WWF Wrestling Classic
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented live on Pay-Per-View on November 7th, 1985, from the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, IL. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura are calling the action at ringside, unless otherwise noted. Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes are hosting in front of a giant board with the Tournament brackets, along with a female companion named "Susan", who has a chalkboard pointer to focus us on those tough to reach places. I've never seen such an obnoxiously large bracket presentation, and it looks surprisingly second-rate by WWF standards. We find out that the placement of the brackets was drawn "at random", which explains the handful of face vs. face and heel vs. heel matches in the first round. On top of the 16-Man Tournament and a WWF Championship Match, one lucky fan will win a ROLLS ROYCE. Something tells me that last one was the main focus of selling this as a PPV worthy event. [Note: The version being viewed for this recap is from the WWE 24/7 On Demand Classics.]
Corporal Kirchner vs. Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Let the marathon begin! Kirchner was introduced to the WWF throughout the Summer via on-the-field training vignettes, a not-so-subtle replacement for the recently departed Sgt. Slaughter. Adonis was gaining more and more weight by the week, but was still a few months away from converting from New York street tough to... well, a cross-dressing, make-up wearing, possible homosexual (back when it was OK to encourage fans to chant disparaging remarks that would never fly in today's world). Lockup to the corner and Adonis surprisingly gives a clean break. Kirchner takes him down with an arm drag and side headlock, and holy crap, that is a loud ring. Adonis escapes with a drifting back suplex. Adonis with a snap mare into a chinlock. Kirchner escapes and unloads with rights in the corner. He goes for a suplex, but Adonis counters with a DDT, and that's good enough for the three count at 3:21. ¾* Didn't really have much time to go anywhere, and yes, I'm going to be saying that a lot.
The Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff:
Winner advances to face Adrian Adonis in the Quarter-Finals. Dynamite Kid is one-half of the British Bulldogs, which seems odd to put them both in a singles tournament. After debuting in 1984, it finally feels like the Bulldogs were being groomed to take the spot as the #1 babyface tag team. Volkoff was kind of floundering at this point, sometimes teaming with the Iron Sheik, sometimes going solo. He does his traditional singing of the Russian National Anthem, but Dynamite Kid surprises him with a missile dropkick and covers him for the three count at 0:09, a legit 9-seconds, unlike the "record" set at WrestleMania. Who knew the British hated the Russian anthem as much as Americans? DUD As always, anything this short, unless in a rare occasion, will always get the minimum non-negative rating.
Ivan Putski vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth):
Putski is back from retirement, looking a bit out of place considering his prime was the early-mid 70's. Savage joined the WWF during the Summer, and after an extensive search for a manager, introduced the world to Elizabeth, who was promoted early on as a more serious manager than the damsel in distress she would become by the time Savage's program began with George "The Animal" Steele as 1985 drew to a close. Savage stalls before the match officially begins. Still working that Memphis heel out of himself, I guess. Lockup, Savage grabs a full nelson, but Putski easily escapes and spits at Savage in retaliation for earlier. Savage comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle, but Putski stands tall and flexes. I guess that's all he can do, and even that looks unconvincing. Savage with a rake of the eyes and jabs. Putski no-sells it and grabs Savage for some headlock punches. I guess that's where they got the idea for the Rick Rude Hasbro figure. Putski with boots in the corner. Savage sweeps the legs, rolls Putski up, and uses the ropes for leverage to get the three count at 2:46. ¼* There's our first lame finish of the night. Putski was just terrible.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Davey Boy Smith:
This has some potential. Winner faces Randy Savage in the Quarter-Finals. Do you think we'll see a Dynamite Kid vs. Davey Boy Smith Semi-Finals!? Steamboat has recently completed his training to become the Dragon, so now he's wearing a knock-off karategi to the ring. Lockup and a clean break. Steamboat grabs a side headlock and they take turns countering. They fight over a hip toss, with Smith getting the best of the exchange. He takes Steamboat over with an over-head throw, but Steamboat bridges out of the pin and takes Smith over with a back slide for two. Crisscross and Davey Boy with a Gorilla press slam for a two count. Davey Boy with another press slam for a near fall. He keeps Steamboat off balance with a front face-lock. Steamboat counters a suplex with a delayed version of his own, but meets knees going for a splash. Smith with a pair of dropkicks. He goes for a third, but gets hooked in the ropes, and the referee calls for the bell at 2:54, declaring Davey Boy Smith unfit to continue. There's another terrible finish. ** As good as a match under three-minutes will be, and this was one of the few matches with potential.
The Junkyard Dog vs. The Iron Sheik:
Oh my Lord, please let this be under 2-minutes long. The JYD was in the middle of a program with the recently debuted Terry Funk, while the Sheik is kind of an after-thought, so I'm putting my money on the Dog to go over here. Sheik attacks before the bell and chokes JYD with his entrance garb. He follows that up with more choking. The crowd rallies behind JYD, who starts no-selling and craving Twinkies. He unloads with rights and a headbutt to put the Sheik in a compromised position. Sheik grabs a full nelson, but JYD powers out of it. Whip to the rope and weak clothesline connects for a two count. JYD with a snap mare, but the headbutt misses. Sheik applies the Camel Clutch, but JYD won't give up. He's like a mid 80's version of John Cena. Sheik pounds away in the corner and shoves the referee away. JYD surprises him with a headbutt, and covers for the three count at 3:28. Seriously? ½* Not the negative-star affair I was expecting this to be.
Terry Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Moondog Spot:
If this doesn't scream random, I don't know what does. As mentioned earlier, Funk has issues with the JYD, and his opponent is basically the 2016 version of Zack Ryder: a total scrub, so logical booking says we get Funk vs. JYD in the Quarter-Finals. Funk gets on the microphone before the bell and says he doesn't want to wrestle Spot. Funk offers the both of them leave the ring and settle for a draw... and if you believe that, I've got some inside information on the reforming of the Shield and Nexus. The bell rings with both men on the floor. Funk with a sucker punch, but Spot prevents him from entering the ring. Funk ducks under a clothesline and back drops Spot into the ring, and Funk is counted out at 0:27 (that's a long and generous 10-count). DUD Unique finish, but a complete waste of time. So JYD gets MOONDOG SPOT in the Quarter-Finals!?
Tito Santana vs. The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji):
"Main Event anywhere in the country" sayeth Gorilla Monsoon. This might be good, but judging by Muraco's expanding waist line, he's probably more concerned with the local buffet than having a good match here. Santana is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, so if he does do the job, there's no way it's going to be a clean loss. We've had three terrible finishes in a row, so maybe this can break the streak. Lcokup and a clean break. Muraco puts the boots to Santana in the corner. Whip to the ropes, Santana ducks a clothesline and hits a body press for a near fall. Santana with a sunset flip for another two count. I don't think I've seen anyone else whip an opponent to the ropes quite like Muraco. Whip to the corner and Muraco does a big flip to land on his head. Santana with boots to the face, unaware of the concussion problems in the world of sports. In a show where the average match is about 3 minutes long, Santana slows it down by holding onto an arm-bar. Muraco escapes, dropping Santana throat-first across the top rope. He lays out Santana with a clothesline and drops a knee across the chest for two. Muraco with a Powerslam for three, but wait, Santana had his foot on the ropes. Santana recovers and cradles Muraco for the real three count at 4:16. Well, there's terrible finish #4, and there's a mild "bullsh*t" chant from the heel section. **1/4 Match was fine for what it was, but they keep throwing us some terrible finishes. It's not like they even have a better camera angle for the replay, we're just assuming Santana had his foot on the rope.
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs. Bob Orton Jr.:
Final match of the 1st Round, with the winner going on to face Tito Santana in the Quarter-Finals. Orndorff turned face shortly after WrestleMania and has found his way on the bad side of Bobby Heenan, so he's got a bounty on his head for all would-be-dastardly-heels to collect (50 thousand, or about 3 and 1/3 slams of Big John Studd at WrestleMania). That's a storyline that needs to make a comeback. Orton goes for a waist lock, but Orndorff takes control with a wrist lock. He goes to work on the "injured" arm, slamming it across the turnbuckle. Orton with a headlock takeover, Orndorff quickly counters with a head scissors and goes back to working the arm. Charge to the corner and Orton gets a knee up. He drives another knee across the back of the head and an elbow across the throat. Whip to the ropes, Orndorff attempts a sunset flip and with a handful of tights, pulls Orton over for a near fall. Orton regains control, hooking on a head scissors. Orndorff escapes with a float-over. Orton bridges up and takes him over with a back slide for two. Orton with a hip throw across the ring, but whatever he was going for in the corner ended up with him being crotched on the ropes. I guess he's fit to continue, unlike Davey Boy Smith. Orndorff with the big comeback, treating Orton like a punching bag. They take it to the floor, with Orndorff still in control. Orton does something with the cast and blasts Orndorff with it, but the referee clearly saw it and calls it a Disqualification victory for Orndorff at 7:29. **1/2 Best match of the opening round, but now we've had, what, six straight matches with weak finishes? In yet another production gaff, we throw it to a replay, and the replay doesn't even show what we were supposed to see. I hope someone got fired for that, unless his replacement was Kevin Dunn.
The Dynamite Kid vs. Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart):
First match of the Quarter-Final Round. I wonder if there's a British Bulldog vs. Murdoch and Adonis match floating around... that has potential to be a hell of a match. Lockup, Adonis with a side headlock and a shoulder tackle. Dynamite with a pair of arm drags, sending Adonis to the floor for a breather (and perhaps a Ring Ding). Adonis with a boot to the midsection and an elbow. He sends DK into the corner with a sling shot. Adonis with a slam for only a one count as Jesse Ventura ditches the broadcast position to confer with the Macho Man. Adonis with a suplex for a two count. He grabs a chinlock as Monsoon ponders what Ventura has to say to Savage. Dynamite fights to his feet and takes Adonis down with a back suplex, but misses a splash. Adonis goes to work on the leg, sandwiching the knee between his legs and driving them down to the canvas. Adonis with the Sharpshooter! He's not sitting back on it enough though, so this must be where the Rock learned it. Whip to the corner, Adonis misses a charge, and Dynamite with a sunset flip for a very long two count. Dynamite sends Adonis to the post, countering a running bulldog, and drops a knee across the face. Whip to the ropes and a hard clothesline turns Adonis inside out. Flying knee across the chest, but it only gets two. Snap suplex and a headbutt by DK. Hart hops on the apron, allowing Adonis to roll him up. Dynamite kicks him off, knocking Hart off the apron, and covers for three at 5:29 despite Adonis having his foot on the rope... sorry, the streak continues. **1/2 Good match despite being short-changed on time.
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth):
You thought that WrestleMania III was the only time these two met on PPV? On paper, this has potential to be the best match of the night, but with everything getting between 3-5 minutes, it's impossible to have THAT good of a match. Savage hides behind Elizabeth, because he's a jerk. Savage with a "Pearl Harbor job", but Steamboat quickly sends him to the floor. Savage picks the leg and pulls him to the floor, laying into him with rights. Back in the ring, he unloads with jabs until Steamboat hooks him with a head scissors and throws him over the top rope, to the floor. Steamboat follows and unloads with chops. Steamboat with a big chop inside the ring. Savage ducks under another and connects with a back suplex. Savage to the top rope, but Steamboat counters the axehandle with a fist to the midsection. Steamboat with a knee lift and a series of chops to the top of the head. He brings Savage back in the ring with a suplex and comes off the top with a body press, but it only gets two. Savage finds his way to the apron again. He digs deep in his trunks for a foreign object and blasts Steamboat with it, away from the view of the referee, and lands on top for a three count at 3:20. **1/4 And we've got another bad finish. It was good for the entire 200 seconds it lasted.
The Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot:
Will the Cinderella Story continue for Moondog Spot? Smart money says "what are you, nuts?" I guess you can call this one a Dog Fight™. Spot attacks before the bell, and hell, before a referee is even in the ring! JYD avoids a splash from the second rope, hits him with a series of headbutts, and finishes with a wind up headbutt at 0:30. Oh, did I mention that the JYD counted the pinfall himself, and this is considered a legal representation of a referee? -** Just stupid. Poor Spot, the fix was in.
Tito Santana vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff:
Hopefully a referee can find his way to the ring and keep track of this one. Another face vs. face match-up, with the winner moving on to a Semi-Final Match with the JYD for another battle of the babyfaces. Lockup and Santana grabs a side headlock. Monsoon and Ventura take notice of a freshly bandaged left leg on Santana, suggesting he was unwise in accepting an invitation to the Tournament as the reigning Intercontinental Champion. Orndorff counters, but Santana switches to a head scissors. Orndorff floats over to escape and goes to work on the arm with a hammer-lock. Santana counters, and they continue to tease fisticuffs. Santana with a headlock, countered with an atomic drop. Come on, Orndorff having sympathy? I don't buy that. Orndorff with a drop toe hold and a grapevine. After so many rushed matches, now we're getting something paced for twenty minutes?! Lockup to the ropes and Orndorff knocks Santana silly, sending him to the floor. Orndorff follows and now they're both throwing rights. They stumble around until the bell rings, the official result being a Double Count-Out at 8:05. *1/2 They go at it slow and immediately hit the go home button. Count this as the 10th match in a row with a questionable finish.
WWF Championship Match:
Make that 11 matches in a row. Sorry, it's Hulk vs. Piper in 1985. Nobody is doing a clean job. Hell, nobody is doing a cheap pinfall job, either! Seems like these two never quite settled the score, mostly because Piper refused to do the job and figured it would hurt his drawing power at the top of the card. They tug-of-war with the Championship and start slugging it out before the bell rings. They take it to the floor, with Hogan whipping Piper into the steel rail. They take turns raking each other in the eyes, with Piper getting the upper hand. Hogan reverses a whip to the corner and follows in with a clothesline. Hogan with a back suplex, slam, and a pair of elbow drops. Piper uses the referee's distraction to cheap shot Hogan out of the corner. He tries for something off the middle rope, but Hogan catches him with a bear hug. Piper's answer to escape: poke the eyes. Whip to the ropes and Piper with a sleeper hold. Hogan powers up, with Piper still on his back, and takes him tumbling over the top rope, to the floor. Hogan starts no-selling Piper's offense and chases him back in the ring. They trade rights. Whip to the ropes and Hogan with the big boot, followed by an atomic drop. Piper reverses a whip and knocks Hogan into the referee with a sledge. He brings a chair in and weakly smacks it across Hogan's back. Hogan blocks another shot and returns the favor. He hooks a sleeper hold, while still holding the chair. Here comes Orton to attack from behind, drawing the Disqualification at 7:15. They do a short beat-down before Mr. Wonderful makes the save. ** Decent action for the two involved, but the non-finish was expected, even on a show that isn't littered with terrible booking choices.
Hulk Hogan © vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper:
The Dynamite Kid vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth):
Here's a dream match for everyone. Then reality kicks in and you realize the winner faces the Junkyard Dog in the Tournament Finals. I'm assuming they're going with the unlikely underdog for Dynamite Kid to make it this far, but honestly, I don't think they even suggest such a thing. Lockup and nobody with the advantage. Savage grabs a waist-lock, but Dynamite works his way out of it, sending Savage to the floor to hit the reset button. Lockup into the ropes, making it half-way across the ring until Savage nails him with a cheap shot as the referee tried to create separation™. Dynamite comes back with rights and grabs a side headlock. Whip to the ropes and DK with a hard shoulder tackle. Another whip to the ropes and Dynamite with a high back body drop. Diving body press gets a two count. Dynamite with a sunset flip, but Savage counters by sitting across the chest. Savage misses on a clothesline and Dynamite comes off the ropes with his own. Savage gets up first and goes to the top rope, but dynamite nails him with a dropkick, crotching him along the buckle. Dynamite follows him up and connects with a super-plex, but in the follow through, Savage hooks his leg and cradles him for the three count at 4:51. At least the finish wasn't cheap, breaking the streak at 11. *1/4 I wasn't really feeling this one. They were working a slow pace for a match that didn't even reach the 5-minute marker.
- We kill time to give Savage a bit of a breather, since there's only one match left. Someone wins a Rolls Royce, nobody watching really cares, though...
Tournament Finals: The Junkyard Dog vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth):
Seems odd to book the babyface having an easy path to the Finals, while the heel has to fight through three difficult matches. Remember how they promoted Savage as setting a precedent, wrestling four times at WrestleMania IV? I guess they white-washed this PPV from history, and it's understandable. I didn't notice, but I think they had Savage and Elizabeth in four separate outfits, too. Savage is selling being exhausted, and JYD is just bloated from eating an entire box of Hostess Cup Cakes... what, you didn't know where the song "Grab Them Cakes" came from? Savage stalls and hides behind Elizabeth to kick things off. He tosses a chair at the JYD, who bashes himself with it and shows no effect. They finally lockup, and JYD easily shoves Savage across the ring. Savage goes for a slam, but JYD blocks and drives a headbutt to the lower back. He hooks a bear hug, and I'm already begging for the match to end. Gene Okerlund joins the commentary team as the farce of a Finals continues. Savage finally takes control and nails JYD with a flying axehandle to the floor. Savage with a chair across the back, in full view of the referee. He chokes JYD across the rail and a little girl takes a swipe at him with her sign. Where's the security!? Back in the ring, JYD counters another axehandle with a fist to the lower abdomen. He unloads with a flurry of headbutts, trapping Savage in the ropes. JYD reverses a whip and back drops Savage to the floor... and he's Counted-Out at 9:42 for the LAMEST tournament deciding victory I've ever seen. * Could've been worse, but an awful way to end an awful tournament.
Final Thoughts: Lots of short matches, and one terrible finish after another. I'm all for the occasional protective finish to keep things fresh, but when all but three matches on a 15-match card have questionable endings, you're over-protecting everyone on the roster and it cheapens the outcome the more you see it. The biggest issue with all of this is booking a top heel like he's a babyface, and giving an easy path to a babyface instead of the heel, and ending the finals with a cheap count-out. I could say some of the random matches of the tournament are worth a watch, but even on a generous scale, the best matches were in the low 2-star range, and nothing is given enough time to be worth tracking down.
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