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WWF Classics (UK) by Ian Mowat





Originally aired early 1988.

'Rabid Ron in the Morning' agrees that the shiny WWF logo is the recognised symbol of excellence in sports entertainment. He also recommends hot new local band Viking Funeral.

Bobby and Gorilla welcome us to this year in review special.

The year may have changed but the opening montage remains the same.

Monsoon explains that Bobby has left because he's scared of the wrath of the British Bulldogs. Between you and me, it's because he's actually doing a studio voiceover. Hey, I'm as disgusted as you are about this falsehood.

Gorilla puts over the quality of the tag division in 1987, especially its new champions Strike Force. We then get to see the conclusion of their title victory against the Harts, but because I have it on file anyway, and because the match was pretty damn good, here's the whole review:

We now head over to Superstars for our main event, as the Hart Foundation defend their tag belts against Strike Force. In case some of you are unaware, Strike Force are Rick Martel and Tito Santana. The Hart Foundation and already in the ring, with Bret looking like a teenager despite being 30. The commentators here are Vince 'Whatamanoeuver' McMahon, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, and Pat 'Profanity' Patterson. Actually I only think the third man is Patterson, as he is never ID'd, but who else sounds like him? Anyway it's fairly immaterial, as he says virtually nothing the whole match. The most 80's sounding tune possible hits, and SF make their way down to the ring to a very impressive pop. The match begins with Bret clubbing Martel, but Rick gets a leapfrog off the ropes and then hits Bret with two quality dropkicks. He follows this up with an armdrag into an armbar. Martel drags Bret over to his corner where he tags in Tito and they hit a stereo flying elbow on Bret. Tito goes back to an armbar, but the Hitman gets out of this and then holds onto the ropes as Tito goes for a roll-up. This gives Hart enough time to tag in Neidhart. The Anvil's elbowdrop misses however, and Tito goes back to his trusty armbar. This degenerates into a slugfest, which Tito wins, but Bret knees him in the back as he goes off the ropes, to allow the Anvil to take over. Neidhart chokes Tito with his knee, as the crowd start to get behind the face-in-peril. Anvil distracts the ref, so Bret elbows Tito. Incensed at this Martel comes in which just allows Bret to choke Santana with impunity. Bret holds Tito for an Anvil kick that misses by a mile, but Tito sells anyway. Anvil tries another that works better, and celebrates by throwing Tito outside, where Bret nails him with a double axe handle. Bret continues to work on Tito outside while Martel decides to chase Jimmy Hart a bit, but then gives up. When Tito is finally rolled back in Martel breaks up the pin. With the Anvil incapacitated Tito crawls for the tag, with the crowd willing him on all the way, but Bret runs across the ring and nails Martel to stop it. The Anvil slams Tito's head off the mat a few times and the hold him in the backbreaker position, while Bret hits an elbow off the middle rope. That gets 2 _. Bret hits a slam, but misses an elbow, and the crowd get worked up again, as they think Tito might make the tag. Bret gets up and cuts this off because he did only miss an elbow. That's not going to keep him down you stupid fans. He does tag Neidhart in, and he works Tito over while Vince and Jesse argue over the pronunciation of Tito/Chico's name. Martel stupidly distracts the ref once more to allow more double-teaming in the form of choking and eye-gouging, and the crowd chant Tito's name again. The fans get what they want as Tito reverses an Irish whip and Bret goes sternum first into the turnbuckle, as he would in every match for the next thirteen years. Tito finally manages the hot tag to Martel to a big pop. Martel wins a slugfest with the Anvil, and then dropkicks him. He nails Bret on the apron, but Neidhart whips him toward the turnbuckle. However, Martel jumps to the second rope and hits a cross-body that gets 2, before Bret breaks the count. Tito then comes in and throws Bret out of the ring, and helps Martel do a half suplex, half slam move on the Anvil. Martel sticks on the Boston Crab and Neidhart taps in about five seconds. The roof is coming off the place as Strike Force celebrate and are handed the titles as the super 80's music kicks in again. Well the match wasn't great, but it was damn good for being on free weekly TV at the time. I don't know when I'm next going to recap a match of this standard. Easy point.

And for the best part of three months I haven't had anything that come close to this match. Anyway Gorilla rounds this segment off by pointing out that there are lots of potential challenges for Strike Force to deal with in the coming year.

We get to see Mean Gene announce that the 93,173 at Wrestlemania III have set a new indoor attendance record. The crowd cheer themselves.

Gorilla makes the genius connection between big crowds, and big wrestlers. But this is apparently a new breed of Super-heavyweight, they have athleticism too. Perhaps not illustrating this in the best way possible, we see One Man Gang obliterate a jobber, and then give the ref a Dominator; an act which we are informed cost him $10,000. Flair let Austin off lightly, eh?

Our next big man is Bam Bam Bigelow. We see him reject Slick as a manager, and then punk out Nikolai Volkov, who got in Bam Bam's face about the Bammer choosing Oliver Humperdink over the Slickster. Well at least we know you were right Nikolai.

We then move to the final three of a Battle Royale on October 31st. Bigelow is left with 'Ace Cowboy' Bob Orton, and Hercules. The two heels close in on Bam Bam, but Bigelow cartwheels between them. They try again, but this time the Bammer rolls by them. Finally the heels numbers advantage tells and Bigelow is pummelled and given a double clothesline. They jointly try to eliminate Bam Bam, but Bigelow doesn't fancy this and eliminates both simultaneously, using not but one arm for both. That was quite fun.

Despite this being a year in review show, we still have tame for interviews to keep everyone abreast of current angles. Mean Gene is talking with the Bulldogs. Davey boy laments the poor condition of Matilda, after her kidnapping by the Islanders. The Dynamite Kid, who's doing an amazing job of looking upset - I mean, I feel he may cry at any moment, says Matilda's 'just like a child to them' and that they 'love that little dog'. Both then predict revenge. Good interview, but a dog kidnapping angle is just unsaveable. Ask Al Snow. Gorilla then tells us that the Honky Tonk Man also had a year of good fortune. He got a new song, a new belt, and a new guitar. The guitar was necessitated by the events of September 30th on Saturday Night's Main Event, where we join HTM as he prepares to cream Savage with his instrument (huh-huh), with the assistance of the Hart Foundation. Wood duly comes to Randy's head (huh-huh-huh), and we see Elizabeth dragging out a confused looking Hulk Hogan. Hogan catches on to what's happening, and shoots toward the ring (huh-huh-huh-h... ahh, forget it). The Hulkster takes a small beating and then clears the ring with a recovering Savage. They then do the back-into-each-other-ready-to-fight bit, and of course they end up shaking hands. Two points of historical significance in that clip. One, it may well be the only time Hogan EVER gave Savage the rub, and two, Hogan punching Bret Hart is the only time I can think of that the two EVER physically fought on TV. Do you think Bret still sits at home, dreaming of that Starrcade main event that he was promised?

We now move to an interview with the Macho Man. Craig DeGeorge hardly has the chance to say anything, as Savage unleashes a truly fantastic interview. All he's doing is talking about how he wants vengeance on the Honky Tonk Man, but he's totally mesmerising. You honestly believe he's a man living on the very edge. Doing that in the cartoon world of the late 80's WWF makes him a minor deity. Flair, Austin, Rock, whoever, just aren't in Savages league when it comes to talking. He also finishes with the Cactus Jack 'Bang Bang' four years before Foley would use it. Took it from 'Loveshack', did you Mick? Hmmmmm.

Now we check out the 'Up yours NWA' PPV that was the first Survivor Series. A look at the tag team elimination match lets us see a surprisingly boring segment of Paul Roma being beaten on by Bret Hart and the Islanders. We then get a view of the 'Ultimate Survivor' match, and see that Bam Bam and Andre the Giant and our final two, but we don't then get to see Andre's eventual victory.

Next up is a video package of Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and Damien in action. Basically it's Jake beating on jobbers, and Damien slithering on jobbers to either an AC/DC tune, or a very good knock off of one.

Don Muraco is next up for our viewing pleasure. Gorilla informs us that Muraco has gained fan support in 1987, but a piss poor pop for a clip of him Tombstoning and pinning a jobber would seem to belay this. We then get to see the reason that he has this alleged fan support: his attempted saving of Billy Graham. As Graham is being splashed on his bad hip by the One Man Gang, the crowd are screaming for Hogan. Instead Muraco comes out and takes out Butch Reed, but can't stop Gang doing another splash on Graham, while the Superstar was on a stretcher. That'll retire you then Billy.

Next we see the Piledriver video. Basically a bunch of faces are working on this building site and they don't like it when The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart try to drive through. Hogan then covers the foreman in cement for some reason. We then alternate between shots of Koko B. Ware singing (for the vocals are his) and everyone gaping at attractive women walking by them. In the most bizarre scene ever Vince McMahon (no, I don't know why he stepped in front of camera for this either, but I'm guessing ego and drugs had something to do with it) waves what appears to be a bag of bagels at one of the women. It may have been crap, but it did look very polished, showing how seriously Vince took the credibility thing.

Because the WWF loves me we now get the Demolition video 'Pain and Destruction'. I love that song so much, and the video of nuclear holocaust ain't half bad either.

To tie in with the video we get to see Demolition beat up on Brady Boone, then Billy Jack Haynes fail to help his cousin, and then Ken Patera receives cane shots to his injured arm when he is unable to rescue either of his friends. Jesse Ventura comments that Demolition rule, and I concur.

Next up, is a return to the Slammy Awards of a couple of weeks ago. The presentation of choice is Hulk Hogan giving the 'Real American' award. Scarily he calls the adulation of his fans a 'turn-on'. Giving the award to Billy Graham, Hogan says that 'a lot of us modelled our lives on him'. No shit. Billy Graham, the Godfather of steroid abuse. Graham limps up to accept the award, and despite myself, I find this a very touching moment. The Superstar ruins this by proclaiming his love for Hogan, and Hogan ruins it even more by breaking Graham's cane and making him pose. Jesus Christ! He thinks he's Jesus Christ.

Gorilla neatly segues the above into Ted DiBiase's attempt to purchase the title off the Hulkster. We first get a viewing of DiBiase claiming he'll buy the title, and then we get to witness Hogan's riposte in mid-interview. The Hulkster says that the money offered to him for the World Title could secure his family, get him cars, and help the little spasticated Hulksters. Wait, he said disabled, not spasticated. Sorry. Despite all this Hogan doesn't just say no to the offer, he says OH, HELL NO! He wants DiBiase to bring it in the ring. Gorilla forewarns us that DiBiase still pledges to get the title by any means necessary.

Our final interview is with Brutus Beefcake. He's got brand new big scissors, and he wants to beat Valentine. To prepare he's been learning at Barber school. Shouldn't he be practising wrestling or something? Craig DeGeorge doesn't seem to care.

That'll be enough of the reviewing, so lets look at next weeks show. The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis, Bam Bam Bigelow, and the Million Dollar Man are in action. As if this weren't enough we'll see highlights of Hogan Vs King Kong Bundy from SNME.

Repeat of the montage, and we're done.

Overall: It would seem that the best of 1987 would involve mainly Bret Hart, and Bam Bam Bigelow. While this clearly wasn't the actual best of the year, it certainly didn't suck. A more entertaining recap I have never had to do, and moments like the tag title match, the Savage interview, and Hogan punching Bret really made it stand out. Next week we'll return to the crappy old format of two minute matches and Craig DeGeorge trying to make unimportant things seem important. There are some quality performers on view, but the standard of jobber will undoubtedly maketh the show. Join me to find out if they can. Join me.

Ian Mowat
[slash] wrestling

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