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, Brian Bayless & 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: 44:29
Tony Montana vs. Jim Powell
JT: The actual matches on this show were all pretty simple and/or bland, with nothing really standing out. Thus, I am cheating a bit and going with the long recap package to set up the Von Erich vs. Adams & Hernandez hair vs. hair match. The clips were fantastic and the heat was just off the charts and made really want to see the big blow off to this all. Gino snagging the chain and smashing up Von Erich’s car was so great, as was Chris Adams cutting a promo from the salon. What an awesome segment.
Chad: While it wasn’t a match, the rundown leading to the Hernandez & Adams vs. Von Erich hair vs. hair match was fabulous and really shows one of the last great WCCW angles of the 1980s. The escalation was easy to see and I loved the capper of the quick promo from Chris Adams in the hair salon. No match stood out so I went with this.
Brian: The actual matches themselves were all forgettable so I will also go with the video package on the Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams vs. Kevin & Kerry Von Erich feud, which was by far and away the best thing on this show.
Dan: If I’m not going to break the rules and actually pick a match, I think I’ll go with the main event this time. Not that it was anything wonderful that you should drop everything to seek out, but Kerry Von Erich was in full-blown beast mode. It was a discus punch party and Victory and Lewin were invited. It dragged with all that chicanery involving Lewin and the foreign object stuff. But as we have seen before with WCCW, if a Von Erich is in the building, that place is is deafening! Plus the other two matches were quite forgettable.
Scott: I have to say easily the main event because the first two matches were jobber crap. It’s that simple.
JT: It seems like Hollywood John Tatum has stepped right in for Jimmy Garvin as far as our arrogant heel here in World Class. Mercer even notes that Tatum refused to speak to give details about Missy, a trick out of the Garvin playbook as well. Tatum had great pompous heel mannerisms here and he and Missy made a great looking pair. In the ring he was fine enough in this match but the star aura was what WCCW needed more than in ring ability at this point.
Chad: Hollywood John Tatum is one of my cult favorites and was someone that I believe could have been a bigger star if the combination of the territories being phased out right as he hit his prime or him being his own worst enemy wouldn’t have occurred. His match with Brian Adias wasn’t great but Tatum had a firm control of the crowd and really showed the effectiveness of simple heel dominated work. He mainly works a chinlock and finds new ways to keep the action going and the sympathy on Adias building to his comeback.
Brian: Hollywood John Tatum was a really solid midcard heel act. He really pissed off the crowd and drew a lot of heat here. The match itself was really slow-paced and dull though as Brian Adias was not exactly known for setting the world on fire in the ring. He did a great job getting himself over here.
Dan: Chris Adams didn’t appear live on this show, but the highlights of him terrorizing the Von Erichs was equal parts dastardly and genius. First he does the superkick heard round the world. Then he follows that up by clocking Kevin Von Erich with a chair. He joins up with Hernandez and they proceed to destroy Kevin’s car that he just won. Sure he lost a few locks of hair in the process, but how you could watch that package and not want to rip that Englishman’s head off, I’ll never know. I can’t even tell you how much I want to see that Cotton Bowl show now. Thank The Gentleman for that!
Scott: I’m definitely giving it to the Iceman. He adds a lot of sizzle to a boring promotion. Well at least from the babyface side. Everybody loves the Von Erichs but they are as exciting as milk. King Parsons was a breath of fresh air and saved that main event. Put Kevin Von Erich in his place and I couldn’t tell you how bad this entire show would have been.
JT: The footage of Missy attacking Sunshine we really fun and caught me off guard with how effective it was. It added some good heat to John Tatum, and I was surprised they had him out there yanking Sunshine by her hair as Missy smacked her around. I liked how Marc Lawrence took a moment to inform us that she is named Melissa Hyatt before Tatum’s bout on this show.
Chad: Missy has a great persona really early in her career. She does really well in portraying that arrogance that she is the best looking woman in the room. Her timing was well done when she was asked to interfere in the finish of the Adidas vs. Tatum match. It was easy to see how Missy would be a wrestling fixture for the next decade given her performance here.
Brian: I would not really call anything here a surprise but seeing Missy Hyatt at the beginning of her career was interesting.
Dan: Missy Hyatt was stunning in 1985. And she could pack a punch too, just ask Sunshine! That attack during the Tatum segment was so vicious, they had to blur the screen as Missy pounced on the injured Sunshine. It’s also nice to see Scott Casey is getting some work over there in Dallas. But back to Missy for a second. I think she inhabited the dreams of many boys in Texas back in the Autumn of ’85!
Scott: I was surprised to see Missy Hyatt here, because honestly I never remembered her in Dallas. I thought she was in Georgia, then migrated to JCP. She was hot in that Texas schoolgirl kind of way. Too bad she was seconding a hack like John Tatum. Man that guy was a hump.
JT: The Mike Von Erich press conference was so sad to watch and it was pretty disgusting that they ran this on TV. I know the Von Erichs were WCCW, but this was too much, the guy shouldn’t have been in front of the camera and them promoting him as a brave champion that is going to make a big comeback after he basically overdosed is fucked up. They played it off like he had been beaten up by heels or something and hearing him talk about wanting to fight at the Cotton Bowl was too much. It kind of took me right out of the mood to watch this show out of the gate.
Chad: We are getting to a dark period of WCCW where the glory days were behind us and the dwindling attendance was apparent. Nothing symbolized this decline in business than the Mike Von Erich hospital press conference. The Von Erich family demise is a true wrestling tragedy.
Brian: The Mike Von Erich press conference from the hospital was tough to watch and quite frankly is something that should have never been shown on TV. It takes a something to exploit your 21 year old in the way Fritz Von Erich did to his son here.
Dan: Yikes Mike Von Erich looked horrible here. He was sickly, over-medicated and feeble. Wikipedia said during this time, he had a fever or 107 and was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome. If that be the case, he probably shouldn’t be on camera talking about possibly wrestling in a few weeks. I know the motto down there was a Von Erich equals cash, but this boy needed to be far away from the spotlight while dealing with his illness particularly in the aftermath of David’s untimely passing. This was just a very sad segment from the get go.
Scott: This World Class roster in 1985 was pretty barren, since this show had to have double jobbers in the beginning and the Tatum/Adias match went as painfully longer than it should have. Man do they miss the Freebirds..
JT: Ah, how I have missed that entrance theme; The graphics and look feel a bit dated here when you compare to where WWF is at this point and how much World Class has been lapped in that area; That said, the video quality is quite pristine; Jim Powell looks like he was pulled off of the People of Walmart website; Pretty crazy that Bill Mercer is still going strong calling this stuff solo; Tony Montana was a great quarterback accordingly; Mercer wastes no time promoting the big Cotton Bowl show coming in October; Montana and Powell had a fun little match but neither guy had any chance of going anywhere substantial; “Very lovely and well built blonde”, great lecherous line; Brian Adias has come a long way since we last saw him. now further up the card and part of the WCCW Six Man Tag Champions; Mercer was solid here, pondering what kind of role Missy would play in the role and then gets creepy, commenting on her smile and blue eyes; Glad to see David Manning is still a strong enforcer of the rules; Mercer shouting out Bernice from Schenectady was a nice touch; The build to the huge Von Erich vs. Adams & Hernandez match was fantastic; Mark Lewin looked like a random dad you would see coaching little league at this point; The referee here looked like Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber and him and Gary Hart going at it and having the audio come off crystal clear was pretty fun; The pop for Kerry Von Erich cleaning house at the end of the main event was great
Chad: World Class felt cutting edge with the integration of music videos and other production graphics in 1982, now three years later it feels really dated. Powell vs. Montana wasn’t spectacular by any means but as a five minute match between two workers I had never heard of, they did a nice job keeping the action going and threw in some stiff strikes. Montana gets the win with a nifty looking roll up. Mike Von Erich looked awful recovering from toxic shock syndrome. This was a really sad situation where you can audibly hear the struggle Mike is experiencing at putting sentences together. We get a clip of Missy Hyatt attacking Sunshine in one of her first wrestling appearances. Jack Victory is all over the 1980s. Mark Lewin is someone that I have never really appreciated but he has a fascinating wrestling career worldwide. Gary Hart has the boom microphone right in his face and he gives the business to the referee. Lewin loves his stalling. Iceman gets worked over a bit with not much of interest. The hot tag is made and the match breaks down. Finish comes when Iceman rolls up Victory. This was a pretty poor match overall.
Brian: The show started off with a technically proficient match between unknowns Jim Powell and Tommy Montana, who appears to have been a solid worker anyway. After that was the Mike Von Erich press conference as he is flanked by his brothers. He was just 21 years old and recovering from toxic shock syndrome and could barely even speak. Its not a surprise that the 1985 “Wrestling Observer Newsletter Award” for “Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic” as the usage of Mike Von Erich’s near death experience. Moving on, we get a video package of Missy Hyatt attacking Precious during a John Tatum vs. Scott Casey match after Precious slapped Tatum. That kicked off the Precious vs. Missy Hyatt feud that ended up in a Mud Pit match the following year at the “Parade of Champions.” After that, Tatum beat Adias in a dull match but at least Tatum was able to establish himself as an effective heel. We then saw the great video package on the Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams (for my money the best super kick in wrestling history) vs. Von Erichs and the show closed out with a tag match between Kerry Von Erich & Iceman King Parson and Mark Lewin & Jack Victory. Lewin could barely move and this match was nothing special but at the finish was interesting.
Dan: So a satellite zaps the planet and bad wrestling clips spawn from the Earth’s crust? That’s what I got from that opening. Jim Powell without seeing another second of this show wins “Mullet of the Night.” Mercer adds that Powell is “with a bit more tights on” than his opponent. That’s some hard hitting analysis you will only find in the Sportatorium. At one point, Mercer says “perfect move” by Montana and all he did was avoid an elbow drop while he was laying on the canvas. Nice to see Jack Tatum going strong with his feathered boa game for this event. Fun Fact: That’s the exact same outfit I wore to my Junior Prom. Good to see that so many years later, Brian Adias is still riding those Von Erich coattails as the third wheel in their 6-Man tag team. Sorry, I’m not sorry. Missy Hyatt was an absolute smoke show in 1985! Geez, Tatus could sell the shit out of the simplest moves. It’s just a hip toss bud, relax! I think “great move” was Mercer’s version of Vince’s soon-to-be iconic “what a maneuver!” I liked how Mercer spoke about Gary Hart’s stable and how unpredictable they have become, particularly as it pertains to the Six-Man Tag Team Championships. Hart should go back to wearing sweater vests though to the ring. That safari outfit just wasn’t doing it for me tonight!
Scott: Wow the opening is so much cleaner than that chopped up mess in 1983. At least they didn’t change the opening theme; What weird opening jobber match is this? Wow the roster must have been pretty thin at this point; Bill Mercer wonders if Tommy Montana is related to Joe. How dumb. Not dumb that he believes it, but dumb that he even attempted that joke; Mike Von Erich looked awful in this press conference. I don’t know what Toxic Shock Syndrome was but he looked like a zombie. It was uncomfortable; We have some blurred nudity when this blonde chick ripped Sunshine’s top off. I always thought Sunshine was better looking than Precious; Missy is Missy Hyatt, but I couldn’t tell until the Brian Adias match. How pretty and innocent she looks. Yeah, that will change in about 15 years; This Adias/Tatum match is dreadful, with lots of stalling, and Tatum doesn’t even have great charisma. It’s just blind stalling and going way too long; The crowd is moderately hot, but you can tell this promotion doesn’t have the same vigor it did when we were watching it two years earlier here on the Network; Gino Hernandez is probably the best heel in the promotion right now; How hard is it for Bill Mercer to say “World Six-Man Tag Team Champions”? He can never say it without flubbing over his words. He did that back in 1983 too. You’d figure he got it by now; Mark Lewin is jacked, even though he’s wearing sweatpants; I’m still an Iceman fan, as he brought some flavor to the babyfaces in the promotion to help the boring Von Erichs; The open may be new, but the closing graphics are still from 1983
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: It was nice to return to the Sportatorium to see what was up in WCCW and while the presentation and overall excitement level is there, this is clearly a much cooler product than when we were here regularly. There is a new batch of talent mixing it up with the Von Erichs and the fans are still eating it up but there are definitely less of them in the building. The Tatum & Missy stuff was really un and there is potential there for sure but in some ways he felt like a Jimmy Garvin knock off, which isn’t fair but I could see fans thinking that way at the time. The highlight here was really that video package setting up the hair match, which is disappointing to us since we won’t see it. Again, this was fun to stop in for a visit but I am glad we aren’t hanging around Dallas for any period of time. Final Grade: 3/10
Chad: A tough episode to grade as the main objectives seemed to be to showcase John Tatum and build up the Hernandez & Adams vs. Von Erich feud. In that sense, this show was a success and both of those things were accomplished. In the other sense, a lot of the ancillary factors felt very inconsequential here and there was a general feeling of the product overall being on the decline. Final Grade: 3.5/10
Brian: The video packages were exciting but unfortunately the rest was not. The action was poor and you can tell that the starpower in the promotion was just not there anymore. The Mike Von Erich exploitation was a total turnoff too. I guess it was fine to build up John Tatum for a majority of the show as they needed to elevate others but this was a completely forgettable show with a press conference that never should have aired. Final Grade: 2.5/10
Dan: Oh hi Chad! Fancy meeting you here! Isn’t showing up for a random WCCW when we’ve been doing TNT’s all this time the equivalent to all of us running a whole marathon in the pouring rain with a busted knee while you took the shuttle bus to the finish line? Man, is it great to be in Dallas! I echo what Scott said earlier. It does feel different without the Freebirds and some of the other big names we grew to love in years past. The wrestling on this show was okay and the buildup to that Cotton Bowl show was palpable. The Mike Von Erich stuff was painful to watch and definitely affected my mood because we know where that is heading. The Missy and Tatum stuff was fun though sadly they were strapped to that load, Brian Adias. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for this short stop on this adventure and a break from WWF land. But this show was nothing to write home about but contractual obligations required me to do just that for you lovely readers. I’m in this race for the long haul sucka! Final Grade: 4/10
Scott: This is a dreadful episode to a promotion that by 1985 had a light roster and not much sizzle. That press conference was tough to watch, as Mike Von Erich looked like he hadn’t seen the sun in months. His disorientation was downright scary, and sadly we would see where his future would go. The main event was great but we don’t even get a Hernandez & Adams appearance, which sucks because they are the only ones that have any personality on the heel side. This is a big thumbs down and a snapshot at how bad 1985 World Class was. Final Grade: 1.5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!