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: 46:59
Brian Adias vs. Buddy Roberts
Al Madril vs. Michael Hayes
“Wild” Bill Irwin vs. Bugsy McGraw vs. King Kong Bundy vs. Terry Gordy vs.
Kerry Von Erich vs. Andre the Giant – $5,000 Free For All Elimination match
JT: I wasn’t crazy about how the elimination match started due to Kerry Von Erich being iced almost immediately but once we got Andre the Giant fending off three legit heels, things got pretty fun. The crowd was way into Andre and he did a great job selling and timing his comebacks. Having him chuck Irwin led you to assume he would do the same to Gordy and Bundy before winning, but it was a nice little twist when Andre eliminated himself to chase off the annoying prick Hayes. I was sad that my man Bundy didn’t get the win, but having Gordy go over made perfect sense. Honorable mention to Hayes/Madril, which I was ready to deem Best Match until halfway through the main event.
Chad: The elimination match was fine but those usually aren’t my type of matches so I will go with Madril vs. Hayes which was booked perfectly for a face gatekeeper vs. the hot new heel of the promotion. The crowd was so heated during the encounter and Madril and Hayes both played their roles perfectly. As much as I didn’t like the finish of the Roberts vs. Adidas match as I will get to, I really enjoyed the way this finish protected both but Hayes overall had the most emphasis as he should have. Lothario vs. Hayes could be a nice spirited feud on television. This was a really solid tv match. ***
Jason: Clearly the Elimination match takes it here. From beginning to end it was very well booked. From Kerry charging at Terry Gordy to seek his revenge from what happened at Star Wars to all the heels ganging up on Andre, then Andre eliminating himself after Hayes saved Gordy from being eliminated.
Dan: I don’t get to do this too often but I’m going to side with Chad and take the Hayes/Madril tussle as my Match of the Night. I loved how quickly the fans turned on Michael Hayes and Big Al provided the perfect opposition to this newly minted heel. Madril was super liked to begin with and now you have him up against Satan himself if you ask the Dallas faithful at least. Hayes was ridiculous with his cartoonish selling of Madril’s punches and utilized classic bad guy techniques with his hair pulls and stalling. Plus I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that he would rather see this goody two-shoes Madril suffer than actually beat him 1-2-3. He delivers the piledriver (called an atomic drop on commentary) and then proceeds to stomp and pound the man until Lothario’s run-in. If you want lessons in how to be hated, just ask Michael P.S. Hayes!
Scott: No question the Elimination match as the others were glorified squashes to put over the fresh heel Freebirds. Seeing Andre there and the brief skirmish with Kerry and Gordy makes the main event my best match.
JT: Alberto Madril was on point in his match with Michael Hayes. He played the crowd masterfully as he kept trying to bring the fight to the chickenshit Freebird. He had good fire in his attack and displayed his always strong selling too. He is always a highlight of these shows.
Chad: I am worried that Michael Hayes may be winning this award for me for the foreseeable future. He feels like such a lynchpin for the promotion and gets nuclear heat in his match vs. Madril. I also thought he again did a good job of justifying his side of the story in the Freebirds playing pool segment.
Jason: As much as I enjoyed the Freedbird segment, I have to give this one to Andre. He took one hell of a beating from Gordy, Bundy and Irwin and managed to hang in there like only he could.
Dan: Hayes was all over this show. He seconded Roberts in the opener, drew great heat in a win over Madril, shot pool like a champ despite Roberts being shirtless the whole time, and cost two huge names to be eliminated from the main event while assisting the eventual winner. Not a bad day at the office for the most hated man in Texas.
Scott: It was great to see Andre here because he was such an imposing presence and such a superstar that he brings something special to every show he’s in and this is no exception. He is incredibly dominant in this elimination match.
JT: I am surprised Buddy Roberts went to a draw with a loser like Brian Adias. Adias hasn’t done much at all on these weekly shows and you would think Roberts would go over strong in his debut, especially considering the push the Freebirds were starting coming off Star Wars.
Chad: This is 1983 and I am always surprised how natural everything feels natural with the on location vignettes. The music, atmosphere and even Mercer’s questions seem to fit when most of this stuff onward in pro wrestling feels overproduced and hokey. This gave a good indication into what the Freebirds are like outside the ring and their motivation for sticking together to now go against the Von Erichs.
Jason: I’m with JT here in that Brian Adias went to a time limited draw with Buddy Roberts. I was expecting a three minute squash for Roberts in his debut match. No Freebird should be looking weak coming out of Star Wars, but a draw for Roberts against the jabroni Adidas wasn’t good.
Dan: I was dumbfounded when Adias and Roberts went to a time-limit draw. Seriously? Adias hasn’t beaten so much as an egg since we first saw him and now he is going the distance against the newcomer associated with newly turned Freebirds? Sure they are playing up the “friend of the Von Erichs” rhetoric so it makes sense that he would want to assist Kerry in gaining revenge. But how in the world do you book Roberts not to win on a night where both Hayes and Gordy shined in their respective matches? Just baffling.
Scott: I was stunned that Andre didn’t win this elimination match. I know they wanted to pump up the Freebirds by having them win every match on the show but Andre is Andre. Maybe have Gordy as the final guy but I never would have thought Andre wouldn’t have cleaned house. He wasn’t even the final guy in the match for Gordy to eliminate, even to have Hayes and Roberts helping him. Plus eliminating himself is something Andre wouldn’t normally be stupid enough to do.
JT: I appreciate Hayes costing KVE the elimination match but did it have to happen just seconds into the match? At least tease it a little bit. It wasn’t like they were keeping them apart as KVE and Gordy brawl for a few minutes after the elimination. Weird decision and quickly ripped away something I was excited about heading into the match.
Chad: The finish to the Roberts vs. Adidas match disappointed me. I understand that Roberts is being portrayed as someone that spouts off but is really cowardly and hides around his big brothers, but Adidas has been seen as such a jobber and Roberts did display some stiff strikes and good technical matwork to take over. I just thought a nice comeback from Adidas followed by a rake of the eyes and roll up win for Roberts would have been more effective than the time limit draw.
Jason: Nothing much to complain about here, but maybe Andre not winning the Elimination match was a mild disappointment. Booking wise it did make sense, as it made Hayes and Gordy look strong after their recent heel turn.
Dan: Kerry Von Erich’s booking in the main event was unimaginative at best. I suppose if they wanted to do the quick elimination approach, he should have dove out of the ring to get his hands on Hayes and a nice brawl could have ensued. Going after Gordy made sense but you just knew Hayes would get involved and they wasted no time delivering on that message. I just was hoping to see a little more out of Kerry coming off his World Championship match.
Scott: I don’t really have a big disappointment other than the fact Andre didn’t win the elimination match although at least the booking they did do makes logical sense.
JT: Buddy Roberts is added into the mix and immediately the Freebirds’ heel swagger is evident, right down to Hayes’ leather coat and attitude; Adias tosses a nice dropkick but he really needs a tan; Roberts wrestles a good old school heel style with diversions and trickery; Adias makes a nice comeback, even if he walks like he is clinching his ass cheeks together; I liked the visit to the Freebird homestead but the music was mixed way too high and made it hard to really understand what was going down and after a while it just really didn’t fit at all, especially since they were heavily breaking down a major angle; The crowd was all kinds of fired up at the start of Hayes/Madril; I liked Jose Lothario coming in to beat the crap out of Hayes as it really starts to draw lines with the Freebirds against the rest of the territory; David Manning is always dressed like a pimp when he gets interviewed; It was a nice treat to bring in Andre to kick off the post-Star Wars run on a strong foot; Bugsy McGraw’s bunny hop is as bad as it gets; It was a really good selling point to have Kerry Von Erich and a Freebird in the elimination match; It is always jarring seeing mobile Andre, especially when he tussles down on the mat with Gordy; Watching Andre fight off three guys was pretty fun; This show was all about them Freebirds
Chad: Buddy Roberts gets a good introduction and portrays his sleazy attitude that perfectly compliments Hayes and Gordy right away. Adidas gets a nice reaction due to the hatred of the Birds. Roberts showed some good intensity before taking over and working a more mat based match. Buddy has a skid mark on his knee which means he should invest in some knee-pads. Mercer calls a swinging neckbreaker a swinger suplex neckdrop. I don’t like the booking of Roberts not being able to put away the lowly Adidas in the opener. The Stars and Bars are prominently displayed in the Freebirds segment. I will forever love the way Terry Gordy talks. I loved Hayes’ selling of the strikes of Madril. He does a great job of combining stooge and realistic selling. This was compelling headlock work by Hayes to really build up to Madril’s comeback. Lothario gives a good promo and shows more charisma than he did during the entire Shawn Michaels mentor run. Andre towers over Bill Mercer and David Manning. I liked Gordy and KVE going after each other as both were heated and the real money match is still Hayes vs. KVE so this was good that Gordy got to play the big bully. Andre and Bundy have some good interactions against each other and they really could have ran that as a big WWF match when Bundy first came in. Bugsy was mercifully out of the match pretty quickly. Hayes and Bugsy get into it. Everyone hates Hayes. Andre chasing after Hayes was fun and helped move the match along after it being stagnate for a while. I liked Gordy winning by eliminating Bundy at the end making him look strong.
Jason: I really enjoyed the promo with Buddy Roberts & Michael Hayes at ringside before Roberts match. Buddy delivered some vicious kicks to Adidas’ head and upper body. If we could have a segment every week with the Freebirds shooting pool that would be great. What an awesome segment. Bill Mercer did a great job recapping everything from the main event at Star Wars. Speaking of Mercer, I’m pretty sure he doodled his pants when Andre put his hand on his shoulder. Nice to see the return of David Manning’s sweet leather jacket. The crowd was on fire during the Michael Hayes and Al Madril match. Madril continues to be one of my favorites from this territory. Bugsy McGraw had no business being in the same ring with the other five men in the elimination match. Thumbs up to Terry Gordy’s red chaps. It was cool to see a pre-WWF showdown between Andre and Bundy.
Dan: I can already tell I’m going to have a love/hate relationship with Buddy Roberts. He jumped all over Mercer for calling him the “newest member” of the Freebirds saying that he’s been with them for a long time and that the announcer should “get a book and read about it.” I also smiled at his “I’ll make this boy look like an amateur” comment on Adias who has looked every bit of that since we started this adventure. He also never shuts up when he’s in the ring and definitely has what I would call a face made for punching. Also, who decides to take their shirt off while shooting pool? Is that what they do in Georgia? Chad? The music in that Freebirds segment was extremely loud and made it difficult to follow what the boys were saying. From what I could hear, the Freebirds did a fantastic job of justifying their actions from Star Wars saying that Kerry was trying to escape and Gordy was only doing his job of keeping the cage door closed. What was Andre’s infatuation with Gordy in the main event? He pounced on Terry like he was made of ham in this match. It was shocking enough to see Gordy still standing nevermind winning the whole thing at the end.
Scott: Buddy Roberts is like the Tully Blanchard of the Freebirds, as he brought that extra vocal arrogance the Terry Gordy didn’t have; The Freebirds piece with the Confederate Flag behind the pool table was pure gold; The Freebirds will be the most entertaining aspect of all these shows; Now that the Freebirds are full-fledged heels, their histrionics in the ring are awesome and bring more to the matches; Weird seeing Andre and Bundy battling somewhere other than the WWF; The Von Erich kids’ promo skills get worse and worse;
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: Great booking this week by going Freebird heavy across the board. They are the new dominant heel force in the territory so it only made sense to showcase them all here. I do feel bad for King Kong Bundy, who almost felt like an afterthought here despite lasting until the end of the elimination match. Bringing in Andre was a nice treat and I am glad he didn’t win as instead they let someone on the roster pick up the key victory. The bit at the Freebird house was good too, even though it was tough to follow. We are clearly drawing lines in the sand for 1983 and it was nice to have some sharp focus and clarity instead of repeating matches with little goal each week like we saw late in 1982. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Chad: This was a great follow up to the big angle at Reunion Arena. We had the big stars all in signature matches against varying opponents and the show accomplished the goal of making you hate the Freebirds and hoping they get a receipt sooner rather than later. World Class continues to chug along as it enters 1983. Final Grade: 7.0/10
Jason: FreebirdMania is running wild in Dallas! With the exception of Brian Adidas going a time limit draw with Buddy Roberts, this was an enjoyable episode. The Von Erich and Freebird feud is just getting started and should be a fun ride watching it unfold in the upcoming weeks. Final Grade: 7.5/10
Dan: For maybe the first time since we traveled down to Texas, I thoroughly enjoyed this show that was centered around the rise of the Freebirds. This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock since those guys are all awesome and aren’t just some generic bad guys in masks like the ones we grew accustomed to seeing each night on WCCW. It seems everyone in the company (at least on the face side) now has an ax to grind against these Badstreet outsiders and it’ll be interesting to see if and when those boys get their just deserts. Happy New Year 1983! Final Grade: 7.5/10
Scott:A Freebird-centric episode that sees each guy winning their match to promote the fresh heel turn from Star Wars. They teased the future war with the Von Erichs when Kerry and Gordy skirmished early on in the match but nothing further. This episode was a promotional piece for the fresh heel team and their anti-Texas bias. The Freebirds hadn’t been on the past few episodes leading to Star Wars so they seemed a bit flat but now that’s past we are sure to see some fun battles through the coming weeks. I liked this show a lot because they were smart to focus on post-Star Wars storylines. Final Grade: 7.5/10