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!
Mid-South Wrestling 10/29/83
Run Time: 42:00
Butch Reed vs. Junkyard Dog, North American Heavyweight Championship
Missing Link vs. Magnum TA
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Jerry Oates
Tom Stanton vs. Iceman King Parsons
Bobby Duncum & Jim Neidhart vs. Mike Bond & Marty Oates
Doug Vines vs. King Cobra
JT: The North American Title match was pretty good with lots going on and a really hot crowd. The lengthy package to build the match along with Cowboy’s commentary really set the stage and then JYD and Butch Reed delivered. Dusty Rhodes also did a good job actually delivering in his role, shutting down interference and making sure we had a straight finish to the bout. My only beef is how quick they moved on from the big title change.
Chad: I am going with Missing Link vs. Magnum TA. The North American title match had a lot more going on angle wise, but the match itself consisted of a never ending headlock that didn’t excite me in the slightest. The TA vs. Link match showed the fire and energy that really made TA look like a blue chip prospect for the wrestling future. Link was also good at bumping around for TA.
Jason: Easily the North American Title match. The ruthless heel in Reed, the top babyface in JYD and the national star in Dusty as the ref. What else can you ask for? With the rest of the card full of squashes, this was a no brainer this week.
Dan: The pickings are slim with all of those short squash matches so I’ll go with the North American Title bout. Dusty Rhodes’ appearance was a treat even though the Network spoiled the surprise by showing a picture of the Dream in the preview photo for this episode. Reed was great at being evil and nearly stole another one with the help of The Anvil, however, a Bionic Elbow and the Thump powerslam proved to be the difference in this exciting title change!
Scott: The Butch Reed/JYD match was a lot of fun and with Big Dust as the special referee the crowd was off the charts. Honestly it’s the only candidate as the rest of the matches were jobber squashes.
JT: Cowboy Bill was tremendous on commentary during the title match, telling the entire story that led to this point, weaving in everything that has happened over the past year, adding a lot of importance to the tilt. He did the same in the prematch package. I also love how he put over how pricey it was to bring Dusty in as ref but that the investment paid off. Also, a special shout out to the overdubbed funktastic theme for JYD.
Chad: Magnum TA for me here too. His involvement in the North America Title angle was well done and he was given a great showcase match to shine. I am not that familiar with Missing Link but I haven’t seen much energy or enjoyment in his stuff from UWF era Watts. TA forced him to bring out some quality aspects here.
Jason: If you were in the main event, you win! JYD, Reed, Big Dust and even Neidhart with his run in. A shout out to Bill Watts and Boyd Pierce as well for the stellar job on commentary. Watts did a nice job telling the back story of the main event.
Dan: I’ll go rogue here and say Nikolai Volkoff! Dude showed a wide range of emotion going from angry, incoherent Russian to victorious incoherent Russian, to utterly pissed off incoherent Russian. Plus, did you see how high he got poor Oates up in that back breaker? This brute is going places, I can feel it!
Scott: Everyone involved in the North American Title match brought their working boots and the eventual win for JYD was a super moment as he really hit the Thump powerslam with authority. Watts and Boyd Pierce were great on commentary.
JT: I was surprised to see Dusty Rhodes pop up here but he was used to perfection. Also, was surprised about how much Nikolai Volkoff was utilized on this show, positioned as a very top level heel.
Chad: I didn’t remember Dusty being involved so him being the ref was a great touch. Also, Nikolai getting the huge push was quite the sight to see.
Jason: I was baffled that Nikolai was featured as heavily as he was. A primary WWF guy during this era, he was a nice catch for Watts to add to his upper mid-card. Plus, his nickname, “The Russian Missile” is pretty sweet.
Dan: I’m surprised at how good of shape Jim Neidhart was in 1983. Holy cow! Now I can picture him tossing anvils all over the place. Of course then I think of him more than 10 years later squeezing into his pink Anvil outfit and it makes me sad. Still on this show he looked like a beast mauling jobbers, including a young Marty Jannetty. He impressed me in his tag match teaming with Duncum and that fallaway samoan drop finisher looked really great both in real time and on replay.
Scott: I was surprised to see Nikolai Volkoff pop on in this promotion so deep into the 1980s. I could have sworn he was in the WWF pretty much the entire decade. However Vince Sr. was still calling the shots and probably had a good relationship with Bill Watts so he probably traded him off for a few months to get involved in this North American Title situation. For the second straight show we see a future superstar in his salad days, as Marty Jannetty is here as Marty Oates.
JT: I would have broken up the series of squashes with the big recap segment instead of opening with that and then firing off all the squashes in a row afterward. I also didn’t care for how quickly they just buzzed on after the title change. They should have just closed the show with it in that case.
Chad: I am a huge proponent of JYD and think he should absolutely be in the WON HOF. I also think at times he can be an adequate worker. That wasn’t the case here as he lumbered through a mundane match without any sense of timing. Even worse was that he felt overshadowed to me by referee Dusty Rhodes.
Jason: The show started off hot with the Title match and then took a huge dive. Too many squashes in the final 25 minutes of this episode.
Dan: Maybe I’m still hanging on too tightly to our World Class days, but I wish the Ice Man’s match was longer. The man with the cold hands but a warm heart was a rising star in Dallas and here he barely gets three minutes to boogie against Tom Stanton. Hey Watts, we want more Ice Man!
Scott: I don’t know if I have a specific disappointment here as the show served its purpose. It had a huge main event with a big title change, and then a buffet of jobber squashes to put over talent.
JT: Boyd Pierce completely lost me during his opening soliloquy but Cowboy got it back on track; The recap of the North American Title issue was well done and Butch Reed was great in his interview; Nikolai’s crazed promo was tremendous and he really had the guns working here; Great to see Dusty Rhodes pop up here; Great callback to the Gorilla suit incident by Cowboy, which was a year before this show during the fair; Was weird seeing Jim Neidhart with basic trunks and no goatee; “Max” as Missing Link’s name seems like a really weird touch; Magnum and Max had a fun little bout with a neat finish; Funny note that Steve Williams was finishing up a semester at Oklahoma; Man I love Iceman’s dubbed in Yacht Rock theme too; Boyd Pierce’s accent makes it sound like he is calling Parsons “Assman”; Nice treat seeing Marty Jannetty pop up as a jobber early in his career; I have never seen King Cobra before
Chad: Boyd still hasn’t went way out there on the jacket selections. The opening recap was really good and long. It showed a really well done intertwining story that Watts excels at narrating in. Iceman is showing up here when we last left him in WCCW. Is everyone named Oates that lives around Mid-South at this point in time? The jobber brigade of matches at the end was certainly excessive and the show ended with a series of whimpers. Good to see my most random Memphis champion of the 1990’s, King Cobra, show up here and actually bust out some decent moves in his 90 second match. Neidhart looks really different without the long beard and pink trunks.
Jason: How great is the opening theme music? Give me a 30 minute version of this! Boyd Pierce’s orange suit is something special. What’s not so special was Barry Darsow’s cut off plaid shirt and daisy dukes. Missing Link’s first name is Max? Interesting. Pretty neat seeing Magnum TA as a star on the rise and not a main event star. King Parsons popping up here was cool, as we just finished watching his start in World Class. Boyd Pierce’s accent made “Iceman” sound like “Assman”. How about the all black trunk tag team match? Neidhart rocking the cowboy hat and full beard was a nice surprise. That Marty Oates sure looks familiar. King Cobra’s flying head scissors into a pin was a cool little spot.
Dan: God bless Mid-South’s 8-bit video game quality opener to start our show. I almost expected to blow into my Apple TV just in case the screen went fuzzy. (Wow, that’s a dated reference!) Boyd Pierce doing his best impersonation of a jack-o-lantern tonight with his orange suit and tie combo to go along with the black dress shirt. I wonder if his pants were also orange on this night. Poor Magnum gets treated like a bum here. Reed conspires to fight him over Dog because he feels Magnum is an easier opponent. Then even after he wins the gold, he promptly loses to Volkoff. His spiral takes him all the way to an unimpressive match with The Missing Link. I think I can say with confidence that we won’t be documenting any shows in which Jerry freaken Oates is our North American Champion. Did Tom Stanton look like what would happen if Sheamus and Screech had an unplanned love child? King Cobra reminded me of an actor in a Soul Glo commercial. (Geez, another dated reference!)
Scott: I can never get enough of this awesome synth-pop opening theme; I take back what I said about Boyd Pierce, as his orange suit and proper wrestling vernacular makes him ten times better than Bill Mercer; I love the extended segment to give a full, detailed story of the North American Title situation; I also love Mid-South Nikolai Volkoff; Watts does a great job announcing the match,but he says all these guys’ names differently every time he says them; Seeing guys like Iceman King Parsons means that guys were bouncing all over the place in the mid-80s territory days; Jim Neidhart isn’t quite as distinct without the goatee; For the second straight episode here we have a future superstar with a different name, as Marty Oates becomes Marty Jannetty
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 enjoyed this episode as it moved quickly and got a lot accomplished in a short period of time and also featured the culmination of a major angle. That is what a wrestling TV show do, so points there. My main issues were with the formatting of the program. The JYD/Reed video package and match should have closed the show, letting everything simmer and build to the climax. I know they try to have some realism and put the big match first while having the squashes fill the “TV time” out but sometime its worth having fans suspend that belief for the benefit of the episode. As a result of doing it this way, JYD’s win felt kind of rushed and then was barely mentioned again afterwards. If they aren’t going to close the show, at least bring JYD out after to talk about everything and get the crowd revved back up. The matches themselves were fine, and even the squashes had some good energy behind them. Cowboy is fantastic in the booth, getting everything overly expertly and moving the show along. A really good installment that could have been a true classic with some better formatting and pacing. Final Grade: 6/10
Chad: I wasn’t too fond of this show. The opening montage was good and I did enjoy TA, but the main match was a big disappointment and the excessive jobber matches tacked on the end made me continuously look at the clock to see how much time was left. Final Grade: 4/10
Jason: The star power was loaded in this episode, but after the main event the rest of the show dragged big time. On the plus, they squeezed a lot of talent into a 40 minute show as well as a fun main event. A few less squash matches and a few more angles would have been nice. Nevertheless, it’s hard to dull on anything Mid-South too much. Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: I can’t really get too excited about a show dominated by 2-3 minute squash matches but at least we got to see some familiar names and some future stars in their younger days. I loved seeing JYD get his big victory after nearly getting screwed out of the title shot. Again, Watts love his rules in this company. He spent 12 minutes in that convoluted storyline during the opener just to get to the undeniable point that champions can’t make their own matches. Gotcha! Still, an okay effort that probably could have been ordered better to get the maximum bang for the buck. Let’s start with putting your featured bout later in the card for instance and not bore me to death with pointless squashes. Oh well, can’t win them all. Unless you’re the JYD. Final Grade: 5/10
Scott: A typical 50/50 episode of the show, where we have all the heavy stuff in the first half of the show, including the big title change, which sadly didn’t have that gravitas as Dog won the belt and they just went to commercial, which was kind of a bummer. The second half was just like the past episode where they squeezed in five straight jobber squashes to put talent over made the show drag, although seeing the Missing Link was cool as well as WCCW mainstay Iceman King Parsons. Otherwise the show was pretty standard. Final Grade: 5/10
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