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Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (12.26.1986) Review

November 1, 2021 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Paul Roma
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Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (12.26.1986) Review  

It’s December 26, 1986 at the Garden!

Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan are at ringside.

-Roma gets off to a good start with an atomic drop and a bodypress for two. Gibbs retreats to the corner, but gets London bridged back. Side headlock by Roma. Gibbs gets free, but gets hiptossed right back into it. Gibbs gets free again and this time he goes to the eyes to take control. Elbow and a lackadaisical cover get two, and oh my god I guessed the spelling of lackadaisical on the first try.

-Roma gets tossed to the floor and suplexed back in for two. Heenan’s advice: “He should hook the tru—I mean, legs.”

-Gibbs tries a bearhug and Heenan shoots a hole in that spot, pointing out that Gibbs hasn’t been working the ribs up to this point and it’s not like he’s a super heavyweight, so why would he get a submission from a bearhug?

-Roma fights free and monkeyflips Gibbs. Suplex by Roma gets two. Roma tries a charge, but Gibbs throws him out to the floor.

“I think he hit his head on our table as he fell out!”
“Good, then he’s not hurt.”

-Roma goes to the top rope and Gibbs anticipates, putting his head down to duck, but Roma just turns that into a sunset flip for three. This was watchable. 1 for 1.

-It’s Honky’s MSG debut. Howard Finkel asks the fans for “A warm New York City welcome” and they are absolutely relentless with the booing. Honky attacks Sivi from behind before the bell and gives him the Shake, Rattle, & Roll immediately. Honky declares himself the winner while Sivi writhes in pain. No match.

-Fun little thing before the match, as the referee does the weapons check and Anvil passively pulls away one boot before the referee can check it. On the opposite side of the ring, you have a PERFECT feud if they would just turn Slater heel.

-Harts do some cheating early on and Slater’s none too happy about it, so he chases Brett around the ring until Brett ties him up for a double-team. Slater ducks the attempted clothesline and just beats up on both opponents on the floor with no trouble. Kirchner fares much worse, taking an elbow from Brett (STILL with the double-T spelling!) back in the ring. Anvil strangles him with the tag rope while Slater freaks out.

-Anvil rams Kirchner into the turnbuckle and bites him for good measure. Brett tags back in, but Kirchner ducks and tags, and Slater picks up right where he left off, taking on both opponents. Slater goes off the ropes and Anvil gives him a kick to the back to stop his progress. Brett strangles Kirchner while Anvil distracts the referee. Decapitator gets two.

-Slater and Anvil duke it out until Anvil suddenly clamps on a bearhug. Harts try a double suplex, but Kirchner dashes in and grabs Slater by the ankle so that he lands on his feet. Harts try another double-team move and they collide. Kirchner tags in and takes on both opponents, and the commentators are both griping about the officiating because both Harts have been in the ring for over a minute. Leave that stuff to Danny Davis, Dick Kroll!

-Kirchner is still fighting both opponents and Slater comes in to complain. Referee is distracted by that and the Harts do the Hart Attack on Kirchner to get the three. Gorilla accurately says that the Harts didn’t really beat their opponents, they just beat the referee. Good match, though. 2 for 2.

-Vladimir sighting! Do a shot. This match is weird because they’re just throwing it out there as a random title match when they could easily take an extra minute and build a story by mentioning that Moolah is Kai’s former manager. Moolah would turn face later in the year out of nowhere, but we’re not there yet and the pre-match antics with the referee drive home that this is going to be heel vs heel.

-Moolah whips Kai around by her hair and tosses her out to the floor. Kai brings her out there and they slug it out. Kai takes a telephone to the face at the commentary table.

-Now they’re brawling in the ring. Boo to the stomach by Kai, and a big elbow gets two. Kai uses her leg to apply a chokehold and Moolah breaks it by biting her knee. Commentators are bored out of their minds, with Heenan saying that Moolah’s opponents in general should shave their heads because it would take away most of her offense, and Gorilla pointing out that Kai is blown up.

-Double forearm off the ropes by Kai for a two-count. She misses a bodypress. Moolah chokes her out, and the referee forces Moolah off, which horrifies both commentators. Kai mounts a comeback with a dropkick. She chokes out Moolah. Moolah dropkicks Kai, sending her “crashing” into the referee (with the referee visibly terrified of taking the bump and just kinda slumping over from it) and Moolah gets the three-count. Garbage. 2 for 3.

-Lots of circling the ring and eyeballing each other to start off. Dino goes to a top wristlock. Pedro turns it into a hammerlock, and Dino goes to the ropes. Pedro claps vigorously for motivation. Atomic drop by Morales, and so far, the commentary is the high point of the match:

Bobby: Pedro Morales has a street named after him in his hometown. “Dead end.”

-Chinlock by Dino. He switches to a neck vice, then switches back to a chinlock, dazzling the MSG crowd with his varied offense so much that they chant “Boring” in admiration for the way that he’s boring a hole into Pedro’s neck ligaments with his ensemble of rest holds.

-Pedro throws punches, and Dino goes to the floor for a well-earned breather. It seems to work because a gutwrench on Pedro gets two. Back to the neck vice, then back to the chinlock. Legdrop gets two. Back to the neck vice. Dino throws Pedro over the top rope and onto the concrete. Pedro tries to make it back in, but once he gets to the apron, Dino posts him, then suplexes him in.

-Side suplex by Dino gets two. Pedro rolls out of the way of a splash. Pedro gets his second wind and action spills out to the floor. They back it back in before the ten count, so I guess we’re gonna keep going here.

-Pedro cradles Dino but only gets two. Pedro dodges a punch and Dino accidentally takes out the referee. ACCIDENTALLY. And obviously accidental. And the referee calls for the bell and gives the win to Pedro. 2 for 4.

HULK HOGAN vs. KAMALA (with Wizard & Kimchee)
-Shoulderblocks are mutually no-sold. Kamala leapfrogs him and takes him down with another shoulderblock, and Hogan is actually taken aback by that and retreats into the corner. “Hogan” chants frighten Kamala and the Hulkster goes for a slam, but Kamala chops him down. Kamala tries coming off the ropes with the chops, but Hogan rolls away and punches Kamala. Clothesline and a high knee, followed by chops. Kimchee takes a punch for good measure, and that gives Kamala an opening to take Hogan down from behind. While the referee deals with Kimchee, the Wizard throws his horn into the ring and Kamala clobbers Hogan with it. Kamala bites & chokes Hogan. Bodyslam and a splash by Kamala get the two-count.

-What follows the kick-out is the most gradual Hulk-up ever, as Kamala slowly gets to his feet, walks around the ring, and gives a few weak chops as Hulk starts to rev up. The sight of it scares Kamala and Hulk sends him from turnbuckle to turnbuckle, then clotheslines him. Bodyslam looks to finish, but the Wizard grabs Hogan from the outside and holds him down for another splash as Kimchee distracts the referee. Kamala splashes him again and the referee catches the Wizard holding Hogan down and calls for the bell. Kimchee sends the referee to the floor and helps hold Hogan in place for Air Kamala. Hogan comes back and takes care of all three men to a thunderous ovation. Nothing out of the ordinary for either man, but again, Hogan stuck with his formula because it WORKED. 3 for 6.

-Bobby Heenan is in the locker room during intermission and brings in Wizard, Kimchee, and Kamala for a post-match interview. Wizard rages about being robbed when suddenly Hulk Hogan storms into the locker room and attacks, and we have a brawl. Absolutely every wrestler on tonight’s card runs in to break it up, but the true highlight is Vince McMahon’s cameo running in to help break it up. Vince does this insane cartoonish run into the scene and sprawls his entire body across half a dozen wrestlers to break up the melee.

-Lombardi attacks from behind but this time, they ring the bell and the match starts properly, because.

-Rivera fights back with a dropkick and a backdrop. He charges, but runs into Lombardi’s boot and gets tossed out to the floor. Rivera gets rammed into the post before finally recovering long enough to finally take off his ring jacket.

-Back inside, Rivera gets the boots put to him, but cradles Lombardi suddenly for two. Lombardi goes to the eyes and goes for a neckbreaker, but Rivera turns it into a backslide for three. Lombardi attacks from behind, but Rivera clears the ring. Crowd didn’t give a shit and they wisely kept it short. 3 for 7.

-This was set up by an angle at the previous MSG show. Hillbilly stomps on Fuji’s hat, which gets Fuji all riled up and they began tearing each other’s shirts off. Fuji yanks off Jim’s jacket and whips him with it, and Jim sells it like a chair shot. This is bizarre for the added reason that they aren’t playing it as a comedy match, even. Gorilla is talking about the amount of skill it takes to remove a shirt from a moving body.

-Hillbilly dazes Fuji with a headbutt, then rips his pants off to get the victory. I was perplexed during absolutely every moment of this. 3 for 8.

-Seriously, the graphic for this match literally says “Afi, again.”

-Afi sprints to the ring and just beats Honky from proverbial pillar to phraseologically recognizable post. Series of right hands and a faceplant by Afi. Afi goes for the pin, but he’s so pissed off about the attack earlier tonight that he picks Honky up at two and throws him out to the floor. Afi rams Honky into the barricade over and over again, then brings him back in and slams him. Pump splash is countered by raised knees, and Honky looks relieved that he pulled that off. Possibly our first glimpse of Honky’s seemingly endless supply of good luck.

-Honky targets Afi’s hip with a series of Polish hammers. He slams Afi into position and connects with a fist from the second rope for two. He throws Afi out to the floor. Afi fights his way back in with a series of headbutts. He tries a monkey flip, but Honky manages to hook his legs and drops him on the back of the head. Shake, Rattle, & Roll gets three. Both guys were game tonight and they had a solid little bout that made Honky look like a star for the first time in this run. 4 for 9.

-Honky is still dancing and wasting everybody’s time as Tito comes to ringside. Tito brushes him off, like “Who cares?” and Honky doesn’t appreciate it, attacking Tito from behind and taking out his knee.

-Back from commercial, Tito is still writhing in pain, and Bobby Heenan, on commentary but getting bored, gets in the ring and demands that they just give the win to Hercules and get it over with. Hercules has a better idea, going out to the floor and pouncing Tito. He brings Tito in the ring and goes after the injured leg. Gorilla asks why Hercules brings a chain to the ring now; Heenan says that it’s only a symbol of strength, but yeah by the way, Herc might also use it to strangle people down the road. But mostly it’s a symbol.

-Herc rips off the kneepad to give himself some extra leverage on a toehold. Tito has had enough and just gives Herc a hard yank of the hair to get himself free. Herc won’t let up on him and drags him over to the corner, whipping the leg into the post.

-Tito can’t even stand anymore and awesomely figures out away to use that to his advantage, throwing forearm after forearm after forearm into Hercules’ knee until Herc goes down. Tito rips off the kneepad, snaps the leg back, and then crawls to the corner with a firm grip on Hercules’ foot so he can ram Hercules’ knee into the post over and over again.

-Tito, still laying on the mat, drives Hercules’ knee into the mat over and over again, and then clamps on the figure four. Heenan panics and leaves the broadcast position, sneaks over to the timekeeper’s table, and rings the bell. Tito lets go of the hold, thinking he won, and Gorilla tattles on Heenan, so the referee restarts the match.

-Hercules gets back to his feet, but as soon as the match restart Tito clips his knee and brings him back down. Tito slams the knee into the mat again. He tries the figure four again, but Hercules kicks him away. Heenan distracts Tito as long as he’s over there and Hercules sneaks up from behind with a knee to get the three count. Okay, for all the talk about “storytelling” in the ring, you really don’t see matches that often that tell stories from start to finish. But here we have Hercules systematically destroying every advantage that the typically quick and agile Tito Santana would have. And then instead of giving up, Tito figured out a way to take control of the match even though he couldn’t even walk. And the really great part? The injury didn’t just magically heal because Tito took control. The entire point of Tito’s offense was that he found a way to take advantage even though he couldn’t walk anymore. GREAT match. 5 for 10.


-Blackjack runs into the ring during the Soviet anthem, hammers on Volkoff with rapid right hands, and a big elbow finishes in 30 seconds. 5 for 11.

The final score: review Poor
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