Ringside Apostles Present… FLASHBACK FRIDAY [Episode 1]: WWE Old School.
Flashback Fridays – Episode 1:
WWE Old School – January 23, 1984
And HERE.. WE.. GO. An article 30-plus years in the making, GodHatesGeeks & the Ringside Apostles bring to you, Flashback Friday. Since I’m an O.G. I figured I’d get old school on yo’ asses. Call it odd, but I love to go back and watch old content on the WWE Network; with that, I put together a timeline of Network content and starting watching everything from the beginning.
(Pastor’s Note: While programming didn’t see much consistency until about 1984, there is content dating as far back as 1975. For the purposes on this series, we’re going to start in 1984. While I won’t be jumping around too much, this Pastor is sure to take you on a journey where we’ll witness the evolution of sports entertainment over the past 35 years.)
The year 1984 was picked due to the consistency in programming and the rise of the phenomenon known as Hulkamania. I know some old school purists might say I’m skipping the first Starrcade in ’83 — the first, so to speak, pro wrestling PPV. But… in this feature we’ll dive into the likes of Mid-South, WWE (WWF) Old School, the absolute horrendous Tuesday Night Titans and the first major event of 1984, WCW (or NWA) Starrcade ’84.
We’re joined by our hosts for the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes, for the first episode of WWE Old School — a look back at January 23, 1984 in New York City. This was the night Hulk Hogan captured the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from The Iron Sheik. The rise of Hulkamania.
The card opened with Jose Luis Rivera versus Tony Garea in a 20-minute limit match. It seems like every match in the 80’s had a 20-minute time limit. To the casual fan, this is not a watchable match for today’s standards. But this is 1983 and I’m still not impressed. In the end Garea tosses Rivera to the turnbuckle, Rivera jumps onto the buckle and hits a bodypress. Garea then uses his momentum to roll through and end up on top for the pinfall.
RESULT: TONY GAREA VIA PINFALL
The next match was a tag team match with a 20-minute time limit. Tiger Chung Lee and Mr. Fuji (yeah, that Mr. Fuji) face off with the Invaders. While the Invaders wore masks, we know that they were Robert Soto and Jose Gonzalez (who would go on to murder Bruiser Brody in July of 1988 without consequence… but we’re not there yet). I was baffled at what moves worked back in the early 80’s. Fuji applied a claw hold to Invader #1’s kidney for a good 3-minutes that seemed to immobilize the Invader for some odd reason. In the end, the Invaders locked both Lee and Fuji in a “row boat” as time expired. What in JBL’s name did I just watch????? I now understand the 20-minute time limit. Thank you, Vince.
RESULT: TIME LIMIT DRAW
Sweet. After that mess of a match we get to see Chief Jay Strongbow take on the Masked Superstar. For those of you who don’t know, the Masked Superstar was none other than Bill Eadie, who would go on to become Ax of Demolition. But tonight he’s wearing a mask. There was a lot of talk by Hayes and Monsoon as to who the Masked Superstar might actually be. Monsoon said that the Superstar would turn his back and change his mask to go take a shower just to keep his identity secret. Not sure if that’s kayfabe or if he really did that, but that’s dedication if he did.
Wait… the Masked Superstar just clotheslined Strongbow into next year and scored the pin 7:30 into this thing. What? I’m pretty sure Strongbow should have went over in this one. The Superstar would go on to leave the WWF shortly thereafter and not return until 1986 as a member of the Machines and not as the Masked Superstar. Damn you, Vince, and your 50/50 booking.
RESULT: THE MASKED SUPERSTAR VIA PINFALL
Ivan Putski was next out to the ring. The Polish Hammer. Wait… he’s fighting Sgt. Slaughter? I thought both of these guys were faces? Slaughter came out to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, so we know he’s a face. He’s also the only person this far into the night to get entrance music. These two bears fought a dirty fight and clearly Putski was playing the heel. In the end it’s a count-out victory for the Sarge.
RESULT: SGT. SLAUGHTER VIA COUNT-OUT
There are eight matches on this card. For a house show. Albeit in MSG. But still. I’m with it! Paul Orndorff is next on the card. He was accompanied to the ring by the Rowdy Scot, Roddy Piper. His opponent tonight would be Salvatore Palomo and guess what? Yup… 20-minute time limit. This MSG debut of Orndorff saw a piledriver and kneeling pin while the ref counts to three. A 14-minute squash if there ever was one.
RESULT: PAUL ORNDORFF VIA PINFALL
And here comes the Iron Sheik with Classy Freddie Blassie. … wait… aren’t there two more matches after this? So this isn’t the main event? And the champ coming out first and losing the title was a thing in the 80’s too? Before the match starts they go to prerecorded comments from Sheik and Blassie with Mean Gene. They complain that Hogan doesn’t deserve this title match and that Sheik was supposed to wrestle Bob Backlund but it was changed to the Hulkster last minute. Built in excuse already huh? America *Kaptooie* and all that good stuff from Sheikie. I miss this guy. Hulk Hogan came out to “Real American” and immediately went after Sheik. He didn’t even let him get his robe off before he attacked. Hogan choked the Sheik, spat at him and basically threw the rulebook out. But it’s Hogan so it’s cool. Sheik took control and locked in the camel clutch only for Hogan to “Hulk up”, hit the leg drop, and win the title. When the New York crowd erupted, I marked out like a school girl at a Justin Beiber concert; Hulkamania had officially arrived 5-minutes and 40 seconds into this one.
For some odd reason, they tried to force Sheik to be stretchered out —
perhaps because Hogan didn’t use that many actual wrestling holds and just beat Sheikie up. Seems legit. But the Sheik wasn’t going out like that; he fought off the medics and tried to attack Hogan, only to get beat up again and promptly tossed out of the ring. I love Hulk Hogan.
RESULT: HULK HOGAN VIA PINFALL NEW WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION
In the back Andre, Rocky Johnson and… Ivan Putski — who I’m pretty sure was a heel against Sgt. Slaughter just 10-minutes ago — congratulated Hogan on the win. WHAT ARE YOU DOING PUTSKI?!?!?! YOU DON’T BREAK KAYFABE ON CAMERA!!! So I guess kayfabe was dead in 1984, too. I’m willing to bet he got screamed at by Vince for being in the shot right after playing the bad guy. Stupid Idiot. So they decided to cool the MSG crowd down a little with a filler match. Rene Goulet comes out next to face off with the Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Super squash. Super quick. Three minutes and Snuka hits a body press from the top rope for the pin. Not even his usual Superfly Splash. Just a body press. OK New York, you got your Snuka for the night, and that was last call.
RESULT: JIMMY SNUKA VIA PINFALL
Huh?? So now we’re in the back and Hulk Hogan is with Mean Gene Okerland again, but this time they’re joined by… Hulk Hogan’s parents??? Yup. Ruth and Peter Bolea… Oh excuse me, Hogan. Guess kayfabe isn’t dead. This is the strangest interview I’ve EVER seen and I watched them interview the hand that Mae Young gave birth to. What … the … Hogan????
It’s main event time in the Garden and the Wild Samoans, Afa, Sika and Samula come out with their manager, Capt. Lou Albano in all his heel glory. They took on the tag team champions, Tony Atlas & Rocky Johnson and their partner, Andre the Giant. Holy crap, Vince booked two black guys to be tag champions and main event a card at MSG? Who knew??? We all know this is more of a show than an actual match anyone cares about right? Hogan was the main event. This was just feel good filler stuff to end the night. Everybody loves Andre, which is why he hit a big boot and sat on Samula’s chest for the 1-2-3 about 5-minutes in.
RESULT: ANDRE THE GIANT, ROCKY JOHNSON AND TONY ATLAS VIA PINFALL
And that was that. For 1984 it felt a lot like a 2017 RAW, minus the promos. That’s not a good thing–just a familiar one. Pointless tag matches, 50/50 senseless booking, the heel coming out first and losing the title, confusion over who’s face and heel and a 6-man tag in the main event. I’d rate this one 2.5/5 Bibles. And… that’s only because I’m a huge Hogan mark so watching him beat Sheikie for that title will never get old. I mean, it was only a house show. And it was on a Monday night.
(Side Note: there were a couple of matches that didn’t make the Network for some reason or another. I’d guess problems with the footage. Don Muraco defended the Intercontinental Title against Tito Santana and there was a midget tag team match. The worst part is those two matches may have added a bible to the rating. Damn you, Vince.)
Next time on FLASHBACK FRIDAY: EPISODE 2: Tuesday Night Titans!