Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF @ Philadelphia Spectrum 8-4-1984

The Hulkster battles the Hammer, The Freebirds debut, plus Giants and Midgets!

Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon call the matches. 13,000 fans came to see the action.

Sal Bellomo vs. Bob Backlund

A smattering of boos and a light cheer greets Backlund. This is a mildly historic match, as this signaled the last match of Bob’s career in the WWF until 1992. He’d be fired for refusing to dye his hair and turn heel. Bob is wearing all black here. The Philly fans are bored with the babyfaces playing nice to start and chant “boring” as the men trade leg picks, headlocks and hammerlocks. Bellemo breaks out a cartwheel and Backlund responds by hip tossing him. They go through a few counters and then pause and stare at one another like this is RVD vs. Jerry Lynn 15 years later.

The announcers talk about Sal’s fatness and Monsoon excuses it as necessary to deal with all the giants in the WWF. Backlund traps Bellomo in a series of head scissors that Sal has to work his way out of. By the fourth go around of this the boo birds come out. Bellomo gets fired up and starts throwing some fists. Backlund sits in a headlock for a bit before exploding out of it and dropkicking Bellemo out of the ring. Soon after, Backlund escapes a full nelson and cradles Sal for the win at   10:56. Solid match, but one that was deliberately paced. It also showed that the fans didn’t really care about Backlund in a world full of increasingly flashy characters. Some have speculated that this match was booked with Backlund’s heel turn in mind, and was originally designed to give heel Backlund an easy win.

Gama Singh vs. Dave Barbie

Barbie is built solid and looks like a well-groomed John Nord. He was apparently Andre’s friend and road handler for a while and got to be a jobber as part of the deal. Singh is much smaller, balding and- despite wearing traditional Pakistan garb- is the supposed babyface. The crowd does not see it that way. Singh came in from Stampede, where he played a heel. His run with the WWF was brief. Singh tries to work with the big man, but the fans don’t want to see a foreigner beat up this rugged looking American kid. Even Monsoon and Graham talk about how the fans aren’t responding to anything Singh does. Gama wins with the flying dropkick at 5:56.   Nothing remarkable here – I was more interested in googling the background on these guys than watching them sit in rest holds. Singh should have a decent heel run as a foreign heel underneath. His wikipedia entry claims Singh was brought in to be a WWF drawing card in the Middle East. The Wikipedia page for Singh was clearly written by someone in his family, as it overdoses on superlatives on his career.

Tiger Chung Lee vs. Mr. Fuji

Tiger Chung Lee gets a decent pop as he charges the ring and attempts to crack Fuji with a kendo stick. Lee uses the stick on Fuji at the start of the match, and the ref just allows it. Fuji stalls to start and plays “hide the salt packet” with the ref. Lee eventually gets his hands on Fuji and lays into him with chops and karate kicks. Fuji goes low to take advantage, then assaults Lee on the ring floor. Fuji turns to a nerve hold to eat up some time. He then puts a pinch on Lee’s belly button and sits in that for a while. Time to google adjectives for boring…

Graham explains how the Japanese hate Koreans. Fuji tries to break out his salt bag, but the ref snags it away and this distraction allows Lee to come at Fuji. This assault only lasts a second before Fuji drops Lee with a kick. Fuji tears at Lee’s nostrils, then wipes the contents of Lee’s nose on the refs shirt. Gross! Fuji delivers a Vader bomb, but pulls the shoulder up at two. He then drops another Vader bomb and takes the pin at 14:33. What a total burial of Lee at the end there. The match itself was quite dreadful, with both men throwing weak looking strikes, along with the long rest holds. Not to mention the length of the match. Augh.

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd

Studd stalls to start, walking around the entire ringside area before finally getting into the ring. Andre headbutts him to the floor almost immediately. More stalling. Andre traps him in a front facelock once things get back in the ring. This goes on for a bit before Studd runs to the floor again. Stalling…Back in the squared circle, Andre again grabs him in a headlock, which leads to Studd bailing out yet again. Stalling. When both men resume combat Andre tries a slam, but Studd gets the top rope and hangs on for dear life. Andre clubs Studd and attempts another slam, but this time Studd is dumped to the floor. Studd has had enough of this and just walks back to the locker room and takes the count-out loss at 9:47. HORRIBLE match, but the crowd ate up every bit of this, so I guess it’s a wash. All the kids probably went home and begged their parents to buy tickets to the rematch.

A limo pulls up to the arena, with Cyndi Lauper and Dave Wolfe in the front of the vehicle and the Fabulous Freebirds in the back. You can’t say they didn’t go all in on trying to make the Freebirds huge right away.

Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts vs. Charlie Fulton, Ron Shaw and Rene Goulet

I’m not sure the Birds were best suited as faces. Hayes surely could talk himself up both ways but Roberts was old and small, and Gordy wasn’t suited to be a WWF babyface with his lack of verbal skills. Hayes is totally into this as he plays to the crowd as Gordy mauls the job squad. Hayes takes a little bit of offense from the heels, but this quickly leads to Gordy powerbombing Fulton for the pin at 5:12. Lauper runs to the ring to celebrate. The Birds all hug her, but I have to think that they never listened to her brand of music, since they were good ol’ boys. The match was just a squash.

Haiti Kid vs. Dan Carpenter

Goofy midget stuff as usual, with Kid running across his opponent’s back, Carpenter hiding under the ring, slapstick comedy and such. Carpenter takes a bunch of fake looking bumps, where it is obvious that he is jumping in the air from the blows he’s receiving. A blind charge by Carpenter misses and Kid rolls him up for the pin at 3:51. This was every midget match you’ve ever seen. At least it was short

WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

I just watched a really good match between these two from a month or so earlier, so let’s hope they bring the goods again. Hogan is wearing all white, which signals that he has yet to have become stuck in a formula match – or as the guys at “Mystery Titans Theatre” call it “Earth 2 Hogan”.

Valentine tries to rough Hogan up right away, but Hulk blocks his attack and sends him flopping to the ground face first. Valentine is undeterred as he goes right back at the champ, downing him and stomping boots into his spine. Dick Graham, who has been saying inane things all night, annoys me by calling Hogan the “Hulker” time after time after time. Can somebody tell him it’s “Hulkster”.

Valentine slams Hogan to the mat and drives elbows into Hogan’s back. The Hammer ties Hogan’s legs in a proto-STF before cracking his knee with a chair. The ref is okay with this behavior, in spite of Hogan being in the ring. Hogan has had enough of this abuse and begins to Hulk up. Hogan assaults Valentine with fists and an atomic drop. Valentine breaks this up by smashing an elbow into Hogan’s neck. The Hammer grinds away at Hogan with elbows and knee drops. Hogan manages to catch Valentine on the top rope and slam him off, but his knee gives out before he can follow up on the move. The challenger goes back to working on Hulk’s leg before attempting a figure-four. Hogan kicks the challenger off into the turnbuckle, blasts him with a clothesline and drops the leg for the three count at 11:18. A pretty solid outing here, as the Hammer is believable in his role as an ass kicker, and Hogan can certainly sell when he wants to.

Matches that were not part of the WWE 24/7 broadcast include: “Iron” Mike Sharpe beating Jose Luis Rivera, Jesse Ventura besting Rocky Johnson via count-out, Kamala and Ken Patera pounding jobbers and Tito Santana pinning the Iron Sheik.

Final thoughts: The fans probably went home thinking they got their money’s worth since Hogan and Andre were in big matches, plus Santana and Sheik was probably a good technical affair. Add in the Freebirds and Kamala debuting and Ken Patera returning and the whole package equalled a fun night out. Or they could have stayed home and watched Knight Rider…

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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