Bruno Sammartino is not only heading into the WWE Hall of Fame, but he is being introduced to a brand new audience. The WWE Universe will learn about the greatness of the Living Legend starting with a fantastic series of videos posted on You Tube by the WWE.
The legend of Bruno Sammartino is a fascinating thing. For fans that either grew up watching Bruno or learned about pro wrestling history, there is a great appreciation for Bruno’s legacy. The man not only sold out Madison Square Garden more than any other WWE champion, but fought a laundry list of just about every legendary name of that era. Now that Bruno and the WWE have mended fences, today’s fans will get to see exactly how great this legend truly was.
WWE Fan Nation quickly assembled a fantastic assortment of videos spotlighting the former WWWF champion at various periods of his career. Of course a great majority of videos come from Bruno’s last run in the mid 1980s which Bruno will readily admit was not his best. My hunch is that the WWE will hold on to the deeper videos for an upcoming DVD release.
The Bruno playlist is…
Take a special look at the legendary career of 2013 Hall of Famer, Bruno Sammartino
Bruno Sammartino vs. Ivan Koloff – WWE Championship Match: Madison Square Garden November 17, 1975
Bruno and David Sammartino vs. Bobby Heenan and Paul Orndorff: Prime Time Wrestling, March 26, 1985
Bruno Sammartino vs. Spiros Arion – Greek Death Match: Madison Square Garden, April 14, 1975
Bruno and David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake and Johnny V: Madison Square Garden, May 20, 1985
Bruno Sammartino returns to WWE: Championship Wrestling, September 22, 1984
Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen – WWE Championship Cage Match: Madison Square Garden, August 7, 1977
Special interview with Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko: Championship Wrestling, January 26, 1980
Bruno Sammartino vs. Hercules: Houston Live Event, August 28, 1987
Bruno Sammartino and Paul Orndorff vs. Roddy Piper and Bob Orton: Prime Time Wrestling, February 24, 1986
Piper’s Pit with Bruno Sammartino: Madison Square Garden, October 21, 1985
Bruno Sammartino announces his retirement: Championship Wrestling, August 12, 1981
Again a lot of the matches come from Bruno’s last run which is a slight disappointment but at the same time it also features WWE legends that most of the current Universe are familiar with. I hope we get a chance to see some of the MSG, Boston Garden, and Philadelphia Spectrum classics in upcoming video releases. As an FYI you can do a search on You Tube for some of those classics although some aren’t the best quality.
Opening with the World Wrestling Federation Superstars telling us what they’re thankful for. Obviously they’re in character, and it’s something I miss, Survivor Series being on either Thanksgiving Eve or on Thanksgiving Day itself. Also Vinnie Mac is running down the matches-a walk down memory lane.
Gorilla open us up with Jesse “the Pilgrim” Ventura. We get corrected by Ventura that he is Jesse “the Body” Ventura. I miss having a heel color guy at the announcer’s booth.
The Enforcers versus the Dream Team
It’s the Enforcers versus the Dream Team for the first match. The Enforcers come out first, then the Dream Team. With this, I miss having most of the PPV, if not the whole thing, as 5-on-5, or this PPV, 4-on-4, Elimination Tag Team Matches
Tito and the Honky Tonk Man start the match out. Jimmy Hart is on his megaphone, what a third man on the booth for the match. Dusty gets huge pops from the crowd-his yellow polka dots and all. I’m happy there isn’t any wrestlers that has tights like Brutus “the Barber”-wait, there is (Zack Ryder).
It seems that the crowd back in 1989 was hotter than a crowd in 2010. Also there were clear babyfaces and clear heels.
Dusty even hit “the Model” with a dropkick.
It came down to the Boss Man against the Rooster, Dusty, and the Barber, and the Rooster gets pinned after the Sidewalk Slam. Dusty hit the running high cross and pinned the Boss Man and won for his team, being Sole Survivors for their team. Dusty is barely bleeding and Gorilla said he was “busted wide open.” Really?
Sole Survivors: Rhodes and the Barber
The Kings Court versus the 4 x 4’s
Pomp and Circumstance plays and massive boos, and the King’s Court comes out for the Macho King Randy Savage, and they faced the 4 x 4’s. Jimmy Hart is out for the King’s Court, it’s great that Jimmy is out for this match as well. The 4 x 4’s didn’t come out to a theme song. I’m happy that guys have theme songs nowadays, because that would of bothered me back then when guys came out without theme songs.
Hercules got eliminated by Earthquake doing his finisher, running the ropes and sitting on him. That would be a bad way to spend a Thanksgiving night. Later in the match, Hacksaw defeated the Hammer by a 3-Point Stance. Finishers in the late ‘80’s were awesomely simply. I miss those days. Jimmy Garvin showed us his Garvin stomp. I wonder where Randy Orton got his “stomp” from. Makes me wonder.
“The Macho King” was a mighty heel back in November 1989. With being a former Intercontinental and WWF Champion, I’m surprised he’s in the second match of the card, but I think it brings credibility to the third annual Survivor Series. Shoulder Breaker by Bravo and a Flying Elbow Drop from the Macho King to “the Hitman,” Duggan is along against Earthquake, Bravo, and Savage. Duggan got counted out.
Sole Survivors: Bravo, Earthquake, and Savage
THE GENIUS WITH A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING POEM! HALLIUEHIA! WE NEED MORE POEMS AND MORE GENIUS!
Million Dollar Team versus the Hulkamanics
The Million Dollar Team didn’t get an entrance! What a rip-off! The World Wrestling Federation Champion and the WWF Tag Team Champions are on the same team? The WWF Champion being the third match on the card? The crowd goes wild for the Hulkster! With all these years that Roberts carried the snake, I’m surprised the snake never tried to squeeze someone and try to eat them for supper.
Hogan and Zeus start the match. The shoving match and the crowd chant “Hogan!” Both men tease starting the match and the crowd eats it up. I love it! Zeus gets disqualified!
Demolition and Hogan triple team the Million Dollar Man. Ventura goes off about the ref letting it happen over Zeus getting disqualified and putting his hands on the ref.
Another shoulder breaker by the Barbarian to Axe! I’m surprised to see two shoulder breakers by the third match on the card.
Roberts and Hogan against the Powers of Pain and the Million Dollar Man. I’m really enjoying these Survivor Series matches. The Million Dollar Man gives us the Million Dollar Piledriver on Jake Roberts! Another move I miss seeing! The Powers of Pain gives Hogan a Spike Piledriver and the Powers of Pain got double disqualified. Poor DiBiase, being outnumbered.
The Million Dollar Dream on the WWF Champion! Roberts breaks up the sleeper because Hogan’s arm went down for the second drop. Virgil gets DDT’ed and the Million Dollar Man nailed Roberts in the face and eliminated him. It’s down to Hogan and DiBiase at the end.
Double clothesline by both men and the ref counts them out. After a couple of minutes, Hogan hits DiBiase with the Big Boot and the Leg Drop and get’s the three count.
Sole Survivor: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan
Macho King and Zeus interview to promote the No Holds Barred Tag Team Steel Cage match with Savage and Zeus against Hogan and the Barber. Hogan and Beefcake also did an interview to hype out their match as well. Sheri threw salt in their eyes and Zeus and Savage attacked them.
Interview with the Rude Brood and Roddy’s Rowdies. Nice build up for their match, which is next.
The Rude Brood versus Roddy’s Rowdies
Jimmy Hart’s back for his third match with the Rougeau Brothers! The Genius comes out with Mr. Perfect! Bobby “the Brain” didn’t come out with “the Ravishing” Rick Rude. Rude has awesome tights, and awesome mustache. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka comes out for the next team. The Bushwhackers comes out next with their whackerish walk. “The Hot Rod” Roddy Piper comes out with the bag pipes being played in the arena.
Quick tags with the Bushwhakers, Piper, and Snuka, and they all are biting Perfect. That isn’t perfect, it’s quiet rude. Wait a second, wasn’t one of the Rougeau brothers the Mountie in a couple of years? Another thing, half of the Rude Brood was from Minnesota, and sadly enough, aren’t with us anymore.
Both Rougeau bothers got eliminated right away, first the Mountie, then the other brother. At least the two guys from Minnesota are left on the Rude Brood, right? The Rude Awakening and Luke is eliminated and it’s down to Rude and Perfect against Snuka and Piper!
Piper and Rude got a double count-out. What bums. After numerous near falls, Mr. Perfect wins with the Perfect Plex! I couldn’t be happier!
Sole Survivor: Mr. Perfect!
The Rude Brood was interviewed, and then the Ultimate Warriors were interviewed for the main event match for this Survivor Series. I have no clue what the Ultimate Warrior just said in his part of the interview.
The Heenan Family versus the Utlimate Warriors
Another team that doesn’t get an introduction, and that’s the Heenan Family. That bothers me.
Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart and the Rockers already start the match before the WWF Intercontinental Champion came out, and the Warrior finally came out and started the match, running out Mountain Dew, because he sprinted down to the ring with the IC Belt on.
Andre the Giant got counted out because the Warrior clotheslined him out of the ring and wasn’t able to get up and into the ring before the ref counted to ten. How sad. It’s nice to see Arn Anderson in a main event spot on a WWE pay-per-view.
Bobby Heenen get’s a “Weasel” chant, and Haku eliminated Neidhart. Bobby gets tagged in when Marty was hurt and then tagged right out again. Bobby even pinned Marty after the damage was done.
It came down to the Warrior against Anderson and Heenen. Warrior pinned Anderson, and Heenen got beaten by the Warrior. Heenen got running shoulder hit and splashed and was defeated.
Sole Survivor: The Ultimate Warrior.
First and second match, it came down to one-on-three. I find it odd that the endings were similar. Even though the babyfaces won the first one and the heels won the second match, I still find it odd that they looked at similar endings.
I find it weird that the WWF Champion was put in the middle of the card when the Intercontinental Champion was put in the main event slot. I’m assuming that this is happening because they wanted the WWF Champ to have more time than any other match, which makes sense. But the WWF Champion was Hulk Hogan; we all know he normally doesn’t have matches longer than 15 minutes.
I’m not a fan of the end of the pay-per-view we saw the Intercontinental Champion face a manager for a couple of minutes. How fair is that? I agree with Jesse Ventura at the announcer’s table and that shouldn’t have happened.
Besides those notes, I enjoyed the the ’89 Survivor Series. I enjoyed hearing Gorilla and Ventura at the announcer’s table and enjoyed the wrestlers that got me into watching the WWF around this period. Finishers were simpler and fans bought everything that was done inside the ring. That’s something that I don’t feel like happens anymore. Also, at least the announcers build-up and tear down the guys that they’re suppose to, unlike Michael Cole these days. At least in two Survivor Series time, the beginning of the end of Hulkamania starts. This is Eric Darsie from Minnesota, until next time; do what you do, and stay classy.
Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/, and on Twitter @IAmDarsie.
Thursday, November 26th, 1987 – Richfield Coliseum – Richfield, Ohio – Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon are our color commentators for the very first Survivor Series event that the World Wrestling Federation had put on every year since!
This blog also marks the first of my Survivor Series blog series for CamelClutchBlog[dot]Com! I’m excited to visit (for most of these events) and revisit (a few) Survivor Series memories! I’ll be giving the highlights of each match instead of trying to list off each blow.
Let’s take a history lesson before we jump into the review of the first Survivor Series. The National Wrestling Alliance (JCP) was putting on their version of WrestleMania, called Starrcade, on Thanksgiving night for several years by 1987. So Vince McMahon, in all his wisdom, thought he’ll take a stab at the Jim Crockett and offer a television special that was built around teams of five and the goal of the match was to eliminate every member of the opposing team. Birthed the Survivor Series and the blog series!
Monsoon and Ventura get introduced to the crowd and they walk down to their position to call the pay-per-view and they were booed, to my surprised. They told us to have a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks men! I wish this event was still held on Thanksgiving Day. Oh American Football, why did you have to take over its position?
Ventura and Monsoon go over the card and the rules of the matches. For the first time since WrestleMania III earlier this year, Andre the Giant and World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan will lock up for the very first time!
Craig DeGeorge interviews the Honky Tonk Man and his team. Honky talks about how his team is the greatest put together and there’s a video played showing when Honky nailed the Macho Man with his guitar.
The Fink announces the first match!
“The King” Harley Race, Hercules, Danny Davis, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, and the WWF Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man versus Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat, Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage
When the heel team was introduced, the face team was interviewed by Mean Gene. They all said that the heel team will be defeated and there will be survivors in this match. I surely hope there are winners in this match.
Sounds like to me, WWE dubbed over a different theme song when the faces came out after their interview. I find this to be sad because it takes away the feel of the original broadcast. When Savage came out, the crowd pops. I find it strange that the future WWF Champion in a few short months opens this show.
Hercules and the Barber start off the first match on the first card. One thing I noticed with the quick tags at the start of the match was how into the fans were into the match. Seems like the fans nowadays aren’t as in as the fans of 1987 were.
One point Race and Steamboat were in the ring together. Isn’t it ironic that former NWA guys were in the ring together on a night where WWF put on a show to go against the biggest show in NWA history?
The first elimination saw both Duggan and Race getting double-count-out.
Beefcake has the oddest wrestling trunks that I’ve seen. The one he’s wearing this night was yellow zebra print and the sides were cut out and mesh was sown back in.
Talking about Beefcake, he got eliminated after being hit by Honky Tonk Man’s finisher, a swinging neck breaker called “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”
A cool thing about Jake Roberts as a face was whenever he gets into the ring; the fans chant “DDT.” A finish that I absolutely love was when Jake “the Snake” hits the DDT. The fans popped and jumped to their feet once he nailed Danny Davis with it and covered him for the elimination.
I also find it odd that Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage are team mates when at WrestleMania III they fought each other in a show-stealing Intercontinental Championship match.
Honky Tonk was faced by himself against Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, and Ricky Steamboat. Reversal of what usually gets booked. Usually the heels gains the advantage.
Honky Tonk Man got himself counted out (great heel move), giving Savage, Steamboat, and Roberts the victory.
Sole Survivors: Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, and Ricky Steamboat
Craig DeGeroge is back and interviewed Andre the Giant and his team. One thing about this team is how huge each member is. Wow, I wonder what happened to McMahon being okay with big men back then and not so much these days. One line I enjoyed was from Bobby Heenen and he called Hogan a 300-pound turkey.
The lades match never got an ring introduction until they were already in the ring.
The Glamour Girls, Dawn Marie, Donna Christannelo, and Sensational Sherri versus Velvet McIntyre, Rockin’ Robin, Jumping Bomb Angels, and the Fabulous Moolah
Sherri is the Women’s World Champion at this time. To the Sherri I grew up knowing, she looks amazing in 1987! Wow! And Fabulous Moolah look old even back then. I find that to be sad.
Another sad fact is, I don’t know who most of these women are. While on the sad facts, I wish the WWE had this big talent pool of women wrestlers. These women are amazing compared to the women these days. This match is more enjoyable, even not knowing who most of these women are. I find most women matches these days to be too much, even for a few minutes.
Moolah seems not to act much since 1987. I wonder how she does it. She moves pretty well compared to how well she moved at the end of her life.
I actually talked to Captain Obvious while watching this match and we started to discuss on how much professional wrestling was different 25 years ago. Watching through these Survivor Series brings back why I fell in love with this business to begin with.
Sole Survivors: Jumpin’ Bomb Angels
Craig DeGeorge is back to interview the Hart Foundation and their Survivor Series team. Watching this interview makes me miss how great the tag team division was. I also noticed it seems like this pay-per-view card has showcased the WWF’s mid-cards, the women, the tag teams, and the last match, the main eventers. This interview was simply crazy. I was unable to get anything worthy of note to take down.
The Bolsheviks, Demolition, the Dream Team, the Islanders, and the Hart Foundation versus the British Bulldogs, the Young Stallions, the Rougeau Brothers, the Killer Bees, and Strike Force
After the heel team enters, Mean Gene interviews the babyface team in this match. I spot the Mountie! I spot the Model Rick Martel!
Monsoon and Ventura explain the Tag Team Survivor Series rules, where if one of the Killer Bees gets eliminated, both men go. So if one man gets eliminated, both are eliminated! This match proves that Vince McMahon decided to have the tag division die. Heck, the main event of WrestleMania I was even a tag match! I find it to be sad that back in 1987 there were at least ten good tag teams that the WWF had and now the WWE has a couple actual tag teams.
Sole Survivors: the Young Stallions and the Killer Bees (by the Bees outsmarting the Islanders with the masks)
We see how the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase celebrates Thanksgiving. I find this video package to be absolutely great. Only if video packages were put together like this these days, the superstars would be seen as main event wrestlers.
Craig DeGeorge is back again to interview the Honky Tonk Man, the WWF Intercontinental Champion, who walked out at the first match and got himself eliminated. Honky puts himself over and will accept the challenge of anyone. Honky said that he’ll even face Hulk Hogan and will defend his title against the Hulkster. Even Macho Man can’t defeat the Honky Tonk Man.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, “the Natural” Butch Reed, One Man Gang, and Andre the Giant versus Bam Bam Bigelow, Ken Patera, the Magnificent Don Muraco, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, and World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan
Mean Gene is backstage with the World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan and his team mates and everyone’s crazy. Hogan is walking back and forth in front of the camera and comes and pushes Bam Bam. Hogan says that his team mates are hungry and are ready to kick butt and take names.
The faces then enter the arena. I guess Don Muraco is filling in for “Superstar” Billy Graham. Poor Billy Graham, you’re always being the true “Superstar.” Giving it a second thought, it was a good thing you couldn’t make it to the first Survivor Series because Hollywood Hogan would outshine you, how he stole your gimmick and turned it into what he did, brother.
The Rock and “Ravishing” Rick Rude start out the main event.
Butch Reed’s the first one eliminated when Hogan dropped the leg drop and got the pin fall victory. Hogan was celebrating with his team when Andre came in and Hogan was shocked when he turned around. The ref made Hogan go out and Patera cause Hogan “made a tag.” I surely didn’t see the tag.
An obvious observation I noticed in this match was how Hogan’s team was a set of four body builders and Bam Bam and Andre’s team had four overweight dudes and Rick Rude.
I might be losing it but it sounded like One Man Gang was calling a few spots when he had Patera in a front face lock. It looked like it but I swore I heard him call a few things. Opps.
Orndorff wasn’t so wonderful on this night; when he was calling to put Rude in the piledriver, Bundy came in and nailed him from behind and Rude school boyed him and eliminated him.
Ventura asked Monsoon if we’ll see Andre and Hogan. Ventura really wanted to see those two men do battle at Survivor Series. I’m with you Governor! I wanna see the WrestleMania III main event go at it here at Survivor Series 1987!
Hulk Hogan got eliminated when he got counted out when he was brawling with King Kong Bundy. Smart thinking Bundy, let’s get the World Champ out of the match. So it’s Bam Bam taking on King Kong Bundy, One Man Gang, and Andre the Giant – the total reverse of the first match. This is smart booking.
Lucky for Bigelow, he eliminated Bundy after scoring a pinfall. A few minutes later he scored a pinfall victory over One Man Gang. Come on Bigelow! Make yourself famous! Grab the main event ring and show that you belong in the main event picture!
After a double underhook suplex, Andre wins.
Sole Survivor: Andre the Giant
Hulk Hogan ran down and hit Andre with the belt, continuing their feud, and taking in the attention at the end of the pay-per-view. No surprise out of Hogan, what an
attention jerk! Vintage Hogan, posing to all the fans.
Mean Gene got a word from Andre the Giant and Bobby Hennen backstage. Bobby said that if he truly wants Andre, he’ll face him inside the ring, but has to sign on the dotted line. Hogan has to put the title up on the line if he wants Andre again in the ring. Smart thinking by Bobby and Andre.
We go back to Hogan posing. Come on Hulkster!
All-in-all, I consider this pay-per-view a success. I really enjoyed this pay-per-view, even though it was four matches in total. But the first few Survivor Series I love because each match got a good length of time to showcase some of the talent that this era of the WWE had. To be honest, I wish WWE had talent like this today to bring back the classic Survivor Series concept back and give the whole PPV the Survivor Series match treatment. If not, let the World Heavyweight Champion defend his title, or the WWE Champion defend his title.
Heck, it would draw big ratings (hopefully, at least in my old-school wrestling opinion) if the main event Survivor Series match was World Heavyweight Champion captained a team against the WWE Champion’s team. Then the Intercontinental Champion would captain a team against the United States Champion. I would love to see this happen, or the idea I had at the beginning of the blog where there’s a tournament and the winner faces both the World and WWE Champion in a triple threat match and the winner walks out as Champ. To conclude, a great PPV.
Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/, and on Twitter @IAmDarsie.
You know, I’d be the first to admit that my 1988 Royal Rumble rant was a bit lacking.
Looking over it, I see where I was the most bored and disinterested, and it showed in my writing. I don’t apologize often, but I’ll do so by writing a better rant for this show, the 1989 Royal Rumble.
There’s an underlying message in here. The 1988 show had a lot of kinks to be worked out, as did my accompanying rant. The 1989 show was a vast improvement and my rant, well….let’s cross our fingers. I hope it’s less boring than Dino Bravo’s weight lifting challenge from ’88 at least.
-January 15, 1989, from the Summit in Houston, TX. It’s the home of non-playoff football, as well as pitchers who have played or WILL play for the Phillies. Thanks, Ed Wade!
-And yes, this would be the first Rumble on PPV. It’s also got a better logo than the 1988 version, which featured fancy handwriting fit for some historical document, and is replaced through 1995 with the famed block lettering. It’s the block lettering I grew up with.
-The A-Team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura is on duty here, and I’m pleased. As much as I love the duo of Monsoon and Bobby Heenan for sheer laughs, Monsoon and Ventura could make any match seem like an important event. They were like John Madden and Pat Summerall in that regard. How many NFL games did Madden and Summerall make seem like life-and-death battles with their natural cadence? Same with Monsoon and Ventura. Would Hogan-Andre at Wrestlemania 3 been as good if Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were on commentary? What about Hogan-Warrior? My thoughts exactly.
-As with the 1988 rant, I’ll be using the “what would I pay?” system to determine what I feel the value of the event at hand is. The system is kind of moot if you already own the show, but you can see if it feels like something you SHOULD have paid for. But if you watched it and hated it, you’d already know that…well…let’s move on.
OPENER: THE HART FOUNDATION AND HACKSAW JIM DUGGAN VS. THE FABULOUS ROUGEAU BROTHERS AND DINO BRAVO (TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS)
-Oh, thank God they’re getting Bravo out of the way now. Say, what’s up with these 2 out of 3 falls matches? This is the third one in the first five matches in Rumble history, and then they never had another one at the Rumble ever. What gives?
-All three heels take a battering ram in the corner, and the crowd is happy. Which three are the heels, you ask? Lemme counter by asking: has there ever been three French Canadians on the roster at the same time that were all faces? Ever? Maybe a slew of man-rats, er, jobbers that Pat Patterson would have tag along, but nobody major.
-Le Bad Guyex win the first fall via Le Bombe de Rougeau on Bret. It’s amazing when you look back and realize how many tag team matches from 1987-1990 ended with either Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels taking the fall. Hate to say it, but maybe that’s why not many fans stuck around during the “New Generation” (“HE’S the champ? The guy that once got pinned by the Warlord? No thanks…”)
-This is a great warm-up match, as all of the participants at least have well defined characters. The Harts are the well oiled tag team machine, Duggan’s the patriotic Buford Pusser type, and all three heels are openly foreign. It’s like paint by numbers on how to get fans 20 years ago to cheer and boo.
-Anywho, the good guys take the second fall after a horde of moves on Raymond, ending with an elbow drop by Duggan. Getting pinned by an elbow drop is only acceptable if it’s Survivor Series, or you’re laying down for The Rock. There’s no other exceptions.
-Finally, the faces win the third fall when Duggan hits Bravo with the 2X4 (Bravo was so boring last year that it tainted the thrill of Duggan’s Rumble win….well that’s MY theory) and Bret pins Bravo.
RATING: $4.50. Good, solid stuff, and I wasn’t bored by Bravo. We’ve already topped 1988! Now as long as Paul Roma’s not headlining, we’re in decent shape.
-Meanwhile, there’s chicanery afoot, as Ted Dibiase (the dad, not the boring sponge of a son) isn’t happy with the number he drew, so he has an offer for Slick, who’s shady on the basis that he’s a pimp. You know, how come they didn’t stereotype against Flash Funk in 1997? He dressed like a pimp, but was a good guy due to being “funky”. If you’re going to stereotype, at least be consistent.
-Also, the Bushwhackers swap their numbers for some reason. For those who complain about goofy characters now like Hornswoggle, Santino Marella, and the guest hosts, I give you: Luke and Butch. Now stop complaining.
MATCH 2: ROCKIN’ ROBIN VS. JUDY MARTIN (WWF WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP)
-Judy Martin would not be allowed on the current WWE TV product looking the way she does here, unless she somehow convinced McMahon that she was Greg Valentine.
-Sensational Sherri shows up and challenges the winner, looking like Shia LeBouf going to a rave. I know Sherri’s dead and all, but geez, 80’s fashion was crap.
-The crowd could really care less about the match, even though Robin is portrayed as a local hero. The most notable thing is Sherri on commentary, as her and Jesse taunt Monsoon. Otherwise, it’s your typical modern divas match without the fitness model physiques. I wonder if this is why so many guys my age came out of the closet (no, not me).
-Robin wins after faking a cross body, and then hitting a real one. See, Robin was so good at faking things, she even had another woman fooled! Err, let’s move on.
RATING: $1.25. I was gonna go two bucks, but I decided to dock it 75 cents for having to listen to Robin sing “America the Beautiful” at Wrestlemania V. Look, it’s my convoluted ratings sytem; I’ll do what I want with it.
-Sean Mooney confronts Slick over the possible tampering with Dibiase, but Slick insists he hasn’t seen Dibiase in over a month. Well, given the travel schedule back then, it’s possible. Wouldn’t surprise me if half of these guys said to each other “You still work here?!?” Actually, I’ll bet they said that to Terry Taylor a lot.
SUPER POSEDOWN: ULTIMATE WARRIOR VS. RICK RUDE
-So instead of having a match, the Intercontinental Champion and one of the top heels will be engaged in a posing contest. Can you imagine if they did this now? Wait, they actually DID do this in 2003 with Triple H and Scott Steiner! And it was horrible! They even had an arm wrestling match, just to empty the tray of embarrassing 1980’s non-match clichés. I’m surprised there wasn’t a dual interview between the two on a revamped Brother Love Show.
-The story is that Rude is seriously trying to win on technical merit, whereas Ultimate Warrior just aggressively recreates Rude’s poses, and the crowd cheers louder for him. It’s also notable for Rude using one of those flexi-bars that Chuck Palumbo helped (not) make famous during his WCW run.
-After Warrior wins hands down, Bobby Heenan blinds Warrior with lotion (….not like that) and Rude beats the hell out of him with the flexi-bar. Then Warrior goes nuts and beats up the officials who aid him, including Nick Bockwinkel. Take THAT, AWA.
RATING: $2.00. Lame as it was, it created a fresh upper card angle, and the crowd was into it. Let’s just keep Tyler Reks and Chris Masters from trying their own version. In fact, let’s just keep both of them off TV.
-Mean Gene asks Elizabeth who she would pick between Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan in the Rumble. Ah, yes, the “jealous eyes” storyline. I dare say it was the first angle in WWF history that felt like it could have played out on Raw in the last decade and not felt ancient.
-If your mother attended this event, there’s a chance that she became pregnant if she was in the first two or three rows. Race and Haku have enough testosterone to fill the Roman Coliseum, and there’s plenty of manliness wafting through when these two go at it!*
(*Written by Pat Patterson)
-Haku comes to the ring on the throne-sedan, carried by a group of jobbers, so Race just knocks it over for fun. Wow, 1980’s WWF was hardcore! When do they break out the razor wire?
-Match is quite brutal, with Race taking huge bumps in his late forties, and he even managed to piledrive Haku on the concrete. If this match happened on Raw now, the internet would briefly faint out of ecstasy.
-Haku plants Race with a thrust kick to retain the crown and, effectively, send Race packing from WWF. Of note was Bobby Heenan playing cornerman to both, as they were both in his employ. Wait, I’m writing this on the day that Heenan’s new DVD came out and I haven’t bought it yet! What is wrong with me?!
RATING: $5.50. Surprisingly good stuff, given that it was a throwaway match. We could use more matches like this on modern undercards. Just brutal brawls without trademark moves.
-Intermission, plus promos. Remember the intermissions? They got rid of them in favor of matches involving Alicia Fox. Nothing says “take five minutes, stretch your legs, and get some beer” like Alicia Fox matches.
MAIN EVENT: THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
-Ah good: no Paul Roma this year to screw things up. The real main eventers get to main event! Except for Warrior. And Rude. And the Harts. And Duggan. Crap.
-So we’re finally up to 30 participants, and the winner gets….nothing. Except the opportunity to referee a midcard match at Wrestlemania V. My money’s on Joey Marella, going in.
-Just to show how COMPLETELY RANDOM AND UNSCRIPTED this show is, Ax and Smash of Demolition are 1 and 2. Monsoon and Ventura are more surprised than the fans are. Oddly enough, Ax and Smash go right at it instead of conserving energy and beating up the next entrant. I know they’re trying to keep it exciting, but for logic’s sake, couldn’t Ax and Smash just stand there and tell dirty jokes to each other? Seems sensible.
-Perhaps they should save their strength, because here comes Andre the Giant at #3! Ugh, this was the year they had the awkward camera angle every time someone came in. It looks like Zapruder footage, except slightly less grainy. And I do emphasize “slightly”.
-Mr. Perfect (sans singlet) is #4, but Andre can’t be contained, and he sends Smash flying. Poor Smash. At least he got to dress like a cat burglar in his next life. Ronnie Garvin is #5, and we actually have three former World Champions in the ring. Yes, I’m counting Garvin, though I don’t WANT to.
-Greg Valentine is 6 and Andre chucks Garvin. Good riddance. Jake Roberts is #7 and he has beef with Andre. Andre just simply chokes him while Ron Bass is #8, in what may have been his last appearance with the company. Andre tosses Roberts. Finally, Shawn Michaels is #9, just so Perfect isn’t the only athlete in the ring. Perfect backdrops Ax out to keep the pace going. To complete the first third, Bushwhacker Butch is #10. Shouldn’t have switched, matey. Then to top off the frantic pace thus far, Roberts returns with Damain, his python, and scares Andre into taking the final bump of his career, over the top for a self elimination. Jesse says it’s unfair; I say at least the pace is a good one.
-Honky Tonk Man is in at 11 while Perfect and Shawn just take bumps like superballs in there. Tito Santana is 12, and he and Valentine soon rekindle their old feud. Bad News Brown is 13, and Santana and Butch toss Honky. Man, after he lost the IC Title, Honky became everyone’s submissive, didn’t he?
-Marty Jannetty is 14, and we get some Rockers double teams going. WWF Champion Randy Savage is 15 to a NUCLEAR reaction, and he goes right for Bad News. The Rockers get rid of Bass, just to make me happy. Shawn would later steal Bass’ finisher and give it to Triple H (Well, not really, but since I’m writing this….)
-Arn Anderson (yes, he worked there) is 16 as Savage dumps Valentine, his future Survivor Series partner. Savage and Arn then team up and dump Shawn, as Tully Blanchard comes in at 17. Jannetty goes next via both Brain Busters. And then….
-#18: Hulk Hogan. Get ready to count the bodies! So long, Perfect. Bye bye, Santana. Bushwhacker Luke is #19 just as Bad News tosses out Butch. See, shouldn’t have switched! Koko B Ware is not only #20, but he’s also eliminated by Hogan in short order. Hogan clotheslines both Busters out. Warlord is #21 and is gone even faster (2 seconds!) at the hands of Hogan. Then Hogan eliminates Bad News and Savage at the same time and….uh oh, Savage isn’t happy. He jumps back in and gets into it with Hogan, with Miss Elizabeth coming in to try and talk sense into both men. They make up and Savage leaves as Big Bossman is in at 22.
-Hogan and Bossman continue their feud, brawling until Akeem comes in at 23. And there’s the payoff for the Slick and Dibiase business deal. Hogan gets eliminated shortly thereafter. Hogan won’t go away like a good sport, so he attacks Bossman for fun. And they wonder why so many kids my age grew up to be sore losers. Brutus Beefcake is 24, and Hogan illegally eliminates Bossman, much to Ventura’s chagrin. Hogan even busts Bossman even with some kind of suitcase.
(sound of record scratch)
-And now, the fun stuff is over. The match slows down to the point of tedium, as all the fast paced fun has died out. From here, it’s Red Rooster at 25, Barbarian at 26, Big John Studd at 27, Hercules at 28, Rick Martel at 29, and Ted Dibiase at 30 (the other half of the payoff). Is it as auspicious a finish as last year? I think they’re tied for dead last, myself.
-Dibiase dumps Rooster. Dibiase and Barbarian then team up and dump Beefcake and Hercules together. Martel then surprises the world by dropkicking Barbarian out.
-FINAL FOUR: Dibiase, Studd, Akeem, and Martel. No, really. Martel gets caught by Akeem and thrown out. Then, because I don’t feel like wasting my fingers any more, a double team on Studd fails which sees the future Hall of Famer throw out Akeem. Then Studd toys with Dibiase for about 40 years before throwing him out, and then he beats up Virgil for fun. So, yeah, Studd wins. He would leave WWF within five months.
RATING: $9.25. The first 2/3 was great stuff, but it dragged once Hogan and Bossman finished their little angle. Nonetheless, an upgrade over last year
TOTAL: $22.50. That’s almost how much a PPV was in 1989, so I guess that’s somewhat reasonable. Just wish the Rumble had a better outcome, and that Warrior/Rude was, you know, an actual match.
CYNIC SAYS: An upgrade over last year’s TV version, but there was still work to be done. It would take many years for WWE to figure out to add more innovative eliminations and creative double teams, but at least they’d mastered the art of mixing existing feuds with new ones beginning (especially Hogan and Savage).
Aftermath hosts Arda Ocal and Jimmy Korderas interviewed “Mean Gene Okerlund on the Score on January 16, 2012. They start the show by putting over Wrestle Reunion which is happening in Toronto in mid April. Ocal lists guests for the event such as Bruno Sammartino, Tommy Dreamer, and then introduces Gene Okerlund.
Mean Gene says he is looking forward to discussing wrestling, and then discussed his calling basketball, baseball, and hockey games. However, he said it always came back to wrestling. One you start, you don’t turn back.
Ocal asked Gene why should fans attend Wrestle Reunion, and Gene said he was at a Wrestle Reunion event last year in LA, and said there was a lot of talent. Okerlund added that it was a great production, and said Wrestle Reunion is a can’t miss event for people with heart and soul in pro wrestling.
Ocal asked about his moving to work for WWE, and Gene joked that he did it because of greed but then he said he liked Vince’s vision . Gene said the springboard for WWE was MTV and Wrestlemania. When asked about being recognized, and being noticed, Gene said there was notoriety and said he got stopped in airports, and hotels. He said it was like a Gold rush stage. He added that it was pretty tough to miss Hogan and Macho Man in an airport.
Korderas asked about Chemistry with Bobby Heenan, and Gene said he loved to work with Heenan. Gene mentioned that he had just spoken to Heenan and mentioned Heenan’s health problems. Okerlund said he loved Bob’s quick wit. Ocal then asked if he had the desire to be a play by play man, and, Gene said no. He said doing that and backstage interviews also gets too busy. He said he has done play by play and ring announcing in AWA. He said that a man can’t wear two pairs of shoes so to speak.
As an employee of WWE, Gene said he does a lot of classics for their classics series. He did a Hall of Fame show about Mad Dog Vachon for WWE. He said he is doing a lot of voice work for syndicated programs. WWE cranks out a lot of product. Gene said that a lot of the syndicated programs don’t air in the US. Gene said he used to do Madison Square Garden Classics. He then said he shows up for Wrestlemania, and the Hall of Fame. He did a backstage interview with the Rock last Mania. He said he never worked with the Rock, and he told the Rock later that they would have made a lot of money together.
Gene was asked about Cena/Rock being announced a year in advance. He thought it was money in the bank. Gene said he thought it was something both Rock and Cena wanted to do. He said that the Rock wants to make a statement. Gene put over Fan Axxess, and the Hall of Fame. He mentioned Edge’s hall of fame induction. He said Edge still had the fire in the belly, and if it were his choice, he would be out in the ring rather than in the Hall, but his career was cut short due to injury. Ocal mentioned that he just interviewed Edge, and how Edge said he felt “old” but was very honored by being selected for induction
Orca said some inductees are jealous that Flair is going to get a second ring since he is going to be inducted again as a member of the Four Horsemen. Gene didn’t think it was a big deal and said Flair was a great talent and put over the Horsemen..
Orda and Gene put over the Legends House on the upcoming WWE Network. Gene said there will be a script to get from point A to point B so there is some sort of plot.
Gene was asked the difference between WWE back then and now: Gene said there is no organization like WWE and put over Vince McMahon, and Vince’s vision. He talked about watching wrestling in the 50s where wrestlers had potbellies to now where wrestlers are in shape and more athletic. He also went into detail about how the writers are very involved in the product .
Near the end of the interview, Gene Orkerlund confirmed a story about a city called Calluett in Canada with a restaurant called Mean Gene Burgers.
Finally, Gene said he will be at WrestleMania and WrestleReunion. He put over Jack Tunney. He said he has no Twitter or Facebook account.
WWE.com has put out a brand new Top 25 list on my favorite subject, pro wrestling managers. The list ranks the Top 25 WWE Managers that like most lists compiled by the WWE, will leave you scratching your head.
Now I am not going to get all crazy and start ranting and raving like some fans who take these lists very seriously. I don’t. It is always important to keep in mind who compiled this list and of course, the WWE will always try and revise wrestling history. Also keep in mind that this is a list of WWE managers and not pro wrestling managers.
One of my all time favorite pro wrestling managers tops the list. WWE Hall of Fame manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan comes in at number one. In terms of storylines and success in the WWE, I can’t a whole lot of other managers that had as much impact over their tenure. The only other manager I could see making a case for number one is the guy that actually came in at number four.
My favorite all-time manager, Captain Lou Albano comes in at a disappointing fourth behind Jimmy Hart and “Classy” Freddie Blassie. Now if I were going to take this list seriously I would write a four page blog on why this is a huge travesty and Albano is better than Blassie, Hart, and arguably Heenan. But I won’t. I will say this. Albano managed more champions than any other manager in the history of the WWE if you combine intercontinental, world, and tag team. Not too mention, I don’t think there was a manager who drew more money for the WWE thanks to his promos than the old Captain.
Sensational Sherri Martel comes in at number five. I don’t mean any disrespect to Sherri, but five? I may be missing something but she only managed two guys during her tenure, and only had one title under tutelage. I think the pairing of her and Randy Savage was one of the best ever, but I wouldn’t put her above the Grand Wizard, Paul Bearer, and even Slick.
One of my all time favorite characters, the Grand Wizard comes in at number 6. He managed world, tag team, and intercontinental champions so I don’t have a problem with the ranking. Paul Bearer and Arnold Skaaland follow him. I don’t know if I would put Bearer in the top ten since he only managed three wrestlers in his entire tenure, but his guys did win a lot of gold.
Old friends to the WWE Jim Cornette and Paul Heyman appear on the list. Both guys have world championships to brag about and certainly belong on a WWE list. Cornette comes in at 9 while Heyman comes in at a distant 12. The only injustice there is seeing Mr. Fuji and Sunny ranked between them. Miss Elizabeth comes in at 13 which is something debatable if you really take this list seriously.
The bottom of the list is fun because at this point the WWE is really reaching. The late Sir Oliver Humperdink comes in at number 20 which may be a little generous considering the Kahuna’s short WWE tenure. Michael Hayes comes in at 23, followed by Marlena at 24, and the Genius Lanny Poffo at 25. What about the Coach?
Two interesting names left off this list are Johnny V and Roddy Piper. Johnny Valiant was a big part of my childhood as a manager to the Dream Team and certainly deserved to be on the list ahead of people like Michael Hayes, Armando Estrada, and even the late Oliver Humperdink. Piper came into the WWE as a manager to David Schultz and Paul Orndorff. None of his “charges” won belts, but I would have expected to see the WWE throw him a bone.
Once again keep in mind this is a WWE list. Past lists have included former greats like Gary Hart and J.J. Dillon but they never managed in the WWE. If the list included managers outside of the WWE, I’d be shocked to see them off the list.
The list is a reminder of how much fun wrestling managers were when I was a kid. They had big mouths, big personalities, and were the focal points of some of the biggest feuds in WWE history. If there is one complaint I’ll make after reading the list it is that we don’t have managers in the WWE today (at least like the ones I grew up with). Bring back the managers!
The complete list of Top 25 WWE Managers according to WWE.com.
25. The Genius
23. Michael Hayes
22. Armando Estrada
21. Teddy Long
20. Sir Oliver Humperdink
19. Stephanie McMahon
18. Harvey Whippleman
17. The Million Dollar Man
15. Vickie Guerrero
14. Paul Ellering
13. Miss Elizabeth
12. Paul Heyman
10. Mr. Fuji
9. Jim Cornette
8. Arnold Skaaland
7. Paul Bearer
6. The Grand Wizard
5. Sensational Sherri
4. Capt. Lou Albano
3. “Classy” Freddie Blassie
2. Jimmy Hart
1. Bobby Heenan
Do you agree with the list? Where does your favorite manager rank? Leave a comment and let us know.
Hello loyal readers and welcome back to my personal stroll down memory lane. As always, this is not scientific in any way, there are no correct answers here. This is just my own personal opinion from my own experiences as a nearly thirty year wrestling fan. This week I have chosen to reflect on one of my favorite aspects of professional wrestling, the television commentator.
A good pro wrestling commentator can really enhance the experience of watching a match. Being there live is great, but an entertaining commentator adds a whole new dimension. And the truly great commentators can make even a bad match sound good. I always loved Joey Styles’ over the top style of calling a match. His outrage at every injustice was priceless. And I have yet to find a more enjoyably delivered catch phrase then “Oh My God”.
Jerry Lawler is now more recognizable to an entire generation of wrestling fans as an announcer then as a wrestler. And of course there is Jim Ross. I was very tempted to go with Ross, as I have been a fan of his since back in the old NWA days. And he certainly is my number two choice. But I went a little different when I was thinking up my favorite. I had someone in mind who was entertaining, who was funny, and who made me laugh. And by those criteria, the only name I could go with was the one and only Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
I grew up watching the WWF in the early to mid 80’s. When I outgrew the “cartoon” style of the WWF I identified more with the more realistic NWA style of wrestling. But I still watched WWF programming, and Bobby Heenan was a big part of the reason why. I absolutely loved the way he and Gorilla Monsoon called a match together. Many people consider Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to be the best announce team, but I will always go with Monsoon and Heenan.
The chemistry between the two was just amazing. When Heenan would make an outrageous statement I really believed that Monsoon was disgusted with him. Watching Michael Cole try to create tension with Lawler or Josh Mathews just makes me laugh, and not in a good way. Heenan played the bad guy role perfectly. No matter what the situation was, he was right and everyone else was wrong. It was that clueless confidence that endeared him to me. Quite simply, Bobby Heenan was the most entertaining voice in wrestling back then. The sounds of him making some over the top statement, like saying that Tito Santana signed an autograph with a can of spray paint followed by Monsoon’s exasperated shout of “Will You Stop?” brings a smile to my face even now as I write the words.
When he moved to WCW in the 90’s, the voice was the same but the mood was different. As I later found out first hand on an episode of Pro Wrestling Radio (ding ding), Heenan disliked working with Tony Schiavone personally and within WCW’s dysfunctional organization in general. The contempt came through during the broadcasts and some of that old magic was lost. But I still found Heenan entertaining even to the bitter end. One strong memory I have from those broadcasts was the tribute Heenan gave after Gorilla Monsoon passed away. I defy you to watch the video and not start to get choked up yourself when you see the genuine emotion expressed by Heenan for his former friend. That is one of the reasons why I will always refer to him as “The Brain” and never as “The Weasel”.
So there you have it. This was my completely unscientific determination of the best pro wrestling commentator ever. Do you have a different choice for the top spot? Do you a favorite Bobby Heenan memory? How do today’s announcers match up to those of the past? Leave me a comment. I would love to know what you think. And keep on the lookout for the next edition of “The Best I Ever Saw”.
Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.
One of my all time favorite pro wrestling superstars was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. I was ecstatic when the WWE announced the release of the Bobby Heenan DVD. If you are looking for gossip and dirt this WWE DVD isn’t for you. If you are looking for laughs and a fun ride down memory lane than you came to the right place.
The two-disc Bobby “The Brain” Heenan DVD set takes a look back at the career of arguably the greatest pro wrestling manager ever. The first disc is your typical WWE documentary which takes a retrospective look at the WWE Hall of Fame manager. But it is the second disc loaded with Bobby Heenan classics that makes this set worthwhile.
The first disc is done documentary style without hosts. The “Brain’s” former colleagues are interviewed as well as a few current WWE superstars who couldn’t weasel their way out of talking about Heenan. AWA fans in particular will love this set as there are plenty of AWA wrestlers who participated in the documentary. Some AWA veterans featured include former AWA world champion Nick Bockwinkel, Baron Von Rachke, Ken Patera, and Greg Gagne.
Unfortunately you probably won’t learn a whole heck of a lot of Bobby Heenan on the DVD that you don’t already know. There aren’t many fun road stories or backstage anecdotes that haven’t already been told. Heenan does not appear on the documentary due to his health but is represented by his wife and daughter who do a fantastic job. It was different and I kind of liked seeing the family’s view of life in the pro wrestling business.
There are obvious holes in Heenan’s story as told on the DVD. For one, they rarely touch on his time as pro wrestler before making it big. Otherwise the story was fairly accurate just without much detail in between. Heenan’s brief run in Georgia wasn’t mentioned which is odd since the WWE owns the video library. The highlight here and throughout were the various clips of Bobby Heenan promos and interviews from all of the territories sprinkled throughout the DVD.
Vince McMahon spoke of Bobby Heenan in the most glowing terms and called him “brilliant.” In watching the DVD you really appreciate just how talented Heenan was at going from wrestler to manager to commentator. The “Heenan Bump” was one of the great high spots of the 70s and 80s and is featured quite a bit in clips. One interesting fact revealed in the WWE portion was that Heenan was originally scheduled to manage Jesse Ventura but that changed when Jesse got hurt. There was no mention at all of the Heenan and Paul Orndorff relationship which was a bit disappointing since the two drew such big money against Hulk Hogan during that time period.
I am calling for a ban on Arn Anderson appearing on any more WWE documentaries. Arn continues to bring these WWE DVDs to a screeching halt when he speaks of pro wrestling as if it was real. That would be fine if it we were still in 1980. Look I am not expecting these guys to go on camera and totally expose the business, but don’t insult my intelligence at the same time. Newsflash Arn, the cat is out of the bag! Same goes with the director (wow anyone can get on these anymore) who also spoke about Bobby Heenan helping Mr. Perfect win more matches.
Bobby’s wife touched upon his difficult time in WCW. Even her brief mention of his difficulties barely scraped the surface of Bobby’s frustrations in WCW. I had Bobby on my radio show Pro Wrestling Radio a couple of times and he opened up quite a bit about his difficult time in WCW. Here is what Bobby said when I asked him to take me through a night of television in WCW beginning at 5PM.
“Around 5 or 6:00 I would find Mike Tenay and Tony (Schivonne). Tony was hard to find, he didn’t like to meet with us or anybody else. Then, Mike and I would talk about what we wanted to do, I’d put my tux on, go to make up. Everybody in there (make up) looked like Mount Rushmore. They couldn’t put their own make up, they weren’t going to put it on me. Nobody had any formats yet. “They’re still working on them. They have some changes to make.” 6:50 would come, we’d walk to our announce position and we had no formats. We didn’t know what was coming on first. The bell would ring at 7:00, they would move us around. “No, you sit on this side. We got your name underneath you for the television.” They had us in the wrong chairs. They had a Production Assistant. This woman that looked like, well I don’t even know how to describe her. She would always spill water on you or knock over something. Like Mr. Magoo. Whoever came out first, we’d talk about them, we didn’t know who was coming out, we didn’t know how they changed things. Then about the second match, the end of the first, or sometimes the top of the third if it was Monday Nitro, she’d come out with the papers and give them to you. Maybe 7 sheets. Now, if you had 7 loose pieces of paper where would you put the staple? She put it in the lower right hand corner. What are we from Tibet? Who reads like that? There is only one corner to put it in. You turn it from right to left. That’s the thing. Sometimes they didn’t have pens for us. Then we’d come back, there would be nobody to say, “Great show, you did great, how are you.” They’d walk right by you, like city of the living dead. ”
Overall the DVD was a lot of fun just for the Bobby Heenan clips alone. As a wrestling fan growing up in the 80s, Bobby Heenan was one of the first heels that I openly enjoyed. My friends and I would trade just the clips of Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon talking on Prime Time Wrestling and were constantly quoting “The Brain.” I have a feeling that there were many more “Brainiacs” like us around the country who couldn’t get enough of Bobby Heenan.
While this has nothing to do with the DVD I wanted to take a quick note to talk about my experiences with Bobby Heenan. I booked him on my radio show in 2003. Knowing he was undergoing treatment for throat cancer I had no idea what to expect. We talked before the show and he indicated that he wasn’t feeling well and asked we just go 15 minutes. I said sure. Once we got to 15 minutes I started wrapping up and Bobby said, “Hey let’s take some more calls.” I reminded him of his time limit and he said to forget it, he was feeling great, and wanted to talk to fans. That is what he did for an entire hour. As a huge Bobby Heenan fan growing up I was having a blast myself. After the interview when I thanked him for doing the interview he said, “Anytime you need a guest give me a call. Even if someone bails on you at the last minute.” I took him up on it a few more times and he was just as witty and fun as he was in his prime as a WWE manager. Those experiences with Bobby Heenan are without a doubt the greatest of my over 10 years of hosting Pro Wrestling Radio.
The second DVD features some of Bobby Heenan’s more memorable wrestling matches. The thing that becomes clear fast is that this guy knew how to draw heat. There isn’t a wrestling heel in the business today that could draw heat like he did in his prime. Bobby set the bar so high for pro wrestling managers that nobody even came close to touching it in my opinion. These are some very entertaining matches that showcase his skills as a professional wrestler, skills that were not nearly as appreciated as they should have been.
Overall this is a really fun DVD set. Anytime I can sit back and watch a couple of hours of classic Bobby Heenan is a good time. In addition to his classic WWE clips there are a ton of great AWA angles, matches, and interviews on the set. I know the holidays are over but if you can weasel one last gift out of your loved one or want to treat yourself, this one is well worth the price.
Disc 1 Documentary Chapters:
Manage like a Wrestler
Bright Lights, Big City
I Am Not a Weasal
Manager of Champions
The Bobby Heenan Show
Commentating with Gorilla
Hall of Fame
Disc 1 Extras:
AWA Manager of the Year 1976
AWA All-Star Wrestling – 25th December, 1976
The Wrestling Bear
“Honey, I’m Home!”
The Other Weasel Suit
“I Am Not A Weasel”
Tuesday Night Titans – 2nd October, 1984
Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon go to Busch Gardens
Prime Time Wrestling – 12th December, 1988
Get Your Popcorn Ready
Golfing Tips with Bobby Heenan & “Mean” Gene Okerlund
Sterling Farms Golf Course – October 1991
Bobby’s Big Entrance
WrestleMania IX – 4th April, 1993
Gorilla Monsoon Fires Bobby Heenan
RAW – 6th December, 1993
The Humor of Bobby Heenan
A Farewell to Gorilla
Nitro – 11th October, 1999
The Wedding Eulogy
WrestleMania XX – 14th March, 2004
Bobby Heenan’s Induction into the WWE Hall of Fame
WWE Hall of Fame – 13th March, 2004
Battle of the Managers
Bobby Heenan vs. Lord Alfred Hayes
AWA St. Paul, MN – 13th January, 1980
Weasel Suit Match
Bobby Heenan vs. Greg Gagne
AWA St. Paul, MN – 17th August, 1980
Hulk Hogan vs. Nick Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan
AWA – St. Paul, MN – 2nd May, 1981
Bobby Heenan vs. Salvatore Bellomo
Madison Square Garden – 26th November, 1984
Weasel Suit Match
Bobby Heenan vs. Ultimate Warrior
WrestleFest `88 – 31st July, 1988
The Royal Rumble Match
Royal Rumble – 19th January, 1992
Commentary By: Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon
Gimmick Battle Royal
WrestleMania X7 – 1st April, 2001
Commentary By: Bobby Heenan & Gene Okerlund
The number one way to make money in pro wrestling is with a great feud. Nothing draws bigger at the box office than a rivalry pitting good vs. evil. Today I spotlight one of professional wrestling’s greatest feuds.
Over 25 years later all you have to do is mention Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff to the fans that lived it and you will get smiles and memories. Paul Orndorff vs. Hogan even decades later remains one of the most memorable rivalries of arguably the biggest period in pro wrestling. That is why it will always go down as one of pro wrestling’s greatest feuds.
Most fans think of the Hogan vs. Orndorff series as the great 86-87 run. Yet there was a prelude to this great rivalry that actually traces back two years earlier. Paul Orndorff was red hot as a heel when Hogan returned to the WWF. Hogan immediately beat the Iron Sheik and Hulkamania was born. But as most wrestling fans know, every babyface needs a great heel. Orndorff was that heel and became Hogan’s first challenger in Madison Square Garden, the equivalent of headlining a pay per view.
The rivalry would peak at first WrestleMania as both men opposed each other in a tag team main-event. Yes the main storyline here was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper, but I could argue that the event would not have been as successful with someone else. Orndorff was more than just a “partner” during the feud. He was tremendous in all of the promos leading up to the match. Orndorff took the fall in the match that led to a babyface turn and subsequent feud against Roddy Piper and Ace Orton.
Paul Orndorff was never able to breakthrough as a babyface the same he did as a heel. His natural cockiness and persona just didn’t play well as a hero. Plus, with Hulk Hogan at the top of the cards there was only so much room for Orndorff to grow as a babyface. Vince McMahon realized that and made the call turn Paul Orndorff and start one of the most successful feuds in pro wrestling history.
It all started with Adrian Adonis. Adonis began taunting Orndorff in his Flower Shop segments calling him “Hulk Junior.” For weeks Orndorff went from being Hogan’s tag team partner to a paranoid and at times jealous friend. The seed was planted and the angle kicked into a gear during a “televised phone call” between Orndorff and Hogan. Hogan was “too busy to come to the phone” which infuriated Orndorff. The two then agreed to team up against the Moondogs. Orndorff practically wrestled the match himself, refusing to tag in Hogan, thus sucking up most of the spotlight. The angle peaked the next week during a tag team match against the Bobby Heenan managed team of Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy.
What was most impressive here is that everyone saw this one coming yet it still made a major impact. During the match Hogan and Orndorff collided. Orndorff favored his eye and refused to help Hogan out during double teams. Orndorff finally rescued Hogan and cleared the ring. In one of the most memorable moments in pro wrestling, Orndorff raised Hogan’s and then clotheslined him. Orndorff proceeded to pick up Hogan and deliver his signature the move the piledriver. Hogan vs. Orndorff Version 2.0 was on!
In retrospect I think what made this angle so great was that it was the first time since returning to the WWF and beating the Iron Sheik that Hulk Hogan was laid out and vulnerable. Finally after running through the competition for two years, fans saw someone as a serious threat to Hogan. To add fuel to the fire, Orndorff aligned himself with Bobby Heenan. The Orndorff and Heenan duo cut some of the greatest promos in wrestling history during this run and became one of the most hated pairings in WWF history.
Hogan vs. Orndorff sold out almost everywhere. The two drew record houses. Orndorff and Hogan headlined the “Big Event” on April 28, 1986 in Toronto and drew over 60,000 fans on top. This wasn’t even a pay per view nor was it promoted on national television. Roddy Piper would also find himself back in this mix but on the other side. After a babyface turn, Piper and Hogan would team up against Orndorff and a variety of partners across the country. Unlike other feuds which had great angles and lousy matches, the two had magic and delivered some of the most exciting matches of the period.
The feud peaked on a Saturday Night’s Main Event NBC special in January 1987 (although taped in December 1986). Hogan vs. Orndorff headlined the show in one of the most controversial Steel Cage Matches in WWF or WWE history. Orndorff and Hogan exited the cage at the same time with referee Danny Davis declaring Orndorff the winner and referee Joey Marella declaring Hogan the winner. The exits were replayed with various angles with both men shown touching the floor at the same time. The match was restarted with Hogan winning and thus ending the feud.
Paul Orndorff would officially end his run as a babyface by firing Bobby Heenan on television. Once again Orndorff was never able to fully retain that same momentum as a babyface. Part of this is because Orndorff was severely injured in a match against Roddy Piper during the heel run and had to work a reduced schedule. Even casual fans at the time could see that Paul Orndorff was never the same in the ring in later years due to the injury. It was almost as if Paul Orndorff went from being one of the hottest stars in the pro wrestling business to just another face in the crowd overnight.
There are so many reasons that Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff goes down as one of the most memorable rivalries of the 80s. The obvious would be the money the feud drew. Another reason would be angle that kicked it off which while predictable, hit a home run. The chemistry between the two in the ring was undeniable. But I think most impressive of all is that the second version was better than the first. Many great feuds are often repeated in pro wrestling, yet rarely do they ever come close to the success of the first. Hogan vs. Orndorff was the exception to the rule which makes this one of wrestling’s greatest feuds.
I’m extremely excited for WWE Old School Raw this Monday night, which can be good and bad. I’m excited for the show because I am hoping for it to be a throwback to the way I watched WWE when I was growing up. It can also be a bad thing because I am so excited for it that it could very well let me down if not done correctly. With that being said here is how I would book Old School WWE Raw this Monday night.
The set is crucial in the “Old School Raw.” If you have the same Monday Night Raw set then there really is nothing special to the show, it’s basically a normal Monday Night Raw with a bunch of “WWE legends” in attendance. You have to give a look of an old school/retro/throwback edition of a WWE show or an old Raw.
You can do the old black sheet with the retro WWE logo similar to what you would see in like the 1990 Royal Rumble or any old WrestleMania prior to like WrestleMania 7. The old entrance stage I would like to see is the old fluorescent light entrance that we saw in the early editions of Monday Night Raw. I’m not talking about the blocked “Raw” letters; I’m talking no titan tron, just the green/red/blue/white fluorescent light entrance with the old school WWF logo at the top.
Second, you got to make the ring look an old school show. Give us the old “red, white and blue” ropes. No red ropes for the Raw show, the old “red, white and blue” ropes. Frankly I don’t know why the WWE doesn’t have that style of ropes at EVERY show. The ring apron has to be the tarp looking blue. No Raw logo, nothing.
Next you have to have the refs dress up in the old blue shirts with the bowtie. The ref stripes didn’t come into play until the mid-90s. Put the foot locker shirts away for one day. Is it a minimal effect to the show? Yes of course it is. But it makes it look retro if the refs themselves look retro as well.
Also don’t do the red light over the fans to indicate that I am actually watching a Raw brand show. If you’re going to light up the fans then give us just a normal light like they used to do until this most recent era. Small things like this make the retro show seem like a retro show.
Other small things that will make the show seem retro is having the old WWF blue logo hanging up in the rafters or give us the old Monday Night Raw logo. While I may be coming off extremely anal over this entire setup, it’s because I am. An “old school” show should look like an “old school” show.
As for the commentary team give me Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross for old times sake. Sadly Bobby Heenan can’t do commentary anymore and I doubt the WWE will bring in the “Macho Man” Randy Savage to do commentary for old times sake. I’d rather have Heenan, Savage and McMahon one more time, but it just won’t happen. The next best thing is having Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler and of course the great Jim Ross behind the mic. Michael Cole does not give it an “old school” feel.
When it comes to the legends themselves, while I enjoy seeing all of them on my television again, I would like to see some fresher legends involved. “Macho Man” Randy Savage is at the top of my list to be at the show. Even having Bret Hart there will be great as well, but I’d like to see some newer legends we haven’t seen in a while. While we saw them all on TNA recently, it would be pretty cool to see Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac show up at the “Old School Raw.” Kind of do a nod of when they showed up on a Nitro, but do it in reverse for Raw.
Other little things that will make the show very cool will be the graphics of the show, the way the ring side is setup, etc. I’ve already heard Mean Gene Okerland will be doing the backstage interviews, which by the way I hope is an old style looking backstage interview area, and that Howard Finkel will be the ring announcer, both of those moves by the WWE clearly show that at least the company is making an effort.
Finally it would be a good nod by “Old School WWE Raw” if you remember all those who have tragically passed away through the years and who have helped make Raw & the WWE special. You can not forget about your past and especially those who have helped you along the way. It would be a very nice gesture by the WWE.
Those are some of the ways I’d book “Old School Raw” for this coming Monday night. I’m not going to get into the storylines heading into Survivor Series because that’s a whole different blog. I just wanted to focus on what I’d like to see on this Monday’s Raw. Hopefully the WWE delivers because I’m very excited to see how it looks, please don’t let me down WWE.
How would you book “Old School Raw?” Tell us your thoughts on “The Still Real to Us Show” by e-mailing us over at at [email protected] and give us your thoughts on whether you agree with more or not! Then go ahead and download the show this Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.wheelhouseradio.com or www.wrestlechat.net to find out if your pick made it to the air!