The SmarK Rant for WWF The Big Event – 08.28.86
People seemed to enjoy the Wrestling Classic, so here’s the next one waiting for a redo. I’d been kind of waiting on the WWE Network to replace the Coliseum version with the full one before I redid my 1998 original rant, but that’s obviously never going to happen. So, let’s hit more old school WWF this morning anyway.
This of course was the legit biggest North American attendance for the WWF before WM3 broke the record, bringing 64,000 people to CNE Stadium in Toronto for the first Hogan v. Orndorff match. Of course they still had to lie and say it was 70,000. Probably should have been a PPV, since it’s in the spot soon to be occupied by Summerslam, but I guess they weren’t thinking that way at the time.
Taped from CNE Stadium in Toronto, ON
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Ernie Ladd & Johnny V.
The Killer Bees v. Jimmy Jack Funk & Hoss Funk
Blair immediately slams both Funks repeatedly and they bail and regroup. Back in, Hoss tries to trap Blair in the corner and Brian fights them both off and chases them off again. Dory Funk with a goatee just looks off for some reason. Over to Brunzell, who clotheslines Jimmy Jack over the top and then hits a bodypress on Hoss for two. Blair works the arm with a hammerlock and turns him over for two while Gorilla questions why anyone would want to name their ranch “Double Cross”. This coming from a guy named GORILLA. So he’s got no place to complain. Fun fact from Ernie Ladd: A slam is named as such because you pick your opponent up and SLAM them into the mat.
Brunzell finally gets caught in the Double Cross Ranch portion of the ring and slammed on the floor, but then we’re suddenly clipped to the Bees donning their masks and switching off to Blair. Blair makes the comeback and gets an abdominal stretch on Hoss, and Jimmy Jack quickly breaks it up. But Gorilla still bitches about how the move isn’t applied right. And Brunzell switches again, rolls up Hoss, and gets the pin at 7:00 shown. Seemed OK. **
King Tonga v. The Magnificent Muraco
Muraco with a crop top is hilarious for some reason. We cut a bit from the beginning and Tonga gets some slams to chase Muraco to the floor. So he started out as King Tonga, and then became Haku when they repackaged him with the Islanders, but then became King Haku when he was given the crown. So why not just go back to being King Tonga again? Tonga works the arm while the announcers note that Tonga wants to be called “Haku” now and they just kind of start doing it mid-match. I will say, if Haku told me that he wanted to be called something, I’D DO IT. Tonga works the arm, but Fuji trips him up and Muraco gets a kneelift to get the heat. And Fuj the Stooge adds a shot with the cane for good measure, really laying it in behind the ref’s back. Muraco powerslams him back into the ring and goes to a nerve hold while the crowd gets distracted by something happening elsewhere, so Muraco holds onto that and we’re clipped to Tonga fighting up and making the comeback. The ref checks the arm about 7 times before deciding he’s still alive, so hopefully he doesn’t moonlight as an EMT. Actually it would be pretty funny if referees were EMTs, because they’d just run in to an accident scene, hold up an arm three times to verify that the victim is truly hurt, and then throw up an “X” sign and wait for a bunch of ex-wrestlers to run out and attend to him. Muraco takes Tonga to the floor and runs him into the post, and then back in he goes to work on the knee and gets a VERY blatant headbutt to the groin area, a favorite of Fuji. Muraco with the figure-four, but Tonga makes the ropes. Muraco decides to go to the top rope for some reason, but Tonga slams him off and makes the comeback. So now he goes to the top with a cross body for two, but the bell rings for the 15:00 time limit at 11:21 shown. Wasn’t exactly a classic or anything but it was a solid and entertaining midcard match. **1/4
Ted Arcidi v. Tony Garea
Yes, it’s one of the few appearances of Ted Arcidi, the bodybuilder that Vince apparently though was going to be his next star, to the point where Arcidi had an LJN wrestling figure despite hardly ever appearing on TV. I literally don’t remember ever seeing him on Superstars, for example. I did have the LJN figure and I can attest that it had better mobility than Arcidi himself. Garea tries for the lockup and gets shoved off immediately, as Arcidi basically just stands there like an even more immobile Scott Norton. Arcidi with a back elbow and he poses while the crowd literally stands up and watches something else happening in the stands. Garea tries to come back with a dropkick, but walks into the bearhug and gives it up at 2:39. Thankfully Arcidi was gone by the end of the year and out of the business soon after that. DUD
Adorable Adrian Adonis v. The Junkyard Dog
Johnny V actually gets a funny line, nothing that if you want to “Grab Them Cakes”, then Adonis certainly has cakes to grab. Adonis attacks and uses Dog’s own chain on him, but JYD fights back with headbutts and sends Adrian into the corner for a Flair Flip to the floor. Dog hits him with headbutts to keep him on the apron, but Jimmy Hart sprays perfume in Dog’s face behind the ref’s back and Adonis takes over. Adonis drops forearms while Johnny declares that it’s “300 pounds of solid muscle coming down on him”. Elbow gets two. Dog gets tossed and Jimmy gets some shots with the perfume canister, but Adonis follows him out and they fight for a while before heading back in, but the ref keeps counting for some reason and Dog throws Adonis out and wins by countout at 4:14. DA FUCK? This was kind of a mess. ½*
The Rebel Dick Slater v. Iron Mike Sharpe
They do the test of strength while Sharpe manages to have his yells carry through the stadium, which is impressive. Sharpe bails and then gets a cheapshot to take over, and we’re clipped to Slater making the comeback to 64,000 people being silent, which is quite the feat. Slater with a neckbreaker and legsweep, and he goes up and finishes with an elbow off the top at 2:29 aired. No one cared. ½*
Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy & Bobby Heenan v. Big Machine, Super Machine & Captain Lou Albano
Gorilla hopes that the ring has been reinforced, so TAKE A DRINK. Super Machine goes for a slam on Studd right away and can’t execute it, so he goes to a headlock instead and then puts him down with three clotheslines. Studd bails to the floor and Giant Machine sends him back in, where Super tries another slam but gets foiled. Over to Bundy, and we get a power showdown with Big Machine before Bundy misses an Avalanche and gets slugged down. Big gets double-teamed by the Heenan Family and their CLUBBING FOREARMS, including some from Heenan. Super gets a tag and throws some suspiciously Ax-style chops but gets double-teamed. He makes a comeback, but Studd throws a knee from the apron to cut him off and Bundy gets two off that. This brings Bobby back in, but this allows Albano to tag in as well for the managerial showdown, and Heenan gets hung in the Tree of Woe. Studd traps Albano in the corner and knocks the Machines off the apron, but Giant Machine comes in for the DQ at 7:48. I don’t think we ever learned his shocking and mysterious identity, sadly. Boring match. *
SNAKEPIT MATCH!!! – Jake Roberts v. Ricky Steamboat
They had the three exclamation points in the graphic and everything. This is no DQ, anything goes, stemming from Jake trying to murder Ricky with a DDT on the concrete on Saturday Night’s Main Event. I have to say, the ripoff of “Sirius” that they overdub for Steamboat is a pretty good facsimile. Jake hauls him into the ring before the bell and slugs away, but Dragon fights back with chops, which gets two. Steamboat works the arm and cranks on that, then chops him down for two. Jake tries to throw a haymaker to escape a wristlock, but Dragon ducks him and throws more chops, before they head to the floor. Jake hits him with a low blow and slams him on the floor, then brings Ricky’s head to the edge of the stage and drops a knee on his neck. OUCH. So Steamboat gets a chair and nails him in the head, and back in for the flying chop for two. Steamboat with a hammerlock and he runs Jake into the turnbuckles and slugs away in the corner, but Jake whips him into the corner and out to the floor with a great bump. Jake follows and catapults him into the post before they head to the front row and brawl down there. Back in, Dragon is finally busted open after a few very broad hints from Gorilla, and Jake hits the short-arm clothesline but the DDT is blocked. Jake gets a kneelift and Steamboat fights back with chops, so Jake hits an atomic drop and Dragon does a melodramatic Rick Rude sell of it. Gutbuster gets two, but Jake does a nonchalant cover and Steamboat reverses to a sunset flip for the pin at 10:30. Hell of a match. ***1/2
Billy Jack Haynes v. Hercules Hernandez
Not sure what’s up with the commentary here, as Gorilla is suddenly solo and clearly recording it long after the original show, as he talks about how Freddie Blassie had sold the contract of Hercules to Slick since the match happened. We’re clipped to Herc trying a bearhug, but Billy Jack fights out, so Herc drops elbows for two. They collide in the corner and Haynes comes back with an elbow and backbreaker, then goes to the middle rope with an elbow for two. He tries the full nelson, but Herc goes low to escape and tosses him. Herc with a suplex back in for two and a sloppy clothesline for two. Haynes with a rollup for two, but Herc beats him down again, and then Haynes gets a backslide for the pin at 6:12, which is like only the second time in recorded history that a backslide won a match. 1/2*
The Dream Team v. The Rougeau Brothers
Big brawl to start and the Rougeaus clean house and Jacques gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Jacques drops a knee and Raymond comes in with a kneelift for two. Jacques with the abdominal stretch and Gorilla bitches about it, TAKE A DRINK. Hammer manages to tag Beefcake, who comes in with a slam for two on Jacques. Over to Raymond, but Brutus beats on him with knees in the corner and Valentine comes in and drops an elbow for two. Raymond with a crossbody for two. The Rougeaus get a double dropkick on Valentine for two, but the Dream Team double-teams Jacques in the corner to take over. However, it’s BONZO GONZO and the Rougeaus hit the double-team senton in the corner on Beefcake for two, but Valentine saves. Beefcake clears the ring and Valentine beats on Raymond’s back outside as they ram him into the apron. Back in, Beefcake with a press slam backbreaker for two. The Dream Team works the back and keeps Raymond in the corner, but Valentine misses an elbow and it’s hot tag Jacques. He gets slams on both guys and then hits them with a double dropkick, but misses a flying kneedrop. Hammer gets the figure-four, but Raymond makes the save and they’re brawling again. Hammer goes back to working on the knee, but he tries another figure-four and Raymond switches in with a sunset flip and gets the pin at 14:56. Solid tag team match, although the finish made the ref look like a complete idiot. ***1/4
King Harley Race v. Pedro Morales
Well this would have been quite the deal ten years earlier. Pedro chases Race to the floor, but Harley pulls him to the apron and drops elbows on the throat and then rams him into the timekeeper’s table. Back in, Pedro gets a small package for two and slugs away in the corner, then dodges a charge and gets a sunset flip for two. Pedro slugs away in the corner, but Race takes him down and uses the ropes for the pin at 3:21. Just a match. ½*
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff
Orndorff attacks with a clothesline while the ref is checking Hulk’s kneepads, and they slug it out on the mat until the ref actually pulls Hogan off by the hair. And then I notice it’s John Bonello, so I guess Hulk should be lucky that he didn’t hire a hitman to do it for him. They fight to the floor and Hulk wins that battle, then back in for the elbow drop and Hulk headbutts him into the corner and follows with a clothesline. Orndorff gets a low blow and Heenan adds a shot from the floor, but Hulk keeps coming with an atomic drop and then chases after poor Bobby. This allows Orndorff to attack Hogan and beat him down before clotheslining him to the floor. They fight out there and Orndorff gets a suplex, drawing a surprisingly big pop from the crowd. Orndorff drops elbows on the apron to work on Hogan’s neck and Ernie Ladd shows his first emotion all night, telling Orndorff to stop screwing around and go after the champ in the ring. Ladd was definitely a case where a fantastic promo didn’t translate to being able to do commentary. Orndorff beats Hogan down for two and drops the elbow for two. Orndorff goes up with a fistdrop and calls for the piledriver, as the crowd goes NUTS for him, but Hulk backdrops out of it, so Orndorff chokes him out instead and bites the ear. Is Hulk supposed to be Orange Cassidy now? Well, he’s half right. Hulk comes back and the ref is bumped, so Hulk does the Orndorff clothesline and follows with his own piledriver attempt, but Bobby runs in and clobbers Hulk with a chair to put Orndorff on top as the crowd freaks out. The ref taps Orndorff on the shoulder and of course Paul grabs the belt and declares himself to be the champion, but apparently Hulk was the winner by DQ at 11:00. This is some weak-ass refereeing tonight. This was a very big, exaggerated stadium-style match and of course kicked off months of sellouts around the country. **3/4
The show actually isn’t clipped THAT much and it’s still a pretty enjoyable two hours, the kind of big spectacle that they did really well in the 80s. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t watched it before.