WWF at Philadelphia Spectrum - Nov 25, 1982
by Erick Von Erich
Originally broadcast on Philadelphia's "PRISM" network, this is a semi-rare card from the Spectrum, just after Thanksgiving 1982. This is about a year or two before the WWF decided to go natoinal and the entire card still has that regional feel to it. The hosts are Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla's supposed to be the color man, but after the second match or so, he begins to take over and call the entire show. But with so much action going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...
Match 1: WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship:
Tiger Mask © vs. Eddy Gilbert
Before the bell, there's a long winded introduction by a ring announcer who resembles Walter Matthau, but with giant EARS and a comb-over. He introduces the timekeeper, doctors, referees, promoters and popcorn vendors. He also announces this as the "Junior Welterweight championship". Yes, the Junior Heavyweight title was an official WWF title. It disappeared from TV and the WWF around 1984, but was mostly contested outside of North America and continued until well into the 90's. Finally, Eddy Gilbert is indeed Eddie Gilbert. I always wondered how people would suddenly decided to go with the "y" instead of the "ie". I sure strippers named Stacy/Staci/Stacie have the same problem. Do you have to take out an ad in the paper or hold a press conference?
So, the match gets started with a Handshake of Mutual Respect and Sportsmanship. Tiger Mask flips out of Gilbert's arm-bar and applies a dop toe-hold. Gilbert reverses out of that and works Tiger's knee. Tiger flips up and both guys bounce off the ropes. Tiger with a shoulderblock, Gilbert leapfrogs, and Tiger drop-kicks him out of the ring. Back in for another handshake and the Penultimate Knuckelock Challenge. Tiger gets a wristlock takedown and aplies a head-scissors on the mat. Gilbert slips out and picks up Tiger for a slam. He tries again, but this time Tiger rolls forward into a victory roll for a 2 count. Gilbert with a hip-toss and a flying head-scissors. Most of the match remains on the canvas as they counter back and forth. Gilbert lifts him up for a bell-to-bakc suplex and gets 2. Glbet misses a follow-up elbowdrop, so Tiger picks him up for a reverse piledriver (tombstone). Gilbert whips him to the ropes for a flying chinlock/clothesline. Tiger is knocked out and Gilbert suplexes him back in from the apron. Tiger floats over on the suplex and hooks a reverse cradle to get the 3 count pin. Gilbert looked a little lost at times, but he nailed some decent moves.
Match 2: Chin Kobiashi vs. Johnny Rodz
I'm guessing Kobiashi was another Japanese import. Probably the travellin' buddy of Tiger Mask or something. Rodz looks like a chunky Freddy Mercury, complete with the goofy moustache. He heels it up, but since Kobiashi is the FOREIGNER, the Philly fans hate HIM and begin cheering Rodz. Kobiashi back Rodz up with some roundhouse kicks in the air. Kobiahsi armdrags, which Rodz counters with a WEAK series of knees and elbowdrops. Rodz pounds away s athe style mismatch between the two grapplers becomes apparent. Majority of this match is Kobiashi missing his kicks, then Rodz pounding away. At one point, Kobiashi is tied onto the top turnbuckle and slowly falls to the floor. Back to the center of the ring, where Rodz catches one of Kobiashi's kicks. Kobiashi follows up with a enseguri, then hops off the top rope for a flying crossbody and the pin. Crowd HATES them foreigners, so they boo Kobaishi mercilessly. Rodz attacks and clears the ring afterwards.
Match 3: Little Beaver & Sony Boy Blue vs. Sky Low-Low & Butch Cassidy
Midget match! Oh, I'm sure...that term is offensive. Then it's a Litle Fucker Contest. Butch is actually a dwarf and has about a good foot on everyone else. Sky Low-Low and Little Beaver were actually decent workers, but most of the match is spent on the usual midget comedy spots. Spanking each other, carrying on, and hiding behind the ref. To begin, Little Beaver monkey-flips Sky Low-Low out of the corner. Sony Boy gets a single leg takedown on Butch, who counters it into a single-leg reverse crab. Some ref butt-biting happens. The Midget Full Nelson Challenge occurs, too. Little Beaver messes around and convinces Sky Low-Low that Butch Cassidy decked him. Beaver runs to the opposite corner where he picks up his SLIPPER and throws it at Butch. Hmm..so THAT'S where Konnan got that move from. 4-Way Midget Brawl occurs. Beaver catapults Butch into the turnbuckle and picks up the pin. Hey! Watch site referrals shoot up now that I've used the word "beaver" roughly 12 times in the preceeding paragraph. Ehhhh, just wait a few weeks until I cover Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" and the "beaver shooting" stories.
Match 4: Curt Hennig vs. Jose Estrada
Yup, THAT Curt Hennig. Brawl to start, with Hennig slamming Estrada and applying a headlock takeover. Henning whips Estrada to the ropes for a flying dropkick, then goes right back to the headlock. Estrada eventually works his way out and sells the headlock like mad, acting all wobbly. Slow punch (take it eas--yyy), snapmare and a fistdrop get 2 for Estrada. Hennig comesback and tries the flying dropkick again. This time he misses, so Estrada simply drops an elbow and gets the pin. OMG, Conquistador #1 pinned Mr. Perfect!!!
Match 5: Chief Jay Strongbow vs. "Superstar" Billy Graham
Graham had recently returned to the WWF and was in his "saggy-pecked guy with karate moves" gimmick. It's always kinda' funny how the "Chief" was an Italian dude from New York. Basic brawl with little or no movement around the ring. Superstar gets his bearhug, but Strongbow chops the eyes. Superstar does the bearhug some more, then chokes Strongbow with his wrist-tape. Strongbow blades, starts doing his wardance and makes a comback with 3 knee-lifts. Superstar jabs him in the throat, and the Chief rolls out to ringside. That's enough for the quickest 10 count in Spectrum history, as Superstar picks up the count-out win. Strongbow comes back in and chases Superstar out of the ring.
Match 6: Tony Garea vs. Swede Hanson
Hanson looks like a cross between Terry Gordy and Richard Kiel (aka "Jaws" from James Bond). Hanson pounds away, snapmares and drops a knee for the match's "high spot". He gets a headbutt as Gorilla mentions that Hanson likes "to brutalize ya'"-- Viva Ronnie Dobbs! Garea punches back, whips Hanson into the tunbuckle and backdrops him. Rope bouncing time, where both guys connect with a shoulderblock, and Hanson falls out of the ring. Hanson goes upstairs and misses a flying...thing.. of the top. Garea takes a page from the Jose Estrada Playbook, dropping the quick elbow to get the pin.
Match 7: WWF World Heavyweight Championship:
Bob Backlund © (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. "Playboy" Buddy Rose
With another stipulation-- guest referee is S.D. Jones! The lumberjacks take sides, depending on heel or face. Aside from the guys we've already seen, it looks like Mr. Fuji, Mr. Saito, Pedro Morales, Salvatore Bellomo and Rocky Johnson are out. Rose comes to the ring with two skanks. They're wearing outfits similar to something from the Bob Eubanks version of "Card Sharks". Rose lets his escorts groom him, then needles Backlund for not having any women in his corner. Bell sounds and Rose immediately tries escaping, getting tossed back in. Backlund goes right to work on Rose's arm and stretches him to the mat. Backlund rows back on the arm until Rose rolls out and hits a dropkick to send Backlund out of the ring. Rose greets Backlund's return with a flying reverse elbow, suplex and a backslide to get 2. Rose hooks a suplex into a backbreaker for another two. Backlund gets a despeartion sunset flip for 2, then reverse Rose's next suplex attempt. They trade tosses into the corners, but Rose comes off the ropes for a shoulderblock and drops FIVE consecutive elbows on Backlund. ROse goes for his suplex/backbreaker again, but Backlund counters by floating over and aplying the cross-face chickenwing! Rose fights it for a bit, but Backlund gets the submission victory. Aside from a gentle massage from Rocky Johnson and Garea, the lumberjack stipulation didn't really come into play. Thoughout the match, Hennig and Gilbert were seen leaning on the apron, just shooting the shit between themselves.
A Very Special LockerRoom Interview with Bob Backlund and Arnold Skaaland closes out the program. Backlund says nothing interesting, as Skaaland does most of the talking with interviwer Cal Redmond. It's almost like a parent-teacher conference, as Skaaland and Redmond discuss Backlund as if he wasn't there.
Why'd You Tape This??
The first and last matches are the only two worth seeing. Aside from Tiger Mask and Gilbert, you might be surpised to see that Buddy Rose is one of the top workers on this card. This show might be a rarity, but you shouldn't be raring to see it. Like I said, it has that "regional" feel to it-- basic wrestling that feels more like a day at the office instead of a special event. It's also easy to see why fans of this style HATED the WWF so much when they went national. Two years later, and their shows were completely different from what went down here. Conversely, if you're a fan of the mid-80's WWF, this card will seem well-removed from what you're used to.