Arnold Furious: Another in the WWF’s run of “Best of” tapes. These are a real mixed bag. This tape features an Moondogs match, for example, as well as a bout with Lou Albano from 1977. And yet there’s a Bulldogs-Harts match on here too, plus Savage-Hogan and more lovely, lovely Terry Funk. Speaking of which…
Terry Funk vs. Pedro Morales
This is from early 1986 at Boston Garden. Pedro is into his 40’s and close to retirement but Terry Funk was on a tear. The more footage you watch from the mid 80s, the better Funk comes off. Pedro gets thrown over the top and comes up holding his groin. “Might have pulled a hamstring”. A banjo string, maybe. Someone in the crowd hurls a screwed up ball of paper and hits Funk in the head so he bails and goes after them! That’s the great thing about Funk; you could never be sure if he was going to jump the rail and punch you in the face or not. It gave him a legitimacy that a lot of wrestlers couldn’t attain. He even goes after Gorilla Monsoon. The difference between this and other wrestlers who’ve done the same gimmick (Scott Steiner, Brian Pillman, Kid Kash) is that Funk never did it to the detriment of the match. It was a natural aside but it never gave his opponent an opening because he was always on top of the bout. Pedro is severely limited, but Funk takes the whole match by the scruff of the neck and DEMANDS that it doesn’t suck or slow up. When Pedro mounts his comeback, Funk sells like a drunk, hides under the ring steps, falls out of the ring and swings a wild punch at his manager, Jimmy Hart. You just can’t take your eyes off him! Morales doesn’t know what to make of him half the time, but has the common sense to just keep punching away. Funk takes Hart’s megaphone and KO’s Pedro for the duke. Terry Funk was all kinds of awesome here. Wild on offence, unmissable while taking a beating. He was truly outstanding. No offence to Pedro, but Funk could have had this match with anyone.
Final Rating: ***
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Randy Savage
The end of this match will feature on Macho Man Randy Savage & Elizabeth in a few tapes time. This is the entire thing. It comes off the back of Savage winning on count out at MSG. This is the same venue. Savage is just that, attacking ahead of the bell and nailing Hogan in the back with the belt. Savage loses focus by arguing with Liz about something or other. Hogan puts on Savage’s shades and goofs around, which is a spot he repeated for the Boston Garden match later in the year. Which is why the two matches often get confused. Also this is where Hogan throws Savage head first into the ring post, thus busting him open. Clips of this match tend to skip over that and go ahead to Savage doing the same to Hogan at the end. Savage had done enough to get himself over already but now he goes on the defensive and BLEEDS EVERYWHERE. There’s a trail of blood on the mat, Hogan has blood all over his chest and Liz gets so distraught she jumps on the apron. Which actually causes a distraction and Savage takes over. Liz being useful, again! Hogan kicks out of the Flying Elbow and Hulks Up. Normally that’s the finish of the match but Hogan is having so much fun he just beats Savage up for a while instead of finishing, with Savage pinballing off Hogan, the ropes and anything else he can find. Hogan could win but instead opts to try and run Savage into the ring post again, which is uncalled for, and Liz stops it by standing in the way. It would have been cruel and overkill, so it makes sense. Savage gets the counter and runs Hogan into the post before hopping back in to beat the count. There were three solid matches between these guys in quick succession but this is my favourite. It has intensity and energy in spades and its almost as good as their WMV match. Hogan’s ego stopped him from winning and Savage goes 2-0 over Hogan in the Garden. That set up a lumberjack match where Hogan blew off the mini-feud. I still persist that they could have carried the feud through WMII and saved me from watching that damn Bundy cage match.
Final Rating: ***¼
Arnold Skaaland vs. Lou Albano
They’ve dug up another pile of 70s crap. Both men are better known to modern audiences as managers. Skaaland being the manager of Bob Backlund and throwing in the towel when he lost to Iron Sheik and Albano being one of the WWF’s premier managers during the Rock N’ Wrestling era. They were both managers at this time too, Albano the heel. The whole match is Albano using a foreign object to hit Skaaland and the ref somehow being unable to find it. Despite the entire of MSG pointing it out to him. Skaaland eventually takes it off Albano and the crowd generously pop like crazy for him punching Lou with it. That is until Albano has had enough and walks for the count out. Just a terrible match. The psychology was lazy and the finish worse.
Final Rating: DUD
WWWF Tag Team Championship
Haystacks Calhoun & Tony Garea (c) vs. Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka
This is way back in 1973. The challengers are the former, and future champs, with the incumbents keeping their belts warm. Fuji & Tanaka were the first ever 2-time tag champs and also had a first ever third reign. A couple of notes; Tanaka was from Hawaii, part of a long tradition of people who weren’t from Japan actually being billed as from there. Haystacks Calhoun is massive and weighed a legitimate 600lbs. He’s also the template for Wrestling’s Country Boys. Tanaka tries throwing salt for good luck but this tiny little old wizened lady goes and wipes it up. Its still real to her, damn it! It was indeed a different time. CARNIES! We clip ahead to Garea working a headlock, which leads to his isolation. Fuji oversells the comeback and we clip again. Calhoun is a big goofy fella. He looks like a halfwit. Gorilla’s commentary is borderline racist for this match too. He calls Tanaka “chopstick Charlie”. He gets a measure of revenge by pinning Garea and we clip ahead into fall two. The Japanese (sic) put a beating on Calhoun until they’re disqualified for double teaming. Well that was stupid. The highlight of the match, bar a pile on pyramid spot, is a brief but convincing fight between Garea and Tanaka. It’s swiftly ended by Calhoun tagging in and splashing Tanaka. That was heavily clipped up but that’s probably for the best.
Final Rating: **
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Ken Patera (C) vs. Tony Atlas
From Showdown At Shea ’80. Atlas was a physical specimen although his most muscular area was his head. He must have been part Samoan. Patera sported a blond dye job for most of his early run because he was a heel. Heels like to show off with that blond dye job. It shows they can afford to go to the hairdressers. Check out his Olympic rings on the singlet though; you’d never get away with that nowadays and if this was released on DVD they’d probably have to blur it. Patera’s devastating swinging full nelson can’t be that devastating as Atlas shrugs it off. It had been billed as a career ender but I guess Tony has too many muscles to get injured. Atlas freaks the crowd out with a few near falls, which is unusual for the era. They brawl outside for under ten seconds and yet Patera manages to get himself counted out. Atlas seemed game and it was a decent match.
Final Rating: *½
1986 Slammy Awards
I always thought the Slammy’s were a good idea but they were hardly ever well executed. Footage from this one includes Gene Okerlund interviewing random strangers on the street, which includes some wasted wrestling fan who’s carrying a half drunk bottle of Jim Beam. Jesse Ventura then interviews Roddy Piper while he’s taking a dump. Both are about as entertaining as they sound. Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon host the actual show. The winner of the ‘Most ignominious’ award is Nikolai Volkoff. He comes out in his suit from the roaring 20s to celebrate, not realising what ignominious means. Piper wins the next award to a huge mixed reaction. He calls MTV “music to vomit by” before his award falls apart. That’s your show.
The British Bulldogs vs. The Hart Foundation
They included one of these classic bouts on an earlier Best Of. Sadly this is clipped, though only suffers from minor clipping rather than the butchery seen on some tapes. This match comes from MSG in September 1985. The best part of the early psychology is that instead of employing the usual rest holds, the Harts bail out of the ring when they get outwrestled, thus resting without resting. I tend to have a hard time watching these type of matches, simply because my expectation levels are so incredibly high that I find it harder to enjoy them until they get into full swing. Not that I’m condoning spotfests, but you can see where the concept came from. Give fans what they want from the bell. Watching Bret get into position for spots is remarkable. His reading of the match is above and beyond. What’s better is how realistic he keeps everything. Not like Kane sliding himself into position for the Lionsault against Chris Jericho. He gets into position without making everybody look stupid. It’s natural. Another guy who did that, almost flawlessly, was Dean Malenko. Harts work heat on Dynamite until Davey gets so pissed off that he jumps in and chases Bret, and Jimmy Hart, around the ring. It doesn’t help Dynamite Kid any but the crowd eat it up. They continue to run the formula, which doesn’t get over like you’d think it would. Bret and Dynamite have a bad chemistry day. Hart Attack has it won but Dynamite Kid dives onto Bret off the top and scores the pin. I’ve seen this get really high ratings but I wasn’t feeling it. Bret and Dynamite had at least two major communication issues. One of which saw the latter almost dumped on his head accidentally. The rest of the bout was straight up formula. I found it a little disappointing. Sure, they worked hard, but they always do.
Final Rating: ***
The Rougeau Brothers vs. The Moondogs
This was in Sydney in March 1986. Rex seems to have forgotten his Moondog gear because he’s just wearing normal trunks. The Rougeaus actually debuted on this tour, having signed shortly before it. Alfred Hayes calls it their first match but they’d already wrestled on the tour. The Rougeaus seem hugely motivated and were obviously out to prove a point. Thankfully the 18 minute match is clipped down to 3 or 4, with Ray breaking up a double team and Jacques hitting a crossbody to take it.
Final Rating: *½
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Dream Team (c) vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
This is from late ’85 and a weird match, let alone a weird selection, as both teams were heel at the time. The Poughkeepsie crowd has so much contempt for the furrnrs that they even support the hated tag champs. Greg Valentine looks TOTALLY confused at the reaction. He just doesn’t know what to do. So, and this is a switch, Beefcake has to carry the workload because he knows how to work face. MADNESS. Its madness, people. They don’t even understand that concept and Hammer plays Ricky Morton… badly. At least he’s got the hair right. Sheik even messes up his interference at one point, which is supposed to lead to heat on Beefcake. They end up saying ‘screw it’ and just fighting, which is way better because it requires less character. The ref decides that’s enough and calls for the DQ. I don’t even know what the hell they were thinking when they booked this. And then, having seen what a shit match it was, putting it on a tape release with “best of” in the title. A shambles, sirs, a shambles.
Final Rating: ¾*
Summary: Once again, a weird mix of crap and decent stuff. I get the feeling they just got a load of random segments, put the names of them on a dart board and threw nine darts in there. This is what they landed in. As is the case with the majority of the era’s tape releases, I don’t really understand the thought process that went into compiling them.