WWE Greatest Wrestling Stars Of The 80’s
Written by: Tom Hopkins
I just can’t stop it, this is the third wrestling DVD I am reviewing, and there is no end in sight, since I have a ton more on my DVD rack waiting to be reviewed.
The Main Characters
–If you were a huge star in the 1980’s in wrestling, and you don’t have a grudge against McMahon, you will be in this collection.
The 1980’s was a great time for wrestling. For the first time it was starting to cross over into the mainstream. WWE had a lot to do with that, with Hulk Hogan leading the way, but this was really a golden age for the industry. This DVD highlights the best that the 1980’s had to offer, from the last of the territorial heroes to the wrestling explosion in the mid-80’s to its continued reign as the 80’s closed.
Each disc takes a look at five different stars of the 80’s. For you math deficient, that adds up to 15 profiles.
Mene Gene hosts this special DVD. We take a look at one of the greatest ever, Bobby Heenan. Bobby was definitely the best manager ever, as well as one of the best announcers ever. Just a great talker. They talk about his start in the AWA, to his appearance in the WWF, and one of his first big matches, the bodyslam challenge at Wrestlemania I, to the different wrestlers in his family, to his nickname of weasel, to his WMIII matches, to his teaming with Gorilla Monsoon on the mic, to the Bobby Heenan show and Bobby says he loved it all.
We look next at Sylvester Ritter, better known as Junk Yard Dog. He was a former lineman for the Packers before turning to wrestling, and becoming JYD in the NWA. He broke racial barriers in the sport, and was loved by all fans. In 1983 he joined the WWE, and the Junk Yard Juke. They highlight his performance at the Slammy’s, and his time in the NWA in the late 80’s and his feud with Flair. They talk about his last appearance at ECW’s Wrestlepalooza and his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Robert Revis, aka Sgt. Slaughter, was a big star in the early 80’s. Slaughter talks about how he got his start at Gagne’s wrestling camp. He got his name when he was in the military and used the name when he was in the AWA and even won the title. He went to the WWE and was a big hit there, feuding with Pat Patterson, to a long run in NWA, then coming back to the WWE during the Iran-Hostage Crisis. Slaughter would be very recognizable in years to come when he had a GI Joe figure made of him, and he made loads of money working the house show circuit with Shiek. They talk about his heel turn in the early 90’s as an Iraqi sympathizer.
Greg Valentine, son of the great Johnny Valentine, was a great bruiser. He feuded with Flair in the early 80’s in the NWA. He got the nickname Hammer for his clubbing blows and busting Piper wide open with them and their feud, specifically the dog collar match. He returned to the WWF in 1984 and had a great series of matches with Santana and his IC title reign, as well as the Dream Team tag team, their feud with the British Bulldogs, to his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Finally on this collection is the one and only Rowdy Roddy Piper. Roddy was born in Canada, and he had an interest in playing bagpipes where he got his gimmick, after being scared by a priest. He talks about his start on the mic, then moving around from territories before teaming with Ric Flair, to improving his skills on the mic. He talks about wrestling in Shea, to his dog collar match, the War to Settle the Score, to kicking Cyndi Lauper, to his Wrestlemania I match and who really drew, Hogan or Piper? His fight with Mr. T, which Piper says the heat between the two is real. His real contribution is Piper’s Pit. After about three years, Piper knew he wanted to go out on top, and announced his retirement (his first). I really wish they spent more time with Piper, as it was really interesting. If only they had a DVD devoted only to him…
—Disc Two— (1:09:33)
I guess this is the NWA portion of the collection, as disc one focused on guys who attained fame in the AWA and the WWE, and disc three looks to be guys who achieved their greatest fame in the WWE. We open with current announcer and former wrestler, Jerry The King Lawler. Jerry worked the Memphis area, and was the king of that area. He got his start after meeting wrestlers when he was invited by a TV station after submitting drawings of them. Of course his most memorable feud was with Andy Kaufman, the famous funnyman, and their well documented interviews on Letterman (though they don’t show it). They actually show the whole match against Kaufman, which was two moves. He talks about working with the AWA and winning the title in 1988 and a title unification match against Kerry Von Erich at Superclash III. He teamed with Bill Dundee and won the tag titles, too. He talks about the piledriver and finally announcing and announcing with Jim Ross.
We profile the enforcer, Arn Anderson, next. He talks about growing up with his grandparents, and he speaks very fondly of them. He talks about his time watching George Championship Wrestling and getting hooked. He got in trouble so he needed to leave town to leave his reputation, and he immediately started wrestling. From there he goes onto his friendship with Ric Flair and the Four Horseman (and how Arn came up with the name when the interviews of Flair, Tully and the Andersons were made together). He talks about the downfall of his career, being messed up by the Rockers in his first time through the WWE, finally going to the doctor and finding his neck broken in three places and his emotional retirement speech.
Dusty is profiled next, and he’s another one with a DVD devoted solely to him. Dusty got his start in the AWA in a tag team before going solo and defeating Harley Race for the NWA title. Dusty was a great talker, and very charismatic. Dusty and Flair had a classic feud, and Flair has nothing but nice things to say about Dusty.
The great Ricky Steamboat is documented next, and I am surprised to learn he was born in West Point NY, since his father was in the Army. My brother was also born there. Ricky wrestled in high school in Florida, had a high school sweetheart who moved to Minnesota and roomed with Verne Gagne’s daughter, and he started training at Verne’s camp (right after Flair did). He ended up in the Carolina’s and Flair saw him and wanted him in the promotion. He ended up working there and the two wrestled every other night for 5 years according to Flair and they just had a wrestling connection that few others had. Ricky figured that to be a good face, he should adapt his style to the heels. He talks about his tag team work with Strongbow, and his show-stealing match at WMIII. Flair says he’s not the best wrestler ever, since he didn’t work heel, but he’s the best babyface. This guy needs his own DVD.
Speaking of Steamboat’s most memorable foe, we have Ric Flair. Ric was actually adpoted and got into wrestling as a youngster since he was a fan. He started wrestling when football didn’t work out and was in Verne’s camp. They talk about the 1975 plane crash, and how it made him more driven. They talk about his first titles and fighting Harley Race. They talk about the Horseman, the Rhodes matches, HHH makes an appearance (of course), and the Greenville match that was on the Flair DVD.
—Disc Three— (52:33)
I call this the WWE portion of the disc, as all these guys attained their greatest fame in the 80’s with the WWE. We look at the career of Snuka first. He was born in the Fiji islands than went to Hawaii where he trained to be a wrestler. He got the name Superfly by jumping off cliffs in Hawaii. He is known for wrestling barefoot, and his memorable feuds with Piper (who hit him with a coconut and made some comments that would be seen now as racist) and Muraco. His career highlight match may be his MSG match against Muraco in a steel cage.
Cowboy Bob Orton is profiled next, which is a bit of an odd choice in my opinion. His father was a wrestler, and his son would be a wrestler, too. He started in the NWA then went to the Mid Atlantic area. He ended up in the WWE where he teamed with Piper. He was known for his cast, which he wore for a long time. He was included in the first Wrestlemania Main Event (as a sidekick) Like I said, an on odd inclusion on this collection since he was best known in the WWE for teaming up with Piper. There were better people that could’ve been included (like say, Savage, but he has heat with McMahon so he’s out).
Up next is Iron Shiek, an Irania defector who came to the US and caught the eye of Gagne and his band of wrestlers. Poor Sheik’s dialogue is subtitled on the bottom. He talks about working for the WWE and how his status grew due to the Iran Hostage crisis. Vince McMahon Sr. knew how to cash in on heat like that and he was brought back to the WWE where he talks about his match with Backlund and how tough he was, and how he was a shooter. Sheik said he was offered $100,000 to not drop the title to Hogan and go to the AWA but Sheik didn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him and stayed with the WWE, making $10-15,000 a week. Sheik said he made Hogan. He had a series of (bloody) matches with Slaughter, his tag teaming with Volkoff, and winning the tag titles at the first Wrestlemania. They even talk about his arrest for marijuana and he worked for WCW for a brief time and later returned to the WWE in the 90’s. He won the gimmick battle royale at WM X-7 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. This was a fun segment.
Orndorff is profiled next, and he was a big draw in the WWE with his feud against the Hulk. He got national attention for the NWA in 1983. He talked with contracts for the Georgia promotion but didn’t guarantee anything, which Vince McMahon Sr. did. So Paul signed with the WWE. He main evented Wrestlemania I, allied himself with Hogan, then turned against him, and had a classic steel cage match against him (which he says may be the greatest match ever, which may be slight hyperbole). He left for a while and surfaced at WCW, later training wrestlers for the company. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
Of course, there’s only one person left when you think of the 80’s, Hulk Hogan. What is there to say about him you don’t know already? He was the guy in the 80’s and for my money is still the most popular and most well-known wrestler. He probably made more money for WWE, and for the business in general, than anyone. He talks about his leg getting broken again, but he came back. Most of this stuff is from the Hogan DVD. Strangely, they have paragraphs o nthe screen talking about his career between his WWE stints. He talks briefly about the early Wrestlemania’s, (getting out of WM 2 with his life, helping Savage win the title and actually saying Savage was the guy for that time while he was making a movie to winning his belt back at WMV in what he calls one of the most classic matches). He talks about McMahon telling him it was time to wind things down, but he went to WCW in 1994 and in 1996 formed the NWO, but that should be in the Greatest Stars in the 90’s. They talk about his 2002 return as well.
If you can sit through the revisionist history of some of these guys, and the pure egos of others, you are left with a decent three-hour look at 15 of the greats from the 80’s. I don’t think the list is anywhere close to essential, just for the fact that Randy Savage isn’t on the list thanks to real-life heat with McMahon and others could have been included, but it is what it is. For all the great footage included there is something stupid being said by one of the wrestlers, but overall it is a painless recollection at wrestling in the 80’s, and the men who led wrestling into the mainstream.
1) Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper (21:46)
This match is for the NWA US Championship and is a Dog Collar Match. It took place at Starrcade 11/24/83. Valentine was champ at the time and it seems Piper was playing face. They are tied around their necks and they start with a tug of war. Piper gets the first shot in with a whip across the back of Valentine. Valentine tries to whip Piper in the head but Piper ducks it. Slugfest won by Piper and he slugs Valentine in the corner with the chain. Valentine works on the ear of Piper, something he injured earlier to star their feud. From there, it just devolves in a pure bloodbath. They choke each other with the chain, Piper wraps it around the ringpost for leverage then brawl outside. Valentine is busted open already but he goes back to the ear and clubs Piper and Piper is busted open now. With only one ear, your equilibrium is gone and Piper falters and shows no balance. Valentine with a suplex, an elbow and a cover for two. Another elbow and another two count. Valentine walks away but Piper pulls him back with the chain and starts with his offense, using the chain as a whip. Valentine fights back, drops a knee and gets a two count. Valentine tries for a suplex but Piper blocks it twice and gets one of his own. They are both out and get up at the same time, Valentine sends Piper to the corner then grabs a sleeper. Piper fights out of the hold, pulls Valentine off the second rope then smashes Valentine with the chain and covers for the pinfall and the victory at 16:07. Valentine is a sore loser and attacks Piper afterwards. This was a bloodbath pure and simple, but was more of a punchy-kicky match. The finish was out of nowhere, too. **. It was nice to hear the great Gordon Solie calling the action.
2) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Iron Sheik (22:24)
This is from MSG, 05/21/84. Blassie leads Shiek to the ring and Monsoon and Okerlund are calling the action, and we’re set. Sheik with slaps to the face to the start, and Sarge knocks him down. Slam and a stomp to the face for Sarge. Sarge is in control and he sends Sheik to the outside. Sheik heads back in and Slaughter works him over some more, even covering but picking his head up. That ego would cause Sheik to knock Slaughter outside, then smack him on the head with a chair, busting him open. Sheik sends Slaughter to the corner, but Slaughter fights back, only to run into a Sheik elbow. Sheik kicks him with the loaded boot and Sarge is busted wide open now. Sheik with a bodyslam, an elbow, another bodyslam, and Sheik goes to the top. Sheik comes down but Slaughter moves out of the way. Sheik tries for a suplex but its blocked by Sarge. Sarge has renewed vigor, and he start punching back. Sarge loads up the cannon, and clotheslines the former champ. He tries to take off the boot of Sheik and when the ref intervenes, Slaughter pushes him off. Sheik does the same, and the ref calls for the bell at 14:30. Other wrestlers come in to break up the melee and we get word that this is a double DQ. Not a great match, but a great blade job by Slaughter. Slaughter gets on the mic, does the Pledge of Allegiance, and the fans are way into it. The match was just, eh. **.
3) Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana (18:49)
This is for the IC title and was contented at MSG on 03/17/85, a few weeks before Wrestlemania I. This is a Lumberjack Match and the duo of Monsoon/Okerlund call the action. A lumberjack match ensures that a competitor can’t flee and retain his title via count-out, since wrestlers surround the ring to throw the combatants back in. Valentine, the champ at the time, Pearl Harbors Santana. Santana sends Valentine out, but the heels don’t throw him in right away. Santana with an atomic drop and again the heels don’t send him in, so the faces have to. Tito with some punches, then a skull cracker. Valentine tries to bail again, but he’s thrown in by the faces. Tito with an axehandle off the second rope and a cover gets two. Valentine tries to bail again, but he’s thrown back in. Santana sends Valentine to the corner, but a blind charge hits a boot, and Valentine covers for two. He drops a knee to the ribs for two, then drops a forearm for two. Valentine starts working the leg and throws him to the outside to the heels, who send him back, then to the face side who delay in sending him in. Back in, Valentine drops a forearm from the second rope, then an elbow for two. Tito gets back into the match by dropping Valentine on the top turnbuckle in an awkward looking spot and slugging how down. Tito suplex get two. He tries for the figure four but Valentine bails. He’s sent back in, and Tito hits a forearm. He puts on the figure four, but the heels at ringside pull Valentine to the ropes as the ref is distracted. Santana goes after Studd (at ringside) and Valentine hits him from behind. Slugfest ensues, they both get knocked out when their heads hit off the rope, and Valentine falls on top of Santana for the pinfall and the victory. I didn’t have the stop watch on but it was probably somewhere around 15:00. Weird ending, but an overall enjoyable match. ***.
4) Junkyard Dog vs. Randy Savage (11:16)
I’ve actually seen this match before. I had the whole Wrestling Classic Tournement on VHS, and I don’t think I sold it when I got rid of almost all my wrestling tapes. This was basically a tournement that took place on 11/07/85. It was sort of a King of the Ring type thing, where wrestlers would battle each other leading to a final match, which is what we have here. Savage was still heel at this time, hiding behind Elizabeth when the match first started. Savage throws a chair at JYD who catches it and smashes it in his head. I think this was the fourth match for Savage and the third for JYD, and Savage looks a little beat already. Savage bails a bunch before we even come to blows in a huge stall job. About two minutes in we have our first lock up, leading to JYD tossing Savage off. Savage tries to bodyslam Dog, and gets a head butt to the back for his troubles. Atomic drop follows, then a bearhug. JYD works the back, which is a weird case of heel in peril. There sounds like there’s someone else on commentary who isn’t being heard, maybe it was Jesse? There are weird gaps of silence and then Monsoon and Okerlund commenting on things. Maybe it was just dead silence. Savage comes back out of the corner with a forearm and covers for two. Savage sends JYD to the outisde, then hits a double axe-handle from the top. Savage rams the back of JYD in to the ring post, then another double axe-handle. Savage then with a chair shot to the back, and JYD is in bad shape. Savage drops some elbows on the concrete as Savage keeps rolling in to break the count. Savage sends JYD back in and tries for another double axe-handle but JYD blocks it this time, then charges on all fours with some headbutts. JYD wraps Savage up in the ropes and slugs him. JYD sends Savage to the ropes and puts the head down and gets kicks in the face. Savage charges and is back body dropped to the outside, where he is counted out. JYD wins the tournement at 9:43 via count-out. The match was about 10 minutes, with about 2 minutes of action, with a crappy finish to boot. *1/2.
5) Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby Heenan (11:54)
This is a Weasel Suit Match from MSG, 06/25/88. Heenan had a match like this when he was in the AWA and that match can be found on the Greatest Manager’s DVD. Basically, if Warrior wins he will put Heenan in the Weasel suit. Heenan pearl harbors the Warrior with no effect. They chase each other with Warrior eventually catching up. Heenan gets the upper hand with brass knuckles, leading to a cat and mouse game with the ref and Heenan, as the ref can’t find the illegal objects. Warrior comes back anyway, throws Heenan around, puts him in a sleeper hold and Heenan is out at 5:27. Warrior puts the Weasel suit on Heenan and the fans are happy. As a gimmick match, this was very boring. ½*.
6) Junkyard Dog Performance (4:19)
This is JYD performing at the 1986 Slammy’s and singing “Grab Them Cakes.” This was up for best performance on the WWF Record, but I don’t remember who won that year. This is quite an experience, watching this in all its lip synched glory. Seriously, Ashlee Simpson would be proud.
7) Sgt. Slaughter Story 1 (3:49)
Here, Slaughter talks about training in Verne Gagne’s camp. It goes a little more in depth on the story featured in the main program. He says Flair and the Sheik were working out there at the time. He talks about being worked over by the wrestlers and fighting back and doing well, and it ended up with Verne asking him to be a professional wrestler.
8) Sgt. Slaughter Story 2 (3:59)
Slaughter talks about meeting Ronald Reagan during his re-election, which I guess would be in 1984. He is in the celebrity picture and Slaughter is in the back and Reagan takes a picture with them then leaves. They are on line to go to dinner and Slaughter is pulled off the line to meet Reagan personally and taking a picture with him. He was excited about it, but was more pumped when Reagan name-dropped Slaughter in his speech.
9) Piper’s Pit – Haiti Kit (2:30)
This hails from Tuesday Night Titans, 03/07/86. Haiti Kid was a midget and was a friend of Mr. T, whom Piper was feuding with at the time. So Piper cuts his hair, and tapes his mouth. Fun segment.
10) Valentine Back Rub (6:00)
This is also from TNT, but an earlier episode 07/17/84. Valentine talks about all his wealth and his wife, and how he’s not available. He shows people how he unwinds, but getting a back rub from a woman in a bathing suit (who is supposed to be his wife). There are a lot of sexual innuendos, but for the most part was silly.
11) Bobby Heenan Show (5:57)
This segment aired on the Bobby Heenan show which was on Prime Time on 07/10/89. Heenan talks to Jameson Winger, in his first appearance in the WWE? He was introduced as a rocket scientist, but he’s in fact a bum and a vagrant. Turns out he was looking for a job at WWE. This is basically 6 minutes of Bobby making fun of some guy and it was all funny.
1) Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (16:46)
This is the 1 Million Dollar Challenge Match which took place at Starrcade (11/22/84). Flair (from Minnesota) is champion at this point and is wearing pink tights. They trade shots in the early portions of the match, until Flair takes control with a knee to the face for two. He misses another knee and Dusty puts the figure four on Flair. Flair eventually makes the ropes, and Dusty takes over with a side headlock and an elbow knocks Flair down. Dusty sends Flair to the corner and Flair flops to the outside. Flair makes it to the apron, and Dusty suplexes Flair back in and covers for two. Flair comes back with an elbow that knocks Dusty down then heads to the top. Of course, Dusty catches him and tosses him off, then misses an elbow. Flair comes back with a sleeper, but Dusty ducks out of it and sends Flair back to the outside. They brawl on the floor, and Dusty is sent to the ringpost. Flair goes back in and Dusty is cut over his right eye. The referee (Smokey Joe Frasier) checks on Dusty’s eye and lets the match continue. Flair pounds away at the open wound and Joe ends the match at 12:15. Dusty is mad and goes after Frasier but doesn’t get to him. Flair retains and gets the 1 Million Dollars, in what was a decent match. **.
2) Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes (10:13)
This is from the following Starrcade (11/28/85) and is for the NWA Tag Team titles. The Andersons held the titles at the time. Billy Jack (who looks ripped) starts off against Arn, and tosses him around a bit. Arn’s had enough and tags in Ole, who doesn’t fare much better. Wahoo is tagged in and he sends Ole reeling, so Ole tags in Arn. Wahoo gets an advantage until Ole interferes. This leads to Ole and Arn working over Wahoo. Wahoo eventually makes the hot tag and Haynes destroys the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Haynes offense doesn’t last long, as Arn snapmares Haynes who has to tag in Wahoo. He gets a pin on Arn, which is broken up by Ole. Ole trips up Wahoo twice, the second time holding his leg allowing Arn to cover for the three and the win at 8:59. This was a standard tag match with a cheap finish and not much else going for it. **.
3) Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich (24:32)
This is a championship unification match that took place at AWA’s SuperClash III on 12/13/88. Lawler was the AWA champ and Von Erich was the WCCW champ. Kerry vows to beat Lawler from one end of Chicago to another. Kerry’s arm gets split wide open right away (due to a razor he had hidden and it is suggested he did it before the match even started). The announcers talk about Lawler and Von Erich defeating Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ric Flair, namedropping stars from other promotions. They stall a bit with Kerry getting the early advantage with a pair of clotheslines. Roll-up gets two for Kerry. Kerry wants a test of strength, which he wins. Discus punch for Kerry gets two. Kerry is bothered by that arm, and immediately the match is handicapped by it. Kerry is sent to the outside, but comes back to the apron. Lawler catches him but Kerry punches him and tries to vault in for a splash, but hits Lawler’s knees. Lawler piledrives Kerry, who no sells and discus punches Lawler for two. Snapmare for Kerry and he tries for the Iron Claw, but can’t get it. Ref gets bumped and Kerry piledrives Lawler. The ref finally makes it to count and Kerry only gets a two. Kerry sends Lawler outside, and Kerry tries for a discus punch which Lawler ducks and Kerry’s fist hits the ringpost. Lawler goes back in and uses some brass knuckles, and Kerry is busted wide open. He probably hit an artery. Lawler pounds away at that open head wound. Lawler jumps off the second rope and puts the Iron Claw into the gut of Lawler. Lawler won’t give up. Kerry puts the claw onto Lawler’s head and starts dripping blood onto the face of Lawler, which is kind of gross. Lawler’s foot is on the ropes so Kerry has to break the hold, but he goes right back to it and drags Lawler to the center of the ring. The ref is looking at the cut of Kerry. Back on their feet, Lawler is sent to the corner, a blind charge misses and Kerry’s head hit the post. Kerry throws some punches but Lawler again with the brass knucks (from his tights), which the ref can’t find. Lawler with his “piston punches,” and Kerry is getting his wound worked over pretty well. Kerry comes back and Lawler is down on the mat. Kerry puts the Iron Claw back on, and Lawler for all intents and purposes is finished, except of course, this is wrestling. The ref ends the match at 18:44 due to Kerry’s cut and Lawler is declared the winner, and is awarded both belts. This was just a gruesome match, and Kerry is just bleeding like crazy. I really liked this match, despite seeing the finish from a mile away, and for the stalling that occurred. **1/2.
4) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (24:41)
This is from Chi-Town Rumble, 02/20/89, and is for the NWA Title. Flair was champ at this point. Steamboat goes for a quick pin but Flair kicks out at two. Steamboat with a headlock, which Flair tries to reverse, but Steamboat reverses that to a roll-up. Flair bails. Steamboat with some chops, then a back body drop, and Flair walks off to the corrner. They exchange chops and Steamboat gets the better of that deal. Flair works in a wristlock which Steamboat reverses to a side chinlock, which Flair breaks by sending Steamboat to the ropes. Steamboat slides under then dropkicks Flair, then flips him over in a side headlock for two. Flair tries to roll Steamboat over to cover but only gets a pair of two. Steamboat with some killer chops gets a two and Flair bails again to regroup. Back in and we lock-up. Flair with some chops but Steamboat comes back and sends Flair outside. Steamboat takes over and just hits a beautiful combination of moves that leads to a side headlock on the mat. Flair gets sent to the outside and pulls Steamboat out, and chops Steamboat down on the mat. He slams Steamboat’s head into the metal barricade. Flair elbows Steamboat on the apron then brings him back in, snapmares him in and drops a knee for two. Double arm suplex also gets two. Flair chops the challanger, and Steamboat retaliates, eventually getting the advantage. Steamboat sends Flair to the corner and Flair flips out and over, runs on the apron to the top rope and hits a bodypress, which Steamboat rolls over into a two. Flair comes right back with a figure-four, and Flair uses the ropes behind the refs back for leverage. The ref eventually catches him and makes him break the hold. They exchange chops and Flair body presses Steamboat, sending both men over the top rope. Steamboat is sent to the ring post then suplexed in from the outside. Flair covers and gets a two. Another suplex gets two. Flair with a backbreaker gets two (with Flair’s legs on the ropes). As Flair argues the count, Steamboat rolls up Flair for two. Flair is reversed to the ropes, but Steamboat jumps on the second rope and tries for bodypress, but misses Flair. Flair with a snapmare takeover leads to a nice reversal/pinfal sequence. Steamboat with a double arm suplex and he covers, but Flair’s leg on the rope breaks the count. Flair tries for a hiptoss but Steamboat with another pinning combination for two. Steamboat pounds at Flair in the corner. Flair sends Steamboat to the opposite corner but charges out and clotheslines the champ down. Steamboat with a flying tackle, and he heads to the top. He hits a karate chop off the top rope and Steamboat goes to the top again. He hits a bodypress but also takes out the ref in the process. While Steamboat helps up the ref, Flair rolls up Steamboat, but there is still no ref. Flair tries to send Steamboat to the outside but he hangs onto the top rope. He goes upstairs but misses a splash. Flair goes for the figure four but Steamboat rolls him up in a small package, and another ref comes in and counts the pinfall at 23:18 (though my watch was 9 seconds shorter, weird) giving Steamboat the title. What a great match, this is what makes me watch it, to see two guys like this who on top of their craft going all out. There wasn’t a wasted move and that’s what makes this an all-time classic. *****.
5) Ric Flair vs. Jay Youngblood (10:41)
This actually starts with a Steamboat promo introducing a Youngblood/Flair match, which is JIP. This footage is from Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, two days before I was born (02/03/82). They say that Flair was champ at this time I think, and that this match could even main event MSG! Youngblood takes Flair down with a hip toss, and a series of reversals leads to a rear wristlock. Flair breaks out but is taken down and Youngblood works the leg of Flair. Flair makes the ropes then yells at the ref. Youngblood with a back body dtop and a pair of dropkicks leads to a bodyslam. Flair takes over but Youngblood doesn’t break clean on the ropes and chops Flair. Flair returns the chops and Youngblood is sent outside. Back on the apron, Flair suplexes Youngblood inside, drops an elbow then goes for a figure four which Youngblood turns into a small package for two. Youngblood with a flying body press gets two. Youngblood with another chop and Flair does his Flair flop. Flair goes for a suplex but Youngblood reverses it to a roll-up. Youngblood with another small package and Flair kicks out at two. The bell rings due to the time limit expiring (at 7:25 shown) and Flair attacks Strongbow afterwards. Steamboat comes in and stops Flair and Steamboat continues his interview. We follow with a Flair promo, who says he will defend his title against anyone and says he attacked Stronbow because he never heard the bell ring. We’ll go **1/2 for the whole thing.
6) Dusty Rhodes Promo (2:04)
This promo was from World Wide Wrestling 05/07/85 and Dusty talks about Tully Blanchard and losing the television title. Dusty is the American Dream.
7) Jerry Lawler Interview (1:02)
This was after winning the AWA World Heavyweight title (on AWA All-Star Wrestling 05/15/88). Jerry is happy.
8) Ricky Steamboat Gets His Name (4:20)
Ricky talks about how he got the name Ricky Steamboat. His real name is Richard Blood, but his promoter said it was too heelish. He was given the same last name as someone who worked in the promotion just a year before named Sam Steamboat and when it was announced, Ricky got a huge pop. He got the name Dragon from the WWE (due to his similarity to Bruce Lee).
9) Arn Anderson Interview (1:42)
This comes from World Championship Wrestling 01/21/86. Arn is the TV champion and half of the tag team champions. Arn says he will actually defend the TV title, every week on TV.
10) Four Horseman Interview (3:10)
This is from World Championship Wrestling 06/21/86. Each guy gets on the mic, then Flair makes fun of most of the face roster for not showing up, then asks for any women (without a training bra) to come and see what a real man is like.
11) Jerry Lawler’s Worst Injury in Wrestling (3:03)
Jerry says his worst injury was against Lumberjack Joe Loduc. In a match, he bodypressed Lawler, ran, and chucked him outside of the ring. Lawler tried to grab the top rope and hit the edge of the announce table and severed a tendon on his knee. They actually show that footage, too.
1) Jimmy Snuka vs. Bob Backlund (14:31)
This is a fairly famous Steel Cage Match from MSG 05/19/80. Backlund is your champ at this time, and Snuka was still heel at this point. Snuka is reluctant to enter the cage, but finally does, and Backlund charges, clubbing Snuka in the head. Backlund and Snuka exchange punches, and that describes a whole lot of the match. Snuka snapmares the champ, drops a chop to the head, then tries to exit. Backlund pulls him back in. Snuka again knocks down the champ and tries to exit through the door, but Backlund catches him. Backlund sends Snuka flying into the cage, then slingshots him face first into the mesh cage. Snuka is now busted wide open. Snuka still fights back, but Backlund is just too much. Backlund tries to exit through the door, but Snuka grabs him and kicks him right in the chest. Snuka slams Backlund then hits a knee from the second rope, followed by an elbow. Snuka hits a suplex as Backlund writhes on the ground. Snuka goes up to the top rope, then to the top of the cage. He goes for his superfly, but Backlund rolls out of the way and crawls out of the cage door to retain the title at 11:21. The pop from the crowd was just tremendous for the spot and the finish, but everything up to that point was pretty damn bland, as it was just mainly punching and kicking for ten minutes. *1/4.
2) Iron Sheik vs. Bob Backlund (15:29)
This is from MSG 12/26/83, and Backlund is your champion. The WWF is blurred on the graphics on the 1983 screenshot, which is funny, one lawsuit and now your videotape collection must be digitally fixed for every release. Sheik gets tremendous heat. Sheik said in this match that Backlund was a shooter, like he was, and he wasn’t sure about how this match would end and if Backlund would give up the belt, possibly leading to a screwjob 14 years before Bret when Skaaland threw in the towel. Sheik blindsides Backlund, then chokes him with his robe, something Hogan did to the Sheik in their rematch a month later in a nice bit of payback. Something fans would remember a month later at that MSG show. Backlund’s back and arm was “injured” by the Sheik in the weeks leading to the this match and Sheik worked on this area, and Backlund sells it the whole time. Sheik works the arm to start, and Backlund can’t quite get out of danger. Backlund eventually fights out but can’t do anything due to his injuries. Backlund goes for a slam but Sheik falls on top of him, and again works on the arm of Backlund. Backlund turns the move around into a nice pinning combination for two. Backlund with a headscissors, then a very nice bridge, but he hurts his arm again trying a landslide and Sheik takes control again. Sheik tries for a suplex but Backlund rolls out of it, and tries to a roll-up, but Sheik kicks out of it and Backlund sells the loaded shows. Sheik goes for the Camel Clutch and Backlund doesn’t give up. Skaaland throws in the towel at 11:48, ending Backlund’s title reign and Sheik is your new WWE champion. This was actually a textbook match where Sheik worked an area, Backlund sold it the whole way through (was he legit injured?) and the finish that was replicated at Wrestlemania 13, where Backlund didn’t give up but the manager had to throw in the towel, showing Backlund’s toughness. Again, the WWF is blurred on the caption on the screen and Backlund sort of vanished after this. I thought this was a well-executed technical match, with Sheik working an injured area that affected the whole match. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but from a technical point of view was very good. ***1/2.
3) Paul Orndorff vs. Salvatore Bellomo (20:38)
Orndorff cuts a promo on Sal, making fun of Italians basically, before the match. Piper leads Orndorff to the ring. This is Orndorff’s MSG review. Huge stall job by Orndorff to start, as he and Piper have issues with the knee brace of Bellomo. Finally, four minutes after the bell rings, Orndorff steps into the ring and attacks Bellomo from behind, as Bellomo was distracted by Piper. Bodyslam by Orndorff, and Bellomo is in bad shape. Orndorff drives the knee into the back of Bellomo, then smashes his fist into the chest of the poor guy. Back body drop for Orndorff gets two. Orndorff tries for a slam by Bellomo falls on top of him for a one-count, and Orndorff kicks out and just stomps the guy. Bellomo’s sent to the corner but a blind charge by Orndorff misses, and he hits his elbow on the ring post. Bellomo with a dropkick, and Orndorff misses an elbow. Bellomo works the arm of Orndorff, and after a few moments of Bellomo offense, Orndorff comes back with a side suplex, then he tosses the poor sucker to the outside where Piper gets right in his face. Bellomo gets on the apron but Orndorff charges a knee into Bellomo’s face. They both go outside and Orndorff bodyslams the jobber on the concrete. Back inside, a big suplex for Orndorff gets two. Bodyslam and Orndorff goes to the top rope, and misses a knee drop. Bellomo comes back with chops, then a headbutt to the midsection, and Bellomo goes off the ropes, right into a powerslam. Orndorff covers him then picks up the head of his fallen foe. Orndorff piledrives him and its goodnight Irene at 15:22. This was an extended squash, that didn’t actually feature any wrestling until about 4 minutes in. *.
4) Iron Sheik vs. Hulk Hogan (9:12)
Sheik is your champion at this point, having won the title from Backlund a month prior. This was an MSG show, taking place on 01/23/84. I just reviewed this for the History of the WWE Title DVD, but it is a short match so let’s have another go. Hogan attacks Sheik from behind and is a house o’fire to start. He even chokes him with the Sheik’s own robe! Who cares about the rules! Hogan with a big clothesline and a kneedrop. Big boot gets one. Hogan with an elbow knocks Sheik down, then he drops an elbow for two. Blind charge for Hulkster misses and Sheik unloads on Hogan with the loaded boots. Sheik with a backbreaker gets two. Sheik puts on a Boston Crab, but Hogan powers out. Sheik gets a couple of boots then puts on the Camel Clutch. Hogan powers out, comes off the ropes with a leg drop and a cover gets the three count and the victory at 5:34 in a truly historic moment at Madison Square Garden that would usher in a new era of wrestling. I was harsh on this the first time around, but this wasn’t a terrible match. It did what it had to do. *1/2.
5) Bob Orton vs. Jimmy Snuka (12:42)
This is another MSG match, in fact, all 6 matches on this DVD are from MSG, and 9 out of the 10 WWE matches in the whole collection were at MSG, showing where the king of wrestling arenas really stands. This is from 02/18/85. Orton is castless at this time. They lock up and Orton pushes off Snuka. Snuka comes back by whipping Orton to the corner and he goes flying onto the turnbuckles. A Snuka headlock is broken when Orton sends him to the rope, and they crisscross. Snuka with some leapfrogs and Orton bails. A chase ensues, which ends up back in the ring, leading to a Snuka chop across the chest for two. Snuka with another side headlock, this time on the mat. Orton tries to mimic the leapfrogs of Snuka, and gets an atomic drop for his efforts. Orton bails to the outside, again. Orton takes advantage with a low blow, sets Snuka up on the apron, and elbows him in the throat and this really pisses of Okerlund, one of the announcers. Orton suplexes Snuka back in, and Orton heads to the top. He tries for his own splash (which looks pretty bad) and he lands on Snuka’s knees. Snuka takes over, snapmares Orton down and drops a fist from the second rope. He tries again but Snuka misses. Snuka sends Orton to the ringpost and Orton smases his elbow into the turnbuckle. Orton may have really hurt himself, leading to that cast, and Snuka (on the outside) sunset flips Orton for the pin and the victory at 9:56. This was what it was, nothing too spectacular but not absolute crap either. **.
6) Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan (9:37)
This is also from the 02/18/85 MSG show. This has a cool title though, the “War to Settle The Score.” Orton has his cast on now at ringside, hurting it in the previous match. Albano, Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper are at ringside as well. They charge at each other right away and exchange punches. Hogan gets the better of it and sends Piper to the corner, then charges Piper in the corner. Piper drops and Hogan slams the Rowdy one, following with an elbow. Hogan bites the Irishman, but an Irish whip is reversed, followed with a clothesline for two. Piper stomps the Hulkster on the back of the head, then covers for two. Piper with a sleeper hold, but Hulkster gets out. Piper works over Hogan in the corner, and Orton cheats by choking Hogan. Hogan hits the injured arm and Orton goes to the back as Hogan clobbers Piper. Orton comes back with Orndorff as Hogan atomic drops Piper. He goes for another one but Piper punches Hogan, who falls into the ref. Piper holds down Hogan as Ordnorff drops a knee from the top rope. Now both Orndorff and Piper are pounding Hogan and Cyndi gets on the apron to help Hogan. Orndorff and Piper head for Lauper but Mr. T hops over the railing to protect Cyndi and T comes into the ring. T turns around and Piper hits him from behind, and the duo stomps him. Hogan hulks up and is back up, and now T and Hulk are up and the duo of Orndorff and Piper flee, until Orton comes back. The NYPD get involved to separate the two parties and you now have your Wrestlemania I main event. Hogan is declared winner via DQ at about 7:00 or so. This wasn’t a match, but an angle to set up WMI. It was fun for what it was. *.
7) Iron Sheik Swings the Persian Clubs (2:39)
This comes to us from All Star Wrestling, 12/07/83. Sheik shows up how strong he is by swinging the Persian Clubs. The Clubs supposedly weigh 75 pounds each.
8) PoseDown: Paul Orndorff vs. Tony Atlas (3:46)
This Posedown comes to us from an episode of TNT 11/27/84. They are in some sort of strip club or something, with dark lights and people at tables. They even put on stripper music for Atlas and Orndorff to flex to, and it’s a little odd watching this to say the least. Atlas wins the PoseDown and Orndorff attacks him from behind.
9) Cowboy Bob Orton Goes to the Doctor (5:01)
This is from TNT 05/10/85. Of course, Orton wore the cast for many many months and the doctor basically says that the bone is healed and he should be fine now. Piper says it isn’t Orton’s arm on the second X-Ray.
10) Jimmy Snuka (10:33)
This is from TNT 06/26/84. McMahon interviews Snuka, who talks very softly and quietly. Alfred Hayes chimes in as well. Now I know why this is on here, they show the famous Piper’s Pit where Snuka is interviewed, called a monkey then smacked in the head with a coconut. Snuka wasn’t happy.
11) Hulk Hogan on Hercules (1:42)
This is from Saturday’s Night Main Event, 11/29/86. This is in Hulkster’s hometown and he cuts a promo on Hercules. It wasn’t anything special to be honest.
This footage all comes from the 1980’s and I don’t know about you, but I have seen footage from the early 80’s that is absolutely terrible. WWE had the foresight to keep their footage, and keep it in pretty good shape, and for the most part, this stuff looks (and sounds) like it did when it originally aired back in the 80’s. For those who saw those 4th generation dubs, this is like HD.
C) Packaging / Liner Notes
This was the standard WWE three-disc fold-open package. The liner notes detail the guys featured on each disc, as well as the dates and episodes of all the extras, which is a nice reference. It’s well done.
D) Easter Eggs
1) Roddy Piper Promo (2:28)
To get this egg, go to the chapters section. Highlight Roddy Piper and hit right twice. You will be sent to a nice little promo Roddy gave on an 08/25/82 episode of World Wide Wrestling. This was an NWA show and I think it was his first appearance on the show. He talks about his first match and losing, and just goes off on a tangents and it was entertaining as hell. Video quality isn’t great, but still entertaining. This was an NWA show and I think it was his first appearance on the show. He talks about his first match and losing, and just goes off on a tangents and it was entertaining as hell. Video quality isn’t great, but still entertaining.
2) Roddy Piper Remembers a Promo (0:56)
Go the the Extras section, and head to the last page. Highlight Piper’s Pit and hit left twice. Roddy remembers cutting a promo against Dusty and Dusty running out of material to come back with, and Roddy says that put him on the map.
1) Piper on Rhodes (0:40)
Piper talks about the best Rhodes promo, about a poster a handicapped kid gave. To get this, go to the chapters section, highlight Dusty Rhodes, and hit right twice.
2) Steamboat Interview (2:21)
To access this egg, go to the Chapters section, highlight Ricky Steamboat and hit left twice. Steamboat talks about a match where he fought Austin and Pillman with Shane Douglas, as the main event of a high school show, during a blizzard. The place was sold out and their match was on after intermission but during intermission, the announcer said people should leave and go home if they can’t make it. So Steamboat says he worked a 40-minute match.
1) 1983 WWF Wrestler of the Year (1:35)
Jimmy Superfly Snuka is on an episode of Championship Wrestling aired on 01/03/84, where he is awarded the Wrestler of the Year for 1983. To get this, go to the Chapters section, highlight Jimmy Snuka and hit right twice.
2) Wrestlemania VI Promo (2:05)
This is an interesting choice, being as it aired on Wrestlemania VI which was held on 04/01/90. Hulk cuts a promo about his challanger, the Ultimate Warrior, which is kind of weird. He tells Warrior to breathe into him to get eternal life. To get his, go to the Chapters section, highlight Hulk Hogan and hit left three times.
3) Sheik Promo (1:08)
This is Sheik’s post-match promo after Sheik won the title from Backlund. Sheik speaks Iranian before saying he is better than any American. To get this extra, go to the Extras Section, highlight the Sheik/Backlund match, and hit right twice.
4) Hogan Promo (1:36)
This is Hogan’s post-match promo after Hogan won the title from Sheik. Hogan is in the locker room and he’s pumped. Hulkamania turns him on. Hogan said WWF in this promo, but the F is edited out. To get this extra, go to the Extras Section, highlight the Sheik/Hogan match, and hit left twice.
5) Buddy Rogers Corner (2:15)
To get this little interview, go to the extras, highlight Snuka vs. Backlund and hit right four times. This is from an episode of Championship Wrestling 10/5/82. There was some issue about money and a contract, and Rogers tells Albano he is not Snuka’s manager and Jimmy is a free man, but broke. I guess this was his face turn where Albano is kicked out as manager, and Buddy is now the new manager.
The usual WWE promos start off this collection (Wrestlemania XXI, WWE 24/7, and the don’t try this at home PSA). This was another winner for the WWE. The actual program (which was about three hours) had some interesting comments for sure, with some revisionist history going on, but the real thing we love about these collections is the archival content. The matches were varied, but you had some real winners here. The great Flair/Steamboat match, the Piper’s Pit with Snuka, some great bloody brawls that would make ECW look tame, and soo many others I can’t mention here. The main feature may be forgotten, but the extras won’t be. There’s some really cool stuff here, and that makes it recommended.
9.0-9.5 Near Perfect, Highly Recommended
8.0-8.5 Really good disc, Recommended
7.0-7.5 Good DVD, Mildly recommended
6.0-6.5 Above Average DVD. Mildest of mild recommendations
5.0-5.5 Decent all around disc, but catch it on TV
4.0-4.5 Great Movie but horrible DVD
3.0-3.5 Horrible movie but great DVD
2.0-2.5 There’s at least some merit to this DVD, but not much.
1.0-1.5 Horrible DVD, don’t even bother
0.0-0.5 Worst DVD ever