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, Brad Woodling, 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: 46 minutes
Bugsy McGraw & Al Madril vs. Wild Bill Irwin & Checkmate
David Von Erich vs. Destroyer #2
Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy vs. Magic Dragon & Great Kabuki
Kerry Von Erich vs. Killer Brooks
JT: The opening tag was fine. Bugsy worked the comedy in early and then things settled down when Madril came in and the match got to the heat segment. I enjoyed Saldi discussing the long term issues between Madril and Irwin. Irwin did some great tag tactics, sprinting over and blocking Madril from tagging when Checkmate was making his way in. Madril’s selling was pretty good and the crowd really rallied behind him. The hot tag was well built and Irwin and Checkmate were really good at stooging around for the double teams that followed. I really liked the finishing sequence where Irwin missed the knee drop and Madril went into the figure four until Checkmate stomped him hard. Bronco Lubbich would come out and change the finish due to the interference, and Bundy made his way out and got involved for a quick, hot brawl. I actually wish they just let the heels win this one instead of overturning it. The match was pretty good and had tons of energy as always.
Chad: Freebirds vs. Dragon/Kabuki gets the nod for myself, but I didn’t think anything on this episode was extraordinary. The opening tag had its moments but also had BUGSY (see biggest disappointment), a dumb finish, and Irwin being shifted down the card. The Von Erich matches were just showcases for Fritz’s boys in with inferior talent. By default, that leaves the Freebirds tag which was decent enough (** for star rating purposes) but also made me anxious to jump start the main reason why the Freebirds came into World Class in the first place.
Jason: I enjoyed Al Madril and Bill Irwin as a part of the opening tag match, but Bugsy McGraw killed it for me. I’ll give the duke to the Freebirds vs Kabuki and Magic Dragon here. Hayes and Gordy are so over with the Sportatorium crowd. These guys can’t do any wrong at this point for me. Gordy delivered an impressive dropkick for somebody his size that sealed the deal for me. Kabuki was able to get a lot of his stuff in as he’s the hottest heel on World Class TV right now. Magic Dragon is a great tag team wrestler who did the right thing by eating the pin for his team to protect the super hot Kabuki.
Dan: It had to be the Freebirds vs. Dragon/Kabuki and to be honest, it wasn’t even close to me. First of all, Gordy is in his more customary black trunks so there’s that. Secondly, I loved seeing Bam Bam duke it out with Kabuki which to me anyway is an early Adventure dream matchup. Dragon, who I had previously lumped into that “just another guy in a mask” category also shined in this one with his nerve pinch and karate kicks. This night, however, was the Terry Gordy show as he took a beating but was still able to carry his team to victory. I didn’t even know how could deliver a dropkick like that. While nothing spectacular, this match saved the whole show for me.
Scott: The Freebirds match was fun with those guys whipping the crowd into a frenzy and getting the victory over more of H&H’s guys. As i said in the previous entry, it’s amazing how over the Freebirds were as babyfaces and what would become of them in a just a couple of months. The opening tag was fine but Bugsy McGraw is unwatchable in the ring and that’s not just because of his outfits. Kabuki was pretty over as a heel and they seemed to be trying to get Magic Dragon over as just as cunning an Asian heel but instead was just another masked jobber.
JT: The Freebirds take this for me. I liked their match a lot and their presence and charisma was off the charts and they had the crowd rocking along with them. Gordy had some nice comeback attempts during the heat segment and then hit a cool dropkick for the win. They feel like the biggest stars on this show, even more so than the Von Erichs. Honorable mention to King Kong Bundy, who did a great job tying up all of the angles succinctly in his interview by the docks.
Chad: Terry Gordy was the standout even beyond his team. He had some great energy and strikes when he was mounting a comeback and most importantly, he was able to show some vulnerability while still looking like a bad ass.
Jason: The Freebirds for sure. Hayes works the crowd so well and Gordy has been a pleasure to watch work in the ring so far. I’m with JT in that an honorable mention has to go to King Kong Bundy. A stellar job by Bundy in explaining everything with the hot bounty angle.
Dan: Terry Gordy was the man for the reasons I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Kudos though go out to the receptionist over at Ric Flair Enterprises. How on earth does someone get that job? Knowing Slick Ric, I’m sure it has something to do with riding Space Mountain. The way she stonewalled Mercer over the phone was some of the best heel work you’d be able to find on this program.
Scott: The Freebirds get the nod for me based on my previous comments about their match but I loved the King Kong Bundy segment because of the realism of it. That was the one cool thing about WCCW’s shows was that their vignettes always had a sense of realism to them. Ric Flair’s secretary blowing Mercer off on the phone was pretty classic as well.
JT: Not really a surprise, as I knew he was good, but David Von Erich bounced back nicely here, working a quick squash of the Destroyer with some crisp, credible offense that had the crowd locked in. I loved when he was yelling at Destroyer to give up while in the headlock and for a throwaway match, his energy was great. It was good to see the best in the company step back up and deliver after his soft performance in our first go around.
Chad: My biggest surprise for this episode is something negative for me and it was the placement of Wild Bill Irwin in the opening tag. Bugsy and Al Madril have been mainstays of the World Class shows so far, but they have been extensively treated in the gatekeeper role. Meanwhile, Irwin was presented on our first two shows as a main event player and deeply embedded with the Von Erich saga. This felt like a fairly severe shift down the card for him and that his run near the top of the card for this stay in World Class was over.
Jason: Two weeks ago I was hating on David Von Erich, but he made a huge improvement since then. He hit a very good side headlock takedown on Destroyer #2 as well as a nice high knee lift. Throw some smack talking in there and a much crisper match than last time and David gets the respect that he deserves.
Dan: I was pretty surprised that Bundy didn’t hold out for more that $5,000 to reveal the evidence of the bounty on Kerry Von Erich. Times really must have been tough for big guy. He strikes from H&H, he picks fights with the horrifying Kabuki, he’s inviting Gary Hart to sue him for everything he’s got and he only wanted a measly five grand from Daddy Dearest? Seems to me he could have gotten more considering Kerry is the real gem of the Von Erich Family.
Scott: The biggest surprise for me was that someone backstage that night at the Sportatorium told Bugsy McGraw he looked awesome in that outfit. Seriously the biggest surprise was how awesome a tweener King Kong Bundy was, from being a brawling heel to a badass to kind of a babyface. The matches were all average so it was Bundy’s interview that surprised me as so entertaining.
JT: I didn’t expect much with the ancient Killer Brooks out there, but his match with Kerry Von Erich was the worst on the night. They were sloppy and ambled into an awkward finish. Von Erich was playing up coming off the layoff, so whatever, the crowd still loves him, but it definitely was a disappointing showing.
Chad: Bugsy sucks so bad. He has terrible strikes, no timing, and not entertaining comedy to me. The finish of that opening tag was really ridiculous as the heel team ends up getting DQ’d for Checkmate coming in and hitting Madril even though Bugsy was inside the ring having to be restrained by the referee when all of this happened. Double standard much.
Jason: I get that he’s a comedy act, but Bugsy McGraw does nothing for me. His ring work is sloppy and his ring attire looks like something that’s state funded. Honorable mention goes to Kerry Von Erich. For a guy who wants to take on Ric Flair, he did nothing special in his match against Killer Brooks.
Dan: Anything right now that has to do with Von Erichs fighting that aren’t named Kevin has been pretty substandard so far. David Von Erich still does nothing for me and his splash off the corner against the Dollar Tree Blue Blazer (Destroyer #2) just looked clumsy. And Kerry definitely could play up the rust factor coming off of surgery but his match with Killer Brooks was blah at best. Weird how a guy recovering from knee surgery would use his knees to block a big splash by his much larger adversary. Just not a good night to be a Von Erich.
Scott: I have to echo JT’s sentiments that for a guy that’s supposed to be a future World Heavyweight Champion, Kerry Von Erich’s match was downright awful. Now Killer Brooks is one of those guys you probably won’t get much out of anyway but I was expecting more than we got. Kevin’s match last show was not great, but this one was much worse. Kerry said afterwards with Mercer and Saldi that he wasn’t 100% after knee surgery but I wonder if that was Fritz telling his son to bail himself out of what was a terrible match.
JT: H&H Enterprises is back at it, as the stable apparently includes every heel; Saldi notes that Bill Irwin is a replacement for King Kong Bundy in H&H and makes good points about how Bundy could neutralize other giants and Irwin won’t be able to do that; Bugsy’s ring gear is a sight to behold, especially his bright yellow socks; The crowd is super into Bugsy; Al Madril is good at selling; Bronco Lubbich caused more trouble than he needed to, let the heels be; World Class loves their masked men; David Von Erich was much smoother and on point this week than his previous match and he did some neat little things, like yelling at Destroyer to give up while wrenching in a headlock; Saldi is great, calling out how Von Erich’s finisher in the match is similar to what the Orton family uses as well; The Freebirds’ presence is tremendous, they just looked and felt like such a huge deal; Kabuki’s green hands continue to freak me out; There is a guy in the front row with a tremendous high flat top; Kabuki pinching Gordy’s stomach fat as a submission hold was something special; King Kong Bundy being interviewed by the docks while eating chicken wings was great, as is Mercer’s trench coat; The whole bounty stuff is awesome; The bit with Ric Flair’s secretary was super too; I liked the heated open to Von Erich/Brooks with the announcers putting over the long time issues between the two; Brooks is old as shit here; The WCCW theme is the best
Chad: Go Bugsy Go! David Manning and Bronco Lubbich have been fairly impartial in the first two episodes, but here we see glimpses of why they are my least favorite referee duo in the territory days. They become way too involved and make judgement calls that don’t pass the logic test at all. David made quick work of Destroyer II and looked decent but his finisher was awful and I couldn’t decide if it was some splash or elbow drop. Saying that Bundy has to have a day job to make ends meet doesn’t really give a boost to the prestige of your promotion. Speaking of which, I am an auditor and I couldn’t follow the money trail that Bundy spelled out to save my life. The bounty was 10k but he only took 5k from Fritz to rat on H&H? This is a neat bit to get Bundy out on his own and the chicken leg eating was humorous, but the explanation was convoluted. Killer Brooks is someone I have never seen before and I hope to keep it that way after his and Kerry’s match.
Jason: Bugsy McGraw’s aviator hat was so bad. Killer Brooks looks like the kind of guy who sits at the end of the bar by himself and drinks whisky while downing a bowl of peanuts. I could watch King Kong Bundy stand down by the docks and eat wings all day. Checkmate’s tiger mask was pretty sweet. Bill Mercer was a little pushy with Ric Flair’s secretary, Norah Jean. Chill out Bill, the champ is busy. Speaking of Mercer, he and Jay Saldi continue to shine putting over all angles and talent. Kerry Von Erich was clearly dabbling with the sauce as his physique was rather large. Seemed like Kerry hit the bong before his interview with Mercer and Saldi.
Dan: Checkmate must have heard me when I ripped on all the generic masked guys last episode so he branched out and donned a tiger mask this week. He’s still a one-trick pony with that armadillo defense but it’s always good for a laugh when he’s in their with Bugsy. All this praise about Madril selling and being a tremendous face-in-peril but the moment he makes the hot tag to McGraw, he gets all his strength back? Really? Also he can’t kick out of being stomped while holding onto a figure four? That’s weak Mr. Kotter! I loved the description of the Asian heel team as “a unique blend of martial arts and rule breaking.”
Scott: Ok, what the hell is Bugsy McGraw wearing? He’s wearing weird tights, yellow socks and it looks like he has on women’s sneakers; So bizarre; Al Madril still rocking the Darth Vader hair; I do wonder how many guys in the promotion at that time wrestled both with and without masks, because Fritz had like five masked guys on the roster; H&H seemed to be the big heel group in the promotion; Love the passionate Texas fans, telling David Von Erich to break Destroyer’s arm off; David Von Erich winning with knee drops is pretty weak; Kabuki is kind of gross to spit on his hands before he wrestles; At least WCCW was politically correct calling it the “All-Asian” tag titles instead of “Oriental” titles; Bill Mercer is the master of announcers when it comes to making segments look like “60 Minutes”, and Bundy munching on chicken is awesome; I know Flair was still in his first reign as WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION but his name is not spelled with a “K”!; Kerry Von Erich is a terrible wrestler, with or without both feet, although he acknowledged in the post-match interview that he wasn’t at 100%.
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 definitely my favorite WCCW episode so far. I dug the first three matches quite a bit and absolutely loved the bounty stuff with the top notch Bundy interview and Flair dodging Mercer. I also really enjoy Jay Saldi’s commentary, he is fun to listen to. The tag matches really carried this one and the show moved at a quick pace, making it an enjoyable watch. I really can’t wait to see the bounty stuff play out more as well as Bundy’s issues with Gary Hart. Kerry Von Erich’s match was sloppy, but short enough that it didn’t shred the grade much for me. Final Grade: 6/10
Chad: I didn’t like this show very much at all. The matches weren’t as good as the first show and we also didn’t have a hot angle like the second show delivered. Everything here seemed to be standing in neutral waiting for the big Star Wars show that is six weeks away. The only huge development on this show was the fact that Bundy is his own man now. Easily my least favorite WCCW show so far. Final Grade: 3/10
Jason: The World Class stars were heavily featured on this episode. The Freebirds, Kabuki, Bundy and the Von Erich’s all got some TV time. Al Madril remains a favorite of mine and David Von Erich is growing on me. The tag matches are a real good way to get a lot of talent from the mid and upper mid card into one match. Very simple and affected booking. The less Bugsy McGraw the better. The bounty angle is heating up and the next several weeks should be very interesting to watch unfold. Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: I’m still waiting to be blown away by a WCCW show. I’m excited to view these shows and I know at some point I won’t be able to put them down because of the amazing action and atmosphere, but right now these outings are as bland as eating burnt toast with no jam. Outside of the Freebirds and the Bundy interview, this show could easily be skipped and your lives wouldn’t be any worse off because of it. Better days are ahead… or at least that’s what they all tell me. Final Grade: 2.5/10
Scott: The matches were all average, although once again the Freebirds added more sizzle to theirs than anybody did the others. I love old school NWA angles involving things like bounties and heel beatdowns for cash payments so this Flair/Gary Hart/Kerry Von Erich angle is an awesome foundation for these shows, something to carry the majority of blase matches. Jay Saldi gets better and better every week and cuts to the chase with his comments and analysis. The ditzy secretary for Flair takes the cake but for God’s sake can we spell his name right? it’s RIC FLAIR, not hard to remember. The build is happening for the inevitable Kerry/Flair World Title match, it’s just a question of when. Final Grade: 6/10