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 5/23/85
Run Time: 40:41
JT: Hulk Hogan’s presence is amazing. As soon as he walks on set he just stands out as a star, both in stature and in presence. Him endorsing Paul Orndorff here was a big key to Mr. Wondeful’s face turn. I also love that we got to check out a classic Gene Okerlund interview outtake before he walked out in his absurd outfit. He then tops that by insinuating Truman Capote gave him the hat he is wearing tonight. The training skits are classics as well. The quick wit on display between Hogan, Okerlund and McMahon was impressive and this whole segment just felt like it was on a higher level than everything else we see on this show outside of Roddy Piper.
Brian: I loved the Hulk Hogan & Gene Okerlund segment. The workout clip is a classic and Okerlund was really hysterical here. They also showed Hogan doing charity work and the video package made him come off as a huge mainstream star. They accomplished a lot here.
Dan: It took us how many episodes and we now we finally get Hulk Hogan back in studio. Such a tremendous performance and you can see why McMahon gave this guy the keys to his growing kingdom. On screen at least, he was excellent in and out of the ring and that package with the special needs children at the circus was heart warming. Hulk definitely seemed moved to be among the kids and I believe him when he said he was nervous about scaring the kids and relieved when they all smiled and laughed alongside their hero. Him endorsing Orndorff was a huge step in legitimizing Paul’s change of heart. Plus Hogan and Gene under one roof is a laugh-a-minute. This was definitely worth the wait!
Scott: The Hulk Hogan/Mean Gene segment was great because there was way too many innuendos and inside jokes I couldn’t stop laughing. God only knows what they were talking about between the commercial breaks. That would be a great DVD. “TNT: Off the Air”.
JT: Bobby Heenan is so amazing. He nails his whole segment, spitting hot fire and putting over the big feud with Paul Orndorff tremendously. We even get neat footage of the Brain’s appearance on Piper’s Pit where he officially reveals that Orndorff has fired him. Heenan stood tall as McMahon probed as well. The finally fired up flurry was a perfect way to wrap it all up. Really damn good performance by the Brain as always.
Brian: Bobby Heenan’s anger over the fact Paul Orndorff fired him was just superb here. Heenan was out of his mind that someone had the gall to fire him and vowed revenge. A tremendous heel promo that all aspiring wrestlers should watch and learn from.
Dan: Heenan as the crazed, unhinged maniac out for Mr. Wonderful’s blood certainly stood out. Usually he is just sweating arrogance and gives the impression that he’s a step or two ahead of his adversary. That was not the case tonight. Orndorff dumping him cut The Brain deep. He’s still stinging and will stop at nothing to have his family trample Orndorff en route to chasing Hogan for the title. Awesome work by truly one of the greatest of all-time.
Scott: Bobby Heenan was on his game in his promo. This angry, vicious Bobby Heenan was the Brain from AWA. He became a Hall of Fame manager later on but he became more of a humorous antagonist. This Bobby Heenan was still pure heel, and would be that way for the next couple of years. Kudos for being legit and not letting Vince’s baiting rattle him.
JT: I am surprised we got a random Skinemax flick in the middle of the episode under the guise of catching up with King Curtis Iaukea. It was so random and really had zero point other giving us a glimpse of some chicks in bikinis and other snippets of the Hawaiian lifestyle.
Brian: The King Curtis Iaueka segment was odd as he mostly narrated the geography of Waikiki Beach, Hawaii then it got interesting with all sorts of videos focusing on the nightlife, not to mention women in bikinis.
Dan: I was surprised they dug up King Curtis out of mothballs to do an entire interview with a guy many of the audience probably never even heard of even back then! Plus how many blade marks did that guy have? I used to think Dusty had a mutilated forehead until I saw this guy! Digging up old timers just for the sake of time filling was so 1984 guys. Get with the program!
Scott: I’m surprised they put that Hawaii montage on the air. All the blinking signs and chicks dancing, it turned into a crazy Stanley Kubrick clip. I could have been surprised at the blatant Truman Capote insinuations, but in 1985 it probably went over pretty much everybody’s head.
JT: I don’t mind that they occasionally have us catch up with legends from years gone by because it adds a special flavor to make TNT stand out and gives a nice nod to history. I do wish they had more focus to them or that they utilized these legends to help further current storylines or pushes. Why have Iaukea sit out here and narrate random footage of Hawaii when he could have made gotten into it with Bobby Heenan over the actions of Paul Orndorff? These guys are great talents and could be used much better. And if we are going to get lengthy vintage match clips, we don’t need to waste time on tourism package either. Just streamline these things.
Brian: The King Curtis segment was a bore for the most part. Also, the clips of his tag match, where he teamed with Baron Mikel Scicluna against Chief Jay Strongbow & Sonny King, were really awful. I did laugh when the match shown was different than the match Vince introduced as he seemed a bit miffed over that.
Dan: Just a nitpick this week, but could we have had more Gene/Hogan stories on the air and less stock footage from Hawaii next time? What decade were those clips from anyways? Yes, we saw some hot Hawaiian talent wearing next to nothing, but tell me more about Geno and those seven maidens! I’m sure Gene got plenty of action being buds with the World Champ during the mid-1980s. Someone needs to write a book about this!
Scott: I’m still perplexed why they have to have these old retired guys on the show now. You’ve executed a great show like WrestleMania with multiple feuds raging right now and you waste about 10 minutes with a guy who probably hasn’t wrestled in about six years. Sure he reemerges as a heel character later down the line but that doesn’t mean now he should be taking up a segment.
JT: We waste no time in bringing out the outstanding duo of Bobby Heenan and Ken Patera; Patera is wearing a pretty swank sequined olympic jumpsuit; Heenan’s hair always looks odd during this stretch, like he couldn’t get all the shampoo out or something; Bobby’s over the top claims that Patera is undefeated made me chuckle; Patera beating the piss out of a jobber is aways a fun watch; Why did Curtis Iaukea enter in from a different side of the stage than everybody else?; That is a massive Hawaiian shirt that Iaukea has on; Vince’s callback to the kielbasa tree during the Hawaii package was tremendous; That was quite the risqué video package on Hawaii; We get to check out the Hulk Hogan charity event video package that aired locally in NYC during the April 1985 MSG show; Hogan feels like an enormously larger than life superstar when he walks out on to that set; Hogan’s long tights and kneepads look is an interesting one here; Positioning Hogan and Gene Okerlund as friends was an interesting way to go; Hogan prepping Gene for fucking seven maidens across seven days was certainly something; Closing the show with some jamming from Hogan and Gene was solid
Brian: The show started off with Heenan & Ken Patera as Heenan was pissed at Orndorff from start to finish. We saw a clip of him letting us know he got fired by Orndorff from “Piper’s Pit” then saw Patera destroy Ronnie Dee in a match from “All-Star Wrestling.” Patera also talked about challenging for Hulk Hogan’s World Title but he was soon out of the promotion. We then saw a happy King Curtis Iaueka, much different than how he would appear over a year later as The Wizard when he managed Kamala & Sika, as he talked about Hawaii. After that, Hogan came on to the set with his knee pads and “python boots” as he said he never knows where someone will try to fight him. Gene Okerlund came out and appeared to have taken some “gimmicks” before this went to air. I did love his safari hat as this was full of inside references. I have no idea what the “seven maidens” stuff was all about but Okerlund was really enjoying himself here.
Dan: Patera loks fit for a Wheaties box in that white Olympics suit of his. Piper was the perfect second to Heenan in spewing outrage at the turncoat Orndorff. The Hot Rod calls his ex-tag partner a “coward” and supports Heenan throughout this breakup. I guess these two have patched things up since Roddy blew up Heenan’s spot with Studd by actually having to carry $15,000 to the ring against Andre, but I digress. Patera in that job match was hilarious. “What’s the matter, huh?” This after blatantly choking his opponent in plain sight of the referee. You don’t see too many guys winning matches with a swinging full nelson anymore. Roddy D is either excellent at selling or he actually died after that match with Patera. Iaukea seemed jovial and happy to get called by Vince to do the show. I did enjoy the line Vince used about the “sins of mankind are written on that kisser,” when describing King Curtis. I wish I could say I was mature and didn’t laugh when the broadcaster used the term “Circus outing for special children.” Was Gene really wearing nylons? I would love to go back in time and be a wing man for when Okerlund, Hogan and Alfred went out on the town. I’m not sure I’d ever come back. Did I just say that? Hopefully the future Mrs. McGinn doesn’t read these things!
Scott: I’m glad Vince skips the bullshit and goes right to the first guest and doesn’t fumble over his words with colloquiums; I like the fired up Bobby Heenan; He was a different kind of manager in 1985 then years later when it got more cartoonish; I love how they keep taking matches from the same show in Allentown, as they keep showing the guy with the Joe Ferguson Bills jersey; We hear Jesse deliver the classic “cheat” quote for the first time; King Curtis? Does he even wrestle anymore? This has to stop, enough of Vince Sr’s cronies on this show. We have young studs on this roster that deserve some face time. Having said that, that’s sure some road map of scars on the King’s head; These clips from Hawaii look like they are from 1955. A colossal waste of time for this show; This montage of Hawaii has turned into some bad 70s porn clip; These 1970s matches are awful and slow the show down badly; This Hulk Hogan clip is the kind of stuff Verne Gagne wouldn’t have been able to do with Hogan because he didn’t think that way as a promoter; Hulk Hogan LIVE in studio for only the second time in TNT history. That automatically makes this a high grade show and balances out that awful King Curtis segment; Mean Gene comes on and we get the double entendres with Truman Capote and Cape Cod. Did everyone do coke bumps tonight?; Hogan’s talking about Mean Gene’s “seven maidens”. What the hell is going on here?
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 Raschke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: This was a pretty solid installment of TNT with two damn good segments bookending a bizarre Hawaiian odyssey. Bobby Heenan was on point in that opening segment and I thought they did a fantastic job pushing along the Paul Orndorff bounty stuff, especially at the end when Heenan snapped. The Hoagn and Mean Gene stuff was weird in a very funny way but before we got into that, Hogan also did a nice job promoting the Orndorff face turn in a very calm, cool effective way. It was great that they could push that angle along so much and not even need to have Orndorff or Piper on to do so. That is nice story threading. The Iaukea stuff was really random and just went on too long and ended up being too pointless. It didn’t ruin the show, but it definitely made things drag in the middle. We didn’t get much in ring action this week either. Sometimes you can get a little hidden treat in there. A fine offering with some memorable bits but not quite top tier TNT. Final Grade: 5.5/10
Brian: This episode was about 3-5 minutes shorter than the average TNT show on the Network and it breezed right along. Heenan was awesome and Okerlund was hysterical, making it fun to watch. I wouldnt call this the most memorable TNT I’ve ever seen but it had a good blend of storyline advancement and trademark WWF 80s wackiness. Final Grade: 6.5/10
Dan: This episode seemed trimmed and honestly, if they just cut out the middle and fed me Heenan/Patera to start and Hogan/Gene to finish, we’d have a perfect show. All I ask for when watching these is give me a reason to want to continue watching your product. Heenan made me want to see what happens next in this saga against his former charge in Orndorff. Hogan made me proud by showing a different side of his character by supporting less fortunate children in the community and being a wonderful ambassador for the company. Gene is a hot mess but he’s the type of guy you’re glad is on your side. Every office has a Gene and we love them in a special way. I only wish some of the tales they alluded to were safe for the TV show we were viewing. That segment shined but it could have been so much more. On a side note, I’m strongly considering Hawaii now for a honeymoon possibility. Final Grade: 6/10
Scott: The TRT of this show was about five minutes shorter than some of the other episodes, but it doesn’t look like anything was cut out so maybe it was just a short show. Having Hulk Hogan on live for only the second time ever makes this a special episode. The Hogan/Mean Gene biplay is pretty funny and Vince going along with it adds to the inside jokes. I feel like Alfred has taken on less and less of a role in the past few episodes and I’m not sure why. This episode was stacked with guests thus Vince and Alfred haven’t really talked much alone on set, so maybe that’s why. The combination of Bobby Heenan’s great rant and the appearance of the WWF Champion outweighs that horrible King Curtis segment. Final Grade: 8/10
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