WCCW 1st Cotton Bowl Extravaganza (10.27.84)
October 27, 1984
Hey there. I was going to watch the Brawl to End it All today but it’s not on the Network anymore for some reason? I’m sure I have it on VHS somewhere but digging through the boxes full of tapes in my attic isn’t my idea of a fun Sunday. My next choice was NWA Boogie Jam, which is on the Network (and I’ve never seen it) but for some reason won’t play. It keeps buffering and then sends me to the login screen. So, that’s fucked. If anyone has links to either of those feel free to slide into the DMs over on Twitter, @ArnoldFurious naturally.
Third choice then, is WCCW’s first Cotton Bowl show from October 1984. We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton Bowl. While this is a notably smaller crowd than Texas Stadium, and the whopping 32k crowd they drew for Flair-Kerry, it’s still a decent size and we have 12,000 in attendance. The Cotton Bowl, if you’ve never seen it, is enormous and can seat over 90,000. I love wrestling in Texas because it’s sunny and they can run outside, and it looks great. They do struggle with all the big empty spaces in the bleachers here though.
Iceman Parsons vs. Butch Reed
“I’m gonna whup all the ice cream out yo drawers” says Butch. Say what mate? Parsons does a lot of basic babyface stuff like dropkicks, armdrags and a little dance. He’s about 6 years into his career and is still very bland. Butch isn’t much better as a heel, it’s all very basic, but at least he can run his mouth. The crowd is notably less heated than it was at Texas Stadium. The match dies a death around the 5-minute mark with Reed resorting to rest holds. Parsons mounts a comeback and the bell rings because the 10-minute limit has expired. Man, what an underwhelming start to proceedings.
The Missing Link vs. George Wengroff
It’s normally Weingeroff but that’s how it’s spelled on the match graphic. Link, who has way more facepaint than at Texas Stadium, bosses the match with his unorthodox style. Wengroff fights from underneath. George is legally blind and wrestles like it. Link blindsides him, although with George’s sight issues that could be from any direction, and his headbutt based offence wins this squash.
Kerry Von Erich vs. Butch Reed
Hardly fair on Butch to have an arm-wrestling match after a wrestling match.
Butch Reed is a great watch doing this because you can get close up shots of his facial reactions. As with all worked arm wrestling matches it’s stupid. Reed deliberately breaks the table and Kerry is declared the winner. This went on for ages.
NWA American Tag Team Championship
The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) (c) vs. Kelly Kiniski & El Diablo Grande
The Fantastics are one of the best tag teams of the decade. They genuinely rule. However, they’re in with Gene Kiniski’s boy, who wrestles like he’s 60 years old and El Diablo Grande. He’s a Venezuelan wrestler, also known as Omar Atlas. He’s very bad. Faces get a minor shine before Rogers gets works over for the heat segment. Rogers is so good at selling and taking a beating that the match is still good, until EDG chinlocks it to death. It does all contribute to good heat until Rogers scurries across the ring and gets a hot tag. Rogers immediately tags back in and splashes EDG for the pin. This was good, imagine what the Fantastics could do with a proper tag team? **½
Mike Von Erich & Stella Mae French vs. Gino Hernandez & Andrea the Lady Giant/Nicola Roberts
Gino was a dirtbag heel who came in to be one of the Von Erich’s main heel adversaries. Nicola Roberts AKA Andrea the Lady Giant isn’t especially big so that’s a strange nickname.
She’d go on to be better known as Baby Doll. Stella Mae French looks like a bar maid from the Queen Vic.
Mike looks like Richie Cunningham.
Sunshine takes a helicopter into the stadium to be at ringside. She’s still a beloved babyface, while Chris Adams has turned into a devious heel who just hospitalised Kevin Von Erich. Stella is about as much use she looks she would be. Sunshine chair shots Baby Doll and Stella gets the pin. Nothing much happened in this. It was all storyline and helicopters.
Kevin Von Erich vs. Chris Adams
This is a Captain’s match ahead of tonight’s main event. The matches are again shown out of order here, so comms has already mentioned Kevin being sent to hospital after this match.
Adams wants a scientific, aka babyface, match.
Adams is an excellent technician and so is Kevin, so this works a treat. Not all of the crowd hate Adams yet because he was such a popular face here for so long. He reinforces this mixed reception by having a technical match and sticking to the rules. Kevin baits him with some slaps, which is not babyface behaviour but Chris did turn on him so that makes sense. Adams response is to smother Kevin and we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Adams is clearly pissed off and starts wailing on Kevin with punches, something he’d said he wouldn’t do pre-match. It’s the old ‘I want to embarrass you in a wrestling match’ speech, followed by obvious cheating. At least he waited to be provoked into it. Kevin wins with a roll up, with Adams losing his focus due to insane British anti-American rage. ***¼. A really good, solid technical match with increasing hostilities.
Post Match: Kevin points he won clean, fair and square, and offers Adams a spot back on the babyface side of things if he fires Gary Hart. Kevin turns his back and Adams waffles him in the head with a wooden chair before stomping it into Kevin’s guts for good measure.
The Von Erich’s rush out to help Kevin and there’s blood everywhere. Commentary gets very dramatic here with “he may be dead” overtones.
In come the paramedics and there’s an ambulance as we lay it on thick. Screaming girls are shown yelling “we love you Kevin”.
Fritz really knew how to manipulate his audience.
WCCW Six Man Championship
Kerry Von Erich, Mike Von Erich & Bobby Fulton (c) vs. Jake Roberts, Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams
Fulton subs in for the almost dead Kevin. Chris Adams is not a popular man in Dallas anymore. The six-man belts are real belts now. They were just a big trophy the last time I was here. Jake (6’5”) looks enormous here. Spending a big chunk of his career in WWF when it was the Land of the Giants made me forget but he’s enormous. Meanwhile Bobby Fulton (5’10”) looks tiny. Without Kevin marshaling the face team, the match is a mess. Chris Adams is sneaky in this one. Only coming in when someone else is down. He’s not as hated as you might think, which makes me question how many of the 12k fans were taken in by the ambulance routine. The Von Erich’s make a curious choice to barely involve Fulton at all. Presumably they have trust issues thanks to Chris Adams. It all breaks down, Kerry goes to suplex Jake and Chris Adams sneaks in to superkick Kerry for the win. The crowd is silent. Hoo, boy. Big decision by Fritz to send one of kids to the hospital then put a belt on the guy who did it. Clearly they were thinking long term on that one but to end the show on such a bummer is a wild booking decision for 1984. The match was fun enough but overshadowed by the preceding bout.
Backstage: A smiling Chris Adams is interviewed. The Von Erich’s would win the belts back on New Year’s Eve in Fort Worth.
The great Kevin-Adams angle is a clear highlight of this show. However, it just highlighted what Fritz was doing to his kids. Putting them repeatedly in harm’s way for the sake of the business. Even if this particular piece of business was a work. The roster feels thin here, with Kerry and Mike doing double duty, as well as Chris Adams, Butch Reed and Bobby Fulton. That makes the promotion feel small time. Doing it with one guy is ok if it’s telling a story but to have five guys work twice is nuts. They must have spent all the budget on the helicopter and the ambulance.