Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
War To Settle The Score
Date: February 18, 1985
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Gene Okerlund, Gorilla Monsoon
This show also has some fallout from the Brawl To End It All as we’ll also get a Women’s Title match between champion Wendi Richter and Lelani Kai, who is being managed by the Fabulous Moolah. Other than that it’s a mostly generic card, even missing a Martial Arts Title match. How can you live without one of those? Let’s get to it.
Rick McGraw vs. Moondog Spot
McGraw was a head case apparently but that’s according to Roddy Piper so I’d question that statement’s validity. However Spot isn’t exactly normal though so this is kind of a battle of the crazies. The referee has to hide Spot’s bone before we get started if that tells you anything. Crowd is rather dead to start as you would expect them to be.
Gorilla can’t decide if McGraw is young or old for some reason, likely because Monsoon is a bit out there at times. The announcers really need to stop talking about where you hide your bone. It just doesn’t sound right although it’s rather funny. McGraw gets a dropkick and locks in an armbar to take over. According to Gorilla he’s fire hydrantish. If you grab him with a wrench and turn it he’ll spit out water? You can’t park in front of him? It’s quite the long armbar too and that suggests the opening time limit draw because you want these two to go fifteen minutes.
A sunset flip can’t get Spot over though (much like most of his wrestling abilities) and it’s off to a chinlock on McGraw. Spot gets two each off a shoulder breaker and backbreaker with a chinlock in between. They head outside with Spot sending him into the barricade as the bored announcers talk about ANYTHING other than this match that just keeps going.
Gene thinks this is getting totally out of hand which is what he’d say no matter what was going on. McGraw Hulks Up and Spot gets tied up in the ropes. A suplex gives Rick another near fall and he hits yet another backdrop. Spot gets two off a bad looking gutbuster but he takes too long going to the top and gets slammed down ala Ric Flair, only to have the bell ring for the fifteen minute draw at 14:32.
Rating: D. Who in the world decided to start a long show with this as the opener? You’re only going to get so far, and by that I mean barely anywhere, by having two people eat up so many minutes with chinlockery. If you’re going to start a show with someone like McGraw in the opener, you might as well have him win the match to give the crowd something to cheer for, even just a little bit.
Johnny Rodz vs. Jose Luis Rivera
Rivera is a pretty generic guy and Rodz is more famous for his training of people like the Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer. Before the match, Rodz asks for a definition of an illegal strike, much to the surprise of the referee. They’re starting with another slow pace here as Rodz grabs an armbar and slowly works Rivera down despite being a heel here. Well in theory at least as the fans don’t seem interested in booing him.
The armbar keeps Rodz in control and he hits what would be called a basement dropkick today. A middle rope elbow gets two for Johnny so he goes up again, only to hit the mat in a crash. Rivera sends him into the corner for the Flair Flip, only to have him crash on the buckle instead. That means it’s time to choke on the ropes as Rivera is acting a bit more like a heel.
Rodz kicks him to the floor though and they brawl outside for WAY too long without a countout. Back in and Rodz misses a running kick in the corner to start up Rivera’s comeback. The fans wake up a little bit as Rodz is sent face first into the turnbuckle, only to miss a middle rope elbow of his own. Rodz drops a headbutt for the pin at 11:05.
Rating: D. Another bad match here as you can tell the fans really aren’t interested in these older guys when they’re here to see Hogan vs. Piper. They really need something fun, or at least borderline entertaining, to wake the fans up at this point as these early matches are just destroying the crowd for later in the show.
Hillbilly Jim vs. Rene Goulet
Jim is exactly what you would expect him to be and is incredibly over due to being Hulk Hogan’s friend. Therefore he gets a BIG old pop as we see Andy Warhol (famous artist) and Danny DeVito (I really hope I don’t have to explain him). For one final note, Jim is wearing the boots that Hogan gave him to start his career.
Jim chases him around to start and it looks like this is at least a bit more lighthearted. A long headlock by Goulet doesn’t get him anywhere as Jim shoves him away and puffs out his chest. That was his signature pose and the fans would probably still pop for it to this day. Now it’s Jim with a big old headlock as Goulet has nothing but that’s his job as a jobber.
Basically this is a long squash as Goulet can’t do much at all but gets in jobber offense to take some control. He bites Jim which just ticks the big old boy off as you might expect. Goulet heads to the floor while Jim does a cartwheel and poses inside. Back in and Rene comes in off the top with an ax handle, only to get caught in a bearhug for an almost instant submission at 7:27.
Rating: D. Like I said this was a very long squash at nearly eight minutes. The fans loved Jim though as he was just big and fun, which is exactly what this show needed after the death that was the first half hour. It’s also beneficial to have someone like Goulet on the roster as he’s a name people remember who still means a bit despite losing all the time. The fans being into this was more important than the match quality, which is almost always the case.
Post match Goulet gets in an argument with a fan at ringside…..and it’s Mr. T., who scares Goulet away without doing much.
Women’s Title: Lelani Kai vs. Wendi Richter
Richter is defending of course and Kai is your standard Hawaiian character with the Fabulous Moolah in her corner. It’s a brawl before the bell to start with Kai pounding away before Richter can even get her jacket off. Kai even chokes her with the jacket and hair drags the champ down to set up some more choking. A belly to back suplex looks to set up a Boston crab on Richter but she kicks away and starts off a pinfall reversal sequence for a string of two counts.
Back up and Richter sets her on the middle rope for something like a spear but the third attempt hits the post to give Kai control. More choking ensues as this isn’t exactly the best match in the world. Richter leverages her out to the floor and even kicks at Moolah for good measure. Wendi puts on a bad looking surfboard and Gorilla is almost screaming at the referee to count the champ’s shoulders down while the hold is on.
Another surfboard attempt doesn’t work so it’s off to a regular armbar to keep Kai in trouble. Lelani gets up and just chokes to take over as Moolah goes after Lauper. The distraction brings Richter over and Moolah blasts her in the face, allowing Kai to roll her up for the pin and the title at 11:49.
Rating: D. Yeah again this was nothing to see. At this point they almost had to know that they were going to have something special for Wrestlemania and blow off everything for good there. Moolah is kind of getting annoying at this point but she’s a huge legend and the only one the company knew they could depend on.
Richter and Lauper go after Moolah and Kai but don’t get anywhere.
Moondog Rex vs. David Sammartino
David is Bruno’s not very talented son and Rex is Spot’s equally odd partner. Sammartino grabs a hammerlock to start which gets him nowhere at all but at least it’s something other than an armbar. For some reason Gene is obsessed with Rex having a bone with him at ringside. A hiptoss sends Rex flying but Rex, who is build like a tank, grabs a bearhug to take over. As in a bearhug that goes on for about two minutes straight because neither guy knows how else to fill in the time they have.
There’s a bearhug by Rex and David is in trouble. You can tell a match isn’t that interesting when it was a 2 minute bearhug. That’s not always the case but I don’t think these two deserve the benefit of the doubt. A belly to back suplex sets up a horrible chinlock on David as the crowd somehow dies even more. Gorilla says David won’t grab the ropes because “that’s not how he was raised.” Wait what? He was raised to sit there and take all kinds of punishment? Was Bruno a sadist?
A few punches to the nose bust David open and Rex goes right after the cut with some stiff looking right hands. David starts the comeback and they speed things up somewhat as I guess they’re running out of time. That would indeed seem to be the case as David grabs a powerslam out of nowhere for the pin at 12:27.
Rating: D+. Sammartino tried but at the end of the day his last name (and lack of talent) killed him. There’s only so much you can do when your dad is one of the biggest names of all time and you’re basically billing yourself as the son of a legend. Somehow this was one of the better matches of the night so far, which is probably a big reason why people don’t watch the full version of this show.
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Swede Hanson
Hanson is a southerner who has a Confederate flag. We actually get the full Soviet national anthem here which isn’t something you often see. Volkoff can’t get out of a top wristlock to start so he bites Hanson instead. Well that’s one way to go about it but not something I’d recommend long term.
We get a USA chant to freak Volkoff out and confuse me a bit as the Swede name keeps making me think Hanson is from Sweden. Volkoff keeps hiding in the ropes as you would expect from him. Neither guy can move the other on a shoulder block so here’s a shot of a woman in the front row. It’s about as exciting as it sounds. Hanson slowly pounds away before Volkoff tries to pick him up for his backbreaker, only to kind of fall forward into something resembling a World’s Strongest Slam for the pin at 5:48.
Rating: D-. Really what else were you expecting here? Volkoff wasn’t exactly a great worker on his best day and he didn’t have the best competition in Hanson. Somehow Volkoff would wind up as a Tag Team Champion soon after this, which continues to show how odd wrestling can be at times.
Bob Orton vs. Jimmy Snuka
It’s the same Orton from last time but he’s lost the Jr. in the last six months. This is fallout from a major feud between Snuka and Piper, who has sent Orton (his bodyguard) to take care of Jimmy. Some right hands have Orton in trouble to start and Bob is knocked into the corner for some bouncing and a crotching on the ropes. In a historic note, Orton comes down holding his arm, injuring it so badly that it’s still healing over thirty years later. Jimmy slaps on a headlock as you can see Orton being tentative with his arm.
Back up and Orton ducks a chop before heading to the floor, only to eat a huge chop as he comes back inside. A headlock on the mat slows things down and an atomic drop sends Orton outside for a breather. Back in and Orton takes over with an atomic drop of his own, followed by an elbow to the chest from the floor. Okerlund is FURIOUS over this and rants about how sick he is of this kind of cheating.
Orton suplexes him back in but Snuka just explodes with chops to take over. There’s a backbreaker but Orton rolls away from a middle rope headbutt. Snuka sends him arm first into the post though and a shot to the bad arm (the more recent bad arm that is) sets up a sunset flip to give Snuka the pin at 9:59.
Rating: C+. The match was fine, historic arm injury aside. Snuka was still a huge star at this point though he would leave the company in just a few months. Just like last time, Orton was the kind of guy you could put out there with anyone for a decent enough match, which is exactly what you had here. A little more time would have been nice but this worked just fine.
Monsoon runs down the card so far as Fink is listing off some names for next month’s lumberjack match. Also of note, Mr. T. will be in Piper’s Pit. Remember, T. happens to be in the front row tonight.
Tony Atlas vs. Paul Orndorff
Atlas is very strong so he moves the referee around before the bell, sending Orndorff out to the floor. The stalling continues until Tony grabs a headlock with Orndorff selling the life out of it. There’s a gorilla press but Tony casually puts him on the top rope for a slap to the chest. Monsoon is all over Tony for not slamming him when he had the chance but Orndorff sending him head first into the buckle has no effect.
Instead it’s off to the floor for more stalling before Orndorff just punches him down to take over. Off to the chinlock for a bit before Tony pops up and fires off some very fast shots to the head. A piledriver (Paul’s finisher) plants Orndorff and Tony gets two off a middle rope headbutt. Atlas stops to yell at the referee and gets caught in a quick German suplex for the pin at 6:08.
Rating: C-. Not bad here as Orndorff is someone who really was better than he’s remembered as. Atlas was a power guy but it’s pretty clear that he’s treated as not that bright. The ending being clean was a surprise but it makes Orndorff seem like an even bigger deal, which is exactly what they were going for here.
Tag Team Titles: Barry Windham/Mike Rotunda vs. The Spoiler/The Assassin
Windham/Rotunda won the titles less than a month ago from Adonis/Murdoch. Before I can bother to tell you that the Spoiler and the Assassin are both in masks, Windham finishes Assassin with a bulldog in 36 seconds. Well that worked.
Magnificent Muraco vs. Salvatore Bellomo
Muraco (who also goes by Don) is one of the top heels of this era and Bellomo….well he doesn’t stand much of a chance here. Bellomo is easily taken down and Muraco drops a knee. He doesn’t exactly seem worried about this one and his manager Mr. Fuji doesn’t really seem to be either. Muraco gets in a spinebuster and plants Bellomo with a tombstone (not yet called that) for the pin at 2:41. Total and complete squash.
Edouard Carpentier is here. There’s a name you don’t often hear.
Now we’re going to the MTV broadcast of the show, which means a full entrance video and a lot of interviews before the match.
Hogan says tonight is the night and he can’t be held responsible for his actions.
Gene Okerlund and someone named Alan Hunter (presumably from MTV) welcome us to the show with Gene flat out saying he’s against Piper tonight.
We go to a package on the history between Cyndi Lauper and Lou Albano with the latter going nuts and becoming a huge sexist. This set up the match between Wendi Richter and Fabulous Moolah at the Brawl To End It All. We even see the managers training their representatives for the match, which is almost funny. Richter winning the title is quickly show as well.
Albano then apologized, with Gene comparing it to Hitler making up with Stalin. It turned out that this was the result of daily electro shock therapy since Albano was a jerk due to severe brain damage. Yeah 1984 was a very different time. Anyway, this led to Lauper receiving an award in Madison Square Garden with Albano coming out to celebrate. This caused Roddy Piper to appear and take credit, during which he smashed a framed poster over Albano’s head. If that wasn’t enough, Piper actually kicked Lauper in the head which drew out Hulk Hogan for the save.
Almost everyone immediately hated Piper even more (of course), save for the current heels. Various celebrities backed Lauper of course as wrestling was suddenly hitting mainstream, which was exactly the point of all this stuff. The whole thing boiled down to Hogan getting his hands on Piper at War to Settle the Score. Piper seemed to have tricked Hogan into the title shot because he really is that brilliant.
Hunter thinks this could be a new Woodstock but it could be such a tragedy that people might now want to listen to music for YEARS.
Piper says rock and roll isn’t good for America.
More musicians love MTV and more heel wrestlers hate rock and roll.
Hogan is ready to stand up for rock and roll and Cyndi Lauper.
We also get a weird round table “intellectual” discussion” between some critics.
Profile on Piper, who might be this way due to having to eat oatmeal every day without milk and sugar as a child. We get some quick clips from Piper’s Pit (the Jimmy Snuka and Frank Williams shows with Piper beating both of them up) to show his insanity.
Profile on Hogan, who is “the personification of all American virtues.” This includes a series of clips of his mainstream material, including Rocky III and being a guest VJ on MTV.
More wrestlers and musicians give their opinions.
WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper
Piper has the full New York Pipe and Drum Corps play him to the ring. Orton is in Piper’s corner and his arm is already in a sling. Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas does the in ring introductions but first, Piper has to break a guitar. The place just goes NUTS for Hogan, who has Lauper, Lauper’s manager David Wolff and Albano with him. Hogan stops to talk to Mr. T. on the way to the ring but I’m sure that won’t lead to anything.
They slug it out before the bell (the only way this could have started) and go to the mat with Hogan taking over with right hands. A running elbow in the corner gives us a Flair Flop from Piper but he gets back up for a clothesline to take over for a bit. We hit a sleeper on Hogan though both announcers shout that it’s a choke. Hogan gets to his feet and sends Piper head first into the buckle for the break.
Orton tries to interfere and gets his bad arm sent into the post so it’s Orndorff coming out to take his place. The referee gets bumped and Paul dives off the top to crush Hogan again as the beating is on. Lauper tries to help and gets stared down, only to have Mr. T. jump the barricade and get in for the save. T. get beaten up as well, only to have Hogan get to his feet for the big showdown. Orton tries to get in as well but security and cops break it up as the match is thrown out somewhere around 7:30, assuming the match ended when Orndorff came in.
Rating: C+. It wasn’t a great match or anything but this was ALL about the atmosphere and to set up the big tag match at the first Wrestlemania. That being said, they started this out exactly as they should have with both guys going right at each other for a hot opening. For what it was supposed to be, this really couldn’t have been much better and it gave you a reason to come back for more. All things considered, this was great.
Hogan and Mr. T. stand tall as Hogan is announced as the winner via DQ.
Gene and Alan talk a little bit about how rock and roll survived. Hogan comes in to yell (of course) to say how this was everything they believed in out there but the war isn’t over yet. He’s willing to fight anyone for the title and is ready for anyone who wants to face him next. Now it’s Wolff and Lauper coming in to rant about how ridiculous all that was. Apparently this affirms their belief in Hulkamania because Hogan is a bit out there.
Mr. T. is in next to speak very quickly about how he wasn’t going to stand by while someone like Piper put his hands on a lady. Hogan loves to hear something like that and it sounds like they want to do something together about Piper and Orndorff in the future. Albano raves as only he can about how happy he is over everything.
Now we hit the celebrities with Andy Warhol not having much to say, Joe Piscopo (from Saturday Night Live) says he wants to come back again on March 17, Billy Squire (musician) seems to like Hogan and Danny DeVito talks about how all of them just happen to be making a film together around this time. Shocking indeed.
Piper interrupts and wants to fight Mr. T.
Gene and Alan wrap things up and the credits roll.
Overall Rating: D-. This one really depends on what you’re looking for. As a way to show the masses what the WWF was all about, the last hour was outstanding with celebrities, an entertaining match, Hogan having more charisma than he knew what to do with and Piper being all despicable. That part was awesome and still works very well.
Unfortunately there’s a lot more to it than that last hour and almost nothing on the undercard is worth seeing. So much of it was one boring match after another and a really good example of the bad things going on around this time. House shows could be major disasters and this was a really tough one to sit through for hours on end.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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