Aw shit my personal pro wrestling nostalgia tour continues -- I'm working through all WWF PPVs (and Big Events!) until I hit the point where it's no longer really nostalgic for me. I just finished Mania 2 and started The Big Event and here are some thoughts. Enjoy or scroll past, buddy, it's your thing do what you wanna do.
Mania 2, Bulldogs vs Dream Team: God damn the Bulldogs were ahead of their time. I mean Davey was maybe 2-3 years ahead but Dynamite had 'em all beat by a decade. That dude could go. Valentine was an above average clubberer and incredible seller and Beefcake was better than we all remember (which means he was average). That's a big takeaway for me in all this so far: a lot of guys we look back on and think they were no good were actually competent workers. They weren't blowing spots like crazy or selling like shit, and they didn't try anything outside their comfort zone. They were just kind of dull. But they weren't Jacke Gayda out there. Anyway, as another revelation I had is borne out, this match follows no formula. There's not a lot of shine or heat. Right when I think they're going to the heat with Valentine WINNING ON Davey, they go right to the finish. So weird. Davey runs Valentine headfirst into Dynamite, who is standing on the ropes outside the ring. The sound Dynamite makes when he hits the floor is DISGUSTING. Sweet Jesus no matter the dude's back turned into rice pudding later. Ozzy gets all the shine in the end as the Bulldogs are an afterthought. WTF. Best match on the show.
Then we head to LA! I have family there! Haven't been there in a while but I do like it.
Herc vs Steamboat: Hercules is the lightest skinned Hernandez (nee Fernandez) I've ever seen. He's actually so white he's pink. Not a bad match at all. No manager for Herc here as I guess we're in that in-between time where Blassie is hanging it up but they haven't run the angle (which I totally forgot about until I read Herc's wiki entry the other day) of him giving his contracts to Slick. Decent match (see my note about guys we thought were slugs but actually were okay workers) where Herc maybe has trouble keeping up in two spots but is otherwise solid.
Uncle Elmer vs Adrian Adonis: fuck did Vince do Keith Frank dirty. OH HO HO PAL YOU'RE GETTING FAT I'M GOING TO EMBARRASS YOU WITH A F****T GIMMICK! Fuck you Vince. Youngsters, you want to know how far we've come? In the 80s, being gay was a heel gimmick and a fat hillbilly could get a face pop via homophobic gestures. Now the homophobes in Stanford at least pay lipservice and make some money off Pride themed shirts so, progress, I guess. I fast forwarded this match but Adonis won because I guess Elmer was fatter.
The Funks vs Tito and JYD: Terry is not far out from his "horse getting sick" and quitting the fed (Terry's Wikipedia article says April, Jimmy Jack's says June. Fuck you Wikipedia.). Hell yeah Terry Funk. If Roderick Strong had the chutzpah to split and left a note about his horse getting sick, he'd be teaming with his old pals in AEW this Wednesday. NOTE TO YOUNGER WORKERS: less Tweeting about how you want to leave, more ghosting Vince with a note about emergency veterinary care for possibly fictional animals. Mustafa Ali should have told Vince his marmot had the clap. Terry is bumping, stooging, and selling all over the place and he fucking rules. Dory -- called "Hoss" here because in 1986 Vince's pop culture knowledge had caught up to Bonanza -- is all butterfly suplays and lifters and is awesome. This is how little history mattered -- two former NWA world champs are in a nothing match in the DEATH SPOT against two formerly hot singles babyfaces on the decline. JYD was not good but had a tremendous hot tag.
Hogan vs Bundy in a cage: did they really have no other hot heels or was this the start of Vince thinking the company was the draw and/or Hogan could draw with anybody? Because this was a ridiculous idea for a main. It was so dull I can't remember much outside Bundy blading and Heenan reaching into the cage to try to cover him up while he did so. Hulk escapes the cage for the victory and it's lame. They really needed to follow up Mania 1 and The Wrestling Classic with Hogan/Piper in a cage for their final blowoff before Piper turns, but PIper doesn't job so instead we got a shitty worked boxing match and a shitty cage match.
Such a rough show. Here were the bright spots:
New York: nothing on this part of the show was worth watching. Jake/Wells almost got to that level. I mean I guess it was inoffensive.
The Battle Royale was a spectacle. That's about it. Watch it if it's your thing.
Bulldogs/Harts was GOOD.
Herc/Steamboat is watchable, as was Funks/JYD & Tito.
I also watched most of The Big Event! Just quick thoughts here as it's really a glorified house show. HEY historians, was this show papered? Like were tickets free if you went to the CNE? I know the WWF was hot but they didn't draw great in Toronto after this at all. What's the story behind this show? It sure did look cool and I love when wrestling venues look different. The place was so big that the ring is on the Rick Rude Killer platform.
Bees vs Jimmy Jack and Hoss Funk. For a few seconds there, I had a brainfart and wondered why Terry was wearing a mask. See the "sick horse" story above. The Bees' mask finish is so stupid. In kayfabe, it should be obvious to the ref that they are only putting on the masks to cheat. Why is this not an immediate DQ?
Muraco vs King Tonga: Tonga is between gimmcks and the announcers sometimes refer to him as Haku here. Below average match, mercifully clipped on this version. Goes to a draw like a 1980s MSG jobber vs jobber opener.
Ted Arcidi vs Tony Garea: boring squash. Arcidi wears his singlet like Lee Moriarty. Did he go heel sometime after this? The announcers were acting like he was being kinda dickish here. I can't believe he lasted until the following February because I really can't remember much of him at all. Wikipedia says Vince let him go when Ken Patera came back because he didn't want two "worlds strongest man" gimmicks on his roster. That is hilarious.
JYD vs Adonis: Again, I can't watch this shit. I'd FFWD a Saba Simba match if they had one here, too.
Dick Slater vs Iron Mike Sharpe: Again, mercifully clipped. How did this go 6 minutes IRL? Are they trying to kill the town here?
Albano & The Machines (Mulligan & Ax here) vs Studd, Bundy, & Heenan. The only good thing about this match is Heenan. Studd, Bundy, Mulligan, & Ax can only clubber and it gets so old so fast. Andre Machine is on the outside and he ambles in for the DQ. For a second there I was afraid we'd get a Killer Bees thing where the ref would have to pretend he didn't 't know the difference between Andre and Mulligan and that would have been awful.
Steamboat vs Roberts: this is a Snake Pit Match, which is just No DQ. I swear they took this around the horn as a "Jungle Rumble" match because I know I saw one in Baltimore. But in those matches, both had their respective animals with them, and both were banned for some bullshit storyline reasons here. They probably shoot couldn't clear customs. Jake is wearing a robe and I don't recall seeing that before or since in WWF. Good match! Steamboat blades on camera and I'm getting the idea this was an ongoing rib by the camera guys and the director. Steamboat wins this blood feud with a rollup so they could keep the matches going for the house shows.
Herc vs Billy Jack: not much to say here. Lots of clubbering but again, these guys weren't nearly as bad as I remembered. Billy wins with A BACKSLIDE. WTF. Wikipedia says their feud proper started sometime after this, though. One weird thing about this match is that Monsoon is doing the commentary solo (Ernie Ladd and Luscious Johnny are with him the rest of the show) and it's clear it was recorded after the fact somewhere else because it sounds totally different. Anybody know what the deal was there?
3 matches left in the show, which I'll maybe watch tonight!
WATCHING OLD WWF DRINKING GAME: Take a shot every time Monsoon describes something as "A HAPPENING." You'll be in a coma by mid-show.