Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: WWF @ MSG 6/21/1985

The Hulkster faces off with the Magnificent Muraco in a bloody steel cage battle for the WWF World title!

June 21st, 1985

Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene call the action.

“Leaping” Lanny Poffo vs. Terry Gibbs

WHY did Poffo have the puffy Jimmy Garvin hair? He needed to be an effeminate heel if he was going to rock the perm. This is Poffo’s MSG debut, fresh off a run in Memphis. The Macho Man is heading in as well.

They work a few spots early that allow Poffo show off his athleticism. An armbar by Poffo is applied very loose, and Gibbs just lays there, not even bothering to use his free arm to try and fight out. That sort of stuff takes me out of the moment. That’s partly due to the UFC exposing how joint manipulation works and some part that the older I get, the sillier this sport looks.

Gibbs slams Poffo on the floor and follows up the attack with a bear hug. Poffo rallies with several side kicks and finishes with a moonsault…or as Mean Gene calls it a “OOOHHHARGHHHH!” after 6:34.  Gibbs was fairly far away, and Poffo made an extra effort not to hurt him upon landing, making his finish look weaker than it should. This was inoffensive overall I suppose.

Tony Atlas vs. Matt Bourne 

Bourne has been a let down based on the WWF stuff I’ve seen for these reviews. When your pining for the gravy days of Big Josh, your in a bad spot. Gene garbles his words as he tries to put Bourne over as a second generation star. “He’s following in the father of his footsteps”.  Bourne does good heel schtick, flexing with his semi-pudgy body in order to raise Atlas’ ire. Atlas out powers him and sends Bourne into retreat.

Bourne tries an armbar, so Atlas just flexes a bicep. Bourne rightfully cheap shots him for this. They try and claim Atlas recently won the title of “junior Mr. Universe”, but a cursory search on Google doesn’t show such a claim to be true. Bourne whiffs on a punch, and covers it up by locking on a facelock. Mean Gene calls him out on it anyway. Atlas tosses Bourne around a bit and hits a splash for a relatively easy win at 7:02. This was by the numbers and watchable.

Jose Luis Rivera vs. The Missing Link

Link has a unique body, as he is roided up, but is also clearly an older man. Dewey Robertson was around 46 by this point. He retreats to the locker room before he can make it to the ring. Heenan yells at him to get in the ring. The graphics list Link’s hometown as “??????????????????”, which is a nice touch beyond “parts unknown”.

Link hits a series of headbutts, including an impressive flying headbutt to win this in short order at 1:42. The ancient ref who is in charge stops the count for whatever reason and Link has to make the pin twice. I rewound the finish, and couldn’t see any excuse for the ref’s blunder. This was fine for a squash. I enjoy seeing fresh faces.

“Jumping” Jim Brunzell vs. Moondog Spot

Brunzell could be in Minnesota headlining against Nick Bockwinkel and Larry Zbyszko, but now he finds himself wearing bee stripes and about to tangle with a fat jabroni. Que up AC/DC’s “Money Talks” here.

I want to see the ring rats that Spot snagged after a show. Mean Gene puts over Brunzell as being long overdue for getting a WWF spot. Gene of course interviewed Brunzell for years in the AWA, so they probably smoked boat loads of pot together. Monsoon puts him over as a youngster, then Gene jumps in and talks about how he’s a “14 year vet”, which kind of kills an illusion of youth. Brunzell works a number of head scissors and arm bars, eventually lulling the crowd into discontent as they want some action. Even Monsoon mentions how the men are still feeling one another out five minutes-plus into the match. The announcers ogle women to amuse themselves.

Spot begins to work on getting heat, perhaps in an attempt to win back the fans. He mauls Brunzell on the floor and drives him into the stairs. Brunzell attempts several comebacks, but Spot cuts him off time after time. Brunzell finally rallies with a few near falls off of an atomic drop and other such moves, but Spot stops him yet again. Brunzell finally hits his beautiful dropkick to end this at 12:22. Given the time they gave this bout, Spot was the wrong opponent since he was pretty much viewed as a prelim bum. If a higher level heel had the exact same match with Jumpin’ Jim, it would have played out much better. As it stood, it Brunzell’s debut ended up being more of a struggle than necessary.

Rick McGraw vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

The parade of debuts continue! Savage spends several minutes trash talking the fans, the announcers, Howard Finkel and anyone else in his eye sight. Savage and McGraw have a lengthy lock up battle. Savage bails, drawing heel heat as cups and trash fly at him from ringside. Savage scales the railing, then the ring post, then the ring steps as he stalls and poses to keep the crowd’s rage building.

Savage works the arm for a bit, but when things go sour for him, he once again retreats to the floor. While there he engages in more jaw jacking with the fans, along with doing some muscle poses. Back in the ring McGraw absorbs a suplex and a series of elbows. This is followed by Savage leaping from the top rope and down onto McGraw on the cement floor. The crowd was awed by that moment. Savage suplexes him on the cement and poses some more, drawing more trash being tossed his way.

Macho Man leaps on McGraw’s back  once they return to the ring. He tries it again and goes ass over tea kettle as he hits air. McGraw whips Savage into the corner, with Savage taking a huge upside down bump. He hilariously twirls his finger as he hangs upside down in peril. The fans jump from their seats in joy at seeing this prick being put in a bad way. The crowd doesn’t have long to celebrate as Savage downs McGraw and drops the flying elbow for the pin at 12:51. The fans groan and boo vociferously over Macho Man’s victory. Savage walked in 20 minutes earlier as basically an unknown commodity in the WWF’s most important market, and left with the fans salivating to see him get his comeuppance. This was a thing of beauty to watch, even if it wasn’t a catch as catch can classic!

Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda and George “The Animal” Steele vs. “Big” John Studd, Bobby “the Brain” Heenan and Adrian Adonis

It’s good to see Adonis back after being gone for several months over a dispute with the WWF. Studd grabs the mic and screams “I haven’t been slammed”. Delusional heels rule. The crowd goes absolutely bonkers for the babyfaces. Even Steele is already crazy over just weeks after his babyface turn on “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”

Heenan starts off for the heels for some reason and immediately finds himself running in fear of the Animal. Windham and Adonis start things off formally, with Adonis stooging for a series of slams. He then walks into a hip toss and wanders into Steele in a daze and gets bit. Adonis tags out to Studd and takes a walk to regroup.

Capt. Lou spews absolute gibberish into the camera at ringside. I think you might be able to prop his corpse up at ringside today and get more charisma out of him than 64% of the WWE roster.

Studd and Windham face off, with Windham attempting a series of slams. The crowd goes nuts just for the tease of such things. They lose their minds over Studd taking a clothesline. Can I award this match 22 stars yet? Studd roughs Windham up and tags in Heenan. This goes poorly almost right away as Heenan bumps up on one turnbuckle, then is tossed across the ring and flips up and over the ring corner and splats on the floor. Steele scurries over and assaults the Brain to the delight of the fans. Adonis intervenes and he is trashed as well.

Studd and Adonis take turns abusing Rotundo when the action returns to the center of the ring. Adonis hits Rotunda with a DDT and the announcers don’t know what to call it. Monsoon settles on an “underarm piledriver”. All six men wind up brawling in the ring, with Steele producing a steel chair and smacking the ref for a DQ st 9:59. Fun Fun Fun!

Desiree Peterson vs. Judy Martin 

Mean Gene talks about the large size of Judy Martin’s…eyes. I’m not certain if he was being perverse or not. Peterson is tossed on to the announcer’s table at ringside, which seems like a frequent spot when the women fight on these shows. This bump looked nasty as she landed on electric boxes and other sharp corners.

Martin wears at Desiree with hair pulls, choking and stomping. She then dumps her on the announcers again. Was this designed so Monsoon could feel them up? This match just keeps going and going and I’ve actively checked out as the “action” is dull.

The match spills to the floor and Peterson tosses Martin into the announcers. Peterson then wins with a roll up back in the ring. At 16:05, this was the longest match on the show and so far it was also easily the worst.

Tony Garea vs. King Kong Bundy 

Garea tries to grapple, but Bundy is a mountain. Garea switches to using fists, but Bundy thwarts that with forearms of his own. Bundy misses an elbow, allowing Garea to twist at his knees. Bundy s-l-o-w-l-y assaults Garea once he gains back control. A corner splash and follow up big splash earns him the easy win at 6:17. I like Bundy, but he didn’t seem too motivated here.

Intercontinental Champion Greg “the Hammer” Valentine vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat 

Valentine gets all kinds of heat. Steamboat goes right at the champ with a number of chops, drawing protests from Hart and Valentine over his illegal martial arts. Steamboat continues to use his educated feet to tag Valentine time and time again with pin point blows to his jaw. The Dragon’s momentum is halted when he leaps onto Valentine’s knees. The Hammer quickly follows that up with a stomach breaker.

Valentine begins to wear at Steamboat’s leg, but Ricky cradles him as the champ attempts to lock on a figure four. Valentine keeps the advantage though as numerous forearms and elbows take their toll on the Dragon.

Steamboat recharges on the cement floor and returns to the ring with renewed vigor. Valentine endours chops and kicks until he is dazed enough for Steamboat to attempt a flying crossbody. Valentine is too close to the ropes. The Hammer gets a desperation back suplex to buy himself some time. Steamboat isn’t detoured for long as he blasts Valentine to the floor with an enziguri. Jimmy Hart tries to drag his champion back in the ring, but he ends up counted out after 14:20. The fans do not like that finish at all. This was well paced and hard hitting, which you’d expect from two pros like Valentine and Steamboat.

B.Brian Blair vs. Barry O 

O gets the jump on Blair, but our hero is technically proficient enough to grab a limb and take control. Blair shows good smoothness in his grappling. Barry O takes over and he really doesn’t have much of anything interesting to do as he locks on multiple head locks and a chin lock.

Blair is tossed to the floor, so he climbs under the ring in order to get the jump on O from behind. Blair smacks O with a big punch that sends him to the floor, then puts him in a sleeper for the win at 8:13. The crowd wasn’t into this at all and once O was in charge, I too found the bout to be underwhelming. The finish was flat as the fans didn’t seem to think a sleeper was a Blair speciality move they should pop for.  I’m going to have to question the logic of having the “Killer Bees” debut in two singles matches instead of just combining the jabronis they faced and making it a tag bout.

Blair commits a big no no in his post-match promo as he talks about Brunzell being a “High Flyer” in the AWA before making it to the WWF.

Steel cage: World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. “Magnificent” Don Muraco 

Muraco cuts a good promo about how he’s been in so many big matches that this one is nothing special to him. Hogan is the one who needs Cyndi Lauper and limos, he’ll just hail a cab and go home as champion. Hogan retorts that he and Sly Stallone have been training for this match. He doesn’t care about the Hollywood ga-ga though, he just knows he has to fight in a cage like some kind of animal. The promo ends on a odd note as Hogan interrupts Mean Gene sending things back to Monsoon by screaming in his face “What would you do if you had to look at yourself in the mirror every morning!?!!?!?” Gene doesn’t know how to respond.

It takes the crew forever to put the cage up, probably around 20-minutes in real time. Hogan tosses the belt at Muraco, who then tries to use it on Hogan. Hogan avoids that and sends the title to the ref. The men have a staredown to put over the gravity of the moment. Both men try and drive their opponent into the steel, but they are too physically fresh.

Muraco hacks away at Hogan, which leads to him having a mini-Hulk up and exploding on Muraco with a clothesline. Hogan scoops Muraco up on his shoulder and drives him into the cage. Muraco’s his face shows the after effects as blood pours down.

Hogan misses a charge and splats into the cage. Muraco sling shots him into the cage and Hogan begins to form a crimson mask. The men move to the top of the cage as Hogan bites and punches at Muraco’s gaping wound. Hogan’s blond hair is stained red from the blood flowing over him.

Muraco drops Hogan on the canvas and batters him. Hogan finds the rage and heart within him and boots Muraco into the ropes, causing Muraco to become trapped by the neck between two ropes. Hogan moves towards the cage door as Muraco races to free himself. Hogan is caught at the last second, but manages to kick off Muraco and escape out the door at 9:05.  I was actually surprised by the finish as I was not expecting Hogan to win by climbing out the door. Having Muraco cut him off, only to be knocked back instead actually hurt the finish for me as I found the moment of Muraco being hung in the ropes to be a more dramatic visual.

Final thoughts: I don’t think there was anything “must see” here, but all the big matches delivered and Macho Man put on an impressive show in psychology.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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