(So I was checking through the selection of Coliseum Videos on the Network tonight, and I noticed that next up in the queue was Grudge Matches from 1986. Well, I actually did that one late in the original series of Coliseum Video Rants, paired with another one close to Grudge Matches on the list, namely Inside the Steel Cage. So here’s that one again, originally written sometime in 2001.)
The Coliseum Video Rant X-7: TESTOSTERONE POWER!
– You know, call me chauvenistic and/or old-fashioned, but a girl writing the WWF’s TV just rubs me the wrong way somehow. Now, I’m sure Stephanie is a nice person, but really wrestling speaks to that whole primal guy thing, and even someone around the sport as much as Steph can’t fully appreciate two guys beating the hell out of each other and causing blood to flow as a result. So this is an official GUYS ONLY Coliseum Rant, as I decided to find the two most violent, grunt-inducing Coliseum vids produced by the WWF for this rant so we could celebrate the true essence of pro wrestling: Two guys rolling around in their underwear…and hitting each other with various weapons of destruction. So grab a beer, scratch yourself in an inappropriate manner, put on a t-shirt with a lewd saying, and prepare for…WWF GRUDGE MATCHES and INSIDE THE STEEL CAGE!
– Let’s rock…
– Tape #1: WWF GRUDGE MATCHES!
There’s no way a tape with a name as manly as that can suck.
– Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon, who immediately warns us of the unusual amounts of violence on this tape. Well, now he’s just setting the bar too high.
– WWF title match: Hulk Hogan v. Magnificent Muraco.
Well, Hogan’s in it, but we’ll overlook that for the moment. On the flipside, you don’t get much more manly than Magnificent Muraco from this time. Hogan’s “Eye of the Tiger” entrance music is overdubbed with Gorilla blathering on. Muraco attacks before the bell in true alpha male fashion and unloads on Hogan. Is it over for our hero? NO! Slugfest and Muraco bails, so Hogan chases him and atomic drops him on the floor. Back in, he rips off the shirt and uses it as a weapon. Slam and elbowdrop, and he pounds away. Muraco bails again, but Hogan continues kicking ass. Cheapshot turns the tide, but Hogan uses a chair to end THAT. This is a Hogan I can live with. Back in, backdrop suplex, and Hogan tosses him so Muraco can blade. Two minutes past the point when Gene Okerlund excitedly declared him “busted open”, but it’s the thought that counts. Hogan decisively posts him to emphasize the point, and a suplex back in sets up the LEGDROP OF DOOM for the pin. BUT WAIT! Fuji has put Muraco’s foot on the ropes, so the match continues…for about 10 seconds, as Muraco pulls out some salt and tosses it in Hogan’s face for the DQ at 6:21. Sadly, Hogan’s sight recovered soon after. Good, but short, brawl. 1 for 1.
– Junkyard Dog v. Terry Funk.
From Superstars. Funk attacks and dumps JYD, and they brawl out. Back in, Dog takes over with headbutts and Terry bails. Back in, Dog wins a slugfest and rams him into a couple of turnbuckles, 10 times each. He stops to chase Jimmy Hart, then covers Funk for two. Hart runs in and gets caught, as Funk is tied up in the rope. Dory Funk Jr. comes in out of the crowd, however, nails Dog with his shoe, and we have a DQ at 3:13. This was not manly or violent in the least. 1 for 2.
– Terry Funk v. Junkyard Dog.
Rematch from SNME soon after. Dog attacks before the bell and crotches Terry on the top rope. Funk bails and regroups, and we start proper as Funk misses an elbow and gets slammed and unceremoniously dumped. Back in, Dog gets some headbutts and Terry regroups again. Back in, Dog chases Jimmy, and turns around in time to backdrop Funk onto the floor. Into the ring, Terry slugs away to take over. Sleeper, but Dog makes the ropes and gets his own. Hart distracts him and Funk bops him with megaphone for the pin at 5:18. Well, Dog sold basically nothing, but at least he put Funk over. 2 for 3. Hart, ever a trooper, takes the beating after the match.
– WWF title match (?): Bruno Sammartino v. Ivan Koloff.
I have no idea when this is supposed to be coming from – the announcing from Monsoon is treating it as though Koloff is the champion, but this is clearly from the 70s, well after Koloff lost the title. In fact, he was only champion for the better part of two weeks in the first place and I don’t think Bruno ever got a rematch. Gorilla’s commentary, describing it as “8 or 9 years ago”, means this is probably from about 1976, during Bruno’s second reign, which is why it makes even less sense to treat Koloff as the champion when Gorilla should be well aware that Koloff was long done as champion by then. Anyway, we’re JIP, as Koloff is working the knee. Criss-cross leads to a double KO. Bruno gives him a mule kick out of the corner and hammers away. Cut to Bruno winning a test of strength, as he comes back and whips Ivan into the corner and chokes away. Now Bruno, there’s a REAL MAN for you. Bruno wasn’t the kind of guy you’d look at and wonder if he watched Dawson’s Creek or not. Backdrop and Bruno works the back. Bearhuggitude results and Ivan bails. Back in, a cheapshot turns the tide and Ivan chokes away. Bruno is busted open, so the doctor checks him out and we continue. Ivan runs, and Bruno drags him back in and they slug it out until the whole thing is thrown out at 8:29. Eh, blood wasn’t enough to save it. 2 for 4.
– Clips of Greg Valentine “stealing” the IC title from Tito Santana.
– Tito, from his hospital bed (but still wearing huge sunglasses), has words of warning for Valentine. Clips of the surgery follow (which was legitimate knee surgery, by the way), and afterwards he cuts an unintentionally funny promo while still somewhat drugged, threatening Valentine in a slurry and slow voice. Tito sets the REAL MAN standard for the tape high by cutting a promo while in POST-OP. You think Sabu could do that?
– Cage match: Greg Valentine v. Tito Santana.
Thankfully, this is the one and only uncut version of the match available. Santana pulls him in and pounds away, and Greg begs off. He breaks for the door, but Tito stops him and tries to climb. They hammer at each other on the top rope, and Valentine gets crotched. Gorilla draws an analogy to backyard fences and points out how easy it is to get busted open on those. Jesus, what kind of a sick childhood did THAT guy have? Who the hell ever cut themselves on a FENCE? Valentine tries to send him to the cage, unsuccessfully. He nails him and drops a hammer, but can’t climb out. They fight on top and Greg fall off, but takes Tito with him on the way down. Shoulderbreaker and he goes for the door, but gets caught. Tito wallops him and goes for the door, but Greg stops him and pounds away on his head. Tito fires back, but gets pulled to the middle. Figure-four is blocked, and Tito gets the Flying Jalapeno out of nowhere, but can’t capitalize. Greg suplexes him and goes for the door, then changes his mind and hotshots Tito into the cage instead. A few more of those bust him open, and Greg drops an elbow off the middle rope for good measure. He goes for the door, but Tito makes a dramatic save. They slug it out until both guys drop. Valentine goes for the figure-four again, but eats cage. Tito is dazed and starts to climb, but Valentine goes for the door. Tito knocks him down, slams the door in his face, and drops down to regain the title at 10:25. Good, intense brawl to put some hair on your chest. 3 for 5.
– WWF title match: Superstar Billy Graham v. Bruno Sammartino.
Gorilla is YOUR special ref. He immediately prevents a pearl harbour job from Graham, and Bruno goes right at Graham, firing away with all guns blazing. Graham bails, but Gorilla wants a finish so he won’t count. Back in, the asskicking continues unfettered as Bruno literally beats Graham from one end of the ring to the other and Graham sells like Curt Hennig. Graham finally begs for mercy, but Bruno kicks him in the face because MERCY IS FOR WIMPS. He desperately grabs a piece of rope from ringside, but Gorilla takes it away from him. Bruno continues tossing Graham around like a ragdoll, and the crowd eats it up. He decides to punish the knee, and slaps on a half-crab. Graham makes the rope. Bruno goes to an anklelockish type thing, but Superstar uses the ol’ eyepoke/lowblow chain wrestling combo and goes to work. He goes up, but misses a kneedrop. Bruno misses a blind charge in dramatic fashion and heads out. Back in, Graham grabs his title and nails Bruno with it, drawing blood. Gorilla wants to check the cut, but Graham keeps on it. Bruno suddenly fires back and slams Billy, who bails and try to run. Gorilla tosses him back in like the proverbial yesterday’s garbage, and Bruno posts him to even up the bleeder count. Bruno goes crazy and bearhugs him, so Graham nails Gorilla to break. Can’t argue with that logic. He won’t call a DQ, however, so Bruno keeps up the beating until Monsoon’s shirt is absolutely soaked with both guys’ blood. And you thought the WWF was always happy-crappy family entertainment back then. Gorilla finally calls it off on account of blood at 12:16 as they continue brawling to the back. Wild stuff with tons of old-school hatred. 4 for 6.
– We finish with the main event of Wrestlemania 1, with Hogan & Mr. T beating Piper & Orndorff in a decent, but decidely non-violent, match. 5 for 7. You can read the review elsewhere if you care enough to.
The Bottom Line #1:
Unusual violence was promised, and delivered in a couple of cases. Nothing like Bruno for some good old fashioned ass-whupping and blood. But hark, is that the sound of face meeting metal that I hear? Get ready to rumble with…
– Tape #2: INSIDE THE STEEL CAGE!
– Everything from here on in is within the confines of everyone’s old friend, the cage. Girly men need not apply.
– Andre the Giant v. Big John Studd.
See, right here: You can’t really accuse either guy of being a sissy. JIP as Andre sends Studd into the cage a few times. Blood flows. Now that’s what I like to see right off the bat on this sort of tape. Cheapshot stops the abuse, and Studd takes over. They fight by the door, then Studd unsuccessfully tries a slam. Andre kneelifts him, but misses a headbutt. John crawls for the door, but gets stopped. He chokes him out and crawls again, but gets stopped. They lay around by the door for a bit. Andre sends him to the cage again, but Studd goes low and lunges for the door. No dice. They slug it out…and Studd WINS? He takes a run at Andre right after, however, and walks into a boot. Andre pounds away, slams him, and heads upstairs (?!) for a BUTTDROP OFF THE TOP! See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, as Andre walks out at 9:48 and Studd lays there twitching in shock. 1 for 1, for the finish.
– Kamala v. Andre the Giant.
From Toronto, just the finish shown, same as above.
– Magnificent Muraco v. Jimmy Snuka.
Just the last couple of minutes, as Snuka reverses a whip and chops him down. Fistdrop and two flying headbutts send Muraco crashing into the cage…and out to the floor at 2:23 shown. Oops. Snuka tosses him back in, of course, and delivers the famous Superfly Splash off the top of the cage. 2 for 2, for eventually creating Mick Foley’s wrestling career as a direct result of him being visible in the front row.
– Tito Santana & Bruno Sammartino v. Randy Savage & Adrian Adonis.
This is the blowoff for a tag match they had on a previous Coliseum video stemming from a Santana-Savage match. Bigass brawl to start. Bruno pounds Savage, and Adonis goes after Tito. Savage weasels his way to the door, but Bruno stops it. Savage nails both babyfaces and climbs up, but Bruno again grabs the leg. He chokes Savage with his own headband. Adonis dives for the door, but Tito stops him. Bruno sends Savage flying into the corner and stomps a mudhole, while Adonis suplexes Tito. Bruno stops Adrian from climbing out, but that’s only a decoy for Savage to dive for the door. Tito barely catches him. Bruno crotches Adonis, while Savage rams Tito into the cage and Bruno does the same to Adonis. Blood starts flowing. Macho dives for the door, Bruno saves. They fight over cage rights as Adonis rakes Tito unmercifully on the cage on the other side, like 10 times back and forth. Savage eats cage and Santana slugs away at him. Savage nails him and goes up, but gets added to the Nation’s Punched on the way down. Adonis goes for the door, and tears the wooden stairs apart as Bruno drags him back in. Meanwhile, Savage gets sent to the cage and blades himself while flying through the air, resulting in a five-alarm Mexican-quality bladejob. OH YEAH, GIG IT. I dunno if the blade slipped or something, but he’s absolutely gushing and the cameraman is actually reluctant to film him. Adonis goes up and splashes Bruno as Savage starts bleeding all over the place. Now, normally I don’t condone mindless self-mutilation, but 1986 Savage is cooler than anyone who could possibly accuse me of hypocrisy on the subject, so he wins by default. Savage climbs and is foiled by Santana, as they slug it out on top. Savage tumbles and falls onto Adonis, and Bruno walks out for the win at 10:00. Literally non-stop action – there was just no point when some sort of gratuitous violence wasn’t going on. 3 for 3, and an easy **** rating were I rating these here matches. This match was so manly that you’ll want to get drunk and shoot a deer afterwards.
– Greg Valentine v. Tito Santana.
Same as before, except clipped, albeit in better manner than the IC title history tape. 4 for 4.
– WWF title: Bruno Sammartino v. George Steele.
This is from the 60s, and looks like it’s filmed on 8mm tape. Steele was a huge heel back then. Bruno punts him a few times, but George goes low. Cut to Steele eating a turnbuckle and rubbing stuffing in Bruno’s face, apparently blinding him. That goes on for a while. Bruno swings away, but can’t see anything. Steele stomps away. Bruno is miraculously cured and pounds away, then sends George to the cage and walks out at 6:03. 4 for 5. (Hi! 2018 Scott popping in here to say that the full version of this match is available in the Hidden Gems section of the Network if you’d like to watch it.)
– Bruno Sammartino v. Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Aha, another manly man. This is pre-turn for Piper. He shows this by bringing Chicago Bears posters to the ring and taping them to the cage. Given I know or care nothing about football, I’ll assume that since this is in Boston, Chicago must have beaten New England in 85 to win the Super Bowl. A quick check with NFL.com confirms that. Bruno attacks and sends Piper to all four walls, and Piper is reeling. And bleeding. Bruno rubs the poster in his face, and rips the Bears shirt off him, then stomps on Piper’s head to widen the cut. Bruno spits on him and tries to walk out…but gets hit low and falls back in. Piper lays in the boots and goes low again. Hey, all’s fair in cage matches. Crowd goes nuts for Bruno as Piper pounds away and chokes him down with the shirt. He goes for the door, but can’t get out. Bruno takes the cage like a MAN, but recovers in time to stop Piper again. Piper climbs and gets pulled back, and Bruno makes the comeback to hammer on Piper. They tussle over the door and Bruno starts whipping ass. Piper starts a fistfight, but can’t finish it. Piper’s blood is all over the place, but he takes over again and stomps away, then tries to climb. Bruno returns the ballshot, which Piper sells like a gunshot. Bruno crawls for the door, nails Piper in the head with a chair for good measure, and leaves at 8:41. Pure Good v. Evil stuff here, and tons of fists and fury result. 5 for 6.
– WWF title: Bob Backlund v. Pat Patterson.
This is from 1979, and I know what you’re thinking: How can any discussion of either manliness OR mindless violence include Pat Patterson (or Backlund for that matter). Read on, oh ye of little faith, and save the Patterson jokes for another rant. They fire away and Bob sends him to the cage. He learns this stuff fast. He drops a leg and climbs, but Pat pulls him back and goes for the door right away. Bob grabs a leg and hauls him in, and kneelifts him. Bob goes up again, but can’t fight Pat off. Bob eats cage, and Pat DIVES for the door, but gets stopped at the last second by Backlund, who proceeds to dive for the door himself in one motion, before Pat stops him and chokes him down. He goes up, but gets pulled down by the foot. Bob pounds away on top, and both guys tumble down. Pat recovers and bolts over again, but Bob barely catches him by the leg and hangs on for dear life. They fight on the top, with Pat half out of the cage hanging onto the top, until Backlund drags him back in again. Pat gets a lowblow to knock Bob off the cage, and he just pounds the shit out of him, opening up a cut in the process. Pat climbs, but Bob pops up and yanks him back in, only to get another stiff beating as a reward. Bob comes back and they butt heads for the double KO. Both guys climb, but Pat changes his mind and chooses to pull Bob back in instead. Pat headbutts the cut and they slug it out on the mat. Bob catapults him into the cage, drawing blood, and he crawls for the door. They slug it out again and Pat goes the cage a few times as Bob’s inner barbarian is unleashed. Bob starts dropping fists, Pat shoves him into the cage and climbs again. Bob atomic drops him out of the corner (that was his big finish at the time), and climbs, but Patterson finds an international object and takes a swing at Backlund. They fight on top of the cage, as Backlund knocks the knuckle dusters off Patterson’s hand and both guys tumble to the mat. Bob crawls for the door again, but Patterson grabs the leg. Bob just starts kicking at Patterson’s face like a maniac, until finally the momentum alone is enough to push him right out of the cage and to the floor at 13:25. Best match of the tape, a ****1/4 classic. 6 for 7. Backlund earned his crewcut here.
– We finish with the Hogan v. Bundy match from Wrestlemania 2, which again I can’t be bothered to review again. God forbid we go 90 minutes without being reminded of Hogan’s divine presence. 6 for 8.
The Bottom Line #2:
Well, interjection of the Orange Goblin aside, Inside the Steel Cage is probably one of the best tapes that the WWF ever released, chock full of the kind of senseless and wanton mayhem that makes boys into men and casual fans flee. XPW are wimps – this is the real deal.
The Bottom Bottom Line:
Good night for some hardcore-before-hardcore-existed action from the WWF, not usually your best source for that sort of thing. Check ‘em out without hesitation and make sure to crush a beer can on your forehead to ensure that it had the desired effect.