The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestling Challenge – 11.22.86
OK, after taking yesterday off with a repost of the Main Event #5 (which literally no one clued into!) we’re back on the reviewing horse again with some Wrestling Challenge in place of NWA Powerrr. I know you’re heartbroken. But there’s only two episodes of this one left as well.
Taped from Glens Falls, NY, STILL. This feels like a really long taping cycle.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
The Moondogs v. The Hart Foundation
Well this is exceedingly random. It’s still “Brett” Hart at this point according to the graphics, for those keeping track. The Harts attack from behind, but Rex nails Bret with his bone and I guess the Moondogs are de facto babyfaces here. They work Bret over in the corner and we get an inset “promo” from the Dogs plotting their strategy, which proves to be Rex pantomiming hitting someone with the bone. Well he wasn’t wrong! At this point Bobby references the Red Sox blowing the World Series against the Mets. “The Red Sox didn’t cry when they lost, did they?” Yeah, they “didn’t cry” about it for nearly 20 years afterwards. Kind of weird to have that kind of momentous moment still being referenced as current at that point. Rex gets worked over by the Harts with stuff, but Spot gets a hot tag, and he’s the hot Dog I guess. Double elbow on Anvil gets two. But then the ref gets distracted and the Hart Attack finishes Rex at 3:54. This was, like, a match and stuff, and I mostly enjoyed it. 1 for 1.
Wrestler’s Rebuttal with the Rougeaus, as they peruse the WWF Magazine and they’re really cheesed about the Hart Foundation claiming to be the #1 tag team in the WWF. First they have to beat the Rougeaus! Well they took care of that about a million times in 1987.
The CAN-AM CONNECTION v. Barry O & The Gladiator
Holy cow, we’re up to that already? The Can-Ams are clearly “pretty boys” here and women-folk in the crowd are READY FOR IT. Bring on the beefcake, they say. Martel and Zenk get a double-team kneelift on the late Barry O and exchange a high five over it, and then Martel goes to work on Gladiator’s arm. Back to Barry and he gets caught in the Can-Am corner and double-teamed and Martel slams him, but the jobbers try to double-team and the Can-Ams run them together and dropkick them. Barry O gets tossed and Martel does an atomic drop on Gladiator, into a crossbody from Zenk, who then slingshots Martel from the apron with a splash for the pin at 3:25 and the ladies are like YES PLEASE. Man Zenk not only threw away a ton of money when he burned that bridge, but probably a lot of long-term loving relationship possibilities with audience members as well. 2 for 2. It’s crazy that Vince was so far behind the curve on that particular trend.
Junkyard Dog joins Killer Ken, and he’s also shilling the WWF Magazine because he’s on page 13 and his birthday is also on a 13th day, so that’s gotta be lucky.
Meanwhile on Superstars, The Machines face Studd & Bundy and get screwed out of a win.
Sika the Wild Samoan v. Paul Roma
Roma slugs away in the corner and gets pulled off by Danny Davis, so he dropkicks Sika to the floor instead, and Davis gives Roma more shit about that. Back in, Sika gets a slam and finishes with the samoan drop at 1:45. 2 for 3.
The British Bulldogs join Killer Ken, as Dynamite Kid brags about Matilda having 80 pound bite pressure if anyone messes with her. I thought that was Kid himself? And then Kid has a conversation with the dog about the tag team challengers in the division. He’d better lay off the hard shit, man.
Dino Bravo v. Mario Mancini
2 for 4. Sorry, that’s my Bravo reflex kicking in again. I swear Bravo is already 20 pounds heavier than his debut on this show a couple of weeks ago. WONDER WHY THAT IS. VERY MYSTERIOUS. WINK WINK. Bravo immediately unleashes the SIDE SLAM OF DEATH and gets two off that while we get an inset promo from Johnny V, who appears to be learning French. Bravo with an atomic drop and clotheslines as the crowd is already turning on this match and giving Bravo zero heat. Bravo with a back suplex to finish at 2:33. My suspicions about the quality of the match were correct. 2 for 4. Bobby: “I hope Mario Mancini goes to the back and tells all the other wrestlers how bad Dino Bravo is”. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.
The Snake Pit with special guest Hulk Hogan. Jake promises that he’s the man to lead us through the dark times we’re in, and Hulk gives him the “It’s best to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool” speech. Jake tells him to stop talking about him or else, and Hulk is like “When are you gonna have enough courage to strike?” and walks off on him, leaving Jake sputtering. These are the Dino Bravo of interview segments. 2 for 5.
The Rebel Dick Slater v. Iron Mike Sharpe
“This capacity crowd trying to get on its feet to see the Rebel Dick Slater!” Gorilla notes, somehow packing a multitude of lies into one sentence. That’s impressive efficiency. Sharpe charges in with his (ALLEGEDLY!) loaded forearm and hits the turnbuckle instead, and Slater takes him down and chases him to the floor. Back in the ring, Sharpe begs off and grabs a headscissors, but Slater reverses out of that and unloads with the forearms in the corner. Blind charge misses and Slater puts him down with an elbow for two while Bobby makes fun of him for “backing a loser” 100 years after the war was over. He’s not wrong, you know. Slater misses a dropkick and Sharpe goes to the tights to ALLEGEDLY load up the arm, but Slater blocks that and uses Sharpe’s own forearm against him. And then he goes up and finishes with the top rope elbow at 3:44. OK, this was pretty fun thanks to Sharpe getting some offense and making it a little different. 3 for 6.
Meanwhile, in the wilds of Australia, it’s OUTBACK JACK. Keep in mind, if you will, that this show aired in November of 1986 and Jack doesn’t debut on TV as a wrestler until GODDAMN JANUARY. Yes, we had to endure nearly TWO MONTHS of this shit before he ever made it onto TV because he was so horrible that they couldn’t get a watchable match out of him, at which point he quickly disappeared again. Think about that: He was so bad that the company that employed DINO BRAVO for 5 years after this was like “Holy shit, this dude is too terrible to wrestle on our television show.”
Magnificent Muraco & Cowboy Bob Orton v. The Killer Bees
It’s kind of amazing how far Muraco had let himself go by this point, complete with “Don’t give a shit Covid isolation beard” and 40 pounds of extra pork before suddenly getting motivated in 1987 and having a career resurgence as a babyface. Because this was pretty much his low point as a wrestler despite their attempts to pair him with Piper on the house shows at this point. The Bees double-team Muraco, but Orton gets the knee from the apron on Brunzell as Danny Davis completely ignores it and Gorilla freaks out. To be fair, he wasn’t actually looking directly at it, so he’s got plausible deniability here. He was probably having his vision blocked by Muraco, who was eclipsing the sun. Tell us about it, Scott Steiner!
That’s the stuff. Orton and Muraco switch off on Brunzell in the corner and Muraco puts him down with a clothesline, but Blair gets a hot tag and he’s A HOUSE OF FIRE. He somehow manages to get Free Willy Muraco up for an atomic drop that gets two, probably breaking his knee in the process, and Brunzell adds a dropkick for two. He gets a sleeper on Magnificent Shamu, but Orton comes off the top with a forearm from behind, so Blair gets all fired up and shoves the ref for the DQ at 5:00. I’d give it 4 for 7 but Muraco was so bloated that he was worth an extra point by himself so we’ll split the difference and call it 4.5 for 7. Any further notes to add, Scott Steiner?
Slick joins Killer Ken and brags about Sheik & Volkoff getting tag title shots at the Bulldogs. Also he’s got nothing against Hercules, but Bobby Heenan offered an “astronomical” amount of money for him and now he can afford to pay Butch Reed instead.
Next week: Apparently Randy Savage is defending the IC title against Ricky Steamboat on Superstars and we’ll take a look! I literally cannot wait until next week now. Anyway, it’s also the last episode on the Network and hopefully we get more, but I’m not holding my breath.