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: 44:48
Chris Adams vs. Tom Renesto Jr.
King Kong Bundy vs. Salvador Alivarez
Kamala vs. Bill Rathke
Kevin Von Erich vs. Terry Gordy – American Heavyweight Championship
JT: Easily the main event this week. I liked the dueling leg work early with each man picking apart the limb when they had control. The crowd was engrossed and Bill Mercer did a find job putting over the gravity of the bout due to the title being on the line. Gordy dropped him with a nasty stun gun to kick off the heat segment and beat him ragged until KVE hit the stomach claw and punched back into it. They did seem to botch some Michael Hayes interference at one point but the end was really good and I was happy to see the Von Erichs win another big match. And so was the crowd.
Chad: The main event is going to be the likely unanimous choice. I really was engaged in the early portion of the match with the dueling leg work. This was one of the few instances where I thought Michael Hayes detracted from the overall narrative. Once he came down to help his brother, the match broke down a bit and featured some awkward exchanges before the actual finish. Another good match between these two factions, but this was arguably the most talented members of each group, so it just being a decent main event could also be seen as a disappointment.
Jason: By default, I have to go with the main event. Gordy and Kevin are each the top workers in the respective stables and didn’t disappoint here. The finish spot with Hayes tripping up Kevin and then Kevin reversing the pin on to Gordy was cool. The crowd was into this one the entire time and went home happy as Kevin retained his American Heavyweight Championship.
Dan: As much as I hate proving Chad right ever in life, I’ll go ahead and say the main event as well. When two of the best guys in your company go at it and the only other match on the card worthy of consideration involves a guy named Tom Renesto, you know the choice is obvious. This match was far from perfect, in fact at times a tad sloppy spots, but in most cases, you really can’t go wrong with a Von Erich/Freebird skirmish. After the botched interference spot by Hayes, the boys dusted themselves off and tried it again only to see the best of the Von Erichs outfox the Freebirds for an exciting win. Needless to say, my crush on KVE is still going strong!
Scott: With three non-descript squashes, the main event was easily the best match and in that aspect it was only average. From a workrate perspective this show was very average, so the title match is the choice by default.
JT: I will go with Kevin Von Erich this week. His interview with Bill Mercer was concise and coherent and perfectly set up the main event. He worked hard in the match too and his offense early and selling were on point and helped build a really strong title bout with Gordy. Kevin has easily ben the most consistently solid Von Erich brother that we have seen in this series.
Chad: Chris Adams made an effective debut. He gave a solid promo and then showed uniqueness both in his wrestling exchanges and fierce stiffness in his strikes. I look forward to Adams on the babyface side of things as a change of pace.
Jason: I’ll go with King Kong Bundy this week. He beat the living snot out of Sal Alivarez and delivered some stiff shots to this poor bastard.
Dan: Did you read my last paragraph? The choice here is always Kevin Von Erich. He made legwork exciting in his title match with Gordy. He landed on his feet by utilizing a flawless somersault following Terry’s monkey flip. He somehow found a way to counter the old heel grabbing the legs on a bodyslam trick. I also enjoyed the emotion he showed in his prematch interview talking about how much the American title meant to him and how he almost won the World Heavyweight Championship. This is Kevin Von Erich’s world friends and we are fortunate enough to be living in it.
Scott: For me it definitely goes to Kamala who effectively squashed his opponent and should end Hussein’s embarrassment of a heel stable. Besides, without Magic Dragon and Checkmate there’s no real credibility anyway.
JT: I was surprised to see Chavo Guerrero show up out of nowhere and wildly dive into King Kong Bundy on the floor. That was a great spot and his post match promo was really good. Also, he sounds just like his son would years later.
Chad: I didn’t realize Chavo was in the territory at this time and he does a fired up fending off of Bundy. It is kind of weird they have Bundy leave now as this feels like the hottest program he has been in for a while.
Jason: I was surprised that we got two in ring debuts and three total, including The Mongol. Chris Adams and Kamala each got some nice time in for their debuts. This roster keeps getting bigger and better.
Dan: I’m surprised that Chris Adams has fought all over this great planet of ours and yet considers Texas a “beautiful country.” Where was he wrestling? Beirut? I’ll echo Greeny on the debuts point though. With all this roster turnover lately, gone are the days of those pointless matches with the Bugsy McGraws and the random masked guys of the world.
Scott: I was surprised at the number of jobbers on this episode as WCCW usually doesn’t book their shows that way but since we had a couple of debuts (Adams and Kamala) I guess it was necessary. The title on the line in the main event does balance it out.
JT: I am disappointed that poor King Kong Bundy has to leave the territory for 60 days just when Devastation, Inc. is getting revved up. The King of Nome, Alaska will be missed greatly. Also, Bill Mercer, come on. How do you mix up “Friday” for “Frank”?
Chad: Say it with me, the booking. Terry Gordy had been the most established Freebird and hadn’t had hardly any blemishes yet. The finish here was of the banana peel fashion, but I still don’t get the logic really of a Von Erich again getting one over on the Birds. We are missing some weeks of TV so hopefully those are the Birds’ weeks, but with the way things are booked in World Class, it is more likely more of the same.
Jason: Bundy has to leave for 60 days? NOOOOOOOOO!!! We’ll miss you, big guy!
Dan: Armand Hussain. How far has this guy sunk? He used to have a strong heel stable when paired with Gary Hart. Now he has Yatsu and then pray for rain! Where is Dragon and Checkmate when you need them? Now he has that fatass Rathke who needs to win in order to sit at the Hussain table. How’s that working out for you? Where did you find him, KFC? Listen man, your roster is depleted and you’ve been completely enveloped by the growing Devastation Inc. You need all the help you can get!
Scott: I know I’ve harped on this in the past few episodes but it seems Bill Mercer is getting worse and worse as an announcer. He always seems frazzled when trying to explain something in wrestle-speak. Like he has no idea what he’s doing there. Even in prepared interviews like the one here with Kevin Von Erich, he still sounds like he’s not sure if what he’s saying is right. It’s starting to get frustrating when he’s the voice of the promotion.
JT: Looks like we have a new open; Chris Adams has arrived on the scene; I always enjoy seeing what Mark Lowerance will be wearing each week; Tommy Renesto’s hair and mustache combo is a work of art; I am digging the red jumpsuit referee uniform; Renesto yelling “nope” over and over while trapped in an armbar was funny; Mercer calls a high cross body a “flying bodyslam”; The pop noise when Adams hit the enziguri was great; I love that they drag Bundy out for a contractually obligated squash even though he has to leave the promotion for 60 days; Chavo Guerrero in the house and his wild dive into Bundy was great; Kamala had a great, intimidating presence as he stalked to ringside; Armand Hussein’s stable has gotten progressively sadder, now employing this fat slob with a Robin Hood hat; Although I did love him saying “My organization is counting on you… will be vital to the firm”; Mercer calls Friday “Frank”, this guy is lost; “Hussein is a better cheerleader than an understanding of human quality right now” may be Mercer’s best line ever; Kamala wrecks Rathke; The hype for the main event was great and the crowd was pumped up; The crowd pop for KVE’s win was great
Chad: Adams looked really young here and his tight combo was not very flattering. Renesto established himself as one of the more vocal wrestlers this side of Masahiro Chono by yelling nope continually during the match. Bundy finally gets a legit squash. Kamala is proclaimed to be seven feet tall with a straight face by Akbar. He does have a wild presence that has shined through. Hussein might as well cut his loses and leave the territory given his charges currently. Kevin’s promo before the main event was fine. Michael Hayes’ outfit screams 80’s southern dance club. I was happy to see some girls in the front row waving the Georgia flag to cheer Terry on.
Jason: Marc Lowerance looked like he borrowed one of Rodney Dangerfield’s blazers from Caddyshack. Lowerance wearing his headset in the ring while ring announcing was a little odd. Thumbs way up for Chris Adams’ glorious ring jacket. Adams cut a pretty generic babyface promo… and that’s OK. Bill Mercer referring to Tom Renesto as a fallen blob make me laugh. Speaking of, Renesto, what a creepy looking dude. On to another creepy looking dude, has anyone ever gone into a barbershop and asked for, “The Mongol”? Sal Alivarez can use a tan and a chest waxing. Armand Hussien’s stable has taken a huge dive. Bill Rathke brough nothing to the table. Michael Hayes’s denim get-up was something special.
Dan: I’m pretty sure I had a couch once that was made from Mark Lowerance’s jacket from this night. I know he’s no Gorilla Monsoon, but I still pop for Bill Mercer’s one-liners. On Adams he describes him as a “finely tuned human machine.” And then when Renesto eats the pin, he calls him a “fallen blob in the center of the ring.” Oh and Adams’ enziguri and savate kick almost seem revolutionary in 1983. Do those bright red referee uniforms still exist and if so, where can I get one? Help a brother out Nation! Hussain told Rathke that because he was African just like Kamala, he would know how to beat him. I guess standing around and getting hit repeatedly was all part of the plan. Where is this Flair/Kevin match and why aren’t we recapping that night?
Scott:They never showed until this episode that WCCW never had an actual ring bell. They hit something that looks like a rusty hubcap; Legit jobber city in this episode, totally focusing on the main event; I’m not sure what happened in the Bundy match, was Bundy DQ’ed? No idea; I don’t know why Hussein’s crew was even around anymore, as they were easily the weakest of the three heel stables; So in WCCW the masked guy in the pith helmet wasn’t Kim Chee, but Friday; Why, as these shows progress, does Bill Mercer look less and less comfortable with talking wrestling? He sometimes sounds more frazzled than the guys he interviews. Having said that, in a calm sit down setting, Kevin Von Erich is very well spoken; Michael Hayes looked his redneck best here, with no shirt, vest, shades and hat. Definitely drinking Jack backstage;
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Pat Patterson vs. Sgt. Slaughter (Madison Square Garden, 4/6/81)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: Whenever we miss a few weeks I feel like the whole promotion undergoes a ton of change. We have Chris Adams and Kamala arriving in the ring plus a new ringside correspondent. Skandor Akbar is at ringside now as DI gets really underway and the Mongol is on the scene as well. Plus a Chavo Guerrero sighting too. Everything felt refreshed and it was capped by a really fun, by the book main event. Besides a little bit of Michael Hayes interference, the title match was clean as could be and it was a nice change of pace, especially with the Von Erich coming out on top. I enjoyed this because it felt different than many of what we have seen even though it wasn’t really the most important and high level episode that we have seen. Final Grade: 4.5/10
Chad: Another pedestrian week for World Class. For a territory we are in the peak of, that seems to be happening with more regularity than my liken would enjoy. The squash matches were effective and the main event was fine, but I didn’t sense any big spark in the proceedings besides the fired up Chavo run in. Final Grade: 4/10
Jason: A lot of new faces here, but the in-ring work was nothing special this week. Devastation Inc. has a lot of beef in their stable, so Bundy being sent packing for 60 day shouldn’t hurt them that much. Overall, too many jobbers and no Jimmy Garvin, so this episode kinda dragged until the main event. Final Grade: 3.5/10
Dan: I can’t really say this was a good show since even the main event had its flaws, but I do like seeing new faces that will make us forget about the stale masked guys vs. the lovable losers like Al Madril types of matches we feasted on in 1982. I still dig Von Erichs and the Freebirds but I think it’s about time that Devastation Inc. attempts to knock Fritz’s boys down a peg. I’m no fan of squashes but I’m glad Kamala is finally in the picture and Akbar has his army of beef ready to raise havoc. Not my favorite outing, but Kevin Von Erich was involved so that’s good for a few points any day of the week. Final Grade: 4/10
Scott: From an in-ring perspective this was one of the worst episodes, three squashes (although effective) were a rare occurrence in these shows. The main event was good but sloppy at times. At the moment, I feel Devastation Incorporated is even with the Freebirds for top heels and I don’t think that’s supposed to happen. A promotion mainstay debuts as Chris Adams arrives to add another babyface to the mix. The promotion is advancing but this episode is flat. Final Grade: 2.5/10