Written by: Erick Von Erich from Da Wrestling Site
Hello again….errr..for the first time. It’s New Year’s Day on the USA Network and here’s Jack Reynolds and Jesse “the Body” Ventura to welcome us to the first-ever edition of Prime Time Wrestling. If you’re a fan of the usual PTW formula, this is quite removed from what you’re used to. Both guys introduce the matches and seem to be angling for “analysis” rather than banter or putdowns. Jesse’s somewhat low-key, too. As the shows begins, he humbly recounts how he developed blood clots and was forced out of action in 1984. But’s he on the way to recovery and “there will be no jive in 85”. He also drops another big news nugget: TNT will now be seen on Friday nights….which I suppose would make it “FNT”…which sounds dirty. But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let’s get down to ringside for..
Match 1: Salvatore Bellomo vs. “Dr. D” David Schultz
All matches are from Madison Square Garden on October 22, 1984, with Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund on the call. Dr. D was one of Roddy Piper’s early WWF henchmen and kinda’ looks like a smaller version of Sid Vicious (the BOGUS wrestler and deity of DWB, not the dead rock n’ roller). They start out with some arm-wringer fun, until Doc takes Bellomo to the mat with a headlock takedown. Bellomo counters with a head-scissors and works that for a bit. After that, it’s pretty much all Dr. D. He works over Bellomo into the corner, slams him, then lands a flying elbow from the second turnbuckle. He whips Bellomo to the corner again and finishes him off with a simple vertical suplex to get the 3 count.
Match 2: Samoan #1 (Afa) vs. Dick Murdoch
To paraphrase Phil Keoghan once again, this is a “Roadblock match: a task that only team member can perform”. They’re splitting up the current tag team title feud between the Samoans and champions Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis. JIP’d, just a bit. Murdoch steals the show in this match, as he sells all of Afa’s offense very well. Afa just headbutts …then hits some more headbutts.. then segues into some headbutts. Murdoch, being an excellent proponent of old school ‘rasslin, STILL doesn’t know that Samoans have hard heads! The cameras suddenly show “that hillbilly” sitting the front row. Yup, it’s the dawn of the Hillbilly Jim Era. At one point in the match, Afa is glazed, so Murdoch tries to prove how tough he is by headbutting himself into the turnbuckle. Doesn’t have the same effect as it did on Afa, and Murdoch stumbles around in a comedy spot. Murdoch is sent outside and sneaks in a wrapped-up beer bottle to brain Afa. He tries for a slam, but collapses and Afa gets a 2 count. They keep brawling and end up slugging it out on their knees. The bell sounds for a time limit draw. Murdoch signals that he wants more.. so Afa obliges with a backdrop and a headbutt to send him packing.
Match 3: “Quick Draw” Rick McGraw vs. Mad Dog Vachon
Before the match, Vachon cuts a promo in the back with Gorilla. Pretty generic, but they play this up as if Vachon was returning to the WWF, when he’d been there since about May. Match starts as Vachon applies a clunky armdrag and headlocks McGraw to the mat. Vachon soon settles into biting and raking McGraw’s back. He chokes McGraw with both paws, but McGraw powers out, dropkicks Vachon and returns the choking favor. Vachon accidentally hits the turnbuckle, allowing McGraw to comeback with a dropkick and slam for a 2 count. McGraw misses a second dropkick, so Vachon chokes him on the ropes, straddle splashes him on the second rope, then delivers a slow piledriver (it feels just right) to get the pin.
Match 4: David Bruno Sammartino vs. Moondog Spot
In the studio, Jesse begins to show some attitude by barking about “that pot-bellied punk, Sammartino”. He mentions that it’s NOT a coincidence that Bruno Sammartino retired when Jesse Ventura entered the WWF (the first time), back in 1981. Another pre-match interview, as Gorilla fields some generic comments from Sammartino. This appears to be his MSG debut. See, he’s “David Bruno”, in case we didn’t know who his dad was. JIP’d from right after the bell, as Sammartino bounces off the ropes with a shoulder block. He cranks away on an arm-wringer, then brawls with Spotty. Gene and Gorilla suddenly make a big deal about Chuck Wepner (the “real-life Rocky”) being in the audience, as the cameras catch him. Spotty gets a reverse mule-kick, slams Sammartino and gets a 2 count. Sammartino is whipped to the ropes and leaps over for a sunset flip pin attempt. Spotty counters with a flying forearm from the second rope, reverse chinlock and a backbreaker. Sammartino staggers around and dares Spot to hit some more. He does…zzzzzzzz. Spotty tries a slam, which Sammartino counters into a terrible small package to get the pin. Gorilla notices the awful small package, but sells it as an improvisation. Afterwards, Spotty attacks and beats down Sammartino. Sammartino fights him off, clears the ring and even steals Spotty’s bone (the prop he carried around, you sicko).
Match 5: WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (c)(w/Capt. Lou Albano) vs. Tito Santana
Thus begins Tito’s long stint on PTW. Gorilla had another pre-match interview with Chico. This is his first match back from injury, and the first rematch he’s had since Valentine upset him for the IC belt. That’s pretty much the story of the match, as Tito hits the ring and just beats away on Valentine. Since it’s Valentine, you KNOW that he’s going to pause and then FLOP, face-first, to the canvas. Very little wrestling from Tito, as it’s just balls-out thumping. Valentine manages an atomic drop and Tito is sent outside. Capt. Lou waddles over to get a shot in. Pissed off, Tito grabs a chair and begins swinging. He gets up on the apron and blasts Valentine with it. The ref seems to be okay with it, as Tito re-enters and pounds away as the champ blades. The ref tries to get Tito to back off, but is shoved away. That’s finally enough for the ref to signal for the disqualification and award the match to Valentine. As a wrestling match, it was terrible, but as a story it worked well.
Match 6: Samoan #2 (Sika) vs. Adrian Adonis
It’s another “Roadblock match”. Before the match, Jesse sings the praises of Adonis and pumps up their old East/West Connection team. Gasp… mentioning an non-WWF team on WWF TV?!! Match begins as Adonis cartwheels away from Sika, then gets slammed. Sika goes right after the arm and works it, constantly. Adonis fights back with a clothesline and a kneedrop. He goes up top, but Sika halts him and crotches him on the ropes. Adonis reaches into his tights and dons a loaded glove. He swings, but hits the ref and draws a DQ. Sika clears the ring and steals Adonis’ glove, afterwards.
Match 7: Tony Garea vs. Brutus Beefcake (w/”Luscious” Johnny Valiant)
For some reason, Gorilla is solo in this match. Gene probably saw some saucy 17 year old broads in the crowd. Brutus is still being billed as hailing from “Parts Unknown”. A lame joke with the pay-off coming months later when Beefcake’s hometown was suddenly revealed as being San Francisco. Bruti stalls and struts around as the match begins. Front facelock is broken by Garea, who then whips Bruti to the corner, hits a shoulderblock and a flying headlock takedown. Criss-cross rope segment (which will make you JUMP-JUMP) and Garea connects with a high cross-body block for a 1 count. Bruti counters with a head-scissors, then pounds away. Garea with a drop-kick and a reverse roll-up for another two. More criss-cross action as Garea does, in fact, Jump-Jump! But Bruti nails him with a charging knee to the noggin and scores the 3 count.
Match 8: WWF Championship:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Big John Studd (w/Bobby “the Brain” Heenan)
Match begins right after the introductions, which means it conveniently saved WWE 24/7 the effort of dubbing over “Eye of the Tiger”. They trade blows, then tumble outside where Hogan is sent into the ringpost. Special stipulations for this match state that Hogan can lose the belt on a count-out or a disqualification, so that plays into Studd’s strategy. Back inside, Studd pounds on Hogan’s back, press-slams him onto the ropes and lands a flying elbow. Hogan is tossed out, so Studd follows him out and slams him on the floor. Studd leads the count-out tally, but Hogan makes it into the ring at 9. Hogan suddenly blocks Studd’s blows, slams him and drops an elbow for a 2 count. Studd whips him to the ropes, but Hogan ducks and connects with a clothesline, then covers for 3 to retain the belt.
Final wrap-up segment in the studio, as Jesse finally shows his true attitude. He’s fed up with Hogan, takes off his jacket, flexes, then walks out of the studio.
Why’d You Tape This??
Eight matches is a lot for Prime Time, but the format is boring. Jack Reynolds isn’t an entertaining host, as he does nothing but hype up the babyfaces in a phony matter. Stuff like: “when you mention rising stars in the world of wrestling, you HAVE to consider David Bruno Sammartino”. Plus, after one match he tries to rile Jesse by saying: “I called it! I told you he would win that match! And I was right!”. Jesse isn’t himself, but he slowly begins to warm up to full “Body” mode by the show’s conclusion.
This show is basically some sub-par studio segments wrapped around an MSG broadcast. If you’re interested in these matches, it may be worth your effort to track down the MSG broadcast and skip this PTW package. This debut episode is interesting for comparison’s sake, but isn’t enjoyable or worth commemorating.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.