The Wrestling Classic
November, 09 2014
The Wrestling Classic was an early WWE PPV event that took place Nov. 7 1985. It featured a 16 man one night tournament and a Hulk Hogan World Title defence. We had Mean Gene doing backstage interviews, Vince McMahon, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Susan Waitcuss (?) talking us through the tournament brackets, and Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura doing commentary. I always loved Gorilla and Jesse as a combo; they had that great heel/babyface contrast but never argued for the sake of argument. If one made a fair valid point the other would concede the argument and focus on the match in the ring. The Susan chick was just a Vana White hostess of the board and apart from holding the pointer and occasionally getting groped by Lord Alfred didn't contribute much to the event.
PPV wrestling was very new back then because so as an incentive to purchase this event they were doing a draw award one lucky fan a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. This seemed like the most inappropriate prize ever given out. The Silver Cloud was a old school Royal Family limo type Rolls Royce, which I can't image a single wrestling fan being able to afford to drive. They'd have been way better off to give away a half dozen Pontiacs.
This event was so long ago WWE hadn't even standardized their rings yet so this ring wasn't your standard Blue WWF era wrestling ring. It was super bouncy and loud and didn't have turn buckle pads in the corners. The corners appeared to have a little bit of padding but were just tapped up like the ropes.
Adrian Adonis vs. Corporal Kirshner: Kirshner was absolutely dreadful here, I assume he was green as hell, because he was so bad. Adonis was an incredible worker and he couldn't get anything out of this guy. After working a horrendously applied headlock for a minute or so, Adonis just hit a modified DDT and pinned this guy. They really went out of their way to protect almost everyone on finishes on this show so the fact that heel Adonis just hit a move and pinned this guy leads me to believe they'd already realised this guy was bad and had already given up on him.
Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Dynamite Kid: This match lasted maybe 5 sec. As soon as Nikolai stopped singing the Russian National Anthem the bell rang and Dynamite climbed to the top rope before Volkoff even turned around. Kid hit a top rope drop kick on the unsuspecting Nikolai while he was still wearing his shirt and holding his hat in his hand. That's right Nikolai took the bump and got pinned without letting go of his hat. Crowd popped huge and Dynamite left the ring and headed to the back before the ref could even raise his hand in victory. Dynamite was also gigantic, just jacked to the gills.
Randy Savage vs. Ivan Putski: Putski was huge and pretty over, but this was a nothing match. Savage bumped for him a few times and while Putski was punching him in the corner Savage just tripped him and pinned him with his feet on the ropes. On reply you could even see Putski pointing to the ropes where Savages feet were on the ropes. Oddly there was no possible way Ivan could see Savage's feet from where he was, but I guess he overheard the agent suggest the finish to Savage. 3 matches in and I doubt we've had 5 minutes of match time.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Davey Boy Smith: They announced Davey at 227 lbs but he looked to be at least 245-250. This could have been a great technical wrestling match because both of these guys were baby faces, unfortunately they only had 5 minute. This was great for those few minutes but then after a series of dropkicks Davey charged Steamboat who was against the ropes and Ricky moved and Davey crotched himself on the top rope and the Referee immediate stopped the match due to injury. Finish was a real let down, especially since guys crotch themselves on the ropes all the time, and in a later match we got one as just a comedy highspot. Oooops.
The Iron Sheik vs. JYD: They did a pre-match promo with Dog who went to put over the local sports team and forgot the name of the team. I forget the exact wording but he was putting over the City and then went to put over the team and said he was a big fan or was really excited by The Chicago.... There was just this long awkward pause and they wrapped up and he went to the ring. JYD was very over but not very good, so there wasn't much to this. Sheiky jumped Dog and beat him up for a minute or 2 before the ref tried to stop Sheik from Punching JYD providing a distraction allowing JYD to hit Sheiky with a head butt and pin him.
Terry Funk vs. Moondog Spot: This wasn't a match at all but at least it was a fun finish. I'm not sure if Spot was a heel or just a mentally limited character, but Terry tried to convince him that they probably didn't want to fight each other so why didn't they just leave the ring and call it a draw. This would eliminate them both from the tournament which leads me to believe Spot was meant to be a sandwich shy of a picnic. Spot agrees so they both leave the ring and the bell rings. Terry then sucker punches Spot and tries to run back into the ring to pick up the count out win. This got tremendous heat, but before he got back in Spot grabbed Terry's leg and pulled him back to the floor. Spot then charged at Funk who ducks and accidentally backdrops Spot back into the ring, just as the ref reaches 9. Terry failed to beat the count and Spot wins and advances via Count out. Had the other matches on the show not all been so short and meaningless this would have been a total win, but as it was it was kind of disappointing.
Don Muraco vs. Tito Santana: Another short match. Muraco hit a power slam and pinned Tito 1...2...3 We are told Tito's foot was on the rope (the camera missed this). While Muroco was celebrating his win, the ref very quietly waves off the count, and Tito grabs Muraco and small packages him for another 1...2...3 for the win. Muraco was never told the match was restarted and was completely screwed over here.
Paul Orndorff vs. Bob Orton: This was baby face Mr. Wonderful and it was announced that Bobby Heenan put a $50,000 Bounty on Paul's head. This was the only legitimate match of the first round. We got some time and Orndorff was a great fiery baby face here. This was the match with the comedy crotch spot on the tope rope so I guess Bob Orton didn't watch the matches before him. Fun match until Orton loaded up the cast and nailed Orndorff with it right in front of the ref for the DQ. Mr. Wonderful advances.
Adrian Adonis vs. Dynamite Kid: This match was decent but still short. Dynamite picked up the win, despite Adonis having his foot on the rope and pointing it out after the pin. Not sure if Adonis did this on his own to protect himself but considering the restart match earlier this was bad. Dynamite again left the ring before getting his had raised or acknowledging the ovation from the crowd. Amazing worker but completely failing at getting himself over with the crowd.
Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat: This was great while it lasted and as we found out a few years later at WrestleMania III could have been amazing if given more time. Everything they did was awesome. Savage would pick up the win the exact way he would later win the Intercontinental Title, with a foreign object shot while being back suplexed into the ring.
JYD vs. Moondog Spot: Another nothing match out of the JYD. I'm not sure what happened with the ref here or Spot just jumped the gun, but Spot went to attack Dog, and Dog countered with a big head butt and pinned Spot. There was no ref so JYD just counted the 3 count himself and the bell rang and it was announced as a legit win. Weird.
Tito Santana vs. Paul Orndorff: They told a fun story with this match as they were both good guys and Jesse kept putting over that tempers would eventually flare up and a fight would break out eventually. Match was slow but they told this story well and Jesse would be proven right as both guys eventually resorted to blows and brawled on the floor leading to a double count out. Both men eliminated for the tournament.
Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper (World Title): This was a decent brawl of a match but didn't go all that long and we got a DQ run in by Cowboy Bob Orton. Very disappointing to not get a finish here. I know Piper refused to do jobs but with a tournament full of crap finishes they really should have booked a match where Hogan could pick up a clean win.
Randy Savage vs. Dynamite Kid: Another short match but like Savage vs. Steamboat it was awesome while it lasted. These guys were so fast and so crisp it was amazing. It should also be noted that both Savage and Elizabeth changed their outfits between each match. Savage was a new comer to the WWE and was making it crystal clear he was a star on the rise. The finish was a top rope superplex by the Dynamite kid. Both guys were standing on the top rope which was unheard of in 1985. When I first heard about this move (86-87) I didn't think for a second it was possible to take a bump this big and had to track down a VHS video tape of this event just to see it. Move was amazing but as Dynamite went to roll through for the pin Savage hooked his legs in a cradle and got the win. Savage sold like crazy after the win.
JYD picked up a bye because both Orndorff and Santana were eliminated, so he walks right into the final. Jesse was freaking out like crazy at how unfair this was to the Macho Man, but all the baby face announcers blew it off as just the luck of the draw.
Randy Savage vs. JYD: Despite Savage already working 10 times as hard and 5 times as long as JYD to this point, he was the work horse of this match and managed to get JYD to an okay match. Savage stayed busy and JYD basically just sold doing nothing. Dog did get the on all fours headbutts in, which Savage sold like he'd been hit head on by a train. Eventually the selling/Blown up JYD ducked a Savage charge at the ropes back dropping Savage to the floor leading to JYD picking up the big Count out win, to win the Wrestling Classic tournament. Such a dull climax to this show, the undeserving guy picks up a dull victory over a guy who really should have won.
This was a pretty bad show. I enjoyed it as a fun trip down memory lane but most of the matches were short and none of them were particularly good. The show was also riddled with bad finishes.
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