Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: Wrestling History Wrap-up: 1983-1984

Backstage rumors and news from 1983 and 1984 from the era’s dirtsheets.

I started this series with a pile of old Wrestling Observer notes from various places online and supplemented that information with results from great historians like Jim Zordani, Kris Zellner, Karl Stern and Graham Cawthon (among others). Since then I have acquired many other tidbits from time frames I have already covered and decided to place them all in one article to help fill in the gaps.

Most of this article’s information comes from the wonderful podcasts on the WWF’s national expansion that can be accessed for a few bucks here: (I have no stake in this financially, these guys deserve the plug.)


June 1983:  

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WCCW’s Star Wars

Vince McMahon canceled the contracts for anyone who had reserved seating at Madison Square Garden wrestling events. He did this with the hope that the long time fans are replaced with younger people so the audience will look hipper on TV.

Ole Anderson and Joe Blanchard are planning on combining their rosters to run some Georgia/Southwest cards on the West coast.

Since Southwest is on the USA network and Georgia airs on TBS, this would give the men control over ALL nationally aired wrestling shows. It is believed that Anderson and Blanchard were forming a plot to go national. Georgia stopped mentioning the “NWA” on their TV, and did not acknowledge that Harley Race defeated Ric Flair for the NWA championship. Tommy Rich and Baron Von Raschke will be heading to Texas from Georgia to help bulk up some Southwest cards.

Meanwhile, Jerry Jarrett in Memphis is working on a talent trading plan with Anderson. Talent such as Bill Dundee and Jim Cornette will be heading to Atlanta to bulk up Georgia shows while Ole runs split crews – one for the West Coast, and another to push north for more expanding. This whole plan began in early June and died off by the end of July thanks to lackluster ticket sales. among other issues.

Bruno Sammartino did a shot for Ole at a card in Pennsylvania (the WWF’s territory) where he was ringside for a match featuring Larry Zbyszko.

Stampede Wrestling is expanding westward in Canada and drawing very well.

September 1983

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: September 1983

Vince McMahon tried to assure the other promoters that his expansion moves he was undertaking was only for the purpose of getting national syndication for ad revenue.

October 1983: 

Snuka’s Greatest Leap – MSG 10/17/83

Snuka and Muraco’s Philly Bloodbath – 10/23/83

Michael Hayes was announced to be making an appearance at a WWF show in Boston. The match did not go down, and the reasons why not aren’t clear.

Joe Blanchard has stepped out of power within his own company as Luke Williams of Sheepherders fame is now running the operation.

The WWF had a kayfabe snafu as they aired promos of the Grand Wizard citing results from that month’s MSG show. The problem? Wizard died just before the show took place.

November 1983

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day – November 1983

Memphis formed stable called “The A-Team” to take advantage of the hot network show starring Mr. T. Jerry Jarrett attempted to bring in Mr. T for an appearance, but T asked for $50,000 which was entirely too rich for Jarrett.

January 1984

WWF at the Philly Spectrum – 1/21/84

Hulk Hogan went to the Minnesota press and denounced the AWA for using his name for weeks after he quit. Hogan even produced the telegram proving he gave notice, which meant Verne Gagne had intentionally deceived the fans.

February 1984

Wrasslin’ February 1984: Death of David Von Erich

With the WWF eyeing up a Japan expansion, Tiger Mask is being rumored to come in as the WWF’s ace for that country.

Lord Alfred Hayes, who had been involved in the WWF running Montreal in 1982, was assigned the job of attempting to set up a British WWF office to prepare for a U.K. expansion effort. Promoters in Africa have also been talked to, with Antonio Inoki possibly joining the WWF’s cards there as some sort of promotional partner.

Chief Jay Strongbow tried to bring the Road Warriors into the WWF fold, but terms could not be agreed upon.

March 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: March 1984

Buck Robley and Bruiser Brody had a meeting with Vince McMahon. Brody is rumored to be starting with the WWF in May. He would be a key potential player in any Japanese expansion effort.

Promoter Eddie Einhorn, who briefly tried a national expansion effort in 1975, is trying to work a deal with Gagne to aid him with the WWF’s attack. Einhorn’s IWA lured several big names such as Ivan Koloff, Ernie Ladd and Mil Mascaras in by offering guaranteed money as well as hotel and transportation being covered. The promotion bled money and Einhorn stepped away from the venture.

Tiger Mask is trying to set up a tour of England for himself.

St. Louis fans, long groomed on Sam Muchnick’s clean pro wrestling, are rejecting the WWF running screwjob finishes to matches in the city. The fans currently have the WWF, AWA, WCCW and Central States TV shows all running on their airwaves.

May 1984

Wrasslin’ History: May 1984

World Class is doing better ratings in St. Louis than the AWA and Central States, but Fritz Von Erich does not want to try and expand.

New Japan scored 2.2 million dollars for their yearly TV rights deal. Giant Baba’s All-Japan secured just over a million.

Andre the Giant sold his shares in the Montreal promotion. Verne Gagne picked up Andre’s ownership slice.

The Fabulous Freebirds decided to cock off to double tough veterans Wahoo McDaniel and Harley Race in the locker room. The Birds were flaunting their style compared to the vets, and a physical altercation broke out.

Florida Wrestling is now longer being shown on New York City TV as the WWF bought the time slot up.

June 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: June 1984

Sheik Adnan El Kaissie was rumored to be the next to jump to the WWF. Buddy Rose was offered a spot, agreed to make the move, then changed his mind.

The AWA ran a “$100,000” battle royal in Minnesota. McMahon jumped on this and went to the local commission to inform them that the AWA may try to skip out on the taxes for the $100,000.   The WWF then ran with the same gimmick, with speculation being that Vince ate the tax hit just to get at Verne. (I love this story!)

July 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: July 1984

Crusher Blackwell nearly signed with the WWF, going so far as showing up at a St. Louis show, and then leaving before making his debut.

The USA network and the WWF are having some issues as the USA execs are not happy with the WWF’s new TBS show being competition, plus MTV was given the heavily pushed Fabulous Moolah vs. Wendi Richter match instead of USA.

The AWA was forced to cancel this month’s Winnipeg card after Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher’s match the prior month got the fans so riled up that and elderly security guard was injured in the fray.

Antonio Inoki visited with WWF officials. His spin back home was that he was helping the WWF in the ongoing wrestling war.

Pakistani promoters are attempting to book Inoki in a mixed rules bout with Larry Holmes.

August 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: August 1984

JCP was forced to cancel their planned Meadowlands show after some talent (like the WWF bound Freebirds) could not be secured for the date. JCP is trying to run New York despite having no English speaking TV shows on in the area.

Vince McMahon used his pulpit on “Tuesday Night Titans” to talk up the legend of Bruno Sammartino. Bruno and Vince have a court date against one another upcoming.

The WWF’s New York syndicated show played promos out of order and revealed the results of the upcoming MSG show.

Nobuhiko Takada and Fujiwara paid New Japan $40,000 to allow them to break their contracts and jump to the UWF.

Giant Baba was named the “vice-president” of the NWA. Baba did not want the position and he gave his powers to Terry Funk. Baba may have known it was only an ego stroke position for foreign promoters as Carlos Colon was also given a “vice-president” title. Job titles aside, Jim Crockett is the real power man in the group as he serves as treasurer and books the NWA champion.

The Montreal promotion is going to pair with Angelo Savoldi to run shows in New York and Maine.

September 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: September 1984

Ole Anderson is hurting financially after the WWF took his TBS show from him. His roster is so depleted that he is asking Nick Patrick to leave his referee gig and return to wrestling. Time keeper Scrappy McGowen has been made ring announcer as well to help cut costs.

The Road Warriors (AWA tag champs) challenged the Brisco Brothers and Freebirds on Georgia’s TV show. Both of those teams are under the WWF’s umbrella.

Angelo Mosca jumped to the WWF after Dory Funk Jr. took his job as Florida booker.

Sgt. Slaughter cut a promo on Pittsburgh’s WWF syndication show where he teased a “local legend” would be his surprise partner at that month’s house show. It was a tease for Sammartino, but ended up as the JYD. It’s not clear if this was an intentional bait and switch or if Bruno was actually coming back to wrestle before plans fell apart.

Slaughter has been making rumblings about his pay, so they offered him a sweeter merchandise deal to appease him.

Gary Hart and Kabuki are in talks to come to the WWF. Hart is weary as his last WWF stint ended before it could began. At that time, Hart was to manage the Great Gustav, but when Hart showed up at the arena he was told he needed to go to the airport and give Gustav a ride. That had never been asked of him so he began to believe the office was fucking with him. Mr. Fuji also came up to Hart and indiscreetly asked if he had any marijuana. Jay Strongbow was in a good office position and had heat with Hart because Gary had fired him from Georgia during the 70’s. All these factors made Hart quit.

Jim Barnett was at the WWF Omni show. He made sure extra security was around to protect him in case Ole Anderson or another of his former Georgia partners tried something.

The AWA had been planning a Bobby Heenan vs. Nick Bockwinkel feud before Heenan jumped to the WWF.

With Dusty Rhodes in power in JCP, Florida towns are now syndicating Crockett’s show.

With the JYD having jumped to the WWF and the Rock and Roll Express gone after a “loser leaves town” loss to the Midnight Express, Mid-South gates are hurting.

The Fabulous Freebirds have an upcoming booking with All-Japan, which is the competitor of WWF ally New Japan. This was causing a bit of concern. The Freebirds ended up quitting the WWF before the Japan tour, so it was all a moot point.

With the WWF being on friendly terms with WCCW, Fritz Von Erich is making noise about cutting off Kerry and Kevin Von Erich from future bookings by Vince’s St. Louis opposition.

Rumors are flying that Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, among others have already cut promos for an upcoming WWF tour of Japan to began that expansion.

McMahon is heavily pursuing Jim Brunzell. Brunzell is currently helping Greg Gagne book the AWA since Verne is more focused on the bigger business picture.

The USA Network is paying the WWF $5,000 a week to air “Tuesday Night Titans”.

The WWF lost their TV time slot in Norfolk, Virginia. That will help JCP fend them off a bit.

Eddie Sharkey signed with the AWA to serve as a ref and trainer. This also serves to help keep the Road Warriors happy as Sharkey trained them. The Warriors are letting the Gagnes know that they are sick of wrestling Da Crusher and Baron Von Raschke all the time.

Mr. T was at ringside for a WWF show. David Schultz tried to get into it with him. This is separate from their later encounter that helped get Schultz fired.

WCCW lost their Atlanta syndication deal after the Freebirds left because the station feared the ratings would drop.

Ann Gunkel, half of the famous Georgia wrestling war of the 70’s, is making noise about opening a new promotion. She is also working at trying to get Southwest wrestling on TBS.

October 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: October 1984

Angelo Mosca was taken off the WWF commentary team. Billy Jack Haynes is pushing for Stan Stasiak to take the spot.

WWF booker George Scott went to Texas to personally try and woo Kerry Von Erich into making WWF dates.

Matt Bourne and Buddy Rose developed a plot where they would use Portland Wrestling to build up a hot feud with each other, and then jump together to the WWF. Promoter Don Owens got wind of the plan and fired them both.

November 1984

Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: November 1984

Announcer Rodger Kent was fired from the WWF only a few months after jumping from the AWA in September. Verne refused to rehire him.

Georgia welcomed Thunderbolt Patterson back to their roster in hopes that he’ll drop the racially charged lawsuits he has against them.

George Scott decided Vince McMahon was over exposing himself and convinced McMahon to step down from several of his on-air duties.

Scott is trying to convince McMahon to use the newly bought Stampede group as a developmental league to groom young talent and help refresh veterans. Scott is appalled at the WWF work rate and wants to offer bonus money for good matches.

Randy Savage was supposedly offered a WWF spot and turned them down.

The WWF lost their syndication in Memphis. Other TV stations are dropping the WWF due to McMahon being weeks behind in payments. Most importantly, St. Louis’ local station is several weeks behind on being paid and they are not pleased.

Gene Kiniski is serving as the AWA’s Vancouver promoter.

The AWA tried to convince Jimmy Hart to come in as Bobby Heenan’s replacement as top manager. Hart was not happy with the money offered.

Keith Larson was given his sudden push in JCP because the WWF was pursuing him to come in as a lower card talent.

Karl Gotch snagged some mid-level talent who were about to sign with New Japan. They were brought to the UWF instead.

The UWF and New Japan are in discussions to run some joint shows. The UWF is losing money and needs a lifeline. Baba is publicly letting UWF talent know he’ll book them if the UWF sinks.

The British Bulldogs jumped from New Japan to All-Japan for a pay hike. New Japan is claiming they remain under valid contracts. The WWF ended up having to strip Dynamite Kid of his WWF Junior Heavyweight title over this.

Billy Jack Haynes’ stay in WWF was so short that he when he left Portland, Portland promoted a “mystery partner” to replace him for an upcoming bout, but Haynes came back to be his own replacement.

I’ll be back soon with the long form December 1984 edition of this series.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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