The SmarK Rant for The Best of the WWF Volume 11
I feel like this series is becoming increasingly misnamed.
Also this is the end of the famous Coliseum Video intro, sadly.
Your host is Mean Gene.
The Can Am Connection v. Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake
Off to MSG right away with the hot new Can Am team, January of 1987. Martel and Zenk double-team Valentine to start, although Gorilla notes that, if I’m hearing him correctly, Valentine takes 20 minutes to warm up anyway. Has he ever mentioned that before? Zenk gets caught in the corner and Beefcake comes in for some shots, but Zenk fights back with an atomic drop to send him into the corner again. Johnny V stops by the table to go on a bizarre rant about not knowing Zenk’s nationality and how he “eats cigarettes to overcome a vitamin deficiency”. Martel takes over on Valentine, but Greg drops him on the top rope and the Dream Team finally gets some heat on Martel, hitting Beefcake’s backbreaker into Valentine’s top rope forearm for two. They’re doing some interesting closeup camera angles for the match and it makes it look much better. Beefcake cuts off the ring and goes to a chinlock while Gene notes that the Can Ams just had an “exhausting tour of Japan, and you know what that means!” I can imagine what debauchery Gene would be getting up to. Martel fights out with a backslide for two as the crowd shrieks, but Beefcake beats him down in the corner. Martel fights back on Valentine, but Hammer whips him into the corner and puts him down with a knee again before hitting a delayed suplex for two. Johnny V yells that the referee must be “on some kind of muscle relaxers”, giving us the first Soma joke I can recall. Valentine works the leg and goes for the figure-four, but Martel reverses to the cradle for two, so Valentine thumbs him in the eye to cut him off again after the hope spot. Valentine beats him down with elbows in the corner with another great closeup from the handheld camera, but Martel fights back on Beefcake and it’s HOT TAG Zenk as the crowd poops their pants with excitement. Tom is “literally exploding” according to Gorilla, although he quickly gets cut off by a clothesline from Brutus.
Brutus puts the boots to Zenk as he’s now the face in peril, and Valentine hammers him down with more elbows before going to a facelock. Zenk powers out of that, so Valentine goes to an abdominal stretch, which Gorilla criticizes before the hold is even applied! But Greg grabs the tights anyway to even things out. Back to Beefcake, who cuts off the ring again with an inverted atomic drop for two, but Zenk bridges up off the pinfall as the Can Ams were doing all kinds of cool babyface stuff. Zenk and Valentine clothesline each other for the double down, but Beefcake puts Valentine on top for two. Zenk fights for the tag again, which gives us the false tag for all the greatest hits, and the Dream Team double-teams Zenk in the corner again while the women are losing their minds. We just need an old granny at ringside throwing her purse at the heels. Another false tag and Martel can’t take anymore of this, so Valentine throws him out and that allows more double-teaming. Hammer with the figure-four on Zenk while Johnny V takes out Martel, and things look bleak. But then the ref escorts Beefcake out, and Martel slingshots in with the splash on Valentine and pins him at 17:06 to get revenge! TREMENDOUS opener to the tape, as the Can Ams were money in the bank and Vince obviously knew it, a babyface tag team who were pretty enough to win over the women and dudely enough to win over the dudes. Tag team wrestling is just the best. A definite hidden gem that’s well worth seeking out. 1 for 1.
George Steele v. Kamala
Well that was a short run of greatness for the tape. From MSG again, November of 86. Big stall to start (shocking I know) and Steele goes after Kim Chee, so Kamala attacks him and sends him to the floor. Back in, Steele chases after both managers, and Kamala hits Steele with a gimmick and splashes him, then goes up for the FLYING UGANDAN SPLASH at 3:15 to end it. Hey, you know what, this was short and inoffensive and Kamala destroyed him, so that’s about as good as I could expect from it. That’s why I use a different rating system for these. 2 for 2.
Piper’s Pit with guest Paul Orndorff. From MSG again, October of 86 after Piper’s big return, and this is a live in-ring version from mid-86, as Bobby Heenan challenges Piper to a tag team match, offering up Harley Race as a partner for Orndorff. And then Piper asks the crowd who he should pick, which disgusts Heenan, so Piper calls some guy out of the crowd and asks who he should pick for a partner. Bobby buries the guy, but the guy suggests Hulk Hogan and Heenan freaks out while Orndorff smashes up the set. So….
Rowdy Roddy Piper & Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff & Harley Race
…it’s MSG in November of 86, and the babyfaces double-team Orndorff to start and clear the ring. Race comes in and slams Piper, but misses an elbow and Piper brings in Hogan for a reluctant double-team. Man, they could have milked Hogan & Piper as the Megapowers for MONTHS and I’m shocked Vince didn’t figure out a way to make more money off it. More double-teaming as Hogan and Piper keep shooting each other dirty looks between tags in a nice touch, and Piper works the arm until Race headbutts him into the Heenan corner. But then Piper goes right back to the arm again and it’s back to Hulk with more stink-eye, as the reactions get bigger every time they make the tag while doing a simple armbar on Race. Finally Race cuts Piper off with a belly to belly and drops a knee on him, and Orndorff comes in with an elbow off the middle rope for two. Race takes Piper to the floor for some abuse and back in for a clothesline. Race with a shoulderbreaker, but Piper comes back with a sunset flip on Orndorff, which is blocked. The heels double-team Piper in the corner while Hogan stupidly tries to come in and help, but Piper fights out and makes the hot tag to Hulk. And he destroys the heels and legdrops Race, but Orndorff saves for the pier six brawl. But then Orndorff clotheslines his own partner and Piper pins Race at 8:15. Piper immediately bails out and calls it a night, leaving the heels to double-team Hogan, but Hulk makes his own comeback and beats up Heenan anyway. Just a great fun house show main event. 3 for 3.
Elimination match: Adrian Adonis, Randy Savage & Harley Race v. Junkyard Dog, Roddy Piper & Ricky Steamboat
They went all around the horn with variations on this match and they were all pretty great. MSG in January of 87 for this one, with the unique commentary team of Gorilla and Slick. Dog hits Race with headbutts to start, but walks into a belly to belly and Savage comes in with a kneedrop for two. Slick is pretty funny on commentary, noting that he doesn’t want to start anything because he’s a church member and won’t fight, but he’s pretty sure JYD can’t read. Savage comes in and hits Steamboat with a cheapshot, so he tags out to Piper and Adonis immediately runs away. But then Race hits Piper from the apron and Adonis suplexes him for two. Adonis with the sleeper out of the corner, but Piper reverses to his own and Race breaks that up. Back to JYD, who slams Savage for two while Gorilla threatens to tell the Dog about Slick claiming he couldn’t read or write. TO BE FAIR, Slick only said that Dog couldn’t READ. Everyone brawls to the floor and slugs it out, and Piper fights with Adonis back to the dressing room. Back in the ring, Piper suplexes Race for two, but Savage makes the save. So they stop the match and announce that Adonis and JYD are both eliminated due to double countout from the brawl because they were the legal men at the time. Gorilla is dubious about the ability of this idiot ref to remember who was legal at the time. So Piper gets caught in the heel corner and worked over by Savage, which is another one we sadly missed out on during their primes. They had some matches later on in the Macho King era but it wasn’t the same. Savage chokes him out on the ropes and Piper makes the tag to Steamboat, who comes in with a flying chop on Race for two. Small package gets two, but Savage rolls them over and Race pins Steamboat at 11:43 to eliminate the Dragon and leave Piper alone. The crowd’s shocked gasp at that one is something else. Piper slugs away on Race, but Savage hits him from behind , so Piper puts Race on the floor with a GREAT comedy bump where Race flips over the top and lands in an empty chair at ringside. Back in the ring, Savage cuts off Piper’s comeback and chokes him out on the ropes. Piper fights out of the corner, but Race puts him down with a shoulderbreaker for two. Piper with a gut wrench for two, but Savage saves that. They try to double-team Piper, but Savage drops the axehandle on the King by mistake and Piper pins him at 15:52. So that leaves Piper and Savage, and Roddy rams Savage into Race and bulldogs him. Piper offers a handshake and then bites the hand in a funny spot, so Savage spits on him and backs off. Oh, that’s not gonna go well. Piper gets this cross-eyed crazy look and chases Savage, but he tries a sunset flip and Macho blocks it and slugs him down for two. Piper reverses a slam for two. Hopefully Savage learns to avoid that one! Piper makes the comeback and slugs away, but they collide and Savage lands on the floor while Piper plays dead in the ring while winking at the crowd. So Savage cluelessly tries to come in with the flying elbow, but Piper moves and cradles for the pin at 20:21 to win the match. I take it all back, this tape is GREAT. 4 for 4.
Next up, we get the “My Way” music video for Piper from SNME, but they had to replace Sinatra with the generic music that ends the Coliseum tapes, which is one of the earlier examples of music purging for home video that I can remember.
MIDGET MADNESS: Little Toyko & Lord Littlebrook v. Karate Kid & Pepe Gomez
Yup, still in MSG, November of 86 again. Usual wacky midget spots from the babyfaces as Karate Kid looks like Steve Blackman’s mini. The heels work the Karate Kid over in between spots where they can’t get along, and the faces dogpile them for the pin at 7:13. Just your average midget match. 4 for 5.
Hillbilly Jim v. Magnificent Muraco
Back to the November 86 MSG show again, as Muraco is in full Piper trolling mode with the kilt and Hot Rod shirt. Jim attacks both Muraco and Fuji in the corner and sends Muraco into the corner for a Flair Flip, and then steals the man’s kilt! That’s pretty low. Jim slams him and works on the arm, and Muraco slows it down for a stall before Jim grabs a headlock and grinds it in for two. Jim headbutts him to the floor and we get more stalling as Muraco offers a handshake and then gets a cheapshot to take over. Muraco with the nerve hold and he chokes away on the ropes. Jim comes back with a big boot and bearhug, but Fuji runs in for the DQ at 6:41. 4 for 6. And then the heels double-team Jim and tear up the overalls, setting up the blowoff the next month…
Tuxedo match: Hillbilly Jim v. Mr. Fuji
We finish things off with one last MSG match, December of 86. Jim is looking pretty dapper in his white tux here. Hillbilly steals Fuji’s hat and stomps on it, so Fuji is enraged and tears at Jim’s jacket, then pokes him in the eye and uses some karate to take over. Fuji gets the jacket and beats on Jim with it, but Jim tears back and they’re both shirtless. Fuji kicks him in the nuts and chokes him out, but Jim headbutts him and pulls his pants down to win at 4:00, leaving Fuji in his polka dot underwear for the big comedy spot. Really awful end to the tape. 4 for 7.
Well, definitely shut it off after the six-man, but that first hour is some of the best stuff they’ve had on these things, so this is a massive thumbs up from here, despite the lazy nature of just putting MSG matches there and calling it “The Best of”.