The SmarK Rant for WWF Prime Time Wrestling – 07.21.86
Well today’s choice of rant was the only one that made sense, since Championship Wrestling isn’t actually on the Network. So back to the summer of 1986 we go, kicking off my wrestling fandom!
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan, in a weirdly darkened set compared to the later brightly lit one.
Brutus Beefcake v. Billy Jack Haynes
From an MSG show on July 12, which is an impressive turnaround time for these. Beefcake attacks before the bell and struts around, but Billy Jack whips him into the corner to fight back. Beefcake gets a kidney punch in the corner, but goes up and misses a fistdrop and Haynes gets a sunset flip for two. Beefcake tries a suplex and Billy reverses to his own while Gorilla continually calls Haynes a “youngster”. He was 33 years old at that time, which I suppose could be classified as “young” but he wasn’t exactly a raw rookie like Gorilla seems to be insinuating. Beefcake tries a slam and Haynes falls on top for two, so Brutus puts him down with a clothesline for two. They fight in the corner and Haynes makes the comeback with his own clothesline, and he’s fired up! Like when the government bugs his communications and tries to steal his guns! Haynes with a legdrop and he goes up with something of a flying splash that looked like Beefcake was supposed to get his knees up and forgot. So that gets two and they look immediately lost. Finally Johnny V trips up Haynes for the DQ at 6:31 as they just decide to go home and get out of there. Certainly not the worst match I’ve ever seen out of either guy but that finish, woof. **1/4
Back at the studio, Gorilla offers to send Bobby to an “oculist” and get a prescription because Bobby didn’t see the trip happen. To be fair, the camera didn’t catch it either.
Tony Atlas v. Lanny Poffo
This is an odd babyface match from the same MSG show. Poffo doesn’t have anything bad to say about Mr. USA in his opening poem, but he does point out that the airline lost his luggage so he doesn’t have any frisbees to throw out and he’ll have to owe us one. Lanny works the arm and Atlas reverses to his own armbar, but Poffo takes him down with a headscissors and Tony gets a headlock. Gorilla and Alfred go on a weird tangent about Atlas usually trashtalking in the ring and Alfred goes “What language is he speaking out there anyway? Swahili?” Maybe he’s confusing Tony with Saba Simba. They trade armbars and the crowd is rapidly tiring of this already and would like something to happen. Meanwhile, Alfred relates a thrilling story about a time when Poffo faced Tiger Chung Lee and everyone thought he’d lose, but then he won. Wow, he beat Tiger Chung Lee, huh? Better give him a title shot. So finally they get into a shoving match and Atlas slams him, but Poffo takes him down and SHOOTS THE HALF for two. Where’s Vince when you need him? Lanny comes back and they trade dropkicks and then they both try one at the same time, and we take a break. Gorilla: “Could be disastrous if he continues trying to trade blows with Mr. USA.” Bobby: “But then again, who cares?” Touche. We return from the break with both guys down, but Poffo gets two. Atlas puts him down with a headbutt while Gorilla suddenly goes on a rant about Terry Garvin and how annoying he is. Tony with an atomic drop and he goes back to a headlock, which Gorilla would like to remind us has never won a match in the 27 years he’s been involved in wrestling. So it slows RIGHT down again as they fight over a hammerlock this time and Atlas pounds away with forearms and takes Poffo down with the hammerlock. This match is going nowhere. Atlas goes to an extended chinlock as the crowd openly boos them now. Poffo fights back again, but hits the corner and Atlas backslides him for the pin at 13:29 of boredom. *
Back at the studio, Bobby congratulates Poffo for being “outsmarted by a man with the IQ of an ice cube.” Gorilla congratulates Bobby for driving sales of TVs since joining the show, as in viewers at home sold their television sets to avoid watching Bobby. OK that was a funny line.
WWF Tag team titles: The British Bulldogs v. The Moondogs
Back to MSG again, as Davey beats on Spot to start and Kid adds a shoulderblock, so Spot brings in Rex. The Bulldogs clobber him as well and Davey works the arm, and the Bulldogs bring him back to their corner for some abuse. Spot comes in again and Davey handles him with a kneelift and slam for two, and finally Rex gets a cheapshot to take over for a bit. Davey comes back with a small package for two but they pull him back to the heel corner. Over to Kid as Gorilla and Alfred reminisce about Moondogs of the past, and Kid gets a sunset flip on Spot for two. Rex comes in and Kid immediately traps him in a hammerlock, so Rex beats on Kid with elbows in the corner, only to miss a blind charge. So the Bulldogs double-team him and Davey looks like he’s about to invent the Sharpshooter here in 1986, but doesn’t actually turn him over for the crab portion of the move. Rex tries to stretch for the tag to escape the leglock but Spot kind of short-arms him while Gorilla makes fun of them for being kind of dumb, and Davey pulls him back to the middle. As Gorilla notes, there’s a tag rope for a reason and you’re allowed to reach out as far as the rope allows. Finally Spot comes in and the Bulldogs immediately take him down and work the leg, but DK finally misses a blind charge and he’s the face in peril. Kid keeps fighting on Rex anyway, and then Rex gets desperate and headbutts Kid, and that goes badly for him in a funny spot. The Moondogs decide to double-team Kid in the corner and that seems to work, but Kid escapes and tags in Davey again. He cleans house and we take a break. Back with Davey powerslamming Rex with impressive ease, but Rex tosses him and Spot puts the beats on him from the apron. Back in, that gets two for Rex and he goes to the chinlock. Spot comes in a flying knee for two and gets his own chinlock. I still think they could have repackaged Larry Latham into something else and made him a solid midcard guy around this time. He was RIPPED here and could still work. Rex with a big splash for two. Rude Awakening gets two. Spot with an elbow for two. Davey whips him into the corner and they knock heads for the double down, but Spot recovers first and puts the boots to him. Rex elbows him down for two and goes to a facelock to cut off the ring, and we get the false tag, allowing the Moondogs to get more punishment in their corner and Spot drops a fist for two. Rex goes for the big finish from the top, but of course that misses and Davey is STRETCHING for the tag, but Spot cuts him off. Davey fights back with a bodypress for two and then reverses a suplex on Rex and BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE with the hot tag. He cleans house as the crowd goes nuts, rams them together, and goes up with the diving headbutt on Spot, but Rex tosses him over the top to save. So Davey slugs it out with Rex while Spot lurks in the background, but Kid comes in off the top rope, DIVES OVER the referee, Rex AND Davey, and hits Spot with a flying bodypress for the pin to retain at 19:08 in an absolutely incredible finish to a great match. **** I love seeing Bulldog classics that I’ve never seen before and this was no exception.
Meanwhile, on TNT, Iron Sheik brings his own personal camel to the studio and tries to get Volkoff to ride it while Mean Gene and everyone involved tries desperately not to completely lose it while the camel no-sells the skit. “He’s trying to take a bump!” notes Gene at one point while the camel just lays there with Volkoff on top grinning like an idiot. So finally Sheik takes matters into his own hands and convinces the camel to get off his ass and carry him around for a bit. A complete disaster but you have to love it.
SD Jones & Paul Roma v. Mike Brown & Paul Berger
This is a dark match from Championship Wrestling, as Gorilla goes on about Jones and Roma being the stars of a tour of Australia and New Zealand. This is normally the kind of thing that would be complete bullshit, but in fact there WAS an Australian tour at that point, and this team beat Jimmy Jack & Dory Funk a bunch of times down there! The babyfaces double-team Brown and Jones slams him as Gorilla already mixes up the names of the jobbers on commentary. Roma with a suplex for two as Gorilla criticizes the lack of continuity from the jobbers. Yeah, but the other guys don’t even have the same color tights! Jones with the headbutt and he slams Roma onto Brown for the pin at 4:55. ½*
Meanwhile, Mr. Fuji and Don Muraco do a wacky interview with Killer Ken about Fuji messing up lines due to an electrical storm.
Meanwhile, on the Flower Shop, Adrian Adonis tells Paul Orndorff that Paul’s doing 90% of the work and Hulk is getting all the glory. Paul thinks it doesn’t matter because they’re FRIENDS and Adonis is just causing trouble. The next week, Hulk confronts Adonis for causing trouble (“Let me tell you something, boy, or girl, or whatever!”) and there is NO TROUBLE because Hulk has gone to Paul’s house and they had supper together with Paul’s family. BLOOD BROTHERS. The next week, Bobby Heenan joins in with the heels, pointing out that “the old Mr. Wonderful” wouldn’t need Hulk’s help to beat some nobodies, calling him “Hulk Jr.” to really twist the knife, and challenges him to face Studd & Bundy to prove that he can do it. Paul promises that all he has to do is pick up the phone and call Hulk. So Paul goes to make the call, and Hulk is busy doing something else, so Paul rants to the poor person on the other side of the call and destroys the phone. Then Vince interviews Orndorff, and Paul freaks out because Hulk was busy working out and wouldn’t answer the phone. Back at the Flower Shop, Orndorff and Hulk are about to accept the challenge, but Paul changes the plan and sets up a match with the Moondogs first as a warmup, and then the NEXT week they’ll face Studd & Bundy and Paul will show the world the “Old Mr. Wonderful”. Hogan thinks this is a fantastic idea! They don’t show the Moondog match, but basically Orndorff works the entire match himself and refuses to tag Hogan, beating them alone. And this all sets up this week’s main event…
Hulk Hogan & Paul Orndorff v. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy
From WWF Championship Wrestling, 07.19.86. Of course I’ve seen this a million times but it’s still awesome. We even get the pre-match skit from Hogan and Orndroff here, with Hogan telling Orndorff to “let the phone call thing go” because he was bench-pressing 600 pounds at the time and couldn’t answer. So Paul again promises to show the “Old Mr. Wonderful” here. And Hulk immediately passes Orndorff to make his entrance, stealing the spotlight as usual. Paul tries a headlock on Studd and hiptosses him to start, so Bundy comes in and beats on Orndorff with a back elbow. Big splash misses and Paul dodges the Avalanche as well, but he won’t tag Hulk in. Back to Studd and Orndorff tries for the slam, but Studd escapes, so Orndorff dropkicks both heels to clean house and lets Hogan come in. Hogan and Studd slug it out and Hogan successfully slams Studd, which Orndorff couldn’t do. What a dick. Orndorff is sad on the apron and the heels bail as we take a break. Back with continuing his glory-seeking crap, hitting Studd with an atomic drop and then running into a clothesline in the corner. The heels double-team him while Orndorff desperately asks for the tag, but as usual Hulk has to make it about himself. So he fights off the heels alone, but that results in Orndorff getting knocked off the apron and hurting his beautiful face. So the heels continue to double-team Hogan and the ref calls for the DQ at 7:00, and finally Orndorff recovers from his Hulk-inflicted injury and makes the save. So he picks up Hulk, dusts him off, and then CLOTHESLINES HIM and hits him with the piledriver heard round the world! THE OLD MR. WONDERFUL IS BACK! And the heels all head back to the dressing room together, celebrating with Paul and showering him with the adulation and attention that he had been begging Hulk for all along. All Hulk had to do was answer the phone. Million billion stars.
And back at the studio, Bobby Heenan sums up how Hulk cost himself his friend and reveals that he was standing at ringside and actually saw Hogan backhand Orndorff across the face when Paul was reaching out for the tag! Huge if true.
Wow, between the Bulldogs match and the last half hour of the show being dedicated to one of the biggest money making angles in history, this was a HELL of a show. RIP, Mr. Wonderful, and thank you for making me a fan of wrestling.