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: 48:23
Billy the Kid vs. Little Coco
Karl Krupp vs. Mike Reed
David Von Erich vs. Buddy Roberts
Iceman King Parsons vs. Great Kabuki
JT: David Von Erich vs. Buddy Roberts was a hot match and my favorite of the night. It was really well worked with a balanced heat segment and well timed comebacks and Roberts’ work on the neck was effective. Roberts had some great mannerisms and did the little things really well to help sell the action DVE big comeback really brought us to a strong crescendo and the finish was perfectly timed and didn’t feel like it meandered or dragged on needlessly. Plus it was a well earned and much needed Von Erich victory. Shoutout to Parsons/Kabuki too.
Chad: David Von Erich vs. Buddy Roberts is my vote. I have been critical of Von Erich domination and this match smartly gave Roberts a lot of time on top to make it feel like he was a legit threat to the Von Erich eldest. Roberts heeling in subtle ways and getting the crowd wound up really worked in his character as the ultimate instigator. Von Erich getting the flash win of sorts off a high knee was a nice way to wrap up the match and continue to make Buddy look strong for once. ***
Jason: The last two matches were both very good, but I’ll go with David Von Erich and Buddy Roberts. The battle between my favorite Von Erich and least favorite Freebird brought the ggods and was Buddy’s best singles match we’ve watch thus far. DVE’s running knee was hit perfectly to pick up the win.
Dan: I’ll go against my rule of not picking against a Von Erichs/Freebirds match and say Kabuki/Parsons this week. I enjoyed the hype interviews that put Parsons over as the new big star in the company while the teasing of next week’s stick match between Kabuki and Yatsu certainly put the outcome in this main event in doubt. These two were very evenly matched and I’ll admit that I mark out a bit when Parsons “boogies” his way back when times got tough against Kabuki. We learned that head shots are meaningless against the Ice Man, the butt bumps is extremely lethal and perhaps Devastation Inc. isn’t so scary after all. At least not yet. Fun little match that sent the fans, and yours truly, home happy.
Scott: The last two matches were very close, but I will go with the DVE/Buddy Roberts match, mostly because I thought at first Buddy was an average wrestler but he actually went toe to toe with the Von Erich many considered at the time to be the most talented of the three brothers. Parsons/Kabuki was very good, but I’ll give this match the nod.
JT: I really enjoyed Buddy Roberts in his match with Von Erich. All of his mannerisms, facials and movements were so well executed and really added to the match. Plus his stooging after the loss was great too.
Chad: Buddy Roberts wins pretty easily for me. From his brown sweater and slicked back hair cutting a good promo to his in ring action vs. David, Buddy was aces this week.
Jason: I think I’ll go with King Parsons this week. His charisma is off the charts and his ring work has improved quite a bit since debuting. By far his biggest win so far, as Kabuki is still one of the top heels in the territory.
Dan: Parsons is the man and definitely who I want to see each and every episode. His match with Kabuki was excellent and he shined in his first real test in the promotion. His parting shot promo at the end was dynamite saying that “bad people don’t mess with the Ice Man” and other stars in the company put him over like rover prior to his main event. I say it a great deal, but not a bad days work for the top babyface not named Von Erich!
Scott: Since I gave the other match best of the show, I’ll give the strong performance to King Parsons, since his match with Kabuki was just a notch below the other one he still put on a great match. This was indeed the one at the time everyone was going to judge him on as a legit performer, and he passed with flying colors.
JT: I was surprised at the match Great Kabuki and Iceman King Parsons put together. Everything looked like it connected with authority and Kabuki’s offense was strong when in control. His use of kicks to control Parsons was unique and the crowd was behind Iceman as he rallied back into the match. The finish was nice and clean too as Kabuki comes up just short after dominating most of the action. I figured this may be plodding but it wasn’t by any means.
Chad: The opening midget match was a fine showcase and it featured two moves by Coco I had never seen before. The leapfrog, drop toe hold was awesome and look infused with World of Sport action. His quick pinfall coming off the ropes was equally impressive. I had a good time watching this match and thought it was a fine opener to get the viewer settled into the program.
Jason: Buddy Roberts stepping up his game for sure. The weak link of the Freebirds shined well against David Von Erich.
Dan: I’m flabbergasted that Kabuki would lose clean as sheet in the main event considering they’ve hyped his return for weeks and he has that huge stick match with Yatsu next week. Sure, Parsons is a stud right now, but nowadays this match would have ended with some sort of screwy finish where both competitors came out looking strong. I’m also stunned Karl Krupp and Mike Reed wasn’t cut for time. I would have accepted more Monica Hunter interviews instead of that crap.
Scott: For many, the big opinion was Terry Gordy was the workhorse of the Freebirds and the other two were the personalities. But I have to say Buddy Roberts surprised me with his performance in this match with David Von Erich. I was expecting a blase stinker but it was surprisingly good.
JT: I felt like WCCW has really been rolling over the past few weeks and was excited to dive into the big storylines but opening the show with a pointless midget match certainly didn’t get me into the show out of the gate. And then match that followed it didn’t help either.
Chad: I am flabbergasted at how much the panel liked Kabuki vs. Parsons. I thought it really sucked and was extremely plodding. Kabuki’s offense consisted of a titty twister and the dreaded nerve hold. Parsons hasn’t been featured in a competitive match yet and this wasn’t a strong effort from him either. He brought the match down with a headlock and armbar that didn’t lead anywhere. Add to that the racism of Parsons’ head not reacting to punches and another top heel rolling over clean and you have a really frustrating match in my opinion.
Jason: I was a little upset that we didn’t get any Jimmy Garvin this week. As for the actual show, I thought this was one of Bill Mercer’s worst announcing jobs. He was all over the place and brought the enjoyment level of the show down a little.
Dan: Youngsters may love these midget matches, at least according to Bill Mercer, but they don’t get me excited to write pithy comments in a wrestling column. Sure the occasional comedy match to break up a string of serious storyline driven encounters is good for the soul and all. But starting off a hot program with also-ran little people we saw ages ago at MSG is worse than discovering your podcast was canceled. And trust me, I know that feeling. C’mon Fritz, you’re better than that!
Scott: I have to admit usually the midget matches in WCCW have some sort of workrate in it and decent moves, but this one looked a lot like the corny, stupid WWF-style midget matches loaded with parlor tricks and comedy. Boo.
JT: Mark Lowerance just completely not introducing Billy the Kid was funny; And I could totally go without a midget match; Scott is right, Karl Krupp is basically Baron Von Rashcke’s twin; We are not exactly off to the strongest start this week; Mike Reed just flailed aimlessly whenever he got a chance at offense; Krupp working a Nazi gimmick in 1983 feels just a bit dated; The Freebirds interview was great as always; Buddy Roberts is still rocking the Oregon tights; Roberts/DVE continues the trend of the two sides fighting on TV; DVE really is a tall drink of water; It was good to see the Von Erichs get a win in this one; I love Roberts swearing at the fans and then falling as he left the ring; I am not sure Bill Mercer’s ringside microphone could be any bigger; DVE’s promo here was good; “The Iceman is a really happening kind of guy, he boogies”; I am all set with not seeing Kerry dance ever again; Yatsu laughing!; Good interviews to put over Iceman on both sides; Good to see Bundy show up for some hype work as well as backing up his boy Kabuki; I hate King Parsons’ hair; Kabuki and Parsons had some nice chemistry and Kabuki cutting off the comeback attempts was crisp each time;
Chad: Why Mercer insisted on talking about Kamala across the whole show especially at pivotal points of the Von Erich vs. Buddy match, I’ll never know. As if we didn’t have enough heels in the promotion, add Killer Karl Krupp into the mix at the tender age of 49. He didn’t have an impressive showing here and the match overall was a waste. The promo that Iceman delivers was better than the performance in the ring he just laid out. It has been a while since we have seen Terry or Hayes in singles actions.
Jason: Poor Marc Lowerance botching Billy the Kid. The camera man sitting on his knees to film Little Coco made me chuckle. There’s few things more entertaining than midgets running the ropes. Little Coco’s should stand pin was pretty sweet. So, Killer Karl Krupp is Baron Von Raschke’s stunt double, right? And the Killer’s initials with the Nazi gimmick? C’mon Fritz! There’s only one wrestler who can get away with rocking a scraf and his name isn’t Chris Jericho. Michael Hayes, you sharp dressing son of a gun! Nice to see the return of Bronco Lubich and his lazy counting. I felt bad for Buddy Roberts slipping on his way out the ring after his best match so far. Man, David Von Erich was fired up after his big win over Roberts. Welcome to World Class, Monica Hunter. It was pretty cool having everyone put over King Parsons. If I never see Kerry Von Erich try and dance again, I’d be quite OK with that. Great Kabuki is still scarier as hell.
Dan: In case you missed it, here are some of Mercer’s gems from the midget match: “Youngsters love these midget wrestlers,” “Billy the Kid vs. Little Cocoa, and they’re both little,” “He’s not a kid but he is kid size!” Killer Karl Krupp may be a poor man’s Baron Von Raschke but is certainly a broke man’s Fritz Von Erich. Buddy Roberts’ flying elbow off the turnbuckle won’t confuse anyone with Randy Savage. That was among the ugliest aerial maneuvers I have ever seen. Am I oversensitive or am I just not used to 1983 racism. Freebirds first kept calling Parsons “a boy” and then they compared him to “a dog chasing a parked car.” Umm… I’ll just drop this right now.
Scott: Midgets. That’s all I have to say; Bill Mercer STILL can’t say World Class Six Man Tag Team Championship without fumbling over his words; Karl Krupp not only has the same body build as Baron Von Raschke, but they wear almost identical tights; I love watching all three Von Erich brothers in one promo because it’s evident when Kerry is all coked out and the other two are relatively normal; I miss Magic Dragon & Checkmate, don’t you?
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: After the first 15 minutes I hated this episode. The first two matches were aimless and I thought they were killing off their hot streak. That quickly changed. The Von Erich/Roberts match was really good and Parsons and Kabuki was hella fun with a hot finish and some really sharp offense from Kabuki. It was also nice to see the faces get some love in the two big matches. When you factor in the chunk of the episode eaten up by these two matches, they certainly outweigh the early nonsense. If they had scrapped those two openers and had another quality match or angle advancer, this would arguably be our best WCCW to date. As is, it was really really good. Get down and boogie! Final Grade: 6.5/10
Chad: Rough week for me as I didn’t like two out of the four matches and the other two were decent to good, but nothing blowaway. I still am struggling to understand the long term booking philosphy of World Class and while we are at the peak of prominence right now in the Texas region, it is easy to see how the reliance on booking babyfaces so strongly could be detrimental for years to come. Vince Russo is much maligned now but he did have a two year spurt of creative success and I am wondering if we shouldn’t hold this World Class booking crew to the same scrutiny. Final Grade: 4/10
Jason: The first two matches stunk up the joint, but the last two made up for it big time. King Parsons is crazy over right now and it was great to see the return of Kabuki. Lots of work rate brought by DVE, Buddy Roberts, Kabuki and Parsons. A fun episode overall with some storyline advancements and new talent continuing to get over. Final Grade: 7/10
Dan: Let me just say, I did enjoy the last two matches on the card. The hype interviews building up the Ice Man character was spot on and anytime a Von Erich faces a Freebird, it’s must watch television. That being said, this was far from an episode you’ll want to dig out and dust off anytime soon. I’m not sure what synthetic drugs my colleagues are taking but WCCW has been so much better than what we witnessed tonight. Midgets and job squad matches don’t earn high marks from this guy. Did I hate this show? Absolutely not, but is this one of the best graded shows we have documented? Hell no! Parsons looked great, Fantasia didn’t disappoint, DVE was decent, but this was 50/50 at best. Final Grade: 5/10
Scott: This is one of the best in-ring episodes we’ve had. The midget match was eh, and the Krupp match was a squash but the last two matches were the best back-to-back matches in the show’s run on the Network. DVE showed he may be the best talent in the family, and definitely cut the best promos. King Parsons is becoming my favorite guy in the promotion and Buddy Roberts shocked a lot of people with his performance as well. Overall a great episode in terms of pure in-ring, something not seen since we last saw the iconic Checkmate. Final Grade: 8/10