Bayless’ Look Back: WWF at Boston Garden, February 8th, 1986


February 8, 1986

Your hosts are Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon

Tonight, the top matches include Don Muraco vs Ricky Steamboat in a “Martial Arts” match, Randy Savage vs. Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title, and Roddy Piper vs. Bruno Sammartino in a cage match.

Paul Christy vs. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo

Christy wrestled with Poffo in Memphis for the ICW promotion that was run by Poffo’s dad. He was in the WWF for a brief time in the 80’s and was in his late 40’s here. Lanny tosses some poems out to the crowd then recites one that disses the “Piper’s Pit,” which the crowd approves. The match starts with both guys going back and forth. Christy works the arm for a bit as the fans start a boring chant and rightfully so. Poffo then gets a hiptoss after a criss-cross spot and he now works the arm of Christy. The announcers hype up WrestleMania 2 as this match is putting me to sleep. Christy kicks Poffo through the ropes as a few fans applaud as it was a move that finally didn’t involve working the arm. Christy does some generic heel taunts then slams Poffo’s head off of the turnbuckle before knocking him off the apron. Poffo snaps his neck off of the top rope but the referee steps in front of him. Poffo beats on Christy in the corner as the ref warns him not to use a closed fist. Christy bails as Poffo follows him with a springboard forearm smash. Back inside, Poffo hits a dropkick then puts him away with a moonsault (9:56) *.

Thoughts: The last minute or so was decent but everything else was a total bore. If you like armbars, this is the match for you.

Barry O. vs. Sivi Afi

Afi had not debuted on TV yet but was billed as being the cousin of Snuka during the episode of “Championship Wrestling” that aired earlier this day. He was wearing the same trunks as Snuka here and the announcers brought up Snuka but never mentioned that they were cousins. Afi shows off his agility then works the arm. He hits a terrible looking dropkick before going back to the arm. Barry misses an elbow drop then Afi goes back to the arm. Barry catches Afi on a crossbody attempt and hits a backbreaker, which the crowd applauds. Barry rakes the eyes then gets a nearfall with a powerslam. He grabs a chinlock then tosses Afi outside as the crowd starts cheering for Barry! He pokes his eye then blocks a sunset flip attempt. Afi comes back with a suplex for a nearfall. Afi chops him down then tries and fails to pump up the crowd. He hits a slam but Barry got his knees up on a splash attempt. Barry goes up top but Afi tosses him off then finishes him off with a flying body press (7:41) *1/2. The crowd applauded the finish.

Thoughts: Boston actually had a heel section in the crowd back then, which was a bit odd to see. Afi was clearly a Snuka knockoff but had none of the charisma or wrestling ability. He wasn’t terrible in the ring but he wasn’t that great either. The match was fine for what it was though.

Tiger Chung Lee vs. George “The Animal” Steele

No Albano here tonight. Steele takes the kendo stick away from Lee and chases him out of the ring. He then rips the stick in half and tosses it away as Lee is pissed. They stall for a bit then Steele chases Lee out of the ring again. Lee attacks Steele then stomps away. Steele goes outside and tries to put the barricade into the ring. He re-enters but gets caught by Lee. Steele pulls something out of his tights and hits Lee in the throat. The referee looks for the object that Steele is able to put back away. He then slaps Lee with a slipper several times and tries to bite the turnbuckle but gets hit from behind. Steele knocks him down and goes back to the turnbuckle as the ref talks to Lee. He then rams Lee off of the exposed turnbuckle for the win (5:24) DUD.

Thoughts: This was pretty bad even for the low standards of a Steele match. It was entertaining for the first minute or so but went on for far too long. Lee came back to the WWF a few weeks prior and settled into his jobber role.

Big John Studd vs. Hillbilly Jim

No Heenan tonight, either. They trade chops then Jim attempts to slam Studd, who escapes then ducks outside for a breather. Back inside, they fight over an arm wringer as Gorilla said that Studd can bench press 700lbs. They are still fighting over the move then Studd puts on an armbar. Jim escapes by using forearm smashes but Studd hits him right back. He slams Jim then stomps away. He then rams him into the corner before putting on a bearhug. This match is heatless by the way. Jim breaks the hold but Studd headbutts him down. Studd gets caught with a shot to the gut coming off of the middle turnbuckle in a spot you could see coming a mile away. Jim hits a few headbutts but fails to slam Studd. They are now brawling outside then Jim rams Studd into the post and rolls inside as the bell rings, winning the match by count out (7:24) ½*. After the match, Jim said that he wants the $15,000 to slam Studd.

Thoughts: Really dull in-ring action, which you would expect from these two. However, this was a set up for a rematch the following month in Boston (which never took place)

WWF Intercontinental Title Match

Randy “Macho Man” Savage w/ Elizabeth vs. Tito Santana (Champion)

Tito shoves Savage off of a lockup to start. Savage then bails after reaching the ropes when Tito went behind him. Back inside, they take it to the mat and end in a standoff. Savage climbs up top for some heel heat then thumbs Santana in the eye before bailing yet again. Savage jaws at a fan but Tito attacks him from behind. Savage rams Tito into the post but gets caught coming off of the top rope. Santana slams Savage, who bails as Tito went for the flying forearm. Savage outsmarts Tito but Santana catches his leg and hits a back suplex for two. Savage rakes the eyes then gets a nearfalls with a double axe handle and a clothesline. Savage climbs up top and hits a double axe handle but that only gets two. The fans are buying all of these falls too. Santana fights back but Savage rakes the eyes again. He tosses Tito to the floor then follows him out with a double axe handle. He rolls back inside then pulls Tito back on the apron. Tito blocks a turnbuckle smash then hits a few forearm smashes. He stomps a mudhole into Savage then hits an elbow smash off of the middle turnbuckle for two. Tito unloads on Savage in the corner but runs into a knee on a charge as both men are down. Savage covers but only gets two as the referee gets hit in the process. Tito gets a small package for two. Savage hurts his knee after missing a knee drop then Tito targets that for a bit. He puts on the figure four in the middle of the ring but Savage is able to roll over and reach the ropes. Savage is on the apron and reaches into his tights but Santana suplexes him back into the ring. Savage blocks a figure four attempt then tries to escape as Tito is pulling his leg. The ref steps between Tito as Savage is on the apron with the camera showing him pull something out of his tights. Tito ducks a punch and tries to bring him back into the ring with a back suplex but Savage hits him with the object then covers for the win and the belt (10:29) ***1/2. Savage tosses the object outside and the camera shows the object on the ground.

Thoughts: Really good match. The crowd was pro-Savage and popped for the finish but did not boo Tito during the match. The in-ring action was markedly more athletic than any other match up until this point. These two had awesome matches together and this was no exception.

Backstage, Gorilla and Jesse are with Savage. Gorilla asks him about cheating as Savage denies as he limps around. Savage says that Tito never hurt him once in a match as Jesse accuses of Gorilla of making up Watergate-like scandals about Savage.

Hart Foundation vs. Killer Bees

Jimmy Hart was not here either. He was in Philadelphia for the house show that was going on at the Spectrum this same day. Blair starts by backing Hart into the ropes. Gorilla plugs WrestleMania 2 and the Slammy Awards as Blair hiptosses Hart. Blair then uses his momentum to take Hart out of the ring as he had him in a hammerlock. Brunzell tags and puts Hart in an armbar. He makes the blind tag to Blair, who catches Hart with a small package that gets two. Blair works the arm but Hart escapes and makes the tag. Neidhart catches Blair with a knee then distracts the ref so Hart can attack him. Brunzell runs in and the ref yells at him, allowing the heels to double-team his partner. The Hart Foundation neutralize Blair in the corner with frequent quick tags and double-team moves. Neidhart puts Blair in a bearhug, who escapes, but ends up getting rammed into the corner. Blair pulls up on a dropkick attempt by Neidhart and maeks the tag. Brunzell goes wild on Neidhart. He hits an atomic drop and a dropkick then chases Hart away. The crowd applauds Bret when he knees Brunzell from the apron. The Hart Foundation then use the Demolition Decapitation move on Brunzell. Hart slams him then tags Neidhart, who tosses Brunzell to the floor. Hart slams him on the floor then gets run off by Blair. Back in the ring, Neidhart uses a front facelock to ground Brunzell, who gets drilled in the back with a drink that someone tossed from the stands. The Hart’s use more double teams behind the referee’s back. Blair breaks up a pin attempt then Brunzell comes back with a dropkick on Hart as both men are down. The match breaks down briefly as Neidhart places Bret on top behind the ref’s back but that only gets two. Brunzell gets two off of a sunset flip then Hart puts him in a front facelock. Brunzell makes the tag but the ref did not see it and orders Blair back on the apron. Brunzell gets whipped into the corner but avoids a charge then crawls through the legs of Neidhart and makes the tag. Blair beats on both guys. In a really cool spot, Blair whipped Neidhart against the ropes and that sent Hart flying off of the apron and into the guardrail, which ended up falling over. Blair then puts Neidhart in a sleeper hold as Hart eventually gets up and breaks up. Blair and Neidhart collide in an awkward spot as both men are down. Brunzell chases Hart away but ends up hitting Blair with an elbow drop as the ref was ordering Brunzell back into his corner then covers for the win, even though he was not the legal man (15:41) ***. Gorilla is upset that the Hart Foundation stole the match because of the referee’s inability to figure out who was the legal man.

Thoughts: Another good match. The Harts showed a lot of heel personality here without Hart at ringside. They came across like bigger stars than usual too. It was around this time that they became one of the better teams in wrestling but weren’t quite there yet. The Bees were always solid and this helped start a feud that produced a lot of quality matches.

Martial Arts Match

Don Muraco w/ Mr. Fuji vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Both men have to wear judo jackets per the stipulations. Steamboat tosses the jacket at Muraco, who then tells Jesse that he is dedicating his piledriver to him. Steamboat chops Muraco, who ducks outside for a breather. Back inside, Muraco avoids Steamboat’s karate poses. Steamboat slides under his legs and hits an enziguiri that sends him to the floor. Muraco goes back in the ring and takes him down by the hair then ducks out to consult with Fuji. Muraco shoves down Steamboat when he re-enters then they have an Irish whip sequence that ends with Muraco getting chopped down. Steamboat uses a judo toss then slams Muraco as the fans go wild. Steamboat takes him over with a side headlock. Steamboat leap frogs Muraco but Fuji grabbed his leg. Still, Steamboat is able to slam Muraco and goes back to the side headlock. Muraco’s belt falls off and the ref tosses it outside. Steamboat works a chinlock now then uses Muraco’s jacket to choke him out, which Gorilla says is legal. Muraco comes back with a Samoan drop. They brawl outside as fans pelt Muraco with garbage. Fuji holds up a chair then Muraco slingshots Steamboat into it, which the crowd boos. Steamboat is bleeding from the forehead as Muraco suplexes him back into the ring. He then takes the belt off of Steamboat’s jacket and whips him in the back before choking him out as Steamboat’s arms are trapped in his jacket sleeves. The jacket is now off as Muraco drops a knee. He chokes out Steamboat, who desperately tries to fight out and does by raking the eyes. Muraco clotheslines Steamobat in the corner then chokes out Steamboat again, with the blood of Steamboat on his jacket sleeve. Steamboat eventually fights back with chops but walks into a vicious clothesline. Muraco points at Jesse and tries for the tombstone but Steamboat rings his bell with his feet while he was held up in the air. Steamboat chops him down then pumps up the crowd with his karate poses. He beats on Muraco in the corner then slams his head off of the mat. He heads up top and lands a chop to the head of Muraco. Steamboat charges and gets dumped over the top rope but is able to skin the cat. Muraco goes for a vertical suplex but Steamboat floats over then gets the win with a reverse rollup (17:16) ***1/2 After the match, Muraco beats the shit out of Steamboat with Fuji’s cane as the crowd is pelting him with garbage.

Thoughts: This was awesome. Steamboat’s selling was top notch as were Muraco’s heel mannerisms. This feud was still pretty hot too and the finish sets up for more matches in the future, which was a good thing.

Steel Cage Match

Bruno Sammartino vs. Roddy Piper

Piper gets instant heel heat by wearing a Chicago Bears Superbowl Champion shirt with the number “46” written on the back (that was the amount of points they scored against the Patriots in the Super Bowl) then puts up posters of William “Refridgerator” Perry and Jim McMahon in the cage. That is fucking awesome and I am from Boston. Bruno attacks Piper as soon as he enters the cage and they slug it out. He rams Piper into the cage repeatedly then slams his head off of the mat. Piper is already busted opened as Bruno attempts to stuff one of the posters in Piper’s mouth. He tears off Piper’s shirt and chokes him out as the crowd is going nuts. Bruno beats on Piper’s chest with forearm smashes as there is blood all over him. Bruno calls for the door to be opened but Piper hits him from behind with a low blow. Piper is up and gushing blood as he kicks Bruno several times. The crowd starts up a “Bruno” chant as Piper destroys him. He chokes out Bruno with his shirt then goes for the door but Bruno grabs his legs. Piper goes for the door again but Bruno grabs him. Piper tries to climb out but Bruno grabs his leg. Bruno punches away and goes for the door but Piper makes the save. Piper’s tights are pulled down halfway by Bruno, who then hits him with a barrage of punches. Bruno calls for the door but Piper pulls him back inside then hits him with mounted punches. He now bites Bruno then stomps away. Piper tries to climb out but Bruno hits him low. Bruno calls for the door and slowly crawls over and stops him but Bruno is able to grab a wooden chair and hits Piper a few times then escapes the cage for the win (8:40) ***1/4. Inside the cage, Piper, who is wearing a crimson mask, takes the chair and destroys it out of anger.

Thoughts: A bloody, intense brawl. The most heated match on the show, which is saying something. Bruno could still use a crazy brawling-style offense well, even at his age. This match was also Piper’s specialty and the two delivered. Even though the promos on TV were getting stale for this feud, the match was awesome and the crowd was nuts the entire time.

Final Thoughts: One of the better house shows from the 1980’s. The last half of this show was incredible and when the hour-long version of the show makes it to the network, make sure to watch it as it is really fun. To show you an idea of how much depth the WWF roster had at this time, they were running a second show this day in Philadelphia that had JYD vs. Terry Funk, Dream Team vs. British Bulldogs, and Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy. This was the better show if you ask me though. Again, if you get the chance to see this show, make sure to watch the last four matches.