The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 03.17.85
So this was actually not part of the recent drop of 85 MSG shows on the Network, as this one had been moved over from WWE 24/7 in the early days of the Network. It’s a shorter edit than the other ones, at 100 minutes or so, and I actually did a version of this years ago but might as well redo it now for continuity’s sake.
This one was preceded by the War to Settle the Score in February of 85, which is not on the Network, although I did review it fairly recently.
Taped from Madison Square Garden, a week before Wrestlemania in fact! That’s kind of nuts. Kind of a go-home show for the first Wrestlemania I guess. Crazy that they were so hot with Hogan that they could sell out two straight weeks of MSG.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene
Rocky Johnson v. Charlie Fulton
Rocky takes him down and works a headscissors on the mat while Gorilla discusses the pain of cauliflower ears. Also, apparently Rocky has put on a few pounds, so Johnson is a bit larger than usual. Charlie fights out of the headscissors and Rocky takes him down with armdrags to frustrate him. Fulton comes back with some forearms in the corner and chokes away, but Rocky finishes him with a sunset flip at 4:00. Well that was a brisk opener. *
Barry O v. Rene Goulet
Barry is looking pretty pudgy at this point, early in his career. He appears to be trying for Ricky Morton judging by his tights and Dee Snider hairdo. Maybe he should have been Barry Morton instead? Barry works a headscissors and Goulet reverses to a cradle for two. Barry with the headlock takedown while the announcers are more concerned with this “Wrestlemania” nonsense that’s happening next week. Apparently it’s a one-time only showing and if you don’t watch it on closed circuit, you’ll never see it again! Except of course for all the VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming where they repackaged it 150 times over the years. But you can’t fault the hustle. Goulet gets a cheap knee to the gut that misses by a mile, but Barry sells it anyway and Goulet takes him down for THE SCORPION CLAW on the mat. Oh man, he’s gonna squeeze the man’s brain so hard that he’ll go crazy and think he’s actually the Zodiac! Barry somehow slugs out of that as the blood returns to his brain, and makes the comeback with a bodyslam for two. Powerslam gets two. Goulet sweeps the leg and grabs a headlock on the mat, which the crowd boos out of the building as this has not exactly been an energetic encounter. Goulet drops a pair of knees for two, but Barry fights back with an atomic drop before running into a knee. But Barry reverses into a small package and that finishes at 8:50. Note to self: Barry Orton as spunky blond babyface is NO BUYS. *
SD Jones v. Jim Neidhart
Neidhart is now managed by new WWF acquisition Jimmy Hart after some initial matches with Mr. Fuji in a pairing that never made much sense. As far as I know this is Jimmy’s MSG debut, in fact. Whole lot of nothing for the first couple of minutes before they finally lock up at 3:00 and SD tries for an armbar. Anvil slams out of it and SD hangs on, so Anvil drops him on the top rope and chokes him out. BREAKING NEWS for thirsty wrestling fans: Reports are that Jenni Neidhart’s OnlyFans page contains nothing that isn’t featured on her Instagram already, so if you want to see her bouncing around in low-cut tops, save your $15 a month and stick with IG. Neidhart goes to a chinlock and SD fights out of that and makes the comeback with headbutts, but Neidhart catches him with the powerslam and pins him at 6:50. *
King Kong Bundy v. Jose Luis Rivera
Bundy is quite the trooper, working a match here and then doing one at Wrestlemania. Bundy pounds him down with clubbing forearms and follows with a back elbow and a kneedrop for two, as he pulls up Rivera. Rivera fights back with dropkicks, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and big fat elbow to finish at 2:30, complete with a 5 count. A complete squash, of course. ½*
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T chat with Mean Gene about this Wrestling-Mania show that’s a week away. Hulk is sick of people asking why he picked an actor to headline the show with him. Well, good thing we’ve moved past actors taking up matches at Wrestlemania these days! Mean Gene: “What do you mean by dead meat?” T: “They gonna be dead meat! I’m gonna chew them up and eat them alive!” Well that certainly clarified it.
Piper’s Pit with special guest Mr. T. Piper shares his love for Cowboy Bob Orton and buries the Yankees before bringing out “the short little guy with his hair in a thing and all the chains on”, which is as good a description of Mr. T as I’ve heard. But then we get swerved and Paul Orndorff joins us instead, making monkey noises to mock Mr. T. Piper notes that Mr. T was refusing to come out because he wanted bodyguards to protect him from Piper, but “we don’t need no bodyguards out here”, which is hilarious because of course Bob Orton is standing RIGHT THERE behind him. So this brings out T, along with Hogan and Snuka as his backup, and Piper accuses him of being a coward. Again, hilarious because Piper has two guys backing him up while talking smack. So Piper cleans off the seat “because he knows T isn’t used to cleanliness” but T doesn’t trust him and won’t sit down. So Piper gets all frustrated and offers T the chance to back out of the “closed circuit fight” with no shame put upon him, one time deal. Amazingly, T won’t take the deal, so Piper shows a artist’s rendering of T with a cast on his arm, and then one with a cast on his leg, which is what he’ll look like after the match. Apparently he painted all of them himself, too! The one with T in a full body cast in the hospital is pretty harsh. Piper throws on a mohawk wig to really egg him on and the babyfaces want to do it RIGHT NOW, but Piper and his gang retreat to the back and toss a drink at T on the way out while Hogan holds him back. So T promises the crowd that Piper will pay for everything he’s done at Wrestlemania. No sweet moves, just PAIN.
David Sammartino v. Matt Borne
Borne gets a suplex and works a headlock, but David fights out of that and slugs Matt down. Backdrop out of the corner and David takes him down with his own headlock although the crowd still won’t react to David without Bruno out there to actually generate the heat for his son. Borne chokes him out on the ropes and gets a rollup for two before going back to the chinlock. I sense some frustration from Borne here. David fights back and dodges a charging Borne, and follows with a suplex for two. David with forearms and a slam, but he’s got no real flow to his stuff or natural sense of when to make the comebacks like Bruno had. Hot take I know, but he’s just a guy doing a Bruno impression. David goes up and Borne slams him off for two, but Matt tries another slam and David cradles for the pin at 8:20. David just looked so green and lost out there. *1/2
For those wondering about the full show, at this point there’s supposed to be a squash match with Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff beating Bret Hart & George Wells in advance of their tag title match at Wrestlemania. Otherwise the show is complete.
Ken Patera, Big John Studd & Jesse Ventura v. Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka & Junkyard Dog
Patera is quickly triple-teamed by the babyfaces and chased to the floor, where he gets some consolation from Bobby Heenan. Back in, Patera goes after Andre and that doesn’t go well for him, so he hides behind Studd and they talk trash while Jesse hangs out in the corner. JYD comes in and Jesse quickly traps him in the corner and chokes him out, but Andre saves and cleans house, ramming the heels together, but the beating on the Dog continues. Snuka gets a hot tag and Studd immediately cuts him off and pounds him down before going to a bearhug. Patera comes in with his own bearhug, and so does Jesse, and then back to Studd again. Can’t blame them for taking it easy the week before the biggest show in WWF history to that point, I suppose. Finally Snuka breaks free and makes the hot tag to Andre, and he lays waste to Studd and goes for the slam before Patera saves. So Jesse comes in and gets his shots in, but Andre casually grabs him by the hair and beats on him before booting him down for the Superfly splash at 11:25. Nice touch with Andre just standing between Jesse and heel corner, daring someone to try and make the save. And no one did. Just a super basic match with the babyfaces winning. *1/2
Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Gibbs
Steamboat had just debuted in the promotion the week previous, as Vince continues gobbling up the best talent from the territories. Gibbs attacks and slugs away in the corner, but Steamboat comes back with a backdrop as the audio suddenly goes out of sync, which is probably why the show has a “Most complete version available” disclaimer at the beginning. Gibbs hides in the ropes after a cheapshot while Ricky gets his dander up, and they repeat that a few times before Ricky chops him down and goes to the armbar. Gibbs tosses him as the audio re-syncs again, thankfully, but Steamboat fights back in with chops and they do the dumb spot where Steamboat is throwing punches in the corner and the ref grabs his arm to stop him. That of course allows Gibbs to take over, but Steamboat throws chops, hits the middle rope chop, and finishes with the flying bodypress at 4:31. Just a basic TV squash. *
Intercontinental title, Lumberjack match: Greg Valentine v. Tito Santana
Yup, it’s another warm and soothing cup of Valentine v. Santana to end the show. Jimmy Hart is now managing Valentine for the first time here. Valentine attacks to start, but Tito chases him to the floor and the heels decline to throw him back in. So he gently comes back in and Tito continues manhandling him with an atomic drop before slugging away in the corner, but Greg takes him down with an atomic drop. Tito fires back and puts the boots to Hammer in the corner before hitting the dreaded skull-cracker (for those wondering, that’s the AWA term for the move where you put a guy in piledriver position and then jump in the air to ring their ears, which is why Mean Gene calls it that) and Valentine bails to the floor. But this time it’s the babyface zone, so they throw him back in and Tito gets two. Valentine tries to run away now, but the faces swarm him and throw him back in for Tito to continue the assault, but Santana is too picante and misses a charge. Valentine gets two off that and goes to work on him with a kneedrop for two, and then drops the Hammer for two. Valentine clubs him down again for two. Greg with a kneebar, but Tito punches him RIGHT IN THE MUSH to break free, but Valentine kicks the leg out of his leg and tosses him for the heels to send right back in. So he sends Tito to the other side of the ring, and the babyfaces give him a more gentle hand back into the ring. So Greg hangs him on the apron and beats on him with forearms before going up with another forearm and he drops a knee for two. He beats on the leg and tries the figure-four, but Tito cradles for two and they slug it out. Tito actually loses that battle, and Greg drops an elbow for two. Valentine pounds away with forearms in the corner, but charges and gets alley-ooped onto the top turnbuckle in a neat reversal, and Tito makes the comeback. They slug it out and Greg does a Flair Flop off that, but Tito hauls him up and beats on him some more. Tito with a suplex for two and he tries his own figure-four, but Valentine flips out of it and bails to the floor. So the faces all swarm him again and throw him back in, where Tito hits a running forearm and gets the figure-four for real this time. The heels quickly pull him to the ropes while Jimmy takes the ref, and Tito foolishly goes after them because he’s too SPICY. Greg attacks him from behind, but Tito fights back again, and they collide and smash heads, which results in Valentine falling on top for the pin at 14:50 to retain. That’s a pretty clever way to have a clean heel win without making the babyface look bad. Another great match between these two, film at 11. ***1/2
This was a pretty nothing show leading into the GRANDDADDY OF THEM ALL. Which is next up chronologically, so I might as well redo that one sometime this week as well.