The SmarK Rant for Wrestling Challenge – 09.06.86
And now, finally we get some classic 80s era syndicated shows! Superstars of Wrestling is still untouchable for the bullshit legal reasons we’ve already detailed a million times, but Wrestling Challenge, the B-version of that show which launched along side it in 1986, has finally come to the WWE Network.
Keith Kompletists may remember that I reviewed the first three episodes on the WWE Legacy On Demand online version back in 2007 or so, but apparently had a bunch of stuff hacked out of them, whereas these are the full experience (minus whatever music nonsense changes are involved.)
So the backstory, such as it is, is that the WWF had two major syndicated shows dating from the 70s: Championship Wrestling, and All Star Wrestling. Both were filmed in the drab TV studios in Pennsylvania that you see on the WWE Network’s limited collection of All Star Wrestling, until Dick Ebersol and his NBC production team inspired Vince to completely overhaul the shows and start filming in big arenas with big lighting and sound. So Championship Wrestling became Superstars of Wrestling, and All Star Wrestling became Wrestling Challenge.
Now, unfortunately this show started too late to have Paul Orndorff turning on Hulk Hogan, because that happened on Championship Wrestling near the end of its run. However, we’re still a couple of weeks out from Roddy Piper smashing up the Flower Shop, so I’m hoping we get that covered here.
Also, just to clarify, we never got this show in Canada so everything is new to me. Everything we got was filtered through Maple Leaf Wrestling (the rebranded version of Superstars) and the Washington TV stations we got in Vancouver all carried Superstars and not Challenge. I think eventually stuff from Challenge got turned into a show called Wrestling Spotlight in Canada, but that didn’t air in any markets where I lived, either.
And now you’re caught up.
THE RECOGNIZED SYMBOL OF EXCELLENCE IN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT. Oh yeah, hook it directly to my veins.
Taped from Hartford, CT
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Ernie Ladd & Johnny V. What a team.
Lord Alfred Hayes is doing ring announcing just to twist the knife on me.
Magnificent Muraco & Iron Mike Sharpe v. Danny Spivey & Mike Rotundo
Well this has gotta be rock bottom for Don Muraco. No wonder he went to Adrian Adonis looking for crony work. Rotundo grabs a headlock on Muraco to start while Superstar Graham does an inset promo from a mountain somewhere and his promo sounds like he’s doing mushrooms or something. He’s got the boogaloo? Are we supposed to be terrified by that? Iron Mike comes in and gets backdropped by Spivey, and Rotundo comes in with the airplane spin for two as Muraco makes the save. Rotundo gets a small package while the ref is distracted by Muraco, so Muraco turns them over while the ref is distracted with Spivey, and then Spivey turns them over again and Rotundo gets the pin at 3:00. The moral: This ref is stupid.
WRESTLER’S REBUTTAL with Randy Savage. He just wants us to know that he doesn’t like it when fans applaud Elizabeth because that’s IGNORANT and they should be cheering him instead. GET ON THE BANDWAGON, YEAH. You tell ‘em, Macho.
Adrian Adonis v. Tommy Sharp
Adonis is going a little heavy with the blush this week, although the eyebrows are on fleek, as the kids say. I’m kind of surprised that they left the crowd’s non-PC chant intact, actually. Meanwhile we get an inset from Bob Orton, with his new pink cowboy hat, and apparently the money is better bodyguarding for Adonis and he’s liking the smell of the flowers. You follow your muse, Cowboy Bob! It was always an abusive relationship with Roddy Piper anyway. Sharp gets tossed and sprayed by Jimmy Hart, but he makes a comeback in the ring, such as it is. So Jimmy takes the ref and Orton comes in and helps with a double-team suplex and splash on the jobber, and that gets the pin at 3:10. The refereeing is spectacularly terrible on this episode so far.
Killer Ken Resnick brings Cowboy Bob Orton in for an interview, and he actually asks a smart question! “Was it a spur of the moment decision to join Adonis or did you put some thought into it?” See, that’s an actual QUESTION and not just a talking head going “What are your thoughts on the match tonight?” Orton loves his pink hat and it takes a real man to walk around town with that kind of hat!
Koko B. Ware v. Bob Bradley
Whatever Koko was using as entrance music is hacked out and replaced with generic music now. Surprised they didn’t just sub in one of his other numerous choices for entrance music. So now let’s talk about Ernie Ladd here, who declares that Koko is “doing a kind of step-n-fetchit” dance and “he’s black to the core, he’s not what you’d refer to as a half-breed”. OKAY THEN. White person here, leaving it there and moving on. Now, Bob Bradley later became Battle Kat, so you’d had to think he’d have the advantage over the Birdman based on the cartoon hierarchy of animals. Koko also does an inset promo with a particularly ghetto type of ghetto blaster, presumably because he spent all of his money on coke before the promo judging by how many times he loses his train of thought and goes WOO to punctuate whatever point he was trying to make. Koko gets a bodypress for two, but Bradley slams him and goes up with an attempt at either a flying kneedrop or flying legdrop, but it misses and he lands awkwardly on his ass. Koko comes back with a dropkick and goes up with a missile dropkick to finish at 2:42. I don’t know what Bradley was going for with that move but whatever it was went badly.
Jimmy Hart joins Killer Ken, who is again asking the tough questions (“With all of the wrestlers you manage, you STILL needed another bodyguard to protect you? Adrian couldn’t protect you?”) The man has a point.
Paul Orndroff v. Troy Martin
OH MY. Let’s unpack this one. First up, Paul Orndorff debuts the gag where he uses “Real American” as his entrance music, to the disgust of Gorilla Monsoon. Second, yes, that is the one and only Shane Douglas, in literally his second or third ever match in this business outside of training, doing a TV job. And finally, what name did he later use in his early career? TROY ORNDORFF. CASE CLOSED. BOOM. RED SIREN EMOJI, FIRE EMOJI. Orndroff quickly tosses this Martin punk while we get an inset promo from THE HONKY TONK MAN, who is a babyface at this point and making threats to Orndorff while quoting Elvis as they wondered why he didn’t get over. Orndorff hauls him back in, hits him with a pair of clotheslines while throwing him around like a geek, and finishes him with the piledriver at 1:40. “Could terminate the career of young Troy Martin!” notes Gorilla. Unfortunately we still had to listen to him for another couple of decades. I admit, I took a lot of perverse pleasure watching Orndorff spike him with that one in slo-mo.
The Snake Pit with Jake Roberts, and his guest, Kamala. Kamala is managed by the Wizard (King Curtis) at this point, which was pretty short lived. Wizard does a batshit crazy promo for about a minute and then they fade him out and move on.
Meanwhile, on the final episode of Championship Wrestling, Harley Race is coronated King with the help of Bobby Heenan and all the heels on the roster. Vince’s abject disgust at Bobby leading the cheers for him and then Studd & Bundy carrying him out on their shoulders is the best Vince. UGH, LOOK AT THAT!
Meanwhile, on Superstars, Captain Lou introduces the Machines.
The British Bulldogs v. The Moondogs
This is a non-title match. Rex was soon to be repackaged as Demolition Smash in early January, although from what I can tell they literally only had three matches before giving up and replacing him with Barry Darsow. I actually though he was in the role longer, but apparently he was a Moondog all the way until the end of December and then came back in the New Year as Smash. Gorilla again notes that the Moondogs are former tag team champions, although that seemed like a lifetime ago at that point. The Moondogs manage to trap Dynamite in the corner and double-team him for a bit, but Kid escapes and makes a hot tag to Davey, who hits Rex with a delayed suplex for two. Spot saves and tosses him, but we get a hella awkward sequence in the corner as the Moondogs do some double-teaming and seem to completely lose their train of thought, then turn around to leave the ring before turning back around and starting to double team Kid again, at which point Davey comes back in with a bodypress on Rex for the pin at 4:20. Not exactly a Bulldog classic there.
Jake Roberts joins Killer Ken and makes the case for the DDT: It’s cruel, but fair. Just like life. That’s deep, man. And then he brings out Randy Savage for a tag team promo and that’s pretty awesome too.
Next week: Ricky Steamboat! King Kong Bundy! Hillbillies! Kamala! More Hillbillies in the Snake Pit! JYD & George Steele v. The Funks!
And we finish with a musical review of this week’s show.
Yeah I can work with this.