As we turn 2016 into 2017, it is appropriate to look back to a show that also aired on New Year’s Eve (sort of, more on that later) and on the precipice of the wrestling world being changed forever. I already covered the episode after this one, but let’s take a look at what preceded it.
The theme song of this time is “Cruise Control” by the Dixie Dregs and is now also my ringtone. It would be replaced with an instrumental from Michael Jackson’s Thriller in about 2 ½ months. This version ends with Backlund holding the belt amidst the fake mob, and maybe we’ll find out something on that front today. Our hosts are Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson, who offer the same old platitudes in telling us what’s coming up, no sign of perhaps a shocking announcement or anything like that.
The Wild Samoans (w/Capt. Lou Albano) vs. SD Jones and Tony Garea
Good ol’ SD is still hailing from Philadelphia at this point, and does his trademark finger gun thing. If he was in the Bullet Club, it still wouldn’t be as bad as Jeff Jarrett. Garea and his hair have gone from tag champs to full time job duty in a two year span.
Meanwhile, the Samoans are just off losing the tag titles to Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson. They are plenty pissed and chuck Jones and Garea over the top to the floor, which was different back when it was just the cement floors in the Allentown fairgrounds. Garea is the first in peril, and now it’s a true test to see who is more protected, Jones or Garea?
The answer is Garea, who despite getting beat down makes a tag to Jones who is then pinned with a double head butt. In 1983 wrestling, two Samoans headbutting a black guy works.
Eddie Gilbert vs. Ken Jugan
Gilbert was still coming off the injury at this point and a month earlier there was a long and bizarre segment with Bob Backlund working out Gilbert with a lot of grunts and other noises that would make you think something unmentionable was happening. But mainly it was long. Well, he’s aligned with the champ, what could go wrong? Backlund’s never losing that title!
Funny moment for the voiceover promo as Howard Finkel tells us about the card coming to the Irvington Vocational School in New Jersey. Hoo boy, would they outgrow high school gyms in a hurry.
Gilbert is usually boring from this time period but here I am struck by how much he looks exactly like 1985 Roddy Piper. I don’t think Hot Rod was doing loose armbars in job matches though. He gets the win with a Thesz Press from the 2nd rope, or as Vince calls it “Look at that maneuver!” The final positioning on this is not flattering.
And now for the time-bending mind fuck. Here’s Gene Okerlund, who wouldn’t debut for another week on the show, introducing the promos. The reason for this is that the show wouldn’t air until a few weeks later in some markets. While this would air on New Year’s Eve in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, cities like Los Angeles would see a delay of 2-3 weeks.
I’ve watched a ton of old WWF circa 1979-85 this year, and this promo from Magnificent Muraco might be the favorite of all the ones I have seen. He’s the IC champ at this point and will face Pat Patterson in Glens Falls, NY. Patterson was still wrestling part time as he had become Vince’s right hand man.
Gene brings up Patterson as Muraco yawns. I think I should just transcribe this.
“I have a whole recording of Pat Patterson’s interviews, a recording of his wrestling matches a recording of Pat Patterson’s most exciting moments and I play them every night before I go to sleep because they put me to sleep. He is BOOOOOOORING! He is BOOOOOOORING! Pat Patterson is probably the most BOOORING person I have ever come across in my life. When I sit here I want to pick my nose and yawn and just go <yawns> He’s BORING! Isn’t he boring? And he wants to be a champion!”
<Laughing> (to Albano) How about his prowess? Have you seen the things he gets behind? How about him? How about him for being boring? <stares into camera> BORING!
I love that damn promo so much.
Okerlund is with Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff, who ignores the question about Backlund and remarks on how good he himself looks. Ignoring Backlund? But he’s the champ!
Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff vs. Steve Lombardi
No Piper with Orndorff yet. Mr. Wonderful was part of the first wave of guys who came in from Georgia a month of two earlier that included the Masked Superstar.
Finkel voiceover tells us how to get the WWF calendar for 1984. Only $6! Too bad that calendar won’t be used again until the year 2040 because of the leap year.
As Orndorff stalls getting his robe off (and the ref counts for some reason), Vince reads a question from a viewer: “Who is Tito Santana’s best friend in the WWF?” Well, if this was late 1991, it would be Virgil. But it’s not so Patterson stammers and says he has a lot of friends. “I wouldn’t know,” says Patterson. Orndorff hits his big piledriver before you know it.
Patterson is with Orndorff, and calls him the most arrogant guy he’s ever seen. Mr. Wonderful says the fans should keep their traps shut and not cheer or boo. That’s interesting, a wrestler who wants no crowd noise. Has he considered Japan?
Update: BREAKING NEWS
Vince is at the MSG locker room and tells us that Bob Backlund….has been defeated? Whaaaa? Footage is shown of Backlund in the Iron Sheik’s Camel Clutch and the towel being thrown in. Lord Alfred Hayes is with “Ayatollah” Blassie and the Sheik. Blassie gives the kind of interview you’d hear from Generic Hockey Player after a big win, and Sheik does the foreign language bit. Nothing make me laugh quite like Blassie saying “BALLY, BALLY!” in the background.
And now comments from Backlund and manager Arnold Skaaland, who says his man didn’t want to let the fans down. Backlund is whimpering like a complete asshole as he has a compress held against his shoulder. I desperately want Vito Corleone to walk in and slap Backlund and say “YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!” like he did to Johnny Fontaine in similar circumstances.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Ted Bailey
This is a very strange spot in Sarge’s career: his manager Grand Wizard had died two months earlier but he is still a heel, but one being put over for his toughness by Vince. He’s not being booed like he once was, and he is also the only guy with entrance music (Marine Corps Hymn) on the entire show.
More questions for Patterson on the Persian clubs used by the Iron Sheik: Are they available for purchase? “They are available very few places.” Thanks, Pat. Cobra Clutch ends this quickly in Sarge’s favor.
Victory Corner with Tito Santana
Magazine editor Robert DeBord takes way too long to get to the frickin’ point. He literally asks Tito how he “copes” with female adulation. If this was a proper heel interviewer, he would have simply said, “Chico, how do you deal with all the pussy being thrown at you?”
Thank God Piper was coming to save us from these segments.
The Masked Superstar vs. Nick DeCarlo
DeCarlo is always interesting to me because I’ve never seen him win, but he gets cheers and is presented as a little higher than a regular jobber. Like a Canadian SD Jones. But he’s put away with the swinging neckbreaker in a mere 91 seconds. Lasted longer than Ronda Rousey did at UFC 207, though.
Tito Santana vs. Iron Mike Sharpe
It’s imperative to note here that Sharpe was not a total jobber on WWF TV in 1983. He was an actual contender who got IC and WORLD title shots. Yes, they had to go there for Backlund opponents as his reign reached nearly six years. This match was set up on the previous week’s episode.
Crowd chants “WIMP” at Sharpe which always gave him a complex so he stalls for a long while, like it’s a Larry Z tribute act. Santana gets control and tries to rip off the forearm brace Iron Mike wears but is unsuccessful. Tito does a couple of wrenching headlock spots which are made by Sharpe’s selling, which is that of a drunk man after 10 vodka tonics on NYE.
Sharpe gets control for a bit, but preens for the crowd and Santana knocks him to the outside almost into ring announcer Joe McHugh’s lap. Sharpe decides he’s had enough and just leaves for the countout. It’s quite fitting that Mike Sharpe passed away (Jan. 16) during a year when a WWE memo leaked stating that stalling is prohibited in house show matches. Iron Mike wouldn’t have wanted to see that.
Vince says that next week’s feature will be the Wild Samoans against Bob Backlund and a mystery partner. Gee, I wonder who that could be?
Another ad for the 1984 calendar. If you really want one, someone on eBay is selling.
We close out the show with wrestlers making resolutions for 1984.
- Mike Sharpe: vows to not get upset when people call him a wimp. Hey, that’s something. A heel trying to show personal growth.
- Tony Garea: To win a match again.
- Ivan Koloff: Don’t get blackballed from the WWF. Actually, I’m not sure what he said.
- Rocky Johnson: Raise his son to the be the biggest star in the world by the year 2014.
- Wild Samoans: I have no idea. Work against the wrestling stereotypes of Samoans?
- Sgt. Slaughter: “Cobra Corps in ’84!” Hey, that one actually came true!
- Capt. Lou Albano: Wants to be a hero and role model to the people. And that came true in a way with his babyface turn at the end of the year.
- Gorilla Monsoon: Vows to always hook the leg and lock those fingers on a full nelson.
- Mr. Fuji: Start a low-salt diet
- Tito Santana: Take those matador classes he’s been talking about for a while
I only made most of those up. Happy New Year everyone!
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