The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #5 – 03.01.86
OK, now we’re getting into the big guns, as they set up Wrestlemania 2 here.
In our cold open, Mr. T is working out and punching a heavy bag, but Mean Gene interrupts him to ask about his boxing match with Bob Orton tonight. T is not appreciative of this.
Taped from Phoenix, AZ on 02.15.86, drawing another massive 10.0 rating.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. I’m unsure of what Jesse was getting at with his introduction of Hogan’s title match with Don Muraco tonight, as he complains that Hogan has only been “facing guys who are collecting Social Security” as of late. Was that a swipe at Terry Funk?
Let us take you back to Piper’s Pit, as Bob Orton has an open contract in a boxing match, so Hogan signs it with Mr. T’s name and Piper freaks out.
Boxing match: Mr. T v. “Battling” Bob Orton
In the pre-match promo, Piper clarifies that it’s “not Rocky 148 here” and Orton is a real fighter, unlike Stallone. Also, he has newspaper clippings of T hanging around with Boy George and he wonders if that’s who parents want their children associating with. Meanwhile, T is demolishing his sparring partners, so you know he means business. Also T clarifies that Stallone “told him to take a dive because he needed the money”, which is why he lost in Rocky III. Not because it was a movie, apparently. So T uses Hogan’s new “Real American” song here, which is obviously dubbed over something that is probably “Eye of the Tiger”. This is a 10 round fake boxing match, and they trade some weak stuff and lock up in the corner while Piper yells advice from the floor. And then Orton gives him a blatant thumb in the eye and Jesse is pretty sure the doctor is gonna stop it. But T valiantly fights on until the bell rings to end the first round. And then Orton wallops him with a shot after the bell for good measure. Second round and T gets a flurry, so Orton tries to go low on him, but then T chases both Orton and Piper to the floor and wins by countout at 5:00. Yeah, they booked a countout finish for a boxing match, you were expecting something better? So then Piper comes in and wants to box with T, as even Vince is hip to the setup here. And indeed, Orton attacks from behind and T has to fight them off again, until Piper gains control and whips T with his belt to set up their abomination of a boxing match at WM2. Like really, they couldn’t have done a tag team match with T and a partner against Piper and Orton?
King Kong Bundy v. Steve Gatorwolf
So before this match, Bundy stresses that he wants Hulk Hogan’s title and will prove it tonight. Gene is like “But you’re not fighting Hogan tonight, Muraco is.” The storytelling subtlety here is breathtaking. So Bundy beats on Gatorwolf in the corner and finishes him with the Avalanche at 0:40 (with the five count). I guess we can call this Steve’s career peak. Bundy again really wants us to know how much he wants to face Hogan.
WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Magnificent Muraco
Sadly, Mr. Fuji has come down with “The Asian Flu” according to Gene. OK Trump. Anyway, Muraco is pretty agitated about this, but luckily he’s being managed by Bobby Heenan tonight to make up for it. Just in case we thought that they might be lying, we cut back to the first aid room, where Fuji has both an ice pack on his head and hot water bottle on his stomach. Wait a second…the “Asian Flu”? Sudden onset of a high fever? Holy shit, Mr. Fuji was patient zero for Covid! And we know he has no problem eating dogs, so who’s to say he didn’t indulge in eating bats as well? So this is the first appearance for Hogan’s “Real American”, which Jesse immediately hates, and Hogan is in an odd yellow trunks and white kneepads combination tonight. Muraco immediately attacks him and beats on Hulk in the corner, but Hulk comes back with a BAAAAAAAAACK BODY DROP out of the corner and rakes Muraco’s back repeatedly, and then goes to beat on poor Bobby Heenan for absolutely nothing! What a hero. Bobby is there out of compassion for the ailing Mr. Fuji, managing Muraco for the biggest match of his career, and Hogan has to assault him like a hoodlum. Hulk chases Muraco to the floor with an atomic drop and back in for a slugfest, and Hulk gets two off that. Hulk gets a bearhug, which is an impressive feat considering the girth that Muraco was carrying around in 1986, but Muraco rakes the face and drops a leg on Hogan to take over. Muraco puts the boots to him and hits him with the Asian spike, and Vince notes that if Muraco manages to hit the piledriver, it’ll be “Katie bar the door”. God forbid we should come to that. Muraco drops an elbow and follows with a headbutt to the midsection and a legsweep. He goes to the middle rope for another Asian spike and leisurely stomps away, but Hulk makes the comeback with the big boot and legdrop, only for Bobby to run in for the DQ at 7:30. It looked like Muraco was going to die of heat exhaustion if the match had to go much longer, so it’s a good thing they went home when they did. ** And this brings King Kong Bundy out as promised, as Muraco holds Hulk in the corner and Bundy hits three Avalanches on him and then adds a splash as well. Sadly, Hulk has no friends to save him, and finally they have to send the Bulldogs out there to help him out of pity. Maybe if he didn’t screw over all his tag team partners and hog the glory, people would be more willing to help him!
After the break, they put Hulk on a stretcher with a neck brace (you know, for his rib injuries) and take him away in an ambulance. Oh man, the only way to settle this one is a cage match, perhaps taking place in three different arenas! This was a pretty by-the-numbers setup for the main event of the biggest show of the year, gotta say.
WWF World tag team titles: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs
The Bulldogs had just beaten them in a non-title match on Championship Wrestling after months of chasing. Davey Boy wins a power battle with Hammer and sends him into the corner with an atomic drop, and Kid headbutts him out as Davey gets two. Vince notes that Davey is “a little bit huskier than his partner”. Ouch. Kid comes in with a headbutt for two and then brings in Beefcake for a beating as well. Back to Valentine, but Davey Boy gets an awkward press slam on him, as Greg wasn’t really going up for the move very easily, and Kid stomps him down in the corner and follows with a backdrop suplex and headbutt for two. Kid goes up and drops a knee for two, and Davey slugs it out with Hammer and puts him down with a dropkick. The crowd sweetening is REALLY weird here, as it’s muted to a dull roar for much of the match, but suddenly shoots up to a much brighter level when the babyfaces do something notable. It sounds so fake and obvious, especially when the “Yay!” portions all sound like the exact same sound clip. Everyone fights to the floor and we get a standoff as we take a break. Back with the Bulldogs double-teaming Beefcake, and Davey gets a flying splash for two. “Close but no cigar!” notes Jesse, and Vince answers him with “Well, the cigar is gonna come up soon, I bet.” Very apropos for the Dream Team considering the famous finish of their original tag title win. Hammer drops an elbow on Kid for two and a shoulderbreaker gets two. Beefcake comes in with his running stomp for two and Hammer drops another elbow for two. Kid fights out of the figure-four and hits a missile dropkick for two, and a clothesline gets two. Kid with a snap suplex, but they run the ropes and collide head to head, and Valentine lands on top for the fluke pin at 12:00 to retain. Not sure why they had the Bulldogs job before their big title shot at Wrestlemania. Usual good match between these two, with Valentine doing all the work while Beefcake stood on the apron. ***
Meanwhile, it’s the debut of the music video for “Real American” as Rick Derringer guarantees himself a regular payday for the rest of his life. Say what you will about cheesy 80s rock but they hit it out of the motherfucking park like Jose Bautista with this one, completely eclipsing the expensive “Eye of the Tiger” and creating their own anthem for decades to come.
Junkyard Dog v. Adrian Adonis
Man the Dog is falling down the card FAST already. So Adrian was recently repackaged from New York street tough into the “Adorable” gimmick and this is his SNME debut. Adonis prances and minces and Dog will have none of that and attacks him, headbutting him into the ropes right away and then slingshotting him back into the ring. Dog with a clothesline for two and he goes to give Jimmy Hart a headbutt and chases Adonis out there as well. Dog hauls him back in, taking Jimmy with him, and then throws them both out again. Make up your mind, man! So we take a break and return with Dog continuing his beating, slugging Adonis down for two. Dog tries a headbutt, but Jimmy trips him up and then ties his feet to the ropes, allowing Adrian to choke him out until finally the ref pulls him off by the hair. Where’s Gorilla to rail against this bullshit refereeing job when we need him? Come on Hebner, your job is to COUNT. And occasionally sell bootleg merchandise out of the trunk of your car. Finally Adonis goes for a piledriver, but hits the ref with JYD’s feet in the process, and Dog steals the megaphone and hits Adonis for the pin at 8:25. Kind of a shitty start to Adonis and his new gimmick. DUD Like Dog was REALLY bad here, barely doing anything while poor Adonis had to bump all over the ring.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Mean Gene chats with the attending physician, who has diagnosed him with injuries to his back and ribs. But they’re gonna shoot him full of steroids and he’ll be fit as a fiddle, I bet!
I’d call this a pretty decent episode, especially the tag title match, although T v. Piper was a complete disaster that no one wanted to see, and Bundy v. Hogan was just a standard house show main event that got stuck onto Wrestlemania for something to do. As far as setting it all up, this was fine, neither good nor bad, and that’s about as strong as my feelings on it will go.