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!
Tuesday Night Titans 5/28/84
Run Time: 1:36:12
Captain Lou Albano
JT: I have to go with Dr. D at home. Oh man I was laughing the whole way through. Him bitching out his family while pretending to be a nice, calm guy that hates mean people was really funny. I chuckled out loud when he smashed his head on the light fixture and then him ripping his wife for not preparing the proper amount or type of food when she had a big spread out was good too. Him stewing over the food and threatening to smack his kid while throwing bread at them while also calling his wife a “goof” is tremendous and something that would never make air in 2016. He was the best part of this episode for me and this whole bit was the tops. Lord Alfred’s analysis about Dr. D’s mental issues was the perfect capper to it all.
Chad: I can’t decide whether house calls with Dr. D was brilliant or atrocious, but it is certainly the lasting memory of this show. The setting was awesome with a log cabin and Schultz having his Tennessee drawl down. Dr. D abusing everyone was a bit uncomfortable and didn’t necessarily do a great job of portraying why he is devious in the ring besides just being a complete dick in real life. Still, this was a pretty captivating 15 minutes and it felt really different from the WWF tv presentation at the time.
Jason: I’m all for cooking with Afa and Sika any time. That would get the nod from me here if it wasn’t for a visit to the Shultz household. Dr. D was incredible here. His verbal abuse towards his wife and kids, bitching about dinner and threatening to smack around his kid were tremendous. Referring to his wife as, “woman” got a laugh from me. And how about that Mrs. Shultz? What a catch! Ya’ll come back now, ya hear.
Dan: At home with Dr.D could have been a WWE Network special back in those days if the internet existed. Either that or the company would have been shut down immediately and we’d be watching the AWA Network Adventure. Anyway, this was hilarious in that politically incorrect sort of way. I mean who the hell eats PB&J, with fried chicken and pizza? No wonder that Shultz family is so screwed up. I love how anything sets that guy off. He tries to put on a nice face for the cameras but will smash into the chandelier or see a sink full of dishes (“What is this the city dump?”) and it’s World War 3 all over again. I don’t condone domestic violence in any way, shape or form, but this was fantastic and very appropriate for the Dr. D character.
Scott: The Samoans cooking gross fish…something or other is a funny moment, as is the fan mail segment with the woman asking Vince if he used to wrestle. If she only looked ahead fourteen years. Can’t say much about the matches since they were all chopped, but both the tag title win and the Adonis/Santana match seemed pretty good.
JT: Paul Orndorff did some great heel work in his match with Brian Blair and the crowd was all over him. But I think I have to go with Dr D. His prematch promo was fun, his squash was pretty good and the visit to his Tennessee home was great. “Come here woman!” I love how he was trying to show how nice and calm he was but just kept snapping and yelling at his wife and kids. He owned this episode IMO and felt like a top level heel throughout. I also need to give a shoutout to the confrontation between the fan and the managers at the end of the show. That was nuts.
Chad: The Tito vs. Adonis match was something that I would be really interested in checking out in full sometime. Tito was by far the most low key segment they did compared to the Samoans’ cooking and Dr. D, but he did a good job of getting his humility over to the viewer.
Jason: The clear choice here is David Shultz. He was being built as a top contender for Hogan’s belt and really shined here. His promo with Gene was very good. His squash match proved that he could work in the ring too. And the cherry on top was the visit to his home with his family.
Dan: To be different, I’ll say Tito Santana for his class and humility. I liked the story of him taking a fan and his family out to dinner and how touched he was by that fans dedication in winning the contest. He seemed genuine in saying that he was just as excited as the kid was to be there and he did that fan right by signing autographs and giving him the royal treatment. Plus his match was Adonis – abbreviated as it was – turned out to be pretty enjoyable which seemed the norm for Santana at this time.
Scott: Captain Lou’s endless babbling that attempted to (and almost made sense) was a highlight for me, capped off by the glaring that the Wild Samoans did at the end of the couch, since it was just recently that Albano’s miscue led to the Samoans losing the tag titles to Rocky & Atlas. David Schultz gets some votes from me for his match/interview/vignette trinity of white trash goodness.
JT: It was a nice treat to get to see the big tag title change where Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas knocked off the Samoans for the straps. The crowd was hot for the new champs too. Plus any time Lou Albano screws up and costs himself gold, I am on board. Little hidden gem on this inaugural episode. I am also surprised they included that panel with the fans getting into it with the heels.
Chad: A huge fish being gutted and eaten right there on WWF tv took me by surprise.
Jason: I was surprised they threw the tag title change match in here. The crowd was super into it, almost to the point where they can feel something big was going to happen. Rocky and Tony were the right guys to put the belts on at the time seeing how super over they were. The finish was pretty cool, especially with the live crowd losing their minds.
Dan: That TV panel thing where those fans were jaw-jacking with the heel wrestlers got a bit uncomfortable. That guy flipped Albano the double bird and the female hostess was mortified about flying fruit from the audience. Someone must have been fired over that segment. It felt like it was 15 years too soon for that sort of segment. The fans were tough but Blassie and Albano got their licks in and stayed in character. Vince was playing with fire even back then!
Scott: I was surprised for the debut episode they didn’t have Hulk Hogan as a guest. He was only WWF Champion for a few months at this point and I would think Vince would want to show off his shiny new toy to the masses.
JT: Lou Albano. He will forever win this category for me when he gets extended spotlight on this show. I just can’t stand him or his nonsense.
Chad: Will cheat here after some of my comrades have mentioned it, but where was Hogan? This seems like a great vehicle for him to display his personality and he was no where to be found.
Jason: It’s late summer of 1984 and there was zero sign of World Champion Hulk Hogan. I understand that they were building a massive roster and had to try and put over a bunch of talent, but no Hogan seemed strange. Especially for the debut episode of this show.
Dan: No Hulk Hogan? And what’s the deal with all this archived footage? If you’re going to go that far back, why not give us some Gorgeous George or Buddy Rogers? Plus that cooking segment was utterly disgusting. I feel bad for the poor fish and lobster who basically died for nothing.
Scott: Considering all the matches they threw in there they could have put all three recent title wins in there. Well they put the tag title in there but they definitely should have aired Hogan’s win over Iron Sheik (if he wasn’t going to be a guest) and then Tito’s win over Muraco (which was in Boston a couple weeks after Hogan’s win). Since he was starting to branch out nationally having all the big titles would have beefed the show up a bit. They also should have held off on Murdoch & Adonis beating Johnson & Atlas for a couple months so that all the champions were babyfaces at the same time.
JT: This style of show came around at the perfect time for the WWF’s growth and expansion and what their ultimate goals were; Brian Blair vs. Paul Orndorff had a very unique look for WWF; Orndorff drew some great heat and worked really aggressively in his match; Why does Gene Okerlund say “hav-ock”; Dr. D was such a damn good promo and his flying elbow to win his match was sharp; Tito was pimped out with those tinted shades and twill jacket; Pretty neat story by Tito talking about his dinner and visit with a fan, whose dad and uncle were rocking some classic staches; Adonis was drenched in sweat during his JIP match with Santana and the parts we saw leading to the 30 minute draw were pretty solid; The mailbag started off well with a question for Vince and then the writer asking for a Tonga Kid photo at the end; The idea of an Arnie Skaaland classic match seems shaky but having Vince and Al do commentary over it made it work; The Samoans cooking demonstration was pretty funny and moved along swiftly without lasting too long; I liked Vince using the word “cajole” when discussing Albano trying to become manager of Murdoch & Adonis; As much as I hate Albano, him taking credit for Cyndi Lauper’s success was pretty funny; The guy with the apple asking a question of the manager panel was fantastic; Albano telling the black fan to shine his shoes was interesting and then the rest of the managers just pile on, that confrontation was epic; Vince uses “abeyance” at the end of the show
Chad: Blair got a ton of offense over on Orndorff which was surprising. They were still pushing Piper as a manager here. Dr. D is really the centerpiece of the show and they have him go after Hogan in his promo. It is tough to remember D as a viable threat for the championship after Hogan won. The “footage” of Tito meeting with the fan with just picture stills was kind of odd. Speaking of odd, those mailbag questions were weird as hell and I have no idea what promotion the one guy was talking about with the facepaint like KISS. Road Warriors I suppose? I could have done without the archival footage as that was when the show really began to drag for me. Cooking with Samoans was interesting for a bit but it got drawn out way too long and the novelty was done after they kept chopping up the fish. Also, what a burial of the Samoans showing them losing the tag straps when they were nice enough to visit the TNT set. Albano of course takes no credit for the tag championship loss. Albano is now backing the Moondogs. I don’t know where the panel was from but we got some first rate racism from the Captain telling the black man to shine his shoes. The woman next to Lou looks like Marcia Clark. We get some clips of Andre doing his thing.
Jason: Has Vince McMahon ever owned a bad suit? The answer is simple…NO! Man, Paul Orndorff is such a great heel. Nice to see pre-Killer Bees Brian Blair in action. I’m sure he was brought in as a favor for Hulk seeing they’re from the same area of Florida. Did Mean Gene ever have a full head of hair? Speaking of hair, how about Dr. D’s blonde perm? Dr. D’s kid smiling while Shultz was yelling at his wife was something else. Those Mrs.Shultz breasts… of chicken sure looked tasty. I’m super jealous of the youngster that got to hang out with Tito. I wish they showed the entire Tito and Adonis match. Two of my favorites from this era. Adonis can bump like a boss for someone of his size. I’m guessing there was no AC in that building, because Adrian was a sweaty mess. I enjoyed Vince and Gene on commentary for the matches. They were the perfect combination to put over talent at the time. The mailbag Q&A was a nice touch. The Arnold Skaland match footage was a nice surprise. Alfred’s expressions while the Samoans were cooking up their feast was hilarious. Afa and Sika sure know their way around the kitchen. Vince’s, “Mikey likes it” line to Alfred. Afa selling the chair shot in the tag title match with the chair still wrapped around his head was quite the scene. Vince stirring shit with Albano and the Samoans was great. Once Lou Albano got rolling, there was no shutting him up; “David Wolff or David Dog.” I absolutely loved the panel of heels roasting the audience members.
Dan: Hey guys, turn up Alfred’s audio during the opening credits. Or maybe turn down the cheesy 80s music. Your choice! I get the whole talk show motif, but this looks cheesier than Chee-tos. There is no studio audience so it sounds like they are in a library and I know it’s 1984 but this set just screamed “cable access” show. Not for nothing, but initially it felt like Vince and Alfred had zero chemistry. I do like Alfred’s commentary in saying that Blair’s victories have no bite to them so that’s preventing his push. His line about Schultz speaking funny but his message is “deadly” was brilliant! After watching that Schultz segment where he screams at his family, it brings truth to his earlier comments that he would slap his own mother or take his wife’s head off. Think Dr. D at home was the predecessor to MTV Cribs? I wonder what ever happened to Mrs. Dave Schultz? Alfred was definitely disturbed by the mailbag literally getting thrown onto the set. That made me laugh. So Vince said he’s not big enough of bad enough to be a wrestler. Who would have thunk it?
Scott: This first episode seems to be the precursor of what Prime Time Wrestling would become; I was a big David Schultz fan, he was a great heel; This vignette with Dr. D is awesome, living in a cheesy cabin with cows around. He acts a lot like 1996 Steve Austin; Tito Santana would never be treated this good again in his career, as he was the #2 babyface in the company after Hogan; Wow an Arnie Skaaland match! And a Vince McMahon fart joke! Who wrote this stuff?; At least they put a couple of title matches in here, including the historic win for Atlas & Rocky; JT is loving the Lou Albano montage; In the first politically incorrect moment in TNT history, Lou Albano tells a black audience member to “shine his shoes”
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: Well, I enjoyed this much more than I expected when it started. There were lots of laughs and it was a much breezier watch than I expected. It buzzed along and nothing really lasted longer than it needed to. Vince and Alfred’s chemistry is still building but they played off each other well here. The concept of the program was really laid out and established well out of the gate and there was more wrestling than I realized. Oh, and Dr. D was awesome. I am excited to see if they continue to hum along or if things bog down along the way. Good start though! Final Grade: 5.5/10
Chad: The show felt different for sure, but I did think it dragged a good bit with the middle portion of the archive footage and the cooking segment. There was also some kinks that had to be worked out with the interplay between Alfred and Vince. I can see others really liking the cheesy vibe this show gives off, but the debut episode didn’t do a whole lot to entertain me. Final Grade 3/10
Jason: Even without Hulk Hogan involved the first episode of TNT held its own. They got a lot of stuff in over an hour and a half. Vince and Alfred were tremendous together and I look forward to seeing their chemistry evolve. The Samoans and David Shultz were very enjoyable. My only gripe is that there was no Hogan and showing the entire Tito/ Adrian match would have been fun. This was a very important time in company history with all of the new talent rolling in, so it’s going to be fun watching the company as a whole evolve during the upcoming episodes. Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: Full disclosure, this is the first time I have ever watched a TNT so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, I have seen highlights from a few interviews but never a whole show so I was curious to see how it was presented in its entirety. That being said, I think this show got off to a strong start establishing the “this is not your typical wrestling show” style with the packages and special guests in studio. The cooking segment was unique (and disgusting), the Schultz at home was entertaining (and offensive), and the Tito interview humanized the product. Then I think they realized they couldn’t fill two hours and had Albano drone on and on then sprinkled in all this archived footage of guys not appearing on the broadcast. That’s fine and I’m not offended but for me at least this initial offering dragged somewhat. Not all episode 1’s will be magnificent out of the gates (See Star Wars and most podcasts). This one wasn’t awful and I look forward to more down the road. Final Grade: 5.5/10
Scott: This premiere episode was definitely rough around the edges, with some awkward dialogue with Vince and Alfred, although that definitely gets better over time. As I mentioned above, this format would be scrapped for the most part and be rebuilt as Prime Time Wrestling in another year and a half. This show needed to focus on the characters and not the matches. The Dr. D stuff was funny as was Albano stumbling through his explanation on how he screwed the Samoans. There were definitely some politically incorrect moments like Dr. D wanting to backhand his wife and kids and Albano telling a black fan to “go shine his shoes”. That would be the hallmark of some of these future TNTs: completely hilarious and inappropriate humor. This show is in the middle, mostly because it didn’t need to be two hours. That also changes over time. Final Grade: 5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!