I finally had a chance to try out the new WWE Network last night — and of course the first stop I made was an old WWF house show from Madison Square Garden in April 1981.
A lot of my inspiration for writing this blog comes from my nostalgia of the ’80s wrestling scene that I grew up on, and the WWE Network is a pipeline back to those halcyon days.
With house shows filed under the “Old School” heading on the website, I have high hopes that an old Boston Garden card may eventually show its face on the network, as the intro mentions the Garden, MSG, and the Spectrum.
For the record, the MSG clip I watched wasn’t actually the full house show, but instead an hour of the featured matches. Many of the prelim bouts that filled out the house show cards in those days were skipped on the network clip. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, do I really need to see Baron Mikel Scicluna fight S.D. Jones? On the flip side, why not just post the whole show and let the viewer decide what to watch?
According to the History of WWE website, this card drew an incredible 22,000 fans to the arena, plus another 3,000+ people to the adjacent Felt Forum to watch it on closed circuit TV. It’s crazy to think that many fans came for a house show.
I also must make mention of how great it was to again see Howard Finkel handling ring announcing duties with the distinctive overhead MSG microphone.
The matches I watched included:
- Intercontinental Champion Pedro Morales defeating Moondog Rex. Captain Lou Albano, who briefly appeared with Rex during the introductions, was at his zany best, while Morales clearly still had the love of the New York City crowd years after his heyday as WWWF Heavyweight Champion.
- Pat Patterson fighting Sgt. Slaughter to a double disqualification after they both tossed referee Jack Lotz out of the ring. This match was a precursor to Patterson and Slaughter’s famous street fight, which took place the next month at MSG. Patterson was a such a great babyface worker in the ring.
- WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund beating Stan “The Lariat” Hansen in a steel cage match. This was a typical cage match from that era in the WWF — in other words, a brawl where the winner had to escape the cage. For the record, the WWE Network is not editing or digitizing blood, as Hansen gigged himself during the match.
I think for those of us longing to see some old footage of the WWF from the ’70s and ’80s, getting the WWE Network is a no brainer when you can also watch WrestleMania XXX at $9.99 a month.
I’ll keep you posted as I find other 1980s gems on the network.