WWF at MSG on January 22nd, 1983

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Taped from the USA Network

I bought the DVD of this show because I actually work with one of the wrestlers on this show, Jules Strongbow. In his shoot, Jules says his match with Ray Stevens on this card was one of his favorites, so I wanted to check it out and then pass the DVD along to him.  Since this is pre-expansion WWF I’m going in with low expectations.

We open with The Magnificent Muraco doing a promo.  Muraco puts over all the blood, bruises and sweat he’s lost in MSG. Pedro Morales has the Intercontinental title and Muraco wants it to add to his prestige. He complains about people who think wrestling is fake when he’s had a busted face so many times.  He hates Pedro and tonight he hopes to finish him.

A Superstar Billy Graham promo is next. Swede Hanson was the guest ref for a Bob Backlund vs. Graham match last month. Graham feels he was screwed by Hanson as Graham was being choked while Backlund applied a chicken wing and Swede declared that Graham had submitted when in fact Graham was trying to warn Swede about being choked.  Swede vs. Graham tonight.

Swede Hanson promo. Swede denounces Graham’s claims.

Pete Sanchez vs. Johnny Rodz

Jobbers clash to kick us off to get the crowd warmed up. The Fink announces. The ring looks huge! Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon on the call. Monsoon thinks this will be a great match. Rodz’s wife is about to give birth so he may be distracted. Monsoon thinks Rodz has 22 inch biceps. Highly unlikely Gorilla! Basic arm work to start. Rodz bench presses 440 according to Monsoon. Rodz with a double shoulder massage (or a nerve pinch if you will). He turns it into the Million Dollar Dream sleeper. Sanchez escapes and they bang heads on a double shoulder block. Rodz wins with a simple small package off a slam attempt shortly after. Solid 8 min exhibition to let the people find their seats.

Special Delivery Jones vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna

More preliminary action.  They get chippy with each other during the intros. Scicluna is the most experienced worker on the show Vince believes. They put over both men’s natural frames and work out techniques. PURE SPORTS BUILD! SD is African American and thus has a hard head – Baron’s 20 years of experience has not yielded him this knowledge and SD makes him pay. Mikel rips at SD’s face and stomps away. SD throws some loose punches and Vince has to acknowledge they basically miss. SD dodges a charge and headbutts Mikel for the pin after 6 minutes. Eh, I’m over the novelty of jobber matches now.

Superstar Graham vs. Swede Hanson

Graham is in his no roids karate stage. This is heel vs. heel apparently. Hanson charges the ring and stalks Superstar, then turns his back and gets attacked. Graham slams Swede into the ringpost and follows up with karate chops but Hanson Swede’s up and no sells the blows. Fans decide they prefer Swede to Graham and cheer him. Swede rocks Graham and attempts a flying knee drop. Graham dodges and hits him with a foreign object for the pin at just over 3 minutes. Nothing to see here. Wonder why they went so brief?

Pedro Morales vs. Don Muraco

Morales has never done it for me. Muraco attacks to start and Pedro works him over instead. Pedro hits Don with the title right in front of the ref. Muraco cowers from his whooping. Pedro dodges a shoulder charge and turns it into sunset flip. Muraco bails. Don eats a ringpost shot and hides under the ring. I figured that was an excuse to hide his blade job, but no blood. Muraco chokes Pedro with the rags that used to be his shirt, again right in front of the ref. Pedro misses a flying knee and hurts his leg. Muraco sniffs that out and goes to work on the knee. Figure four locked on. Monsoon complains about the application being incorrect. Pedro reverses. Pedro can’t stand and Don attempts another figure four, but Pedro kicks him into the ringpost. Pedro rallies but gives Muraco a back breaker ON HIS BAD KNEE. Kayfabe. Pedro sells him bum knee after a few seconds – wonder if that was a legit goof by Pedro? Morales attempts a slam and the knee gives out and Muraco wins the title at the 11 minute mark.  This was a watchable brawl. They put Pedro over huge after the fact.

Tony Garea and Eddie Gilbert vs. Afa and Sika

Gilbert’s WWF run seems so random since he’s tiny and southern and the WWF just doesn’t seem like a place that he’d be pushed. Pier 6 to start and the Samoans are sent to the floor. Garea rams the Samoans head together and I guess the hard heads counter balance each other and the Samoans are actually hurt from a cranial blow. Sika tries to hold back Garea but Afa’s chop connects with his brother’s chest and sends Sika to the floor. The ref appears to be lucha star Super Porky. Time travel is real! The Samoans are controlled by scientific and high flying moves until Gilbert is KO’d by a double head butt. Samoans work nerve holds. Garea tags in and is a house of fire. Abdominal stretch by Garea but ref is getting Gilbert out and Garea is hit from behind with a flying chop for the pin at 9 minutes. Much better match than expected.

Jules Strongbow vs. Ray Stevens

Ray doesn’t look a day past 45. Monsoon says Jules has been trained to be a tag worker and will struggle in this one on one situation. Ray attempts a sneak attack but Jules dodges and chops Ray into retreat. A dropkick is kind of whiffed but that’s enough to send Stevens to the floor. Stevens helped Jules develop as a worker during his lengthy stay in the AWA as a TV jobber. Stevens is whipped into the buckle and flops upside down. Jules is stalking Ray and Monsoon bizarrely says Jules is wasting energy and is too uptight. Uhh Gorilla, Jules has dominated… Then Monsoon bitches because Jules doesn’t chase Ray outside. Make up your mind Monsoon! More chops and an abdominal stretch. Vince and Gorilla think that’s it for Ray. A simpler time in wrestling. More chops and they collide on a double shoulderblock. More chops and a war dance. Jules misses a dropkick and Ray piledrives him for the pin at the 7 minute mark. Ray sold the whole match and that was probably for the best. Perfectly acceptable wrestling. Jules told me that Ray’s intent was to steal the show and apparently Vince Sr. promised Jules they would never put him on before Backlund again, because he and Ray couldn’t be followed.

Bob Backlund vs. Big John Studd

Bob is outweighed by at least 200 pounds. Vince and Monsoon put BJS over hard. Backlund’s opening takedown attempt is blocked by pure mass. They have a feeling out process and Bob scoops Studd up and walks around instead of slamming Studd, this leads to Studd falling on Bob. With Bob’s back now hurt, Studd goes for the bear hug. Forearms, back breaker and more bear hugs. Studd locks Bob in the over the shoulder back breaker submission, Bob escapes and is locked right back in. Bob kicks off the ropes and flips on top of Studd for the 3 count at 7 minutes.  Vince and Monsoon are awfully confused by that finish. I’m amazed the “main event” only went 7 minutes. The finish is played up as controversial, although it was no such thing.

Mac Rivera vs. Curt Hennig

 If this doesn’t end fast, I’d guess it’ll die a death following those feature bouts. Heh, Monsoon says the same thing on commentary. Monsoon is still talking up the World title match finish – he thinks Backlund was too high for the ref to hear Bob submit and BJS may have been screwed. The guys work basic stuff. The announcers replay the Studd/Backlund finish and ignore the match completely. Drop kick from the top rope finishes for Hennig. Just filler so the announcers could talk about the BJS/Backlund finish.

“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. Buddy Rose

This should be awesome! Rose is in great shape and it’s crazy how much weight he’d put on over the next 3-4 years. Rose smack talks Jimmy and slaps him gently a bunch of times.  Snuka just stares a hole through him like a badass! Another slap and Snuka slowly stalks Rose. Rose flops almost head over heels from Snuka’s opening chop. LONG headlock by Rose. Snuka escapes and locks on his own headlock. Snuka with a head scissors, Rose gets cute by trying to escape via a head stand and ends up getting nailed with a mini-piledriver. Rose takes control and smothers Snuka in a chinlock. Snuka powers out but is felled by a knee to the back. Snuka is dropkicked, takes 3 steps and falls over the top rope.  That looked awkward as hell. Snuka fights his way back in and Snuka shoulder butts Rose and Rose jumps half way across the ring in another awkward looking spot. Snuka sends Rose flying in the air with both a headbutt and a big chop. That sets up the Superfly splash for the pin.  A little rest hold heavy and some silly looking bumps made this not as fun as I was hoping. Just over 15 minutes long for the record. Rose is helped off in a heap.

Sal Bellomo vs. Charlie Fulton

Who’s laying out this card? I really don’t want to see more jobbers after we saw the meat and potatoes. After crying about the World title match finish for much of the last hour, suddenly Vince and Monsoon decide the ref made a great call. Odd. Sal’s appearance allows them to cover how European workers are slower than America’s.  Sal competed in a 50 night 200 man tournament that took place in the same arena nightly in Germany. Uh-huh…Sal’s mini push in 83-84 baffles me since he has little going for him in any attribute. Sal wins mercifully in just over 3 minutes with a cross body.

Rocky Johnson vs. Mr. Fuji

Rocky’s roided out. Fuji is tossed around to start but “judo” chops his way into control. Armbar by Fuj the Stooge. Rocky dances his way back into control and sends Fuji flying. Nerve hold of extreme discomfort brings Rocky back down. Another double shoulder block – the guys must have made a bet on how many times they could do that spot on one card as we’ve seen it a lot tonight. Johnson is crotched on the ropes but gets a cradle pin anyway.  Crowd is awfully quiet for that. Rocky is still selling the crotch shot several minutes later and is helped to the back. Legit injury?

Final Thoughts: Largely a painful card to sit through. Rose/Snuka didn’t deliver, and Backlund/Studd was brief and had a fuck finish to allow for a rematch. Ray Stevens playing pinball was fun and Muraco/Pedro was a solid enough brawl for the era – but the avalanche of jobber matches killed my spirit. 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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