wrestling / Video Reviews

The Name on the Marquee: WWF Championship Wrestling (2.16.1985)

March 6, 2014 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
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The Name on the Marquee: WWF Championship Wrestling (2.16.1985)  

-Originally aired February 16, 1985.

-Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino.

-This was hyped last week as the “feature match,” amazingly.

-Gibbs applies a full nelson to start and Tony Atlas flexes his way out of it. Gibbs tries a front facelock and Atlas just stands up straight and plants him on the top turnbuckle. Hiptosses for both jobbers, and then Atlas noggin-knocks Gibbs and JYD, which has no effect on the Dog of course. Cute bit where the dazed Gibbs staggers into the wrong corner, and instead of hitting him, Atlas shakes his hand.

-Fury tags in and manages to stagger Atlas with some punches, but the Dog tags in, offers a headbutt, and tags right back out. Earn that pay, Dog!

-Press slam by Atlas, and a splash finishes.

-This week, Lord Alfred Hayes discusses Big John Studd, a man who likes things big. A recent magazine article featured a photo of Studd with a big box, because he likes big things. He is managed by “Bobby Brain,” who will guide his future.

-We go to “TNT,” where Big John Studd, Ken Patera, and Bobby Brain give a haircut to a guy who looks like a genetics experiment crossing Abraham Lincoln and CM Punk.

BRUTUS BEEFCAKE (with Luscious Johnny Valiant) vs. MARIO MANCINI
-Forearms and elbows by Beefcake, and he’s in a hurry this week, slamming Mancini and punching and choking him fast enough to work up a sweat from it. Vince is demanding a disqualification after the 38th consecutive closed fist, and the high knee (which Luscious Johnny calls “the Wham-o”) gets the win.

-Gene Okerlund hypes the upcoming tag team title bout in Boston Garden. Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham discuss their last visit to Boston, in which the Iron Sheik broke a chair over Rotundo’s head. They’re training extra hard for Volkoff & Sheik, and they know what their opponents are capable of.

-“Brett” (still two t’s at this point) enters the ring wearing what appears to be a Hefty bag cinched with a belt.
-Putski tosses around both of his opponents singlehandedly. Side headlock by Putski as Vince notes that Putski has been accused of deliberately taking a beating during his matches just so he has an excuse to make the fight last longer.

-Brett tags in and we switch from power to straight wrestling. Backbreaker on Carabello gets two. Putski tags in and applies a side headlock. Carabello gets a punch, probably so Putski can make the match last longer. Flurry of punches by Putski, and Brett tags in and puts Carabello away with the sleeper. Unintentional comedy, with Fulton running in immediately to break the sleeper, and then Putski takes him off his feet with one punch, and then does nothing else while Carabello fades away. So Fulton just sort of kneels in the corner watching and doing nothing while he sells being hurt.

-Gene Okerlund talks more about the big card in Boston, where Hillbilly Jim will meet Rene Goulet, and Moondog Spot faces The Cobra.

-This is hyped as Ventura’s return, after extended time off to deal with the illness that would eventually end of his career. Jesse points at the commentary table and challenges Bruno to a match, complaining that Bruno retired before Jesse ever had a chance to get his hands on him. Vince mentions that Jesse Ventura is now doing commentary just like Bruno, and in a matter of speaking, I’d say Jesse won that feud.

-Jesse drags Lombardi’s face across the top rope and follows with a thumb to the eye. And a thumb to the other eye to make things nice and even. Jesse targets the back with a slam and a knee, and finishes with the Body Breaker (body vice) for the submission. He taunts Bruno again after the bell.

-Piper is on location on the set of “The A-Team” and harasses the shit out of T about the fact that he’s an actor who pretends to be a bad guy on TV. Piper is a real bad guy who really beats people and wants to know what it’s like for T to pretend he’s a Roddy Piper-type. T says that Piper only ever wrestles wimps and warns him that Cyndi Lauper is a good friend. Piper promises to put an X next to the name Mr. T and walks off while Mr. T has to be held back.

TITO SANTANA (with Hillbilly Jim for some reason) vs. JEFF CRANEY
-Vince explains that Tito saw Hillbilly watching the ring like he used to when he was a fan and just wanted to bring him out for a bow.

-Tito finishes in a hurry, connecting with a flying forearm… but he hits Craney so hard that Craney falls out of the ring and wanders around to clear the cobwebs. Tito…does not look happy about it. Craney gets back in and Tito clamps the fuck onto a side headlock and leans backward with it, and Vince quietly observes that Tito is being a LITTLE aggressive with the side headlock.

-Craney gets a little bit of offense, but Tito just keeps unleashing a beating before finishing with the figure four.

-Garea starts with the Sheik and gets the early edge with a side headlock and a series of punches. Atomic drop by Garea, and Marino tags in to add his own side headlock and punches. Marino and Sheik proceed to have a very pleasant and obvious conversation right on camera before the tide suddenly turns and Sheik lays a beating on Marino.

-Volkoff tags in and offers a piledriver. Press slam into a backbreaker gets the three-count.

-We get words from Roddy Piper, saying that he kicked Cyndi Lauper because he’s an equal opportunity offender. He giggles maniacally about how he injured a woman who attacked first and beat up a big fat slob that we’re supposed to love because he did one good thing in his life for muscular dystrophy. He says that if he ever sees Hulk drowning, he’ll throw Hulk a rope…both ends of it.

-This was the live special that everybody expected to be the final confrontation between Piper & Hogan, but the WWF threw us a curve ball and instead used it to lay the groundwork for Wrestlemania.

-Originally aired on MTV, February 18, 1985.

-Hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund & Alan Hunter’s mullet.

-Great exchange from Alan & Gene to start:

GENE: Piper has gone further than just criticize a particular form of music. He has, uh…uh…uh…
ALAN: He hit a woman.
GENE: (Suddenly angry) Yes he did, Alan!

They give us a very broad summary of Piper (he’s an evil man and he hates music) and Hogan (a patriot who “combines brute force with knowledge and the latest in wrestling science,” and my friend Nate throws his Ric Flair action figure at the screen). We start with a recap of the Hogan-Piper feud. Remember that episode of “The Simpsons” where they tell Lisa the story of her saxophone, but the story ends up being entirely about Bart? Same thing here. The saga between Hogan & Piper all started with an argument between Captain Lou Albano & Cyndi Lauper…

-Albano played Lauper’s father in the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video. A few weeks later, he takes full credit for Cyndi’s success in the music business, but Cyndi denies having any connection to him beyond the video. Captain Lou confronts her on Piper’s Pit and says “All women are slime,” and Cyndi loses it, hitting him with her purse, then ripping Piper’s shirt for no reason.

A few weeks later, Hot Rod goes on the road and conducts remote interviews in which Cyndi challenges Lou to a proxy fight, and Lou & his boobs accept. Cyndi chooses Wendi Richter (up to that point, a heel with a cowgirl gimmick, who abruptly turned into a babyface rock & roll fanatic for this), and Lou chooses champion Fabulous Moolah. Cyndi takes Wendi to the gym for a strenuous workout, while Lou puts Moolah on a diet of high salt, high fat, and “unborn virgin goat’s milk.” Wendi wins on “The Brawl to Settle it All” special and ends the 28-year reign of Moolah.

Shortly thereafter, Captain Lou goes to a neurosurgeon and finds out that his erratic behavior is caused by a calcium build-up in his brain. (No, seriously, this is actually how the angle goes.) After getting the proper treatment, Lou apologizes to Cyndi. (Gene: “I haven’t been so surprised by a reconciliation since Hitler made up with Stalin in 1939.”) They team up for a fundraiser and collect $4 million for multiple sclerosis, which is weird, because you’d think they’d want to hold a fundraiser for the prevention of multiple sclerosis.

-At the December 1984 MSG show, Dick Clark (yes, Dick Clark!) presents Cyndi with a gold record with Captain Lou, Wendi, and Hulk present. Hogan stupidly leaves and Piper heads to the ring immediately and smashes the record and the frame over Lou’s head, just to annoy everybody. Cyndi drapes herself over him for protection, and Piper kicks her in the stomach (for the remainder of the special, this will be referred to by everybody as Piper kicking her “12 yards across the ring.” And Tony Schiavone shook his head and said, “Damn, that’s a little overboard.”) Then, to be a real jerk, Piper bodyslams Cyndi’s boyfriend. Hogan finally returns from the crapper or wherever he went to clear the ring, but Piper gets away.

-We get comments following the incident from Wendi, Cyndi, Captain Lou, Cyndi’s mom, Cyndi’s video director, Cyndi’s boyfriend, and Dick Clark. I would have marked out if they had shot a promo with Dick and Hulk Hogan in the Winner’s Circle (“Kicking a woman…smashing a gold record…attacking Cyndi’s boyfriend…” “Things to Avenge, brother!”), but it wasn’t meant to be.

-We get equal-time comments from Bobby Heenan, Paul Orndorff, and David “Getting Fired Almost at the Very Moment This was Airing” Schultz praising Piper for his actions.

-GLORIA STEINEM cuts a promo. Honest to God. And she gets the best line of the whole show, saying that Piper “is not fit to wear a skirt.”

-Jimmy Snuka and “Mr. Rock & Roll” himself, Bruno Sammartino, threaten Piper. Patti Smyth, Ted Nugent, Dee Snider offer their opinions. Ted Nugent’s contribution isn’t nearly as entertaining as you were probably hoping. He gives Piper a thumbs-down and that’s about it. He doesn’t unzip his fly and pull out a loaded crossbow or anything.

-We even get a few words from Mondale running mate Geraldine Ferraro, and Piper’s autobiography has a really funny account of how the WWF accomplished that. Basically, a cameraman and an audio guy went to some political function in New York where Ferraro was appearing, approached her, and convinced her to look into the camera and say, “Roddy Piper, fight like a man!” They shot it, and as they’re putting away the equipment, she suddenly thinks to ask, “What did I say that for, exactly?” Instead of giving her a direct answer, the two crewmen simply hauled ass out of the building.

-We get a Hogan promo. The Hulkster mourns that “Dick Clark will never be the same!” and in a world without Gloria Steinem, that would have been the best line of the show.

-Piper finally gets around to challenging Hogan to a title match. Hogan accepts and the contract is signed on the set of Piper’s Pit.

-Alan Hunter worries that if Hogan loses, rock & roll fans will be so depressed that they will stop listening to music. Ironically, it ended up being MTV that depressed rock & roll fans so much that they stopped listening to music.

-More promos from Andy Taylor (of Duran Duran, not of Mayberry), Kenny Loggins, Peter Wolf, Dee Snider (uh, again), Greg “More People Remember Weird Al’s Parody Than Remember My Actual Song” Kihn, a bunch of pretentious music critics, and Handsome Dick Manitoba.

-At a TV taping, we get comments from Bobby Heenan (“I hate my MTV!”). Nikolai Volkoff says that in Russia, music has class and you can feel the notes; then he veers right into the anthem without even pausing. More comments from Iron Sheik, Mr. Fuji, Hillbilly Jim, Brutus Beefcake, Big John Studd, Dee Snider (What the hell, man?!), and Blackjack Mulligan. I can’t believe I’m saying this with everybody I have to pick from in this special but…Mulligan just doesn’t seem to fit in here. We get some crazy goodness from Little Richard, plus bonus comments from Peter Wolf and Greg Kihn.

-Biographies of both men. Roddy Piper’s rage is traced to the pollution in Glasgow’s water supply (Yep) and we get a Piper’s Pit highlight reel. Hogan reflects American honesty and likes music. You can almost hear the cartoon hearts fluttering out of Mean Gene’s head as he narrates this.

-We FINALLY go to ringside with Mean Gene and Gorilla Monsoon providing commentary. Your guest ring announcer is Bob Costas.

WORLD TITLE: HULK HOGAN (champion, with Cyndi Lauper, David Wolff, and Captain Lou Albano) vs. ROWDY RODDY PIPER (with Cowboy Bob Orton)
-It’s a special night, so Hot Rod comes to the ring with a full band of pipes. Piper is wearing a Hulkamania t-shirt and destroys a guitar for some last-second heat. Hogan comes to the ring and gets a pep talk from his close personal friend Mister T, sitting at ringside.

-Hogan gets into the ring and it’s immediately a fistfight. Hogan with a scientific rake of the eyes, and Piper is all “What’s up with that?” and retaliates with ground ‘n pound, 15 years before anybody knew what that was. Hogan fights back for an Irish whip and an elbow to the throat. Two scientific bodyslams and an elbowdrop, but Piper reverses with an Irish whip and a clothesline and tries for an early finish, but Hogan kicks out. Mean Gene is almost totally ignoring the match in favor of name-dropping celebrities in attendance. He has the balls to give a shout-out to Joe Piscopo almost an entire year after America forgot who he was.

-Two kicks to the head from Piper, followed by laying his palm over Hogan’s eyes, which Gorilla calls a “choke.” I think I’m starting to understand why you didn’t finish med school, Gorilla. More stomping and chops to the throat, and Piper goes in for the kill with a sleeper. The commentary gets REALLY stupid now, as Gorilla & Gene complain about the blatant chokehold, even as the referee is looking right at Piper and checking the arm.

-Hogan powers out and rams Piper into the corner, but Piper immediately blocks the comeback. Orton interferes, but Hogan smashes his slinged arm into the exposed metal part of the turnbuckle, and Orton became a legend by milking that for the rest of 1985. Hogan fires away at Piper while Orton signals for Paul Orndorff to come to ringside. A really fake-looking ref bump marks the turning point. Orndorff & Piper double-team Hogan, and Cyndi Lauper jumps 30 feet from the floor to the ring apron to stop them. Piper & Orndorff target her next, but Mister T leaps the railing to stop it and the heels refocus their double team efforts. Hogan finally makes it to his feet, Mister T makes it to his feet, and Piper & Orndorff are just kinda, “Eh, screw this” and walk out of the ring. Referees, guys in suits, and New York cops flood the ring for that extra touch of hellzapoppin’, and Hogan wins by DQ at 7:40. This was crap, but since Vince McMahon is still in business, it served its purpose.

The 411: It's funny, today we'd be shitting on the company for booking a main event this way. Make us wait seven weeks for some shocking footage of SOMETHING, show the footage once, and then hold the main event a week later with no mention of it at all on the main shows. The business has certainly changed, and it's interesting to watch for that reason, if no other.
Final Score:  6.1   [ Average ]  legend

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Adam Nedeff

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