*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
The Big Event: Throwdown in Toronto
August 28, 1986
Toronto, Ontario, CN
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valiant & Ernie Ladd
Match #1: Killer Bees defeat Jimmy Jack Funk & Hoss Funk when Jim Brunzell pinned Jimmy Jack with an inside cradle at 6:53
Fun Fact I: Coming from a successful wrestling family, Jesse Barr began wrestling in Florida in the early 1980s. After a stint in Puerto Rico, he showed up in WWF in April 1986 as the storyline brother of Terry & Hoss Funk. He would remain in the role until June 1987, when he left the promotion. He would head south to Texas and eventually on to Portland before calling it a career.
Fun Fact II: The legendary Dory Funk, Jr. made his wrestling debut in 1963. He would join the NWA in 1968 and won the Heavyweight Title in February 1969, defeating Gene Kiniski. He would hold the title until dropping it to Harley Race in May 1973. He would compete across the multitude of NWA territories throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, before joining the WWF January 1986 alongside his brother Terry. Renamed Hoss, the Funks wreaked havoc in early in 1986, competing at WrestleMania II and defeating Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog. He would hang around through 1986 before leaving the promotion and winding down his in ring career.
Scott: Our opener pits one of the most exciting teams in the WWF against the repackaged Funks. Terry is not on the scene, but kayfabe brother Jimmy Jack Funk is there instead. Jesse Barr is a former Florida Heavyweight Champion who moved around the south before coming in to help out Terry and Hoss. The real peak of the tag team division wouldn’t be for another year or so, but there was still plenty of talent to put some good teams together and work solid matches. Both teams really brought the goods and this massive crowd enjoyed every minute of it. Killer Bees seemed like they were in line for a title run at some point, however as we’d see through time, the tag team crunch just lost them in the shuffle. They do get the win here with some reverse chicanery against Jimmy Hart. A fairly solid match to get the show started. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Our opener in front of this impressive Toronto crowd is an interesting tag team affair. Even though his brother Terry is gone, the legendary Dory Funk is still hanging around, teaming with the wannabe Funk, Jimmy Jack. The Bees get a nice little pop and were just starting to gain some momentum as a unit. The tag division was really starting to fill up at this point and the quality teams were pouring in and lining up to challenge the champion British Bulldogs. The Bees ran off the Funks early, but Dory was able to turn things a bit. Dory was looking quite like Louis CK at this point in his career. Any time it looked like the Funks may grab control, the Bees shook them off and continued to use quick tags to stay on offense. The announce team was interesting as Gorilla handled the play-by-play with Johnny V doing color and Ernie Ladd just sort of piping in with insight here and there. I was never a big Johnny V fan, but Ladd has been solid so far with his brief contributions. The Funks finally got on track and began working over Brunzell. The Funk offense was pretty basic and old school as they just pounded Brunzell into the mat with clubbing strikes. With the bout on the line, both Bees ended up on the floor and were able to pull their masks on. In a clear switcharoo, it was now Blair that got back in the ring and knock the Funks around. They would quickly switch again, allowing Brunzell to cradle Jimmy Jack for the win. I never got how the mask gimmick was assigned to a white bread face team, but what can you do. The Bees steal a win in a fairly pedestrian tag team opener. Grade:*1/2
Match #2: Magnificent Muraco and King Tonga wrestle to a time limit draw at 20:00
Fun Fact I: Don Muraco began his illustrious career in 1970, working and learning across the country, including stops in Vancouver, Portland, Florida & Los Angeles. After a run with AWA, Muraco moved to San Francisco in 1973. A year later, he headed back to Florida where he officially became a star. Muraco would win his first title in San Francisco in 1975 and he would continue to tour the country until joining the WWF in 1981. In June of that year, Muraco defeated Pedro Morales for the IC Title, which he would hold for five months before losing it back to Morales. After feuding with Bob Backlund, Muraco defeated Morales for the gold once again in January 1983. During his second reign, Muraco had his infamous feud with Jimmy Snuka that culminated in a bloody steel cage match in Madison Square Garden. Muraco dropped the title to Tito Santana in February 1984. He would eventually take on Mr. Fuji as a manager and continue to work as a heel throughout 1985 and 1986.
Fun Fact II: Tonga Fifita started competing professionally at a very young age when, at the age of ten, he was among of group of children sent to Japan to study sumo wrestling. In 1974, he moved to Japan permanently and started his sumo career. After some controversy, Fifita retired from the sport in 1976. Shortly after, he began wrestling professionally for All Japan Pro Wrestling. In the early 80s, he adopted the ring name of King Tonga and moved to Canada to continue his career in Montreal. He remained there until joining the WWF in early 1986.
Scott: A fascinating matchup between two powerhouse guys. Muraco was a star in the WWF in the early 80s, being a two time Intercontinental Champion and being involved in big time feuds and matches around the Northeast. However, once the PPV era began he seems to have lost his luster. He wasn’t at the first WrestleMania, and then was in a throwaway crap match a year later. He has been involved in a pretty hot feud with Ricky Steamboat, but unless you’re in the know the feud largely wasn’t seen too much on television. As for King Tonga, he’s a relative newcomer who’s making a big splash here in front of thousands in Toronto. Speaking of, the visual of this big stadium is immense, with every angle showing people far and wide. You could probably say this was a precursor to what would be SummerSlam, as it took place in late-August. Muraco dominated the early action, including wrapping Tonga’s leg around the ring post. Normally it doesn’t look too bad, but when the man’s leg is open and barefoot, it look nastier. Muraco actually slaps on a rare Figure Four as well. I’m enjoying the commentary between straight men Gorilla and the Big Cat Ernie Ladd, and the heel Johnny Valiant. I was a big Luscious John fan as a kid, both as a manager and sometimes commentator. Tonga took the match over with a slam off the top rope. However I can tell by the pace of this match it was going to end in a draw, and sure enough it did. Entertaining enough match, but draws kill crowds. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Based on Gorilla’s comments here, it sounds like they were slowly starting the transition from King Tonga to Haku. Muraco was still pretty juiced up here, but he was also letting himself go a bit and was looking a bit on the hefty side. No surprise that it seemed to coincide with his diminishing push. Valiant is trying to sell that Muraco has lost weight, but I think not. Muraco stalls a bit to start, playing his usual mind games. Tonga showed off his unique mix of speed and power early on, keeping Muraco off balance before slamming him around the ring and forcing him out to the floor. The Haku discussion carries on throughout the match as Tonga continued to control the action in the ring, working over Muraco’s arm. Muraco could not shake Tonga off, as the arm work continued on no matter what the Magnificent One tried to do. Eventually, he swung momentum and even gotten an assist from Fuji at ringside. Muraco continued to break down Tonga as this one slowly edged along. I have always been a big Muraco fan, but he could be as basic and bland as they come when he wanted to. He finally kicked things up a notch when he wrenched in a figure four on Tonga, who was able to eventually force a break by grabbing the ropes. The arrogance started to seep through, as Muraco began stalling and meandering around, allowing a Tonga comeback. Just when it looked like he could pick up the win, the bell sounded and we hit the time limit, leaving this one with an unsatisfactory finish. The match itself was technically fine but was much too long and didn’t help push Tonga along during his repackaging. Both men roll along, seemingly headed in different directions on the totem pole. Grade: **
Match #3: Ted Arcidi defeats Tony Garea with a bear hug at 2:41
Fun Fact I: Tony Garea began his pro career in his native New Zealand in 1971. He would eventually make his way to San Francisco, where he became co-holder of the tag team titles with Pat Patterson. In 1972, he signed with the WWWF where he would win the tag team titles on five separate occasions with four different partners. In 1982, he began working singles and became a fairly prolific jobber to the stars. He would remain in that role until late 1986, when he retired from the ring. Upon retiring, he took a road agent job with WWF, a role in which he remains in to this day.
Fun Fact II: After training as a weightlifter for years, establishing a world record by lifting 705 pounds, Ted Arcidi was recruited by Vince McMahon and signed to the WWF in late 1985. He competed in the battle royal at WrestleMania II, but did not make it out of 1986, as he was released when fellow strongman Ken Patera returned to the promotion, as Vince did not want two men with similar gimmicks on the roster. Arcidi would work Calgary and Texas before retiring in 1990. Since his career ended, Arcidi has maintained a gym and supplement company in New England.
Scott: This match was going to be a disaster from the start, simply because Arcidi just has no talent or wrestling ability whatsoever. Rumors were Arcidi was a big time cocaine user and here he’s actually working heel, or the announcers are trying to get him to work heel but in reality the crowd could care less. Arcidi slaps on the bear hug, Garea gives up, but really the crowd gave up well before this. Grade: *
Justin: Our next match looks pretty great on paper…ah, I can’t even sell it with a straight face. Arcidi was lined up for a big push, but his in ring presence wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Garea had his day in the sun, but he was low card cannon fodder by this point. Garea tried to match power with Arcidi early on, but that was a losing proposition for sure. This one was short lived as Arcidi locked Garea in the Bear Hug and quickly put him away for the win. The Arcidi Train rolls on, but unfortunately it was a ride that was heading absolutely nowhere. Grade: 1/2*
Match #4: Junkyard Dog defeats Adrian Adonis by countout at 4:15
Fun Fact: On the 8/2 Championship Wrestling, Junkyard Dog was a guest on the Flower Shop. After Jimmy Hart tried to attack JYD, he grabbed a flower pot and cracked Adrian Adonis in the head with it.
Scott: Adrian Adonis really got his character going after defeating Uncle Elmer a WrestleMania II in April. The common story is that Adonis was still a good worker, but became grotesquely overweight so Vince punished him by turning him from a tough leather-clad New Yorker, into an effeminate blob. Here he’s working with still one of the most popular guys on the roster in the JYD. Adonis actually got busted open early in this match but then the match totally took a strange booking turn. While Adonis was being worked over, the referee was trying to break them up near the ropes and JYD of all people shoved the ref to the canvas. While that happened, Jimmy Hart sprayed the atomizer into Dog’s face. That was just so strange, but the match ended up continuing. Even though JYD was still a popular guy with the fans, he was starting to lose some of his stature in the company with his growing weight and the addition of some fresher blood on the roster. The match is choppy and full of shenanigans until JYD wins by count out with more Jimmy Hart junk mixed in. Overall not a great effort by either guy, and neither is affected by the decision. Grade: **
Justin: The sad transformation of Adrian Adonis is about complete here as he is completely engulfed in the Adorable gimmick and the weight gain continues to get out of control. The gimmick was working though as he gets some good heat during his preening entrance. Despite slipping down the card, his opponent, JYD, gets a very warm welcome from the Toronto crowd. JYD looked to be in decent shape here and started bashing Adonis with his chain before the bell. Adonis was woozy and beaten as JYD headbutted him around the ring and then sent him flying out to the floor. I don’t recall ever seeing JYD this focused during his WWF days, but he was locked in here as he just beat the tar out of Adrian. In the midst of it, he shoved the referee down, allowing Jimmy Hart to hop up and spray JYD with Adrian’s perfume. Adonis started to use his bulk to wear JYD down, slamming him down and splashing down for near falls. After a melee on the floor, JYD was able to sneak in at the last second, beating the referee’s count and winning this surprisingly energetic bout. There wasn’t much else going on here, but I will give them credit for busting it in the ring. Grade: *
Match #5: Dick Slater defeats Iron Mike Sharpe with an elbow off the top rope at 6:24
Fun Fact I: Dick Slater grew up in Tampa and in the early 70s, he turned down a chance to play for the Miami Dolphins to get into wrestling instead. He was trained in Tampa and started his career with Eddie Graham’s CWF. After leaving Florida, Slater spent time in California and Nevada before heading to Georgia, which is where he would finally break out. After spending a successful eight years in Georgia, Slater headed to the Carolinas and began working with JCP. He would remain there until jumping to WWF in 1986. Slater remained in New York until early 1987. He would return to JCP and remained with the company during the transition to WCW. He competed in Atlanta until a back injury ended his career in 1996.
Fun Fact II: Coming from a wrestling family, Mike Sharpe made his pro debut in Calgary in 1977. He remained in Canada until joining the WWF in early 1983. Along with his trademark black forearm brace, he would receive a considerable push upon debuting, but by 1984 he was relegated to lower mid-card and eventually jobber status. Sharpe will remain in the role with WWF until 1995. He also ran a wrestling training school out of New Jersey.
Scott: One of the WWF’s classic jobbers to the stars takes center stage here. I was actually a big Mike Sharpe fan, as he’s to me what some of the 90s jobbers are to Justin. Here he takes on another of my favorites, Dick Slater. My first memories of Slater are in the Carolinas when he and Bob Orton tried to cash in on Harley Race’s bounty and take out Ric Flair in 1983. That of course led to the awesome Starrcade 1983 cage match. That’s another discussion for another day. This match was surprisingly short as Slater gets the pin on a roll-up/school boy combo. Slater gets the win and Sharpe does his job. Incidentally I love when Gorilla “unintentionally” gets Johnny Valiant all fired up and yelling for absolutely no reason. Great entertainment. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Despite being in his home country, poor Mike Sharpe doesn’t get much support from Toronto. And they would also not show much love for Slater either, so it looked like we were in for an interesting one here as far as crowd support goes. Sharpe looked good early, actually landing a few blows in before Slater hammered him down to the mat. The two traded off strikes for most of this one and Sharpe got a decent amount of offense in on Slater, who was considering a rising star at this point. Slater fought back with a nice suplex for a near fall. I wasn’t expecting match here but it was pretty lively and fluid right through to the end. Slater was able to crack Sharpe with an elbow to the head from the top and pick up the win, which brought out some loud boos from the crowd. Slater grabs the win but Sharpe had a nice showing here on the big stage. Grade: **
Match #6: Bobby Heenan, Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy defeat Lou Albano, Super Machine & Big Machine by disqualification when Giant Machine interferes at 7:49
Fun Fact I: In April 1986, Jack Tunney suspended André the Giant for failing to compete in a tag team match against John Studd & King Kong Bundy at the petitioning of Bobby Heenan. In reality, André was competing in Japan and finishing filming of the Princess Bride. Two months later, vignettes began airing promising the debut of a new tag team known as the Machines, managed by Lou Albano. In their promos, they vowed to prove they were the greatest tag team in the world. It was obvious that Giant Machine was André under the hood, but announcers intimated that it could be others, including Japan’s Giant Baba. Heenan began campaigning and claiming that André was under the mask and trying to circumvent his suspension. Tunney vowed that if it were indeed André, then he would be permanently suspended. On 8/23, the Machines made their TV debut, with Super Machine wrestling a singles match while Giant watched from outside with Bobby Heenan sneaking around and taking photos to prove his point. Shortly after, injuries forced André to the sidelines so Albano introduced Big Machine, a third member of the group, portrayed by Blackjack Mulligan.
Fun Fact II: Bill Eadie began wrestling back in 1973 in the Detroit territory. Shortly after beginning his career, Eadie donned a hood and became known as the Masked Superstar. He would begin touring the country, with successful stops in the NWA, Georgia and WWF through 1986, when he signed an official contract with New York. He would maintain his infamous mask but was now known as Super Machine.
Fun Fact III: Robert Windham was a standout college football star that decided to get into wrestling after a cup of coffee with the NFL. He began training in Texas before making his debut in 1967. Over the next two decades, he would compete across the country, with stints in AWA, NWA and WWF, which is where he donned the heel persona of Blackjack Mulligan. He won gold wherever he went and became a viable star. He would settle in with the WWF in the mid 1980s and was used as Big Machine when André the Giant was sidelined with injuries.
Fun Fact IV: Trained by the legendary Killer Kowalski, John Minton made his pro debut in 1976. The two won WWWF tag team gold as the Masked Executioners. After leaving New York, Minton traveled the globe and competed under a variety of ring names. In late 1982, he returned to the WWF and adopted a heel persona of Big John Studd, managed by Classy Freddie Blassie. He received a substantial push, feuding with Champions Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan as well as André the Giant, leading to a marquee match at the first WrestleMania. By that time he was now being managed by Bobby Heenan and was aligned with fellow stablemate King Kong Bundy. His feud with André was unrelenting and carried over into 1986.
Fun Fact V: A lifelong fan, Bobby Heenan finally broke into the wrestling business as a manager and competitor in Chicago in 1965. In 1969, he joined the AWA and began to gain momentum as a manager dubbed The Brain, occasionally competing in the ring when it fit the storyline. In 1984, Heenan was lured to the WWF by Vince McMahon and was set to manage Jesse Ventura. Once Ventura was forced into early retirement, Heenan was assigned to Big John Studd and his stable began to grow from there.
Fun Fact VI: Lou Albano made his pro wrestling debut in 1953, and had little impact on the wrestling scene before joining up in a tag team known as the Sicilians in the Midwest. In 1967, the Sicilians had a brief run as WWWF Tag Team Champions and by 1969, Albano hung up the tights to become a brash, quick-witted, annoying heel manager known as Captain Lou Albano. He would reign supreme as a heel manager until 1984, when he turned face by siding with pop star Cyndi Lauper in her feud with Roddy Piper. Albano even appeared in Lauper’s music video for the hit song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. In mid-1986, he was assigned to the Machines to work as a mouthpiece for the mysterious team from the Orient.
Scott: As you can tell from the bevy of fun facts, this is one of the bigger matches on the card. The Machines were supposed to be this mysterious team from the Orient, when in reality none of them were Asian. Stealing the old Dusty Rhodes/Midnight Rider gimmick, everyone and their mother knew that André was the Giant Machine, but of course we were supposed to be in on the joke. Wow there was a lot of beef in the ring, easily almost 2,000 pounds. Studd was one of the few heels I was a fan of in the early days of my fandom, even though I enjoyed seeing him get slammed by André at the first WrestleMania. The first “Hulkamania” tape has a great WWF Title match in a cage between Studd and Hogan that is much better than it actually sounds. Based on the participants, this match is pretty slow and methodical with lots of punches, strikes and posturing. We get another unclean finish as everyone just started brawling around the ring and the referee called for the bell. I was pretty burnt out on Lou Albano by this point as he was a sign of the old guard and the WWF needed to more show off the new faces. Surprisingly the heels get the win as the Machines were triple teaming Bundy and the ref called for the bell. Considering there wasn’t a PPV scheduled until the following year, I expected the faces to win the match. Oh well, it was entertaining enough. Grade: **1/2
Justin: For the first time tonight, we have a match that derived from a heated feud. I have always been a Heenan Family fan, and the Studd & Bundy team is one of my guilty pleasure hoss units of this time period. Here, Heenan steps in the ring with his charges to battle the mysterious Machines and the big, fat, sloppy pig himself, Lou Albano. As much as I loved Heenan, I hated Albano and wasn’t shocked to see him glom onto another dominant team. We get a surprise off the bat as a third Machine makes his way out along with the rest of the team. Once all the beef was in the ring, it was a pretty impressive sight to say the least. I kind of dug the Machines gimmick with these mysterious monsters coming from Japan to dominate the promotion. The third, gigantic Machine made his way out to the floor as the bell rang and things slowly got underway. Studd was frustrated early as the Machines battered him around and almost slammed him on a couple of occasions. During this match, the sun has pretty much set and the night sky backdrop looked fantastic, adding a really special look to this show now. The Machines continued to dominate early, not allowing Studd nor Bundy to gain any sort of control. Once his Family finally turned the tide, Bobby actually tagged in, but it was short lived as he got swatted away and quickly tagged out. Bobby’s main goal was to unmask the Machines to prove André was lurking under one of the hoods, but he has been unsuccessful so far. As Studd and Bundy worked over one of the Machines, Valiant won my heart over by calling Albano a fat slob for standing around on the apron. And right on cue, he tagged in and the crowd popped big time as he faced off with Heenan. Albano stomped away, but Bobby went to the eyes and tagged in Studd. As Albano was being triple teamed, the Giant Machine climbed into the ring and cleaned house, drawing the DQ in the process. He clubbed on Heenan a bit before he was able to escape with his charges. While the in ring action was nothing special, the heat and excitement here was tremendous and it was kept short enough to never get slow or boring at all. Fun stuff as the Machine angle rolls along, continuing to frustrate Heenan. Grade: **1/2
Match #7: Ricky Steamboat defeats Jake Roberts in a Snake Pit Match with a sunset flip at 10:17
Fun Fact: On the 5/3 Saturday Night’s Main Event, a match between these two men ended in a no contest, when Roberts viciously DDT’d Steamboat on the exposed concrete floor. Jake then unleashed Damien on Steamboat before officials could come and break things up, eventually wheeling Steamboat out on a stretcher. On the 5/3 Championship Wrestling, Steamboat assaulted Roberts after a match. The two would continue to battle across the country throughout the summer, with neither man gaining much of an advantage. On the 7/16 All Star Wrestling, Steamboat again attacked Jake, preventing him from using his snake on his prone opponent. On the 7/27 Maple Leaf Gardens house show, Roberts refused to compete in his match against Sivi Afi and instead claimed that he would not wrestle in Toronto again until it was against Ricky Steamboat in his own type of match.
Scott: Another high profile match sees two expert workers get together in a fancy way of saying a no-disqualification match. Steamboat finally dropped the white NWA tights and settled into his martial arts role nicely. This has been a vicious feud that has raged around the country throughout the year, starting with the nasty DDT on the Providence Civic Center floor. Jake says on his DVD that Steamboat wanted Jake to hit him flush on the concrete. Jake had Damien, but Steamboat had his Komodo Dragon, but that was really just to give the feud some pizzazz. In reality these two guys could put on excellent matches without really needing anything else on top of it. This, like the JYD/Adonis match, was just a crazy brawl that went all over the place. Steamboat was busted open and Jake was really giving him the business. Jake was busting the good stuff out, like stomach breakers and fancy pin attempts, until Steamboat snuck out the back door and got a sunset flip for the victory. For what was a shorter match than I anticipated, it was very entertaining and I wanted more. Grade: ***
Justin: And speaking of matches derived from hot feuds, we have another one here as Ricky Steamboat is looking for revenge on the man that drove him into unconsciousness with a vicious DDT on the concrete months earlier. Steamboat gets a huge pop as he hits the ring, but Roberts attacks him before the bell even rings. This was a true blowoff, with a gimmick in place that allowed for everything and confirmed the match must end by pin or submission. Steamboat quickly recovered and started to work over Jake, focusing on his arm. Things would spill outside, where they traded blows until Jake slammed Steamboat to turn momentum. It was brief, though, as Steamboat fought right back and took it to Roberts back inside the ring. These two seemed like such a natural fit to feud on paper, but that doesn’t always guarantee chemistry in the ring. Thankfully, it worked out for them and they had a great feud and set of matches. Roberts would duck a Steamboat charge and Ricky took a nasty bump over the top rope and landed hard on the floor. Jake followed him out and ran him into the post with a slingshot, busting the Dragon open. The crowd is red hot here, really into this feud and rallying behind Steamboat. Smelling victory, Jake peppered the hell out of Steamboat’s face with right hands before cracking him with a short clothesline. Just when Roberts looked like he had it wrapped up, he got lazy with a pin attempt and Steamboat rolled him up for the win. This was really good stuff and with even more time and a bit more violence, this could have been a true classic. Steamboat gets his revenge and the crowd is happy to see the Dragon take out the Snake. Grade: ***
Match #8: Billy Jack Haynes defeats Hercules with a backslide at 6:08
Fun Fact: These two men had begun feuding on the house show circuit in early August.
Scott: In a feud that would culminate the following March in Pontiac, two big powerhouses get together to see who truly is the biggest and strongest. This is a Coliseum Video copy we’re watching and suddenly we get Gorilla doing the commentary alone and clearly in a sound room over the video as Ladd and Johnny V mysteriously disappeared. As expected this match is slow, chemistry-less and flat. Incidentally for those that aren’t sure, Billy Jack Haynes did not always wear the colors of the Oregon Ducks. That was only when he was here in New York. After those last two crazy matches, this was the time filler while 65,000 Canadians went to the bathroom or the Molson stand. Maybe that’s where the Luscious One and the Cat went. Gorilla mentions that Slick has officially purchased half the contracts of all of Freddie Blassie’s guys. This feud would pick up throughout the end of the year and into 1987 when they would focus on the Full Nelson finisher. Haynes wins the match with a surprising backslide and thankfully this boring affair is over. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Hercules was looking fairly lean here, but still had his wild man barbarian look, with his long locks flowing in the night air. Billy Jack looked…jacked up. Gorilla mentions that Ladd and Valiant have temporarily left the booth to get some libations and groceries. He also informs us that Slick has assumed all of Freddie Blassie’s charges, including Hercules. We get off to a slow start, but things pick up a bit after Hercules dropped Jack with a clothesline. We are now warned of audio difficulties as things go silent, so perhaps libations were not being had by the color commentators as Gorilla had promised us. Haynes came back with some strikes and a dropkick before wearing down Hercules with a side headlock. With no commentary here, you can really hear the crowd riding these guys as they lumbered around the ring. They spilled to the floor, where Hercules slugged away at Haynes, drawing some decent heat. I still can’t get over how lithe Hercules looked here. I am not crazy about his hair though. Finally, Gorilla is back to call the rest of this bout. The plodding strike war edged along, with neither man really gaining any type of advantage. Haynes finally went for the full nelson, but Hercules blocked it and again tossed Haynes to the floor. Hercules would suplex him back in and that may have been the best move of the match. Haynes was able to get an opening, block a neckbreaker and hook a backslide for the flash pin. This one just never clicked and was full of slow offense and a fairly flat crowd. That six minutes felt like twenty. Grade: *
Match #9: Fabulous Rougeau Brothers defeat the Dream Team when Ray Rougeau pins Greg Valentine with a sunset flip at 14:51
Fun Fact: The offspring of legendary Canadian wrestler and promoter Jacques Rougeau, Sr., Jacques, Jr. & Raymond Rougeau began teaming up in Montreal in the late 1970s. After a memorable and successful run in their home promotion, the two headed to the States and signed a WWF contract in February 1986.
Scott: Two of the top teams in the company square off here, obviously for the #1 contenders slot to face my dad’s favorite team at the time, the British Bulldogs. My brother was a big Dream Team fan, mostly because he was a big Greg Valentine fan for years. The Dream Team’s run with the straps ended back at WrestleMania in Chicago and now they’re trying to get back their spot. Jacques and Raymond are relative newcomers and is another signing for Vince to beef up the tag division which saw many teams either break up into solo careers or move on to other promotions. Of course two of the hottest teams in the company aren’t at this show: the Bulldogs and Hart Foundation. I’m actually surprised we didn’t get a Dream Team/Bulldogs rematch here. Valentine & Beefcake worked the action well and to me this is the best example of how working with Valentine has really helped Beefcake develop into a solid worker. Still today, watching the David Sammartino/Beefcake match from the first WrestleMania is torture, as Beefer was so clueless in the ring. After a lot of seasoning working with the Hammer, Beefcake really knows his way around the ring now. Now the action goes back and forth and the crowd is really into it. I love how Gorilla is egging Valiant on as to why he’s commentating and not at ringside with his charges. I wonder why the announcers weren’t at ringside and instead were all the way at the top of the stadium in the press box. In what I thought was an upset, Raymond gets Valentine in a Sunset Flip and gets the victory. Although Raymond wasn’t the legal man in the ring. It’s great how Gorilla throws logic and rules out the window when the babyfaces win. If the wrong heel was in the ring it would be highway robbery. I was pretty stunned, as I thought the more experienced team would get the win and prepare for their return match with the Bulldogs. I guess not. I enjoyed this match as the commentary and crowd helped it out. Grade: ***
Justin: We have some tag action up next with the former champions facing off with the home country boys. The Rougeaus are even waving a giant Canadian flag to really hammer the point home. All four brawled off the bell with the Rougeaus using their speed to gain the advantage. They continued to double team Valentine, keeping him grounded. Kind of weird that Valiant stayed in the booth here and didn’t join his boys at ringside. Beefcake turned the tide on Ray and the Dream Team slowed things down quite a bit as they started wrestling their type of wear down match. Even after Ray tagged Jacques in, the brothers couldn’t gain the momentum. They did have a brief glimmer of hope and landed a great double team aided senton for a near fall, but the Dream Team cut them off again. I am digging all of the hope spots and turns in momentum in this one, as it is bucking the standard formula. The Dream Team was a solid unit that was well put together, specifically to help hide Beefcake’s deficiencies by putting him with a workhorse like Valentine. I think they are a bit underrated historically. The team also helped Beefcake develop as a wrestler, as you can see improvement here, about a year removed from his singles run. In any event, they continued to wear down the Rougeaus, leading to a Valentine bear hug on Ray. Ray was finally able to dodge a Valentine elbow drop to make the hot tag. Jacques cleaned house but whiffed on a leap from the second rope. Valentine pounced and went right for his leg, hooking in the figure four. It would get broken up and a melee ensued, leading to a Ray sunset flip for the surprising win. This was a good little tag match that featured solid work and a unique non-formula format. It was also a nice lwin for the Rougeaus. Grade: **1/2
Match #10: Harley Race defeats Pedro Morales with a roll up at 3:25
Fun Fact I: The legendary Harley Race began his career in 1960, working out of Memphis. As Race’s star was on the rise, he was involved in a terrible car accident that took the life of his pregnant wife and nearly cost Race his leg. He defied doctors and returned to the ring in Texas before heading up to the AWA where he formed a team with Larry Hennig. After winning tag team gold and experiencing a great deal of success, Race decided to strike out on his own and moved onto the NWA as the 70s dawned. Race moved from territory to territory, defeating Dory Funk, Jr. for the NWA Heavyweight Title in 1973 but the reign was short lived. He won the gold again in 1977, defeating Terry Funk and would hold the strap until Dusty Rhodes defeated him in 1981. During that reign, Race traded the belt back and forth but it never left his grasp for a substantial amount of time. In 1983, he defeated Ric Flair for his record breaking seventh title reign, but would drop the title back to Flair at Starrcade of that year. During this time, Race had purchased into the Kansas City territory but was quickly losing money as Vince McMahon’s WWF expansion began to infiltrate the area. Race was angered and even threatened WWF wrestlers, including Hulk Hogan, but eventually the losses piled up and he was forced to continue wrestling and eventually signed on with the WWF in May 1986, taking on Bobby Heenan as a manager. Initially known as “Handsome” Harley Race, he would undergo a gimmick transformation after winning the annual King of the Ring tournament that summer. He began wearing his robe and crown to the ring and was now known as “King” Harley Race.
Fun Fact II: Pedro Morales began his career on the west coast in 1959, competing against the major regional stars of that era, eventually winning the WWA Heavyweight Title. He moved on to the WWF in 1970, winning the Heavyweight Title from Ivan Koloff in 1971. He would have a successful reign, catching on with the heavy Puerto Rican fanbase in New York City. In 1972, he had an epic showdown with Bruno Sammartino in Shea Stadium, marking the first WWF Title match between top level faces. The match ended in a seventy-five minute draw. Morales dropped the title to Stan Stasiak in December 1973 before fading from the promotion. He began traveling to various territories, throughout the US and Puerto Rico before returning to the WWF in May 1980. After winning tag team gold with Bob Backlund, Morales set his sights on the only title he was yet to win, the Intercontinental strap. He accomplished his goal on December 8, 1980, defeating champion Ken Patera. With the win, Morales became the first WWF Triple Crown winner. He would briefly lose the title to Don Muraco but when he won it back, he became the first two-time Intercontinental Champion and also went on to have a record setting fourteen month reign as champ. Muraco would end that reign in early 1983. Over the next two years, Morales split his time between Puerto Rico’s WWC and the WWF, eventually settling in the lower mid card and putting over rising stars for McMahon through the end of 1987. Morales would eventually retire and become a Spanish language announcer for WWF and would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
Scott: This match was probably at the top of many cards in the early 1970s when both men were the respective World Champions of their promotion. So from a fundamentals perspective this should be a match any young workers should watch back then when learning how to work matches. In fact I’d like to dig through the archives to see if these two did meet in a big match when Morales was WWWF Champion and Race was NWA Champion. After watching this match, all three and a half minutes of it, I wouldn’t show this match to students. Maybe one of their earlier matches. Race wins with his feet on the ropes after three and half non-descript minutes. This was a good filler match to prep for the main event, but that’s about it. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Before we get to the main event, we have a battle between fading stars and champions. Although they are in very different positions on the card here as Pedro Morales was mainly being used for job duty while Harley Race was set for a good push in the upper mid card. Race attacks off the bell and knocks Pedro to the floor, showing some nice aggression. Gorilla puts over Pedro’s resume, which is pretty damn impressive. Johnny said he is pretty good for a guy that speaks broken English. Once Pedro fought back, the two started trading heavy blows until Race finally bailed to catch his breath. Pedro followed him out, but Race just chucked him into the timekeeper’s table in a funny spot. He followed with a headbutt and I can’t believe how into this match I am getting. Johnny’s imitation of a Puerto Rican lion doesn’t hurt things either. Pedro got it back together again and picked up a near fall after a suplex and sunset flip. The slugfest continued until Race was able to cradle Pedro in the corner, slip his feet on the ropes and cheat to win like the great heel he is. I dug this, OK. It was two veterans that know how to work and the crowd was pretty into it as well. It was short, but it was energetic and hard-hitting. Grade: **
Match #11: Hulk Hogan defeats Paul Orndorff to retain WWF Championship by disqualification at 11:05
Fun Fact: Shortly after WrestleMania I, Paul Orndorff turned face and was locked into a heated feud with former ally Roddy Piper. During this time, he aligned with Hulk Hogan and the two became close friends and often tag team partners. As time wore on, Orndorff’s ego started to get the best of him, especially once Adrian Adonis began to slowly mess with his mind. He would call Orndorff “Hulk, Jr.” and warned Paul that Hogan wasn’t really his friend, even daring him to prove as much. So, in a test, Orndorff tried to call Hogan, but a representative told Paul that Hogan was too busy training to speak with him, angering Orndorff greatly. In their first tag match since the incident, Orndorff & Hogan defeated the Moondogs, but Orndorff wrestled the majority of the bout and picked up the pin, trying to upstage Hogan. A week later, the two men collided during a bout against King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd. Orndorff writhed on the floor as Bundy & Studd worked over Hogan. He finally got back in the ring and ran Bundy & Studd off. As he helped Hogan to his feet, Orndorff struck him with a clothesline and then dropped him with a piledriver, shocking fans and kicking off a red hot heel run and feud. Orndorff hired on Bobby Heenan as his manager and chased Hogan all around the country, even going as far as to wear Hulkamania t-shirts and enter arenas to “Real American”.
Scott: Our main event is the first big match in what was a hot blood feud between the champion and the arrogant challenger. My brother hated Hogan with a passion, so he was loving the arrogance of Mr. Wonderful. Orndorff started showing up on Superstars and Prime Time Wrestling with Hulkamania shirts and would come to the ring with “Real American” blasting. As much as Hogan’s four year run as World Champion was needed to really beef the product and make it a worldwide phenomenon, there were so many heels that were more than worthy of being a great heel WWF Champion, but Vince couldn’t take that chance until he was sure the product was cooking, so Hogan had to keep the title around his waist. Nevertheless both men had a great feud going and the crowd was red hot for this match. In reality this was a four year feud between Hulk Hogan and Bobby Heenan, as The Brain tried to throw everyone including the kitchen sink at Hogan to take his precious World Title. Orndorff worked Hogan over for a while but the Champ avoided the piledriver a few times. We would then get a ref bump as Hogan hits Orndorff from behind and Paul went into the referee. Hogan was in control and was about to hit Orndorff with a piledriver but Bobby Heenan whacked Hogan with a wood stool. Orndorff had Hogan pinned but the referee was stunned. He crawled over and tapped Orndorff on the shoulder. He thinks he won and in fact Bobby grabbed the belt and put it on Orndorff. Of course Hogan won by DQ as the referee saw Bobby hit Hogan with the stool, or when Orndorff hit the referee earlier, but I think it’s the stool shot that did it. Hogan chases Orndorff off and does his usual posturing to finish the show off. Grade: **1/2
Justin: After a long and winding undercard, it is finally time for our hot main event. In a great heel touch, Paul Orndorff enters to Real American, really taking a crap on Hulkamania. Bobby Heenan had cut a great promo earlier and you could see the desire in his eyes as he wanted Hogan to go down in flames. Hogan was just as fired up and the crowd was ready for this one. Orndorff catches Hogan with a clothesline before the bell, another nice touch in line with his character. Hogan battled back, leading to a great slugfest standoff in the middle of the ring. The battle spilled to the floor where they continued to just beat on each other. Hogan was working pretty stiff here, and you could tell he was delivering some receipts to the notoriously tight working Orndorff. Heenan tried to get involved, but Hogan fought him off and kept Orndorff grounded as well. The Brain wouldn’t give up and finally helped his man take over. In the first great spot of the match, Orndorff cracked Hogan with a nice suplex on the floor. Orndorff kept up his precision assault as the crowd tried to get Hogan going. I loved watching Orndorff on offense as he was crisp and efficient. Hogan narrowly dodged a piledriver, but Orndorff maintained control. Hogan finally hulked up and nailed Orndorff with a nice high knee, which also wiped out the official in the process. In a nice piece of revenge, Hogan lifted Orndorff’s arm, clotheslined him and spun around with his arms spread open, mocking the exact way Orndorff had turned heel on him. Hogan then tried to piledrive Orndorff, but Heenan hopped in the ring and cracked Hulk with a stool. Unfortunately for Brain, the referee saw the interference and called for the DQ. This was a fun main event and a great feud overall. I am fine with the non-finish because this feud had to carry WWF through the houses for a while longer and Orndorff needed to remain strong. Still, these two had great chemistry and heat and it was oozing here. Grade: ***
Scott: Overall the crowd and the commentary made this show much more entertaining that it probably was. The undercard had a lot of flat, crappy matches including talentless sloths like Ted Arcidi. How do you have all this undercard junk and not have your other two champions, British Bulldogs and Randy Savage, on the card? It makes absolutely no sense at all. This is a four match show with the six-man tag, Dream Team/Rougeaus, Steamboat/Roberts and Hogan/Orndorff carrying the load. I love the idea of a big outdoor summer show with a big crowd and a hot card. Except the card really isn’t that balanced. They would figure that out over time and the outdoor cards would get better. Even the first SummerSlam would be a little rough but by 1989 the summer shows would really be hot. I’d watch this show from a nostalgia viewpoint to see some of 1986’s hottest feuds, but as an overall show, it doesn’t really hold up. Final Grade: C
Justin: Well, if you love 1986 WWF this show is definitely for you. It was loaded with pretty much all of the major stars of the time and could be viewed as a superior show to WrestleMania II. As Scott mentioned, there were some names conspicuous by their absence, but so it goes. The crowd and atmosphere were great and the commentary was also way better than I was expecting it to be. The matches are all sorts of middling with a handful of the bouts carrying the load for the most part. Still, it was a good showcase of stars and characters and I can’t complain much about the results. The main event was hot and well worked and capped off a fun little night of old school wrestling. This show is all about nostalgia and heat, but that sums up 1980s WWF for the most part anyway. Final Grade: C+
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