Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 7/12/86 (Leave feedback for PTB here)

“The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis in a Steel Cage match

As we continue into the summer of 1986, there seemed to be a lot of flux going on with some of the members of the roster and that a few of the feuds that have been running for most of the year were clearly nearing the end. One of the those feuds was clearly the one between Randy Savage and Tito Santana which has been going since late last year, and considering that they added Adonis and Sammartino to the feud should be an indicator that the feud was almost over. As great as the feud has been and despite putting on really good matches, you figured it was time for both men to move on and doing it here at MSG was the perfect end while also having it inside a steel cage which is the perfect way to finish the feud. Plus the fact that Sammartino was almost seen as a special attraction for the MSG house shows makes this match even more special and you knew the crowd would be hot for this match despite how long the feud has gone.

Since their last match back in June, Santana and Savage have had one or two matches on the house show circuit though they have pretty much stayed away from each other and Adonis has also done his own thing. As mentioned, Sammartino was at the point in his career where he was seen as a special attraction for the MSG house shows though I think there was a feeling that he was nearing the end of his in-ring career as he did not like where the company was going. It is pretty sad to see since he was the guy that pretty much carried the company on his shoulders for the last 20 years and to see that coming to an end felt like the end of an era for the company.

After the steel cage is erected around the ring, Adonis and Savage come out to major heat from the crowd though you could tell some fans were swaying towards cheering for Savage, and then Santana and Sammartino get a big pop from the crowd as they get in the cage. One thing to point out is that despite having debuted the blue bar cage back at Wrestlemania 2, they continue to use the mesh cage for the house shows which I like since it feels more special as it is not used as much. Savage and Adonis waste no time and attack Sammartino and Santana as they enter the cage, and Adonis stomps on Sammartino as Savage rams Santana into the buckle before pounding on him. Santana blocks a ram into the cage and he pounds on Savage before going after Adonis as Savage charges at Sammartino, but Sammartino gets a kick in and rams Savage into the corner as Adonis blocks a ram into the cage only for Santana to pound on him. Savage gets a shot in only for Sammartino to block a ram into the buckle and he pounds on Savage as Adonis gets a kick in on Santana and pounds on him, and Sammartino knocks Savage down and kicks at him as Adonis gets a knee in on Santana and Savage blocks a ram into the cage. Sammartino kicks and pounds on Savage in the corner as Santana blocks a ram into the cage and Sammartino chokes Savage, and Adonis pounds on Santana as Sammartino chokes Savage with his knee in the corner only for Savage to knock him back. He tries to escape out the door only for Sammartino to pull him back in as Santana reverses a whip and sends Adonis into the cage, Adonis makes a dive for the door only for Santana to prevent him from getting out and he slams his head into the mat, and Savage again tries to get out the door only for Sammartino to stop him and he chokes him on the ropes. He takes Savage to the mat only for Savage to stomp on him as Santana chokes Adonis on the mat, and Savage nails Santana in the back and he drops a knee on Santana as Sammartino kicks at Adonis. Sammartino pounds on Adonis as Savage gets a shot in on Santana before climbing up the cage, but both Santana and Sammartino stop him as Adonis lunges for the door only for Santana to stop him. Santana stomps on Adonis as Sammartino yanks Savage back down to the mat and he chokes Savage with his headband, and Santana tries to climb up the cage only for Adonis to nail him before dropping an elbow on Sammartino. Adonis again lunges for the door only for Santana to stop him as Sammartino stomps on Savage, and he kicks and pounds on Savage as Santana pounds on Adonis and Sammartino rams Savage into the buckle. Santana rams the knee into Adonis’ face as Sammartino whips Savage inside out in the corner with Savage getting tied up and Sammartino stomps on him, and he chokes Savage with his knee as Adonis pounds on Santana before hitting a suplex. Adonis tries to climb up the cage only for Sammartino to grab at him as Savage crawls for the door and Adonis makes it to the top of the cage, but Sammartino again grabs him and pulls him down with Adonis crotching himself on the top rope and Santana prevents Savage from crawling out the door. Sammartino pounds on Adonis as Savage kicks Santana away before going up to the middle rope and hitting an axehandle, and Sammartino hooks a camel clutch on Savage only for Adonis to break it up with an elbow. Santana gets a shot in on Savage only for Savage to hoist him up and ram him face first into the cage, and Adonis again rushes for the door only for Sammartino to grab him and ram him into the cage which busts him open. Savage goes up top and hits an axehandle on Santana as Sammartino whips Adonis hard into the corner before stopping Savage from crawling for the door, and Adonis rams Santana into the cage as Sammartino gets a knee in on Savage only for Savage to block a whip into the cage. Savage gets a shot in and rams Sammartino into the buckle only for Sammartino to block a ram into the cage and he gets a shot in on Savage, and Adonis rakes Santana’s face into the cage as Savage crawls for the door only for Sammartino to again stop him and he kicks Savage to the mat. Sammartino gets a knee in on Adonis and pounds on him in the corner before whipping him into the other corner with Adonis flying head first into the cage, and Sammartino keeps Adonis from getting out the door as Santana fires up on Savage only for Savage to get a shot in before going up top only for Santana to nail him coming in. Adonis kicks Sammartino away and tries to crawl out the door only for Sammartino to stop him as Santana pounds on Savage, and he backdrops Savage into the cage before stomping on him as Sammartino pulls Adonis back into the ring and Santana rams Savage into the cage. He stomps on Savage and again rams him into the cage which busts him open, and Sammartino chokes Adonis on the mat as Santana stomps on Savage before attempting to climb out of the cage only for Savage to get a shot in. Adonis knocks Sammartino down and climbs up to the top of the cage before attempting a dive off the cage only for Sammartino to move and Adonis hits the mat, and Savage tries to climb out of the cage and Santana grabs him only for Savage to kick him to the mat. Sammartino pounds on Adonis and rams him into the cage only for Adonis to fire back as Santana prevents Savage from climbing over the cage, and Sammartino and Adonis trade blows as Santana climbs up the cage and pounds on Savage before knocking him off the cage with Savage landing on Adonis. Sammartino rams Savage into the cage and makes his way out the door to the floor as Santana climbs over the top of the cage and lands on the floor, and Santana and Sammartino win the match.

The match itself was pretty fun as both men worked hard for the 10 minutes that they got and put on a fun cage match. Considering how long the feud between Savage and Santana has gone on, it only made sense for the feud to finally end and to have a cage be involved even with Adonis and Sammartino being brought in to spice up the feud. They have built the feud up pretty well and after their solid, if somewhat disappointing tag match the previous month they brought the fire this time around and put on a good brawl. It was also smart that Santana and Savage were the only ones that bled since they’ve had the blood feud and they focused on each other for most of the match. Adonis did his usual overselling including the dive off the cage which was an impressive spot, and Sammartino did his usual thing though you could clearly tell that he was nearing the end of his run as this would end up being his last appearance in MSG until his Hall of Fame induction in 2013. One other thing to mention is the commentary as Gorilla and Alfred have gelled incredibly well as a unit and have made these shows tolerable to watch amidst some of the dreck. But as mentioned, it was pretty clear that the feud has run its course as Savage needs to move onto something else while Adonis was also doing his own thing, and it would be interesting to see where Santana goes from here since some guys on the roster seem to be surpassing him on the face side. The crowd was into the match and popped for Santana and Sammartino when they won, but again it’s worth mentioning that Savage was winning the crowd over and you wondered how long it would be before they pull the trigger on a face turn. Santana and Sammartino get the win over Savage and Adonis inside the cage and both teams finally move on.

Final Grade: ***1/2

Thoughts on this match or the July MSG show in general? Leave them here to be read on-air during the Place to Be Podcast later tonight!

9 thoughts on “Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 7/12/86 (Leave feedback for PTB here)

  1. I remember talking about matches like this back on the old board! What a fantastic blow-off to this feud; its brutal, fast-paced and doesn’t overstay its welcome by being protracted into a self-indulgent epic. Considering the stipulation, this is as long as it should be and puts over the brutality as everyone looks exhausted from a redneck, dirt in the face bar brawl. Adonis is the MVP thanks to his excellent bumping. He really did well as the scape-goat in this feud to help protect Savage.

  2. Jimmy Hart winning the Battle Royal is the greatest thing ever. Valentine commented on this before. When you left the event, what would make you want to tell your friends who didn’t go what happened more : Greg Valentine winning the Battle Royal or Jimmy Hart.

  3. Adrian Adonis in his splendid purple breaks the all-time MSG record for most pounds crashing from the top of a steel cage. Gorilla couldn’t resist a shot at Adrian saying he always wanted to be a Soprano when Bruno abused his groin with the ring ropes.

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