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WWF @ Phildelphia Spectrum
January 21, 1984

by Erick Von Erich

- It's a completely random house show flashback to the Philadelphia Rectum! Unlike most Spectrum Wrestling and MSG intros of the time, this one actually has customized graphics that preview the card. It even highlights that we'll see MIDGETS tonight. Our hosts are Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon, who welcome us to ringside. Gorilla talks about how we'll see the newly crowned WWF champ, the Iron Sheik. But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...

Eddie Gilbert vs. Rene Goulet

We get the old school show introduction, as the announcer mentions that all matches are sanctioned by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. Gorilla cites Gilbert's quick recovery from a nasty auto accident, only about 8 months ago. Your basic opening match with simple holds, as Goulet heels it up by whining about a hair pull. Gilbert revs it up with a shoulder-block off the ropes, shoves off a roll-up attempt and monkey-flips Goulet. Goulet begins to dominate and eventually kicks Gilbert out to the floor. Gilbert tries to get back in, severl times, and we can see that the Spectrum floor was absolutely filthy. Goulet gets cocky and gets the hangman treatment on the top rope from Gilbert. Gilbert charges in to attack and delivers an atomic drop. Flying mare and a double footstomp gets 2 for Gilbert. Goulet scoops the legs and kicks the midsection for his own 2. Goulet applies his "Scorpio" clawhold with his gloved hand. This goes on for minutes... minutes... Gorilla with a good line: "this Gilbert's got more guts than a 2,800 pound moose". Gilbert makes a comebck to get the crowd going and delivers a backdrop, right as the "20 minute time limit" bell sounds. It's officially a draw. Of course, Gilbert clears the ring of the dastardly heel. Nothing you haven't seen before; nothing you haven't seen since. In short, it's nothing.

Swede Hanson vs. Paul "Butcher" Vachon

Hanson seems an unlikely babyface, but that's indeed what he was at this time. Gorilla assures us that they did, in fact, reinforce the ring for all these matches, tonight. As you'd expect, it's a slow, plodding match with them fighting over wristlocks and headlocks. Vachon gets the advantage with a buncha' chops and stomps. Swede gets a big backdrop and drops an elbow to score the 3 count pin. Vachon sells it well, like he's just been knocked-out. Thankfully, the match checked it at only 4:01.

The Invaders vs. Mr. Fuji & Charlie Fulton

Puerto Rican imports, the Invaders (#1 & #2, naturally) seemed like they would be the new babyface team to eventually win the tag belts, around this time. If it was still the (W)WWF, they may very well have. Quick research says #1 is Jose Gonzalez and #2 is Roberto Soto. One last detail: Fuji's billed as "Mr. Fugi". The Invaders seem to shift down a gear, as #1 has to slow down to hip-toss Fuji across the ring. Quick tags as they work on Fuji's arm. #2 lands a high-crossbody for 2. Tag off to Fulton, who gets the arm treatment, as well. Invaders do some switcheroos behind the back of referee Dick Werle, to work the masked gimmick. Greco-Roman Eye Boink turns the tables for Fulton, who brings in Fuji. Fuji with a slam and the diving headbutt to the midsection on #2. Gut-wrench suplex, then Fulton returns for a slam and a big legdrop. #2 sells a backdrop exceptionally well, as #1 makes the save. Fuji comes in to work the trapezeus hold, but #2 turns into a vertical suplex. He goes for the big splash, but Fuji gets his knees up. Fulton misses a backdrop, allowing #2 to make the hot tag to #1. Two drop-kicks to Fulton and a shot for Fuji! All four guys enter. #1 cinches a front facelock, then #2 dives from the top for what was probably supposed to be a sunset flip attempt. It doesn't go as planned, so they improvise and turn it into a reverse waistlock sequence. #2 forces Fulton back to the corner, as the Invaders perform their hip-toss/partner slam onto Fulton for the 3 count. Wasn't as bad as I had expected, but there was a definite contrast in styles. The Invaders needed two guys a little more nimble in there.

WWF World Heavyweight Championship:
The Iron Sheik vs. Tito Santana:

Thanks to WWE Classics On Demand, this former rarity has become something of a modern cult classic. Holy crap, Sheik's heat is insane, with several fans giving him the middle finger and throwing garbage! Yes, it is silly that the crowd will chant "U-S-A", when Chico is clearly billed as hailing from Tacula, Mexico... but they just REALLY hate Sheik and do it to rile him up. We also get a shot of this avid fan, out to support Tito Satana:

Tito Satana
I admire her enthusam, errr, enthusiasm.

The referee is Danny Davis, a few years before he meant anything, kayfabe-wise. Sheiky tries to make the sneak attack, but Tito is ready, slams him and chokes him with his own headdress. Sheik rolls out to take a breather and annoy the fans. Sheik returns, but Tito atomic drops him over the top rope. Sheik sells a limp and a sore lower back. Tito's still in control, in the ring, and takes Sheik over with a side headlock to slow things down for a bit. To the ropes and Tito connects with a right hand for the obligatory 2 count, then back to the headlock. Criss-cross (jump! jump!) time, but Tito takes him back down with the headlock. Sheik finally does the ol' thumb to the eye to take over. Nice slam from Sheik, but he misses a somersault splash off the ropes. They fight over a vertical suplex, which Tito wins, but he's too gassed to follow-up. Sheik gets his boots up to stop a splash attempt, then starts working an abdominal stretch. Tito rights back and reverses it. Sheik makes the ropes and gets a cheap shot to stay in control. Backdrop is countered with a sunset flip from Tito as the place goes crazy for a 2 count! Small package from Sheik scores 2! They make it to their feets, where Tito clubs away and sends Sheik outside with two drop-kicks. Sheik picks up a chair and brings it in. Danny Davis won't allow it, so Sheik shoves him. All 3 guys fight over the chair...then Tito connects with the flying forearm! Tito goes for the cover, but Davis calls for the bell, disqualifying both guys! Hmm, could this have been the first time Danny Davis screwed over Tito? Tito beats away on Sheik to clear the ring after the decision is announced. Fun match with great energy, as it was mostly a heat vehicle for Sheiky.

WWF Interconinental Championship:
Don Muraco vs. Salvatore Bellomo :

The screen graphics scare the hell out of me, as they cite this match has a 60 minute time limit. Muraco makes me happy by beating the tar out of Bellomo for the opening minutes. Muraco misses a charge into the corner, allowing Bellomo to land two punches a standing drop-kick. Muraco rolls out to regroup, then returns to a Bellomo side headlock. Muraco counters with a head-scissors as things stay on the mat. Bellomo twists out, then eats a Muraco kneelift and falls through the ropes, rather clumsily. Muraco sets up his reverse piledriver, but Bellomo's Thighs of Steel ring Muraco's bell. Bellomo punches away and lands a stinky flying crossbody as Muraco's trapped in the ropes. He follows up by working the knees, then a half-assed sleeperhold. Muraco blades for the hell of it. Bellomo eats canvas on a top-rope reverse splash. Bellomo charges to the turnbuckle, but Muraco lifts up and rolls through with a double underhook to get the pin and retain his title.

Bob Backlund (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. The Masked Superstar

When this card was announced, this was originally scheduled as a WWF world title match, yet it's still the "main event". In a subtle move during the intial seconds, Backlund grabs a fan's thrown garbage, on the fly, then turns to shake his head at the crowd. Crisp mat-holds to start, including Backlund's always-exaggerated side headlocks. Backlund clubs Superstar in the ear, as Danny Davis gets in his face about a closed fist. Back to the side headlock, but Superstar turns it into a bearhug (Superstar Billy Graham: "he needs to talk to the man, now! Tell the man he's in a bearhug and he's going down!"). Doesn't last long as it's back to the Backlund side headlock. Things finally change as Superstar begins targetting Backlund's bum left arm. Superstar kicks him to the floor and another meeting with that disgusting floor. Seriously, when Backlund gets up, it looks like someone puked on his back. Superstar follows him out and throws him, shoulder-first, into the railing. Backlund rolls back into the ring, but Superstar's still all over that bad arm. I get that Backlund's selling the arm injury (which cost him the title), but this keeps dragging on and on. Backlund fights back with a headbutt and slams Superstar's head into the canvas several times. Whip to the ropes and Superstar misses a flying headbutt. Backlund begins messing with the mask, because things would ASBOLUTELY CHANGE if Superstar was unmasked! Superstar rolls outside and Backlund follows him... but gets counted out. Superstar wins by countout? Yeah. Wow, that was about 20 minutes of wasted time. A "return match" was orginally planned for the next month, but it never happened.

Tiger Jackson & The Haiti Kid vs. Poncho Boy & Dan Carpenter

Yup. Midgets. Funny to think that Tiger Jackson was still around, 12 years later, as "Dink the Clown". Poncho Boy looks like a miniature version of Percy Pringle/Paul Bearer. Pretty quick opening action between Poncho and Tiger, including a drop-kick and flying head-scissors from Tiger. Poncho works out of it and stands Tiger on his head, spinning him in a comedy spot. Dual tag-offs to Haiti and Carpenter. Haiti drops his tush on Carpenter for 2. Haiti gets thumped to the tunbuckle, but does the usual no-sell. Strange leapfrog sequence, but Carpenter gets drop-kicked to ringside. Haiti tries head-butting Poncho's gut...but Poncho's too fat. Har-har. Haiti grabs him by the nose for more "laughs". All four guys bounce around the ring, until Haiti gets Carpenter in an airplane spin. Carpenter manages to take Haiti down for the cover, but Tiger runs in to reverse the cover and help Haiti score the pin.

2/3 Falls: Andre the Giant, "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Afa, Sika & Samu

Atlas/Johnson are the reigning tag champs, but it's make sense that they don't have the belt with them. The Spectrum seemed to run a lot of these multiple-man tag matches in the early 80's. They usually just served to send the crowd home happy. Andre's grin as he walks in is a pleasant sight.

Fall #1: Andre starts by headbutting all 3 Samoans, then challenging Sarge. The Samoans want no part of Andre and Sarge is a little reluctant at being fed to him. The formula for the early portion of the match is that a heel gets trapped in the opposite corner, so all the faces can tee off on him. Sarge finally gets the upper hand on Johnson with a reverse elbow and the Cobra Clutch! Andre makes the save, but Sika comes to deliver a headbutt on Johnson and score the first pinfall.

Fall #2: The Samoans keep wearing down Johnson, allowing a "Rocky" chant to start. Nice slam from Samu, who doesn't deliver a headbutt. Hot tag to Andre, who takes on Afa and Samu. Tag to Superfly, who climbs up on Andre's shoulder and hits Samu with the Superfly Splash for the 3 count. Fans love that!

Fall #3: Superfly chops away on Samu, knocking him over the top rope. Chops for Afa, too. Double noggin-knocker on Samu and Sika. Samu gets a lucky headbutt on Andre, so in comes Afa for more. Andre fights him off and it's not long before all 8 are in the ring, brawling. Andre nails Afa with a big boot and a squat splash to score the final fall. Weird that Atlas was never in the ring, legally. Big brawl afterwards as the ring bell and two chairs get tossed into the ring. Good guys stand tall, of course.

Gorilla and Graham have a quick segment where they wrap things up and preview next month's card.

Why'd I Watch This? Spectrum cards usually seem to suck...and while this one doesn't totally suck, it is nibbling at the teets. The only match worth tracking down is Iron Sheik/Santana. The rest-- your own personal mileage may vary. I was disappointed with Superstar/Backlund and the final 8-man was almost as silly as the midget match. The only real appeal is seeing this as an oddball transitional card, between the Backlund Era and the Hogan Era. Call it the mini Sheik Era.

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