Trying something a little new this time around…
The last few days here have been real scorchers. I’ve been staying up a couple hours later than normal waiting for things to cool off a bit to make going to bed easier. As a result of been checking out some stuff to watch while I wait. I decided rather than just make a passing mention of what I have been watching, I’d write up and actual review.
I understand it’s a little lengthy…lengthier than I intended, but I was typing it while I watched the show. Let me know what you think, because maybe I’ll consider doing more.
WWE Vintage Collection
I was lucky enough to find this edition of the newest piece of weekly WWE programming, which airs in overseas markets that carried the now defunct WWE Heat program.
This particular episode highlights action from a September 1986 card at Madison Square Garden. Mean Gene Okerlund gets the opening festivities out of the way, and we’re taken straight to the ring for…
The Hart Foundation (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. the Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond).
Providing expert commentary is the duo of the late Gorilla Monsoon and the also-late Lord Alfred Hayes. I’m hoping for an “external occipital protuberance” comment from Gorilla, and random gibberish from Lord Alfred.
These two teams work awfully well together, and the crowd is eating up the action. I understand there ended up being quite a bit of tension between the Calgary alumni and the guys from the old Montreal territory (Rougeaus and Dino Bravo, etc), but you’d never pick up on it here. Jacques and the Anvil do some great strongman vs. speedy babyface stuff early on.Jacques also does some great stuff with the Hitman (like you’d expect), including some fun work on the arm where Jacques reversed a standing wristlock into one of his own, doubled over Hart, stepped over the arm, backflipped over Bret’s back, and proceeded to dropkick him directly in the mouth. The impact sent Bret flying out of the ring. It was quite awesome and Johnny Saint-esque.
After further awesomeness, including a reverse monkey flip by Jacques that we are told sends Hart “ten feet in the air,” the Harts isolate Jacques. Evil skullduggery and beatings aplenty ensue. Finally, Jacques is able to make a tag, but OH NO! The ref missed it! While he tries to eject the fired-up Raymond from the ring, Jacques is the victim of a two-on-oine attack.
What’s great about this match so far, is that it’s 100% by the book, and the fans are eating it up like a kid eats up Halloween candy on November 1st.
Finally, Bret misses a flying elbow drop from the second rope. This is just what Jacques needs to catch a breather and make the big hot tag to Raymond, who comes out fighting. He tries to finish off Neidhart with a sleeperhold, but Bret clobbers him from behind. Jacques is knocked down on the outside as well, as the Harts double team Raymond in the corner. They go for something else and as Neidhart is picking Raymond off the mat, Jacques flies into the ring with a slingshot sunset flip for the fast, surpise victory. The crowd goes nuts, and couldn’t be happier.
The Rougeaus seldom got their fair due in the WWF, and put in some great matches in their time there. This match was totally book-by-numbers but was so effective. Can’t understate the great heel work of the Hart Foundation either.
Tito Santana vs. “King” Harley Race.
A former and future WWF tag team (w/ Ivan Putski) and Intercontinental champion vs. a 7-time NWA World champion. Race is managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, in my opinion, one of the greatest wrestling managers of all time. I don’t think this can possibly be bad.
Action starts fast and crisp with a dropdown, armdrag, bodyslam, armdrag and armbar combo by Tito. Race was in the twilight of his career at this point, wheras Tito was somewhat stagnant and stuck in mid-card tag team matches, or matches with Race and Butch Reed. The action is fairly straight forward until Race takes a Ray Stevens bump over the corner to the floor. Race at times was a one man show with lesser quality opponents, and Tito is certainly not one of those.
Tito follows Race to the floor and eats the guardrail and takes a falling headbutt on the concrete. Race stomps away on Tito for a while before Tito blocks an attempt to run his head into the post. Tito not only blocks, but runs Race’s head into the apron. Race flails and flops around on ringside chairs like you’d expect Terry Funk to.
After a commercial break, Race is back in control somehow. Both men soon collide with shoulder blocks and Race again flies out of the ring. He would have made a fine paratrooper. Race decides that rather than get back in the ring, he’ll just dive off the top rope onto Santana, but he is stopped and slammed off thre top instead. It appears Tito is going to captialize and lock in his Figure Four, but Race kicks him off. He goes for it again, and Heenan distracts him long enough to fall victim to a facerake. Race piledrives Tito, but fails on a followup headbutt. Tito rallies and Race does some more fine Funk selling. He then gets locked in a sleeper applied so tight than Monsoon excitedly exclaims that “the colour is disappearing from his [Race’s] face!” Heenan is very concerned. And wearing his wrestling singlet.
A swift kick to Santana’s testicles turns the tide again. It continues to sway back and forth with no clear advantage going to either man. Finally, Race goes to the top rope again. If he actually lands a move from up there, I will remove my shorts and run outside to the street. Nope…he missed a headbutt when not only did Santana move, but it appeared one of Race’s feet clipped the drop rope. Sucks to be him. My shorts stay on. Santana again goes for the Figure Four, but Heenan gets up on the apron and digs in his trunk for … a foreign object. Santana lunges for him, but is rolled up behind for the 1-2-3.
That surprised me, as this match had screwy double countout or something written all over it when it started. Fun little match, and the crowd seemed to get into it pretty good.
Six Man Tag Team Match: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy vs. Super Machine, Big Machine and “Hulk” Machine.
Before the match, we get comments from Heenan, Studd and Bundy. Studd says Gorilla (who conducts the interview) doesn’t like them, and doesn’t like Heenan because he is a better announcer than him. He also says he doesn’t think the Machines are really from Japan, because one speaks in a Southern Florida accent, and the other in a Texas accent. Super sleuth Studd is on the case!
The Machines are next to chime in. Hulk Machine is wearing a full yellow balaclava over his head with sunglasses on. He looks dumb. He says he was at the gym where Hulk Hogan trains and lifted more weight than him, and that his arms were 24 1/2 inches, not 24 like Hulk. He was also wearing a hokey red satin button-up 80’s jacket that would have made Eugene proud.
Thankfully, at matchtime, Hulk Machine is wearing traditional Machine attire, with the black trucks and one strap Andre singlet. Good guys run wild on Studd and Bundy early on. Hulk’s tan is epic here. After a quick commercial, the tag is made to Demolition Ax Machine, who runs wild with his rapidfire Demolition Ax-style double punches. Besides Heenan, he’s the smallest guy in the ring. He is not a small man. Scary, really.
Sadly, his assault is short-lived, as the sheer size of Studd proves to be too much. After Bundy is offically tagged in, things don’t get any better for him. That is until Bundy goes for a big splash and misses. Super Machine then single legs Bundy and goes to work on his left leg, which is roughly the size of Colin Delaney. He then finds himself in the wrong corner and Bundy to tags to Studd, who comes off the top with a forearm (really). With The Supe battered down, Heenan finally tags him and begins stomping away at him. He can’t keep this up for long and Super Machine makes it to his feet. Heenan gives him a headbutt, but it ends up hurting him more and he is stunned for long enough for Hulk Machine to tag in. Uh oh.
It should be noted that Hulk seems to have some great space-age-looking silver boots on. I want a pair.
Heenan get caught in the corner and Hulk pounds away on him before whipping him into the opposite corner. Heenan is sent upside down ala Ric Flair, which is Studd’s cue. He charges Hulk but is cut off. Studd bails and Heenan is brought in the hard way. Order is finally established and we settle down to Big Machine vs. Bundy. The pace slows considerably. Super Machine comes back in and Bundy tags Studd. Super Machine almost earns the $15,000 for slamming Studd, but Studd falls on top of him. Studd and Bundy switch in and out a few times, to which the referee takes issue with due to no tag being made. Hulk Machine makes the switch with the downed Super Machine behind the ref’s back.
Studd comes to pick up who he thinks is Super Machine, but a clothesline is ducked and a slam and a legdrop later the match is over. That was quick. Hulk Machine poses as “Real American” plays. Big and Super just sort of stand around and occassionally clap. Not much to the match, but it was fun, I guess. At least for what it was and who was involved.
I enjoyed the show enough that I would consider tracking down more episodes, depending on the matches and time frames they pick (they seem to just randomly pick a show and take matches from it). It certainly was fun to just sit back and watch some wrestling on a wrestling show for a change, and not a bunch of extra mindless stuff. There was easilly more actual wrestling on this one hour show than a full episode of RAW or SmackDown! contains each week.
I’d recommend checking it out for sure.