WWF July 1984
The Wild Samoans officially turned face all the way and were feuding with the North-South Connection. By the end of the month, Gorilla Monsoon said they were single wrestlers.
TNT was the best WWF show, even though Vince McMahon apparently never watched the highlight reels beforehand or knew what his guests were going to say. Jobbers were given plenty of time to get over, which was fine because they are on all the cards. The “nostalgia” segments, where Vince and Hayes interview retired wrestlers whom Vince never had mentioned on TV previously were mind-blowing.
Paul Orndorff vs B. Brian Blair had a fantastic match, as expected.
Roddy Piper slapped Lord Alfred Hayes in the face on Tuesday Night Titans. This is interesting looking back from the future since Piper had accused Hayes of sexual harassment. Piper may have been projecting his loss of masculinity since he told Alfred he remembers they fought when Piper was 17 years old.
Also on TNT, more evidence Vince and company were just improvising and not meticulously planning every detail, Red Bastien was on the show and they watched a match of Red Bastien vs Dory Funk, Jr from the Amirollo territory. Red Bastien put over the entire Funk family and Vince acted interested about how great these NWA stars were.
Referee Dick Woehrle was interviewed on TNT, in full kayfabe mode about how he handles rule infringements. He even explained why some referees allow closed fists (it is the ref’s discretion to allow it as long as both wrestlers punch each other). He also said he lets things slide. Refs would never be allowed to speak or be named in such a manner today.
Kamala made his “debut”, managed by Fred Blassie and Friday. Considering the only two giants in the territory were Andre the Giant and Big John Studd, Kamala looked just as big but more agile and wild. So for those of you in 2018 who do not get Kamala or understand why people were scared of 1984 Kamala, this is the actual context. He was a monster.
Tony Garea color commentated along side Vince McMahon. Considering Vince had previously said on TNT he has trouble understanding his New Zealander accent, it was surprising. One would figure that Tony was transitioning into retirement, but lo and behold, Garea fought The Iron Sheik the same month at The Brawl to End it All, and obviously continued his in-ring career.
Mr. Fuji actually turned on Tiger Chung Lee during a match vs The Samoans at the Spectrum. It was odd for two reasons: 1) Fuji was still working double duty as a manager and wrestler, which made no sense and 2) Tiger Chung Lee turned face? Really? His TNT appearance didn’t bring out his good side that well. Vince kept doubting he had martial art skills. A TV match between Jimmy Snuka and Tiger Chung Lee was shown, so I guess Tiger never turned face after all.
Vince McMahon reported that Sgt. Slaughter visited Arlington National Cemetery and the White House. The fact that the WWF did not record any of that just shows you how different Vince ran things back then.
The first music video montage featured Cindi Lauper and Wendi Richter to hype The Brawl to End it All. Also, Wendi Richter used “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as her theme song, making her the third WWF wrestler to have an entrance theme song. The Brawl to End it All was televised from Madison Square Garden and covered by the mainstream media. MTV showed the woman’s match live.
July 1984 is known for Black Saturday when the WWF took over World Championship Wrestling (Georgia) on WTBS and even kept the theme song and graphics. Vince McMahon took over as host- which would be later be paralleled years later in the last episode of WCW Nitro. It pissed off long time viewers who wondered what the heck happened to their NWA wrestling and the station got calls. People who were invested in their wrestlers for years and used to the weekly TV show saw WWF TV with no warning. Their beloved wrestling league was replaced by Mr. Fuji trying to get George “The Animal” Steele how to speak. Although Vince did show other wrestlers that Georgia fans may have recognized (Iron Sheik, Paul Orndorff, Dick Murdoch, Big John Studd), the WWF made no effort to custom make the program to convert these fans.
Vince had one sentence before the Sheik squash, where he said the Sheik beat Backlund, and then lost the title to Hulk Hogan. Vince spoke about Hogan at the end of the show, but didn’t actually show him. It was simply another syndicated program replaying squash matches from other shows. Nothing about Cindi Lauper and Roddy Piper, or what the WWF is. For Georgia fans, in-ring talent was expected, so watching a long Jesse Ventura squash triggered them. The interviews were random- Mr. Fuji, B. Brian Blair, Alexis Smirnoff (!), and selling the official WWF Magazine (at least Andre the Giant was name dropped).
Now, if the viewers actually lasted until the end of the show, they would have been treated to a Spectrum match with Big John Studd vs Bobo Brazil. Brazil was 60 years old at the time making a comeback. He was still a very big guy and took away from Studd’s “giant” claim. The match was short but Studd’s bear hug and reverse chin lock could have been clipped. Studd barely defeated Bobo Brazil, by the way. Studd was in a perpetual feud with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, but he came off weak here. It is just baffling why this match was chosen.
Anyway, with the mythology of Vince McMahon being somewhat of a stickler for details, a perfectionist, believing that first impressions are important, and for coming at the enemy with guns blazing, once again it is shown that 1984 was not the WWE people come to expect.
The Brawl to End it All
You would think The Brawl to End it All would be a supercard as this was the opportunity for the WWF to capitalize on the media attention and kids watching MTV all because of Cindi Lauper. Nope:
Sika pinned Ron Shaw at 5:12
The Iron Sheik (w/ Freddie Blassie) pinned Tony Garea at 5:35
IC Champion Tito Santana fought Bob Orton Jr. to a time-limit draw
Bob Backlund defeated Butcher Vachon (sub. for B. Brian Blair)
World Champion Hulk Hogan pinned Greg Valentine (w/Lou Albano) at 10:33
WWF Martial Arts Champion Antonio Inoki pinned Charlie Fulton at 4:10
Tag Team Champions Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch defeated Sgt. Slaughter & Terry Daniels at 16:52
Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) pinned WWF Women’s Champion the Fabulous Moolah (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) to win the title at 11:20
Paul Orndorff pinned Chief Jay Strongbow at 6:05
Afa pinned Rene Goulet at 5:26
Antonio Inoki won a 20-man battle royal at 13:23
It was just a regular house show, something WWF also did for Wrestlemania I. It only drew 15,000 fans, much less than the average 1984 attendance. Hogan vs Valentine was a late addition to the card to boost attendance. Roddy Piper, Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka, Big John Studd, and other stars already had schedules and were booked elsewhere. Or maybe they were holding Piper for the War to Settle the Score much later. The only point of The Brawl to End it All was showcasing Cindy Lauper in the Wendi Richter vs Fabulous Moolah match on MTV.
That said, Santana vs Orton was a technical marvel if one clips Santana’s rest holds. Also, the ending of the match was given away by legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel accidentally. He corrected himself by changing the time limit from one hour to 20 minutes. Since when were I-C matches so short? So the result had to be a 20-minute broadway.
The North-South Connection vs The Cobra Corps was amazing as well. This was Terry Daniels’ best match so far. Sgt. Slaughter had a good pop but it wasn’t as loud as his battles with The Iron Sheik. In fact, when they tangled in the battle royal at the end of the night, the fans did not notice that much.
Valentine carried Hogan to a decent match. Valentine’s offense looked legit and the match had some false finishes, but ended anti-climatically with a weak legdrop from Hulk.
Richter vs Moolah (who was 60 years old!) had some awkward moments including a confusing finish which silenced the crowd. Actually the crowd was silent throughout most of the match. Richter, Cindi Lauper, and Albano really tried to get the fans involved. Lauper’s real life manager and “partner” David Wolfe seemed like a typical 1980s music industry guy with sunglasses. I don’t want to get sued, so you could fill in the blanks.
The undercard sucked for the most part. The Samoan single matches were time fillers. Antonio Inoki put the Garden to sleep and obviously pulled strings to win the battle royal. He was so not over. Garea had a sweet quick match with the Sheik. Chief Jay wouldn’t let Mr. Wonderful piledrive him, so Paul won with a clothesline. Once again there was too much stalling in that match. Backlund’s last 1980s MSG appearance had a nice highspot where he held Butcher Vachon in the air a while before coming down with the bodyslam. The fans gave Bob a nice polite had when he was announced, but were not into this squash match at all.
Later in the month, Ivan Putski and Jesse Ventura had an arm wrestling angle. Jesse, of course, attacked Putski because he was going to lose the contest.
In an interview with Mean Gene, Bob Backlund said he helps amateur wrestling kids and has been invited to assist the U.S. Olympic team. He said he wants to keep kids off steroids.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that the TNT footage of Red Bastien vs Dory Funk, Jr was in 1974. The wrestlers and arena looked ancient compared to 1984.
Yet using the 10-year jump, comparing 1984 to 1994, the generation gap doesn’t look that quite different. Comparing WWF footage from 1984 to 1994. Sure, 1994 has better lighting, camera angles and close-ups, sound, and the camera pans in on the fans to make them more part of the show. Sure, the workers have even more colorful outfits. But for the most part, the actual men in the ring look the same. Even the WWF banners in the arena are similar. Jumping from 1994 to 2004, the big difference is HD, and perhaps all the wrestlers have a generic oiled down muscle look. 2014 is pretty much 2004, with the main difference being the fast zooming in/shaky camera technique and the red spotlights on the fans. The brand is RAW over WWE. Both 2004 and 2014 look like a generic WWE video game. The look and feel have stagnated. WWE has appeared to reach the end of its evolution and innovation. Perhaps they have achieved production “perfection”.
I’m musing that new fans in 1984 would have problems watching 1974 footage, but new fans in 1994 would have no issues with watching 1984. Yet 2004+ era fans (The PG/Triple H/John Cena Era) would feel that 1994 and back is too old.
Anyway, you be the judge: