The SmarK Rant for The War To Settle the Score – 02.18.85
So yeah, I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, hoping that it would return to the WWE Network after being mysteriously removed a week into being posted. And then it never was. However, someone was paranoid enough to rescue the show before it got pulled, and sent it to me just before it disappeared. Normally my policy is to only review stuff that’s available for everyone, but I just wanted to FINALLY give this one a look for you and these are weird times anyway.
As for this show, it’s a sequel to The Brawl to End It All and kind of a proto-Wrestlemania, taking place a month before the real deal. Originally it was cut down to 30 minutes and aired live on MTV, but this is the full 2:20 show.
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your hosts are Mean Gene & Gorilla Monsoon
Moondog Spot v. Rick McGraw
They fight over a wristlock to start and McGraw works the arm for like 4 minutes and slams him. Spot takes him down with an atomic drop and blocks a sunset flip, then stomps him down for two and takes over with a chinlock. Spot slugs away, but McGraw makes a comeback until Spot beats him down in the corner again. And it’s an ENDLESS chinlock from Spot before he throws McGraw out and runs him into the railing. McGraw fights up to the apron, but Spot won’t let him back in while the ref does NOTHING. Even Gene and Gorilla are at a loss for how useless this ref is. Finally McGraw ties Spot in the ropes and slugs away to make the comeback and follows with a suplex for two. And the ref makes a really slow two count. McGraw with a slam and ANOTHER slow two count. Small package gets two. Another slam gets two. They slug it out and Spot goes down for two. McGraw with a backslide, but can’t keep him down, and Spot gets a backbreaker for two off that. Spot goes up and gets slammed off, but the bell rings for the 15:00 draw. Pretty dull for the first 10:00 but it picked up a lot at the end and got quite decent with all the near-falls. **1/2 As always, I should note that McGraw should have been something in the Hulkamania era, but he was juiced way past what his body type could support and he died young in November of drugs anyway, proving himself to be a trailblazer in all the wrong ways.
Jose Luis Rivera v. Johnny Rodz
See what I mean about proto-Wrestlemania? It’s got the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz on it! He’s a Hall of Famer! They trade some matwork and Rodz goes for the armbar and turns it into a hammerlock, but Rivera reverses out. Rivera with a headlock this time, but Rodz gets a cheapshot to take over and chokes him out on the ropes. Middle rope elbow and legdrop get two. Rodz with a back elbow for two, but he misses another one and Rivera makes the comeback, seemingly trying to be Pedro Morales. Well it was worth a shot I suppose. Rodz catches him with a crescent kick to put him down, however, and slugs him to the floor. Rodz hauls him back in and runs him into another turnbuckle to send him onto the floor again, but he tries a dive and misses, crotching himself on the ropes as a result. Back in, Rivera with the low stomp and he makes the comeback, but Rodz cheats again and gets the pin at 11:25. Yeah. *1/4
Rene Goulet v. Hillbilly Jim
This was very early in Jim’s WWF run and he was already MIGHTY over with the crowd. We get a shot of Andy Warhol in the crowd, and the fact that he was a wrestling fan is not exactly a surprising development. Goulet sporting a Michael Jackson sequined glove was a weird touch at this point, although the announcers mocking him as “The Michael Jackson of pro wrestling” would be more of a stinging accusation viewed years later. Goulet quickly runs away but eventually Hillbilly grabs a headlock on him and Goulet tries to retreat over the ropes and to the floor. Rene thinks it over while Jim cartwheels around the ring, and he decides to pull something out of his tights. Geez, I know they said he was the Michael Jackson of wrestling…anyway, he gains the advantage with the phantom object, but Hillbilly shrugs him off and beats him down with headbutts, then whips him into a Flair Flip. Goulet tries to come in with a flying bodypress, but he lands in a bearhug and gives up at 7:30. Jim basically did nothing but he was crazy over here. * And then Goulet goes over and lips off to Mr. T at ringside, and that goes badly for him as well.
WWF Women’s title: Wendi Richter v. Leilani Kai
I think I reviewed this one on TNT a couple of months ago, but we’ll give it another look. Kai attacks to start and chokes Wendi down with her own ring jacket, but Wendi fires back until Kai takes her down and chokes her out some more. Wendi puts her down with a shoulderblock, however, and splashes her for two, then comes back with a suplex for two. Kai takes her down for a Boston crab, but Wendi reverses for two and Kai reverses that for two. Wendi ties her up in the corner, but misses a charge and hits the corner, allowing Kai to hit a butterfly suplex for two. Kai does her own charge and hits the floor as a result, and Wendi suplexes her back into the ring for two. Wendi gets a half-assed bow and arrow, pinning herself in the process. But the idiot referee from the first match doesn’t even count her shoulders. COME ON REF! So Wendi switches to a surfboard instead and that goes nowhere, and Wendi switches to an armbar. Gorilla notes that Wendi is such a fighting champion that sometimes she would defend the title “two or three times in one week”! That’s Bret Hart level! I checked and this was actually a true claim, by the way, mostly Wendi beating Moolah in rematches at the end of 1984. Wendi gets a clothesline for two and a slam for two, but Moolah attacks Cyndi Lauper to provide distraction, and then hits Wendi with a cheapshot when she comes over to help. The ref does nothing during all of this, and Kai pins Wendi with a backslide at 11:30 to win the Women’s title in a MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE. The match was dull and shockingly heatless, and the finish was complete bullshit. And people gave Danny Davis crap for being a terrible referee? Moolah was attacking the celebrity guest AND hit Richter right in the face in full view of the ref and it led directly to the pinfall! ½*
David Sammartino v. Moondog Rex
Funny bit as they show a closeup of the bone hanging on the ringpost and the graphic reads “Bone of Moondog Rex” to identify it. David overpowers him for a bit and escapes a headscissors on the mat, then goes to a chinlock while Mean Gene reads the legal mumbo jumbo about how reproducing or rebroadcasting the show is against the law. WAIT A MINUTE, maybe that’s why it got pulled from the Network! They forgot to ask permission of MSG before disseminating the images! Damn I’m good. And HUMBLE. Don’t forget that one. Anyway, Rex goes to the bearhug, but David powers out and makes a comeback with a back suplex for two. Rex drops him on the top rope to take over again, however, and that gets two. We hit the chinlock and then Rex goes to work with clubbing blow after clubbing blow, and if they had nacho stands in 1985 I’m pretty sure everyone would be going to them. Rex with a kneedrop for two. Rex keeps pounding away, but David finally hits a powerslam for the pin at 12:30 to end the boredom. David was definitely NOT his father in the ring. DUD
Nikolai Volkoff v. Swede Hanson
So Swede comes out waving the confederate flag, which is a weird way to get a babyface reaction in NEW YORK. The baseball team is literally named the Yankees! Like really, that was supposed to be the gimmick that gave him an in for the Hulkamania era on TV? A confederate sympathizer from North Carolina? Was he gonna campaign to take the vote away from Ernie Ladd for his big angle? Also these guys probably had a combined age of 150 even in 1985 so it’s entirely possible that Hanson was a survivor of the civil war anyway. So the first 3:00 are these guys just kind of bumping into each other and selling, until Volkoff goes to a chinlock for the big highspot and then throws some kicks on the ropes that miss by six inches each. Volkoff misses a kneedrop and Swede knees him down and goes to work on the leg. Swede misses a charge and Nikolai gets a backdrop and then finishes him off with the press slam backbreaker. Or, more accurately, he tries the move, but Swede can’t go up for it, and Nikolai loses him and falls forward into a half-slam, and gets the pin anyway at 6:20. Really, really, awful. -**
Cowboy Bob Orton v. Jimmy Snuka
OK, here we go, this should be better. They fight for the lockup and Snuka slugs away and sends Bob into the corner for the first big bump, as Orton flies onto the top rope and gets crotched. Snuka grinds a headlock on Orton and they criss-cross into Snuka’s big chop spot, but Orton ducks it and runs away…but then runs back in and catches the chop anyway! What a great spot. Snuka goes back to the headlock and Orton tries to do Snuka’s leapfrog sequence to show him up, but Snuka catches him with an atomic drop and sends Orton running out of the ring again. Cowboy catches him with a shot to the throat while Snuka is on the apron, however, and Mean Gene is DISGUSTED at the crap being let go by this incompetent referee. And wouldn’t you know, it’s the same guy who reffed the McGraw match AND the Richter match. Orton goes up and tries his own flying splash, but Snuka gets the knees up and makes the comeback. He goes up with the fistdrop and drops an elbow. Backbreaker and Snuka goes up, but misses a diving headbutt this time. Orton charges and accidentally hits the ringpost with his forearm, and Snuka finishes him with a sunset flip at 10:02. Orton should have that forearm looked at! He might need a cast! Actually I think that really was where the gag originated come to think of it. This was, THANK GOD, a good match to finally break up the monotony. ***
Paul Orndorff v. Tony Atlas
Tony Atlas debuts the shaved head look he would retain for the rest of his career, which has the announcers buzzing. Atlas grabs a headlock and follows with an atomic drop and suplex, then goes right to the press slam but puts Paul on the top rope instead of finishing him off. Orndorff tries to pound on Atlas but it goes nowhere for him, so he retreats to the floor and comes back in with a sucker punch before dropping elbows to gain the advantage. Atlas fights back with headbutts and a piledriver, although Gorilla notes “it’s not done with the style that Mr. Wonderful does it”. He tries it again, but Orndorff backdrops out, so Atlas boots him down again and goes up with a flying headbutt this time that gets two. He stops to argue the count with the ref, so Wonderful gets a german suplex for the pin at 7:00. Why argue with the ref? What’s he gonna do, change his mind? **
WWF World tag team titles: Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo v. The Assassin & The Spoiler
“Born in the USA” is obviously overdubbed here, so that can’t have been the legal issue that pulled it. Rotundo immediately hits the Assassin with dropkicks and Barry bulldogs him for the pin at 0:35. Man, back in the crazy days when IRS was a hot young babyface star.
Sal Bellomo v. The Magnificent Muraco
I’m not liking Salvatore’s chances here. The announcers note that Muraco, now that he’s managed by Mr. Fuji, has now added various martial arts to his moveset. I’m assuming that’s where the dreaded Asiatic Spike came from. Muraco throws Bellomo down and in fact delivers the ASIATIC SPIKE with the taped thumb, and Bellomo is pretty fucked already. Bellomo tries one quick comeback with a bodypress, but Muraco catches him in mid-air with a SHIT HOT spinebuster and kills him dead with the tombstone at 2:45. AWESOME squash win, this was great and made me smile. Only way it could have been better was Muraco eating a sandwich while kicking the crap out of Bellomo.
And now we join the portion that was broadcast live on MTV…
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Rowdy Roddy Piper
So indeed, Bob Orton is now in a sling from his earlier match with Snuka. And Piper has a guitar instead of bagpipes, which he promptly smashes because of how much he HATES ROCK N ROLL. And of course “Eye of the Tiger” is replaced with “Real American”. They slug it out to start and sadly it’s the moron ref working the match. Hulk wins the slugfest and follows with a corner clothesline, then drops an elbow, but Piper gets his own corner clothesline for two. Piper puts the boots to him as the heat is just off the charts for this, and he jumps on Hulk’s back with a sleeper that quickly puts Hulk down. But then he quickly gets up again and runs Piper into the corner to break. Orton tries to interfere and Hulk goes after the INJURED ARM of the man in a sling like a coward. What a role model. Hulk makes a comeback on Piper after beating up a one-armed man, while Paul Orndorff joins us at ringside to take Orton’s place. And then Orndorff has had enough of Hogan’s blatant cheating and comes in as the ref is bumped, so call it a DQ at 5:40 or so. And they proceed to beat Hogan down and hopefully teach him a lesson about good sportsmanship. So then everyone comes in, including Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T, and we get a showdown with Hogan and T against Piper and Ondorff. Maybe they should do a tag team match? Nothing really to the match but of course it scored a huge rating and set up Wrestlemania. *1/2
And we finish with the parade of celebrity cameos in the dressing room, as Gene posits that in fact the Score was not Settled. Typical Vince, false advertising everything. Apparently Andy Warhol’s cameo was unscripted, as he was walking around backstage and accidentally walked into the dressing room while they were doing promos, so he had to improvise one himself.
Anyway, after all that time waiting to see it, this was a huge letdown. The Muraco squash was AMAZING but the rest was the usual lumbering WWF undercard crap. The Brawl show from 1984 was much better.