Survivor Series 1987


Survivor Match #1 – Team Macho Man (Macho Man, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake, Jim Duggan, Jake Roberts) vs Team Honky Tonk (Honky Tonk Man, Harley Race, Hercules, Ron Bass, Danny Davis)


Finally, after covering three separate Wrestlemania’s, we get to recap the first Survivor Series.  This was originally held on Thanksgiving Day (in the US) and I’m really looking forward to it.  The rules are simple, there’s two teams of five superstars that face off against each other (ok, maybe like 4 superstars and a token ‘first to get tossed out filler’).

Hey everybody! It's me, Butch Reed! Inexplicably in a Wrestlemania!
Hey everybody! It’s me, Butch Reed! Inexplicably in a Survivor Series!

If a participant gets eliminated then another team member gets in the ring until that team is completely eliminated.  First to eliminate all participants on the other team wins the match.

You’re probably asking what counts as an elimination? I’m glad you asked, and if you didn’t, you should have because this is 1987.   Don’t presume you know all the rules based on watching some Survivor Series PPV’s in the last few years!   A wrestler is eliminated based on one of the following reasons:
1) Pinfall – pretty straight forward
2) Submission – they have to tap out or pass out
3) Count Out – they don’t get back in the ring after a count of 10 – yes it’s a real 10 count, not a slow 10 count that lasts 45 seconds
4) Disqualification – pretty much doing something that the ref doesn’t like or if you keep doing something after he tells you to stop
5) Unable to continue to compete due to injury at the discretion of the ref – yep, the ref can just decide that someone can’t continue – bet you didn’t know this one!

The best part about survivor series matches is that the momentum doesn’t really waiver, there’s enough guys in and around the ring that there’s always something to watch and keep you entertained.

Elimination 1: Harley Race / Hacksaw Jim Duggan double count out

I despise both these morons.  I am so glad they get eliminated early.

Elimination  2& 3: Ron Bass eliminated by Brutus Beefcake / Beefcake gets eliminated by Honkey Tonk

Continuing on with four wrestlers a side, Macho Man and Brutus the Barber Beefcake team up to eliminate Ron Bass (again someone else that no one cares about) when Beefcake hits him with a high flying knee and a quick pin for the 3 count. Beefcake gets rewarded for that victory when the Honky Tonk man nails his Shake Rattle and Roll finisher to even the odds back at 3.

What I find jarring about this whole thing is Ricky Steamboat wrestling beside Macho Man.  It’s a mere 6 months after Wrestlemania, and only 2 days in my own real viewing time.  Macho literally tried to murder Steamboat half a year ago and now they’re partners.

Any of this ringing a bell?
Any of this “ringing a bell?”.  Ha.  Get it?  Because Macho hit him with… you know what, forget it

Elimination 4 & 5: Jake Roberts eliminates Danny Davis / Macho Man eliminates Hercules

Still with me?  It’s at this time in the match that Jake the Snake Roberts enters and the crowd goes absolutely nuts – the decibel level in the arena seriously goes up a notch.  He screws around for awhile and then hits Danny Davis with the sweet, sweet DDT

Danny Davis, seconds before forgetting how to chew and stand unassisted
Danny Davis, seconds before forgetting how to chew and stand unassisted

Next, Hercules comes in and gets eliminated by Macho Man (oh yeah he’s in this match).  The crowd applauds, but not standing in their seats applause, more like a yeah this is good but it’s not “Jake the Snake Roberts good” applause.

Is this nearly over? I came to watch the women's match
Is this nearly over? I came to watch the women’s match

Elimination 6: Honkey Tonk says “fuck this”

Honky Tonk man finally gets fed up for all the love that Roberts is getting, so he just walks out of the ring, grabs his IC title and heads to the back getting himself counted out.

To summarize, team Macho Man ends up with only 2 guys getting eliminated while taking out the team led by the Honky Tonk Man and Survivor Series is well on its way.

Overall: A pretty satisfying opening match to Survivor Series.  6 / 10


Survivor Match #2 – Women’s Match: Team Moola (Moola, Rockin’ Robin, Velvet McIntryre, Jumping Bomb Angels) vs Team Sherri (Sensational Sherri, Glamour Girls, Donna Christianello, Dawn Marie)


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I don’t normally watch women’s matches and this one is no except…. ah, never mind.  If I skip this, the review will be too short.

Elimination 1: Donna Christianello eliminated by Velvet McIntyre

We get off to a roaring start with Velvet going to work early on Team Sherri. This match is full of many hair pulling flips and running clotheslines early on and those thunderous moves are echoing throughout the stadium – echoing because most of the fans are outside taking a smoke or lining up for more beer and nachos. (I wonder if they sold Nacho Man hats full of Nachos like Homer Simpson had.  Man, now I really want some nachos). Finally after some brief moments of actual athleticism from the Bomb Angels, we have our first elimination – Donna Christianello courtesy of Velvet.

I'm assuming this is Ric Flair's Mother
78 is the new 35

Elimination 2 through 5:

Dawn Marie elimnated by Rockin’ Robin
Rockin’ Robin elimnated by Sensational Sherri
Fabulous Moolah eliminated by Judy Martin
Sensational Sherri eliminated by Velvet McIntyre
Velvet McIntyre eliminated by Leilani Kai

After 5 minutes of watching this match I am having a really hard time getting past the outfits that the glamour girls are wearing. Gold and Black with a little heart – I don’t know why but it’s just hideous.  I’m surprised.

I'm not sure why you're surprised
Although given it was the 80’s, I’m not sure what I expected

The hair doesn’t help either. I could overlook some of this if the match itself was actually any good. Moola should never have been in this match as any momentum comes to a grinding halt when she gets involved and I’m pretty sure Rockin’ Robin was just one of costume girls in the back that they threw in the ring.

McMahon - Quick! Can you wrestle? Robin - No, I'm an accounta- McMahon - Perfect! Put on this bathing suit! Match starts in 8 minutes!
McMahon – Quick! Can you wrestle?
Robin – No, I’m an accountant and – 
McMahon – Perfect! Put on this bathing suit! Match starts in 8 minutes!

The fact that she has no muscle definition or actual wrestling skills is surprisingly keeping my attention just to see if she will get seriously injured – but no, the WWF had one job and they screwed that up.  She actually eliminates someone and then get’s eliminated herself from a normal suplex – good job… said no one ever!

Elimination 6 /7 : Leilani Kai and Judy Martin eliminated by the Bomb Angels

The only entertaining part of this match (aside from writing this kick ass review) is the Jumping Bomb Angels. They display some nice agility and pull off some decent moves while just screaming incoherently the whole time.  In the end they manage to get the teams down to a classic 2 on 2 tag match with the Bomb Angels and the Hideous Glamour Girls facing off before the Bomb Angels manage to drop some high risk moves off the top rope to pick up the victory.

The real highlight of the night is when one of the Jumping Bomb Angels actually drop kicks Jimmy Hart off the apron. The guy literally falls backwards so that his head would hit the floor first a la pile driver style.  I’m sitting here wondering if he’s unconscious, dead, paralyzed and really if they cut to another match or promo I could have been left with my own imagination and come up with tons of scenarios but no, he just gets up and walks away. Sigh.

You'd think he'd know how to take a hit by now
You’d think he’d know how to take a hit by now

Overall: 3/10 but only because Jimmy Hart broke his neck


Survivor Match #3 – Tag Team Match: The Killer B’s, The British Bulldogs, Strike Force, The Young Stallions, The Rougeaus vs. The Islanders, The Dream Team, The Bolsheviks, The Hart Foundation, Demolition


This match is a 5 on 5, tag team event – 10 tag teams, 20 men.  If one member of the tag team get pinned (or equivalent) then the whole team is out.  Narratively, I have no insight into what has happened in the 6 months since Wrestlemania 3 since we’re only watching the Pay Per Views.  I am confused on a few points:

– The Bolsheviks?  What happened to the Iron Sheik?

– Strike Force?  Wasn’t Rick Martel just in the Can Am Connection?  Did he drop Tom Zenk already?  He barely gave him a chance!

All hail the mighty Zenk
Martel does not return my texts.  The mighty Zenk just wants to talk!

Elimination 1: Bolsheviks eliminated by flying forearm from Tito

The match kicks off and the Bolsheviks are eliminated pretty quickly with a beautiful flying forearm by Tito.  That move is spectacular.  The action continues through a series of quick tags and the crowd is pretty quiet through the whole thing.  You know what, maybe they can’t see the action with that many guys around the ring.

There's no "maybe" about it.
There’s no “maybe” about it.

Elimination: Jaques Rougeau gets eliminated by Ax after missing a move like a moron

I find it very fitting that the Rougeau Bro gets eliminated by being terrible.  It’s appropriate, because the Rougeaus are also terrible.  To be clear, the Rougeaus are sometimes randomly terrible, but at other times, they’re specifically terrible.  Anyway, Frenchie misses a move and Ax capitalizes.  We’re 6 minutes into the match and I’m underwhelmed.

Elimination 3: Smash (Demolition) eliminated by randomly assaulting the ref

We keep going, and the match so far is mostly just punching and tags, punching and tags, punching and tags.  Paul Roma is in there a lot, and that guy has no idea how to sell a move.  It looks like wrestling a log.

Out of nowhere, Ax is eliminated for assaulting the ref, for no apparent reason.  That was really clumsy.  I’m not even sure the crowd gets what happened.

Elimination 4: Tito (Strike Force) eliminated by pin from Bret

11 minutes into the match and Bret Hart finally enters the ring.  This is another very abrupt elimination that I had to rewind to figure out what happened.  Neidhart gets nailed with Tito’s flying forearm.  Tito goes in for the pin and Bret breaks the count.  Then <scene deleted> and Strike Force is eliminated.  Weirdly shitty camera cuts prevent me from seeing what actually happened.

It's essentially like trying to deconstruct the Zapruder film
It’s like trying to deconstruct the Zapruder film

Elimination 5: Dynamite Kid (British Bulldogs) taken down by massive kick from Haiku

Now comes the dark period of this match.  10 incredibly dull minutes where nothing of any consequence happens.  Holy moly, this is a really uneven, boring event.  Eventually Dynamite headbutts Haku, which leads to Haku kicking him in the face, followed by the pin.  Makes sense.

Elimination 6: Valentine (Dream Team) eliminated by Sunset Flip from Paul Roma

It’s at this point I realized that Dino Bravo and Valentine have barely been in this, nor have the Killer Bees.  It’s a ton of Young Stallions though.  That has to be just about one of the worst names because it’s so obviously the name of a gay porno which makes talking about them awkward.  I’m not even joking, click here to buy the video from http://www.buygay.com.  And now I need to explain to my wife why I’m browsing gay videos.  

Just to be clear, I have no problem with the porno being gay, just that it’s so obviously a porno name.  It would be like a female tag team called the “Slut Hungry Dykes” or “Cum Addled School Sluts”.  I would absolutely watch that team perform, so maybe Vince knows exactly what he’s doing.

It's called "brand synergy"
It’s called “brand synergy”

Anyhow!  It’s actually a great Sunset Flip off the top rope to eliminate the Hammer

Elimination 7: Bret (Hart Foundation) eliminated by Killer B through a series of absurd circumstances

Another pretty dull stretch of wrestling.  The time between these pins is really tedious.  Eventually the Hart Foundation are eliminated by a weird move where Niedhart ends up drop kicking a killer B who ends up on top of Bret for the pin.  Honestly, it’s a weird finish.  The crowd hardly reacts.

Elimination 8: Islander eliminated by Killer B through another series of absurd circumstances

You know, this whole match feels like it was set up to put over the Cock-Starved Young Stallions.  Now we just have the Islanders left and another tedious 6 minutes of wrestling.  You’d think they’d use the momentum to slip in a quick pin, but not.  They just.  Keep.  Wrestling.

The match finally ends when the killer B’s throw on their masks and make themselves indistinguishable to the refs.  The illegal man comes into the ring without the tag, gets the quick pin with a move off the ropes and it’s all over.

Bees!
                                      Bees!

Overall:  This match was pretty terrible and uneven.  0 / 20


Survivor Match #4 – Team Andre (Ravishing Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, “The Natural” Butch Reed, One Man Gang, Andre The Giant) vs. Team Hogan (Ken Patera, Bam Bam Bigalow, Paul Orndorff, Don Moraco, Hulk Hogan)


Well I’m confused again.  When did Paul Orndorff and Moraco become good guys?  I don’t remember Moraco ever turning face.  This is the problem with only watching the PPV’s, there is a ton of stuff I don’t remember.

Here’s something else – Bundy and One Man Gang are exactly the same size.  In fact, they might be the same person.  When Bundy needs to wrestle as One Man Gang, he just straps a mowhawk to his head.  I’m positive this is the case.  Just consider – when have you ever seen them in a match together?

Aside from this exact second I mean
Aside from this exact second I mean

Elimination 1: Hogan eliminates Butch Reed

Jesus Christ, “The Rock” Don Moraco is just jacked. What is it with guys named the Rock?

Can you smell what either Rock is cooking? Hint - It's insane amount of steroids.
Can you smell what either Rock is cooking? Hint – It’s insane amount of steroids.

The match starts off with a bunch of tags and guys jumping in and out of the ring.  Rick Rude gets beaten up for awhile and the crowd is on their feet as the intensity and excitement of this match is ramped up to 10+.  For example, Bam Bam presses Rude, which is… really surprising.  I didn’t think Bam Bam had it in him.

I'm sure Rick Rude was also unhappily surprised
I’m sure Rick Rude was also unhappily surprised

Then Ken Patera tags in and the crowd sits back down and goes to the concession for Nacho hats. Butch reed comes in, things happen, Hogan drops the leg and we have our first elimination of the match. That was a great start – tons of power moves, lots of action.

Take note, horrible Tag Team match that has already happened.

Elimination 2: One Man Gang eliminates Ken Patera
Andre comes in to take care of business and starts off against Ken Patera. This doesn’t even need a snappy analogy – this matchup is exactly as lopsided as Andre The Giant fighting Ken Patera. Andre says fuck this and in comes Bundy.  More offense from Team Hogan and we have some back and forth from the group. Eventually Patera ends up with One Man Gang and the crowd starts chanting.  I honestly can’t make out what they’re saying – it sounds like “Front Face Lock” which is exactly the move Gang is giving Patera.  That.. that can’t be right?

No, it's not right. They're chanting "Andre Sucks".
No, it’s not right. They’re chanting “Andre Sucks”.

Regardless, none of this is particularly helpful to K.P. Eventually the Gang more or less falls on Patera and gets the pin. Front Face Lock indeed.

Then One Man Gang just kind of... sits down.
Then One Man Gang just kind of… sits down.

Elimination 3 & 4 & 5: Rick Rude eliminates Paul Orndorff / Moraco eliminates Rick Rude / One Man Gang eliminates Moraco

The next few eliminations happen in pretty quick succession. These guys are doing a fantastic job keeping the energy up. The crowd is on their feet for most of the match and the pace is pretty frantic. Rude and Orndorff square off for a bit, and Rude nails him with a small package.  Hogan jumps in to keep the fight going and him and Moraco take turns beating on Rude like he was Danny Davis.  Moraco hits Rude with a power slam for the pin and we’re down to 3 on 3.  Moraco keeps going against Bundy before mixing it up with One Man Gang.  Moraco goes for the slam, can’t pull it off and gets pinned.

Elimination 6: H.. Hogan?
Next up is the fat battle, with Gang and King Kong taking turns putting it to Bam Bam.

It's called "brand synergy"
With these guys, that sentence has a different context

They can’t bring in Andre because he can barely move.  Bam Bam carries the match by himself, just acting as a throw cushion for the beating he’s taking.  Finally Andre comes in, misses a move and the tag is made to Hogan.  The crowd explodes as WM3 repeats itself.  Hogan beats up everyone before being pulled out of the ring by Bundy.  More mayhem ensues with Hogan slamming both Bundy and One Man Gang before getting counted out of the ring.

The crowd is not happy.

Elimination 7 & 8: Bam Bam eliminates Bundy and One Man Gang.
It’s just Bam Bam vs. everyone.  I did not see this coming.  Bam Bam does what he can to keep the momentum going by eliminating Bundy, but it just takes too much out of him.  Gorilla is in on the gag too, and says “One Man Gang having a field day.. as Bam Bam is wide open”.

It's called "brand synergy"
Heh

Jokes aside, I’m really impressed by Bam Bam’s performance this match. I was always indifferent to him, but this bout may have changed my mind.  He is doing a great job carrying the action.  One Man Gang misses off the top rope (which is an odd sentence to type) and Bam gets the cover.  Holy shit!  It’s Bam Bam vs. Andre!  This going to be….

Elimination 9: Andre wins!
… over in 2 minutes.  This isn’t much of a surprise. Bam Bam is pretty exhausted at this point and Andre can barely move, so the end comes quickly. Andre does some weird combination side suplex / arm bar / collapse for the pin.

MRAGGLAUghhhh. So tired
MRAGGLAUggghhhhhhh. So tired

To the surprise of no one, Hogan runs back into the ring, chases Andre out and then poses for a bit.

Overall: I was pleasantly surprised by this match. 9/14

 

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Wrestlemania II

Christ, here we go.  I am not looking forward to this one, as I recall WM2 is terrible.  Will it have aged like a fine wine?  Or soured like a fine ballsack?


 1. Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff vs. Don Moraco


Orndorff, pictured here in a rare instance of racial insensitivity in the WWE
Orndorff, pictured here in a rare instance of racial insensitivity in the WWE

For Wrestlemania 2, they made a couple of terrible decisions, which, combined with the lackluster matches, conspired to sink the show before it began.  Bad decision #1 – splitting the venue.   Bad decision #2 – guest commentators.  For this match we have the “electric” duo of Vince McMahon and Susan St. James.  Unsurprisingly, they’re terrible together.  He is still finding his rhythm and I don’t believe she has ever watched wrestling.  She might think that it’s boxing – not sure. This match is a pretty quick affair – they exchange some moves and then get counted out.  Meh.

Overall: I am too apathetic to provide a rating


2. Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele


First impression is that Macho Man was so lean and tiny compared to the last time I saw him as the Bone Saw guy in Spiderman 1.

Humans are supposed to look like they're about to explode, right?
Humans are supposed to look like they’re about to explode, right?

Ugh.  I do not like George Steele.  The shtick really gets old fast, and it’s not entertaining enough to last a match.   Macho does the best he can here, but he’s really working against a stacked deck.  The entire thing is punches, bites, flowers, turnbuckles.  The only bright side is this exchange:

Susan St. James: He may not be smart, but he has respect for women!

Vince: Indeed he does!

Way to set that bar pretty frigging low, gang.  George’s respect for women has been to stare at Elizabeth like a piece of chocolate.  His only advantage over Macho Man is that he’s not openly physically abusive.  Note – at this point, Susan St. James was married to Dick Emersol.  Is there a deeper meaning here?

Ho hum, Macho hits flying elbow, Steele kicks out, Macho gets pin using ropes.  Dull, terrible match.

Overall: two crummy matches for two


3. George Wells vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts


Pictured: George Wells
Pictured: George Wells

How is this the buildup match for the venue?  George Wells is introduced to a tepid smattering of applause and Jake enters to no music to and complete, apathetic silence.  The match itself has a decent pace to it, with both guys keeping the speed up….fjsoeirfslnfsouf9f9f999999999 Wow, sorry about that.  I blacked out on my keyboard due to sarcastic boredom.  The only highlight of this match is you can start to see some of the signature Jake the Snake moves that he’d incorporate into his routine:

Jakeisms

A. Pointing to his head showing how smart he is after ducking a move

B. Sprawled askew on the ropes

C. Sexually uncomfortable and inappropriate pin technique

Overall:  Vince refers to the DDT as a “oh no, he dropped him right on his head!”.  Fuck this match and fuck George Wells . 1/20


4. Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Mr T


Fan reaction to watching this match
Fan reaction to watching this match

Here’s how I would assume the conversation went the day after Wrestlemania 2 in Long Island:

Guy 1: Hey man, how was that massive pile of shit you paid money to eat last night?

Guy 2: Long and horrible!  But at least I got to hear the soothing, shrieking voice of Joan Rivers announce the ringside judges for the Piper / T match.  And goddamn if she wasn’t drunk.

Apparently in boxing it is common to have ringside judges.  For this match they had NBA star “Chocolate Thunder” Darryl Dawkins.  Cab Callaway… Herb…. what is even happening right now?

“No, even I don’t know who the frig Herb is” – sincerely, 1986

She finishes by announcing “Our third judge, one of my favorite Watergate judges – G. Gorden Liddy”.  What does that mean?  What could that possibly mean?  How drunk is she?

Seriously, she confused him with this guy, which is like confusing Kenneth Lay for Sim Lake. Not one single person is going to get that joke.
Seriously, she confused him with this guy, which is like confusing Kenneth Lay for Sim Lake. Not one single person is going to get that joke.

This match was a terrible idea.  I am astounded this is the main event.  Every single element of this match is handled terribly.  Here is what Piper has to say about it.  I have helpfully underlined the sentances where I do not understand one single goddamn word of what Piper is saying.

“It was one of the worst matches of my life. Why?  In that match with Mr. T, they didn’t trust me.  I had done some boxing.  I trained for 5 weeks for this fight.  They taped my fists up solid and then put it in the gloves.  He was scared.  At the end of the day it was my fault, let’s make that clear.  Those boxing gloves are thumbless.  Mr. T was supposed to throw a left-cross.  They asked me for a little show-business.  So when he threw the left, I was supposed to go through the ropes to the floor.  But when he threw it, he missed.  He was all tired.  They really protected him.  We got an old saying, I would rather you punch my teeth down my throat then throw a popcorn punch!

Overall: I feel very sorry for Long Island.  1 out of a million


 5. Velvet McIntyre vs Fabulous Moola


Welcome to Chicago!
Welcome to Chicago!

I don’t normally watch women’s matches.  This one is no exception.

Overall: ??

 


6.  Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner


Sigh. Fine
Sigh. Fine

The rumor is that this match was originally supposed to be against Sargent Slaughter.  As the story goes, Slaughter was scheduled to appear in a non-televised match a couple weeks earlier.  Prior to the match starting he told Vince he was not going to wrestle without a raise.  Vince agreed, the match happened and then he immediately fired Slaughter when the match was over.  This left Vince with a hole for Wrestlemania 2, so Kirchner was a last minute stand in. What I think is fantastic is a Corporal is the literal rank below a Sargent.  Presumably if Kirchner had not worked out, they would have gotten Specialist Mitchell, then PFC Fernandez, eventually topping out at Private Wrestler.

Featured: Private Wrestler and his unexpectedly massive coin sack
Featured: Private Wrestler and his unexpectedly massive coin sack

The match is boringly indifferent.  Kirchner is not a talented wrestler, and Nickolai is only as decent as his opponent.  The match ends quickly as Kirchner nails Volkoff with a cane thrown by Freddie Blassie.  1-2-3, another dull mid-card bites the dust

Overall: This match – Ha-Phooey!  


7. Battle Royal


No, not this one
No, not this one

Lots of “classic” wrestlers in this match who were absent from Wrestlemania 1.  King Tonga, Pedro Morales, Hillbilly Jim, Danny Spivey.. what a miserable group!  But it’s the first Wrestlemania for Bret Hart!  I have no idea what the thought was for adding football players to this.  Did this decision somehow boost their attendance?  Were Iron Mike Sharpe and Steve Lombardi booked and they couldn’t fill the ring?

I remember thinking this match was the greatest thing I’d ever seen when I first watched it as a kid.  It does not really age well.  It’s kind of an interesting affair, but mostly you’re just waiting for the ring to clear out to get down to the final four.  There are some mildly interesting eliminations, specifically the Big John Studd putting the Fridge over the top. My favorite part of this match was seeing the Hart Foundation against Andre.  It’s the only time we’d see that particular match up.  Some great moves at the end, and it finishes with Andre throwing Bret Hart right onto Neidhart.

Overall: A great match for what it was at the time.  20 man / 40 man


 8. British Bulldogs vs. Brutus Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine


Pre-crank days
Pre-crank days

This remains one of my favorite tag matches of all time.  This is to tag matches was Macho Man vs. Steamboat is for singles matches.  This one event might single-handedly save all of Wrestlemania 2 and make the it worthwhile.

I'm terrible!
On the other hand….

This match has incredible moves with really great back and forth between the teams.  Brutus and Valentine were a great heel team and this was the Bulldogs at the top of their game.  Dynamite Kid could really move for a dude his size.  The teams pull out all the stops, both sides just coming up with some fantastic and unexpected bumps

Like this one, for example
Like this one, for example

Brutus does this fantastic move to Davey Boy where he puts him in a hammer lock and picks him up and throws him on his back.  I had literally never seen that move before, and it was just incredible

Honestly, just a thing of beauty. Davey Boy's back may disagree
Honestly, just a thing of beauty. Davey Boy’s back may disagree

The match has one of the all-time great endings, with Dynamite Kid perching on the ropes and Davey Boy ramming Valentine’s head against it.  He falls on top of him for the pin, and the bell ringer goes insane, hitting the bell about 40 times in 3 seconds.  The crowed loses their minds.  Great end to a great match

Overall: 10/10


 9. Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat


Sup ladies
Sup again, ladies

I’ve said it before, Steamboat can’t have a bad match.   The match is generally fine, with some pretty decent moves  Hercules noticeably has trouble keeping up with the pace Steamboat is trying to set.   A few of the moves are visibly sloppy, with Hercules needing more time to lumber into the move setup. Steamboat dominates almost all of this match.  Herc launches a little offense, but nothing too significant.  Steamboat does a great job selling everything Herc is throwing at him.  The match does was it’s supposed to and gets the crowd warmed up. It ends with Steamboats High Cross Body and a great start to the third venue.  Shit, maybe this entire Wrestlemania is really starting to find its footing

I'm terrible!
Nope

Overall: Not a terrible followup to the tag match but really not a big match you would expect at WM2. 4.10


 10. Uncle Goddamn Elmer vs. Adorable Adrian Adonis


Uncle Elmer looks exactly like Louis CK, just fatter
Uncle Elmer looks exactly like Louis CK, just fatter

I hate both these wrestlers, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this match.  Adrian Adonis wasn’t that bad as a wrestler, but his entire shtick rings as grotesquely mean-spirited in 2015 and it’s pretty uncomfortable to watch.   The match itself is a piece of shit.  The only surprise is that Adonis wins clean without cheating. At least we’re back to completely horrible matches that Wrestlemania 2 is known for.  God forbid it got decent for even a half second

I'm terrible!
Not on my watch!

 Overall: 2 / 47


 11. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog vs. Terry and Hoss Funk


The Funktabulous Funk Brothers, Funking it up, taking no Funk
The Funktabulous Funk Brothers, Funking it up, taking no Funk

Well okay, a couple things here.  For starters, we’ve already had the best tag match of all time tonight, so these guys have a pretty high bar to hit.  Secondly, this was the penultimate match of Wrestlemania 2?  The Funking Funk brothers and JYD? I have incredibly low expectations for this match.

I can’t remember why they did it, but I feel like they just crammed JYD and Santana together in the hopes that their combined popularity would result in magic.  Mission not accomplished. Part of the problem with this match is that Terry Funk and Santana are fantastic wrestlers.  JYD is not.  He fucks up the pace of the match every time he enters the ring.  He’s overwhelmingly the more popular wrestler, but there is no accounting for the fans in 1986.  They’re idiots. The match ends because time rolls inexorably forward, it’s relentless march making fools of all as we dance futilely in the hourglass of the years.  For every season, turn, turn, turn.

So are the days of our lives
So are the days of our lives

Overall: Matches with JYD make me understand my own mortality.  7/12


12. Hulk Hogan Vs. King Kong Bundy


The Pre-match promos feature Hogan working out in his “private gym”

Not only that, the guy in the tank top is Hogan's Doctor. The guy in the tank top. And how did Hillbilly Jim get there, wasn't he in Chicago for the Battle Royale? How did he get to LA so quickly?
How did Hillbilly Jim get there, wasn’t he in Chicago for the Battle Royal? How did he get to LA so quickly?

Not only that, the guy in the tank top is Hogan’s Doctor.  The guy in the tank top.  The implication is that Hogan, before receiving medical attention, forced his personal doctor to wear his branded merchandise.

The recap for this match features one of my favorite moments from wrestling of all time.  In the workup, Bundy attacks Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event and avalanches him a bunch of time.  Hogan collapses, pretending to be unconscious and leads to this exchange:

McMahon: He looks unconscious!

Jesse: (quiet, awed) I believe you’re right.  I believe he is unconscious.

It is the best acting Jesse has ever done in his life…

Literally
Literally

..and led to years of me and my friends using that line whenever one of us failed at anything –  “I believe you’re right.  I believe he is unconscious”. Anyhow!  This match is a pretty dull affair.  It was pretty great at the time but after decades of Hell in a Cell and TLC matches it seems pretty tame.  The biggest surprise is Bundy cutting himself open, it’s a nice touch for a Wrestlemania. I have to say, I’m pretty exhausted by this point.  It was just such a shitty PPV, not even a Hogan match can save it for me.  I’m just glad this is over.

Overall:  Finally!  Bed time!  3/122

Wrestlemania I Recap


1.  Tito Santana vs. The Executioner (Buddy Rose)


I'm sad. So very, very sad.
I’m sad. So very, very sad.

And here we go.  The very first match of the very first Wrestlemania.  A very solid, standard work by both Santana and The Executioner to kick off what would would become the WWE’s signature Pay Per View event.  The match itself is nothing special, with some very standard back and forth, but there are some elements of the match that just seem very quaint and charming compared to wrestling in 2015:

  • No entrance, both competitors start in the ring.  They continued with this trend almost right through Wrestlemania 3.  It took them 4 years to get the hang of the entrance and the understanding about how that component of the match is almost as fun as the match itself
  • They dub the executioner as “parts unknown, weight unknown”.  The implication being he literally refused to participate in the weigh in and they couldn’t eyeball it.  I guess he also got paid in cash if he wouldn’t reveal where he’s from?  What does the “from” in wrestling signify anyways?  Where you born, or where you currently lived?  Why would the executioner be from parts unknown?  I’d hazard a guess that he’s American, but couldn’t they take a stab at that either?
  • “I have not seen of late this particular executioner”.  Man, Gorilla Monsoon is the best.  After The Executioner headbutts Tito, he follows up with this comment: “Might we one of his forte’s, we really can’t tell at this time”.  They are really playing up the angle that they have no idea who this wrestler is.  It’s fantastic.  How would that booking even realistically work?  Did he show up backstage in the mask, just say “I’m one of several Executioners, I want to wrestle at your signature event.”?  I guess they shrugged and said sure?  This is why wrestling is the greatest sport on Earth.
  • Absolutely no room outside the ring.  This carries through all of Wrestlemania – the action really stayed in the ring.  There is almost no outside match to speak of.
  • Tito’s Flying forearm was a great finisher and he really sold the move.  It just goes to show that you don’t need something absurdly complicated (I’m looking at you Sister Abigail) to have a great finisher.  It also shows how a great wrestler can sell a really simple move and how terrible wrestlers can’t (I’m looking at you Superman Punch)

Overall: A very good start to both WWE Replay and Wrestlemania: 16 out of 22

 


 2. Special Delivery (SD) Jones vs. King Kong Bundy


Mere seconds before my destruction
Mere seconds before my destruction

There is so little to stay about this match.  The entire thing existed to put Bundy over as an unstoppable monster.  Bundy wins in 8 seconds.

Here’s a fun fact (citation needed): after the match was over, SD Jones was so disillusioned by wrestling that he immediately quit the sport to play football as “Special Delivery” Eddie Jones – a white running back who played for the Chicago Bears in 1941.  This required him to build a functional time machine, which he fashioned out of old watch parts and a calculator.  This would eventually prove to be the inspiration for the hit show, Quantum Leap which aired just 4 years later.  SD Jones was never credited with its creation.

Edgar_Jones,_Cleveland_Browns_running_back,_in_1948
Him. He became this guy

Overall: Ultimately Quantum Leap was a brilliant series, marred by a very disappointing finale.  4 / 12


3. Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne


Sup ladies
Sup ladies

I don’t think it’s possible for Steamboat to have a bad match.  I really don’t.  What I find kind of interesting is when I was a kid watching this, I thought Steamboat was a “small” guy.  But look at him!  He’s jacked!  I think it’s just a measure of how fast he was that he could be considered as one of the smaller wrestlers.  Alternately I have a horrible memory.  Either or.

Generally, nothing wrong with this match at all.  It’s great to see some of the moves that you don’t see anymore, specifically the atomic drop.  No one does those anymore, but why?  It’s a great move!

Steamboat ends the match with what I thought was called a “high cross body” but that Jesse Ventura calls “A beautiful flying… tackle.. off the top rope, a la Jimmy Snuka” or “ABFTOTTRALJS”.

Overall: Fun fact: Matt Bourne is “Doink the Clown”!  18/21


4. Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino


I'm a fat piece of shit
I’m a fat piece of shit

Wow, what a total piece of garbage this match is, that I am completely not excited for.  Here’s a question though – why did they list Brutus Beefcake as parts unknown?  I thought they only did that for guys with masks.

The only mystery here is why he thought

This match is really, really slow.  Just a lot of jockying for position, arm locks and a series of amateur takedowns.  Sammartino is a plodding, slow wrestler.  He moves with all the speed of an amateur screenwriter finishing a coffee in starbucks.  If he was continental drift, I’d be typing this from Africa.  His attacks are as gently ineffective as an occupy movement.  Philosophy majors find meaningful employment faster than he can land a headlock.

The one bright light in this otherwise horrific match is that it ends

Overall: Obviously, I hated this match.  0 / 10

 


5. Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine


Thump
Thump

Gorilla calls him “The Juker”.  Was that a thing we were ever doing in 1985?  I can’t stress enough how much I dislike the Junkyard Dog.  For example, if him and David Sammartino were forced into a kissing contest, I would not be turned on.

Here’s the challenge with JYD.  His entire in-ring persona was based on his spectacular  charisma.  The crowd absolutely loved the guy, and he rose to be an insanely popular mid-card solely on the strength of his personality.  His actual wrestling skills – at least to the extent they were displayed in the WWE – were virtually non-existent.  So to be a fan of his, you have to fine him entertaining for himself.  Which I don’t.  <Shrug>.  Different strokes I guess.

This match ends with Valentine putting his feet on the ropes for the pin.  Before the match can end, Tito Santana runs out and sets the ref straight.  The ref agrees with the random Mexican stranger who interrupts the match to explain what he saw from the dressing room 300 meters away and appropriately decides to change his own decision without going to the replay, the timekeeper, any of the photographers at ringside or the commentators.

Fun fact about Greg Valentine – this entire page of insanity

Overall: Another match bites the dust. 2 / 72

 


6. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo


Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!
Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!

Here are some things I apparently cannot spell.  Sheik, Nikolai, Volkoff, Windham, Rotundo.  This match is a challenge to recap for me.

Volkoff singing the Russian anthem before the match has to be one of the best heel moves in the history of wrestling, followed by the Sheik’s cutting geopolitical punditry: “Russia!  Number One!  Iran!  Number One!  USA!  Ha-phooey!”.

I love Windham and Mike Rotundo as a tag team, and I don’t know why.  While they were not the most exciting duo, they ushered in an era of –

Wait, is their entrance version of “Born in the USA” a weird, elevator-music instrumental only version?  Holy crap, it is.  Why aren’t they using the real version?  Also, why do half the pages list Mike Rotundo’s name as “Rotunda”?  A Rotunda is any ground building with a circular floor plan, not one half of the (eventual) USA Express.

The point is – this is a pretty decent match.  Sheik and Volkoff were a great heel tag team and Rotundo and Windham really did work well together.  The arm drag by Rotundo on the Sheik is gorgeous.  The crown pops through the whole match and it’s a lot of fun.

Overall: USA!  USA!


7. Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd


Spoilers in the above picture I guess
Spoilers in the above picture I guess

It’s a shame that by the time the WWE really hit the mainstream in the 80’s Andre was already a few years past his prime.  For anyone whose only impression of Andre is the Wrestlemania 3 matches, go back and watch some of his stuff from the 70’s.  He could move for a guy his size.

Sadly, by the time WM1 came around we had this Andre – a poor man nearly crippled by acromegaly.   He gives it his all in this match, but he didn’t really have many moves left at this point.  A match consisting entirely of punches and kicks.  John Studd does a great job with what he has.

The match ends with the slam and despite his condition, Andre scoops up Studd like a child.

Overall: Anybody want a peanut?


8. Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter


You wouldn't know it, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf
You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf

I don’t normally watch women’s matches.  This one is no exception.

Overall: ??


9. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff


Obvious, fool-pitying joke here
Obvious, fool-pitying joke here

Here we go, the main event!  Hogan!  Piper!  S..Snuka?  Funny, I thought in Wrestlemania 1 Hogan was still using Eye of the Tiger as his entrance music.  For anyone who doesn’t remember this, before the days when the WWE commissioned all their songs (and thereby avoided pesky licensing fees) they used to use actual music.  Hogan originally came into Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.  While “Real American” has grown into it’s cultural significance, it really can’t compare to the pop he used to get.  Check out the difference.

Well that’s interesting.  Now thanks to Garfunkel and Oates, when I hear “Eye of the Tiger” all I can think of is “Sports, Go Sports

Hogan and Piper are just filthy with Charisma.  For the first minutes of this match it’s just Hogan and Piper posturing for the crowd and it’s literally the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.  The crowd agrees with me, they’re on their feet for basically the whole match.  The first few minutes is all heat and it’s fantastic.  Piper and Hogan were incredible in a way that wrestlers today just aren’t.

I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why Hogan works and Cena doesn’t.  Because essentially they’re the same wrestler – big, good looking guys with incredibly limited repertoires of moves who win their matches by being indestructible.  Same matches every time.  Here’s what I’ve come up with, and it boils down to sweat.  Bear with me.

In order for the Hogan / Cena match template to work, they need to create a suspension of disbelief with the crowd – namely that they might actually lose.  We know they’re not actually going to lose, but they need to sell us on the concept, and the degree they’re successful doing that is how well they sell moves.  Hogan is not necessarily better at selling moves than Cena, but within 4 minutes of any match, Hogan is just absolutely bathed in sweat.  His hair is soaking wet and he’s actually glistening.  This really helps give the impression that Hogan is struggling.  Whereas with Cena – he’s too athletic and really in shape.  He’s just a fantastic athlete who glides effortlessly through the matches.  He never feels like he’s in any danger, so it’s tough for the crowd to really get invested.  Whereas with Hogan you think “Christ, this 40 year old man might actually die of a heart attack”.

Anyway, this entire match is a fantastic end to to the show.  Hogan, Piper and Orndorff are all at the top of their game.  The match has great flow and the crowd is over the top for the whole thing.  The match ends when Bob Orton misses Hogan with the cast off the top ropes and hits Orndorff instead.   In the 80’s I would estimate that 75% of matches ended by either the heel hitting his own partner with a foreign object, or small package out of nowhere.

Overall: Sports, Go Sports!  9/5/11