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JerryvonKramer

NWF, 1983

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The Setup

 

After falling out with Vince McMahon Jr about the direction he wants to take the product, Bruno Sammartino stormed out of the WWF taking with him his son, David, The Grand Wizard, Frank Williams, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Gary Michael Capetta, and Dominic Denucci back to Pittsburgh. There in Denucci's gym, Sammartino hatched a plan to conquer the North East with a brand new promotion. He sought out Pedro Martinez and Johnny Powers to buy the right to the old National Wrestling Federation (NWF) name. He used his connections with Frank Sinatra to pitch his idea for a new wrestling promotion to the Walt Disney Company who were seeking programming to fill space on their new international Disney Channel. He secured an exclusive rights deal with Disney. Supercards will be broadcast around the US to closed-circuit theatre television venues. Sammartino tirelessly worked to raise funding from various investors, old friends, and celebrities accumulating startup capital of around $25 million. He also rang his old friend Sam Muchnick who agreed to argue for the new NWF promotion to join National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Because the other members of the NWA were keen to give McMahon a bloody nose, and because their Pittsburgh base posed no threat to any other member, they fast-tracked the NWF's application for membership. In exchange, Bruno promised to showcase top NWA talent on his Disney TV slot. He also financed the opening of a brand new 8,000 seater venue in Pittsburgh called Bruno Sammartino Arena. Larger events could take place there, while -- at least for the time being -- the weekly shows would be taped at Denucci's gym.

 

However, although Sammartino has huge cash resources and other assets at his disposal, the roster is painfully thin. Denucci has two very green trainees called Mick Foley and Shane Douglas who will need to be thrown in the deep end, as well as a trainee referee Brian Hildebrand. Sammartino convinces Lou Thesz to come and help him get started, and calls in favours from Spiros Arion and Haystacks Calhoun -- who both agree to help out only for the first month. He spots an obscure young news reader working on a local news station called Sean Mooney, who is interested by the prospect of working for Disney and comes on board to front the TV. Sammartino puts in a call to Roy Shires to come an help him book, but he refuses, he doesn't want to move to Pittsburgh. However, Shires recommends that he contact Don Leo Jonathan who has recently retired and is at a loose end, and John Tolos who hasn't been up to much either. Jonathan joins as a road agent, and Tolos will help out the green Mooney as a colour man.

 

The biggest issue he faces is that virtually no other workers of any repute will join this virtually unknown company. In the short term he will have to rely on smart talent trades and loans from the NWA to establish the brand. Bruno is still a big enough star to draw people to watch, but with his retirement rapidly approaching, he'll need to make some new stars fast. In this thread we will follow how he gets on.

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This first show revolved around Lou Thesz bringing in the old NWF title and Grand Wizard pressing Spiros Arion's claim to it. Naturally, Bruno disagrees and they have a match over it, which Bruno wins making him the new NWF champion.

 

The thinness of this card is painful. Calhoun didn't like taking the countout loss to Shane Douglas, but he'll be gone by the end of the month. David Sammartino was apparently wasted on drugs and it is very likely Bruno will send him to rehab. Dominic vs. The Baron was about as good as could be expected given that it wasn't even good in 1978 this is 1983. Bruno shone in every segment. Also, Spiros Arion got injured in the main event and is out for the whole month -- lol.

 

The basic plan now will be to bring in NWA stars on one-shot deals managed by Wizard to challenge for Bruno's belt.

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Bruno has made a series of loans to supply Grand Wizard with a constant stream of title contenders. The first is Dory Funk Jr in from Crockett. Terry will follow next week. These cards are genuinely awful, but talent is limited. Foley and Douglas are slowly being built up as young heels. But the lack of anything going on outside of Bruno's title is quite painful. It's time to look for some more workers to join this roster -- it is unclear who, if anyone, will join.

 

David Sammartino has been sent to rehab for 3 months.

 

 

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Some signings! 

 

SD Jones! Porkchop Cash! Bobo Brazil! All on 3-month deals. They will form a faction called The Funboys Three and their main role will be to put over Foley and Douglas. They aren't available for this next show.

 

Terry Funk came in and did a crazy bump in the main event against Bruno which was hot. The undercard was total trash, with Don Leo Jonathan coming out of retirement to fill out the card against Frankie Williams, and Lou Thesz tagging with Haystacks Calhoun to put over Foley and Douglas -- naturally Thesz didn't take the pin.

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Two more stars added on 3-month deals: Bulldog Brower and Billy Robinson. There are no plans as such for these workers other than filling out the card. Robinson can work longer matches which will help to fill some time on these dire cards. He will also be useful for talent trades. Haystacks Calhoun has left NWF in disgust without notice. Ivan Koloff has come in from GCW for a 2-show trade in exchange for SD Jones and Robinson. Don Diamond has been brought in as enhancement talent.

 

Grand Wizard's challenger this week is Jumbo Tsuruta. The idea is to get Bruno over as a truly international champion, and NWF over as a place where everyone from all over the world comes. There was a "once in a lifetime" legends match between Thesz (66) and Brazil (58). Push for Douglas and Foley continues.

 

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14 hours ago, JerryvonKramer said:

Dominic vs. The Baron was about as good as could be expected given that it wasn't even good in 1978 this is 1983.

Hahahaha. I am sure it was.

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In order to help this roster, Bruno has picked up a veritible job squad the most famous of which are perennial journeymen Doug Somers and Jerry Valiant, who will tag sometimes. Others who will be brought in primarily to put others over are Siva Afi, Frank Monte, Mohamed Saad, and Mike Jackson. These are all decent hands who will help with the undercard.

 

For this week, it was time for Bruno to have a break, and Flair to come in to defend the NWA belt which he did in a thirty-minute technical match against Billy Robinson which fell flat with the live crowd. Jack Brisco was announced as Bruno's challenger for next week on the Grand Wizard conveyor belt. Debuts for much of the job squad.

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A bit of an angle for this show, as Mick Foley acting like a crazed psychopath ran in and attacked Bobo Brazil with a chair during his match with Bulldog Brower. He continues to hack at the legendary Brazil with a chair until SD Jones ran out,  but the damage was already done. Brazil needed to be stretchered out.

 

Bruno vs. Jack Brisco had excellent heat and the pair had good chemistry. These "one and done" title defences against well known names are to establish Bruno as an unbeatable champion. 

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In the best episode of League of Champions on Disney to date, Bruno started the show giving a heartfelt sitdown interview with Sean Mooney about the time Stan Hansen injured his neck in 1973. He talked about the mental anguish of that period outside of the squared circle and how he's never forgiven Hansen for it. Just as he said that, Grand Wizard cackled off stage and Stan Hansen himself emerged! He attacked Bruno from behind and a wild pull apart brawl ensues. Later in the show Gary Michael Capetta announced that Bruno has requested a cage match with Hansen tonight to settle this score once and for all!! 

 

In a short skit SD Jones visited Bobo Brazil in hospital. Mick Foley destroyed Mohamad Saad and seems to be getting more psychotic. The main event saw an amazing brawl between Bruno and Hansen in the steel cage with Bruno.

 

The TV audience has increased by 373% since week 1, but is still only drawing a 0.08 which is around 66,730 people.

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In disastrous news, the NWA have clamped down on the loans claiming that the company is abusing the system by using it too often! Still Bruno can milk two more defences from this.

 

The first of those is Killer Khan who had a Texas Death Match with Bruno this week. The formula of Wizard bringing in the monster to take on Bruno might be old but it is as good as it is going to get for these early weeks of NWF. These are all strong main events and the idea is that this will make more people tune in as word of mouth gets around.

 

Elsewhere on the show, Mick Foley steamrolled Don Diamond, while SD Jones went to see Brazil in hospital again, who is recovering but angry about Foley's attack.

 

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In a major coup, Larry Zbyszko will be coming in for six dates on a talent trade with GCW with Porkchop Cash and Baron Scicluna going the other way. There's the main event for the first supercard sorted!

 

He debuted immediately on the TV cutting the following promo:

 

"Do you remember me Bruno? Do you remember me? Once upon a time I worshiped you like all of these schmucks out here, because I was young and naive and foolish and impressionable. I thought that for once in this world there was someone who cared for me, there was someone who wasn't SELFISH. But how wrong I was to trust in you. You're not the hero people think you are. You only care about one man and that's Bruno Sammartino. Well let me tell you something old man, I am your worst nightmare come to life. I've been talking to the Grand Wizard and he said I need to get down here to make your life a living hell, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to do everything I can to haunt you with the ghosts of the past, ghosts Bruno, ghosts that I want you to see when you close your eyes at night! And then when you're in a cold sweat, when you're lying there like the hairy gorilla you are eyes looking up at the ceiling. I want you to see my face laughing. Because that belt you have around your waste is going to be mine, ALL MINE when I am through!"

 

During the rest of the card, Bobo Brazil came back from injury during Mick Foley's match and chased him back to the locker room.

 

Grand Wizard's challenger was Kamala but Ivan Koloff ran in during the main event and attacked Bruno with a chain as Larry Zbyszko got on the mic and laughed manically saying "the ghosts! The GHOSTS BRUNO" over and over again.

 

 

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Tonight Ivan Koloff was the challenger, but that match was really just the setup for Bruno to transition into a feud with Larry Zbyszko who attacked him and ended the match by DQ.  This will be the main event at the Super Card at the end of next month.

It may be getting to the time to establish a secondary title and even a touring event featuring a B-show to help accelerate growth for the company and give more experience to the younger stars.

 

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Tonight's challenger is Ted DiBiase who Grand Wizard has brought in as a reminder of his father, Iron Mike as a "ghost of the past". He had a solid match with Bruno but afterwards Larry Zbyszko came out to try to steal Bruno's thunder.

 

Billy Robinson is set to end his run so will be helping to put over Mick Foley. We also had the first live tour show in New Jersey which featured the Funboys Three (SD Jones, Bobo Brazil and Porkchop Cash) going over Mick Foley, Shane Douglas and Doug Somers. Somers took the pin and Foley was kept strong during the match and missed the finish due brawling with Cash outside of the ring.

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In the last TV show before the Supercard, NWF President Lou Thesz oversaw the contract signing between Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko for the title. The show was mostly an advert for the PPV event (being sold on Closed Circuit). Don Leo Jonathan came out of retirement in the main event to face Billy Robinson in a bout that was a lot better than it had any right to be.

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In a scheduling mixup, the Supercard was meant to take place on Tuesday but admin staff had accidentally booked the venue for Friday. This meant that half the roster were away INCLUDING Larry Zbyszko who was supposed to be blowing off his feud with Bruno Sammartino in the main event. Quickly, NWF made some talent trades to acquire Dory Funk Jr and Abdullah the Butcher to cover the holes on the card.

 

Hence, Supercard 1983 revolved around an angle in which Larry Zbyszko sent in a recorded video tape of himself with a bandaged leg claiming he was injured and could not take part in the show and that instead Abdullah the Butcher would take his place! Bruno reacted furiously, and Grand Wizard promised that Abdullah would be so brutal that Bruno would wish that he'd never been born. The main event was a wild brawl featuring blood and a crazy spot from Abdullah when he tried to piledrive Bruno on a table only to see it collapse under his weight. Bruno was very firey in the main event and the match finished with an stoppage for as Abdullah was heavily bleeding. An enraged Bruno would not relent and Abdullah had to be carried out with a stretcher. Bruno was shouting for Larry Zbyszko to show himself.

 

Elsewhere on the card, Dory Funk Jr went 40 minutes with Jerry Valiant who managed to hang long enough, the crowd was suprisingly into the match even though it featured long periods on the mat and a slow pace. Bobo Brazil finally got his hands on Mick Foley, but referee Brain Hildebrand was knocked out. Foley smashed Brazil over the head with a steel chair and Grand Wizard snuck down to the ring in a referee's jacket to count to three. Foley claimed the victory and this seems to be the end of the road for Brazil.

 

Generally the show has had a very positive reaction from fans as well as "in the dirt sheets".

 

 

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This live show continued with the Funboys Three vs. Foley / Douglas plus partner main events. Jones, Cash and Brazil each only have 13 days left with the company so there will be a new storyline for the young Foley forthcoming. Lou Thesz has taken an interest in Foley backstage and has been teaching him about psychology.

 

Baron Scicluna came back from injury but was caught taking painkillers. He put over Dominic Denucci as per usual.

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This episode of League of Champions featured Pedro Morales making a surprise appearance to challenge his old friend Bruno Sammartino for his title. The two shook hands after an epic encounter. Meanwhile, Larry Zbyszko is still nowhere to be seen.

 

Also on the show, Mick Foley came out and started harrassing the host of the show, Sean Mooney. He kept putting plastic straws in his ear and ruffling his hair in some truly bizarre behaviour which left fans wondering about Foley's mental state. Foley at 17 is a very young wrestler, but has already made a mark in the company by defeating the legendary Bobo Brazil, albeit with some help from The Grand Wizard. But this latest display from Foley is disturbing. After a few minutes of this, SD Jones had seen enough and came running out to confront Foley leading to a match which Foley promptly won.

 

Doug Somers and Jerry Valiant continued their winning streak with a win over Billy Robinson and Mike Jackon after Somers pinned Jackson. With so many wins for Somers and Valiant now, some are wondering if the NWF will introduce tag titles. Somers and Valiant are said to be lobbying President Lou Thesz for this.

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Billy Robinson is on his way out and just as well because he picked up an injury putting over Larry Z. Zbyszko is back with no explanation and during the match Bruno came down furious about him no showing Supercard 1983. Later on, following a routine title defence against his old rival Baron Scicluna (who has been sent to rehab following painkiller abuse), Larry Z attacked Bruno with a chair.

 

Bobo Brazil is continuing to put over Foley on his way out.

 

Now, a slew of new signings! Roddy Piper! Tick Rude! Randy Savage! Arn Anderson! Ole Anderson! And on short-term deals: The Crusher! Dick the Bruiser! The Shiek! And a Japanese tag team: The Great Yatsu and Mr Pogo.

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The weekly tour which takes place on Fridays now being shown by Nickleodeon, is a good place to debut new talent. Here Rick Rude came in with his new "Ravishing" gimmick telling fans that the women in the crowd were going to get a look at a "real man". Ole Anderson has come into the territory with a new "cousin" calling himself Arn Anderson. They made short work of Mike Jackson and Frankie Williams. Meanwhile, in the main event, Dick the Brusier and The Crusher made a sensational return to the world of pro wrestling teaming up with Bruno Sammartino in a six-man.

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Another episode of League of Champions, and this week saw the introduction of the NWF Tag Titles. A unique four-way elimination tag match was used to establish the new champions featuring wrestlers from all around the world: representing Japan were Yoshiaki Yatsu and Mr Pogo. Coming in from down south were The Andersons. Representing the home-town heroes, Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher. And finally, Doug Somers and Jerry Valiant rounded out the eight. The match went for over 30 minutes but in the end The Crusher and Dick the Bruiser scored an historic victory. This is the 14th time the pair have held gold together. They won their first gold 20 years ago in 1963, and the pair were very emotional to be in the big time once again.

 

Elsewhere on the card, Mick Foley destroyed Mike Jackson and then started making strange noises and yelping which freaked out many of the fans at ringside.

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On tonight's NWF Tour on Nickleodeon, Dick the Brusier and The Crusher defend their tag titles against Somers and Valiant. Unfortunately, following a bust-up backstage after the match, Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher fell out with the management and stormed out of the company!! The new tag belts are now vacant.

 

Also on tonight's show, Roddy Piper debuted his new chat segment, Piper's Pit on which The Grand Wizard was reunited with The Sheik who will be trying to win Bruno's title next Monday. Meanwhile, on the undercard, Rick Rude taunted the fans and beat a jobber. Unfortunately, Rude was legit injured during the match and will be out for a couple of weeks.

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League of Champions tonight saw a thirty-minute epic between The Andersons and Yatsu/Pogo for the vacant NWF tag titles that fell quite flat with the crowd because of the slow, technical nature of the wrestling on display. The Andersons are the new NWF tag champions nonetheless.

 

Bruno squared off against one of his legendary rivals, The Sheik who was reunited with his manager in the 13th defence of his NWF title.

 

Elsewhere on the card, Mick Foley weirded out the crowd following a squash by making animal noises.

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Another NWA Tour show on Nickelodeon which has essentially become the B-show for TV. There is very little going on right now because Larry Zbyszko has only one appearance left on his contract to blow off the Bruno feud (with the PPV not until June, it's currently the start of May). Some temptation to drop that storyline and blow it off on TV in order to transition into something.

 

The company is in dire need to storylines. The babyface side of the roster is awful beyond Bruno and there has been a desperate search for talent. Bids for Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and others have been turned down so far, but trying. 

 

This show was a pure placeholder with Bruno appearing on Piper's Pit to tease the possiblity of a program with those two. A tag title defence, and a squash. To give an idea of the thinness of the roster, the only babyface on the books not used on the show was Siva Afi.

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In a major coup, NWF has managed to acquire  the services of Hulk Hogan on a pay-per-appearance basis for 3 years. Hogan will continue working for the AWA and tours for NJPW throughout this period which will make his availability limited. In a similar deal, Macho Man Randy Savage will be coming in, but the NWF will have to compete with NJPW, CWA, and SECW for his time. And Bruce Hart and Bret Hart have agreed to come in, but will remain working in Stampede at the same time. Another top babyface joining the company is Tommy Rich, who will remain working with GCW.

 

The idea is that "League of Champions" can act as a showcase for talent from all around the country due to its prominent TV slot with Disney, and the Nickelodeon slot can give some national exposure also. This deal works for everyone, hopefully, and should put over NWF as a "destination" promotion within the NWA. It remains to be seen, however, how this talent can be used -- and how the scheduling will work. It's possible that shows will have to move from their Monday and Sunday slots.

 

The League of Champions show blew off the Larry Zbyszko feud as there was no way to drag out this storyline until June with only one appearance left from Larry. The match was good and Bruno got a tremendous response from the live crowd. Elsewhere on the show, Bruce Hart debuted promising his brother Bret will follow. Bret was unavailable for the show. The idea is that The Harts will work a program with the Andersons over the tag titles. The Shiek worked an undercard match winding down his month contract after losing to Bruno last week.

 

 

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