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Dark Pegasus Video Review: The Wrestling Classic

August 6, 2007 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: The Wrestling Classic  

WWF Wrestling Classic
by J.D. Dunn

This is an interesting show in that the WWF already had an annual King of the Ring tournament, but they wanted another one to capitalize on the PPV market. This would be their historic PPV debut as previously they had depended on closed-circuit television. Winner gets a Cadillac and a coat hanger with which to pimp.

  • November 11, 1985
  • Live from Chicago, Ill.
  • Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura on commentary and Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes in the back.
  • We see some of the athletes drawing names out of a bowl to determine the first-round match-ups. Randy Savage lets Elizabeth pick his and then blames her when she draws Ivan Putski
  • Round #1: Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Cpl. Kirchner.
    Kirchner had a colorful history in Japan after his stint in the WWF was over. He would go on to play Super Leather (a Leatherface knockoff) and wind up doing time in Japanese jail. Yeah, anger management was always a problem for Mike Kirchner. Here, he’s just a midcard knockoff of Sgt. Slaughter. Adonis on the other hand, was a legit tough guy, but he’s on the downward slant of his career here. Adonis blocks a suplex and reverses to a DDT at 3:21. 3/4*

  • Round #1: Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff.
    Dynamite gets tired of hearing the Russian National anthem, so he hits a missile dropkick and gets the win at 0:09. Nikolai is upset, but it stands. 1/4*

  • Round #1: Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. Ivan Putski.
    Putski is the very definition of a big stiff, which was fine in the 1970s, but Macho could run circles around him. He doesn’t, but he could. Savage stalls FOREVER and then gets pummeled for the rest of the match. Randy allows Putski to punch himself out and then scoops up Putski’s legs for the “Flair pin” at 2:44. 1/4*

  • Round #1: Ricky Steamboat vs. Davey Boy Smith.
    Both guys are babyfaces here, so they have a nice technical little match, much to the chagrin of Jesse Ventura. They open with an excellent series of mat wrestling counters. Davey Boy gets a press slam for two and settles Ricky down with a front facelock. Ricky blocks a suplex and reverses to his own. The follow-up splash finds knees, though, and Davey Boy dropkicks him. Davey Boy charges, but Ricky ducks out of the way. Davey Boy crotches himself on the top rope and is ruled unable to continue at 2:54. Way too short, but it was fun while it lasted. It’s too bad heel/face alignment always got in the way of great matches in those days. **

  • Junkyard Dog talks about his match tonight and says he’d like to say good luck to “the Chicago —-,” but he goes blank. I’m pretty sure he wanted to say “Bears,” who were having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history. Gene won’t even throw him a life preserver. “Uh, the Chicago…what are they? Uh, Colbert doesn’t like them.” “Liberals?” “No! They tormented Goldilocks.” “The Porridge Makers of America?” “No! They’re furry.” “Persians?”
  • Round #1: The Iron Sheik vs. The Junkyard Dog.
    Sheik attacks and strangles JYD early. JYD uses his head to come back. Sheik bails and regroups. Back in, JYD powers out of a Full Nelson and then out of a loose Camel Clutch. The ref gets in between Sheik and JYD and gets tossed aside by the Sheik, so JYD just nails Sheik with a headbutt at 3:27. *

  • Round #1: Terry Funk (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Moondog Spot.
    Spot is kind of a precursor to Eugene. Funk offers to take a double countout draw with Spot to spare spot the beating of a lifetime. Spot agrees, but Funk double-crosses him and runs back to the ring. They brawl on the outside, and Funk tosses Spot back in…just in time for Spot to beat the count at 0:26. Funny stuff. 1/4*

  • Round #1: Don Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Tito Santana.
    Tito is the Intercontinental Champion, having ended Muraco’s year-long reign. Muraco overpowers Tito early as Jesse rightly questions Tito’s intelligence for entering the tournament and risking injury. Tito gets in a few moves, but it’s all Muraco. Muraco appears to finish with the powerslam at 4:02, but the ref decides he saw Tito’s foot on the ropes and restarts the match without telling Muraco. Tito small packages Muraco for the real win at 4:17. Decent match, horrible finish. *3/4

  • Bobby Heenan admits that none of his guys are there, but they’re always watching. He reiterates that there is a $50,000 bounty on Paul Orndorff’s head.
  • Round #1: Paul Orndorff vs. Bob Orton Jr.
    These two were homeys, of course, until WresteMania I when Orton accidentally clocked Orndorff with the cast and then blamed him for losing the main event. They both display some great wrestling moves. Orndorff goes after Orton’s injured arm. Orndorff sunset flips him and uses the tights. See, he’s a babyface, but he still wrestles like a heel, so he actually gets over. Orton kills time with a headscissors, but Orndorff makes the big come back and flips over on him. Orton tries a flying headscissors and crotches himself, but I guess he’s tougher than Davey Boy because he continues. Orndorff slugs him, and Orton goes all the way to the floor. He loads up the cast and smacks Orndorff with it in full view of the referee, drawing the DQ at 6:30. Pretty good match. The finish was stupid, given that Orton doesn’t really try to follow up on it. If he had seriously tried to injure Orndorff, it could always be explained away as him trying to earn that $50,000. **1/2

  • Vince has to pull Alfred off the supermodel so he can recap the first round.

    So we have:

    • Adrian Adonis vs. Dynamite Kid
    • Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat
    • Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot
    • Tito Santana vs. Paul Orndorff
  • Quarterfinals: The Dynamite Kid vs. Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart).
    Dynamite uses his quickness to gain an advantage, so Adonis seeks advice from Jimmy. Back in, Adrian slingshots him into the corner and hits a suplex. A chinlock kills some time. Jesse gets up and walks out of the broadcast position, saying he has to talk with the Macho Man. Dynamite powers up into a backdrop suplex but misses a flying headbutt. Adonis works over the knee and locks in a SHARPSHOOTER! Dynamite makes the ropes. Adonis charges in but gets sunset flipped for two. Adonis tries a bulldog, but Dynamite SHOOTS him into the corner. He adds a sick hooking clothesline and drops a knee. A snap suplex and a headbutt draw a worried Jimmy Hart onto the apron. Kid goes after him and gets rolled up, but his kickout sends Adonis into Hart, and Dynamite covers for the win at 5:27. Dynamite was an insane worker at this time, and Adrian hadn’t yet deteriorated, so this was okay. **

  • Quarterfinals: Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. Ricky Steamboat.
    Jesse Ventura confirms that he is advising Savage for this match. This, I believe, is the first meeting between these two, and it’s a good one, although not on the level of their classic at WrestleMania III. Savage taunts Ricky and then hides behind Elizabeth. Steamboat turns his back and gets blindsided. He comes back with chops and sends Savage to the floor. Savage charges in and gets headscissored to the floor in a unique spot. Ricky lays in the chops and hits an atomic drop. Back in, Steamer hits a chop but misses a second try and gets backdropped. Savage goes up, but Ricky catches him coming off the top. Steamboat suplexes him from the outside to the ring and hits the crossbody for two. Savage falls to the apron and digs something out of his tights. Savage misses a swing but hits Ricky with the object in the middle of a suplex and gets the win at 3:18. Way too short! This is about as good as you can get in three minutes. **

  • Quarterfinals: Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot.
    JYD avoids a dive and hits a headbutt. There’s no referee, so JYD counts his own pin at about 0:34. It’s ruled okay by the judge at ringside, so JYD moves on. 1/4*

  • Quarterfinals: Tito Santana vs. Paul Orndorff.
    I was kind of hoping Tito would double-cross him and take the money, but I probably would have heard about that in the ensuing 20 years. Tito has an injured leg after the first round. They go with a simple wrestling match to emphasize that they’re both babyfaces. Jesse starts to wonder if Paul is the good guy he presents himself as. He also drops his second Watergate reference of the night. Yeah, pop culture references had a longer shelf life back then. Orndorff gets frustrated in a hammerlock and is forced to go to the ropes. Orndorff hits an atomic drop on Tito’s injured leg but backs off because he’s a sportsman. Tito gets to his feet, but Orndorff trips him back down and goes to work on the leg. Jesse rubs it in because Orndorff is starting to show signs of heeldom. Tito fights out of it, and Orndorff doesn’t give him a clean break. They take it to the floor for a slugfest, forgetting about the ref. Both men get counted out at 8:07. See, you give in to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to the dark side, the dark side leads to you getting counted out. **1/2

  • WWF Heavyweight Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper.
    This was a HUGE money match at the time. Piper attacks before the bell, and they fall to the floor for some brawling. Back in, Piper goes to the eyes, but Hogan hits a corner clothesline to knock Piper silly. Hogan drops some elbows and pounds away in the corner, but the ref grabs his arm because he’s not listening. That allows Roddy to cheapshot him and go up to the second rope. Hogan catches him in a bearhug, but Piper goes to the eyes again. Piper locks in the sleeper. Hogan fades before hulking up and dragging them both to the floor to break it up. Piper goes into the post. Back in, Hogan takes over and hits an atomic drop, but Piper sends him into the referee. Piper smashes Hogan with a chairshot, but Hogan blocks another one and slaps on his own sleeper. That draws out Bob Orton to hit Hogan with the cast for the DQ at 7:13. Paul Orndorff makes the save to solidify his babyface status. **

  • Semi-Finals: Dynamite Kid vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth).
    You gotta think that this would be a 1990 main event if not for DK’s injury. Dynamite relates a story in his book about how Randy Savage wanted to go out drinking at a bar frequented by a bunch of NWA stars. Since Savage had a lot of heat with those guys from the blackball days, he asked Dynamite to watch his back because he knew of his legitimate shoot background. Cool story. Junkyard Dog has a bye, so this is the only semi-final match. Gorilla says you couldn’t sit down with a pencil and write a tournament like this. Oh, but imagine if you could! These are probably the two top workers in the world at this point – North America at least. Stiff tie-up early. Dynamite Kid just STEAMROLLS Savage with a shoulderblock. He hits a crossbody, but Savage is in the ropes. A sunset flip gets two, but Savage splashes him. Dynamite misses another crossbody attempt. They both go for clotheslines and nearly tear each other’s heads off for a double KO. Savage goes up, but Dynamite shows off his vertical with a dropkick. That sets up a super suplex (with both guys on the top rope). Savage hooks Kid’s legs, though, picking up a pinfall victory at 4:54. The fans were blown away by the work. Too bad it was so short. ***

  • Wrestling Classic Tournament Finals: Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. The Junkyard Dog.
    Savage stalls for a few minutes. Finally, JYD tracks him down and overpowers him. He slaps on a bearhug. He lets that go in favor of laying in forearms and a headbutt to the lower back. Savage catches him with a neckbreaker drop. He tosses Dog to the outside and follows with a double ax-handle off the top. Another. Back in, he tries another double ax-handle, but the Dog catches him in the breadbasket. Savage gets caught in the ropes, so Dog pummels him. Savage gets free and charges, but the JYD backdrops him all the way to the floor. Savage can’t recover in time to get in and gets counted out at 9:43. A horrible tournament finish, and not much of a match. Watts used to disguise JYD’s flaws by building strong heels, while Savage made a career out of playing a cowardly heel before coming to the WWF. 3/4*
  • The 411: I wanted to like this PPV because it has some good matches between Savage, Steamboat and Dynamite Kid, but all of the good matches are kept to less than five minutes. They could have had a real classic had they gotten rid of eight of the competitors and just gave time to the good wrestlers instead of going for quantity. It may be worth a look to curio seekers, but there's no need to go out of your way to find it.

    Mild thumbs down here.

    Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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