Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: September 1984

Pro Wrestling USA debuts, The Weasel is suspended, Lou Thesz returns and much more

WWF

The Fabulous Freebird’s WWF run is already over. Terry Gordy felt like the WWF was wasting him and that Michael Hayes getting a rock star push was not enough incentive to stick around. Gordy has a standing offer with Giant Baba to head to Japan to become a headliner. The Bird’s reportedly also had issues with alcohol effecting their performances and may have garnered heat with locker room leaders like Andre the Giant over it.

Hayes actually stuck around for a few extra dates, but soon quit as well.

Gordy and Hayes were penciled in to beat Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch for the WWF tag titles, but that has been dropped.

Hulk Hogan has remained busy defending his WWF title against George Steele, Greg Valentine, Bob Orton Jr, Paul Orndorff, Big John Studd, David Schultz and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.   Ventura’s run on top was abruptly halted when he had to be rushed to the hospital while suffering from blood clots. Ventura would later claim they came from his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

The Hulkster also made a rare trip south of the border where he battled UWA World champ El Canek to a draw. Canek had seen success in the past against the likes of Lou Thesz and Andre.

Greg Valentine pinned Tito Santana on September 24th to capture the IC title. Santana was then attacked after the bell and placed in a figure-four to set him up for knee surgery.

“Mean” Gene Okerlund was taken off of commentary duties because Vince McMahon felt that Gene was showing him up and wanted to get rid of his competition.

Sports Illustrated wrote a brief blurb on the WWF’s “Tuesday Night Titans” TV show, making fun of Lord Alfred Hayes and the show itself.

Jack and Jerry Brisco made their WWF debuts after selling Vince the GCW promotion in April.

Wendi Richter went around the horn defending her title against the Fabulous Moolah.

Sgt. Slaughter and The Iron Sheik continued their international conflict in many cities.

Andre the Giant and Kamala had a confrontation on TV, setting up several matches. Andre is also headlining against Roddy Piper, with Piper fleeing his opponent most nights.

Piper has a fresh layer of heat on him as fans were shown the clips from the August MSG show where Piper used a steel chair to injure Jimmy Snuka’s neck. Snuka will be out for several months.

Adonis and Murdoch are still battling Afa and Sika several times a week.

David Sammartino made his WWF debut. Brutus Beefcake was seen watching the young man from ringside on TV.

Hillbilly Jim was given a tryout match, and he made his TV debut as a fan in the crowd only a few weeks later.

Terry Daniels, a legit Marine, was told by the U.S. Marines not to wear his uniform on TV. Being shown on TV for commercial purposes disgraces the dignity of the uniform.

Philadelphia drew 6,800 fans – about half of last month’s attendance for a card headlined by Roddy Piper vs. Andre. Also in action was the Samoans facing Adonis and Murdoch,   Valentine clashing with Rocky Johnson, and Ventura butting heads with Ivan Putski.

Boston drew 13,500 for Andre battling Piper with a weak undercard. Sarge teaming with the Samoans against Capt. Lou, Adonis and Murdoch was the only other match of note.

Pittsburgh drew 7,000 for Andre/Piper with the Iron Sheik & Sgt. Slaughter feud as the top support.

Fans at the Meadowlands also saw Andre vs. Piper as their headline match with Santana defending against Ken Patera and JYD skirmishing with Bob Orton Jr.

MSG drew 19,000 fans for a Hulk Hogan vs. Jesse Ventura main event. Ventura could not make it due to his medical condition noted above. Bobby Heenan made his WWF debut by stepping in and naming his new charge, Big John Studd, as the replacement. Heenan then proceeded to aid Studd in besting Hogan by count out. Kamala rolled over Pat Patterson in another key match, and Slaughter and the Samoans bested Capt. Lou, Adonis and Murdoch.

Jack Tunney has become the on-screen WWF President.

St. Louis/Central States
NWA champ Ric Flair came in for some shots in the area, besting Ted Dibiase in Kansas City. Kansas and headlining with Harley Race at the big St. Louis show of the month. The fans in St. Louis were also treated to the Road Warriors defending their AWA tag belts against Dick the Bruiser and Blackjack Lanza, plus Chris Adams continuing his feud with Jimmy Garvin. Crusher Blackwell faced Jim Brunzell in a match that confuses me as both should be babyfaces… plus Tony Atlas teamed with Ted Dibiase and Buzz Tyler to vanquish Mr. Saito, Ox Baker and Hacksaw Higgins.

The WWF meanwhile over saturated the St. Louis market by holding three cards:

The Kiel Auditorium saw Hogan engage with Animal Steele, Wendi Richter encounter the Fabulous Moolah, and Santana defend his IC title against Mr. Wonderful.

Then at the end of the month, the WWF did a double shot on the same day. The Chase Hotel saw a card full of squashes, including one with Hulk Hogan. Then 4,200 fans came to the Kiel Auditorium to see Hogan defend his title against Mr. Fuji. Tito Santana took on Mr. Wonderful in a rematch of their 20 minute draw from earlier in the month, Ivan Putski butted heads with Orton Jr, plus Piper, the Freebirds, JYD, the Briscos and others were all in action.

To further hamper the efforts of the Central States promoters, the WWF also ran a show in Kansas City, Missouri with Andre butting heads with Studd, plus the Freebirds, Briscos, JYD and Piper all in action.

CWG
National champion Ted Dibiase has been antagonizing Bob and Brad Armstrong, setting up both men as challengers to his title. Paul Ellering aided Dibiase by helping set Brad up for a sneak attack, but Ron Garvin stopped the evil plot. Bob Roop then ran in to assist the heel forces. The same men were involved in several similar brawls on TV over the course of a few weeks.

Tommy Rich has been reinstated in CWG and is looking to restart his feud with Dibiase.

NWA (JCP) TV Champion Tully Blanchard came to the area to challenge CWG TV champ Ron Garvin to a unification match.

Rip Rogers and Tim Oates (The Hollywood Blonds) beat Ron Garvin and Jerry Oates for the National tag titles.

The talent roster is fairly solid, with the Masked Superstar, Stan Hansen, Ivan Koloff, Don Kernodle, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, Tony Atlas and even Harley Race working part time in order to take advantage of the national TV time slot on Saturday mornings. Ratings have been poor though, thanks to the early hour of the show and the time slot being shifted around.

Race is here to set up a match with Ric Flair at a future Omni show.

The Omni card for September saw Dusty Rhodes beat the Masked Superstar and Stan Hansen in a “round-robin” match to earn a stake at the number one contender spot for Ric Flair’s title. Other action included Ron Garvin besting Jake the Snake in a cage match in yet another chapter of that endless feud, Brad Armstrong took home a DQ win over Dibiase in a strap match, Austin Idol fell to Jimmy Valiant and Tony Atlas and Tim Horner came up short in a match with Rip Rogers and Ted Oates.

AWA
Bobby Heenan had his long AWA career come to an end when Wally Karbo had him suspended for life. This came on the heels of a series of “Weasel suit” matches that Heenan lost around the horn as he jobbed his way out of the AWA. A WWF spot was too lucrative to pass up. Adding to the bad news for the AWA is that they recently ordered thousands of “Weasel Busters” shirts to be sold and now the foil is gone.

Harley Race had begun a feud with Curt Hennig that was to lead to Race’s former partner Larry Hennig becoming involved, but Race abruptly quit.

Since I do not have an exact timeline for this story, I will add it here: Verne Gagne was losing his mind over the WWF seeming to have inside information on his talent’s payoffs and such. Gagne’s paranoia even made him wonder if his office was bugged, and he had Blackjack Lanza come in and help him inspect the ceiling tiles and everything. At the end of the day, it turned out Lanza himself was stooging the info to Vince, and landed himself a long WWF agent gig for his troubles. He’ll be in the AWA for a while yet at this point though. I believe Heenan can be credited for that story.

The AWA went another month without many of their top talents appearing at the house shows. Bruiser Brody was in Japan and Puerto Rico and he only made one AWA appearance. His rival on top of the card, Jerry Blackwell, was also on a tour of Japan, and he even teamed with Brody. He too only made one AWA event. Add to that the Crusher only working four times and Baron Von Rasche only working three matches.

AWA champ Rick Martel faced off with Nick Bockwinkel and Mr. Saito for most of the month. Billy Robinson did get one shot, as did Brad Rheingans.

Billy Robinson ended up taking Bobby Heenan’s spot in the matches where Lanza and the Fabulous Ones were challenging Saito, Bockwinkel and Heenan.

The Road Warriors faced weak competition most of the month, with opponents including Steve O and Curt Hennig, Steve O and Jim Brunzell, Brunzell and Tony Atlas, Hennig and Tom Zenk, Saito and Steve Regal, plus some bigger battles with Crusher and the Baron and a famous match against Crusher and Bruiser.

St. Paul fans were given Rick Martel against Brad Rheingans as a headliner. The theory seems to be that Verne wanted to take advantage of positive press Rheingans received as a coach during the Summer Olympics. The match also served to promote wrestling, in comparison to the WWF’s recent clownish main event of Mean Gene and Hogan against Mr. Fuji and Animal Steele which headlined in the area. The Martel match only drew 3,000 fans, much worse than the WWF’s offering. Other action that night saw Lanza and the Fabulous Ones best Bockwinkel, Saito and Heenan, plus the Road Warriors rolled over Brunzell and Steve O and Curt Hennig slipped by Harley Race via DQ.

The second St. Paul show that month saw 8,000 fans come to see Blackwell and Brody collide, as well as the Road Warriors going to war with Da Crusher and the Baron. The Fabulous Ones bested Saito and Bockwinkel in another key bout.

The WWF’s venture into the Twin Cities saw them draw 7,500 to the Met Center for Hulk Hogan teaming with local legend Mad Dog Vachon to face off with Animal Steele and Big John Studd. Studd was replacing Ventura. Tito Santana got past Mr. Wonderful by DQ. Michael Hayes teamed with Pat Patterson to conquer the Moondogs, JYD, David Schultz and Piper were all also in action.

Chicago fans saw AWA champ Rick Martel pin Billy Robinson, however the real main event probably was The Bruiser and Crusher teaming up against the Road Warriors. The Warriors lost by DQ, but Crusher and Bruiser were manhandled at points during the match and it lead to them confronting the Warriors in the locker room afterwards, legit pissed that the Warriors had messed with their aura.   Lanza and the Fabs bested Heenan, Bockwinkel and Saito in the other big match.

The WWF offered Chicago fans Hulk Hogan falling to Animal Steele via count-out, with Mad Dog Vachon, Big John Studd, Adonis, Murdoch, Iron Sheik, the Freebirds and Slaughter all taking part in matches on the undercard.

The AWA and WWF also fought over Salt Lake City, with the AWA presenting Rick Martel facing Mr. Saito in the main event, plus the Road Warriors battling Tony Atlas and Jim Brunzell and the Fabulous Ones taking care of Saito and Bockwinkel. This line-up drew 7,000 fans. The WWF’s offerings saw Hulk Hogan fend off Mr. Wonderful, Jesse the Body took down Mad Dog Vachon, Wendi Richter bested the Fabulous Moolah, plus the Iron Sheik, David Schultz, Studd and Mil Mascaras faced lesser competitors. The WWF drew 4,600.

The WWF also hounded the AWA in Denver. Hogan facing Paul Orndorff is the only available result for the WWF’s show, with the AWA presenting Martel defending against Nick Bockwinkel, The Fabs blasting Heenan and Saito, plus Jim Brunzell jumping by Larry Zbyszko.

4,700 fans came to the Winnipeg arena to see Martel best tricky Nicky Bockwinkel. The Fabulous Ones and Lanza belted Saito, Billy Robinson and Zbyszko, the Road Warriors faced off with Brunzell and Atlas, and The Baron clawed Steve Regal.

Only 600 fans came to the Cow Palace in San Francisco to see Martel battle Saito, plus The Fabs worked over Bockwinkel and Robinson, and the Road Warriors butted heads with Brunzell and Atlas. I believe the AWA had lost their San Fran time slot to the WWF, hence the terrible attendance.

Indianapolis only saw 850 fans come to see Mr. Saito and Nick Bockwinkel fall to the Fabs, The Crusher pound Bobby Heenan, Brunzell fly by Steve Regal, Tony Atlas smash the Sheik and The Baron best Zbyszko.

AWA/Montreal
Montreal fans were treated to an exciting month of action with Dino Bravo and Rick Martel facing off with the Masked Superstar and King Tonga. Plus Joe LeDuc and Abby the Butcher were causing mayhem with each match they squared off in. Add in some appearances by the legendary Edouard Carpentier, plus the steady popularity of the Rougeau clan and Montreal fans may have felt spoiled.

The big news of the month came when King Tonga upset Dino Bravo, ending his 14-month reign as Montreal’s champion. NWA champ Ric Flair also came into town, defending against Gino Brito.

Pro Wrestling USA
The first TV taping with almost the every one of the non-WWF major American promoters coming together to battle Vince McMahon (World Class chose not to get involved.) came to pass in Memphis. The show drew a disappointing 3,000 fans, 4,000 less than Memphis managed to draw 24 hours earlier for their own local show.

The card was stacked with 25 matches and lots of big names. Few of the matches were competitive and local promoter Jerry Jarrett may have made an error in allowing his local mid-card guys to be used as cannon fodder. In non-squash bouts, the fans saw Nick Bockwinkel beat Lanny Poffo, Tommy Rich and Jerry Lawler bested Len Denton and Tony Anthony, The Fabulous Ones got past the (local) Spoiler and Phil Hickerson, Butch Reed and Tony Atlas pounded Anthony and Denton, Harley Race out classed Dutch Mantel, and the Rock and Roll Express flew by Hickerson and Poffo. NWA Champ Ric Flair was notably absent, AWA head man Rick Martel took part in several matches.

Vince McMahon couldn’t help himself and had to mettle of course, so after announcer Jack Reynolds taped a month worth of commentary for the group, Vince signed him for the WWF a few days later.

Florida
With the promotion reeling after Dusty Rhodes gutted them, the best thing Championship Wrestling from Florida could do was bring in outside talent to try and boost attendance while rebuilding. This included NWA champ Ric Flair who came in for matches with Billy Jack Haynes and Scott McGhee, leading up to a big card that saw the return of Rhodes to the area:

Miami Beach drew 8,000 fans to see Rhodes fall to Flair via count-out. The Rock and Roll Express were also on hand facing NWA tag champs Ivan and Nikita Koloff and the Road Warriors in some form of a 3-way match, Haynes and Mike Graham went to a double-DQ with Dory Funk Jr. and Jesse Barr, plus Dick Slater, Kevin Sullivan and the One Man Gang were in action.

The WWF was in Miami that same day, drawing 2000 fans with Andre facing Roddy Piper on top, and Tito Santana tangling with Mr. Wonderful as another big match. JYD, Michael Hayes, Bob Orton Jr., and Wendi Richter all took part in other action.

Florida fans were also treated to a big show in Tampa which saw Ric Flair slip by Billy Jack Haynes via DQ, Dory Funk Jr. and Jesse Barr pair up to fight Mike Graham and Harley Race to a double-DQ, Pez Whatley besting Kevin Sullivan in a “Prince of Darkness” match via DQ, Florida champ Scott McGhee earning a DQ win over Dick Slater, plus the Guerreros, the Rock and Roll Express, Jim Neidhart and Krusher Krushchev all in action – Krushchev and Neidhart were aligned as Commie sympathizers.

Memphis
Jerry Jarrett was presented with an award for being a great promoter for having the Pro Wrestling USA card held in his town. This of course led to Jimmy Hart, Rick Rude and King Kong Bundy confronting him, causing Randy Savage and Jerry Lawler to run in and brawl with the heels.

Savage and Lawler ended up teaming up for the first time ever as a result of the above-mentioned brawl, losing to Bundy and Rude by DQ. This of course led to several rematches, with Jimmy Valiant and others joining in the fight.

 

6,700 fans attended the Mid-South Coliseum to see Jimmy Valiant overcome Dutch Mantel, Rude, Savage, Eddie Gilbert, Tommy Rich, Savage, Lanny Poffo, Lawler, Bundy and others in a tournament for a Cadillac.

Continental
The WWF tried to run a show here in Phoenix City and were embarrassed as only 300 fans attended. The local promoters, The Fullers, have been pulling in 3000 per show at times.

WCCW
World Class is thinking of invading Minnesota. They are having major issues though as their tapes have been getting damaged beyond playability before they can make air. Plus the local station keeps preempting the show. Verne Gagne is suspected of pulling some strings to keep them out.

The big Labor Day show in Fort Worth drew 9,000 fans to witness the blow off of the Von Erichs vs. Freebirds as Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts fell to Kevin and Kerry Von Erich in a steel cage elimination match. In other action, Chris Adams snagged the TV title from Jake the Snake, Butch Reed was disqualified in an arm-wrestling challenge with Kerry, Michael Hayes bested the Missing Link by DQ, Killer Khan took down Gordy in a “spike” match, Gino Hernandez stunned Mike Von Erich for the American title, along with other prelim action.

Before the Birds flew off, other action during the month saw ref David Manning once again upset Buddy Roberts in a one-on-one contest.

Victor the Wrestling Bear came to the area to challenge the Missing Link and Gino Hernandez.

Hernandez is getting a strong push, not only beating Mike Von Erich, but then successfully defending the American title against Kerry.

The Von Erichs continued their tribulations against the Missing Link and Killer Khan as well.

NWA champ Ric Flair came to the area to successfully defend his title against Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez.

Magnum TA also made a special appearance at a spot show.

Proving that the Von Erich’s touch wasn’t all gold, a spot show in Ft. Hood headlined by Kevin Von Erich facing Gino Hernandez only drew 250 fans.

The end of the month saw a shocking heel turn that set up the Von Erich’s next blood feud. During a match with Kevin Von Erich teaming up with Chris Adams to face Jake the Snake and Hernandez, Stella Mae French, a valet who was feuding with Hernandez, attempted to interfere – but it backfired and cost our heroes the match. Gary Hart, Adams manager, went off on French and was threatening physical harm. Kevin stepped in and struck Hart, which caused Adams to react by superkicking Kevin. Roberts and Hernandez then mauled Kevin as Adams walked off.

Southwest
The promoters here are feeling the heat over poor payoffs. Al Perez even walked out of a show over what he was offered. Since they were short handed, Lou Thesz was called into action. The 68-year-old was training rookies and took on the call to action. I can not find any results to prove this as fact though.

Mid-South
NWA champ Ric Flair was once again brought in to face off with Kerry Von Erich, since the pair has been box-office magic.

George Wells has been dubbed “Master Gee” and received a God-push in an attempt to replace JYD. He’s already been put over Butch Reed several times to jump start his push,

The Midnight Express continue to mess with Magnum TA and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, which has led to their bodyguard, Hercules, facing Duggan in a number of gimmick matches. One of these matches saw Jim Cornette have his head shaved as a result of screwing Duggan over. This ended up poorly for Cornette, as the electric razor would not work and he ended up being scalped with a razor blade.

The Fantastics continue to challenge the Express several times a week.

Dr. Death and Terry Taylor are still feuding as a result of their TV title issues I covered in an earlier edition of this series. Taylor lost the gold to “Exotic” Adrian Street after being kissed on the lips.

Prior to turning heel, Chris Adams made an appearance here, facing off with Dr. Death.

Japan
New Japan lost Riki Choshu, Masa Saito, Yoshi Yatsu, and others to a new group called JWP. The men were then booked into All-Japan and business exploded for Baba.

NWA Champ Ric Flair went on a tour of All-Japan where he partnered up with Jimmy Garvin of all people to face Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta as well as Tenryu and Takashi Ishikawa. Tenryu also received a one on one world title match that saw Flair keep the strap after getting himself disqualified.

More good news for All-Japan is that Terry Funk is debating whether or not to come out of retirement and take part in the annual tag tournament Baba holds.

Antonio Inoki held a press conference with the WWF in which Hulk Hogan was announced as pulling out of his next Japanese tour, with Greg Valentine taking his place. Vince also promised to work with New Japan and WCCW to take over the wrestling world. After the press conference was over, Vince gave separate interviews talking about running his own promotion in Japan and taking over the country himself.

WWC
Carlos Colon ran a stadium in San Juan, drawing 34,383 fans to see himself and Abby the Butcher take on Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody. Other bouts included The Barbarian clashing with the Invader, Wahoo McDaniel and the Youngbloods falling to The Masked Medics, Randy Savage beating Pedro Morales, Dory Funk Jr. fighting Al Perez to a draw, The Sheepherders besting King Tonga and Dan Martel, among other action.

JCP
Blackjack Mulligan, who had just recently joined JCP to aide Flair in his battles with Wahoo McDaniel and Tully Blanchard, has jumped to the WWF.

Ric Flair had been facing off with Wahoo and Tully with Mulligan, and Dusty Rhodes by his side.

Tully Blanchard made it known he was searching for his “Perfect 10”. More on that in a future edition.

McDaniel was the fall guy this month, dropping matches to Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham.

Blanchard scored wins over Steamboat, but was only able to wrestle Windham to a draw, and lost to Rhodes.

Windham was given wins over Ivan Koloff to continue his push as the future star.

Ole Anderson returned to the area, as a babyface, and teamed with longtime rival Rhodes to batter Blanchard and McDaniel.

Rhodes also teamed with Windham to challenge Ivan Koloff and Don Kernodle, and Manny Fernandez has formed a team with Rhodes as well.

In case you haven’t noticed the all Dusty, all the time booking, here’s the kicker: Rhodes booked himself to beat Nikita Koloff in a ARM WRESTLING challenge. He was then pounded down by the Koloffs and Kernodle.

JCP announced a loaded 16-man tournament for early October with the vacant U.S. title hanging in the balance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_G7AOFfHfc

Jimmy Valiant continued his war with Paul Jones’ Army, taking on the Assassin in gimmick matches. Johnny Weaver joined his cause after the Assassin attempted to jump Weaver during a backstage interview. Weaver ended up flipping the Assassin ass-over-tea kettle and stealing his mask. Weaver than dubbed himself the “Ultimate Assassin”.

Jay Youngblood, a long time JCP favorite, left in late September, ending his run as the “Renegade”. Youngblood would land in Florida.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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