Arnold Furious: As a special added bonus I’ll be giving each featured manager their own WWF career review and score out of ten. Mainly because the tape seems to skim over achievements and just shows random bits from their career. For a change Bobby Heenan hosts. Presumably because he’s a manager. He reels off a list of current, for 1985, managers. We start with Don Muraco and his manager…
They take a walk over that bridge where Ricky Steamboat fought all the ninjas on his profile tape. Most of Muraco’s training seems to involve lying on the beach with three beautiful women in bikinis. I approve.
Don Muraco & Mr. Fuji vs. The Junkyard Dog & Ricky Steamboat
Muraco and Steamboat had a hot feud, which also incorporated Fuji, so Steamboat has himself a partner here in JYD. Steamboat was on fire in 1985 (and ’86 and ’87 and ’89) so his action with Muraco is fast and furious. They do a lot of work with Steamboat’s black belt before the ‘karate’ chops take over. Fuji’s sneakiness is what gives his team an advantage and he fares better than Muraco against Steamboat. JYD almost completely kills the match by being painfully slow and lazy though. Fuji sneaks in blind but Steamboat runs Muraco into him and gets a sunset flip for the pin. It was fine with Steamboat in there but the Dog stuff was shit. It would have made more sense if JYD had been cornering him.
Final Rating: **
Fuji was a good manager if you wanted someone to become involved in the action. He was ‘hands on’, certainly, and often tagged up with his wrestlers. However if you were looking for a mouthpiece then look elsewhere because his English was a garbled mess.
Vince has him and Beefcake on TNT. Valiant loses track of what he’s saying a couple of times and Vince leaves him hanging in the wind. I love Johnny V because he was nuts but this is a frighteningly sober interview and it doesn’t work.
Johnny Valiant vs. Steve Lombardi
It’s Lombardi in his pre-Brawler phase. Johnny V is about 40 and overweight. So the match sucks. Lombardi takes a big slam on the concrete floor, which drags some heat out of the crowd and they go nuts when Lombardi gives him a receipt. It doesn’t effect Valiant all that much because he comes back in and wins with a clothesline.
Final Rating: ½*
Johnny Valiant is actually one of my favourite personalities from the era although that’s largely because of how insane his interviews got the older he became. This one from TNT shows him up a bit. He froze under the bright lights in the studio.
GRAND WIZARD OF WRESTLING
Ernie Roth, who died in 1983, was the man who “discovered” Don Muraco. He had some ostentatious gear including a shiny gold turban, a mustard jacket and yellow and blue trousers. He doesn’t have a lot to say here and I’m guessing they didn’t have much footage of the Grand Wizard, as there’s no accompanying match. Grand Wizard had a terrible name. Naming yourself the same as the KKK’s leader is just asking for trouble. He’s a little before my time so I won’t give him a rating.
WWF Tag Team Championship
US Express (c) vs. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
I reviewed this as part of the WrestleMania I coverage. It’s a good match as everyone seems motivated. Volkoff still sucks but you can’t have it all. First time I saw WrestleMania I thought this was a real showstealer. It is one of the best, and most enthusiastic, matches on the card. They include Blassie’s awesome post-match comments where he claims he had no cane despite it being used in the finish.
Final Rating: **
Nikolai Volkoff vs. George Steele
Steele is fresh off a face turn and has Lou Albano as a manager so we’ve got double managers in this one. What sadist would put Steele vs. Volkoff on a tape? Blassie earns his managerial money by banging on the apron with his cane, which is easily enough to distract the mental midget, George Steele. Let’s face it, having a shiny jacket is enough to distract George Steele. The Animal isn’t in a mood to sell so Blassie starts whaling on him with the cane. He doesn’t sell that either so Blassie nails Albano, and finally someone takes a bump. Everyone fights around on the floor and it’s a double count out. Absolutely awful. Not only the wrestlers but the managers too.
Final Rating: DUD
Fred Blassie was great on the mic but he was a little long in the tooth by the time Rock N’ Wrestling rolled around.
Jimmy is on with his charge Greg Valentine. Hammer puts Jimmy over for being all about rock n’ roll and knowing music, not like “that punk” Cyndi Lauper. Hammer is in jubilant mood, for him, as he’s ditched Albano and replaced him with Hart. Jimmy points out his managerial skills include sports science and he’s slimmed Valentine down by 15lbs. They hype WrestleMania and run down JYD. The match seems to be missing from the tape I’m watching but it appears on some versions. It’s not great though so you’re not missing anything, and it’s on WrestleMania anyway.
Jimmy Hart is one of the best managers the WWF ever had. They threw anyone at him that wasn’t a good fit with someone else and he went with it, often changing his appearance and gimmick ever so slightly to suit his wrestlers. He was great on the mic and took a mean bump. There was no escaping his vibe as a ‘budget’ manager compared to the more grandiose managers of the time though. Can’t afford Bobby Heenan? Get Jimmy Hart.
WWF Women’s Championship
Fabulous Moolah (c) vs. Wendi Richter
JIP and swiftly clipped towards the finish. They don’t even have the finish, just the replay with Wendi getting a shoulder up and Moolah pinning herself.
WWF Women’s Championship
Leilani Kai (c) vs. Wendi Richter
Another bout from WrestleMania. This one sucks but helped to sell the show. They retain the dreadful pre-match interviews but clip most of the match away. Thankfully the abysmal botched finish is retained.
Final Rating: ½*
Cyndi wasn’t a real manager. She only turned up for big TV events and such, being a celebrity. N/R for her.
Heenan introduces himself as being like Einstein, Machiavelli and Patton all put together. He addresses issues regarding his nickname and reminds us its ‘The Brain’ not ‘The Weasel’. That leads into clips of Andre slamming Studd at WrestleMania. Heenan saves a few bucks by stealing the bag of money back that Andre had won for the slam, before the audience gets it all.
Advice for the Lovelorn with Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan. This is the first one, apparently. Bobby claims that while wrestlers are the second best lovers in the world, the best are the managers. Heenan gets bored after the first question and Vince breaks character over a “six inch scar” one man is suffering from. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, nor will it be the last, I don’t share a sense of humour with Vince McMahon.
Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd
These guys had hundreds of matches over the years on account of them being the two biggest guys in the company. Heenan keeps Andre unbalanced by giving Studd a pair of scissors. When that backfires Andre beats both Studd and Heenan up. Andre slams Studd again and goes to give him a trim. Andre the Giant Barber? King Kong Bundy runs in to attack Andre. Bundy was the latest star signed to Bobby Heenan’s family. Just the end of the match but I can imagine the rest wasn’t good. All their other matches were lethargic.
Final Rating: ¾*
Bobby Heenan is one of the greatest managers the WWF has ever seen. Great on the mic, to the point where he became one of the best commentators of his generation too, took a tremendous bump and always made his wrestlers interesting.
Randy Savage came flying into the WWF from Memphis and took the world by storm. He’s in the market for a manager and Heenan, Blassie and Hart line up to try and sign him. Heenan’s pitch is better than the others. Hart promises he’ll do everything Heenan said but cheaper. Blassie almost slaps Savage with his “walking around money”. I wish I had that kind of “walking around money”! They start bidding against each other, even though Savage hadn’t even debuted at that point.
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Jim Young
Savage has a positive gaggle of manager’s at ringside. Pretty much every manager on the tape. Young is a jobber so Savage just takes him apart and finishes with the Flying Elbow in short order. SQUASH. But the wrestling isn’t why the match is on the tape as he goes on to name his new manager; Miss Elizabeth. You can hear Vince’s jaw hit the floor on commentary and his wallet start swelling at the thought of marketing this duo. This is probably the happiest Liz ever looked on camera so I’m guessing its before Savage browbeat her into submission. Or maybe she’s just happy not to be locked in a cupboard while he’s wrestling.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
Miss Elizabeth is one of the most famous female manager’s although I’d argue she was mostly a valet. She hardly ever interjected herself into matches and I can only remember two times when she did, over a long, long run as Savage’s manager. She gets bonus points for looking good though.
Uncle Elmer & Cousin Junior vs. Jerry Adams & Barry O
Jim originally came in to tag with Hogan and be a babyface wrestler but he bust his leg running around ringside. So he ended up as manager for his bumpkin “relatives”. They don’t even show this match. Just them walking to the ring. That is, quite frankly, enough.
Hillbilly Jim not only sucked as a wrestler, he sucked as a manager too. It didn’t help that the wrestlers he had were balls.
1985 Manager of the Year
We kick off on TNT with Blassie and Hart getting into a war of words over the voting. They can agree on one thing; they both hate Lou Albano. Heenan gets pissed off about the fans getting votes in this contest. The final three are Heenan, Albano and Hillbilly Jim. Two of which are babyfaces, which makes sense with the fans voting. Heenan points out all the other heel managers have voted for him so all their votes are his too. Heenan ends up with 519,711 votes. Jim has 316,428. Albano has 314,166. So Jim gives Albano his votes and Captain Lou wins. So Heenan waffles him with the trophy and destroys it. Jim tries to break it up but Bundy and Studd destroy him too. Justice is served! The other hicks run down for the save. I would have enjoyed this better if they’d been beaten down too.
CAPTAIN LOU ALBANO
Heenan buries Albano because he is getting his own tape, before we head over to TNT. Albano the guest and Vince the host. Albano rambles, as he’s prone to, before getting on Cyndi Lauper’s case, possibly for just being female. I never got the appeal of Albano getting names wrong on purpose. I know it’s a shtick that has worked for Chris Jericho since but that’s because he made the new name sound funny. Albano is a fat guy with rubber bands hanging off his face. Vince gets sick of listening to him and signs off.
Lou Albano & Afa vs. Andre the Giant & Pedro Morales
We get heavy clipping so only Albano’s bits are included. Albano hits a few punches, which Pedro no sells, and he tags out. Second time in he screws up and let’s Pedro tag out. Andre destroys Afa until the Samoan comes back with nerve holds. You clip everything else but not the nerve holds? I guess its because Albano is tagged in, which is a huge mistake. Andre steps on his foot so he can beat Albano up without him going anywhere. Albano, as he tended to, blades and runs off. Afa takes the big boot and Pedro pins him. Every Albano match is essentially the same.
Final Rating: ¼*
Lou always terrified me when I was a kid. The rambling, shouting and elastic bands hanging off his face was all a bit scary. He was always a competent manager to have at ringside though, especially if you were a tag team, and his record is exemplary. Even if he was a shitty worker.
Summary: This tape is so forgettable that I don’t know why they even bothered releasing it. Why would anyone buy it either? The contribution of managers are evident on other tapes where there is actual wrestling to enjoy as well. The wrestling on this one was pretty limited and most of it is culled from WrestleMania, which everybody has seen already. So yeah, pointless.