WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
September 22, 1984
- Last month at Madison Square Garden, Roddy Piper nearly ended the career of Jimmy Snuka, the Fabulous Freebirds made their MSG Debut, the rivalry between Tito Santana and Greg Valentine has officially kicked off, and Captain Lou Albano screwed over the Wild Samoans and helped Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis retain the Tag Team Titles. Who knows how much of those developments will carry over onto this card... except for the Freebirds, theyíve already been shown the door for being unable to perform to the standards the WWF needs (also known as not showing up late, drunk and high off their asses).
- Gorilla Monsoon and Gene Okerlund are sitting at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. Before we get to the first match, a commercial informs us that WWFís "TNT" (Tuesday Night Titans) is moving to Friday night. We also find out that Jesse Ventura is unable to appear tonight for his Championship Match, but you can send get well cards to San Diego, CA. Iím sure this was a legit issue, and he indeed would be out of action for the rest of the year.
Salvatore Bellomo vs. Brutus Beefcake:
What an excellent choice to open the show with. Beefcake previously had a short stint working prelims under the name Ed Boulder, but now heís getting a real push as sort of a male stripper. Heís still without a manager, but that will change quickly. Monsoon and Okerlund question the legality of Brutusí wrist accessories. Lockup and Beefcake shoves Bellomo into the corner. Bellomo grabs a side headlock, but a shoulder tackle doesnít do much. Bellomo cartwheels out of danger and connects with a dropkick, followed by an arm drag. Bellomo mocks Beefcakeís strut, and I do not need to see that again. Bellomo surprises Beefcake with a leap frog and mule kick. Beefcake with a headbutt, knocking Bellomo through the ropes. Snap mare and Brutus pounds away across the back of the neck. Whip to the ropes and Beefcake with a back drop. Beefcake with a slam and headbutt to the back. Beefcake drops an elbow, but Bellomo has a foot on the rope. Beefcake keeps working the neck. He takes Bellomo with a hip toss for two. Bellomo rallies with a flurry of strikes and a dropkick, knocking Beefcake to the floor. Bellomo with a snap mare and splash across the thighs. Whip to the corner and Bellomo meets an elbow on the charge. Beefcake actually catches a twisting body press attempt and counters with a Power-Slam for three at 9:58. * Beefcake on offense was pretty dull stuff, but Bellomo actually kept it watchable at times.
Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Nikolai Volkoff:
Volkoff has definitely had quite a long career and various stops in the WWWF, but heís another fresh face we better get used to. Bold prediction: Strongbow jobs to a clothesline. Whoever is in charge of the graphics forgot the space in "Nikolai Volkoff", so it all just bleeds together. Volkoff does his "Russian anthem" routine for some major heel heat. Strongbow avoids a cheap shot in the corner and unloads with a series of knee lifts. Volkoff pounds away in the corner but gets caught in a dreaded wrist-lock. While they continue to just punch and kick, I had a thought... I donít think Iíve ever seen a good singles match from Nikolai Volkoff. By that, I mean even reasonably good (2 stars). Volkoff kills a few minutes (and my patience) with a nerve hold. Strongbow finally fights free with more of the usual. Strongbow dances, so at least itís almost over. He hooks a sleeper, Volkoff escapes, and drops an elbow, an ugly, pathetic looking elbow, and that finishes the Chief at 6:50. -* What a surprise, this match stunk. I seriously doubt if either man broke a sweat. I guess Volkoff didnít have enough confidence to throw a convincing clothesline.
"Special Delivery" Jones vs. "Dr. D" David Schultz:
This should be quick, considering Jones is at the lower level on the baby-face side, and Schultz, even though heís kind of just hanging around right now, can easily be elevated higher. Lockup and a fight over a waist-lock. Jones backs Schultz into the corner, fisticuffs at the ready. Schultz with a takedown, but Jones quickly counters with a body scissors. Jones with a series of strikes and a headbutt, sending Dr. D to the floor for a breather. Schultz continues to antagonize Jones with slaps. Schultz with a headlock, and this time Jones counters with a head scissors. Jones returns the favor of slapping Schultz around. Schultz lures him to the corner and puts him down with a series of boots. Whip to the ropes and Schultz with a hooking clothesline for two. Jones fights out of a chin-lock, so Schultz goes to the eyes... then he bites him. If youíre going to cheat, do everything in your arsenal, I guess. Jones with a series of rights and a pair of jumping headbutts. Whip to the ropes and Schultz with an ugly dropkick for a three count at 6:37, despite the referee stopping the count midway and continuing anyway. On second look, it was running, hooking knee, so it actually wasnít a bad dropkick, just a unique knee strike usually unseen in WWF. * Match wasnít much, but the crowd was into it the whole time. Only real complaint is the odd finish with the referee.
Jose-Luis Rivera vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:
Iím expecting another semi-squash here, with Rivera trading wins in preliminary matches while Valentine is engaged in a feud over the Intercontinental Championship with Tito Santana. Valentine milks removing his robe, so Rivera decides to hurry things along. Lockup and Valentine pounds away with forearm strikes. Rivera reverses a whip to the corner, but doesnít follow through. Even Monsoon calls him out for it. Valentine quickly regains control and drives a knee into the ribs. Valentine with a stomach buster and an elbow drop across the upper thigh. He tosses Rivera to the floor, then brings him back in with a shoulder breaker for a near fall. Valentine with a forearm, knocking Rivera to the floor, again. Rivera mounts a mild comeback, unloading with rights and planting Valentine with a pair of slams. Valentine catches him with a knee to the midsection and a jumping knee drop across the chest. He hooks a front face-lock and drops Rivera across the top rope with a reverse suplex. Rivera fights out of the corner with more rights. The referee sure is allowing a lot of closed fists. Valentine regains control via slugfest and takes Rivera over with a double under-hook suplex. He comes off the ropes with a pair of elbow drops and the Figure-Four Leg-Lock finishes at 7:22. The referee for the second match in a row looks like a chump, yelling at Valentine to release the hold before calling for the bell. *1/2 Just a good squash match to showcase Valentine during an important push.
- Bobby "The Brain" Heenan makes his World Wrestling Federation debut, freshly plucked from AWA like so many other members of the roster at the time, introducing himself as the manager of Big John Studd. And so the "Hogan vs. Heenan Family" era begins (Editor's Note: In the WWF, at least).
WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan):
As we were informed before the opening match, Studd is a late substitution for Jesse Ventura. I honestly donít know if that improves the quality of the match or not. Studd is full-blown in his "if you slam me, you get X number of dollars" phase, so you can take a guess what is constantly teased all match long. The bell rings and Studd immediately stalls. Lockup, Studd pounds away with forearms and forces Hogan into a test-of-strength. Hogan quickly rallies, so Studd drives a knee into the midsection. Hogan blocks being sent to the turnbuckle and rams Studd into it instead. Whip to the corner and Hogan follows in with an elbow. Whip to the ropes and Hogan with a big boot. He goes for a slam, but Studd hooks the top rope. Studd slams Hogan with ease, but that wonít earn himself $10,000. Studd comes off the second rope with a forearm. Back breaker gets a two count. Studd with a bear-hug, so itís fast forward time. Okerlund calls Hogan the "Peopleís Champion", a phrase Iím sure tons of people used but is officially labeled as the Rockís thing. Hogan wags the finger to show heís OK and escapes, but Studd quickly puts him down with a shoulder tackle. Studd with a sledge across the back and another bear-hug. Hogan escapes by ramming Studd into the corner. Studd remains in control, sending Hogan to the floor. Hogan blades for whatever reason. I donít know from what, Studd almost never strikes the face. Hogan starts no-selling and unloads with strikes. Whip to the ropes and he lays Studd out with a clothesline. He drops and elbow and continues to pound away. He goes for another slam, but Studd finds his way onto the apron. Hogan follows and another slam attempt fails. They ram each other into the apron, Heenan helps shove Studd back in the ring, and Hogan is counted-out at 11:08. Studd and Heenan leave with the belt, forgetting that titles donít change hands like that in the WWF. Ĺ* Not the worst match Iíve ever seen between these two, but John Studd is practically guaranteed for a poor quality match.
"Quick Draw" Rick McGraw vs. Ken Patera:
I never look forward to watching a Ken Patera match. Since this is expected to be another extended squash match, I guess we can hope for it to be kept reasonably short. McGraw looks so bloated, especially considering he has to be in the neighborhood of 5í6". We get the customary catcalls for Patera removing his warm-up pants. Lockup and Patera shoves McGraw to the corner. Patera with a headlock and McGraw counters with a head scissors. McGraw goes for the arm, so Patera hooks the rope to force a break. Patera picks the leg and bars the ankle. Patera keeps working the leg while Monsoon and Okerlund discuss whether or not Patera is a former Intercontinental Champion. Patera sends McGraw to the floor, with McGraw selling the leg like death. McGraw sweeps the leg of Patera and rams it to the post. Back inside, McGraw with kicks to the leg, followed by a flurry of rights and lefts. Patera comes out of the corner with a big clothesline, sends McGrawís shoulder into the post, and finishes with the Full Nelson at 7:38. Ĺ* Not much to see here. Pateraís offense is rather dull and McGraw didnít get to do much beyond the sloppy striking towards the end.
The Wild Samoans & Sgt. Slaughter vs. Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, and Capt. Lou Albano:
I donít see how fair it is for the Tag Team Champions having to team with their over-weight manager against their top challengers AND a top singles performer. Adonis and Afa start. Lockup, Adonis with a go-behind into a full nelson, but Afa quickly counters. Afa with a pair of back drops as the action breaks loose and Albano takes a walk to avoid any physicality. Adonis tries a double noggin-knocker, but itís no sold and the Samoans hit a pair of headbutts in retaliation. Meanwhile, Slaughter continues to torment Albano at ringside. Albano tags in to get a few cheap shots in, then tags out as soon as he realizes it doesnít affect Sika. Murdoch hurts his elbow on Sikaís head and gets caught in the wrong side of town. He desperately reaches for a tag, but Albano short-arms him. Slaughter tags in, plants Adonis with a slam, and drops a pair of knees across the chest. Adonis and Murdoch double-team him while going after Albano, including whacking him with a telephone. Whip to the ropes and Adonis with a sleeper. Slaughter reverses a whip to the corner but runs into an elbow. Adonis with an elbow drop off the top, but Sika breaks the cover. Sika tags in and gets laid out with a double elbow. Albano comes in for a few shots, then right back out. Afa comes in illegally to work on Murdoch while Sika gets choked out in the corner. Somewhere in the shuffle Afa decided to stay in the ring and gets worked over. I guess we all missed the tag. Adonis with a slam and a missile dropkick for a near fall. Adonis goes to the top again and misses a splash. Slaughter sends Murdoch into Adonis and lays him out with a short clothesline. Slaughter and Sika use Murdoch as a battering ram into Adonis, who trapped himself in the ropes over-selling something. Slaughter with a dropkick for a one count. Sika with a series of headbutts for two. Albano tags in like a goof and begs for mercy. Slaughter traps him in the Cobra Clutch, but Adonis saves. Slaughter chases Albano to the dressing room while the Samoans brawl with the Tag Champs. Slaughter returns to slam Murdoch off the top rope and covers for three at 20:21. **1/2 This went about 5-minutes too long. It was a bit confusing at times with people all over the place, but the work for the most part was pretty good.
B. Brian Blair vs. Iron Mike Sharpe:
This is the third time Iíve covered a match between them at Madison Square Garden, and weíre only into September! Thatís quite excessive for preliminary matches. Bell rings and Sharpe stalls, so you know this is going long. Sharpe pulls Blair to the floor and rams him onto the timekeeperís table. Sharpe with forearm strikes across the chest. Blair sweeps the leg of Sharpe and rams it across the post. Back in the ring, Blair with a slam, but he misses an elbow drop. Sharpe misses an elbow as well. Blair with a small package for two. Snap mare and a knee across the face for two. Blair works the arm, with Sharpe bellowing at the top of his lungs to sell it. Whip to the corner and Blair surprises him with a sunset flip for two. Blair goes back to working the arm. Sharpe tries to counter with a takeover, but Blair hangs on. Sharpe forces a break and takes control with a side headlock. Whip to the ropes and Sharpe with a pair of shoulder tackles. Crisscross and Blair with a dropkick and a series of arm drags, sending Sharpe to the floor in frustration. Back inside, they slug it out until Blair goes back to working the arm. Sharpe takes control, sending Blair from corner to corner. Whip to the ropes and Sharpe with a back drop for two. Blair goes for a roll up, but Sharpe clotheslines him across the top rope and comes down with a splash for another near fall. Sharpe picks Blair up for a Body Vice, but Blair gets caught in the ropes. Sharpe with a hip toss and a Boston Crab, but heís not sitting down on it enough for desired leverage. Blair powers out of it, but Sharpe remains in control. Whip to the ropes and Blair comes back with a diving forearm. Blair with a series of rights and an atomic drop. He goes to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick. He tosses Sharpe to the floor, and he comically lands in a seated position on an unoccupied chair. Sharpe makes an adjustment to his wrist brace and pounds away across the back of the neck. He chokes Blair and shoves the referee for a cheap Disqualification at 19:47. Post-match, Blair clears Sharpe from the ring. **1/4 Perfectly acceptable wrestling, except for the lame finish. Itís not a good sign for Blairís future in singles competition when he canít get a clean victory on Mike Sharpe.
- The WWF returns to Madison Square Garden on October 22nd. "Dr. D" David Schultz faces Salvatore Bellomo. Tony Garea meets Brutus Beefcake. Ken Patera tangles with Rocky Johnson. Samoan Sika opposes Dick Murdoch. Samoan Afa faces Adrian Adonis. Moondog Spot takes on "Young" David Bruno Sammartino. In a return bout, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine opposes Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Championship. In the Main Event, Nikolai Volkoff battles Sgt. Slaughter. Seriously, thatís the Main Event?! Bobby Heenan makes his way into the ring to make an announcement of his own, challenging Hulk Hogan to sign a rematch for next month, with the stipulation that if Hogan is counted-out, he not only loses the match, but also the Heavyweight Title. Hogan comes out and accepts to give us a REAL Main Event for next month.
Pat Patterson vs. Kamala (w/ Friday):
I wouldnít put money on this going too long. No Freddie Blassie with Kamala this time around. Kamala attacks before the bell, before Patterson can get his jacket off. To be fair, heís had 3-4 minutes to do so, so thatís his own problem for not paying attention. Kamala with choking in the corner. Patterson with boots to the midsection and fingers to the eyes. He goes for a slam, but Kamala isnít going up for anyone not named Hogan or Andre. Patterson makes Kamala chase him around, a decent strategy, Iíd say. Patterson isnít successful with shoulder tackles, so he makes Kamala chase him again. Kamala may be a savage and a cannibal, but he knows how to ask for a test-of-strength. Patterson goes for it, but stomps on Kamalaís bare feet because he has a brain and knows how to use it. Kamala catches Patterson off guard with chops. Kamala sends him to the ropes and hits a big chop. Whip to the ropes, double chop, and Kamala finishes him with the Splash at 5:21. * Best Kamala match Iíve seen in years... yes, he was that awful in the ring. Patterson used every trick in the book to make this entertaining.
Final Thoughts: With the exception of a couple of decent matches and the debut of Bobby Heenan, a completely skippable show. The Main Event (Hogan vs. Studd, obviously) had a lame finish to build interest for a rematch, and other than the Six-Man Tag Team Match, the entire card was over-loaded with lopsided matches and preliminary fluff. Brutus Beefcake and Nikolai Volkoff are added to the mix, but that doesnít do much to the match quality aspect of these shows, and weíre building interest for the Intercontinental Title program by not having Santana on the show and Valentine squashing Jose Rivera.
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