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 8/20/84
Run Time: 1:34:04
JT: I will go with all of the Hulk Hogan stuff. He was pretty good in studio with Vince, exuding a calm, cool demeanor while also oozing charisma. He was funny talking about wanting to bang women and taking shots at Bob Backlund, all with a charming smile on his face. His training regiment with Mean Gene is a classic and we get to see the whole thing here. Plus it all gets capped off with the protein shakes and vitamins display on set. Vintage stuff. Hogan is such an amazing presence. Also, as a mark for all things Russian, I have to give a big honorable mention the entire package with Nikolai Volkoff, his interview and singing and the dancing from his comrades. It was all well done.
Chad: I will go with Hogan but I thought this show overall was dreadful with hardly nothing entertaining or funny happening. TNT continues to be a huge chore for me to sit through.
Jason: I remember very well renting the first Hulkamania tape on VHS as a kid and both the Hulk and Gene training segment along with vitamin & shake stuff being a part of it. Over 30 years later it still holds up pretty damn good. Hogan and Gene have always had amazing on air chemistry and this was advertised well here. Hulk’s charisma was off the charts as well. It doesn’t get any better than Hogan, Vince and Alfred popping pills and downing shakes.
Scott: The Hogan segment with the “shakes” and “vitamins” is easily the most entertaining because of all the irony it defines during that decade. I remember that segment from the first “Hulkamania” tape that came out in early-1985. Seeing Wendi Richter during this stretch didn’t hurt either but her clumsiness talking does take something out of it. Another “Vince Sr. crony” segment with Arnie Skaaland was unnecessary but still the WWF at the time still had old time fans.
JT: I really enjoyed Vince McMahon and Freddie Blassie doing live commentary over the clip of the Santana/Sheik match. The match itself was pretty good, as was Blassie heeling it up with his slow counts and looking to the crowd instead of paying attention to Tito’s pin covers. Vince critiquing everything Blassie did as ref while Blassie defending himself was also pretty entertaining, casual racism aside. He also claims that Vince used “trick tape photography” and that he didn’t really referee this match. Plus, I could watch Tito all day.
Chad: Hogan does look like a champion and the ace of the promotion here. It was refreshing to see him in studio finally.
Jason: Not only did Sheik and Tito deliver in the ring, but Vince and Fred Blassie knocked it out of the park on commentary. Sheik is no slouch during this era, but Tito can bring the best out of anyone. Mid 80s Tito is one of my favorite things to watch. Vince and Freddie bickering at each other while calling the match was very entertaining. No one can lit through there teeth and believe everything they’re saying as well as Fred Blassie.
Scott: The Tito Santana/Iron Sheik match was great, but Vince’s distracting needling of Freddie Blassie took away from it. So I will go back to my previous comments and say the WWF Champion’s debut performance.
JT: Getting to see the Freebirds six man match caught me way off guard, especially with David Wolff in their corner. Very cool treat here despite the clear video quality issues. It was so unique hearing Vince call a Freebirds match like this. Sadly Vince’s promise that we will see more of them didn’t come to fruition.
Chad: It is such an urban legend of the Birds quick stay in WWF that it was nice to see the hype and footage that does exist of them in WWF country. It really feels like they would fit like a glove in the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling narrative that was trying to be created around this time.
Jason: Hell yes, a rare look at the Freebirds during their brief run in New York. David Wolff managing them was just as surprising. Too bad backstage politics got in the way of them sticking around longer. They were a great fit as a part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era.
Scott: As with every TNT episode, there’s no real surprises.
JT: I just don’t really need to see aimless midget matches that really don’t add anything to the show. They always feel like exhibitions to me with no stakes or purpose. They just exist. Alfred disagrees with me, but he also may have just suffered a mailbag induced concussion.
Chad: I guess I will pile upon Skaaland as he didn’t say anything of interest at all in his ten minute segment.
Jason: I have nothing against Arnold Skaaland, but having him as a feature was pointless. I get it that he was a part of Vince Sr. inner circle, but does he really need the rub on a show like this? This promotion is growing with talent week after week. Let’s get some fresh faces on the set instead of someone like Arnie that most fans didn’t really care about at this time.
Scott: The shows need to flesh out some of these old guys and really focus on the new roster and the burgeoning expansion. So still seeing guys like Arnie Skaaland is not what the new generation of WWF fans want to see. The fact it took nine episodes for Hulk Hogan to come on is evidence enough of the direction they seem to be attempting.
JT: Vince saying Alfred is a member of the Tory party made me chuckle; Moolah’s attack on Wendi at the belt ceremony was pretty heated and entertaining even if Moolah looked like she belong on People of Wal-Mart; The Freebirds!; I got pretty excited for the Santana vs. Sheik matchup; Blassie’s racist comments against Tito were something else, including “pepper belly” and saying he has marks on his back from crawling under the fence; I look forward to the mail delivery every week and this one was didn’t disappoint as Alfred gets clobbered with the bag; Arnie Skaaland in studio was a bit more entertaining than past old timer guests just because of how energetic Vince was about him, you could tell he loved him quite a bit; I am really digging the calypso style intro and outro music that got heavy rotation this week; I dug the little ditty they played for Nikolai when he arrived in studio; They should have kept the deep bass Russian music for Nikolai’s entrance theme, makes him feel like a much bigger deal and creates a heated atmosphere; Blassie trashing Jimmy Carter and backing Russia over the US when it comes to the Olympics made me chuckle; The whole Nikolai segment did a nice job setting him up as a threat for Hulk Hogan and for a feud with Sgt. Slaughter; It is weird seeing Hulk Hogan so mellow and laid back here; Vince showing off a magazine that includes Hogan posing with Donald Trump is funny in retrospect; Hogan takes a shot at Bob Backlund’s squat test; So many Minnesota references, but that little area by the lake did seem pretty cool; Hogan slipping Alfred free bags of steroids on national TV is certainly something; Vince is in all his glory during the vitamin segment; Hogan and Richter definitely hooked up in the dressing room while Nikolai was singing Russian power ballads
Chad: We get some convention jokes from Vince to start us off tonight. Seems like we have seen a lot of Richter so far. Again kudos to them putting gravity to the woman’s feud even though Wendi is losing her momentum and charisma with each passing appearance. Moolah and Richter’s Jerry Springer confrontation was pretty heated. I love hearing about the Birds coming into WWF. Hilarious line from Vince after the match suggesting they will see a great deal more of the Freebirds. Feels appropriate hearing Blassie on the week that Muhammad Ali passed away. I think this is the first time we have seen footage from the Spectrum. Arnold Skaaland is boring as shit as Bob Backlund’s manager and he is boring as shit here. Haiti Kid vs. Danny Carpenter was fairly entertaining based on what we saw but the crowd was quiet as a tomb. Nikolai gets quite the entrance music as he is accompanied by Blassie. The Volkolff match drug on and had me constantly looking at my watch. Nikolai singing isn’t much better. The back half of these shows is usually when the ideas hit the wall but this week things pick up a bit with Hogan’s appearance. Already, everything feels more crucial and big league compared to what we just saw with Nikolai bumbling around. Really enjoyed seeing Hulk and Trump showing up together. The montage with Gene and Hogan was fine but not too exciting in my eyes. I enjoyed Hogan calling him Vicious Vince. I don’t know how well the Python Powder sold.
Jason: Vince’s salmon suit ranks towards the top of his outstanding wardrobe he’s brought to the table on these shows. Wendi Richter’s hair, wardrobe and makeup screamed 1984. She’s quite the looker. Moolah kicking Gene in the ass after the attack on Richter made me chuckle. Oh look, more midgets. This has to be a rib on Scott. Nikolai’s pimp suit ranks up there with Vince’s. Big Nik really does have a hell of a set of pipes on him. I wonder how much Vince is paying these bands and musical acts to show up for a ten minute set? There’s no doubt that Hogan has lust for Wendi Richter. You can cut the sexual tension between them with a knife.
Scott: Based on that belt presentation segment, Moolah had just as much heel heat as some of the guys on the roster; a rare Freebirds WWF match on this episode; Ok I was fine with the midget match last episode because Haiti Kid was a guest, but not as filler. There must be something better; I love Nikolai Volkoff’s pinstripe Soviet suit; It took nine episodes of the show, but WWF Champion Hulk Hogan finally makes an appearance; Ah here we are, the infamous “python powder” segment, with Hogan passing out baggies with pills. Kind of foreboding, eh?; Seriously, Hogan and Vince throwing pills down with these shakes just…there’s no words; Definite sexual tension between Hogan and Richter
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: This episode started off pretty slowly but found its groove once Freddie Blassie arrived. After that, pretty much everything worked outside of the midget match, and even that was quick. Our legend this week was Skaaland and he didn’t linger like past editions and even his match clip was brief too. The Sheik/Santana match was really our only long one this week but that had the fun Blassie as ref bit and riff track attached. I dug the Volkoff interview and singing and thought it showcased and introduced him very well. All of the Hogan stuff is classic and he just owned the screen the entire time he was on. What a presence. Overall, it adds up to a pretty middle of the road offering but the Hogan stuff bumps it a bit because of how iconic it became in WWF lore. Plus, Hogan basically gives Alfred free steroids to cap it off, hard to top that brother! Final Grade: 4.5/10
Chad: I’m sorry but I thought this was a dreadful show and at an hour and a half, it was the least I have enjoyed watching a wrestling program in quite some time. Final Grade: 1.5/10
Jason: There’s more ups than downs here. Hogan, the Freebirds, Tito & Sheik, Richter and Nikolai were all enjoyable. There was no need for Arnold Skaaland to be there as well as another midget match. Time killer nonsense. It was a good move saving everything with Hogan for the back end of the show. I’m gonna grade this a little higher than I should, just because we finally got the Hulkster in studio along with two classic segments from him. Final Grade: 5.5/10
Scott: This episode was 50/50. Everything with the WWF’s new shiny toy Hulk Hogan was fun, including the Mean Gene vignettes and the nutrition segment. Another Wendi Richter sighting doesn’t hurt, as well as the re-introduction of Nikolai Volkoff to WWF viewers. We had a title bout with Tito vs. Sheik as well as a rare Freebirds match. The mailbag continues to be a waste segment and Vince Sr’s cronies continue to pop up and eat up time. The last 45 minutes were good, otherwise skip. Final Grade: 5.5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!