The SmarK Rant for WWF Prime Time Wrestling – 03.09.87
Back to 1987 for the buildup to Wrestlemania III and a senses-shattering first appearance! This is bigger than the debut of Dynamite and the moon landing PUT TOGETHER. Like, if AEW Dynamite did a special show live from the moon.
Also, I’m gonna run into the 24/7 rants on this show right away and I kind of wanted to close the loop on the reviews anyway.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
Barry O v. OUTBACK JACK
Yes, it’s the debut of the wrestler who was Vince’s attempt to cash in on Crocodile Dundee. With this guy. We’re in MSG for this one as Jack gets some slams on Barry to send him to the floor. Jack hauls him back in, but Barry goes to the eyes and slugs away to take over, then drops a fist for two. Barry Orton’s tights appear to be stolen from the Batman villain Crazy Quilt, for those keeping track. Jack comes back with an elbow for two and Barry drops a knee on him for two. Jack gets an atomic drop and then hits Barry with a clothesline to the front, and then one to the back to finish at 3:35. See, it’s a BOOMERANG. Unlike his finisher, however, once Outback Jack left, he didn’t return. DUD
Back at the studio, Bobby is excited for the chances of his men at Wrestlemania III.
Koko B. Ware v. Sika
Still in MSG for this one as this week’s theme of “Shitty wrestlers whose family unexpectedly spawned multi-time World champions” continues. Koko tries to evade Sika to start but gets beaten down while Bobby notes that Roddy Piper decided to announce his retirement in advance because he knew that Adonis would end his career anyway. And then he’ll go work in Hollywood…parking cars at the studio. Bobby’s delivery here is tremendous. Meanwhile, Sika slowly pounds on Koko and chokes him out, then tosses him to the floor. Koko hides under the ring, however, and comes in from the other side with a rollup at 5:00 for the upset win. When people talk about a “slip on a banana peel” finish, this is 100% what you’re talking about. DUD
Back at the studio, Bobby complains that the bird shit on his pants while calling that match, which cracks up Gorilla for a bit before he goes back to hyping Wrestlemania.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Ricky Steamboat, who admits that yeah, he’s had chances to beat Savage recently and he got himself DQ’d because he was angry. So Wrestlemania will be his last chance at the title. And he’ll try to control the Animal, but, you know, he’s an animal.
WRESTLEMANIA REPORT! WITH MEAN GENE OKERLUND!
Gene takes us back to the contract signing between Hogan and Andre, with the sneering Giant calmly signing while Hogan is all coked up and cutting a promo on Andre. And then Andre speaks FRENCH like a true villain and Hogan declares that it’s SIGNED IN BLOOD. So classic. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s CELEBRITIES. And Bob Uecker. Bob cuts a nutty promo about how he got Smokey the Bear fired for not breaking his matches after lighting his cigarettes, and then Mean Gene deadpans “Well, you can certainly see that he’s a worthy choice for special guest ring announcer.” And then Gene runs down the whole damn card, as we know all 13 matches even though there’s still a few weeks to go! What crazy witchcraft is this? How can you fool the marks and prove you’re smarter than them unless you advertise a bunch of stuff and then change it two days beforehand to swerve them?
Meanwhile, on Superstars last week, Adrian Adonis tries to cut Rick Martel’s hair, but accidentally cuts the hair of ultra-vain Brutus Beefcake and changes the course of Beefcake’s career. And then we get a promo from Beefcake with some missing hair, and he’s pissed at Adonis and wants him to be shaved bald at Wrestlemania.
Back at the studio, Gorilla discusses his trip to Andre’s training camp, and notes that Andre was showing some weaknesses that Gorilla thinks Hogan can exploit. Also, he stole something from the camp and won’t tell Bobby what it was. Bobby freaks out and calls Miss Betty looking to get the scoop and see what’s missing at the camp, but after the break Gorilla reveals that it’s a stuffed weasel in a Bobby Heenan jacket.
Tito Santana v. Butch Reed
More from MSG here, as we are sadly pre-Piledriver and thus do not get Reed and Slick grooving to “Jive Soul Bro” on the way to the ring. So back in the day, you might not believe it, but this was a pretty bigtime feud for young Scott because it was being built up on Superstars and everything, so I’d be pumped to be seeing this on Prime Time, if that was a thing we got in Canada. Which it wasn’t. Reed gets some emotional support from Slick to start and Tito slugs him to the floor. Back in, Tito dropkicks him to the floor as Gorilla pegs the amount of money paid by Heenan to Slick as $150,000 in exchange for Hercules. And then a couple of years later, Bobby turned around and flipped him over to Ted Dibiase as a slave and probably got two or three times that amount! And then Dibiase got nothing and Heenan got all the money. That’s why he’s the Brain. Reed beats Tito down as Slick stops by the announce table to annoy Gorilla, and Reed drops Tito on the top rope and chokes him out. Reed catapults him under the ropes and we take a break while Bobby is still on the phone with Miss Betty back in the studio. Back with Reed holding a chinlock, but Tito fights up while Slick gets into a yelling match with some old ladies and ringside fans. Tito makes a comeback to keep the crowd with him, but runs into a knee and Reed cuts him off. Reed with a facebuster for two, which Gorilla declares “Excedrin headache #5”. They’re still around, and in fact I have a bottle of it in my glove compartment, although I can’t recall the last time I’ve actually seen an advertisement for it. Reed goes up for a double axehandle, but Tito hits him on the way down and makes the comeback, beating the hell out of him on the mat until Reed sends him into the turnbuckles to cut him off again. Reed with a kneelift and atomic drop, but Tito catches the leg on the way down and takes him down with a figure-four. Reed quickly makes the ropes, however, and chokes Tito out on the ropes. Reed distracts the ref and Slick comes in and he’s up to no good, but Koko B. Ware runs in to save and it’s a big schmoz at 13:04. They were having a really good match before the obvious screwjob finish. ***1/2 Hot take: Tito and Koko would have been a hell of a babyface tag team around this time. At the time I actually thought they were leading to Tito v. Reed at Wrestlemania, but instead we got the nothing squash win with Reed going over Koko.
Back at the studio, Gorilla previews the iconic WWF Magazine with Hogan and Andre on the cover. Do you even need to ASK if I bought that one as soon as it came out?
Paul Roma v. Sal Bellomo
Still at MSG for this, as we’re joined in progress with Roma working the arm and Bellomo dressed like a rejected Flash supervillain design. He should team with Barry Orton from earlier in the show as the Legion of Super Jobbers. Like, he’s looking pretty in shape here compared to most other times I’ve ever seen him, but seriously, WHAT IS HE WEARING?
Also, he has a picture of a horse on the back of his outfit, just to tie it all together. He’s the Italian Stallion, you see. Anyway, I’m shook and I’m not particularly paying to attention to anything but the superhero outfit as Roma does his dropkicks and stuff, but he misses a blind charge and Bellomo drops an elbow on him before walking into a powerslam at 5:53.
Pedro Morales v. Honky Tonk Man
More from MSG, and Slick joins the commentary desk and claims that he came into the ring because he saw the ref restraining Butch Reed and just wanted to ask him what was going on! Also, Butch is going beat Koko so badly at Wrestlemania that “he’ll go back to picking cotton like he did before he got into wrestling.” Wait, so is it OK if Slick makes those kinds of jokes? Gorilla: “Well, you’d know all about picking cotton.” OK then, moving on. Honky stalls for the first 2:00 and then Pedro works the arm and gets an atomic drop before MESSING UP THE HAIR to send Honky fleeing from the ring. That’s an automatic DQ! Honky takes a walk as we take a break. We return with Honky somehow managing to regain his composure, but he misses a blind charge, obviously still upset about his carefully maintained pompadour, and he stops for some advice from Jimmy Hart. That advice? “If you’re booked to job a title on network TV, make sure you refuse and threaten to leave. It’ll make Vince respect you!” So that’s why it happened! Honky sends Pedro into the post to take over and boots him to the floor. Slick: “Give him the worst beating he’s ever had in his life, my brother!” Gorilla: “You’re not supposed to be coaching him from the commentary position!” Just amused me for some reason. Pedro runs him into the turnbuckles from the apron, again showing blatant disregard for the hair, but Honky gets a suplex for two. Pedro comes back and slugs him down, then gets a small package for two. Backdrop sets up a Boston crab, but Jimmy Hart takes the ref and Pedro stupidly breaks the hold to go after him. And of course, Honky rolls him up and puts the feet on the ropes for the pin at 12:35. Pedro was mostly immobile here and didn’t really sell much, but damn if they didn’t have a good match thanks to Honky just overselling everything like crazy to compensate. ***
Back at the studio, Bobby points out that Hulk had a good three year run, but…you know. Andre.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Mr. Baseball, who reminisces about his time running a parking lot at the arena as a teenager. He’d charge $2 a car and then just never bring it back. He got to drive a new car home after every game! Gene: “Sounds like a relative of mine who made big money. About a quarter of an inch too big, as it turned out. He’s doing hard time now.” And then Bob just continues right on without breaking for a second, talking about how his parents kept changing cars and leaving him behind, but he’d always manage to find their new address. This was pretty amazing and finally they both just start laughing and we cut away.
Jake Roberts v. King Kong Bundy
One last MSG match as the main event, with Jake newly turned babyface. Jake slugs away in the corner to start and Bundy does some stalling. Bundy does the test of strength and overpowers Jake, but Jake stomps the fingers to escape as we take a break. Back with Bundy hitting a slam and big elbow for two to take over. Bundy with a back elbow for two and he goes to a chinlock while Jimmy Hart and Bobby Heenan torment Gorilla on commentary. Bundy pounds away, but Jake fights back with the kneelift, but can’t get the DDT. Bundy misses an elbow, but runs Jake into the corner and puts him on the floor, but then heads out to chase him down and apparently gets counted out at 10:05. That’s a pretty goddamn fast count from the ref. Jake was barely doing anything here. ½*
Back at the studio, Gorilla tortures that stuffed weasel and asks for another visit to Andre’s secret training camp so he can give Andre some pointers. But he asks for his own camera crew to accompany them, which Bobby agrees to as long as it’s never aired. Dammit, why do they keep teasing me with the Andre training camp stuff and then never deliver it?
This was a pretty great episode, with some good matches and great banter. Solid thumbs up.