Written by: Colin Rinehart
WWF @ Madison Square Garden 7-12-86
July 12th, 1986
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Note: This is the WWE Classics on Demand version of the show. So I’m bored, and came across a stack of old house shows I had laying around and I love me some old school, so let’s get to the reviewing.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes
Pretty big card here with a near sellout for the big tag team cage match in the main event between Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana versus Randy Savage and Adrian Adonis. We’ve also got a big battle royal for $50,000, JYD vs. Greg Valentine, and the British Bulldogs defending the tag titles against the Moondogs.
Tony Atlas vs. Leaping Lanny Poffo
Lanny of course delivers a schmaltzy poem before the match, reminding me why he never got over in that gimmick. Terrible stuff. Atlas is in his physical prime here and is built like Apollo Creed. Feeling out process to start the match with hiplocks and armbars being exchanged. Atlas locks on a headlock and gets a series of near-falls on Poffo, grinding him into the mat. Both men get back to their feet and criss-cross across the ropes, accidentally ringing the bell at the ringside table more than once. Back into armbar-land for Poffo. Lots of restholds here and a few “boring” chants can be heard. Atlas counters with–GASP! An armbar! Suddenly they give up on their armbars in favor of a face-to-face shovedown and slapfest. Bodyslam by Atlas. Poffo gets up and kind of saunters into Atlas like an effeminite scarecrow and we’re back to the restholds and staredowns. They each deliver a dropkick to the other and then dropkick eachother simultaneously. Things are finally starting to pick up as Atlas takes advantage with a stiff headbutt. Poffo gets a quick rollup for two but is then given an atomic drop for his troubles. And back to armbars. Goodness knows we need more armbars, thousands of them. Poffo trys a headlock but gets tossed into the corner. They exchange right hands for a bit until Atlas delivers the devasting armbar of doom for the 9000th time in this match. This crowd is dead by the way, and I don’t blame them. Hiptoss on the Leaping one followed up with another headlock from Atlas. Seeing a pattern in this match? Eventually Atlas gets a backslide pin to finish at 12:38. This was almost entirely armbars and chinlocks, and the crowd could not have cared less. Very close to DUD territory. ¼*
After the match Atlas and Poffo shake hands and do the gentlemenly sportsman routine.
22 Man Battle Royale for $50,000
(Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine vs. King Tonga vs. Jimmy Hart vs. Billy Jack Haynes vs. Harley Race vs. Leaping Lanny Poffo vs. Iron Mike Sharpe vs. Pedro Morales vs. Brutus Beefcake vs. Tony Atlas vs. Moondog Spot vs. Davey Boy Smith vs. Dynamite Kid vs. SD Jones vs. Johnny Valiant vs. Siva Afi vs. Moondog Rex vs. Tony Garea vs. Big John Studd vs. Bobby Heenan vs. King Kong Bundy)
Egh, battle royales never do much for me, lets see here. Everyone gangs up on Bundy immediately and eliminates him while Jimmy Hart dives outside the ring under the bottom rope. Heenan is quickly eliminated next, and comes to the announcers table to yell at Gorilla a bit. The camera pans to the bottom of the ring where Jimmy Hart peeks his head out from underneath the ring. SD Jones is eliminated by one of the Moondogs and there’s really nothing interesting going on in the match, everyone just doing your usual battle royale offense of brawling and hugging your opponent against the ropes. Iron Mike is eliminated off-camera, as is Tony Atlas. Johnny V is out next while Tony Garea works on Harley Race in the corner. Garea gets tossed out moments later by Moondog Rex. Billy Jack Haynes puts Big John Studd into the full-nelson while Harley Race gets tossed out off-camera, followed shortly by Siva Afi. The Bulldogs do a bit of double team trickery and double dropkick the Moondogs, eliminating both of them. Billy Jack and JYD square off in the center of the ring as we’re down to only 9 people. Beefcake eliminates the Dynamite Kid and things have slowed down considerably. Morales is eliminated by Greg Valentine on one side of the ring while his partner Beefcake is eliminated on the other side. They all pounce on the Hammer but Valentine fights them off, able to eliminate both the Tonga Kid and Billy Jack before locking up with Davey and eliminating him AND Larry Poffo, leaving it down to a final two of Valentine and the Junkyard Dog. But wait, Jimmy Hart is still hiding outside the ring, remember. JYD grabs Hart and drags him out and back into the ring. Back inside JYD and Valentine go at it while Jimmy cheers on like a neurotic maniac. Valentine holds onto JYD and lets Hart get some cheap shots in. They tustle around the top rope and both end up eliminating eachother, leaving Jimmy Hart alone and the winner of the $50,000 at 12:59. Actually not that bad of a Battle Royale as they had several rivals interact and eliminate eachother in this match, rivals that would be facing eachother later in the night. That plus some classic heel manager antics from Jimmy Hart made this much more enjoyable than it should have been. **½
Pedro Morales vs. Iron Mike Sharpe
Pedro is still over big despite rarely being around over the past few years. Iron Mike argues with the crowd for a bit in his usual fashion. They lockup and Sharpe misses a clothesline, tumbling to the outside. Back to a lockup inside the ring for a bit but Pedro throws him over the top rope again. Back inside Iron Mike pokes Pedro in the eye and tries to take advantage but is met with lefts and rights instead. Morales rams his head onto the announcer’s table at ringside and it’s been all Pedro thus far. Morales slams his head into the turnbuckle and drags him back in the ring. He runs for a shoulder block but Sharpe moves out of the way. The ref checks on Pedro while Sharpe pulls out a foriegn object, but Pedro simply rolls him up for the 3 count at 5:53. Pretty much just a squash match but Sharpe was still able to get a bit of offense in. *
Big John Studd/King Kong Bundy vs. King Tonga/Siva Afi
Bit of a strange match-up here. Studd and Tonga start off with Tonga laying in headbutts and chops only to have Studd continuously overpower him. Tonga gets tossed to the outside and Studd follows him and slams his head into the steel ring post. Studd sort-of jumps off the top rope with a big axe handle. Studd is toying with Tonga now, slamming him at will while Bobby Heenan freaks out in delight outside the ring. Tonga gets a superkick though and begins laying in karate-esque chops, taking Studd off his feet. Crowd is alive now and pretty strongly behind Tonga, and they absolutely EXPLODE when Tonga body-slams Big John Studd in an amazing display of strength. Afi tags in next and attempts to slam Studd, but he powers out of it. Studd calmly shrugs off a dropkick and tags Bundy in, who slams Siva Afi around the corners for a bit. Afi leaps off the top rope with a cross-body splash for a near fall. He gets back up and starts laying in lefts and rights as the crowd is strangely REALLY into this match and the Tonga/Afi. Studd and Bundy isolate Afi in their corner for awhile, tossing him around like a ragdoll. Tonga tries to break it up but is easily disposed of. Bundy splashes Tonga for what appears to only be a near fall, but the ref calls for the bell late and informs Bundy it was actually a 3 count at 8:36. Tonga and Afi were pretty fired up and the crowd was red hot to start, but the ending was pretty clearly botched and really killed the heat. *½
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Brutus Beefcake
Lord Alfred Hayes talks about Beefcake being a future WWF Champion. Yeah, about that Alfred. Beefcake jumps Billy Jack before the bell and quickly takes the upper hand, laying in a plethora of right hooks. He taunts the crowd a bit but gets irish whipped into the corner roughly for his troubles. Beefcake misses a second-rope fist drop and gets rolled up in a sunset flip for two. Billy Jack suplexes Beefcake but apparently hits his head badly on the mat. Beefcake back on top, delivering a back suplex for another near fall. Billy Jack eats a bit clothesline for another two count and the crowd is starting to get behind Billy Jack. He starts the comeback as Brutus does his heel shtick, begging on his knees to not be hit. Billy Jack of course doesn’t listen and just keeps laying in shots, followed by a scoop slam and a top-rope splas for two. Luscious Johnny grabs a hold of Billy Jack’s leg when he bounces off the ropes in full view of the referee, who DQs Beefcake at 6:23. Moderately entertaining match while it lasted, but the DQ finish seemed unnecessary. *¼
The British Bulldogs vs. The Moondogs
Captain Lou accompanies the Bulldogs to the ring. I assumed the tag titles were on the line here but apparently not, even though the Bulldogs come to the ring proudly displaing the titles around their waists. Dynamite Kid starts off with Moondog Spot and quickly gets taken down. Rex tags in and gets a double shoulder block from the Bulldogs. Dynamite grabs Rex’s arm and performs a beautiful rolling wristlock. Davey Boy tags in and slaps on a headlock on Rex. Spot gets the tag anyways but eats a running knee and a bodyslam for a near fall. All Bulldogs so far. Davey and Spot trade forearms and headlocks until Rex tags back in and gets put right into an armbar from Davey. Tag to Dynamite who continues working the arm. He gets a sunset flip for a two count and then goes back to the wristlock. Rex lays some big elbows into Dynamite in the corner, but can’t follow up and is taken down by Dynamite, who tags Davey in for the wishbone spot. Davey Boy attempts to give Rex a sharpshooter but can’t flip him over. Spot tags in but get’s taken down by Davey Boy easily, who works on his right leg for a bit and then tags Dynamite in to do the same. Spot gets out of the hold eventually and the Moondogs take advantage for awhile. They attempt to double team Davey but get their heads slammed together instead. Rex kicks out of a pin attempt and tosses Davey outside the ring. Back inside Rex locks a chinlock on Davey for awhile. Spot tags in and gets a two count after a dive from the second rope. Frequent tags here with the Moondogs, wearing Davey down methodically. This goes on for several minutes until finally Davey gets the hot tag to Dynamite, but the ref is distracted and doesn’t allow the tag. Rex goes for a splash but Davey lifts up the knees and nearly gets the tag. Davey gets a crossbody for two and this match has really become boring at this point as the beatdown of Davey has been going on for about 10 minutes. Finally he gets the hot tag to Dynamite who promptly cleans house and comes off the top with a kneedrop. The match has broken down as all four men are fighting in the ring now. Dynamite leaps OVER the ref’s back and gets the 3 count at 18:24. Standard formula tag here that dragged a bit towards the middle but made up for it somewhat with a hot finish. Probably the best match tonight so far. **¾
Harley Race vs. Tony Garea
The Brain is at ringside with Handsome Harley Race. It would figure that Vince would finally hire Race on a full-time basis once he was old and slightly washed up. He’s still pretty good here though. Race quickly takes advantage, slamming Garea into the ringside table and stomping him down on the concrete floor. Race breaks the count but returns to continue the beatdown as this is clearly going to be a squash match for Race. Garea is slower than molasses here for some reason, barely selling Race’s offense and looking completely disinterested. Cradle suplex from Race gets the 3 count at 2:05. Just a quick squash match for Race here, but man Garea looked like he was moving in slow motion. ¼*
Greg Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog
Valentine has to be the unsung hero of the WWF in the 80s, the guy was always down for a great match with just about anyone. His matches with Tito Santana over the IC title are still some of the best matches I’ve ever seen. Lots of stalling to start as JYD has a thick steel chain and Valentine won’t come into the ring until he drops it. Eventually they make it back in the ring and JYD takes the quick advantage with right hands and headbutts. He does his trademark headbutt-from-all-fours (a move that always looked terribly weak to me) and Valentine bails to the outside for a breather. Valentine does the old Flair flop after another headbutt for a two count. Valentine starts to comeback with several elbows before slapping on a chinlock as the MSG crowd begins chanting for JYD. Dog takes Valentine down with a clumsy clothesline for two, and then rolls him up in a package for another near fall. JYD blatantly begins choking Valentine in the corner, much to Gorilla’s surprise. They bang heads and both men are out briefly. JYD goes for a slam but falls underneath Valentine for another near fall. They exchange lefts and rights and a few more nearfalls as Valentine tries to wear JYD down by pinning his arms to the mat. Valentine goes to work on JYD’s midsection, and then his right leg, inevitably setting up for the figure four. Valentine slaps the figure four on and JYD writhes in pain for a few minutes until Valentine uses the ropes to assist himself and the ref calls for the break. Valentine misses a diving headbutt and JYD is able to deliver a huge powerslam, but he can’t get the cover as his leg is clearly hurt. Valentine tries the figure four again but gets shot outside the ring instead. Both men begin brawling outside as the ref continues to count. JYD breaks the count and their back up the aisle, where JYD slams Valentine’s throat onto the steel guardrail! Unfortunately the referee counts both men out to end the match in a no contest at 13:35. Valentine was always reliable and JYD was able to hold his own end of a match around this time, so what we got was a fun contest with a disappointing ending. Both men worked hard though and this was the best match of the night thus far for sure. ***
Steel Cage Match
Bruno Sammartino/Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage/Adrian Adonis
Now this should be good. This was one of Bruno’s last big matches at MSG for the company if I remember correctly, and fortunately they stuck him in there with 2 excellent workers and one good one to hide any ring rust for the living legend. The steel cage is a combination of the very old-school mesh with a few big blue rods similar to the cage the WWF used in the late 80s. The bell rings and the heels take the quick advantage, going for cheapshots briefly until Bruno grabs a hold of Savage and starts slamming him into the cage, sending the crowd crazy. Tito and Adonis square off in one corner while Bruno and Randy grapple in the opposite corner. Savage starts to reach out the cage door but Bruno is easily able to drag him in while Tito absolutely LAUNCHES Adonis into the cage. Savage continues trying to climb out the door but Bruno holds on for dear life. Very fast pace to start this match as everyone is brawling with a ton of heart. Savage tries to climb over the top while Adonis tries the door but both are stopped almost immediately. Tito begins climbing the cage but gets racked on the top rope by Adonis. Tito and Adrian grapple along the door while Bruno really takes it to the Macho Man, tossing him around into the corner and upside down. Santana gets suplexed in the center of the ring while Savage crawls for the door again. Adrian makes it to the top again but Bruno grabs a hold of his foot at the very last second and racks him on the top ring rope again. Man it’s scary to see how much weight Adonis gained in so short a time, guy went from husky in ’84 to flat-out obese by ’86. Savage comes off the top with his signature axe handle on Tito, who has been busted wide open. Adonis rakes Santana’s face back and forth across the steel cage, busting him open even more while Bruno continues the beatdown on the Macho Man. Adonis flies into the corner and now he’s busted open as well. Savage comes off the top for another axe handle but Tito catches him in the stomach with a right hand. Savage flies upside down into the steel mesh while Adonis rips apart a cabinet at ringside trying to claw his way out of the front door. Another slam into the cage for Savage and now he’s busted open, and bad. Adonis climbs to the top, but instead of climbing out he DIVES off the top of the cage with a kneedrop on Bruno! Damn, that fat man just FLEW across the ring. Savage gets draped over the top and this match is just a battle of who has the stronger will to win at this point. Savage and Santana jockey on the top of the cage for a bit until Santana slams Savage off the cage and Santana drops to the floor while Sammartino walks out the front door to give them the victory at 9:53! Excellent main event here as they fit as much hate and intensity into 10 minutes as they possibly could, this was just a wild, wild match that saw everyone but Bruno bleed all over the place. Really fun main event. ***½
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.