The World Wrestling Federation’s first official visit to the land of Pay-Per-View occurs at the Rosemont Horizon just outside Chicago in November of 1985. The concept is a 16 man single elimination tournament with a WWF Heavyweight title bout thrown in.
If you’ve ever wanted to witness an entertaining train wreck, this card is right on your tracks. The WWF works with the Illinois State Athletic Commission for this one and there’s no standard WWF ring being used for the event. Instead, it’s a ring that looks like it was unearthed from the ISAC’s basement. No pads around the ring, either.
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are on commentary just as before at WrestleMania, but Ventura’s feeling a little more antagonistic this time, plus he no longer refers to Gorilla as “Gino.” During their commentary, it’s noted that there are no turnbuckle pads, just the turnbuckle itself wrapped in tape.
Vince McMahon, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Random Blonde Woman stand by this big board with the tournament while Gene Okerlund handles the interviews. Random Blonde Woman looks petrified to be there, especially once Hayes starts hugging up on her. She winds up kissing Alfred’s cheek by the end of the event, if only to get him the fuck off her.
Dealing with sexual harassment or at the least, unwanted advances was different in 1985. Then again for all I know that could have been Alfred’s wife… which would also explain the petrified look on her face.
In any event, the first round matches are 10 minute time limit so the competitors are running at the speed of enhancement here.
We start off with Adrian Adonis quickly disposing of Cpl. Kirchner with the ending looking like something Jake Roberts might try out of nowhere, which is Adonis blocking a suplex and countering with the DDT to get the pinfall.
An ISAC referee’s inadequate level of officiating costs Nikolai Volkoff his match against the Dynamite Kid who’s able to hit Volkoff with a missile dropkick and pin him before Volkoff was even to his corner. C’mon, Illinois there are rules! Understand them before refereeing. Volkoff is justifiably upset. By the way, this match actually does go 9 seconds.
Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (in outfit #1) defeats Ivan Putski in a 3 minute match indicating Putski’s best days were behind him.
Another 3 minute special happens when Ricky “He’s a Dragon now” Steamboat beats Davey Boy Smith in a rather awkward fashion. Smith tries a Gagne Dropkick, but winds up tangled in the ropes, messing up his groin in the process and the referee signalling that he can’t continue. Steamboat wins through the power of superior kung fu treachery.
Terry Funk and Moondog Spot have… a match, I guess? It’s more Funk trying outsmart Spot only to outsmart himself and get counted out, allowing Spot to advance. Terry starts to show signs of “I’m getting older and a little more crazy now.”
Tito Santana, the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, having won the title from Greg Valentine between WrestleMania and now is entered into the tournament, which Ventura strongly disagrees with since any injury sustained here could affect any upcoming title defense. It’s hard to disagree with the logic, especially since the prize for winning this thing is “Hey, you won this thing!” He gets by Don “Magnificent” Muraco, but winds up getting some sort of injury to his left thigh.
The longest match of the first round sees Paul Orndorff beating Ace Orton by disqualification. Ace was sporting a cast on his left forearm which apparently had been cleared by both the WWF and the ISAC. However, he uses it as a weapon and gets himself DQ’d. The closest logic I can think of is that the ref considered it on par with removing a wrestling boot in order to use it as a weapon, which would also be grounds for a DQ.
We move to the quarterfinals where it’s now 15 minute time limit, but we’re still moving at the speed of enhancement.
Dynamite Kid is able to beat Adrian Adonis. Not a bad match, but I’m surprised Adonis didn’t try that DDT a second time.
Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (in outfit #2) defeats Ricky Steamboat in the same way he’ll eventually defeat Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Heavyweight title at a later event in Boston. He reaches into his trunks and pulls out what appears to be a roll of coins. Let someone punch you hard in the face with a roll of coins. It’s not pleasant. I hope that’s what he was pulling out, otherwise I don’t event wanna speculate on what he did to Steamboat’s face with that right hand, knowing where it had just been.
Then we have incompetence at a strange level in the battle of the dogs. Between the WWF and ISAC, neither could figure out who was supposed to officiate the next match. JYD decides he’ll officiate it himself, scoring a quick pinfall which he himself counts. Monsoon on commentary notes that there’s a judge at ringside giving the nod of approval at this so JYD can advance. Where the hell was this judge earlier when Volkoff wasn’t allowed in his corner before the start of his bout? Where was this judge when Savage was reaching into his trunks to grab… something? This card essentially makes the Illinois State Athletic Commission look like the Keystone Cops of officiating.
Tito Santana and Paul Orndorff are next with Santana sporting some tape around the left thigh, something Ventura is quick to point out. The match starts off friendly enough with a handshake. It ends with both men slugging it out at ringside, resulting in a double countout and allowing JYD to rest up for the final round.
Before we get to the semifinal match, we have Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Heavyweight title against his nemesis, Roddy Piper. ‘Tis an odd feud that never really saw a satisfying conclusion in the WWF. It would have been better to have this bout between the semifinal and final round, but between the WWF and ISAC and Hayes doing everything short of groping Random Blonde Woman, Savage either pulling out a weapon or playing with himself (or both), Smith hurting his groin, and JYD getting a bye to the last round after counting his own pinfall, this is a hot mess.
In any event, Piper gets himself DQ’d, because of course he does by way of Ace Ortonference. Orndorff shows up to help Hogan. Those guys are total best friends forever. The world is ready to move on from this.
Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (in outfit #3) defeats Dynamite Kid in a decent match that goes 5 minutes. Savage somehow had enough left in the tank after being hit with a top rope superplex to counter Kid’s pin attempt with one of his own. It’s cute that even after that, Kid thought he won. Thanks to the WWF Heavyweight title bout happening too early, Savage has little time to rest up before dealing with a refreshed JYD in the final round.
Which brings us to the final round. Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (in outfit #4) does his best to deal with JYD, but Dog back body drops Savage over the top rope to the unforgiving floor like something out of a battle royale. In the NWA, this would have been a disqualification with Savage winning, but this is the WWF and we wrestle… without over the top DQ’s!
Savage is unable to scrape himself off the floor and gets counted out, providing JYD with what would be his biggest, most notable win during his time in the WWF, winning the tournament.
Ventura protests the fact that Dog got a bye, but that’s the fault of Santana and Orndorff. If anything, he should have been protesting there being not enough of a rest period or a match in between the semifinal and final round. Who takes the blame for that, the ISAC or the WWF? Both perhaps? I don’t know.
So there you go, 15 matches in about 2 and a half hours and it felt like it.
Other fun stuff.
Some fan who may not have even been in attendance won a Rolls Royce, presumably with white wall tires. President Tunney didn’t appear to be on hand for WrestleMania, but he was for this. Make of that what you will.
The Rosemont Horizon will have better, actual WWF equipment to work with as they take part in the next PPV, WrestleMania 2.
Random Blonde Woman is never seen again. It’s possible Hayes stuffed her in the trunk of his ride. This is the WWF, after all where “anything can happen.”
Hogan looks neat in the all-white gear. Then again it looks like the same gear Steamboat had used earlier in the year at WrestleMania.
Speaking of gear, a hand for the confidence of Savage and Elizabeth, having 4 different attires ready to go, one for each round.
Next up, WWF WrestleMania 2, the Three-For-All.
Tags: The Wrestling Classic