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Coliseum Video Presents: The Best of the WWF Vol. VIII
by Scrooge McSuck
Coliseum release #027, as we continue marching forward in the "Best of" Series. There are still some curious faces featured in the opening, like Jimmy Snuka and Barry Windham, who have long departed the company by the time this tape released, towards the end of the Summer of 1986. "Mean" Gene Okerlund is our host from the WWF Control Center. Okerlund brags about the WWF's weekly 7-hours of original first-run action. "Even the most loyal fan would have a difficult time to keep up with all of those matches." I laugh at both of those statements, but for different reasons. Okerlund runs down a list of names we'll see featured on this tape. When all is said and done, you might as well call this "Best of the WWF: Newcomer Spotlight", because most of the tape is dedicated to new (or new-ish) faces in prelim bouts against the JTTS' of the day.
The Killer Bees vs. The Hart Foundation (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Taped on February 17th, 1986, from Madison Square Garden. There'd need to be some ridiculous circumstances for this to fall short of expectations. At this point, and even at the time of the tape being released, both teams were just a mid-card act tucked away from the Tag Championship picture. Brunzell and Neidhart start. During the intros, Okerlund suggests Bret is the best technical wrestler IN THE WORLD. IN 1986. PRE-PUSH. Brunzell goes for a waist-lock and top wristlock, but Neidhart shows off his strength. Neidhart laughs off a shoulder block attempt and dares Brunzell to bring it on. Crisscross and Brunzell with a drop toe hold into a grapevine. Blair in to assist on a wish bone. Blair with an elbow across the knee before hooking a standing toe hold. Neidhart escapes but is caught in another drop toe hold. Brunzell with a rolling cradle for two. The referee refuses a tag because Bret's feet were off the ground, allowing Brunzell to keep Neidhart in his corner. Blair hooks a Figure-Four, but Bret breaks it with a leg drop. Bret in for the first time, trading blows. Blair gets caught in the corner for some good old-fashioned double-team work. Snap mare and Bret hooks a chin-lock. The crowd rallies behind Blair, but Bret cuts him off with a yank of the hair. Bret with a back breaker but he misses a second rope elbow. Either Bret took the jump sharply or he slipped.
Brunzell in, sending Bret into the Anvil. Brunzell runs wild but is cut off with a knee from the apron from the Hitman. Neidhart drops a forearm across the chest and hooks a chin-lock. Brunzell with elbows to the midsection. Neidhart catches him coming off the ropes with a bearhug and slams him into the turnbuckle. The Foundation hit the back breaker/flying elbow combo, but Blair makes the save. Brunzell fights for his corner, but Bret sends him to the corner to prevent the tag. Neidhart dumps Brunzell to the outside, where Bret greets him with a slam on the concrete. Back inside, Brunzell continues to take a beating. Whip and Brunzell surprises Bret with a sunset flip for two. Bret remains in control, stomping across the chest. Neidhart grabs a front face-lock. Bret prevents a tag by taking a shot at Blair. Back to the corner goes Brunzell, as Bret launches Neidhart into him with an assisted shoulder tackle. Bret with a dropkick on the chin for a two-count. Whip to the ropes and Brunzell busts out a dropkick of his own (and the crowd loves it). Brunzell is still fatigued, so Neidhart pulls Bret on top of him for a near-fall. Bret with an inverted atomic drop to keep Brunzell on his half of the ring. Brunzell fights for the tag, but the referee misses it. YES, FINALLY. The Foundation go for the assisted offense in the corner, but this time it backfires. Blair gets the hot tag, running wild on both Bret and Neidhart with right hands. Whip to the corner and a clothesline lays out the Anvil. Blair with an inside cradle for two. Whip and a powerslam on Bret. Scoop slam for the Anvil, followed by an atomic drop on Bret. Blair covers Bret but Neidhart saves, only to hit his own partner with an elbow. Blair with the abdominal stretch and again, Neidhart with the save. Heck breaks loose with all four men in the ring. Neidhart and Bret collide in the middle for a near-fall. Whip is reversed and Blair with an O'Connor Roll for two. Whip and Brunzell with a dropkick and the bell rings at 18:50 for the TIME LIMIT DRAW. These teams were feeling it, and the crowd was with them the entire time. You might dislike a "Time Limit Draw", but it didn't affect the quality of this match (the timing issue is another thing, but they were clearly going based on when they did the spot). ****
"Golden Boy" Dan Spivey vs. Terry Gibbs:
Taped on November 25th, 1985, from Madison Square Garden. This is the first in the unofficial feature showcasing some "newcomers" to the WWF. Spivey's claim to fame for the WWF (in the 80's) is being a prelim geek they tried plugging into Barry Windham's spot in the U.S. Express. We're Join in Progress (thank God), with Gibbs taking Spivey into the corner and driving a knee into the midsection. Whip is reversed and Spivey misses a charge into the corner. Gibbs with an atomic drop that Spivey could barely get height on. Gibbs with a back breaker before dumping Spivey out of the ring. Spivey leaves himself wide open every time he climbed on the apron to re-enter the ring. Back inside, Spivey's sunset flip is cut-off. Gibbs with a whacky dance before dropping an elbow for two. Spivey fights out of a bearhug by smacking the ears. Whip and a back body-drop is countered with a punt to the chest. Gibbs with a hangman's neck breaker for two. Spivey fights out of another bearhug, taking Gibbs to the canvas with a hip toss. Gibbs avoids an elbow drop and covers for two. Whip and an iffy-looking back body-drop for two. Whip is reversed and Spivey grabs a bearhug of his own. Gibbs rakes the eyes to escape and begs for mercy. Spivey with terrible left hands, a hip toss, and slam. He hits the elbow drop for two. Spivey with a leg drop for two, barely getting any elevation. He finally finishes Gibbs with a running bulldog at 6:18 (shown of about 12-minutes!). Spivey looked bad at doing almost everything. I don't think Gibbs was anything to brag about, but he was at least competent. ¾*
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Moondog Rex:
Taped on June 27th, 1986, from the Boston Garden. Haynes is the "newcomer" of the match. We're Joined in Progress (get used to reading that) with Haynes in control of a chin-lock. Okerlund's introduction acknowledges Haynes' short-lived tenure towards the end of 1984. Rex escapes and lays Haynes out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner and Rex connects with a back breaker for two. The crowd doesn't seem impressed by the lumbering efforts. Snap mare out of the corner and Rex drops a knee across the forehead for two. LOUD "boring" chant as Haynes fights out of a chin-lock. Rex takes him over with a hip toss, but misses an elbow drop. Haynes gives Rex a taste of the turnbuckle and unloads with right hands. Rex takes a bump over the top rope, but this match is already a lost cause for this crowd. Back inside, Haynes with a TERRIBLE dropkick. He's not making any fans in Boston. Rex has a small cut on his forehead. Whip is reversed in slow motion. Haynes with a mistimed clothesline, and the Full Nelson finishes at 4:01 (shown). The crowd boos and rightfully so. This was a terrible 4-minutes. ZERO STARS
The Junkyard Dog vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Taped on June 14th, 1986, from Madison Square Garden. This ISN'T Joined in Progress. Lockup into the corner and the Dog gives a clean break (of that Kit-Kat bar). Another lockup, another break. Bundy still complains, so the crowd gets behind the Dog with a loud "JYD" chant. Bundy throws a cheap shot, thanks to the inadvertent assist from the referee. JYD avoids an elbow drop and lays into Bundy with his signature headbutts. Is that an Excedrin headache #5? Monsoon believes so. Back inside, Bundy with a knee to the midsection. JYD gets the better of a slugfest and rocks Bundy with another headbutt. Bundy no-sells a whip into the corner and lays out the Dog with a clothesline. Bundy with a knee across the chest for two. JYD ducks a clothesline and fires off a series of rights. I would mention every time they were working snug, but so far nothinhas reached those levels. Bundy eventually goes down like a toppled tree but is still alert enough to avoid a falling headbutt. JYD wins another slugfest. Whip and we get a clothesline double-down. Bundy wins the race to their feet, and they trade blows again. This time Bundy wins the battle, though it takes a knee to the midsection. Bundy drops an elbow and grabs a chin-lock. JYD fights to his feet and plants a series of elbows into the midsection. Bundy counters a shoulder block with an elbow but misses a splash. JYD with more of the usual. The camera misses Heenan tripping up the JYD. Bundy with a splash, but the referee calls for the bell at 8:43, awarding the match to JYD by Disqualification. Bundy was trying, bless his heart, but the Dog, much like Spivey earlier, looked bad with almost everything he did. ½*
Tony Garea vs. Jimmy Jack Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Another match taped on June 14th from MSG. In case you were wondering, Jimmy Jack is the newcomer, not the aging New Zealander with five reigns as the WW(W)F Tag Team Champion (with four different partners) listed under his credentials. Join in Progress with Funk in control with a chin-lock. YAY. Funk puts his feet on the ropes for extra leverage. The crowd is kind enough to play along with the show. Garea escapes with elbows and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Garea with a sunset flip for two. Funk regains control, taking Garea over with a snap mare and going back to the chin-lock. We cut ahead to Garea fighting free again. Garea blocks a suplex and counters with his own. He lays into Fink with right hands and slams him face-first to the canvas. Garea with a hip toss and a dropkick, sending Funk into the corner. He sweeps him out for a crash landing and drives his knees into the legs. Whip is reversed, Funk and Garea get cross on a body press attempt, but Funk manages to hold him in midair and turn him around until hitting the powerslam for three at 4:15 (shown). Garea had good fire, but had a dated style for 1986, and Funk had little to offer, though he did save the finish thanks to pure strength. ½*
"Leaping" Lanny Poffo vs. "Handsome" Harley Race (w/ Bobby Heenan):
One more match from June 14th. Unlike the previous match, where the established veteran and newcomer was obvious, here, the roles are reversed. The younger guy trying to evolve with the times is the fall guy, while the former 7-time NWA World Champion and legend of the territory days is the NEWCOMER. While technically correct, just think about how funny a presentation that is. We're Joined in Progress with Race in control on the floor, splattering Poffo with a brain buster on the concrete! Back inside, Race connects with a belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. Poffo fires off a series of right hands but Race cuts him off with a headbutt. Race scales the ropes and connects with the diving headbutt. One more headbutt sends Poffo stumbling through the ropes. Poffo took a flat back bump on concrete from a PUNCH. Race drops down with another headbutt as Heenan joins the commentary table to gloat about his new protégé. We cut ahead in the action, with Poffo attempting another comeback. Whip to the corner and Poffo with an awkward monkey-flip for two. Poffo with a dropkick, followed by a sloppy flying head-scissors. He tries it again (almost losing his balance again) and Race hangs him up across the top rope. Race with a Fisherman Buster to finish it at 4:44 (shown). Too edited to give the most accurate rating, but this looked like nothing much, with Poffo's big comeback looking sloppy as hell. *
Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Jim Powers & Rick Hunter:
Taped on June 3rd, 1986, from Poughkeepsie, NY, and featured on the June 14th episode of Championship Wrestling (the precursor to Superstars of Wrestling). Studd quickly interrupts The Fink and says this is a slam challenge, offering $15,000 in cash to man that could pull off the accomplishment. Suddenly, King Tonga shows up and wants to take on the challenge himself. Studd denies the challenge, stating the offer is to Powers and Hunter, not him. Hunter goes first and can't budge Studd. On the third try he gets Studd off his feet, but that's as far as he gets. Now it's Powers' turn, and he has the same level of success. The geeks try to do a double slam, breaking the rules of the challenge. Studd shrugs them off and gives them both slams with ease. Whip and Powers surprises Studd with a dropkick, but another slam attempt backfires. Studd dumps him out and slams Hunter for three at 2:19. Post-match, Studd keeps punishing the geeks until Tonga comes back to the ring. He nails Studd with a couple of chops, scoops him up with a long delay and plants him with a slam to drive the crowd wild. That's unofficial, by the way.
King Tonga vs. Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan):
ANOTHER MATCH TAPED ON JUNE 14TH! At least it's a decent segue building off the previous segment. Studd insists on being introduced as "The Giant" John Studd. Tonga has NOT been paid, by the way. Studd attacks with clubbing blows and plants Tonga with a slam. Tonga fights back with headbutts and chops. He goes for a slam, but Studd grabs the top rope, because that's the only card he has in his hand, and he plays it every single f*cking time. Tonga tries it again and guess what Studd does to block it. GO ON. JUST SAY IT. YOU KNOW THE ANSWER. Studd sends Tonga into the corner and charges in with a clothesline. Tonga fights out of a chin-lock and throws more chops. He rocks Studd with a kick to the side of the head. Tonga with another slam attempt, but Studd hooks the rope and both men go tumbling to the floor. They continue to trade blows until the match is ruled a double count-out at 3:49. The action continues after the bell, with Tonga holding the high ground when the dust settles. Match was OK, despite the cheap finish. *½
Ted Arcidi vs. Terry Gibbs:
Taped on February 17th, 1986, from Madison Square Garden. Wow, TWO MATCHES WITH TERRY GIBBS. Now you know this is "The Best of the WWF". Arcidi is one of the countless strongmen over the years that someone tried to transition into professional wrestling, and like most of them, was in-and-out sooner than later. The bell rings and Gibbs hides in the ropes. Gibbs goes for a top wristlock, but Arcidi easily sends him to the canvas. They do it again, with Gibbs complaining about the levels of oil on Arcidi's body. Maybe it's to keep the back acne in check. Arcidi no-sells a shoulder block and hooks a full nelson. Gibbs gets his feet on the ropes, so Arcidi drops him on his butt. Gibbs goes for the eyes and throws a series of rights. Arcidi stops selling and gives Gibbs a taste of the top turnbuckle. Arcidi throws TERRIBLE strikes. Whip and a bearhug finishes Gibbs at 2:39. Too short to be negative-scale awful, but you can see Arcidi had nothing to offer and was gone by the end of the Summer of ‘86. ZERO STARS
Cousin Junior vs. Hercules Hernandez (w/ Fred Blassie):
Taped on November 25th, 1985, from Madison Square Garden. Hercules is the spotlight, which isn't a surprise for fans at the time since Junior was long gone by the time this tape released (along with the rest of the Hillbilly clan, sans Hillbilly Jim). Joined in Progress (THANK YOU LORD), with Junior sending Hercules to the corner, only to meet a knee. The commentary is muted for whatever reason, making this chin-lock even more boring. Junior fights free with elbows but is knocked back down with a high knee. Junior fights out of another chin-lock via the same method as before. Hercules cuts him off again, yanking the overalls and sending him through the ropes. Monsoon's commentary can barely be heard. Blassie keeps yelling at the referee to count Junior out. ANYTHING TO END THIS. Junior comes back in with a sunset flip, but Hercules counters and drops a knee across the face. Whip to the ropes and Junior counters a back body-drop attempt with a punt to the chest. Junior with a series of right hands. Hercules cuts him off AGAIN with a high knee. Hercules goes to the top rope and misses a flying whatever-the-heck. Whip and Junior with a BAAAACK body-drop. Junior slips out of a slam and gets an O'Connor Roll. Blassie distracts the referee from counting, allowing Hercules to reverse and stack him up (with a handful of his gear) to put a bullet in this dog at 7:15 (shown). Bad match. Junior couldn't do anything, and Hercules wasn't a skilled enough worker to make himself look good at the expense of someone so limited. ZERO STARS
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match: Pedro Morales (c) vs. Adrian Adonis:
We're digging into the archives for this one, taped on March 14th, 1982, from Madison Square Garden. Joined in Progress, of course, because this 100-minute tape needed to be padded out with 13 matches. Adonis unloads on Morales with left hands. Morales throws some lefts of his own, and I can honestly say I don't remember many times where two men in the ring were both left-handed. Pedro winds up for the Popeye Punch, sending Adonis backwards over the top rope. Morales continues the attack from inside the ring, sending Adonis face-first into the post. Adonis is brought back in via slingshot and continues bumping like a maniac. Whip to the corner and Morales meets the turnbuckle on a shoulder tackle attempt. Adonis with a sloppy German Suplex and it's THAT finish at 2:30 (shown), where Morales gets the shoulder up and Adonis, the man executing the move, keeps both shoulders down. Not enough to rate, but Adonis' bumping is admirable.
Pat Patterson vs. Capt. Lou Albano:
More from the archives, from the same card as the previous match. WHY IS THIS HERE? Patterson gets the babyface reaction despite being from that awful city of San Francisco. Albano is introduced from Carmel, NY, and has tights with a Japanese flag on them. I'll just assume he was managing a certain team at the time that represented the far East... or he stole someone's gear. Patterson attacks and Albano drops his gimmick! Patterson lays into him, and Albano OPENLY BLADES, EVEN WORSE THAN THAT ONE TIME COLISEUM VIDEO FEATURED HIM AGAINST ARNOLD SKAALAND. This goes on for a little bit until Albano takes a walk at 1:59. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS?!
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts:
The final match on the tape. Taped on May 19th, 1986, from Madison Square Garden, only a couple of weeks removed from Roberts splattering Steamboat's brains on the concrete in an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. We're Joined in Progress, with Roberts nailing Steamboat in the ropes with a knee lift. Steamboat counters a DDT attempt and unloads with chops. He plants Roberts with a belly-to-belly suplex and throws a series of mounted rights. The referee pulls Steamboat off, allowing Roberts to powder out. Monsoon loses his mind at the referee physically intervening. Roberts slithers back in, and Steamboat was waiting for it. Whip is reversed and Roberts surprises Steamboat with a right uppercut, followed by a clothesline. Steamboat gets dumped over the top, but he hooks the bottom rope with his arm. He attempts a sunset flip but Roberts counters with a right hand between the eyes. Roberts with an inverted atomic drop and a deep slam. Roberts doesn't want to wait to unleash Damian. He sees Steamboat stirring and attempts a knee lift, only to get swept into the turnbuckle. Steamboat with a pair of swinging neck breakers, but a splash from the middle rope meets the knees. Roberts dumps Steamboat again and sends him to the floor with a right hand. Roberts signals for a DDT on the concrete, but Steamboat counters, ramming Roberts into the ring apron. Back inside, Steamboat comes off the top rope with a chop to the top of the head. WOAH, DID ROBERTS BLADE?! Steamboat with chops to the cut, and again the referee gets involved. Steamboat counters a DDT attempt but is cut off with a mule kick. Steamboat with a mule kick from the corner, knocking Roberts into the referee. They ring the bell at 7:24 (shown) as some under-card geeks like Paul Christy, Tiger Chung Lee, and BRET HART come out to break things up. We don't get the announcement the match ended in a Double Disqualification. Good match with an ultra-cheap finish. ***¼
Coming soon from Coliseum Video... "The Best of the WWF Vol. IX" (featuring a Six-Man Tag involving long-departed Jimmy Snuka), "The British Bulldogs" (with clips from a match that didn't make the tape), and "Inside the Steel Cage" (again highlighting Jimmy Snuka!).
Final Thoughts: The tape opens and closes with some strong action (and non-finishes), with about an hour of content in the middle that ranges from watchable to a waste of time. I applaud the gimmick of trying to feature new talent instead of relying on the same few names to pad the tapes, but almost every "newcomer" showcased didn't impress, either due to a bad opponent, or just being terrible at their job. Give the two matches of note a look and skip the rest.
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