October 24, 2009
Alexander Settee

MSG House Show, December 28, 1984, Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene Okerlund

With the recent passing of Captain Lou Albano, a mainstay of the (W)WWF for many years, hereís a look back at a show featuring a memorable moment of his career. Since the early seventies, Albano had been one of the three heel managers in the territory who would constantly bring in new threats to the relatively stable group of babyfaces who would headline the shows. By 1984, times were changing though. The Grand Wizard had died the previous year, breaking up the ďThree Wise Men of the EastĒ and Vince McMahon, Jr. was looking at expanding his company past the old boundaries. New talent and new managers were being brought in to lead this charge meaning that Albano was losing his spot, but with his colourful personality and not to mention Vince having a deal with his father that Albano was among those he was to take care of, Vince decided to go with him as a babyface manager. On this show, weíre going to see the moment that turns him into one, and hopefully weíll get some other good stuff too, so on with the show, which by the way is the WWE 24/7 version, so if anything important is missing itís their fault.

Opening Match: Brutus Beefcake (w/Johnny Valiant) vs. S.D. Jones
Beefcake is pretty new to the WWF at this point and so he gets a prelim here to establish himself. Valiant wonít leave the ring for quite awhile. Heís still in until almost the 2:00 mark. Finally we get going as they trade holds and breaks on the ropes. Jones keeps threatening to nail Beefcake on the break, but on the third one itís Beefcake who gets the cheapshot in. Beefcakeís offence consists mainly of choking and a rear chinlock. He gets sent off and hits a shoulderblock, then comes off again and boots Jones as he puts his head down. Splash gets 2 for Beefacke and he goes back to the rear chinlock. Beefcake gets sent off again and caught in a slam, but ends up falling on top. This leads to more choking and a return to the chinlock. Jones hits an atomic drop to escape and connects with a couple of headbutts for 1. Beefcake goes to the eyes to take over again. He sends Jones off the ropes and nails the high knee for the 3 count at 11:24. This was like one long resthold with occasional spurts of action. Ĺ*

Salvatore Bellomo vs. Johnny Rodz
The Fink points out Bellomoís parents in the crowd as they have apparently come all the way from Italy to watch their son wrestle at the Garden. Bellomo starts with a couple of shoulderblocks. Much like the previous match we have nothing too exciting happening as they trade basic holds. Rodz knees him coming off the ropes to take control and follows with a couple of seated dropkicks. He stomps Bellomo to the floor, but Bellomo is quickly back in. Rodz drops an elbow from the 2nd rope and a knee for 2. He slams Bellomo and goes to the 2nd rope again, but this time gets nailed coming down. Bellomo knocks him back and then drags him out of the corner. Rodz then takes a backdrop, snapmare, and dropkick for 2. He rakes the eyes to take over again, then hits Bellomo with a powerslam off the ropes, but misses a splash. Bellomoís corner whip is reversed, but he leaps up and comes back off with a bodypress for the 3 count at 5:38. So he got the big win in front of his parents, but didnít look that impressive in doing so. Well, at least itís not 2009 where they would not only have him lose in front of his parents, but find every way imaginable to embarrass him as well. Ĺ*

Antonio Inoki vs. David Schultz
Inoki is billed at the World Martial Arts Champion, but he has no belt with him and thereís no indication that anything is on the line here. Schultz, meanwhile, is fresh off of slapping 20/20 reporter John Stossel backstage for asking if wrestling is fake. That, by the way, is not the incident that got him fired, although it certainly couldnít have helped his cause. He ended up getting fired the next month after it got around that he was planning to jump Mr.T at a show in Los Angeles, believing that the publicity it would generate would leave them no choice but to put him in the Wrestlemania main event. They come out swinging before Schultz grabs a chinlock. Inoki hiptosses out, but is caught in a headscissors, but he smacks Schultz around to break that. Schultz knees him in the corner off a break, then rams him to the buckle and takes him down with a snapmare for 2. Now Inoki nails him on a break, but Schultz takes him down anyways. After some more mat work, Inoki starts connecting with his kicks to the legs. Schultz comes back with a suplex for 2 and then uses a slam to set up a 2nd rope elbow, but he misses. Inoki follows with an ensiguiri and that gets 3 at 5:19. Kind of a weird match as neither guy really had much interest in making the other guy look good and it ended up kind of disjointed. *

Paul Kelly vs. The Junkyard Dog
This is JYDís MSG debut against someone I have never seen nor heard of before in Paul Kelly. Heís completely bland and unremarkable in any case. JYD shoves him down to start things off. He follows with a slam and bearhug. Kelly goes to the eyes to escape and gets in some shots that JYD doesnít even sell. JYD fires away on him and then gets the all fours headbutts. Kelly elbows out of a rear chinlock, but runs into a clothesline that Monsoon & Okerlund are so impressed by that we have to go straight to a replay in the middle of the match. We come back with JYD hoisting Kelly up and then hitting the Thump powerslam. Problem is that Kelly is convulsing and not keeping his shoulders down to be pinned so the ref has to hold up until JYD gets him to keep still and then he gets the 3 count at 3:07. Just a squash to introduce the Dog. DUD

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: The Cobra vs. The Black Tiger
I already did this one on Best of the WWF Volume 1, but that was a clipped version and this one is complete, so Iíll do it again. As mentioned there, the Title, which was almost exclusively defended in New Japan, is vacant due to previous champion Dynamite Kid jumping over to All Japan. I guess that NJPW asked to have the Title decided on a WWF show to continue the illusion that it was an actual WWF Title. The early part of the match features a lot of trading holds and counters. Cobra gains control with a spinkick, followed by a kneedrop. Gutwrench suplex gets 2 as does a rollup. The crowd is pretty silent for this one, although thatís expected because they wouldnít really know or care about either guy. Cobra tries some submissions like a Boston crab and a surfboard, but they donít really go anywhere. Tiger comes back now with some elbows and a kneedrop, then continues working Cobra over with the knees. Following a backdrop he gets a couple of 2 counts. Senton splash gets another 2. He misses another splash though and Cobra drops a leg for 2. Tiger is back on him though and hooks a full nelson. Cobra escapes and dropkicks Tiger to the floor, but Tiger is quickly back to the apron. He tries to come off the top, but gets slammed off. Cobra controls for a bit before running into a clothesline. Tiger drops a knee for another 2. He then hits two corkscrew neckbreakers but Cobra kicks out at 2 again. Tombstone piledriver sets up a top rope elbow, but that misses. Cobra connects with a spinkick for 2, followed by a backdrop and dropkick to put Tiger on the floor. The crowd has been gradually coming around to these guys, but when Cobra follows up with a suicide dive, they really get buzzing. As the get back in, Tiger knocks him down and goes up top. He connects with a splash, and then hits a suplex for 2. Another Tombstone gets another 2, so he goes for it again, but this time Cobra reverses it and hits one of his own. Cobra then goes up and nails a senton splash, and that gets the 3 count to win the Junior Heavyweight Championship at 12:30. Cobra looks for a handshake after the match, but Tiger attacks him and they end up brawling around the ring until finally Cobra clears him out with a chair. It started kinda slow, but turned into something good and it was definitely something different compared to the usual style you saw in the WWF of this time period. ***

Rowdy Roddy Piper & Cowboy Bob Orton vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka & The Tonga Kid
Back in August, Piper put Snuka on the shelf with a neck injury, so his cousin the Tonga Kid showed up to continue the issue on Snukaís behalf. Well now, Snuka is back so we have this big tag match to finally settle the issue. Tonga and Snuka charge right in and attack, whipping Orton and Piper into each other and nailing a bunch of headbutts. Piper and Tonga start once things finally settle down with Tonga getting a crossbody for 2. He goes to work on the arm for a bit before Piper escapes and tags Orton. Tonga controls him as well, using armdrags and a powerslam for 2. Tag to Snuka, who hooks a wristlock. Orton tries some shots to the head to break it, but those of course have no effect. So instead Orton reaches for the tag, but Piper is not anxious to get in there with Snuka at all. Finally Orton forces the issue, but now Piper comes right in and brawls with Snuka, showing no fear. Snuka takes control with some headbutts and a bodyslam. Piper tries to escape, but Snuka cuts him off only to fall victim to the eyepoke. Tag to Orton who slams Snuka, but his pump splash hits knees. Both guys tag now so Tonga hits Piper with a crescent kick, but he soon ends up getting bulled to the heel corner where Orton and Piper go to work. Some fast tags from them now as Tonga takes a beating. Piper chokes him with the tag rope for a bit, then gets the tag and they hit a double clothesline. Piper draws Snuka in, so when the ref puts him out, Orton comes in illegally with a knee off the top and they switch off. Tonga takes quite a pounding in the corner, getting close to a tag a couple of times, but always getting cut off. He comes back with a quick sunset flip for 2, but Orton is right back on him. Snuka tries to come in once more, but gets put out allowing more illegal tactics from Piper and Orton. Piper puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked, but Tonga crawls to the wrong corner and remains stuck in the ring. He does come back on Orton though, which draws Piper in, but he finally manages to escape both of them and make the hot tag to Snuka. Snuka is the house afire, knocking down everyone in his path, even the referee. Orton does a flip off a corner whip and then Snuka nails him with a headbutt for 2. From there it quickly breaks down into a four way brawl. Tonga gets knocked outside, so Orton sets Snuka up for the superplex. Snuka knocks him back though and connects with a crossbody for 2 as Piper saves. Snuka gets tossed just as Tonga gets back in, so now they can double team him. Orton goes up, but Snuka shoves him off. The brawl continues, with huge crowd heat by the way, as Piper and Orton crotch Snuka on the ropes. Tonga grabs a chair and uses that to clear he ring at which point the ref has finally had enough and disqualifies everyone at 14:58. Now this was a real intensely heated grudge match. The lack of a real finish kind of sucks, but I came away from this wanting to see more as opposed to being disappointed so it definitely worked in that sense. Unfortunately for fans of this feud though, they had bigger plans for Piper, and Tonga Kid was gone very shortly after this, thus denying us a proper final blowoff. For now though, this gets ***1/2.

Rene Goulet vs. Mike Rotundo
They trade holds and counters to start with very little of note happening. Goulet connects with a knee and tosses Rotundo to the floor so he can stomp him from the apron. Back in, a suplex gets 2. Goulet hooks Le Scorpion clawhold, but Rotundo breaks it. He sends Goulet to the corner, but misses a charge. Goulet goes up, but just reapplies the claw from there. Rotundo slams him off and then hits an atomic drop. Goulet gets him in abdominal stretch, but Rotundo hiptosses out. Backdrop and elbow get 2, and then he finishes Goulet off by slamming him down following an airplane spin at 10:42. Looking at how short that recap is for a match of that length should tell you exactly how exciting it was, but then again, this match was DOA anyways having to follow the previous one. DUD

Now itís time for the big segment on the show. The premise is that the WWF is presenting an award to Cyndi Lauper for her work in promoting womenís wrestling over the past year. We start with an early appearance of WWF president Jack Tunney who reads off some praise for Lauper, and then brings out the people who will present the award: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, Womenís Champion Wendi Richter, and Dick Clark. Finally, the guest of honour is brought out and she makes her way to the ring with manager David Wolff. Lauper accepts the award and then announces that she has some awards of her own to present. First she gives a framed gold and platinum record to the WWF as a way of thanking them for helping with her success which is accepted by Hogan and Richter. They leave, but Lauper has another framed record to present, and calls out old nemesis Captain Lou Albano to receive it. Apparently, unbeknownst to the fans, Albano has been working with Lauper to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis and she wants him to get some recognition. This draws out Roddy Piper, who takes credit for everything, and then presents Albano with the award by breaking it over his head. In the ensuing melee, Piper puts the boots to Lauper as she dives in to protect Albano and even drops Wolff with a powerslam. Hulk Hogan runs back in to make the save, thus planting the seeds for his feud with Piper and the first Wrestlemania. Wolff does a stretcher job to sell this great angle. Awesome stuff.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs. Jack & Gerry Brisco
The Briscos recently defeated the Champs in a non title match on television, so here they get their shot at the gold. Murdoch and Jack start with Murdoch bailing after a break. He comes back in with a knee, but his corner whip is reversed and he takes a hiptoss. Jack goes for the figure four, which was used to win that non title match, but Murdoch is quickly in the ropes. Tag to Adonis and tag to Gerry. They trade hammerlocks, but Gerry gains control with an armdrag. He works the arm for a bit, but then all four end up in the ring after Murdoch gets involved illegally. We settle down again with Murdoch working over Gerry, who manages to make the tag anyways. Jack takes Murdoch down with a firemanís carry and then holds him in an armbar. Tag to Gerry who knocks Murdoch to the floor, but Murdoch grabs his leg, trips him up and nails him with a foreign object (canít really see what) from the floor. Adonis is in now and he hits Gerry with a backbreaker for 2. Powerslam gets another 2, and then Adonis goes for a spinning toehold, but Gerry counters and hooks the figure four. Heís too close to the corner though and Adonis is able to reach and tag Murdoch. Murdoch drops some elbows and gets a 2 count, but Gerry comes back and hooks him in the figure four as well. Adonis has to save and the Gerry tags Jack. Jack keep working the leg and then they do this brilliant little bit where Murdoch keeps trying to escape and make a tag while Jack just keeps one step ahead of him and blocks every attempt much to the frustration of the Champions. He finally gets away and tags Adonis, who hits a shoulderblock, but when he comes off the ropes he get tripped up by Jack and gets his leg worked over as well. Gerry gets the tag while we see Murdoch trying to untie the tag rope for some reason. Meanwhile, Adonis has taken over on Gerry and drops an elbow for 1. Tag to Murdoch and they do a prototype Demolition Decapitation using a knee instead of an elbow. That gets 2, as does a neckbreaker. Murdoch then hits him with a delayed brainbuster for another 2. Knee to the back from the top gets one more 2 count before he tags out to Adonis, who comes in with an elbow off the top, again for 2 as Jack makes the save. Gerry gets away and makes the tag to Jack, who puts Adonis in a sleeper. He makes the tag from the hold, so Jack simply puts it on Murdoch now instead. Murdoch is going out, so Adonis breaks it up. Jack faceplants Murdoch a couple of times and gets a couple of 2 counts from that. Sunset flip gets another 2 and then he tags Gerry. It soon breaks down into a four way brawl. Gerry gets a sleeper on Murdoch, but as the ref puts Jack out of the ring, Adonis breaks it up. Tag to Jack, with Murdoch trying to slam him, but Jack falls on top for 2. Murdoch stumbles to the wrong corner where Gerry nails him and Jack then rolls him up for another 2. Jack then runs him into Adonis and gets a second rollup for 2 again. This draws Adonis in the ring, but he accidentally hits his own partner. Gerry comes in too to make it another four way which soon spills out on to the floor. From there the ref counts everyone out and itís a double count out at 26:46. Technically it was fine, but come on, not again with the screwjob ending. And unlike Piper/Orton vs. Snuka/Tonga, this one did not leave me wanting to see anymore of this matchup. **1/2

Mr. Fuji vs. Barry Windham
Fuji makes a pathetic attempt at a Pearl Harbor job, which Windham basically just shrugs off. He then takes Fuji out with two dropkicks and a bulldog for the 3 count at 0:19. DUD. They are rapidly approaching the 11:00pm curfew and since we still have the main event to come they just got this one out of the way as quickly as possible.

Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Hulk Hogan vs. The Iron Sheik (w/Fred Blassie)
One year after he dethroned Bob Backlund of the WWF Championship, the Sheik gets another shot at it, this time against the guy who beat him for it one month later, Hulk Hogan. Iíve already mentioned the approaching curfew, so donít expect much here. Sheik gets on the mic and goes off on Cyndi Lauper and David Wolff deserving what they got earlier on. Hogan then charges right in and goes to work. Sheik takes a slam and clothesline followed by some choking with the t-shirt. Hogan hits another clothesline, followed by a couple of suplexes and some elbows. He puts his head down on an Irish whip and gets kicked which gives the Sheik a brief advantage. After a gutwrench suplex gets 2 for Sheik, Hogan Hulks Up, hits a powerslam and then the legdrop for the 3 count to retain at 3:39. I donít know if they planned to go longer and got cutoff or what, but this was fine for what they had to work with. *

Well, that was actually a pretty good show all things considered. The big angle, which was the inspiration for doing this show in the first place, is a great one as we see Lou Albano turn babyface and the start of the buildup for Wrestlemania. As for the matches, Piper/Orton vs. Snuka/Tonga leads the way with their great grudge match, followed closely by the definitely not New York style match between The Cobra and Black Tiger. Main event, like I said, was fine as a complete and total squash, but not really what youíd expect out of a, you know, main event. The prelims were the prelims and even though there was nothing special about any of them, they do generally serve a purpose. Overall, and taking into account the lowered standards of the time period weíre in, Iíll call it a Thumbs Up and say check out that tag match if you get a chance.

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