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1984 WWF (August): I Watched It For You, Part 3

WWF August 1984

wwf freebirds

At this time during my viewing, I realized that the various WWF programming feels out of order due to tape delay and the various different TV shows, some only shown in certain areas. So just for the record, when I write these 1984 monthly recaps, some matches and wrestlers may be from the previous month.

WWF Storylines in August 1984

The fallout of Wendi Richter defeating The Fabulous Moolah last month was the main storyline in August. On TNT, we were treated to seeing a kayfabe breaking after party with Cindi Lauper, Dave Wolfe, and the WWF wrestlers dressed in street clothes and drinking alcohol. Moolah also stole Wendi’s new title on TV in an angle where Mean Gene Okerlund was the ring MC. Capt. Lou Albano is still managing Moolah yet is in the middle of The Samoans feud, and is managing Greg Valentine. Buzz Sawyer had been gone since June.

Tiger Chung Lee did turn babyface (although Gorilla Monsoon said it may be the last time he is ever cheered) but lost his grudge match against Mr. Fuji at The Spectrum. Surprisingly, the fans really dug Tiger. Fuji, meanwhile, still played duel roles as a manager and wrestler and it was weird. August finished with that weird Hulk Hogan & Gene Okerlund Vs. George Steele & Mr. Fuji match in Minnesota.

Rowdy Roddy Piper made some controversial statements to Sgt. Slaughter on Piper’s Pit about how Vietnam vets were not treated well when they came back to the United States. Piper was trying to turn Sarge back to a heel. It is interesting that this could be considered foreshadowing since Slaughter turned on American wrestling fans in the 1990s. Sarge almost takes what Piper says under consideration but he threatens Piper to shut up. Speaking of Sarge, as he already won his feud with The Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan’s pops had eclipsed his by now. I imagine that Nikolai Volkoff was brought in to be the new foreigner for Sarge to fight (Alexis Smirnoff must have been acquired for that reason as well, but was not a draw). And speaking of Piper, he actually was winning the Superfly Jimmy Snuka feud at this time, and his Soulman Rocky Johnson one. His alliance with Orndorff, Dr. D. David Schultz, and John Studd had been over for a while.

Hulk Hogan wrestled George “The Animal” Steele, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. So yes, this time he was doing random title defenses. He even showed up before a Kamala vs Steve Lombardi squash match to give Lombardi encouragement. Totally random. Ventura had the arm-wrestling angle with Ivan Putski, but fought Hogan in California. Ventura and Putski actually had a passable match at MSG. On paper it could have been the worst, but they both worked hard for once.

The Wild Samoans were back as a face tag team and challenged The North-South Connection, as Capt. Lou Albano pretended to be neutral but was really managing the heels. Not even Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes could explain how Albano was able to be the referee in their matches. Samula teamed with them in a six-man match, but he never had an angle turning him face. In fact, off TV he was still a heel. The fans dug the babyface Afa and Sika.

Old Blood

Earlier in the month, Bob Backlund and Sal Bellomo had a very boring scientific bout at the Spectrum. It seems like these guys were obsessed with realistic, slow, mat-wrestling and submissions at this time, and in many ways deserved each other. Backlund was finally done with the WWF. He went out bad, but much better than Vince McMahon’s idea of making him a heel pirate or becoming a Jobber to the Stars.  Bellomo had a worse watch against Quickdraw Rick McGraw at Madison Square Garden at the end of the month. Knowing how today’s smarks are contrarian and root for the underdog, it would not surprise me if he would have been considered a “fan’s own” Cesaro-type if he debuted today.

Big John Studd and Andre the Giant had a boring, slow match.

Adonis and Murdoch got great heat and had fantastic matches defending their tag belts. They had a ball on TNT with their humor. They really were so amazing together.

Kiel Auditorium cards were weird; I don’t know if it was the acoustics or if the fans were used to the more serious St. Louis Wrestling at the Chase league, but they only popped at highspots and favorite wrestlers.

New Blood

Even more 1980s territorial stars invaded the WWF in the summer, including The Fabulous Freebirds, Ken Patera, Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, The Spoiler, Brutus Beefcake, and Gama Singh. Of that group Gama Singh looked underwhelming in his Spectrum match against jobber Dave Barbie, who had a better build.

The Spoiler also impressed me, although he slipped during his “walk on ropes” move in St. Louis during his debut. Unfortunately, The Spoiler’s only legacy in 2018 is that he was The Undertaker’s trainer. The Spoiler was 44 years old in this run, and billed as the National Champion, although he did not have a title to show for it. The National Heavyweight Championship, of course, was the a NWA Georgia title. And, of course, The Spoiler had lost that title in July, but WWF billed him as the champ anyway. Anyway, The Spoiler did very innovative rope moves, and although they weren’t very logical (top rope leap into a face claw?), they were great looking. One could see The Undertaker in The Spoiler.

B. Brian Blair continued to impress me. He was arguably the best in-ring worker during the time yet was booked as a jobber- he could not defeat Iron Mike Sharpe at MSG again. By the way, that was the best match of that MSG show, buried in the undercard.

WWF started to add more music with its “WWF in Review” music montages every week (which were very boring since they ran too long replayed stock footage at the beginning). Kamala had his jungle music. Kamala continued to win entertaining squashes, and he seemed to be pushed for big things. He fought Andre at house shows but that was not mentioned on TV, as well as fighting Hogan on August 30.

The Fabulous Freebirds in the 1984 WWF

The most interesting footnote for most fans is The Fabulous Freebirds being in the WWF in 1984. It is interesting because in 2000 some fans still did not have access to instant internet knowledge and claimed they arrived in 1985 or were only there for a week. Anyway, Dave Wolfe was their manager and they were babyfaces. They got good crowd reactions and had solid squash matches (although they blew their MSG debut with a botched Badstreet Bomb finisher). They came in with no video, although they did come from a limousine to the tune of “Badstreet USA” at the Spectrum.

Michael Hayes was supposed to get a record deal and be pushed as a wrestler-singer, and Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts were just throw-ins, something that pisses off every real wrestling fan. Like…why would Vince McMahon think he could make money with Brutus Beefcake but not Terry Gordy?

They acted like cool, fun babyfaces but one has to wonder what their future would have been if they had no been let go for being wasted. The WWF did not have a six-man tag division. Would they have made one like the NWA had? Would Gordy and Roberts had focused on winning the titles from Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis, with Hayes as their wrestler/manager who had his own talk show like Roddy Piper? Those are the most likely. There was no way Hayes could have turned heel because Wolfe and the WWF wanted to sell records. And Hayes was the type to not want to split from his boys. Ideally, they should have been heels and could have caused havoc for Hulk Hogan but that was not a possibility.

When I was a kid I had heard the Freebirds had a cup of tea in the WWF, with a feeble attempt to get them over with the Rock N Wrestling Connection with David Wolfe kinda randomly accompanying them to the ring at MSG and then they disappeared because they bombed. I’m pretty sure most fans who even heard that they were in the WWF still think that. After finally watching August 1984 TV and events, I could now see that they had a legitimate push and had Wolfe, who was in the biggest angle. It is a shame that their real life partying got in the way of their WWF career because it appears they were going to have that proverbial rocket tied to their backs for a huge push.

I could understand the counterarguments- they were too intense for the WWF, better as heels, had no real opponents, and had better runs elsewhere. Heck, considering how corny most “musical wrestlers” are, it is possible presenting Michael Hayes as a singer would have bombed. Yet one has to consider that with David Wolfe in their political corner, they would have been at WrestleMania I in 1985 and perhaps had a chance to become mainstream pop culture icons. It has to remain in an alternate reality. Personally to me, this big money would have been Hogan going through Roberts and Gordy to get to Hayes, and perhaps allowed Piper + Orndorff to face Mr. T and Snuka, although Snuka was already missing shows and drugged out.

 

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