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!
World Class Championship Wrestling 1/11/85
Run Time: 44:41
One Man Gang vs. Sean Michaels
Fantastics vs. Midnight Express – American Tag Team Championship
Chris Adams vs. Kerry Von Erich
JT: Easy answer here is the big tag title match between the Fantastics and the Midnight Express. Jim Cornette sets the tone right away, screaming at his charges that he doesn’t want any excuses, just a victory. Bill Mercer stating that the ladies find the Fantastics “adorable” gets in a nice place before the bell as well. The Fantastic were great early on, grinding on the MXE until clearing them out of the ring as “ecstasy rains” in the crowd. The crowd was red hot any time the Fantastic forged a comeback and the MXE did a good job of focused limb work whenever they got control. Fulton took a good beating too during the heat segment and Cornette was all over the place at ringside. I thought Sportatorium was going to burst apart during the hot tag and then when the MXE cheated to win you could feel the hatred pouring out. This was perfect 1980s tag wrestling, hitting all the beats and keeping the crowd rabid.
Brian: Without a doubt it was the Fantastics vs. Midnight Express match. Just an excellent bout with a rabid crowd. This crowd, especially the females, loved the Fantastics. You can hear them scream whenever the Midnight Express took control. I also loved the finish as it got the Midnights and Cornette over as mega heels. I recommend this match to all fans of tag team wrestling.
Dan: Let’s go ahead and put the American Tag Team title match into the winner’s circle on this night. Awesome back and forth action that highlighted what made both of these teams shine. The Fantastics had their tandem offense that made the girls shriek with joy and the Midnights utilized their quick tags to cut the ring and half to slow down the tempo. The contrast between these two teams is staggering. It’s like the pretty boys battling their older, uglier fathers in a wrestling match. I loved Cornette on the outside too, calling the champs a couple of “male strippers” out there. He just looked beside himself when his team was getting dominated but was in sheer ecstasy when he helped his boys win the belts. Fans weren’t happy with the outcome, but I was thrilled watching this match unfold.
Scott: Obviously the tag team title match, with two teams that had such great chemistry. That chemistry would follow them throughout every territory they’d battle in. Sure it was cool to see ol’ Shawn Michaels in his infancy, but a squash doesn’t compare with two tremendous tag teams of the day.
JT: I will go with everyone involved in the tag title match as explained above. One Man Gang looked great too in both his squash and interference at the end, but the tag match was easily the highlight of the show.
Brian: I can’t pick one person from the American Tag Title match so I’ll just include them all as that was great from start to finish.
Dan: I loved Gary Hart so much on this show. Not only is he the only guy I can think of who could probably get away with calling Ric Flair “Rickey,” but then he doesn’t show all his cards in an interview telling us of his “final solution.” What a poker face on that guy! Then he sells the iron claw like his face is about to melt off only to reveal that One Man Gang is his new muscle against the Von Erichs. Plus, as the sweater aficionado on this panel, the guy is easily the best manager ever to where argyle to the ring in Pro Wrestling history. He later went on to teach 5th period math class after this show.
Scott: One Man Gang had a great show, crushing some scrub jobber from Texas, then running in to help Chris Adams take out Kerry Von Erich. What an evening for the future Akeem.
JT: I was pleasantly surprised to see Jim Cornette and the Midnights pop up here as we have seen them in Mid South around the same time. Territory days sure were great!
Brian: There was nothing really surprising here, except for Gary Hart’s awful sweaters. Who let him on National TV dressed like that? He looked more like a weird uncle during the holidays than a sadistic manager.
Dan: I’m surprised how much I’ve missed WCCW. I was slow to embrace the company when we watched them in 1982 but these shows were a blast once they got more talent. This might also be the TNT effect where everything looks wonderful since it’s not TNT!
Scott: No real surprises here for me, perhaps that Bill Mercer finally grew in the full beard instead of that weird thing he had two years earlier.
JT: What is up with Gary Hart’s sitcom Dad sweater and hairstyle? Is he a heel manager or guest starring on Family Ties? What an odd choice.
Brian: The Kerry Von Erich vs. Chris Adams match itself was a bit disappointing, especially the finish. Adams certainly did not look like an equal to Kerry with that. Then again, this was the Von Erich territory so I should not be all that surprised.
Dan: Not to sound like Scott here, but that Von Erich/Adams match definitely could have gone longer. I feel like they were just starting to get cooking with Hart screaming orders on the floor and Adams getting the advantage after countering the iron claw. Then wham! Kerry gets his patented back slide and the match is over. I definitely could have used a few more minutes of that.
Scott: I was disappointed that Kerry Von Erich (and every Von Erich kid) has to win every match on TV. Chris Adams seemed like a strong heel at the time and it was silly to have him job so cheaply to KVE. The beatdown brings some heat back, but the way that promotion was, it probably means a tag match that the Von Erichs win. Predictable.
JT: I have missed Marc Lowrance: “With the steel chain!”; One Man Gang looked awesome stomping around the ring like a madman; I love the ref’s red track pants; Bill Mercer saying OMG’s bellow was “perhaps a moose call” was a great description; The OMG squash was really well done; Lowrance narrating what the Fantastics were doing during their entrance is so great, “always taking their time to hug and kiss the ladies in the crowd”; Gary Hart’s sweater and hair combo is an odd one for a heel manager; “Ricky Flair”; Good to know Mercer still says “sleep hold”; Hernandez & Adams is such an awesome heel team; Adams’ dive to the floor was really nice; The crowd went bonkers for the brawl after Von Erich’s win
Brian: We got to see the future Heartbreak Kid here, with his name spelled “Sean” and being billed from Georgia. Also, the One Man Gang had a much different look here than he did in the WWF. The WWF look was a lot better. I always loved Cornette’s interviews in the 80s. Also liked how Condrey strolled in late with his bomber jacket. And, I cannot say enough good things about that tag match. On the Fantastics being loved by the ladies at the Sportatorium, Bobby Fulton once told a story of how there was one woman who had the Elephant Man disease that grabbed him by the hair during his entrance and tried to deliver a kiss as Fulton was able to break free. I liked Gary Hart’s promo too and the fact he promised a surprise, which turned out to be the One Man Gang who ran out to attack Kerry Von Erich, who had both Hart and Chris Adams in the iron claw.
Dan: Holy 1980s TV graphics Batman! Was that a satellite zapping planet Earth? Marc Lowrance is definitely one of those guys who has no filter and basically says everything that he sees without thinking. I find it more funny than annoying. Would you ever hear Howard Finkel say in the middle of the announcement “obviously a very dangerous individual” before he introduced One Man Gang? Or mention that the Fantastics are kissing fans in the stands? I don’t think so! Oh look it’s Shawn Michaels. Now I know why this is on the network! What was Gang wearing? Did he maul a bear and make a jacket out of it afterwards? Mercer at his best here: “If there was ever excitement, it’s spelled fantastic.” Nasty bump by David Manning in the tag match. Looked like his head or shoulder went right into the ring ropes. It looked scary for a second. I loved Hart coaching in the main event. He wanted Adams to just take the count out win and then took pleasure in seeing Kerry get more damaged. “Twist his neck Chris!” With all due respect to Mr. Fuji, this guy was such a devious bastard!
Scott: Another early appearance for Shawn Michaels as we have already seen him on a late-1984 episode of Mid-South Wrestling; Not a fan of One Man Gang’s weird furry vest, not very Chicago if you ask me; I know I am very much in the minority, but I loved Dennis Condrey as a worker. He fit the early MXE because he wasn’t that great looking, but he thought he was; The tag title match has been great, with superb chemistry between these two teams; It’s been 15 months since the last episode on the Network, and although the graphics are slicker, the Sportatorium still looks like a dump; The crowds seem to be red hot still, although without the Freebirds (Who are in the AWA at this time) I wonder if the heels are hot enough to counter the Von Erichs babyface level; Chris Adams drilled Kerry with a superkick in the main event. Shawn was obviously in the building, so I wonder if he started thinking then that it could be a great finisher; I had a feeling the One Man Gang was going to come out to help Adams and Hart at the end of the match. There was a reason he had the squash match earlier in the show
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (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 was a breezy hour of wrestling and it was fun to take a visit back to the Sportatorium nearly two years after we last left it. They packed a lot of energy and wrestling into just 45 minutes as we had a big title match, a hot grudge main event and effective squash all sandwiching some solid storyline development. It was really easy to dive right back in and know where most stuff stood. This, like the Mid South episodes we have watched, is the perfect use of a wrestling TV show, although here we even get marquee matches to boot. I wish there was more WCCW in this stretch to see how these angles played out. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Brian: I thought this was a great hour of television. It was focused on a few things and every segment had meaning. The tag match was incredible and the end angle with the One Man Gang being Hart’s plan to take out Kerry was also cool to see as they instantly made Gang a threat here. I would have liked to see Chris Adams look better coming out of the main event but overall, a fun show with interesting storyline developments. Final Grade: 7/10
Dan: I liked this show and not just because Vince didn’t make Alfred eat something weird. It stuck to wrestling matches with very brief interviews to set the table for the bout that followed. It was brilliant in its simplicity. They told me why I should care and then delivered three exceptional matches including that squash opener of the future Heartbreak Kid. At the end of the day, that’s all I really want on this adventure. Now it helped that we had a hot tag match that ended in, to some, a shocking title change. We saw the franchise player taking on his hated rival. Hart wore argyle, One Man Gang looked like a beast, and the ending left me wanting to see more. Plus it was less than an hour so that always get points from me. Hopefully they someday give us more of Fritz and the gang for us to review. Final Grade: 7/10
Scott: Not a bad episode here, with a big title change after a great match and another Von Erich win. Seeing a young Shawn (sorry, Sean) Michaels is a neat visual. The production is obviously slicker for 1985 than the last time we watched World Class two years earlier. It’s a fun viewing but I’ve had my fill of Von Erich overload, so I’m glad we don’t watch any more for a while. Final Grade: 5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!