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NFD Redux: WWF Wrestling Classic 
April 10, 2003

by Rick Scaia  
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


[Ed. Note: Yeah, so I got a bunch of really old stuff off a ZIP disk, and now I'm bludgeoning YOU, the home viewer, with it whenever there's a slow day here on OO.  I'm not trying to steal Scott Keith's gimmick, either, since I'm not "re-ranting," I'm just putting an old piece o' shit out there -- warts, embarrassingly underdeveloped smark sensibilities, and all -- to get some cheap hits to help cover for that bastard Lund when he doesn't write anything!

Seriously, though, my motivation is this: I refuse to take for granted that everybody reading this page is a twenty-something (or older) survivor of the Rock 'n' Wrestling War who remembers what the hell Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, and Roddy Piper are talking about when they all claim to be the architects of today's wrestling success.  So, to provide yet another slice of tasty  Context Pie for you younger kids, here's the closest the mid-80's WWF ever came to blowing off the monumental Hogan/Piper feud... in October '85, some six months after the first Mania, Hogan and Piper headlined the first wrestling pay-per-view event, ever (WM1 was a closed-circuit event), and as happened in all tag matches and house shows, Piper simply would not lay down for Hogan cleanly.  He's the only of Hogan's foes from that Golden Era to be able to say that.  In this, their biggest televised one-on-one match, Hogan had to settle for a clusterfuck of a DQ ending.  No THAT is the sort of non-closure you can revive 18 years later!  Coming soon to Piper's Pit on SmackDown:  "Hogan never beat me!"... bet on it.

Note: this was written for the NFD in late 1996.  If nothing else, that means you get a ton of hilarious -- read "dated" -- jokes about the AWF, which was a sucky federation for has-beens that was on national TV at the time.  All witty asides and stats were, I assure you, accurate at that time.]

Welcome, all ye faithful readers.... You're here, and I've finally taken the  time to actually type of a reaction to the very first wrestling  pay-per-view event *ever*, and one of the World Wrestling  Federation's more interesting cards, historically speaking. I say  "interesting," not only because there were some fascinating events  that spotted the event, but also because they tried, and managed, to  fit an entire 16-man single elimination tournament (PLUS a special  attraction main event match) all onto one show. That's 16 matches.  I'm sure the pay-per-view itself ran close to three hours, but the  videotape version, which I have, is actually condensed down to 2  hours. Sure, they cut some ring entrances, but the matches are all  intact. That should give you some idea..... And as if they  didn't have enough stuff to cram into the show, they also spent an  unconscionable amount of time between rounds with Lord Alfred Hayes  reviewing the brackets with some woman who he kept ogling.

On that note, I will type up the original bracket now:

Adrian Adonis  
Cpl. Kirchner

Dynamite Kid  
Nikolai Volkoff

Randy Savage  
Ivan Putski

Ricky Steamboat 
Davey Boy Smith

Junkyard Dog 
Iron Sheik

Moondog Spot 
Terry Funk

Tito Santana 
Magnificent Muraco

Bob Orton 
Paul Orndorff

I find it interesting to make the following observations about the  current employment status of these guys featured in this tournament  of over 11 years ago:

  • 5 are retired and/or inactive in the sport (as far as I  know) -- Kirchner, Dynamite Kid, Ivan Putski, Ricky Steamboat, and Don Muraco
  • 4 still pop up on the independent wrestling  circuit -- Volkoff, JYD, Moondog Spot, and Funk
  • 1 is dead (Adonis)
  • 1 works for the WWF in a non-wrestling capacity -- Iron Sheik
  • 1 works for WCW in a non-wrestling capacity -- Paul Orndorff
  • 1 is active with WCW as a wrestler -- Savage
  • 1 is active with the WWF as a wrestler -- Davey Boy
  • And in a completely non-shocking turn of events, the AWF employs TWO of the individuals from tourney as active wrestlers -- Santana and Orton

But enough pithy observations... how about getting on with the show? 

The Wrestling Classic 
October, 1985 
Rosemont Horizon Chicago, IL

After a run-down of the tourney brackets, we immediately hit the ring  for our first-round matches (which are all scheduled for  a 10-minute time limit, so they have to work fast).

WC Tourney Round #1

Adrian Adonis vs. Corporal Kirchner -- To say this match was "nothing  special" would be an understatement. An understatement that would  apply to many of the matches in the tourney, actually... this was  right as Adonis was setting up his "coming out of the closet." After  he'd taken on Jimmy Hart as manager, but before he was outright  flaming. He was still in black, but I think this was the era when  he was going around making statements about the mysterious "Trudy." I don't actually remember for sure, but I think it was a sleeper that  Adonis used to beat Kirchner... that's how memorable this match was.

Dynamite Kid vs. Nikolai Volkoff -- At the time, 4 minute matches  were pretty normal for TV main events and whatnot in the WWF, so that  last match wasn't unusual... but with 16 matches to squeeze into a  limited amount of time, they needed to take even more drastic  measure. So they made this a 10 second match. Volkoff barely got  done singing the Russian anthem when the ref rang the bell to start  the match. The Kid went to the top rope, delivered a perfect drop  kick, and got the shocking three-count on Nikolai. I remember loving  this when I first saw it 11 years ago!

Randy Savage vs. Ivan Putski -- Ahhhh, the Polish Power... he was  one of my first favorite wrestlers, but by this time, even I could  tell he was not exactly in his prime or likely to win the match. In  another 4 minute special, Savage and Putski trade offense, then  quickly wrap it up, with Savage using his feet on the rop for  leverage to get a pinfall on a surprised Putski.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Davey Boy Smith -- Now, the Dragon *was* my  favorite wrestler at the time, and he was in his prime. But this was  a unique good guy vs. good guy match (I was still 7 years away from  knowing the term "face"), and it was intriguing. This was probably  the third best match of the card, wrestling-wise, but it was kinda  short; not as short as some other first round matches, but still like  6 or 8 mintues long. Good action, as DBS back then was less a power  wrestler, and more a skill wrestler. Finally, the battle of good  guys ends when DBS goes to drop kick Steamboat, but Ricky moves, and  DBS winds up going into the ropes and crotching himself. Even though  Steamboat makes it clear he's not happy about it, he accepts the  referee's decision to stop the bout due to DBS's injury to his delicate region.

Junkyard Dog vs. Iron Sheik -- Wow. This was a wild and wooly  brawl. And that was sarcasm. Though I remember thinking it was very  cool back then, this was lame by today's standards. The two started  brawling, and used such things as the Sheik's turban. The Sheik got  JYD in the Camel Clutch (using the turban for leverage?), but JYD  escaped, and head-butted his way to a victory in under 2 minutes.

Moondog Spot vs. Terry Funk -- Now this was even more interesting  that good guy vs. good guy. Both guys were bad guys here.  Admittedly, even 11 years ago, I recognized the concept of "jobber"  even if I didn't know the terminology, and that's what Spot's role in  the WWF of 1985 was. So that added to the intrigue. Funk, trying to  prove there *is* honor among thieves, tells Spot he does not want to  beat up on a fellow bad guy, so why don't they both just walk away  from the ring and take a draw. Spot thinks this might be OK. After  a bit more cajoling, both men are on their way out of the ring...  but it turns out Spot was a sucker afterall, because as soon as  they're out there, Funk unleashes on the Moondog, beating him  senseless. Funk is clearly in control, and throws Spot back in the  ring to finish him when the ref rings the bell. He counted to ten,  and Funk was counted out. But Spot, a huge underdog, got back in the  ring before the count thanks to Funk. Terry is furious, but Spot  gets a mild babyface reaction from the crowd. A neat angle, even  today!

Tito Santana vs. Don Muraco -- Now, I never really liked Santana, and  this match is as good a reason as any. Like Steamboat, Santana's  thing was to get beat up a lot to gain sympathy. But unlike  Steamboat, Santana has no cool moves to fight back with. Just the  Flying Burrito and the Figure Four. So in this match, Tito takes a  ton of punishment on his leg, which I guess could have been to render  the Fig. 4 useless. Big deal. Tito somehow recovers and limps his  way to a victory, though once again, the details evade my  recollection. The devious Mr. Fuji's cane was involved in the match,  though. I remember that much.

Paul Orndorff vs. Bob Orton -- Finally, a first round match with some  history behind it. Coming out of WM1, these two men wound up on  opposite sides in a bitter feud, and now they're battling in the  first round of the Wrestling Classic. My, the tension is so heavy  you could cut it with a knife. This is typical, old-school  wrestling, with old-school psychology. Orton is the perfect heel  with an arm cast that he seemed to wear for about 80% of his 5 year  WWF career. In fact, in attempting to use the cast, Orton actually  had his attempt backfire. Orndorff went on to win thanks to some  cast-based poetic justice. This was the longest match of the first  round, and probably the most exciting at the time, even though now  it's pretty tame. This would be a perfect main event for the AWF's  first PPV.

With the first round complete, we once again are subjected to Hayes  bumbling his way through the tourney brackets. More interestingly,  Gene Okerlund has an interview backstage with Savage, who in addition  to the managerial help of the Lovely Miss Elizabeth, is also being  aided and prepped for his second round match against Ricky Steamboat  by none-other-than Jesse "the Body" Ventura. Jesse says two heads  are better than one and three are better than two, and he's got just  the thing to help Savage past Steamboat. On that note, we have to  head out for the beginning of the second round.

WC Tourney Round #2

Adrian Adonis vs. Dynamite Kid -- Kid was really an innovator at the  time, but he keeps it mostly old school here against Adonis. This is  a pretty non-descript match, until the end when interference from  Jimmy Hart fails, and Dynamite Kid gets a roll-up on Adonis for the  win. Adonis and Hart throw a tantrum in the ring, foreshadowing  Adrian's impending loss of manhood.

Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat -- This was the second best match of  the night, wrestling-wise... still, it would probably be only  "passable" by today's standards. It was a good, tough,  back-and-forth match, with Steamboat really getting the crowd behind  him. They even take it outside a bit. In fact, the end comes when  Steamboat is bringing Savage back into the ring. Steamboat is  back-suplexing Savage in from the apron when Savage hits him in the  face with a foreign object. Steamboat is quickly pinned. This was  the EXACT SAME finish they used three months later when Savage won  the Inter-Continental title from Tito Santana at Boston Gardens. On  commentary, Jesse won't say for sure if that was his sure fire plan  or not, but does predict Savage will roll through the rest of the  tourney.

Junkyard Dog vs. Spot -- After a one match aberration, Spot goes back  to being a heel jobber here, dropping a squash match against the JYD.

Tito Santana vs. Paul Orndorff -- Two good guys again. This time,  Jesse really plays it up on commentary, saying he wishes these pretty  boys would just cut loose sometime. Tito comes in with his leg taped  (remember last match vs. Muraco? good....), and Orndorff, like a  gentlemen, stays away from going after that leg. Lots of clean  breaks and stuff, too. No fists. But that can only keep up for so  long... finally Orndorff's history as a heel and Tito's spicy Latin  temper are unleashed, and the pretty boys, much to "the Body's" delight, start going at it. They brawl to the outside of the  ring, and finally, both guys are counted out. Kinda cool old-school  match, with interesting face/face psychology. Maybe a bit tame for  today, but neat back then, and once again, perfect for the main event  of an AWF show!

Well, with Tito and "Mr. Wonderful" going to a draw, that means that  the JYD gets a bye into the finals, but there is still one semi-final  match, and after another torturous visit with Alfred Hayes, it's up next.

WC Tourney Semi-Finals

Dynamite Kid vs. Randy Savage -- This was, by far, the best match of  the night, and would even hold its own today. Savage was in his  prime, and Kid was an innovator in his prime as well. Lotsa  high-flying (by '85 standards, at least, though it was very well done and holds  up against what a lot of guys try today), and hard-hitting action.  It was in this match that Savage really started to have his back  targeted. This was a grueling 15 minute match (when all the other  matches are only about one-third that long, it makes it seem like an  epic, trust me!), and Savage finally looked like he'd taken enough,  when Dynamite decided to go for the jugular. He set up Savage on the  ropes, and was preparing for a TOP ROPE SUPERPLEX (this was  absolutely brand-new in the 1985 WWF!). The Kid gets Savage over, and both are on their way down when Savage craftily manages to shift  his bodyweight to flip over onto Dynamite. The Kid is caught off  guard and is pinned to end a super match.

JYD vs. No one -- As discussed, the JYD got a bye to the finals,  though Jesse Ventura said to make it fair, the Dog should have to  come out and do 1,000 push-ups to make up for the grueling semi-final  match Randy Savage just had.

To give the combatants time to rest, it's time for a special  attraction main event match:

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan -----------------------------------------

Well, I guess if you count these two, that brings the total number of  wrestlers from this show currently active in WCW up to 3 (which, to  my dismay, knocks the AWF of the top of that list). To see these two  go at it back in '85, in their primes and one on one at last after the first WM's tag match and all those other extra-curriculars, really makes WCW's current attempts to pass  off a potential match between the two some 11-plus year later look  weak. The crowd ate this feud up back then, and believe it or not,  Hogan actually wrestled a bit back in the day, too! Piper hadn't yet  fallen into his proven, but occasionally predictable, grooves of  getting babyface heat, and as a heel, demonstrated tons more  creativity and was tons more entertaining. Anyway, this match is  really hot, and like I said, Hogan actually did some wrestling early;  mainly just a suplex here and a drop toe hold there, but more than he  does today. Piper responded with brawling tactics and great  psychology. Finally, things progressed to a Hogan bearhug, which  Roddy craftily escapes with a rake of the eyes. Then it's Piper with  a sleeper, which Hogan escapes annoyingly with a toned-down precursor  to what is today known as the "Hulk Up." They brawl outside. Then  there is a ref bump... and the drama really kicks in. Bob Orton,  Piper's main accomplice and partner in crime during that era, enters  to double team on Hogan. They get him with some chairshots and what  not. But before too much damage is done, Orton's nemesis and Hogan's  friend (at least until mid-1986, when they began feuding violently),  Paul Orndorff enters to make the save. With the numbers evened,  Piper and Orton decide to take off; as the ref recovers, he counts  out or disqualifies Piper (I'm not really clear on what he called for  as the finish). Hogan and Orndorff do a double pose-down in mid-ring  to the crowd's adulation.

I'm sure it wasn't much of a match by today's standards, but back  then, this is what the fans in general, and I specifically, liked to  see. And even if it wasn't all that good by today's standards, I  would wager a princely sum that when Piper and Hogan try to lace 'em  up one more time for WCW, they'll perform even more miserably by  today's standards. And I'll bet the finish will be just as  indecisive.

[A sidebar: as with the 16 tourney wrestlers, along with Hogan and  Piper, it's interesting to note the current status of the four  members of the announce team: one is still with the WWF (Gorilla  Monsoon), one is now in WCW (Gene Okerlund), one is currently  dragging down the AWF single-handedly (Alfred Hayes), and one is out  of the business (Jesse Ventura). Of them all, Jess was easily the  best at what he did, and wouldn't you know, *he's* the one who isn't  announcing anymore....]

Alright, Gene has an interview with Hogan/Orndorff back in the  dressing room, but all that's really left is for the tournament  final.

Wrestling Classic Tournament Final

Randy Savage vs. Junkyard Dog -- The Lovely Miss Elizabeth has yet  another enchanting and cleavage-enhancing dress on, making this the  fourth of the night; that matches Liz and Randy's performance at WM4,  where they also went through four different color-coordinated robe/gown ensembles. Junkyard Dog has the same nappy white tights covering his fat ass as always. Savage actually works really hard to make  this enjoyable. He's really selling the bad back, and that adds to  the drama of the match. They do some spots outside the ring, which  are cool. Finally, Savage is thrown outside the ring, and his back  prevents him from getting back in before the ref's count. JYD wins  the match and the tournament, with this count-out victory. Jesse  Ventura is not pleased with this latest turn of events, and steps  into the ring to confront JYD... but then thinks better of doing so  and returns to the commentary table. The show ends happily, with the  Junkyard Dog winning the whole she-bang.

All that in one two-hour videotape! My goodness.... even if it's  not all that good, that's a lot of action. The show moves fast, and  really, despite a large percentage of short, crappy matches, is worth  sitting through. Back in '85 I enjoyed this tape because of the  tournament final going to JYD and the big Hogan/Piper match, along  with some of the other cooler mini-angles like the Funk/Spot thing  and the Dynamite Kid winning in 10 seconds in the first round.  Today, I really enjoy and appreciate Randy Savage's effort here; the  match against Dynamite is spectacular, and the charisma of the man  (before he became a caricature of himself) is undeniable. Even as  a heel, you gotta feel for him as he's fighting a fresh JYD with a  bad back courtesy of three tough previous matches. And the  Funk/Spot angle is still pretty damned funny today.

I encourage anyone and everyone to check out this show on video if  you can... it's an interesting snapshot of the WWF, right as they  were riding the tide of national success. 


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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