Through the Booking Glass: Year 1 Week 7

I will give you fair warning that this will be a long read, but it is a must read as there are TWO major shows booked for this week’s edition.

Last week, admittedly the TV shows were mostly place holders. This week? Yeah, they still will be to a point since MSG will have taken place by the time they air, but we still have Philly to push so let’s see how this goes.

February 1983, Monday, Week 3

Ratings for the syndicated shows dropped again this week, but given a one minute main event on Championship Wrestling and a “main event” featuring Frankie Williams followed by 20 minutes of interviews and videos, I think it’s to be expected.  The shows were still good overall though, so the ratings are still disappointing.

February 1983, Tuesday, Week 3

The only thing officially announced for the Championship Wrestling taping is Gorilla Monsoon attempting Big John Studd’s bodyslam challenge.  Agricultural Hall in Allentown, PA has already drawn its customary sellout.  Most of the hype during the live portions of both tapings this week will be for Saturday’s show at the Spectrum since the Madison Square Garden show will have already taken place by the time it airs, and some promos for the March shows will be taped before the doors open for the benefit of those markets where the syndicated shows air on Sunday.

The WWF announced Big John Studd vs. Jules Strongbow for Friday night at MSG, and has also added Eddie Gilbert vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna to Saturday’s show at the Spectrum.

Championship Wrestling taping (February 1983, Tuesday, Week 3)

I just got back from another sellout at the Agricultural Hall in Allentown, PA.  This is for the Championship Wrestling show that airs this weekend in syndication.

In a bout that had solid in-ring action but not much in the way of heat, Tony Garea & Eddie Gilbert defeated The Masked Superstar and Johnny Rodz in 7:02 when Gilbert pinned Rodz with a Hotshot. Superstar looked very good here.

Don Muraco defeated David Sammartino in 2:07 by pinfall with a Tombstone Piledriver.  This was announced as a non-title match, and Muraco looked very good. After the match, Muraco took down Sammartino with a swinging neckbreaker.

Iron Mike Sharpe defeated Frankie Williams in 2:49 by pinfall with a Running Forearm Smash. After the match, Sharpe again took down Williams with the forearm. Williams looked worse than usual here.

S.D. Jones defeated Tiger Conway Jr. by disqualification in 1:59 when Conway wouldn’t stop raking Jones’ eyes before the five count. Well, that’s different.  As Conway argued with referee Dick Worhele, Jones hit him with a headbutt to send him out of the ring. After the match, Vince McMahon interviewed Jones about the match.

In an extremely short match, Ivan Koloff defeated Ivan Putski in 1:27 by pinfall with a Russian Sickle. These two have great chemistry, so this was among the best sub-two minute matches I’ve ever seen.

In a non-title match, The Strongbows defeated George Steele and Jose Estrada in 1:43 when Jules Strongbow pinned Steele. Another off night for Jay Strongbow which is becoming a more frequent occurrence.

Buddy Rogers’ Corner was next, with Rocky Johnson as the guest. Johnson questioned why he wasn’t receiving any title shots, in particular issuing a challenge to Don Muraco, claiming the IC Champ was ducking him.

Rocky Johnson defeated Mac Rivera in 2:55 by pinfall with a Dropkick.

Now it was time for the bodyslam challenge, with Gorilla Monsoon attempting to take the now $10,000 prize from Big John Studd.  Monsoon lifted Studd up, but Studd grabbed the ropes to prevent being slammed. Studd then attacked Monsoon and began to beat him down until Tony Garea and Pedro Morales made the save.  This sure came off like Monsoon will be making a return to the ring in the near future.

Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson were at the interview area discussing the feud between the Strongbows and the Samoans, with Patterson predicting a title match for the Samoans very soon. This was worded very carefully but seems to telegraph that the Samoans may be winning the non-title match at the Spectrum on Saturday.

In a bout that featured great action and a good crowd, Andre The Giant and Jimmy Snuka defeated Your New Heroes in 14:32 when Andre pinned Buddy Rose a bodyslam.  Great match which would have been even better of Rose and Stevens had any chemistry as partners at all.  Andre especially looked really motivated here.

I would have liked to see at least some build toward next month’s shows, but given the weird Friday MSG show I can understand not tipping your hand. The main event is definitely worth watching though.

February 1983, Wednesday, Week 3

The word backstage is that Chief Jay Strongbow is showing some signs of fatigue, which may be leading to his subpar performances over the past few weeks. I wouldn’t expect him to take any time off until at least after next month’s MSG show.

Both shows will show the Buddy Rogers’ Corner and bodyslam challenge segments from last night’s taping. The word I get is that Gorilla Monsoon will not be returning to the ring, but that next week the direction will be made clear.

About 1,300 tickets have been sold for tonight’s taping in Hamburg.

All-Star Wrestling taping (February 1983, Wednesday, Week 3)

In an extremely short match, Don Muraco defeated Ivan Putski in 2:59 by pinfall with a Tombstone Piledriver.

Tony Garea & Eddie Gilbert defeated Jose Estrada and George Steele in 5:07 when Garea defeated Estrada by submission to an abdominal stretch.

Iron Mike Sharpe defeated David Sammartino in 2:42 by pinfall with a Running Forearm Smash. Lou Albano was managing Sharpe and his reactions were priceless.

Salvatore Bellomo defeated Bob Bradley in 3:49 by pinfall with a Pizza Splash. This was bad but even bad is really good by Bellomo standards.

The Wild Samoans (w/Lou Albano) defeated Curt Hennig and Barry Hart in 5:23 when Sika pinned Hart with a Samoan drop.

The Strongbows made another defense of their tag team titles, defeating Swede Hanson and Frankie Williams in 4:55 when Strongbow made Williams pass out to a Sleeper.  After the match, Pat Patterson interviewed the Strongbows, who said their war with the Samoans was far from over. The way they worded this doesn’t give away the result for Saturday. Very nicely done.

In an awful match that was completely devoid of heat, Joyce Grable defeated Liz Chase in 7:36 by pinfall with a dropkick off the middle rope.  Nobody cared, mostly because we see the women so little that nobody knows who they are.

I did not like this show at all.

February 1983, Thursday, Week 3

There was a strange backstage incident last night, as Don Muraco apparently spread rumors that George Steele would be leaving the WWF to start an opposing company. Steele was so upset that a fist fight almost broke out between the two. Muraco has since apologized for the incident, claiming he just wanted to see how Steele would react.

Attendance was way down to 1,254 paid. Most who were at the show seemed to enjoy it, but the fact that attendance has dropped so hard so fast is a cause for concern.

February 1983, Friday, Week 3

Tonight is the first of two straight nights of big shows, this time for Madison Square Garden.  Ten or eleven matches are expected tonight, with six being advertised locally.  Here’s the preview:

-WWF Title: Bob Backlund defends against Intercontinental Champion Don Muraco. I’d doubt Muraco wins the title less than a month after winning the IC belt but stranger things have happened.

-Buddy Rose vs. Pedro Morales. This could go either way.  Rose is not getting a main event push, at least as a single, and the fact Morales isn’t getting a title rematch here indicates he’s not going to be in the title picture anytime soon.

-The Wild Samoans vs. Andre the Giant & Jimmy Snuka. I doubt Andre loses even in a tag match, but with the Samoans in line for a probable title shot I’d doubt they’d lose, so maybe Snuka eats a pin here.

-Superstar Billy Graham vs. Rocky Johnson. I’m still expecting a feud with Muraco for Johnson, so he should go over, but Vince McMahon loves Graham and has heat with Johnson so he may force booker Jared Hawkins to call an audible here.

-Big John Studd vs. Jules Strongbow. I can’t see anything but a Studd win here, the only question is if Strongbow puts up a fight or loses quickly.

-Ray Stevens vs. Jay Strongbow. Locally this is being pushed as Jay trying to get revenge for Jules for the loss last month, so this should mean a win for Strongbow.

Madison Square Garden live coverage for February 1983, Friday, Week 3

Welcome to our live coverage of the WWF show at Madison Square Garden.

Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon are on commentary.

In an awful match that was completely devoid of heat, Jose Estrada defeated David Sammartino in 13:17 by pinfall with a Piledriver.  As bad as it was, Estrada and Sammartino had good chemistry, so it could have been much worse.

Johnny Rodz defeated Baron Mikel Scicluna in 4:56 by pinfall with a Piledriver.  This was even worse, so this could be a long night.

In a match that had some good action and average heat, Mr. Fuji defeated Tony Garea in 8:11 by pinfall with a Kamikaze Clothesline.

Big John Studd defeated Jules Strongbow in 2:49 by submission with a Reverse Bearhug.  Strongbow is becoming stale in his role, so a repackaging might be in order.

In a match that had some good action and average heat, Ray Stevens defeated Chief Jay Strongbow in 8:34 by pinfall with a Bombs Away.  Perfectly fine but neither guy was convincingly selling for the other.

Intermission time in the arena.

Vince McMahon interviewed Don Muraco and Bob Backlund in separate interviews to hype their match, which will be coming up first after intermission. Both interviews were very good.

In the best match of the night by far at this point, Don Muraco defeated Bob Backlund by disqualification in 9:55, but Backlund keeps the WWF Title.  Backlund had Muraco locked in the Crossface Chickenwing, but Muraco reached the ropes.  When Marella tried to break the hold, Backlund threw the referee to the mat to force the DQ.  Backlund went for the chickenwing again after the match, but Muraco headed to the back before it could be locked in.

Backstage, Muraco was being interviewed by Vince McMahon when Backlund attacked again, leading to a pull apart brawl. I’m expecting a rematch, and I’m OK with this.

In an extremely short match, Rocky Johnson defeated Superstar Billy Graham in 4:11 by count out.

Gorilla Monsoon briefly interviewed Johnson at ringside, where he challenged Don Muraco for the Intercontinental Title.

Vince McMahon conducted a short interview with Andre the Giant and Jimmy Snuka regarding their match with the Wild Samoans.

Jimmy Snuka and Andre the Giant defeated The Wild Samoans in 10:26 when Snuka pinned Sika with a headbutt off the top of Andre’s shoulders.  That booking boggles my mind.

Monsoon briefly interviewed Lou Albano at ringside, who claimed his team was robbed because both opponents were in the ring at the time of the pin, but that he will not let that stop his team from being the next World Tag Team Champions.

Eddie Gilbert defeated Charlie Fulton in 9:23 by pinfall with a Hot Shot. Another horrible match that was only passable because Gilbert and Fulton work so well together.

Salvatore Bellomo defeated Swede Hanson in 5:23 by pinfall with a Pizza Splash. Ugh.

Howard Finkel announced that the next show at MSG will be on March 1983, Sunday, Week 3 with a 1pm start, and that Muraco and Backlund will meet in a no DQ match for the title.

In a match that had some good action and average heat, Pedro Morales defeated Buddy Rose in 11:52 by pinfall.  Morales was a step off, which is a shame because this should have been a great ending to the show.

February 1983, Saturday, Week 3

Attendance was down to 7,309 at the Garden last night.  Given that MSG used to be an automatic sellout, that’s not a good sign.

There was a heated argument backstage involving Superstar Billy Graham and booker Jared Hawkins last night.  Apparently Graham was backstage vehemently saying that Rocky Johnson was out of his league and that even a countout loss was bad for his reputation. Hawkins was attempting to book it in such a way to make Graham look as good as possible, but he told Graham that compared to five years ago, continuing to work is bad for his reputation. Ouch.

Match of the Night bonuses went to not only Don Muraco and Bob Backlund, but also The Wild Samoans, Jimmy Snuka and Andre the Giant.  Plus somebody apparently thought Chief Jay Strongbow was in the tag team match and he wound up receiving a bonus as well.  On the bright side, maybe Strongbow can buy a fourth move now.

Preview for tonight’s show at the Philadelphia Spectrum:

-Big John Studd vs. Bob Backlund for the WWF Title.  Studd is moving on so Backlund should go over here, plus they’d be stupid not to have next month’s Muraco-Backlund rematch be for the title after the hot match and angle last night.

-The Wild Samoans vs. The Strongbows in a two out of three falls non-title match. I have to think the Samoans are winning here, as it’s being pushed that they have to win to get a title shot and I just can’t see them not winning the titles at some point.

-Elimination Tag Team Match:  Don Muraco, Your New Heroes, Superstar Billy Graham and Mr. Fuji vs. Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Snuka, Pedro Morales and Salvatore Bellomo. The face team has Andre which should guarantee a win.

-Baron Mikel Scicluna vs. Eddie Gilbert. They’ve been giving Gilbert a push recently and that should continue over the aging Scicluna.

Expect at least four more matches to be added, so they are relying on the top three matches here.

Philadephia Spectrum live coverage (February 1983, Saturday, Week 3)

Welcome to our ongoing live coverage of the WWF show at the Philadelphia Spectrum.

Gorilla Monsoon and Howard Finkel (!) on commentary.

In an awful match that was completely devoid of heat, Jose Estrada defeated Frankie Williams in 9:22 by pinfall with a quick cradle.  This match was way too long.

Johnny Rodz pinned Mac Rivera in 8:07 when he hit Rivera with a flying elbow after whipping Rivera into the ropes.  Rodz received a surprising number of cheers here.

In a bout that had solid in-ring action but not much in the way of heat, Tony Garea defeated Charlie Fulton in 12:07 by pinfall.

Swede Hanson defeated S.D. Jones in 9:47 by pinfall.  Hanson was tiring near the end, but these two have great chemistry, so this was better than expected.

Eddie Gilbert defeated Baron Mikel Scicluna in 3:42 by pinfall with a Hot Shot.  This show needs to improve in a hurry.

Bob Backlund vs. Big John Studd by Stinger1981

Big John Studd vs. Bob Backlund for the title is next.  Before the match, Studd tells Arnold Skaaland to watch closely, because he’s going to need to throw in the towel for Backlund before match is over. Another controversial finish playing off their MSG finish, and Backlund was on the apron and locked Studd in the Crossface Chickenwing, but could not enter the ring before the ten count. Time of the fall was announced as 11:13.  So Backlund appears to get a submission but actually loses by countout. The problem is Studd was trying to knock Backlund off the apron which is supposed to stop the count.  Backlund and Skaaland argued with referee Dick Worhele about the decision while Studd got on the mic claiming he should be the champion.  Best match of the night so far but that’s not saying much.

Howard Finkel is backstage with The Wild Samoans, who vow to take two straight falls against The Strongbows to earn their rightful shot at the tag titles.

In a match that had some good action and average heat, The Wild Samoans defeated The Strongbows in 14:30 by two straight falls, with the final fall happening when Sika defeated Jules Strongbow by pinfall with a Samoan Drop.  Best match of the night so far, and when you factor in the lack of selling and the fact that Chief Jay Strongbow seemed like he’d be rather be in China than a wrestling ring, and this could have been a match of the year candidate.

Finkel is backstage with Don Muraco.  Muraco is responding to the challenge of Rocky Johnson, claiming that if he feels worthy of a shot, he should beat somebody instead of letting them run away, a clear shot at the MSG match from last night.

In a bout that featured great action and average heat, Andre The Giant, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Snuka, Pedro Morales and Salvatore Bellomo defeated Don Muraco, Buddy Rose, Ray Stevens, Mr. Fuji and Superstar Billy Graham in an Elimination match in 16:58; Salvatore Bellomo was eliminated first, then Buddy Rose, then Mr. Fuji, then Pedro Morales, then Rocky Johnson (by Muraco with his feet on the ropes), then Ray Stevens, then Jimmy Snuka.  This leaves Andre down 2 on 1, but he eliminates Muraco and then Graham to be the last man standing.  Fuji and Morales were off their game, Andre looked good, and thank God Bellomo was eliminated early.

Second half of the show was great. The undercard sucked.

February 1983, Sunday, Week 3

An incident took place backstage last night between Bob Backlund and road agent Butcher Vachon.  Apparently Vachon was originally going to be the road agent for Backlund’s match with Big John Studd but designed the entire thing to make Backlund look bad, leading to a heated argument.  Vachon would apologize, saying he didn’t realize the match would make Backlund look that bad.  Not sure I believe that one at all.  Bruno Sammartino wound up structuring the match instead, which, in all honesty, still made Backlund look bad.

No walk up for this one at all, so attendance was just 5,688.  I doubt they even broke even on arena rental, much less on paying the wrestlers.

Match of the night bonus went to The Strongbows vs. The Samoans.  Chief Jay Strongbow was not given his bonus because he received the mystery extra bonus, but he seems OK with  that.

Jay Strongbow and Swede Hanson are both asking to be used less as they feel fatigue is setting in.  Hawkins has said he wants to phase them both down but has told Strongbow that as a tag champion it will be tougher to give him any time off.  An imminent tag tile change looks more and more imminent.

The WWF announced the next show at the Spectrum will be March 1983, Saturday, Week 3.  Main event will be The Wild Samoans and Big John Studd against Bob Backlund, Andre the Giant and Jimmy Snuka.  The match should be fun but I’m not sure why they’re not doing another Backlund-Studd rematch after the two previous matches were inconclusive.

Next week:  Big John Studd’s bodyslam challenge takes a new turn, plus Rocky Johnson continues his quest for the Intercontinental Title!


Written by JHawk

Jared Hawkins is an indy wrestling referee and a former recapper of WWE Raw and SmackDown for the now-defunct and co-hosts Pro Wrestling Weekend, available through every Sunday at 6pm Eastern. When not doing something wrestling-related, he is generally getting higher doses of his anxiety medication due to the aggravation of his Cleveland sports teams.

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