Rock Star Gary reflects on…The WWF Wrestling Classic

It’s only fitting that I review a show from the Chicagoland area on the night the Cubs advance to the NLCS. Go Cubs!

Live from Chicago, IL Rosemont, IL

Airdate: November 7, 1985

Attendance:  14,000

Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura

This review is sponsored by the candy bar Payday. Thanks, WWE Network!

This was not only the WWF’s but also wrestling’s foray into pay-per-view . Finkel narrates the introductions as sixteen men compete in a single-elimination tournament. In addition, the winner of a sweepstakes for a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III will be announced. To top it all off, Hulk Hogan will defend the WWF title against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

Vince McMahon welcomes us to the show and joins Lord Alfred Hayes and Susan Waitkis for the tournament bracket. Earlier this afternoon, “Mean” Gene Okerlund hosted the “random drawing” involving Ricky Steamboat, Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth), and Mr. Fuji.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews WWF President Jack Tunney.

Monsoon and Ventura are at ringside and ready to call the action.

Match 1 (round of 16): Corporal Kirchner versus “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Highlights:

  • Before he was truly “adorable,” Adonis wore a leather jacket promoting his love for New York.
  • Kirchner came to the ring to the Marine Hymn despite being a member of the 82nd
  • Monsoon acknowledged Adonis’ previous tag title reign with Ventura as the East-West Connection. Unfortunately, that was several pounds ago as Adonis was not svelte whatsoever here.
  • To my tremendous shock, the referee for this match also participated at AWA Superclash; therefore, it would be wise to assume that he is a member of the athletic commission. Where’s Joey Marella when you need him?
  • As Monsoon pointed out, each round of 16 match will have a ten-minute time limit.
  • Adonis countered a side headlock with a belly-to-back suplex.
  • That, along with the LOUD ring microphone, woke up the slumbering crowd.
  • After delivering a pair of elbows to the head, Adonis gave Kirchner an elbow smash.
  • Kirchner attempted a suplex, but Adonis countered with a DDT for the quick pin.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Kirchner was no Sgt. Slaughter, and I believe his military gimmick was used as part of the opening match to get the crowd stirred.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Adonis with Hart.

Match 2 (round of 16): Nikolai Volkoff versus the Dynamite Kid

Highlights:

  • Once again, to create nuclear heat, Volkoff sang the Soviet national anthem.
  • Upon completion, he tried to run down the crowd, but Dynamite mounted the top turnbuckle and hit Volkoff with a missile dropkick.
  • 1-2-3.

Rating: *

Summary: Now THAT’S the way to pop a crowd.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Savage (w/ Elizabeth).

Match 3 (round of 16): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus Ivan Putski

Highlights:

  • Pomp and Circumstance” brought Savage to the ring. Previously, only Gorgeous George had used the song for his introduction in professional wrestling.
  • As you would expect, Elizabeth looked absolutely stunning in her blue evening gown.
  • In order to get under Putski’s skin, Savage spat at him.
  • Full nelson by Savage was easily broken and followed by Putski’s hocking a loogie of his own.
  • Normally I don’t call a ram to the top turnbuckle, but since there are no turnbuckle pads I must call this one. Putski rammed Savage’s head into the turnbuckle. OUCH!
  • Putski threw a lot of punches putting Savage down on the mat.
  • After a cross-corner whip, Putski nailed and stomped Savage.
  • Out of nowhere, Savage took Putski down, put his feet on the ropes, and pinned him.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Putski was past his prime, so Savage used Memphis-style heel tactics to steal this one.

We return to the bracket, but Volkoff interrupts claiming he was “robbed.”  Chicago’s finest was nowhere to be seen.

Match 4 (round of 16): Davey Boy Smith versus Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat

Highlights:

  • Finkel announced Smith’s weight at 227. Wow! He would add 20-30 more pounds later in his career.
  • Early on, Smith won a battle of hip locks.
  • Overhead suplex by Smith transitioned into a backslide by Steamboat.
  • Military press slam by Smith got 2.
  • Military press slam #2 got another 2 count.
  • Steamboat countered a vertical suplex with a delayed vertical suplex of his own. So THAT’S where Smith swiped it.
  • Splash by Steamboat hit knees.
  • After a pair of dropkicks, Smith tried a third one and crotched himself in the ropes.
  • Seeing that Smith was unable to continue, the referee called for the bell.
  • Steamboat advanced.

Rating: *

Summary:  Nifty little match they had going until the abrupt finish.

After the match, Steamboat checks on Smith. “The Dragon” truly was the consummate babyface.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews JYD.

Match 5 (round of 16): Junkyard Dog versus the Iron Sheik (w/ “Classy” Freddie Blassie)

Highlights:

  • Sheik used his wardrobe to choke JYD at the onset of the match.
  • Very strong “JYD” chant from the Chicago faithful.
  • Head butt from JYD sent Sheik down to the mat.
  • A second one sent him to the concrete floor.
  • Full nelson by the Sheik powered out by JYD.
  • Clothesline by JYD got 2.
  • He then missed a diving head butt.
  • Sensing he had firm control of the match, Sheik applied the camel clutch.
  • Ventura had the gall to say he’d never seen anyone escape the camel clutch. Hogan wouldn’t have been champion had he not escaped it. One of the very few slip-ups by “The Body.”
  • Sheik released the hold as it looked as if JYD passed out.
  • However, both men got to their feet as Sheik pounded on JYD in the corner.
  • The referee tried to stop Sheik but was tossed away a couple of times.
  • Head butt by JYD got the pin.

Rating: ½*

Summary:  It’s hard to hold a suspension of disbelief when a supposedly woozy wrestler hits a head butt to gain a victory. Nevertheless, JYD advances.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Terry Funk with Jimmy Hart. I’m not sure if Funk was inebriated, but he sprayed tobacco juice on Okerlund as he requested a title shot. As Hart finished the interview, Funk spat tobacco on the camera lens. Yuck!

Match 6 (round of 16): Terry Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart) versus Moondog Spot

Highlights:

  • Funk got on the microphone and asked Spot if he wanted to call it a day and a draw. Spot agreed.
  • After both wrestlers left the ring, Funk double-crossed Spot by hitting him in the back.
  • They fought outside the ring until Funk hoisted Spot through the ropes.
  • Spot won by countout.
  • UPSET CITY!

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Cute indirect way for Funk to lose without doing a job.

After the “match,” Funk levels Spot from behind again. Funk is so crazed that he chases after referee Dave Hebner.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Don Muraco with Mr. Fuji.

Match 7 (round of 16): Don Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji) versus Intercontinental champion Tito Santana

Highlights:

  • Flying forearm by Santana got 2.
  • Sunset flip by Santana got 2.
  • Santana reversed a snap mare into a backslide for 2.
  • Upon receiving a cross-corner whip, a Muraco flip landed him on his keister.
  • To counter an arm bar, Muraco guillotined Santana on the top rope.
  • A clothesline by Muraco was followed by an elbow drop.
  • Knee drop got 2 for Muraco.
  • Powerslam by Muraco got the pin, or so the timekeeper thought.
  • Inside cradle by Santana got the real pin.

Rating: *

Summary:  According to Monsoon, Santana’s leg was on the bottom rope. Muraco got screwed! The presence of neither Jack Tunney nor the Illinois state athletic commission could be determined during these shenanigans.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The latter is ready to deliver the $50,000 bounty on Orndorff’s head to Orton should he put him out of action. If only there was a BKO in 1985…

Match 8 (round of 16): “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff versus “Cowboy” Bob Orton

Highlights:

  • Since Orton was STILL wearing a cast after breaking his arm ten months ago, Orndorff worked on the arm.
  • He then gave Orton an atomic drop sending him shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • After giving Orton a cross-corner whip, Orndorff ate a high knee.
  • Orton then guillotined him on the top rope.
  • Sunset flip (and a handful of tights including a partial moon by Orton) got 2.
  • Backslide by Orton got 2.
  • Hip toss by Orton, but he whiffed on a flying headscissors. OUCH!
  • Back elbow and elbow smash put Orndorff firmly in control.
  • Huge right hand sent Orton over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • As Orton was on the apron, he adjusted his cast then lowered the boom on Orndorff.
  • Referee Dave Hebner called for the bell.
  • Orndorff advanced.

Rating: ½*

Summary:  That cast shot could put Mr. Wonderful out and help make Randy’s daddy a richer man.

After the match, they trade fisticuffs until a big right sent Orton down to the concrete floor.

Vince and Hayes,who is wooing Ms. Waitkis, break down the quarterfinals:

  • Adonis versus Dynamite Kid
  • Savage versus Steamboat
  • JYD versus Moondog Spot
  • Santana versus Orndorff

After they list the quarterfinal matchups, Funk interrupts saying he’s been screwed. Who does he think he is? Bret Hart? Oh, wait! This happened twelve years before the Montreal Screwjob.

Match 9 (quarterfinal): “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) versus the Dynamite Kid

Highlights:

  • Each quarterfinal match will have a 15-minute time limit.
  • A pair of arm drags put the Kid in control early.
  • Catapult by Adonis sent the Kid face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • After a slam, Adonis got a 2 count.
  • In the meantime, Ventura left the broadcast table to speak to Savage.
  • Vertical suplex by Adonis got another 2 count.
  • Belly-to-back suplex by the Kid countered an Adonis side headlock.
  • However, a follow-up splash missed.
  • Sharpshooter by Adonis, but the Kid made his way under the bottom rope. Was Bret in the building giving lessons?
  • After receiving a cross-corner whip, the Kid delivered a sunset flip for 2.
  • Bulldog attempt by Adonis countered by the Kid who sent Adonis shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • After a knee drop, the Kid delivered a stiff running clothesline.
  • He then mounted the second turnbuckle swiftly and hit a knee drop for 2.
  • Snap suplex followed by a diving head butt by the Kid.
  • Hart got up on the apron to distract the Kid.
  • Adonis rolled him up and got 2. In the process, he nailed Hart sending him back to the concrete floor.
  • 1-2-3, but wasn’t Adonis’ foot on the second rope?
  • I guess it didn’t matter.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Excellent work by the Dynamite Kid here. I can see why a young Chris Benoit wanted to emulate him. I just wish he hadn’t duplicated the head-butting.

After the match, Adonis has a temper tantrum.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Ventura? The latter puts 100% support behind the “Macho Man.” But who will he support for President in 2016?

Match 10 (quarterfinal): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Highlights:

  • Different ring robe for Savage plus a different (orange) evening gown for Elizabeth in this match.
  • After using Elizabeth as a shield, Savage attacked Steamboat from behind.
  • Chops from Steamboat sent Savage to the concrete floor for a brief respite.
  • After giving Savage a leg shot to the head, Steamboat used a headscissors to maneuver Savage over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • Steamboat followed him and delivered an atomic drop.
  • Back in the ring, Savage delivered a belly-to-back suplex.
  • Meanwhile, Ventura returned to the broadcast table.
  • Savage mounted the top turnbuckle but received a shot to the midsection followed by a knee lift.
  • With Savage on the apron, Steamboat suplexed him back in.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit the flying body press, but only got 2.
  • Again Savage was on the apron and pulled a foreign object out of his tights.
  • As Steamboat was going to deliver a belly-to-back suplex to bring him back inside the ring, Savage nailed him with it.
  • 1-2-3.

Rating: ***

Summary:  If you thought this was good, wait until you see some of their encores. I can’t wait to reflect upon them. The replay showed that the foreign object was a pair of brass knuckles.

Backstage, Okerlund attempts to interview Moondog Spot who has a big soup bone in his right hand. The interview by Okerlund becomes an act of futility.

 Match 11 (quarterfinal): Junkyard Dog versus Moondog Spot

Highlights:

  • It’s a battle of canines to see whose bite was better than his bark.
  • JYD chewed bubble gum on his way to the ring. I wonder if it was Big League Chew.
  • Spot attacked JYD as he entered the ring.
  • He then mounted the second turnbuckle but missed a splash.
  • After a pair of head butts down on the mat, another head butt put Spot down.
  • JYD counted his own pin.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Let’s just say that JYD moves on to the semi-finals and be done with it, shall we?

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Heenan again. The latter wants to offer Santana $50,000 for taking Orndorff out of wrestling. Heenan then picked Piper to win the title match later in the show.

Match 12 (quarterfinal): Intercontinental champion Tito Santana versus “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff

Highlights:

  • Similar to the Smith-Steamboat match earlier, this was a face versus face match.
  • Ventura noted Santana’s taped hamstring/quadriceps muscle.
  • Orndorff countered a headscissors with a somersault rollup for 2.
  • He then countered a standing side headlock with an atomic drop.
  • Santana writhed in a lot of pain so the referee checked on him. Fortunately, Santana told him he was good to go.
  • Smartly, Orndorff worked a toe hold tightening the injured muscle.
  • Santana wisely thwarted a figure-four leg lock attempt.
  • Forearm shot by Orndorff sent Santana down to the concrete floor.
  • Battering ram by Orndorff was countered into his own shoulder being rammed into the ring post.
  • The bell rang.
  • The official decision was a double countout. Both competitors have been eliminated.
  • That vaulted JYD automatically to the finals.

Rating: *

Summary:  Very old-school scientific match that wasn’t very exciting including the ending. I guess the WWF was boxed into a corner having the Intercontinental champion in the tournament since neither he nor Orndorff could lose at this point in time.

We return to the tournament brackets as Hayes is still hitting on Waitkis. The scoundrel! The only semifinal remaining will pit the Dynamite Kid against Savage.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews the WWF Champion. Intense promo for Hogan.

Match 13 for the WWF title: Hulk Hogan (champion) versus “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Highlights:

  • Once again, a cowerson played Piper to the ring.
  • At the onset, the match spilled outside the ring.
  • After receiving an Irish whip into the steel barricade and a knee lift, Piper retreated inside the ring.
  • An eye poke by Piper put him in control.
  • Hogan reversed a cross-corner whip and leveled Piper with a clothesline.
  • Piper fell face-first to the mat.
  • Belly-to-back suplex by Hogan was followed by a slam.
  • Hogan then hit a pair of elbow drops.
  • Piper mounted the second turnbuckle but got caught in a bear hug.
  • Another eye poke broke the hold.
  • After a couple of right hands, Piper got a 2 count.
  • Another right hand earned him another 2 count.
  • Sleeper by Piper as the crowd loudly chanted “Hogan.” I was hoping they’d chant for Mike Ditka.
  • The referee raised Hogan’s arm three times, and on that third try, Hogan returned to life.
  • Hogan broke the hold as both competitors spilled over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • A battering ram by Piper was countered as Piper hit the ring post shoulder-first.
  • Back in the ring, Hogan hit the big boot.
  • He then delivered an atomic drop.
  • Piper reversed an Irish whip and sent Hogan directly into the referee.
  • He retrieved a steel chair from ringside and nailed Hogan.
  • Hogan blocked the next chair shot.
  • He then grabbed the chair and walloped Piper.
  • While still holding the chair, Hogan hooked a sleeper.
  • Orton ran in and nailed Hogan with the cast.
  • Hogan won by DQ.

Rating: **

Summary:  Monsoon didn’t use it here, but it’s appropriate for this match—main event anywhere in the civilized world. It wasn’t a scientific match by any means, but both wrestlers know how to entertain a crowd.

Afterwards, Orndorff runs in to stop Piper and Orton from demolishing the champion.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews JYD again. Jimmy Hart interrupts but nothing comes from it.

Match 14 (semifinal): The Dynamite Kid versus “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth)

Highlights:

  • Another robe for Savage and another evening gown (red) for Elizabeth in this match.
  • Sucker punch by Savage gave him the early advantage.
  • Tremendous back drop by the Kid sent Savage into the lights.
  • Cross body block by the Kid, but both competitors were in the ropes.
  • Sunset flip by the Kid, but Savage sat down on him.
  • Savage then ducked another cross body block.
  • Double clothesline put both men down on the mat.
  • Savage mounted the top turnbuckle slowly but ate a dropkick.
  • The Kid then gave him a superplex from the top rope. Wow!
  • Out of nowhere, Savage hooked a cradle and got the pin.

Rating: ***1/2

Summary:  Magnificent if only too short match between these wrestlers. Give me more!

Vince and Waitkis are prepared for the announcement of the winner of the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud 3 sweepstakes. Ring announcer Howard Finkel introduces WWF President Jack Tunney. Next, Basil DeVito rushes his lines to give away the fine luxury automobile. Finkel then introduces Ed Fibershaw of Don Ciccota Associates. After describing the authenticity of the drawing, Fibershaw gave the envelope with the winner’s name to Lord Alfred Hayes. The winner is Michael Hambley of Batavia, IL. In a funny moment, Hayes asks the crowd to give Hambley a “real good Chicago cheer.” They proceed to boo. HA!

Back in the locker room, Okerlund interviews Hogan and Orndorff. Hogan wants another piece of Piper. According to Orndorff, he and Hogan “are blood.”

Match 15 (final): The Junkyard Dog versus “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth)

Highlights:

  • Will we see yet another ring robe for Savage and evening gown for Elizabeth?
  • YES! Savage wore a tie-dye shirt while Elizabeth wore purple.
  • Savage limped to the ring.
  • Grab Them Cakes” brought JYD to the ring.
  • Again Savage hid behind Elizabeth then exited the ring.
  • He grabbed a steel chair then tried to re-enter the ring with it.
  • When he tossed it into the ring, JYD caught it.
  • Savage then does his best Larry Zbyszko impression by stalling.
  • After blocking a slam attempt, JYD placed a head butt right in the middle of Savage’s back. OUCH!
  • That was followed by an atomic drop.
  • JYD continued the punishment with a bear hug.
  • A rake of the eyes broke the hold.
  • In the meantime, Okerlund joined the broadcast table.
  • After receiving an eye gouge, Savage ended up upside-down in the ropes.
  • For his troubles, JYD gave him another head butt.
  • After receiving a cross-corner whip, Savage bolted out of the corner and delivered a clothesline.
  • He received a 2 count from it as well as a power kick-out.
  • After tossing JYD outside the ring, Savage mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a double axe handle.
  • Savage snuck around behind JYD and gave him a double sledge to the back then rammed him back-first into the ring post.
  • Again Savage mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered another double axe handle.
  • Savage grabbed a steel chair from ringside and walloped JYD in the back with it.
  • Once again, Savage snuck up from behind and choked JYD on the steel railing.
  • After JYD fell to the concrete floor, Savage gave him an elbow drop.
  • Once Savage tossed JYD back into the ring, he mounted the top turnbuckle yet again but ate a shot to the midsection.
  • After giving Savage three head butts, he pulled Savage out of the corner by the legs.
  • Another head butt caused Savage to be tied up in the ropes.
  • When Savage charged at JYD, the latter gave him a back drop over the top rope down to the concrete floor.
  • Savage was counted out.
  • JYD became the Wrestling Classic tournament champion!

Rating: ***

Summary:  Savage did everything he could with the rather immobile yet extremely charismatic JYD and got a decent match out of him. Once again, the WWF was boxed into a corner since they couldn’t have Savage lose in a high-profile manner since he was skyrocketing up the ladder.

In the ring, Okerlund interviews the winner—Junkyard Dog. Immediately Ventura enters the ring and protests the decision since JYD only wrestled twice as opposed to three times for Savage.

To finish the show, Waitkis gave Hayes a kiss on the cheek. Vince asks Hayes if he’s going to give her a ride (with regards to the Rolls-Royce), and Hayes affirms it rather confidently. HA!

Conclusion:  This would definitely fall under the sports-entertainment version of a wrestling tournament as many of the matches were forced to be very short and yet achieve victory somehow. I think it would have benefitted the tournament to begin with the quarterfinals and not the round of 16. This was definitely a template that the WWF would later use for both WrestleMania IV and King of the Ring. If you’ve never seen this show, I highly recommend it since it isn’t boring, but it has zero historical value so a subsequent viewing isn’t something I’d favor.

See you for Starrcade ‘85!

Buyrate: 2.50 (52,000 buys)

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