The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestling Challenge – 01.03.87 (plus a bonus)

The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestling Challenge – 01.03.87            

It’s the 1986 YEAR IN REVIEW episode!  I actually remember this one from back in the day.  Also, a BONUS RANT later on.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan, from the Prime Time studios.


First up, we go back to August of 1986, as 70000 people are at the CNE Stadium in Toronto and we get to see highlights.  Of two matches.  Unfortunately the full show is still not available on the Network, only the clipped Coliseum video version.

August 30:  Harley Race is crowned the King of Wrestling (although legally speaking he’s King Harley Race and not Harley “The King” Race due to a lawsuit by Jerry Lawler, that’s very important to note!) and Vince McMahon is at peak Vince disgust watching it happen.  This was also the final edition of Championship Wrestling before it became WWF Superstars of Wrestling the following week.

New Year’s Resolutions:  Randy Savage promises no more Mr. Nice Guy in 1987.  Ironically the opposite was true.

The British Bulldogs join Killer Ken, still the tag team champions despite all the challenges that have been thrown in their way.  Ken thinks they might be worn out and ripe for the picking early in 1987.  Well that proved to be entirely correct. Also Davey’s “British Bulldogs” baseball tee could not be any more 1987.

April 1986:  Andre the Giant wins the WM2 battle royale by eliminating the Hart Foundation.  And then we jump ahead to a couple of weeks ago, as we learn that his controversial suspension has been suspended, via an Australian interviewer in London.  That’s leaving out a WHOLE lot of stuff in between.  Isn’t this supposed to be the year in review?  We actually get an alternate take of the Jesse Ventura interview, where Andre tells him that he talks too much and the hearing is none of Jesse’s business.

New Year’s Resolutions:  Bobby Heenan promises a member of his Family is going to be WWF champion.  Sadly, no.

Hulk Hogan joins Killer Ken and he promises that he can look people in the eye and tell if they’re believers, and he promises to take “the cult that follows all those losers” and turn them into Hulkamaniacs.  Who, Donald Trump’s elite legal strike force team?  Anyway, Hogan is going to run wild on the very concept of 1987 itself, brother.

November 22:  Randy Savage drops a ringbell on Ricky Steamboat to prove a point about trying to win his title and how you shouldn’t do that, and now Steamboat can’t talk.  Is this just a review of the two months before this show or what?  Other stuff happened before August, you know!  Anyway we also get the amazing post-match interview with Bruno where Savage declares “I’M SO PROUD OF MYSELF” and Bruno calls him “a piece of shlime” and attacks him, trying to kill him.  And even THAT mini-angle, adjacent to the main angle, was hot enough to draw big crowds in the Northeast even without Steamboat being involved!

Meanwhile, we take a look at the various animal mascots that have ended up in the ring over the course of the year.

New Year’s Resolutions:  The Hart Foundation promises to bring the tag team titles back to Jimmy Hart.  Done and done!

Title changes:  Tito Santana loses the IC title to Randy Savage in Boston, and the Bulldogs beat the Dream Team in their millionth title shot at Wrestlemania 2, although Lou Albano and Ozzy are the ones who end up with the belts for some reason.  Also has anyone ever questioned what was up with Danny Davis and his tan khaki pants in Boston that night?  What a weird look.

November 15:  Captain Lou retires in a six-man victory over the Dream Team and Johnny V.

New Year’s Resolutions:  Jimmy Jack Funk is gonna beat up twice as many wrestlers as he did in 1986.  So, like, 2?

June 28:  Paul Orndorff shows up on the Flower Shop and Bobby Heenan challenges him to a tag match against Studd and Bundy, so Orndorff freaks out and calls Hulk Hogan, but Hulk doesn’t answer the phone right away and Paul freaks out.  So this leads to July, where Hulk and Orndorff win the tag match by DQ, but Paul turns on him and piledrives him.  Man, they really downplayed the biggest angle of the year and one of the biggest in history.

September:  Roddy Piper appears on the Flower Shop and gets jumped by his former bodyguard Bob Orton and Bob’s new friend Magnificent Muraco, and then Piper returns the next week and smashes the s--- out of the set.

New Year’s Resolutions:  Slick wants money and Tito Santana wants to be IC champion again.  Would he settle for tag team champion, I wonder?

Adrian Adonis joins Killer Ken as they keep making reference to Adrian being “written off” and never coming back due to the arm injury suffered against Roddy Piper, which is kind of retrofitting a storyline where there wasn’t really one before.

Kamala is splashing people off the top and Jack Tunney is taking a hard look at it.  That storyline literally started three weeks before this show.  That barely even warrants a segment.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at a Real American video package to fill the last two minutes of the show.  One of the highlights is actually a match I’ve never seen before, a lumberjack match between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage where they do a criss-cross and one of the babyfaces trips Savage on the way by, allowing Hogan to drop the leg and pin him.  I actually thought I had seen all the Hogan-Savage matches commercially available, so maybe that one is in the library somewhere waiting to be released?  So I looked it up and it appears to be the February 17 86 MSG show, which unfortunately is not available on the WWE Network.  However, it was apparently on the Randy Savage Coliseum Video which I have reviewed, and indeed I have seen that match and now I can sleep at night.  Who wants a bonus review?  Here ya go, from WWE 24/7 in fact…

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Macho Man Randy Savage & Elizabeth (Coliseum Video)

– You know, I can’t remember if I’ve ever done this one in a Coliseum rant, so we’ll pretend I haven’t and do it again, because there’s a lot of Macho Man nostalgia floating around lately.  Although I’m not sure why they nixed the Savage DVD but they’ll air an old Savage video from 1986.   Once again, it’s crazy the stuff they dig up from the archives for this channel, like they’re tapping into my brain, man.

– We start with a TV angle from 85, as Hulk Hogan makes a rare syndie appearance against jobber Rusty Brooks, but Elizabeth interrupts and asks why he doesn’t wrestle people with any credentials.  Hogan squashes Brooks in short order and then Macho just blasts in and attacks before getting fought off by Hogan.  This feud was of course MONEY from day one.

– Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage.  JIP from the Garden, as Randy is bleeding all over the place and Liz pleads for mercy, allowing Savage to run Hogan into the post for the countout.  Basically just a 30 second clip of the finish, as they won’t stop fighting and the job squad runs in to break it up.

– WWF title, lumberjack match:  Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage.  So this is the rematch.   Hogan the sportsman attacks before the bell and clotheslines him with his shirt, then pounds him down and gets a backdrop suplex.  He tosses Macho into the babyface side, and they don’t throw him back in for some reason.  Because they FEAR the power of Macho Madness, I’d bet!  Back in, Hogan bearhugs him and hits a running elbow in the corner, but gets tripped up by King Kong Bundy.  Hogan has the ribs taped to sell the injury leading up to Wrestlemania 2, I should note.  This gives Savage the chance to hit him from behind and then drop the double axehandle on the bandaged ribs.  Savage tosses him into the heels and they darn sure aren’t scared to beat the orange off him, including an avalanche into the post from Bundy.  Back in, another double axehandle gets two.  Short clothesline gets two.  Savage pulls off the bandages and stomps on the ribs, then goes up and hits yet another double axehandle to the ribs, for two.  Kneedrop gets two.  Elbowdrop gets two.  Gorilla notes that Hogan is wrestling against doctor’s orders, so not only is he a cheat, he’s endangering their medical clearance in New York!  Savage drops another axehandle and looks to finish with the big elbow, but, well, you know.  Big boot and legdrop at 11:48 once again shatter my young teenage dreams of a Macho Man title reign.  I should note, however, that Hogan needed George Steele’s outside interference to trip up Savage so he could pin him.  Because he’s a CHEAT.  ***

– From TNT:  Savage rocks the BEST SHIRT EVER, as the front says “Hulk Who?” and the back says “Macho Man #1”.  I spent months looking for that one in stores, to no avail.  Savage’s fruity spandex workout tights are less awesome.  Vince shows Savage a WWF Magazine with Hogan on the cover, so Randy tears up the pages and throws them in Elizabeth’s face, just because she’s there.  The tension is broken by someone delivering flowers to Liz, and Savage flips out when he realizes that it’s stuffed with turnbuckle foam.

– Intercontinental title:  Randy Savage v. George Steele.  From Saturday Night’s Main Event.  This was, if you can believe it, the first match between these two, at least according to the commentary.  It was also the beginning of Steele’s infatuation with Elizabeth.  Steele tosses Savage right away and leers at Liz, which draws Savage’s wrath.  Fun fact:  The best worker in the match is arguably the referee, a young man you may have heard of, named Dean Malenko.  More running around until Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage mercifully finishes things quick with the flying axehandle at 3:11.  DUD

– And now, Mean Gene visits the palatial home of Randy Savage, where a young couple waits to see the Macho Man on their honeymoon.  Gene and Randy sojourn to the poolside where Elizabeth fields phone calls offering huge money for photo shoots and easy matches, but he declines all of it!  He’s the Macho Man!

– Let’s go back to Boston, as Randy accidentally hits Tito Santana with a piece of debris he found on the apron and wins the IC title.  The pop for this is pretty amazing, as the Savage fans were out in force that night.

– Randy Savage shows off his new belt on the Body Shop, wearing another awesome t-shirt that says “I’m The Champ”.  His obsession with Hulk Hogan continues as he declares his win to be bad news for Hulk and Jesse notes that we finally have a champ all the kids can look up to.

– Randy Savage v. Tito Santana.  From MSG, and we’re JIP with Tito making a comeback and going for the figure-four.  Savage rakes the eyes to break and takes a breather outside, but actually was just pulling a headtrip on Tito as he attacks when Santana follows.  Back in, Tito stuns him with a flying forearm out of nowhere and gets the figure-four, but Savage tosses the ref into Tito to break, and that’s a DQ at 1:50 aired.  So we need another rematch.

– Intercontinental title, no-DQ:  Randy Savage v. Tito Santana.  JIP again from MSG, as they brawl at ringside, and then back in.  Savage goes for a suplex but Tito reverses to a neckbreaker for two.  They fight out again and Savage takes a run with a chair and misses, then hits him low instead.  He follows with a double axehandle from the top, but Tito uses the chair to nail him on the way down.  Back in, Tito gets a forearm for two and pounds away on the mat, but Savage bails again.  Tito dives off the apron to follow and they fight up the aisle, and back in Tito comes off the top with an elbow.  Figure-four, but Savage uses the old eye-poke to stop him.  Back to the floor again for another brawl, and now Savage hits the post and we must be in Yellowstone Park, because Old Faithful is gushing.  Now that was a slick blade, you couldn’t even see it.  Back in, Tito fights back, so Savage decks the ref to slow down the momentum.  And sure enough, Tito hits the flying forearm and there’s no ref.  Now there’s some effective strategy.  Tito slams Savage and still no ref, so he goes over to revive the poor guy.  Savage attacks from behind and then reverses a rollup for the pin at 7:26.  I’m kind of disappointed we didn’t get the whole match, it seems like it was hovering around **** there.

– Intercontinental title:  Randy Savage v. Tito Santana.  So again from MSG and since the previous ref was a pussy who got knocked out with the slightest punch to the face, we’ve got Bruno as the special referee.  Tito immediately slugs Savage out of the ring, and back in they fight for the lockup before Randy takes him down with an armdrag.  Savage won’t give him a clean break, so Bruno breaks it up by force, which likely annoys Macho.  Tito gets a quick rollup for two and Randy turns it into a necksnap on the ropes to take over, and he follows with the double axehandle.  Knee to the back sends Tito into the corner, and Savage uses a nice double underhook takedown for two.  He works the headlock and stomps Tito down for two, then goes to the chinlock.  Santana elbows out of it and slugs away, but Savage tosses him to stop it.  He follows with the double axehandle to the floor.  Bruno warns him, so Savage sneaks out the other side and goes after Tito again, but gets caught.  Back in, Savage drops a knee for two, but they demonstrate their fisticuffsmanship and collide for the KO.  Savage recovers first and goes up, but Tito catches him with a shot coming down and Savage ends up on the floor.  Now it’s Tito’s turn to attack him out there, and he stomps him back in the ring and follows with a backdrop.  That sets up the figure-four, but Savage scampers to the ropes and then catches him on a blind charge with a high knee.  SWEET.   Tito sold that one like he got hit in the face with an iron.  That gets two.  Santana comes back with a small package for two and slugs away, putting Randy down with a forearm shot, but again can’t get that figure-four.  They fight for a suplex and Savage gets the gutwrench for two and slugs away, but Tito reverses an atomic drop into the figure-four.  And then the finish I totally forgot about, as Adrian Adonis runs in dressed as a woman and attacks Tito for the DQ at 12:59.  Now this was definitely ****.  The heels brutalize Bruno despite the irony of a guy named Macho Man teaming with a guy in drag, but Tito fights them off.  Tag match, you say?

– An otherwise unnotable interview with Savage and Adonis is saved by Gorilla Monsoon calmly contradicting all of Savage’s ridiculous hyperbole (“I had Tito Santana down for 42 three counts…”  “You’re a liar.”) without missing a beat.

– Randy Savage & Adrian Adonis v. Bruno Sammartino & Tito Santana.  The faces clean house to start and Savage tosses a chair in to show his frustration, but they can’t make any headway back into the ring.  Savage poses on the top, so Bruno yanks him in and stomps away, then puts him down with a big boot for two.  Over to Tito and he slugs away on Savage and necksnaps him on the top rope.  They drag Savage into the face corner and work him over as Bruno throws knee to the back, but Adonis gets the tag.  Bruno controls with armdrags and Tito works the arm.  Crossbody gets two and he grabs a headlock, but Adrian escapes with a backdrop suplex and they tag on both ends.  Bruno boots Savage down and the heels regroup on the floor.  Back in, Bruno stomps Savage down and Tito clobbers him with a chair from the outside for two.  That seems a bit excessive, but whatever.  Savage finally gets a tag to Adonis, who slams Tito and goes up with a flying splash that misses.  Savage hits Tito with the double axehandle as an insurance policy, keeping the heels on offense.  Savage can’t cut off the tag, however, and Bruno comes in and cleans house, as everyone brawls on the floor and pandemonium breaks loose in the form of the countout win for the heels at 9:14.  This was great, and there’s a cage match on the cage match video that’s even better.  ***1/4

GET ALL THIS.   Everything on the tape would be a point if I was doing the Coliseum video rant on it.

Well anyway the year in review episode of Challenge was pretty fun and the Macho Man & Elizabeth tape is in fact available on the WWE Network so you should watch that as well.