James Dixon: Most, if not all of the content on this tape has been covered elsewhere. But for the sake of posterity, we will cover it again here anyway. I am not filled with a great deal of optimism going in, because the front of the box screams: “KAMALA EATS A LIVE CHICKEN”. Oh dear. If that is not enough to sell this to you, nothing will be. Mean Gene Okerlund says the title of this tape needs some explaining, and then says it promises to offer the best of the best from previous releases. I will be holding you to that Gene. We are promised 30 segments, all at least two and a half minutes long. Dear lord what am I letting myself in for here!
The Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff
This is a tournament match from The Wrestling Classic. Nikolai Volkoff sings the Soviet national anthem before the match starts, and Dynamite doesn’t like it so he dropkicks him and pins him. The whole thing was literally about 30 seconds long.
Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Greg Valentine (c) vs. Tito Santana
This appears in clipped form on Inside The Steel Cage and in full on WWF Grudge Matches. It is a pretty good match in full, but unfortunately, also a bit of a favourite of the Coliseum butchers, and we just get the finish here, which sees Santana kicking the cage door into Valentine’s head and escaping to win the match and the title. Valentine is livid post match, and trashes the title belt afterwards, which led to the creation of the most fondly remembered IC belt design, which lasted until 1998, before making a return in 2011.
King Kong Bundy vs. SD Jones
This is the famous match from WrestleMania, and it is well known because of how short it is. Bundy squashes Jones in a record 9 seconds, and because the match is so short, they show the whole thing again in slow motion.
Pipers Pit: Mr. T
Roddy Piper visits the set of the A-Team and winds up Mr. T. T retaliates and says Piper has only beaten up wimps in his career. He also says that Cyndi Lauper is his friend, and he doesn’t like what Piper did to her when he shoved her, in a famous angle. Piper responds by mocking T’s haircut and a scuffle ensues. A classic angle, and you could feel the real-life tension between them.
WWF Women’s Championship
Wendi Richter (c) vs. Spider Lady
The original WWF screwjob, as Moolah, dressed as the mysterious Spider Lady, pins Richter to win the title, even though Wendi got her shoulders up at one. Richter doesn’t realise what is going on at first, and when she does, she throws a few shots at Moolah, who ignores them. Chaos ensues and we get cut before Wendi nails Moolah with the belt. Really interesting to watch, and worth seeing for any curious fan.
Kamala Eats A Live Chicken
They would not get away with this skit today. They can rape corpses, give birth to hands and promote incest, but “killing” a live chicken would piss off the wrong people. It’s a mental segment, though it does cut from Kamala chasing the chicken to just a shot of him with feathers around his mouth. I actually bought Kamala as a credible monster heel back then, so it was a real joke what he became when they turned him into a big dumb half-retarded baby.
Ah yes, the one thing from the past that I don’t miss in modern wrestling. The best part about midget matches is hearing the always tolerant American crowd, hollering and whooping as the wrestlers run through their routine of comedy spots. “Look at those little bastards running around like real people, look, look! Aha ha ha. He just tried to pin the referee, he just tried to pin the fookin’ referee!” is what they probably said.
Controversial Title Changes
We see the Iron Sheik beat Bob Backlund in 1983, as Arnold Skaaland throws in the towel to prevent the champ from further injuring his neck, while he is locked in the Camel Clutch. Next up is Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito winning the tag titles from Rick Martel and Tony Garea, which has been covered in full elsewhere in this book. This is included because Fuji throws salt in Martel’s eyes as he is coming of the ropes, and Saito pins him to take the titles. It is a helluva shot by Fuji, the timing is impressive on that. Probably one of the best “saltings” I have ever seen. We stay with the tag titles, as Lou Albano costs the Islanders the belts against Tony Atlas and Rocky Johnson, when he accidentally nails Afa with a wooden chair. The angle led to Albano’s eventual babyface turn. More tag title action as Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik defeat Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo at WrestleMania to win the belts, after Sheik uses manager Freddie Blassie’s cane on Windham. We go to Savage-Santana next for the IC title, with Savage winning the belt after using a foreign object while Tito tries to suplex him back inside the ring.
Terry Funk Beats Up Mel Phillips
Funk losses his temper with Mel Phillips because he puts his hat on to take it to the back for him, so Funk beats the piss out of him. This really got him over as a vicious and unpredictable bastard. It is a superb angle. The more I see of Funk in this era, the more he becomes one of my favourite WWF wrestlers of the 80s.
The Funk Brothers vs. Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog
This is from WrestleMania II, and we go from the start in this one, but get the majority of the bout clipped out. Terry Funk uses Jimmy Hart’s megaphone on JYD to win the match.
Arm Wrestling Match
Jesse Ventura vs. Ivan Putski
Another classic angle, and as Lee has said elsewhere in this book, the template and indeed benchmark for all future arm wrestling matches. Again this is just clipped highlights, but it doesn’t take away from the quality of this. A perfectly executed piece of business.
Andre the Giant vs. Johnny Rodz, Jack Evans & The Butcher
We covered this on the Andre the Giant tape in full, as Andre defeats all three guys with relative ease. We get a few minutes of it, and it is nice to see Andre while he was still fairly mobile.
Superstar Billy Graham (c) vs. Bruno Sammartino
Gorilla Monsoon is the special guest referee for this, and magically also the commentator. The editing is awful here, as they just show two random chunks of the match, before it stops suddenly. Ok, so the point of that was?
Gorilla Monsoon vs. Andre the Giant
This is from way back, and is also on the Andre the Giant tape. The match is famous for taking place in an outdoor stadium just after a huge rainstorm. We get a few minutes of action, until Andre knocks Monsoon out in the third round, and then throws him in a puddle for good measure.
“Gorilla Monsoon vs. Mohammed Ali”
Don’t believe the WWF lies, these two did not have a match. What actually happens is Ali jumps in the ring instead of Gorilla’s opponent and they have a stare down, before Gorilla swats away a few jabs. Gorilla gives Ali the airplane spine and slams him to the mat, before officials intervene and stop it going any further. Gorilla cuts a promo with a very Southern sounding Vince, after the match. He says Ali is “a great boxer but a terrible wrestler” and says how he could easily have broke his wrist if he wanted to. He also coins the immortal phrase “he doesn’t know a wristlock from a wristwatch”. Vince is loving this, seeing a “phony” pro wrestler getting the better of a legitimate athlete; he is almost giddy about it.
The Iron Sheik (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
This is of course the incredibly famous title change, which altered the course of the entire business permanently. We join this from the Camel Clutch, which Hogan fights out of. One big legdrop later and Hogan is the new champion, as the crowd explodes. No matter how many times you watch that, the crowd reaction will still give you chills. Just an incredible, era defining moment. It has been repeated over and over again, but it SHOULD be. It was one of the most significant title changes of all time.
Hulk Hogan & Mean Gene Okerlund vs. Mr. Fuji & George Steele
A few very brief clips from this, which has of course featured in full elsewhere in this book. Mean Gene is as bad as you would expect, though he doesn’t do much. Hogan drops Gene on top of Fuji for the pin, then shoves his finger in Gene’s asshole, presumably to keep him in position, but possibly just because he likes it.
The Killer Bees vs. The Funks
This comes from The Big Event and Terry Funk has been replaced by Jimmy Jack Funk by this point. Hoss gets the better of Brunzell, so the Bees put their masks back on and switch around, and instantly their fortunes change. To me, all this does is make Brunzell look like the pussy weak link of the team, and Blair like the hero. I have no time for the Bees. Where is Sheik when you need some humblin’?
An incredibly long Battle Royal, notable for Greg Valentine BLEE’din for no good reason, and also the gay lovers finish, which sees Tony Atlas win on a coin flip because he and SD Jones don’t want to fight each other. Too much hugging ensues, and Jones celebrates like a lottery winner. Even though he LOST!
This next Battle Royal is from WrestleMania II, and has featured on many tapes. It is famous for the inclusion of a number of NFL players, the most significant being William “Refrigerator” Perry. Now this is a much better Battle Royal. Some great heat, a fun scenario of wrestlers vs. footballers and some entertaining action. Neidhart’s bump over the rope from Andre’s big boot, remains one of the most over-the-top and ridiculous I have ever seen.
We appear to be being ribbed. Three Battle Royal’s in a row is enough to drive anyone insane. This one comes from July 1986 at MSG, and we get very rapid clips of it. The lead story concerns Jimmy Hart, who spends the match hiding under the ring. We clip to the very end with Greg Valentine and JYD. JYD goes through the ropes and pulls Hart out from under the ring, throwing him inside, where he seeks solace behind Valentine. Hart dances around as JYD and Valentine fight, and they eliminate each other, giving Hart the win. Crazy booking, but I know why Vince did it. He believed that people wouldn’t talk about the shows in the streets unless something memorable happened. The Battle Royal was a way of letting silly finishes occur, without particularly hurting any of the guys in there. He did the same thing by having Moolah win one as well.
Andre the Giant vs. Killer Khan
Urgh, I hate this match, it is just Andre sitting on Khan over and over again. I am not watching this again, fast forward it.
Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd
Nor this slow motion disgrace from WrestleMania. Andre wins, New York rejoices. Next.
The Grand Wizard Interview
Vince McMahon interviews the Grand Wizard next, with Luke Graham by his side. Wizard looks like a homeless guy who managed to get in to see a 3D movie? Graham on the other hand, just looks like a homeless guy in general. Vince’s yellow suit is breaking my TV. This doesn’t go anywhere at all.
Manager Of The Year
Bobby Heenan thinks he has won the manager of the year award, until Hillbilly Jim gives all his votes to Lou Albano. An incensed Heenan smacks Albano with the trophy, and then King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd come in and beat the shit out of him. Any segment where Hillbilly Jim AND Lou Albano get taken out, is a winner with me.
Steel Cage Match
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Don Muraco (c) vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Now to a very famous match, though we are fast forwarded right to the finish. People who have heard of it but never seen it, may be surprised when I say this is also one of the most overrated you will ever seen. Revisionist history suggests that this is a classic, but it is far from that, rather just five or six minutes of passable action before an iconic post-match Superfly Splash from top of the cage. That is all we get here and that is fine with me, because that is all anyone wants to see from this bout anyway.
The post tape adverts promise an upcoming tape on the Junkyard Dog. Thank you Coliseum for NOT releasing that video. I bet I would have been lumped with that one too.
Summary: This tape was like the video equivalent of Macho Man’s train of thought, only after his morning coffee enema and a few lines of python powder. While there was no substance at all because nothing stayed still for long enough, the flip side is that this was never boring. It bounces from segment to segment at a furious pace, and some of them are good enough to make this a rather fun little ride down memory lane. If you want to see the early Vince McMahon WWF summed up in one neat package, this is the tape for you. If you want actual wrestling matches, go elsewhere. Kind of recommended.