Sunday, February 27, 2011

WWF @ MSG 2/15/85 (The War to Settle the Score)

WWF @ Madison Square Garden (The War to Settle the Score)
February 18th, 1985
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 22,000


This is the last stop on the way to the original Wrestlemania, and much like the Brawl to End It All show aired the previous summer, the main event of tonight's show will be aired live on MTV, where it scored a massive 9.1 rating for the Hulk Hogan-Roddy Piper main event. Much like the last event aired on MTV this was an important step in the WWF gaining national exposure and being able to organize the first Wrestlemania and have it be a success. This is the entire card as it was originally broadcast on the MSG Network, so let's get to it.



Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund


Rick McGraw vs. Moondog Spot

McGraw was a guy that probably could have been a decent midcard player for the WWF in the 80s, but unfortunately he would end up dying a few months after this show due to a bad drug problem. Not exactly an opening contest to get you excited for the show though, you know? Basic lock-up to start us off with McGraw trying for a quick cradle unsuccessfully. McGraw tries working an armbar for a bit. Spot tries escaping but just gets locked back into the armbar again after a dropkick. Big slam from McGraw and the crowd briefly comes alive. Spot avoids a sunset flip and then slaps on a chinlock. Spot slams a few knees into his chest and then delivers a shoulder-breaker for a two count. Back to the chinlock now and as you might have guessed this is boring stuff. Backbreaker gets Spot another close two. Spot sends McGraw out to the floor and then slams him into the steel barricade. Spot attacks McGraw as he tries to get back in the ring, but he misses a splash into the corner turnbuckle. Spot's arms get tied up in the ropes and then McGraw gives him a big suplex, but Spot kicks out at 2 after a slow count. Scoop slam but again Spot kicks out. Lazy gutbuster from Spot. He tries to go to the top but McGraw throws him off the top but the bell rings before he can go for the pin and we've gone to the 15 minute time limit draw at 14:32 real-time. Under no circumstance should one of the Moondogs be getting FIFTEEN MINUTES in the opener. *


Jose Luis Rivera vs. Johnny Rodz

Rodz, somehow, is a WWE Hall of Famer despite never accomplishing anything whatsoever in the WWF at any point, ever. Seriously, might as well get started on that Al Snow wing if Rodz can get in. Lockup to start and a waistlock takedown from Rodz. Back to the collar and elbow lock-up we go as Rivera tries working a side headlock. Rodz gets a weak dropkick for a two count and this crowd could not possibly care less about these two guys. Rodz comes off the second rope with an elbow but Rivera kicks out at two again. Rodz misses a flying elbow and Rivera whips him into the corner where Rodz goes for the Flair over-the-turnbuckle spot but instead ends up launching his neck into the top turnbuckle in a painful looking spot. Rivera tries choking Rodz on the top rope for a bit, but Rodz comes back with a reverse crescent kick. Rodz tosses Rivera around the ring a bit, sending him into the turnbuckle. He misses a baseball slide attempt and Rivera slams Rodz face into the turnbuckle back inside the ring. Rivera misses an elbow and then Rodz hits a diving headbutt and pins Rivera at 11:15. Really boring stuff and the crowd couldn't have cared less. ½*



Hillbilly Jim vs. Rene Goulet

God this card just does not get any better as we go on. Jim is still brand new at this point, having just recently debuted and being instantly put over by just associating with Hulk Hogan. Goulet tries for a side headlock to start but Jim counters out and poses for the crowd. Side headlock from Jim now. Jim does a cartwheel and shows off to the crowd while Goulet stalls a bunch now. Goulet tries diving off the second rope with an axe handle but Jim catches him in a big bear hug and Goulet gives up instantly at 7:27. Just a squash match for Hillbilly Jim here, and a bad one at that. DUD


WWF Women's Title Match
Wendi Richter (C) vs. Leilani Kai


The Fabulous Moolah is managing Kai here in a attempt to get revenge on Richter, who beat her for the title last summer. Richter is accompanied by Cyndi Lauper here as we're still hyping up for Wrestlemania, and they get a good reaction from the MSG crowd. Kai attacks Richter before the bell even sounds and we're off. Kai just stands on Richter's fingers in a very silly spot, but Richter comes back with a big slam and a leg drop for a quick one count. Splash gets Richter a two count now. Lazy sunset flip reversal sequence that the ancient referee takes forever to do the near-falls for. Both women trade lazy kicks and then Kai falls to the outside floor. Moolah helps Kai back to the apron but Richter suplexes her back into the ring. Richter applies a weak surfboard on Kai for a bit and then just slams her face into the mat. Richter works an armbar for a bit and then Kai trips her up. Cross-body and a splash from Richter but Moolah starts choking Cyndi Lauper. This distracts Richter long enough for Kai to roll Richter up and win the title at 11:49. Eh, could have been worse, and it sets up the women's title match for Wrestlemania. ¾*


David Sammartino vs. Moondog Rex

You you've got a mediocre card when both Moondogs are wrestling separate singles matches. The Fink lets us know this match has a 20 minute time limit and I shudder at the thought of it actually going that long. Shoving match to start and David tosses Rex with a beal toss. David really looks out of shape here, like a short fat Italian stereotype. Rex applies an unbelievably weak looking bearhug and the crowd has been dead for so long tonight I don't know if anything could wake them up at this point. Back suplex gets Sammartino a two count. Rex slaps on a lazy chinlock now as I do my best to stay awake. Rex slams a few closed fists into David's face and a trickle of blood comes out of Sammartino's nose. Back-body drop and a diving knee get Rex a two count. Sammartino starts making the comeback, hitting wild left and rights on Rex. Sammartino hits a big powerslam and thats enough to get the 3 count on Rex at 12:29. Painfully slow and dull, nearly dud territory. ¼*


Nikolai Volkoff vs. Swede Hanson

And the hits just keep coming. Swede Hanson has a Confederate south gimmick, which you know just would not fly today. Is Volkoff's Russian national anthem singing really that much more offensive than Slave-Driver Swede? Lazy lockup to start and Volkoff gets tossed to the floor. Back inside Swede shrugs off some of Volkoff's offensive attempts and slaps Volkoff around. Volkoff slaps a chinlock on while a USA chant starts up. Hanson tries to work Volkoff's leg a bit but Volkoff just no-sells it. Back body drop from Volkoff and then he tries for what looks like a fallaway slam attempt, but Hanson weighs too much and Volkoff botches the finish, simply collapsing on top of Swede for the 3 count at 5:53. How many bad matches can one card take? Boring to start and a botched finish to boot. DUD


Jimmy Snuka vs. Cowboy Bob Orton

FINALLY something good, thank the lord. Both men are cautious to start, tip-toeing around a collar and elbow lock up. They do a criss-cross sequence and Superfly leapfrogs over Orton twice and then chases him around and back into the ring. Big karate chop gets Snuka a two count and he slaps on a side-headlock. Orton misses an elbow and Snuka gives him a big atomic drop. Orton stalls for a bit. He coaxes Snuka out to the apron and then hammers his elbow into Snuka's throat while he's draped over the apron, which sets Okerlund and Monsoon off about how Orton should have been DQed and fined for it. Nice heat for Orton as he suplexes Snuka back into the ring from the apron. Orton tries for a top rope splash, but Snuka gets the knees up and into Orton's ribcage. Snuka starts making the comeback now, laying in big karate chops and kicks into the corner. Snapmare and then Snuka comes off the second-rope with a fistdrop, teasing the splash. Backbreaker from Snuka and the crowd is fired up, wanting Snuka to go to the top. He goes to the second rope instead and misses a diving headbutt. Should have listened to the fans Jimmy! Orton slams his arm into the steel post and then Snuka blocks a punch and leaps over the top rope and rolls Orton up with the sunset flip for the 3 count at 9:58! Fun match, this was light-years ahead of everything else on this card tonight so far. **¾


Paul Orndorff vs. Tony Atlas

Orndorff is of course booked for the Wrestlemania main event so you have to assume this is just a squash for him. Orndorff gets some nice heat while he stalls to start, reluctant to lock up with Tony Atlas. Finally Atlas grabs Mr. Wonderful and slaps on a side-headlock. Atomic drop and a suplex from Tony. Atlas lifts Orndorff up in the air seemingly for a gorilla press slam, but instead he just lets Paul down in a show of mercy. Why? Orndorff comes back with a rake to the eyes and tries slamming Tony's head into the turnbuckle, but this has no effect on him apparently. They lock-up and Paul gets in some cheap shots while Atlas is tied up in the ropes. Rear chinlock from Orndorff but Atlas fights back and delivers a piledriver to Mr. Wonderful. He tries for another but Orndorff backdrops him. Headbutt gets Tony a two count and while he argues with the ref about the count Orndorff comes up from behind and bridges a waistlock for the quick 3 count at 5:52. Short and spirited little contest, and Orndorff gets some nice heat for the cheap win.


WWF Tag Team Title Match
Barry Windham/Mike Rotundo (C) vs. The Assassin/The Spoiler


Jobber city USA here for the masked Assassin/Spoiler combo. Windham and Rotundo made a very fun team of young babyfaces during their first WWF stint. Rotundo and Assassin start with Rotundo hitting a series of quick dropkicks and then tagging Windham in. Windham immediately hits the bulldog and thats enough to put the Assassin away and retain at 0:39. Good lord that was short, pretty much the definition of a squash match here. DUD


Don Muraco vs. Salvatore Bellomo

Muraco has just returned from an extended absence so this is just yet another squash match on this card. Lockup to start and Bellomo gives the Magnificent one a hip-toss. Chinlock by Muraco. Diving knee from Muraco and then he smashes Bellomo into the corner. Salvatore leaps off the second rope trying for a body press, but Muraco gives him a beautiful spinebuster and then finishes him with the tombstone piledriver at 2:43. Squash city, but that spinebuster was awesome. ½*


WWF World Title Match
Hulk Hogan (C) vs. Roddy Piper


For this match we are now broadcasting LIVE nationwide on MTV in addition to the MSG Network. This match scored a big rating for the WWF (9.1) and helped put even more spotlight and heat on the Wrestlemania main event next month. Piper gets a ton of heat and comes out with a whole Scottish bagpipe corps while Hogan is accompanied to the ring by Cyndi Lauper, Lou Albano, and Mr. T himself. This is before "Real American" so we get the awesome "Eye of the Tiger" theme music instead. Big brawling to start as both men are trading shots on the mat while the crowd is going wild. Body slam from Hogan and an elbow drop but Hogan doesn't go for the cover. Piper hits a big clothesline into the corner on Hulk for a two count. Cowboy Bob Orton is at ringside for Piper and is wearing a sling for his arm that Snuka injured earlier, setting up Orton's use of the armcast over the next year or so shortly after this. Piper starts to take the upper hand, shooting Hogan into the ropes and then jumping on Hulk's back with a sleeper hold. Gorilla and Okerlund start flipping out about how it's clearly a choke-hold by Piper but it doesn't matter because Hulk shakes his finger at Piper and starts to Hulk up, dropping Piper into the turnbuckle head-first. Cowboy Bob Orton tries choking Hogan behind the ref's back, but Hulk slams his arm into the steel post and starts laying in big shots on Piper. They trade eye rakes and then Hogan hits a big clothesline. Paul Orndorff has made his way down to ringside now while Hogan gives Piper an atomic drop. Piper knocks Hogan into the ref who goes limp, and Orndorff comes off the top with a huge knee into Hulk's chest. Piper and Orndorff lay the boots to Hulk while fans start pelting some trash into the ring. They tease teaming up on Cyndi at ringside but Mr. T makes the save. Orton distracts Mr. T and Piper and Orndorff lay the boots to him briefly, only for the Hulkster to freak out and clean house with T. Piper and Orndorff make a run for it with Orton now as what seems like the entire New York City police force hits the ring to separate everyone involved! We never hear a bell ring but the match is "officially" ended at 7:40 with Hogan being given the win by disqualification. This was INTENSE, and came off awesome on TV as a fight you wanted to tune in to see finished at Wrestlemania. The match itself wasn't anything more than your basics, but the heat and booking here was absolutely perfect. **½


After the match Hogan grabs the house mic from the Fink and demands Piper and the rest come back out, but of course they don't. Hulk, Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, Lou Albano and the rest of the babyfaces all celebrate in the ring afterwards.


Backstage Hogan, Lauper, Mr. T, and Albano all share some words with Mean Gene. Suddenly ANDY WARHOL of all fucking people shows up! What the hell?! Warhol says the rock and wrestling connection is the most exciting thing he's ever seen in a totally monotonous voice. Joe Piscopo from Saturday Night Live shows up now and says how excited he is to have Hulk Hogan's sweat on him after the match. Well that's creepy. Piscopo compares the show to a Bruce Springsteen concert and says he'll be back for Wrestlemania. Billy Squire now shows up and complains to Mean Gene about Mr. Wonderful smashing some guitar earlier in the night, saying it's sacrilege. Not a Pete Townshend fan Billy? Squire compares Hogan to Jesus Christ just as Danny Devito shows up to say some kind words about Captain Lou and Mr. T, solidifying this as quite possibly the most surreal backstage segment in professional wrestling history. This whole thing needs to be seen to be believed, it's that out-there.


Bottom Line: From a wrestling standpoint, avoid the full card at all costs. I don't think I've ever sat through a worse main card in all of my years watching wrestling, even by house show standards. The main event was an extremely important stepping stone for the WWF going into Wrestlemania though and the heat is off the charts, so I'd highly recommend giving that a viewing. Outside of that, a solid Snuka-Muraco encounter and the most bizarre ending to an MSG broadcast ever with the likes of Andy Warhol, Joe Piscopo, and Danny DeVito backstage with Mean Gene, there isn't anything here worth sticking around for though, so it's a pretty easy Thumbs Down despite the historical significance


Score: 3.5/10

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