Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF Philly Spectrum July 1983

Jim Crockett Promotions continued the long term build towards Starrcade as NWA Champion Harley Race came on TV and offered up $25,000 to anyone who would injure Ric Flair and take him out of wrestling. Flair had hounded Race across the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as Toronto where the pair headlined a pair of shows at the Exhibition Stadium:

July 10th drew nearly 21,000 paying $240,000 fans to see Ric Flair defeat Race by DQ, US Champ Greg Valentine drew Wahoo McDaniel via a double count-out, Angelo Mosca beat the One Man Gang, TV Champion Kabuki beat Jimmy Valiant and Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood beat Dory Funk Jr. and Jake Roberts, plus other prelim action.

A return to the stadium on July 24th drew 11,ooo fans to see Race beat Flair by DQ, Sgt. Slaughter defeat Angelo Mosca, Valiant and Bob Orton Jr. overcome Gary Hart and Kabuki in a cage, NWA tag champs The Brisco Brothers retain their titles via DQ over Steamboat and Youngblood, Funk Jr over Mike Rotondo and Rufus R, Jones beating Jake Roberts, among other action.

Ricky Steamboat’s partner Youngblood was injured and this allowed Steamboat to align with Ric Flair to face the Briscos as long as Steamboat helped Flair avoid Race’s hit men. The Briscos had previously been surprised on TV by the Steamboat/Youngblood tandem replacing a pair of jobbers and facing them on TV.

Arman Hussein came in from World Class and joined Gary Hart’s army. This led to Hart and Hussein race baiting Rufus R. Jones and joining with The Magic Dragon, One Man Gang, and Kabuki in their feud with the Boogie Woogie Man. Hart’s men had recently burnt Valiant’s face and this led to a series of cage and loser-leaves-town challenges being made.

Rufus R. Jones was also chasing Mid-Atlantic champ Dory Funk Jr. and trying to win a cash prize Funk was offering to Jones if he could be defeated.

Harley Race beating Flair for the NWA World title in June created shock waves in St. Louis as Race was stripped of his Missouri State title due to not being able to hold both titles. This led to a July 15th title tournament featuring Bob Orton Jr., Manny Fernandez, Jesse Ventura, Blackjack Lanza, Baron Von Raschke, Butch Reed, Jerry Blackwell, Dick the Bruiser, Bobby Duncum, Kortsia Korchenko, David Von Erich, Flair and Hulk Hogan with Flair ultimately beating Von Erich in the finals.

The AWA remained Hogan-less for another month as the Hulkster refrained from any in-ring action. He did make a few appearances as Wahoo McDaniel’s corner man as Wahoo continued to chase AWA Champ Bockwinkel across the mid-west and beyond.

Verne Gagne made another appearance in the ring as he came out of retirement to team with Mad Dog Vachon against AWA tag champs Ken Patera and Jerry Blackwell in Winnipeg. Newcomer David Schultz was part of the undercard of that event, along with Wahoo teaming with Baron Von Rasche against Bobby Heenan and Blackjack Lanza, Greg Gagne squaring off with Sheik Adnan, and Rick Martel, Mr. Saito and others filling out the prelims.

Tully Blanchard made a rare AWA appearance, teaming with Bobby Jaggers in Denver against Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne.

The Mid-South fans were shown footage of a June match from Houston that saw AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel facing Dusty Rhodes. Ted Dibiase and King Kong Bundy ran in to interfere and set up Rhodes’ involvement in July’s Superdome show.

Meanwhile, Butch Reed turning on JYD in June still had fans seething and the Superdome would be the first major chance for fans to see JYD get his revenge.

July 16th’s Superdome card drew 19,000 fans to see Jim Duggan collide with Ted Dibiase in a “lights out” match in another continuation of that feud. Butch Reed upset the JYD for the North American title, King Kong Bundy knocked out Rhodes in a “taped fist” match after Dibiase ran interference, Tommy Rich beat Kamala, Mr. Wrestling II pinned Larry Zbyszko, Mil Mascaras and Tim Horner overcame Boris Zhukov and Mr. Olympia, Iceman Parsons beat Buddy Roberts, Buzz Sawyer was DQ’d against Magnum TA, plus some prelim action. That’s a heck of a card!

The Mid-South tag titles changed hands when Duggan and Magnum TA beat Mr. Olympia and Dibiase on July 24th. Barry “Krusher” Darsow and The Missing Link debuted on TV as well.

In Georgia the Tommy Rich vs. Buzz Sawyer feud waged on, with months to go in the war before anything would be settled.

The Road Warriors, National champs but green as grass, wrestled a wide variety of teams, with Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen and the Brisco Brothers providing the stiffest tests to the new champions.

Rick “Rood” received a small push on the under card. He too was very new to the sport.

The big Omni show on July 3rd saw Mr. Wrestling II battle National Champ Larry Zbyszko to a time limit draw with Mr. Wrestling I serving as a guest ref, Stan Hansen, Ole Anderson and Tommy Rich won a DQ victory over the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering, Ron Garvin beat the Iron Sheik via DQ, plus Tully Blanchard, Bob Sweetan and Bill Irwin took part in under card action.

Not to sound like a broken record but in World Class the Von Erichs continued their battles with the Freebirds at every show.  The big event of the month was July 4th “Star Wars” show which saw 12,000 fans come to see David Von Erich beat Jimmy Garvin, Kevin, Kerry and David Von Erich beat Terry Gordy, Micheal Hayes and Buddy Roberts, Hayes beating Iceman Parsons in a “lights out” match and Bruiser Brody clashing with Kamala.

Florida saw two different World champions come through to defend their titles as WWF champ Bob Backlund defended his gold several times against “Outlaw” Ron Bass and Bobby Duncum. Harley Race came in with the NWA title to face off with Dusty Rhodes as well.

Rhodes and his assorted friends also continued to battle Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness.

The WWF headed into California for some house shows. Los Angeles fans saw Backlund defend his title against Sgt. Slaughter, Andre the Giant face off with Big John Studd, Jimmy Snuka splash Mr. Fuji, Pat Patterson over Buddy Rose, Mil Mascaras securing a DQ over Ivan Koloff, and Tony Atlas, Alexis Smirnoff and others in prelim action.

San Diego fans witnessed Backlund over Koloff, Andre, Snuka, and Patterson beat Studd, Fuji and Sarge, Mil Mascaras beat Buddy Rose, plus Atlas, Smirnoff and others in prelims.

MSG sold 27,000 tickets for Snuka and Muraco battling to a double DQ, plus Andre, Rhodes and Ivan Putski beating the Samoans, George Steele winning via DQ over Backlund, Tito Santana pinning Mr. Fuji, Plus Studd, the Invaders, Rocky Johnson and Tony Garea in prelim action.

In Memphis, Jerry Lawler continued his endless battles with Jimmy Hart’s henchmen. Lawler and Austin Idol clashed with Porkchop Cash and The Dream Machine several times, Ken Patera also returned to allow Lawler a chance to win back the International title.

Andy Kaufman was a torn in Lawler’s side throughout as the month started with Lawler agreeing to face Hart and Kaufman in a handi-cap match. This led to a tiff within the heel’s side and Kaufman challenged Jimmy Hart to a match. The results of Kaufman beating Hart via DQ in that match set up a Lawler/Kaufman tag team as they were set to face The Assassin and Jimmy Hart. Kaufman (of course) turned on Lawler and was gifted a fireball to his face for the trouble.

Now on to our featured attraction!  The

WWF 7/16/83 from the Philly Spectrum.

Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon call the action

Swede Hansen vs. Jeff Craney

Craney is just a jabroni. Craney stalls to start. Hansen works over his arm and kicks him to the floor. The jobber gets an eyerake and focusing on choking Hansen to gain a brief period of control. Hansen fight back, nails a back breaker and gets the win at 7:21. Just a glorified squash. The opposite of flashy.

Tony Garea vs. “Iron” Mike Sharpe 

Graham and Monsoon try and get over Sharpe’s new derogatory nickname “The Wimp”. Garea uses his athlethism to get an early jump on Sharpe. Sharpe works a long headlock. Garea finally escapes and takes Sharpe down with a series of arm drags. Sharpe bails out and storms off. He returns with a chair. The ref is able to stop that activity and we resume back in the ring.

Both men exchange control, with Sharpe using his power advantage and Garea using his agility. Garea tries to use an abdominal stretch but gets sent to the floor instead. Garea tries a roll up, then a flying crossbody, but Sharpe smacks him with his loaded arm band to earn the pin at 13:44. This was a solid match between two capable workers.

Tito Santana vs. Don Kernodle 

Monsoon plays up Kenodle’s association with Slaughter. Kernodle stalls and stalls at the start of the match. This is followed by more stalling. Kernodle goes to the bread basket to finally get control but Santana tosses fists to rattle him into retreat. Santana locks on a lengthy headlock. That goes on forever. Kernodle gets a stun gun to briefly gain control before Santana gets his Latin blood flowing and starts to unload on Kernodle. A flying forearm and splash ends it at 15:18. Really disappointing match. They stalled and used rest holds for way too long and lost my attention.

IC Champion Don Muraco vs. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka 

Snuka attacks Muraco before he can even climb in the ring. The crowd is molten for both men. Snuka hacks and chops Muraco across the ring and drops a diving headbutt onto the champion’s forehead. Snuka keeps up the pressure and knocks him to the floor and slams Muraco’s head into the table. He throws a soda in Snuka’s face and Snuka sells it like a fireball hit him. Muraco is selling total exhaustion as he tries to get a few shots in before Snuka possibly recovers.

Muraco has a taped thumb as he uses it to rock the challenger several times before driving Snuka to the mat with a suplex. A woman at ringside in a “Laverne and Shirley” shirt loses her mind as Snuka escapes the pin attempt. Muraco ends up being Irish whipped into the corner upside down, eating a head butt and bleeding. Snuka gnaws at the wound as the ref tries to stop him. The ref is shoved down by Snuka and that earns the DQ at 8:21. A cast of jobbers run in to stop Snuka from battering Muraco. Things were just heating up when the finish came. This was round one of a long feud and I’m sure more matches with these two will be coming down the pike.

Special Delivery Jones vs. Sgt, Slaughter 

Jones is clubbed, punched and knee’d in somewhat slow motion as Sarge dominates. He finally errors and goes for Jones’ head and that opens up Jones for a comeback. Sarge cuts him off and delivers the Slaughter Cannon clothesline and follows it up with the Cobra Clutch. Jones submits at 7:56. This was just a glorified squash and Sarge wasn’t looking too motivated.

WWF World Champion Bob Backlund vs. George “The Animal” Steele 

Some fans openly boo Backlund as he makes his way to the ring, Steele won’t let Backlund even get in the ring and they have a stand off until Arnold Skaaland assists Backlund in tripping Steele and pulling him to the floor. Steele jumps Backlund in the ring and cracks a foreign object into his throat. He then sets his focus on the champion’s arm. Steele tries a flying hammerlock and Backlund flips over him and rolls him up for the shockingly quick pin at under 3 minutes . Steele flips out afterward and attacks several ring attendants and tosses several chairs in the ring.

The Invaders vs. Frankie Williams and Mr. Fuji

Williams is a jobber and the Invaders are Jose Gonzalez (aka Bruiser Brody’s murderer) and Roberto Soto. Both are under red masks, so I have no clue who is who. The Invaders are well conditioned looking guys. Invaders make some quick tags as they out shine the heels before Fuji and Williams get a brief heat segment before Williams allows their foe to tag off and he is quickly dispatched by one Invader hip tossing the other Invader on top of him for the win at 8:01. I would love to know Fuji’s kayfabe reasoning for teaming up with a jobber. Was Tiger Chung Lee injured? Match was nothing special at all.

Sal Bellomo vs. Ivan Koloff 

A fan compares Koloff to Papa Smurf. Koloff struggles to get into rhythum with his young opponent. Sal uses several dropkicks and a flying head scissors to keep Koloff off balance. Another flying move is dodged by Koloff and he delivers a flying knee to Sal’s back to pick up the win at 4:26. A bit shorter then I expected, and it basically felt like a

Best out of fives falls, two-hour time limit: Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson, Ivan Putzki, and Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Big John Studd, Afa, Sika and Samu 

Rocky Johnson handles the Samoans, with Andre providing an intimidating charge to prevent the heels from cheating. Studd tags in, so Andre tags in and Studd tags out. Andre is having none of that and attacks Studd anyway. Andre mauls Sika and allows Strongbow to lock on a sleeper. Things break down as all eight men pour in the ring. Andre ties Afa in the ropes and throws the other Samoans into him. The ref DQ’s Studd’s team at 5:13. Fall two comes fast as the dazed Strongbow is jumped and has a number of head butts driven onto him and he’s pinned at 0:46. Fall three comes even faster as Andre boots a Samoan and allows Strongbow to pin him at 0:23. Putzki goes after all three Samoans with fists and is surprisingly successful.

The Samoans start to triple up on Putzki, so Andre tags in to clean house. Andre boots Samu and sits on him for the win at 2:46. Afa is shown eating trash and licking the cement as the faces celebrate. Disgusting!

Final thoughts: A bit of a flat event as the WWF sold the show on three conflicts and didn’t deliver a resolution to any of them. Andre and Studd barely contacting one another was a slap in the face to the fans who paid to see the clash of giants. Add in the IC title match being a teaser for rematches and a brief world title match and you might suggest the fans had a reason to stay home next month.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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