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 411mania » Wrestling » Video Reviews

The Name on the Marquee: WWF Championship Wrestling (11.2.1985)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 08.04.2014

-Originally aired November 2, 1985.

-Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino.

-Debuting this week: the new turnbuckles with the WWF logo on them.

-Tonga gets down so hard during the entrance that he comes full circle and gets back up. The sight of the monster Meng boogeying is something that has a way of staying with you forever.

-Steamboat starts with Brooks. He tries a slam but hurts his back, and Rusty succeeds with a slam of his own. Elbow misses and Steamboat works the arm. X tags in and gets taken to the opposite corner, where Steamboat treats his partners’ heads like turnbuckles in a cute spot.

-JYD tags in and beats on Haley to a thunderous ovation. Steamboat chops him down, and the chop from the top almost finishes, but the jobbers interfere and Steamboat gets distracted having to ram them into each other. Tonga kicks and headbutts Haley while the other jobbers have an argument in the corner about who sucks more, and Tonga finally gets the three-count.

-Lord Alfred Hayes hypes The Wrestling Classic one more time. It’s this Thursday night, and you can win a Rolls Royce!

-Armdrag by Hunter. Muraco fights back with elbows and tosses Hunter out to the concrete. Muraco distracts the referee while Fuji attacks Hunter with his cane. Vince warns that Fuji won’t be able to do that during his special Kung-Fu match with Ricky Steamboat this weekend.

-Hunter makes a comeback but runs into a charge while Vince hypes the upcoming pumpkin dunk and pie-eating contest later this weekend and finally gets around to saying “Saturday Night’s Main Event.” Did you ever notice that they actually rarely did that? They usually just left it at “this weekend.”

-Piledriver finishes while signs of NBC’s influence are starting to gradually creep in; arena is well-lit this week so it doesn’t look like they’re in a huge black void during the matches.

-Gene Okerlund promotes the next Boston Garden spectacular, where Bruno Sammartino will be the guest of Piper’s Pit. Bruno admits that he refused the invitation on numerous occasions, and warns Piper not to try any nonsense at the Garden.

-Gibbs tries straight wrestling and gets outshone by both opponents. Santana armdrags him all over the place until Gibbs finally goes to the floor. Adams tags in and tries to do a tumbling sell of a shot to the stomach, and he lands right on his head and looks a little out of it afterward.

-Adams gets some offense with eyerakes, but he’s still really out of it, which even Bruno notices, and Tito finishes with the flying forearm to put him out of his misery.

-Gene Okerlund hypes the Wrestling Classic tournament and brings in the Magnificent Muraco, who is wearing the same shirt that he wore to the ring, in an impressive display of continuity.

RANDY “Macho Man” SAVAGE (with Elizabeth) vs. JIM POWERS
-Savage is wearing a robe with an ornate dragon design on it and Vince notes that Ricky Steamboat probably objects to that design…You know, the match would have been great anyway, but geez, imagine if THAT was the reason for the feud.

-Powers gets the better end of Savage with dropkicks and several pinfall attempts early on. Savage connects with a clothesline that finally takes Powers off his feet and finishes INSTANTLY with the flying elbow. Weird match.

-Piper’s guest is Jesse Ventura. Piper gives Jesse all kinds of praise for his astute commentary during the wedding of Uncle Elmer. Jesse says it made him sick to his stomach that the wedding aired. Piper mentions that Uncle Elmer will be one of his guests on Piper’s Pit later tonight and says he’s trying to wrap his head around the idea of what may have happened during the honeymoon. He says that if there’s going to be another Uncle Elmer in the world, that’s the best argument yet for legalized abortion. The microphone “malfunctions” right before Jesse finishes that thought and the segment ends very abruptly.

-Brunzell monkey-flips Lombardi and Blair tries to work the arm, but Lombardi makes it to his corner and tags out. Mirto gets clotheslined down and Brunzell tries to finish, but only gets two. Mirto manages to get a lethargic slam, but Brunzell throws a big dropkick that looks to finish, but Lombardi breaks it. Brunzell knocks Lombardi off the apron and Blair finishes with a sunset flip on Mirto.

-We get a commercial for a new board game called Battle Royal, heartily endorsed by Killer Kowalski and available only through this special TV offer, not in stores. This thing is not on Ebay and it doesn’t even have a listing on Board Game Geek. Holy crap, did nobody call this 800-number?

-In the shittiest timing imaginable for this kind of thing, McGraw dropped dead the day before this show aired. Removing the match, subbing in another match of the same length from the same taping session, and sending it via satellite with all of the correct house show plugs and promos to every city within 24 hours was, in fairness, probably a tall order.

-McGraw wears a Hot Rod t-shirt into the ring, and when Piper steps into the ring, McGraw tears it off, blows his nose into it, and throws it at Piper. Piper stalls, spits in McGraw’s face, and circles the ring while the referee holds McGraw back. This is actually pretty incredible. After last week’s angle, the crowd just INSTANTLY buys into McGraw as a star out of nowhere, and this match absolutely has a main event feel to it.

-Piper finally gets into the ring and starts to take his shirt off, and McGraw goes on the hockey player attack with the shirt still over Piper’s head. McGraw just hammers him with punch after punch until Piper gets fired up. Shot to the throat sends McGraw over the top and Piper rams him into the barricade.

-Back in, Piper pounds away. McGraw fights back with punches and eye rakes, and the crowd goes crazy for any basic offense that McGraw can muster. Back suplex by Piper crushes the fans’ hopes and he spits on McGraw for good measure. McGraw won’t stay down and keeps throwing punch after punch. DDT(!) by Piper grounds McGraw again. Suplex by Piper and now the referee looks concerned and the commentators begin talking about stopping the match. Piper DDTs McGraw again and the referee stops the match and gives Piper the win. Piper looks into the camera and calmly says, “That’s why they don’t let me wrestle on TV.” Bruno says he’s glad the referee stopped the match because McGraw will live to see another day.

-Piper talks about the upcoming Boston Garden event, which is guaranteed to be 100% vampire free because of all the garlic coming off of Bruno.

I was going to do a new review off the Network, but found that I felt pretty much the same about a pristine copy as I did about my bootleg video that looks like it was rendered with dark crayons.

-Well, November 2 can only mean one thing…Halloween! WWF wrestlers who already have gimmicks to portray get dual-gimmick duty for one very special night of wrestling matches and party games! Wrestling matches and party games: They go together like NASCAR races and scrapbooking!

-Taped Halloween night (okay, I guess that’s fair, then) from Hershey, PA and aired two days later.

-Cold open is a montage of promos with the theme from “Halloween” playing in the background, and that music actually works shockingly well for this purpose. Mean Gene Okerlund (dressed as some kind of pumpkin wizard) watches Bobby Heenan (Davey Crockett—the frontier guy, not the “Look at that!” guy) prepare for the Pumpkin Dunk. Hulk Hogan & Andre the Giant are angry but costumeless. Roddy Piper (decked out in an awesome “Super Rod” costume) talks to Jesse Ventura (who apparently didn’t get the memo about tonight’s theme because he’s wearing a Mardi Gras mask); Piper, at his coked-up best, pantomimes firing a rifle at Jesse’s feathers. Gene Okerlund, now wearing a tuxedo (Continuity Fever: Catch it!) talks to Jimmy Hart & Terry Funk. Terry spits tobacco juice at the camera.

-Your hosts are Vince McMahon (dressed as a guy with a pompadour and a tuxedo...oh…) and Jesse. Pretty funny bit where Vince runs down the card and the camera keeps cutting to fans in attendance dressed like the wrestlers he’s talking about.

-We flash back to Terry Funk beating the crap out of Mel Phillips during his debut match. Shortly after, he beats the crap out of Junkyard Dog during an MSG bout. Interesting stuff as the company never comes right out and notes the common bond between Phillips and JYD, but Terry’s autobiography makes it pretty clear what his gimmick was supposed to be in this run with the company. Colonel DeBeers would be proud.

JUNKYARD DOG vs. TERRY FUNK (with Jimmy Hart)
-JYD attacks Terry on the apron and beats on him while Terry is still wearing his entrance gear. JYD runs out of the ring to chase Jimmy Hart, and when Terry tries to help, he straddles himself on the top rope and JYD takes advantage. Back in the ring, Funk gets a slam but misses an elbow, and JYD gets a slam of his own. For good measure, he slams Funk over the top rope and onto the bare floor. Funk is so disoriented that he wrestles Hart to the ground.

-In the ring, JYD Irish whips and slams Funk and follows with rolling headbutts. This is frustrating to watch, as Terry Funk could turn this into a crazy brawl and it’s like they won’t let him. Funk gets the advantage with closed fists and a slam for two. Funk goes for a sleeper as the crowd chants “JYD.” JYD makes it to the ropes, then tries a sleeper of his own. Jimmy gets on the apron and JYD releases the hold to yank Hart into the ring. The referee is distracted long enough for Funk to wallop JYD with the megaphone and he scores the pin. 0 for 1. Again, frustrating to watch because it could have been more and you knew it could have been more.

-Post-match, Funk & Hart try to brand JYD but JYD tosses Funk from the ring, punches Jimmy, rips his pants off, and brands him on the ass for free. And here I am paying good money for that like an idiot.

-Before the games begin, Gene runs down our galaxy of stars backstage for tonight’s battle. On the heel side of things we have: Volkoff & Sheik (Batman & Robin), Randy Savage (Tarzan), Elizabeth (Jane…Oh my…), Bobby Heenan (again, Davey Crockett), and King Kong Bundy (Abraham Lincoln). Representing the forces of goodness, we have Hulk Hogan (Hercules…uh, the mythical being, not the pale guy with the chain), the Hillbillies (Three Musketeers), Tito Santana (Zorro), and Captain Lou Albano (Julius Caesar).

-The Faces of Fat have 90 seconds to eat as much pie as they can. As the winner of a single eating contest in college (I ate 35 hot wings in 2 minutes), I have to say they’re showing absolutely no pride in the way they’re doing this. They get about half the pie in their hand, lick it off their hand, and act like that counts as eating the whole pie. Folks, when I won that wing contest, I did it the right way: cram the whole thing in, strip the bone clean, remove the bone. (That’s what she said.) Anyway, Captain Lou wins and Bundy retaliates by shoving his face in a pie. 0 for 2 for this sham of a competition.

Also, fun fact, if hot wings are hot enough, your lips will turn blue.

Tonight’s guests are Uncle Elmer, Cousin Junior, and Hillbilly Jim. Vince aggravates Jesse by replaying the “two carp in the Mississippi River” comment. Piper asks Elmer about the wedding night and family planning. Elmer, apparently coached by Andre the Giant, just repeats “That’s none of your business.”

-All three hillbillies start threatening Piper, so he cops out by saying that it was Jesse who got out of line, not him. Jesse leaves the broadcast table and does the manly thing, taking full responsibility for what he said. Cowboy Bob sneaks up behind Junior and Piper schoolboys him, and that earns a big old hillbilly fist; kinda like what happened to Ned Beatty in “Deliverance,” except this time, the hillbilly fist hits Piper in the face. The heels retreat and we have a six-man tag match all set for the next show. The Hillbillies couldn’t hold up their end of the segment. 0 for 3.

-There’s a vat of melted chocolate filled with pumpkins. They have sixty seconds to pull out as many pumpkins as they can using only their mouths. And if they find the flag in that chocolate and pass it to their partner, they’ll win this terrific prize…Harvey?

-JYD (wearing a mummy costume plus his chain) suddenly appears for moral support, but to no avail. Heenan triumphs and seems far too happy about it. 0 for 4.

HULK HOGAN & ANDRE THE GIANT (with Captain Lou Albano) vs. KING KONG BUNDY & BIG JOHN STUDD (with Bobby Heenan)
-Vince, Jesse, and Mean Gene all refer to the faces as The Dream Team, as Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake presumably stand backstage shrugging and yelling “What the hell, man?!”

Actually, as it turns out, they really weren't using the name yet.

-Hogan & Bundy start. Shoulderblock goes nowhere, but a kneelift from Hogan takes Bundy off his feet. Hogan goes for a slam immediately but Bundy grabs the ropes to block it. Clubbing forearms by Bundy, but Hogan gets an elbow. Irish whip and a clothesline and Hogan tags in Andre, who Vince calls “the big boss man.” That’s right, folks, the gimmick was an inside joke.

-Andre chokes Bundy and won’t let go. Andre tags Hogan back in and Hogan gets an axehandle off the second rope. Hogan gets trapped in the heel corner for double-teaming, and Studd enters the match with a shoulderblock. Hogan comes back with a bungled atomic drop, and Andre tags back in and gets to chopping. Andre accidentally KOs the referee in the fracas, and we have a four-man brawl while the referee is escorted from the ring. The faces clear the ring and they decide to take a powder while we wait for a replacement referee. Call me crazy, but I bet there’s a commercial break coming…

-We rejoin the match with Andre bearhugging Studd. He Irish whips Studd into Hogan’s boot and takes him off his feet with a clothesline. Andre tags in and gets a boot. Bundy attacks from behind to tie Andre in the ropes. Hulk tries to help and gets splashed for his trouble. The heels double-team Andre to earn a DQ. Hogan makes it back to his feet and attacks, Andre unties himself, and they clear the ring. 0 for 5. Fast-moving stuff, but it never really went anywhere. And when I say it never went anywhere, I mean it. They didn’t even do the logical thing and go around the horn for house show rematches. What was the point?...Well, I guess the point was to get a massive rating…which it did…But still!

-Every wrestling fan has guilty pleasures and “The Wrestling Album” is one of mine. Whether it’s Jimmy Hart turning a riff from “Jesse’s Girl” into a complete song about how much he hates Rick Springfield, or Nikolai Volkoff stopping in mid-love song to sing “the best song written ever,” that whole album is 45 minutes of stuff that I know I should hate, but I can’t bring myself to feel that way about it. Hell, I even have Roddy Piper’s “For Everybody” in rotation on my iPod. Anyway, this is Wilson Pickett’s hit from the 60s the way it was meant to be performed—by the entire 1985 roster of the WWF, plus Meat Loaf for some reason.

And a cameo by the Rosetti sisters!

-This is exactly what “USA for Africa” should have been. I’m watching quite possibly the most inspirational video ever. If King Kong Bundy and Special Delivery Jones can put aside their differences long enough to entertain the world through song, why can’t we have world peace? The video comes to an abrupt end when Uncle Elmer concedes that he’s not as coherent as his pig and Roddy Piper gets annoyed and picks a fight. Awesome. 1 for 6.

Not surprisingly, this isn't on the Network version.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: TITO SANTANA (champion) vs. RANDY “Macho Man” SAVAGE (with Elizabeth)
-Tito gets neither a promo or an intro, which I find odd for whatever reason. Lock-up goes nowhere, another lock-up goes nowhere, but on the third lock-up Savage goes dirty with a punch and a stomp. Snap mare and a kneedrop keep the advantage. Savage misses an elbow off the ropes and gets a hiptoss, but Savage regains the advantage for an axehandle off the second rope. Headlock by Savage as the crowd starts a “Tito” chant.

-Tito fights out of the headlock but a handful of hair traps him back in the hold. Tito fights out with an elbow and Savage thinks quickly and slams him. Savage goes off the top rope but Tito meets him with a shot to the gut and now Tito is fighting dirty. Slam by Tito and he goes for a forearm, but Savage ducks out and Tito follows him out. It turns into a chaseand Savage meets Tito with a punch and goes for a piledriver on the floor, which could have triggered a HUGE feud for this period, but Tito fights out of it and it’s a double-countout. 1 for 7. Like JYD-Funk, we have another situation where you know the match could have been more.

-A rare “remote report” with Vince McMahon on the scene instead of Mean Gene. Piper is wrapping bowling balls to look like candy apples and wrapping bricks in aluminum foil to simulate chocolate bars. Piper explains his attitude toward the trick-or-treaters: “If they bother me once…they don’t bother me twice.”

-A group of kids (one dressed as Hulk Hogan) show up, and our moment of exposition establishes that the kids have come to Piper’s house before. Piper greets the kids and feels the Hogan kid’s arms, saying “You’re even built like Hogan. Piper’s “treats” end up breaking the bottoms of the bags and spilling their candy, which he steals. After chasing the kids out of his house, Piper helps himself to the candy…which are actually red peppers that the kids covered with chocolate. Piper spits everything out and desperately searches for water while Vince mugs at the camera. 2 for 8. Piper is absolutely the only heel who could have made this skit work.

-Mister Fuji destroys bricks and wood in preparation for the Kung-Fu Challenge.

KUNG-FU CHALLENGE: RICKY “The Dragon” STEAMBOAT vs. MISTER FUJI (with Magnificent Muraco)
Steamboat is coming to the ring to something that obviously isn’t “Eye in the Sky” but I can’t identify it for the life of me.

And the Network removes it altogether in favor of the generic piece that they use for all of Steamboat's matches, so it's a mystery forever.

-Fuji & Steamboat vie for chops and Steamboat dominates “the wily Japanese.” Fuji grounds Steamboat with a kick and a falling headbutt. Steamboat comes back with more chops, but Fuji fights back with…chops. The gimmick is kinda hindering this. Fuji gets a hiptoss and a cresent kick, but Steamboat blocks a suplex (which I believe is technically Tae-Kwon-Do, not Kung-Fu) and comes off the top rope with a missile dropkick for the win. Muraco runs in post-match and spits red mist in Steamboat’s face (…the hell?) and it’s a two-on-one attack. 2 for 9. Bleh.

-For those of you who have forgotten what a pumpkin pass is since 2nd grade, the idea is that you tuck a pumpkin underneath your chin and pass it to your teammate that way, and you try to go down the line without using your hands or dropping the pumpkin. The faces have a perfect run. The heels, being heels, use the capes on their costumes to cover for using their hands to pass the pumpkins. When the pass comes between Super Rod & Elizabeth, Piper arches his body downward so that Elizabeth can’t get to the pumpkin, so Piper drops it and Savage blames Elizabeth for screwing up. Funny stuff. 3 for 10. Your tie for Hero of the Night: Piper for courageously copping a feel on Elizabeth with Savage standing right there during the pumpkin pass, and the awesome cameraman who squatted down to shoot Elizabeth from a low angle.

The 411: Piper's shenanigans carried the entire weekend.
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend


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