In these articles, I’ll be reviewing and sharing things from the WWF and other promotions (with a tie to WCW in mind). At the time, many of the WWF’s shows around the house show circuit were televised. While the best chance to watch matches like these was at the arena, those who couldn’t afford to go or otherwise couldn’t be there were able to catch the show which was at their local arena on television at some point. These will go into the ‘assorted’ pile. Of course, there were also the WWF’s television shows at the time. Matches and angles from those will go in the ‘assorted’ pile.
The WWF’s television slate is probably something that needs to be addressed. Despite Vince McMahon having taken the company national, the TV taping schedule, and likely what will be reviewed in these columns for the year of 1985, doesn’t reflect that. On the last day in March, WWF’s takeover of the Georgia Championship Wrestling timeslot on TBS came to an end and was out of the picture. WWF Championship Wrestling was taped in Poughkeepsie, New York, every month for the duration of the year, and it aired on Saturdays. All Star Wrestling was taped in Brantford, Ontario, every month for the duration of the year. It also aired on Saturdays. Prime Time Wrestling pulled matches from the various television shows, and from various house shows around the country. In 1985, it aired on Tuesdays, and was paired with Tuesday Night Titans, which was the WWF’s version of a late night talk show. All American Wrestling was similar to PTW, and aired on Sunday mornings.
What is reviewed will be up to the readers and myself, but please remember that I’m not trying to review things that are a form of torturous punishment! I’m looking to watch things that I’d like, or events that have something unique as the attraction. Matches which are absolutely worth watching will be highly recommended.
– Taped to air April 20th, 1985 on Championship Wrestling, from Poughkeepsie, New York
SD Jones & Mario Mancini vs. The Hart Foundation (with Jimmy Hart)
Pre-Match Thoughts: Yes, this is the debut of the Hart Foundation! For my money one of the best teams in the history of wrestling, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were put together at Bret’s request, as he did not like the cowboy gimmick that the front office wanted to give him. Of course, everyone knows how awesome they were as a team and how many great matches they had. I believe that putting them with Jimmy Hart legitimized them very quickly. At the time, Hart also managed the Intercontinental Champion, Greg Valentine.
Match Review: Anvil starts things off with Jones, and gets an early opportunity to show his strength as he shoves Jones into the ropes a few times. Jones responds with one weak shove, they trade wristlocks, and Jones tags out. Mancini comes and gets his face crushed in, as Bret now tags in and gives him a beautiful looking dropkick. A nice running knee and a headbutt follows, as Bret throws Mancini into Anvil’s boot, and tags out. Anvil shoulderblocks Mancini, but the referee is a moron and kicks Anvil out of the ring. What the hell? Anvil tags in once again, gives some punishment out to the jobber, and sets Mancini up for the AWESOME (yet not perfected) Hart Attack and the pinfall victory at 2:37.
My Thoughts: I don’t rate squash matches, but the Hart Foundation’s offense was very crisp and looked legitimate. Bret and Jim don’t have their tag name yet, but they get the one we’re familiar with soon after.
– April 21st, 1985, from Toronto, Ontario
Ricky Steamboat & Tito Santana vs. The Dream Team (w/Jimmy Hart)
Match Review: The backstory as such is that Santana was feuding with Valentine over The Hammer’s Intercontinental Title and needed a partner. This is also before Beefcake and Valentine actually become a full-time tag team. Fortunately this match has Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura on commentary. We start with Steamboat (still wearing trunks, which is odd) and Beefcake. Steamboat leaps over Beefcake, and takes he and Valentine over with hiptosses. After flying to the outside to catch Brutus, Steamboat springboards in to hit both with chops as he clears the ring once again to a raucous ovation. Tito tags in and the babyface combo rocks Beefcake with a double back elbow, before Tito locks in a front face-lock. Things then settle down and Brutus checks his tights for a foreign object, which either may or may not be there. Who knows! Brutus slams Tito, tags in Valentine, who misses an elbowdrop. The crowd gets what they want to see as Tito causes Valentine to take a powder, and once again the teams square off. Great stuff in the first five minutes, at a pace far beyond that which you’d expect from a regular tag match in 1985 WWF. Valentine now goes to work with some big elbows and forearms, as the heels restore order…or not. Santana fires back, nails Valentine with a big clothesline, and shoots him over towards Steamboat for a big chop. Santana goes…low with a headbutt to the crotch and signals for the figure-four, but it gets blocked and Valentine goes for a cover, which only gets a 2 count. Big shoulderbreaker by Valentine, who slaps Santana a few times before tagging in his partner. Valentine sneaks in for some strikes to Santana as Beefcake distracts the ref and they establish control. The tag is made, and Beefcake exits the ring to attack Steamboat, which is excellent heel work in my opinion. The story being told here is good. Santana is really getting worked over, more so by his enemy Valentine. After a little scramble, Santana sneaks through the referee’s legs and makes the tag! The arena explodes and so does Steamboat, who enters the ring and destroys Beefcake and Valentine. Those two eat a shitload of chops, and Steamboat takes it up a step further with a big suplex to Beefcake. Steamboat locks in a sleeper now, which Beefcake breaks up by raking Steamboat’s eyes with the official’s back turned. It’s Steamboat’s turn to get worked over now, but it doesn’t resonate the same as it did with Santana. Valentine nailed Steamboat with a big reverse atomic drop, but it only got a 2 count. A clothesline from Beefcake also gets a 2 count. Valentine goes to work on the right leg, tries for the figure four, but Steamboat reverses into a small package for a 2 count. Steamboat just can’t get back to his corner, until he starts chopping away at both opponents, and Santana makes the tag. He cleans house, nails Valentine with the FLYING FOREARM, but it only gets 2 and the match has turned into a brawl. The Dream Team ganged up on Tito, but they forgot about Steamboat, who flew off the top rope and attacked Beefcake. A Valentine atomic drop fails, and Santana gets a figure-four submission over Valentine that sends the crowd into raptures. Seriously, the reaction is unreal. How many things could happen in today’s WWE to get that reaction, one or two? This was a house show, NON TITLE MATCH, and these fans are jumping around and screaming like they won the lottery. 15:31 the time.
My Thoughts: Excellent match with an amazing finish to further Santana and Valentine’s feud. Jimmy Hart sold Valentine’s loss like it was death. This wasn’t a perfect match as the heat segments didn’t keep up with the opening five minutes, but finishes and moments like that are why I watch wrestling. ***1/2. Highly recommended.
Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship
Match Review: Second match from that card. This is of course, not all that long after WrestleMania. Hogan’s music hits and the packed crowd goes totally nuclear, not for the first time that night I’ve noticed. Must’ve been a hell of a show to be at. Orndorff taunts the crowd after some early “Hogan” taunts, but gets caught in a back suplex by Hogan and has to take a powder after an elbow. Little bit of that heel stalling, with the schedule these guys are on, who blames ’em? A little bit is turning into quite a bit. 30 seconds of action, 3 minutes of heeling and stalling thus far. Hogan puts on the big headlock, then shoulderblocks Orndorff to the crowd’s delight. Time for Orndorff to take another breather. Once he re-engages, they slug it out, and Hogan whips Orndorff into the corner for a big clothesline. That’s followed up with an atomic drop and a headbutt for a 2 count. Orndorff finally gets some offense in, of the knee and elbow variety, which causes Hogan to do his funny seizure sell thing. Pretty sure everyone knows what I mean. Afterward Orndorff sends Hogan to the outside and throws him into the guardrail. I like it. He keeps Hogan out of the ring for a little while, cheats a little, then takes Hogan over with a suplex. Nice kneedrop by Orndorff only gets a 2 count, as Hogan weakly kicks out. He can’t send Hogan head first into the turnbuckle, so instead Hogan sends him in about 7 or 8 times. Big running elbow follows, then a bodyslam but the elbowdrop misses. Wasn’t expecting Hulk to drop the elbow. Orndorff heads up top for a big move, but his crossbody is reversed (barely) for a Hogan victory at 10:09. Not sure if Orndorff was actually down for the count, but the crowd doesn’t really care. Orndorff is now extending a handshake to Hogan that the crowd is encouraging Hogan to decline, but they do shake hands and Orndorff gets a big cheer.
My Thoughts: That certainly was an interesting post-match. Obviously such a move doesn’t lead to nothing in the Hogan era, and that will be expanded upon later in this entry and the one thereafter. As for the actual match, both men seemed to be going at half speed. That’s fine with me and the crowd enjoyed it, but in terms of the quality, it wasn’t that high. A lot of stalling. I must admit that before this match I had watched these men wrestle together a grand total of two times previously. This is the third time, and I’d slap a *3/4 on it.
– April 22nd, from New York, New York
Don Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: There were no plans for Muraco at WrestleMania, but there certainly were plans for him to headline at the Garden afterward. The touring schedule in the WWF during this boom period is every bit as bad as claimed. Over the last few days, Hogan had wrestled in Maryland, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Toronto, and now New York City. Over a month’s time, three different touring schedules crossed the country. Sounds rough, doesn’t it? Anyway, I don’t want anyone to get the impression this will be Hogan Central, but two good opponents and interesting matches in two days is worth watching.
Match Review: Hogan is wearing white trunks in this match. I think that merits mention due to the irregularity of it. The Monsoon & Okerlund announce team isn’t that common either, I believe. “Eye of the Tiger” hits and the crowd goes batshit, no surprise there. Both guys are jacked up and I’m expecting a test of strength, which isn’t what we get. Instead Hogan hiptosses Muraco and hits him with a huge running knee to send Muraco over the top rope. Hogan puts a hammerlock on Muraco’s left arm, then sends Muraco to the canvas with a nice drop toe hold. Hogan works over the arm for a minute or so, then Muraco decides to slam him. After he runs the ropes, Hogan grabs his arm again and goes back to the hammerlock. Hogan takes Muraco over and drops the leg on it to a big cheer, then drops a big elbow on Muraco. Hogan goes back to the arm with an armdrag leading to an armbar. This is a little different than the Hogan matches I’m used to watching. It has gone on for some time now, until Muraco hit the champion in the left leg with a cheapshot. A couple of them in fact. Muraco applies a spinning toe hold among other moves, but Hogan hits him with an enziguri to the back to put a stop to it (wtf). Hogan then knocked Muraco to the apron with a big elbow and clotheslined him in the corner to a large reaction. Hogan slams Muraco and goes for another elbowdrop, but he misses. Muraco responds with some chops, kicks, and a big kneedrop for the first two count of the match. Muraco went for a tombstone piledriver on Hogan, but Hogan scissored him with his legs and HE’S HULKING UP BROTHER. YOU CAN’T HURT HIM NOW BROTHER. Hogan works Muraco over with the usual three punches, a big boot…but that sends Muraco to the outside. Muraco pulls Hogan out, and now they’re brawling at ringside. Fuji distracts Hogan, which is perfect for the challenger, who rams him head first into the ring apron and heads back inside as the bell rings at 13:35. The official counted Hogan out! Of course Hogan didn’t take any pinfall losses, but he didn’t take very many of those either. Naturally Hogan’s really pissed off and begs Muraco to fight him, and I don’t know what Muraco is going to do. Well, in he goes trying to steal the belt, which he can’t get so Hogan chases him out of the ring.
My Thoughts: That certainly was interesting. Slow build based around mat work and a body part that Hogan sells throughout the match once Muraco attacks it. So yes, it’s good. These two looked like they had chemistry, like they could do better, maybe we’ll find out if they can. **1/2.
Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog vs. The Dream Team (w/Jimmy Hart and Johnny V)
Match Review: This is a variation of the tag match from a night before, and enough of one to be worth watching. One which will probably not be as good, but I can hope. JYD and Beefcake start things off with JYD hiptossing Beefcake and giving him a few of those awesome headbutts. Beefcake accidentally clocks his partner, then gets a boot from Santana for his troubles, as Tito tags in. Funny “Latin fury” comment by Okerlund while Santana goes for the chinlock on Beefcake, which is broken up by Brutus raking him in the eyes. Beefcake drags Santana to his corner, where he gets walloped by the newly tagging in Valentine. Valentine gives Santana a gutbuster, which doesn’t hold him down for long. He fights for the tag but can’t get there, as the heels work quickly tagging in and out. They’ve been throwing Santana out of the ring for a while now, and Beefcake lands a big powerslam after the last of those sequences. The announcers tear into the fans for throwing garbage at the heels (a sign of a good match/angle in my opinion), as JYD still can’t get in to tag his partner. For nearly five minutes Tito has been fighting to make said tag, and Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker on him for two. JYD ran in the ring for a headbutt on Valentine, which does kill the heat a little bit but that’s okay because the fans realize it isn’t legal. The garbage is still flying. Beefcake lands a big slam on Tito, but they tease the tag once again and Santana finally gets it! After 8 solid minutes of heeling, JYD gets in the ring and completely cleans house. He lands a huge clothesline on Valentine to the delight of the crowd, along with that falling headbutt of his. Gets a 2 count. He misses the second headbutt attempt, and that looked like it hurt like hell. Beefcake tags in again and JYD bites him, haha. It’s JYD’s turn to get the brunt of the punishment, but that doesn’t last very long and he tags in Tito Santana. As Okerlund would say, he’s full of Latin fury. Tito nails Valentine with a clothesline, but Beefcake breaks up the cover to prevent a victory. This is turning into a bit of a gong show, but as I say that Santana pins Valentine after his big FLYING FOREARM at 16:03! Crowd wasn’t as hot for that as the tag the night before, but the crowd enjoyed that very much. It’s time for Beefcake and Valentine to get their heat back, which they do by kicking the shit out of their opponents, and that’s all I get to see.
My Thoughts: The three guys who worked in the tag match the night before pretty much drove themselves into the ground if that’s what they were doing every night. Solid stuff once again, was a little different than the night before in that JYD wasn’t going to fly all over the place like Steamboat. Quite similar, yet not. If you’ve seen the other one and liked it, might be worth a look. **1/2.
– Lastly, we’ll finish up with this, taped to air in April 1985 on Tuesday Night Titans
Audio is a little rough, but I’ve never seen this video of Orndorff firing Heenan. The two nearly come to blows, and when Orndorff scares Heenan back down into his seat I think that’s great stuff. Vince laughing at Heenan was amusing too, but Heenan’s reaction makes the entire thing. It’s as good as it gets. More foreshadowing of later events…
On that note, we’re going to end it here. Sometimes these will be longer, and sometimes they’ll be this length or shorter. There’s an angle that changes things coming up soon after this so I don’t want to skip over it and come back. Next time I’ll be posting a review of the first Saturday Night’s Main Event.