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?
The Wrestling Classic
Date: November 7, 1985
Location: Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Jesse Ventura
The interesting thing about a tournament is seeing how many names are on the roster. In this case we have sixteen people participating and a lot of them are people we haven’t seen yet. One in particular is a newcomer to the company that you might have heard of before: Macho Man Randy Savage. Let’s get to it.
This is presented by Wrestlevision, whatever that might be. Seriously, it was never mentioned again as far as I know.
The opening video lists off the tournament entrants, which I’ll save until we get to the brackets.
We go to Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes for the bracket reveal. I’ll explain the wrestlers during their matches.
Davey Boy Smith
The Iron Sheik
We get some clips of wrestlers drawing their opponents earlier in the day. Steamboat is happy, Savage is mad at Miss Elizabeth for picking Putski and Mr. Fuji says Santana is in trouble.
WWF President (and eternal enemy of all things energetic) Jack Tunney goes over the tournament rules as this wasn’t something you would see every day. The only note here is that a draw eliminates both wrestlers.
Wrestling Classic First Round: Adrian Adonis vs. Corporal Kirchner
Adonis has Jimmy Hart in his corner. Kirchner is a VERY intense military guy and basically the replacement for Sgt. Slaughter. The fact that he was a demotion from the sergeant rank basically doomed him from the start. Gorilla says that Adonis has “bulked up”, which is code for “Dang he’s getting fat.”
The Corporal armdrags him down to start and sweet goodness the ring is loud. We hit the headlock on the mat with Adonis in trouble but he comes back with an elbow to the head. Off to a chinlock on the Corporal for a bit before he fights up and tries a suplex, only to have Adonis turn it into a DDT for a very unique counter and the pin at 3:23.
Rating: D. The match was nothing to see due to the time (expect to hear that one a lot here) but the ending was a really cool idea. You would think someone else would use that one over the years. Adonis really could go in the ring but that stomach just got the better of him over the years.
Adonis and Hart brag about how awesome they are with Adrian promising to rewrite wrestling and win the tournament.
Wrestling Classic First Round: Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff
Volkoff sings the Soviet national anthem so Kid (one half of the British Bulldogs and about ten years ahead of his time as a smaller guy who wrestles a fast paced power style) missile dropkicks him for the pin at 8 seconds as you can see them coming up with “clever” endings to get through the matches as fast as they can.
Savage says he’s nervous but he doesn’t have time wasting energy talking to Okerlund.
Wrestling Classic First Round; Randy Savage vs. Ivan Putski
Ventura continues his tradition of referring to Putski as “Paduski.” Savage stalls before heading to the top but Putski tells him to jump. That goes nowhere so Ivan shoves him outside and we hit the stalling (Savage was out of Memphis so this is standard procedure for him.). Back in and Putski hammers away at Savage’s face before stomping in the corner. Not that it matters as Savage sweeps the legs and grabs a rollup with feet on the ropes for the pin at 2:44.
McMahon and Hayes recap the first round so far when Volkoff comes in to yell about getting ripped off.
Wrestling Classic First Round; Davey Boy Smith vs. Ricky Steamboat
This would be interesting if it had time. An early hiptoss puts Ricky down and he actually comes close to botching a backslide. Instead Davey press slams him for two and puts on a front facelock. Another press slam (Davey wasn’t exactly well rounded in 1985) gets two and it’s right back to the front facelock. Steamboat gets in a delayed suplex of his own but a splash hits knees. Back up and Davey misses a charge into the ropes and crotches himself, meaning the referee stops the match with Steamboat winning by forfeit at 2:53. Davey was dominating until that ending.
Junkyard Dog (Incredibly over at this point.) is excited about the tournament and can’t wait to face Iron Sheik in the first round. We get some classic crowd sucking up in case Dog wasn’t a big enough name yet.
Wrestling Classic First Round: Junkyard Dog vs. The Iron Sheik
Sheik jumps him before the bell and starts choking with his robe. For some reason he makes the mistake of hitting Dog in the head, which is about as stupid as you can get. A full nelson doesn’t work on Dog either as he quickly escapes and clotheslines Sheik for two. Dog misses a headbutt though and gets caught in the camel clutch, only to have Sheik let go early when Dog collapses. The referee lets him know what happened and Sheik is so mad that he gets caught with a headbutt to give Dog the win at 3:26.
Rating: D-. What else were you expecting here? Dog was all charisma and almost no substance but that really shouldn’t be much of a surprise at this point. Sheik was a bigger name and had a much stronger resume in the WWF, which is likely why they had Dog go over him and get a strong rub.
Terry Funk is ready for the tournament and wants to claim the bounty on Paul Orndorff ($50,000, as issued by Orndorff’s former manager Bobby Heenan) so he can challenge for the World Title. I’m not sure how the money is going to help him get a shot but it’s very cool to see the title as his main goal. That’s almost always what it should be about and Funk is the kind of guy who should be going for the belt at all costs.
Wrestling Classic First Round; Terry Funk vs. Moondog Spot
Before the match, Funk says they don’t want to wrestle each other so they should just walk out and call it a draw. Spot agrees but Funk jumps him from behind. He throws Spot back in…..and fails to beat the count, giving Spot the win at 25 seconds. They’re getting creative with these finishes if nothing else.
Funk beats the tar out of him post match.
Mr. Fuji says Don Muraco will win the tournament. Muraco is glad he’s got the Intercontinental Champion in the first round because he wants to beat the best.
Wrestling Classic First Round: Magnificent Muraco vs. Tito Santana
Non-title of course. Muraco goes to the eyes to start but gets cross bodied for two. A backslide gets the same and there’s a Flair Flip in the corner. Back up and Santana cranks on an armbar but gets dropped throat first onto the top rope for the break. Muraco starts stomping away before planting Tito with a powerslam for three but Tito’s foot is on the rope. The referee waves it off and Tito gets a small package to advance at 4:13. Ventura says that’s not fair because the referee didn’t tell Muraco the match wasn’t over, and as usual Jesse has a point.
Rating: C. Best match of the night so far but they had to come up with a clever way to keep Muraco looking strong and they actually came close. It also helps that Muraco can claim to have pinned the champion and maybe get a title shot as a result in the future. I know they had to come up with some quick finishes here but a match getting more than five minutes would be nice.
Bobby Heenan isn’t worried about his men not being in the tournament because tonight someone is collecting the bounty on Paul Orndorff, which is far more important than winning the tournament.
Wrestling Classic First Round: Paul Orndorff vs. Bob Orton
Orndorff goes after the arm to start because he’s more intelligent than most wrestlers. The arm is sent into the post and it’s off to a wristlock with Paul’s knee in Orton’s head. Orndorff charges into a knee to the head though and Orton drops him throat first across the top rope (popular move tonight). A sunset flip gets two for Paul so Orton hits him in the head again and slaps on a chinlock. Orton gets two off a backslide but misses a charge in the corner, allowing Paul to hammer away and knock Orton outside. Back in and Orton smashes him with the cast for the DQ at 6:29.
Rating: C+. Definitely the best match on the show so far, which at least means things are starting to get better. Orndorff is so awesome as a face at this point and Orton continues to be one of the most valuable members of the roster. It’s also nice to have a bit of a less screwy finish, though we haven’t had a clean one in a long time now.
The announcers recap the night so far with Hayes hitting on the girl, who really serves no purpose here. Terry Funk storms the set and yells about how unfair that loss was. Here are the updated brackets:
Wrestling Classic Quarterfinals: Dynamite Kid vs. Adrian Adonis
This could be good. Dynamite armdrags him to start and a dropkick sends Adonis outside. Gorilla forgets what’s going on here and says Dynamite’s team has the speed advantage. Back in and Adonis slams Dynamite for two as Ventura actually gets up and leaves to go talk to Savage about the second round match.
We hit the chinlock on the Kid as things slow way down. Dynamite suplexes his way to freedom but misses a headbutt, allowing Adonis to grab a Scorpion Deathlock (not a Sharpshooter as the grip is different) of all things. A rope is quickly grabbed and Dynamite sends him head first into the middle buckle. Kid gets two off a middle rope knee drop and but Dynamite has to deal with Jimmy Hart. In this case that means kicking Adonis into his manager which gives Dynamite a quick pin at 5:23.
Rating: C. Both of these guys really are good and they’re able to have a good match with each other due to pure talent. Adonis is someone who could have been a lot more if he had kept his weight under control but he would be a shell of himself in just over a year. Kid on the other hand would find his big break as part of the British Bulldogs though I really do wish I could have seen what he could have done on his own.
Adonis throws a fit after the match.
Jesse says he’s ready to coach Savage tonight because he’s been out there scouting. Okerlund accuses him of being biased in his commentary but Jesse just says he’d win the tournament if he was entered.
Wrestling Classic Quarterfinals: Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage
Here’s a match you might have seen before. Savage tries to jump him to start but Steamboat slides between the legs and fires off chops. Randy’s trip to the floor seems to help him a bit as he punches away, only to get caught in a headscissors to put him outside again. An atomic drop on the floor has Savage in even more trouble as they’re flying through this match. Savage gets in a clothesline as Ventura returns to commentary.
Steamboat gets in a few chops to the head and suplexes Savage from the apron, setting up a high cross body for two. It’s time to go to Memphis though as Savage loads up a foreign object and knocks Steamboat silly to counter a belly to back suplex (the same finish he would use to win the Intercontinental Title a few months later) to advance at 3:22.
Rating: B. Now that’s more like it. This was two guys with incredible energy going out there and working as hard as they can for a really entertaining match in just over two hundred seconds. It says a lot that two guys can have a great match with time or with such little time and these are two of the best ever.
Moondog Spot can’t really speak English so Gene cuts the interview short.
Wrestling Classic Quarterfinals: Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Spot
There’s no referee so Dog headbutts him three times in a row and counts a pin of his own to advance at 27 seconds. Of course that counts. Somehow that short match against Sheik looks like a marathon by comparison.
Bobby Heenan thinks Tito Santana could be a perfect candidate for that $50,000 bounty. He’s looking forward to the World Title match too.
Wrestling Classic Quarterfinals: Tito Santana vs. Paul Orndorff
Non-title again and Ventura starts early with the Mexico taco salesman jokes. Tito cranks on a headlock before it’s off to a fight over a top wristlock. That goes nowhere so Santana grabs a headscissors on the mat for a bit, only to have Paul come back with a hammerlock. Santana gets to the ropes and we have a standoff that fees a little more angry than usual. Orndorff hits Tito in his previously injured leg but doesn’t go after Tito when he’s injured in the corner.
That lasts all of three seconds before Orndorff takes him down into a leg lock. Monsoon thinks he might be looking for a submission. I think I’d prefer that over today’s commentary which would turn into a big exchange of insults which would cause the announcers to miss the next thirty seconds. Tito gets up and Paul gives him a clean break against the ropes before forearming Santana out to the floor. The brawl heads outside and it’s a double countout at 8:03.
Rating: C. Another fun match here but they had to use this ending to keep Tito save while also avoiding Junkyard Dog vs. either of them in the semifinals. This is also the early days of Orndorff’s massive heel run in 1986 as he would regret giving Tito a break off the leg injury and changed his philosophy as a result.
They nearly keep fighting after the match but cooler heads prevail.
Vince and Alfred update the brackets.
So yeah the Dog is in the finals after two matches, one of which didn’t last thirty seconds.
Hogan says the whole world has Hulkamania and it’s time for Roddy Piper to feel it as well.
WWF World Title: Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan
Piper is challenging and comes out with a full pipe and drum corps. Hogan immediately takes it to the floor and the brawl is already on with the champ sending him into the barricade. Back in and Piper hits him in the throat to take over for a good ten seconds before Hulk scores with a slam and elbow drop. A bearhug has Piper in trouble until he pokes Hulk in the eye for the escape.
We hit the sleeper on Hogan and the champ goes down for two arm drops. They fight to the floor again and it’s time for the mini Hulk Up to send Piper back inside. Piper sends Hogan into the referee though, allowing him to blast Hulk with a chair. Of course that’s no sold and Hulk gets in a few shots of his own. Hulk grabs a sleeper of his own but here’s Orton for the DQ at 7:13.
Rating: D+. For as big of a feud as this was, it’s kind of amazing that they only had two high profile singles matches. These two were still white hot as a feud though and I’m really surprised they didn’t headline Wrestlemania II, perhaps with Piper having stolen the title and then dropping it back there. The match was nothing special of course but it was Hogan for seven minutes in 1985. There’s only so much you can do with something like that.
Orndorff comes in to save Hogan and posing ensues.
Junkyard Dog talks about how awesome he is when Jimmy Hart comes in to yell about their ongoing feud.
Wrestling Classic Semifinals: Dynamite Kid vs. Randy Savage
If this doesn’t get time, it’s a travesty. Feeling out process to start as Savage isn’t quite sure what to do with the Kid. A wrestling sequence goes nowhere and Kid stares Savage out to the floor. Monsoon isn’t sure what Elizabeth’s purpose is in being at ringside as Savage takes over against the ropes.
Dynamite drops him with a hard shoulder and a backdrop sends Savage flying. Kid gets a bit too flashy though and misses a cross body, followed by something resembling a double clothesline to put both guys down. It’s Savage up first and heading to the top, only to get caught in a superplex. He’s not out though and locks their legs together into a small package to pin Dynamite at 4:50. I’ve always liked that finish.
Rating: B-. Another match with a lot of action packed into less than five minutes. They did a great job here of having Dynamite outpace Savage but have Randy go with intelligence instead of action to pull off the quick surprise win. Dynamite looked awesome in this tournament, despite barely wrestling for ten minutes total.
The replay shows how contrived the finish was with Dynamite intentionally putting his legs in position and looking back at Savage. It’s still good though.
A fan wins a Rolls Royce in a sweepstakes. This just eats up a bunch of time, mainly due to various non-wrestling executives having to make short speeches about how awesome this is. One of these speeches is from the director of marketing for the firm that HANDLED THE ENTRIES. They cut off Kid vs. Savage at less than five minutes to hear about how a sweepstakes was held? Was “We got a lot of entries and picked one?” too complicated?
Fink even does a quick commentary of the marketing guy handing the envelope to Hayes. As in he talks for thirty seconds about an envelope changing hands. This eats up WAY too much time and the crowd boos the winner as this just keeps going. They even take too much time getting out of the ring.
Hogan wants to team with Orndorff against Piper and Orton. As this is going on, you can hear Fink announcing the return date. Hogan and Orndorff are tired of the interference and say they have a surprise, which I believe would be Mr. T. coming back for Wrestlemania II.
Wrestling Classic Finals: Junkyard Dog vs. Randy Savage
Savage is limping badly on his way to the ring and doesn’t even have his sunglasses on. Dog sends him outside early on and it’s time for Savage to grab a chair. The chair is thrown inside so Dog catches it and hits himself in the head. That might mean time for Plan B Macho. Savage gets back in and runs even more as we’re still waiting on any serious contact. Dog shoves him away a few times before slapping on a bearhug. You can tell Dog isn’t exactly interested in working hard tonight.
Dog starts ripping at Savage’s face before tying him up in the ropes. Savage comes back with something like a running clothesline but Dog takes an extra second to go down for an awkward scene. A top rope ax handle to the outside drops Dog again as Ventura yells at Okerlund (guest commentator here) for never doing anything athletic other than tying his shoes. Ventura: “And you’re wearing Velcro tonight!”
Dog gets knocked on the floor again, meaning it’s time for a lot of laying around. Back in and Savage gets punched out of the air, followed by Dog scoring with some headbutts. A whip ties Savage up in the ropes and it’s time for more big punches to the head. Dog backdrops him over the top to the floor and it’s a countout to give Dog the tournament at 9:42.
Rating: D. This was the definition of one guy trying to do everything and then losing in the end anyway. There’s only so far Savage can go when Dog is just not willing to do a thing. It’s made even worse when you consider he had three matches tonight and one of them didn’t even last thirty seconds. You would think he could show some energy for this one last time. Savage tried as hard as he could here but the odds were just too heavily against him.
Overall Rating: D+. The thing to remember here is how low expectations should be for this thing. Tournaments aren’t the most interesting thing in the world by definition and this was no exception. It’s a combination of all the screwy finishes you have to throw in there, which normally means a severe lack of matches getting time. That’s exactly what happened here and it’s really hard to sit through at times.
That being said, this was basically the forerunner to the King of the Ring which meant we saw a lot of different wrestlers and some really good action when the wrestlers were allowed to actually do something. If you cut this down to an eight man tournament and let some of these matches go a bit longer (the main event was the longest of the night at less than ten minutes) while maybe adding in a Tag Team Title match or something else to fill in some space. It’s not the worst show, but it’s definitely something that needs another proofread.
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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