WWF New York City House Show – October 22, 1984: That Awkward Time Before The Golden Era

WWF House Show
Date: October 22, 1984
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 20,000
Commentators: Gene Okerlund, Gorilla Monsoon

This is a sequel to the previous month’s house show, as we have Hogan vs. Studd again, though this time if Hogan loses by countout he loses the title. Also after last month’s six man tag, we have the Samoans vs. Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis in singles matches. We’re still a few months away from the real kickoff of the Golden Era but things are rapidly picking up around here. Let’s get to it.

David Schultz vs. Salvatore Bellomo

Bellomo cranks on the arm to start but Schultz keeps going to the ropes for a break. David takes it to the mat but gets caught in a headscissors as the crowd doesn’t seem all that interested. Back up and Schultz takes over with a knee to the ribs as the slow pace continues. A hard clothesline puts Sal down, giving us this line from Gene: “That’ll jar your mother’s preserves.” Schultz hits a modified hot shot and a middle rope elbow for two. David goes off on Sal before finishing him with a suplex, complete with the slowest three count this side of a screwjob.

Rating: D-. Who thought this dull match was a good choice for an opener? I mean, a four minute match that ends with a suplex? Neither of these guys ever did anything, though Schultz had some potential until he screwed up on a news show by beating up the host when asked if wrestling was fake. Nothing match.

Afa vs. Dick Murdoch

Murdoch is one half of the tag team champions. Afa backs him into the corner so Dick begs for mercy. Murdoch is already on the floor for a breather as I sense a lot of stalling coming. Back in and Afa backs him into the corner again so Murdoch begs for more mercy. Oh yeah this is going to be a long one. Back in again and Afa grabs a headlock. Boy is he WILD! Murdoch misses an elbow in the corner and we get the same begging for mercy deal again. Back to the headlock as Gene and Gorilla try to understand the Samoan language.

Murdoch gets in a knee to the ribs but hurts his elbow when he hits Afa in the head. They lock up again and Murdoch blocks a headbutt with his forearms, only to injure his arms in the process. We’re five minutes into this match and I haven’t left out a thing. Right hands to Afa’s head hurt Dick’s hands and Afa no sells rams into the buckle. Now it’s Dick being sent into the buckle and out to the floor as this just keeps going.

Back in again and Afa cranks on the arm, which is to say he holds Murdoch’s wrist and stands there. Murdoch tries another headbutt and knocks himself down, because the joke wasn’t hammered in hard enough yet. ANOTHER headbutt from Murdoch hurts himself more than Afa, this time sending Dick rolling around the ring. An Afa headbutt gets two but Murdoch finally sends him to the floor to get something going. Hillbilly Jim is in the front row.

Afa is choked by a camera cable and Murdoch stomps away from the apron. Now Murdoch chokes with the tag rope. We’re ten minutes into this now and I don’t think there’s been anything of note at all. Murdoch pounds on the face and head with no effect and Afa takes over with a hard chop. An atomic drop has Dick in pain and another one is good for two. Some hard headbutts have Murdoch in trouble and another one sends him to the floor. Dick finds a bottle of some kind and a shot to the head has Afa in trouble.

Murdoch snap mares him down and drops an elbow for two. The kickout sends Murdoch into the ropes to a lot of frustration. Dick fires off right hands and hits the ropes, only to ram heads with Afa which has an effect on Afa now for no explained reason. Yet another headbutt puts Murdoch down and Afa rams Dick’s head into the mat for two as the time limit expires.

Rating: F. Read through the match again and you’ll get the idea behind this. The match ran about twenty minutes and had MAYBE seven minutes of “action.” In case you didn’t get the idea that was pounded into your skull, Afa had a hard head. When that’s the only thing you can throw out there for twenty minutes, your match sucked.

Murdoch wants five more minutes but gets headbutted down and bails.

Mad Dog Vachon, a spry newcomer at the age of 55, says he’s already a legend and now he’s going to take over the WWF.

Mad Dog Vachon vs. Rick McGraw

Vachon takes over with an armdrag into an armbar to start as Gene talks about his dog dying. Off to a headlock and then a top wristlock with McGraw fighting to his feet. Rick hooks a quickly broken headlock and they chop each other a bit. This is even more dull stuff which is the last thing this show needed. McGraw chops away in the corner and snap mares Vachon down for two. Mad Dog chokes a lot but gets caught by a dropkick. Vachon misses a charge into the post and a slam gets two for Rick. McGraw gets choked on the ropes for a bit and a piledriver gets the win for Vachon.

Rating: D. Another lame match here which somehow went nearly eight minutes. That’s the problem with the three matches tonight: there’s too much wasting time with almost no effort being put in by the guys. I know it’s a very different era, but at least make it look like you’re trying.

David Sammartino is proud to start tonight.

David Sammartino vs. Moondog Spot

Of course we start with stalling until Spot shoves him up against the ropes. Sammartino takes him down with a drop toehold and they look at each other some more. The small Sammartino shows off some VERY impressive power with a delayed gorilla press slam on the 300lb Spot. Well that makes up for the stalling at least. Off to an armbar by Sammartino and let’s look at Hillbilly Jim again.

Still in the armbar now as the crowd slips further and further into the coma. Gorilla keeps us entertained with stories of facing Bruno Sammartino in an HOUR AND FORTY TWO MINUTE draw where Gorilla lost 26lbs during the match. I can’t find any evidence that the match takes place, but the first rule of 1980s wrestling: if Monsoon says it, it’s the truth. The hold is finally broken and Sammartino punches him down into the corner. Back up and Spot takes him down with a kick to the chest. Chuck Wepner, the man who inspired the Rocky movies, is in the audience.

Sammartino avoids a shot to the back and takes Spot down, only to be caught by a knee lift. A middle rope fist to the back doesn’t have too much effect on David so we hit the chinlock instead. Back up and Sammartino runs over Spot but misses an elbow drop to put him back down. Two feet to Spot’s chest out of the corner put him down and David pounds away. An uppercut drops Spot and a knee drop gets two. They trade some lame near falls before Sammartino counters a powerslam into a small package for the pin.

Rating: D. Egads this was another dull match. As mentioned, this was mainly armbars which doesn’t make for an interesting match. At the end of the day, David just wasn’t very good, but having his last name didn’t make things any easier. There was no way he was going to come close to his dad’s success and he never got going as a result. Again, the lack of skill didn’t help either.

Tito Santana wants the title back but he wants revenge on Greg Valentine even more.

Intercontinental Title: Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana

This should be good. Since when did Valentine have Lou Albano with him? Valentine took the title from Santana and injured Tito’s knee, putting him out of action, making tonight about revenge. Santana goes right after Valentine from the opening bell and knocks the belt out of Greg’s hands. Valentine goes face first into the mat as it’s all Tito so far. The fans are finally awake for this

Greg comes back with right hands but Tito wins the slugout and sends the champion to the floor. Tito is fine with beating up Valentine on the floor and brings him back inside to ram the champ’s head into the mat. Valentine finally gets a breather after raking the eyes and a knee sends Tito to the floor. Albano gets in a cheap shot of his own but Tito pulls Valentine to the floor to keep up the brawl. Valentine grabs a chair and THROWS IT at Tito but only hits the apron. They head back inside with the chair and Tito cracks Valentine in the head, busting him open. Somehow that isn’t a DQ but Tito throws the referee down for the bell.

Rating: C+. This was short but VERY intense throughout. Tito knew how to work a crowd into a frenzy and the New York crowds ate him up with a spoon. This was one of those feuds that was going to work no matter what they did and this was no exception. Also it woke the crowd up which was what this show needed more than anything.

Ken Patera vs. Rocky Johnson

Rocky is more famous as the father of the Rock. Patera, a strongman, hides in the ropes to start. Shots to Johnson’s head have no effect so it’s time for more hiding in the ropes. A headlock takes Ken down to the mat as we make sure to keep this slow in case the fans start being entertained. Back up and they collide with neither guy going anywhere at all. Johnson takes him down with a headscissors, which like most other holds tonight, stays on for a LONG time.

Patera escapes and throws him down near the ropes to pound away. We hit the chinlock as the crowd is still silent. Johnson bridges out of the hold but Patera pulls him right back down by the hair so we can stay in the hold for over two minutes. Johnson finally gets up and pounds away to fire up the fans a bit so Patera elbows him down to stop that cold. Patera avoids a dropkick but misses an elbow drop to put both guys down. Back up and Rocky tries an O’Connor Roll, only to have Patera roll through and grab the trunks for the pin.

Rating: D+. Somehow this is one of the better matches of the night due to it not sucking so badly. Johnson had a ton of charisma and was a much bigger deal earlier in the 80s but he was over enough here to get the audience to care. Just nothing of note to see here again though as the match had no energy to it until the end.

Sika vs. Adrian Adonis

Adonis is the other half of the tag champions along with Murdoch. Sika takes him down by the arm to start and kicks at the shoulder before sending Adonis to the floor. Back in for more arm cranking by the Samoan which of course goes on forever. Adonis finally kicks away but gets slammed down and put right back in the armbar. The hold is finally broken again and a clothesline puts Sika down. Adrian gets crotched on the top but pulls out a loaded glove, only to hit the referee for the DQ.

Rating: D-. To give you an idea of how nothing this match was, it ran nearly ten minutes. On average, each paragraph covers about four minutes of action. This match was covered entirely in less than half that space. After all the nonsense I’ve had to sit through for this show, they put this on as a follow up? How did this company explode in just a few months anyway?

Luscious Johnny V says he’s been around the world but now he’s back with a new client: Brutus Beefcake. Johnny even explains the name: he’s a brute, he eats beef and his opponents are a piece of cake. We’re likely in an intermission here to give the fans a break from the “action”.

Sgt. Slaughter talks about wrestling a lot of big matches over his career but tonight he has to prove he’s better than a Russian. It’s SO strange hearing Slaughter being all calm and reserved compared to how he usually sounds. Slaughter promises to win for AMERICA.

Ken Patera says he attracts controversy because he’s awesome. He has a hole in his arm and blames a black man for it. No one in particular, just a black man.

Nikolai Volkoff vs. Sgt. Slaughter

Sarge is WAY over. They shove each other around to start with Hillbilly Jim approving of Slaughter’s actions. Nikolai’s headlock doesn’t get him anywhere but he keeps it on for over a minute to get everything out of it that he can. Slaughter shoves him off and hits a hard clothesline to stagger Volkoff. The camera keeps going to a wide shot and it’s getting annoying. Nikolai gets in a shot to the throat to take over.

Slaughter gets pounded in the back and we hit a bearhug. Volkoff mixes things up a bit though by bending Slaughter forward and down over the Russian’s knees to crank on the back even more. Sarge fights out of the hold but more shots to the back put him down. Slaughter can’t slam Nikolai and gets rammed face first into an exposed buckle. A middle rope kick to the back of Slaughter’s head keeps him down and the American is bleeding a bit.

We hit the nerve hold for a good ninety seconds before Slaughter is sent into the corner for two. A knee drop gets two more for Nikolai but a middle rope version only hits mat. Slaughter fires off a slingshot and Nikolai is in trouble. The fans are getting into the match so Volkoff sends him into the corner and out to the floor to quiet them down again.

Nikolai breaks the count to stomp on the Sarge a bit more and ram him back first into the post. A backbreaker puts Sarge down again but Slaughter makes it back to the apron. Nikolai swings at him but gets caught in the Cobra Clutch from the apron, only to have Slaughter get counted out with the Russian in the hold.

Rating: C-. Dull match for the most part but the fans were so into Slaughter that it makes up for a lot of the boring parts. The ending was smart as well with Volkoff winning but getting beaten down at the same time. Given the drek I’ve had to sit through for over two hours now, this felt like Flair vs. Steamboat.

Brutus Beefcake vs. Tony Garea

Brutus struts to start before shoving Tony into the corner. Tony comes back with some right hands and a headlock to slow things down one more time. Back up and a cross body gets two for Garea and it’s back to the stupid headlock. Beefcake counters into a headscissors to really crank things up before choking away. Brutus pounds away but misses a charge into the corner, allowing Tony to get in some right hands of his own. Back up again and Garea gets two off an O’Connor Roll, only to get caught by a knee to the head for the pin.

Rating: D+. Garea is a good guy but Brutus wasn’t worth much at this point in his career. The match was kept short to prevent Brutus from looking weak which was a good idea, but it didn’t make it an easy sit. If it sounds like I’m rambling to fill in space here, it’s because this show has dulled my brain very badly.

The 11pm curfew is waived, meaning there’s basically no time limit to the title match.

Fink runs down the card for the November show. The card sounds even less interesting than tonight’s show. The only match of note is Salvatore Bellomo vs. Bobby Heenan, which Bobby would actually win clean. Oh and a No DQ match between Santana and Valentine. The crowd doesn’t seem to care other than the Santana match, so Fink mentions that Bruno Sammartino will be in his son’s corner to finally get the fans to care.

WWF World Title: Big John Studd vs. Hulk Hogan

If Hogan gets counted out, he loses the title. The place goes NUTS for Hogan and Eye of the Tiger. Studd jumps him during the entrance but Hogan no sells everything and punches Studd to the floor. Back in and Hogan easily pounds Studd down again but Hogan follows him to the floor this time. John gets in some cheap shots and sends Hogan into the post but Hulk makes it back in at nine.

Back in and we hit the chinlock before a middle rope forearm to the back puts Hogan down again. After another look at Hillbilly, Hogan powers out but gets kneed in the back to keep John in control. An elbow drop puts Hogan on the floor and Studd slams him down on the concrete. Heenan says to get Hogan back inside, which is anti-Brain thinking. Hulk makes it back in at nine and a shoulder block gets a slow two. It’s Hulk Up time and the champion blocks a slam. A forearm to the head and an elbow drop get two for Hogan (when do you remember Hogan only getting two? That NEVER happened) but a clothesline retains the title.

Rating: D+. It’s Hogan against a monster in the mid-80s. As a childhood Hulkamaniac, I can’t dislike this formula no matter what the match looks like. The fans went nuts for Hogan which was the obvious outcome, but let’s take a quick look at why. All night long, other than Tito and Slaughter, everyone has been reserved and conservative, but those three with Hogan in particular are INSANE out there, playing to the crowd and running around like a maniac. The fans respond to the different style and it makes the matches much easier to get through. Simple formula but it works every time.

Post match Hogan offers to put up the title against Studd’s $15,000 body slam challenge but John bails to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. As boring as this show was, it really isn’t terrible. It goes by pretty quickly, but it’s much more dull than bad. The Hogan/Slaughter/Tito stuff is good but the rest of the guys here were incredibly boring. It would take all the new names coming in soon to really boost things up. This was a transitional time for the company as you can see a lot of the old guard still getting a reaction but having bad matches, making it a dull show but profitable on name value alone.

 

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