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Coliseum Video Presents: The Best of the WWF Vol. IX
by Scrooge McSuck
Released in the Fall of 1986, we return to the "Best of" series after the 8th installment went in a new direction and showcased a ton of new talent in the World Wrestling Federation, and touching very little on what would more accurately describe the word "BEST". Gorilla Monsoon and "Luscious" Johnny V are our hosts from the WWF control room. We run down a sample of the action we're expected to see, and we've got a decent lineup on paper, but no spoilers, and we're not wasting time jumping into the action.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (c) (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat:
Taped on July 27th, 1986 from the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario. By the time this video was released, an angle was shot for TV that would set up one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, but here, Steamboat is just a token challenger during a period where it was common for Savage to challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title while reigning as Intercontinental Champion. Lockup and Steamboat controls the arm. Whip to the ropes, Steamboat with a duck under and baseball slide, setting up Savage for a deep arm drag into the arm bar. Savage makes another escape, but Steamboat surprises him with a slam and goes back to the arm. Whip to the corner, Savage springs off the ropes with a cross body, but Steamboat rolls through for a two-count. Steamboat with a victory roll out of the corner for a near-fall. The referee kicks Savage's hand off the ropes, drawing the ire of Gorilla Monsoon. Savage forces a break in the ropes and drives a knee into the kidneys for good measure. Steamboat blocks being sent to the turnbuckle and we cut ahead in the action, with Savage taking a breather.
Back inside, Steamboat takes Savage off the ropes with a hip toss, THEN SPITS IN SAVAGE'S FACE. Savage takes the bait and gets caught with another arm drag. Whip is reversed, with Steamboat taking a big bump into the turnbuckle and dumped over the ropes. Savage brings Steamboat back in the ring and comes off the top with the double axe-handle for a two-count. Steamboat blocks a suplex and nails Savage coming off the ropes a second time. Steamboat unloads with the strikes between the eyes, sending Savage to the floor. Steamboat follows, dumping Savage over the guardrail. The referee again gets involved, momentarily physically restraining Steamboat from following him. Steamboat sends Savage to the post, busting him open. Back inside, Steamboat with the flying karate chop for a near-fall. Whip and a big chop for another two-count. Savage cuts him off, ramming Steamboat face-first into the referee. Steamboat counters a slam with a small package for two. Steamboat wins the battle of the back-slide for two. Savage reaches into his tights and rakes the eyes with the gimmick. Steamboat swings wildly, nearly taking the referee out again. Savage yanks the referee out of the way and charges, only for Steamboat to send him flying over the top rope. Savage pulls Steamboat out and slams him face-first onto the timekeeper table. They continue to brawl until Steamboat beats the count back in the ring for the cheap victory at 15:24 (shown). These two were going to war, but the lame finish and the gross incompetence of the referee knocked it down a peg. ***¾
The Hart Foundation vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Slick):
Taped on August 9th, 1986 from the Boston Garden. Surprisingly, this was NOT some random substitution, but rather an advertised match to determine a challenger for the British Bulldogs when the WWF returned to Boston on September 6th. I guess that's one way to keep fans guessing instead of doing a more predictable heel vs face match. The Foundation gets the babyface reaction from the crowd, for those keeping score. Neidhart and Hart can't wait through the entire Soviet Anthem and attack (for those who care, it's roughly the same timing of the song where they did the spot at WrestleMania VI). Things settle down, with Bret and Volkoff squaring off. Volkoff with a pair of shoulder blocks and a CARTWHEEL. Crisscross and Bret connects with a dropkick, sending Volkoff to retreat. Sheik tags in and throws himself over the top rope on a wild right hand. Bret gets caught in the corner, but escapes to give us some classic heel miscommunication. Whip to the ropes, Bret with a boot to the midsection, followed by a back breaker. Volkoff interrupts a dive from the middle rope, allowing Sheik to take control. Whip to the ropes and Sheik with a clothesline, followed by a double chop to the throat. Volkoff gets caught with a sunset flip, but the referee is distracted from making the count. Bret escapes an abdominal stretch but misses a snap elbow drop. Gut-wrench suplex from the former WWF Champion, setting up the Camel Clutch. Neidhart makes the save and FINALLY gets the tag. He nails Sheik with a dropkick and gives us the DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER. Dropkick to volkoff but Sheik saves. Whip and a swinging elbow for another two-count. Heck breaks loose, Sheik sweeps the leg from under Neidhart, and Volkoff lands on top for three at 7:39. Weak finish to an otherwise solid match. **½
Boot Camp Match: Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff:
From the same Toronto card as the earlier match between Savage and Steamboat. How lucky are we to get not one, but TWO matches with Nikolai Volkoff? Kirchner sucks up to the crowd by carrying around the Canadian flag. Volkoff is wearing fatigues of his own to sell the battle we're about to witness. Bonus points would've been awarded had he wrestled in the trousers of his one suit. The bell rings and Volkoff immediately runs away, tricking Kirchner into a game of cat-and-mouse in an attempt to gain the early advantage. Unfortunately for him, Kirchner moves quickly and puts the boots to him until Volkoff lands a blatant low blow in this No DQ contest. Whip to the corner and Kirchner avoids a diving shoulder. He lays Volkoff out with the Popeye Punch, but misses a dive from the second rope. Volkoff hangs Kirchner in the tree of woe and comes charging in with a knee to the yam-bag. Kirchner gets dumped to the outside and planted with a slam on the elevated ramp. Back inside, Volkoff shoots Kirchner into the ropes and connects with his spinning kick to the midsection. Kirchner gets sent to the post and we've got TWO blade jobs on the same card. Insert your own Tony Khan reference, dating this recap in the process. Volkoff continues dishing out the punishment, laying into Kirchner with a belt. Whip to the ropes and Kirchner surprises Volkoff with a sunset flip for a two-count. Kirchner with an atomic drop, followed by a headbutt south of the border. He adds a stomp to the grapes and mounts Volkoff for some ground and pound. Whip to the corner and Kirchner sends himself over the ropes on a missed dive. Kirchner removes his boot, whacks Volkoff with it, and covers for three at 11:21. Not awful, nor very good. *½
Andre the Giant, The Junkyard Dog, and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. Big John Studd, Ken Patera, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura:
Taped on March 17th, 1985 from Madison Square Garden (yes, the WWF ran the Garden TWO WEEKS before WrestleMania). You might be wondering how this match made the cut, since at this point Snuka was gone from the company and Patera was serving time for his destruction of private property and assault of a police officer. JYD and Patera trade blows to kick things off, with the Dog getting the better of the exchange. Andre tags in and has his way with Patera for a moment before bringing JYD back in to unload with his signature headbutts. Patera hangs back and taunts Andre with a rude gesture. JYD gets caught in the corner, where Ventura aggressively chokes him with the tag rope. Andre is having none of that and beats on Studd and Patera again. JYD no-sells anything done to his head and has Ventura begging off. Snuka tags in for the first time and gets his stuff in for a moment before getting caught in the corner. Studd with a big slam on Snuka for a two-count. Andre runs in AGAIN, saving Snuka from a bearhug. Patera and Ventura with their turns working the same hold, this time with JYD making the save. Andre FINALLY gets the hot tag and cleans Studd's clock with chops and headbutts. He goes for the slam, but Patera saves. Andre lays out Ventura with a boot and Snuka comes off the top with a splash for the three-count at 10:36. Post-match, Studd and Patera get squashed in the corner by Andre and friends. Wow, babyfaces not only went over clean, but VENTURA took the fall? Match was mostly garbage, however. *
King Tonga & Sivi Afi vs. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Taped on July 12th, 1986 from Madison Square Garden. A surprisingly relevant match, with them doing the body-slam challenge angle on TV with Studd and King Tonga (soon to be renamed "Haku"). Sivi Afi is a cheap knock-off version of Jimmy Snuka that the faithful fans of the Northeast rejected IMMEDIATELY. Seriously, first match in Poughkeepsie for TV and the crowd dumped on him. Tonga and Studd start. Lockup to the ropes and they trade blows until Tonga teases a slam. Studd constantly hangs onto the ropes like he's 1989 Andre the Giant. Studd finally has enough of selling and dumps Tonga to the outside, where Tonga is introduced to the ring post. Back inside, Studd comes off the TOP ROPE with a forearm across the back. Tonga makes his own comeback, dropping Studd to his knees with chops and planting him clean with a scoop slam. After years of watching heel Haku and Meng, I'm in shock watching him as a dancing babyface. Studd blocks a second slam, and now we've got Sivi Afi in there to bring the quality of the match down. Studd shrugs off a dropkick and tags in Bundy. He sends Afi to the corner but gets caught by surprise with a twisting body press for a two-count. Bundy cuts him off with a slam and knee across the face for two. Studd bulldozes Sivi with a shoulder block and works him over with clubbing blows. Tonga gets back in for another strike exchange, but Studd cuts him off immediately. Bundy with a shoulder block and knee drop… and that's three at 8:31? Looked like Tonga kicked out, and they sell like the match was going to continue, but the referee called it. Whatever. Match was OK. *½
Cowboy Lang vs. Lord Littlebrook:
You can't have a "Best of" home video release without the midget wrestlers! Taped on June 14th, 1986 from Madison Square Garden. Lockup into the ropes and Littlebrook surprisingly gives a clean break. Littlebrook attempts a cheap shot on the second try and takes a comical flop through the ropes after missing his target. Littlebrook escapes a Full Nelson and plays to the crowd with one of the funniest struts you'll ever see. He arrogantly offers himself up for a third attempt, and this time Lang keeps it applied, forcing Littlebrook to the ropes for another comedy bump. We cut ahead in the action to Littlebrook taking Lang down with a handful of hair. Alfred is having the time of his life watching this one. Lang has a mouthful of rump roast from both Littlebrook and the referee. There's such a weird art to these matches, where I can enjoy them one day and dislike them greatly the next. Lang with the little comeback, taking Littlebrook around the ring with the rolling leg cradle for three at 6:20 (shown of 10:00). It would be unfair to judge this based on half the match, but I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions: If you like the midget comedy, you'll have fun with it, if not, it's a quick skip.
$50,000 22-Man Battle Royal:
(Participants: Junkyard Dog, Harley Race, Billy Jack Haynes, King Kong Bundy, Sivi Afi, Brutus Beefcake, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Pedro Morales, Lanny Poffo, Iron Mike Sharpe, Moondog Spot, Jimmy Hart, King Tonga, Big John Studd, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, "Luscious" Johnny V, S.D. Jones, Tony Garea, Moondog Rex, and "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas)
The final match of the collection, taped on July 12th, 1986 from Madison Square Garden. The bell rings and Jimmy Hart immediately slides out of the ring to avoid being attacked. Everyone gangs up and tosses Studd at 0:14, and Bundy is gone as well at 0:19. Heenan is struggling in the corner and gets launched by a group of Superstars at 0:44. Heenan stops by the broadcast table to vent his frustrations at losing the opportunity at $50K. Valentine and Tonga light each other up with chops. We see Jimmy peeking out from under the ring. Jones is dumped at 2:35. We got FIVE dogs in the ring (Moondogs, Bulldogs, and Junkyard Dog). Mike Sharpe and Tony Atlas are dumped off camera at 3:30. Morales tosses Valiant (off camera) at 3:51. Valentine throws out Garea at 5:07. Morales sends Race packing at 5:48. Sivi Afi is (finally) out at 6:00. Lord Alfred called HIM a favorite to win?! Davey Boy and Dynamite send Spot and Rex to the locker room at 6:30 with synchronized dropkicks. The ring is almost exclusively babyfaces except for Beefcake and Valentine. Beefcake throws out Dynamite at 8:55. Morales looks completely washed out there, or whatever the 1986 vernacular is for "washed". Valentine eliminates Morales at 9:20, who I admit takes a decent bump. Beefcake is gone at 9:25. Valentine is alone against 5 babyfaces. He manages to dump Haynes at 9:47, then Tonga at 9:54. These babyfaces are inept. Jimmy Hart is STILL hiding. Valentine tosses Davey Boy at 10:36, then Poffo at 10:48, leaving Valentine and JYD (and Jimmy Hart). JYD gets dumped through the ropes and he pulls Hart out from under the ring before getting back in the match. Valentine and JYD fight in the ropes and both men are over and out at 12:58, giving the match by default to JIMMY HART. We're overdue for a troll job Battle Royal in the modern era. Why they put Valentine over so hard in the last few minutes is the biggest mystery, but it was the biggest highlight other than the "LOL, Jimmy Hart won" finish.
Coming Soon from Coliseum Video: The Best of the WWF Volume 10 (using highlights of a Hogan/Piper vs Orton/Orndorff match that isn't on the tape), WWF's Grand Slams (a video of random clips, like Monsoon giving Muhammad Ali an airplane spin and Gene Okerlund's one-and-only match in the WWF), and Hulkamania 2 (with highlights of a match with Paul Orndorff that isn't on the tape!).
Final Thoughts: Better than the 8th installment in the Best of the WWF series. Your enjoyment will vary when it comes to mid 80's WWF, but for me, even if the star ratings don't reflect it, the only stinker on the tape is the Six-Man Tag. No, I didn't think highly of Volkoff vs Kirchner, but it was fine for what it was, and was a major TV feud in 1986, so it's nice to have a blowoff match of some kind between them on the set. Same for giving us a tag match with Studd and Bundy against Tonga and Afi. Not a great match, but a nice little window into the Spring and Summer instead of just being a random match featuring guys with no storyline reason to feud. Clocking in at 90 minutes, this was a fun time, and fans of the era will enjoy it.
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