Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 8-Ball. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to once again treat you to eight things that tie into professional wrestling, ranked in my personal order of preference.
Of course, we are approaching the end of 2012, and, because of that, I have to apologize if my columns seem a little bit light for the next couple of weeks. It’s a busy time of year for yours truly. (It doesn’t help that, this week, I volunteered to participate in Fact or Fiction.) Hopefully I’m going to be able to come up with some fun concepts to make up for it.
My next attempt is below the logo . . .
Top 8 Moments from Land of 1,000 Dances
In the 1980’s, music videos became all the rage. MTV launched early in the decade and proved to be an immediate smash on cable. From there, the music video was virtually unstoppable. Wrestling promotions across the country got in on the action, from World Class to Memphis to Mid-South Wrestling. However, the World Wrestling Federation has almost always been at the top of the heap in terms of wrestling production values, so it’s no surprise that they won the wrestling music video arms race.
Perhaps the pinnacle of WWF music videos was “Land of 1,000 Dances,” released in conjunction with The Wrestling Album (now just referred to in the WWE corporate offices as simply The Album) in 1985. In fact, as a wrestling fan, I probably have to rank it in my top ten favorite music videos of all time, wrestling-related or not.
The video, for those of you who haven’t seen it, features the vast majority of the WWF roster of the era sharing a stage and singing the song. Because there are so many wrestlers up there, there is a TON going on, which is why this week, as a tribute to the greatness that is the video, I am able to count down my eight favorite moments in the WWF “Land of 1,000 Dances” video.
8. You Pencil-Necked Geek!
Who doesn’t love the “Hollywood Fashion Plate” Freddie Blassie? Blassie had his own novelty song based on his famous catchphrase, and it’s great that he gets to bust it out in this song as well.
7. Splotila naveki velikaya Rus’!
There have been a lot of musical gimmicks in wrestling, but, believe it or not, the only guy in the WWF who had a singing gimmick in the WWF at this time was Nikolai Volkoff. That’s why it’s hilarious that, about halfway through this song, Volkoff busts in to his classic rendition of the Soviet national anthem.
6. Uncle Elmer . . . just Uncle Elmer
I have no clue why Uncle Elmer was given a starring role in this music video. He wasn’t a long-term WWF superstar, and he wasn’t even a hot act on the rise. He was Hillbilly Jim’s second banana. The only thing I understand less than why Elmer is featured here is the point of what he’s saying . . . “I don’t talk good, but my pigs talk better.” Huh? It’s delightfully random.
5. Wait, Meat Loaf?
Yeah, Meat Loaf. The 1970’s rock star, who was still eight years away from his “I Would Do Anything for Love” comeback, guest stars in the video. For some reason, he’s playing the drums, something he was never particularly known for . . . and the cameras KEEP going back to him. It’s like they planned a star-studded video but all the celebrities except Meat cancelled at the last minute, so he just gave them all of their cameos. The Loaf wouldn’t be seen again in wrestling until Randy Orton RKO’ed him in 2010.
4. The Heel/Face Divide
I’m not entirely sure why, but there’s something about the fact that the heels and the faces in the video had to be placed on separate risers is something that makes me smile every time. Perhaps it’s because it serves as a reminder of simpler days when compared to modern wrestling, when I can’t even tell who the heels and faces are half the time. Seriously, am I supposed to want to cheer the Miz?
3. Orndorff Turns Bicep-tual
Kissing your biceps to the beat of the music is bloody brilliant. That is all.
2. Vince & Gene’s Enthusiasm
Many different wrestlers have lines in this song. Some of them clearly would rather be doing anything else than laying down lyrics for a wrestling-themed album. Others clearly give it the old college try, but they’re just not performers attuned to this kind of work. However, there are two men who, based on sheer enthusiasm alone, KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK. I’m talking about Vince McMahon and Gene Okerlund, who are so over the top with their delivery that I laughed out loud the first time that I saw them do it as an adult. It’s amazing that this is the same Vince McMahon who has spent the better part of the last fifteen years trying to convince us that he is the coolest, most virile senior citizen on the planet
1. Coked Up Roddy Piper
Really, Piper was the biggest highlight of the entire Wrestling Album. This was during the period of time that the Rowdy One was a can’t miss promo, carrying with him an insane energy that couldn’t help but make you pay attention to him. That’s definitely case throughout this track and throughout this video, where he continues his feud with Hulk Hogan by taking potshots at the Hulkster and ultimately leads to the breakdown of the song.
And, of course, I couldn’t do this column without giving you the full video . . . I SAID CLAP YO’ HANDS~!
Special thanks to Dave Prazak for inspiring this edition of the 8-Ball by posting the video on Facebook earlier this week.
That’s it for this week’s 8-Ball. If you can’t get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.