Arnold Furious: Gene Okerlund joins us from in front of the blue WWF screen instead of Video Control. How does he know what’s about to happen? I am distressed.
The Dream Team vs. The Can-Am Connection
From MSG and January 1987. This particular version of Dream Team was nearing its end, with Beefcake on the verge of a face turn. The Can-Am’s are fresh, new and exciting. They get to play with Hammer and I can’t help but think Rick Martel would have been good in the IC title picture around the time. Luscious Johnny V manages the Dream Team and joins the commentary to criticise the ability of “Tom Zinc”. Hammer’s delayed selling ruins another spot here, as he slowly falls over after taking a forearm from Martel and leaves Zenk looking stupid. If anything Beefcake takes the better of the match because he’s fast enough to do some fun stuff with Martel. It’s not a carry job either, as Beefcake’s timing is at a good level. Martel is certainly on form and makes the heat interesting by getting beaten up so creatively. Zenk gets the hot tag and he’s wise to Valentine’s selling this time and clocks him in the back with a dropkick before he bumps. Zenk gets cut off by Beefcake though, and Dream Team work heat on him too. It’s noticeably less fun than Martel’s section. Beefcake looks incredibly sloppy in this part of the match. Just incapable of keeping up and running spots that look dangerous. There are times where he looks serviceable, but they don’t last. Valentine has his moments where he’s being odd too. Like winding up on an elbow drop, which he inevitably misses. The ref misses not one but two hot tags. Beefcake, because he’s an idiot, dances about and Martel slingshots in to pin Hammer while he’s applying the Figure Four. Excellent execution of tag team formula. The finish makes little sense but looked great. Martel was on fire and the match would have been even better if he’d taken up more of the heat.
Final Rating: ***½
George Steele vs. Kamala
This is from late ’86 in MSG and a battle of two savages. The psychology stems from Steele being marginally smarter and more aggressive. So he stamps on Kamala’s exposed feet and bites his face. The Wizard throws a “horn” in. Kamala bashes Steele with it and splashes him off the top rope for the win! Not exactly Jimmy Snuka territory but that was a glimpse of Kamala’s abilities beyond the normal WWF horseshit he did. I enjoyed the finish.
Final Rating: ¼*
This is after Piper’s ’86 face turn and at the height of his WWF popularity. He points out he’s still a “no good sonofabitch”. His guests are Paul Orndorff and Bobby Heenan ahead of a tag team match pitting Orndorff and Harley Race against Piper and a mystery partner. Piper and Heenan in a war of words is always good fun. Piper even invites super-fan Vladimir, to manage him. Piper pisses Orndorff off by selecting Hulk Hogan as his tag team partner.
Paul Orndorff & Harley Race vs. Hulk Hogan & Roddy Piper
Hogan and Piper teaming is fantastic stuff as they both tear their shirts off and look like they’re about to fight each other. When Piper was on form he contributed to some absolutely wild brawls. The best part of all this is that Piper still hates Hogan and doesn’t want to tag him at all. His character remains intact. People love that -it makes sense– but he teams with Hogan against the common enemy: Orndorff. They retain that tension. This is years ahead of the WWF’s more complicated ‘shades of grey’ booking that they liberally borrowed from Paul Heyman’s ECW. The WWF’s normal heel and face setup was very black and white. Piper is out there blurring the lines for his amusement. Everyone is on fire in this match, apart from Race and he is trying hard, so the action is fast and furious. They work heat on Piper but Hogan can’t resist jumping in constantly for brawling. Piper’s eagerness to get a hot tag is terrific and he eventually dives across the ring to get it because Race is too slow to stop him. Orndorff saves Race so Piper comes in for a big four man brawl. Orndorff takes out Race with a clothesline and Hogan’s too slow on the save thus blowing the finish and leaving Orndorff standing around LIKE AN IDIOT, not breaking the fall. Match was hot shit until they screwed up the finish. I love that Piper tells Hogan to get stuffed and walks off as soon as he’s won. Hogan is forced to make his own save and puts another beating on Heenan for good measure.
Final Rating: ***¼
Elimination Tag Match
Macho Man Randy Savage, Harley Race & Adrian Adonis vs. Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat & Junkyard Dog
This was billed as Piper’s last match in MSG. The faces were set to wrestle the heels in singles matches at WrestleMania III. All the heels are in the ‘Mania mood and sell like crazy. Race just throws himself around like he’s 20 years younger. WrestleMania is a magical time of the year and the boys just get themselves so motivated. They all had such hot feuds that every encounter draws huge reactions. Especially for Adonis as he instigates a fight with Piper and then tags out, while Savage and Steamboat have a cameo fight in the background. Slick is on commentary for this one and at every opportunity he makes fun of JYD. When Gorilla suggests throwing the rules out of the window for this one, Slick agrees by saying JYD can’t understand the rules anyway because he can’t read. Anyway, the match keeps breaking down and the three feuds split up into wild brawls all over the place. Someone is guaranteed to get counted out and it’s JYD and Adonis, who happened to be legal. Savage and Piper brawling around in the ring makes me wish that had been a feud while both guys were this mobile. Steamboat against Race is really good too with Race flying around the ring selling Ricky’s chops. Every couple of seconds either Piper or Savage dive in there to join the fight, and it’s during one such interaction that Savage flips a Steamboat cradle over and Race gets the pin. Steamboat gets the MSG crowd all fired up before leaving and Piper’s smile on seeing his 2-on-1 situation sends chills down my spine. Like him or not, the man knew how to tell a story. Piper manages to have two crazy brawls at the same time. Race wins the selling war with Savage. He’s had his Weetabix today. Two or three helpings by the looks of it. They tease Roddy losing, as if he would in his last MSG appearance, with a Race powerslam. Every time Piper gets ahead, he finds another heel there to break up his pinfalls. Savage axe handles Race between the eyes, splitting his wig, and Piper scores the pin. Race gone. Savage, like Orndorff in the last match, spent too long trying to break up the pinfall. Savage manages to get Piper even more pissed off by gobbing a huge mouthful of spit at him. They mess up a clothesline spot with Piper not reading Savage’s intentions. A rare mistake in an epic match. They clash heads and Piper plays possum with Savage on the floor. Thus suckering him into the Big Elbow. Piper moves at the last second and rolls the IC champ up for the win. It was sloppy in places but the emotion, intensity and effort were off the charts. Awesome stuff.
Final Rating: ****¼
Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Pepe Gomez & The Karate Kid
They sure love the midget matches on these tapes, eh? Tokyo is pretty good for a midget and Littlebrook is a funny guy. The faces rock a little rowboat action on those two. Pepe has this bizarre Che Guevara look. The heels miscue throughout and get into a few comedy arguments. At one point, Karate Kid reverses a full nelson three times, causing Tokyo to chop Littlebrook three times in quick succession. Littlebrook gets bumped onto Tokyo and the faces pile on for the shambolic pinfall. One of the best midget matches to feature on Coliseum Home Video.
Final Rating: **¼
Hillbilly Jim vs. Don Muraco
Oh, f*ck it. This was going so well too. Muraco is dressed as Piper. Jim’s first move is shoving his fist up Muraco’s arse and then dancing around the ring, implying Muraco is a pooftah. Taught by Hogan, folks. Plenty of inaction follows. It’s hard to explain why one match that’s all punching and kicking is good, and another one that’s all punching and kicking, is not. It’s not so much about the moves that you use, but how they are used. The effort isn’t here. It’s just not believable. Jim puts Muraco in a bearhug and Fuji runs in for the DQ. Fuji’s post match assault is better than anything in the match.
Final Rating: DUD
Hillbilly Jim vs. Mr. Fuji
Because of Fuji’s criticisms of Jim’s attire last time we get the Tuxedo match. I have never, ever seen a good tuxedo match. Jim sports an all white tux. The whole match is them tearing each other’s clothes off. Come on, promoters, wrestling is gay enough without this shit. They don’t even have the decency to make it quick. It drags on and on with both guys ripping at clothing and doing the minimal amount to protect themselves. Jim rips off Fuji’s trousers to win. If you see “tuxedo match” on a tape its usually a sign to hit fast forward. Or in this case STOP as it’s the last match. It’s an absolute abortion and not even passable as a tuxedo match
Final Rating: -**
Summary: I seriously thought we were onto a winner with this tape. It’s fantastic up to the last couple of matches but they leave a bad taste in the mouth. If you ignore the last two bouts, then it’s a great tape. The six-man elimination match needs to be seen, and both the Hogan tag and Can-Am opener are thoroughly energetic too.