The Netcop Coliseum Video Rant XIV
I got REALLY bored Friday night waiting for the riot episode of Oz from season one, so I headed over to the video store to check out the ever-reliable previously viewed bin, and once again was not disappointed, this time finding the “History of the Heavyweight ChampionshipÃ¢â‚¬Â video from 1987. Those of you who ask things like “Should I buy this video Ã¢â‚¬Â remember, the answer is always YES, because you can be like me and review ANYTHING and thus BRING THE REVENUE, BABY. Normally I do these Coliseum rants 2-or-3-for-1, but this one is a little over two hours long so it’s just a single.
Whiner of the week: Nova. He invented damn near every move in wrestling, you know. Lou Thesz stole the Thesz press from him, and Nova actually named it in 1922, and the “TheszÃ¢â‚¬Â part of the name was completely coincidental. Hey Nova, free advice: If anyone really cared, you’d be employed by someone who could pay better than 30,000 a year by now.
For those who are unacquainted with the Netcop Coliseum Video Rants, due to the clipped nature of the matches and generally low-quality action, we use the point system rather than star ratings. So basically, every match either gets a point if it’s good enough to watch for any reason, or no points otherwise.
– History of the WWF Heavyweight Championship, 1987.
– Your hosts are Craig DeGeorge, Bobby Heenan and Johnny V. For those unaware, the WWF has a new version of Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch every few years to get crucified by the smart crowd, and Craig was the first one to face the firing squad, lasting from 1986-1988. He was followed by Sean Mooney, who lasted until the early 90s before losing his spot to the tag team of suck that was Todd Pettingill and Stephanie Wiand. Stephanie was taken out back and shot after a couple of weeks and replaced with Joe Fowler, who left for the lucrative world of infomercials soon after, leaving Todd alone to hog the limelight. He outlived his welcome for years afterwards, lasting until 1996, at which point Kevin Kelly joined the WWF team, followed by Cole in 1997. Anyway, like all the rest to follow him, Craig sucks and knows nothing about wrestling, and was calling roller hockey games last I heard. His only contribution to the sport was being the one to introduce the term “dark matchÃ¢â‚¬Â to a generation of marks.
– We are forced to skip Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino in the lineage, because no usuable footage (that Vince has the rights to) exists of them, so we start with
– Ivan Koloff v. Pedro Morales. Koloff defeated Bruno in 1971 to become the third WWWF champion, ending Bruno’s insane 8 year run as champion. He would hold the title for only three weeks before meeting the next big thing: Pedro Morales. Both men are not so much good. Big long headlock to start here. Koloff is actually pretty ripped for the time. Koloff does his headlock. Morales monkey-flips out of a knucklelock, then Koloff goes into a bearhug. Pedro comes back with a slam, and we get a collision for the double knockout. Crowd is absolutely rabid Ã¢â‚¬â€œ my call of the match can’t do justice to how hot the fans are for Pedro. Another slam, but Koloff falls on top for two. Koloff goes to the top for his dreaded finisher Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the top rope kneedrop Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but misses and Morales hits a flying bodypress for two. Then they ruin the match by doing the stupidest ending in wrestling Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Koloff hits a german suplex, and Morales lifts his shoulder at two and gets the pin. I HATE THAT FINISH. Morales wins his only WWWF title, and MSG absolutely EXPLODES. Holy shit! Match was good enough, if kind of slow and plodding. 1 for 1.
– Pedro Morales v. Stan Stasiak. Stan is the father of the former Meat, Sean Stasiak. He’s also fat, ugly and balding, thus having “transitional champÃ¢â‚¬Â written all over him. No footage exists of Stasiak winning the title, so they sub in the last minute of a FIFTY-THREE MINUTE draw that the two men fought to a week previous to the title change. Pedro wins this by “majority decisionÃ¢â‚¬Â. 1 for 2.
– The footage of Stasiak beating Morales is lost, as is the footage of Bruno Sammartino kicking his ass and taking the WWWF title back shortly after, so we jump to
– Bruno Sammartino v. Killer Kowalski. No title change here, it’s just to show Bruno footage. Kowalski is the guy that trained HHH and Chyna, and good god is he tall. Either that or Bruno is just a midget. Kowalski is hammering a bloodied Sammartino as we pick this up, but Bruno fights back and the place explodes. It gets ugly and the ref calls for the bell. Nothing much here. 1 for 3.
– Steel cage match: Bruno Sammartino v. Ivan Koloff. Bruno literally beats Koloff from one end of the ring to the other, but get caught with a kick and gets tossed to the cage. Koloff goes up and hits the kneedrop, but Bruno prevents him from escaping. They pound on each other and Koloff blades. Bruno rams him into the cage and walks out. Eh. 1 for 4.
– Bruno Sammartino v. Ivan Koloff. This time, Gorilla Monsoon is YOUR special referee. The mid-70s were not a great time for the WWWF, as boring stuff like this can attest to. Double knockout puts Bruno on the floor. He comes back to hammer Ivan. Rather one-dimensional attack here, I gotta say. Bruno gets the bearhug, but Ivan makes the ropes. Bruno simply pulls him back to the center and holds out. Ivan breaks, and gets a two count off a pair of bodyslams. Bruno responds in kind for two. Things get out of hand, and Ivan nails Bruno with a chair for the DQ. Watchable. 2 for 5.
– Bruno Sammartino v. Mr. Fuji. Jesus, enough Bruno already. This was a basic TV squash from the WWWF’s weekly show in the late 70s. Bruno keeps him down with armdrags, and survives an international object long enough to finish with a backdrop. Again, watchable. 4 for 6.
– Bruno Sammartino v. Superstar Billy Graham. For those who haven’t seen Graham in his prime, Scott Steiner stole damn near everything from him, in terms of the “Big Poppa PumpÃ¢â‚¬Â gimmick. Ditto Hollywood Hogan. In fact, if this version of Superstar Graham was transported forward in time to today’s WWF, Vince would easily make him a star again. Graham stalls likes nuts, and they get into a shoving match. Bruno gets a wristlock, drawing mad pops from the crowd. We cut to Graham coming off the ropes and getting caught with a bearhug. Criss-cross puts Bruno on the floor and he’s counted out, which actually gets a FACE pop for Graham. See, there were cynical fans even back in 1978. The scandal here is that ref counted to ten, but the out of ring count is supposed to be twenty. 4 for 7, because I like Graham.
– Bruno Sammartino v. Superstar Graham. This is the rematch. Graham overpowers Bruno to start, so Bruno goes to the arm. Graham bails to escape. Test of strength goes Graham’s way, so Bruno counters with an armbar. Graham CHEATS TO WIN and chokes him out to regain the advantage. Bruno runs him into the ringpost in retaliation, and Graham blades. Bruno soon walks into the bearhug. He punches free and comes back to pound Graham in the corner, then hits his own bearhug. Graham fights to the ropes, but Bruno is reluctant to break, so Graham takes him down and pins him with his feet on the ropes to capture the WWWF title, shocking the crowd. Good match. 5 for 8.
– Superstar Graham v. Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla tosses him around like a ragdoll, then hits the GIANT SWING OF DOOM and a quick splash, but Graham is in the ropes. Monsoon was in Viscera territory in terms of weight at this point. Gorilla gets the bearhug to squeeze the champ. Superstar looks eerily like Hollywood Hogan in his match. He cheats to escape and kicks away at Gorilla, then wears him down with his own bearhug. Gorilla falls outside to break and get some time, but Superstar tosses him back in, drops the knee from the top, and gets the clean pin to retain. Nothing match. 5 for 9.
– Superstar Graham v. Bob Backlund. Nowadays, we don’t THINK of Bob as ever being an unstoppable babyface juggernaut, but he used to be. Bob frustrates Graham with mat wrestling, but gets caught with a bearhug. Bob actually counters with his own, and puts him down for two with it. Backlund hits a running atomic drop to finish and claim his first title, which was now simply called the World Wrestling Federation title. Big pop for that. 6 for 10.
– Steel cage match: Bob Backlund v. Greg Valentine. Not sure where this one falls in regards to the title vacancy controversy with Valentine that saw the title get held up for a week. Slugfest to start. This is 1980 now, by the way. Backlund takes Greg down and catapults him into the cage, but Greg smartly aims for the door and nearly escapes. We cut to later, as Greg is bleeding all over the place. Bob piledrives him and walks out. Replays show the piledriver as being VICIOUS. Entertaining little bout. 7 for 11.
– Bob Backlund v. Jesse Ventura. Ivan Putski is YOUR special referee. Jesse’s running argument with him during the pre-match ritual is pretty amusing. Jesse overpowers Bob, then stops to pose for a photo. That’s him in a nutshell. Cut to collision that sees Jesse land on top for one. Jesse chokes him out and piledrives him for one as Putski takes his sweet time with the counts. Sidebreaker gets a slow two. Atomic drop gets nothing. Body-vice looks to finish, with Vince McMahon writing off the title and career of Backlund RIGHT THERE, but Backlund pushes off the ropes to reverse out of it and a rollup gets an exceedingly fast three count to retain. Good match, especially for Jesse. 8 for 12.
– We jump to 1983, as Vince Sr. bows out and Vince Jr. bows in and changes wrestling forever with one match
– Bob Backlund v. The Iron Sheik. Vince thought he could draw big money with sports entertainment, and Bob Backlund was not the guy to do it. So the first order of business is to move the belt. No one remembered to tell Backlund, however, as the Sheik puts him in a routine camel clutch and Bob’s manager Arnold Skaaland throws in the towel, thus screwing Bob out of the title. 8 for 13.
– And of course, that leads to
– The Iron Sheik v. Hulk Hogan. And now Vince has his draw, as Hogan escapes that camel clutch, and hits the legdrop for the pin and his first WWF title. MSG goes nuts, and Hulkamania is born. If you listen closely, you can hear Verne Gagne banging his head into his desk. 9 for 14.
– And we finish with
– Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage. This is one of them there “dark matchesÃ¢â‚¬Â from a Wrestling Challenge taping in 1987, pre-face turn for Savage. Savage pearl harbours him and nails the double axehandle to gain the early advantage. Hogan comes back and sends Macho to the floor. Back in, Hogan hits the clothesline and atomic drop, and Savage bails again. They fight on the floor, but Savage catches him coming in. Hogan bails and Savage follows with the double axehandle. A high knee sends Hogan to the ringpost. Back in, flying elbow gets two, and you know what follows from there. Slight twist in the formula, however, as Savage ducks under the big boot and leaves the ring, and they brawl on the floor. Liz stops Savage from using a chair, pissing him off. Back in, Savage tries another elbow, misses, and Hogan rolls him up to retain. The usual good match between these two. 10 for 15.
The Bottom Line: Due to the unreasonably huge title reign by Bruno, the tape is dominated by him and his bearhugs, but it’s certainly an interesting look at the WWF of the past.
Next up, when I feel like it: The History of the Intercontinental title.