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!
Run Time: 46:24
Great Yatsu vs. Samoan
Jose Lothario vs. Michael Hayes
Bugsy McGraw & Al Madril vs. King Kong Bundy & Great Kabuki
JT: Michael Hayes and Jose Lothario had a strong little match with some really strong heat thanks to Hayes’ antics and Lothario’s general fire. They didn’t do anything crazy, but the basics are all that were needed in a spot like this. Once the action got going, Hayes worked a good heat segment and Lothario timed his comebacks well as always. It was a long match too and I didn’t mind the non-finish, because the main goal is to establish the Freebirds as a douchebag unit that will run roughshod on the territory. The Freebirds continue to slowly build themselves up as Dallas’ most hated unit.
Chad: Jose Lothario vs. Michael Hayes was a really solid, tv encounter. I really liked the emphasis on the matwork and the focus Lothario had on Hayes’ leg. The strike exchanges also looked good with the chops and forearms. The heat was of course very good as this is the Freebirds in World Class. Overall, I really enjoyed myself watching this match with one exception that I will get to in a later category.
Jason: Michael Hayes and Jose Lothario take this one for me. No one draws heel heat quite like Michael Hayes and the wily veteran, Lothario hung strong with Hayes in their ten minute draw. A great job by Lothario working on Hayes’ left leg along with great selling by Hayes. The last minute was very fun with Lothario getting his fire back.
Dan: With not much to choose from, I’ll go ahead and say Lothario/Hayes as well. This was surprisingly a very spirited and competitive match between the grizzled old veteran and the young upstart punk in the company. It told a good story about Lothario looking to stop Hayes dead in his tracks from continuing his recent antics. Jose even taped up his right fist prior to the match which did not sit well with the “Toast of the Coast.” I enjoyed watching Hayes’ frustration as it seemed as though the more seasoned Lothario had an answer for every one of his holds. Even when Lothario was in trouble, he never deviated from the plan of weakening and softening up Hayes left leg. We also get a plethora of near-falls as Hayes emptied his arsenal of suplexes and neck breakers but the old man refused to stay down. Normally I hate time-limit draws, but this one didn’t bother me as Lothario comes across as yet another threat to the rise of the Freebirds. The fans chanted “Go Home Freebirds,” but I say keep them coming!
Scott: I have to go with the Lothario/Hayes match, as it had the most heat with the burgeoning Von Erichs/Freebirds feud and Lotherio a strong babyface in the promotion. It was a solid TV match, plus Lothario was a smart first victim for the Freebirds heel attack as he is beloved by the fans.
JT: I will cop out and go with a tie this week. First, the Freebirds as a whole. Hayes was quite good in his match and then the beatdown and post match promo by the crew were really well done. They tie with my boy King Kong Bundy for his great interview with Bill Mercer, including his phone call to the DI boss. Devastation, Inc. is heating up!
Chad: Hayes wins this for me although Bundy on the phone was pretty great. The knock on Hayes is that he was always a talker only and kind of sucked in the ring. I think this technically sound match with Lothario helped nix that assumption. Of course, his spirited promo afterwards showed he was indeed one of the best talkers in wrestling around this time. Overall a good night for the leader of the Freebirds.
Jason: I’m going with King Kong Bundy this week. His interview with Bill Mercer was fantastic! Incredible teasing from KKB on who the Boss of Devastation Inc. is and that there will be new members in the up coming weeks.
Dan: Bundy has been awesome in all of his segments in which he pumps up the potential power of Devastation Inc. When he sits down with Mercer and calls up “The Boss” his side stepping of the announcers questions rank up there with any of our current presidential candidates. “That’s on a need to know basis Mercer!” He’s doing a fantastic job of not giving away too much but teasing the audience enough that we want to know what else is in store for his new group.
Scott: Michael Hayes is the jewel of the Freebirds and is just as awesome at riling a crowd up as Terry Gordy was on last week’s show. The promotion was doing a great job of building the eventual war between the Freebirds and the Von Erichs, and his match with Lothario really brought the heat.
JT: I was surprised at the lucidity of David Von Erich’s promo. It was coherent, made sense and nicely surmised his position since returning from his brief absence while also continuing the issue with the Freebirds. In fairness, though, if you told me this was Will Ferrell doing a parody of a wrestler, I would probably believe you.
Chad: David Von Erich did do a very effective promo that I enjoyed much more than Kerry’s revenge promo from our last show. It made complete sense and I think the narrative that Fritz is David’s father but also his boss was smartly integrated. This was a surprising development given David’s previous efforts.
Jason: David Freakin’ Von Erich and his promo gets the duke. He provided everything that Kerry failed to do in his promo last week. David’s fire and passion to get revenge on the Freebirds was sold beautifully. I hope Fritz was proud of this one, because David knocked it out of the park.
Dan: I’m surprised The Samoan still is drawing a pay check. Have I used that one before? If so, it doesn’t make it any less true. But seriously, I had low expectations for both Jose Lothario and David Von Erich’s interview and to my astonishment, neither one sucked. I thoroughly enjoyed Lothario’s match with Hayes (as stated above) and Von Erich actually pieced together several sensical sentences in succession. Try saying that five times fast!
Scott: I was surprised that World Class is trying to push two mega heel stables at the same time. Sure we’ve had multiple groups before but it seems Devastation, Inc. is being pushed almost as much as the Freebirds. There’s only so many Von Erichs to go around. Perhaps we will be seeing an influx of new faces come in, and the creation of a top promotional title. I guess that’s the American Heavyweight Title, but that also seems like it’s pushed to the backburner.
JT: I am sad to see Al Madril be saddled with Bugsy McGraw. Madril has been a workhorse each week and deserves a better fate than to be saddled with this goofball.
Chad: I have to pile on the way the Freebirds are being booked. I didn’t like Buddy Roberts going to a tv time limit draw in his debut and I didn’t like it here with Hayes. Lothario is a gatekeeper type competitor so it is fine for him to be protected to an extent, but not against someone who is being presented as the top heel of your promotion. With as infrequently as the Von Erich’s do jobs in World Class, it is tough to see the Birds as legit threats.
Jason: I’m with JT on this. Al Madril having to team with that idiot Bugsy McGraw made me very sad. Madril deserves much better.
Dan: I’m disappointed in The Great Yatsu I suppose since he really didn’t show much of anything in that opener against that waste of space Samoan. If you like judo chops, the cobra clutch and a great deal of Mercer saying “Oriental,” then this match was your Patterson/Slaughter. For the rest of us, it was just a “whatever” debut in a forgettable opener. I think Armand Hussain wants his money back!
Scott: I didn’t really have any disappointments since all the results were to what was needed, although I am personally disappointed that Magic Dragon & Checkmate have been pushed to the side.
JT: “The new and great Yatsu”; This territory loved their oriental imports; Mercer points out that Yatsu is known as the only man to have beaten Great Kabuki; Yatsu hit a pretty nice powerslam and his post match attack was cool; I love the random comments from Mark Lowerance, like “Mexico’s fabulous Jose Lothario”; Michael Hayes continued the Freebird streak of great stalling and heat building; The horseshoes on Lothario’s tights are kind of weird choice; “Go home Freebirds” is a neat crowd chant that fits right into the angle; Nice usage of instant replay in the Hayes/Lothario match, showing how on point WCCW is from a production standpoint; I love all the stuff around Bundy going on strike from H&H and comparing it to the other sports leagues; Mercer asking about the DI boss’s interests like “football team, oil” was fantastic; Pretty sure Kevin Weaver from Beverly Hills, 90210 was in the crowd cheering on Bugsy McGraw as he takes a break from plotting his scheme to steal Dylan’s money; I enjoyed Mercer calling McGraw a “man-child”; Bundy & Kabuki worked pretty well together here, which helps build the cred of the stable
Orient/Oriental count: 6
Chad: My boy Yatsu is all over the network. The Samoan is still around and still jobbing. This was a tough night for Bill Mercer as he mis-calls numerous moves throughout the evening. I really like the Tarheel blue robe that Hayes is sporting. Gordy has a shirt that says WCW on it. What a prognosticator. I love Gordy and Roberts presence coming out at the end of the match for Hayes and the quick promo at the end of the show. The finishing tag was ok but I continue to hate Bugsy McGraw. I was shocked to see him job out here to Bundy which makes Hayes not being able to beat Lothario look that much worse.
Jason: The Oriental Assassin might be my new favorite wrestler nickname thanks to the Great Yatsu. Shout out to the old lady wearing red in the crowd running her mouth to the heels. The Freebirds promo was so damn good. Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy continue to bring the goods every time they have a camera in front of them. King Kong Bundy and Kabuki meshed very well as a team. I was glad to see Bugsy McGraw take Bundy’s big splash and eat the pin. It’s pretty cool seeing two heel stables (Freebirds and Devastation Inc.) on top of the card and both get over at the same time.
Dan: Was Mark Lowerance reading the names of the wrestlers from his checkbook? Did they not have index cards in 1983? Mercer is so in the tank for the Von Erichs it’s comical. Watch that David Von Erich interview again and when he talks about using chairs and any weapon necessary against the Freebirds, Mercer has a huge grin on his face and may even be holding in laughter. Ultimately David wants the six-man tag titles back with his family since a Von Erich won them in the first place. A nice call back to the title match at Star Wars that didn’t go unnoticed. Why do I get the feeling that Gordy actually would slap all the Texas fans in the building that night? What was the point of Mercer’s speakerbox if we couldn’t hear “The Boss” anyway? The crowd carried these matches with their excitement and chants (“Bundy is a pig!”). I could watch Bugsy getting squashed like a bug by Bundy on repeat everyday for the rest of my life. I gather that Gordy thinks Kerry Von Erich is stupid.
Scott: Hearing Hussein say “The Oriental Assassin” brings a smile to my face; I’ve been destroying the Von Erich boys for their putrid promo skills, but ranking them David is the least offensive to listen to compared to the others; This is one of the best crowds in a while, with very audible “GO HOME FREEBIRDS” chants; Terry Gordy’s t-shirt says “WCW” on it; King Kong Bundy was a beast in this interview, very smooth and calculating in his responses about “The Boss”; If I never see a Bugsy McGraw match in my lifetime it will be too soon; It is great to see Kabuki back, as he was probably my favorite heel Asian (sorry, Oriental) wrestlers of the time; As much as Mercer has a great announcing voice, he is still clueless on the names of the moves
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (Christmas Star Wars, WCCW 12/28/82)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: A pretty middle of the road episode this time around. We had some more real solid angle advancement with a spotlight on the heels, as we see the strong debut of Yatsu, the development of the Freebirds and the inaugural match of Devastation, Inc. Plus we also had the tremendous interview with Bundy where we get more teases about who the boss is. David Von Erich is back on the scene as their war with the Birds continues to brew. There is a lot of fun stuff in the works here in Dallas, and I will certainly take perfectly average episodes like this to help us get to the more explosive stuff later. Final Grade: 5/10
Chad: I found this to be a real solid show overall. Nothing was extraordinary but two out of the three matches were decent enough especially Hayes vs. Lothario which is around the **3/4 range for me. The promos that were sprinkled throughout were also very well done and added development to the landscape of the promotion. I was the low vote on the last show and it looks like I will be the high vote on this one. Final Grade: 6/10
Jason: There were some very good promo’s this week thanks to David Von Erich, the Freebirds and King Kong Bundy. The matches themselves were your average TV matches. In 46 minutes, they were able to sell the top feuds and tease what’s we could see in the coming weeks. Next week’s main event should be a lot of fun. What will it be? Tune in to this column to find out! Final Grade: 5/10
Dan: Echoing the rest of this distinguished panel, this was a pretty “ehh” show overall. Promos were solid, the matches were standard though not spectacular, and as always, some of the story gets moved along smoothly. I deduct points for the lousy opener and the disappointing main event since my self-appointed “Lovable Losers” (Bugsy and Madril) were involved. I dug the Freebirds match with Lothario and Bundy trumpeting the greatness and power of his new business endeavor. I do believe these shows suffer somewhat when Fritz’s boys aren’t involved though it appears that will change on the next episode. Stick with us though ladies and gents because things should pick up from here. Final Grade: 4.5/10
Scott: This was an average episode with the same tv-style matches, although finally we see Michael Hayes in a bout and the early incarnation of the iconic Devastation Incorporated. Considering the Von Erichs kids are the top faces, they’re not on these shows as often as I remember. Maybe as the feud with the Freebirds evolves they will be on more. The Bundy interview was great but we get another lumbering promo from a Von Erich kid. Did they actually go to school to learn how to create sentences? I mean David isn’t nearly as bad as Kerry but considering they were the top faces they should have been more polished. Overall not a bad episode but pretty pedestrian. Final Grade: 4.5/10