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WWF Championship Wrestling- January 4, 1986
by Scrooge McSuck
- Hosted by Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino, taped on December 17th, 1985 from the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. This week we'll see Hillbilly Jim and Cousin Luke, Randy Savage, the Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake in Non-Title Action, Cpl. Kirchner, and others.
Hillbilly Jim & Cousin Luke vs. Moondog Spot & Al Navarro:
Jim broke his leg on February 25th in San Diego and missed in-ring action for most of the year, so to expand on his success, his family members, Uncle Elmer and Cousin Junior, were introduced, with Jim acting as their manager while healing. This is Luke's debut, replacing Junior, and I wonder if the intent was to pretend that he and Junior were one and the same. After 15 years of WWE erasing it from history, it's now weird to hear "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy." Jim starts, grabbing a headlock on Spot. Add Luke to the list of wrestlers working barefoot. Whip to the ropes, Luke with an awful kick to the midsection. Oh great, he's supposed to be a barely trained wrestler, I guess. Spot with a slam, and Luke takes an awful bump, so maybe it's not just the character. Navarro goes down attempting a shoulder tackle and eats the feet in the corner. Luke skips around and hits a pair of knees. Jim in and the bearhug finishes at 3:05. This was one awful debut for Luke. Jim still has fan support, but nowhere near what it was when he was introduced in early '85.
- Lord Alfred Hayes is standing by with this week's "Update." Hulk Hogan's popularity knows no bounds, and now there's an animated version of the WWF Champion for the youngsters to enjoy, Hulk Hogan's Rock ‘n' Wrestling, and we get a 15-second montage of random clips set to the theme song that, briefly, was used as Hulk Hogan's entrance music after he stopped coming out to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." Somewhere in the announcement, Hayes referred to a feud between Ricky Steamboat and the Magnificent Muraco.
Hercules Hernandez (w/ Fred Blassie) vs. Jeff Cripley:
Hercules is still new to the company, having made his TV debut on the December 7th episode of All-Star Wrestling, squashing future tag team and life partner, Paul Roma. No Roman gladiator gear for Hercules here, unfortunately. IS HE MAN OR BEAST?! Lockup into the corner and Hercules tosses Cripley across the ring with a hip throw. Hercules scoops Cripley up and holds him for a solid 10-seconds before planting him with a powerslam. Hercules with a press slam and drops Cripley across the top rope. Snap mare and Hercules with an elbow drop. Vince McMahon uses this lull to mention information about "The Slammy Awards." The punishment continues until Hercules finishes with the torture rack (called a back breaker) at 3:01. Post-match, Hercules tosses Cripley out of the ring like a sack of garbage. Hercules looked much better here without being completely bloated from steroid abuse.
- "Mean" Gene Okerlund is standing by to hype the upcoming card at the Boston Garden on Saturday Night, January 11th. Featured on the card will be Paul Orndorff and Bruno Sammartino taking on Roddy Piper and Bob Orton Jr., as well as Tito Santana defending the Intercontinental Championship against Randy Savage. Savage comes in and cuts a promo, making several references to Larry Bird before the segment is played off to the theme from Miami Vice.
- Vince McMahon gives us a look at several of the nominees for "Best Personality in Land of a Thousand Dances": Mr. Fuji, The Magnificent Muraco, Jimmy Hart, and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. The kicker is EVERYONE is a nominee, so there's no need in telling us names when it's a write-in ballot. Send your votes to "The Slammys: Wrestling Music Awards" at PO Box 1538, Greenwich, CT 06836, and you might get some merchandise catalogs in the mail from the World Wrestling Federation for the next 2-3 years.
The Killer Bees vs. Barry O & Rick Jacobs:
Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell began teaming in the early-Summer of '85, and are a classic example of an undercard babyface team: they can have good matches, make opponents look like stars, but won't see much of a push. They've got some sweet sequined jackets with beehives on the back. The real question is "can I vote for B. Brian Blair for best performance in land of a thousand dances?" Blair and Barry O start, trading wristlocks and arm bars. Blair with a fireman's carry takeover. Brunzell is sporting a beard, a look I don't recall lasting very long in his WWF run. Blair flaps the arms and comes off the top with a double axe-handle. Whip to the ropes and Barry O with a clothesline for a one-count. Jacobs tags in to take the fall. His tights have "The Bomb" printed on the rear. The Bees quickly regain control. Blair scoops Jacobs off the canvas and Brunzell nails him with a dropkick for the victory at 2:03. "That's why they call him JUMPING Jim Brunzell!" It is one of the best dropkicks in wrestling, after all.
- Roddy Piper and Bob Orton cut a promo on Paul Orndorff and Bruno Sammartino. Piper says he doesn't have "a big fat pushed-in nose and grimy ears" and isn't Italian, so maybe that's why Boston doesn't like him. He says Piper and Orton don't need to use underhanded tactics like using a loaded cast to beat them. Now we get an instrumental version of Starship's "We Built This City."
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Don Driggers:
It's funny to think that when Elizabeth was introduced, it was as a shrewd businesswoman, a play on the rise of females in high powered positions in the 80's. At this point, she was already being presented as a damsel in distress, managing a brute who mistreated her. Savage debuted in the early Summer and is arguably challenging Roddy Piper for the top heel in the company. For now, he's slotted to challenge Tito Santana around the horn for the Intercontinental Title. One fan in the crowd clearly knows what's going on, time traveled backwards from 1989, having experienced the explosion of the Mega Powers.
Lockup into the ropes and Savage gives a (surprisingly) clean break. McMahon lets us know that Savage will face George "The Animal" Steele later this weekend on Saturday Night's Main Event. Driggers with a counter, sending Savage through the ropes! Savage pops in, from the opposite side of the ring, and sends Driggers out with a running high knee. Nice of the camera crew to not track Savage going under the ring. Back inside, Savage comes off the top with a double axe-handle, plants Driggers with a powerslam, and finishes with the flying elbow at 1:51. Post-match, Savage dumps Driggers out of the ring and tears up a fan's sign. A very pro-Savage crowd, apparently, as Savage is bringing a new style of offense to a territory known for lumbering, boring heels usually pushed based on an ethnic stereotype.
- Piper's Pit with The Fabulous Moolah. It wasn't too long ago, at Madison Square Garden, that Moolah, under the guise of Spider Lady, stole the belt from Wendi Richter in a lesser-known screw-job. Piper says he's privileged to have Moolah on the show today and calls her the greatest women's wrestler of all time, and the prettiest as well. He starts rambling, as he tends to do, about women not having amateur backgrounds and having body parts unlike him that he isn't sure about how you go about protecting. He says Hulk Hogan has been asking her for a date, but she said no. Piper congratulates her by dipping her and giving her a kiss, and there's your segment.
Corporal Kirchner vs. Gino Carabello:
Introduced to the WWF audience in the Summer of '85, Kirchner was an obvious attempt to replace Sgt. Slaughter with talent that was cheaper and willing to play by Vince McMahon's set of rules. It didn't hurt that Kirchner had real-life experience in the 82nd Airborne. Not to beat a tired joke dead, but if you're going to give someone a fake rank, why settle on CORPORAL? I know, you want the sound of alliteration, but Colonel and Captain were also available. Carabello attacks and Kirchner immediately botches a leapfrog. He takes Gino down with a pair of arm drags, followed by a slam. Kirchner with a suplex and elbow drop. Double under-hook suplex for two. Whip and Kirchner lifts Carabello onto his back and finishes with the Airborne Slam (Samoan drop) at 1:32. I've seen far worse workers, but I don't know the strength of the legs this character will have. Vince McMahon promotes an upcoming "Peace Match" between Kirchner and Nikolai Volkoff, scheduled for Saturday Night's Main Event. What is a "Peace Match"? One conducted under the rules of "scientific technique." Oh My, that's hilarious.
- The nominees for "Best Vocals on the Wrestling Album" are... Junkyard Dog for "Grab Them Cakes", Nikolai Volkoff for "Cara Mia", Hillbilly Jim for "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy", Jimmy Hart for "Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield", Lou Albano for "Captain Lou", Roddy Piper for "For Everybody", and Gene Okerlund for "Tutti Frutti."
Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny Valiant) vs. Paul Dose & Tony Stetson:
Valentine and Beefcake are the reigning Tag Team Champions, but this is Non-Title, of course. Okay, in the months building to WrestleMania, I noticed that at no point did the WWF refer to the team of Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham as "The US Express." Well, now we have "The Dream Team." Yes, I do remember them introduced at times as "The Dream Team of...", but here, no such name is used. Stetson looks like he can't be much older than 19-years old. Crowd chants "Fruitcake" at Beefcake, and Vince and Bruno acknowledge it. Different times, folks. It doesn't help he's now from "San Francisco, CA." DON'T ASK. Valentine starts and plants Dose with a slam. Beefcake with a double under-hook suplex. Stetson comes in and gets caught in a front face-lock. Valentine with a takedown and headbutt across the midsection. Valentine drags Stetson out of the ring and slams him on the concrete. Back inside, Beefcake with a slam and spinning toe hold. Valentine drops the elbow and the Figure-Four finishes at 3:05. Nothing too exciting, though I found my new conspiracy theory.
- Gene Okerlund hypes the Boston Garden card. Junkyard Dog and Corporal Kirchner face Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik. We get words from the JYD and Sheik and Fred Blassie. Play me some "Burning Heart" as we go to commercial!
- Next week in action: George "The Animal" Steele teams up with the Junkyard Dog, as well as the team of Tito Santana and Pedro Morales and Ricky Steamboat and King Tonga. Terry Funk will be in action, and we'll also see the Magnificent Muraco.
Final Thoughts: Nothing historical from this episode. We got hype for something called "The Slammy Awards", and there's an upcoming episode of Saturday Night's Main Event to push, but no major angles featured or developed. Heck, the Update segment was all about Hulk Hogan's Saturday morning animated series, and Piper's Pit was a throwaway segment with the Fabulous Moolah. Most of the squashes were watchable, so it's an easy hour to sit through, I just wish there was something to sink my teeth into.
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