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!
Tuesday Night Titans 1/3/85
Run Time: 45:31
JT: I will go with the whole Lou Albano/Cyndi Lauper/Roddy Piper angle. I thought they did a nice job having Albano explain his new ways and also enjoyed seeing all the footage of the angle, including Lauper’s podium interview and the news story on Wendi Richter’s title reign. The Piper’s Pit with Piper trashing Lauper was great and it helped really show why Albano had changed. The Captain’s heated promo ripping Piper for kicking Lauper and slamming David Wolff is the best work he has done on TNT so far. That was all capped by a great Piper appearance in studio and highlights from a wild post match brawl between him and Tonga Kid before we close with a hot back and forth between Hot Rod and the Captain.
Brian: The whole angle between Roddy Piper and Capt. Lou Albano regarding Cyndi Lauper. They got over everyone involved and the confrontation between Piper and Albano, resulting in Piper cheap-shotting Albano was terrific. This storyline was scorching hot at the time and its easy to see why as Piper was the best heel in the business at this point while Albano’s newfound love to helping others and teaming with Lauper was an easy target for him.
Dan: As much as I love Nikolai Volkoff singing – and that happened no less than three separate occasions on this one show – I’ll agree and say Piper/Albano. Holy crap Piper was such a loose cannon in those days. From the moment he walked onto the set and asked Alfred, “How’s your face,” you knew we were in for something special. I love how he made Vince squirm talking about Lauper’s music relating one of her videos to glorifying masturbation. How did that get past the 1985 censors? Also, what a complete 180 for Lou Albano! He was right there with Piper last year calling Cyndi every name in the book but now they are raising money for charity so those hard feelings between Lou and the pop star went right out the window. Piper even digs on Vince for not accomplishing anything in his life for crying out loud. Just amazing heel work and a dramatic change of heart for the once hated Albano.
Scott: It’s nice to see Roddy Piper back in the fold after being banished for the bitch slap he delivered on Lord Alfred. He’s an incredible character and with a new year is what seems like a cleansing of the roster and the cream of the crop will be showcased, thus the reason our first episode of the year has a Hogan segment in it. I’m pretty sure WrestleMania was at least being discussed so it was time to get the feuds started.
JT: Roddy Piper. From calling Albano a fat slob, mockingly apologizing to Alfred and promising to be nice, claiming he is cleaning up scum by assaulting Lauper & Wolff and then saying Lauper’s music video is about masterbation, he was fantastic. We also got to see a brief clip of a red hot post match fight between him and Tonga Kid, part of one of 1984’s best feuds. He polishes the episode off by accusing Albano of pocketing charity funds and then clocking him and calling him a fat piece of garbage.
Brian: Piper was tremendous the moment he first peaked through the curtain. From putting down everyone and going off on Lauper’s “She Bop” song being about masturbation (Vince’s face was priceless at that mention) he always commanded attention whenever he appeared. I also give Albano credit here too for his passionate promo at the end and how he established his new babyface character but Piper was the brightest star tonight.
Dan: Piper for all of the reasons I mentioned before. Note to you kids with time machines and have the ability to go back to 1985. If you decide to wear earrings and put your hair in a pony tail, just know that Roddy Piper feels you deserve a beating! Plus he apologetically admitted that he’ll hit women if they hit him first. How this guy managed to get away with so much and still become a mainstream icon, I’ll never know.
Scott: Roddy Piper as always gives a great performance, so anything with him in it is usually gold, even with the red smoking jacket and the fedora.
JT: That TNT switched to one hour! Thank God! I am also surprised that Lou Albano’s garish tuxedo didn’t split at the seams. And speaking of Albano, him coming out and suddenly being nice and sweet and talking about learning from Hulk Hogan was a completely surprising 180 from our last episode.
Brian: I was surprised that they spent almost half of the show on Nikolai Volkoff. At least they used a clip to push the feud against the U.S. Express but we could have done without him singing with the band and that match against Athens Apollo, pride of Worcester, MA.
Dan: Damn Lou Albano changed his stripes in a New York minute didn’t he? My lord he was a sexist, nasty, surly, chauvinistic, disgusting blob of a man who had a face you just wanted to pummel if you could reach it with that flabby exposed belly of his. Now he’s raising money for multiple sclerosis and defending the honor of Cyndi Lauper? Is Dr. D going to start respecting women too while we’re at it?
Scott: The razor quick face turn for Albano, who just two weeks earlier was a drunken asshole heel and now he’s suddenly being sympathetic and trying to make amends. I get it, he’s a guy they want in the limelight for the start of the company’s new outlook but boy was it a quick switch. Having Piper turn on him was the smart way to go about it, I’ll admit that.
JT: That the awesome ring name Athens Apollo was wasted on this fat, sloppy jabrone.
Brian: Volkoff’s match against Apollo was embarrassing. Apollo barely even knew what he was doing in the ring.
Dan: You know me, I’m always disappointed when they clip an SD Jones fight. I love that guy!
Scott: I have to say we saw all the players, including Hogan, Piper and Albano. Since that would end up being the main players for the top Mania build, it was a necessity to have them on this first episode of the year.
JT: Tony D and the TNT Band were really rocking and could challenge Chicago for number of members; The Hillbilly Jim training vignette is always enjoyable even though the ring they train in looks like its in the middle of an office building; Nikolai should sing with the TNT Band every week; I enjoyed Nikolai giving the big double thumbs down when that fat slob Athens Apollo was announced from Worcester; Having Nikolai explain why he has chosen to team with Iron Sheik was nice back story; We get some nice build for a tag team title feud between the US Express and Sheik & Volkoff; Lou Albano suddenly acting nice is jarring; I like how Vince explains how Alfred allowed Piper’s TNT suspension to be lifted so he could return here tonight; Piper saying women want equality these days and that means he can hit them back is certainly something;
Brian: The show opened with Vince introducing us to Tony P. and the TNT band. The band’s set went on for a little too long if you ask me. The Hulk Hogan & Hillbilly Jim training sessions are historic and for good reason. They were harmless and fun plus Hillbilly was insanely over at this time. Watching Hillbilly pretending to not be able to run the ropes was something else. Nikolai Volkoff came out to sing with the band but stopped because he felt they were horrible and would have been better if they were Russian. Nikolai’s whole appearance was an attempt to make him evil so his feud with Sheik against the U.S. Express could take off. Babyface Capt. Lou Albano is much, much, much calmer. They really stressed he was a face here as he put over his involvement against MS. He was livid when Piper accused him of stealing from the charity. We also saw clips of Cyndi Lauper in concert putting over Wendi Richter. I tell you what, have there been two wrestlers in the right place and right time more than Hillbilly Jim and Wendi Richter? They were not the most talented wrestlers by any means but got over huge. Speaking of over huge, the Tonga Kid looked great in his clip where he went nuts on Piper as he sought revenge for what Piper did to his cousin, Jimmy Snuka. Kid was just about gone from the company by the time this aired as he later admitted he could not handle the pressure. He came back late in 1986 to team with Haku as part of the Islanders. They mentioned the incident at Madison Square Garden, where Piper smashed a gold record over Albano’s head in a ceremony that included Lauper, David Wolff, and Dick Clark, but it was not shown. This was the angle that led to the main event at the inaugural WrestleMania.
Dan: I was absolutely over the moon to see that this episode was only 45 minutes. Already that fact brings this episode up a few points in my book! Tony D and the TNT Band was a brilliant waste of those first 3-4 minutes. I dug the music and their snazzy WWF trucker hats. Hey look, Hulk Hogan still wrestles in this company! Hillbilly Jim probably looks a lot like I would look if I ever decided to go to the gym. I’m going to say it right here and feel free to quote me on the Twitter afterwards but I am such a mark for Nikolai Volkoff’s singing! I just can’t get enough of it and you American fans (P.S. I’m American) have no class! As an expert on the subject, Athens Apollo is definitely the most Greek name in the history of humans and I should know since I was just at a Greek Festival this month. Not that it will make the cut, but that Volkoff/Apollo match might be one of the worst things this column has ever witnessed. Did you notice the start of a possible Mania feud brewing between Windham/Rotundo and the alliance of Volkoff and Iron Sheik? Why did Tonga Kid not just go for the cover before he decided to batter Piper with all those chair shots?
Scott: So at the start of 1985, the format officially changes as the show is now an hour and it’s weekly; The live band does add a little something as well as the audience; No surprise with the Network, that all Hulk Hogan vignettes have Real American laid over on them now; When I think of the name “Athens Apollo”, I don’t think of the guy who’s name is ACTUALLY Athens Apollo; The seeds were planted here for the US Express/Volkoff & Sheik feud when they stalk the ring with the US flags; Albano AGAIN? Didn’t we deal with him enough on the last episode when he was drunk and coked up at Butcher Vachon’s wedding; Notwithstanding, Albano looks like he’s turned babyface, which could (or not be) annoying; We have our first Piper appearance since he smacked Alfred across the face; The hat/smoking jacket combo suits him well; Roddy Piper gave Tonga Kid some shine in that match, allowing some chair shots; So perhaps Albano won’t be nearly as annoying as a face then as a heel, but time will tell; Piper slugging Albano and Vince yelling at him was awesome
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine, Dog Collar Match (NWA Starrcade 1983)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Raschke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: This was the best TNT we have seen so far. The shorter format really keeps things moving along and there was less meandering and stretching segments out to fill the time. Plus, half the episode was eaten up by a great recap and furthering of the big Piper/Lauper/Albano storyline. Both Albano and Piper were great in studio and all the footage was fun to see too. I even dug the band too as the show just feels completely freshened up. Toss in the classic Hogan & Hillbilly workout video and a quick visit from Nikolai and this show just cruised along and was pretty effective throughout. It was great to see the fluff chopped out and every segment really mean something. Final Grade: 6/10
Brian: The change to 60 minutes makes the show a lot more watchable. They pushed a really hot feud and showed the Hulk Hogan/Hillbilly Jim training vignette as they set up a lot of angles that would head into WrestleMania. The WWF had a lot of buzz at the time due to Lauper’s involvement and they did a great job capitalizing on that here. Final Grade: 6/10
Dan: It took them almost an entire year of awkward banter, strange food, random dancers and other such tom foolery but Vince and co. finally got the memo to shorten this show and it resulted in a much more watchable program. Nice to see our World Champ in action even if it was in a goofy comedy segment. The seeds are being planted for a new tag team feud. We saw the character change of one of most hated villains and Piper establishing himself as public enemy #1 in the company. Oh and Volkoff sang three times, did I mention that already? It’s a fun show that won’t make your eyes bleed and you deserve that if you’ve been following along since episode one of TNT. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Scott: Cutting the show down to an hour was a great change of pace. It needed to be tighter and flow better than the meandering last few episodes of 1984. The live band and audience also adds a fresh energy. Seeing Hogan and Piper on the same show (although Hogan was on tape) was smart because that is the feud that will dominate 1985 and put the WWF on the national map. I was stunned that Tonga Kid got the shine on Piper in that match. When would Piper (during that time) ever allow anyone to hit him with a steel chair that many times? This is a definite upgrade from the last two TNT’s and with March 31 on the horizon, it seems the best may be yet to come. Final Grade: 5.5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link