PTBN’s Excellent WWE Network Adventure: Mid-South Wrestling 3/30/84

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 RozzeroChad CampbellJason GreenhouseScott 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!

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Mid-South Wrestling 3/30/84
Run Time: 41:29

Card:
Mr. Wrestling vs. Mike Jackson (Never happened)
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Jim Duggan
Terry Taylor vs. Butch Reed, TV Title tournament semifinal (never started)
Masao Ito vs. Larry Santana

Best Match

JT: I will go with Masao Ito vs. Larry Santana just based on Ito’s piledriver. The in ring action was really lacking here but the rest of the show made up for it.

Chad: Has to be Ito vs. Santana here but this was certainly not a show about the matches.

Jason: Wow, slim picking this week. I guess I’ll go with Masao Ito and Larry Santana. It was nothing special, but I really enjoy Masoa’s work as the judge on The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. 

Dan: Nikolai vs. Duggan clearly. Both guys got some nice punches in before all the interference. I’ve always been a fan of Volkoff’s selling and flopping around. Seriously though, how can you pick a favorite out of this murderer’s row of matches? There really is no wrong answer!

Scott: I can’t even pick a “best match” because all these matches were awful or short, but I will go with the Ito/Santana match if only because it lasted longer than a minute.

Best Performance

JT: I really enjoyed Jim Cornette throughout this show. The majority of the episode was recapping his issue with Bill Watts and he was on point in all of his promos and with furthering the angle. The promo he cut on Watts while standing there with cake all over his face was damn good. Plus I like how he kept threatening to have his mom buy all the territory’s stock so he could take over. Also, shoutout to Barry Darsow’s awesome giant glove that he used against Duggan. And it was also used by Butch Reed in a good, stiff beatdown.

Chad: Bill Watts was a person that was cut out to be the authoritative figure that could stand up to opposition around this time. His use of sissy and everything else about his disgust for Cornette can be off putting in 2016 eyes and knowing about Watt’s true personality. However, it is undeniable that the crowd was molten for this angle and it is really well crafted with a clear line between a heel and a face.

Jason: I’ll go with Jim Ross here. He looked and sounded right at home throughout the episode. He was superb telling the backstory on all of the feuds that were featured. Additionally, his play by play work was very good. Whatever role he’s put in, he takes very serious. Job well done, JR!

Dan: Probably a tie between JYD and Stagger Lee. It is so close between the two of them. It’s hard to decipher who was better in their role. Funny to think they both live so close to one another and have such a history together yet you never see the two of them in the same place at the same time. Just baffling! Kudos to Jim Ross too for being a good sport keeping us up to date on this convoluted storylines and being brave enough to wear a blindfold in rural North Carolina.

Scott: I will give the nod to the debuting Jim Ross, who was on camera more than anybody else in this episode. The long saga involving Bill Watts and Jim Cornette took up almost half the show with promos and vignettes so he was on introing and outroing constantly. Thumbs up to Ross.

Biggest Surprise

JT: I was surprised that Stagger Lee basically squashed Ted DiBiase in that clip from the Shreveport show. I was also surprised at how often and easily Watts kept calling Cornette a sissy and telling him to wear a dress. I mean, it is 1984 so I’m not totally surprised, but kind of am too.

Chad: I applaud the balls of Mid-South to put out a show about this where the first 25 minutes recaps an angle and everything else is an angle vehicle for the big matches that are coming up throughout the promotion.

Jason: I was surprised to see Jim Ross and Jim Cornette paired up together this early in both of their careers.

Dan: How the hell did Watts get his hands on one of Mrs. Cornette’s dresses? Did Watts have something on the side with Jim Cornette’s mother?

Scott: Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there were no real matches on this show, in fact it’s the same as a disappointment. 32 of the 41 minutes of this show were all about the Watts/Cornette feud and the vignettes recapping it.

Biggest Disappointment

JT: I will go with the audio quality of the segment out in the field. I really wanted to hear what was going on with Watts, JYD, Ross and Stagger Lee but the audio was muffled and drained out by the wind and just hard to follow. Obviously the lack of matches hurt too but I found the recapping of the major angle to be pretty interesting. Out of all that I could have went without the Watts music video. We know what he is about and that he can kick some ass, it just felt gratuitous.

Chad: They perhaps could have saved one of the angles for next week and had a five minute match to even some things out on the wrestling side of things. 

Jason: The lack of actual wrestling was missing big time here. 23 minutes into a 41 minute show and there was no actual match yet. I understand that they were trying to put over the Cornette and Watts feud, but come on, where’s the rasslin’? Also, the audio for the outdoor segments was pretty bad.

Dan: When your only real match on the card is Masao Ito vs. Larry Santana, just call the whole episode a disappointment and move on to the next topic.

Scott: I echo my sentiments about the Biggest Surprise. The matches were secondary on this show to documenting the feud between Bill Watts and Jim Cornette/Midnight Express, so we had matches that never started, a quick DQ and a squash. For workrate junkies it’s very disappointing.

Additional Observations

JT: Always great to see old school Jim Ross as he officially is now the voice of Mid-South; Jim Cornette looks straight out of high school here; I like that they are promoting and setting up a big match for two weeks out; Cornette mocking Bill Watts and offering to take his commentary spot was good; The footage of Cornette getting shoved in the cake by the R&Rs was pretty funny; His promo against Watts with the cake on his face was really good, ending with Watts smacking him in the face after calling him “sissy” twice; Watts kept calling him sissy in the subsequent videos too but he paid for that with a pretty good beat down by the MXE; I do like how Cornette’s mother is his benefactor and is going to buy Mid-South stock so he can run the place; JYD’s boombox is awesome; You haven’t lived until you have seen Jim Ross amble through a field blindfolded; The audio on these outdoor segments is quite rough; I always dig the mask gimmicks where a banished face works in secret so I liked Stagger Lee; Watts saying Cornette should wear a dress continues his homophobic rhetoric against poor Jimmy; I’m sorry Mike Jackson…Magnum TA stepped in your place; Ito looked like he could barely run on that Irish whip; It was comforting to see Duggan right back as a patriotic face after he was a heel the last time we visited; Butch Reed with his arm hanging in a pillow case sling made me laugh; The ring announcer Boyd Pierce looks like Grandpa Al from the Munsters; Reed’s coal miner’s glove attack on Terry Taylor was pretty solid; “Oriental star”; Ito hit a nice piledriver on Santana

Chad: A lot has changed in the six months since we last visited Mid-South. Things start off right away with Ross as commentator and a very young looking Jim Cornette as his broadcast partner. We get the classic bit of the MX with the cake and of course you can predict where the cake ends up. Cornette talking about his mother’s lawyers being on the phone was great. Watts coming out and challenging Cornette was excellent television. Cornette was great in being outraged at Watts slapping him but also getting over how powerful he is. What a great promo by Watts that is solemn and committed. Cornette was fantastic giving a sudden look of concern as soon as Ross says that Watts will be out on the set after the commercial break. We return and find out Jim has fled the scene. Watts comes out and gives another amazing promo finding a resolution of what to do against Cornette. This set up The Last Stampede match where Watts teams with JYD as Stagger Lee. Honestly, that match is one of my favorite matches of all time and pro wrestling storytelling at it’s best. Great stuff with the flashback to Lee facing Dibiase leaving little doubt who Stagger Lee is. The clips of Watts were put together well and showed Watts mixing it up with the legends of the last two decades. That Funk match looks really fun. We then get the big stipulation that Cornette will have to wear his mom’s dress or a diaper when he loses the match. Mr. Wrestling II demands to be known as simply Mr. Wrestling from here on out. Boyd Pierce is wearing the suits that I remember and love. A good feud is resulting with TA and Wrestling II. Mid-South is hot all around right now and we haven’t even gotten to Dibiase and Duggan which was heating up as well. Volkoff is still hanging out. A masked man and the Russians come out to destroy Duggan after one minute of action. With Butch Reed and the RNR coming out, it is apparent as to how much talent is in the promotion currently. Reed with the faking injury was pretty awesome and he is fired up.  They do a good job of putting over the coal miners glove. Really swank piledriver by Ito. The video of Watts being shown again was perhaps a bit much but it doubles down on what the lasting image of this program was for the viewer.

Jason: Jim Cornette double dipping as a great heel manager and phenomenal commentator. The R&R Express ramming Cornette’s face in the cake made the crowd pop big time. Cornette ranting on Bill Watts with cake all over him and threatening to call his mother on Watts; “Your stupid geeky looking son.” Butch Reed looks like a huge star. The Midnights and Corney ambushing Watts was brief but impactful. JYD doing reps on a farm while listening to a boom box was something else. The F’N 80s! Stagger Lee can use a new car. The Watts video montage lasted longer than the DiBiase/Stagger Lee match. Cornette’s mother’s “dress”… oh my! Watts sure loved the word sissy. Sorry, Mike Jackson, but Magnum is way better than you. Step aside pal! I loved Magnum’s charisma. Nikolai takes the weirdest bumps. The wild brawl after the Duggan and Volkoff match was pretty cool. That Boyd Pierce suit!!! Wow, a Pee Wee Anderson appearance. I’ve always liked Butch Reed’s red and blue, three star trunks. The coal minors glove looked like the Nintendo power glove. Geesh, is there a match where the R&R Express didn’t make the save? “Oriental star, Masao Ito”

Dan: I’m always happy to see new faces when watching Mid-South. And by “new” I mean guys who are familiar who will play a huge role down the road in my wrestling fandom. It’s incredible how long the R&R’s and the Midnights were at each others’ throats over the years. Cornette probably came out of the womb aggravating someone. That spot where he got his whole body thrown into the cake was fantastic! I’m sure many at that time wanted to do so much worse to Corny after his brutal attack on Watts. Speaking of Cowboy, did he really fight a guy named “Killer” Karl Kox? My immature brain is about to explode! Cue the KKK and wiener jokes. Let’s just agree to call him Triple K from here on out. Or just forget about him altogether! Mike Jackson obviously doesn’t want to visit the pay window if he can be convinced so easily to bow out of a match.

Scott: Jim Ross looks great as he makes his Network Adventure debut; It’s amazing how svelte Jim Cornette looked back then; The first 20 minutes of this episode is a promotional video for Bill Watts’ career; This show has been a mess, with :45 disqualifications and not one but two matches that never actually start; We get the Bill Watts montage not once, but twice;

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)

Final Grade

JT: I enjoyed this show for what it was. Not every installment of TV wrestling is going to be brimming with high level in ring action. Especially in 1984. The point of the show was to really push along major angles and establish feuds and characters for the house circuit and super shows and they did that pretty well here. Sure, the Cornette/Watts/JYD stuff edged on a little too long but it was all pretty compelling and easy to follow and got me wanting to see more the feud. The matches were all throwaways but most of them pushed angles along as well, with only the bonus match at the being a pure squash with no ramifications. We definitely did not need to see the Watts music video to end the show again, though. Overall, this was a real easy watch and a fine episodic installment of Mid-South Wrestling but nothing that will stand out in the pantheon of episodes. Final Grade: 5/10

Chad: Look, I hate long opening promos on Raw as much as the next guy, but this was gripping, captivating stuff in my eyes and made me seek out the Stagger Lee/Watts vs. Midnight Express match to watch during my lunch break. The other angles were also well done. When a wrestling angle show connects with me, it really connects with me and the first 25 minutes here is some of my favorite buildup to a match in wrestling history. Final Grade: 8.5/10 

Jason: This episode was pretty bad. Mid-South is known for angles that were ahead of their time, but the lack of matches and match length hurt things here. Minus Jim Ross, Jim Cornette and Bill Watts, this episode was nothing special. Final Grade: 1.5/10

Dan: This show was all build up and no substantial in-ring action. It was like waiting and waiting for an Amazon package and then when it arrives, you just leave it on your front step for several days never thinking for a moment to open it. I can’t do that with Amazon without going bonkers and it’s definitely not what I wish to seek out on my Wrestling Network. I want to see the program with Cornette in a dress or Taylor winning the cash or Duggan pummeling Russians. Not just hear about what they are going to do down the road. Now does that mean this episode sucked? Not at all. If I were a fan in 1984 and not a mature almost three year old, you bet your ass I’d be tuning into the next episode. That being said, I think the storylines are fine and setting the scene is great, but when our next trip to Mid-South on our adventure is not for another five months on the timeline, it kind of makes this whole show seem pointless. Final Grade: 2.5/10

Scott: This is one of the weakest episodes of anything on the Network thus far. The matches were either non-starters or trash and the Watts/Cornette feud recap didn’t need to be over half an hour. I know Watts was the promoter and such but did his wrestling montage need to air twice in one show? Junkyard Dog is selling a 90 days out of the promotion stipulation but we get a quick vignette with him in it. Overall this is a very forgettable episode except for the debut of future WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross. Final Grade: 1.5/10

You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!