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The Name on the Marquee: WWF Presents The Tag Team Champions

November 25, 2008 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
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The Name on the Marquee: WWF Presents The Tag Team Champions  

-This was the first Coliseum Video release to look at the history of a single championship, although in this case, it’s not the complete history. “The Tag Team Champions” examines eight years or so of tag team title changes because even 22 years ago, a complete VHS box set of every title change would have been large enough to merit bottom-shelf placement in the beer aisle. (And even today in the era of DVDs, I’d imagine an up-to-date set would merit at least a minor hernia…not to mention the aggravation when the set became outdated a week after its release as a result of whatever happened on RAW.) The point to all my rambling his that I’m about to review a video.

-Your host is Mean Gene Okerlund. Your matches are almost entirely JIP; Mean Gene promises a total of 20.

NON-TITLE MATCH: BRITISH BULLDOGS vs. DREAM TEAM (Champions, with Johnny Valiant)
-This is an interesting choice because you can almost pinpoint production of the video. They knew the Bulldogs would be the champions by the time of release, but Wrestlemania 2 apparently hadn’t taken place yet and they don’t have the footage, so instead, we have the Championship Wrestling bout that set up the Saturday Night’s Main Event re-match that set up the rubber match at Wrestlemania 2.

-Dynamite and Valentine start. Dynamite gets sent in the ropes off a side headlock and topples Valentine with a shoulderblock. Another lock-up and Dynamite rams Valentine into Beefcake, then heads across the ring and tags in Davey Boy. Beefcake tags in and walks right into a wristlock. He counters with a slam, but Davey Boy hangs on and Dynamite re-enters with a double axehandle off the ropes. Davey Boy does likewise and switches into a hammerlock. Beefcake goes for the eyes and sends Davey Boy into the ropes. Davey lands on his feet off a backdrop and dropkicks both opponents. Davey Boy shows his Samoan side with a nerve hold, and Beefcake fights that off and tags in Valentine. Some double-teaming grounds Davey Boy, but he dodges an elbow and Dynamite Kid is a house of fire. Falling headbutt gets two. Dynamite heads to the top rope, but Johnny Valiant pushes him off for the DQ. 1 for 1. Strong showing for the Bulldogs that built up to two excellent rematches.

-We backtrack to 1978 with a slugfest between DeNucci and Francis’ butler. Tanaka gets rammed into the corner off an attempted shoulderblock, and Pre-Roid Dino tags in and clears the ring. Heels work over Dino with chokeholds and nerve holds until Dino fights back. Dropkick by Dino gets a two-count. Double-teaming keeps Dino reeling until he tags in DeNucci, and the heels use dueling chops to keep him grounded. Toru sends him into the ropes for a big chop and DeNucci grabs his arm to turn it into a shitty airplane spin for the pin and the titles. I realize 1978 was a different time, but seriously, 90% chops. 1 for 2.

-From MSG. Eric & Pierre double-team Bravo, but Bravo counters a backdrop with a sunset flip for two. DeNucci tags in and clears the ring. Pierre breaks an attempted pin, and DeNucci goes right back to hammering Eric. Another pin is broken by Pierre so DeNucci just starts hammering both opponents, then tags in Dino. Backdrop by Bravo followed by a great-looking dropkick, and Pierre again breaks the pin. DeNucci tags in and gets an abdominal stretch, broken by Pierre. Bravo tags in and goes for a pin and Pierre breaks it. Fuck, we GET it. Bravo comes in to even things up and the referee clears him from the ring as the Lumberjacks double-team DeNucci behind their backs, and that’s enough to get the pins and the titles. 1 for 3. There’s psychology and there’s beating the fans over the head with the premise.

LUMBERJACKS (Champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. LARRY ZYBYSKO & TONY GAREA
-JIP at Larry mounting a comeback on Pierre. Pierre blocks it by Irish whipping Larry into Eric’s boot. Eric, now legal, blocks an attempted tag, but screws up his second attempt to do so and Tony Garea clears the ring. He sends Eric into the opposite corner and takes a boot to the face for his trouble. Lumberjacks double-team Garea in their corner. All four men wind up in the ring and that ends up working to the faces’ advantage. Lumberjacks are Irish whipped into each other. They get whipped into each other again and Tony Garea scores the pin from that. Post-match, Lou Albano takes a punch to the face, which he proceeds to sell so dramatically that his shirt flies off his body and out of the ring. As much as I rag on Lou, that was rather amusing. 2 for 4.

LARRY ZYBYSKO & TONY GAREA (Champions) vs. JOHNNY & JERRY VALIANT (with Jimmy Valiant & Captain Lou Albano)
-Larry backdrops Jerry and tries to follow with a leapfrog, but Jerry shoulderblocks him right in the Zybysko and Larry understandably collapses from the pain. Referee gets distracted by Tony Garea, and Johnny Valiant comes in and pins Zybysko for the belt. 2 for 5. Not enough to get into it.

-Armbar by Tito is countered by a rake to the face by Johnny. Shoulderblock and a kick ground Tito. Jerry chokes out Tito in the corner while Johnny distracts the referee, and they switch roles in this nefariousness a few times until Jerry tags in and goes back to choking Tito and turning it into a nerve hold when the referee starts watching him. Vince mentions that Lou Albano is not in the building tonight because he and the Valiants have parted ways, which was an angle that went absolutely nowhere based on what I’ve read.

-Tito keeps getting double-teamed as the referee stops Ivan from making the save over and over again. Jerry goes into a front facelock. Tito fights out but Jerry blocks a pin. Tito blocks a backdrop with a kick, but Johnny Valiant takes advantage of a moment of referee confusion to come in illegally. Tito finally makes the tag and Ivan Irish whips Jerry right out of the ring. Johnny comes in and gets launched over the top rope as the crowd cheers for “Super Pole,” according to Vince. Back in the ring, Tito tags back in and dodges a criss-cross from both opponents until they crash onto each other. He follows with a flying bodypress for the pin. 3 for 6. Good little bout.

-Four-man brawl to start and the Samoans get whipped into each other. Afa gets dropkicked out of the ring and Sika looks like it’s going to be a short night, but he fights a toehold until he’s able to tag in Afa. Putski puts him into a full nelson, but Afa reverses, only to accidentally eat a chop from his own partner. Tito tags in and keeps Manu, Sr. in his corner, and the faces do some double-teaming. Afa dodges a charge into the corner and begins dominating Putski. Putski gets rammed into Sika’s head (Ha ha, Samoans!) and Sika comes in to do more damage, but Tito tags in to stop that and he’s all over both opponents. Tito goes to the top rope as slowly as humanly possible and finally gets a flying bodypress, but he hurts his leg on impact and Sika capitalizes immediately with a Samoan drop for the titles. Damn, that was anticlimactic. 3 for 7.

-For those who are curious about the origin of a Scott Keith catchphrase, here comes your answer. Martel and Afa slug it out until Afa misses a charge and the faces begin working the arm. Afa fights out and sends him in the ropes, but Garea uses that to his advantage by punching Sika on the apron. Faces continue working Afa’s arm and Tony gets a series of shoulderblocks until Afa sends him over the top rope. Sika attacks on the floor. The heels now start working Tony Garea’s arm until Garea fights back with shoulderblocks and a sudden bodypress. Referee distraction allows the Samoans to choke out Garea with a rope. Tony shows a few signs of life with a kick, but Afa gets a nerve hold. Tony fights back and becomes 50% of a double shoulderblock to KO both men. Double tag and Martel goes on a tear. All four men wind up in the ring, and the color man declares that “It’s gonna be bonzo gonzo! Bonzo gonzo!” as Dick Graham just helplessly yells “Oooooooooh!” You know it’s exciting when Dick Graham can’t even “Woooo” properly. Neat finish sees Garea and a Samoan ram into each other and get KOed again. Martel and the other Samoan go for simultaneous pins, but the referee decides that Martel’s is the one that counted, and we have new champions. 4 for 8. Good match and a spiffy finish.

TONY GAREA & RICK MARTEL (Champions) vs. MOONDOGS (with Captain Lou Albano)
-Garea works the arm of King, then takes him down with a few shoulderblocks. Sunset flip gets two. Rick Martel tags in to take his turn at working the arm. King goes for the eyes and tags in Rex. Rex gets a two-count, then sends Martel into the turnbuckle. Captain Lou gets some cheap shots from outside the ring and the crowd is absolutely rabid for Rick Martel. King re-enters and chokes out Martel as a “Let’s go Rick!” chant echoes through the building. Martel decides he’ll do just that and kicks Rex, but can’t really follow up on it. Rex gets a two count. King re-enters and continues working him over. Moondogs double-team Martel, but he fights back with punches and kicks. Martel finally makes the tag and Tony Garea is all over Rex. King gets cleared from the ring, but an errant punch from Garea wipes out the referee long enough for Garea to get KOed by King’s bone. Rex gets the pin and breaks the hearts of a hot, hot crowd to win the belts. 4 for 9. Great crowd, but it was all punching and kicking.

MOONDOGS (Champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. TONY GAREA & RICK MARTEL
-This is the Rex/Spot incarnation, and we start with Spot just getting his ass kicked in every way imaginable. Faces work the arm until Rex can tag in. Captain Lou angrily lectures Spot on the apron as Rex gets dominated in the ring. Spot re-enters and gets armdragged and armdragged and armdragged. Rex makes his way back into the ring and gets the advantage (with a little help from a Lou Albano cheap shot). Faces get the advantage right back, and Albano is so fed up that he kicks Rex and leaves. Spot gets launched out of the ring and Rex gets launched back in and gets rolled up for two, which is enough for Captain Lou to run back for another look. Pat Patterson, on commentary, notes that Garea & Martel’s popularity among the fans seems like “somebody is giving them a real big push.” Hey, you think? Garea snapmares Rex but misses an elbowdrop. Martel comes in and stops a Moondog tag. Moondogs begin fighting back and Captain Lou gets another cheap shot. Spot works the neck and back of Martel as Captain Lou continues freaking out at ringside. Martel (or McGraw, if you’re Vince McMahon) fights back with an elbow. Rex tags in, but so does Tony Garea, and it’s time to put out the ‘dogs. LOL~! Spot stops a pinfall attempt Martel gets triple teamed against the ropes as Garea jaws with the referee. Albano throws a bone into the ring, but before they can take advantage, Martel gets a sunset flip on Rex to win the belts. 5 for 10. I never realized how much Spot’s presence improved the Moondogs.

RICK MARTEL & TONY GAREA (Champions) vs. MR. FUJI & MR. SAITO (with Captain Lou Albano)
-Copy-pasted from “The Best of the WWF Volume Two”: -Martel starts off with a lot of armdrags and the crowd is hot for this. “Times sure change” moment as Vince McMahon notes how surprised everyone was to learn that there would be a title match on television. Arm wringer by Tony Garea on Saito, followed by a shoulderblock, and Fuji walks into an armdrag and stomps. The faces work the arm with some double-teaming. Flying bodypress by Martel gets two, and Martel goes back to the arm. Garea does likewise. Fuji gets a low blow that neutralizes Garea long enough to tag out, but Garea gets his second wind and starts working Saito’s arm. Saito rams Garea into the turnbuckle to finally get a heel advantage. Fuji chops away and fires him into the turnbuckle. Saito goes for a pin and gets two. He chopes away at Garea gets a backdrop (and Vince has not yet perfected his call of that move, so it feels different somehow). Fuji with a chop off the ropes, and Saito gets a kick to the abbs. Fuji gets back in and keeps up the punishment. Martel breaks a pinfall attempt and the referee is distracted long enough for Albano to help with a triple-team effort. Nerve hold by Fuji but Garea breaks it with forearms and a bodyslam. Instead of tagging out, he goes for a dropkick, misses, and almost gets pinned. Saito continues to maul him but Garea just won’t stop. Saito misses a corner charge and Rick Martel is a house of fire. Flying headscissors and a sunset flip by a refreshed Garea gets two. It’s a four man donnybrook and Martel looks to finish things with a flying bodypress off the top rope but Mr. Fuji throws a handful of salt out of nowhere and Saito gets the surprise pin, and the titles. Good stuff. 6 for 11.

BEST 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: MR. FUJI & MR. SAITO (Champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. STRONGBOW BROTHERS
-In no mood for pissing around, the Strongbows each take a faceful of salt and get pinned immediately to win the first fall. And like on the Lou Albano tape, that’s all we see of this match. Uh, okay. 6 for 12.

MR. FUJI & MR. SAITO (Champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. STRONGBOW BROTHERS
-Your guest referee is Ivan Putski. Jay is on the warpath and chops the hell out of everybody at various points in the match. Fuji goes for a splash and misses. Jay goes for the pin, and even though Fuji has a foot on the ropes, Putski counts the pin and gives the titles to the Strongbows. 6 for 13. Again, not enough to get into it.

STRONGBOW BROTHERS (Champions…maybe?) vs. MR. FUJI & MR. SAITO
-So this is either a return match or they Dusty-finished the last match. Gene doesn’t make it completely clear. Jules beats Saito from pillar to post and tags in Chief Jay. Sleeperhold by the Chief is broken by Fuji. Jules tags in immediately to get the advantage back with chops. Fuji catches him with a “karate technique” to the stomach and Saito tags in with a kick to the face for two. Japanese Russian legsweep gets two. Fuji tags in and Jules gets worked over until he can make the tag to the Chief. Another chop and Saito comes back in and goes for a pin, which is “almost a tree,” according to Pat Patterson. Chief Jay gets a Thesz press for pin out of nowhere to secure the belts for good. 7 for 14. They kept things going in there, and I like a nice surprise ending now and then.

STRONGBOW BROTHERS (Champions) vs. WILD SAMOANS (with Captain Lou Albano)
-Chief Jay gets rammed into Sika’s mighty coconut head, and the Samoans work him over in the corner. Jules makes the tag and chops away. Samoans clear the ring of Jay with double headbutts, then double-team Jules inside the ring. Samoan drop wins the titles. 7 for 15. Again, not enough to really get into things.

-Samoans double-team Rocky, who tries to elude the onslaught with some fancy footwork but just keeps getting knocked down. Rocky fights off a nerve hold with elbows, but Afa stays on him with a nerve hold. Double shoulderblock takes out both men. Afa recovers first and gets a two-count. Sika tags in and tries his luck, but only gets a two-count himself. He tries his own nerve hold, but Johnson fights it off and it’s a hot tag to Atlas, and we copy-paste the rest of this review. We get one for the Botchamania file immediately when Sika Irish whips Johnson against the ropes and charges. Johnson dodges the charge and Afa falls through the ropes out of the ring. Johnson, for whatever reason, then goes over to another side of the ring and tumbles out through the ropes and lands on the floor. Referee is somehow bumped during a bodyslam by Atlas. Captain Lou comes in with a chair as Afa holds up Tony Atlas. Atlas moves out of the way and Afa takes the chairshot. Atlas gets the pin for the tag team titles. Samoans look pissed at Albano for the errant chairshot, but I’d say the greater offense committed was that Albano didn’t break the pin as long as he was standing inside the ring during a no-DQ match. 8 for 16. I liked the longer cut of this match better.

-From a TV taping in 1984. Tag team champions Adonis & Murdoch are known for having more collective names in one year as tag partners than any other team in history (on various tapes, I’ve heard them referred to as the Dynamic Duo, the North-South Connection, the Wrecking Crew, and just plain Adonis & Murdoch). Johnson & Atlas are known as the first black tag team champions in wrestling history, and given that this was right at the time of national expansion, that’s a fact that Vince looked forward to milking for all it was worth, but there was just a slight problem: they genuinely disliked each other. Since you can’t really keep your gold on guys who hate each other, Vince had a problem to take care of, and oops, I’ve given away the outcome, haven’t I?

-Rocky cleans house to start and takes control with an armbar on Adonis. Adonis escapes but Johnson catches him with a bodyslam and goes back to the armbar, but Adonis escapes with his own slam. Adonis tags out, Johnson does likewise, and it’s an Atlas armbar on Murdoch, who attempts an escape with a kip-up(!) but Atlas holds on. Murdoch slugs away to finally get out and follows with an elbow and it’s time for some double-teaming. Elbow by Murdoch gets two and Adonis tags in. Atlas comes back with a headbutt and Rocky comes back in with some of his fancy footwork and some punching. The heels are rammed into each other and Johnson attempts to finish with a Boston crab, but Murdoch breaks it. An Atlas-Murdoch brawl spills to the outside while Adonis & Johnson stay in the ring, and in a moment of confusion, Adonis rolls Johnson up and pins him clean as a sheet to win the belts. 1 for 1 for a quick, energetic TV main event with no real flow, but no real flaws, either. 9 for 17.

-Adonis drops Rotundo across the top rope. Bodyslam by Adonis, but a follow-up charge is countered by Rotundo backdropping him over the top rope. As long as he’s out there, Adonis rams Windham HARD into the guard rail. Back in the ring, Dick Murdoch tags in and slams Rotundo. He gets a Boston crab, but Rotundo fights it off and sends him into the turnbuckle. Windham gets the tag and cleans house. Windham keeps up the momentum until Adrian Adonis gets a clothesline, and all four men are in the ring. Windham and Adonis head to the floor and Adonis gets wiped out courtesy of the ring post. Windham charges right back into the ring and catches Murdoch in a sunset flip to take the titles. 10 for 18. Predictably good match from four solid workers. This feud should have been more drawn out than it was because they could have had a great series.

TAG TEAM TITLE: MIKE ROTUNDO & BARRY WINDHAM (champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. NIKOLAI VOLKOFF & IRON SHIEK (with Classy Freddie Blassie)
-From Wrestlemania I. Sheik plants Rotundo with a shoulderblock to start, and Rotundo counters with a hiptoss and a dropkick that completely misses. Windham tags in and dodges a double-team attempt, and Sheik ends up hitting a nice-looking dropkick on his partner. Volkoff tags in and Windham & Rotundo work the arm, but Volkoff makes the comeback with an assist from Shiek’s notorious boot. Sheik tags in and he trades suplexes with Rotundo, but Volkoff tags in and we officially have our designated Morton for this match. Sheik puts the boots to Rotundo and follows with an abdominal stretch, but Rotundo counters out and makes the tag. It turns into a pier sixer and during the confusion, Shiek drills Windham with Blassie’s cane, and it’s a totally unexpected title change at 6:55. Fast-paced, not much resting, everybody came there to work. That’s a point. 11 for 19.

NIKOLAI VOLKOFF & IRON SHEIK (Champions, with Classy Freddie Blassie) vs. MIKE ROTUNDO & BARRY WINDHAM
-Volkoff dazzles us with a cartwheel, and then Windham dazzles him with a dropkick. Volkoff pushes him against the ropes and hammers away until Rotundo tags in and rolls him up for two. Volkoff backs him against the ropes and hammers away at Rotundo. Iron Sheik gets a knee to Rotundo’s back from the apron, then tags in and stomps away. Rotundo goes into the foot of Volkoff and then takes a chop from the Sheik for two. Sheik gets a gutwrench suplex and follows with a camel clutch. Windham breaks the hold. Sheik goes for a suplex, but Rotundo counters with an inside cradle. Nikolai reverses it so Sheik is on top, but then Windham re-reverses it, and Rotuno scores the pin. A little on the short side. 11 for 20.

BARRY WINDHAM & MIKE ROTUNDO (Champions, with Captain Lou Albano) vs. BRUTUS BEEFCAKE & GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE (with Johnny Valiant)
-Man…this tape just keeps going, huh? Windham dropkicks both opponents and sends Beefcake to the floor. Bulldog on Valentine by Windham gets two. Another bulldog and Beefcake breaks the pin. Rotundo argues with the referee as Johnny Valiant hands Beefcake a lit cigar, which he shoves right into Windham’s eye. Valentine pins Windham immediately to win the belts. 11 for 21. Again, not enough to really get into it.

The 411: Some matches were reduced to anticlimactic finishes, or clipped down to incoherent punch & kick-fests. What we have here was a three-volume set condensed into a single release and it really hurt the overall quality. I will say this though--the tape is definitely a keeper for people who like clever & cute finishes.
Final Score:  5.2   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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Adam Nedeff

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