Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 9/23/85

Andre the Giant (Capt. Lou Albano) vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart)

Since we started looking back at the MSG house shows, there have been many guys that the MSG crowd loved and would always pop big time for when they showed up. When it comes to the favorites of the crowd, there was no question that one of the most popular stars in the WWF especially at MSG was the Eighth Wonder of the World, Andre the Giant. He was one of the few guys on the roster that was almost universally loved by the fans mainly due to his attraction and he always sold out arenas whenever he would show up. Every time he would show up at MSG, you knew the crowd was going to be rocking for him regardless if he was involved in a hot feud or just showing up to compete in a battle royal. On the flip side, King Kong Bundy was quickly gaining steam as one of the top monster heels of the company and while it may have not been set in stone what was planned for him, you knew that he was going to be a big player over the next few months.

Going into this show, there was not much in the way of build between these two as the match was announced for this show at our last MSG show in August, and Andre would mainly continue his feud with Big John Studd despite beating him pretty decisively at Wrestlemania. Bundy would continue to pick up big wins over lower end guys and on the August 18th house show in Toronto, Bundy attacked Andre after a match with Studd and gave him multiple big splashes while Studd held him down and Bobby Heenan provided assistance. It was interesting to see Bundy assist Studd and Heenan considering he was still being managed by Jimmy Hart, but if anything it was pretty cool to see two heel managers assist each other in taking out one of the biggest names in the WWF.

It was interesting to see this match so early in the card though there were a few bigger matches ahead of it, and as usual the roof nearly blows off when Andre comes out to a big pop while Bundy was booed out of the building along with Jimmy. One other thing to note right off the bat is Jesse Ventura now doing commentary with Gorilla which is an instant upgrade though Alfred Hayes was pretty good in the shows he did as well. I also like how this match had the tagline of “The Colossal Jostle” to put over how these two giants are going to face off in a pretty big match. The two men have a staredown to start and it’s jarring to see how small Bundy looks compared to Andre, and they lock up with Andre pounding on Bundy in the corner and choking him. He knocks Bundy down and Bundy rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring, and Andre grabs Bundy in a choke only for Bundy to pound on him though Andre blocks his shots in the corner before pounding on Bundy. He grabs at Bundy who tries to pound on him and Andre hits a big headbutt that knocks Bundy down, and he catches a kick attempt and kicks at Bundy before snapping him to the mat. Bundy hits a headbutt to the ribs and kicks at Andre before stomping on him and driving his knee into Andre’s back, and he chokes Andre on the mat as Andre rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring. Bundy charges at him only for Andre to get a shoulder in and he pounds on Bundy before working on the arm, and Andre continues to wear Bundy down on the mat while continuing to work on the arm. He sits down on Bundy’s back before hooking a headscissors on while continuing to work the arm, and Bundy tries to fight out of the hold before reaching for the rope only for Andre to continue grinding down on Bundy. Andre rolls Bundy back to the center of the ring and continues to grind down on Bundy who turns out of the hold and gets a shot in on Andre, and the two men trade blows until Andre hits a headbutt that sends Bundy through the ropes and he lands hard on the floor. Bundy regroups on the floor and returns to the ring as they lock up and engage in a test of strength until Bundy gets a shot in, and they trade blows with Andre suffering the ill effects and Bundy charges at him only for Andre to grab him and he goes back to working the arm of Bundy. Bundy backs Andre into the ropes and pounds on him before stomping him and choking him on the mat, and he continues to pound on Andre as the crowd chants for him and he chokes Andre with his knee on the mat. He stomps on Andre and drives the knee into him before grinding the knee into Andre’s ribs, and he chokes Andre on the mat and pounds on him only for Andre to back him into the corner and he rams the shoulder into the ribs repeatedly. Bundy reverses a whip into the corner only for Andre to catch him with a boot to the face and he hits a sitdown splash on Bundy, but then Big John Studd comes into the ring and attacks Andre which draws the DQ and Andre wins the match. After the match, Andre battles back and hits a headbutt on Studd who falls to the apron and Andre goes after him only for Bundy to hit an Avalanche on Andre in the corner. Bundy nails Albano coming in only for Andre to shove Studd into the corner and he rolls outside, and Andre brings a chair into the ring as Bundy and Studd clear out of the ring and head to the back as Andre celebrates with Albano.

The match itself was decent for what it was considering it involved two big men and they did what they could, and they were giving a lot of time to work with which may seem like a lot for who was involved. Even though he was still one of the most popular guys on the roster, you could tell by this point that Andre was physically breaking down and was getting slower with every match he had. To be fair, Andre was still trying different things as you rarely saw him put on a different submission besides the bearhug and it was interesting to see him work on the mat. As for Bundy, I had mentioned that he was clearly being groomed for bigger things as he gets a high profile match here against Andre and stays somewhat protected by not having to job clean to Andre. I think you could tell they were planning on putting Bundy with Heenan as he’s seems to be a better fit than Jimmy and it makes sense to pair him and Studd together as a monster team, and I mentioned earlier that it was weird that the Andre/Studd feud was continuing even after Wrestlemania. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and help carry the match as they are completely behind Andre, and they pop for him when he clears the ring of the heels and when he’s announced as the winner. Andre gets the win over Bundy by DQ and is left standing tall in the middle of the ring, but his issues with Bundy and Studd are far from over.

Final Grade: **1/2