mulligan with a chair, BLATANTLY IN FRONT OF THE LADY REFEREE, FIRST TIME EVER, BY THE WAY. Back inside, Spot pounds away. Mulligan decides he's sold enough and returns fire. Mulligan finishes with a slow-moving small package at 6:41. Ugly and poor work from start to finish. We just keep falling further in quality. I guess Rex was the worker of the team. -*
Andre The Giant vs. Ken Patera (w/ Bobby Heenan):
We're only a few weeks removed from Heenan, Patera, and John Studd "raping" Andre the Giant of his dignity by cutting his afro. I'm guessing Andre will be in no mood tonight and is looking for revenge. The timekeeper rings the bell at ANDRE'S SIGNAL. He is the Boss, after all. Andre with a boot to the midsection and clubbing right hand. He follows that with a chop and headbutt, sending Patera to the floor. Back inside, Andre with a body blow and boot to the butt. Patera bails again, but this time Andre steps on both his and Heenan's hands before giving them a double noggin knocker. Andre swats Patera away and viciously chokes him out, using the strap of his (Patera) own singlet at times. Patera tries to leave for the locker room, but Heenan won't let him go. Patera offers a handshake, but Andre shakes his head at him and makes a gesture with his fingers for scissors. Andre gives Patera a free shot, no-sells it, and crushes him in the corner. Patera counters a back-drop attempt but unwisely attempts a slam. Andre with an atomic drop, sending Patera flying over the top rope. Andre quickly grabs him by the hair and pulls him back over. Whip to the ropes and a big boot to the face knocks Patera out of the ring again. Andre again retrieves his opponent and SITS ON THE BACK OF HIS NECK. Patera can't escape the Giant's wrath, being flung into the security rail. Heenan decides to get involved and attacks Andre with a concealed weapon, drawing the Disqualification at 8:46. Andre regains control, squashing both Patera and Heenan in the corner. He paint-brushes Heenan and sends him flying into the corner for a big bump to the outside. Not a technical masterpiece, but even with his physical limitations, Andre could still put on a show when motivated, and babyface Andre seeking revenge is a great thing to see. I did not anticipate enjoying this match as much as I did. ***
George Wells vs. Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan):
It takes Heenan a few moments to make his way into Studd's corner, still selling the effects from the prior match. The crowd is still hot, chanting for Andre. Wells takes a shot at Studd as we focus on Heenan getting in Gene Okerlund's face at ringside over the "Weasel" chant. Studd with an overhead wrist-lock but Wells counters with a hammer-lock. Studd forces a break in the corner but whiffs on a forearm. Whip to the corner and Studd misses a charge. Wells with a dropkick, but Studd hooks the ropes to block a slam attempt. Whip to the ropes and Studd with a shoulder tackle. He tries it again but Wells counters with a body press for two. Studd's kickout sends Wells to the floor. Back inside, we stay in slow motion with a bear-hug. Wells with a tight-pull assisted sunset flip for two. Studd with a hip toss and back breaker for a three-count at 7:21. That was a little quick on the count, and even Monsoon and Okerlund call it out. -1/2*
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka & The Junkyard Dog vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & "Cowboy" Bob Orton:
Texas Tornado Rules (no tagging in and out). The JYD is subbing for the Tonga Kid, who suddenly disappeared in the days leading up to this show and wouldn't return until the following fall as "Tama." Coincidentally, shortly after his departure, "King Tonga" debuted (better known as "Haku"). All four men begin brawling before the bell. JYD and Snuka control, bogging Orton and Piper into each other. JYD hits Piper with headbutts while Snuka knocks Orton through the ropes with chops. JYD with a whip and clothesline to Orton for two. Snuka meets the post, allowing a 2-on-1 on the JYD. Snuka recovers, but now he gets doubled on. He makes his own comeback, giving Orton and Piper a double noggin knocker. Piper somehow botches taking a school boy trip as Snuka unloads with short rights. Orton and Piper regain control with synchronized chin-locks. Whip and both men hook sleepers. Piper puts the boots to Snuka while he has the hold applied to JYD. The referee does the "drop the arm" spot no less than three times. Snuka and JYD's hands meet for the big babyface rally. Can't say I've seen that before. They use their combined strengths to ram Orton and Piper into each other. Orton gets flipped upside down on a whip to the corner. Double slam to Snuka. Orton climbs the ropes and meets the knees coming down. Snuka with a headbutt, knocking Snuka to the floor. Snuka meets the post AGAIN. Piper trips up the JYD and Orton cradles him for three at 8:47. Was looking good, but that sleeper spot ate up half the match. **
"Quick Draw" Rick McGraw vs. The Spoiler:
The crowd is going to be dead for this one. No heel response for The Spoiler, barely a reaction for McGraw (and that literally translates to 5 people). The Spoiler has a good 8-inches on McGraw. Lockup, Spoiler with a side headlock, but McGraw quickly counters with a head-scissors. They fight over cradle as everyone collectively goes to the bathroom. I don't know what's more boring, this match or Monsoon and Okerlund's conversation. McGraw with shoulders to the midsection and an arm drag into the arm-bar. McGraw escapes with some soft elbows that wouldn't crack an egg. Spoiler hangs McGraw across the top rope and chokes. McGraw's comeback is cut short when he unwisely attempts a monkey flip. Spoiler climbs the ropes and drops down with a clubbing forearm. McGraw avoids a charge and hits a shoulder breaker. Spoiler rakes the eyes to cut McGraw off and pounds at the midsection. This match is DEATH. McGraw stiffs the hell out of Spoiler on the floor with chops to wake up a few fans at ringside. Maybe it was payment for not cooperating on a rope straddle spot. Back inside Spoiler with a double under-hook suplex for three at 9:00. Didn't expect that result. Instead of DUD, there should be a rating of NOC (No One Cared).
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (c) vs. Tito Santana:
Final match of the night. Valentine won the Intercontinental Title from Santana on September 24th, 1984 for only the 8th reign of the Championship. Santana cuts a pre-match promo about the curfew saving Valentine in the past. FORSHADOWING? The graphic misspells Valentine's name as GRET. HOW DO YOU MESS THAT UP? 10-seconds later and the correct spelling pops up. I hope someone was fired for that. Both men start defensively cautious. Lockup into the corner, Santana blocks a boot and lays into Valentine with right hands. Valentine with a snap mare, but he misses an elbow. Santana plants him with a slam and slaps on an aggressive chin-lock. Santana picks the leg, sweeps Valentine off his feet, and drives a knee into the thigh. Valentine with a slam and knees across the back. Santana bridges out of a pin attempt and gets a knee across the chest for it. Valentine with a stomach buster for two. Back to their feet and Valentine grabs a bear-hug. Valentine punishes the midsection further with shoulders and adds a few slaps for good measure. Santana fights out of an abdominal stretch, taking Valentine over with a hip toss. Valentine remains in control, working on the lower back. Santana fights to his feet, only to get nailed with a big forearm. Valentine with a back breaker and elbow drop for two. Santana escapes another bear-hug, driving a series of headbutts into the midsection. Valentine cuts him off but straddles the middle rope on a charge. Santana unloads with rights and lefts as Valentine begs off. Santana connects with an atomic drop and slams the back of the Hammer's head into the canvas. Valentine desperately crawls to the apron, only to be brought back in with a suplex. Santana goes to work on the leg, but Valentine counters the Figure-Four with a yank of the tights. Santana tries it again, with the same result, and each time Valentine bails to the floor. Santana with a slam, but the Flying Forearm misses, causing Santana to land out of the ring. Back inside, Valentine drops elbows across the back of the head. Valentine decks Santana with a flurry of forearms for two. Valentine goes for the Figure-Four but Santana cradles him for two. Santana sends Valentine into the corner and a double clothesline puts both men down. Whip and Santana with the Flying Forearm, knocking Valentine to the floor, and he's Counted-Out at 20:22. Santana wins the match, but not the title. Boring first half and a strong second half seems to be the Santana formula in the mid 80's. **1/2
Final Thoughts: The top three matches were fine for what they were, but nothing that'll knock your socks off (unless you love the idea of Andre completely squashing an upper-mid-card heel like I do). The undercard has two OK matches, but mostly junk, with anti-classics like Swede vs. Muraco, Studd vs. Wells, Mulligan vs. Spot, and McGraw vs. Spoiler stinking up the Garden. It's an OK show for the era and what the WWF presented at the time, but we're still in a rough era where it feels like 2 generations of athletes are mixing and not for the better as far as quality performances go.
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