Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: April 1984

WWF

The biggest happening of the month occurred on April 28th, where Capt. Lou Albano appeared on “Piper’s Pit” and started tearing into Cindy Lauper. This was the kick off of the “Rock n’ Wrestling” era which turned the WWF into a mainstream sensation.

World champion Hulk Hogan spent the month defending his title against Afa, Sika, Paul Orndorff, David Schultz, Tiger Chung Lee, Big John Studd and the Iron Sheik.

Elsewhere Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson were busy fending off the challenge of Roddy Piper, Schultz and Orndorff in various combinations of four and six-man tag team action. The heels used plenty of racism to build heat in the feud:

Atlas and Johnson would end up losing their WWF tag straps to Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch at a TV taping in late April, but the actual match wouldn’t be shown for nearly a month later.

Intercontinental champ Tito Santana successfully defended his title several times against David Schultz. By the end of the month Greg “The Hammer” Valentine was starting to get some shots. That would kick off a series of matches that would last basically for the next year.

Valentine was prepped for this run by facing off with Bob Backlund around the horn with the results being a mixed bag of inconclusiveness.

Sgt. Slaughter squaring off with the Iron Sheik was another hot program unfolding at many arenas.

The expansion into Detroit continued as 6,000 fans came to the Cobo Arena to see Hogan batter Schultz, Sheik and Slaughter brawl and Atlas and Johnson clash with Piper and Orndorff. The rest of the card was made up of local talent.

15,000 fans came to Pittsburgh to see Sheik and Slaughter tear each other up, plus Schultz, Piper and Orndorff faced off with Atlas, Johnson and Ivan Putski. Wendi Richter was on the under card, but her big push was still a few weeks away.

22,000 fans entered MSG to see Slaughter and the Sheik go to war, plus Piper, Schultz and Orndorff overcame Johnson, Atlas and Putski and Bob Backlund pinned Greg Valentine.

St. Louis/Central States

As the combo of Bob Geigel and Verne Gagne continue to try and fend off the WWF’s invasion of St. Louis backstage deals are being worked on by both groups to try and bring in the Von Erichs to work on their side. Apparently World Class’s local syndicated show is doing impressive ratings and the Von Erichs are hot commodities.

Sam Muchnick, the long time St. Louis promoter/NWA President is considering stepping back into the game, and with his disciple Larry Matysik working for Vince McMahon the WWF may soon have a major advantage.

Ric Flair came to the area to defend his NWA World title against Buzz Tyler and Buzz Sawyer. Bobby Heenan cut promos on Flair on the behalf of Harley Race on the AWA’s St. Louis show. They built to another Race vs. Ric Flair match in St. Louie: Flair bested Race in the main event of that card. Other action included Chris Adams beating Jimmy Garvin in a match imported from WCCW where the two men have feuded for months. Blackjack Lanza battled to a draw with Ken Patera, The Grapplers beat Jim Brunzell and Steve O, Dick the Bruiser pinned Luke Graham, along with other prelim action.

A week before that card, the WWF came to St. Louis’ Kiel Auditorium for a TV taping which saw Hogan battle Big John Studd in a cage, Orndorff and Schultz cheated their way past Rocky Johnson and S.D. Jones, Tito Santana went to a thirty-minute draw with Adrian Adonis, and Tony Atlas brawled to a draw with Dick Murdoch.

GCW

Vince McMahon wanted the WWF to have a greater outreach and in order to accomplish this he went to Ted Turner and attempted to secure GCW’s coveted 6:05 Saturday night slot. This would provide McMahon with the only national TV slot wrestling had that wasn’t WWF related. When Turner denied him his wish Vince went to GCW co-owner’s Jack and Jerry Brisco, Jim Barnett and Paul Jones and bought out their stock in the company for 750-900,000 dollars. This gave him controlling interest. Ole had the remaining 10% but was out of luck.

The stories on the Internet are a bit conflicting, with some sources stating that Ole didn’t find out about the sale until he showed up at the Techwood studio and was confronted by Gorilla Monsoon. Another states the GCW secretary called him when she found out. Jerry Brisco admitted in modern interviews that Ole knew something was up since the Briscos had been trying to shop around their shares months earlier to the Crocketts and others and somebody snitched on them to Ole. This led to a confrontation with the Briscos and Anderson in January that nearly descended into a drunken brawl.

A lawsuit between Anderson and McMahon would follow the GCW sale and the situation would not be settled until July. For now Ole will retain control of the time slot and talent roster. Ole was offered a spot in the WWF, but he told Vince to his face “Fuck you…and your wife”. I’ll have more on this situation in a few weeks.

If taking the company out from under him wasn’t enough, McMahon is also trying to bribe top GCW star Ted Dibiase into jumping to the WWF in exchange for a run with the IC title.

The Spoiler and Brad Armstrong spent the month battling over the National title.

Meanwhile the Road Warriors defended their National tag titles against former partner King Kong Bundy and a range of partners that included Ron Garvin, Tim Horner, the Masked Superstar and Wahoo McDaniel.

The Ron Garvin/Jake the Snake feud continued with no end in sight.

The Omni was host to a pair of events in April: The first show saw Garvin and Jake the Snake clash in a strap match, plus the Road Warriors went to battle against Austin Idol and Jerry Lawler, Brad Armstrong bested the Spoiler, and Joe LeDuc clashed with King Kong Bundy.

The second event saw Bundy and Masked Superstar beat the Road Warriors for the National titles. Bundy got to face off with his former manager Paul Ellering as a result of the match. Garvin and Roberts faced off again, among other prelim action.

The promotional struggle between the WWF and GCW continued as they both presented shows in Baltimore:

GCW offered NWA World champion Ric Flair defending his title against Jack Brisco in the main event. The under card saw Jake the Snake and Ronnie Garvin go at it for the TV title, Wahoo and Bundy clash with the Road Warriors, Brad Armstrong pinning Larry Zbyzko, plus Jerry Brisco, The Spoiler and Ernie Ladd in prelim action. Ole Anderson went into the crowd with a TV camera during the event and taped fans bashing Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. They showed these clips on TV the following weekend.
The WWF answered back with a card featuring Hulk Hogan pinning Greg Valentine, Atlas and Johnson battling Piper and Schultz to a double-DQ, and Ivan Putski losing to Afa via count-out.

The two groups also competed in Cincinnati where the WWF drew 3,000 fans to see Hogan beat Valentine by DQ, Piper and Orndorff battled Atlas and Johnson to a double-DQ, and Schultz pinned Putski, among other prelim action.

GCW offered up Wahoo and Bundy facing off with the Road Warriors, Jake the Snake and Ron Garvin continued their issue, Brad Armstrong slipped by the Spoiler via count-out, plus Bob Roop, Tim Horner and others in prelim action.

WWC

Promoter Carlos Colon faced off with NWA champ Ric Flair in the Virgin Islands and came away with his hand raised, but not the title.

Japan

The UWF kicked off with Akira Maeda, Rusher Kimura, Gran Hamada and Mach Hayato as the top names. Tiger Mask, Nobuhiko Takada, Yoshiaki Fujiwara and others would soon join these men. The promotion set itself apart by working a worked shoot style with kickboxing style strikes and more submission based grappling. The WWF has a working agreement with the UWF, but that would end in July when UWF president Hisashi Shinma switched his loyalties to Giant Baba’s All-Japan.

Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody overcame Giant Baba and Dory Funk Jr, Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta and Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne to capture the inaugural Pacific Wrestling Federation tag titles in All-Japan.

New Japan and the WWF remain business partners. A glut of WWF stars are scheduled to fly over for the upcoming IWGP series. New Japan had to use it’s TV bonus money to sign up as many of their own roster as possible to contracts since the UWF had raided them for talent.

JCP

Ole Anderson and Jim Crockett Jr. are planning a major show in the New Jersey Meadowlands in May to strike back at McMahon’s attacks. The only TV they have in the New York area is a Spanish channel, so Carlos Colon is expected to get a massive push on the show. The rumored main event is Harley Race vs. Flair, but that would prove to change to Ricky Steamboat vs. Flair.

NWA champ Flair fended off Ricky Steamboat in a number of one-hour broadways. Dick Slater also received a number of title shots and failed to capture the gold. Slater has been running around TV with a fake World title since he beat Flair in a non-title match.

Ricky Steamboat captured the U.S. title from Dick Slater.

Paul Jones was tricked into signing up for a steel cage match with Jimmy Valiant. Valiant ended up beating him when the match went down. Valiant beat Jones in several other stipulation matches during the month as well.

That was not the end of Jones’ worries as his Assassins team split up after Assassin #2 was forced to unmask after losing to Valiant. He was revealed to be Hercules. Assassin #1 and Jones then beat the stink off of Hercules on TV.

Paul Jones and the Assassin are also having issues with the Mosca Family. Mosca Sr. and the Assassin ended up brawling on TV.

Angelo Mosca Jr. reclaimed the Mid-Atlantic title by pinning Ivan Koloff. Both Mosca’s had been pursuing Koloff, with Mosca Sr. even agreeing to meet in some Russian chain matches. Koloff is also maintaining his team with Don Kernodle.

Dory Funk Jr. was “suspended” for missing a disciplinary meeting after shoving NWA rep Sandy Scott. He’ll be back soon…

The Brisco Brothers captured the NWA World tag titles from Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood. This led to some issues after the Briscos were outed as having made a deal with Vince McMahon for the GCW since they were holding a key NWA belt. There was concerns that promoters would order other wrestlers to shoot on and injure the Briscos as payback.

The JYD was “suspended” from Mid-South, so he made the most of it and worked many matches for JCP over the course of the month. His opponents included Tully Blanchard, Dick Slater, Kabuki, The Briscos and Ernie Ladd.

Ladd is still feuding with Rufus R. Jones and using race-baiting promos to get heat.

Dusty Rhodes made some shots facing “Exotic” Adrian Street.

Brian Adidas is in from WCCW.

The Road Warriors brought their feud with King Kong Bundy to JCP rings as Bundy teamed with Wahoo to face off with the young monsters.

JCP supplies talent to Jack Tunney in Toronto, but recent shows there have under performed. This has led to Vince McMahon trying to buy out Maple Leaf Wrestling’s time slot, if not the Tunney promotion outright.

Florida

NWA champ Ric Flair came in to face off with Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham, Billy Jack Haynes and Mike Davis.

Dusty continued his battles with Kevin Sullivan and the Army of Darkness. Adrian Street and Buzz Sawyer also came in as fresh challengers for Big Dust.

Barry Windham and Mike Rotondo continued their war with Ron Bass and Black Bart. They also faced off with Chavo and Hector Guerrero in what sounds like an intriguing match up.

Andre the Giant came in for a series of matches with Kevin Sullivan, Buzz Sawyer and One Man Gang with various partners aiding him.

Continental

NWA champ Ric Flair bested Jimmy Golden by DQ in his lone defense in the area.

AWA

On April 6th Ken Patera and Mr. Saito were arrested following their attack on a number of cops in a small Wisconsin town that confronted them at their hotel. Patera was wanted for vandalism after he tossed a sizable rock through a McDonald’s restaurant window after being refused after hours service.

The stories differ, but Patera claims that Saito accidentally incited the brawl by slamming their hotel door in a female cop’s face because he was naked and didn’t want her to see him. This led to a physical altercation and the woman cop was badly (permanently) injured. Ultimately another 7-12 cops rushed to the scene where Patera and Saito fended them off until the police finally drew their guns. Both wrestlers will face criminal trials in the upcoming months stemming from the incident.

Verne Gagne has enough clout in Minnesota to so far prevent the WWF from scoring a TV deal, but that was to change soon.

AWA champ Jumbo Tsuruta defended the title in both the U.S. and Japan against guys like Bruiser Brody, Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, David Sammartino, Nick Bockwinkel and others. The Hi-Flyers (Gagne and Brunzell) also toured Japan.

Crusher and the Baron continued their battles with the Sheik’s Army of Jerry Blackwell and Patera. They also tangled frequently with Mr. Saito and Jesse Ventura.

Blackjack Mulligan battled Nick Bockwinkel across many towns, often ending with a DQ one way or another.

Blackjack Lanza continued his months long pursuit of Bobby Heenan.

Jesse Ventura was feuding with the Fabulous Ones. He was insistant he could beat them 2 on 1 but the AWA forced him to pick a partner, so he chose jobber Jake Milliman and they faced off at a number of shows with the Fabs.

The AWA house shows were a bit of a mixed bag attendance wise:

Chicago drew 18,000 fans to see Crusher and Baron clash with Saito and Ventura, plus Bockwinkel bested Billy Robinson by DQ, the Road Warriors debuted, Dick the Bruiser and the Blackjacks brawled with Patera, Blackwell and Sheik Adnan, and the Fabulous Ones and Greg Gagne were in action.

Nearly 10,000 fans viewed a Salt Lake City show where Verne Gagne came out of retirement to team with the Crusher and Mad Dog Vachon against Adnan, Patera and Blackwell, Lanza butted heads with Bockwinkel, Jesse the Body beat the Baron, plus Curt Hennig, and The Fabs took part in the prelims.

They returned to Chicago a few weeks later and drew 17,000 to see Crusher, Bruiser and the Baron batter Ventura, Saito and Blackwell, Jumbo was disqualified against Bockwinkel, The Road Warriors pounded Ron Garvin and Curt Hennig, Jim Brunzell drew Harley Race, Mulligan bested Patera, Robinson pinned Larry Zbyszko, and the Fabs opened the show beating Steve Regal and Kevin Kelly. I want a ticket!!

Green Bay sold out 6,200 seats for a card with Crusher, Mad Dog and Baron facing off with Ventura, Saito and Blackwell, Mulligan was DQ’d against Bockwinkel, The Fabs slipped past Patera and Adnan, Jim Brunzell bested Steve Regal in a match that was probably really good, plus Billy Robinson and Curt Hennig took part in the prelim action.

The attendance wasn’t as encouraging in St. Paul where only 6,000 (out of a 16,000 seat capacity) fans came to see Rick Martel overcome Nick Bockwinkel in a match where the winner was to receive a title shot the next month against Jumbo. Crusher went over Patera in a bout where Baron was chained to Adnan. Ventura and Saito beat the Fabulous Ones by DQ, Mulligan got past Crusher Blackwell, Robinson pinned Zbyszko, plus several prelim matches.

Milwaukee only drew 3,000 fans (50% capacity) to see Patera and Blackwell successfully defend the AWA tag belts against Crusher and the Baron, Mulligan got by Bockwinkel, Mad Dog brawled with Saito, plus the Fabs and Hennig took part in prelim action.

San Francisco’s Cow Palace only drew 2,000 fans to witness Jumbo defending against Bockwinkel, a cage match saw Crusher, Baron, and Vachon face off with Heenan, Saito and Ventura, the Fabs beat Blackwell and Adnan, Mulligan bested Patera, and Hennig took Zbyszko to a draw.

Winnipeg drew 8,000 fans for with Crusher, Baron, and Mad Dog facing Saito, Blackwell and Ventura in a cage, The Fabs besting Patera and Adnan, Bockwinkel going to a draw with Mulligan, plus Robinson, Hennig and Zbyszko in prelim action.

Montreal/AWA

Verne had points in the Montreal office, so he was supplying talent to the area. The big show of the month saw Rick Martel, Dino Bravo and Tony Parisi fall to Abby the Butcher, Ken Patera and Crusher Blackwell, Mad Dog Vachon teamed with Raymond Rougeau to face Bob Boucher and Gilles Poisson, plus Bockwinkel went over Dom DeNucci.

Mid South

The Rock and Roll Express continued their battles with the Midnight Express. Ricky and Robert also had their hands full with Nikolai Volkoff and his various foreign partners, who faced the Express many nights.

The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette were forced to pay for their past misdeeds as Bill Watts came out of retirement to team with the “mysterious” Stagger Lee. Watts only took part in a limited number of matches (“The Last Stampede”) and the bouts had stipulations that Cornette would either have to wear a dress or a diaper if his team lost. This angle proved to draw huge as 12,000 fans came to Houston, 20,000 fans came to two different Oklahoma shows in the same day, and 25,000 fans came to the Superdome. Other towns were near equally as successful.

The Superdome also featured the potential blow offs of several other feuds that had been going on for the past several months. This included Magnum TA vs. Mr. Wrestling II, Hacksaw Duggan facing off with Krusher Darsow/Khrushchev, and the Rock and Roll Express vs. Volkoff and the Russian Invader. Kerry Von Erich was brought in as an extra draw and Terry Taylor clashed with Butch Reed in an anticipated match up.

Portland

NWA champ Ric Flair beat Brett Sawyer. I’d wager this didn’t draw as well as his matches with Billy Jack had done.

Memphis

Jerry Lawler returned to his feud with “Macho Man” Randy Savage as they clashed in several matches involving violent stipulations.

The monstrous Lord Humongous debuted and nearly destroyed Lawler with the help of Ox Baker and others.

Savage finished up his issues with Dutch Mantel before turning his focus towards Austin Idol, who was also trying to fend off fellow playboy Rick Rude.

The “New” Fabulous Ones, Tommy Rich and Eddie Gilbert, defended their Southern tag titles against the P.Y.T.’s as well as Jimmy Hart’s First Family over the course of the month.

World Class

Ric Flair’s lone appearance came as he defended his NWA title against Kerry Von Erich, losing via DQ.

Michael Hayes mentioned “Lance Von Erich” during a promo. The fake Von Erich cousin would not be introduced for real until October of 1985.

The Chris Adams vs. Jimmy Garvin feud kept rolling along with the men trading the American title back and forth.

The Freebirds continued to face off with the Von Erichs at some shows.

Akbar’s Army of Kamala, The Missing Link and others continued to draw the ire of both the Von Eriches and The Freebirds.

Andre the Giant came in to help the babyfaces clash with Kamala and other monsters.

No DVD to review this time. Thanks for reading! Hope you come back next week as we continue this journey through time.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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