/2 March 2000
WWF Classics by Chris Brooker
WWF Classics Report
Welcome to the third in these thrilling recaps of the WWF Classics brought to you from Vince McMahon's personal collection of dusty old tapes. ( Not to be confused with old Dusty tapes... ) The hair's bigger, the trousers are flared and the moves are easier to call. Without further ado, away we go...
Once again the noticeable lack of pyrotechnics and generic rock music takes us to the commentary team of "Good Ol' VM" Vince McMahon and "King" Pat Patterson. Vince welcomes his co-broadcaster with a manly ( Yet strangely cautious...) slap on the back. This week on Championship Wrestling we're getting to see The Magnificent Muraco and many more. It's also time to bring out a newcomer to the WWF. Well, I hate to ruin the surprise though I can say he's 6'10" inches tall and weighs over 300lbs. Any ideas who that might be?
We got down the ring where once again the resident announcer runs through his epic set of introductions. I wonder if he's going to get his holiday slides out one week for an impromptu show. In hindsight there are a few interesting names tossed out. Dr. George Zahorian (sp?) is a physician at ringside. Victor Quinones is one of tonight's referees. Intriguing from a historical point of view though I'll not dredge up the details.
Despite all this the announcer still manages the mumble his name so fast I don't catch it. Please cut down on the caffeine.
We get straight down to Don "Not The Rock" Muraco W/Captain Lou Albano V Eddie Graham W/Moustache, not that it'll help him. Muraco and Captain Lou get MASSIVE heel heat walking down the aisle. Two fans in the crowd have improvised "Beach Bum" signs from tea trays. Ten out of ten for resourcefulness lads. Muraco finds the chant of "beach bum" so offensive that he goes to leave. Thankfully he remembers just how offensive Graham's moustache is so he stays to remove it by force.
Lockup, Graham pushed back to the ropes but there's a clean break. They lock up again and this time Muraco lays in with knees to the midsection and a beal out of the corner before locking in a front facelock. At this point it dawns on me that our illustrious commentary team are not even trying to do play by play. Just having a pleasant chat amongst themselves. So long as they're having a good time. Muraco tosses Graham out to the floor so that Lou can get his obligatory shots in. Eddie drags himself back into the ring and suddenly does the old "Slap the mat/Psyche up/Come on, you want some of this?" routine. Muraco backs off. Possibly because he's unsure if this fruit-loop will drool on his hand when he punches him. Muraco whips Graham to the opposite corner but is reversed into the buckle. Graham acts odd again and Muraco bails for a breather. Cue more heat and beach bum chants.
When Muraco climbs back in Graham meets him with a flurry of forearm shots. Don cuts him off with a knee to the midsection which Eddie sells like he's having a stroke. Come on Graham, stop building your part up this is teetering on the edge of surreal. The Magnificent One no doubt agrees with me at this point as he nails a backdrop, cross body tackle and a really vicious looking Hawaiian Hammer tombstone piledriver for the pin in short order. (3:46) He then slaps Graham about a bit, presumably for being a goofball.
A note to the team in the commentary box. This is the third consecutive week that Muraco's beaten someone with that piledriver. How come it's the first time I've heard the phrase "Hawaiian Hammer"? Come on lads, get it together. ( Not like that Pat! )
Back in the ring we have Tony Russo W/All Japan jacket V Salvatore Bellomo W/Sinister resemblance to Mike Rotundo. They touch hands after the bell rings in a display of pure sportsmanship. It also tends to scream "drawn out mat wrestling sequences" to me but then again I am a cynic.
Sal gets first blood with a pair of armdrags and clamps on an armbar. At this point the crowd is literally there in only in body. Russo beals him over but Sal keeps a hold of the arms and takes him down too. He also manages to hold onto the arm bar when Russo pushes him into the rope but not when he gets caught with an impressive standing monkey flip. They lock up again and Sal grabs a headlock before getting pushed into the ropes and shoulderblocking Russo down. He then cartwheel's over his prone oppenent and hits a SMOOOTH head scissors and drop kick for a near fall. The crowd is now back in spirit as well as body. So am I for that matter.
Back to their feet again and Russo grabs a full nelson which is promptly reversed. Russo pulls Sal's leg out to trip but is kicked into the ropes. He blocks a monkey flip attempt with a pin attempt which leads to another SMOOOTH series of cradled reversals and two counts which ends when ends when Bellomo cartwheels out of a headscissor variation and hits a side headlock takedown. Wow. I didn't expect that. Someone remind me this is 1982, that was great. Sadly, the match goes into reverse after this...
Russo counters the headlock with a headscissors and Pat takes time out from his chat to comment on what big strong legs he has. Sal headstands his way out but gets caught in the corner and forearmed A LOT! Russo then gets a series of offense in with punches, kicks, knees and a whip into a low headbutt that made me wince for all the wrong reasons. Bellomo manages to leapfrog over a back drop attempt and hit a bodyslam. Really enthusiastic big splash off the ropes and it's 123. (4:30) I'll admit that those two had their moments but that ending was really rather anticlimactic...
The notable absence of anyone walking backstage takes us to Joe Espada V Mr. Haiti W/Freaky Hair and hailing from Haiti surprisingly enough. What a good idea, name yourself after the place you come from. At this point I'd like to take time to point out exactly how odd Haiti's hair is. I know I'm guilty of mocking a lot of early '80's barnets but this one is so odd that it's downright scary. Imagine a big afro with a side parting. Scary eh? It's like a road accident. I can't stop my self from staring!
Anyway, back to reality. They lock up and Haiti strikes with a pair of armdrags to a suprisingly mixed reception. They go for the test of strength which Haiti breaks and wristlocks Espada down. Back up again and Espada hits the old headlock/punch combo followed by the front facelock/blatant choke combo which is considerate as it finally tells me who the heel is here. Haiti drops him with a double leg takedown.
Haiti goes behind into a waistlock and then, amusingly, crawls through Espada's legs to kick him off the ropes into a monkey flip. Espada keeps this momentum going by grabbing another headlock and stomping Haiti into the corner. Despite all the abuse his hair is still going strong.
Haiti makes his come back with a massive chop that sends Espada reeling. He strikes with a head butt, an Andre-style knee standing knee crush and a second head butt for the pin. (2:51) Very mixed reception for this. Hopefully not because the average WWF fan of the time had ethnicity issues.
Vince mumbles something about a "Strong debut" while silently noting the crowd reaction and wondering how quickly he can bury him/turn him into a stereotypical heel/do something about that hair. At this point the camera pans across the crowd and inadvertantly rests on a man in the process of having one of the most serious yawns I've ever seen.
Back in the ring and Pete Sanchez & Charlie Brown W/Outright ban on all "Peanuts" references are set to take on The Wild Samoans W/Captain Lou Albano. I still suspect there's an unwritten law about only being allowed tag team success if you're aided by a racial stereotype. Afa and Sika look so scarily similar that I'm having trouble deciding who's who. The commentary team assist me greatly by not even trying. Please bear with me on this one...
The Samoans absolutely maul Brown to start with and practically decapitate him with a double clothesline. Tag made to Sanchez and Sika commences to kick hell out of him. Sanchez hits a dropkick which fails utterly to knock Sika down and then misses a corner charge. Tag made to Afa who gleefully continues to paste him but fails to stop him crawling through his legs and tagging in Brown. Charlie hammers away at Afa with forearms. No sell. Manic Stare. Headbutt. Brown is down. Vicious running powerslam by Afa but he pulls Brown up at two for massive heat. Tag made to Sika who bodyslams him but again pulls him up at two. More heat as he whips Charlie into a back elbow and follows up with a falling head butt.
"Golly" says Vince. Careful there, don't get too overexcited. After all you have your professional distance to maintain. Brown is fired out to the floor where Lou gets his licks in before throwing him back in. Afa tags in and kicks away before cheerfully no selling another barrage of elbows. Tag to Sika. Whip into double elbow. Sika then picks up Charlie and nails him with the Samoan Drop for the pin. (5:30). Nevermind, you're a good man Charlie Brown. ( Damn, so close... ) Vince comes out of his self imposed silence to put over the Samoan Drop as the most LETHAL OFFENSIVE MANOUVRE EVER stopping just short of comparing it to having a Comet land on you.
Once again it's time for Rogers' Corner and the views expressed within it are not necessarily those of Titan Sports. Would you like to follow that up with something at least mildly controversial this week?
We go once again to the "First Naitch" Buddy Rogers and his guest Rocky "The Most Electrifying Seed In Sports Entertainment" Johnson. Buddy describes Johnson as having "a superb body, dynamite personality and loads of ability. He then goes on to talk about the swell job that Rocky's done of getting Jimmy Snuka back into shape physically after the attack by Ray Stevens.
Johnson, looking decidedly uncomfortable on camera, points out the real difference maker was the way Buddy brought him back to full strength mentally. Rogers is suitably bashful. He then asks Rocky to tell us all about his boxing background.
Rocky neglects to tell him to know his role and shut his mouth before asking how fond the Nature Boy is of "poontang pie". Instead he talks about his 160 amateur matches, 44 professional matches and the times he sparred with Ali, Foreman and others. I guess stick-work isn't genetic...
Back to the ring and it's Joe Martin getting ready to lock up with Superfly Jimma Snuka W/ "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. The place comes positively UNGLUED for Snuka, right up to the point of a standing ovation. How come he never wore the WWF title with that sort of response? Oh yeah, in 1982 the future was Orange.
They lock up, Snuka is pushed to the ropes, clean break and the crowd pops for Snuka. Hmm, this man's pretty much over with the fans. Lockup again but no clean break as Martin sneaks in a punch. Snuka then floors him with a punch back. Crowd pops. See the pattern? Vinnie talks about the pair of devastating piledrivers that Snuka took on the concrete floor from "Crippler" Ray Stevens who was apparently desperate to live up to his name.
Meantime Snuka hits a jumping double foot kick to Martin's face. Backbreaker and he hits a diving headbutt off the ropes. Pick up. Scoop, slam and Jimmy is going to the top rope. Now the crowd REALLY comes unglued. Snuka makes the sign and then hits a SMOOOTH diving headbutt that would put Benoit to shame. 123 and the place comes unglued yet again... (2:14) I never really appreciated how big a star Snuka was until now. What a response!
Next up it's time for the 6'10", 300+ pound newcomer. Who is it? None other than Big John Studd W/ The fashion plate of wrestling, REM's favourite manager and Andy Kaufman's bosom buddy Classy Freddy Blassie. In the opposite corner Steve King can be seen quietly making peace with God. John Studd may be no longer with us but damn was he ever big. He literally towers over everyone else in there. Brace yourself for the debut. I hope this is a nice, efficiently brutal squash.
King goes for a top wristlock and is effortlessly thrown down. He tries for a single leg takedown and is half kicked, half shrugged across the ring. Studd gives him a "When will you learn" look and beckons him in. King goes behind but has his arms pulled apart effortlessly and is thrown across the mat. Displaying very little intuition he then goes for a body slam. Unable to even lift Studd he just gets pushed off. King dropkicks and fails to even stagger him. Hmm, not having a good day are you Steve?
Studd chooses this as his point to start some offence. He whips King into a shoulder block and then strikes with an Oklahoma Stampede and an elbowdrop. Cover but pulls King up at two. Big hiptoss. Clothesline. Over the shoulder backbreaker and King taps. (3:38) An impressive debut for the big man. Would have been more impressive if he didn't look physically exhausted afterwards.
Tonight's main event? ( In that it's the last match... )
"Crippler" Ray Stevens W/Fashion Plate, REM Andy Kaufman etc Classy Fred Blassie V Curt Hennig W/About 40lbs less than the Y2K version. Thanks also to Jimmy Snuka's appearance Stevens is getting some major league heel heat. The words "Beat him Curt" hang in the air. Will he? Wait and see.
They lock up. To ropes. Clean break. Has that happened in every match so far? Feel free to read back and see, I'm far too lazy. Lockup, to ropes, clean break? No, Stevens lays in with punches and rams Hennig's head into the buckle repeatedly. Hennig blocks though and nails him with a stiff punch before whipping him to the opposite corner. Stevens then backs off before sneaking in a kick. He follows up with a Greco-Roman eyegouge and a Lou Thesz blatant choke. He measure's Hennig for a forearm shot but gets caught with forearm back. Hennig fires off a big beal out of the corner and an almost-perfect dropkick. The crowd is going nuts at the sight of the Crippler in disarray. Hennig whips Stevens into the ropes but his subsequent dropkick finds nothing but air. Ray drops the knee on him, chokes him a little more and then slaps on a nerve hold. The crowd breaks out a chant of "Let's go Curt" and he promptly obliges by kneeing Stevens in the face to break the hold. Sadly he's then promptly thrown to the floor.
Fortunately for all the Curtamaniacs he fires off with a barrage of punches as soon as he's back in. Less fortunately he misses a blind charge into the corner and walks straight into a Crippler piledriver. So long and thanks for all the fish. (3:13)
That, as they say, is all she wrote for this week's WWF classics. Next week Vince promises that Ray Stevens will go one on one with Tony Garea. In addition we'll see "Superstar" Billy Graham, The Strongbow Brothers and Pedro Morales. Will he finally lose that IC title? I do hope so...
Finally, because I know you're all hot for it, here are this week's shakers and bakers.
Don Muraco kicking ass again. He's turning into the 1982 version of Bill Goldberg and I hope the Muraco/Snuka feud starts up shortly. Jimmy Snuka looking very impressive in his return. The fact that I will now use the word SMOOOTH until people hate me for it. Blame Santana. ( The band, not the wrestler... )
The fact that nothing was especially poor today ( See Swede Hanson as point of reference. ) Hence I've very little to moan about. This is deeply disappointing for me in my role as leading cynic. I know, I'll complain that Vampiro didn't win on the program. That seems to be the way of the world these days.
Mr. Haiti's hideously confusing hairstyle of total disarray. Vince and Pat's total inability to provide any form of tangible commentary. The fact that I find myself giving advice to them about how to not suck so badly when it all happened nearly twenty years ago is slightly scarier though. I really need to spend less time indoors...
Till next time, be sure to check out The Brooker Man and I will see you all back here at the same time next week. Provided Sky don't feel like changing their schedules again...