It’s been a while since I’ve gone back in time for a review and today I randomly chose something that came up as a suggestion on YouTube: WWF All Star Wrestling from August 31, 1985. All Star was the B-show of the time, the forerunner to Wrestling Challenge. But we get the team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura on commentary so I’m sold immediately. This week in action are Paul Orndorff, Terry Funk, and Randy Savage. Oooh la and la.
Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff vs. A.J. Petruzzi
The third greatest AJ in WWF/E history is wearing a sweatband on his bicep and is billed from Jim Thorpe, PA which is ACTUALLY where he was born. Orndorff is a hero at this point because he had fired Bobby Heenan publicly, and in response the Brain put a $25,000 bounty on Mr. Wonderful. Captain Lou Albano comes out to commentary to talk about the Manager of the Year voting, and it seems strange that they would run this in August. There’s four months left! Albano feels he has a strong candidacy, but he is voting for Hillbilly Jim. Alright, buddy.
Orndorff gets the win with his sick piledriver, where he gets some air before driving Petruzzi to the mat. Gorilla ponders if maybe that move is too dangerous and should be banned, showing that he was way ahead of his time. And even despite the bounty, Orndorff went back to Heenan less than a year later. Why? Because being with Heenan gets you matches with Hogan, and that gets you more money. How’s that for a kayfabe explanation?
Update desk with Lord Al Hayes focusing on Magnificent Muraco as a challenger to Hulk Hogan’s world title, and footage is shown of him and Mr. Fuji hanging Ricky Steamboat over the top rope.
Ad for LJN figures, of which I still have seven at my mother’s house: Terry Funk, JYD, Volkoff, Sheik, Ventura, Piper and SD Jones. Yes, SD had a figure. Ventura came with me to college just in time for his election as governor.
Uncle Elmer (w/Hillbilly Jim) vs. Bigfoot
Jim became a manager earlier in the year after suffering a legitimate leg injury slipping on a concrete floor. It was a case of horrible timing because he was very over at the start of 1985 after a slow build of showing him in the audience at TV tapings then pairing him with Hulk Hogan in vignettes. Someone actually grabs Jim’s hat out of his hands but then gives it right back. Odd.
Who is Bigfoot? Not even the internet can agree on this. It’s not Rip Morgan, and is probably Bob Harrow, a wrestler from Memphis. It’s a weird thing to be hung up on, I know.
The match is the shits, and Elmer wins with a leg drop. Always wonder how Hogan felt about this fatass using his finisher. Jim and Elmer dance in the ring, and Jesse says one of my favorite Ventura standard jokes that Elmer would do well in a bodybuilding contest under “most abs”. The Body would late use that line on Dusty Rhodes in ’89.
Gorilla gives us the address for Manager of the Year voting. Surely this won’t be used to put people on a catalog list for Christmas! Yes it will, and don’t call me Shirley.
Okerlund casually tells us of a tag title change from August 24 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake are the new champs. Footage is promised next week.
Junkyard Dog joins Gene and says it is like Friday in the projects when people get paid. I have no idea what he’s trying to say and I am afraid to even speculate. He’s also wearing a shirt that says ATLANTA. He has an issue with Terry Funk, and that feud would last pretty much until Funk leaves the promotion in spring 1986.
Ricky Steamboat and Junkyard Dog vs. Ted Grizzly and Tiger Chung Lee
This was a nice trick that WWF did a lot in the mid-80s: put two stars together in a random tag team and you get them both on TV. Lot of random six man tags in 1987 involving Tito Santana and JYD.
Grizzly is billed from Morgan’s Corner, Arkansas which was also the billed hometown of 800 lb Haystacks Calhoun. In reality, he was a Canadian from Hamilton, Ontario and he was a convenient guy to use at the frequent TV tapings in Brantford, Ontario. He also went to prison for murder in the 1970s, which is bound to make you stand out among other jobbers.
Meanwhile, Chungamania was still running wild! Poor Chunger had Fuji turn on him a year prior, lose the blowoff match, then return to this jobber status where he is facing Steamboat effectively fighting Fuji’s battles since the Dragon’s then-issue was with Fuji and Muraco. Lee is in the green tonight, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day in his heart.
Lee gets in some mild offense then makes the mistake of tagging out, and Grizzly is pinned with the flying crossbody of Steamboat pretty quick. I’m glad Chunger didn’t have to get pinned again.
Steamboat and JYD dance after the match to “Another One Bites the Dust”, JYD’s original theme. If you’re going to draw the line of when the Dog became completely useless, you can probably start at the point where “Grab Them Cakes” became his theme, which would be some point in 1986.
Okerlund is with Mr. Fuji and Magnificent Muraco. Fuji manages to break Okerlund for a second as Gene cracks a smile. Muraco has a bandage on his head and probably a lot of THC in his blood because he sounds high as all hell. Muraco says Steamboat will be tired of him, but I think the Magnificent one was just tired himself. From smoking weed all day.
Terry Funk (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Keith Diamond
Funk is about two months into his run, which was very underrated. Of all the Hogan challengers in the 80s, if they were to take the title off Hulk the two most plausible guys were probably Piper and Funk. But Terry liked to come and go as he pleased so that wasn’t going to work. All the Funk trademarks are here against Diamond (from Atlantic City, NJ): the great punches, tossing him recklessly to the floor, comically falling down once while breaking a referee count, a missed elbow after running the ropes twice. I defy you to find a Terry Funk match that is not entertaining in some way.
Diamond gets in a little offense but runs right into the sleeper and is put away. Funk “brands” Diamond, who actually kind of no sells it. He just lies there and takes it with no reaction. Gorilla says Funk is destined to wear gold at some point. Would that it were, Monsoon.
Body Shop with Jesse Ventura: Guests are Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Freddie Blassie
Ah, the B-show interview segment. The original version of this was Blackjack’s BBQ hosted by Blackjack Mulligan but he left suddenly at the start of 1985. The Body Shop hosted by Jesse followed and when Jesse left to make movies later, Don Muraco took over hosting duties. The Snake Pit then arrived late in 1986, and at least people remember stuff happening on that show.
This is memorable for only one reason: the confusion where they refer to Windham and Rotundo as the tag champs, which they were at the time of the taping but by the time this aired the belts were on Beefcake and Valentine. Ventura says Sheik and Volkoff are the real champs in his mind. Sheikie starts lifting weights to end the segment. Very strange.
Ad for WWF Magazine and if someone would get me this issue for Christmas I’d be happy. Andre the Giant meets the Goonies? Awesome! I’d love to see an eating contest between Andre and Chunk.
George Wells and Lanny Poffo vs. Steve Lombardi and Jerry Adams (The Brooklyn-Bronx Connection)
Holy shit, this is paradise for a jobber lover like me. I was hoping Gorilla would say “main event anywhere in the country, Jess” but he didn’t. Lombardi is 2 years into his lengthy run, while Adams is a guy from the Bronx, hence the name I gave this team. Poffo came in with his brother a few months earlier. Wells would actually stick around long enough to lose to Jake Roberts at WrestleMania 2 and froth at the mouth from the snake being laid upon him. But he’s best known for being a Canadian Football League star.
Heenan joins the commentary not to regale us with his wit, but to put over the Manager of the Year contest. This isn’t much for in-ring action but Wells gets the win with a big shoulderblock on Adams.
One of the most bizarre PSAs you will ever see on a wrestling show. Tito Santana urges viewers to never go swimming alone.
Randy “Macho Man” Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. Rick McGraw
These people are all deceased, but McGraw would be dead within 10 weeks. He was a short but stout guy who was on so much stuff to try and get big that it unquestionably had a role in killing him.
Elizabeth had only debuted a week earlier on the Championship Wrestling show and what most will forget is that Liz was very different as a character at this point. She was being bossed around, but she gave off a different vibe. The concept is less submissive but classy lady and more of something out of the TV shows Dallas or Dynasty. Ventura openly ogling her is totally different from what we would see in the next 3 years. It would have made Liz more interesting, but in the end I don’t know if this version of Liz would have helped Randy that much. His levels of paranoia would have been much higher with his manager being that much of a focus.
McGraw gets in some offense but it gets shaken off during this match. Savage’s double axe to the outside is a real high spot in WWF 1985 to the point where everyone is on their feet when he does it. McGraw hits knees on a flying splash try and Savage gets the big elbow for the win. Elizabeth is very vocal in her cheerleading, as Ventura ponders asking her to manage him too. Macho and the Body would have something of an alliance in early 1986 working many shows as a tag team.
Okerlund is with Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer. Christ almighty. They have a surprise, and it’s their cousin, named Cousin Junior. But you’re not fooling me…as an avid watcher of 1984 WWF TV I know that’s fine jobber Lanny Kean. He talks about his hat pins (which he says people just give to him) and his love of bubble gum. Wow, world title here he comes!
Promotional consideration was presented by the following: Edge shave gel, Personna razors as endorsed by football great Jack Lambert, Isuzu, and Rick Springfield’s “Tao” album which was 4 months old by this point and not as good as his earlier work.
Summary: Fun look at the early part of Savage and Funk’s WWF runs. But a lot of this show is to promote a scam to get people on a mailing list. But I have no regrets about reviewing this. Jesse and Gorilla hadn’t hit their stride yet but Gorilla’s real strength is in making crappy stuff watchable. So yeah, if you need to kill 45 minutes this isn’t horrible. Especially if you always wanted to hear Tito Santana talk about the dangers of swimming alone.