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!
Madison Square Garden House Show 10/22/84
Run Time: 2:25:09
David “Dr. D” Schultz vs. Salvatore Bellomo
Afa vs. Dick Murdoch
Rick McGraw vs. Mad Dog Vachon
Moondog Spot vs. David Bruno Sammartino
Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana – Intercontinental Championship
Rocky Johnson vs. Ken Patera
Sika vs. Adrian Adonis
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Sergeant Slaughter
Tony Garea vs. Brutus Beefcake
Hulk Hogan vs. Big John Studd – WWF Championship
JT: Tito Santana and Greg Valentine for ever and ever. I could watch these guys battle for all of eternity and Tito’s fire and passion here as he just destroyed Hammer off the bell was through the roof. We also got the continuity of Tito’s taped up leg mixed in too, wth Valentine working it over as Tito desperately tried to ward off the attack. Both guys worked hard and fast and the crowd loved every second of it and even the referee allowed things to get wild as Tito smashed Hammer with a chair to bust him open. A moment later, Tito was DQ’d for constantly punching the cut but that worked great here too, furthering the story of how out of control with rage Tito was. He even gets a shot in on that fat fuck Lou Albano too. Beautiful chemistry leads to a great, heated war.
1/4*; **, 1/4*, *, ***1/4, *1/4, DUD, *3/4, 1/4*, **
Brian: Tito Santana vs. Greg Valentine without question was the best match on the show. They were starting up their legendary feud as Santana was not only chasing the title he lost in a match that aired just nine days prior but also seeking revenge after Valentine injured his knee. This had tremendous heat and great intensity, even if it only lasted about six minutes long. Still, it was designed to build up to other matches as the feud was in its infancy. I also felt that David Sammartino and Moondog Spot, who was a tremendously underrated worker, had a good match as well but could not match what Santana and Valentine brought here.
Jason: Whoa baby, Tito Santana and Greg Valentine all day here. This was the hottest feud in the company at the time and even though this was by far their best match, they had the Garden crowd in the palm of their hands. Tito was itching to seek revenge on the Hammer for taking the IC belt from him and doing damage to his leg in the process. When Tito nailed the Hammer to bust him open, the crowd lost their minds. Even though Tito lost by DQ, this match was about revenge for him and I enjoyed every minute of this match from a feud that was on fire.
Dan: Cue the “coming out of left field” comments but I’m going outside the conventional wisdom and saying that my favorite match was Afa vs. Dick Murdoch. Holy cow Murdoch is fun to watch and his antics in this match – which was definitely a throwaway undercard bout on paper – absolutely made my night. He stalls, he antagonizes, he cheats and no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t find a way to damage the Samoan. At one point he even gets so frustrated, he bashes his own head into the turnbuckle only to get cracked by Alfa crumbling the cowboy in a humorous spot. The Samoan looked unstoppable in large part to the work of Murdoch and his A-1 sell jobs. You would think poor Dick couldn’t sit for weeks after those atomic drops. I normally can’t stand time limit draws, but this one could have gone an hour and I would not have been bored. Just a fun match of two bitter rivals that definitely flew under the radar when I first looked at this card.
Scott: There are a couple of candidates for me, but I will go with the Volkoff/Slaughter battle. The storytelling was pretty great with Volkoff not letting him back in the ring and Slaughter wanting to keep the Cobra Clutch on even if it costs him the match. I wanted to nominate the two title matches but they were a little too short. The Tito/Valentine match would have been fantastic with maybe five more minutes to keep telling the story. So I will go for the Cold War.
JT: Even though it wasn’t one of their best matches, I will go with Santana and Valentine. It was the best match on the card and had a ton of heat and a great storyline behind it. Honorable mention to Johnny Valiant’s glasses and sweater combo as well as Hulk Hogan for his energy in the main event.
Brian: Tito showed tremendous fire and no one could match that on this show. I thought that Moondog Spot looked good in his match too and Valentine himself did a fine job but they all paled in comparison to Tito on this show.
Jason: Tito takes it for me. Next to Hogan, he was probably the hottest babyface with the company at the time (sorry, Jimmy Snuka). He and Valentine bring the best out of each other and Tito had the crowd on the edge of their seats every time he got some offense in. Tito can worry about getting the IC belt back around his waste on another day, because the war has just begun.
Dan: Only because I snubbed them in the first category, I’ll say Santana and Valentine here. Tito was a man possessed and never ceased in unloading bombs on the head of Valentine. After such a devastating loss and injury, you could just feel the rage emanating off of the usually mild-mannered babyface. Valentine was good in his role too in taking such a beating but holding onto his precious belt. He didn’t even mind a nice skull shot with a chair by Santana (okay maybe he did). This match left me wanting to see more and you can see why this was one of the best rivalries during this time period.
Scott: Even though the match was incomplete from a storytelling viewpoint, Tito Santana was fantastic as the crazed ex-champion who comes in wanting to thrash the guy who not only took his title but busted his knee up. Since Hulk Hogan is bouncing from heel to heel, this is probably the top feud in the company right now and will range for the next several months.
JT: Not too many surprises here, but Afa working as a very effective face caught me off guard. His buddy Sika couldn’t figure it out but Afa did a nice job in there with Murdoch and delivered a surprisingly fun little match. I was also a little caught off guard by the insane heat for both Sgt. Slaughter and Nikolai Volkoff. I knew the feud was a hot one, but man was MSG fired up for their bout on this evening. To cap it all off, Nikolai actually winning this time around surprised me too.
Brian: I was surprised by the Spot vs. Sammartino match. Sure, Bruno’s son was pushed above his ability here but Spot was able to walk him through the match and he tried hard. I was also surprised in a different way when Sal Bellomo kicked out of Dr D’s finisher. That was a shock to me.
Jason: I’m surprised how much I enjoyed Nikolai Volkoff here. I had never been a big fan of his, but watching some of his early to mid 80s stuff during this project, he’s not as bad as I thought he once was. He and Serge brought the goods in what was probably the second best match on the card.
Dan: It surprises me how much I have enjoyed watching Sgt. Slaughter on the Network. Everything from his bout with Patterson years ago, to the Cobra Corps to now his feud with Nikolai has been tremendous. He was such a big star when he turned face and became an American hero. Plus who else takes nasty bumps into turnbuckles and posts like the Sarge. I was surprised he didn’t just beat Volkoff outright but at least he got the crowd to explode when he knocked out the Russian with his Cobra Clutch.
Scott: I was surprised that they didn’t just finish the title match trifecta and have Murdoch & Adonis defend the belts against the Samoans. That would have really loaded the show up, and the time lost on the missing match could have gone to Tonga Kid or a Piper’s Pit or something along those lines. They had enough talent to fill the gaps.
JT: That Adrian Adonis got wasted in a boring match with Sika. Adonis got no offense in and then it ended with a really soft DQ win for Sika. Adonis and Murdoch were so locked in at this point and while Murdoch got a good match out of Afa, Adonis’ talents go underutilized on this card.
Brian: Adrian Adonis vs. Sika was an awful match with a really bad finish. A tag match between the Samoans and Adonis & Murdoch would have been a lot more fun to watch on this card.
Jason: Why did they have to split up the Samoans and Murdoch & Adonis into singles matches. I understand having to split up teams to help fill out a card, but this feud was pretty hot at the time with the freshly face turned Afa and Sika along with the rugged tag champs Adonis & Murdoch. I would have loved watching these four beat the piss out of each other in a tag match here.
Dan: As much as I liked Afa/Murdoch, Sika/Adonis was like watching The Neverending Story Part 2. Sure it shares some attributes to the original, but it fell way short after the match their tag partners gave us earlier in the night. It just looked like Adonis was mailing it in and was just biding his time before pulling the glove out of his pants. This is definitely a match you can skip to cut down those two plus hours.
Scott: I was disappointed that early on in the Federation Era they couldn’t find a better color commentator than Mean Gene for the MSG house shows. He was atrocious in that role of Gorilla’s sidekick, doing the same type of pissing and moaning, only worse. They couldn’t find someone like Pat Patterson or another heel on the roster to fill that gap?
JT: Hot opener with a favorite here in Dr. D battling stalwart Sal Bellomo but it ends being a quick squash; First taste of the Monsoon/Okerlund announce duo here as well; Cool continuity from one of our recent TNTs with the Samoans battling Murdoch & Adonis in singles bouts; Murdoch was at his stooging best here and Afa controlled a ton early of what ended up being a fun match; Quick Draw McGraw is living up to his enhanced reputation here; Mad Dog’s bump on McGraw’s dropkick was terrible but his piledriver to finish was nice; David Sammartino is such a goof; Gene had the balls to compare David Sammartino to Chuck Wepner; Moondog Spot worked his ass off but he could only do so much here; Hammer/Santana? Sign me up!; Christ, Lou Albano even shoved his fat ass into Valentine’s title reign too?; More great continuity with Santana’s knee taped up; The crowd was bonkers for this IC Title tilt; Gorilla claims the “rest of the world” was proud of Patera’s Olympic achievements in 1972; Pretty decent mat work to open Johnson/Patera but it meanders for quite a while from there; Interesting discussion from Gorilla, talking about how Patera ended his career; Johnson/Patera was pretty much the textbook definition of an 80s WWF house show match; Adonis and Sika got off to a very slow start and it didn’t get any better from there; Johnny V has quite the look going on here; Cool moment here as Johnny V is revealed as Brutus Beefcake’s new manager, but he manages to mangle his name immediately by calling him “Beefcakes”; Sarge’s promo here against Iran and Nikolai Volkoff was really well done; And speaking of Volkoff, the heat for his entrance and singing was off the charts while the crowd was rabid for Sarge when he came out; Their match was pretty standard but the crowd heat and atmosphere definitely bumps it up a bit; Tony Garea always shows a lot of spunk; Beefcakes has a ways to go; Stinks that we join Hogan vs. Studd in progress and don’t get the Hulkster’s entrance but his early flurry of jabs was great; Hogan and Studd had a decent main event but it was a bit too short and never felt like it got going for the most part until the very end
Brian: A lot of the matches on this show were featured on the debut episode of “PrimeTime Wrestling,” which aired on 1/1/85. It should be stated just how awful of a color commentator Okerlund was as most remember him as a backstage interviewer and forget how he did house shows and some “Championship Wrestling” with Vince McMahon, where he displayed zero chemistry with the boss. Murdoch really entertained here doing comedy and worked around Afa’s limitations as the latter was really hurting at the time. Mad Dog Vachon did not fit in with what the WWF was going for at the time as his antics were dated. Tito Santana’s leg injury was legitimate as he needed time off to get the surgery done so they devised the angle with Valentine, who stated that Paul Orndorff was originally going to feud with Santana but kept no-showing dates as then booker George Scott suggested Valentine as a replacement. There was also a rumor that Ken Patera was going to be the one to beat Santana for the belt. Sgt. Slaughter was insanely over here as his gimmick was still red-hot among the fans. Brutus Beefcake struggled here at the beginning of his WWF run and going up against Tony Garea is not going to help him look good as Garea rarely sells for anyone. Hogan tried in the main event but Big John Studd is terrible in the ring, especially in this match.
Jason: Gorilla Monsoon calling an MSG house show brings back a ton of childhood memories. Although Gene isn’t my first choice as a color guy to pit up with Gorilla, there really wasn’t anyone else at this time. Jesse hadn’t transitioned into the booth yet and Pat Patterson might not had been available this night. It was strange having Dr. D in the opener. He was a pretty hot heel at the time and MSG shows are known for having a jobber vs jobber in the opener. While working singles matches, I enjoyed Afa much more than Sika. Afa connected with the crowd much better and took advantage of working babyface against a guy like Murdoch who had serious crowd heat. Rick McGraw looked like he brought his entire medicine cabinet with him. My goodness, he was gassed to the gills. McGraw and Mad Dog were a strange match up. Vachon picking up the duke was a little surprising. David Sammartino is the drizzling shits. If it wasn’t for his last name, the MSG faithful wouldn’t give a crap about this guy. Moondog Spot did his best to make David look good. Nice to see Hillbilly Jim in the crowd. Man, the crowd went absolutely ape shit for Tito when he got introduced. Rocky Johnson looked like he got into Rick McGraw’s medicine cabinet. All kidding aside, I enjoy watching the Soul Man work. His match with Patera was a decent one coming off of the Tito and Valentine war. Patera is one of those guys who you can throw in the ring with anyone and get a good match out of them. Adrian Adonis drew the short end of the stick getting paired up with Sika. I’ve never been a big fan of his and after watching Afa and Sika in singles matches, you can tell that Afa was the backbone of that tag team. Nevertheless, it was still cool to see Adonis on the card. The Patera locker room interview was nuts. Tell us how you really feel, Ken. Sarge had quite the pop from the crowd. It was right up there with Hogan and Tito’s. Beefcakes? There’s only one of him, Johnny V. Was Brutus Beefcake(s) using a low-flow shower head? Let’s talk about Johnny V’s mustache for a minute. What a beauty! Hogan still wasn’t married to the yellow trunks at this point as we get him in the alternate white ones. The Hulkster wasted no time getting rid of the trashy green world title belt.
Dan: Salvatore should go back to making boats. It was pretty fun seeing two guys who made TNT just a little bit more watchable go toe-to-toe to get us started. People are hating Gene but I didn’t mind him particularly when he busts out lines like “That will jam your mother’s preserves.” Hey, Hillbilly Jim is in attendance. Gorilla, true to form, used the “main event anywhere in the country line” during the Afa/Murdoch match thus justifying me putting it as my match of the night. If Murdoch was playing hockey in 2016, he would have to go the NHL quiet room for several minutes with all those headbutts he absorbed. Gene made a dog/toilet lid joke to start the Mad Dog Vachon match so you know that contest was worthy of a bathroom break. Moondog Spot is gross. After this match, Ken Patera went on to star in the remake of Saturday Night Fever based on his pre-match ring attire. Gene seemed legitimately outraged by Patera kissing his own biceps. Until that interview, I had now idea Rocky Johnson had never been beaten at MSG. Did Slaughter just say that we (America) has never had a problem with Iran? Man, have times changed. You could sense the pressure Slaughter was under to beat Volkoff. He fought like the weight of the entire country was on his shoulders. The announcers really put over his resiliency and determination after the pounding he was taking. Is this our first recorded Beefcake strutting his stuff? Hogan won on a lariat which caught me off guard as I was expecting the whole “big boot, drops the leg” finish.
Scott: Gorilla is the best, but they couldn’t find anyone other than Mean Gene to do commentary. He is the pits, constantly whining and bitching and thinks he’s smarter than everybody. Stick to interviews; If Gorilla & Gene had their way, every match ever booked is a main event anywhere in the world; You could see Afa/Murdoch being a draw from a mile away, as it’s 1/2 of the tag champs vs. 1/2 of the #1 contenders; Did they make David Sammartino talk like his father, or did he really speak like that? And I’m fine with David having his dad’s name as his middle name (if it’s legit) but to add it on his name in the announcement is ridiculous; The crowd is red hot for Tito, as this became the hottest feud in the promotion; So Captain Lou glommed onto singles champions as well. Were there any other heel managers in this company?; Quite fitting that Gorilla nicknamed Rocky Johnson “The Rock”; That is the worst hair that I’ve ever seen Brutus Beefcake have. He looks like Dorothy Hamill; Johnny Valiant’s promo makes no sense. It’s almost like he was just told five minutes before that he’s managing this guy and make something up; So Ken Patera, from milky Minnesota said he was attacked by black guys, and that means Rocky Johnson was involved?; After Hogan, who is the #2 babyface on the roster, Tito or Slaughter? It’s hard to say as they both get nuclear pops on this show; I guess at this moment, Hillbilly Jim is just a fan, and not an actual character; Gorilla and Gene are whining about Beefcake’s forearm gear, but he is taking them off before the match, so why whine?; So it looks like they ditched the green belt quickly, as Hogan is on belt #2 by this point
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (NWA Starrcade 11/24/83)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: As far as mid 80s WWF house shows go, this one was a fine offering. On paper, the card was quite loaded but once you got in the ring, the weaknesses of the promotion seeped through. For this show to have climbed the rankings of the adventure, Santana/Valentine needed to be a classic and one of the other big two matches had to deliver. Neither of those things happened. Tito and the Hammer had a good match but not a great one and no other match topped **. The crowd certainly helped things, especially for Slaughter/Volkoff and the main event, but it wasn’t nearly enough to boost this up any further. If you love 1984 WWF house shows, then you will enjoy this. But objectively speaking, it was just kind of there. Final Grade: 3.5/10
Brian: This was a good representation of what the WWF was doing at the time. Not all of the matches were great, and some where downright terrible, but the crowd was hot and the top feuds were well represented. Santana vs Valentine was the only match I would recommend you watch but this did have a big-time feel for a MSG show. Final Grade: 5/10
Jason: This show proved how loaded the heel end of the roster was at the time, even without Roddy Piper or Paul Orndorff on it. Studd, Dr. D, Patera, Adaonis & Murdoch, the Hammer and even Nikolai. Tito and Valentine tore the house down and the Nikolai/ Serge match was sneaky good. The MSG crowd got to go home happy with a big win for the Hulkster. Overall, this was far from one of the best MSG house shows, but for late 1984 it was packed with talent and the Garden faithful seemed to enjoy the majority of it. Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: Let’s start with the obvious: this card was long. I know that’s the norm for these shows, but when you aren’t there in the audience and can’t feel the electricity in the building, that plays a factor in the grading. This took me two sittings to complete if we’re being honest. Sure nothing was terribly offensive with the exceptions of the Beefcake match and Sika/Adonis, but nothing was melt your face off great either. Tito/Valentine was short, Hogan/Studd was less than eight minutes, my favorite match involved Afa. You get the idea. I missed guys like Piper and Orndorff but it was also cool to see some of these TNT alums doing more than just awkwardly chatting with Vince and eating exotic foods. So when something isn’t awful but also not amazing, I’m left to the only thing in my power and that’s give it a 5 and move on to the next stop on this adventure. Final Grade: 5/10
Scott: This was a loaded show (as usual for the Garden) with almost all the big players in the main roles. Greg Valentine and Tito Santana had a fun sprint that I wish had a little more time to it. Hogan and Studd had a better match in St. Louis in a steel cage that’s on the first “Hulkamania” VHS tape. The rest of the show was typical mid-80s jobber matches to enhance talent. It’s one of the few house shows on the network that is probably in its entirety to I enjoyed it with all of it’s nuances. I won’t grade it ridiculously high but probably a little higher than it should be. Final Grade: 7/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!