|WWF Classics (UK) by Ian Mowat
Originally aired Mid November 1987
It would appear that the WWF is still the recognised symbol of excellence in sports entertainment. Thank God.
We're still at the Rochester War Memorial Arena in Rochester N.Y. and we will be for the next two weeks if the WWF stick to their normal tapings schedule. Nothing about the city this week, but we do get a welcome from Jeff Colkins, who is general manager of the arena. He says 'For great family entertainment no-one can beat the WWF.' What's the point of that? Who is sitting at home and thinking 'If Jeff Colkins recommends it, its good enough for me!'? Anyway, Gorilla seems as delighted about this as he would be for a Vince McMahon Knighthood. Bobby and Gorilla are in matching red and look quite, quite gay, and they welcome us.
The opening montage stays the same
A run down of this weeks show reveals we'll see Jim Duggan, Rick Rude, Ken Patera and Billy Jack Haynes, and our main event, Nikolai Volkov Vs Jake Roberts.
Well it would seem we're starting with our main event, because the Bolsheviks are in the ring. Slick tells everyone to rise for the Soviet Anthem, which Nikolai promptly sings. He seems to stop earlier than usual for some reason, and obviously the fans booed the Hell out of it. Next to be introduced is Jake the Snake, and he makes a decidedly Goldbergesque (I'm dying to see what my spell checker comes up with for that) entrance, as four security staff flank him. Into the ring, and 'master of psychology' Jake goes for Zukhov, despite the fact he is on his way outside. Volkov loves this and works Roberts over with some punches, knees, and a head to the buckle. He then whips Jake off the ropes and gets him with a knee to the gut. Another whip, this time to the corner, is blocked as Jake stops himself by putting his foot on the 2nd rope, well he missed really, but it's the effort that counts. Roberts now takes over with punches, and a boot and a knee to the mid-section. Jake applies a wristlock, which Nikolai tries to counter, but gets an atomic drop instead. A pre-taped Roberts interview appears in a box in the corner, where Jake says he's always stood alone, but if it comes to it he's got a partner in his bag to counteract Zukhov. Zukhov then grabs Jake's leg from under the rope, allowing his partner to take over. Volkov distracts the ref, letting Zukhov get some good shots in on the prone Roberts. Heenan tries to explain these shenanigans away by pointing out that they're Russian, and don't know all the rules. Nikolai dominates Jake with a choke, an eye rake, and some stomps. Nevertheless Jake fights back up, but this is stopped with a double axe handle to the back. Jake ducks a clothesline, but is tripped again from outside. Volkov hits a bad looking knee, and gets 2 for it. Both men are up, and as Volkov comes off the ropes, Jake throws him against his partner, who is standing on the apron. Off of this Jake goes for a roll up and gets the win. Immediately a double beatdown ensues, and Jake is kicked outside. However as the Bolsheviks pose, Jake unleashes Damian, and puts him on Zukhov, which leads to the heels and their manager high-tailing it. Hmm, that wasn't terrible, but it was damn boring. 0 for 1.
Now it's a special update with Craig De George. Craig has a new set this week, designed to look like a news studio, and this is where we find him, WWF magazine in hand. The wall behind him says 'December' about 20 times, which is fairly odd, because that's about a fortnight away. Undeterred by this show of calendar ignorance on a scale that would make the 1900 Russian Olympic team blush (a prize to whoever gets that reference), Craig tells us about Strike Force's title win last week. A replay of the finish shows and De George puts over Martel's use of the Boston Crab to get the win. We also get to see an interview De George conducted with the victors in the locker-room 'immediately after the match'. Martel says how happy he is and that he knows it will be tough to keep the belts. Included in the mass of well-wishers in the background are Bam Bam Bigelow, Jack Tunney, Sam Houston, Oliver Humperdink, and a-big- fat-black -guy-wearing-a -cowboy-hat whose name I can't recall. Craig closes off the segment by putting over Martel's new finisher again.
Back to the ring we go for Rick Rude Vs Brady Boone. Rude comes down to the ring with his stripper music, and when he takes off his robe to show his torso, he doesn't look real. I mean, at least Scott Steiner and HHH have the frames to look like they do. Nature would have had Rude a cruiserweight, so it's not a surprise he's no longer with us. Gorilla remembers that Demolition beat up Boone a couple of weeks ago, and praises him for being in the ring. Boone actually takes control with a hammerlock to start but Rude elbows out of this, and punches Boone a couple of times. Rude whips Boone to the corner, but Brady gets his big move in by jumping to the top and flipping over Rude. Unfortunately for our jobber, Rude just turns around and smacks him. After an elbow to the back, Rude hits a lovely snap suplex, goes for the cover, but then lifts off in the classic heel style. Ravishing lands an atomic drop, while Gorilla tells us to buy the WWF magazine, and the crowd shouts 'weasel' at Heenan, to get on his back. Rude drops Boone on the top rope, then to finish uses a move that Monsoon calls a backbreaker, but looks like a torture rack rotated through 90 degrees. Boone gives up to this quickly. Rude then takes the mic and begins his familiar spiel of telling the men to shut up so the women could see a real man. Rude gyrates while we get a shot of a really ugly woman, and then a quite nice one. During this someone very audibly shouts 'Up Yours'. Nice one mate. Too short to be worth a point. 0 for 2.
Mean Gene is waiting backstage to tell us about the Survivor Series again, then welcomes the Yong Stallions. Roma is happy that Strike Force won the tag belts, while Powers is looking forward to Survivor Series, and their chance to prove themselves. Throughout this they both smile like they're in a 1996 Rocky Miavia look-alike contest.
Now we have a look at what the crowd think of Survivor Series. A man of around 30 says that the WWF and Thanksgiving are America at its best. A 20-year-old girl states that Survivor Series will make it the best Thanksgiving ever. Finally, a 14-year-old geeky kid proclaims SS 'Where it's at'. They surprisingly didn't show anyone who said they actually wanted to watch Starrcade instead.
Next it's the new team of Ken Patera and Billy Jack Haynes against Gino Carabello and Dave Wagner, who clearly shop at the generic jobber outfit store. The first four notes of Patera's music (which his team come out to) are exactly the same as the first four in 'Oh Canada'. Portland Bill and Wagner start with a collar and elbow tie-up, which Billy wins and hits a forearm, a knee and a suplex. Patera is tagged in and BJ throws Wagner into a Patera clothesline. Ken then does a rubbish backbreaker, and something akin to the Garvin Stomp. He then snapmares Wagner back to his corner to allow Carabello in. Another tie-up is broken with a kick to the gut, followed by another bad backbreaker, and then a forceful meeting with Haynes's boot. BJ comes in, hits a short clothesline, some nice chops, and a proper backbreaker. Heenan says Haynes has Portland on his trunks so they know where to send him after he gets beat. Ha ha. BJ tags Patera, but holds on to Carabello as his partner goes to the second rope. BJ lands the sidewalk slam, but Patera just jumps down and does nothing, looking like a complete prick in the process. Patera then uses his cast to cream the jobber, hits a clothesline off the ropes, and tags in BJ. Haynes sticks on the full nelson, and that's that, and there ain't nothing we can do about it. That wasn't fun. 0 for 3.
Mean Gene interviews the heel main eventers for Survivor Series. Heenan kicks things off by calling Hogan's team 'Ham 'n' Eggers'. No one says anything else of note until they come back to Heenan who gives four members a part of the turkey that is Hogan and Andre interjects (with some good comic timing) that he wants the neck. It should be noted that Rude hilariously mugs to the camera all the way through this.
Next we see a clip of Heenan berating Jim Duggan for stealing Harley Race's Kingly stuff, from some other show. As they square up Race shows some stunning athleticism (for him) and vaults over the railing. He grabs Duggan's 2x4 and... well I guess he assaults Duggan, but Sky go to some crowd shots. I don't agree with it, but its understandable that they do this as it is a pre watershed assault with weapon. What isn't acceptable is that the crowd shots are from around 1999! I CAN SEE A MR ASS, AND AN AUSTIN 3:16 SHIRT THERE! Seamless guys. Great. Crowd chant 'Weasel' while Duggan lies prone.
In a fantastic segue, next up its Duggan Vs Dusty Wolf. Duggan is pretty damn over, making me unhappy. Wolf tries to jump Jim right from the start, but Duggan no sells his admittedly piss poor offence. Jim hits a headbutt, wallops Wolf's head into the buckle, lands a clothesline and then drops a knee. Pre-taped Harley tells us Duggan is just a simple peasant. Jim goes for a suplex, which is blocked, but he gets it on the second attempt. He follows this up with a forearm and a scoop slam. The 3-point stance into a clothesline is this time more of a shoulder block, but that's still good enough for the win. Point? You jest surely? 0 for 4.
It's a Craig De George special interview! He's got all of the heels tag-teams that will be at the Survivor Series and their managers, Hart, Heenan, Slick and Fuji. All the managers basically say their team will be great, except Fuji, whose speech made absolutely no sense. Heenan, after forgetting some of the opposition teams, including the champs, leads everyone in a 'Survive' chant, which everyone joins, except Nikolai who seems to be saying something completely different. Could he really not speak English, or was he just Living The Gimmick?
It's video from the Piledriver album time, and this week it's Andre's tune - Stand back. This song is awful, but the video contains some cool stuff like Andre battering some people, Wrestlemania III, and the contract signing preceding it. But by far and away the coolest thing is the Pipers Pit segment where Andre ripped Hogan's shirt off, leaving the Hulkster stunned.
Gorilla interrupts himself to tell us that we've got to listen to The Million Dollar Man. We cut to DiBiase who tells us that the producer of the show had a price, and that's why we'll be seeing his video. The video is just a bunch of cruel/funny stuff that Ted has done to show that everyone has a price in his 6 months or so with the company. These include making a fan kiss his foot, jumping a restaurant queue, making a kid do push ups, kicking a basketball away from an obviously unhappy (not planted) child and closing down a children's swimming pool for his own personal use. Not forgetting the time he took a fan out of the crowd and made her bark like a dog. I know this fan was a plant, because it was LINDA FUCKING MCMAHON! That's right, Vince, in the middle of the wrestling boom, made his wife bark like a dog. Linda was, of course, ultra wooden, but seeing this for the first time was the main reason I started writing this column. Seeing things in retrospect rules! The incident that pushed me over the edge, in case you care, was Tito Santana describing the Survivor Series as 'the most watched superbowl in the history of sports'. Hahahahahah.
Judging by the time we have left our next match will be the final one, and it's only gone and got Randy Savage in it! He's facing Crippler Rick or maybe Rip, its never actually put in writing, Oliver. Savage wallows in the adulation of the audience, while Heenan intimates his disgust at the former heel offering his hand in friendship to Hogan. Heenan seems keen to praise Oliver and says he knows his background, which makes me think the Crippler was in the AWA, but that's a guess. Oliver backs off to start and goes to the ropes, but Savage pulls him off by the hair. Oliver has control and uses punches, and a head to the buckle to control Savage. He lowers his head after a whip to the ropes and savage lifts a knee to take over. The Macho Man rams his opponent's head off three buckles and elbows him out of the ring. Around now Ricky Steamboat appears on video and tells us he'll roast some turkeys at the Survivor Series. Cheers, Ricky! Savage jumps over the top rope to throw Oliver back in, but this just leads to a Crippler eye rake on the inside. Savage again turns the tables after being whipped into the ropes, as he hits a high running elbow. He follows this up with a knee to the back, which again puts Oliver outside. This time Savage hits a double axe handle off the top rope to the floor, and returns to the ring to pose. When Oliver is back on the apron, Savage suplexes him back in and goes up top for the Savage Elbow. Naturally that gets Randy the win. Not great, but the most entertaining match of the night. 1 for 5.
Our final visit backstage has Okerlund explaining the Survivor series rules AGAIN, and interviewing the Dream Team. This was only notable for Bravo killing himself laughing as Gene got to the Young Stallions, when listing their opponents. Paul Roma goes on to be a horseman, Dino. You'd better give him some respect. Ha Ha.
Next weeks main event will be Danny Davis Vs Brutus Beefcake, and we're going to get comments. Davis says Brutus can't touch him, while Brutus tells us he will cut Davis up.
Bobby and Gorilla run down the rest of next weeks show too. We'll have Strike Force, One Man Gang, Bam Bam Bigelow and Demolition, as well as the main event.
Gorilla tells Bobby to say 'bye' but Heenan resents being told what to do, and we're out.
Overall: That sucked. I've been a bit of a dick recently and I think this may have been my atonement. The last three segments were the saving graces though, and any show with Linda McMahon barking can't be all bad. Whoever booked the opener is missing the point entirely. Why was Jake over? Because he had good long matches that built to a finish. I realise they tried to do this, but the match wasn't long enough. Giving the guy three minutes to show his highspots is pointless, because he doesn't have any. He's not that kind of wrestler. If you don't want long matches for TV, then don't put Jake on. To keep him exposed just give him one 7/8 minute match against a credible opponent every couple of months. Surely the time can be found for that? Hmm, I don't know why I'm getting worked up about this, its 15 years ago. Anyway, join me next week when, if we ignore One Man Gang, it might be better. Join me.