The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 04.22.85
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Back to MSG three weeks after Wrestlemania! Hopefully they were able to put the roof back on it after Tito Santana and Executioner blew it off last time.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene
The Cobra v. Barry O
Well this is quite the start to the show. Barry has already moved on from the Ricky Morton look that defined his previous appearance in MSG, thankfully, and is just going with plain black tights and boots. Barry immediately attacks the Cobra while Gorilla and Gene question why Cobra isn’t even defending the prestigious WWF Junior Heavyweight title that he won from Black Tiger right here in MSG? Barry tosses him and Cobra fights his way back in, but Barry slugs him down for two. Barry with a running powerslam for two. Cobra fights back with a slam and drops a leg on Barry for two. Barry fires back, but Cobra gets a sunset flip for two and Barry escapes with a knee to the head and follows with a running knee strike for two. Gorilla just constantly buries Barry, calling him lazy for not hooking the leg and saying he’s got no chance to win. Cobra takes him down with a headscissors to slow it down a bit and does a funny bit where he drags Barry’s forehead across the mat, which prompts Gene to start a dirty joke and then think better of it. I’m not exactly sure what he would have been going for there but knowing him it would have been filthy. Barry gets out of the headscissors and goes to a headlock, but Cobra reverses to a side suplex and a small package for two. Cobra with a backdrop and he takes Barry down with an armbar and suplexes him over for two. This gives me (and Gene) the opportunity to point out that Barry has “Heavy” and “Metal” written on his boots. Why? Was he actually Van Hammer years later? Huge if true. Cobra goes up with an elbow off the top and that gets two, but he puts his head down and Barry boots him down and goes up before missing something off the middle rope. Cobra makes the comeback with a leg lariat and that gets two. So Barry decides to take a breather on the floor and kill some time before offering a truce back in the ring. That doesn’t work, so he slugs Cobra down and gets a stepover toehold, which Cobra escapes via enzuigiri and springboard bodypress for two. Dropkick puts Barry on the floor and Cobra hits him with a plancha, and follows with a suplex back into the ring. However, Cobra goes up and misses a senton, and then recovers and finishes Barry with a rana into a rollup for the pin at 13:20. Barry couldn’t exactly keep up with the style being worked here, but he held his own pretty good and it was an excellent opener thanks to the high flying finishing sequence. **** Little known fact about this match that’s totally true: Young Randall Keith Orton was at ringside watching, and he was so upset about his uncle Barry losing to the Cobra that he made a vow to become a Viper himself. Or maybe he was bitten by a radioactive snake while watching a Jake Roberts match. I forget.
Tatsumi Fujinami v. Matt Borne
Well as if things couldn’t get more bonkers after that opener. Gorilla questions whether Matt’s mismatched hair colors mean bleached blond hair or black dyed beard, although we know the answer is bleached blond hair. Fujinami chases Borne to the floor, and Matt goes to a headlock in the ring and Fujinami reverses to his own after flipping out of it. Borne slugs away on him in the corner and goes to a chinlock as this match is taking forever to get going and the crowd is already restless. Gene, talking about the celebrities he’s met while not wanting to “drop names”, brings up Jack Nicholson, whom he bumped into a basketball game in LA. Gorilla: “He’s always there, Gene.” Gene: “Indeed. He’s one of the biggest athletic supporters in California!” Even Gorilla cracks up after walking into that one. Borne chokes him out on the ropes and goes to an endless facelock, Fujinami finally makes the comeback with kicks to the leg and a suplex for two. Borne hides in the ropes, but Fujinami puts him down with a clothesline and finishes with a german suplex at 11:30 of boredom. *1/2 Extremely disappointing, with Fujinami selling for 10 minutes and then making a comeback to win.
King Kong Bundy v. Swede Hanson
Interestingly, although Jimmy Hart is at ringside for Bundy, he hasn’t yet started doing the megaphone gimmick. Swede and Bundy bounce off each other and Swede grabs a headlock but is unable to put Bundy on the mat. Bundy pounds on him and chokes him out on the ropes, but Swede makes the comeback and then walks into the Avalanche and gets pinned at 4:42. In WWF terms that was obviously a new record time of 7 seconds. ½*
The British Bulldogs v. Rene Goulet & Johnny Rodz
MSG debut for the Bulldogs here. Goulet takes Kid down with a wristlock and he kips up and reverses to his own. Davey comes in with a rollup for two, so Rodz throws him out and Davey pulls himself back in to set up a dropkick for some double-teams from the Bulldogs. Rodz comes in for real and goes to the top, but Davey slams him off and follows with his own missile dropkick, and then Kid comes in right after with a missile dropkick on Goulet. Kid with a snap suplex on Rodz and a gut wrench for two before going to the chinlock. Goulet tags in and slams Kid in the corner before Rodz comes in with a snap suplex of his own and a headbutt for two. Davey comes in and Rene gives him a gut wrench for two and follows with a knee to the gut while Gene speculates on potential groin pain being experienced by Davey. Davey with a delayed vertical suplex on Rodz, but Dyno comes in again and gets double-teamed by the heels. Goulet tries a knucklelock on Kid, and Kid bridges up and brings Davey back in again for a running powerslam on Rodz. Goulet comes in to save, but Davey puts him in a fireman’s carry, and Kid dives off his shoulders with a headbutt on Rodz to finish at 8:20, popping the crowd huge. They’d quickly move onto teams like the Bees and Harts who could work the same style, and they were off to the races. ***
Moondog Spot v. Ricky Steamboat
Spot has a brand new bone for this occasion, but Steamboat gets a pair of hiptosses and chops him to the floor right away. Spot pulls him out and slugs away, but Steamboat runs him into the post and back into the ring for more work on the arm. Spot comes back with an atomic drop and kneelift to take over, and a hiptoss gets two. Spot with a chinlock, but Steamboat fights out for a sunset flip that Spot blocks. Spot with a snapmare and back to the chinlock again. Steamboat fights up, but Spot puts him down with a shoulderbreaker for two. To the top, but the Moondog is no Bulldog and Steamboat slams him off and follows with his own flying chop. Steamboat makes the comeback with KARATE, and a neckbreaker, but Spot catches him with an atomic drop. Steamboat puts him down with more karate and goes to the top, finishing with the flying bodypress at 7:21. I’d call this one another Moondog Spot Hidden Gem. *** Gorilla calls the finish “14 or 15 feet in the air, with 5 seconds of hangtime” for those keeping track.
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Magnificent Muraco
Interesting that Muraco would get the post-WM title shot. Hulk quickly gets a hiptoss and high knee to send Muraco flying out of the ring. Back in, Hulk works on the arm and completely frustrates Muraco, who can’t break free from him. That’s actually something different from Hogan. Muraco finally escapes with a hair pull, but Hulk drops an elbow on him and goes right back to the armbar. Muraco tries for a single leg takedown to escape, but Hulk blocks that, so Muraco hits him in the groin and puts the boots to him to take over. Hulk tries a comeback, so Muraco hits him in the nuts again. Well that’s an automatic thumbs up in my books. Hulk fights up again, but misses an elbow and Muraco gives him the ASIATIC SPIKE to the throat a couple of times to take over. Yeah but Hulk can still tell lies via pen and paper so maybe he should break the fingers too for good measure. Muraco drops a knee for two and sets up the tombstone, but Hulk kicks out of that and makes the comeback. Muraco hits him with chops to the throat to no effect, and Hulk slugs away in the corner and puts him on the floor with the big boot. They fight out there and Hogan goes after Fuj, but that allows Muraco to send him into the post and beat the count at 13:36. Hulk getting hit in the junk repeatedly makes for good viewing. ***1/4
Iron Sheik v. Mike Rotundo
So now we get the singles rematches from the WM tag title match, as Rotundo attacks with a hiptoss and chokes out Sheik with his own headdress. Sheik bails to think it over and immediately gets headlocked by Mike on the way into the ring while Gene tells the usual lie about Sheik competing in the 1968 Olympic games for Iran. Sheik with a leapfrog, but Rotundo gets a sunset flip for two and cradles Sheik for two. Sheik once again tells us what he thinks of America (SPOILER: Not a fan) and hits Rotundo with a pointy toe to the gut before sending him to the floor. Back in for a chinlock and they do a pretty nice little wrestling sequence on the mat and Rotundo sends Sheik to the floor for a brawl out there. Back in, Rotundo takes him down with a headlock, but Sheik escapes with an atomic drop and puts the pointy boots to him. They fight to the floor and Sheik runs him into the announce table and then drops a chair on him, which the announcers rightly call a blatant disqualification. Meanwhile the ref does nothing. HE DROPPED A PIECE OF FURNITURE ON HIM! How is that not a DQ? Back in, Sheik gets the abdominal stretch and Gorilla declares it a waste of time because the leg isn’t hooked, of course. Sheik with a gut wrench for two, but Rotundo fights back and they collide for the double down. Sheik recovers first and goes to the top, but Rotundo slams him off and rolls him up for the upset pin at 14:17. I would have bet that Sheik was going over here. Hell of a match, too, with lots of hard work on the mat. And the cheating Sheik got what was coming to him! ***1/2
Barry Windham v. Nikolai Volkoff
And it’s the other half of the WM rematch, although I don’t see this one hitting the same quality level. Barry quickly works the arm to start, and gets a rollup for two while Freddie Blassie and Captain Lou have words on the floor. Barry continues working the arm, but Volkoff hits him in the back and puts the boots to him before following with the press slam for two. Gut wrench gets two. Volkoff with the bearhug, but Windham elbows out of it and reverses to a sleeper. Volkoff goes low and goes back to the bearhug, but Windham fights back out of that with a dropkick and atomic drop. Slam is reversed by Volkoff for two. They collide for the double down and Windham fights back, so Volkoff runs him into the turnbuckle and cradles him for two. Rolling bridge gets two. Windham fights back with a headbutt (!) and Volkoff gives it right back, and they slug it out until Windham falls on top for two. It’s a HOSS FIGHT! Volkoff beats on him in the corner, but misses a charge and runs himself into the post, allowing Windham to make the comeback until Sheik runs in for the DQ at 12:30. And then Rotundo makes the save and a big brawl erupts, with the faces cleaning house to a big pop. Bad ending but a shockingly hard fought match here. ***
Next month: The WWF returns to MSG on May 20 with a main event of Sheik & Volkoff against Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo! Not the title change, in case you’re wondering. Plus Muraco gets his rematch against Hulk Hogan!
The Dream Team v. Tito Santana & Junkyard Dog
Main event time, with a rematch from WM intersecting with Tito’s ongoing feud with Valentine. Which then led to Valentine & Beefcake transitioning into a full-time tag team afterwards! Wrestling is fascinating at times. Watching this stuff in sequence instead of pieced together from tapes and DVD collections is a revelation. Dog quickly chases Beefcake with headbutts, and he hit the guy so hard that he’s all discombobulated and all he can do is babble “Yes” and “No”. I heard he thinks he’s a barber or butcher or something, in fact. Tito comes in and slams Brutus to set up the chinlock, but Beefcake rakes the eyes to escape and hauls him into the heel corner for some abuse from Valentine. Greg with a gutbuster and he takes Tito down with a crossface, before Beefcake tosses Tito and stops to strut. JYD helps his partner back into the ring, so Brutus tosses him again while Gene has a hot take about fans throwing garbage into the ring being a BAD THING. Beefcake with a facelock on Tito to cut off the ring, and they double-team Tito in the corner some more before Valentine gets a backbreaker for two. Dog comes in to break up the party, but that just allows more double-teaming from the heels. Brutus with a headbutt for two and Valentine comes in and pounds on the leg while slapping Tito in the face, but that just gets Tito’s LATIN BLOOD flowing and he fights back, while Dog wanders in again and gets escorted out because he’s not very smart. Beefcake misses an elbow and Tito makes the hot tag to JYD, who is a One Man Gang according to Gene. “Wait, didn’t we sign him already?” wonders Vince from the gorilla position. Dog with a pair of headbutts on Valentine, but he misses a third one and Beefcake comes in to take over again. He’s KICKING HIM LIKE A DOG, so Dog bites him and I hope he’s had his shots. Actually rabies might be the least of your concerns given Dog’s lifestyle choices. Dog fights out of the heel corner and brings Tito back in, so he has to make another comeback and carry this team again. It’s ALL CATTYWAMPUS and Dog gets thrown out, probably blown up after his 30 seconds of being the hot tag guy, and Tito hits Hammer with the flying forearm out of nowhere for the pin at 13:14. JYD was really harshing my buzz with his lazy performance here but this was still pretty good thanks to that Valentine-Santana magic. ***
I would call this one firmly in the category of “Hidden Gems” and give it a hearty recommendation!