WWF @ Madison Square Garden 11/26/1984

Santana and Valentine engage in a classic, and Snuka and the Tonga Kid go to war with Piper

Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes call the action.

Monsoon botches his opening line and tells us the fans are hanging from the “raptors”. The camera then shows tons of empty seats as the fans are coming in. He then sends it to Howard Finkel – Monsoon then realizes he’s wrong and sends it to commercial. A very WCW-esque start.

Special Delivery Jones vs. Charlie Fulton

Monsoon says Fulton was a Green Beret in the Vietnam War – Fulton stated prior to his death that he thinks he may have caught a virus in Vietnam that gave him the heart issues that prematurely ended his career a bit after this match went down.

The two men start slow with back and forth headlocks. This goes on for several minutes. Fulton tries a pin and goes right back to the headlock. Jones breaks out and whips Fulton, allowing Charlie to jump over him three times as Jones lays on his belly- Lord Al declares this as being “three great moves!” Jones then attempts a slam and can’t lift Fulton without falling backward. Jones outweighs Fulton, so that spot was silly. This leads to another headlock. Jones has enough of these rest periods and abuses Fulton with headbutts and nut shots. This rocks Fulton enough for Jones to score the pin at 10:40. The crowd was absurdly hot for a match that was very basic, and bordering on dull. It served it’s purpose of warming up the crowd though.

Jose Luis Rivera vs. Moondog Spot

Hayes and Monsoon opine on how a wrestler can hail from “Parts Unknown”. Gorilla talks of the legal papers that wrestlers have to sign the would prevent such a thing. The men start with a very upbeat pace, with Spot missing several diving elbows to set up Rivera working over his arm. They repeat a similar pattern several times as Spot brawls his way into control briefly before Rivera locks on another arm wringer.

Spot gains control by using his size and strength advantage, but pulls Rivera up on several pinfalls in order to abuse Rivera further. I expect this plan will end poorly for the Moondog. Spot ends up delivering a flying clothesline for the pin at 9:16. Pretty much another case of two guys going through the motions with leaves little for me to comment on. According to online sources, this was suppose to be Billy Jack Haynes’ MSG debut, but he left the WWF almost as soon as he arrived.

Sal Bellomo vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Lord Al alludes to his past feud with Heenan as dueling managers in the AWA. Heenan shakes Bellomo’s hand…cleanly!?!? Heenan does a clean break in the ropes, then cheap shots Bellomo. Heenan hides out in the ropes to prevent getting his comeuppance for that. The Brain gets caught and is whipped to the buckle, which causes Bobby to bounce off in the air and crash to the mat in a heap. Heenan begs for his life and then runs for lower grounds. Monsoon and Hayes are subtly ripping on the AWA by talking about what a lowly place Heenan came to the WWF from.

Sal semi-botches a flying headscissors. A follow up dropkick sends Heenan into the post shoulder first. Heenan regroups and tries to rile Bellomo up by calling him racist slurs.

The Brain gains control and drives diving knees into Bellomo’s back. The men collide and Heenan takes a big pratfall into the middle turnbuckle. Bobby manages to dump Sal to the floor, and poses while keeping Bellomo from getting back in. Sal tries a sunset flip, but Heenan grabs the rope. I think that was suppose to be the finish but Bellomo was too far into the ring, so Heenan butt splashes him and scores the “clean” pin at 8:56.  I find it so strange to see Heenan in matches like this – I’m not sure why the Heenan character would bother to work against a geek with no build. The match was great fun though as The Brain knew how to bump, stooge and feed himself to the babyface as well as anyone.

Angelo “King Kong” Mosca vs. Mr. Fuji

Mosca looks like a beast yet, grizzled from age but still huge and powerful. Fuji cracks him with a chop, which annoys Mosca. Mosca pounds Fuji with punches before giving him a mocking bow. Fuji is pissed from that, but he can’t do much about it since he’s against this hulking opposition. Mosca toys with Fuji, which proves to be a mistake as Fuji nails him with two nut shots to garner control. A nerve hold paralyzes Mosca for a bit before he can power back up. Fuji attempts to stop the larger man with a packet of salt, but Mosca steals it to the delight of the fans. Mosca entraps Fuji in a sleeper, where the devious one produces another salt packet and throws it in Mosca’s face for the DQ at 8:01. The fans were way into Mosca, which makes it a bit surprising that this was a limited run for him before leaving the WWF again. Psychologically tight match, but hardly a catch-as-catch can classic.

Swede Hanson vs. Bob Orton Jr.

Hanson clamps a bearhug on right off and shows off his power advantage. Orton can’t budge the big man, so he scoops him up and dumps Hanson’s man bits down upon his knee. Orton tries to keep Swede down with strikes and knees, but the large frame of Hanson absorbs most of it. Swede starts to no sell and throws strikes back at Orton. A flying splash by Hanson backfires as Orton lifts his knee up. The winded Hanson is nailed with a Vader bomb and pinned at 8:51. A bit of a styles clash, as Orton was forced to carry a burly aging brawler. This resulted in a largely dull encounter.

The Tonga Kid vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Jimmy Snuka appears in Tonga Kid’s corner – his return from being injured by Piper several months ago. The crowd goes bonkers for the “Superfly”. Snuka gives Roddy a death glare, which prompts Piper to take a walk. Tonga Kid is only 18-years-old here, and is basically co-headlining a MSG show. Quite impressive how quickly Tonga Kid went from a prelim guy to this spot on the strength of a few promos and a TV angle with Piper.

Piper tries to get in a cheap shot, but it’s blocked and Roddy is blasted with a number of strikes. Hot Rod tries to bail but is caught. The crowd is MOLTEN. Piper gets in one shot and does the Snuka pose. Tonga jumps him for this and the crowd loses their collective minds. Piper tries a back suplex, but Tonga won’t stay down. Roddy sends the Kid to the floor, which proves to be a mistake as Snuka looms nearby.

Piper waits for Snuka to help Tonga back in, then chews on the youngster’s head as he stares at the Superfly. He then spits on Snuka for good measure. Piper roughs up the Kid and culminates his assault by trapping the Tongan in a sleeper. Tonga signals Snuka’s “I love you” hand sign to show he’s still fighting, then shakes his butt until he breaks free. Tonga starts dancing and attacks Piper but becomes overzealous and ends up dumped to the floor.

On the cement, Tonga is attacked by Orton, as Piper gets a chair. Snuka puts an end to that plan and takes on both heels in the ring. Jimmy takes a brief beating before making his own comeback, right in time for the Tonga Kid to come to his cousin’s aide. Orton is sent packing as Piper looks at both men while assessing his odds, Roddy then bails out himself. Match was an intense 7:03. Piper’s heat is incredible and the finish sets up a number of different matches, which were destined not to happen…but that story is for another day.

Barry Windham, being labeled a future major star, cuts a so-so promo in the back where he trips over his words. Windham promises to use “wrestling” to best his opponent who would prefer to brawl.

Barry Windham vs. Moondog Rex

Windham gets a big reaction from the women. Rex is in pretty good shape, and it’s not too hard to see why Bill Watts would bring him in as a top guy a few months after this. Windham controls things with the basics. Rex hacks away back at him with forearms. Windham batters Rex with a series of punches that knocked the Moondog to the floor. Rex drags Windham down to his level and gets some licks in. Windham is rocked back in the ring and sent over the top and to the floor as he crashes into the barricade in what was a pretty big bump for WWF-land. The wounded Windham is then blasted by the malicious Moondog as the young stud is trapped in a bear hug and then a backbreaker. Barry makes a brief comeback but misses a dropkick attempt. Rex employs some more roughhouse tactics before Barry is able to snap off a bulldog for the win at 12:11. Interesting match layout, as the debuting “star” spent much of the bout fighting his way from underneath the attacks of a lesser opponent. I’m not sure this made for the best of showcases for Windham as a result.

Tony Atlas vs. The Executioner

The Executioner is a masked jobber. Atlas, fresh off a brief run in the AWA, is attacked before the bell. This is more of a mild inconvenience than anything, and Atlas quickly press slams the masked man and splashes the goon for the pin at 1:48.   Just a squash, but Atlas physically looked incredible and got a real good reaction from the audience. The stench of his quitting did not leave Vince’s mind though and Tony’s next year-plus run in the WWF would go no where.

Rocky Johnson vs. “Dr. D” David Schultz

Hey remember when this was a decently pushed feud about six months ago? I ‘member! Now both guys find themselves not long for this WWF world.

Schultz tries to engage, but Johnson keeps backing away from him. A long stalling segment evolves out of this. Jaw jacking comes from Schultz as he throws teasing blows towards Johnson. The ref makes Johnson stand back as Schultz manipulates Rocky into miming a punch, forcing the referee to admonish him.

Rocky tries to throw punches and the ref breaks them up again. They had to have stalled at least five-minutes by this point. Johnson tries to use punches, but the ref hooks his arm, allowing Schultz to cheap shot him. The ref gets in Johnson’s face when he teases another punch. The next time the men get face to face, the ref again jumps in an admonishes Rocky. The fans have gone from restless to being ready to kill the ref. A “bullshit” chant loudly reverberates through MSG.

Dr. D gets an armbar and the ref prevents Johnson from punching his way out. Rocky uses gymnastics to free himself, but the ref stops him from making a comeback. Schultz then blasts Johnson with a number of punches and the ref impishly tries to stop him. Schultz chokes Johnson in front of the ref, and then behind the ref’s back, which pisses Rocky off enough that he just starts throwing punches regardless of the ref’s wishes. The crowd does not pop as much as you would think given the circumstances of the match. Johnson tries a slam, but is rolled up and pinned at 9:25. The fans are aghast at that finish. Schultz has had a number of really odd house show matches in 1984, and the story told here certainly can be added to the list. I don’t think this went anywhere angle wise.

Bruno Sammartino cuts a backstage promo, and appears to have a brain fart as he tries to name the manager of his son’s opponent tonight. Bruno is thrilled to be back in MSG again.

David Sammartino vs. Ken Patera

Bruno is here to keep Capt. Lou at bay.  He gets a big response as this is his MSG return after being away for several years. Bruno is wearing a suit and tie. One would guess he won’t look so dapper by the end of this bout. David looks really large standing next to his dad as he has an ample chest and overall big body frame. Patera shows off his legendary strength by chucking David across the ring. David responds by scooping Patera off his feet and placing him on the turnbuckle to embarrass him. David next picks Ken up and press slams the big man. Bruno and most of the audience are impressed by that power.

Patera decides to test the kid’s mettle with plain roughhouse tactics as he drives punches and knees into the young man. David gives some back in response. Ken winds up on the floor, but Bruno eyes him up and Patera quickly makes his way back in the ring. Patera dumps David out the other side of the ring and slams him on the floor before Bruno can make his way over. Patera continues his punch and kick attack, before chucking David across the ring with a big slam. A suplex and bear hug continue to wear at the younger Sammartino. David escapes and scores a number of near falls on Patera but he can’t find the right move to put the veteran away.

Capt. Lou begins to get nervous and decides he needs to aid his charge by tripping up David. The ref catches him in the act, and Bruno chases Albano into the ring. The heels escape as the father and son celebrate David’s DQ win after 12:24 of action.   The crowd heat from Sammartino’s involvement probably made this feel like a better match than it actually was. It was an entertaining encounter most of the way, and it ended at the proper moment because things were starting to drag. The WWF wanted to push David, and this was worked very much like he was a top of the line player. In retrospect, it’s a bit of a surprise this did not carry over into a long career.

IC Champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. Tito Santana

This is Santana’s first major match since recovering from the knee surgery that was caused from the dreaded figure-four of Valentine. Santana had not even returned to active wrestling on TV at this point. The Hammer senses the rage in Santana’s eyes and tries to make a run for it. The challenger gives chase, which gives Valentine the chance to attempt a cheap shot, which Santana avoids swiftly.

The Hammer tries to wear at Santana with forearms, but Santana unloads back and drops the champion to the mat. Tito takes pleasure in driving Valentine’s skull into the mat time after time. Valentine musters some blows, but once things spill out to the floor, Tito regains full control as he drives shots into the Hammer’s skull. Santana tries a figure-four, and that’s the warning Valentine needed to make a rally. Valentine connects with some big elbows, including one to the challenger’s beans. The Hammer works over the repaired knee with elbows and kicks. The champ’s attempt at a figure-four is blocked by a kick to his rear, which propelled Valentine into the turnbuckle. This sets Tito to connect with a flying forearm.

A vengeful Santana next drags Valentine to the ringpost and smashes his leg into the ring post. Tito cracks the leg with a chair several times, which the ref is okay with. The Hammer is then put through some torture as Tito drives into his leg with a series of short knee drops. Valentine avoids being locked in a figure-four, then begins no selling his leg as he drops attacks back on Santana’s knee. I can’t dig that psychology. The crowd has been red-hot for much of this bout, especially when Tito is on the attack.

A series of elbow drops keep Tito grounded – though the champ struggles to keep his challenger down. Valentine is flung over the turnbuckles in a bit of desperation from Tito. Greg’s head catches the steel, causing a crimson mask to fall over Valentine, upping the drama of the match.

The two exhausted men trade punches on the mat. A flying forearm does not end things, and a suplex takes as much out of Santana as it does his opponent. Valentine, realizing that Santana is every bit, if not more, of a warrior than he himself is, takes things to a dangerous point as he removes Tito’s protective knee brace. Santana fends him off as the bell rings for curfew at 22:23. WOW – this was an awesome bout. You could sense the hate spewing between the men, culminating with the blood flow late in the match as both exhausted men showed the effects of their hard-hitting encounter. There are many re-matches to follow…

Final thoughts: That MAIN EVENT made this a must see show, and Piper/Tonga Kid delivered in spades as well. Add in the fun Sammartino bout and the bizarre Schultz match and you had one entertaining evening!

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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