WWF @ MSG 2/18/1985 “The War to Settle the Score”

Hogan vs. Piper, tons of celebrities and the biggest angle in the history of the WWF!

This show’s main event was part of an hour long MTV special which saw a number of celebrities (Little Richard, Dee Snider, Tina Turner and a host of others) chime in with their support of rock and roll in the face of Roddy Piper trashing it.  Both the babyface and heel rosters also were able to pontificate their views on the matter.  An MTV VJ and Mean Gene hosted the show. It’s a fun watch if you have an hour to burn.

Feb 18th 1985

Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene call the action.

Rick McGraw vs. Moondog Spot

Monsoon claims the Moondogs were highly ranked before their recent decision to focus on singles competition. LIES! McGraw works the arm for the first several minutes of the match. A body slam is the big highspot of the first five minutes or so before Spot goes low to turn the advantage his way. Spot does some punching before locking on a headlock, which Gene notes is a popular move in the locker room. That was unintentionally hilarious.

Spot is actually more active than McGraw was on offense, delivering clubbing blows and even an attack from the second rope. A backbreaker weakens McGraw enough to allow Spot to chuck him to the floor.

McGraw dodges a corner charge, opening up his chance for a comeback. He suplexes the big Moondog and attempts several pinning combinations. A cradle is sort of blown due to the size difference and both men pause on the mat to reset. I thought that was possibly supposed to be the finish given that awkward pause, but both men keep fighting. Spot survives a few more roll ups and cradle attempts before getting a near fall of his own off a back breaker.

Spot climbs to the top rope and is slammed off, giving McGraw a visual pin as the time limit expires at the 15-minute mark. If I accidentally made any of this sound entertaining… I swear I didn’t mean to. A dud.

Jose Luis Rivera vs. Johnny Rodz

The men mat wrestle in the opening minutes, working takedowns and tangling over arm locks and reversing out of peril. Rodz takes a number of bumps off of shoulder blocks which are delayed for a fraction of a second each time, making the move come across as fake more than anything else. Rodz switches to roughhouse tactics such as boots, punches, forearms and uppercuts to control the young Puerto Rican.

Rivera makes his comeback with punches of his own. Rodz is sent head over heels in the turnbuckle and flips to the ring’s edge. Rodz doesn’t wait too long before taking control of the match back. Rivera is knocked to the floor several times as Rodz wears at him with fists.

Rivera misses an elbow and Rodz wastes no time delivering a diving headbutt to his shoulder to end things at 11:14. The first minute was good, but the rest was fairly meandering.

Hillbilly Jim vs. Rene Goulet

Jim gets a huge ovation and he pauses to sell the “country bumpkin getting a shot in the big city” aspect of the gimmick. Danny Devito is shown laughing at this spectacle. Jim offers his hand in friendship, and Goulet slaps his hand away. Jim gives chase for that infraction and Goulet runs to the floor.

Goulet locks in a headlock when things begin formally. Jim tries to power his way out, perhaps selling his inexperience in how to use technique to reverse out of such a move. Jim locks on a headlock, and Goulet does a variety of machinations to free himself. None of them prove to work, as Jim is just too strong. Rene ultimately hangs his feet on the ropes to attempt to backdoor his way out of the move, so Jim just drops him on his face. The crowd loves it.

Goulet uses a foreign object to rattle Jim briefly. Biting the big Hillbilly only makes Jim angry and he headbutts and punches Goulet. An Irish whip into the corner flips Goulet head over heels, but Goulet lands on his feet, runs across the apron and attempts to leap at Jim. Hillbilly catches him and a bear hug forces Goulet into submission at 7:29. Jim gets a big pop for his efforts. The magic power of the “Hulk dust” as Bruce Prichard calls it is on full display here, as 20,000 jaded New Yorkers pop madly for a country boy who the Hulkster “trained”.

Goulet starts to smack talk someone in the audience, and Mr. T leaps over the rails to answer the call out. The crowd gives this a big roar and a “T” chant breaks out. This establishes Mr. T’s presence at ringside, which of course would become important a bit later in the show.

Women’s World champion Wendi Richter vs. Lelani Kai

The Fabulous Moolah is with Kai. Cyndi Lauper and David Wolff guide Richter down to the ring to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The crowd is manic for this. Lauper is dressed as garishly as anyone from the 80’s.

Moolah and Richter start going at it, opening up Wendi to be double teamed by Kai and her manager. The match starts with Richter still in her gear trying to shoot a double leg takedown on Kai. That looked almost too real, which seems like an odd comment to make about  a simulated athletic event. Kai uses Richter’s jacket to choke her, then utilizes a necklace of some sort for the same purpose. Richter’s fingers are then stood on, just to be extra mean to our beloved champion.

Richter and Kai collide and no one goes down in another spot that looks awkward. Richter turns a body slam into a suplex and then the ladies have a third odd spot as Richter tries a piledriver but Kai blocks it and they briefly struggle for a takedown, with Kai tripping up Richter and attempting a Boston Crab. Richter quickly flips out of the move. Kai attempts a cradle, but the ref misses it.

Richter ties Kai’s legs up and attempts to bridge Kai up on the champ’s knees. She can’t lift her up properly.  Richter converts this into a surfboard. Richter lets the move go in order to crank on Kai’s arm, a strategy Monsoon strongly disagrees with.

Richter scores several near falls, which prompts Moolah to attack Lauper on the floor. Richter comes to her aid by delivering a punch to Moolah. The distraction allows Kai to roll up Richter for the upset win at 11:39. Moolah celebrates with the title before handing it to Kai. The fans are chanting “bullshit”. Lauper is selling big as Wolff holds her on the floor. Richter chases the heels away. The match was sloppy at times and the camera basically missed the finish because the focus was on Lauper. Nonetheless, the crowd heat and overall spectacle made this entertaining to watch.

An ominous “WWF Old School Flashback” appears on the screen to remind viewers of the happenings of this time period. Madonna scored a big hit with “Like a Virgin”. My understanding is after Lauper won “Best new artist”, Wolfe convinced her to put off her next album for a year instead of capitalizing on her stardom. By the time she returned to the studio Madonna took her spot as the “it” female pop star.

David Sammartino vs. Moondog Rex

Sammartino takes some abuse early, with some of it designed to show David’s ability to escape trouble. Rex locks on a bear hug before things can become too interesting. David elbows his way out and rocks Rex with fisticuffs.

Rex is a double tough brawler though and he soon is back to mauling Sammartino with his mitts as well as a rear chinlock. Gene points out that Sammartino could extend his legs and be in the ropes, but Monsoon says he “wasn’t brought up that way”. That way? To fight smartly? The crowd starts a light boring chant.

Sammartino tries a charge once he escapes but Rex sidesteps him, sending David to the cement. Sammartino comes up with a bloody nose, an affliction he had a few days earlier during his match in Philadelphia I recently covered. Rex focuses his attack on the nose until Sammartino fires up and downs Rex with a series of punches. David scores with a powerslam and snags the win at 12:37. Despite being quiet and/or bored by this match, the crowd gives Sammartino a big pop for scoring the win. This was pretty much a slow paced slugfest, making it less than compelling to view.

Swede Hanson vs. Nikolai Volkoff

OH MY GOD….this could be a train wreck. Volkoff singing the Soviet national anthem is interrupted by Hanson waving the Confederate flag in his face. There’s a Trump joke to be made on both sides of the ring here.

Volkoff looks like an absolute beast here, with a huge chest and thickness everywhere. Hanson wins the first lock up by tossing Volkoff over the top rope. The bulls trade fists but Swede can’t be bothered to sell. When Volkoff connects, Hanson barely budges, only grimacing. Volkoff meanwhile sells several big shots by flopping to the mat.

After some more fists, Volkoff tries his press slam into a back breaker, but he can’t press Hanson up. He tries twice more before just falling forward for a powerslam that gets the pin at 5:49. Mean Gene can’t believe that was enough to finish Hanson. This was bowling shoe ugly. Next…

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton

Snuka controls things early by whipping Orton up onto the turnbuckles and kicking the prone belly of Orton, causing him to be crotched on the top rope. After a rest hold, Snuka shows off his agility by leaping over Orton several times in the center of the ring, then catching him with a big chop. Another headlock sets up Orton being atomic dropped.

Orton goes low to gain an advantage, then elbows Snuka in the throat. A suplex downs Snuka, leading to Orton attempting a top rope splash to the body that instead lands on Snuka’s knees. Snuka wastes no time hacking away at Orton with chops but misses a diving headbutt. Orton tries to take advantage, but Snuka tosses him into the turnbuckle which Orton connects with in such a way that he “injures” his arm. Orton is sunset flipped for the pin at 9:49. For some reason I remembered Snuka hurting Orton’s arm in a much more blatant manner. Match was fine as Orton stooged and let Snuka shine enough to overcome Snuka’s limitations.

Tony Atlas vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff

Atlas is wearing a Cyndi Lauper shirt promoting her ode to female masturbation “She Bop”. Atlas uses his power to dominate the early going, squeezing Orndorff’s head in his massive arm, then casually pressing Orndorff over his head and placing him on the top rope. Mr. Wonderful attempts to focus on Atlas’ head, but wrestling law teaches us that minorities’ have hard heads, so that plan backfires.

Orndorff uses fists and kicks to temporarily rattle Atlas, but Mr. USA roars back and piledrives Orndorff. This is followed shortly thereafter with a flying headbutt. Atlas is distracted by arguing with the ref and Orndorff pins him with a German suplex out of nowhere at 6:05. That was so abrupt of a finish that I have to wonder if the MTV show is now screwing with the timing of this event. Orndorff did what he could with the musclehead.

World tag champions Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham vs. The Spoiler and the Assassin

The Assassin is wearing baby blue, that is hardly a killer look. Windham hits him with a bulldog that is released too soon, with even Mean Gene noting the botch. It doesn’t matter as the move finishes things at the 36-second mark anyway. The Spoiler still looked good physically, and was a good veteran hand. It’s too bad they couldn’t give him something better to do during his run here.

Sal Bellomo vs. “Magnificent” Don Muraco

Mean Gene informs us that Fuji is teaching Muraco “Ju-Jitzoo” Muraco hits a spinebuster and a Tombstone to win things in short order at 2:41. Just a squash. The MTV show is definitely screwing with the times now.  Whoever gave me a 15 minute Moondog Spot match earlier needs to be fired!

World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Piper gets a full Scottish bagpipe band for his entrance. Piper comes down with a “Hulkamania” shirt on and an electric guitar. Bob Costas takes over for Howard Finkel as the special guest ring announcer. Piper smashes the guitar. Hogan comes down to the ring with David Wolff, Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou. Hogan and Mr. T share a bro moment as the crowd goes bananas.

As soon as Hogan hits the ring, the brawl is on! Piper grounds Hogan and drops some bombs. Hogan gets the mount and lays into Piper with some ground and pound. Hogan pulls Piper to his feet, blasts him with some punches and bites his face for good measure. Piper bumps all over the place to put Hogan over huge.

Hogan goes down from a minor blow like he’s been shot. He immediately starts selling like he’s been getting his ass beat for 10 minutes. Piper slaps on the sleeper as we are going in fast forward. Hogan powers out of the sleeper. Orton tries to run interference, but Hogan smashes his bad arm into the metal attachment of the turnbuckle.

Hogan roars back and starts to pound Piper from pillar to post. Mr. Wonderful comes out to replace Orton. The ref goes down as the overbooking hits overdrive. Piper takes Hogan down and Orndorff leaps off the top onto the champ. Lauper gets on the apron and the fans are hip to the game as they chant “T!!!! T!!” Mr. T leaps into action and confronts Piper and Orndorff. T is ambushed and they beat him to the mat. I’m marking out like crazy for this! Hogan stands up and that scares the heels off. T and Hogan stare down the heels as a pile of New York police officers pour into the ring to reign in the mayhem.

Great angle! This sets up Wrestlemania and basically saves the WWF from their financial woes all in one swoop. Lauper disappeared during the melee but shows up to pose with Hogan and T. Hogan is declared the winner by DQ at 8:40. Hogan has T shadow box and it appears the A- Team star blows up after about 5 punches. Not a good sign for what T can do at Mania.

We head to the locker room so Hogan can do a coked out promo about how we all want to live by the ways of rock and roll. “I’LL DIE FOR ROCK AND ROLL!” Lauper comes in and Hogan puts over her bravery in standing up to Piper. Lauper cuts a promo on how Richter got screwed, and she wasn’t going to stand by as Hogan got hurt. Mr. T is next. “I like to go to wrasslin’!” T is sick of the heels getting away with so much. Hogan expresses his love for T. Capt. Lou makes sure to get his own crazy and zany promo in for the big audience. Lou’s screaming so much the babyfaces have to pull him back.

Andy Warhol is in the back and he might be zonked on Valium as he gives mono symbolic answers in a slow and quiet voice. Joe Piscopo compares things to a Bruce Springsteen concert. Billy Squier is upset “Mr. Wonderful” smashed a guitar, showing his great product awareness. Danny Devito puts over Captain Lou and Mr. T. Devito admits he was only here because he’s doing a movie with Captain Lou and he’s never watched wrestling before.

Piper comes in, still in a towel from his shower. He screams his own coked out promo on how he was not beaten and challenges “the little black man and big blond man” to a fight.

Final thoughts: The significance of the show’s big angle overrides the fact that the card was largely filler. Wrestlemania is now in our sights!

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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

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