Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: October 1984

Starrcade shapes up, Piper/Tonga Kid heats up, The Von Erichs headline a stadium, Brody ruins the AWA’s plans and more!

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.

It’s been awhile since I did a historical look across all the major territories, and you can thank the holidays as well as being sidetracked with reviewing shoot interviews for this site. If you’d like a refresher of where we left off, here you are: http://culturecrossfire.com/wrestling/september-1984-wrestling/

WWF

The Hulkster spent October defending his World title against the likes of Greg Valentine, David Schultz, George Steele and Big John Studd. Studd was still replacing Jesse Ventura, who was battling the effects of his blood clots.

Rumors were swirling that Hogan was going to drop the belt soon in order to head to Hollywood full time.

With Tito Santana out with a knee injury, Valentine focused on weaker challengers such as S.D. Jones, Rick McGraw, and Rocky Johnson. JYD & Sgt. Slaughter also received a shot at the champ.

Valentine also participated in a semi-famous edition of “Piper’s Pit”, where he and Roddy Piper alluded to their NWA feud and agreed to make amends.

Santana would return to the ring by the end of the month, but did not return to TV for a few more weeks.

Piper, who was unrepentant about injuring Jimmy Snuka, was confronted by the Tonga Kid. This led to a TV match that saw Kid batter Piper with a steel chair before the “Hot Scot” fled.

Barry Windham jumped from JCP and was thrust right into a good spot as he was put over Paul Orndorff and Greg Valentine. Considering Dusty Rhodes had Windham earmarked for a major role, this was a big move by Vince McMahon. By the end of the month Mike Rotunda would also jump from JCP to Vince.

Andre and Kamala’s battle of giants was seen across many towns.

Sgt. Slaughter continued his blood feud with the Iron Sheik.

David Schultz’ stock plunged further as he started losing matches to David Sammartino and Ivan Putski.

Johnny Valiant acquired the contract of Kamala from Freddie Blassie and also revealed himself to be the manager of Brutus Beefcake.

The WWF aired Billy Jack Haynes vignettes on TV to start his push. The vignettes would almost run longer than his stint in the WWF ended up being.

“Iron” Mike Sharpe was fired for refusing to lose to the Tonga Kid.

After quitting a few months ago, Tony Atlas ended up disappointed in the AWA breaking some undisclosed promises and headed back to the WWF.

Jim Powers, who would spend much of the next 8+ years losing on WWF TV, made his debut.

Sweet Daddy Siki, a star in some areas back in the 60’s and 70’s, ended up working against Dick Murdoch at a show in Ontario. Siki was around 45 years old at this point, but was already a 30-year veteran of the sport.

The Freebirds celebrated their falling out with the WWF by getting themselves booked in Japan.

The Boston Garden was headlined by the first ever Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper match up. Piper took the win via count-out. The only other match of note saw Slaughter and JYD clash with Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik.

Angelo Mosca’s Canadian fame was utilized as he teamed with Sgt. Slaughter in Toronto to battle Volkoff and Sheik. Piper, Pat Patterson, Kamala and Ken Patera also appeared in action.

A second card in Toronto saw the famous cage match with Kamala and Andre which saw the Giant leap off the top rope and butt splash Kamala to set up his win.

11,000 fans came to Pittsburgh to see Hogan collide with Studd as well as Sarge and JYD butting heads with Sheik and Volkoff.

18,000 came to the Philadelphia Spectrum to see the same top billing as Pittsburgh.

8,000 entered the L.A. Sports Arena for another Hogan/Studd brawl, with Piper facing the task of challenging Andre the Giant on the undercard.

MSG hosted 20,000 fans for another Hogan vs. Studd confrontation, along with a returning Santana avenging his injury by battering Valentine, plus Volkoff and Slaughter getting it on in solo action.

St. Louis/Central States

The Verne Gagne/Bob Geigel combo put on a pair of St. Louis cards. The first saw Crusher Blackwell slugging it out with Bruiser Brody, with the AWA tag champions the Road Warriors also on the card, defending against Buzz Tyler and Ted Dibiase. Tony Atlas and Jim Brunzell also saw action.

The second event was a loaded affair with AWA champion Rick Martel grappling with Missouri Champion Harley Race for one hour. The Road Warriors took on Terry and Dory Funk Jr. for the AWA tag straps, Dibiase upended the Missing Link and Mike Von Erich & Iceman Parsons made the trip from Texas to take part in the event as well. A young Marty Jannetty wrestled in the opening match.

The WWF answered with a St. Louis event which saw Andre the Giant step in for Hogan in a match with Kamala. JYD bested Mr. Wonderful via DQ, JYD also took part in a “Piper’s Pit” segment on the show where Piper left him bloody, which I can only assume sets up a match for next month. The Brisco Brothers, Slaughter and Sheik also took part in action.

Other bouts around the territory saw Blackwell and Race face off, as well as King Kong Bundy matching up with Bruiser Brody, as well as NWA champ Ric Flair surviving a match with Dibiase by earning a DQ.

Meanwhile, the WWF ran Kansas City with Hogan going to war with Studd yet again, along with Wendi Richter besting the Fabulous Moolah, plus Mr. Wonderful, Iron Sheik, Blackjack Mulligan and the Briscos were all in action.

Championship Wrestling from Georgia

With Vince McMahon reeking havoc on their territories, Ole Anderson, Jerry Jarrett and Jim Crockett agreed to a formal talent exchange. The announcement of such a deal was made on TV with Memphis’ Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart, Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy and others appearing on CWG’s nationally shown TBS morning show. Gordon Solie later made an appearance in Memphis to call matches with Lance Russell.

Jerry Lawler started an angle with Georgia star Bob Roop, and made sure to call out NWA champ Ric Flair as well. Lawler also promised to bring in the Boogie Woogie Man for some tag wars.

Dusty Rhodes and Wahoo McDaniel made appearances from JCP and Thunderbolt Patterson even made nice with Ole long enough to make some shots as well. McDaniel ended up attacking Ron Garvin and joined Jimmy Hart’s troupe.

Tommy Rich injured Jimmy Hart during a confrontation, which set up Hart’s “First Family” coming after him.

The big card of the month took place in Baltimore as NWA champion Ric Flair faced off with Harley Race. National Champion Ted Dibiase lost his National title to rival Ron Garvin. AWA tag champs the Road Warriors fought the unlikely team of Ole Anderson and Dusty Rhodes to a double DQ. Tommy Rich bested Mr. Ito, National tag champs Rip Rogers and Ted Oates survived the challenge of Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner and National TV champ Bob Roop overcame Jerry Oates.

The WWF entered Baltimore 2 weeks later with Andre battling Kamala and Sgt. Slaughter challenging Greg Valentine as their dual headline bouts. Big John Studd and JYD both appeared as well.

The two groups also struggled over dominance of the Omni in Atlanta, with CWG presenting Bob Armstrong facing Ted Dibiase as a featured attraction, along with local superstars Tommy Rich and Tony Atlas pairing up for a bout with Ted Oates and Rip Rogers. JCP TV champion Tully Blanchard got himself disqualified to stave off the challenge of Brad Armstrong. Ox Baker and Ivan Koloff among others took part in prelim action.

The WWF ran two Omni shows, the first drew 2,000 fans to see Hogan battle Studd, with the Briscos, Piper, JYD, Mr. Wonderful, Nikolai Volkoff, and Mr. Wrestling II facing lesser talent on the undercard.

The second Omni event saw IC champ Greg Valentine fend off Tito Santana, as well as Andre the Giant colliding with the mighty Kamala. Plus JYD overcame David Schultz, and The Spoiler, Mr. Wrestling II, Ken Patera and others took part in prelim matches.

The WWF hit the CWG town of Cleveland, drawing 8,000 fans for Andre the Giant tussling with Kamala, with JYD vs. Adrian Adonis being the only other match of note.

AWA

The story of the month is the AWA main event scene being a bit of a mess as Rick Martel spent time in Japan, and ran very very limited dates for Verne Gagne. On top of that, top heel Bruiser Brody made a bevy of no shows, causing line-ups to be shaken up. Gagne developed a rep for falsely advertising guys, so it’s possible Gagne was using Brody’s name with no intention of having him show. Brody has enough of a rep himself for no shows, so who to blame is unclear.

On top of that the AWA tag champs, The Road Warriors, spent time in Memphis and Georgia, leaving them less time to serve Gagne’s needs.

Mad Dog Vachon made only a handful of shots for the WWF, and none in a prominent role, which makes me wonder if he regretting leaving Verne and his headline spot in the AWA.

Denver drew 5,000 fans for a Brody vs. Jerry Blackwell main event. However, both men were no shows. Instead Blackjack Lanza teamed with the Fabulous Ones to square off with Nick Bockwinkel, Mr. Saito and Billy Robinson. Curt Hennig battled Sheik Adnan, Tony Atlas & Jim Brunzell overcame Steve Regal and Larry Zbyszko, and Regal also lost to Brad Rheingans.

Chicago saw Crusher and Bruiser work the Road Warriors for a second straight month, this time with Baron Von Raschke joining them as a partner, with Paul Ellering being added to the Road Warriors’ side. Blackwell and Brody battled to a draw in the other main match. Tony Atlas was disqualified against Nick Bockwinkel, the Fabs downed Robinson and Saito, Brunzell sprung past Zbyszko, along with other action. Over 8,000 fans were in attendance – a big drop off from the attendance a few weeks earlier.

The WWF also ran Chi-town. They drew 1,500 fans for a Hogan main event against Animal Steele. JYD butted heads with Adrian Adonis and Mr. Wonderful saw himself disqualified against Barry Windham in the key undercard bouts.

Brody no-showed in Green Bay, forcing Blackwell to face Adnan instead. The Warriors battled Larry and Curt Hennig, the Fabs bested Saito and Bockwinkel, and Brunzell bounced past Billy Robinson. Tony Atlas no-showed. 3,700 fans attended.

Over 12,000 Winnipeg fans witnessed a battle royal where Blackwell and “Boom Boom” Bundy overcame nine other tag teams.   If you’re reading this you probably already know the following, but I feel I need to add it just in case. “Boom Boom” is King Kong Bundy, but the AWA couldn’t call him that because Bruiser Brody is already being referenced as “King Kong” Brody due to the fact that Dick the Bruiser was established as “the Bruiser” to AWA fans. Wrestling everybody!

Other action in Winnipeg saw Blackwell best Sheik Adnan and Zbyszko, Larry was replacing Brody who no-showed. The Fabs downed Saito and Bockwinkel, Brunzell beat Ellering by “default”, Tony Atlas clashed with Billy Robinson, and Jimmy Garvin took down Tom Zenk. Garvin is about to get a major push by Gagne. Crusher, the Baron and the Hennigs were there to take part in the battle royal.

Indianapolis was a bust as only 550 fans came to see Crusher and the Fabulous Ones battle Saito, Bockwinkel and Roger Kirby. Kirby was replacing Billy Robinson. Blackwell took out Zbyszko and Adnan. Brody no-showed again. Atlas also beat Zbyszko. Mando Guerrero took part in the undercard.

9,200 Salt Lake City fans saw the Fabs win a tag team battle royal, along with Blackwell once again smashing Zbyszko and Adnan – Brody no showed. Brunzell, Bundy, Bockwinkel and Garvin all took part in undercard bouts.  Verne was co-promoting a show in St. Louis the same night as this card, and decided to pull the Road Warriors off this event to help beef up the other card. Gagne never bothered to alert the fans that a major draw was not going to appear until they arrived at the building. The WWF was going to run Salt Lake City, but they canceled the show due to a snow storm.

6,112 fans sold out the Auditorium in Milwaukee for a Blackwell vs. Brody match that did not happen as Brody no-showed. Blackwell faced Adnan instead. Blackwell and Bundy won a battle royal; Curt Hennig fought Bockwinkel to a 20-minute draw, Bundy bested Zbyszko – Larry was subbing for Mr. Saito, the Road Warriors conquered Brunzell and Atlas and Jimmy Garvin pinned Steve O.

17,000 fans came to the St. Paul Civic Center to see Blackwell blast Brody in a “Lights Out” match. Brody lost when Blackwell pinned…Sheik Adnan(???). Was it a handicap match? Blackwell and Bundy came out ahead in a tag team battle royal, the Fabs fought the Road Warriors to a draw, the Baron bested Paul Ellering, Hennig took Bockwinkel to a 20-minute draw, Saito lost to Atlas by DQ, and Jimmy Garvin pinned Tom Zenk.

The WWF ran the Met Center, drawing 8,500 for a Hulk Hogan vs. Big John Studd main event. Hogan ended up being legit hurt and the match ended in a no contest. Andre collided with Kamala in the other major match. Ken Patera, Mad Dog Vachon, JYD and others took part in prelim action. In an attempt to one-up the AWA’s battle royal, which always drew well in the Fall, the WWF announced they would run a steel cage battle royal next month, with the last man to escape being deemed the “Turkey” of 1984.

Montreal

Fans were treated to NWA champion Ric Flair coming in to answer the challenge of Gino Brito.

“Big” Joe Leduc and King Tonga are having stiff brawls across the territory.

Pro Wrestling USA

JCP hosted the second TV taping for this promotional experiment in harmony among egotistical promoters. Unlike the first taping, this one was all squash matches, with The Koloffs, Mr. Saito, the Road Warriors, Jerry Lawler, Ricky Steamboat, Carlos Colon, Tommy Rich and Bob Backlund getting wins. Backlund is, in my opinion, accidentally the most intriguing thing on these shows as he cuts weekly monotone promos about how he’s a real hero and uncrowned champion. He’s suppose to be a babyface, but he comes across as a Max Cady-like demented heel.
Florida

Florida rebounded a bit this month after sinking from Dusty Rhodes departing with much of the top talent a few months ago. Dusty returned for a series of matches – partnering up with Jerry Lawler, Superstar Graham and Mike Graham to face Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin in several bouts.

NWA champ Ric Flair came to the area to defend his gold against Billy Jack Haynes, Superstar Graham, Scott McGhee, Jay Youngblood and Dory Funk Jr.

Superstar Billy Graham’s feud with Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness is one of the top feuds ongoing in Florida after Graham left Sullivan’s troupe in September.

To put into perspective where the promotion is sitting, Jesse Barr is the current Florida champ, with Dory Funk Jr. serving as the top heel not aligned with Sullivan. Krusher Kruschev and Jim Neidhart are running amuck as a Commie loving tag team, the Youngbloods are trying to build babyface momentum up, and the One Man Gang remains among the top babyfaces in the area.

The WWF ran a show in Miami, but I do not have the results.
Memphis

The WWF attempted another invasion of Jerry Jarrett’s territory. A show with Kamala battling Andre the Giant in Louisville only drew THREE HUNDRED fans!

Jarrett’s promotion remained strong, with Jerry Lawler teaming with Jimmy Valiant and “Macho Man” Randy Savage on top in battles with King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, the Dirty White Boys and others.

Bundy and Rude also battled the AWA tag champion Road Warriors, with Bundy taking the pin.

They rebounded by besting the Fabulous Ones in a tournament for the Southern tag team titles. The Fabs ended up winning them back a few days later, and Bundy and Rude imploded, leaving Rude as a babyface. The titles had been vacant due to Dutch Mantel turning on his partner Tommy Rich.

Rude would earn a DQ win over Bundy in their first clash.

Randy Savage teamed with his brother Lanny Poffo to face Eddie Gilbert and his father Tommy in an intriguing sounding bout. The Gilberts and Poffos had recently traded harsh words and Eddie was taking up the beef in the ring.

One of the worst wrestlers of the era debuted as Korstia Korchenko stormed into the area.

Alabama

Ron Fuller had to deal with the WWF invading his area as Vince brought Kamala and Andre the Giant in to headline a show in Birmingham. Roddy Piper knocked heads with the JYD in the other top match.

NWA champ Ric Flair came to the area to accept the challenge of Mr. Olympia in a pair of bouts. Austin Idol also received a crack at the “Nature Boy”.

Arn Anderson was working on top here, and I have to imagine Ric Flair was reporting back to JCP that Arn should be on the big stage soon.

Japan

AWA champ Rick Martel lost to former champ Jumbo Tsuruta by count-out to cap a solid card in Osaka that also saw Giant Baba and Tenryu brawl with the Fabulous Freebirds. Ricky Steamboat was also part of the undercard.

Portland

Don Owens brought in NWA champ Ric Flair to face off with Rip Oliver, Billy Jack Haynes, and Tom Pritchard.

WCCW

Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez remained the top heels in the area, with Jake the Snake aiding and abetting them when needed.

Mid-South star Magnum TA came in for some shots, besting the likes of the Missing Link and Ernie Ladd, but falling to Killer Khan.

The Midnight Express also came in from Mid-South for a shot against the Fantastics. The teams clashed in Bill Watts’ area several times as well.

The big card of the month saw 12,000 come to the Cotton Bowl to see Mike, Kevin and Kerry Von Erich head to battle with Hernandez, Adams and Jake Roberts. The main event was altered in the middle of the card when Chris Adams injured Kevin Von Erich in the aftermath of a one-on-one bout between the two men. Mike Von Erich also saw action in a mixed tag match where truck-driving toughie Stella Mae French teamed with him to conquer Hernandez and Nicola “Andrea the Giant” Roberts.   I recapped the whole show here – it was a fun event.

Buddy Roberts, with personal ties to the area stemming from his long run here, worked a spot show to little fanfare for a payday.

Southwest

This territory had a reputation for blood and mayhem, and they lived up to that with their first card of the month, held in San Antonio. The main event saw the legendary brute Abdullah the Butcher add a few more scars to the forehead of the once sexually idolized Tommy Rich. The undercard featured a wild sounding six-man match where the Mongolian Stomper teamed with the Sheepherders to combat the trio of Killer Brooks, Al Madril and Voodoo Mulumba.

Mid-South

North American Champion Magnum T.A. dropped his strap to Ernie Ladd after Ladd used a rope to strangle T.A. while the ref was bumped.

Ted Dibiase returned to the region and ignited his feud with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan anew.

“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan not only had Dibiase to deal with, but he also brawled with Hercules and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams in matches across the territory.

The Master Gee experiment continued, with Gee working an angle with top heels like Butch Reed and Ernie Ladd. Brickhouse Brown sided with Gee, and this set up tag bouts with Reed and Ladd, as well as the Midnight Express.

The Midnight Express suffered the loss of their Mid-South tag titles as the Rock and Roll Express returned to the area after they spent several weeks venturing out to Memphis, Georgia and Florida for bookings. The Midnights battled the Rock and Roll Express and the Fantastics throughout the month.

Adrian Street continued his feud with Terry Taylor.

A very young Shawn Michaels made one of his first appearances, getting mauled on TV as a jabroni.

JCP

With Starrcade only a few weeks away, JCP began pushing the event strongly. On October 6th, they ran a “Starrcade Rally” in Greensboro, which featured a live band, plus a ceremony where Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair were announced as the main event of Starrcade with “1 million dollars” going to the winner.   Live matches were also held, with Ricky Steamboat facing TV champ Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson and Brian Adidas (subbing for the departed Barry Windham) battling NWA tag champs Ivan Koloff and Don Kernodle as well as Wahoo McDaniel brawling with Manny Fernandez.

Later in the month a segment was filmed with promoter Jim Crockett Jr. going to the bank with three security guards to meet with the bank president to withdraw the million dollars.

“Smokin” Joe Frazier was announced as the special referee for the Starrcade main event.

The much hyped 16-man tournament for the United States title was dealt some blows as both Blackjack Mulligan and Barry Windham dropped out after heading to the WWF. The field ended up including Mike Rotondo, the Assassin, Ivan Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, Don Kernodle, Ricky Steamboat, Ron Bass, Carlos Colon, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Jimmy Valiant, Wahoo McDaniel, Tully Blanchard and Manny Fernandez, among others. It ended with McDaniel taking back the gold after beating Fernandez in the finals.

Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez won the NWA tag straps from Koloff and Kernodle in a cage match. The aftermath saw Ivan and Nikita Koloff destroy Kernodle, forcing him to be hauled off in an stretcher as his parents watched on at ringside in horror.

Rhodes squared off with both Koloffs in singles action, with Rhodes once again putting himself over Nikita, this time in a “bullrope” match.

Tully Blanchard told the world he was still searching for his “Perfect 10”, and prepared to fend off the challenges of Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham. Windham’s departure obviously altered that plan. Blanchard also teamed with McDaniel to take on newly minted tag champs Rhodes and Fernandez as the month progressed.

A new challenger for Blanchard arose when Dick Slater returned to the area and sided with the babyfaces against Tully. It’s a bit striking to me that a few months ago Slater was the top heel and held several titles, then he managed to vanish with little fanfare before returning as a face.

Johnny Weaver’s run as the “Ultimate Assassin” ended as the Assassin unmasked him.

Scott Hall and Dan Spivey, both pretty much green as can be in the business, debuted as the team of “American Starship”. David Crockett’s over excited hype job upon their debut is amusing:

Apparently, Hall and Spivey received such a limited amount of dates to work that Jim Crockett Jr. sent them to instead work on the grounds crew of the minor league baseball he owned. Wouldn’t getting them ring time be a better idea, even if it came in a different territory?

The WWF ran a show in Richmond, but the results appear to be unavailable.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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