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: 47:30
Kevin Von Erich vs. King Kong Bundy – American Heavyweight Championship
Brian Adias vs. Terry Gordy
King Kong Bundy vs. The Samoan
JT: I was pretty hyped for the opener as I am all in on King Kong Bundy in World Class. Kevin Von Erich has been my favorite VE boy to watch so far and he had a good start here before getting caught by the big man, who went to work on the arm. KVE’s comebacks were well executed as he nursed his arm throughout and it allowed Bundy to fend him off and chuck him to the floor. KVE’s fire was strong and he grabbed a near fall on a sunset flip and then started teasing the claw, which he eventually hooked but couldn’t hold on to. The ref would get bumped but still see Bundy toss KVE over the top rope, leading to a soft DQ. I really enjoyed the match and wished it went a bit longer and had a true finish or at least a better DQ. I am fine protecting Bundy though and you need to have KVE win on the night where his brother would be hosed. Good match and my favorite on the night.
Chad: I thought this was a pretty shoddy show overall but I guess I will give the nod to Bundy vs. Kevin Von Erich. I thought the opening gambit was interesting with the arm work. After that, the match took a dive for me. Kevin’s comeback wasn’t that inspiring and the finish looked very poorly executed with the camera angle not really showing Bundy pulling Manning in front of him. Even Bill Mercer was confused as he thought Manning saw Bundy throw Kevin over the top rope which resulted in the DQ. I had some big issues with this match and it was my match of the night so that doesn’t bode well for this show overall.
Jason: Kevin Von Erich and King Kong Bundy from Star Wars takes it from me this week. Kevin was excellent with an impressive dropkick and a great sunset flip to the inside of the ring. Great heel work from Bundy by not allowing Kevin back in the ring after he gave Kevin a nasty spill to the outside. I was Ok with the DQ finish as it didn’t hurt either man.
Dan: You would be hard pressed to find a time where I won’t pick the Kevin Von Erich match if he is featured on these WCCW programs. The same can probably be said for Bundy matches too if we’re being honest. I love this history of this feud for the belt and these two just clicked when in the ring together. I love how Bundy isn’t your typical immovable big man and will sell moves like a sunset flip from a much smaller opponent. He actually shows his personality in his facial expressions making Kevin’s strikes and the claw look, well, devastating. I even like his slimey heel tactic of pulling the pitiful Manning into Kevin’s flying elbow to protect himself from further damage. There is no limit to his treachery and it’s obvious he wants to hurt Von Erich moreso than win the title back. Just a fun battle for two old rivals and I enjoyed it mightily. Plus my boy is still the champ!
Scott: The first two matches were solid with great psychology but I’m going to go with the KVE/Bundy title match from Star Wars. The second match didn’t quite have the Von Erichs/Freebirds juice yet, but it soon would.
JT: I loved Terry Gordy’s heel work in this one. He stalled and stalled and stalled and baited Kerry Von Erich whenever he could. It played perfectly into the type of game the Freebirds were playing and is a great way to churn the heat from the fans. Then he ground Adias into the mat while talking shit at the same time. That was capped by Michael Hayes running some interference to allow Gordy to grab the win. Good stuff.
Chad: I will go with Bundy. He was good enough in the opener seeming like a big star but also vulnerable which is an absolute when facing a Von Erich in the ring. His squash match and promo was effective also in getting himself over as a key cog in the whole World Class ecosystem aside from the Freebird vs. Von Erich stuff.
Jason: Terry Gordy for sure. I enjoyed his ring psychology while keeping one eye on his opponent, Adias and Kerry Von Erich in Adias’ corner. His nervous stares at Kerry were executed perfectly. All topped off by a nasty piledriver on Adias.
Dan: Bundy owned this show for me. He had almost been forgotten in recent weeks because of the Flair and Freebirds stuff but he is still every bit as awesome as he was weeks ago. His match with Kevin was Match of the Night, he murdered the pathetic Samoan in the “main event” and even further progressed his story of the ascension of Devastation Incorporated. I hope I have written permission to say all those kind words about the big man because on this night, he dominated the competition.
Scott: Kevin Von Erich and King Kong Bundy had a great match on the big stage at Star Wars, with solid back and forth work and good storytelling, with KVE consistently trying the claw and Bundy using his size. The ending of the match was crap as it should have had a legit finish but otherwise a great match.
JT: I think Scott is a bit too harsh on Kerry Von Erich’s promo skills. He isn’t an all time legend but I thought he more than held his own during his long segment with Bill Mercer. It is understandable that he would be a bit confused and ramble because he was still trying to piece everything together. I liked the structure of it too with he and Mercer watching the footage so KVE could see exactly what happened. That was a nice segment that officially helped transition KVE from Ric Flair to the Freebirds.
Chad: I will also go Bundy centric with this one and give a callback to an earlier Biggest Surprise when Bundy announced Devastation Incorporated. Bundy now announcing Kabuki as joining his ranks felt like a major move to help flesh out his stable.
Jason: I have to go with the announcement of Great Kabuki joining Bundy in Devastation Inc. to end the show. In an episode the had Bundy as a big feature, this announcement was the cherry on top from this monster heel.
Dan: I’m surprised Samoan still has a job. But seriously, those segments in the WCCW studios were better than I expected especially getting the inside the ring perspective from Manning. The head referee not only had to handle the competitors inside the ring, but also Hayes and his attitude change while the match was going on. Manning saying that Kerry was operating on instinct after the door slam was very insightful. Whether it was true or not, the anecdote about Kerry saying “Boy, we’re having a good workout Brian” in the middle of the cage match was also a tasty little nugget to add more to the story of why he stopped the fight.
Scott: I wasn’t a fan of David Manning’s clumsy interviews before this episode, but his description of Michael Hayes’ performance in the World Title match was concise yet detailed and not sounding like a complete dope (like most in this promotion). It actually made legitimate sense.
JT: I know why Kevin Von Erich needed to hold on to his title here, but I think a King Kong Bundy win on this stage really could have kept his big heel push chugging along and help get Devastation, Inc. on track.
Chad: Kerry Von Erich’s promo was set up for him to vow revenge and explain his thoughts in a coherent and believable nature. He was able to remain over with the Texas faithful for years after this promo, but watching it now in retrospect, it was a disaster in my eyes. He was mumbling, barely making eye contact with the camera and demanding to see replays of shots when they weren’t even queue. I generally side with the babyfaces in a heel vs. face war, but the inability and irrational nature of Kerry and Mercer with their explanation have me solidly siding with the Freebirds currently.
Jason: Kerry Von Erich the in ring worker and Kerry Von Erich the studio promo guy are two different people. He had a huge chance to sell is displeasure with the Freebirds at Star Wars and fell very short. On top of sounding like he smoked a joint moments before the interview, he stumbled all over his words. As a guy who is a top contender for the NWA championship, I expected a lot more from him here.
Dan: I wanted to actually see The Great Kabuki standing alongside Bundy for the visual of their unholy alliance but that’s small potatoes at this point. On another note, Kerry Von Erich can’t even help Brian Adias win a match so that doesn’t say too much for the “friend” of the family.
Scott: Kerry Von Erich’s interview is the perfect reason why he should never have been World Champion. He’s a mumbling idiot who never makes any sense when he talks. Fritz was out of his mind if he thought the NWA would allow this dope to be a World Champion. Some have what it takes, and some don’t.
JT: I like that we return to Star Wars to check out another big time match; I was excited for Bundy’s big title shot after his great heel work late in 1982; Good job by Mercer to explain why KVE wrestles barefoot, claiming he likes to get a better feel of the ropes and ring; Kerry Von Erich’s coat is pretty pimp; Nice touch having Kerry accompany Brian Adias to the ring for his battle with Terry Gordy; The stalling and anticipation for Adias/Gordy really made it feel like a big deal and I like how the Freebirds are dodging the Von Erichs while playing mind games along the way; Having Michael Hayes pop out and get Kerry riled up and cause Adias to be distracted was strong heel stuff; The segment with David Manning was well done and it is great how they push along the burgeoning Von Erich/Freebird feud in varied, unique ways; Interesting that they stuck two Bundy matches into this show but it existed to push Devestation, Inc. out to the forefront; Bundy’s decree about the network needing Bundy’s written permission to air his matches is fantastic heel work; The show ends with a big announcement from Bundy, informing Mercer that Great Kabuki has joined DI
Chad: That outfit of the guy sitting next to Marc Lowrance was awesome with the brown cowboy hat to match the brown suit. Kevin Von Erich will never not look weird in my eyes. Bundy spills to the outside and Mercer falls out of his chair in a funny moment. I thought Bill Mercer was really poor throughout this whole show. He was confused with the DQ ruling in the first match, he called a piledriver an atomic drop and then he said Adidas kicked out when that was the pinfall. The Gordy vs. Adidas stuff was fine to show Kerry getting in the heads of the Birds, but it felt way too drawn out and again Adidas is getting too much offense on a Freebird given his staure with the promotion beforehand. David Manning has some interesting perspective of rope breaks. That sweater also looked like my dad’s clothing in baby pictures of myself. The Samoan is WCCW’s biggest jobber and Bundy makes short work of him here.
Jason: It was very cool to have another match from Star Wars. David Manning was excellent in his interview, telling his side of the story from the Star Wars main event. Referees shouldn’t have to be good at this kind of stuff, bit Manning delivered a heck of a lot better than Kerry did during his interview. Speaking of Kerry, I gotta give it up for his sweet fur coat. Also, his eyebrows are on a Eugene Levy level. I enjoyed King Kong Bundy’s squash over The Samoan. Seeing Bundy with white boots and tights over his singlet during his match wth Kevin seemed a bit out of context. I like the slow build with the Von Erich’s getting their hands on the Freebirds. This angle is going to be a huge and the small teasing has been well done so far.
Dan: Terry Gordy is fantastic and I’m starting to see why people shower him with praise as a performer. He is so much better as a heel. His slow walk to the ring because he’s reluctant to enter the match with Kerry at ringside. His constant protests that it’s a 2-on-1 match. Him losing concentration whenever Kerry starts coaching Adias which transitions into trash talk when he took control of the contest. He also had the “bump of the night” when he gracefully soared over the top after Kerry connected with a discus punch after the match. Manning observing that he noticed a change in Hayes after the six-man match from Star Wars was very astute. Him counting Adias out even after a blatant kick out looked lazy. I loved Kerry reacting to the replay of the Gordy door slamming by visibly flinching and it was some of his best work. You could tell how real it must have felt to literally have your dreams smashed in the blink of an eye. Very powerful stuff from the WCCW studios!
Scott: I never noticed that they announced Bundy is from Nome, Alaska; Bundy looks very weird with white boots; I’m glad WCCW actually has a championship that has a real belt attached to it, unlike all those imaginary titles that Magic Dragon and Checkmate hold; I love how David Manning is the greatest referee of all time in every match, total disrespect to Bronco Lubbich; Listening to Kerry Von Erich talk is so awkward and I keep thinking he’s going to slump over in his chair; Kerry looks like his just blew some lines backstage before walking Adias to the ring; Terry Gordy is an awesome heel, with his stalling and histrionics; Bundy’s tights/boots combo in the second match is his now familiar all black/short tights he wears when he eventually arrives in the WWF
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (Christmas Star Wars, WCCW 12/28/82)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: Another enjoyable episode of WCCW here in 1983. We got to see much of the Ric Flair/Kerry Von Erich angle placed aside and the true transition to the Von Erich war with the Freebirds get underway. The out of the ring segments continue to be really well done and help the feuds advance nicely. We also got lots of King Kong Bundy tonight and I will never complain about that. After the show lost some focus back in late November and early December, it has really found its way post-Star Wars. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Chad: I am way lower on this one than everyone else as I thought it was awful from a development standpoint in the overall feuds of the promotion with the exception of the Bundy stuff. Bad finishes, poor explanations and overall I am much less interested in the promotion as a whole coming out of the show as I was going in. Final Grade: 2.5/10
Jason: The World Class stars were heavily featured here as Kerry, Kevin, the Freebirds and Bundy all got significant camera time. Two huge announcements in that Kerry and Ric Flair will have a rematch at some point and Kabuki has joined DI. Were’re a few weeks into 1983 and this promotion is as hot as an August afternoon in Dallas. Final Grade: 7/10
Dan: Terrific outing tonight for Fritz and the boys. We got another huge piece to the Star Wars card added to our adventure, Bundy continues to impress even in a secondary role behind the Freebirds, Kerry’s interview segment didn’t bring the whole episode down, Manning’s insights on the cage match filled in some of the gaps from that fateful night and then we get the Kabuki announcement. I wish all shows on this adventure was as tremendous top to bottom and this one deserves all the high marks it should get. And that’s saying something considering Brian Adias and The Samoan were involved. Final Grade: 8/10
Scott: This was a good episode to finally tie all the loose ends of the Kerry Von Erich/Ric Flair match and move on to new stuff. King Kong Bundy was shown prominently here because he is now involved in another growing heel faction that is one of the best in history: Devastation Incorporated. Brian Adias still hasn’t touched the glass ceiling but you feel like he’s going to…eventually. The Von Erichs/Freebirds feud is just beginning to percolate and doesn’t really dictate the show’s time just yet. A great episode that ties things up and starts some new things. Final Grade: 7.5/10