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WWF Prime Time Wrestling (6.5.1989) Review

October 30, 2019 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Demolition WWF Prime Time Wrestling 6-5-1989
6.6
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WWF Prime Time Wrestling (6.5.1989) Review  

-Originally aired June 5, 1989.

WWF Prime Time Wrestling is taped in front of a live studio audience! Gorilla and Bobby walk onstage greeted by a round of applause…this week Prime Time is on location at the premiere screening of No Holds Barred. Gorilla says that the movie broke box office records everywhere this weekend, which, depending on the number of empty seats from theater to theater, could technically be true.

-Actually, I got curious and headed over to Box Office Mojo and would you believe No Holds Barred opened at #2 that weekend? “That’s not so terrible” you’d think to yourself, but it grossed about $4 million that weekend while the #1 movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, took in $21 million. Hulk Hogan did manage to kick Road House‘s ass, though.

-So Gorilla tells the audience to enjoy the movie and Heenan gets huge laughs from the audience for riffing on the Rosatti sisters in attendance.

-So for the rest of the show, Gorilla and Bobby host the show in the lobby, and it makes for some nice atmosphere, with the muffled sound of the actual movie in the background when they talk.

KING DUGGAN vs. DAVE WAGNER

-From “Superstars.” There’s some commitment to the cause this week; they’re using the No Holds Barred logo as a transitional wipe to the matches. The crown is starting to go to hell and little pieces of it break off as Duggan takes it off to start the match. Duggan whips Wagner by the beard into the corner, and Jesse Ventura is just in his glory griping about how much he hates Duggan in this new role. Three-point stance finishes immediately.

-After the bell, Bobby Heenan races to ringside and tries to steal the crown back, but it’s a ruse to distract Duggan while Haku comes to ringside and Duggan kicks his ass because they’re committed to doing this feud the wrong way from beginning to end. So Andre the Giant heads into the ring to help Haku, formally aligning them for the first time, and Big John Studd comes to the ring to serve as equalizer and set up a run of house show matches that will never happen because Studd’s walking out of the company tomorrow. Duggan and Big John stand tall in the ring as Big John Studd’s music plays, which is funny because it actually becomes Duggan’s music in a year or so.

-Back at the movie theater, Jack Tunney has to take a dump.

-The Genius reads a poetic review of No Holds Barred, complaining that he could have won an Oscar if he was the star.

Speaking of reviews of No Holds Barred, here’s the full episode of Siskel & Ebert from that weekend. Spoiler: They shart all over it, but total credit to them because they aren’t just dismissing it because it’s a movie about pro wrestling. The gist of their discussion is that they both think a better movie about pro wrestling could have been made. (And note Roger Ebert just casually referring to him as “The Hulkster.” I love that.) In fact, Ebert makes a really good point about how “off” the tone of the movie is because it tries to be gritty and serious, when the WWF was still very much a living cartoon.

-Okay, so, what movie could the WWF have done instead? Well, nobody, I’m glad you asked. This is something I’ve actually pondered over the years. You know what a kick-ass movie in 1989 would have been? A faux-documentary about the Hogan/Savage feud. Seriously. Open the movie with the director–Marty DiBergi, I guess–explaining that when the title was vacated in February 1988, he contacted the WWF about making a documentary where he’d follow the Wrestlemania IV tournament winner around and just chronicle what a title reign looks like through the champ’s eyes, and the former champ’s eyes.

-So you have all these scenes of Randy Savage doing photo shoots and radio interviews, Elizabeth negotiating his contracts and giving her approval for new merchandise. Meanwhile, Hulk’s at his home on the beach, and because he whiffed his chance in the tournament, he’s been knocked out of contention for any of the belts, and he had a four-year reign so he’s feeling like his career’s finished and he’s had his day in the sun. And he’s trying to keep himself occupied at home, trying to convince himself he’s retired but you can see he’s going a little stir crazy.

-And then Savage has his run-in with DiBiase and Andre and he and Elizabeth visit Hulk’s house and ask him to be a tag team partner, and the tag team match reignites Hulk’s spark and he thinks “Oh my god, I can be part of a tag team! That’s something new! And we can be a huge success!”

-And he’s oblivious to his little faux pas re: Elizabeth’s ass at SummerSlam. And then because Hulk’s back in the WWF, suddenly he’s doing photo shoots and radio interviews again and Savage is bothered because he doesn’t have anything booked except his next title match. And he even loses a guest spot on, hell, Regis & Kathie Lee, I guess, because they’re more interested in Hulk, and you can see him starting to seethe. And one day Elizabeth is plotting strategy for the Survivor Series match and she’s concerned that Hulk was injured by the nightstick attack, so she’s trying to figure out a way to keep Hulk from re-injuring himself during the match, and she gets lost in thought. And Randy walks into the room and sees the far-away look in her face and asks “What’s on your mind?” And she says “I’m thinking about Hulk.” And you see the smoke coming out of Randy’s ears when she says that. And we see a big argument in the locker room after Survivor Series, and you see the friendship just fall apart until Savage turns at The Main Event, and that takes us to about the 90-minute mark of the movie and at that point, you just show the whole main event of Wrestlemania V, shot by three extra film cameras in the building that night. Boom. Movie. Build me a time machine, let’s make this happen.

-Back in the theater, a pair of teenage girls are just way too happy to be meeting Gorilla Monsoon.

MR. PERFECT vs. LANCE ALLEN

-Shoulderblock and a hiptoss by Perfect. Perfect sits Allen down and leaps over him to snap his neck, which was such a cool move. Allen gets some token offense but runs into a boot, and the Perfect-plex finishes.

-Bobby gets mistaken for an usher while Gorilla again sells his soul by mentioning the box office records that were set over the weekend. It’s fascinating how in the weeds this company was with movie promotions. For weeks, they were hyping the impending release by encouraging people to get their tickets in advance, which is not a thing you did back in 1989 (and they even sort of acknowledged that while still telling us to do it). It’s just that you tell people to buy their house show tickets and PPVs in advance, so they tried to transfer that over to a movie. And here is Gorilla trying to put over the movie by using a statement that even at that time could be debunked without much trouble. Most newspapers printed the weekend box office numbers on Mondays.

EVENT CENTER

-The Rougeaus make fun of the Rockers for wearing torn-up t-shirts instead of pretty capes to the ring. And the Red Rooster thanks his fans, the “Rooster Boosters.” Oh my god, he TRIED. He really did.

TWIN TOWERS (with Slick) vs. RAY BROWN & JERRY LYNN
-Akeem backs Mr. JL into the corner and rams him. Boss Man comes in and chokes him out. Question–were Boss Man’s massive pit stains on purpose to make him look more heelish or was that just a legit problem for him?

-Boss Man slam and a splash by Akeem finish and YES, Slick finally sings “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” as the bell sounds. I kept wondering when he was going to start doing that. An inauspicious debut for the future WWF Light Heavyweight Champion, which I totally forgot about until checking Wikipedia.

-A klutzy stage manager spills popcorn all over the Brain. Heenan rips into him for being a moron, all while eating the popcorn that got caught in his clothing.

BUSHWHACKERS vs. BAD NEWS BROWN & BROOKLYN BRAWLER

-So following their unexpected win last week, Bad News and Brawler have decided to stay a team. Heenan acknowledges that he’s their manager although he’s not at ringside with them.

-Brawler gets beaten down by both Bushwhackers, beleaguered by a bitten behind before Bushwhacker Butch, uh, benters the bring. Bad News tags in and Butch hurts his hand punching Bad News. Bad News takes control from there, outshining Brawler. So with Butch reeling, he lets Bad News come back in. Butch rips at Butch’s face, but he takes a kick to the jaw and Luke tags in and bites him on the nose.

-So Bad News tags in again to bail out his partner and takes over. And Brawler again tags back in now that Bad News has set this up for him, but he misses an elbow and Butch tags in. Battering ram and the double stomachbreaker finishes while Bad News gets distracted yelling at the fans. After the bell, Bad News turns on Brawler, knocking him out with a ghetto blaster and storming off, so the hot new tag team in the WWF is dissolved after two weeks.

EVENT CENTER

-Bret Hart demands a shot at Rick Rude’s “Continental Belt.” And he says it twice! Also, Mr. Fuji and the Barbarian have strong English-like words for all comers.

-Lord Alfred Hayes gushes about what an amazing film Gorilla and Bobby are missing and then runs off to the soda fountain.

HONKY TONK MAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. RED TYLER

-From “Wrestling Challenge.” Honky rams Red into the turnbuckle and drops a fist on him. Shake, Rattle and Roll finishes with ease. Honky spends so much time in the ring afterward that the audio guy fades out his theme music, and Honky demands that the music be turned back on so he can start again.

SPECIAL INTERVIEW

-And now Gene Okerlund is on the interview platform and pointedly tells Honky that his segment is done and to get out of the ring. And with that, he brings out his guest, Superfly Jimmy Snuka. Honky, on the aisle floor, uses the long cord to yank the microphone out of Gene’s hands and says Jimmy lives in a tree, picking coconuts and pineapples, and he can’t even afford to buy shoes! Superfly calmly takes off his robe and crown (and he puts the crown on Gene’s head for safe keeping) and bodypresses Honky from the platform. Woohoo, an angle!

TONY SCHIAVONE’S COLISEUM CORNER: THE SELLING OF HERCULES

-One of my favorite bad angles of all time. Gene Okerlund is on the interview platform with Hercules, Bobby Heenan, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil, and Ted DiBiase announces that he bought a slave. Hercules just stands there smiling and nodding and completely unbothered by this announcement. And then he announces that he bought Hercules from Bobby Heenan, and Hercules is SHOCKED. I will never not-love his reaction here. There was no other logical reason for him to be out there.

JIM POWERS vs. IRON MIKE SHARPE
-From the Meadowlands. Iron Mike hammers Powers, but a dropkick sends him to the floor and Iron Mike stalls, but it’s okay when he does it because he’s Iron Mike Sharpe. Iron Mike overpowers Powers in his effort to go over Powers. Powers powers out and goes to work on the arm. Atomic drop by Powers, but he misses a corner charge.

-Powers fights back with turnbuckle shots in one corner and then another. Powerslam finishes. Pretty underwhelming.

-The Rosatti sisters walk by with a gigantic submarine sandwich. Hopefully they finish it in one night or it’ll ruin the trip to Duff Gardens.

DEMOLITION (Tag Team Champions) vs. TODD BECKER & FULLER STEVENS

-Smash pounds on Stevens and Stevens has to be really, REALLY new at this wrestling thing. Smash Irish whips him into the corner and sticks his arm out, and Stevens just stays slumped over in the corner. Becker tags in and it doesn’t go well for him. Decapitator ends it.

-And now, Gorilla just introduces this like it’s any other segment: “Let’s take a look at Dusty Rhodes.” So Dusty left the NWA at the end of 1989 after having the booker ball taken away from him, and headed back to Florida with Gordon Solie to relaunch that territory, with some extra momentum from a “talent raid” consisting of Al Perez and absolutely nobody else. With house shows drawing around the low hundreds, Dusty just walked out of Florida, pissing off Gordon Solie so badly that on his deathbed he specifically ordered that Dusty not be allowed to enter his funeral.

-So here’s an old adobe-covered Volkswagen from Americana Pizza pulling into the driveway, with Dusty carrying the pizzas to the front door under his arm like a stack of books. So a woman who’s weirdly aroused by the pigfeet and oyster pizza offers Dusty a slice…of pizza. And the segment ends with the woman asking “Hey…aren’t you…”

EVENT CENTER

-Dino’s repackaging is complete and he’s 100% Quebec hero Dino Bravo now. Jimmy Hart says that after managing an Intercontinental Champ and Tag Team Champs, Dino Bravo is the last piece he needs for a triple crown.

-Vince touts the new No Holds Barred magazine and you bet your ass I have a copy on my bookshelf.

TITO SANTANA vs. JAKE MILLIMAN

-From “Superstars” with Rugged Ronnie as referee. Tito works the arm as we get taunting words from Rick Martel. Flying forearm finishes with no trouble. Milliman picks a fight with Garvin after the bell and Garvin knocks him out with the hands of stone.

HILLBILLY JIM vs. GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE (with Jimmy Hart)

-Hillbilly cartwheels around Valentine to avoid a backdrop and then trips Valentine. We pause for a break and come back to Valentine hammering quite fittingly on the Hillbilly as Gorilla explains that it takes 15 minutes for him to get warmed up. I’m not sure I have the patience for fifteen minutes of this. Valentine applies a chinlock. Hillbilly elbows out and goes for a slam, but falls backward with Valentine landing on top for two. Hillbilly mounts a little bit of a comeback but gets distracted by Jimmy Hart, and Valentine gets the pin with a handful of overalls. These guys worked this match like their flight was leaving in 20 minutes.

-Heenan again complains about the way he was mistreated this week and says he’s going to start his own TV show. Gorilla rolls his eyes and says it’s an empty threat, because Heenan keeps saying it.

6.6
The final score: review Average
The 411
The feature matches left a bit to be desired, but Gorilla and Bobby were in their glory this week. Highly recommend the host segments.
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