WWF at Maple Leaf Gardens - December 15, 1985
by erick von erich
Let's head (just) north of the border for a visit to Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens and its engimatic ring ramp! Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura are calling the action at ringside. Jesse complains about the traffic jams in Toronto and says that next time he's in town, promoter Jack Tunney should spring for a limo. But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...
Match 1: Tony "Cannonball" Parisi vs. Johnny K-9
I used to think K-9 was kinda' cool... probably just for his name. I'm not sure, but I suspect Parisi was a holdover from "Maple Leaf Wrestling", as that may also apply to a few more guys on this card. Parisi works a waistlock into a full nelson, then goes into a front facelock. K-9 bails for a bit, then comes back a-hammerin' and lands a legdrop for a 2 count. K-9 follows up with a slam, but misses a kneedrop off the top. Parisi splits K-9's legs...then just kinda' holds that pose for about 5 minutes. K-9 makes Jesse's day by delivering the Thumb to the Eye, throws Parisi to the turnbuckle then chomps him on the schnoz. Parisi manages a backdrop, then delivers his "cannonball" butt-drop splash off the top turnbuckle and gets the 3 count.
Match 2: Hercules Hernandez vs. Bob Marcus
Herc's debut in Toronto and he introduces himself with a Bruiser Brody Stomp. Total squash, but Herc does manage to work the crowd a little bit by posing and jawing at them. Herc starts out with a one-armed slam, kneelift, then slams Marcus into the corner. Elbowdrop hits, but Herc pulls up Marcus at 2. Kneedrop and a suplex, then Herc pulls him up at 2, once more. The ref argues with Herc, which allows Marcus to sneak in and get a quick roll-up for 2. Marcus makes a brief comeback with a series of forearms, until Herc reverses an irishwhip and takes his head off with a clothesline. Head is re-attached, so Herc applies his backbreaker/torture rack submission hold to get the win.
Match 3: Ron Shaw vs. Rene Goulet
To quote Lord Alfred Hayes: "oh, my word!" Due to Goulet's single glove, Gorilla calls him: "The Michael Jackson of the WWF"...which could have all sorts of weird connontations, nowadays. The crowd absolutely HATES this match and you can't blame them. Slow wristlock opening sequence does little to change that. Gorilla mentions that Shaw has won "some big matches lately"... but no names are mentioned. Goulet with a clothesline and a knee for a quick 1 count. Goulet threatens his "Scorpio" clawhold, but Shaw fights it off. Goulet manages a chop off the second turnbuckle, gets a quck cover, then tries for the Scorpio again. Goulet whips Shaw to the turnbuckle, but puts his head down. Shaw responds with a sunset flip and gets the 3 count pin.
Match 4: Canadian Heavyweight Championship:
Dino Bravo (c) vs. Tiger Chung Lee
Not an official WWF title, since no belt is present. Bravo was one of the top draws for Maple Leaf Wrestling and got a rub from the WWF by being billed as "champ". As the match begins, Jesse mentions that he'd challenge for the Canadian Title if Bravo would put his "Dudley Do-right jacket" on the line. Jesse is DIGGING that thing. They begin with a series of mat holds: headlocks countered by head-scissors. Bravo picks things up with a shoulderblock and a scoop slam. Lee gains the upperhand with some chops to the throat, then uses the ropes to choke Bravo. Nice flying clothesline from Lee gets 2. Bravo attacks Lee's back, then whips him in for a backdrop and a 2 count. Lee comes off the ropes with a clothesline attempt, but Bravo quickly ducks under and lands a belly-to-back suplex to get the pin.
Match 5: Hart Foundation (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Hilbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer
Okay, so the Harts didn't face the Killers Bees/British Bulldogs/Rougeau Brothers on every show. The Harts are wearing their cool black and red singlets. Anvil starts off with Hillbilly as they try to outpower and out-pose each other. Anvil even drops his straps, early. Look away. HBJ no-sells Anvil's shoulderblock, then whips him in for a big boot and an arm-wringer. HBJ tags in Elmer...who also poses. Elmer brought his working boots, tonight-- he applies a standing side headlock, then tags HBJ back in. We shouldn't knock him too much, since Elmer got an amazing pop for that headlock. Hitman comes in to deliver some headbutts, forearm shots and a legdrop. The Harts do their usual double-team on HBJ, until Anvil accidentally ends up drop-kicking Hitman. E lmer comes in to clean house, sends Hitman flying off the apron, then avalanches Anvil into the corner roughly 5 times. Hitman reaches under and pulls Elmer's leg out, allowing Anvil to score the pin! The Harts walk out...but the hillbillies talk to the ref and get the match re-started. The Harts are well on their way down the ramp, but the ref begins a 10 count and counts them out, awarding the match to the Wearers of Overalls. Awful ending, but this was good for variety's sake, since it was refreshing to see the Harts in there without their usual opponents.
Match 6: King Tonga vs. "Ace/Cowboy" Bob Orton
Starts off slow, but Ace does a great job of selling, getting caught in the ropes and carrying on. The ongoing theme at the time was Orton's use of his "illegal" cast; if he uses it in any manner, he'll be disqualified. Wow.. what subtle foreshadowing! Tonga delivers a nice drop-kick, then things settle into a power-brawl. Orton delivers a backdrop, but after a whip to the corner he nails Tonga with his cast, trigerring the DQ. Orton walks down the ramp, thinking he's won for whatever reason. When the ring announcer announces the decision, he returns and (deliberately) trips over the ropes coming back in. Tonga chases him down the ramp for added effect.
Match 7: "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorf vs. Ted Grizzly
Grizzly was probably another Maple Leaf regular, doing the evil backwoods/mountain man gimmick, complete with ratty overalls. Orndorf attacks right away; hits a drop-kick, powerslam, clothesline, then finishes off Grizzly with a jumping pildriver for the 3 count in less than a minute. Jesse notices that Orndorf, who was wearing a cast a la Orton, actually hit Grizzly with it, but did not get disqualified.
Match 8: WWF World Heavyweight Championship:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Terry Funk (w/Jimmy Hart)
The crowd comes to their feet --literally-- as soon as the ring announcer says "for the World Heavyweight Championship" and goes into a frenzy for the entire match. Since it's WWE 24/7, "Real American" is dubbed over Hogan's entrance, which robs the crowd. Also noteworthy to mention that Hogan is wearing his old baby blue trunks n' pads. Jimmy Hart had a wardrobe change and is now wearing a special Texas-themed get-up, which will become important later on. Funk constantly argues with the crowd, even hopping out and venturing several rows deep at one point. Funk is on the apron arguing, which allows Hogan to sneak up behind him, steal his cowboy hat, then deck the "surprised" Funk. Funk tumbles out of the ring and even begins arguing with Gorilla at the ringside announcers' table. He returns to the ring, where Hogan tosses him to each corner, then clotheslines him out. Funk bumps some more, even doing a little teeter-totter/see-saw spot with the middle rope. Hogan pulls him back in with a belly-to-back suplex and gets 2. He tries again, but Funk lowblows him with a reverse mule kick to the groin (or, as modern smarks might call it: "RMK2G"). Funk tosses Hogan out, leaps off a table with an elbowdrop and pounds him into the floor. He throws Hogan back in, chokes him with athletic tape and delivers a piledriver (it feels just right). Ref makes a delayed 2 count, leading me to think Hogan missed a spot. Funk jabs away and tosses Hogan out onto the ramp. He pounds away at the forehead, until Hogan begins no-selling and hulking up. Hogan picks up Funk and slams him back into the ring. Irish-whip, clothesline and a big elbow drop from the Hulkster. Big boot sends Funk outside the ring, so Hogan tries to suplex him back in. Funk counters by grabbing the top rope and falling on top for a 2 count. Hogan had his foot on the rope, but Funk gets up thinking he's the new champ. Jimmy Hart hops up on the apron, so Hogan grabs Hart's cowboy boot, blasts Funk with it and covers for 3 to retain the title. Usually Hogan's rulebreaking tactics seemed out of place, but it worked here. Funk had been all sorts of crazy, so it made Hogan's boot-shot seem justified. After the decision, Funk attacks Hogan and tries to jab him with a branding iron. Hogan rolls away and grabs a big chair to clear the ring. Pretty damn good for a Hogan match, as he really seemed to flourish in the "hardcore brawls" (see also: matches with David Schultz and Harley Race).
Match 9: WWF Tag Team Championship:
Dream Team (c) (w/"Luscious" Johnny Valiant) vs. British Bulldogs
(Greg "The Hammer" Valentine & Brutus Beefcake vs. Dynamie Kid & Davey Boy Smith)
I was already satisified with this show, so this was a great bonus. Valentine and Dynamite start off, with both trading slams. Although Dynamite outdoes Valentine by slamming both team members. Davey works Valentine's arm, but Valentine counters with a slam, Beefcake is tagged in and misses a flying elbow. Davey nails both Dream Teamers with a headbutt, then tags in Dynamite who delivers his awesome snap suplex. Davey works on Beefcake with a hammerlock, then drop-kicks Valentine. Valentine hits the ropes, but drops down, then pops up to hit Davey with a clothesline. Beefcake comes in and applies a sleeper on the mat. Beefcake pounds a little bit, then lands a reverse thrust kick. The Dreamers then work on Davey's legs with a spinning toe hold, setting him up for the figure four. Valentine goes for the figure four, but Davey kicks him in the mouth and makes the tag to Dynamite. Three headbutts and a "double noggin knocker" from DK. He whips Valentine for a clothesline, then a kneedrop for 2. Snap suplex again, but Beefcake breaks up the cover.
The Dreamers take over with a series of stomps and toss DK into their corner. Beefcake puts his head down on a backdrop attempt, enabling the hot tag to Davey. Davey lifts Beefcake into his running power slam, then hoists Valentine up for a fireman's carry. Over to corner, where Dynamite climbs, steps on Valentine's back and flies onto Beefcake with his diving headbutt! Dynamite flies again, this time with a top-turnbuckle flying dropkick for Valentine. Dynamite covers for a near 3...but Valentine gets his foot on the ropes. Crowd went nuts, actually thinking that they had new champs! Davey continues on with a suplex, but Valentine jabs in the eyes. Beefcake connects with his running high-knee for 2. Davey comes right back with a small package for 2. Bulldogs take over, isolate Beefcake in their corner, then hit him with a spike piledriver! Here's the cover...but, it's now curfew and time has run out! This match is ruled....a draw! Davey gets on the house mic and demands five more minutes as Valiant leads his champs down the ramp. Great match, as it seemed like the curfew would sound right after Dynamite's diving headbutt. An extra four minutes of decent action really made this exciting.
Why'd You Tape This??
The first four matches are completely worthless, but the last five are all acceptable WWF-style rasslin'. I don't have any issues with Ted Grizzly, either! The crowd gets amped up for the second half, which adds to the show. Thus, I could see how this might've been a fun event to attend. The Maple Leaf Ramp is used to a good effect, as well. Having a big elevated ramp extends the "stage" of the entire show, as it was used well in both the Tonga/Orton and Hogan/Funk matches. Tape-trading wrestling purists might only care about the last two matches, but for a decent all-around house show card, this show is successful.