The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 05.20.85
By Scott Keith on 26th June 2022
The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 05.20.85
This one looks like a fun show, so let’s head back to them again.
Taped from Madison Square Garden, drawing 15,000.
Your hosts are Mean Gene & Gorilla Monsoon
Rocky Johnson v. Rene Goulet
BREAKING NEWS: Someone has stolen Goulet’s sequined glove in the dressing room before the show. Goulet tries a full nelson right away and that’s a fail. Gorilla makes fun of Goulet having his name written on the back of his tights “in case he forgets it”, but little would he know that AEW would bring it back decades later. Rocky uses some impressive acrobatics to flip away from Goulet and take him down with an armbar. Rocky with a monkey flip and he rolls into an another armbar, although watching it now I was thinking he could have rolled into a cutter like Fenix. Goulet hides in the ropes while Gorilla and Gene mercilessly mock him for being cheap outside of the ring. Rocky grabs a headlock and Rene hides in the ropes again, so Rocky pulls him out by the head and drops him. Goulet pretends to go for a foreign object while Gorilla mulls coming out of retirement to claim the $25,000 bounty on Paul Orndorff. Huge if true. Goulet uses the phantom object to put Rocky down and stomps him in the lower abdominal area to draw “Ohhhhhhs” from the crowd. Kneelift gets two. Goulet follows with the SCORPION CLAW and even holds the ropes while he’s doing it, but the idiot ref ignores that and Rocky makes the comeback anyway. Given the Black Guys Have Hard Heads theory that ruled wrestling for decades, it wouldn’t have been effective anyway. Goulet dodges a blind charge and goes with another SCORPION CLAW, which I must continue to capitalize due to its deadly nature and gloved application, but Rocky fights out and gets a sunset flip for two. Rollup gets the pin at 10:18. A very cromulent opener. **1/2 This was the final MSG appearance of Rocky Johnson, as it turns out.
Jim Neidhart v. Ivan Putski
Jim was now managed by Jimmy Hart, although the Hart Foundation wasn’t yet a thing. Anvil wants a test of strength with Putski to start and quickly loses that battle. So they exchange shoulderblocks instead and Putski won’t go down from that either. Putski looks like he accidentally shot up with bronzer instead of steroids before the show. Jesus, how many heat lamps had to die for that tan? Anvil takes him down and works a headlock on the mat, but Putski reverses out and Anvil registers his displeasure with the fans and then rakes the eyes to take over. Neidhart with a chinlock, but Putski fights out and hits the Polish Hammer, knocking Anvil to the apron. He tries a slam back in the ring, but Neidhart reverses to a cradle and grabs the tights for the pretty shocking upset at 6:25, given that Putski doing jobs was pretty rare. Of course Putski popped right up and no-sold it, but still. Match was NO GOOD. ½*
Pedro Morales v. Terry Gibbs
Pedro wins a lockup battle, so Gibbs takes him down with a headlock while Gorilla and Gene have a legitimately interesting discussion on the mechanics of Gibbs’ knee brace. I like it when they’re not always being a “character” and sometimes just talk about what it’s like to be a wrestler. Pedro works a hammerlock while Gene namedrops Ben Vereen while desperately claiming to not be dropping names. That’s very much in character. Pedro continues working the arm in dull fashion and the crowd quickly gets bored and turns on the match. Finally Gibbs breaks free and puts the boots to Pedro to hopefully get something going here, and he follows with an atomic drop before dropping an elbow for two. And we go to an abdominal stretch, which Gorilla naturally derides immediately before Pedro flips him out of it. Gibbs with an atomic drop for two. Gibbs tosses him as this continues in slow motion. So Pedro hauls him out of the ring and runs him into the railing, and then makes the comeback in the ring and backdrops him to set up the Boston Crab to finish at 12:16. Pedro was looking like a relic by this time and was mostly an undercard guy for the rest of his WWF run. *
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Magnificent Muraco
Muraco attacks before Hulk can even tear off his shirt and beats him down in the corner before choking him out with the remains. Hulk fights back and headbutts Muraco out of the ring as they brawl on the floor, and of course it’s cheater Hogan who chokes him out with the shirt this time. I’m pretty sure “turnabout is fair play” isn’t a valid legal strategy in court. Hulk chokes him out in the ring and headbutts him down, and then follows with an elbow and slugs away on the mat. Muraco bails to escape this maniac, and finally hits him with a chair to get a breather. And then Hulk does it right back, because apparently turnabout is fair play and you can just do whatever cheating you want now. Back in, Hulk hits a backdrop suplex and Muraco is now busted open from Hogan’s underhanded assault, and Hulk tosses him and runs him into the post headfirst, literally out for blood now. Hulk bites the cut and suplexes him back into the ring before dropping the leg for the pin, but Muraco has his foot on the ropes and manages to bravely throw salt in Hogan’s face to draw a DQ and escape from further cheating at 6:48. They had a good brawl going but the finish was really abrupt and weird. **
At this point, Mean Gene steps out and gets replaced by Lord Alfred Hayes for the rest of the show.
Bret Hart v. Quick Draw Rick McGraw
Bret is now a heel in Jimmy Hart’s stable after his first few appearances as a technical babyface, and Gorilla is deeply disappointed in this turn of events. Rick takes him down with armdrags and Gorilla is pretty sure that Bret’s career is DONE and wasted under the tutelage of Jimmy Hart. McGraw chases him out of the ring and tries a top wristlock back in the ring, but Bret puts him down with a back elbow and puts the boots to him to take over. Bret drops the leg and goes to a chinlock before beating him down in the corner and following with a backbreaker for two. Bret goes up and McGraw slams him off and hits him with a knee for two. Suplex gets two. McGraw slugs away in the corner, but he charges and Bret gets an AWESOME stungun into the turnbuckles and then hits the middle rope elbow for the pin at 8:50. That finish was badass but the match wasn’t great. **
Ken Patera v. Tony Atlas
So Patera was about to go through some stuff and this is his last MSG appearance for a while. They do a pose-off and Atlas chases Patera out of the ring for a hug with Bobby Heenan. Back in, Ken uses that personal motivation to beat Atlas down with forearms and goes to a chinlock. Atlas fights out of that and backdrops him to set up his own chinlock. Patera tosses him and puts the boots to him on the apron before going to the bearhug. Tony channels the ancient spirits of Saba Simba and reverses to his own, but Patera quickly escapes that. Atlas with a bodypress for two. Suplex gets two. Atlas with the sleeper and Patera falls into the ropes to escape and takes a breather on the floor. Back in, Patera asks for mercy like Atlas is some kind of judge handing down a sentence, but Atlas gives him an atomic drop, like a judge giving him two years in prison in response. Hypothetically speaking. Patera with a knee for two, but Atlas makes the comeback and Patera bails to escape again. So Atlas goes after Bobby this time, but Patera hits him from behind and pins him at 10:50. *1/2
Meanwhile, Mean Gene introduces his newest family member: The Missing Link. Also, Jesse Ventura clarifies that although he’s the #1 announcer in the WWF, he hasn’t retired yet and Tony Garea finds that out tonight. Then Johnny V and Brutus Beefcake do a promo and Beefcake speaks for the first time and reveals that he’s from San Francisco.
WWF tag team title: The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff v. Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo
Rotundo takes Sheik down and ties him up on the mat to start, so Sheik grabs a headlock and Rotundo hiptosses him to escape. Over to Windham and they double-team Sheiky Baby, prompting Sheik to beg for mercy. Humbly. Rotundo backdrops him for two and goes to a facelock to control him, and they pinball Sheik in the corner before Rotundo takes him down again for a headlock. Sheik slams out of that and tries a senton, but that misses and Windham comes in with a forearm from the top, prompting Sheik to run away and tag in Volkoff. Windham gets a sunset flip for one and Volkoff complains about pulling of the tights, before Barry goes to work on the arm and the Express double-teams him. But then Windham misses a dropkick and Volkoff puts him down with a back elbow to take over. Sheik puts the pointy boots to him and backdrops him, and the heels get a double elbow before Sheik goes to an abdominal stretch. Before he even finishes applying it, Gorilla declares it a failure, and Windham hiptosses out to prove him right. So Sheik hits a gut wrench suplex for two. Windham hits his own suplex and makes a dazed hot tag to Rotundo, who runs wild but quickly gets clobbered by Volkoff. But the ref escorts Volkoff out, so Barry decides to ram Sheik into the post and split him open behind the ref’s back. Solid plan. Back to Windham and he slugs away on the bloody Sheik to set up the bulldog, but Volkoff saves and PANDEMONIUM HAS BROKEN LOOSE. So they all fight on the floor and the babyfaces beat the count at 11:11. Solid match and the US Express would soon regain the titles. ***1/4
The Missing Link v. SD Jones
Link attacks SD and lays him out, then pounds away on him and powerslams him before going up and finishing with a forearm smash or headbutt of some kind at 1:58. Link’s WWF career went nowhere, although he was later notably involved in a managerial trade that sent him to Jimmy Hart’s stable in exchange for King Kong Bundy. Seemed like he would have made for a decent challenger of the month for Hogan if nothing else. DUD
Jesse Ventura v. Tony Garea
Jesse and Gorilla get into a funny bit while Jesse removes his earrings dramatically (“How’s the hair, Gorilla?” “Well, Body, there’s not much left there!”) and Jesse goes to the headlock to start. And that goes on for a while before Jesse retreats to the apron and slows down the pace a bit more. Back in, Jesse gets a couple of kidney punches and we do this whole deal where he claims it was an open hand and then saunters around ringside to buy more time. Back in for another cheapshot and Jesse claims innocence again and then stops to pose before running away again. Back in, more with the kidney shots behind the ref’s back as we’re 8:00 into the match with barely more than a headlock happening. So Garea hits his own cheapshot and Jesse runs away and complains about THAT. Finally Garea works the arm to get something going, but Jesse rakes the eyes on the ropes to break free. Tony charges and Jesse manages to throw him into the ropes as Garea gets tied into them and choked out. Jesse stomps on him for a bit and chokes him out on the ropes some more. Garea makes a comeback and chops Jesse down, and gets a sunset flip for two. Bodypress gets two. He tries a rollup in the corner, but Jesse ducks and runs Tony’s head into the turnbuckles and then drops an elbow for the pin at 16:02. Well this was long. *
Bruno & David Sammartino v. Johnny Valiant & Brutus Beefcake
This is the natural rematch from Wrestlemania. Gorilla thinks that perhaps Bruno is in the best shape of his entire career. Highly unlikely. Bruno grabs a headlock on Valiant and then boots him down before taking care of Brutus as well and chasing them both out. David comes in and does his armdrags on Johnny while Bruno stares Brutus back onto the apron again. Johnny has had enough of those armdrags, so he brings Brutus in and the Sammartinos trade off with hammerlocks on the mat. Watching Bruno and David doing the same moves in succession just shows why David was such a failure in this position, as he had very little charisma and just looked like someone going through the motions of imitating his famous father. Back to Bruno, who beats on Valiant in the corner and fires up the crowd again after his son took them down. David comes in and slugs away on Valiant, but falls prey to choking on the ropes and the heels take over. Brutus with a pair of backbreakers and they double-team David in the corner, but Johnny misses a blind charge and David gets the banana peel rollup at 9:02. Decent enough but really it just made everyone realize what a big star Bruno was. **1/4
I’d say the tag match is worth checking out and the Hogan-Muraco match was pretty fun, if short, but overall not a great card.