WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
April 23, 1984
- We don't have a copy of the March 25th, 1984 card from Madison Square Garden, so we'll take a quick look at what took place: Roddy Piper and David Schultz def. Andre The Giant and Jimmy Snuka by Disqualification, Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson fought the Wild Samoans to a Double Disqualification, Bob Backlund fought Greg Valentine to a Double Count-Out, and Tito Santana fought Paul Orndorff to a Time Limit Draw. Yes, the top four matches of the night had bull crap finishes. Underneath, the Iron Sheik def. Ivan Putski, Sgt. Slaughter won a Handicap Match over Fuji and Tiger Chung Lee, and there was an "International Champion" declared, and quickly ignored.
- Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson are at ringside to call all the action. This was actually broadcast on the USA Network, as well as the traditional feature on the MSG Network. No, Hulk Hogan is not on the card.
Tonga Kid vs. Tiger Chung Lee:
The "Tonga Kid" is probably better known as Tama of the Islanders, and possibly "Tonga Tom" for the cult movie "Body Slam." He's only 19 years old at this point, unless he's been lying about his age this whole time. Tonga offers a handshake, but Lee ignores him. Lockup to the corner and a clean break. Lockup and Tonga with an arm drag. Lee goes for the arm, but Tonga quickly turns the tables. Whip to the ropes and Tonga connects with a dropkick. He plants Lee with a slam and takes him over into an arm-bar. Lee fights free, but Tonga quickly goes back to work on the arm. Lee takes Tonga to the corner and pounds away. With that kind of strategy, what the hell took him so long to execute it?! Punching and kicking so far. Whip to the ropes and he connects with a chop for a two count. Tonga escapes a chin-lock with elbows to the midsection. He plants Lee with a slam and drops a leg across the chest for two. Whip to the ropes and Tonga with a back drop, followed by a headbutt for two. Tonga misses a dive, landing throat-first across the top rope, and Lee finishes him off with an elbow drop at 8:02. Yes, Tiger Chung Lee pinned someone. ½* Tonga showed decent energy, but beyond the arm work, he seemed a bit inexperienced, and Chung Lee is worthless.
Jose Luis Rivera vs. Rene Goulet:
Nothing like a Rene Goulet match to bring up the excitement level. Was Tony Garea booked elsewhere? Goulet is sporting his bedazzled glove. I'm amazed "bedazzled" is actually a word, according to my Microsoft Word spell-check. Lockup into the corner and Goulet hangs himself in the ropes to escape. Rivera avoids a cheap shot and sends Goulet chest-first to the opposite corner. They trade blows and have a stand-off. Goulet with a side headlock takeover, but Rivera quickly counters with a head scissors. Rivera with a headlock and shoulder tackle. He counters a hip throw and grabs an arm-bar. They slug it out in the corner until Goulet starts biting him. Who knew French-Canadians were cannibals? He takes Rivera down and grabs a rear chin-lock. Rivera teases a comeback, but runs into a knee lift. Garea with another knee lift, followed by choking. Garea with a snap mare into a cover for two. Rivera teases another comeback, unloading a series of rights. Whip to the ropes and a back drop gets two. Rivera with a slam for another two count. Whip to the corner, Rivera meets a knee on a charge, and Goulet finishes with the Claw at 7:36. So Chung Lee and Rene Goulet have won matches on the same card. *1/2 Not too bad. Rivera was a decent hand in the ring, but we've got to put over these fossils.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Tito Santana © vs. J.J. Dillon:
That's not a bizarre typo. In a fun little tidbit, Dillon was originally booked on the show to be in a preliminary match, kind of as a favor since he was getting ready to hang up the boots as a full-time, in-ring performer, and it was a wish-list scenario to perform at MSG. Wild Samoan Afa ended up missing the show, so Dillon was inserted into this significantly higher profile match, instead. For those wondering, he was only 42 at the time, but I'm sure came across as older than that when he managed the Four Horsemen. Lockup into the ropes and Santana gives a clean break. Santana with a waist-lock, so Dillon goes for the ropes. Dillon goes for a takedown, but Santana wiggles out of his grip. Santana with a fireman's carry into an arm-bar. Dillon goes for a counter, but Santana hangs on to the arm and makes long-term residency on it. Dillon briefly counters, but the keyword there is briefly. Dillon says "F" it and finally goes for the ropes to force a break. They go for a knuckle-lock, with Dillon raking the eyes to finally get some offense in. He rakes the eyes again, this time with the laces of his boot. Dillon with a hard forearm for two. Santana rallies with a flurry of rights. Whip to the ropes, Santana with a dropkick, and the Flying Forearm finishes at 7:46. That was abrupt. ½* Consisted almost entirely of Santana working the arm and Dillon raking and scratching him. They seemed like they were pacing to go long before the sudden finish.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Iron Sheik:
Crowd is ready for this one. Slaughter pounds away on Sheik as soon as he enters the ring and tears apart his head dress, a long-standing staple in trying to humiliate a foreign menace. He takes Sheik over with a snap mare and drops a pair of knees across the chest. Whip to the ropes and Slaughter with an elbow. He tosses him over the top rope, an automatic DQ in other promotions, but it's OK in the WWF. Slaughter to the top rope with an elbow across the back of the head. Slaughter with biting and rights. Whip to the corner, but a charge meets the knee. Sheik finally mounts some offense, putting the boots to Slaughter. Whip to the ropes and he takes Sgt. Over with a back drop. Sheik with mock spitting to really rile up the crowd. Sheik with choking across the middle rope, followed by a splash across the back. Sheik with a gut-wrench suplex, but misses an elbow drop. Slaughter blocks a suplex attempt and counters with his own. Slaughter shrugs off Sheik's offense and lays him out with one hard right. Sheik tries begging him off, but Slaughter stomps the hands and pounds away with rights. Slaughter with a short clothesline, and suddenly he's pulling his own boot of. The referee blocks his attempt to use it, allowing Sheik to get a cheap shot in. Slaughter begins to whack the Sheik with it anyway, and it's a cheap Disqualification finish at 8:31. I smell a rematch at the next MSG show. Post-match, they get into a pull apart brawl backstage, including Vince McMahon having to get involved. **1/2 Good match, putting over their bad blood by just brawling instead of wasting time with 5-minute long headlocks.
Salvatore Bellomo vs. Ron Shaw:
Shaw is subbing for the Masked Superstar... I doubt the original lineup would've been wasting Superstar with a low-level nothing like Bellomo, but you never know. I can't stress how hopeful I am this doesn't go 10+ minutes. Shaw was mostly a preliminary talent who never really did much outside of one infamous match with David Sammartino at the Spectrum in November of 1985. Lockup to the ropes and Bellomo gives a clean break. They take a lockup all around the ring and again we get a clean break. They trade hip throws before fighting over an over-head wrist-lock. Shaw cranks on a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Bellomo with a slam and a pair of arm drags, sending Shaw to the floor for a breather. Back in the ring, Bellomo grabs a headlock. Shaw with the hip toss, but Bellomo knocks him back with a mule kick and takes him over with another headlock. Shaw takes control, putting the boots to Bellomo and slapping on a rear chin-lock. Shaw with a back breaker for a two count. Bellomo comes back with boots in the corner and a standing dropkick. Whip to the ropes, Bellomo does a goofy backwards dropkick, and a body press finishes at 7:53. ¾* Dull filler.
Ivan Putski, Rocky Johnson, and Tony Atlas vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, and "Dr. D." David Schultz:
Another Non-Title Match for Johnson and Atlas at Madison Square Garden. I guess this isn't the show-closing match because of the involvement of nuclear heat machine Roddy Piper and his goons. Atlas pounds away on Piper with rights and a big headbutt. An atomic drop sends him into the corner, allowing Putski and Johnson to get their hands on him, as well. Johnson with a series of jabs, sending Piper crashing to the canvas face-first. Piper quickly turns it on, sends Johnson to the corner, and tags in Orndorff to dish out some punishment. Orndorff comes off the top rope with an elbow across the back. Piper tags back in, now with someone in a compromised position, and returns the favor with the stinging jabs and roundhouse right. Orndorff with elbow drops and a rear chin-lock. Schultz in to take over where Mr. Wonderful left off. Ditto Piper. Johnson fights free and makes the hot tag to Putski. He fights off Orndorff and Schultz, but gets KO'ed by Piper and a mysterious foreign object, and that's it at 5:40. ½* That was short. Not that I'm complaining, but they are really blowing through these matches at a record pace.
B. Brian Blair vs. Samula:
I've always wondered what the "B" stood for. I assumed he only started doing it for the Killer Bees gimmick, but I'm proven wrong here. Lockup, Samula shoves Blair into the ropes. Blair comes back with a forearm and arm drag, sending Samu to the floor. Back inside, Blair works on a headlock. Crisscross and Blair with a body press for two, then back to the headlock. You can tell they're pacing it out for a long one. Samula escapes, lands a hard chop, and connects with an elbow. He plants Blair with a slam and bites. Whip to the corner, Samu follows in with a light knee and a headbutt. Side slam gets a two count. Whip to the corner is reversed and Blair mounts him for a series of rights. Samu quickly regains control with an inverted atomic drop. Samula to the top rope, but he takes too long and gets crotched. Blair with a slam and knee drop for two. He hangs Samu across the top rope and cradles him. They go back and forth on that for a near fall. Blair with a snap mare, a pair of elbows across the left arm, and a step over wrist-lock. Now it's the arm work that eats up a bit of time. Whip to the ropes and Blair hangs back to avoid a dropkick. Samula rolls away from an elbow drop. They fight over a suplex, with Blair getting the better of it for a near fall. Whip to the ropes and they collide heads. Blair with a small package for two. Samula with an enziguri. They roll around the canvas jockeying for position and end up on the arena floor. Blair counters a slam with a roll up for two and the bell has rung at 17:43 for a 20-minute time limit draw... wait, never mind, the referee awarded it by decision to Blair? Okay. *3/4 Long and dull, but it was watchable. Took a little off for the questionable finish.
Women's Tag Team Championship Match:
Velvet McIntyre & Princess Victoria © vs. Peggy Lee & "Cowgirl" Wendi Richter:
I keep forgetting the Women's Tag Title was a thing throughout the 1980's. I also forgot Richter was actually a heel before her breakout role alongside Cyndi Lauper. Richter and Victoria start. Victoria with a pair of mule kicks to cut-off Richter's offense. McIntyre tags in and I just noticed she's wearing boots. The Champions take turns working the arm. Richter yanks McIntyre down by the hair, but she keeps nipping back to her feet. Peggy Lee tags in and doesn't prove any more successful. McIntyre with a back slide for two. Richter with a knee to the head of Victoria and works the arm. Lee and Richter with double teaming in the corner. Whip to the ropes and Lee with a hooking clothesline for two. Now it's McIntyre's turn to get worked over. Richter with a leg drop for two. I don't know what the hell Richter is going for, but she almost spikes McIntyre on her head before completing the world's ugliest gut-wrench suplex. Richter with a snap mare and a bow-and-arrow. Lee with a back breaker into a submission hold. They keep putting a beating on McIntyre, but there's so little of interest. The work, especially from Richter, is overly-exaggerated and sloppy. McIntyre surprises Lee with a twisting body press, but can't make the tag. Richter with a big boot and another goofy splash cover for two. McIntyre lays her out with an enziguri and finally tags. Princess Victoria counters a slam with a roll up for two. Small package for two. Roll over cover for two. McIntyre tags back in and quickly gets in trouble again. Whip to the ropes and McIntyre with a double dropkick. Richter and Lee avoid dropkicks from the Champions. Victoria gets another hot tag, knocking Richter around with a diving forearm and dropkick. McIntyre with a slam, but a splash meets the knees. Lee to the middle rope, missing a splash, and McIntyre covers for three to retain at 19:02. How anti-climactic. * This was just long. Long and boring, with very little flow.
Bob Backlund (w/ Arnold Skaaland) vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Capt. Lou Albano):
Final match of the night. I'm sure it surprises a lot of people to know Backlund hung around on WWF programming until August. Most probably assumed his time was done as soon as he dropped the belt to the Iron Sheik. Valentine and Albano waste time after the bell rings. Valentine with forearms and a snap mare. Backlund carries Valentine to the corner to break a chin-lock and gives him a shove. Both men go for takedowns, unsuccessfully. They go through with a test-of-strength, with Valentine in control. They trade blows until Valentine goes to work on the left arm. Backlund with a back slide, but Valentine goes back to the arm. Valentine with a handful of tights to keep Backlund on the canvas. Valentine pounds away on the back and hooks another arm-bar. Backlund escapes with a snap mare and takes him over with a back slide for two. More arm work from the Hammer. Snap mare and elbow drop for two. Valentine misses a leg drop from the middle rope, and maybe now Backlund will get some offense. He works over the leg and applies a modified STF and repeatedly rams the leg into the canvas. Valentine turns things around, ramming Backlund's leg around the post and bashing it with a chair. He works the knee, but Backlund desperately kicks him away. Valentine shrugs off blows to his own leg and turns Backlund over with a Boston Crab. He needs to sit down on it for more effect. Backlund escapes, but Valentine keeps the pressure on. He signals for the Figure-Four, but Backlund cradles him for two. He goes for it again, and this time Backlund pulls him down with a handful of tights. Valentine with a back breaker, but misses an elbow from the second rope. Backlund with a back suplex. Valentine with the Figure-Four, but the referee forces a break after seeing him use the ropes. Backlund from behind with a rolling cradle, and it's enough for the three count at 26:02. **1/2 Decent wrestling and a solid few minutes to end with, but man was Bob Backlund sticking out like a sore thumb in contrast to Hogan on top (and specifically against anyone not named John Studd).
Final Thoughts: The transition away from the old WWF can't come soon enough. The slow-paced style and some of the common faces are just tiresome to sit through, with a minimal amount of quality performances. I know I'm venting on a show that was obviously weak on the lineup sheet, but that doesn't excuse a 20-minute abomination like the Women's Tag Title Match or 5-minute long arm-bar and chin-lock spots in key matches just to pad out the time. Definitely a card not worth tracking down, and if for some reason you do, get it in better quality than I had to sit through.
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