As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, JT Rozzero, Chad Campbell, Jason Greenhouse, Scott Criscuolo & Dan McGinn are starting in 1975 and are planning to watch the entire offering of the WWE Network chronologically. They have plotted their course and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!
Run Time: 45 minutes
Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & David Von Erich vs. Mike Sharpe, Ben Sharpe & Tom Steele – WCCW Six Man Tag Team Championship
10,000 Pole Battle Royal
JT: The obvious choice here is the six man tag match. The crowd was all in on this one due to the makeup of the face team. Both Hayes and DVE had some impact offense early on, keeping the fans engaged and both Sharpe Brothers on the run. Ben really took the brunt of it, stooging around as Gordy and Hayes pummeled him. Steele didn’t fare much better, eating kicks from Hayes and a big dropkick and piledriver from DVE. After a long shine for the faces, Ben finally caught Hayes and hooked in a tight chinlock and Steele picked up right where he left off. The crowd really stayed fired up, pushing Hayes to survive a Mike bear hug, but Hayes still couldn’t make the tag. After Mike worked him over a bit more, he finally escaped and tagged in Gordy to a big pop. That heat segment was really strong. Moments later, DVE came in and pasted Mike to win the match and the belts. This didn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but it was pretty fun and well worked with a hot crowd, a good heat segment and plenty of face shine throughout. The Von Erich/Freebird alliance is further strengthened.
Chad: The six man tag match wins the honors for tonight. I thought the match was an interesting snapshot to see the Freebirds and beloved babyfaces and getting a huge reaction based on what wrestling history happens this Christmas night in Dallas, but the match overall was merely decent and I had trouble with the start/stop nature of the work. I also thought the heel trio of the Sharpe brothers and Tom Steele were pretty nondescript and didn’t add much to the overall match. I would say this is a watch for a cool Michael Hayes babyface performance and an appetizer to set out the main course of the evening but not a very good overall match. **1/2
Jason: It was pretty cool seeing a lot of the big names from the roster in the Battle Royal including Al Madril, Checkmate, Magic Dragon, King Kong Bundy and Bill Irwin among others. However, the six-man tag takes it for me this week. Hayes, Gordy and DVE are three guys that helped sell tickets for this territory and had a strong showing against the team of Sharpe N’ Steele. Speaking of which, the Sharpes and Tom Steele were a fantastic team that gave the mega babyface unit a run for their money. Michael Hayes’ reason why Buddy Roberts wasn’t there was well played. That damn snow! In addition, Hayes’ selling during Tom Steele’s sleeper hold was great. A fun finish with all six guys brawling, all topped off with DVE hitting a running knee lift on Mike Sharpe for the win. Hayes, Gordy and DVE walking out as six-man tag champions, followed by David giving up his share of the titles to Buddy Roberts was a nice touch.
Scott: Well since there were only two matches on the card I will go with the six man tag match over the battle royal. The Freebirds brought the goods and even the awesome grizzled Sharpe brothers had on their working boots. I’m surprised there wasn’t a juicier heel team than these guys and was waiting for the obligatory Magic Dragon/Checkmate/Kabuki team, but perhaps they were somewhere else on the card.
JT: I really enjoyed Michael Hayes in the six man match. His selling was great during the heat segment and his absurd war dance really got the crowd fired up. His prematch promo was really sharp too. And speaking of sharp, shoutout to Iron Mike on a strong night.
Chad: Michael Hayes wins this pretty easily. Amazing work by the man that will be one of the most hated men in Dallas by the end of the night. He had a great reaction from the crowd and worked hard in the six man tag showing fire and also rallying the troops from the apron when the action called for it. A really solid performance for someone that has a bad reputation in the ring (unfairly so IMO).
Jason: Michael Hayes was my choice until we got to the end of the battle royal. Mike Sharpe put on one hell of a performance in the six-man and then made it all the way to the final two in the battle royal. A few years before Iron Mike became a jobber to the stars in the WWF, he earned a lot of respect from me with his performance on this evening at Reunion Arena.
Scott: Iron Mike Sharpe is all over this show and is highlighted heavily, as he’s in the six man tag match and is the last guy eliminated in the battle royal. A few years before he becomes an iconic jobber in WWE lore, he’s a top mid-carder in WCCW.
JT: I was shocked David Von Erich was the first one eliminated in the battle royal. This guy is being pushed as a major deal and knocking him out was sure to hurt the crowd investment a bit. He also went out with zero fanfare, as it didn’t jumpstart a feud or have any controversy. He was literally just shoved out by a few guys. He at least showed some fire by smacking around Frank Dusek before leaving.
Chad: The battle royal overall was extremely odd as I thought the big names got eliminated way too quickly including Von Erich and Bundy and left the ending to be extremely anti-climatic. I was also surprised by the acting chops of David after the six man match. The Von Erichs haven’t provided any great promos so far on this run, but seeing David coherently explain the closeness of brothers and why he was giving up his spot as the six man championship made sense.
Jason: Clearly it was how well Bill Mercer cleans up in a tuxedo. But seriously, Ken Mantell as the winner of the battle royal threw me completely off guard.
Scott: The biggest surprise is definitely that Brian Adias didn’t win the battle royal and that dough boy Ken Mantell did. A “close friend” of the Von Erichs and pushed in the past couple of episodes, I would definitely have expected Adias to win here.
JT: I was pretty disappointed that King Kong Bundy didn’t win the battle royal. He has been a focal point in recent weeks and a win here would keep pushing his burgeoning angle as he builds his own empire. And not only did he get eliminated, but he went out very early on. Sad use of their top heel.
Chad: Hearing the Sharpe Brothers were wrestling, I initially had an inkling we were going to see famed 60’s Japanese stars that helped populate wrestling in Japan and open the door for U.S. workers to gain work in Japan throughout the subsequent decades. Instead, we get lumbering Iron Mike Sharpe whose performance didn’t captivate me in the six man match.
Jason: King Kong Bundy not walking out as the winner of the battle royal was a huge surprise. Ken Mantell, really? Looks like Christmas dinner was on ol’ Ken this evening. Honorable mention goes out to David Von Erich being the first one dumped out of the battle royal. I was sure the $10,000 prize would come down to David and Bundy at the end.
Scott: Actually my biggest surprise and my biggest disappointment are one in the same. Brian Adias seemed to be groomed as the newest babyface in the promotion and he should have won the battle royal.
JT: There is immediately a different and bigger feel to this episode as we are getting footage from Christmas Star Wars; I liked the Von Erich brothers interview as they really put over the prestige of the new six man tag titles by wistfully voicing how they wish they could be competing for them; “The Sharpe Brothers” sounds like the name of a Motown group; Nice twist with Buddy Roberts trapped in a snowstorm and DVE stepping into his place; It is weird seeing Mike Sharpe without the arm guards, but he does his customary loud grunts working; Ben Sharpe has Harry Dunn’s haircut; Hayes’ war dance certainly is something; Mercer continued to do a great job building up the importance of the six man straps; I liked how KVE relinquished his title to Buddy Roberts to put over his belief in brotherhood; WCCW was great at the little things to help make things legitimate, like David Manning running through the battle royal rules in the back; And speaking of, those rules feel very convoluted; “Alberto Madril”?; It was pretty neat seeing the whole WCCW roster out here as the weekly shows make it feel quite thin; It was nice to see Madril and Adias have long runs in the battle royal and having them partner up is a nice rub for Adias in a veteran grooming type situation; I don’t get the decision to have Mantell win this after barely being showcased in the months leading up; Bundy, Madril or Adias were the logical choices; Mantell’s speech about winning the cash for Christmas felt a bit forced and not as genuine as you would hope
Chad: The two referees for the six man tag was a nice touch to show how many bodies overall are in a match. I miss wrestling being on holidays as someone that has fond memories of watching Survivor Series with scents of Thanksgiving dishes going on in the background. The battle royal was a great hodgepodge of talent throughout the promotion and on the tv shows we have seen so far. Ken Mantell winning that thing was a huge upset and this felt like a spot where they could have given the big upset victory to Brian Adias. Mercer knows how to dress up for the big shows but looks like JR being stuffed into a tuxedo for WrestleMania.
Jason: I forgot that some territories used two referees in six-man tags. Speaking of the refs in that match, Bronco Lubbich was as lazy as ever and Nick Roberts should have tucked his shirt in. It’s Christmas Day, pal! Michael Hayes reminds me more and more of a southern fried David Lee Roth. The crowd was super hot for the Hayes hot tag to Terry Gordy in the final minutes of the tag match. David Manning looked like Marcelino from Seinfeld with his sweet tan leather jacket. Nice to see they let Bugsy McGraw out of the group home on Christmas long enough to compete in the battle royal. Brian Adias had a better showing in the battle royal than I expected.
Scott: Bill Mercer’s weird pirate beard is incredibly awesome; With the continuing shows the Von Erich kids’ promo skills get worse and worse; Pretty cool seeing Mike Sharpe both without the nickname “Iron” and the arm cast; You can tell this is in a different venue than the Sportatorium as the camera angles are a little different (and the crowd sounds fuller); Wow there are a good group of stiffs in this battle royal; I know Ken Mantell was a backstage booker with Fritz but did he have to win this battle royal? This was a definite spot to give to Brian Adias if they were going to really put him over as a future star
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Pat Patterson vs. Sgt. Slaughter (Madison Square Garden, 4/6/81)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: This was a pretty breezy watch. The opening tag was a lot of fun and had a bunch of storyline development with the furthering of the Von Erich/Freebirds relationship. I enjoyed the heavy hyping of the new titles as well. The battle royal was fine for what it was, but the finish definitely lacked sizzle and I am still surprised Bundy and DVE were dumped so early on. Mantell winning the match also surprised me, and not in a good way. Overall, this was fine, but the real hype is still building for the big NWA World Title match. Final Grade: 4/10
Chad: A pretty poor show here with only two matches and neither one of them very good. While it was good to show this huge show in a huge arena to the fans and the battle royal had a lot of star power, I think they could have used a more work rate heavy showcase match to display the action and talent that world class can offer. Final Grade: 4/10
Jason: This 45 minutes flew by with only two matches. The Freebirds are super over with the fans in Dallas as well as myself right now. It was great seeing early 80s Mike Sharpe and he didn’t disappoint. Overall, a decent showing from the undercard at Star Wars, with the big match between Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich still to come. Final Grade: 4.5/10
Scott: It was a quick watch due to it being only two matches, but even here it seemed like Fritz’s roster was so small. Honestly the best they can do for a heel six man team was the Sharpe Brothers and some other guy no one had ever heard of? The fact Brian Adias didn’t win the battle royal is sticking in my craw so much I just can’t give this show a high grade. Thank god for the Freebirds or I would have given this a ridiculously low grade. I’m guessing the Kerry/Flair World Title match will be its own episode, so I’m looking forward to that but I wonder what the rest of this Star Wars card looked like. Final Grade: 3/10