The Name on the Marquee: WWF at Boston Garden (12.7.1985)
Posted by Adam Nedeff on 09.03.2014
Savage vs. Steamboat, back when they merely disliked each other.
-This is the shortened WWE Network version, and after watching the Championship Wrestling hype for the past month, I’m actually looking forward to this because they have a pretty loaded card to select from.
-It’s December 7, 1985 in the Garden.
-Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura.
PEDRO MORALES vs. COWBOY BOB ORTON
-Orton gets the win by using his cast. Bank on it.
-Orton does a pratfall on the floor while running away from Morales and stalling. He goads Morales into coming out on the floor and then rams Morales into the barricade, knocking over the barricade and getting a giant pop. Pedro was already getting a mixed reaction before the bell but now there’s no discussion; this is an Orton crowd. Orton slams Pedro on the floor and gets another pop. Orton pushes his luck and tries a suplex on the floor, but Pedro reverses it.
-Both men crawl into the ring and Pedro throws punches. Orton pinball-bumps from the punch into a turnbuckle and back out to the floor. Bob is so pissed that he pulls apart one of the barricades and tries to load it into the ring, but it’s not designed to be carried like that and Pedro, still in the ring, just grabs an end of it and bops Bob on the head.
-Back in the ring, Pedro gets a two-count with a sunset flip. Orton goes to the eyes and takes a swing with his cast, but Morales ducks and cradles Orton…for THREE! Well, shut my mouth. 1 for 1. Hot, fun brawl. Orton attacks him with the cast post-match. Okay, so, close.
RANDY “Macho Man” SAVAGE (with Elizabeth) vs. RICKY “The Dragon” STEAMBOAT
-Really curious entrances, with Steamboat’s entrance theme being replaced, but the Network editing crew dubs in booing for the crowd noise. Savage got a pretty good pop, so I wonder if they’re trying to stay faithful to the actual crowd reaction.
-Savage hides behind Elizabeth and then attacks Steamboat from behind. Steamboat gets fired up immediately and takes the fight to the floor, ramming Savage’s arm against the post and snapping it over the ropes. Back inside, Steamboat stays on the arm, not even letting go of it when he transitions from one spot to another. Fun stuff in the background: Security guard at ringside checking out Elizabeth with the dopiest creeper grin on his face while he’s looking.
-Steamboat keeps working the arm as Gorilla and Jesse have a weird conversation about how the waiting list for wrestlers who want to be in the WWF is a long list, but the WWF won’t even consider you unless you’ve already made a big name for yourself somewhere else. That’s…not exactly the way you want to phrase it.
-Steamboat is still working the arm and you have my word that this match is actually much more interesting to watch than it sounds. Steamboat tries for a criss-cross and Savage just ducks out to the floor for a breather instead. Steamboat surprises him by going out to the floor to unload on him and bring him back inside.
-Savage tosses Steamboat over the top. Steamboat skins the cat back in but Savage actually expected that and just chops him back out to the floor, and then heads to the top and meets Steamboat out there with a double axehandle. Knee to the back sends Steamboat over the barricade and into the crowd, as the wrestlers apparently have some sort of bet going about doing a spot with every individual interlocking wall of that barricade today.
-Back in the ring, Savage connects with an elbow to the back of the head for two. Savage goes to the top and goes for the flying elbow, but Steamboat rolls out of the way and mounts a comeback with chops and turnbuckle shots. Atomic drop by Steamboat and he goes to the top, but Savage yanks him off by his hair. Savage goes to the top and now it’s Steamboat’s turn to block with a shot to the gut. Series of chops by Steamboat sends Savage tumbling to the apron. Steamboat beats on him and then argues with the referee, having learned fuck-all nothing from The Wrestling Classic, and sure enough, Savage goes to the tights and counters a back suplex with a foreign object, KOing Steamboat and getting the win. 2 for 2. Nowhere close to their Wrestlemania III match, but they had unmistakable chemistry here and it was a heated battle.
BRUNO SAMMARTINO vs. ROWDY RODDY PIPER
-Piper attacks during the intros and it backfires spectacularly, with Bruno going to the floor, posting him, and ramming him into some folding chairs that are just sitting there for no reason. Piper is ALREADY bleeding, less than a minute into the match. Back in, a series of punches by Bruno. He accidentally knocks over the referee with one shot, and that gives Piper enough of an opening for a low-blow, and that gets a two-count.
-Piper throws punches as Danny Davis is adamant about checking the cut, but Piper wants to fight. Right hand by Piper sends Sammartino out to the floor, and Sammartino does an incredible job with that bump, not even grabbing the rope on the way out and simply launching himself to the floor.
-Piper is too dazed from the bleeding to capitalize and Bruno makes a full recovery. Piper gets frustrated with Bruno and tries to call it a night by running back to the locker room, but Bruno keeps grabbing him and forcing him back in. They trade slugs and both men are starting to get tired, but in comes Cowboy Bob Orton to run interference. Bruno spots him coming in and fights him off, then goes back to work on Piper. Orton attacks from behind with the cast to finally take out Bruno. Living Legend, left laying. That was weird because the logical conclusion here would be Bruno & Pedro vs. Piper & Orton in a legends vs. young punks battle, but they didn't go in that direction with it. 2 for 3. Felt like a not-particularly good night of SNME, just a brawl that existed so they could do the finish.
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: TITO SANTANA (Champion) vs. JESSE “The Body” VENTURA
-Whether it was Jesse or Jerry Lawler, the sight of the commentator leaving in mid-broadcast to wrestle rubs me the wrong way. I mean, if you're suspending disbelief, wouldn't you rather imagine the guy taping his wrists, lacing up his boots, thinking about strategy, and pacing the floor all night before heading to the ring? Calling commentary and taking a time out to wrestle just makes it look like anybody can do this for a living.
-Lock-ups go nowhere, so it turns into a slugfest instead. Tito works the arm and Jesse fights dirty to get out of that. Jesse targets the eyes to a round of appreciative applause from the Garden, and backbreaker gets two. Bearhug is locked on by Jesse, but Tito breaks it with a shot to the nose. No more Mr. Nice Guy, as Tito boots him in the face and then attacks the eyes. Tito locks on the figure four in the middle of the ring, but Jesse makes it to the ropes to force the break. Tito tries to get him away from the rope, but Jesse grabs him by the rights and tosses him to the floor. They brawl on the floor, and Jesse beats the count back in to get a fluke victory. Tito reached down deep and pulled a good match out of Jesse. 3 for 4.
TAG TEAM TITLE: GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE & BRUTUS BEEFCAKE (Champions) vs. KILLER BEES
-Blair and Valentine jockey for position. Blair fights off both opponents by himself, like Hulk Hogan except smaller and with a pornier mustache.
-Brunzell, sporting a beard (Gorilla: “Did he lose a bet?” Jesse: “Probably just tired of looking 16 years old”) tags in and goes to work on Valentine. Blair works the leg and tries to apply a figure four, but Valentine knows his own hold and fights it off in shockingly suspenseful fashion. Beefcake tags in and has an easy time with Blair, using slams and rapid-fire forearms to keep Blair from getting off the mat.
-Valentine tosses Blair to the floor, then brings him back in to soften up the leg. Blair gets a second wind and it turns into a slugfest. Beefcake tags in and eats it immediately, allowing Blair to make the hot tag and the dropkick connects for ALMOST-three, but a pier-sixer erupts and Valentine attacks Brunzell from behind and Brutus goes for a quick pin to retain. 4 for 5. Unspectacular but dependably good match from all involved.
The 411: So after years of hearing about the mystique, the sobering lesson I took away from my years as a 24-7/Classics on Demand subscriber was that the televised house shows were just the most overrated thing that the company ever did, but the Network today is treating them in what's honestly the most perfect way, chopping it down to just the matches that people would actually pay to see or matches that actually delivered and cutting out the opening twenty minutes of balding jobbers walking around the ring for a breather between hair-pulls. Highly recommended show.