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Coliseum Video Presents: Inside the Steel Cage

by Scrooge McSuck

Bruno Sammartino

- This gets a "presented in as complete form as possible" disclaimer on the WWE Network, so I'm curious what is lost to time. Gorilla Monsoon and Luscious Johnny Valiant (incorrectly identified on the Network as Johnny VALENTINE) are out hosts from the WWF Control Center. Monsoon runs down some of the content we're going to see over footage of guys putting a cage together. Get ready for nothing but Steel Cage Action™!

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd: Taped on July 23rd, 1983 from Landover, MD. We're Joined in Progress. Studd backs up Andre with knees to the midsection. Andre blocks being sent into the cage and slams Studd face-first into the steel instead. Andre winds up and lands a big headbutt. He keeps Studd from going down and appears to be biting Studd's forehead. Studd is bleeding now as Andre continues to ram him into the cage, giving fans on each side of the ring a chance to see Studd get whooped. Studd manages to send Andre into the cage. Studd goes for a slam but Andre blocks and nails him with a knee lift. Andre misses a falling headbutt, giving Studd a chance to go for the door. Andre blocks the escape, pushing off the cage with his feet for leverage. Studd grabs a choke, which Monsoon notes is perfectly legal in this environment. Studd with another move for the door, getting halfway out but Andre valiantly pulls him back in by the ankle. Andre finally regains verticality and sends Studd into the cage. Studd with right hands to the belly, including a questionably low strike that knocks Andre to the canvas. Andre blocks another escape attempt and slams Studd face-first to the canvas. They trade blows, with Studd backing Andre up. Whip to the ropes and Studd with a clothesline. Andre counters a second clothesline with a boot to the face. Andre scoops Studd up and slams him, climbs the ropes, and comes crashing down with a flying seated splash! Studd is dead, and Andre is out the door at 10:00 (shown). I repeat, ANDRE JUMPED OFF THE TOP ROPE AND SAT ON STUDD. This was a little long (even in clipped form) with the story the told, but they worked a match that fit their limitations, put over the stipulation, and had a strong finish. ** (1 for 1)

Andre the Giant vs. Kamala (w/ Friday):

Taped on October 21st, 1984 from the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario. Joined in Progress. Andre has Kamala in a choke hold. Friday tries to guide Kamala, but I don't think it's going to work against Andre. He lays into Kamala with a headbutt and scoops him up for a slam. Kamala's twitchy selling is comical. Andre with a running seated splash. He climbs the ropes and crushes Kamala with the same we saw in the match with Studd, and Andre is your winner at 2:30 (Shown) despite Friday's attempts to block the door. Why are they calling him Andre, the FRENCH Giant? OK, maybe Vince micro-managing everything isn't the worst thing in the world. Not much to see here, and we already saw the finish. (1 for 2)

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Magnificent Muraco (c) vs. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka:

Taped on October 17th, 1983 from Madison Square Garden, and one of the most famous matches of the era. Joined in Progress and looks to be late in the match with the amount of crimson both men are wearing (the match isn't long to begin with, but still…). Muraco with a low blow. Whip into the corner is reversed, with Muraco doing a ridiculous bump to sell it. Snuka sends Muraco face-first into the steel and lays him out with a big chop. He plants Muraco with a slam and comes off the second rope with a fist drop. Snuka continues to unload on Muraco, who has quickly turned into a bloody mess. Snuka with a diving headbutt that somehow knocks Muraco over the top rope and through the door to retain at 2:20 (shown). Post-match, Snuka throws Muraco back in the ring and hits the big Superfly Splash from the top of the cage, the only part of the match that would be remembered the next day, and of course ties in beautifully with Mick Foley's decision to become a professional wrestler. The entire match is a good brawl, but the post-match moment alone is worth a point. (2 for 3)

Bruno Sammartino & Tito Santana vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage & "Adorable" Adrian Adonis:

Taped on July 12th, 1986 from Madison Square Garden. Finally, our first match from the "modern" era (as in not 2-3 years old). Monsoon talks about the Coliseum Video "Most Unusual Matches", but that came out before this match took place, otherwise you'd bet your fern it would've been there. Why, is a CAGE so unusual? Maybe if the cage was 3 feet tall, making it ridiculously pointless. Savage attacks Bruno as he enters the cage, immediately creating a strong advantage for himself and Adonis. Santana blocks being sent into the cage and pounds away on Savage before making the save for Bruno. Bruno throws Savage to the corner and boots him down to the canvas. Savage tries to escape but Bruno is right on him. Meanwhile, Santana throws Adonis face-first into the cage, and now he desperately goes for the door, unsuccessfully. Savage gets Santana down on the canvas and connects with a leaping knee drop. He starts to climb but Bruno blocks, pulling him down to the canvas and choking him with a bandana. Whip to the corner, turning Savage upside down and trapped in a tree of woe. Adonis takes Santana over with a suplex and makes another unsuccessful attempt to escape, ending up straddled on the top rope. Savage goes for the door, but Santana recovers in time to hook the leg. Savage uses Santana as a javelin, tossed face-first into the cage, and now he's wearing the crimson mask. Bruno works Adonis over in the corner with a flurry of rights and lefts. Savage climbs the ropes and is nailed on the way down by Santana. Adonis claws so hard at the steps while going for the door that he rips a piece off (GIMMICK!). Savage gets sent repeatedly into the cage, and now he's bleeding too. Savage clips Santana as he climbs in the corner. Adonis with a questionable dive from the top rope. I have no idea what the intent was, but Monsoon says it was a missed offensive attack. Santana knocks Savage off the top rope, landing on top of Adonis! Santana continues to climb out, while Bruno sends Savage into the steel and exits the door for the victory at 10:00. This one was borderline, but the aggression was there, and it wrapped up before it got tired. *** (3 for 4)

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Tito Santana:

Taped on July 6th, 1985 from Baltimore, MD. Monsoon notes a Cage Match is usually the final showdown between two rivals that need to settle things once and for all. Joined in Progress with Valentine sending Santana into the cage. Valentine unloads with right hands and throws Santana into the cage again. He goes for the door but Santana blocks. The match originally didn't have commentary, so we've got Monsoon and Valiant doing PBP over a match that is 18-months in the can. Valentine winds up and drops an elbow. He goes for the Figure-Four, but Santana boots him into the cage. Santana fights off Valentine as he climbs over the top of the cage. Valentine goes for the door, but Santana kicks the door into his face and finishes his escape to regain the Intercontinental Title at 2:46 (shown). Post-match, Valentine smashes the belt into the cage, destroying it in the process. The commentary added to the match makes this a less desirable watch. Under any other circumstances, it's worth a point, but Johnny Valiant is terrible. (3 for 5)

WWWF Championship Match:
Bruno Sammartino (c) vs. George "The Animal" Steele:

We're going WAY back for this one. Monsoon says the footage is "about 20 years old", which means 1966 or sooner (no date for the match is available, unfortunately, but I'd guess probably early 70's). We're Joined in Progress (sigh) with Animal begging Sammartino off. He tries to climb out, but Bruno pulls him back to the canvas and picks his moments to land kicks to the body. Steele creates separation with a blatant low-blow. Steele makes use of a foreign object and rubs the turnbuckle stuffing into Sammartino's eyes. Johnny Valiant sounds like if Art Carney, doing his Ed Norton character from the Honeymooners, was doing commentary. Sammartino sells the blindness, throwing rights nowhere close to the Animal. Whip to the corner and Steele with boots to the midsection. Sammartino starts his comeback with the hot Italian blood flowing in him (Monsoon said it!). Steele tries to run but Sammartino isn't having any of that, clubbing him with a forearm and stomping him down in the corner. Whip across the ring and Sammartino continues pummeling the Animal with right hands. Steele gets caught between the cage and ropes and gets sent into the post, making it an easy exit for Bruno at 6:00. Not much to see with this one, Sammartino's comeback isn't enough to save it. * (3 for 6) - Bruno Sammartino vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper: From the February 8th, 1986 card held at the Boston Garden. Piper draws mega-heat by taping posters of the Chicago Bears on the cage, this being a few weeks after the Bears embarrassed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Bruno doesn't waste time, attacking Piper and throwing him repeatedly into the cage. He throws Piper into one of the posters and stuffs it in his mouth to a big pop. Bruno with the second poster, stuffing it down the back of Piper's tights. He rips off Piper's shirt and chokes him with it. Piper is already a bloody mess. Bruno goes for the door, but Piper hits him low, which is perfectly legal in a Steel Cage Match. Piper with well placed kicks to his fallen adversary, followed by an elbow across the inner-thigh. Piper FINALLY removes the remains of his shirt and returns the favor of wrapping it around the neck of Bruno. Bruno with right hands to loosen the grip and chases after Piper going for the door. Piper regains composure, tossing Bruno into the cage and making another move for the door. Piper tries climbing but that doesn't work either. Bruno with rights to the midsection and a big uppercut that knocks Piper into the air and backwards into the cage. They fight for the door, with Piper halfway out before being pulled in by his tights, giving us a half-moon. Bruno wins a slugfest and throws Piper into the cage. He signals for the door, but Piper won't say die. He chews on the cut on Bruno's forehead and puts the boots to him. He thinks he has the match won and climbs, but Bruno hits him square in the nuts and goes for the door. Piper stops him but Bruno gets a chair from ringside and smacks Piper with it to complete his escape at 8:44. This was a heck of a fight, and better than I remember. ***1/2 (4 for 7)

WWF Championship Match:
Bob Backlund (c) vs. Pat Patterson:

Taped on September 24th, 1979 from Madison Square Garden. Monsoon claims Backlund was unfamiliar with Cage Matches, so this was a unique situation for him to enter. Slugfest to start, with Backlund backing Patterson into the corner and throwing him into the cage. Backlund slams Patterson face-first to the canvas and hits a leg drop. Patterson pulls Backlund from climbing and makes a feeble attempt for the door. Patterson hooks the ankle to prevent another attempt to escape the cage and slams Backlund into the steel. They take turns going for the door with neither man success on their attempts. Patterson rakes the eyes and gets a leg over the cage, but Backlund holds onto the other leg for dear life. Backlund starts climbing up too and lays into Patterson with an elbow. Patterson, with one leg still draped over the cage, still has enough in him to fight back, but ends up trapped hanging upside down. He resumes his climb but Backlund is on him even quicker this time. Clipped ahead to Patterson pounding away on Backlund on the canvas. Backlund is bleeding. Both climb but Patterson chickens out first and stops Backlund's ascension. Backlund sweeps the legs and sends Patterson into the cage. Patterson is bleeding too. Patterson gets to taste the steel a few more times. Backlund with the Atomic Drop (one of his signature moves and the move that won him the then-WWWF Title). He climbs but Patterson, with brass knuckles, climbs with him. Backlund blocks the blow and scrambles Patterson's brains with elbows before both go tumbling to the canvas. Backlund with boots to keep Patterson at a distance and he scrambles out the door to retain at 13:44. I wish there weren't a clip in the footage, because it feels like something was missing. This really picked up after the initial "keep going for the door" spot, though that first few minutes didn't have me on the edge of my seat. *** (5 for 8)

- Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy is recycled from WrestleMania 2, joined in progress of course. If you need my opinion on that, check the archives. It's good, and I won't punish the tape for the recycled content, though I'd prefer finding another Hogan match, maybe one with Muraco. (6 for 9)

Final Thoughts: If you're a fan of Steel Cage Matches, give this one a look, no questions asked. Personally, and this may sound weird based on the points system I've used where we're batting .667, I don't like the gimmick, especially watching match after match of it. There's some good work here, and a few memorable highlights, but to binge a 90-minute tape? I'll recommend skimming through and finding the stuff that really stands out, but that's as good of a recommendation I can give to fans who aren't in love with the gimmick.

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