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: 47 minutes
Spoiler vs. Great Renesto
Little Cocoa vs. Hillbilly Pete
Great Kabuki vs. Al Madril
Kerry Von Erich & Brian Adidas vs. Magic Dragon & Checkmate
JT: The tag main event did it for me. Checkmate and Dragon worked some great heel stuff in and the crowd was all fired up for Von Erich & Adidas. The faces showed a lot of nice fire when on offense too and things got really hot when the match broke down late and they all started just diving at each other. I was also completely surprised when the heels nabbed the win at the end. I like the story they are telling with Von Erich’s comeback from the hospital and having Adidas eat the fall was fine. This was a fun one.
Chad: The finishing tag team match was a solid TV main event that showed Kerry Von Erich teaming with a young partner that they had past history with, H&H sticking together since they seem to be reeling from the Bundy news that he just announced, and Checkmate being pretty awesome throughout. I liked that the storyline of the tag got over the fact that Checkmate & Dragon were the more effective team so therefore they were able to pick up the victory over the most established star in the match (KVE). This was a really good way to end the show and have some build for things that are forthcoming in the promotion. Star rating: **1/2.
Jason: The tag-mean main event was solid, but I’m gonna go with the Great Kabuki against my main man, Al Madril. Al has had some great performances in tag matches in prior episodes and it was fun to see what he had as a singles competitor. He and Kabuki gelled well in the ring. Kabuki’s enziguri was something that I wasn’t expecting to see in these early 80s shows. His dropping knee breakers look so vicious and Madril did a fantastic job selling the move.
Dan: Since I’m usually the last to get their notes in, I’ll go ahead and break the tie by picking the Kabuki/Madril semi-main event as my match of the night. I haven’t been as high on Big Al as everyone else on this panel but his facial expression and selling of his agony was top notch in this one. And he busted out some revolutionary moves like a flying cross body onto the hardwood floor that I’m sure caught the Sportatorium faithful by surprise. Kabuki had a nasty enziguri and a nerve pinch of doom segment for good measure. I also liked the continuity of him using that knee breaker which also sidelined Kerry Von Erich that Saldi was quick to point out. You can’t go wrong when the scary man with the green slime on his hands hits the ring in my book!
Scott: The Kabuki/Madril match for me because it’s the first time we see Al Madril work solo against a top notch opponent. The match went back and forth and Madril does bring the sympathy from the crowd. The tag main event was ok too and it was a fun shock to see the heels actually win. I actually dug the Spoiler, and his half heel/half face tendencies. But the battle for the All-Asian Heavyweight Title is my pick.
JT: Bill Mercer looking like Bob Newhart as he leads us through the Von Erich hunting adventure is what pro wrestling is all about. A true correspondent, in the field, breaking down hunting and relating it to the business with a tempered voice, he has it all. They are also lucky Kerry didn’t shoot someone by accident. Also, King Kong Bundy is fantastic.
Chad: Checkmate was awesome in our first show and been decent since, but I thought he had a great bounce back here in that ending tag. He was the the workhorse of the team and mixed in some great kicks and devious moves that kept the match going along. I also thought his bumping off of Adidas made him look really effective and helped put Adidas over as a threat which was one of the agendas of the match overall.
Jason: For the first time in this adventure, Kerry Von Erich looked like a star, but I have to go with Kabuki again. His look is so ahead of it’s time as well as his move set. He’s been my MVP of WCCW so far.
Dan: Everyone involved in the Von Erich family hunting ducks segment ranks as some of the best stuff we have seen on this adventure. I loved Mercer wearing a bright yellow jacket but made sure to wear a camoflaged hat so as not to be too conspicuous to those unsuspecting mallards. We also learned that Kevin Von Erich “doesn’t get off on disco dancing” which is tremendously reassuring to hear coming from one of your top guys. Fritz definitely has practiced that A1 duck call and then boasts later in that epilogue scene of the four of them walking away that this was one of their best hunts ever. Just a magical segment that I’m sure no other company we document will be able to replicate.
Scott: King Kong Bundy is like a rougher, early version of Steve Austin. He kicks the heel stable to the curb and, although isn’t a babyface, he somewhat tells the babyfaces that he no longer has a beef with any of them. I hope this storyline continues into the Flair/Kerry feud since the bounty had him involved. His promos are rough and slick at the same time. He also first mentions a name that will be iconic in WCCW history: Devastation Incorporated. More on that to come. Honorable mention to Bill Mercer for treating a duck hunt like the Geneva Convention.
JT: Checkmate and Dragon had a nice little showing, really working over Kerry and Brian with some decent teamwork and aggression. They had the crowd whipped up nicely as Brian got beaten on in the corner and again when Checkmate unloaded on Von Erich. Plus they got the win! Another surprise there. Also, need a shoutout to Al Madril’s cross body from the middle rope to the floor as the spot of the night.
Chad: King Kong Bundy being the genesis for Devastation Incorporated was something I didn’t realize at all. When he announced that name, I did an audible “Ohhhh” as Devastation Inc. was a pillar of the 80s in WCCW and I am interested to see how it forms with Bundy as the only member currently within the faction.
Jason: King Kong Bundy announcing he has formed Devastation Incorporated threw me completely off guard, but I have to go with Checkmate and Magic Dragon. They have proved themselves as a great heel tag team and defeating Kerry Von Erich and Brian Adidas was a big surprise and major upset.
Dan: As much as I want to say the midget match, I was probably most surprised at the outcome of the main event. Kerry and Brian were just at the gym prior to the bout and were working on wrestling moves after all. They have been friends forever and even had a prematch interview segment that Kerry once again was brilliant in. “If we fail we fail but if we make it, we’re gonna win the match.” Welp, I guess they didn’t make it because the night belonged to H&H.
Scott: With all the hype and pumping up of Brian Adidas and Kerry Von Erich during the show I was pretty surprised they had the heel team won. Everyone remembers that Checkmate and Magic Dragon were on every show but that they were jobbers. The underlying storyline with King Kong Bundy (who first used the term “Devastation Incorporated” on this show) led to the heels needing to stay strong, but of course Kerry didn’t eat the pin, his rookie partner did.
JT: I will go with the Spoiler match. They hyped him a lot early on but the match meandered along and he was pretty sloppy throughout it. The best part was his little signs of going heel, but between his rotten offense and that lazy slob Lubbich barely bending over to count, there wasn’t much to get into there.
Chad: I gave a warning about Kabuki doing nerveholds and it reared its head in his match with Madril. Madril seemed game and was highly energetic in his comebacks but the match grinded to a halt most of the time Kabuki was on top. This is always my biggest issue with him in that he conveys such presence seeing him and then it just doesn’t have the same mystique to what we are seeing him do in the ring. I did like the finish of their match in making Kabuki look deadly and Madril still look strong.
Jason: I agree with JT here. The Spoiler was all hype and no delivery. His match with Great Renesto was extremely slow and sloppy. I’m gonna give the guy a chance to win me over in future episodes, but so far, no dice.
Dan: Spoiler/Renesto for lack of a better term just crapped down both legs. This was awful. Could Renesto look anymore like the worst professional athlete on the planet? Even by 1982 standards he looked like a bum. He and Madril should form a tag team called the “Out of Work High School Spanish Teachers.” He could start by shaving the porn stash and invest in a gym membership. Spoiler also came in with high hopes but looked like trash. All he did was use the ropes and punched on his inferior opponent. It may be early in the game but he just seems like “just another masked guy” on the roster after tonight.
Scott: Well considering my strong dislike for midget wrestling, let’s just say the fact that this match had to be as long as it was is a huge disappointment. Midget matches shouldn’t be longer than five or six minutes.
JT: I am a sucker for rumors and sneaky alliances throughout the wrestling world so I enjoyed the speculation around Spoiler’s association with Gary Hart; Mark Lowrance is a tall drink of water; Spoiler throws some weak ass knees but I liked his subtle heeling; Saldi calling H&H an “organization” made me smile; Bronco Lubich’s counts were about as lazy as it gets; Hillbilly Pete is a terrible name and he is also quite old and looks like a mini version of Jere Burns; “Finely tuned little men”; Saldi hoping he can properly call the midget match since he never has made me love him even more than I already do, what a lost gem of a star; Little Coco has a hard head and is “your midget winner”, got to love 1982; Terrible Rotella level punctuation on the graphic for the “Von Erich’s”; Fritz blowing the duck horn is all you need; I can’t stand Kabuki’s hand paint; The dude in the crowd wearing the overalls certainly is something; We get the PTBNENA debut of Brian Adias here; My favorite storyline of King Kong Bundy and H&H rolls on here, with plenty of weaving throughout the episode; It isn’t a WCCW episode without Checkmate and Dragon; Kerry & Brian is a hell of an eye candy team; Devastation, Inc. is upon us; Kerry looked sharp tonight with some nice arm drags and quick trading of holds with Checkmate; Still trying to sort out why Kerry grabs the back of his head and shuffles in between punches; They had a lot more cuts to the crowd than usual on this episode; “Orient/Oriental/Chinaman” count: 4
Chad: I will disagree with JT as I enjoyed Spoiler a lot. I thought he did a really effective job of getting over the fact that he may be in a shady alliance with Gary Hart to the fans that wouldn’t have the benefit of the doubt hearing Mercer’s commentary. Spoiler got cheers at the onset, but his viciousness and overall destruction made sure he was getting a heel reaction from the crowd. The midget match was a fun break to differentiate these shows. The hunting segment was such a culture shock in 2015 eyes but it is the kind of stuff I love to see and do think it humanizes the Von Erichs to the targeted fanbase. Hussein is a pretty useless manager as we haven’t seen him intervene or give much in the way of strategy so far. He definitely feels like the weak mastermind in H&H behind Gary Hart. I love the cuts they do throughout this show to people in the crowd including a cowboy with a stogie in his mouth and a woman telling the camera to get away. Kerry’s promo before their match felt like it was done immediately following him doing some blow backstage.
Jason: Well fellas, it looks like we’re having duck for dinner this evening. Von Erich family fun was something else. Great Renesto looks like Ignacio from Nacho Libre. No Bugsy McGraw on this episode, so that was a plus. I’m a sucker for a good old fashion midget slobberknocker. Little Cocoa and Hillbilly Pete were very enjoyable. Cocoa delivered a nice crossbody headbutt and Pete looks like a guy who should be working a carney game at a local carnival. Bill Mercer and Jay Saldi continue to shine. Kerry is jacked to the gills and as I mentioned earlier, he is starting to look like a huge star. Brian Adias gave a solid performance in his debut. My guess is that Kerry and Brian took their loss out on hookers and cocaine after the show.
Dan: Wow where to begin. I think the ring announcer got his suit from the Dumb & Dumber Collection. Mercer on Spoiler pulling up Renesto in a pinning predicament: “That’s not sporting.” Boy Saldi had a hair across his ass for Madril using closed fists didn’t he? This certainly wasn’t the most attractive audience we have ever seen. This was emphasized by the rotund woman who chanted, “Go Al Go… Go Al… Get out of my face,” to the cameraman. Also by Mercer: “The little men are here” when the midget match was announced. I’m surprised that match only had a 10-minute time limit. That seems pretty short… zing! Thank you, I’ll be here all week! Try the veal!
Scott: This is the first of many “Von Erich family fun” vignettes we will get when we see them go duck hunting. Bill Mercer was at his best in these, as he treats them like real news stories and highlight pieces; Kabuki has all that green crap on his hands and it gets all over his opponent, it’s nasty; Why is Checkmate suddenly wearing a Tiger Mask hood?; The editing of these shows are well done, as they flow smoothly and don’t seem bogged down; Admittedly the midget match was worked like a match and not like useless comedy
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: This was a solid offering but the Spoiler squash and midget match made the first half kind of drag. Once we got to the duck hunting, business picked up. The Bundy storyline is my favorite next to the Flair/Von Erich bounty stuff and his work in WCCW has been eye opening for me. He has a great look, a superstar presence and some really good mic skills. I can’t wait to see Devastation, Inc get rolling. The last two matches were pretty entertaining and I really liked the main event, including the surprise ending. I also continue to dig my man Jay Saldi. Pretty middle of the road episode here, with some enjoyable spots fluttering in after the bland first half. Final Grade: 5.5/10
Chad: Enjoyable show this week that showed a lot of progression. We got Spoiler returning and are unsure of where he stands, the humanizing of the Von Erichs, Bundy announcing a new faction but remaining a heel, and Checkmate & Dragon holding down the fort for H&H. A really good way to keep storylines advancing heading into their biggest show of the year. Final Grade: 6/10
Jason: Duck hunting, midgets, Bundy’s bombshell. This episode was very good. Simply booking and character development have been excellent so far. I’m very excited to see what goes down with Bundy in the next few weeks as well as the future of H&H. The stars are very bright in Texas right now! Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: I’ve been down on the last few shows but this one may bring me back up with my grading. I loved the duck hunt segment, the Kabuki match, the main event shocker and even the midgets weren’t horrible. The opener was kind of gross but Kerry’s unintentional comedy on the mic and the in-ring action on the rest of the matches more than made up for it. We even get a quick Bundy appearance and the genesis of a major angle out of it. Not too much to hate besides Renesto’s appearance. When you are the ugly one on a card that also features Kabuki, well you get the idea. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Scott: This was a solid show with some different twists like an Al Madril title match and the return of the Spoiler. However after watching a few of these in a row its evident the WCCW roster is pretty small as we’ve had the same eight guys every week. I’m not saying that the storylines haven’t been good but clearly H&H don’t have more than Magic Dragon & Checkmate in their stable. The roster needs to be opened up or these shows will all start to look the same. Final Grade: 6/10