Roddy Piper vs. Paul Orndorff
We start at MSG in July 1985, as two partners from the WrestleMania main event do battle. Piper blamed Orndorff for the Mania loss and he and Bob Orton attacked him on SNME, to set up this feud. These guys are two of the top workers from the era, both oozing charisma. Orndorff is looking tanned and ripped, he looks great. Piper is hairier than usual. Don’t expect much wrestling in this. And indeed right from the start they have a wild brawl outside the ring and Orndorff is all over Piper. Wristlock from Orndorff, and Piper tries to get out with slaps and by ramming his head into the buckles, but Orndorff keeps hold. He sends him into the corner, but Piper gets a knee up and hits a clothesline to take over. This is intense stuff, with Orndorff looking incredibly determined. This has the feel of a match with a major issue surrounding it. Wrestling at its best is so simple, it doesn’t need to be anything more than two guys who hate each other, going at it. Orndorff catches a break and a near fall with a backslide, but Piper pokes him in the eyes and kicks him out of the ring. They go at it on the outside once more, with Piper having the better of it this time. Back inside and Piper restrains Orndorff with a front facelock, but when he tries to fight out, Piper switches it to a side headlock. They do a pinfall sequence, with Orndorff impressively bridging out of one into a backslide, but Piper reaches the ropes. Orndorff comes back with punches as the crowd comes unglued, but they both go tumbling outside again after an Orndorff crossbody. The beauty of this is that they have done nothing fancy at all, but it has been incredibly effective and entertaining. Orndorff rams Piper headfirst into the apron a few times, then slams his head into the canvas while his feet are on the top rope. Orndorff goes up top, but Bob Orton pushes him off and interferes, nailing him with his cast for the DQ. Piper and Orton proceed to double team Orndorff, who is bust open from the cast. Piper really was one of the greatest heels ever, he was vicious and almost feral in the way he acted. He is completely wild, attacking the referee and anyone else in his way. There has been no-one like him since. The British Bulldogs eventually make the save for Orndorff, brawling with Orton and Piper, causing them to bail. This was a really wild and fun opening match, just a total brawl from start to finish, simply dripping with intensity. As expected, there was not a lot of wrestling, but there didn’t need to be.
Final Rating: ***¼
Hulk Hogan & Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Cowboy Bob Orton & Don Muraco
We go to another famous venue now, the Boston Garden, this from May 1985, as Coliseum does its usual timeline bouncing around. This was never televised nationally and thus is exclusive to this tape. Hogan was WWF champion at the time. Muraco on the other hand was fast approaching worthless; he was one lazy guy when he couldn’t be bothered. It is chaos to start, and the heels back off but get no respite from the early beating that Snuka and Hogan give them. When the dust settles, Snuka and Orton go at it, with Snuka hitting a beautiful armdrag and tagging in Hogan. Hogan comes off the middle rope with a double axe handle, and they are going to work on Orton’s permanently injured arm here. Orton and Muraco are yet to hit a single move. This is pretty standard tag stuff from the era, though it has been helped by the crowd, who are into everything in a big way. Muraco and Orton take over on Hogan and work him over, with Orton hitting an impressive stalling vertical suplex. They continue to double team the champ until Hogan fires back on Muraco with a clothesline in the corner and he makes the tag to Snuka. Snuka unloads with chops on both guys and slams Muraco to set up the splash. Fuji gets on the apron to distract the referee, and as Snuka flies off and catches Muraco, Orton belts him in the head with his cast, knocking him out cold and busting him open, as we go two for two on the blood count on this tape, with both crimson masks caused by Bob Orton’s cast. Mean Gene on commentary uses the word “haemorrhaging” about ten times in a minute. We get some clipping of the heat and Snuka mounts a fight back, getting the match’s real hot tag. Hogan comes in on fire, but Orton stops him in his tracks with a cast shot to the head, and we have a DQ. Frustrating that the first two matches have both ended the same way. Not a great deal to this, just a brawl for the most part, though without the intensity and flow of the Piper-Orndorff match.
Final Rating: *¾
20-Man Battle Royal
Yet another famous arena for the third match, this taking place at the Philadelphia Spectrum. We are back in June 1982 for this, as Vince McMahon in the overdub promises one of the most unusual finishes you are likely to see in a Battle Royal. The twenty participants are: Greg Valentine, Blackjack Mulligan, Steve Travis, Adrian Adonis, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Mr. Fuji, Mr. Saito, Swede Hanson, Pedro Morales, Ivan Putski, SD Jones, Tony Garea, Jose Estrada, Charlie Fulton, Johnny Rodz, Laurent Soucie, Jimmy Snuka, Tony Atlas, Chief Jay Strongbow and Jules Strongbow. It is not a particularly strong line-up and I don’t expect much here, but I am intrigued about this finish. The ring is way too cluttered at the start to make out much of what is going on, though it is quite apparent that Jules Strongbow looks like a wide girl. Snuka is eliminated first, which is crazy. Way to get rid of your star power straight away. This was not a golden period for the WWF, because it was before they truly took off and became an international juggernaut. This is only a few years before WrestleMania and the Hulkamania era, but it might as well be thirty years. So many of these guys just fell off the WWF scene in subsequent years, clearly not fitting in with Vince’s new ideals for the way the business should be. Battle Royal’s are never classics -though they are usually fun- but this is a pretty bad one. It is long too and this goes on for ages. The coolest spot so far occurs when Adonis gets trapped in a hangman in the ropes, but he goes in backwards and ends up trapped by the body facing inside the ring. Cool visual and an impressive athletic feat to pull off. Valentine appears to be bleeding. What the fuck for!? Surely he didn’t blade in a Battle Royal! If there was ever a match type that doesn’t need blood to add to what is going on, then this is it. The last four remaining turn out to be Adrian Adonis, SD Jones, Greg Valentine and Tony Atlas. Hardly main event guys and strange booking occurs here as well, because Valentine, the heel, is left 2-on-1 against Atlas and Jones. He gets eliminated leaving goddamn Atlas and Jones! Certainly unpredictable. It gets stranger as Atlas and Jones hug each other and flip a coin to decide the winner and Atlas comes out on top. Atlas gently presses Jones onto the apron so it is official. What kind of gay shit is this? SD Jones is thrilled. Does he realise he just lost? Far too long, and a slog to sit through.
Final Rating: DUD
Mongolian Stretcher Match
Andre the Giant vs. Killer Khan
We stay at the Spectrum, but go back even further, to November 1981 for this match. The rules are that your opponent needs to be attached to the stretcher to win. It is a poor concept, but fitting of a really shitty match. This is actually pretty famous, because Khan was given the storyline credit for injuring Andre’s leg and this is the revenge bout, but the action is slow. Really slow! It mostly consists of Andre sitting on Khan over and over again. Then a little more for luck. After all the squashing, Khan holds onto the rope to prevent the stretcher, but Andre sits on him again and again, but Khan again uses the ropes to block being stretchered. Andre responds with a butterfly suplex and sits on him again, before connecting with a splash, which keeps Khan down for good. It is just an extended squash. I don’t care how famous it is; as a wrestling match it was balls.
Final Rating: ¼*
Steel Cage Match
Big John Studd vs. Andre the Giant
At the Spectrum again, and this cage match from September 1983 is joined in progress, perhaps mercifully. As big and over as their feud was, their matches with each other were beyond bad. Studd gets a kicking and bleeds a lot, which makes it four out of five matches that have featured crimson masks. What is this, WWF or ECW!? We are actually right towards the end of this bout and both are trying to escape the cage. Studd repeatedly tries to get out, but Andre keeps grabbing his ankle to prevent it. Even in its clipped state, this is horrendously boring. If the whole match was shown, it would probably be into negative stars. There is just so much laying around and not doing anything. It is not ring psychology, it is laziness. Andre slams Studd, which was a huge deal at the time, then in a superb spot, climbs the top rope and comes off with the big butt splash. That is of course the end, and Andre casually leaves through the door. The match was the shits, but that splash was impressive. Kudos to Andre for doing it, and indeed to Studd for taking it! Fortunately for them, the match was too heavily clipped to rate.
The Colossal Jostle
Andre the Giant vs. King Kong Bundy
The third and final instalment of our Andre the Giant feature comes from September 1985 in MSG. They just loved putting Andre on with immobile monsters, which was an issue when it came to match quality, because Andre was becoming much that way himself. I am not letting the moniker for this match go by without passing comment either. The Colossal Jostle!? Who came up with that? It is like something a tabloid hack would write! Andre chops Bundy into the corner and chokes him out to begin, and the ref is far too intimidated by the collective girth to intervene. Andre continues to dominate, catching Bundy’s leg as he goes for a kick and returning the favour. Bundy comes back with shots to the sternum, and manages to force Andre out of the ring. I’m sure any workrate fans would have turned this tape off long ago, but if not then this match will do it for sure. It is mind-numbingly slow! I find myself just screaming at them to do something, anything! In the full version of this match, they legitimately sit in a body scissors for seven minutes. SEVEN FUCKING MINUTES! It’s not like the pace improves afterwards either; it is just Bundy clubbing away slowly. Really slowly. So very fucking slowly. Bundy switches a whip but eats a size 23 boot to the face and the butt splash has the match won, but Big John Studd makes the save and attacks Andre for the DQ. Sigh. As they tussle in the corner, Bundy catches Andre with a splash, so Andre rolls out and gets a chair. The heels, unsurprisingly, bail. That was so bad that I am going negative stars. They did nothing at all and to top it off, there wasn’t even a finish. A real piece of shit.
Final Rating: -*
Tito Santana & Ricky Steamboat vs. The Dream Team
Here come the workrate guys (and Brutus Beefcake) to save the tape! This is the final match on this release, from April 1985, and comes from Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. This has been like a tape-long tour of the WWF’s most famous 80’s venues. I miss the unique look of these places. What a team Steamboat and Santana could have been if they had frequented the tag division. Imagine the matches with the Bulldogs and the Hart Foundation and then down the line the Brainbusters and the Rockers. They could have been one of the greatest ever. Although, Steamboat left before either the Rockers or the Brainbusters had debuted. But image if he hadn’t? The WWF would have been a far better place for it. Mind you, that would have robbed us of the legendary Flair-Steamboat matches over in NWA, so maybe not. If only Tesla really had invented a cloning machine like he did in The Prestige, then we could have had two! Anyway, this starts quickly, as it should because Tito and Valentine have a lot of history together, something that comes through in the intensity of their exchanges. Santana has the better of them all early on, but an attempted figure four is blocked and Valentine catches an opening to take over. He hits a shoulder breaker and slaps him, before Beefcake comes in and chokes Tito. Valentine takes advantage of the ref being distracted by an enraged Steamboat, and he hits a clubbing clothesline. The Dream Team continue to double team Tito, and take out Steamboat on the apron for good measure. While the formula is very similar to the Hogan tag match earlier, the difference is that this is exciting and they mix it up enough to keep it different. You can still follow the same structure but make it interesting, it doesn’t have to be paint by numbers. Steamboat gets the hot tag and unloads at speed on Beefcake. He puts on a sleeper, but Beefcake escapes by going to the eyes. Valentine comes in, and they exchange blows, and the Hammer wins the tussle and hits a gutbuster. Steamboat and Santana have actually made Beefcake look like a competent wrestler in this. They are miracle workers. Both have sold wonderfully and have made the Dreams come across like a real threat. Of course, they were tag champions later in the year, so I guess they were. Steamboat catches a desperate cradle for a near fall on Valentine, but quickly finds himself in the wrong corner. Steamboat fights for his life with chops and now Tito gets the hot tag. Flying forearm from Tito on Valentine and it breaks down, with Steamboat sent to the outside. The Dream Team double up on Tito, but Steamboat recovers to hit a chop from the top on Beefcake. Tito locks the figure four on Valentine, and that wins the match for his team. This was quite excellent, and even Beefcake looked good. If Steamboat and Santana could do that with the fair but limited Dream Team, it is incredible to think what they might have achieved with others.
Final Rating: ***¼
Summary: Too much Andre, too much Studd and too many DQ’s, though a lot of blood! This tape is good at the very start and the very end, the middle is dreadful. Well, unless you love clipped Andre the Giant matches against other “monsters”, then you will adore it. If you must watch this, view the first match, fast forward it to the last match and skip everything else. Not recommended.