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!
Maple Leaf Gardens House Show 10/21/84
Run Time: 57:49
Greg Valentine vs. SD Jones – WWF Intercontinental Championship
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Rocky Johnson
Goldie Rogers & Bobby Bass vs. Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid
Kamala vs. Andre the Giant – Steel Cage match
JT: The choice here is easy as Andre the Giant vs. Kamala was the best bout that we saw here tonight. Andre the Giant brought the fight right at Kamala, unleashing a rarely seen aggression to help push along this feud that had been simmering for a while now. The buzz in the arena was sharp and the presence of both men really shone through with the giant mess surrounding their war. Both men moved around the ring really well considering their size and the constraints of the gimmick and I liked how Kamala expressed fear of the steel throughout and also struggled to understand the concept of the bout. After a decent heat segment with Kamala working over Andre, the bloodied Giant recovered and finished the match was a pretty iconic spot as he hit a sit down splash off the top rope for the win.
Match Grades: *, 3/4*, *1/4, **
Brian: I loved watching the British Bulldogs on this show, especially the Dynamite Kid, but Andre the Giant and Kamala was the best match on the show. The match had heat, Andre bled a lot (which was rare sight to see for WWF fans) and told a story of Kamala being afraid of the cage. Kamala even knocked Andre down and got in a lot of offense. It was a satisfying house show main event match for sure whereas the Bulldogs match was really an extended squash against inferior opponents.
Jason: As much as I enjoyed the future British Bulldogs, this show belonged to Andre and Kamala. The Toronto crowd was on fire for this one from bell to bell. Kamala was great being afraid of Andre and being stuck in the cage. Friday was very good at standing on the catwalk shouting out instructions to Kamala. It looked like Andre was going to squash dominate and have an easy night, but things got interesting when the Boss got busted open and Kamala was able to take advantage of the fallen giant. In typical Andre fashion, he was able to get things going again. In an iconic spot from the Coliseum Home Video opening, Andre slammed Kamala, followed by a flying butt drop, allowing the Boss to escape the cage.
Dan: With all due respect to SD Jones and The Hammer, I, too, have to go with our main event between Andre and Kamala. This had a big match feel and for once I’m not talking about the collective weights of these individuals. I liked the story going in that Andre was seeking no interference hence the cage stipulation. It was amazing to me to see someone actually make Kamala look small considering this was the same guy who gave me nightmares as a child. The Ugandan Giant was pretty much a cruiserweight next to the mammoth Frenchman. Friday on the outside was such a nuisance I wanted to smack him myself. Then the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen unfolded when Andre climbed the ropes, walked the tightrope, and sat down on Kamala’s chest to put this one on ice. Awesome big man match that must be seen. I’m starting to fully appreciate Andre’s greatness as a performer in watching these old shows. Thanks Boss!
Scott: As much as I loved the cage match between Kamala and Andre the Giant, I’m actually going to go with Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Soul Man Rocky Johnson. That match went back and forth and Rocky kicked out of more pin attempts than I expected and even though I knew Nikolai would win, there were times I thought maybe there would be a double-DQ and a brawl on the outside.
JT: I thought Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith put on quite the show for the fans on this show. They were crisp, hard hitting and energetic in their surprisingly feisty little match against Goldie Rogers and Bobby Bass. The final moments were well done and I loved their celebration as well. Shoutout to Kamala too, who sold his fear of the cage all throughout his tussle with the French Giant.
Brian: Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid were just so far above the rest of the WWF roster in terms of what they could do in the ring. Dynamite in particular was so quick and smooth in everything he did. During a time when the WWF had an awful tag team division, these guys gave you hope that it could get better. However, they left shortly thereafter and did not return until after WrestleMania I.
Jason: I’ll go with one of my favorite tag teams of all time, Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid. Our first look at this dynamic (no pun intended) duo. Both guys got plenty of ring time in and were able to showoff their unique styles. There’s nothing like watching Dynamite deliver a snap suplex. Davey delivers a running powerslam as well as anyone. He always has that extra bounce at the end which makes it look so good. Overall a very impressive debut here for the guys from the UK.
Dan: Don’t those young Brits look a cut above the rest of the tag division? I see Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid going places someday. They looked awesome even at such a young age. With all of Dynamite’s flips and Davey’s power on display, these two just looked ahead of their time. I especially loved the ending sequence when Davey had Goldie up on his shoulders in a fireman’s carry and Dynamite leaped off Roger’s back and launched himself onto a down-and-out Bobby Bass. Such a beautiful sequence that is definitely worth another look!
Scott: Now in terms of individual performance, I’m going with The Boss, Andre the Giant. As much as I thought the other match was better, Kamala is not the easiest guy to work with, and considering Andre is the bigger guy, Kamala had to be bumped around more than normal. But Andre worked very hard as despite his health window showing signs of closing here, he was still a box office attraction.
JT: Not really a major surprise or anything, but it did catch me off guard that Goldie Rogers and Bobby Bass got any offense in at all on Davey Boy and Dynamite. I figured it would be a straight squash and it was certainly shaping up that way until the tables surprisingly turned. The future Bulldogs eventually regained control and finished things off, but for a moment Bass and Goldie were on top of the world.
Brian: The only surprise here was watching Andre bleed and take a lot of offense from Kamala. Again, this was a rare occasion to see.
Jason: Andre getting busted open was a nice surprise. This rivalry was pretty hot at the time and a bloody Boss added to the big payoff match from this feud.
Dan: I already talked about nearly falling out of my chair seeing Andre doing any type of aerial maneuver so I’m going to go with how much I enjoy hearing Nikolai Volkoff sing despite all the scorn he gets from American and, in this case, Canadian fans.
Scott: Back to Andre, I was surprised he was busted open in this match. You rarely see Andre show a weakness like bleeding, but in a cage against a heel like Kamala he probably needed to feel like there was a chance he could lose. The spot where he slams Kamala was used in the early montages at the beginning of Coliseum Video releases, so it was great to finally see the match in its entirety. Big thumbs up for the Boss’ performance.
JT: That they never sold Nikolai Volkoff’s amazing “Russian Power” shirt. What a beauty.
Brian: The finish of the Intercontinental Title was just awful, with SD kicking out early. I’d say having a house show cut short on the Network would be a disappointment under normal circumstances but the rest of this card (Rene Goulet vs. Nick DeCarlo and Angelo Mosca vs. Iron Sheik to name a few) left a lot to be desired.
Jason: I’m a big fan of watching full length 80s house shows and having this one cut short was disappointing.
Dan: Referee Wayne Cashman. You screwed SD Jones!
Scott: I’m always disappointed when a house show is cut down to only an hour. Based on Graham Cawthon’s website, the only other real match of note was Angelo Mosca’s win over the Iron Sheik, otherwise the rest of the show was squashes. Still, jobber squashes can be entertaining.
JT: Weird to hear SD Jones be hailed from Philadelphia instead of Antigua; When did Big Jack see SD dance?; Nice continuity from our last TNT as the announcers mention Tito Santana’s injury suffered in his title loss to Valentine; SD was pretty good at getting the crowd involved and they loved it when he battered the Hammer at ringside; I was actually just getting into the opener when the flash finish cut things off; I need to have Nikolai’s “Russian Power” shirt; The announcers pushing this one heavily as a crucial match for potential World Title contention is such a small, simple thing that adds a lot of weight to an otherwise throwaway match and that is something you get when you have credible voices calling the action; The Volkoff/Johnson match was a rough one outside of the last minute or so thanks to Rocky’s dropkicks and the finish; Goldie Rogers?; Pretty sweet seeing the future British Bulldogs this early on; Bobby Bass pulling off a World’s Gym cut off shirt to expose that physique is something else; “The Man From Tinsel Town”; Holy shit was Dynamite ripped here; The tag match was pretty fun for what it was, especially the last minute or so, and the crowd was quite into it; Kamala certainly had great presence at this point; Friday’s shorts and socks look was certainly something; “Andre the French Giant”; Kamala wasn’t as bad on offense as I feared when the match started; Nice touch to have Andre get busted open here to help sell the cage gimmick
Brian: This was shortly after Vince bought Stampede from Stu Hart, only to sell it back to him several months later. Guys like Goldie Rogers, Bobby Bass, and the Bulldogs were all here as a result of that. Also, the WWF was still trying to poach talent from other territories but their roster was really weak on the babyface side, highlighted by the fact SD Jones received an Intercontinental Title shot. The commentary team of Jack Reynolds and Billy Red Lyons was bad but there have been worse. Reynolds struggled a lot in particular. Rocky Johnson showed some fire and that was good but the finish to that match also looked poor.
Jason: You never have to second guess when a show is being held at Maple Leaf Gardens. The trademark catwalk entrance is one of my favorite arena gimmicks. If there was ever a B squad of commentary teams, it would be Jake Reynolds and Billy Red Lyons. I have no shame in saying that I enjoy Greg Valentine’s robes more than Ric Flair’s. The green IC belt was the perfect fit for the Hammer. Referee Wayne Cashman had an 80s man perm that ranks up there with John Oates. SD Jones is the Reggae Man? That’s something new. Valentine’s southern style of working is one of the many reasons why i love watching him during this era. He brings a lot of Ric Flair to the table as well. SD hung in there as well as he could with the Hammer. Man, once Valentine gets going, he’s so much fun to watch. Let’s talk about that Valentine back suplex… what a beauty! Where can one find a Russian Power shirt like Nikolai’s? So great! Rocky Johnson’s charisma is top shelf. I prefer Nikolai in tag matches over singles, but he and the Soul Man were a nice matchup. Johnson’s Ali shuffle always gets a pop from me. Goldie Rogers and Bobby Bass are a couple of beauties. They hung in there better than I expected with the not quite yet British Bulldogs. How about the crowd love for Davey and Dynamite? I’m right there with you, Toronto! This was before Kimchee did the paperwork to have his name changed, as he was still known as Friday here.
Dan: Hey Hammer? Where’s your hot wife? I need a massage! I’m not sure why I giggle everytime I hear lines like “There are a number of orientals here.” I liked the callback to Valentine injuring Tito on his way to winning the IC title. The explanation of the ring ropes having no give because they are, in actuality, steel cables was excellent by the announce team. Speaking of Reynolds and Lyons, let’s show a little tolerance to the international stars guys. Just because Nikolai is from the USSR, doesn’t mean he automatically has a “foreign object” in his trunks. I’m Irish so does that mean I have a drink in my hands right now… nevermind! Goldie Rogers is a sight to behold. He looks like what would happen if Michael Hayes and The Moondogs had a threeway. He was also described as “an explosion of a laundry mat” on this program. Kamala is afraid of cages and tried to win on a pinfall which I guess we can blame on his fear moreso than his lack of understanding of the rule book. Why was the ref keeping the door from opening when the only way to win was to escape the cage? That got tiresome after a while. Friday should have just whipped the ref like he did Kamala before the match if he wanted to get in so badly. I still hate Wayne Cashman.
Scott: Sadly no Gorilla Monsoon, as we have Jack Reynolds with the official Maple Leaf Gardens color commentator, Billy Red Lyons; Reynolds jumps right out of the gate with “There’s certainly a lot of Orientals here”; Greg Valentine definitely took a lot of his mannerisms from Ric Flair, including the falling flat on his face after a punch or head butt; Every time I hear the name Wayne Cashman I think of the legendary Boston Bruins player who’s number is hanging at the Hub, not this schlub of a referee; Obviously based on their introductions and ring gear, Davey Boy & Dynamite Kid weren’t officially “Bulldogs” yet; Goldie Rogers is classic early 80s jobber; I keep forgetting that in the early 80s Kamala’s handler was called Friday, not Kimchee; Jack & Billy Red really amp up their work after struggling through the first three matches; The Maple Leaf Gardens shows really had that old school territory feel, with darkness around the spotlights on the ring
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (NWA Starrcade 11/24/83)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: I enjoy 1984 WWF. I did not particularly enjoy this show. I was excited to see a show from Maple Leaf Gardens due to the unique look and hot crowd but this one wasn’t the best showcase, to say the least. The first two matches were pretty rough and the third, while fun enough, was still a squash. The main event was serviceable in the ring but really was there as more of a spectacle than anything else and really wasn’t enough to carry this show. Toss in pretty bland commentary from Reynolds and Billy Red and there wasn’t much here to make this stand out. It was nice to catch a break from TNT, and the big Andre spot at the end is a cool one, but I was happy to see the run time of this show because I fear if we saw the whole card we may have had a new contender for worst match of the adventure. Final Grade: 2.5/10
Brian: The cage match was better than expected and watching the Bulldogs wrestle was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the roster. However, the other two matches were forgettable and nothing else besides the main event had any heat. This was not a good representation of what the WWF was offering at the time. Final Grade 4/10
Jason: Even though this show was cut short, it was a lot of fun. A nice showcase for the IC champion, Greg Valentine. A surprisingly decent match between Nikolai and Rocky Johnson. The debut of Davey and Dynamite. All topped off with a bloody Andre coming out victorious in his cage match. This is a fast one long watch that you will find pretty entertaining. Final Grade: 7/10
Dan: My expectations were that this was going to be one of those long 80s house shows that drags while causing the viewer to die a slow and painful death. (I guess that’s next week… SPOILER) But I found this to be a very easy watch with four unique matches that were entertaining in their own ways. SD Jones and Hammer had a spirited title bout in the opener which was great until the Toronto Screwjob of Jones. Nikolai and Rocky showcased the power game, Davey and Dynamite brought excitement and perhaps introduced us to the phrase “tag team specialists.” Finally the main event payed off a hot feud between two behemoths. Is this Starrcade ’83? No sir! Did I miss seeing bigger names like Hogan, Orndorff, Piper, Schultz, etc.? You betcha! But if you want to burn an hour, this really wasn’t that bad and sometimes that’s all you really need on this adventure. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Scott: This was a decent show that was severely cut down to ditch a heavy bit of the jobber matches. The Valentine title defense was ok, but Volkoff/Johnson was much more fun that I thought it would be. We get an early glimpse of the future British Bulldogs and their growing chemistry, and the main event was really good too. With an MSG house show the next night, they were thin on announcers and had Jack Reynolds mangle his way through the show, but the iconic Billy Red Lyons always delivers on his home turf. A quick watch with some fun moments. Final Grade: 7/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!