Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF @ MSG 4-22-1985

Hulk faces off with the devious Muraco, plus the US Express seek revenge against Sheik and Volkoff!

Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund call the action. Wrestlemania was a mere three weeks earlier.

The Cobra vs. Barry O
The Cobra is in special from New Japan. He is the WWF junior heavyweight champion. Here he faces a 240-pound jobber to the stars, which kind of wastes the potential for a different style of match.

O jumps Cobra before the bell. He assaults the champ with knees, kicks, and punches before tossing him to the floor. Monsoon and Okerlund get hung up on the fact that the Cobra did not come out sweating and think his slow start may be due to not being properly warmed up. O continues the attack back in the ring.

Cobra gets a flurry of offense in, culminating with a head scissors. Gene giggles and seems to imply he wants to make an oral sex joke. The head scissors goes on for a bit and the crowd starts to become a bit chirpy over the relative inaction that is ongoing.

Gorilla amuses me by crapping on the championship committee’s decision to give a title shot to somebody who has trouble winning consistently in Barry O. Cobra switches to focusing on an arm wringer.

The champ hits a diving knee, but is caught with a kick to the chest. O is caught with a spinning heel kick of sorts that sure seemed like the end, but O got the ropes. O then takes a walk. This match sure seemed to be heading to a finish, so I’m not digging O resetting things here. O begs off, then gets the jump on the Cobra. Cobra flips out of arm lock and hits another spin kick that I assumed was the finish..but no dice. A crossbody fails to win it. I thought that was it too. O is sent to the floor and greeted with a plancha.

Cobra misses another top rope attack back in the ring, but manages to cradle O for the win at 13:06 . Nothing was wrong with the action here, but when “stars” struggle mightily with jabronis, I always feel it takes something from their shine.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Matt Bourne
This could be a show stealer. Fujinami is not the “Dragon” anymore due to Ricky Steamboat now being in the WWF. Fujinami scores the first significant blow of the match when he drives a forearm into Bourne that sends him to the floor for a regroup. Fujinami locks on a side headlock to control the pace for several minutes. The crowd gets antsy again.

Bourne starts to use rough house tactics to take over the match. Bourne locks on a chinlock, so Gene and Gorilla instead talk about celebrities that they pretend are in attendance (who they won’t name or show). Okerlund then says the celebs show up at Los Angeles shows too, but he won’t be a name dropper. He then names Jack Nicholson as one who attends. Meanwhile…more rest holds…..
Bourne goes to a headlock, but Fujinami reverses out quickly. The crowd chants “boring” as Bourne locks on another headlock. Then another headlock. Bourne secures a suplex, but misses a knee. Fujinami kicks at the leg, but gets caught with a gutwrench suplex. Monsoon says Fujinami is not performing up to his usual abilities, and Gene then scoffs at Bourne missing a big swing. Fujinami snags a German suplex to end this at 11:24. I’m not sure why two good workers managed to have a stinker, but I’d assume Bourne called the match as the heel, so we’ll blame him.

King Kong Bundy plans to pound Swede Hanson enroute to getting a match with Hulk Hogan. Gene calls Jimmy Hart “South Mouth” in an attempt to troll him.

Swede Hanson vs. King Kong Bundy
Hanson appears to be about 200-years old here. He really was 52. Yikes!!

Howard Finkel’s pronunciation of “Kiiiiiing” Kong Bundy gives me a thrill. I see no means that this match will be good.
Hanson can’t budge Bundy, and Bundy slowly wears at Hanson. Hanson is utilizing the Dick the Bruiser fashion of selling, which includes no bumps and barley registering pain. Hanson no sells some Bundy blows, but Bundy manages to avalanche him in a corner, then drop an elbow for a 3-count at 4:28. This was mercifully short. Next…

Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid vs. Johnny Rodz and Rene Goulet
Goulet is 53-years old here, but he has consistently put on watchable efforts in the matches I’ve seen from him in this series. Rodz is a spry 47.  The heels are out shined by the young dynamic athletes. This includes some tomfoolery where the heels are knocked into each other when Smith springs in the ring after Rodz took his eyes off his opponent. The Bulldogs hit some crisp suplexes and dual dropkicks to thrill the fans.

The veteran baddies control Smith for a few minutes, until Goulet takes a few big flip bumps to set up an entertaining finish where Rodz is downed, Goulet is scooped up on Smith’s shoulders and the Kid leaps off Goulet’s back to deliver a diving headbutt to Rodz for the win at 8:16. A good pace and some solid flashy high spots make for a good match, especially following the first hour of trash.

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Moondog Spot
On paper this seems like some booker wanted to test Steamboat’s ability to have a good match with someone who is a major styles clash. Spot is not “bad” per se, but he generally wasn’t having any mat classics during his WWF run as a prelim bum.

Steamboat controls things early, with Spot giving him the shine. Spot eventually starts using his brawling methods to put Steamboat on the defensive.

Spot attempts some fat man lucha from the top rope, but gets slammed off. Steamboat then uses his “karate” to rattle the Moondog. Steamboat seems to want to have Spot feed him his body for a series of blows, but Spot keeps laying on the mat and forcing Steamboat to drag him up for each move. Steamboat delivers the flying crossbody for the win at 7:24 . This was fine, but a waste of Steamboat’s abilities.

We see Hulk Hogan at a circus, hanging out with thousands of disabled kids at a special event. Future UFC announcer Bruce Beck is the roving reporter for this segment.

WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Don “The Magnificent” Muraco
“Eye of the Tiger” brings the fans to their feet. I think the camera picks up Muraco screaming “Come on motherfucker!” as Hogan squares him up.

Muraco eats a flying knee early and is knocked to the floor. He comes up smiling and nods at Hogan in order to acknowledge the good blow. Hogan throws Muraco off by then switching to grappling. The champ grabs an arm, maneuvers into a single leg sweep, and finishes the sequence with crossface.

The crowd is still screaming wildly. The champ works an armbar before switches to a hammerlock into a takedown. The announcers put over Mr. Fuji for turning Muraco into a giant roided up beast, compared to his past as a beach bum.

Muraco works to escape Hogan’s arm lock, but Hogan once again uses his leverage to down Muraco. He drops a leg onto Muraco’s arm –before reapplying an armbar. Hulk Gagne has dominated the first several minutes with his grappling prowess! Hogan works towards a chicken wing, but Muraco is able to avoid it. The men tangle for control before Muraco attacks with a solid kick to Hogan’s hamstring.

Hogan squirms on the mat as Muraco reigns blows onto the injured leg. Muraco twists and pulls the champ’s leg in order to deliver the maximum amount of pain. Hogan manages to get to his feet, and hits Muraco with an enziguri. Muraco sells his head, but Hogan’s boot landed on his shoulder. Hogan makes an offensive flurry, but misses an elbow.

Muraco uses his loaded thumb to jam blows into Hogan’s throat. Muraco attempts a Tombstone, but Hogan slams his knees into Muraco’s head and escapes. Hogan “Hulk’s up” and unloads with blows. A big boot sends Muraco to the floor. Muraco drags Hogan to the floor with him, where the brawl continues. Hogan chases Fuji, and is then attacked from behind by Muraco, who then sneaks in the ring to score the upset win via count-out at 13:36 . Hogan is PISSED. He charges in the ring and tosses the title down in front of himself. He begs Muraco to come and get some, then spits at him. Muraco shoots in, but Hogan facelocks him and sends him fleeing.

This was a unique Hogan match, with Hogan working a scientific style. Since it ending with him losing, I guess that means that his future matches will see him use the far more successful brawling style.

Mike Rotundo vs. The Iron Sheik
“Born in the USA” blares as Rotundo and Captain Lou Albano charge to the ring to seek some revenge over the Sheik robbing them of the tag titles a few weeks earlier. Rotundo jumps Sheik fast and attacks him while Sheik is still in his Arab garb. Sheik is clotheslined with the cloth and choked. The crowd loves it and mocks the Sheik with chants of “USA!”

Things slow down after that and the men trade headlocks and arm work. Sheik locks on a nice kimura and rides on top of Rotundo. Rotunda gives him some amateur grappling in response, gains the top mount and works for a half-nelson.

The men spill to the floor briefly, where Rotunda delivers a beautiful pair of European uppercuts, causing Sheik to return to the ring for salvation. Back in the ring, the Sheik garners control, then tosses Rotundo to the floor. Rotundo is then chucked into a table and smashed with a chair. The American struggles into the ring and is locked into the abdominal stretch. Sheik drives Rotundo to the mat with a gut wrench suplex, but Mike is able to reverse a vertical suplex to briefly earn some relief.

Sheik misses a top rope splash and is rolled up for the win in short order at 14:16. The crowd goes absolutely crazy for the Sheik losing cleanly. This match saw some excellent pure grappling, and although it dragged a bit at points, there was more than enough entertaining wrasslin’.

Barry Windham vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Windham uses his speed advantage to take control of the big Russian early on. He attacks Volkoff with not only scientific wrestling, but also by taking flight and attacking from the top rope.
Volkoff utilizes his bullish power to strong arm his way into control. Windham is worn down by damaging blows, as well as a bear hug. Windham endures the assault and manages to pry Volkoff into a sleeper in a effort to wear the Commie down. A low blow frees Volkoff, and he reapplies the bear hug. Windham quickly bites Volkoff’s face in order to free himself.

The men end up colliding soon after and both men collapse to the mat. Fred Blassie and Capt. Lou trade words, the second time in this match where they teased aggression. I’m wagering that the WWF may have been building towards a manager versus manager bout between the two for MSG. The old men actually fought twice over the summer in the ring, including a cage bout. Blaisse was a 67-years old, and Albano a mere 52.

Windham comes a bit too close to winning, which draws out the Iron Sheik for a sneak attack at 12:11. Rotundo returns to the action to help Windham clear the ring and the faces celebrate.

Howard Finkel announces the next month’s card. Jesse Ventura gets a face pop when his squash match is announced. The U.S. Express will face off with Sheik and Volkoff. Plus Hogan and Muraco have a rematch (which is REALLY good). Brutus Beefcake and Johnny V face David and Bruno Sammartino in a “special bonus” match to thank the fans for their years of support.

Tito Santana and the Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake
This is actually a very logical match to put together in the wake of the Intercontinental title match finish at Wrestlemania where Santana helped JYD have his match restarted after Valentine had cheated JYD out of a win. The faces chase Beefcake and Valentine from the ring at the start. The faces jump them again, delaying a formal match beginning.

JYD and Beefcake finally get things rolling, with JYD knocking a few headbutts into Beefcake and sending him into retreat. Santana tries to get a swipe in. The heels attempt to double up on the Dog, but they run into one another. Santana then tosses the bad guys into each other once more.
The Hammer uses his grit to pound Santana, giving the evil duo control of the match. Beefcake tags in and chucks Santana from the ring twice, giving him time to strut. Valentine comes back in and violently yanks Santana’s head back, dropping several elbows onto the crown of Tito’s skull. The heels continue to grind away at Santana, as JYD anxiously looks for any opening he can to make a move to aid his friend.

Valentine works on Santana’s leg, but chooses to rub it in a bit too much as he plays with Santana and ends up firing Tito up. Santana fires off some shots, drawing in Beefcake. Santana is able to avoid both men and tags in JYD.

JYD goes after both heels, until he misses a headbutt. Beefcake rips at JYD’s face, which enrages the Dog and inspires him to gnaw on Beefcake’s countenance. Valentine hooks JYD’s leg and smashes it against the edge of the ring apron. JYD fights his way to Santana, sending Tito into the ring, leading to a four-way brawl. Santana catches Valentine with a flying forearm and earns the duke at 16:03. The heels beat on the faces after the decision to close the show. The crowd heat was lacking here for some reason, although the ring work was solid. The fans popped for the finish though.

Final thoughts: The first hour was a but taxing, and I think the WWF paid for it as the fans ended up burnt out from having four big matches in a row at the end. A little rearrangement could have done wonders for this card.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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