Vintage Vault Reposts are Pay-Per-View recaps with Justin and Scott’s commentary, including star ratings. Please note, these were written in the past and may have dated references. Each repost comes with the audio for the Place to Be Podcast episode where the show is reviewed. Please scroll to the bottom to find your listening and downloading options!
Vintage Vault Repost: The Wrestling Classic
November 7, 1985
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura
Fun Fact: This show is the first official WWF pay-per-view event. The concept was to hold a sixteen-man bragging rights tournament to surround a championship showdown between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. The company also gave away a Rolls Royce to fan Michael Hamley in a contest giveaway that saw over 250,000 fans enter for a chance to win the luxury car.
1) Adrian Adonis (Keith Franke) defeats Corporal Kirchner with a DDT at 2:35
Fun Fact: After a stint with the US military, Mike Kirchner made his pro wrestling debut in 1980. He joined WWF as an enhancement wrestler but was given a gimmick overhaul and push after Vince McMahon realized he had a legitimate military past. The first Corporal Kirchner vignette aired on August 3 and he made his in ring debut as the character on 8/18.
Fun Fact II: Keith Franke made his pro debut in 1974, eventually adopting the ring name Adrian Adonis and a biker gimmick later in the decade. Around the same time, he hooked up with the AWA, where he formed a successful team with Jesse Ventura. Known as the East-West Connection, they would have a yearlong reign as tag team champions beginning in June 1980. In late 1981, both Ventura and Adonis left AWA for the WWF, where they competed as a team as well as singles competitors. With Ventura forced to the sidelines due to blood clot issues, Adonis formed a new team with Dick Murdoch in 1983. On April 17, 1984 they won the tag team titles, which they held until January 1985. During this time, Adonis also began to bulk up, putting on a gross amount of weight as the months rolled along. After he split with Murdoch, he took on Bobby Heenan as a manager for a brief stretch before switching to Jimmy Hart and meandering through the mid-card for the rest of 1985.
Scott: Putting my tape in, I forgot how awesome the old school WWF Home Video open was with the rolling text and the old school footage. Hulk Hogan dropping the elbow on Johnny Rodz in the blue tights. I like how Vince says that this “Wrestlevision” was going to have multi-volumes and the like. There were so many ideas rolling around in that head of his. Our tournament begins with Adrian Adonis, former co-holder of the tag straps and still in his leather outfit before he found his “feminine side” against a clear poser of Sergeant Slaughter, who had bolted for the AWA. Vince tried so hard to put this guy over as the American hero but that just didn’t work. The match wasn’t much and Adonis wins with his finisher. Jimmy Hart seemed to be managing about fifteen guys at this point. The match wasn’t much. Justin must like that Adonis had the Yankees’ “NY” on his boots. Grade: **
Justin: Our opening tournament bout pits the rugged, directionless heel Adrian Adonis against the current All-American flag bearer, Corporal Kirchner. Kirchner would grind early, trying to keep the heavier Adonis on the mat so the weight disadvantage wouldn’t come into play. Adonis would snap off a nice back suplex to turn the tide of the match. Despite the added weight, Adonis was still a great bumper that used crisp strikes when on offense. I have always enjoyed his work in the ring thanks to his selling and mannerisms. His arsenal was solid too as he blocks a suplex and drops Kirchner with a nice DDT for the win. Adonis had some good heat here and our short but decent opener is in the books. Grade: *
2) Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) defeats Nikolai Volkoff (Josip Peruzovic) with a missile dropkick at :06
Fun Fact: The Dynamite Kid, real name Tom Billington, made his debut in Britain in 1975. He was brought over to Calgary in 1978 by Bruce Hart and was instrumental in the training of Bret Hart. Following a stint with Stampede, Dynamite wrestled in Japan from 1980-1984, including a legendary feud with Tiger Mask. Dynamite made his WWF debut on August 29th, 1984 by teaming with Bret to defeat Iron Mike Sharpe and Troy Alexander. One he joined WWF, he continued to also team with his cousin Davey Boy Smith and the team would be dubbed the British Bulldogs.
Scott: This was nothing. Volkoff was singing his national anthem and the Kid caught him for the victory. Grade: DUD
Justin: The high-flying, high-energy Dynamite Kid gets nice pop for his PPV debut and he had to be looked at as an early favorite in the tourney. The crowd stayed hot as Volkoff started singing the Russian National Anthem and that vociferous heat turned to wild cheers, as Kid leapt up to the top rope like cat and pounced off with a missile dropkick that connected with the back of Nikolai’s head. Dynamite fell on top of Volkoff and picked up the quick win to advance. The crowd was great here and I liked Kid take advantage of Volkoff, but the match is nothing. Oh, and I am always sad to see a Russian take the loss in a wrestling ring. Grade: DUD
3) Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) defeats Ivan Putski (Jozef Bednarski) with a roll up at 2:45
Fun Fact: Randy Savage needs no introduction to wrestling fans. He made his much-anticipated WWF debut in the fall of 1985. A former standout minor league baseball player, Savage cut his teeth in Memphis with his father Angelo Poffo in a renegade promotion that the family ran, where he wrestled mostly as a heel, but he did have a face run also. He would move on to Mid-South eventually, where his feud with Jerry Lawler in 1984 was well documented, including a memorable steel cage match. He would jump to New York, and after watching all of the WWF’s managers vie for him week after week, he introduced the world to his valet, and real-life wife, Miss Elizabeth.
Fun Fact II: Jozef Bednarski was a Polish immigrant that migrated to Texas at a young age and eventually joined the pro wrestling circuit in 1968 as Ivan Putski. Putski would work across the Midwest, Texas and eventually in the AWA, using various gimmicks, including runs as a lucky dimwit and a concentration camo survivor, along the way. He would sign on with Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWWF in 1974 and would become embroiled in memorable feuds with Bruiser Brody, Ivan Koloff and Stan Hansen. In October 1979, Putski teamed with Tito Santana to win the WWF Tag Team titles. He would bounce around the country, still competing with WWF as a lower midcard name talent as the 80s rolled on.
Scott: We have the PPV debut of truly one of the greatest superstars of all time. No I’m not talking about Ivan Putski. Although he is a Hall of a Famer, there’s no one greater that the Macho Man. He wouldn’t be in the workrate groove just yet, as coming fresh from Memphis, Savage did he best stalling and posturing around the ring. Putski was still jacked in his mid-40s as the sauce was flowing all over the place during this time. Putski used punches and forearms to get through this match but Macho Man would get the cheap roll up for the victory. Savage moves on to the next round. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Late 1985 was an interesting time for the WWF as lots of big name talent was starting to filter into the promotion from around the country. Of all the talent that would find its way to New York, Randy Savage had the greatest ceiling of them all. There was no doubt that he had all the tools to become of a megastar, all he needed was the opportunity, and that starts here. He really stood out amongst the field of competitors and just had a star presence about him. He also had a major supporter backing him in the commentary booth as Jesse Ventura gushed over Macho Man from bell to bell in every match of his that he called. Here, he talks about how he had helped prep and train Savage for the tournament and even hinted that they may be a tag team someday soon. Savage stalled early and Putski did his best to unnerve him, even spitting in his face at one point. Once he got his hands on Savage, Putski used his power to punch and toss him around the ring. Despite Putski dominating the action, Savage was able to roll him up and steal a win in a match that he got no offense in. Regardless, he moves on to the next round and Polish Power heads home without a win. Grade: 1/2*
4) Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) defeats Davey Boy Smith by referee stoppage at 2:53
Fun Fact: Davey Boy Smith got his start in Britain at the age of 15. He debuted in 1978 and won a match against Bernie Wright. Despite some resistance from his cousin, the Dynamite Kid, Smith made his way over to Calgary around the same time Dynamite did, and both men would feud over the Stampede British Commonwealth Title in 1982. Smith would also have a brief stint in Japan before making his WWF debut in late 1984 as one half of the British Bulldogs.
Scott: This was definitely the most anticipated match of the first round. Two fan favorites and two guys that could really work in the ring. I love how Jesse likes to stir the shit by saying two goodie-goodies will cheat to win anything. This was the best three minutes of the first round as Davey used his size and power to work the smaller Steamboat with a power slam and a headlock but Steamboat with a nice suplex reversal. The match ends when Davey Boy crotches himself on the top rope when missing a cross body. Steamboat looks over to him to show the “competitive babyface” side of the match. This match deserved about five more minutes. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Next up is the most anticipated matchup of the first round, as the luck of the draw delivers us an even matchup with two young studs. We got some early chain work early and that would evolve into a fast paced, crisp, stiff battle. Davey turned the tide and wore Steamboat down by utilizing the press slam, which was a neat weapon here. Steamboat answered with a tremendous delayed suplex, really hoisting Davey up for a while before crashing to the mat. Just as things were really starting to get cooking, Davey went for a dive and ended up crotching himself in the ropes. He collapsed to the mat, writhing in pain and the referee called for the bell. I am not sure if the injury was legit or just a way to move Steamboat along without jobbing Davey Boy. If it was a worked injury, it was a lame finish to what could have been a classic match. I would have loved to see these two get more time to really deliver a classic. Steamboat advances on and Davey heads to the locker room to ice his twig and giggleberries. Grade: **
5) Junkyard Dog (Sylvester Ritter) defeats Iron Sheik (Khosrow Vaziri) with a headbutt at 3:26
Scott: Man, the tape cuts off JYD’s awesome entrance to “Another One Bites the Dust”. Next to Hogan, Junkyard Dog was probably the most popular guys in the whole promotion. Sheik had a great moment in March when he won the Tag Straps with Nikolai Volkoff at Wrestlemania, but the US Express won them back in June. Sure the match was pretty sloppy, but back then the fans weren’t looking for stuff like that. The Dog fights out of the Camel Clutch, actually Sheik gave up on the hold and eventually loses with a simple head butt. Pretty lame ending but the fans get what they want, the Dog wins to move on. Grade: **
Justin: Two longtime wrestling stalwarts square off here as the former Champion Iron Sheik looks to get back on the wining path against the always over JYD. Sheik jumped Dog off the bell to gain an early advantage, but JYD made a hot early comeback. JYD would slip up, allowing Sheik to hook in the camel clutch. After a good battle, JYD was able to sneak out and break loose. Sheik started jawing with the referee, allowing JYD to crack him with a headbutt and win the match. This was solid and short and the crowd was really into JYD. Grade: *1/2
6) Moondog Spot (Larry Booker) defeats Terry Funk by countout at :25
Fun Fact: Larry Booker started his career in the southern US in 1979, eventually settling in Memphis, where he teamed with Wayne Ferris as the Blond Bombers. Managed by Danny Davis, they competed in the legendary Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl against Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee. After splitting with Ferris, Latham resurfaced with a new gimmick and as part of a team under the name Moondog Spot. The Moondogs worked Memphis for a while before hooking up with the WWF as the decade turned. In May 1981, Spot and Rex won the tag team titles from Rick Martel & Tony Garea. The Moondogs would remain as WWF enhancement talent throughout the majority of the 80s before heading back to Memphis.
Fun Fact II: The iconic Terry Funk began his wrestling career in 1965, working for his father’s promotion in Amarillo, TX. In 1975, Terry won the NWA Heavyweight Title, defeating Jack Brisco. The reign lasted fourteen months and came to a close at the hands of Harley Race. After the loss, he started teaming with his brother Dory, Jr. and began to tour the country and eventually Japan as well. After really building a name for himself overseas, the Funks finally hit the WWF in 1985, picking up Jimmy Hart as a manager on the way in.
Fun Fact III: Moondog Spot is subbing for the Missing Link.
Scott: I was hoping to see crazy Funk beat the hell out of Spot, but instead we get some silly antics with draws and handshakes and Spottie gets the countout win. Why the hell do you put this tournament together if two of these matches were barely thirty seconds? This is so ridiculous. We could have had a simple five-seven minute match instead of all this crap. Grade: DUD
Justin: The wily veteran Terry Funk heads to the ring for our next opening round match. His opponent is the dimwitted Moondog and Funk and Jimmy Hart figured they could dupe him into an easy loss. So, he strikes a deal with Spot where they would both forfeit the match in lieu of having to fight each other. As Spot was leaving the ring, Funk ambushed him and then battled to the floor. Things backfired, as Spot was able to yank Funk off the apron and slide into the ring in time to win the match and garner the major upset. This was funny and harmless, but it would have been cool to see Funk advance. Grade: DUD
7) Tito Santana (Merced Solis) defeats Magnificent Muraco with a cradle at 4:13
Fun Fact: Don Muraco is a former Hawaii state amateur wrestling champion that jumped into the pro game in 1970. He trained up and down the pacific coast before accepting an offer to join the AWA, where he remained until 1973, which is when he left for San Francisco. A year later, he ventured south to Florida, where his star began to glow a bit brighter. In 1975, he returned to San Francisco, continuing to collect gold along the way. It was during this run that he first worked as a heel, a role that would suit him quite well as his career rolled on. Over the next four years, Muraco bounced around from California to Florida to Hawaii, honing his craft. In 1981, Muraco finally headed back north, this time signing on with the WWF. He would defeat Pedro Morales for the IC title, which he held for five months. He briefly left the promotion for a stint in Mid-Atlantic, but returned to New York in late 1982 and debuted alongside new manager Captain Lou Albano. On January 22, Muraco defeated Morales to once again become IC champion. After a legendary feud with Jimmy Snuka, Muraco would begin to develop into a tremendous arrogant, pompous, disrespectful heel. He would drop the belt to Tito Santana in February 1984 and would switch managers, this time hooking up with the nefarious Mr. Fuji. Muraco & Fuji would deliver a tremendous mix of villainous mischief and campy humor while developing into one of the most memorable duos in WWF history.
Scott: We have a rematch of a pretty awesome feud for the Intercontinental Title from 1983-84. Muraco was an awesome heel in the early-80s but by the time the PPV era starts here he’s kind of lost in the shuffle. Tito is very popular and the Intercontinental Champion. Jesse makes a great point when he says Tito was dumb for being in this tournament because if he’s hurt and can’t defend the title in thirty days he’d have to forfeit the title. That’s why he’s the greatest color commentator of all time. The match is pretty good but we have a silly schmozz at the end where Muraco gets the three count, but the ref saw Tito’s leg on the rope and Tito hits the surprise cradle for the victory. Jesse has a point though, as the ref didn’t tell Muraco his three count didn’t count. What a booking mess. They make this tournament, and then book it as they go along. Grade: **
Justin: On paper, this was easily in the running for most evenly matched bout of the opening round, as it comprised of two great veterans with history between them, ready to smack each other around. Muraco got off to the hot start, using a good mix of strikes and a power assault. Tito fired back with his aggressive offense, rallying the crowd and keeping Muraco on his heels. Once Muraco turned things back around, I was reminded just how much I loved his power offense, which was different than many on the roster at the time. As the match wound down, it looked like Muraco was going to advance after pinning Santana. However, Tito had gotten his foot on the rope and just popped up, cradled Muraco and the referee counted to three, giving Tito the win. I am fine with the Dusty finish, but I hated that they didn’t really explain it or officially restart the match. Instead, Tito just recovered, cradled and won and the ref went along with it. This was a fun match with a lame finish that was just a little too short, something that is quickly becoming a trend on this show. Grade: **
8) Paul Orndorff defeats Cowboy Bob Orton via disqualification when Orton uses his arm cast at 6:29
Fun Fact: After a brief run in professional football, Paul Orndorff focused his sights on pro wrestling in 1976, when he hooked up with the Mid-South territory in Memphis. After leaving Memphis, Orndorff continued to win gold across various NWA territories, before settling in Alabama in 1979. He returned to Mid-South in late 1980, working various opponents until early 1982, when he moved on to Georgia. After a brief run in Japan, Orndorff signed with the WWF in late 1983. By early 1984, he was aligned with Roddy Piper and was becoming one of the hottest heels in the territory. Now dubbed “Mr. Wonderful”, Orndorff worked with Piper and manager Bobby Heenan to terrorize WWF faces, eventually leading them into a mega-feud with Hulk Hogan as 1984 was coming to a close. Orndorff teamed with Piper to battle Hogan & Mr. T at the first Wrestlemania. After some miscommunication, Orndorff ate the pin and would become the scapegoat for the loss. After Piper officially turned on him, Orndorff became a hot face, dumping Heenan, and aligning with Hogan. A bitter Heenan would then place a $25,000 bounty on anyone that could put Orndorff on the shelf. The bounty would eventually be increased to $50,000 as the weeks went on.
Fun Fact II: The son of a pro wrestler, Bob Orton, Jr. began his career in Florida and Georgia in 1972. After a brief stop in New York, Orton would head to Mid-Atlantic as the decade turned. He would be involved in a memorable angle where he and Dick Slater attempted to end Ric Flair’s career to earn a bounty set up by Harley Race. After that run, Orton returned to WWF in 1984, taking on a role as Roddy Piper’s bodyguard. In early 1985, Orton’s forearm was broken during a match with Jimmy Snuka. From that point forward, Orton would wear a cast on his arm, long after his injury had healed, often using it as a weapon.
Scott: We actually have a match that’s from a storyline. Orndorff was left in the ring after his team lost at Wrestlemania and became a sympathetic babyface. Here he takes on Ace, the henchman of one Roddy Piper, who was Orndorff’s partner at MSG in March and walked out on him even though it was Orton’s fault when he hit Mr. Wonderful with the cast instead of Hulk Hogan. This was the longest match of the first round and it had the most heat based solely on the facts I presented. That made it pretty entertaining until Orton used the cast to knock Orndorff out and got disqualified. The new hot face wins and moves on to the next round. Grade: **
Justin: The final match of the opening round brings us another battle of great veteran workers that could deliver a solid match in any setting. After some early chain work, Orndorff took control, working Orton’s arm and grinding him to the mat as the crowd cheered him on. After being such a tremendous heel, Orndorff’s face turn was working well here, thanks to his friendship with Hulk Hogan. Orton would wrest control away and put on a nice little clinic of heel offense. Monsoon and Ventura were good on commentary here, putting over the bounty angle and wondering if anyone would cash in tonight. As the match wore on, I really felt like Orton should get the win and I thought it was coming when he clocked Orndorff with the cast. However, the referee caught him in the act and called for the DQ. I really enjoyed this match and the heelwork by Orton was great and helped further his character as well. Orndorff moves on, but I thought Orton should have gotten the duke here. Grade: 2**1/2
9) Dynamite Kid defeats Adrian Adonis after Adonis collided with Jimmy Hart at 5:23
Scott: We move on to the next round here where the time limit goes up five minutes and the matchups are more interesting. Adonis still had some good moves in the ring considering he beefed up a bit from his tag team days. He hadn’t really porked out yet but Gorilla did mention the weight gain. Here we begin to see Jesse involves himself in something as he leaves the table mid-match to talk to Macho Man about the next match in the tournament. Adonis starts to wear down Kid with a headlock and some strikes but eventually Kid hits a gut-wrench suplex to get out of the headlock but Adonis regains control and works the leg over. Adonis puts Kid in a pretty bad Scorpion Deathlock but continues to work the leg. Dynamite would get out of it and then both guys go back and forth. We can see the bookers made these later matches better than the throwaway first round matches. Some heel miscommunication leads to Kid getting the win and moving on to the semifinals. Grade: **1/2
Justin: After a quick win in the opening round, Kid wouldn’t be able to sneak attack Adonis the way he did Nikolai earlier in the night. Kid would try to use his speed early, but Adonis worked to ground and slow him down a bit, zeroing in on Kid’s leg to keep him on the mat. In a really good spot, Adonis snapped Kid over and hooked him in to a tight scorpion deathlock. Dynamite fought out of it and forged a nice comeback leading to the win after Adonis collided with Jimmy Hart on the apron. In a weird twist, Adonis had his foot on the rope during the pin, but it goes unnoticed by everyone. This was a fine match that saw great bumping from two of the best bumpers in the promotion. Grade: **
10) Randy Savage defeated Ricky Steamboat after using a foreign object at 3:22
Scott: Over a year and a half before the epic war in Pontiac, The Macho Man and the Steamer go heads up in this quarterfinal match. These two actually know each other well as they had some memorable house show matches during the summer of 1985. There’s a great one at Boston Garden where both men are busted open and the match is almost twenty minutes. There’s no room to give them that kind of time here, but heck why not give them a few more minutes. Steamboat has the advantage with a couple of really nice moves but Savage wins with nefarious means, using a foreign object in his tights. The war between these two will continue to brew, but Savage moves on. Grade: **
Justin: As this tournament unfolds, we are really getting treated to some hidden gems, and this may be the greatest of them all on paper. Savage jumps Steamboat before the bell but Ricky would fight back, leading to a brawl on the floor. Both men were so damn fast, crisp and graceful in the ring, it was just so enjoyable to watch. For the second straight match, Ventura really pushes his relationship with Savage. That Jesse training is clear in the finish as Savage pops Steamboat with a foreign object to steal the win. This was just a glimpse of what these two greats could do in a match, but as is this was just criminally short and never got into the groove you knew they could deliver. Savage’s run continues and the Dragon packs his bags and heads home. Grade: **1/2
11) Junkyard Dog defeats Moondog Spot at :27
Scott: A pure throwaway match to get the JYD through to the next round. This is so unorganized that there’s no referee in the ring and the Dog had to count himself. So ridiculous. Grade: DUD
Justin: As great as our last sprint was, this disaster was equally as sloppy. There was no referee in the ring to start the match, so Spot just decides to attack Dog and the bell rings. JYD smacked Spot down, covered him and counted his own pinfall. And for some reason, the bell rings and the fall counted! This was stupid and confusing and the announcers had no idea what was going on either. I guess the referee was late coming out to the ring and they wanted to keep the show rolling along briskly. The match was never going to be any good, so it doesn’t matter in the end but it was confusing as hell. Spot’s miracle run ends here at the hands of his canine counterpart. Grade: DUD
12) Tito Santana and Paul Orndorff wrestle to a double countout at 8:03
Scott: Another unique encounter in the tournament with two babyfaces going at it. Once again Jesse stirs the shit by says the “old” Orndorff is ready to erupt. I really enjoyed this match as both men grappled in the ring with submission wear down moves, and then it really picked up when they both brawled outside the ring and were counted out. Cheesy ending with both men out, but that was a good decision because Dynamite Kid and Randy Savage will be a better match than anybody Junkyard Dog would face. It’s unfortunate because this was a fun match to watch had it had a better ending. Grade: **1/2
Justin: The quarterfinals wrap up with an unexpected battle between upper mid card face studs. The bounty storyline was brought up once again by Ventura, as he wondered whether Tito had it in him to try to injure Orndorff and cash in. Another storyline woven into the bout centered around Tito’s taped up thigh. They both worked on the mat early, with Tito trying to grind Orndorff down as much as possible. They would trade off control and countermoves as the match wore on. Jesse kept waiting for heel antics from one of the two men, but his requests went unanswered as Orndorff kept things clean and worked over Tito’s leg with precision. Tito’s selling was very good as well, as he really put over the severity of the leg injury. The two would eventually tumble to the floor and business picked up a bit out there, as they started to slug it out. Unfortunately, neither man would make it back inside and the match ended in a double countout, with both men eliminated from the tournament. This was a fun match with some good storyline meat, but as is the trend tonight, it was just too short to really ever get going. Grade: **
13) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) defeats Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) by disqualification when Bob Orton interferes at 7:15; Hogan retains WWF Championship
Fun Fact: Terry Bollea was a lifelong wrestling fan that was discovered in a gym by the Briscos and eventually trained by Hiro Matsuda. He made his pro debut in Florida, but quickly burnt out thanks to Matsuda’s strict training regimen. After some time away, Bollea craved to return to the business, and along with friend Ed Leslie, he got back into the game in the Alabama territory. After a run as the Boulder Brothers, Bollea & Leslie were offered more money to jump to Memphis by Jerry Jarrett, and they quickly accepted. After a local TV appearance where he dwarfed Lou Ferrigno, Jarrett dubbed him Terry “The Hulk” Boulder. In late 1979. Bollea was lured to New York by Vince McMahon, Sr. and was given the in ring name of Hulk Hogan. After a successful heel run and spending some time honing his skills in Japan, Bollea was offered a role in Rocky III. McMahon refused to let him participate in the movie, so Hogan quite the WWF and joined AWA instead. An early heel run turned into a red-hot face turn and the birth of Hulkamania. As 1983 ticked away, Hogan saw the writing on the wall and where AWA was headed, so he decided to return to New York. On 12/27, Hogan returned to WWF TV and solidified his New York face persona by saving Bob Backlund from an attack a few weeks later. On 1/23, Hogan shocked the WWF fans by knocking off the Iron Sheik to win the WWF Championship. His star would explode as the year went on, and along with Vince McMahon, he was the man that would help lead the promotion from a strong territory into a multimillion dollar national wrestling company.
Fun Fact II: Canadian Roderick Toombs left home as a young teenager, travelling the country and eventually make his pro wrestling debut at the age of fifteen. In 1973, he hit the United States, beginning a stretch where the newly named Roddy Piper competed as an enhancement talent in Kansas City, Texas and with the AWA. Eventually he landed in California and it was there that he received his first sustained push. By late 1975, he was a top heel in NWA’s San Francisco and Los Angeles territories. In 1980, he moved across the country and joined NWA’s Mid-Atlantic territory, igniting a heated feud with Ric Flair. He also spent time in Georgia as a heel color announcer. Piper would eventually turn face and become embroiled in tremendous feuds with Flair, Sgt. Slaughter and Greg Valentine, the latter with whom he had a memorable, bloody dog collar match with at the inaugural Starrcade. In late 1983, he turned heel once again and fulfilled his final NWA dates because in 1984, he would be heading to New York. After joining the promotion as a manager for Paul Orndorff and David Schultz, Piper would step back into the ring full time as a top flight feel. Later that year, he created his infamous talk show segment, Piper’s Pit. Much of 1984 was centered around his brutal feud with Jimmy Snuka but by 1985, he was elevated to the main event and entered into a feud with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan.
Fun Fact III: This feud was still raging on after they had faced off on separate sides at Wrestlemania. Hogan had been fending off Piper and Bob Orton throughout 1985, and the big one-on-one title match was set up to the showcase of this PPV.
Scott: I loved when Piper came into the ring with the Bagpipers, such pomp and arrogance from one of the greatest heels of all time. This is the second time this year that Hogan and Piper met for the World Title. In February at “War to Settle the Score” their match ended in a crazy chaotic schmozz that led to the Wrestlemania match. This match was entertaining with a lot of action and the crowd was hot. Piper never seemed to want the title, he just wanted to beat Hogan down and take him out. Hogan incidentally was still using “Eye of the Tiger” at this point. Hogan wins in an entertaining match, but again Piper doesn’t job. Grade: **1/2
Justin: The top heel in the promotion, Roddy Piper, marches to the ring here, heat raining down on him as he looks to finally wrest away his coveted gold. For as hated as Piper was, Hulk Hogan was equally as over with the fans, garnering a thunderous pop for his arrival. The match got off to a wild start, with both men spilling to the floor and brawling around the ring. Hogan dominated early, but Piper would brawl his way into control, eventually hooking in a sleeperhold. Hogan started to fade, but tumbled out to the floor to break the hold. After a ref bump, Piper grabbed a chair but Hogan was able to dodge the assault and fight Piper off. Seeing his man in trouble, Bob Orton hopped into the ring, leading to a DQ finish. After the bell, Orton and Piper laid a nice beating down on Hogan until Orndorff made the save. The match was just OK and a basic brawl for these two, but the heat was off the charts. Piper’s heat remains as he isn’t defeated, but Hogan still has the gold around his waist. Grade: *1/2
14) Randy Savage defeats Dynamite Kid with a cradle at 4:50
Scott: This is a great matchup of two risk takers and athletic workers. Savage still hasn’t peaked as I mentioned earlier, but we see some glimpses in this tournament. Here he goes move for move with the Kid, and I can honestly say that I would have loved like seven or eight more minutes for these guys. And why not? There’s no semifinal match involving Junkyard Dog so give some more time to this match. The moment of the whole show came at the end of this match, where Dynamite Kid hits a crazy Superplex off the top rope, but Savage hooks the legs for a sweet cradle to steal the win. This was such an entertaining match that deserved more time. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Another tournament match is upon us, and with it we are given another workrate treat. As this show has unfolded, it was becoming clear that the tournament was being used to showcase Randy Savage as a legitimate player in the promotion. The two would work to an early stalemate, and just like in Savage’s last match, the speed on display here was just off the charts. It was obvious that Savage was starting to wear down a bit in his third match as he was just a step slower than Dynamite, who would take advantage by unleashing a tremendously stiff top rope superplex. Savage would recover just long enough to hook Dynamite’s legs into a cradle to steal the crafty win. Once again, we are robbed of a classic thanks to time constraints, but this was wild and hella fun while it lasted. Grade: **1/2
*** Junkyard Dog earns a bye. Between these matches, the Rolls Royce was presented to contest winner Michael Hamley. ***
15) Junkyard Dog defeats Randy Savage by countout at 9:42
Scott: Our main event and tournament final pits the new hot heel in the company against, next to Hogan, the most popular babyface. Even though on paper this match is a workrate disaster it probably was the best combination to get the fans really going. Savage goes back to his Memphis ways by walking all around the ring and frustrating JYD. Once the match got going it was all punches and head butts as Savage is selling the fact this is his fourth match of the night. At least they pimped this as the last match of the night instead of the title match, not that it matters since both matches ended in schmozzes. This is not a knock on Savage, but how can the finals of a tournament end in a countout? They should have had JYD go over clean, as it doesn’t hurt Savage at all and legitimizes a tournament that’s been full of schmozz finishes and lousy two minute crap matches. Maybe with this being Savage’s first real showcase with the company they didn’t want him to lose clean. Wrestling four times in the night and JYD being a legit superstar to me doesn’t hurt anything and make JYD look stronger. The Dog hits the pinnacle of his WWF career here and Savage shows he’s got the conditioning to battle anybody anytime. Grade: **
Justin: Macho Man’s great run was set to come to end here, regardless of result. The only question would be whether he would reign supreme or go home a tough luck loser, coming up just short. The fans were solidly behind JYD as Savage stalled off the bell, trying to dodge the Dog, who was much fresher at this point. JYD would toss Savage around the ring before hooking on a bear hug to try to wear Savage down for good. As JYD continued to control, Ventura ranted and raved about how unfair this was to Savage, with JYD receiving a bye and getting to rest during the previous round. Savage was clearly hurting and worn out as he tried to battle back, and eventually he turned the tide by taking the match to the floor. He would beat on Dog relentlessly out of the ring, including two stiff top rope axehandle drops and a chair shot. I liked the strategy Savage showed here, taking the fight to the floor and assaulting Dog, preventing him from getting into the ring to recover. They would finally make it back inside, but that was short-lived as Savage took a sick over the top rope bump back to the floor. That would prove to be too much as Savage could not return to the ring, as JYD would win the match by count out and take home the tournament crown as well. The finish was kind of weird, but it kept Savage strong and made him look like a gutty warrior who just took one too many stiff blows to make it back inside. After the match, Ventura got into JYD’s face, defending his boy and threatening revenge. This was a good brawl and I liked the story of the match, I just thought Savage should have won the tournament as he clearly was the star from the start. Grade: **
Scott: The official first ever WWF PPV is a mess. The tournament is the focus but it’s full of short comedy second matches and non-finishes like countouts. The Chicago crowd was pretty hot throughout, and back in those days workrate was secondary to seeing the good guys win and the bad guys lose. So in that aspect the tournament worked out fine, but in modern day thinking the show was a wreck. They didn’t make this an annual thing that’s probably a good thing. The two top faces, Hogan and JYD, get big victories and the new hot heel, Savage, has a good showing as well. It’s honestly a tough show to watch but it is only two hours so if you have a copy, I guess it doesn’t hurt to throw it in for a time killer. Final Grade: C
Justin: To me, this entire show was one giant tease. It was filled with matches that had so much potential and could have been loaded with, excuse the pun, wrestling classics. I guess it works as an appetizer to get the characters over on a national level to help draw crowds to local houses, but man, what could have been. Savage was clearly the best positioned competitor here and looked like a star from his first entrance of the night. JYD gets the win to send the fans home happy, but Savage was the true winner on the night. Hogan and Piper have another brawl, ending in a schmozz and their feud rolls on another day. Outside of missed potential, there isn’t much else going on here as it’s just one short match after another, but heading back to the early Federation Era years is always a treat. Final Grade: D+