Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund call the action. MSG drew 10,000 less fans than last month’s sell out. Considering tonight has 3 headline bouts, that’s fairly surprising.
Terry Gibbs vs. Moondog Rex
Howard Finkel announces JYD is replacing the Tonga Kid in tonight’s main event.
Gibbs obtains advantage of the match early with the basics such as arm bars, slams and hammerlocks. Gibbs actually controls the first several minutes of action. Rex tears at Gibbs face and uses roughhouse tactics to garner control.
Rex locks on a pair of headlocks to waste time. The crowd quickly loses interest. Gibbs rallies briefly before Rex catches him with a neckbreaker for the win to mercifully end this at 10:14. A dull, lifeless match to start us off on a bad note.
Bret Hart vs. Rene Goulet
Hart gets zero reaction for his introduction (this is his MSG debut). Goulet stalls for some cheap heat. Bret reverses out of Goulet’s early grappling efforts to perhaps put his technical prowess over. Monsoon has his own agenda and puts over Goulet on commentary regarding his speed and tactical wit.
Goulet bites, scratches and chokes to gain control. A pair of claw holds wears Hart down further. A headlock fails to liven up the bout. A third claw hold eats up some more time. Bret fights back, scores an abdominal stretch (that Monsoon actually puts over the execution of) but Goulet quickly escapes. Goulet tries to load his glove to KO Hart, but Bret ducks it and snags a sleeper (apparently his finish) and earns the victory at 14:32. This was slow paced and Hart being largely dominated by the perpetual jabroni Goulet did not do him any favors. I’d guess the office only viewed this as filler and were not too worried about getting Hart over.
Tony Garea vs. Jim Neidhart
Neidhart uses his strength to outdo Garea in the early feeling out process. Neidhart wins a test of strength and they sit there for a long period holding hands and doing nothing. Garea comes back with a long armbar. Thrilling stuff so far.
Neidhart powers back to his feet and dumps Garea on the floor. Neidhart hammers away for a bit before returning to a rest hold. More punching leads to another headlock. Garea gets a bit of token offense before being scooped up for a good looking powerslam for the pin at 12:05. The crowd boos for the long time WWF star falling to the heel. Another stinker of a match.
I surrendered at this point and shut the DVD off for a week. Alas, I then returned to watch the rest. It has to get better, right?
Swede Hanson vs. “The Magnificent” Muraco
Pedro Morales makes his WWF return prior to the bout. He plays nice to the fans as Muraco flips out. They, of course, had many wars around the WWF in earlier years.
Muraco can’t move the stocky Hanson, and it leads to a little miscommunication as Muraco goes for something else as Hanson scoops him up for a slam, leading to a reset. They spend several minutes feeling out one another, with not much happening. Hanson locks on a good looking arm lock, bending Muraco’s arm to an awkward degree. He works the arm for several minutes.
Muraco goes low to drop Hanson. Muraco errors by attempting a headbutt – Swede’s head is much harder. Hanson delivers 3 more headbutts to send Muraco into a daze. Muraco manages to dropkick Hanson, but since Hanson is so immobile, he slowly bounces into the turnbuckle in a contrived fashion. Muraco scoops him up for a tombstone and scores the win at 10:54. Hanson was pretty bad here, and Muraco could not get much out of him as the match paced along slowly.
Blackjack Mulligan vs. Moondog Spot
Rita Marie makes her MSG debut as the first ever woman referee. Mulligan uses his size to casually toss Spot around the ring. Spot stops himself short twice to avoid taking turnbuckle bumps – that’s really odd. Things spill to the floor, where Spot finally gets control by smacking Mulligan several times with a chair. He cracks him a third time when Mulligan was already back in the ring. The ref is fine with this.
Mulligan starts to no sell Spot’s punches and he hacks away at Spot before casually small packaging Spot for the win out of nowhere at 6:40. The crowd is taken aback by the sudden pin. Another match where basically nothing happened.
Andre the Giant vs. Ken Patera
This is a revenge match from when Patera and Big John Studd gave Andre an unplanned haircut. Patera promises to slam Andre tonight.
Andre stalks Patera around the ring and Ken decides to bail. Patera is quickly battered and sent to the floor when things get started. Andre cuts off Patera’s escape route, then steps on Heenan’s hand and slams he and Patera together to the thrill of the crowd!
Andre grabs Ken’s throat and ragdolls him. He then wraps Patera’s singlet around the Olympian’s neck and throttles him. Patera tries to head to the locker room. Heenan convinces him to fight on.
Patera tries in vain to slam some forearms into Andre, who just shakes them off and keeps battering Patera instead. Andre gets caught with a good shot, but instead of keeping on the pressure, Patera attempts a slam, which gives Andre the opening to return to smashing him.
Patera is sat on and stepped on. Andre prevents Patera from escaping several times. Ken finally makes it to the floor, where Andre tosses him into the railing. As Andre and the ref argue, Heenan takes matters into his own hands and comes off the top rope, smacking Andre with brass knux for the DQ. Two more shots finally drop the Giant. Patera tries to take advantage as he leaps off the top rope -he lands right on Andre’s boot. Andre shoves both heels in the corner and sits on them. Heenan is belted, then whipped across the ring. Patera is tossed into him and Heenan flies ass over tea kettle to the floor. Heenan and Patera literally crawl towards the back before Patera teases one final attack on Andre, but he runs off instead.
This was a totally dominant effort from Andre as he delivered a righteous ass kicking to one of the most powerful men in wrestling. A fair warning to all to not piss Andre off in the future. This was tremendous fun.
George Wells vs. Big John Studd
Wells gets the jobber entrance. Heenan is the focus of the heat as the fans amuse themselves chanting “weasel!” Wells does okay in the early going, using a hammerlock on the big man. A slam attempt goes awry. Wells delivers a dropkick and tries another slam. Studd takes advantage of that and starts to drop forearms on Wells. Studd traps him in a bearhug to sap Wells’ energy. Studd delivers a backbreaker and gets the pin out of nowhere at 7:19. The announcers play it off like it was a fast count. Wells is back to his feet immediately. I wonder if that was a botched finish or they did something like that as to not kill Wells heat off since he was new to the area? Wells wasn’t too bad in the ring, but he wasn’t going to get much facing Studd here.
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and the Junkyard Dog vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
This is being held under “Texas Tornado” rules, which should mean all four men will fight at once. The heels are quickly thrown into one another twice, opening up JYD to rattle Piper with headbutts. Piper and Snuka brawl on the floor, where Snuka is posted. This allows the heels to double up on JYD.
Snuka gets back in and goes after Piper. Orton tries to throw JYD to the floor, but he won’t take the bump and he lays down instead. JYD next tries to sneak behind Piper in order to have Snuka shove him over the Dog’s back. Piper isn’t ready for the spot, and ends up laying on JYD’s back as Snuka attacks him.
Snuka bites at Piper before the tide turns and the heels lock their opponents in dual headlocks. This gives everyone a chance to rest after their non-stop brawling. Both heels then lock on sleeperholds. Piper loosens his sleeper hold to the degree that his arm is near JYD’s shoulder and JYD still sells it like he’s somehow getting put out. The heels end up being thrown together to finally end that sequence after a LONG break in the action.
Orton and Piper double up on Snuka, which ends with Orton trying a Superfly splash and landing on Snuka’s knees. Everybody brawls. Piper ends up posting Snuka and then tripping JYD, leading to Orton cradling him for the 3-count at 8:45. The opening few minutes of brawling was fun, but the men seemed out of synch and the match flow was lacking. The extended double rest hold pretty much killed the excitement level off. A major letdown. Piper was challenging Hulk Hogan the following month at MSG, so he needed to look strong.
Rick McGraw vs. The Spoiler
The announcers namedrop thespian Adolphe Menjou of all people, comparing the ref to the actor who had died over two decades earlier. The men go through some basic grappling, so Gene and Gorilla amuse themselves by discussing their future plans to compete in some racquetball games. They next cover the benefits of having large muscle mass and how it can hurt a wrestler’s flexibility.. With the match still providing them with nothing to talk about, they debate if “Parts Unknown” is actually a town in Texas. This ends with the traditional “Who is this masked man?” banter. The Spoiler methodically beats on McGraw through all this. The crowd is bored.
McGraw scoops up the much taller Spoiler and drops him with a shoulder breaker. That only slows the Spoiler’s offensive briefly, and he ends things with a double underhook suplex for the pin at 8:59. He couldn’t even get the win with his infamous claw? The match was another snoozer.
Intercontinental champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. Tito Santana
The curfew has been lifted in order to ensure a finish. The men had previously fought to a curfew draw in MSG. Valentine tries to slow things down early on, but Santana has a plan and starts to go after the champ’s leg. Valentine responds by living up to his nickname and using forearms and elbows to wear out the challenger. Valentine dominates the first ten minutes, using bear hugs, abdominal stretches and other such holds in between his standard array of knees, elbows and punches.
Santana fires up, slamming Valentine into the mat head first several times. A suplex proves that Santana is still feeling the affects of his earlier beating though as Tito seems as worse for wear as the champion. The fight goes to the floor, and back in the ring again as Santana tries and fails to lock in several figure-four leglocks but Valentine avoids them all.
Santana misses a flying forearm attempt. Monsoon claims that the men have a 20-count outside of the ring. Somebody tell Gorilla it’s not 1968 anymore. The men are now both sweat drenched and exhausted. They stand toe to toe and trade slaps and punches, each hoping to find the sweet spot that will leave their opposition in a daze.
Valentine tosses Santana to the floor, then drops several elbows down upon him. A figure-four attempt ends with the challenger scoring a flash cradle for a two-count. The men collide and fall to the mat on the next exchange.
Santana connects with a flying forearm which causes Valentine to fall to the floor. A dazed and exhausted Santana can barely stand as the ref counts Valentine out of the ring at 20:21. Tito celebrates with the title, because he apparently has never read a rulebook.
This was a pretty solid outing, but I would suggest a few more false finishes for Santana would have put it over the top for me. The men worked hard, but Tito never really had Valentine in a place of serious peril to really tease a title change.
Final thoughts: When Andre the Giant is your workrate champion of the night, you’re probably in for a long affair. All the filler was terrible and two of the three big matches underwhelmed. Hard to fathom that the next two months will bring two of the biggest MSG events ever.