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WWF at Philadelphia Spectrum
by Scrooge McSuck
January 11, 1986
Originally presented on PRISM, hosted by Dick Graham and Lord Alfred Hayes. The WWF ran a separate tour for the Boston Garden the same day, headlined by Paul Orndorff and Bruno Sammartino vs. Roddy Piper and Bob Orton, as well as Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Title. Philadelphia gets the Hulkster and Tag Team Championship, so I'd say Philly got the A-show based on one of those points.
Dan Spivey vs. Ron Shaw:
What a barnburner to kick off the card. Having seen what Spivey would become, it always makes me laugh that he was brought in as a wannabe Barry Windham. We get a geek handshake before the bell. Maybe I'm going crazy, but Shaw's "Philadelphia" jacket seems to have faded letters. Would it cost that much to replace it? Lockup and Shaw gives a clean break. Spivey wins the battle over the wristlock but is forced to break in the corner. Shaw with a takedown, countered by a head-scissors. Spivey avoids a cheap shot in the corner and takes Shaw over with a pair of slippery arm drags. On top of wannabe Windham, Spivey's yellow trunks and boots, in hindsight, gives him another wannabe complex (Hogan still hasn't settled down to wearing only the yellow and red, though we're getting close to that point). Shaw with a slam but Spivey holds on to the arm. Shaw gets dropped by an elbow but has the ring awareness to get the knees up to counter Spivey's splash attempt. Shaw with a hip toss and a series of short right hands. Spivey gets tossed over the top rope and thank goodness the WWF didn't honor DQ's for that spot. Spivey fights back from the outside and comes off the top with an elbow for two. Whip to the corner and Spivey with a monkey flip, followed by a suplex for two. Bulldog finishes at 8:34. The instant replay shows Shaw and Spivey clearly calling the spot. I expected this to be worse. Spivey's wrestling technique is very flawed, but this wasn't off-the-rails bad. *1/2
B. Brian Blair vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart:
Interesting decision to split the teams. I recall Brunzell showing up at WrestleMania 2
with a brace on his arm, so maybe he's out with an injury, which explains why he's not in the match with Brett later. Jimmy Hart was in Boston that night seconding Terry Funk, so he's obviously not at ringside for any of his protégés on this card. Lockup and Neidhart shoves Blair into the ropes. Blair grabs a side headlock, but Neidhart easily powers out. He grabs a headlock of his own and hangs on despite several attempts from Blair to escape. Blair works his way free, brings Neidhart down with a drop toe hold, and works the arm. Whip and Blair with a sunset flip for two. Neidhart escapes an arm bar and takes a breather. Back inside, Neidhart calls for a test-of-strength. NEVER TRUST A MAN STROKING HIS GOATEE. They lock hands and Blair quickly turns it into a wristlock. Dick Graham keeps talking about the Cowboys and Eagles. If we're using kayfabe logic, Neidhart played for the Raiders, so I don't know. Neidhart knocks Blair out of the ring and hangs him across the top rope. Blair tries to trade blows, but that isn't going to work with someone like the Anvil. If things weren't going slow enough, Neidhart grabs a bearhug. Blair escapes with Bee-onic elbows, but the comeback is cut short with an inverted atomic drop. Neidhart with a rake of the eyes and a slam. Blair avoids a charge, sending Neidhart in the corner. He rakes Neidhart's eyes across the top rope and connects with a hooking clothesline. Blair goes for an abdominal stretch and turns it into a cradle, but they end up in the ropes. Blair ducks a right hand and grabs a sleeper. Blair with a sunset flip from the apron for two. He muscles Neidhart up for a slam but misses an elbow drop. Neidhart responds by missing a falling axe-handle. Blair with a small package for two. Drop toe hold into a half-nelson cradle for two. Blair hooks another abdominal stretch and rolls up Neidhart, and suddenly the bell rings at 16:14. That is one of the most poorly timed Time Limit Draws I've seen in a while. Neidhart attacks but Blair manages to fight him off. Match went from boring, to decent, to dumb. I didn't expect too much, but this still let me down. *1/4
"Special Delivery" Jones vs. Hercules Hernandez:
Please, don't let this go 15-minutes. I'm begging you, PLEASE SPARE ME THAT TORTURE. S.D. is introduced from Philadelphia, PA. I could've sworn he was from Antigua in the West Indies (yes, I'm aware the correct answer is both). Speaking of hometowns, shouldn't Hercules be from Mount Olympus instead of Tampa, FL? No bell, so the official time will be unofficial. The hard camera not only holds but focuses on a guy aggressively giving Hercules the finger. It's Philly, I get it. They trade shoves from the collar-elbow lockup position. Jones grabs a side headlock and rocks THE Hercules with a headbutt (Graham added the "The"). Whip to the ropes, Jones blocks a boot and hits another headbutt. Why does Dick keep saying "The Hercules"? He clearly has a surname. The Hercules with a cheap shot in the ropes, followed by some mudhole stomping. We have some tracking issues, but it doesn't sound like we're missing much. Hercules with a snap mare into the chin-lock. Lord Alfred just said "The Gladiator" Hercules Hernandez. How wasted are these two? Jones gets dumped and hangs around the outside for quite a while. Back inside, Hercules with more punching. Jones no-sells being rammed into the turnbuckle and dances. Jones with rights and a headbutt. Hercules cuts the comeback off with a back breaker and that finishes at the 9:00 mark. DUD
"Mr. USA" Tony Atlas vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis:
I keep forgetting Atlas hung around for some of 1986. Adonis is still transitioning into his flamboyant persona, wearing steamers and bows to the ring. Graham notes Adonis has bulked up. It feels like forever ago when Adonis (teaming with Dick Murdoch) won the Tag Team Titles from Atlas (with Rocky Johnson), even though it was less than 2-years ago from this point in history. Lots of stalling once the bell rings. The Philly crowd chants the F-word at Adonis, so we get more non-action. They finally lockup nearly 4-minutes after the bell, and Adonis gives a clean break. Another lockup and this time Adonis slapped Atlas across the face. Adonis tries it again, but Atlas blocks and retaliates. Atlas grabs a side headlock. Crisscross and Atlas with a headbutt, causing Adonis to dramatically over-sell and bump into the ropes. Adonis counters a side headlock with a back suplex. Adonis with a slam and a ridiculously telegraphed forearm smash for two. Whip to the corner, Atlas misses a charge and gets caught in the sleeper. The arm drops twice, but he's awake and alert before it drops a third time. Atlas breaks the hold, but Adonis remains in control. Atlas straddles Adonis across the top rope and brings him down with a headbutt. Atlas with a flying headbutt for two (Graham literally calls the move and follows with "I don't know what to call it."). Charge to the corner misses. Adonis covers, but Atlas has his foot on the ropes, so he pulls the foot off and covers again for three at 12:05. The f*ck was that finish? Awful match. Somehow, every match is getting worse. -*
King Tonga vs. Tiger Chung Lee:
WHO BOOKED THIS LINEUP?! I'm no geographical wizard (I've yet to find Parts Unknown on a standard globe), but is there a lazier name for a guy from The Island of Tonga than "King TONGA"? Might as well call the next British Superstar "King England" or however the hell their monarchy works. Lockup into the ropes and a clean break. Tonga quickly takes control, working the arm. Whip and Tonga with a shoulder tackle and back to the arm bar. Chung Lee with a crescent kick to the midsection and toes to the throat. Snap mare and Chung Lee with knees to the chest. If that teased you with the action picking up, here's a chin-lock for you. Tonga escapes and comes off the ropes with a shoulder. He tries it again and meets the knee. They trade blows and NO ONE CARES. Tonga misses a charge as Graham calls him the "Tonga Kid." I'm positive that's a different wrestler, but what do I know. WILL THIS MATCH EVER END? Chung Lee with a stomp across the throat. He plants Tonga with a slam but takes too long climbing the ropes and gets slammed down. Tonga with an elevated leg drop and a jumping headbutt for three at 8:13. It was better than the last match, breaking the streak of each match getting worse. It still sucked. DUD
Hulk Hogan & Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, and Bobby Heenan:
Main Event of the night, in the middle of the show. NO, I WON'T STOP ARGUING THE DEFINITION OF MAIN EVENT. Hogan and Andre come out to "Real American", intro included. Hogan and Andre waste no time going on the attack and clearing the ring. Nice of them to have matching banana yellow trunks. Referee Joey Marella still insists on Mel Phillips doing ring introductions after that. Andre gets the last introduction, and his pop overshadows Hulk's in my opinion. Andre and Studd start officially. Lockup into the corner and Andre grabs a handful of Studd's chest hair. He drags Studd to the center of the ring, decks him with a right hand, and plants him with a slam. Hogan comes in and slams Studd as well. Then, for no reason whatsoever, Hogan crawls around and headbutts Studd like he's the JYD. Heenan ends up in the ring and takes a spectacular bump out of the corner. Bundy comes in and gets laid out with a running high knee. Hogan goes for a slam but Heenan pushes Bundy over, landing on top of the Hulkster. Hogan avoids a knee drop and tags in the Giant. Whip to the ropes and Andre… sets for a back body-drop. Yeah, that isn't working. Studd puts the boots to Andre, and even in this prone position, Andre won't commit to selling for the guy. Heenan comes in and Andre makes it to his feet despite Heenan's best efforts and smacks him across the ring. Bundy charges and meets a boot. Hogan unloads with rights, sends Bundy to the corner, and follows in with a clothesline. Heenan uses himself as a shield, distracting Hogan long enough for Studd and Bundy to regain control. Studd with a slam. Hogan fights out of a chin-lock but runs into an elbow. Studd with a whip and forearm for two. Heenan tries to get cute and pays for it. Hogan does his Hulk Up™ on BOBBY HEENAN. Andre tags in to get a taste and smacks Heenan around some more. All three heels get piled up in the corner and pulverized. Andre with a whip and boot to Heenan to finish at 12:22. Post-match, Andre gets trapped in the ropes and Hogan double-teamed, including Bundy crushing him with a splash. Not a good wrestling match, but the crowd loved it, and Heenan was all over the place to make it watchable. **
Ivan Putski vs. Brett "Hitman" Hart:
Much like the "U.S. Express" conspiracy of 1985, I'm sticking to my guns with the spelling. Every time it's shown on screen, it's spelled with two "t's". Watch me slip up and switch between Bret and Brett, because it's been 30+ years of writing it one way, and now I'm on a crusade for the sake of being a spelling Nazi (ignores the countless mistakes I've made over the years). This should be awful, hopefully it'll be short. Lockup and Putski sends Hart into the corner. Another lockup, and Brett gets thrown out of the ring. Back inside, Putski cranks on a side headlock. Hayes claims Hart is a "notoriously slow starter." THE F*CK YOU SAY, ALFRED? Putski working like it's 1971 is something to behold. Brett counters a headlock with an atomic drop and drops an elbow across the back of the head. Hart with a back breaker for two. Putski reverses a whip, sending Hart chest-first into the turnbuckle. Putski with goofy overhand rights. Whip to the corner, Putski casually walks into a leg trip, and Hart uses the ropes to stack Putski up for three at 5:50 despite Putski no-selling the entire thing, both shoulders off the canvas, and the referee looking at Hart's feet. Post-match, Putski attacks like a sore loser. I wonder if Putski was one of the "dinosaurs" Brett complained about taking everything and giving him nothing in his early matches with the WWF. One of the worst matches with Hart I've ever seen. -½*
Kung-Fu Match: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji):
This should wash the disgusting taste of Ivan Putski out of my mouth. There are No DQ's or Count-Outs. That's some loosely officiated KUNG-FU action. Both guys must work the match in a Karate Gi. Steamboat immediately starts throwing Muraco around, using the jacket for leverage. Blatant eye rake from the Dragon and another "judo throw." Is Judo Kung-Fu? White meat babyface Steamboat CHOKES MURACO WITH THE JACKET. Yeah, this guy didn't have an ounce of heel in him. None. Muraco counters but Steamboat rolls through and holds the choke. Steamboat blocks a monkey flip and throws Muraco with a pair of his own, still using a grip of the jacket to his advantage. Muraco muscles up with Steamboat on his shoulders and drops him with a fallaway slam. Muraco brings a (padded) chair into the ring and runs through Steamboat with a clothesline. He hits the Spike Piledriver onto the exposed part of the chair, instantly making him the smartest heel in the world. Steamboat is showing some crimson, though the PRISM cameras are so foggy it doesn't look good on TV. Steamboat gets knocked through the ropes and sent to the post. Why is Philadelphia still using cameras from 1965? The quality, even by 1986 standards, is AWFUL. Muraco brings him back in with a suplex and starts lashing him with his own black belt. OH, THE HUMILIATION! Muraco with a choke, which is fair play, since Steamboat did it relentlessly for a solid 2-3 minutes. Steamboat fights to his feet, only to collapse to the canvas from being choked long enough to be legally brain-dead. Graham says, AND I QUOTE, that "Muraco is choking him TO DEATH." Steamboat disproves science by making a comeback from death, only to be sent crashing into the turnbuckle. Dick Graham is worse than the quality of cameras being used. Muraco spreads Steamboat's legs and delivers a headbutt into his you-know-what. Steamboat puts the brakes on, sending Muraco into the turnbuckle. Muraco misses a headbutt from the middle rope. Steamboat, with the magic of ORIENTAL MEDITATION, is making his comeback. Lord Alfred is saying it, not me. Steamboat with a series of chops. He climbs the ropes and hits a flying chop to the top of the head. Steamboat takes a shot at Fuji and cradles Muraco for three at 15:14. Post-match, Muraco chokes Steamboat out, making that three consecutive matches where the loser attacked the winner. Maybe this would be better muted, but the god-awful commentary took me out of it. **½
- The WWF returns to the Spectrum on Saturday Night, February 8th. Announced: The British Bulldogs in Action, Rene Goulet vs. Pedro Morales, Iron Mike Sharpe vs. Dan Spivey, Scott McGhee vs. Hercules Hernandez, George Wells vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, The Iron Sheik vs. Corporal Kirchner, "Terrible" Terry Funk vs. The Junkyard Dog, and in the MAIN EVENT, Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy (Mel Phillips doesn't bother letting us know if it's for the title or not). That lineup is a total pass, I refuse to recap it. Sorry.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake (c) (w/ Johnny Valiant) vs. The British Bulldogs:
Final match of the night (THANK GOD). Beefcake and Valentine attack from behind. Valentine follows Dynamite to the outside, coming off the apron with an elbow. Back inside, Dynamite gets whipped into a boot from Beefcake. Beefcake with a big slam and jumping stomp across the chest. Whip and the Champions with a double elbow (called a "double karate chop"). Another whip and Dynamite lays Valentine out with a clothesline. Davey Boy in with a slam for two. He sweeps the leg of the Hammer and traps the legs in what usually leads to the Sharpshooter. Valentine with a leg across the face to escape. Beefcake with a snap mare and knee drop for two. He drops Davey Boy throat-first across the top rope and drives a series of boots into the midsection. Valentine goes for the Figure-Four, but Davey Boy hooks the tights to block the hold. Dynamite in illegally, laying Valentine out with a headbutt. Beefcake comes in without the tag and applies a spinning toe hold before turning it into a Figure-Four! ED LESLIE IS OUTWORKING MOST OF THE ROSTER ON THIS CARD. Valentine slaps Davey Boy around and drops a headbutt across the midsection. Davey counters his second attempt at the Figure-Four with a small package for a near-fall. The bell rings out of nowhere as Davey Boy keeps fighting both men off. He takes Valentine over with a suplex and finally tags in Dynamite. He nails Beefcake with a back breaker for two. Whip and Dynamite with a clothesline for two. Snap suplex for two. Davey Boy scoops Beefcake up and plants him with the running powerslam but Valentine saves. Dynamite comes off the top with a headbutt, but now Valiant jumps in for the DQ at 7:48. Well, that was a damn fine 8-minutes after 2+ hours of mostly dog crap. ***1/4
Final Thoughts: I don't care how many good matches there are, Dick Graham is impossible to listen to for 2+ hours without wanting to puncture an eardrum with a cotton swab. Honestly, not a good show until the final half-hour, but it's not worth sitting through, and there's much better from all men involved to be found elsewhere.
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