“The Brawl to End it All”- WWF 7/23/84

Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund call the action.

Sika vs. Ron Shaw
Shaw is a jobber, albeit one who got a lot a work because he had a large frame. He did look perpetually 40 to me though. Shaw hacks away at Sika with shots. Sika fires back with far more effective shots. This goes on for a few minutes- with Sika not too motivated to try anything. He even interrupts his baby face shine that was building to the finish by throwing Shaw down to sit in a headlock. Sika then lets that go and hits a diving head butt for the win at 5:03. This match was the very definition of a solid “meh”.

Tony Garea vs. the Iron Sheik
“Mean” Gene declares Sheik may be one of the best wrestlers ever. I suppose he was in kayfabe since so few men had been WWF champ at this point. Sheik yells at the crowd for chanting “USA” and Gene wonders why Sheik is looking for more heat. Garea totally owns the Sheik right away-first out punching him, then outshining him with grappling. Monsoon mentions Garea’s storyline that has been consistent for the past year and a half: He’s looking for a partner. Garea must have stiff qualifiers. Sheik cracks Garea in the throat as Gene opines about the fans chanting “USA” with two foreigners wrestling. Garea only sells the throat shot for a moment before going back at Sheik with dropkicks, a flying crossbody and other fast paced offensive moves. This proves to be his undoing as Garea misses a charge and is back suplexed right on his head and neck. This ends up knocking him out long enough for Sheik to score the pin at 5:56. Good little match, full of action, heat and solid wrestling.

Intercontinental champion Tito Santana vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton
Both Gene and Monsoon gush about Orton’s ability and how inevitable his future status as a champion is. A bit odd for a guy who, despite being a technical expert, chooses to cheat at will. Santana and his challenger start by trying to test the other in a dueling top wristlock stand off. Orton uses his size and leverage to take control, which allows him to grind into the champ. Orton misses a charge, ramming his own shoulder into the steel post. Santana goes to work on the injury, and then tags Orton with a flying ax handle from the top that sends the Cowboy wobbling across the ring.

Orton is able to grit his way back into control by out slugging Santana. Tito lays on the mat and sells his agony to such a degree that Orton has trouble delivering a follow up attack because Santana is flailing around. Orton delivers a beauty of a powerslam, with his own body flying in the air nearly vertically to emphasize how Orton is driving his shoulder into Santana on impact. Orton uses a press slam into a backbreaker and a fisherman’s suplex for near falls. The challenger makes a big mistake by attempting a Vader Bomb from the top rope, as this ends with Orton landing on Santana’s knees.

Tito fires up and slugs away at Orton. Santana tries an abdominal stretch, but Orton is able to reverse it. This ends with both men down on the mat, exhausted. Orton manages a back suplex. Santana tries a desperation small package, then misses a flying forearm as a follow up. Orton’s too worn down to keep control and Santana scores another cradle for a near fall. Both men sit on their knees and throw exhausted punches at one another. Orton attempts a piledriver but the champ flips him ass over tea kettle. Orton manages a low blow and seconds later the twenty-minute time limit expires. This was an excellent match that built slowly, yet was never dull. Both men were tremendous pure grapplers, and thusly knew how to execute and sell as needed to tell the story within the squared circle. This one is well worth watching.

Bob Backlund vs. “Butcher” Vachon
Backlund gets a good pop from the MSG crowd. This would prove to be his last match there until the early 90’s I believe. Backlund trips up his corpulent opponent, but soon finds himself under a barrage of forearms and shoulder smashes. Backlund shows his championship determination and rallies back with an impressive delayed body slam, followed by a cross-face chicken wing. Monsoon amuses me by stating Vachon weighs 279, yet has this huge gut – in the last match he was claiming Tito weighed 250. Vachon tries to hang tough in the brutal arm lock, but ultimately submits. Wikipedia has the time listed as 7:24, but that seems way too long. Match was just a glorified squash.

Hulk Hogan promises to save New Yorkers a lot of money on their electric bills because the joy they will get from him conquering Valentine will give them such an afterglow that no lights will be needed. Hogan’s awesome!

Hulk Hogan vs. Greg “the Hammer” Valentine
Hogan out muscles Valentine and rattles him with punches and a clothesline in the corner. Valentine does the Flair Flop off that. Hogan keeps up the pressure with a big slam. Valentine smashes his way into control and traps the champ in a chinlock. Hogan lifts the Hammer up and jams his into the turnbuckle. Valentine batters Hogan with forearms and fists to down Hulk but hurts himself by dropping a knee onto Hogan’s knees. Valentine keeps the pressure anyway; only being slowed by Hogan reversing a suplex. Hulk cracks him with a big boot and the challenger falls to the floor. Hogan pursues him and rattles the Hammer with fists.

The rugged Valentine smashes his way back into control, downs the Hulk and drills an elbow into his chest. Hulk’s leg is battered and Valentine tries to use a chair to further damage it but a fan yanks it out of his hands. The Hammer grabs another chair and smacks the champ’s knee anyway. The ref is fine with all of this.

Hogan manages to fend off several attempts by Valentine to apply the figure-four. Hammer switches gears and drives Hogan down with a backbreaker, then drops an elbow. Valentine climbs to the top but leaps off right into a Hogan clothesline. This drops Valentine and sets up a Hogan leg drop, which is enough for the pin at 10:24. Solid match between two guys willing to brawl their way to victory. Hogan was not yet trapped in a formula, which helped make the match ending come out of nowhere. Valentine was able to preserve the mystique of his figure-four by not having Hogan escape from it.

World’s Martial Arts Champion Antonio Inoki vs. Charlie Fulton
Inoki single legs Fulton right off, and traps him in a knee bar soon after. Fulton gets in some token offense as the fans head for the beverage stand in droves. Inoki kicks Fulton a few times and hits an enziguri for the win at 3:50. Just a squash.

WWF World tag team champions Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch vs. Pvt. Terry Daniels and Sgt. Slaughter
Daniels is really short, and his legit status as an ex-marine is probably the only reason he is even sniffing a push. Without being able to co-op Slaughter heat, Daniels would probably be DOA. Daniels holds his own with Murdoch, then Sarge and Adonis come in and execute a back and forth battle over arm drags. Daniels tags back in and is nearly monkey flipped right out of the ring by Adonis in a spot that gets a big pop from the crowd. Daniels leaps right back into action and Adonis is trapped in another arm drag. Sarge gets involved to keep Adonis at bay. Murdoch tags in and winds up taking a ride in Daniels’ arm drag takedown express. Murdoch gets in some cheap shots to take over briefly, but once Adonis tags in we get another arm drag. The pace and action is fine, I’m just amused that Daniels has one move he keeps going to over and over and over.

Sarge tags in and both heels end up the worse for wear. Murdoch is downed and Sarge places Daniels on his own shoulders to deliver a knee drop with extra weight behind it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that spot before. Murdoch tries a hip toss on Daniels, and winds up trapped in an abdominal stretch instead. Murdoch escapes that and both heels take turns abusing the youngster. Murdoch traps Daniels in an over the shoulder arm bar before he and Adonis double team Daniels.

A desperation dropkick allows Sarge to be tagged back in. Sarge attacks both heels, sending Adonis to the mat in a heap. Murdoch is then trapped in the Cobra Clutch momentarily before Adonis is able to break it up. Daniels tags back in and drops Adonis with several dropkicks in succession. Murdoch stooges for Sarge until the ref steps in and forces Slaughter out. This allows the heels to double-team Daniels, delivering a Demolition Decapitation variant for the pin at 17:16. Sarge cleans the heel’s clocks (proverbially) afterwards to send them heading home. The heels being willing stooges for the faces allowed for a lot of fun action and plenty of easy, yet believable and entertaining bumps. A lot of guys seem to be stepping up their efforts tonight, perhaps due to MTV cameras being around.

WWF Women’s Champion The Fabulous Moolah vs. Wendi Richter
Capt. Lou gives a bug-eyed promo before the match that is delivered in his usual nonsensical speech, delivered in a seriously entertaining way. Moolah has to correct Lou on how long she has been champion as the Captain short changed her by a mere 15 years. Moolah has a picture of herself on the title. Richter and Cyndi Lauper come out to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” while dressed in that inexplicable 80’s fashion sense. Even Lauper’s personal bodyguard has to wear a goofy hat. Can you imagine if Beyonce or Taylor Swift were to appear on RAW today? They’d have to put over Stephanie, and then do some horrible comedy skit.

The crowd goes bonkers for the baby faces and I can’t help but mark out as I remember all this from when I was a toddler. Moolah covers her ears in disgust and Lou steals the show by making it impossible not to watch his antics as he runs around the ring waving his arms frantically and even scales the ropes to yell insults at the challenger. Lou tries to grab the mic during Richter’s intro and Howard Finkel is having none of drunken Albano rambling on live MTV.

Richter is buried in caked on makeup. Moolah goes after Lauper. Albano calls a fan “a pre-fabricated dog biscuit”. I love that crazy bastard. Moolah gets a quick takedown as Richter bounces all over the place for the 61-year-old champion. Moolah’s offense looks weak but Richter is selling the shit out of everything. Richter and Moolah both miss leaps of faith and end up on the ground in pain. Moolah chokes Richter right in front of Lauper, trash talking her along the way. The champ ends up being head butted in the belly and somehow becomes all wrapped up in the ropes. This allows Richter to get in some free shots.

Moolah dead weights Richter on a full nelson. This leads to a spot teasing Lauper getting in a cheap shot on Moolah, which she decides against. The crowd surprisingly did not pop for that. They repeat the spot, and this time Lauper does “she-bop” the champion with a fist wrapped in a towel. The ref is watching this all unfold and does not call for a DQ. Richter follows that up with a scoop slam that somehow turns into a modified suplex.

Moolah takes back control and traps Richter in a full nelson. Capt. Lou gets on the ring apron to return the favor for Lauper’s earlier interference. The camera then pans away to Lauper and we miss Lou swinging and missing his punch. Moolah then delivers a German suplex into a half-ass bridge. Scratch that, she never even lifted Richter up, it was just a flop backwards. Richter gets her shoulder somewhat up during the three-count at 11:20. The fans go silent, as they can’t believe they bought into weeks of hoopla just to see Moolah win. Finkel then announces Richter as the new champion. Moolah attacks the ref as the baby faces celebrate. The match was quite bad, as Moolah was old and not able to execute much convincingly. A straight pin for Richter would have been far more helpful, both in putting Richter over, and for the new fans watching the spectacle live on MTV to understand what the hell is going on.

Mean Gene is in the locker room in the back. Cyndi Lauper puts over Richter’s abilities. Wendi says Cyndi showed her new fashions and how to put on makeup. Slaughter comes in to celebrate, then heads off to get champagne. Hogan comes in next and compares Richter to Marilyn Monroe. Capt. Lou then storms in and eats a punch from Hogan.

Chief Jay Strongbow vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
The camera catches Orndorff telling a fan “You look like you’ve sucked a lot more dicks than I have, pal!” The AARP wrestling continues as Strongbow is 55 years old here. Orndorff stalls to start, finally forcing Strongbow to come after him. The stalling continues as Mr. Wonderful takes his time removing his robe. Orndorff next takes his time putting his elbow pads on. They finally go through some basics and Strongbow traps Orndorff in his patented sleeper. Mr. Wonderful manages to knock him to the floor. A few punches from Orndorff later and Strongbow starts his war dance. Orndorff catches him with a sloppy clothesline and that’s enough for the pin at 6:05. Philosophical question: If you have a match, and nothing happens, is it still wrestling?

Afa vs. Rene Goulet
Another near AARP worker here as Goulet is 52. Goulet stalls to start. Afa gets bored and attacks. Goulet loads his glove and cracks Afa with it several times. Afa gains back control with a butt-butt. A few chops land on Goulet, but he downs the Samoan with a claw hold. Goulet bites Afa’s tummy fat. Afa nails the Samoan drop out of nowhere for the pin at 3:43. I can’t believe it was that short as it felt much longer. This was brutally dull.

The Fabulous Freebirds, Ken Patera and Kamala are announced as coming to MSG next month. The Birds get no pop surprisingly.

Battle Royal: Sika, Jose Luis Rivera, Butcher Vachon, Tony Garea, Chief Jay Strongbow, Afa, Steve Lombardi, Bob Orton Jr., Charlie Fulton, Ron Shaw, Terry Daniels, the Iron Sheik, Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, Tito Santana, Paul Orndorff, Sgt. Slaughter, Samula; Antonio Inoki, and Rene Goulet

Sarge goes right after the Sheik, with Daniels hot on his trail as well. Steve Lombardi earns his paycheck by being tossed in under a minute. Santana dumps Mr. Wonderful surprisingly early as well. Monsoon gets Daniels and Inoki confused, which is incredible for a few reasons. Iron Sheik makes an early exit. The three Samoans should be pairing up and killing the rest of the field. Monsoon can’t keep anything straight, as the guys keep leaving under the ropes and coming back in the ring.

Sarge, Adonis and Murdoch all leave in a heap. The last of the field is pretty weak as Orton Jr. and Inoki are the only two of the last nine guys that have a chance of winning. Inoki dumps Orton to eliminate any suspense. The final three end up as Rene Goulet, Inoki and….RON SHAW. The heels miscommunicate and Inoki dumps them both in seconds to win at 13:42. Nothing remarkable here to end the night.

Final thoughts: The first hour and a half of this show was fun and featured lots of good wrestling. Everything after the tag title match was quite hard to sit through, minus the spectacle of the woman’s match.  I’d be kind of curious to see if MTV’s broadcast was much different than what we saw here.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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