Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes call the action.
Sal Bellomo vs. Rene Goulet
Monsoon looks forward to the “European flair” that these men will provide. Goulet stalls and plays with his gloves. Bellomo avenges this by then making Goulet wait as he stretches. Monsoon makes fun of Goulet losing his hair, basically just poking jest at his backstage friend. Bellomo scores several head scissors, which the crowd approves of. The audience is well trained in the slower WWF style, and Bellomo delivering a dropkick is enough to receive a nice applause as a high spot. The men work for one another’s arms, both taking turns twisting their opponent’s limb to control the match.
Goulet takes over with boots to Bellomo before sending him to the unforgiving cement on the ring floor. The dazed Bellomo is trapped in Rene’s dreaded claw hold. Bellomo remains entrapped for several minutes before he finally gets back to his feet and escapes. Bellomo connects with a mule kick and begins his offensive. Some of the crowd has seen enough and begins to chant “boring”. Bellomo tries a crossbody, but the wily Goulet rolls through with it and snags the pin at around the 15-minute mark. Nothing objectively wrong with this match, but it was very vanilla, as you’d expect from an opening bout in this period.
Rick McGraw vs. Brutus Beefcake
Monsoon implies Beefcake is gay. McGraw starts off by controlling Beefcake with some basic hammerlocks. Beefcake uses headlocks and shoulder blocks – pretty much because he sucks at this point. Monsoon and Hayes whine about all the gimmicks guys get to wear to the ring. Monsoon thinks it will come down to guys being able to bring guns and have a duel in the middle of the ring. Beefcake knocks McGraw to the floor. Back in the ring, Beefcake rubs his arm bands into McGraw’s eyes. McGraw responds by gouging Beefcake’s eyes. McGraw misses a follow up dropkick and this gives Beefcake an excuse to strut. Beefcake turns to biting and choking as Monsoon buries the ref.
McGraw gets sick of all the cheating and starts rocking Beefcake with blows. Beefcake weathers the attack, then deposits McGraw to the floor again. He then directs McGraw’s body into the steel ringpost. Monsoon gently buries Beefcake’s workrate by talking about how slow he is between moves. Beefcake delivers a suplex and a shoulder breaker to set up an elbow drop for the pin at 15:29. This was boring, bordering on offensively so.
David Sammartino vs. Mr. Fuji
Fuji uses his veteran know how to quickly trap Sammartino in the nerve pinch of extreme discomfort. Sammartino breaks it, eats a chop and finds himself locked back in the pinching prowess of Fuji. The crowd rightfully chants “boring”. Sammartino heats things up with a headlock. David then switches to an armbar that goes on forever. Yeesh.
Fuji escapes, only to be locked right back into the hold. Fuji goes low to thankfully end the boredom, then headbutts David’s nuts. Fuji uses finger thrusts to Sammartino’s neck and belly to keep things under control. Fuji uses a tummy claw to give David some gastrointestinal discomfort. Sammartino starts to rally, avoids a Fuji elbow and scores the win with a small package at 12:11. If there is a rematch, I’ll bring some paint so I can watch it dry instead.
Jack and Jerry Brisco vs. Steve Lombardi and Rene Goulet
The crowd is not terribly familiar with the Briscos, and greets them with mostly indifference. Jack outshines Goulet and Lombardi is sent in to be the cannon fodder. Roulet returns to the ring, but finds himself flying through the air with Jack guiding him by the arm. The brothers make a series of quick tags, and take turns running through their grappling prowess on Lombardi. The heels make some switches without tagging and briefly manage to control Jack with headlocks. Brisco manages to suplex Lombardi, then he and Jerry knock him down with a double shoulder block. This sets up Jerry locking on a figure-four for a submission win at 6:31. Just a squash, but it was fun to see a rare Briscos match in the WWF.
The Briscos cut a promo on Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis, making sure they know the WWF tag titles are next on their list of goals.
Capt. Lou cuts a promo about his workout routine and his position as being a ref tonight in the WWF tag title match.
Arnold Skaaland makes a counter argument about his own status as special ref for the tag team match tonight.
Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff speak about how their Olympic pedigree will see them overcome the abilities of Sgt. Slaughter and Andre the Giant later tonight.
Rocky Johnson vs. Moondog Spot
Monsoon teases his infamous “a main event in any arena” line for this catch-as-catch can classic. Johnson works a headlock, before Spot tries some head based offense. Johnson, being a minority, no sells this. Spot tries a headlock instead, which leads to Monsoon talking about wearing his old wrestling kneepads while working around the house following his wife’s orders.
Spot blows a move, that Gorilla has to admit missed. The Moondog batters Johnson with fists to the skull and chest before going back to the headlock. Hayes praises the strategy of frequent headlocks. Johnson essentially dances his way out of the hold but he runs himself into the turnbuckle. Spot misses a diving elbow and finds himself trapped in a sunset flip soon after, which earns Johnson the duke at 11:38. Spot attacks Johnson after the match. Johnson chases Spot away with his own bone. Highly uninspired stuff from both guys. What’s really terrible about all these stinkers for matches is that they almost all made air on the WWF’s cable shows in the following weeks.
WWF World Tag Champions Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch vs. Afa and Sika
Skaaland and Capt. Lou are both special guest referees here. Lou wins a coin toss and earns the right to be the in-ring ref. Adonis pinballs all over the ring for the Samoans, doing enough bumping for all three men. Adonis tries to attack the Samoan’s head, and we see another example of minorities having hard heads. Murdoch tries the same method and the heels end up having their heads slammed together. Albano slow counts Afa’s pin attempt and the crowd gets riled.
Sika drives Murdoch down with a headbutt and Albano again does a slow count. Skaaland has seen enough after that and he drags Lou to the floor and takes his place. Murdoch protests, then begs off in fear of Skalland threatening him with his fist.
Adonis ends up back in the ring with the Samoans and he takes many pratfalls in an effort to put over his immobile opponents. Murdoch gains a brief bit of control, which ends with him being slammed from the top rope. Things break down as Adonis attacks Skaaland while Arnold was trying to count a pin at 12:09. All six men end up in a donnybrook and the heels limp off towards the locker room. The champs totally carried this to something watchable and the match was overbooked in the very best way possible.
S.D. Jones vs. Big John Studd
The announcers talk about Studd’s recent (fictional) world tour, conquering the best of Europe and Japan. Heenan joins the commentary, briefly, to rattle on about Studd’s $15,000 bodyslam challenge. After the men spend two or three minutes stalling, Studd locks on a standing rear chinlock immediately. Jones breaks out and tries a slam, which leads to Studd going right back to the chinlock. Jones escapes and again tries to slam him. This leads to….wait for it…another chinlock.
Jones rocks Studd with a half dozen headbutts and Studd’s scar tissue tears open. Studd drops Jones and hits the standing chinlock again. Jones breaks free and aims for Studd’s skull with more headbutts. He’s up to about 15 total headbutts, which might be some kind of record. Studd finally drops off his feet. More headbutts follow, then a slam attempt. This allows Studd to wallop him and send Jones to the cement floor. More headbutts lead to Studd cracking Jones with a clothesline, followed by an elbow for the pin at 11:02. Pretty much garbage on every rankable level.
Andre the Giant and Sgt. Slaughter vs. Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik
The babyfaces clear the ring before the Sarge’s ring music even finishes. Sarge and Sheik spit on one another once things get formally started. Sheik and Volkoff are both rocked with blows and they take a powder. Sheik loses the next exchange and runs into Andre – the Giant and Sarge pinball the Sheik with punches. Andre uses a surfboard, and Sarge and Volkoff provide the action on the apron to cover for the ring work slowing down. Sarge comes back in quickly, but runs afoul of the heel corner. The foreigners accidentally run into one another and Sarge sets Sheik up to be sat on by Andre.
Volkoff slugs Andre in the corner. Andre repeals him with a big headbutt. The Sheik tries a run in, but Sarge stops that and the heels end up on the wrong end of an Andre sandwich in the corner. Andre ends up backing into Volkoff’s knees soon after and Sheik and Volkoff take turns stomping down on the fallen Giant. Sarge makes the tag and briefly fires into the heels, but soon finds himself the victim of the bad guys two-on-one wrath. Slaughter is busted open, which the Sheik sees as an opportunity to chew on his foe’s forehead.
Sarge makes the desperation tag and Andre tears through both of his opponents. Sheik eats a big boot and then is whipped into Sarge’s flying clothesline for the pin at 14:39. Volkoff hasn’t had enough yet and challenges Sarge for more. This leads to a four-way brawl which sees the heels flee quickly. Slaughter finds some kids with American flags and fatigues and calls them in the ring. The fans shake hands with our heroes and lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. A wild match, with the heels willingly stooging for the fan favorites, finishes this dreadful card on a high note.
Final thoughts: YIKES! If the WWF was putting on cards like this in AWA and NWA country, how could they ever have gained any traction? The tag matches delivered good entertainment, everything else was a steaming pile of wretchedness.