WWF at the Philly Spectrum – 1/21/84

Since I have two shows to cover in January of 1984, I will be saving a little bit of the WWF information until my next article since it deals with Hulk Hogan and his WWF title win.

The new WWF World Champion, the Iron Sheik, was thrust into defenses against Sal Bellomo, Chief Jay Strongbow, Pat Patterson, Tito Santana, Ivan Putzki and Bob Backlund. He lost most of the matches via disqualification. This, of course, all ended when he and the Hulk met up at MSG, but I’ll save that for the future.

Even with Hogan on the roster, the WWF didn’t book him to work anything but a handful of TV tapings. They made sure to have Backlund endorse Hogan at one of the events, in case any Backlund fans might be unfamiliar of the new stud in town.

Bob Backlund remained the top draw for the month as they placed him in matches with Don Muraco, Sgt. Slaughter and the Masked Superstar in an effort to keep things afloat before Hogan took over.

New Japan and All-Japan were both reportedly nervous about rumors of the WWF opening up a Japan office to compete with them. Disgruntled Tiger Mask had gone to the press with backstage business gossip and some speculated that he was working with Vince with the plan being to use Tiger Mask as the top draw in the WWF’s Japan expansion.

Roddy Piper was brought in from JCP. He’s expected to be stuck in a manager’s role for now, which in hindsight seems absolutely crazy. Brian Blair has entered the WWF, as well as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. The Hammer is working TV shots while finishing up in JCP.

The Jimmy Snuka and Muraco angle is finally been put to rest as they only had one match (in the new Detroit market) in January according to available records. Tito Santana is beginning to get shots at Muraco’s IC title.

The Los Angeles expansion effort saw a card where Andre the Giant won a battle royal as the main event. Other action included Andre and Santana battering Tiger Chung Lee and Mr. Fuji, Tony Atlas besting Adrian Adonis, Slaughter beating Ivan Putzki, Tony Garea went over local legend John Tolos, along with Mil Mascaras, The Iron Shiek and others in prelim action.

The WWF and Georgia both ran in Cinncinatti. The WWF put on a card with Bob Backlund besting the Masked Superstar by DQ, Afa and Sika brawling to a draw with Atlas and Rocky Johnson, WWF Champ Sheik beating Pat Patterson by DQ plus Muraco, Fuji and others in prelim action. Georgia countered with Ted Dibiase defending his National title against Brad Armstrong, Mr. R (Tommy Rich) and Buzz Sawyer battling the Road Warriors, Jake the Snake facing Brett Sawyer, King Kong Bundy squaring off with Pez Whatley, Tommy Rogers vs. Les Thornton and Ronnie Garvin facing Johnny Rich.

St. Louis/Central States 
The local St. Louis show drew nearly 11,000 fans to witness NWA Champ Ric Flair fending off Bruiser Brody by DQ. Harley Race beat David Von Erich for the Missouri title in the co-main event. Other action saw AWA tag champs Ken Patera and Crusher Blackwell beat Gene Kiniski and Dick the Bruiser, Dory Funk Jr grappling with Bob Orton Jr to a draw and Tully Blanchard and others in prelim action.

The WWF ran two TV tapings in the much smaller Chase Hotel. The highlight matches of those events were Ivan Putzki fighting Tiger Chung Lee to a draw, and Dick Murdoch vs. Tony Atlas ending in a double DQ when Adrian Adonis and Rocky Johnson got involved. and Mil Mascaras, Andre and Hulk Hogan all took part in squash matches. Big John Studd and Hogan got into a confrontation at the tapings to set up Studd for Hogan’s title run.

Bobby Heenan announced on the AWA’s St. Louis localized promos that AWA Champ Nick Bockwinkel wants to face the NWA Champion be it Ric Flair or whomever in a title unification match. Verne Gagne pushed this same idea later in the show.

NWA Champ Ric Flair faced off with Brody in several other towns in the circuit, as well as making defenses against Harley Race and Ron Ritchie.

Former NWA world champ and NFL great Bronco Nagurski had the honor of flipping the coin at the start of the 1984 Super Bowl.

NWA World Champ Ric Flair came to the area to defend his title against Bob Orton Jr, Dory Funk Jr and US Champ Dick Slater. One of his matches with Slater took place on TV where fans saw Slater pin Flair after Bob Orton Jr interfered. The decision was reversed and a brawl broke out that saw Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood make the save for Flair.

Dick Slater used the incident to brag up his new group of heels that were running with him which included Don Kernodle, Orton Jr, Ernie Ladd, and Ivan Koloff. Slater awarded Koloff his Mid-Atlantic title as a sign of good faith, since Slater already held the U.S. title.

Don Kernodle and Bob Orton Jr won the NWA tag title tournament that was caused by Ricky Steamboat choosing to “retire”. They overcame a field that included the Assassins, The Youngbloods, Dory Funk Jr and Jimmy Valiant, Ivan Koloff and Ernie Ladd, The Road Warriors, Wahoo McDaniels and Buzz Sawyer, and David and Kevin Von Erich, among others. Ricky Steamboat beat Sgt. Slaughter in his “retirement” match on the same card.

Jimmy Valiant forfeited the TV title when he gave up his “Charlie Brown” gimmick. Valiant brought in Baron Von Raschke and Dusty Rhodes to help him in his wars with Paul Jones’ Army. Jones’ actually shaved Valiant’s beard off to help keep the heat on the feud.

Angelo Mosca Jr. was given a big push in an attempt to create a new star with Valentine, Piper, Steamboat and others leaving. Mosca’s push included being awarded the 1983 PWI Rookie of the Year award, and then he upset Ivan Koloff for the Mid-Atlantic title.

Greg Valentine finished up his run here by battling Bob Orton Jr and Dick Slater.

The dirt sheets are speculating that Ole Anderson is running out of money and rumors are swirling that Jim Barnett will be wooed back from the WWF to save the business.

Tommy Rich as “Mr.R” continued his feud with Ted Dibiase. He also joined the Sawyers in going after the Road Warriors.

Buzz Sawyer was given booking power over his own matches by Ole, and he immediately abused his power and put himself and his brother Brett over the Road Warriors for the National tag titles night after night, then ignored the title changes. Ole caught on after two weeks of this and fired Buzz, thus awarding the Warriors the belts back.

The Omni hosted two shows this month, the first saw Joe LeDuc battling Buzz Sawyer, Ted Dibiase defending his National title against Bob Armstrong, Jerry Lawler making a special appearance in facing Jake the Snake, The Road Warriors and Killer Karl Krupp clashing with Jerry Brisco, Brett Sawyer and Bugsy Mcgraw, plus Brad Armstrong, Ron Garvin and others in prelim bouts.

The second Omni show saw a LeDuc/Sawyer rematch, Ted Dibiase being upset by Johnny Rich, a rematch of the six man tag-this time with Stan Hansen running in to club the Road Warriors, a Lawler/Roberts rematch, Ron Garvin fighting Pez Whatley to a draw and Tommy Rogers going over Les Thornton.

Mean Gene Okerlund made his last AWA appearance on tapes that were made before he jumped to the WWF. His replacement, Ken Resnick, was pelted with trash and cat calls for Mean Gene at the St. Paul house show.

Rick Martel left the AWA for Canada and is using the WWF’s talent purge to hit Verne Gagne up for a big push. Since the AWA has already lost Mean Gene, Hogan and David Schultz, Verne had to agree to award Martel the AWA title soon or face him jumping as well.

They tried running a Nick Bockwinkel vs. Brad Rheingans World title match in San Francisco and it drew a mere 1,000 fans.

Baron Von Raschke has been jumping from the crowds in a disguise to help Crusher and Mad Dog Vachon in their matches with Mr. Saito and Jesse Ventura. This went fine until the Winnipeg security wasn’t smartened up and Baron was actually held back.

Blackjack Lanza is STILL fighting Bobby Heenan (what is this the fourth or fifth straight month now?) and also getting shots at Bockwinkel.

Dino Bravo is getting shots at Bockwinkel in Montreal.

Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell are chasing AWA tag champs Crusher Blackwell and Ken Patera. The two teams have been added partners for six and eight man tag matches around the horn.

Harley Race came in at the end of the month for some shots.

Jerry Lawler received series of title matches with AWA Champ Nick Bockwinkel. This included a famous match where Lawler would be fined $500.00 for every closed fist he threw.

Jimmy Hart gave a classy interview on TV blaming Andy Kaufman’s cancer on Jerry Lawler’s piledriver:

The Fabulous Ones continued to have wild brawls with the Moondogs all over the circuit.

The AWA tag champions Ken Patera and Crusher Blackwell came in the area to defend against the Rock and Roll Express and Austin Idol and Jerry Lawler.

The Road Warriors made some shots to face off with the Fabulous Ones and Austin Idol and Jerry Lawler.

NWA World Champion Ric Flair came in to defend his title against Bob Armstrong.

Bad News Allen (Brown) got in trouble for punching a fan and knocking over a pregnant woman while brawling in the crowd with Davey Boy Smith.

World Class 
Despite being banned from World Class, the Freebirds managed to win the WCCW six-man titles in a fictional match in Georgia when David Von Erich was disqualified for using the claw, which is banned in Georgia because the local commissions favor the Freebirds.

NWA Champ Ric Flair defended against Kerry Von Erich in San Antonio, then faced Mike Von Erich the following night at a big show in Fort Worth. Mike managed to last ten minutes with Flair, which resulted in David Von Erich being awarded a future title match. Also on that card, the Freebirds beat Mike, Kerry and David Von Erich via DQ and thus were reinstated in WCCW. Chris Adams bested Jimmy Garvin for the American Heavyweight belt, Iceman Parsons fought Gen. Akbar to a draw, the JYD bested Kamala by DQ and the Super Destroyers beat Iceman and Brian Adidas.

Rick Rude, still super green, was sent to WCCW by Jerry Jarrett in order for Rude to learn how to work a gimmick like Jimmy Garvin’s.

JYD and Hacksaw Duggan’s defense of America against Crusher Darsow and Nikolai Volkoff continues to be a key angle.

Chris Adams and Jimmy Garvin were brought in as a special attraction.

Magnum TA and his mentor Mr. Wrestling II are having issues with Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey.

After being humbled by Ron Bass and rode with a saddle, Barry Windham disappeared from the Florida rings.  In his place rose a tall man with long blond hair and a mask dubbed “The Dirty Yellow Dog”. The Dog proceeded to challenge Bass to a series of gimmick matches to avenge Windham.

NWA champ Ric Flair faced Dusty Rhodes several times, along with clashing with Mike Rotondo.

Dusty Rhodes renewed his violent feud with Kevin Sullivan as well as still battling the One Man Gang.

Billy Jack is now in the area and receiving a good push.

And now for your featured attraction…

Philly Spectrum 1/21/84
Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon call the action.

Eddie Gilbert vs. Rene Goulet
Goulet stalls to start. Gilbert works for a body grip but a hair pull sends him to the mat. Things slow way down as Gilbert locks on a several minute long headlock. I check Facebook, my email and ebay as this headlock is endless. Goulet finally breaks it and starts to work over Gilbert with punches and elbows. Goulet tosses Gilbert to the floor and shows off by doing calisthenics. Gilbert fires up and starts to take the fight back to Goulet with punches. A low blow ends that rally and the claw nearly finishes him. The claw hold goes on forever, much like the earlier headlock, and now I’m afraid I’m in for a twenty-minute draw. Gilbert breaks it and makes a brief comeback before the time limit does indeed expire at an announced 20:00. Insomnia inducing action.

Swede Hanson vs. Butcher Vachon
HOLY SHIT. This is either going to be a train wreck or amazing. Hanson out powers Vachon in the opening moments, so Vachon starts to hammer away with forearms and boots. Vachon takes a back drop and that’s enough for a pin at 4:01. I might have hit the slow motion button before this match began judging by the pace this bout set.

The Invaders vs. Charlie Fulton and Mr. Fuji
Fuji is in peril right away as his smaller, faster opponents control the action. Monsoon congratulates Invader #2 on his recent steroid usage. Fulton tags in and suffers the same fate as Fuji as the Invaders use some fast tags and masked confusion to irritate the heels.

Fuji uses martial arts to start the heat segment, which goes well when Fuji is in the ring, but once Fulton tags in, the Invaders get the win in short order at 9:37. I have no idea what the point of bringing the Invaders in was since they have been in the exact same position on the card, having basically the same match month after month. Were Puerto Rican fans in the WWC really going to be impressed with tapes of the Invaders beating the WWF jabronis?

World Champion The Iron Sheik vs. Tito Santana
Sheik has all kinds of heat. Santana chokes Sheik out with his own turban and sends him fleeing from a barrage of blows. Santana attacks as soon as Sheik gets back on the apron and sends Sheik flying over the top rope with an atomic drop. Santana works a headlock for control and rocks the Sheik with a suplex. He lands on the champ’s knees when he attempts a follow up splash. This allows Sheik to trap Tito in an abdominal stretch, but Santana is able to reverse it.

Santana gets a near fall on a roll up that I almost bought, even knowing that Sheik has to leave here as the title holder. A pair of drop kicks send Sheik to the floor, which allows him to grab a chair and bring it into the ring. Ref Danny Davis blocks that, so Sheik shoves him. Santana and Sheik battle over the chair. Then Santana hits the flying forearm and makes the cover. Davis announces the match is a thrown out via double-dq. This was a solid match, with crowd heat that helped elevate the match’s excitement level.

Intercontinental Champion Don Muraco vs. Sal Bellomo
I’m pretty stunned to see that Bellomo was 33 years old here. They always play him up as if he’s a plucky youngster straight off the boat after immigrating from Italy. Monsoon talks up how fat Muraco is getting. The champ rough houses Bellomo in the corner and sends him wobbly crashing to the mat. Muraco next snags him in a headscissors that keeps the challenger trapped on the mat. Sal is working for an escape the whole time though, so it’s not a case of just being a lazy resthold like in the earlier matches.

Bellomo escapes a Tombstone and unloads a series of punches to Muraco’s skull. Muraco manages to side step a charge and scores a fluke cradle pin at 10:04. Muraco’s swagger carried this glorified enhancement match.

Bob Backlund vs. The Masked Superstar
Backlund has some catcalls mixed in with his mild applause. Superstar is frustrated early by Backlund being able to match power with him. They are working an incredibly slow pace as they started with stalling and moved on to a long headlock sequence. Superstar goes to work over Backlund’s previously injured arm and shoulder. That arm work also drags on as Superstar uses a few armbar variants to ground Backlund for several minutes.

Backlund uses a headbutt to the mid-section to gain control briefly, but Backlund focuses too much on trying to take the mask off rather than fight and Superstar is able to hammer back with some shots. Both guys spill to the floor where Backlund loses track of the ref’s count and throws Superstar back in the ring at the 9 count, failing to get in before being counted out himself at 17:09. Ugh, really disappointing snoozer.

 The Haiti Kid & Tiger Jackson vs. Pancho Boy & Dana Carpenter 
Tiger Jackson is the future Dink the Clown. Wikipedia says he was Little Beaver’s brother, which I never knew. This is a standard midget match, with pratfalls, goofy bumps, 3 Stooges slapstick and such. The faces win after all the tomfoolery at 5:29.

Best 2 out of 3 Falls: Andre the Giant, Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson and Jimmy Snuka vs. Afa, Sika, Samu and Sgt. Slaughter
Fall 1: Snuka remains massively over. The Samoans are all smooshed together by Andre at the onset of the bout. Andre then swallows Sarge up in his arms and feeds him to his teammates, who all take turns cracking on the marine. Afa tags in next and we get a demonstration of how over Snuka is as he gets a big pop for simply leap frogging Afa. Rocky Johnson tags in and soon finds himself trapped by the heels. A Cobra Clutch from Slaughter dazes Johnson and Sika is able to deliver a head butt for the pin at 4:35.

Fall 2: Johnson remains in trouble as Afa locks him in a nerve hold. Samu doesn’t have the same luck and ends up in the ring with Andre. The Giant headbutts Samu into a dazed state. This allows Snuka to leap off Andre’s shoulders and get the pin at 2:29.

Fall 3: Snuka chops Samu out of the ring, then knocks Samu and Afa together. Andre tags in and the Samoans try and wound him with headbutts. All eight men brawl before Andre sits on one of the Samoans for the win at 2:02. Things totally break down after as all eight men throw down as chairs and the ring bell are thrown in the ring. This was brisk and easily the match of the night. I wonder if anyone felt it was business exposing to have such quick falls when the main eventers usually last a long while before wilting.

Final thoughts: A horrid card. Somebody switched out the steroids in the locker room with Valium.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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