The SmarK Retro Repost – The Wrestling Classic Tournament

– Hey, Sean wants content, so I deliver, baby! This is an oft-requested show from the unwashed masses, and is in fact the very first wrestling PPV ever. Not counting closed circuit, so PLEASE don’t even waste my time by e-mailing me about Inoki v. Ali and stuff like that.

– Live from the Rosemont Horizon, outside of Chicago.

– Your hosts are Gorilla & Jesse, with Mr. Genetic Jackhammer himself introducing the video and keeping track of the tournament.

– For those not acquainted with the show, it’s a thoroughly pointless 16-man tournament, the winner of which receives a Cadillac and probably gets laid with the bimbo that Lord Alfred Hayes spends the whole show hitting on. It was kind of a precursor to the King of the Ring. Here’s the field, determined by “random draw”:

Corp. Kirschner v. Adrian Adonis

Dynamite Kid v. Nikolai Volkoff

Ivan Putski v. Randy Savage

Ricky Steamboat v. Davey Boy Smith

Junkfood Dog v. Iron Sheik

Terry Funk v. Moondog Spot

Magnificent Muraco v. Tito Santana

Bob Orton v. Paul Orndorff

– Opening match: Corporal Kirschner v. Adrian Adonis. Adonis was slowly easing into the fatboy he eventually became, and was sporting leather rather than tutus at this point. The ring is just INSANELY loud for this show, with everything causing the ring to go “BANG!” like they hired some demented foley artist to overdub the show with dramatic sound effects afterwards. The Corporal hits some armdrags to start, and works a headlock. You had to know that Kirschner was doomed from the start, because he was brought in to replace Sgt. Slaughter, but couldn’t be given a rank above Sergeant for obvious reasons. They might as well have called him “General Jobber” for all the success this lame gimmick was gonna bring him, not to mention that he SUCKED in the ring. Adrian gets a series of elbows, then Kirschner makes the comeback and tries a suplex. Adrian does a neato reversal of the move, turning it into a DDT midway through and driving him headfirst to the mat for the pin at 2:35. Strange that no one has used that suplex counter since. ½*

– The Dynamite Kid v. Nikolai Volkoff. Dynamite is over pretty huge, mainly because he went out there and worked his ass off and did stuff that the lazy steroid monsters infesting the WWF at the time couldn’t even DREAM of pulling off. Kid was so awesome that it hurts to watch him and think about how he wasted his talent and potential thanks to drugs. Short and sweet here, as Nikolai sings the anthem and turns around to eat a missile dropkick for the pin at 0:06. DUD

– Ivan Putski v. Randy Savage. Speaking of awesome workers, Savage was just a MONSTER at this point, single-handedly outworking almost everyone on the roster and just generally exposing the entire heel side of the promotion as being a bunch of talentless slugs. He was like a tornado out of Memphis and no one quite knew what to make of him. The best modern-day comparison is probably to someone like Mike Awesome, who combined the size and look of a great heel with the high-flying of the Japanese style that was slowly being filtered into America, to the point where he actually had to tone it down so everyone else could keep up with him. He also had a lot of hair at this point. Putski was definitely on the downward end of his career by the time this show rolled around. Savage stalls a lot, then gets into an ill-advised power match with Putski. Putski wins a slugfest and hammers him in the corner, but Savage pulls out the Flair pin (feet on the ropes) and gets the win at 2:45. Rather brisk first round so far. DUD

– Ricky Steamboat v. Davey Boy Smith. Smith didn’t really come into his own until Dynamite Kid self-destructed in the early 90s and he was thus forced to forge a career as a singles wrestler. He was still pretty good by osmosis, though. By way of proof, he and Steamboat do a beautiful counter-wrestling sequence to start that leads into a Smith suplex for two. That leads into a pinfall reversal bit that gets gets two for Steamboat. Press slam gets two for Smith. He grabs a facelock and they fight over a suplex. Smith presses him again for two. Steamboat reverses a suplex attempt, but a splash hits the knees. Smith gets a pair of dropkicks, but crotches himself on a blind charge and the ref stops the match at 2:53. On first inspection, the “injury” looked legit, but the melodramatic manner in which Smith leapt into the ropes crotch-first at about the time all the matches were going home that night makes it obvious that it’s a work. Way too short, but really good. **

– Junkfood Dog v. Iron Sheik. Sheik attacks quickly, but JYD mounts the comeback. Sheik bails, coming back in with a full-nelson. Dog escapes and gets a ludicrously bad lariat for two. Headbutt misses and Sheik hooks the REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM. Dog goes limp and Sheik releases the hold, then gets frustrated and shoves the ref, allowing JYD to nail him from behind with a headbutt for the pin at 3:26. This one pretty much summed up the 80s WWF in one feel swoop. ¼*

– Terry Funk v. Moondog Spot. Funk notes that Spot probably doesn’t wanna wrestle him because he’ll just lose like always, so why not just call it off and go back to the dressing room, and call it a draw? Spot agrees and they leave, but Funk double-crosses him and runs back to the ring. Spot follows and they battle, with Funk stupidly getting a shot in and then tossing him back in just in time to beat the count. D’OH! Spot gets the upset win at 0:25. DUD Cute booking. Not good of sensible or anything, but cute.

– Magnificent Muraco v. Tito Santana. Power stuff from Muraco to start, as he basically kicks Tito’s ass. Tito was the I-C champ at this point. Tito gets a quick cross-body for two. Sunset flip gets two. Backslide gets two. Muraco begs off, then does his version of the Flair Flip, in this case the Fat Flip. Tito works a wristlock, but gets stungunned. Muraco drops a big fat elbow and a kneedrop gets two. Powerslam gets the pin but Tito’s foot is on the ropes. The ref forgets to mention this to Muraco, and Santana rolls him up for the pin at 4:13. Lame ending to an otherwise good match. *1/2

– Cowboy Bob Orton v. Paul Orndorff. Orndorff goes after Orton’s “injured” arm to start (those 8-month broken arms can be a bitch to heal) and works on it. That gag survived for decades, and I’m pretty sure if Hardcore Holly started working it when he comes back, it’d survive for another year, too. The classics never die. Orton catches Orndorff with a knee and takes over, dropping an elbow and stungunning him. Orndorff gets a sunset flip for two, and Orton goes back to work with elbows. Orton bridges out and takes him down with a backslide for two. Orton misses a flying headscissors, and Paul comes back with a flying elbow and an elbowdrop. Orton bails and Orndorff chases him back in. Orton loads up the CAST OF DEATH, but hits Orndorff in full view of the ref and gets DQ’d at 6:29. Good match, dumb finish, a recurring theme for the night. **1/4

SECOND ROUND

So our field looks like this

Dynamite Kid v. Adrian Adonis

Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat

Junkfood Dog v. Moondog Spot

Tito Santana v. Paul Orndorff

– Dynamite Kid v. Adrian Adonis. Kid works fast with armdrags, and Adonis bails. Adonis catches the Kid with a boot, and slingshots him into the corner for two. Vertical suplex gets two, and Adonis hits the chinlock. The Kid backdrops out, but a splash misses. Adonis works the knee and goes to a Sharpshooter?! A really bad one, sure, but it’s the same move. Kid makes the ropes, and sunset flips out of the corner for two. Adonis tries a bulldog, but gets gets shoved into the corner. Dynamite follows with a Benoit clothesline, and drops a knee off the top for two. Snap suplex and falling headbutt lead to Jimmy Hart interfering, which of course backfires, and Kid gets the pin at 5:23. Man, Dynamite was so far ahead of his time that it’s scary. Really decent match. **

– Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat. Don’t cream yourself, this is 1985, before the match meant anything. Savage pearl harbours Steamboat and we have a donnybrook, according to Gorilla. They go brawling outside and Savage catches him coming in. Steamboat headscissors Savage out and executes some, uh, Hawaiian Violence and an atomic drop on the floor. Back in for another big-ass chopfest, but Savage gets a backdrop suplex. Steamboat blocks the double axehandle and unloads with more chops. Dammit, why can’t Steamboat come out of retirement and go with Benoit for 15 minutes? Savage bails and Steamboat suplexes him back in. Steamer hits the top rope cross body for two. More chops, and some good ones, too. Savage bails again, finds his patented Mystery Weapon in his tights, and pops Steamboat as he’s suplexing him back in, getting the pin at 3:22. Criminally short match, but they packed a lot in there. **

– Junkfood Dog v. Moondog Spot. The ref doesn’t even have time to make it to the ring before Dog kills Spot, so he counts his own pin at 0:27. DUD

– Paul Orndorff v. Tito Santana. Wristlock sequence to start by Tito. Nice matwork follows as Jesse question’s Orndorff’s dedication to the Good Side of the Force. Orndorff powers over Tito in a bridge for a two count and works a hammerlock. This is of course to emphasize that it’s a “scientific” match. Santana powers out and reverses, and Orndorff starts to get in touch with his inner jerk, to Jesse’s delight. Orndorff atomic drops Tito right on the heavily bandaged thigh, but Orndorff then backs off and lets him recover. Orndorff then has a change of heart and works the leg. Tito powers out of a figure-four, and Orndorff lets him recover AGAIN. Tito struggles to the ropes, and Orndorff suddenly blasts him with a forearm, and they tumble out for the double-countout at 8:03. This would start the slow burn to Orndorff’s heel turn on Hogan in 86. Match was pretty decent. **1/2 The cop-out finish gives JYD a bye to the finals.

– WWF World title match: Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper. I always wondered why Vince didn’t have the foresight to milk Hogan v. Piper for more than he did, what with the emerging PPV market and all. Make no mistake, this was still THE money match for the WWF at this point. Brawl outside to start, and Piper cheapshots him back in. Hogan gets the corner clothesline and backdrop suplex, then an elbowdrop. Is that Hulk Hogan or Chris Benoit in there? Piper uses the greco-roman eyepoke to take over, and goes aerial (!), but gets caught with a bearhug. Back to the eyes to break, which then gets two. That’s a pretty effective eyepoke. He tries the sleeper, and Hogan sends them both to the floor to break the hold. Piper hits the post, and Hogan hulks up. Back in, and it’s the big boot, atomic drop, and the ref is bumped. Piper grabs a chair and delivers a wussy shot, and they fight over the chair. Bob Orton runs in for the cheap DQ at 7:15. What is WITH all the lame finishes tonight? Jesus, it’s only a two-hour show, did we have to pack them ALL in there? We’re just a bloodbath short of having a Russo type show. Heel beatdown ensues, Orndorff saves. Match was okay for Hogan. *

SEMI-FINALS

Well, not much of a field left

Dynamite Kid v. Randy Savage

Junkfood Dog – Bye

– Dynamite Kid v. Randy Savage. They fight over a lockup to start, with the Kid shooting icicles out of his eyes at Savage. Now THAT’S intensity. Matwork frustrates Savage, and the Kid just shoots him this awesome sneer as Savage bails. Back in, they jockey along the ropes and Savage cheapshots him over the ref to take over. Savage delivers some elbows, but the Kid overpowers Savage with a stiff shoulderblock. Nasty back body drop stuns Savage, and a crossbody gets two for the Kid. Did someone take his blow away before the match or something to piss him off like this? Quick, someone call a dealer, STAT. Sunset flip is blocked by Savage, and the Kid misses another crossbody try. Kid comes back with the lariat, but Savage recovers first and goes upstairs. Kid crotches him, then debuts the super-duperplex (superplex with both on top) to a huge pop. Dynamite Kid is GOD, bottom line. Savage, however, hooks the legs and gets a cradle for the pin at 4:50 to advance to the finals. Jeff Hardy recently swiped that finish in a KOTR qualifer against Christian on Smackdown a few weeks ago. ***

– Tournament Final: Junkfood Dog v. Randy Savage. Savage stalls to start. A lot. Dog overpowers him and get an early bearhug. He proceeds to work the back. You’re supposed to work the back BEFORE the bearhug. Macho catches an ugly lariat for two. JYD bails and Savage drops an axehandle on him, then rolls in, recovers, and does it again. He adds a chairshot, then we head back in. Dog blocks a top rope version of the axehandle, and hits his headbutts. Savage charges, gets backdropped out, and is counted out at 9:42 to give JYD the tournament. Good god, couldn’t they even book a clean finish in the FINAL MATCH? Match was pretty dull. Memphis and Mid-South don’t mix. *

The Bottom Line: I relish any opportuniy to watch Dynamite Kid in three matches in one show and Randy Savage in four, so that pretty much justifies it here as it is. This is a REALLY tough tape to find, though, so it might be worth the trouble if you’re not into 80s WWF or general wrestling history. Still, a fun tape for what it is, despite the horrible finishes and castrating match times.

Mildly recommended.