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: 46:17
King Parsons vs. Magic Dragon
Al Madril vs. Great Yatsu
David Von Erich vs. Buddy Roberts
JT: The main event, for sure. I love all the chaos early on, with the Freebirds and the Von Erichs standing off in the ring while Jim Garvin and Sunshine stand in the crowd and film the bout. Bronco Lubbich clearing house before the bell was a nice touch too. Buddy Roberts seems like such an old school skeezebag and he carries himself that way in his matches, just marching around like a cocky douchebag. They took turns grinding each other down here as the crowd was rabid behind DVE. The Freebirds would show up and lay a great beating on DVE, triggering a quick brawl to close the show. Really fun stuff.
Chad: Main event wins this for me even though the crowd and beginning portion carried the match. I continue to be unimpressed with David Von Erich and prefer Kevin and Kerry than him. Buddy did have some good heel tactics and really carried his end as a sleazy, annoying foil for the whole Von Erich family.
Jason: Anytime you get a Freebird and a Von Erich in the ring at the same time, it’s a winner. David Von Erich and Buddy Roberts delivered nicely in their main event match. The crowd was super into this one as the anticipation continues to build until all six men can beat the holy hell out of each other.
Dan: With all due respect to my man Parsons, it’s hard to go against any combination of Von Erich vs. Freebird at this stage of the rivalry. I appreciated the solidarity each team showed in supporting their guy and the appearance of Garvin and Sunshine added a new wrinkle to war. Roberts is fun to watch getting his butt kicked. He is hilarious taking big spots whether it was the kicks in the corner or David’s atomic drop. His facial expressions and bumps are so exaggerated it’s just fantastic. Hayes as a heat magnet carrying the Georgia flag and telling Roberts to “make it quick, the plane is running” was also a great touch.
Scott: The main event was easily the best match. Even though Iceman King Parsons was one of my favorite guys his match with Dragon was dreadful.
JT: I really loved Bill Mercer traveling to Jim Garvin’s house to interview whim while he sits in a hot tub. Garvin was great here, going through his restrictions on having his matches filmed and his issues with the Von Erichs and his goals to eradicate them. He also trashes the Freebirds, showing he will have no allegiances and just wants to bring class to WCCW. Oh and Sunshine, looking her porn star best. Good stuff.
Chad: I will go with Mr. Akbar. After not seeing him for a while, he had a lot of catching up to do as to his role at the helm of Devastation Inc. He did an admirable job explaining his thoughts and role and created a lot of fleshing out for the rest of the roster beyond the Von Erich vs. Freebird feud.
Jason: Jimmy Garvin sitting in a hot tub is one of the best things I’ve seen so far in this Network adventure. He adds a nice twist to the Freebird and Von Erich feud, pledging no alliance to either stable. Oh, and Sunshine, she’s a #WCW in my book anytime.
Dan: Jimmy Garvin all the way. The dude just brings class to this whole operation. Who needs to see him wrestle when he’s already flawless! He epitomizes what it was to be successful in the 80s. Hot blonde at his side, gold chains around his neck, perfectly arranged hair and a hot tub. God, I wish I was more like Jimmy Garvin!
Scott: The matches weren’t spectacular but the Freebirds officially carry that great heel arrogance with them that carry this feud with the Von Erichs. They cut the better promos and possibly are the better wrestlers. We will see as this feud progresses how much is on them and how much is on the babyfaces.
JT: I am surprised at how much has changed in just a few weeks. I feel like we jumped months later between these two episodes. We see General Akbar leading Devestation, Inc. and it feels like he has been around forever already, we see Kamala, Iceman King Parsons and Jim Garvin as well. The roster feels a bit deeper and has more breadth mixed in over the course of a month.
Chad: Jimmy Garvin was great in his segment and these on location bits continue to be some of the better moments of World Class TV. After seeing in Garvin in 1990s WCW, I was really worried. He carried himself well.
Jason: I was surprised at how much depth has been added to the roster. Kamala, Jimmy Garvin and King Parsons all add to what is already a lot of talent deep in the heart of Texas.
Dan: I too was shocked with all the new faces and they weren’t just generic masked wrestlers or token “friends of the Von Erichs” type of guys. General Akbar looks larger than life alongside Bundy. King Parsons’ charisma and dance moves are heating up these crowds. Kamala is making me crap my pants all over again (okay, I’ve said too much!). It just feels like a whole new promotion from when we started with those vanilla shows at the end of 1982.
Scott: I’m surprised that Hussein’s guys are getting so much shine considering his stable is third in the World Class pecking order behind the Freebirds and Devastation Incorporated. We may see his guys (and him for that matter) slowly fade away.
JT: Al Madril’s stock is really sinking and he feels more and more like a jobber to the stars at this point. He was a sloppy here and the match with Yatsu really wasn’t that great. A guy who was picking up key wins in late 1982 feels like he is closer to Brian Adias than any of the Von Erich boys when it comes to roster status at this point.
Chad: Al Madril had impressed me with his early run in World Class. Now we are seeing the side of Madril that unfortunately haunted the upper card of 1986 World Class which was a wasteland of a promotion.
Jason: Why didn’t Bill Mercer hop in the hot tub with Jimmy Garvin? C’mon Bill, take a shvitz. Ed Whalen would have hopped in with Gorgeous Jimmy.
Dan: WWE Network. I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation as to why we missed a month’s worth of programs like licensing issues or bad video quality. But what a letdown it was for us to miss that non-title six-man match between the Von Erichs and the Freebirds. Whatever happened to that Gordy vs. Flair match they spoke about in January? Akbar being revealed as The Boss would have been a cool moment to see. Hell, even Parsons dropping Hussain like I dropped sociology in high school would have been a treat. #CancelWWENetwork
Scott: Al Madril really has regressed as a worker as these episodes have moved on. He missed at least three moves in his match, including a pop up on the turnbuckle where he easily slipped off and lost his balance before receiving a reverse atomic drop. Fritz needs to freshen up this roster and get rid of these guys if they don’t hold their weight.
JT: Good promo by General Akbar, who has been revealed as the man behind Devastation, Inc. and it is a great choice for sure; Akbar mentions that Great Kabuki is rehabbing in Japan and was see a neat video of him getting himself right; We also get video of Kamala out in the wild and I must say he was looking to be in pretty good shape here; It has been a busy few weeks as Iceman King Parsons has also emerged on the scene; Apparently the Iceman is a great friend of the Von Erichs too; Iceman lights up Dragon with super stiff chops and the crowd popped hard for the finish; It was weird seeing Hussein in his awful tights; I love that the big heel stables are warring, makes them all seem extra evil; Any time we get to see King Kong Bundy, I am happy; Hussein looks like he may pass out as he is pouring sweat after studying ringside for Yatsu’s match; Fantastic on location shoot with Jim Garvin and Sunshine and I love his shtick of refusing to have his matches be filmed; Also, his hair is tremendous and he looks like a relative of the BeeGees; Pretty big main event on this show as the Freebirds/Von Erich war rolls on; Love Garvin and Sunshine at ringside;
Orient/Oriental count: 5
Chad: The Kabuki video was really well done and had a tone and sophistication that I was surprised to see. I was expecting an Oriental stereotyped mess but they surprised me here. The changes in Devastation Inc. since we last saw WCCW is drastic. Kamala’s video was more racist and what I expected from the Kabuki video. What the fuck is Hussein wearing? Good to see Iceman Parsons. He is a mainstay for the promotion from here up until the dying days. In a sense, Iceman is to World Class what someone like Tito Santana is to 1980-1990s WWF. Dragon hasn’t been around in a while and with Kabuki and Kamala both in the promotion, he feels like a lesser rate foreign heel. Parsons has some good matches and is a capable worker, but this match with Dragon was really dry. it never got going and was a series of strike exchanges until Parsons hits the butt-butt and wins. I’m glad to see Bundy is still in the promotion as he has been great so far. You have to love the boom mic being right in Madril’s face when he spills to the outside. That Garvin segment was fantastic. I have never been a big fan of Jimmy Jam but that could change as he flashed a lot of personality here.
Jason: The World Class camera crews were very busy this week. They traveled to the Orient with Great Kabuki, Uganda with Kamala and then to wherever Jimmy Garvin and his hot tub were. I liked Arman Hussein’s World Class t-shirt and colorful trunks combination. King Parsons using the Rear View as a finisher was pretty neat. Man, when did Al Madril become a jobber to the stars? One of my favorite stars from the territory has taken a big tumble down the roster. It must be all that time he’s spent with that doofus Bugsy McGraw. Big Al did a nice job selling Great Yatsu’s stomach claw finisher. Yatsu’s bear hug into an atomic drop was a pretty cool spot. The Freebirds carrying a Confederate flag to the ring was the most southern 80s moment of this episode. Someone get General Akbar some oxygen and a glass of water. He looked like he was about to pass out during his interview with Bill Mercer.
Dan: Now we’re cooking with WCCW bringing in fresh characters and must-see storylines. Kabuki’s recovery videos were tremendous as they seem right out of a Bruce Lee movie. I could easily see Kabuki in his “samurai garb” and green mist bringing down the martial arts expert before our hero’s comeback by the end of the movie. Ice Man – I guess got his name from his “work in the ice companies.” This is followed by a Mercer Cool Hand Luke joke that made me roll my eyes to the back of my skull. I think I can get behind calling the “Rear View” the “Backside Blow” and believe we need an iPetition to get that move’s name formally changed. Who was that guy with the long stick microphone and how annoying was that guy? Was Al Madril drunk or hungover or just dying a slow death out there tonight? Have another one you lovable loser! Hussain says two men have mastered the stomach claw but then says Yatsu is the only one. Huh? Does this mean Kabuki is the other or is Yatsu really the only one? I need to lie down! Kerry/Hayes next week should be free-for-all!
Scott: I liked General Akbar as a stable leader, as his promo skills are top notch; King Hussein and his pitiful group should be broken up, as one promotion shouldn’t need three heel stables. Nothing against too many managers but the roster just doesn’t seem big enough to need all these factions; loved the chop fest from Parsons and Dragon; Al Madril still gets a decent pop from the crowd; Can Bill Mercer let the guys talk instead of constantly interrupting them?; Sunshine may be my favorite non-WWF/E valet of all time, even though she looked like a typical 80s porn star; Jimmy Garvin’s hair/beard combo is Hall of Fame level; David Von Erich looks the most like Fritz
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 was very sad that we skipped ahead and missed out on Ric Flair’s pit stop last January, but here we are a month after where we left off. And as I mentioned above, a lot has changed and the roster certainly feels a bit refreshed. We had a good deal of character enhancement on this episode with features on Great Kabuki, Kamala, Devastation, Inc. and Jim Garvin plus the continuation of the Freebirds/Von Erich war. The episode moved at a very brisk pace and the Dallas fans were fantastic throughout the show, all fired up for everything. While nothing substantial went down and the matches were lacking, there was enough here to make this a fairly entertaining watch, capped by a quick brawl. Grade: 5/10
Chad: A mixed bag tonight as the main event and Garvin/Kabuki segments were good but the two starter matches and some of the other segments left me flat. I do like seeing the expanded roster but hope the shows upcoming have a bit more meat to them. Final Grade: 4/10
Jason: Minus the vignettes of debuting and returning talent and Jimmy Garvin in a hot tub, this episode was pretty flat. The roster is getting thicker, so things could be heating up again real soon. Devastation Incorporated has a lot up their sleeve, so that’s something to look forward to. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the hair salon to get a 1983 Jimmy Garvin ‘do. Final Grade: 4/10
Dan: Not the greatest matches but my excitement level is still there with the appearances of these new characters. The show looks and feels different with new factions forming alongside the Von Erich/Freebirds stuff. I suppose in my ignorance I just assumed if it wasn’t involving Fritz’s kids, there was no reason to watch this company. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Still we had some cool segments and post-match brawls but otherwise this was a middle-of-the-road effort. Though with all this activity going on, I see the numbers going up from here. Final Grade: 5/10
Scott: This show was average except for the awesome Freebirds attack on David Von Erich at the end of the show. The General Akbar interview was great but the matches were all substandard and once again we see the lack of depth on Fritz’s roster. I’m curious how Devastation Incorporated is going to fit in the landscape since the only legit main event faces are already occupied with the Freebirds. Final Grade: 4/10