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WWF at Maple Leaf Garden - April 21, 1985

by erick von erich

Let's head up to Toronto with our hosts, Gorilla Monsoon and Billy "Red" Lyons. Jesse "The Body" Ventura will be joining us to call a few matches, as well. We're only a few weeks removed from the inaugural WrestleMania and the WWF is still kinda' in the felling out process of their national expansion plans. As a result, everything but the main event from this card was aired on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling shortly after, so we also have some matches re-done with the original PTW commentary duo of Jesse Ventura and Jack Reynolds. Don't worry, there is one static element in all of this: the MLG RAMP! But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...

"Quick Draw" Rick McGraw vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (w/Jimmy Hart)

Gorilla mentions that Jimmy Hart is putting together an impressive stable, including new signees King Kong Bundy and Bret Hart. Jimmy's still closer to his Memphis look and doesn't have his (WWF) trademark megaphone, just yet. Crowd seems to dig McGraw, but this is the curtain-jerker. Basic power/brawl match, as both guys just punch and try to bounce off the ropes. Anvil gets cocky after knocking down McGraw with a shoulderblock and invites him to do it again. Doesn't go so well, as McGraw knocks him down. Anvil thumps away and tosses McGraw outside. McGraw tries leaps back in with a sunset flip, but only gets 2. Anvil tosses him to opposite corners and on the rebound catches McGraw in a nice running powerslam. That gets the 3 for Anvil...apparently. Tough to see, because right as Anvil goes for the pin, the camera pans back and referee Bill Atkins doesn't slap the canvas hard or flail his arm. He taps it like an amatuer wrestling ref, as the slo-mo replay confirms.

Steve Lombardi vs. The Magnificent Muraco

Atkins has been replaced for this and all subsequent matches. I'm guessing he was a local Toronto guy. I find it funny that they consistently booked and pushed Lombardi as a babyface JTTS around this time... yet he ALWAYS seemed to get boo'ed at the start of every match. Muraco's his usual animated self, as he plays to the crowd to try and bring them in. Yet the match is nothing more than punching and bouncing off the ropes. At about 4 minutes, Muraco catches Lomardi off the ropes and lifts him into his (tombstone) reverse-piledriver and gets the easy pin. Happened so quickly that Muraco didn't get a chance to dedicate the move to anybody.

"Polish Power" Ivan Putski vs. "Gentleman" Jerry Valiant

Something of an urban legend that Valiant was only brought in for an SNME bout in mid-1985, but he was around for a short stint. He's announced at "290 pounds", but looks about 240. Putski controls most of the early going, working a chin-lock, until Valiant lands a few forearm clubs to the back and works a trapezeus hold. Not that it was a technical exhibition, but thinsg break down into a brawl, spilling out onto the RAMP. A Putski chin-lock happens. Valiant misses a charge into the corner, eats turnbuckle, then get a mouthful of the Polish Hammer. Easy 3 count win for Putski.

George Wells vs. Bret Hart (w/Jimmy Hart)

Wells is announced as a "former All-Star with the Saskatchewan Roughriders" to a small pop. Remember, that's Roughriders... as opposed to Rough Riders. While Bret's officially now a heel, he hasn't adopted the "Hitman" nickname, yet. Also worth mentioning (maybe) that these two tagged together for a few WWF matches just a few weeks earlier. I don't think Bret ever did an official heel turn angle, he just suddenly began hanging out with Jimmy Hart, overnight. Bret complains about a hairpull or something to stall, just to re-iterate that he's a heel. Bret counters a hammerlock, but Wells jogs around and sends him sailing to the floor. Wells brings him back in with a flying head-scissors, which Bret sells like mad. Bret comes back with a legdrop, kneelift and an elbowdrop for 2. Bret applies a reverse chinlock resthold, which Wells eventually counters into a backbreaker. Bret controls some more, until Wells cacthes him on the top turnbuckle and slams him to the mat. Wells makes the hot comeback with a series of uppercuts. Bret tries going for his charging clothesline, but Wells catches him with a powerslam for 2. Jimmy Hart tries distracting, but Wells pays attention and rolls up Bret off the ropes. Bret reverses, grabs the tights and gets the 3 count. Best match on the show, so far, and an early WWF example of Bret's carrying skills.

British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith) vs. Spot Moondog & Barry O

Yes, it's Moondog Spot, but he's announced as "Spot Moondog". Dynamite and Spotty start, bouncing to both corners, then to the ropes where Dynamite lands a flying bodypress for a 2 count. Dynamite hits s top-rope drop-kick, then both sides tag off. Barry O comes running in and gets hit with another top-rope drpo-kick, this time from Davey Boy. Heels bail and when they return, it settles down into Davey Boy and Barry. They criss-cross (JUMP JUMP) the ropes as Davey gets a roll-up for 2. Most of the match is basically there to showcase the Bulldogs stereo offense, while the heels get in some elementary moves and the obligatory cheapshot. Matilda isn't there, but Dynamite still knows to deliver a headbutt. Barry O snapmares Davey, then walks out to the middle of the second rope with a fistdrop for 2. Spotty slams Dynamite, then misses a big splash from the second rope. Davey comes in to plant Spotty with his running powerslam, but only gets 2. Spotty suckers him into the opposite corner, so they can work him over. Barry O delivers his own running powerslam for 2. They cut the ring off an continue to tee off on Davey for about 5 or 6 minutes. Spotty comes off the second rope with a fist for 2. Davey hits Spot with a dropkick in the chest, then makes the HOT TAG to Dynamite. Kiddo cleans house, backdrops O then hooks him in an abdominal stretch. Spot makes the save and all 4 guys enter the ring. Spot and O are flung into each other, with Spot rolling out to the apron. The Bulldogs whip O to the corner, then do their press-slam-flying headbutt double team move as Dynamite covers for 3. Good work on both sides.

Tito Santana & Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine & Brutus Beefcake (w/Jimmy Hart)

Yeah, Steamboat hasn't officially become "The Dragon", yet, and still has short trunks. Valentine's the reigning Intercontinental champ and in the midst of his big feud with Chico. Good guys start fast, as Steamboat delivers hip-tosses to each guy to clear the ring. Steamer follows Beefcake out, then back into the ring with a springboard forearm shot from the middle of the rope. Santana comes in to work over Beefcake, but of course runs over to get a shot in on the Hammer. Valentine finally tags in, s Tito intensely attacks him, sending him outside. Rope-bounce sequence has Santana come out on top. Tito sets-up for the figure four, but Valentine kicks him off and takes over. Shoulderbreaker from Valentine, then Bruti comes in to choke. Steamboat thinks about coming in, so Valentine runs over and blasts him off the apron. They work on Santana for a good 5 minutes, until he manages to sneak through Bruti's legs and make the HOT TAG. Steamboat flies off the top with a chop and smacks Valnetine for good measure. Steamboat with a suplex, flying forearm shot and a sleeper on Bruti. Bruti slips out and makes the COLD TAG to Valentine, who clubs away on Steamboat. Steamboat then takes his turn absorbing punishment for a few minutes. Santana gets the LUKEWARM TAG and cleans house, hits his flying forearm on Valentine, but Bruti saves. All four guys enter, as Bruti and Steamboat square off and go outside. Valentine tries an atomic drop on Santana, but Santana grabs the leg and twists it into the Figure Four!! The place goes nuts as the hold's hooked and Valentine soon taps out! Afterwards, Steamboat pummels Bruti down the ramp, while Valentine stands in the ring denying the loss and getting pelted by fans' trash.

Bettter-than-average tag team match, and a perfect finish that boosted the Santana/Valentine feud. Unless our next match blows the roof off the place, this was the match of the night. If this had been the NWA this short-lived '85 Santana/Steamboat team is the type that would've been tag champs.

WWF Championship:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff

For whatever reason, "WWF President" Jack Tunney comes down to brief the ring announcer and referee as Orndorff enters. Orndorff hops up on the second turnbuckle to argue with the crowd, which allows Hogan to sneak up behind and drop him with a belly-to-back suplex. Hogan with a series of rights, then a charging clothesline for the usual "early match babyface assault and heel bailing segment". Orndorff stalls getting back in, then gets caught in a standing side headlock and a shoulderblock from the Hulkster. More stalling again, until they begin brawling and HOGAN gets an eye gouge. Atomic drop and a headbutt scores a 2 count for Hogan. Orndorff suckers him in with a kneelift, then drops a few elbows and knees to the external occipital protuberance, which Hogan sells by twitching. Orndorff tosses him throgh the ropes, then follows him outside to smash him into the railing. Orndorff allows Hogan to roll back in, then thumps away and delivers a vertical suplex and a kneedrop for 2. Hogan halts a tunrbuckle smash, bounces Orndorff's head into the corner for a bit, hits two charging clotheslines, but misses an elbowdrop. Orndorff kicks some more, then goes up top for a flying bodypress. Hogan catches him and uses the momentum to roll over and score the 3 count to retain.

Afterwards, Orndorff kicks the ropes at first, but simmers down and eventually offers a handshake to Hogan. Hogan thinks about it for a few minutes, then finally gives a weak handshake. Orndorff had already been abandoned by Roddy Piper and fired Bobby Heenan, so this was probably his first real step towards becoming "Hulkamaniac #1", as he became Hogan's best buddy for the next year or so.

Why'd You Watch This??
Most of these old Toronto shows have an enthusiastic crowd, so that helps things move along. Yet 1985 WWF isn't an era I'm fond of and this show is overall fairly weak. I'm curious how this was promoted in Toronto as, outside of the last two matches, I don't see anything that would draw too well. Steamboat/Santana versus the future Dream Team is worth a view, but the rest isn't.

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