The Netcop Retro Rant for the WWF Big Event (Aug 28/86)
– Live from Toronto, Ontario in the CNE Stadium before about 70,000 people.
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valient and Ernie Ladd.
– Opening match: The Killer Bees v. Jimmy Jack Funk & Hoss (Dory) Funk. I swear the Bees were in every opening match from 1984 to 1989. This is 12 years ago and Dory still looks ancient. Jimmy Jack is former Florida star Jesse Barr, brother of Art. Loads of stalling here. B. Brian Blair is the talented one who gained greater fame by smashing his knees into Brutus Beefcake’s face in a parasailing accident and ending his career. Match is thankfully clipped to the finish, as the Bees do the switcheroo with the masks, allowing Jim Brunzell to pin Jimmy Jack. The Bees would never, ever, get over today. Ever. *
– Magnificent Muraco v. King Tonga/Haku. Haku is built like a cruiserweight at this point. Announcers can’t decide whether to call him Tonga or Haku, which is why I have it as both. Haku used to be really good, actually, of which this match is not a good example. Non-stop wristlock here. The resthold segment is mercifully clipped down a bit. Muraco is nicely into his fat and lazy period. Not much to say about this, as Muraco works on the leg a bunch and stalls. Haku with a quick comeback and flying bodypress, but the time limit expires. 1/2*
– Ted Arcidi v. Tony Garea. Whatever to happened to Arcidi? Garea is currently a member of the Vince Butt-Kissers Club, and I’m surprised we haven’t seen any vignettes of *him* yet. Goldberg fans take note: Arcidi was the *shit* in 1986. He even had his own LJN figure. I had it, too. Arcidi, for those not familiar with him, is this huge monster ex-bodybuilder who has the Steve DiSalvo look going (of course, most reading this probably aren’t familiar with him, either…) and who was on the fast track in the WWF before disappearing. Garea stupidly trades power moves with him and gets killed as a result. Quick bearhug for the submission. DUD.
– Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart, segueing into…
– “Adorable” Adrian Adonis v. Junkfood Dog. Crap. They both suck so badly that the ref has no choice but to count both their fat asses out. -**
– Iron Mike Sharpe v. Dick Slater. Sharpe is, of course, the World’s Loudest Jobber. AAAAGH! AAAGH! MY ARM! AAGH! I’m just building a mental picture here for those who don’t know who he is. All Canadian fans are, of course, intimately acquainted with his routine. Slater’s not as terrible at this point in his career as he would become later. Elbow from the top and rollup for the win. *1/2
– Mean Gene interviews the Brain, leading to…
– The Machines (Big & Super) & Capt. Lou Albano v. John Studd & King Kong Bundy & Bobby Heenan. Super Machine is Bill Eadie (Ax), Big Machine is Blackjack Mulligan (Barry Windham’s dad). Horrible match, of course. Some stuff happens and then the managers get in and put on a better show than the wrestlers! Pandemonium breaks loose, and Giant Machine (Rey Mysterio Jr) comes in illegally and cleans house for the DQ. DUD.
– Jake “The Snake” Roberts v. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. No DQ “snakepit” match. OH, YEAH, BABY! This, folks, was as hardcore as the WWF ever got in this era. They do some token stuff in the ring and then brawl outside, and Steamboat somehow manages to blade even with the camera on him the whole time. The man is a GENIUS, say I. Roberts just beats the living crap out of him, but uses the casual “sit on the shoulders and hold my arms in the air to show off for the fans” cover and of course you can guess what happens next, and if you can’t you have no business calling yourself a wrestling fan. Great little match to settle the feud. ***1/4
– Billy Jack Haynes v. Hercules Hernandez. Oddly enough this feud would lie dormant until Herc jumped to the Heenan family and then it got pushed to high-level status by Wrestlemania III. This is better than that particular match, btw. That’s not a ringing endorsement or anything, just an observation. Zero crowd heat. Herc tries a neckbreaker, but Haynes with the backslide…and it WORKS! Ho-lee shit! Haynes joins Kerry Von Erich in the annals of wrestling history as only the second person to ever get a pin with that. *1/2
– The Rougeau Brothers v. The Dream Team. Damnit if the Rougeaus didn’t come along 10 years too soon. Pretty awesome match when the Rougeaus are allowed to do their double-team shit. The inherant suck limitations imposed by the presence of Hulk Hogan’s favorite bootlick drag it down a bit, but then Beefcake was never really a factor in the team anyway. Most of his involvement was get in, do his four or five signature moves, get out. Jacques and Raymond take turns playing Le Face En Peril. Rougeaus get to toss in a SWANK move now and then (always with Valentine, of course) and then go back to getting stomped by Beefcake. Hot tag, Jacques takes out both of them, but Valentine regains control and gets the figure-four. A pier-six brawl breaks out, and Hammer has to reapply the hold. Beefcake is arguing with the referee about something, allowing Ray to sunset flip Valentine while he’s hunched over during the application of the figure-four. This is such a beautifully choreographed spot — most of the fans watching at the time (myself included) didn’t realize just what an artform it was at times. The ref doesn’t notice the illegal man making the pin, Rougeaus win. ***1/2 In the slower-moving 80s, this was the match that pretty much sealed the fate of Brutus Beefcake.
– Harley Race v. Pedro Morales. And over to the other end of the spectrum go we, as two washed up veterans try to salvage their careers. Sadly, Race kept on kicking around the WWF until 1989! Hard to believe that Race was World champion a scant three years prior to this match. Hard to believe Pedro was ever a champion of any kind a scant three years prior to this match. Race lures Pedro into the corner (very…slowly…) and pins him with his feet on the ropes. The dastardly fellow. DUD.
– WWF Title match: Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff. Nearly ever major Hogan feud saw Hulk get betrayed, sign a big match, then polish off his opponent cleanly. This is the exception. Orndorff had done one of the most (if not *the* most) famous heel turns in history a little ways prior to this. The seeds of the modern fan are sewn, as the cynical Hulk-haters cheer on Mr. Wonderful *rabidly*. This is an okay->good match, too, even by Hogan’s standards. Hogan destroys Orndorff to the delight of the fans, but Heenan runs in and Hogan chases him, as usual, which allows Orndorff to gain the advantage. Hogan takes a suplex on the floor. Orndorff gets a huge pop by calling for the piledriver, but Hogan reverses. Hulk up, and the running knee, but the ref gets bumped as Orndorff goes down. It was Hulk’s fault, remember that. Hogan showboats, re-enacting the turn by raising Orndorff’s hand and then clotheslining him gleefully. Is *this* the message he’s sending out to his little Hulkamaniacs? It’s okay to be a prick as long as the other guy started it? Hogan goes for the piledriver, shaking his ass to mock Orndorff, but Heenan whacks Hogan in the head with a wooden stool. Weak shot. Hogan sells it like he’s dead, however, and Orndoff ends up on top as the ref recovers. The ref…crawls…over…really…slowly, and taps Paul on the shoulder three times. Orndorff goes apeshit as Heenan grabs the title belt and straps it around his waist and they celebrate. But it’s announced as a DQ win for Hogan. Why? Orndorff didn’t anything wrong. It’s Hogan’s fault that he nailed the referee by accident. Then, true sportsman that he is, Hogan blindsides Orndorff and wipes the mat with him to make up for the non-win. I tell you, Hogan would get booed out of the building today for being such a jerk. **1/2
The Bottom Line:
Well, the wrestling action wasn’t Top of the Super J or anything, but it certainly *felt* like a spectacle. And Orndorff-Hogan was a *hot* feud, make no mistake. Good for nostalgia reasons.