The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestling Challenge – 09.27.86
THE RECOGNIZED SYMBOL OF EXCELLENCE IN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT
Taped from Salisbury, MD
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and BOBBY HEENAN. Thank god. They actually start what I think is a running gag, with Heenan about to add something to the intro before getting cut off by the opening theme.
Koko B. Ware v. The Gladiator
And yes, Lord Alfred Hayes has thankfully also been replaced as ring announcer by Mel Phillips. Man, you can’t say that Vince wasn’t ready to overhaul a show that wasn’t working in those days. Unfortunately he didn’t fire Joey Marella as a part of that overhaul because he’s refereeing here. Anyway, everything from the lighting to the camera angles are immediately fixed here, looking exactly like the syndicated shows we would know for the next decade. Koko takes the Gladiator down with armdrags to start and chases him to the corner while Bobby wonders if Koko has a brother named “Tupper”? Such an improvement already. Gladiator slugs away with forearms in the corner, but Koko wins that battle and then puts him down with a neckbreaker. This sets up the brainbuster to finish at 2:51. This was apparently the debut of Frankie the bird at ringside, which obviously was the missing piece to superstardom for Koko.
Wrestlers’ Rebuttal with Sheik and Volkoff. Volkoff hates stupid people who don’t realize that Russia and Iran are #1. How can they both be #1? The math doesn’t add up there.
Paul Orndorff v. Lucius Brown
Hey…wait a second. That muscled black jobber looks pretty familiar to me. Hopefully he makes enough off his squash appearance to get some Olive Garden after the show. He’s introduced as “Luscious” Brown before Gorilla corrects the name on commentary. Brown gets some offense to start, but Orndorff hits him with a cross body and drops elbows on him before throwing him out to the floor. Paul drops him on the railing and smacks his head into it on the way down, and then back in for a clothesline before finishing him with the piledriver at 2:02. Perhaps this guy should switch to a different career, like bodyguarding. Real talk though, how bad was he that he didn’t even get a proper tryout walking into the arena looking like he did? They could have done the Rocky deal and everything given that his “Soul Train Jones” gimmick was basically ripped out of Apollo Creed in the movies.
Meanwhile, Ricky Steamboat chats with Killer Ken Resnick about getting his head dropped on the concrete on SNME.
The Honky Tonk Man v. Terry Gibbs
Yes, it’s mega-babyface Honky Tonk Man’s debut, complete with cheesy 50s entrance music and suspenders. Honky is all fired up and slugs away on Gibbs, and we get an inset promo from HULK HOGAN, who endorses Honky and sells him as the next big star. For those who think that Vince somehow wanted Honky as a heel all along, you’re nuts. Hulk Hogan barely even put over World champion Randy Savage in 1988, no way he would have wasted that rub on Honky Tonk Man unless they wanted him in the babyface role. Gibbs misses a charge and Honky pulls down the suspenders in a SUPER SUBTLE lift from someone else to show he’s making the comeback, and a flying fist finishes at 2:31, just like someone else from Memphis, and the crowd doesn’t give a shit. Oh man this was like everything wrong with the character summed up in a two minute squash. Vince clearly did not get the guy at all. Maybe they should have crowned him King instead and brought in Bill Dundee to feud with.
Meanwhile, Leaping Lanny Poffo stops by and talks about working with the Special Olympics and reads a poem about them. Well I can’t snark on that.
“Mr. Natural” Hacksaw Butch Reed v. Mike Kelly
OK, now THIS I can snark on. Reed debuts here with multiple nicknames, and a jobber opponent who also looks familiar, having worked a couple of episodes ago as “Troy Martin”. Does this guy even know his own name? Does he just pick two first names out of a hat every time he works a show? Maybe next time he’ll be, I dunno, “Shane Douglas” or something. Reed beats on him and gets two, and then picks him up and hits him with a forearm to put him down again. Suplex gets two and he picks him up again for a gutbuster to finish at 2:46. Thankfully Reed would shave his ridiculous hair down soon enough.
The Snake Pit with special guests the Hart Foundation. This is terrible as ever.
Meanwhile, The Wizard and Sika journey to Samoa, where Sika is eating a raw fish out of the ocean to demonstrate how he’s going to metaphorically chew through Hulk Hogan when he gets a title shot, according to the Wizard. Then we move to the jungles, where Sika gets in touch with his predatory ancestors while chewing on random plants and foaming at the mouth. And you’d think it’s over, but NOPE. Next we cut to a nighttime promo as Wizard is somehow STILL TALKING and now Sika is eating some other animal around the fire. You know, for someone who was called a “cannibal” multiple times here, he sure wasn’t eating much in the way of human flesh. Would it have killed them to bring the guy an arm or foot to chew on? Just saying.
The British Bulldogs v. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
This is non-title, which as noted by Bobby, makes the Bulldogs cowards. Davey trades shoulders with the Sheik and slams him into the babyface corner, where Kid headbutts him and comes in to work the arm. But Kid puts his head down and gets booted, and Sheik follows with a backdrop to take over. Volkoff comes in with a proto-chokeslam and hits Kid with a knee. Sheik with a gut wrench while Bobby is taken aback at the general ugliness of English people in general. Kid makes the hot tag to Davey and he backdrops Sheik and follows with a suplex for two. Powerslam gets two, but Volkoff makes the save. They fight on the ropes and both tumble to the floor, but Dynamite suplexes Sheik back in and Slick hooks the leg for the pin at 4:57. The finish here was inevitable when they stressed that it was NON-TITLE multiple times at the beginning. Plus Vince wanted Sheik & Volkoff to get the belts from the Bulldogs for reasons that have always eluded me. It was a totally acceptable tag team match at any rate. **1/2
Meanwhile, Slick and his team chat with Killer Ken in their THIRD segment on this show. I mean, how many times do we need to hear about Iron and Russia being #1?
Next week: Dick Slater! Harley Race! Junkyard Dog v. Jimmy Jack Funk! Really hitting the youth movement hard at this point, I see.
My god this show was SOOOOOOOO much easier to watch than the initial taping episodes. The pacing was fixed, the announcing was fixed, and everything was shot much better. Now this is what we all remember as kids. Or at least those of us who are old like me. Not like those damn millenials on Twitter bitching about how you don’t have to put two spaces after a period. I LEARNED TO TYPE ON A REAL TYPEWRITER YOU NO GOOD PUNK KIDS.
See you next week.