The Chrononaut Chronicles – WWE Old School: Madison Square Garden – September 23, 1985

Another old-school MSG show, featuring the Hart Foundation against the British Bulldogs, a heated grudge match between Ricky Steamboat and the Magnificent Muraco, and the “Colossal Jostle” pitting Andre the Giant against King Kong Bundy!

The Chrononaut Chronicles – WWE Old School: Madison Square Garden – Monday, September 23, 1985

– We begin with footage of King Kong Bundy repeatedly splashing Andre the Giant seven or eight weeks ago in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens while Gorilla Monsoon does a voiceover stating that Andre is back and looking for revenge tonight.

– Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura are on commentary.

– Les Thornton vs. Scott McGhee

This should be a real rocketbuster to open the show. Scott is from Scotland and Les is from England, so they work a methodical European-style match as they both do some arm work and Thornton throws some stiff forearm uppercuts. In a nice little spot they repeat several times, McGhee bridges out of a cover while holding Thornton’s head and snapmares him over as he works the neck. We get the WWE 24/7 “Old School Flashback” popup to keep us from falling asleep and discover that in September 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s record with his 4,192nd hit, among other world events that happened this same month. The crowd starts booing after about 45 minutes of McGhee working the same hold, but Thornton comes back with forearm uppercuts and applies a headscissors on the mat to really ratchet up the excitement. A chinlock is next on the menu, but McGhee fights out and goes back to the neckvice until Thornton uses a belly-to-back suplex to escape and it looks like McGhee is hurt. McGhee knocks Thornton over the top rope with a nice dropkick and suplexes him back in, but misses a splash off the top turnbuckle. Yada yada yada, McGhee upsets Thornton with a cradle in an interminable 18:20. -*** Technically sound, but boring as hell unless you’re really into the slooooowww European style. It was like Finlay vs. Regal without the pizzazz, if you can imagine that.

– Adrian Adonis (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. “Quick Draw” Rick McGraw

Adonis is still in his New York leather ensemble with his natural hair color, as this was prior to Adonis transforming into “Adorable Adrian” and he is managed here by Bobby Heenan. Adonis has a briefcase handcuffed to him that says “Relax With Trudi” and handcuffs it to the Brain before the match. Jesse suggests that maybe there’s an inflatable sex doll in there and Gorilla guesses it contains the $50,000 bounty Heenan has on Paul Orndorff’s head, but “Trudi” turned out to be Adrian’s gay alter-ego that he let out of the closet when he became Adorable. Weird, huh? Adonis ravages the shoulder from the very beginning and dumps McGraw to the floor, where Heenan clobbers him with the briefcase while Adonis distracts the referee. Adonis suplexes McGraw back in and goes to the top turnbuckle, but ends up crotched as McGraw mounts a comeback and scores a near-fall off a vertical suplex. However, Adonis plants McGraw with the “reverse bulldog” (DDT) for the 1-2-3 at 10:06. *1/2 Good psychology with the arm work, but nothing fancy as Adrian was in the midst of a transition, so to speak.

– In a prerecorded segment, Monsoon interviews Randy Savage, who plans to make an example out of Paul Roma tonight as he hunts Hulk Hogan.

– Paul Roma vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage (w/Miss Elizabeth)

Before the match, ring announcer Howard Finkel introduces the 390-pound European Heavyweight Champion Otto Wanz as a special guest. That’s a bit odd; did the WWF plan to use Otto or something? Elizabeth is with the Macho Man and he berates her in the ring for no reason, as it is a bit scary and disturbing how well Randy plays the role of abusive husband. Savage dominates and Roma comes back with a flying sunset flip off the top for a near-fall, but Savage dumps him to the floor and follows out with the flying double-axhandle off the top. Back inside, Savage lands two flying elbowdrops off the top turnbuckle to put Roma away in 6:57. ** Always great to see the Macho Man during his climb up the ladder of success, as he basically squashed Roma and the two flying elbows fit into his prematch interview about sending a message to the Hulkster.

– King Kong Bundy (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Andre the Giant (w/Lou Albano)

This match is billed as “The Colossal Jostle” for obvious reasons. Jimmy Hart is with King Kong, which is strange since the commentators discussed Heenan acquiring Bundy earlier and in the opening clip Heenan was with Bundy and Big John Studd when they assaulted Andre. Captain Lou Albano accompanies Andre as his new manager and hams it up as the crowd pops for them. Andre chops and chokes Bundy heelishly to start, but Bundy goes after the sternum that was injured in the Toronto attack. However, Andre blocks his shots and throws chops, then hits a big headbutt and a kick to the back, but Bundy zeroes in on the sternum again and knocks the Giant to the floor. Andre comes back in with a shoulderblock and applies an MMA-style armbar with headscissors (almost a triangle choke) on the mat, but Bundy finally fights out of it and tumbles to the floor after a massive headbutt from Andre. Bundy climbs back in and they slug it out until Andre grabs a top-wristlock, but Bundy pushes him against the ropes to break the hold and works over the Giant’s sternum as we get an “Andre” chant. Andre makes it to his feet and levels Bundy with a big boot before sitting on the Walking Condominium with an Earthquake splash, but Big John Studd runs in for the disqualification at 13:50 and Andre headbutts Studd out to the apron. While Andre is tangling with Studd, Bundy avalanches the Giant from behind and punches Albano as Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan direct traffic from ringside. Andre kicks Studd off and rolls out to the floor, where he retrieves a chair as the heels quickly flee the scene. The Giant doesn’t look satisfied with his DQ victory as Captain Lou calls for the heels to come back, but of course they don’t because they’re heels. *1/2 Definitely not the most exciting match as Andre blew up pretty quick and had to rely on restholds, but it actually made sense because of Andre’s injured sternum and the crowd was into it.

– Bob Orton vs. SD Jones

Special Delivery complains about the Ace Cowboy’s forearm cast, but the referee checks it out and okays it. Ventura praises Orton for wrestling with such a serious injury, but Monsoon scoffs at him since Orton uses the cast as a weapon. Monsoon gets in his “I’m glad I retired” line during a discussion about Orton’s superplex finisher while SD works over the “injured” arm until Orton bails out. The Cowboy returns with a cheapshot and applies a headscissors on the mat, but SD goes back to the arm until Orton takes control by countering a back-bodydrop with a punch to the face and works a chinlock. Inverted atomic drop and a fistdrop earn a two-count as Orton goes back to the chinlock, but SD fights out and unloads on Ace with headbutts. After some back-and-forth exchanges, Orton drops the cast across Jones’ throat via a Vaderbomb off the top turnbuckle to score the three-count at 12:07. *1/4 – like the Adonis match, nothing fancy here and the purpose was just to give Orton a win.

– The Hart Foundation (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The British Bulldogs

This should make the show worth watching, hopefully. The Hart Foundation is wearing their black-and-teal attire as Bret Hart starts with Dynamite Kid and complains about a hairpull when the Kid wins the opening lockup. They both run the ropes and Bret goes for a dropkick, but Dynamite counters by catapulting the Hit Man into the turnbuckles and drops a sharp knee as Bret bails out to regroup with his cohorts. Back inside, Bret reverses a hammerlock, but Dynamite escapes by charging toward the ropes and dumping Bret out to the floor as the crowd pops and the heels complain. After both men tag out, Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith trade bodyslams before the Anvil cheapshots Davey Boy during a test of strength, but Smith dropkicks him out to the floor and Neidhart tags Hart. Sweet victory roll gets a two-count for Davey Boy and he grabs a headlock, but Bret escapes and traps Smith in the heel corner as the Foundation works him over with frequent tags. Neidhart squeezes Smith in a bearhug, but Davey breaks it and tags Dynamite, who cleans house like a fucking machine until Bret catches him with a knee to the back as the Kid runs off the ropes. Bret drops the elbow off the middle turnbuckle behind the referee’s back and Neidhart dumps Dynamite to ringside, where Bret bodyslams the Kid on the concrete floor. That takes on a whole new “Ouch Factor” when you think about Dynamite’s condition today. Back inside, the Foundation pulls an illegal switch while the ref is busy with Davey Boy, and Dynamite takes the chest-first turnbuckle bump when Bret whips him into the corner.

Elbowdrop off the middle buckle gets two, followed by a backbreaker for two, and Hit Man tags Anvil, who hammers Dynamite’s back and cinches in a front-facelock while Bret runs across and nails Davey Boy on the apron. Davey chases Bret around ringside and through the ring to inadvertently distract the ref while Dynamite is choked in the heel corner. Neidhart grabs the front-facelock again and Bret comes in to lure Davey in, but the ref stops Bret and Dynamite makes the tag as Smith pounds Neidhart. However, the ref didn’t see the tag and he ushers Smith out while Bret takes over and kneedrops Dynamite’s back. Dynamite counters a forearm uppercut with a backslide for two and Bret ties him in the ropes, but Dynamite manages to move when Bret charges and he gets crotched. Davey Boy gets the hot tag and rams the Foundation together before press-slamming Bret for a two-count, but the Foundation fires back with their early version of the Demolition Decapitation as Hart holds Smith in a backbreaker and Neidhart dives off the middle buckle with a double-axhandle to the sternum. The Anvil tags the Hit Man and they nail Davey Boy with a wicked Hart Attack that sees Bret come off the top turnbuckle with the clothesline rather than running off the ropes, which I don’t recall seeing them do very often. Actually, I think that later became the Powers of Pain’s finisher. Bret covers Davey, but the ref is busy with Neidhart as Dynamite dives off the top and illegally pins Hart at 18:31 after rolling Davey out of the ring in a cool bit of “turnabout is fair play”. Afterwards, the Harts bust Dynamite wide open with a megaphone shot. ***3/4 Really good tag match, as always, between these four dudes and I loved the finish since the Harts illegally switched several times during the bout, so it was cool to see the Bulldogs use the same tactic to win. Live by the illegal switch, die by the illegal switch!

– Jesse conducts a locker-room interview with the Magnificent Muraco and Mr. Fuji, who confirm that Muraco will dedicate his tombstone piledriver tonight against Ricky Steamboat to the Body because he is the best commentator in the world. I didn’t think promos were scripted back in the day, but you can pretty clearly see Jesse mouthing the words along with Muraco.

– Gorilla interviews Jimmy Hart and Terry Funk, who denies that he’s been ducking the Junkyard Dog and notes that Tito Santana’s Intercontinental Title and Hulk Hogan’s World Title are both more important than the Dog. The Funker claims that JYD isn’t even an “egg-sucking dog” (I always loved that), he’s just a jackass, and they don’t allow jackasses on the Double Cross Ranch.

– The Missing Link (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo

Ventura suggests that Monsoon and Link have the same hairstyle and Monsoon points out that at least they have some hair, but Jesse responds that “you can’t grow grass on a busy street”; I’m going to remember that line if I ever go bald. Bobby Heenan is with the Missing Link (what a bizarre pairing, I’d think Link would have fit better with Mr. Fuji or even Freddie Blassie) and announces himself as “Manager of the Year”, while Leaping Lanny throws poems out to the fans but sadly doesn’t recite one on the mic. Ventura notes that he’d like to see the Link face George Steele (I said the same thing in my review of the Animal’s Coliseum Video!) as Poffo outmaneuvers Link until they finally lock up and Link backs him into a corner, but Poffo cartwheels away from him. Poffo avoids the running headbutt and monkeyflips Link, who tries to retrieve a chair from ringside, but Heenan grabs it and won’t let him take it in the ring. Poffo continues to use his speed and agility to counteract the Link’s superior size and strength, but Link takes control and rakes Lanny’s back as he pounds away. Link plants Poffo with a powerslam, but misses a diving headbutt off the middle turnbuckle and the future Genius unloads with punches and dropkicks. Poffo attempts a monkeyflip out of the corner, but Heenan hooks the Link’s trunks and Poffo crashes to the canvas before Link drops the headbutt off the second turnbuckle and pins Poffo at 5:59. ** I always liked matchups between guys with contrasting characters and styles, and this was a good one with Leaping Lanny confusing the Link with his acrobatics. I never knew the Link was in the WWF until I got 24/7 and I’m surprised it didn’t work out because he seemed like a good fit in this era of living cartoons.

– The Magnificent Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

The Magnificent One pearl-harbors the Dragon during the introductions, but Steamboat fires back with chops and unloads on the big Hawaiian while still wearing his gi. Steamboat chokes Muraco with the belt from his jacket and snaps his neck across the top rope as Monsoon explains that this is revenge for Muraco hanging Steamboat on TV. Steamboat dumps Muraco to the floor and dives off the apron with a tomahawk chop before they go back inside and the Dragon mercilessly chokes Muraco with his jacket right in front of Fuji. Even Monsoon is surprised that Ricky hasn’t been disqualified, but Fuji trips Steamboat with his cane to turn the tide and Muraco tosses Steamboat out to the apron, where Fuji jabs him in the lower abdomen with the cane. Muraco rams Steamboat against the guardrail and brings him back in the hard way before applying the dreaded trapezius nervehold, but Steamboat fights out and Muraco cuts off his comeback to go back to the nervehold. The Dragon chops his way out, but Muraco cuts him off again and promises Ventura that his piledriver is coming up. However, Steamboat escapes the Tombstone by clapping his legs together around Muraco’s head (I’m surprised we haven’t seen that counter more often) and posts Muraco’s shoulder by reversing the Magnificent One’s attempt to yank him out of the corner by the legs. Steamboat catapults Muraco into the ringpost to bust him wide open and chops away at the cut, but goes for a splash off the ropes and of course Muraco gets the knees up. Is there a Steamboat match that doesn’t have that spot? Muraco tosses Steamboat over the top rope, but the Dragon skins the cat and kicks Fuji as he flips back inside, only for Muraco to drop him with a vertical suplex for a two-count. Fuji climbs up on the apron to interfere, but Steamboat sends Muraco into Fuji and scurries up to the top turnbuckle. However, Fuji throws salt in Steamboat’s face and the ref disqualifies Muraco at 12:45 as the Dragon collapses to the canvas and the Magnificent One jabs him in the throat with the cane a few times. *** Surprisingly good, as Muraco could still go at this point and they told a good story with Steamboat going apeshit and busting Muraco open to exact revenge until Fuji got involved to cause the DQ.

– Moondog Spot vs. Corporal Kirchner

To counteract the Moondog’s bone, the Corporal threatens to pull out his trenchknife, which Ventura calls a “toadsticker” and Monsoon notes that he’d take the knife over the bone in a fight. After the weapons are discarded, Spot attacks Kirchner and dominates until Kirchner mounts a comeback and slams Spot with a Samoan Drop for the 1-2-3 at 2:45. * Pleasantly short.

– Terry Funk (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog

Terrible Terry blindsides the Dog as he steps through the ropes and knocks him out to ringside, but JYD back-bodydrops and bodyslams the Funker on the floor. Back inside, JYD whips Funk into the corner and Funk takes a Flair Flip bump over the turnbuckles and lands in a chair at ringside next to some old man. When Funk gets up on the apron, JYD rams him against the turnbuckle and suplexes him back in for a one-count, but Funk sneaks in a mulekick to the gonads right in front of the referee and Monsoon is outraged. Funk legdrops JYD and unleashes a series of headbutts, but they have no effect on the Dog as he fires off some headbutts of his own. Jimmy Hart hops up on the apron to distract JYD and Funk rolls him up using the ropes for leverage, but the ref catches him and stops the count. Funk argues with the ref until JYD small-packages him to score the pinfall at 3:34. Afterwards, Hart comes in with the branding iron, but throws it to Funk as the Dog grabs the Mouth of the South and Funk attacks JYD with the branding iron. The Funker hurls the ref through the ropes and the bell rings incessantly as he batters JYD with the branding iron. Sadly, nobody comes out to make the save because apparently the Dog doesn’t have any friends. *3/4 Entertaining, but way too short to really amount to much, although Funk’s “middle-aged and crazy” shtick is always money.

– The credits roll to end the show.

Afterthoughts: Typical WWF house show from the mid ’80s with some good stuff mixed in amongst the deadly boring and pointless filler. Harts/Bulldogs and Steamboat/Muraco are the only matches worth going out of your way to see, although the Savage squash was cool and Andre/Bundy was certainly a spectacle due to their sheer mass.

Join me on my time travels and check out my other reviews on The Chrononaut Chronicles!