Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF @ Maple Leaf Gardens 9/23/85

The Dragon seeks revenge on Don Muraco in a match where the ringside is full of friends and fiends!

Gorilla Monsoon is calling this alone.

Scott McGhee vs. Rene Goulet

This is one of the, if not the first, match of McGhee’s WWF run.  He was primarily a Florida star, having captured their top belt several times. The WWF stuck him in prelim hell.

Goulet is wearing a multi-color flamboyant vest, seemingly leading some fans to chant “faggot” his way. The men trade some basic arm work and reversals. They build to a spot where McGhee manages to monkey flip Goulet several times as they wrest for control.

Goulet teases digging for an illegal object to get some easy heat. He ultimately just cheap shots McGhee and traps him in the claw. McGhee escapes, but finds himself locked back in the claw soon after.

McGhee makes a fiery comeback, sending Goulet up on a turnbuckle and driving knees into his belly until Goulet crotches himself on the ropes. McGhee scores a roll-up victory in the middle of the ring. I hope McGhee enjoyed the thrill of victory as it will be a rare treat for him from now on.

Dino Bravo vs. Frank Marconi

“Marconi plays the mamba, listen to the radio! Don’t you remember….” Damn I love that song.  Jesse Ventura is suddenly doing color commentary with Monsoon.

Bravo is wearing a Mountie jacket and still has black hair. The fans give him a nice ovation, but quickly get on his case when he locks on a headlock in short order. Marconi takes some nice bumps off a clothesline and a back suplex. Dino actually hits a dropkick. I have never seen Bravo not be an over roided slug!  Bravo finishes him an atomic drop/back suplex combo to end this squash.  Bravo was a star in Montreal, but here in Toronto he might as well be Frederick Bronski. “I’m world famous in Poland!”

Swede Hanson vs. King Kong Bundy

Bundy is announced at 458 pounds and Hanson looks to be 458 years old.  Bundy helped lay out Andre the Giant at the last Toronto show but apparently that was not to be followed up on here yet.

They lock up and go nowhere. The bulls trade some shoulder blocks before Hanson rocks Bundy with some chops. Bundy eats up some time with an armlock.  They lumber about trading forearms. Bundy scores an avalanche off a reverse Irish whip and ends things with an elbow. Bleh. The fans liked the hoss fight, but it was very much bowling shoe ugly.

The Killer Bees vs. “Iron” Mike Sharpe and Tiger Chung Lee

The Bees come down to an obviously over dubbed theme which confused me as I do not recall them ever having music. Google tells me they briefly used Loverboy’s “The Kid is Hot Tonight”.

The Bees dominate the early going by working over Lee’s arm. Lee escapes and stands in his corner, but does not tag out. Odd. The Bees continue to out wrestle Lee, with Blair adding some wing flapping motions to some of the moves to try and work their gimmick.

Sharpe tags in and finds himself in the same boat as his partner as both Bees take turns working over his arm. Blair locks on a sleeper, which was a sometime finisher for him, but Lee sneaks in and hacks his partner free. Lee stays in illegally and assumes the spot of combatant as Sharpe retreats to their corner.

The heels use cheating tactics to keep control as Brunzell is abused for a number of minutes. They build to the spot where the ref misses the hot tag, and Brunzell continues to be battered. Brunzell hits a flying knee to set up a Blair “hot tag”. Blair unleashes some fury before tagging Brunzell back in. Brunzell hits a dropkick to Lee and scores the win. Paint by numbers stuff as they followed the formula.

Lumberjack match: Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat vs. “The Magnificent” Muraco

Steamboat opens up with righteous fury as he unleashes a bevy of chops onto Muraco’s body. Muraco is knocked to the floor, where the heels allow him to rest before helping him back in. This seems to give Muraco a chance to gather his bearings and he begins to take control of Steamboat. He finishes his flurry by tossing the Dragon to the heels on the floor.

Steamboat is tossed in violently, but roars back with a number of chops. Muraco is able to knock the Dragon to the floor to give himself the advantage once more. Muraco delivers some “Asiatic spikes” to set up a nerve hold. Steamboat teases a comeback, but winds up tossed up and over the corner of the ring.

The Dragon is tossed back in the ring, but Muraco is robbed of his victory courtesy of the ref delivering the slowest count in perhaps recorded history. With a second chance awarded him, Steamboat rallies, hacking into Muraco with enough bad intentions to drive Muraco to flee. Several babyfaces catch him on the ramp and literally carry him back to the ring.

Muraco reels from a bevy of blows before Steamboat is backdropped to the floor. The heels deliver some cheap shots, which draws the faces over to save their buddy. Muraco works on the Dragon, as Fuji gets the ref’s attention. Bob Orton tries to set Steamboat up to be belted with his cast, but Steamboat foils the plan by tossing Muraco into him instead and scoring a cradle for the win. The ref counts rather fast for the finish, confirming Muraco was definitely robbed. This was a good, spirited fight!

King Tonga vs. Barry O

Tonga (Haku) did not impress in the least when I saw another of his house show matches from this era, so let’s hope things are better here. O bumps around for Tonga blasting him with a chop. O tries to use some grappling, but Tonga just powers right to his feet. O tries a cheap shot, but finds himself once again belted with a strike.

O uses some good old fashion brute force to down Tonga with forearms. The same group who got on Goulet with homosexual slurs get on O here with the same chants. I kind of want Haku to jump in the stands and rip off their faces.

Tonga and O trade rest holds. Tonga hits a thrust kick that draws “OOOOOOOOHs!” from the crowd. Haku ends things with a splash. O’s bumping helped put over Tonga’s offense and made this at least watchable.

WWF World tag team champions Brutus Beefcake and Greg “the Hammer” Valentine vs. Uncle Elmer and Cousin Junior

As unremarkable as Junior is in the ring, he went gung ho into the gimmick. Elmer, being old and fat, can’t keep up with Junior’s frantic dancing.

Both heels stooge for Junior, whose unorthodox style seems to have the champions off their game. The Hammer gets Junior in the heel corner, allowing them to double up their attack on the hillbilly. Junior absorbs a fine array of forearms for several minutes until Elmer can tag in. Elmer, a long time veteran, looks like hell as he basically botches a clothesline on Valentine, then locks him in a bear hug. Elmer is evidently shot from this 45 seconds of ring time and Junior tags back in.

Junior downs the Hammer and scores a butt splash. This leads to Elmer s-l-o-w-l-y lumber in the ring. The ref argues with the giant, allowing the Dream Team to hit Junior with a Hart Attack for the win. Jesus, send Elmer back to the farm, he was a mess here. Since WWE 24/7 edits “Don’t Go Messin’ with a Country Boy” out, the Hillbillies best attribute was left out.

Lanny Poffo vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton

Billy Red Lyons takes Ventura’s spot at the announce desk. Orton worked for the Poffos when they were owners of an outlaw fed, and that familiarity may have played a role here as Orton stooges for Poffo, bumping around as Poffo works over Orton’s cast covered arm.

Orton busts out a flying head scissors, but misses a second one and crotches himself. Poffo unloads with punches and Orton sells each blow to the max. Poffo takes it to the mat as he wrenches on Orton’s bad arm.

Poffo avoids an Orton superplex. He then downs the Cowboy with a flying dropkick and attempts to finish things with a moonsault, but finds Orton’s knees up. Orton cradles Poffo and cinches up long enough to earn the win.  It was nice to Lanny get a chance to shine and not be stuck working a long, pointless jobber match.

IC champion Tito Santana vs. Jesse “the Body” Ventura

The crowd starts a small “Jesse!” chant.  Ventura poses for some cheap heat. He stalls to argue over Santana not breaking a lock up as cleanly as he would like. Ventura breaks clean to prove his point. The next several lock ups end with Ventura using the ropes to quickly escape. Ventura surprisingly loses several shoulder to shoulder charges, but it pays off eventually as he finally catches Santana in the bread basket with a knee.

Ventura dumps Santana to the floor. The Body rams Santana into the edge of the ring, then accepts some applause as he poses back in the ring. Santana tries to fire up once he gets back in the ring, but Ventura pokes him in the eye to end that thought.

The Body tries to sap the last of Santana’s reserves with a bear hug. Santana strikes his way free and begins to show his Latin fury. Ventura’s skull is rattled with punches, and his head is slammed into the mat. The champ locks Ventura in a figure-four, but the challenger quickly makes his way to the ropes. Ventura goes to the ramp for a chance to recover, but Tito chases after him.

Ventura is downed, leading to Santana trying a figure-four on the ramp. Ventura punches Santana before he can finish applying the hold and the champ falls in the ring as the ref’s count hits 10.  It was all just a tease those as the ref declares both men have been counted out.

Ventura and Santana brawl back in the ring, then down the ramp to end the show. Ventura is a terrible worker, but a fabulous professional wrestler as was evidenced by this fun finale.

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to follow me on Twitter to keep up with my wrasslin’ research and reviews. https://twitter.com/Brody1982



Written by Andrew Lutzke

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