From the WWE Network: Inside the Steel Cage

Bruno, Hogan, Backlund and other greats face their toughest opponents inside the unforgiving steel!

Courtesy of the WWE Network

Having now watched 4 or 5 of these “tapes” over the past few days, I am getting closer and closer to muting the intro and playing the proper theme over the redubbed “gladiator” opening.

Gorilla Monsoon hosts with Johnny Valiant (or Johnny Valentine, if you believe the WWE network blurb). I was initially baffled, as I had no recollection of Valentine appearing in any regard with the WWF during this era.

All these matches are taking place in a cage, as the title would suggest.

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd

Well, we aren’t messing around! These two feuded off and on from 1983-1986 and had seemingly a million matches. (Wrestledata cites 269 matches between the two.)  We are joined in progress as Andre is battering Studd. Studd is bloodied from a cage shot, and the Giant is eating him up. Andre misses a headbutt, but Studd can’t take advantage due to his compromised state.

The men lay on the mat, tangled and exhausted. Studd chokes Andre with a forearm, giving the camera a chance to get a good look at Andre’s massive blade scars. Studd tries to crawl out and the fans squeal in anticipation. The Giant grabs his legs. The crowd is going nuts for two guys doing little, which warms my heart.

Monsoon incorrectly(?) claims Studd merely has to touch the ground with his hand to win the match. BOTH feet must touch the floor Monsoon! Andre is hit low, leading to the men being tied together on the mat, with Studd reaching for the door.

When they return to their feet, Studd rocks Andre with a clothesline, but he runs into a boot on his second charge. Andre slams Studd to a huge pop, then scales the TOP ROPE and delivers a flying butt splash. Andre poses and soaks in the moment, before leaving the ring the clear victor. It’s crazy that Andre was doing top rope jumps a year or so after suffering an ankle injury, and less than two years from being basically forced into semi-retirement with a bad back.

What we saw here was great fun. A hot crowd roaring as King Kong and Godzilla batter one another in a cage is pro wrasslin’!

Andre the Giant vs. Kamala

Johnny V actually admits Andre lost their prior match via count-out, which kind of takes a little starch out of the Andre mythos.

I’ve actually reviewed this one before, as it appears in full on the WWE Network under the “Old School” house shows. This tape clips to the end, with Kamala being slammed, butt splashed and then butt splashed again from the top rope for the win. I don’t agree with the logic of the WWF putting that high spot in back to back segments. Jack Reynolds and Billy Red Lyons impressively undersell a 500-pound man leaping off the top rope. Monsoon at least was wise enough to sell it to the hilt during the Studd match.

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka vs. Intercontinental champion Don Muraco

The Snuka/Muraco matches I’ve seen (including this one) have all been quick, violent and largely awesome. We are clipped to the ending here, with a both men bloodied. Snuka hits a diving headbutt, which sends Muraco out the door accidentally. Then business really picks up as Snuka drags Muraco’s carcass into the ring and famously delivers a flying splash from the top of the cage onto Muraco’s prone body. Snuka poses over his prey, and walks away defiantly with the moral victory. The moment has been deluded from years of watching other men fly from higher places, but this still resonates with me.

Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Adrian Adonis

This is a pretty lauded match among online geeks like myself. I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen it though.

All four-men brawl as soon as the babyfaces make it in the cage. Bruno and Savage pair off, while Santana batters the corpulent Adonis. Savage attempts to escape post haste, but Bruno latches on to him. Adonis sees the door open and leaps on his partner to attempt to climb over and escape. Savage next tries to climb over the cage, and Adonis makes another beeline for the door.

Sammartino stomps a mudhole in Savage, as Adonis climbs the cage. Bruno comes over to stop him and Adonis is actually trapped standing on top of the cage. Given his size, I was terrified for him at this point. Savage tries getting out the door as Adonis has Bruno distracted. Santana manages to hang on to him. The camera then misses Adonis falling from the top of the cage and crotching himself on the ropes.

Santana is busted open, which Adonis adds to by grating his face across the steel. Sammartino is still kicking ass, moving back and forth between Adonis and Savage as Santana is down.

Santana gets fired up and starts to batter Savage. Macho Man blades on camera. Adonis climbs to the top of the cage and tries to leap down onto a prone Sammartino, who moves just enough to avoid the sloppy splash.

Savage and Tito brawl on the cage, with Savage being knocked off and falling into Adonis. Bruno quickly moves out the door, as Santana climbs over the cage to claim victory. Awesome stuff, with non-stop brawling, blood, and hate filled mayhem! Watch this NOW!!!

Tito Santana vs. Intercontinental champ Greg Valentine

This match was shown in full on the “Grudge Match ‘86” video on the network. This is clipped to the ending, with Valentine trying to escape out the door, as Santana scales the cage. Santana kicks the door in his face and falls to the floor to win the Intercontinental gold. Check it out in full on the other tape instead.

World champion Bruno Sammartino vs. George “The Animal” Steele

Steele comes to ringside surrounded by police in riot gear. We clip ahead to Steele being pulled off the cage and taking a fairly big bump to the mat. Steele hits a low blow to stop Sammartino from stomping him and we skip ahead again. Steele uses some sort of object to rip at Sammartino. I love that there’s an older gentleman in a suit and tie (puffing a cigarette) watching this nonsense unfold from the front row.

Steele stomps and chokes away on the champion. Bruno finally makes the comeback and walks out the door. This was kind of uninspiring.

Bruno Sammartino vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

This is only weeks after the New England Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears at Super Bowl 20, so Piper comes down in a Bears’ shirt and hangs up some Bear’s posters to rile up the Boston crowd. Sammartino jumps Piper right away, with Piper zipping his forehead several times as Sammartino drives him into the steel. The crowd pops bug for Piper being slammed into the posters. Bruno shoves the paper down Piper’s throat, and then in Roddy’s tights. The crowd eats it all up.

Sammartino tears off Piper’s shirt and chokes him with it. Piper catches Bruno trying to escape and gets the jump on him. Several minutes in, Piper is still fighting with his shirt hanging off his body. He finally tears it off and chokes Sammartimo with it. Bruno cuts off several attempts by Piper to escape. The men each struggle for the door.

Sammartino batters Piper into the cage, but can’t keep Piper down long enough to escape. Piper gets his licks in and tries to climb out. A low blow ends that. The men tangle in the doorway, with Sammartino grabbing a chair and whacking Piper with it. That allows Sammartino enough time to crawl out for the win. This was another good brawl, and I was truly unsure who would earn the duke, making it all the more fun to watch.

WWWF champion Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson

Monsoon plays up that Backlund is a clean cut grappler, with limited cage match experience, matched up against a (pardon the pun) cagey vet in Patterson. Backlund comes in full of vigor and controls the early portion of this match. Patterson manages to drive Backlund into the steel, but that fails to net him enough time to escape. The fans are losing their minds with each near escape, even with the match only a few minutes old.

The men end up entangled on the top of the steel. Patterson is perilously hanging off the steel, nearly securing the win. We skip ahead to Backlund being pounded. The champ’s face is covered in crimson. Both men are exhausted from the struggle. After a double knockdown, both men attempt to climb over different parts of the steel. I thought we might get a race to a disputed finish, but Patterson jumps down and stops the champ’s climb.

Backlund slams Patterson into the steel via a slingshot. Patterson comes up bloody. The men fight from their knees, with their energy depleted. Backlund catches Patterson trying to climb the steel and delivers an absurdly high atomic drop. That earned a huge pop. Patterson puts on brass knux and the men fight on the top of the cage, with Backlund successfully avoiding the kill shot from his challenger, then elbowing him to the mat.

They fight back down and to the door, where Backlund manages to struggle to the floor. This was hard fought and highly entertaining stuff from two of the era’s best.

WWF champion Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy

This is the main event of Wrestlemania 2, and the first sighting of the big blue steel cage on this tape. We are joined in progress, with Hogan having his taped ribs unraveled by his challenger. Bundy is slammed into the cage and comes up bloody. Bundy eats the steel several more times. Elvira (“Mistress of the Dark”) screams “Why doesn’t somebody stop this!!!”

A slam attempt going poorly for the Hulkster. Hogan recovers and chokes Bundy with his tape. Bundy comes back with an avalanche in the corner and a splash. Hogan keeps Bundy from escaping, no sells another avalanche attack, then hits a powerslam and leg drop. Hogan’s escape is briefly blocked by Heenan, allowing Bundy to try and cut him off. Hogan kicks off Bundy, climbs over, kicks Heenan and hits the floor. Heenan tries to hide in the cage, but Hogan corners him, cracks him into the steel cage and atomic drops him out the door. A crowd pleasing finish…but it still feels a bit anticlimactic for a Wrestlemania main event. I ate it up as a 4-year old though, arguing with my mother when she claimed the blood was fake or maybe even just catsup.

Final thoughts: A lot of fun brawls to be had here and one of the better Coliseum Home videos released on the Network so far.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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