WWF @ Philadelphia Spectrum
Announcers: Dick Graham and Gorilla Monsoon
1) Eddie Gilbert vs. Tiger Mask - 6
2) Johnny Rodz vs. Chin Kobiashi - 4
3) Midget Tag Team Match: Sky Low Low & Butch Cassidy vs. Little Beaver & Sonny Boy Blue - 4
4) Jose Estrada vs. Curt Hennig - 3
5) Superstar Billy Graham vs. Chief Jay Strongbow - 3
6) Swede Hanson vs. Tony Garea - 3
7) Lumberjack Match for the WWF World Title: Buddy Rose vs. Bob Backlund - 4
I’m liking the way this show is starting! Gilbert and Tiger Mask had quite the fun little match to open the show and no, that score is not a typo.Gilbert looked so clean cut that I found it really hard to believe that this was the same guy who would go on to run ECW about ten years after this. Tiger Mask is announced as the “World’s Junior Welterweight Champion” even though this is a non-title match as I don’t remember title matches ever opening a show during this time period. Match was more mat based than high flying which may bore some modern fans who are used to see the light heavyweights/cruiserweights fly and jump around the ring, old school fans though will definitely appreciate the approach to wrestling. Gilbert hit a nice backdrop suplex and Tiger Mask had some quick and solid offense, highlighted by a Tombstone piledriver. Yes, the move existed before the Undertaker. Nearfalls at the end really had me sucked in and Tiger Mask getting the win on a reverse cradle was unexpected.
Very rarely do I come across a WWF wrestler that I’ve never heard of or seen before but such is the case with the mysterious man from Japan, Chin Kobiashi, who looked like a Bruce Lee student. Rodz just gave the poor dude a royal beating from corner to corner. Kobiashi though, the warrior from the orient that he is, fought back with a fucking ENZIGURI~! and some sterotypical “karate style offense” as the announcers called it and shockingly pulled the upset. Wonder if the post-match beatdown from Rodz means we’ll be graced with a Rodz/Kobiash feud? One can only hope. I never was a big fan of midget wrestling and most of the matches I’ve seen from this genre have been terrible but I’ll be damed if this wasn’t halfway entertaining! I’ve heard a lot about Sky Low Low but I’m pretty sure this is the first match of his I’ve ever seen. First exchange between Sky and Little Beaver was entertaining and had me grinning, unlike today’s forced comedy. Not sure who this Butch Cassidy fellow is but he looks like The Giant compared to these other guys. There were a couple points where Little Beaver smacked Sky so damn hard that it wasn’t funny at all. Match was full of lots of good, goofy spots that only these guys can pull off. A fine effort by all involved.
Estrada bares a very close resemblance to Johnny Rodz, so close, in fact, that I thought Rodz was coming out for an encore. Hennig is so young here and I’m guessing him being put in here with Estrada may have been a test of some sort. I hope he did his homework. Hennig held a side headlock forever and kept it sinched in nice and tight. I’d say it’s the longest I’ve ever seen someone work a headlock but it’s not. Hennig held his own against the future Conquistadore but it seemed strange for Estrada to get the win. Graham was in full ninja mode here and looked like an old-timey, bare knuckle carnival boxer from the early 1900s. Strongbow, on the other hand, looked old and withered. Not much to see except for Chief working over the arm and Graham doing some big overselling. Graham’s knees in the corner sucked something awful and the finish was lame with Chief getting counted out on a weak shot to the side of the neck.
Hanson definitely looks like someone I wouldn’t want to find after hours in a dark alley behind a bar. Garea on the other hand, given the same circumstances, looks like someone I would totally want to mess with. Monsoon on commentary dropped the knowledge that Garea was a five-time co-holder of the tag team title. Well, that’s interesting. I had no clue about that. Garea tried a roll-up and Hanson just shoved him off with his body language pretty much stating “I’ll have none of that shit”. Swede missed this wild top rope dive and Garea pinned him by dropping a simple elbow. Another dull finish in what seems to be a pattern on this show. Main event was pretty lame and given everything else on this show, what else was to be expected. S.D. Jones is the special referee. Why? I have no idea. It’s probably the biggest match he was ever in, save for him getting squashed by Bundy at the first Mania. Backlund held onto the armbar, or “arm stretcher” as Monsoon called it, forever. The thing that bugged me though was that Rose never sold that arm at all after all that, making it all seem pointless. Backlund was good and hit a few nice armdrags early on and had a nice reversal of a suplex into the chicken wing submission for the finish.