Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: November 1984

The WWF runs some hot angles, plus Starrcade and other big Thanksgiving shows highlight the month

Thanks to Kris Zellner, Jim Zordani, Graham Cawthon, Matt Farmer, Tamalie, Dave Meltzer, Karl Stern, Brian Last, wrestlingdata.com, crazymax.org, prowrestlinghistory.com and the “Between the Sheets” podcast for the results and historical information I have used for this series. The Wrestling Classics and Kayfabe Memories message boards have also been invaluable in answering my questions on certain issues and angles.

When I Iast left you it was October of 1984:

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: October 1984

WWF

Jimmy Snuka returned from his drug rehab stint (kayfabed as a neck injury from Piper in the Summer), chasing Piper at TV taping as Roddy was harassing Snuka’s “cousin”, the Tonga Kid. Due to the threat that Snuka and others have posed, “Cowboy” Bob Orton has been hired on by Piper as his bodyguard.

Tito Santana also returned to TV after his brief absence due to having his knee surgically repaired. He ended up saving a jobber who Greg Valentine was abusing, effectively restarting his feud with Valentine.

Andre the Giant was knocked out during a tag match with Special Delivery Jones and himself facing Big John Studd and Ken Patera. The heels then proceeded to cut Andre’s hair in one of the more infamous angles of this era.

Cyndi Lauper is being hyped for an appearance at December’s MSG card. Wendi Richter was not used much once again, as she only worked six matches all month. With the amount of towns the WWF are running, I can’t believe they didn’t pull in some ladies to lose to her nightly.

Brian Blair quit the WWF at the end of September, spent some time in Japan in October and is now working in Florida.

The British Bulldogs have quit and are working for Giant Baba.

Kamala has quit due to the travel, and is now accepting dates for Mid-South, WCCW and the AWA.

Mad Dog Vachon will be off the road for the next several months. I assume he was injured, but cannot confirm that.

The WWF has four shows in the cable top ten listing. What was number 1? Masterpiece Theater! There was a time America wasn’t completely drawn to lowbrow TV?

A big man who we would come to know as Hillbilly Jim has begun appearing in the TV audiences.

Paul Orndorff joined the Bobby Heenan Family.

Buddy Rose is facing heat back in Maine for failing to pay his taxes in the late 70’s. He earned $28,591, $36,113, and $47,187 from 1978-80 while working mostly in Portland.

World Champion Hulk Hogan defended his title against Paul Orndorff, Roddy Piper and Big John Studd over the month.

Sgt. Slaughter continued his battles with Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik.

Veteran Toru Tanaka worked several California house shows, losing to Blackjack Mulligan and Mil Mascaras.

Boston drew 15,635 fans for Hogan fending off Roddy Piper, Tito Santana attempting to wrest the IC title from Valentine, and JYD battering Nikolai Volkoff.

Pittsburgh saw 12,000 fans come for Hogan battling Studd, along with Sarge and JYD butting heads with Volkoff and Sheik.

Just under 20,000 fans entered the Philadelphia Spectrum to see JYD and Slaughter clash with Sheik and Volkoff, as well as Big John Studd taking Kamala’s place in a match with Andre.

Toronto drew 10,200 for Tonga Kid and Piper facing off, along with Tito Santana hunting down IC champ Greg Valentine.

The WWF ran a unique card in Hartford called ‘Steel Cage Turmoil” which was a gauntlet style “tournament featuring 19 straight cage matches with 20 different men competing. The winner stayed on and a fresh opponent then came in to challenge him. Big John Studd ultimately won the event, beating Chief Jay Strongbow, Sal Bellomo and Rocky Johnson to claim the duke.

MSG sold 22,000 tickets for a line-up which included the Tonga Kid facing Roddy Piper, as well as Santana and Valentine squaring off. Bruno Sammartino returned to MSG for the first time in four years to corner his son against Ken Patera.

St. Louis/Central States

The Verne Gagne/Bob Geigel St. Louis group presented a Kiel Auditorium card headlined by NWA champion Ric Flair clashing with Bruiser Brody. Another top bout saw Crusher Blackwell overcoming Harley Race for the Missouri State title. A very random sounding six-man tag match went down as Dick the Bruiser teamed with Terry Funk and Wahoo McDaniel to beat Hacksaw Higgins, Baron Von Raschke and Tom Stone (Wahoo is a heel in JCP, and Baron is an AWA babyface-what is going on here!?!?) and Kevin Von Erich defeated Billy Robinson in what sounds like an epic styles clash. Just under 7,000 fans attended.

The WWF punched back with a card headlined by a battle royal, Roddy Piper tangling with the JYD, The Tonga Kid fighting Mr. Wonderful, and Big John Studd matching up with Blackjack Mulligan. Mad Dog Vachon, Snuka, Bob Orton and the Briscos were also on the card.

Kansas City was also a battleground as Gagne and Geigel presented a card headlined by a battle royal won by Crusher Blackwell. The Fabulous Freebirds brought a taste of Badstreet to the card, teaming as a trio to battle the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering to a no contest. Marty Jannetty, King Kong Bundy, Missing Link and Iceman Parsons were also on the card, supplemented by the local talent. 1,600 fans attended.

The WWF’s card in Kansas City a week later drew only 1,000 fans for a Santana/Valentine IC title match, Mulligan clashing with Studd and Piper tangling with Ivan Putski.

NWA champ Ric Flair faced Bob Brown as he toured the area.

Championship Wrestling from Georgia

With Jerry Jarrett and Jim Crockett now aiding Ole Anderson as part of their cross promoting plans, a tag team tournament was scheduled for November 18th at the Omni – keeping with the area’s tradition for this time of year. The winners would receive $100,000. National tag champ Tim Horner came up injured, so the titles were put up for grabs as well.

Tag teams who were involved included Ole Anderson and Thunderbolt Patterson, The Road Warriors, Bill and Scott Irwin, Tommy Rich and Randy Savage, Jerry Lawler and Jimmy Valiant, Bob Roop and the Italian Stallion as well as Jacques Rougeau and Brad Armstrong.   The Irwins ended up being the big winners, overcoming Armstrong and Rougeau in the finals. 7,000 fans attended.

The WWF ran the Omni five days later, drawing 4,800 fans for a steel cage battle royal won by Mr. Wonderful. Sgt. Slaughter and Nikolai Volkoff brawled in the other notable bout. Kamala, The Briscos, JYD, The Spoiler, Mulligan, Windham, Mr. Wrestling II and the Iron Sheik also took part in the action.

Jerry Lawler continued his feud with Jimmy Hart’s “First Family”, with Lawler finding himself beat down while participating in a match with Bob Roop that aired on national TV.

Hart was also drawing the ire of Thunderbolt Patterson and Ole Anderson, with Hart bringing in the “New York Assassins” to take them out. Interestingly, no one online seems sure as to who these men were, with the best guess being that they were Roger Smith and Don Bass, who Jarrett used for a number of different gimmicks as needed.

Columbus, Ohio was another battleground city in the war for the territory. CWG presented NWA champion Ric Flair facing off with Tommy Rich, along with Anderson and Patterson colliding with the New York Assassins, Ron Garvin defending his TV title against Bob Roop, among other action. The WWF headlined their show with a battle royal which Mulligan and Studd ended up being declared “co-winners” in. Tito Santana grappled with Greg Valentine in the other top bout.

AWA

The AWA earned a win over the WWF as St. Paul’s Thanksgiving show headlined by Jerry Blackwell and “Boom Boom” Bundy facing the Road Warriors drew 17,000 fans. AWA champ Rick Martel defended his title against veteran grappler Billy Robinson, and Greg Gagne bested Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie in a cage match in the other top matches.

Meanwhile the WWF drew only 3,000 fans to the Met Center for a steel cage “Turkey Tournament” battle royal. Jimmy Snuka was the first man to escape and thus earned the win. Bobby Heenan and Big John Studd were the last men in and were declared the “turkeys”. The local Twin Cities media mocked the main event while covering it the next day. The rest of the card was weak, with Mad Dog Vachon brawling with George Steele as perhaps the most notable undercard bout.

It was battle royal season in the AWA, and several towns popped big crowds for them.

Jimmy Garvin appeared on nearly every house show card, beating lower ranked talent to prep him for a big run with Rick Martel.

The Chicago area was a key point of defense for the AWA this month as they ran a trio of shows for the local fans. The first card saw 18,300 sell out the Rosemont Horizon to see Blackwell and Bundy win a tag team battle royal. Bruiser Brody actually showed up for work and took a loss in a “lights out” match when Blackwell pinned Adnan. Nick Bockwinkel took Curt Hennig to a 20-minute draw and the Road Warriors defended their tag straps against the Fabulous Ones.

They returned a few weeks later with a rematch between the Warriors and Fabs, along with AWA champ Rick Martel successfully defending his gold against Mr. Saito.

90 minutes away in Rockford, Bruiser Brody, the Road Warriors, Larry Zbyszko and Bundy all no showed a card. The main event battle royal ended with Da Crusher and Baron Von Raschke having their hands raised.

The WWF ran a card at the UIC Pavilion, which saw Hulk Hogan team with Mad Dog Vachon to conquer Steele and Mr. Fuji. Other action saw JYD best Mr. Wonderful, Tito Santana lose to Greg Valentine by DQ, and one of Billy Jack Haynes few appearances before he quit.

Milwaukee fans were treated to Blackwell and Brody brawling to a no-contest, plus the Road Warriors overcame the Fabulous Ones and Bockwinkel and Saito snuck past Larry and Curt Hennig.

Winnipeg drew 4,300 for a Blackwell vs. Brody headline match that went to a no-contest. The Warriors battled the Fabulous Ones and the Hennigs fell to Saito and Bockwinkel. “Boom Boom” Bundy and Billy Robinson squared off in a styles clash that lead to a horrible match:

Blackwell and Brody also headlined in Green Bay, alongside a tag team battle royal won by Bundy and Blackwell.

6,800 fans came to the Cow Palace to see Bundy and Blackwell secure a victory in another tag team battle royal, along with Blackwell seeking further revenge on Brody. The card was plagued by no shows from Billy Robinson, Tony Atlas, Larry Zbyszko, Baron Von Raschke, Da Crusher and Jim Brunzell.

The hot streak continued for Blackwell and Bundy as they also scored a tag team battle royal win in Las Vegas. Brody appears to have no showed this event.

3,000 fans attended a show in Salt Lake City to see the Road Warriors batter the Fabulous Ones. The WWF drew 6,700 fans in Salt Lake for a Hogan/Piper main event brawl, along with another Santana vs. Valentine encounter. The WWF was loading up cards to knock Verne Gagne out.

Pro Wrestling USA

Jim Crockett Promotions, with the aid of their partners in Memphis, CWG and the AWA, were planning on running three shows in smaller arenas in the Bronx, Queens and Long Island in an effort to impede on the WWF’s homeland. “Mysteriously” someone called each venue claiming to be from the JCP office and canceled all the dates. When JCP found out and tried to rebook the venues, the WWF had already claimed the dates. Imagine that!

JCP hosted this month’s round of “Pro Wrestling USA” TV tapings. After a squash-heavy session during their last tapings, this card saw some better match ups. Highlight matches included Harley Race facing Mike Davis, Carlos Colon butting heads with Tully Blanchard, Jerry Lawler and Brian Adidas clashing with Ron Bass and Black Bart, Bob Backlund grappling with Mr. Saito, Ric Flair besting Mike Davis, and Sam Houston tangling with Blanchard.

The allure of a World title unification remained a key point during the shows, with Rick Martel, Ric Flair and Bob Backlund even doing a joint promo.

 

 

Montreal

Local hero Dino Bravo brought in Billy Robinson as his partner to face off with the rough and tumble duo of Abdullah the Butcher and King Tonga.

The Masked Superstar toured the area, battling Joe LeDuc.

Memphis

Jerry Lawler spent the month battling monsters, first dispatching King Kong Bundy (with the help of special guest ref Rick Rude) and then overcoming Korstia Korchenko.

Bundy and Rude’s ongoing feud saw the men compete in both tag and singles matches in an effort to get their hands on one another. Rude also teamed with Jimmy Valiant for a series of matches against the Dirty White Boys.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage and his brother Lanny Poffo spent the month embroiled in a feud with Tommy Gilbert and his son Eddie. This led to several tag team clashes with violent stipulations, as well as one-on-one encounters over regional titles held by Eddie.

As part of the promotional agreements between JCP, CWG and Memphis, National champion Ronnie Garvin came in for several matches against Phil Hickerson, Mike Sharpe and Tojo Yamamoto.

Alabama

The WWF again invaded the Continental area, this time for a head to head fight on November 28th. The Fed presented Intercontinental champ Greg Valentine defending against Tito Santana in the main event. Local favorite Mr. Wrestling II faced off with David Schultz, Tony Atlas butted heads with the Iron Sheik plus Barry Windham and Mike Rotondo both saw action.

Continental offered up a boxing match with Austin Idol slugging it out with Jimmy Golden, plus a match where Arn Anderson staked his career in Continental against the mask of Mr. Olympia. Scott, Bob and Steve Armstrong were all in action, as was Lord Humongous.

Florida

NWA champion Ric Flair toured the area, facing off with Jay Youngblood, Sweet Brown Sugar and Billy Jack Haynes.

Dusty Rhodes also returned to Florida, teaming with Dutch Mantel against Krusher Kruschev and Jim Neidhart. Elsewhere, Krusher and Neidhart were involved in battles with Mark and Jay Youngblood. The Youngbloods were also taking on Kevin Sullivan and his Army of Darkness in some towns.

Bob Backlund was brought in to challenge Kendo Nagasaki and others.

A very green Warlord began to get some seasoning as he worked on the undercard in some towns.

The WWF took on Florida head-to-head on November 27th in Miami. The WWF brought in the Santana/Valentine grudge match, as well as the Tonga Kid and Roddy Piper feud as co-main events. Local favorite Barry Windham was paired off with Mr. Fuji. Plus Jimmy Snuka, Tony Atlas and Bob Orton also competed on the card. Florida’s card saw Flair facing Haynes as well as a brawl with the Youngbloods facing Neidhart and Kruschev.

WCCW

Kerry Von Erich traveled to Hollywood for his final screen test for the role of “Ivan Drago” in Rocky 4. If Kerry earns the role, he’ll have to miss several months of action, as he has to learn how to box as well as learn some of the Russian language.

The card for the big Thanksgiving Star Wars show in Dallas had to be reshuffled a bit as Butch Reed backed out of his planned WCCW bookings over a dispute about his pay off for the Cotton Bowl show in October. Reed was to team with Jake “the Snake” Roberts against Iceman Parsons and Kerry Von Erich, but his spot went to Kelly Kiniski.

The Reunion arena in Dallas saw over 15,000 fans come to see Kevin Von Erich face his former friend Chris Adams in the main event. Adams scored the upset win in a “No DQ” match.

The big story coming out of the show however was Terry Gordy. Gordy faced off with former friend of the Freebirds Killer Khan in a “Texas Death” match. Khan had been the man who taught Gordy his controversial “Oriental Spike”. Their friendship dissolved over the spring of 1984 but Gordy and the Freebirds left for the WWF before their feud could be settled. Gordy made a surprise return in early November, attacking Khan at a TV taping.

As for the match itself, Kerry Von Erich was acting as the special ref since he hated both men equally. After nearly 15 minutes of action, Gordy trapped Khan in the “Oriental Spike” and was draining the life from him. Kerry was about to declare Gordy the winner when Gen. Skandor Akbar and the Missing Link charged the ring. Gordy and Von Erich fought them off and Von Erich named Gordy the winner of the match. Von Erich then attempted to shake Gordy’s hand. Gordy rebuked this offer. Kerry began to leave, only for Gordy to call him back. Would a fight break out between old foes? Not this time. Gordy shook Von Erich’s hand to the crowd’s approval.

The card also saw Mike Von Erich overcome Texas Champ Gino Hernandez by DQ. The Fantastics beat the Pretty Young Things (Norvell Austin and Koko Ware), Stella Mae French bested Nicola Roberts, Chic Donovan earned a DQ win over Akbar, among other action.

NWA champion Ric Flair toured the area, successfully defending his title against Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, as well as Chris Adams.

Mid-South

While still trying to find a replacement for the JYD, Bill Watts decided to turn one of the JYD’s top enemies into a fan favorite to fill the void. Things started to unfold with Buddy Landel agreeing to work with Gen. Akbar. Landel then attempted to convince his friend Butch Reed to join him in becoming one of Akbar’s goons. Landel implied that Akbar was paying him to convince Reed to join the general’s army. Reed took offense to being used as a bargaining chip and told his friend off, smashing a Rolex Akbar had given Landel as an emphatic “No!” to his offer.  This led to Akbar’s men attacking Reed, who was then saved by his old foe Jim Duggan.

This would lead to a series of matches with Reed and Duggan against Akbar’s army, as well as “Shoe shine” matches between Reed and Landel.

The WWF made it’s Oklahoma City debut, drawing 1,500 fans with a battle royal on top, along with JYD battling former Mid-South star Paul Orndorff. Sgt. Slaughter was also on the card, battling the Iron Sheik, plus Jimmy Snuka bested David Schultz and the Brisco Brothers competed. Watts competed by running a free show the same evening, bringing in Kerry Von Erich for a bonus to the fans.

The Superdome card on November 22nd drew 14,000 fans with a number of angles culminating for the event. North American Champ Ernie Ladd was disqualified in a title match with Magnum T.A., the Rock and Roll Express overcame the Midnight Express in a “scaffold” match, Jim Duggan and Reed bested Dr. Death and Ted Dibiase, “Exotic” Adrian Street and his valet Miss Linda outwitted Bill Dundee, and Hector and Chavo Guerrero got past Master Gee and Brickhouse Brown.

Dibiase remained the clear focal point of the promotion, working with Hacksaw Duggan, Magnum T.A., Reed, and Master Gee around the towns.

JCP

With Starrcade only a few weeks away, Rocky Kernodle went on TV and explained the extensive injuries he suffered at the hands of the Russians in October. His trainer, Ole Anderson, was announced as coming in to avenge him at Starrcade.

Ricky Steamboat’s issues with JJ Dillon’s men became personal when Dillon, Black Bart and Ron Bass went to his gym and beat up Vic Steamboat, Ricky’s brother. This led to Steamboat going after Bass’ Mid-Atlantic title, as well as Tully Blanchard’s TV title.

NWA World tag champions Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez defended their gold against Ivan and Nikita Koloff, the Long Riders (Bass and Black Bart), as well as Blanchard and Wahoo McDaniel around the towns.

Dick Slater was kept in the thick of things, going after McDaniel, Blanchard and other top heels.

Starrcade ’84 proved to be a disappointment on several levels. The show drew just under 16,000 fans live in Greensboro, with another 26,000 fans watching on closed circuit elsewhere across the territory.

The much hyped “Million Dollar Challenge” between Rhodes and NWA World champ Ric Flair ended after only 12 minutes as special referee “Smokin’” Joe Frazier stopped the match due to a cut on Rhodes’ head. The match was far shorter than most Flair defenses and a copout ending didn’t help matters. The finish was suppose to lead to a Frazier vs. Rhodes match in a few months, but for one reason or another this never came to fruition.

The rest of the card saw US champ McDaniel pin “Superstar” Billy Graham, The Koloffs overcame Keith Larson and Ole Anderson, Paul Jones upset Jimmy Valiant to send him from the territory, Dick Slater lost to Ron Bass by DQ, Manny Fernandez picked up his second title by besting Brass Knux champ Black Bart, Jesse Barr retained his Florida belt by pinning Mike Graham, Denny Brown snagged the NWA Junior Heavyweight title from Mike Davis, Brian Adidas beat Mr. Ito and TV champ Tully Blanchard pinned Ricky Steamboat.

Steamboat was extremely upset that he was booked to lose to Blanchard, when the angle seemed to be building to him triumphing. In the following weeks, when it became obvious that Rhodes was booking himself to end Tully’s reign, Steamboat decided to quit JCP and head to the WWF. More on that when I get to that point.

The Starrcade card could have been a major early “Pro Wrestling USA” attempt to use their promotional partnership to bring some major hype to the areas involved. Each promotion could have used “Starrcade” as a closed circuit draw while offering up their own big matches – perhaps with the big matches on each show being shown to the other areas. This would also allow Rhodes to cut some of the fat from Starrcade’s bloated card. Just a thought…

The Magnum T.A. hype machine began on TV right after Starrcade. Rhodes needed a young star to build after Windham jumped to the WWF and Magnum fit the bill.

Only eight days after Starrcade, JCP held another hyped up event. Dubbed “Battlestar 84”, the event in the Lynchburg, Virginia Armory saw an autograph session, followed by a wrestling card headlined by Manny Fernandez fighting Ivan Koloff, as well as Blanchard defending his TV title against Dick Slater.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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