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: 46:45
David Von Erich vs. Checkmate
Brian Adias vs. Great Yatsu
Kevin Von Erich vs. Terry Gordy – American Heavyweight Championship
JT: The main event got off to a fast start and I loved the spot where KVE took Terry Gordy back into the ring off the apron with a flying headscissors. KVE would really grind Gordy, wrenching a side headlock and then pitching him to the floor to a huge pop. The crowd was fired up too, really laying into the “Go Home Freebirds” chant. Gordy turned the tide with a nice hot shot and then went to work. David at ringside was a nice touch, playing off the comments about the family always having a numbers advantage from the Freebirds earlier. Gordy remained firmly in control as Roberts and Hayes rooted him on from outside. KVE would catch the claw but with the referee tied up by DVE, Hayes would reach in and trip KVE, leading to Gordy winning the strap. Really fun TV match with a perfect finish. Giving the Freebirds some gold via dastardly means was a great decision.
Chad: The main event was a good encounter that showed how a match could be interesting mainly worked around a headlock. The strategy was also sound for both men to go after and rely on that hold so much. The finish was well executed as the viewer knew that the Freebirds were planning something. Gordy winning the belt was a nice way to get the Birds over as a unit and I have been critical of their finishes in the last few weeks but had no qualms about the ending of this one. This match also didn’t give away too much and left some stuff in the tank for these two to do at a later date. ***
Jason: Easily the main event between Kevin Von Erich and Terry Gordy. Each guy are my favorite workers from their respective stables and they delivered big time here. The finish was great as it added more heat on the Freebirds and gave the Von Erich boys more sympathy.
Dan: Easy call here as you almost have to go with the main event. Not only did it have two of my favorite guys in the company squaring off, but we see our first real battle in the Von Erich/Freebirds family feud. These guys took some serious risks in this contest beginning with Kevin’s flying head scissors followed by Gordy’s Flair flip into the corner. You absolutely knew trouble was afoot when the Birds started creeping down towards the ringside area. As ripped as he looked, Kevin could not bare Gordy’s massive frame following the Hayes trip and we have ourselves a new American Champion. In the end, Gordy, Hayes and Roberts draw first blood in this war with a shocking title change in the Von Erich’s backyard.
Scott: The title match was the best match of the night with all the Freebirds interference and the belt changing hands, although I was mildly entertained by Checkmate’s singles performance.
JT: The Freebirds. Their lunch interview in their van was so great, especially with how Buddy Roberts is tucked in the back. I dug how Terry Gordy bitched at Mercer for following them around even though they had invited him out there. Roberts also makes a great point on how the Von Erichs always have had the numbers advantage and now they are here to even things out. Great segment with Mercer landing some tough questions and then getting stuck with the bill. Honorable mention to a spirited effort from Checkmate.
Chad: Terry Gordy wins this award for me pretty easily. He gave a good promo from the car eating lunch, had a good match in the main event winning a title and then gave another short but sweet promo to close us out. He was the most featured Bird tonight and delivered in spades in that role.
Jason: Oh man, lunch with the Freebirds for sure. The swank red van, Bill Mercer’s investigative reporter look including his fedora and the guys skipping out on the bill. A short but entertaining segment.
Dan: Bill Mercer is the perfect foil for the Freebirds during their interview segments. I love the Birds constantly busting his chops while he attempts to ask serious questions. It’s one of my guilty pleasures watching these shows. “Leave our ketchup alone,” and “You’re a pest” are just the beginning. Lord only knows what those boys said to poor Bill when the cameras weren’t rolling. I think Gordy was going to rip out Mercer’s beard if the reporter interrupted him again during the lunch segment. Bonus points for Bill’s use of the phrase “left holding the bag” when standing outside a fast food establishment.
Scott: Checkmate looked surprisingly strong in his performance with DVE, as this is the first time I believe we’ve seen him in singles action since we’ve started these shows. But where is that European Heavyweight Championship belt?
JT: I was surprised at the news that Terry Gordy would be challenging Ric Flair next week. That came out of nowhere and wasn’t hyped nearly as much as you would expect.
Chad: The opener was a really solid match that was only slightly edged by the main event for match of the night. There was a god focus on the leg of David and Checkmate’s overall unique demeanor and offense made for a fun foil. David also looked more comfortable here with his timing and charisma than he has on other World Class shows we have seen. I had the match ranked around **3/4.
Jason: I’m gonna go with the Great Yatsu this week. After a mediocre debut, he stepped it up a notch here. His bear hug into a belly to belly suplex on Brian Adias was an unexpected but great spot.
Dan: I’m still a tad surprised at how sloppy David Von Erich looks in the ring. That sleeper hold he applied on Checkmate looked awkward and gross. I guess my expectations were perhaps too high since all anyone talks about when it comes to DVE is that he was the “best” in the family. I just don’t see it.
Scott: I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was shocked when Terry Gordy won the American Title, not because a win stokes the fires of the feud, but that it wasn’t Michael Hayes that actually won the belt since he was more the face of the group. Gordy was always considered the best worker of the team but still I thought it would have been Hayes to take the belt.
JT: Brian Adias. I keep waiting for him to break out, but he essentially a jobber. Never goes over anyone and is hyped so much as a friend of the Von Erichs. There must be other guys they could use to eat all these losses.
Chad: I liked almost everything on this show so if forced to pick a disappointment, perennial jobber Brian Adias is as good a choice as any.
Jason: Brian Adias you worthless clown. At this point he’s even worse than Bugsy McGraw. Bill Mercer put over Adias’ track & field background. Maybe he should go back to hopping hurdles, because he’s not cutting it in the squared circle.
Dan: I’ll admit it. I sometimes rely on the announcers to give me the names of moves. It happens, what can I say? But when a simple neckbreaker (Rude Awakening style) gets called a “Suplex head-drop,” I know it’s time for me grab a book and learn the names myself. Mercer, you are no help at all!
Scott: I’m so glad that the Von Erich family brought in this young upstart Brian Adias to be the promotion’s punching bag for all the heels. So pathetic. Might as well join Hussein’s heel stable of stiffs (except Checkmate of course).
JT: I enjoy that inhabitants of the Isle of Man would be mysterious and wear masks; Mark Lowerence’s suits are a weekly highlight; Mercer drops the bomb that Ric Flair would be back in Dallas soon, but that the opponent is unknown; DVE going after the mask any time Checkmate grabbed control was good strategy; The opener was pretty solid and one of DVE’s best TV matches so far; I liked Hussein’s genuine concern for Checkmate at the end of the match; Mercer interviewing the Freebirds as they eat fast food in their van was tremendous; The fact the Freebirds live in the same house and share a van makes me love them even more; Nice touch by Mercer to put over how much Hussein had to pay to bring Yatsu to Dallas; “The dreaded Tora Yatsu”; Yatsu has good energy in the ring and has been a nice addition to the heel side of the roster; Mercer needs to stop saying “sleep hold”; Gordy winning the belt was a great move; Mercer reveals at the end of the show that Gordy will challenge Ric Flair next week; Orient/Oriental count: 3
Chad: Good to see Checkmate back with us this week. DVE’s robe is nice and dazzily tonight. Hussain continues to be a pretty worthless manager. I notice we have a new referee in Larry Hayes to split up the Manning and Bronco duo. The sleeper as a finisher can be pretty anti-climatic as evidence to the ending of opening match that otherwise I liked quite a bit. That hat on Bill Mercer on location was awesome. I continue to really enjoy him in those type of segments. Gordy may have my favorite accent in all of wrestling. Guesses on how many ring rats where in the Birds’ van? This one kid was all the way into the ring to get Adias’ autograph. Yatsu, my boy, is back with a swank ring robe. He looked better here than in his debut and was able to show off more of his wide array of offense. Kevin Von Erich gives a solid promo before the main event.
Jason: Checkmate is the European Heavyweight Champion? Does D-Lo Brown know this? I believe we saw our first in-match replay during the David and Checkmate contest. A big tease from Bill Mercer that we will be seeing a six-man tag match between the Von Erich boys and the Freebirds down the road. Speaking of teases, it was glad to hear that Ric Flair will be back in World Class next week. Armand Hussen talking smack to Brian Adias was pretty entertaining. Speaking of Adias, does this guy sell anything? On top of that, he delivered one of the worst neckbreakers of all time. The post match Gordy interview, along with Hayes and Roberts holing up a confederate flag was a site to see.
Dan: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Kevin Von Erich is the true gem of the Von Erich family legacy. Brother is jacked, can talk circles around his meat head younger siblings and is twice the wrestler those two are to boot. His interview segment was top notch, that “kick his fanny” line notwithstanding. He had fire in his belly saying that he has nothing to fear so long as he has his brothers by his side and had plans to “burn this place down” while putting “Gordy in his place.” The guys is just a joy to watch and doesn’t get near the credit. On the flip side, Brian Adias still sucks. Did anyone else notice Hussain giving Yatsu the Evolution thumbs down signal when it was finally time to put Adias away? Yatsu also used “Oriental Martial Arts” to defeat Kabuki back in Japan. As opposed to what, Nordic Martial Arts?
Scott: It’s great to see the iconic Checkmate back after a multiple episode absence; I want an old school satin jacket with “CHECKMATE” stitched on the back; Larry Hayes is a new referee on the scene, we haven’t seen much Bronco Lubbich; These segments with the Freebirds are nothing short of fantastic; This episode is trying to reestablish Armand Hussein’s group, as they are #3 behind the Freebirds and the burgeoning Devastation Incorporated; First time we’ve heard Kevin Von Erich interviewed, and he may have been better than either of the other brothers; Bill Mercer sometimes doesn’t know how to end an interview; I’m really starting to miss Jay Saldi at this point, but the Cowboys were in the NFL Playoffs, even though Saldi was injured; This was an episode for awesome satin jackets
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: I really enjoyed this one as the promotion has some strong focus going on now thanks to the Freebirds. The matches were all solid to very good and the Freebirds at lunch segment was fantastic. I am really looking forward to next week’s show to see what happens between Flair and Gordy. Great episodic television for sure here in 1983. Final Grade: 7/10
Chad: A really good, brisk show. This episode had two matches that would be fighting for match of the night in most of the other shows we have seen so far. In addition, it had another classic Freebird segment and Yatsu destroying Adias in at least a fairly entertaining squash. There were no real lull moments as far as I’m concerned. Final Grade: 8/10
Jason: Right now any combination of a Von Erich against a Freebird is pure money. A lot to look forward to as Ric Flair will be returing and the Freebirds have the upper hand over the local babyfaces. I’m close to jumping on the Great Yatsu train. The less we see of Brian Adias, the better. Dallas continues to be on fire and with the world champ coming to town next week, the Sportatorium might explode. Final Grade: 7.5/10
Dan: Anytime you can feed me an entertaining Freebirds interview segment followed by two of my favorite guys squaring off for a title in the main event, you’re definitely in for a passing grade. KVE and Gordy delivered both in and out of the ring tonight and the enjoyment level goes sky high when both families are involved in the program. It was nice having David back though he still needs to show me the in-ring chops I’ve been told about all these years. Business won’t truly pick up until we finally have our six-man showdown they keep teasing week after week. C’mon Kerry, show up for work! For now, the Birds have all the gold and have won the first major battle in this war. Oh and Ric Flair returns next show! Is it getting hot in here or is that just you WCCW? Final Grade: 8/10
Scott: This was a great episode with big time storyline hooks and a title change as Terry Gordy is the new American Heavyweight Champion and now the Freebirds hold lots of gold. Their promo at the end with the Georgia flag draped over them was priceless. Brian Adias is still a pathetic hump who’s winless since debuting on the show. The Von Erichs/Freebirds blood feud has kicked into high gear and on the next show Ric Flair and Gordy wrestle for the World Title. We won’t see that but it will most definitely bring the feud front and center. Final Grade: 7.5/10