Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF @ Maple Leaf Garden 9-23-84

Andre battles the Giant Kamala and Sgt. Slaughter tries to create an international incident with the Sheik!

Live from Toronto’s Maple Leaf Garden
September 23rd, 1984

Jack Reynolds (making his WWF debut) and Billy Red Lyons call the action.

“Brett” Hart vs. Paul “The Butcher” Vachon
The fans don’t give either man much reaction. Hart avoids Vachon’s lock up attempt and the fans start hollering “boring”. Tough crowd! Vachon works a body vice and headlock. This results in someone yelling “Come on, asshole!” and more “boring” cat calls. Hart fights out and the crowd pops for a bodyslam (because Hart is small and Vachon is fat). The official stares at Hart while he tries a pin. Fine work there, ref. No idea how that guy could be that bad at this . Vachon ups the pace with a nerve hold. Vachon chokes away, which irritates Hart and he chokes back. “Brett” connects with a beautiful looking European uppercut and follows it up by avoiding a charge and sunset flipping Vachon for the pin at 9:14. Not a very impressive outing for Hart, who I expected to bust out a little more effort seeing as how he was brand new to the WWF.

Nick DeCarlo vs. Brutus Beefcake
Reynolds did not get the memo that Beefcake is a heel as he talks about how the fans love him. DeCarlo surprisingly takes control early on, trapping Beefcake in a full nelson and an arm wringer. Beefcake makes it to the ropes, and the ref forces Beefcake to let them go instead of breaking the hold. Beefcake uses chokes and rest holds to test my patience. DeCarlo regains control with an abdominal stretch. Beefcake ends my pain with an airplane spin for the pin at 11:16. Absolutely brutally dull. Beefcake had nothing interesting in his repertoire and although DeCarlo had some history as a decent hand in Toronto, he was a job guy here and this went on FAR too long.

Davey Boy Smith vs. Goldie Rogers
Rogers is a Stampede pick up that appears to be a dime store Jimmy Valiant wannabe. Rogers takes forever to take his jacket off to try for some cheap heat. Smith is already gassed up. Once things get started, they really don’t go anywhere, as Smith is content with locking on a headlock and sitting in it for several minutes. Smith moves on to a nerve pinch before Rogers manages to trap him in a headlock.This has been brutally bad so far or as Jack Reynolds puts it “The action has been rather fast here.”

Smith escapes and tries a Perfectplex, but the ref doesn’t realize there is a pin attempt going on. Why do all the refs suck tonight? Davey Boy returns to the headlock. Fuck me. The official checks Rogers arm and it flops down multiple times, but the ref does not end it. Rogers reverses things into his own headlock. Smith is sent to the floor. I am sent to the liquor cabinet.

He returns back to the ring and hits a flying dropkick, followed by a flying bodypress for a near fall. Smith rushes right into a cradle attempt for two and then a crucifix for two. Finally he plops Rogers on his shoulder and drives down a powerslam for the pin at 13:38. Horrible, boring match with 13 minutes of non-action and 40 seconds of a hot finish.

I shut off the DVD and took a nap at this point. Legit.

Ivan Putski vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
The Hammer is 24 hours away from snagging the Intercontinental title. Putski throws some sloppy jabs and the blows convince Valentine to back off from trading with him. A test of strength allows the Hammer to cheat and take control. Putski powers (Polish Powers?) his way out and peppers Valentine’s skull with punches while clenching his head. The Hammer scoops him up and drops Ivan’s pelvis on his knee twice, which downs Putski. The strong man’s legs began to be targeted by Valentine’s boots and elbow blows. Putski is locked in a knee bar right next to the ropes. Putski has to try really hard not to reach over and escape.

The Hammer tries a figure-four or as Reynolds calls it “the powerlock”. As Valentine is wearing away at the Pollock, Putski catches him with the Polish Hammer out of nowhere and scores the pin at 14:32. Putski is terrible at pretty much everything, so the Hammer wasn’t given much to work with here.

Richard Cummings vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Cummings is just road kill for Volkoff. Cummings is tall, obese and wrestling in a black wife beater and jeans. He gets battered with stomps, takes an awkward bounce off the rope (which tells me he’s green) and another bad bump off a clothesline before eating the pin at 90 seconds. I cheered that this thing wasn’t dragged out. Volkoff knew better than to try any power moves on this flabby goof.

Andre the Giant vs. Kamala
Thank goodness! Business finally picks up. Andre stares Kamala down from the moment he comes to ringside. Friday is banned from staying by the ring. Andre grabs Kamala and slams forearms into his back, tosses him around the ring and delivers some headbutts to his spine. Kamala manages to hack away on the Giant and Andre finds himself on the mat. A big headbutt sends Kamala reeling to the floor.

A few more shots from Andre causes Kamala to flee again. Kamala fights his way back into control with more chops and chokes. Andre absorbs a pair of splashes, but the Giant shakes them off. The fight goes to the floor, where Andre falls down as he tries to jump to the floor. Ooops. The two men trade blows before Kamala is tossed into the ring and thusly beats the 10-count at 7:45. Andre keeps up the attack until Kamala runs away after a few big shots. Andre spends several minutes arguing with the ref before finally tossing him down. Good big man match, nothing flashy, but both men stayed active. This should be the set up for their semi-famous cage match in Toronto.

Rick McGraw vs. Ken Patera
McGraw catches the overconfident Patera with a dropkick. Patera locks on an armbar, as the men fight for possession of McGraw’s arm for several minutes. Patera poses, stalls and growls in between roughing up the smaller man. McGraw gets in some hope spots but Patera traps him in the full nelson for the relatively easy win at 10:40. Patera needs a direction. I’m kind of surprised he’s not in the Hulk Hogan jobbing circle- maybe McMahon figured Patera’s trial would go far differently.

Dynamite Kid vs. Jerry Valiant
What better way to showcase the Kid’s fantastic flying moves than to stick him in a match with a chubby old guy? Valiant uses his size advantage to batter the Kid before he finds himself trapped in a pair of flying head scissors. The fans mess with Valiant by screaming “ropes” as Valiant attempts to cheat during an armbar. Valiant has some great facials as he transitions into a nerve pinch and continues to try and cheat as the fans tattle on him. The Kid abruptly downs Valiant and delivers a flying headbutt from the top rope for the pin at 5:41. This was fun for much different reasons than I was expecting going in. Valiant’s facials > Kid’s high spots.

Brian Blair vs. “Iron” Mike Sharpe
Sharpe stalls and screams, as per usual. Blair, although smaller, manages to out grapple Sharpe and frustrates him with him technical efficiency. The ref again decides that grabbing the ropes does not mean the hold should be broken and kicks Sharpe’s foot away during a cradle attempt. Sharpe is overwhelmed with a flying head scissors and a monkey flip before going to Blair’s eyes to finally gain some traction. Sharpe hacks away with his roughhouse offense before Blair regains the edge. With Shape once again reeling, Blair attempts a flying crossbody and Sharpe actually rolls through with it to score the upset pin at 11:12. Quite the surprise booking decision there. Not really sure why they’d want to cool off Blair by having him lose to a glorified jobber?

Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Iron Sheik
Sheik trolls the crowd with “Iran number 1, Canada sucks”. Sarge charges right into the ring and assaults the Sheik. Sheik is choked with his turban, then clotheslined with it. Sheik begins to beg off with his Muslim prayer act, and Sarge mocks him, then tells him to shove it up his butt. Slaughter whips the Sheik with his belt. Sheik uses his loaded boot to rock the Sarge and Slaughter begins to bleed as Sheik drops punches and boots into his wound. Slaughter is slammed on the ringside ramp before Sheik chews on his bloody scalp. Sarge takes a gut-wrench suplex, but manages to reverse another suplex to finally end Sheik’s battering. Slaughter rocks the Sheik with blows before snagging him in the Cobra Clutch. As Sheik wavers, Nikolai Volkoff returns and attacks Slaughter for the DQ at 9:03. The future British Bulldogs and Bret(t) Hart run in to save Slaughter from the two on one beat down. Good solid, hate filled brawl to end the evening.

Final thoughts: This was a total two match show, but both delivered short, exciting mayhem. Once they told me Andre and Kamala were coming back in a cage, I’d have rushed to the ticket office. Next time, WWF, please book your work rate freaks with non-old men though. That first hour almost killed off my enthusiasm for WRASSLIN’.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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