The Big Event
August 28, 1986
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valient & "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd
Just tell me the name of this show doesn't impress you. Say what you will about how it may lack creativity, but it's certainly fitting. This is one of those cool stadium shows featuring a crowd of over 60,000, one of the largest crowds ever assembled for a professional wrestling card. In fact, during the course of the tape, Gorilla mentions several times that it's THE largest crowd ever (up to that point), but I'm not sure if that's legit or he was just shilling.
The Killer Bees vs. Hoss & Jimmy Jack Funk
It's dark at the start of the event, which ruins the whole "daylight to nightfall effect" that I'm obsessed with for outdoor and dome shows. Oh well. The Bees control the early portion of the match and use all the basics in doing so. There's nothing wrong with that; this is almost like a lesson in tag team wrestling. It's not Brainbuster or Midnight Express level work or anything (though those teams were heel and had their own stlye anyway, so really that's a stupid comparison to begin with), but it is a solid outline of how to work a tag match. The heels sell like champs for the Bees double teams before a cheap shot turns the tide in their favor about five minutes in. All the heels' offense is clipped by Coliseum Video, as they cut to the finish. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I hate the idea of all clips, so we'll settle on bad thing. The Bees don their masks and pull their usual chicanery, trading places without their opponents or the referree knowing which Bee is which. Imagine that; a babyface tag team in 1986 blatantly cheating to win matches and getting popped for it. Killer Bees with Killer Attitude! The Bees of course pull the old switcheroo and the fresh Bee surprises Jimmy Jack with a small package for the three count at a clipped 6:43. Very enjoyable match. **3/4 Had the full version been aired, it may have been even higher, but then again it may have been less too.
King Tonga vs. Magnificent Muraco
There are no interviews in between the matches. The tape is simply clipped to both participants standing in the ring ready to lock up. King Tonga is a young(er) Haku, and Gorilla in fact mentions how King Tonga has started calling himself Haku and begins to refer to him by that name for the rest of the match. The very beginning of the match is clipped, but they couldn't have shaved off more than a minute unless they stalled a LOT. Haku dominates with the typical trademark 1980's WWF early match babyface offense. There's hiptosses and dropkicks and arm ringers everywhere. An arm ringer is clipped…. to later in the arm ringer. Mr. Fuji trips up Haku, allowing Muraco to take over. Donny dumps him to the floor, where Fuji lays in several shots with his cane. Back in, Muraco slams him and goes to… the dreaded nerve hold aka the worst resthold in wrestling. The tape is clipped again… to later in the nerve hold. Hey, maybe clips CAN be a good thing after all. Haku shows signs of life but misses a corner charge. Muraco posts his knee, gives him a kneebreaker, and eventually succeeds at applying the Figure Four. Haku makes the ropes and Muraco heads up top, but Haku limps over and slams him off. Haku now decides to head up top and lands a high crossbody. The ref checks to see that Muraco's shoulders are down, counts one, and the timekeeper rings the bell as the twenty minute time limit expires at 11:26. And you know what that means…. That must have been one hell of a long nerve hold. The match was sound from what I saw of it, though it was clipped like four times. **1/4
Tony Garea vs. Ted Arcidi
Gorilla mentions that Tony is a six time co-holder of the WWF Tag Team Championship. I knew it was a lot, but six? Garea can't muster any offense on the powerful Arcidi. Arcidi slams him, and the director proceeds to take an awesome shot of the announcers in the booth way up high. Back near the ring, the fans in the crowd on the camera side all direct their attention behind them. There must have been a fight going on that I'm sure was far more interesting than this match. Garea lands a dropkick but runs right into a bearhug, which is enough for the submission at 2:41. This was a total squash, as Garea was nearing the end and Arcidi was seemingly a star on the rise. Nothing ever came of that, as he soon left the Federation for good. 1/4*
Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Jimmy Hart, who promises that Adrian Adonis will take care of JYD tonight.
Junkyard Dog vs. Adrian Adonis
This would be one of the secondary draws of this show, as the heat is crazy. The start is clipped. JYD uses his chain as a weapon, then starts with the headbutts. JYD shoves the ref out of the way… and doesn't get DQ'ed or even reprimanded. Jimmy Hart sprays some crap (the precursor to Arrogance) in his face, which enables Adonis to score two clotheslines and a couple of forearms. They brawl on the floor and JYD no-sells a Jimmy Hart punch. Adonis gets back in the ring FIRST, then JYD follows. Jimmy gets up on the apron and Adrian ends up missing JYD with a charge and nailing his own manager. The bell rings at 4:13 and JYD's hand is raised. The official decision is that JYD is victorious via countout. Okay, that makes zero sense. Weird freakin match. It was designed to be a mess and boy was it ever. 1/4*, but only cause I like the crap with Jimmy Hart.
"Rebel" Dick Slater vs. Iron Mike Sharpe
After about a minute, we clip to Sharpe begging off. Oh man, you mean to tell me that Iron Mike Sharpe may have gotten some offense in, and they clipped it? Boo. Slater hits a russian leg sweep and a vertical elbow to the head off the top rope. He executes the rollover pin at 2:34 to get the three count, which earns the match * right there… *
Gene talks to Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, who promises that Paul Orndorff will be the new World Heavyweight Champion after the main event. As for his upcoming match, he vows that the masks will be coming off the Machines. Bobby then tricks the fans in to calling him "Weasel" just to prove he can draw heat at will.
The Machines & Captain Lou Albano vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
The Machines are of course a masked tag team. Super Machine is Bill Eadie, who would go on to greater fame as Ax of Demolition. Giant Machine is quite obviously Andre The Giant. Everyone is in on the gag, but the heels can never unmask him. Of course with Andre, Bundy, and Studd in the same match, you can expect a LOT of slow and plodding non-action. Heenan tags in for some cheapshots, but Albano is tagged in and the Brain takes a whoopin from Captain Lou. Heenan manages to tag Studd in self-defense. The Machines come in to make sure their manager doesn't get destroyed and they're disqualified at 7:48. DUD
Snakepit Match!!!: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
I know there are three exclamation points in there because the graphic for the match says so. A few months earlier on Saturday Night's Main Event, Jake hospitalized Steamboat with a DDT on the concrete floor. Ouch. They proceeded to take their feud to packed houses all around the country and this was the blowoff for television purposes. A Snakepit Match(!!!) apparently constitutes no DQ's and no countouts. Anything goes. Jake, who looks so much younger and not yet deteriorated by drugs and alcohol, "pearl harbors" (thanks Gorilla) Ricky to start, and goes to work. The Steamer backdrops him, and Jake bails. Back in, Steamboat chops him for a two count, then works the arm. Classic Steamboat. A quick sequence ends with another chop that gets another two count. Back to the arm. Jake is smart, as he covers his mouth entirely (under the guise of selling pain from the hammerlock) while he calls a spot, so there's no chance anyone will see. Ricky, however, can't hear him, and Jake has to do it again, so really Steamboat of all people almost exposed the thing. It's not like it was really obvious or anything, but I noticed it, so I thought I'd point it out just because I tend to nitpick at times. Anyway, Jake fights out of the hammerlock, but Steamboat kicks him in the ribs. Jake bails, Steamboat follows, and Jake clips him, then bodyslams him out on the floor. Steamboat chops back and then uses a steel chair, first in the ribs, then in the head. Ricky tosses him back in and follows with a chop off the top rope. He covers for two, then goes back to the armbar. You know, maybe I was just imagining that called spot before, cause that last bit had to be planned within the context of the match. Steamboat does the ten punches in the corner, but Jake reverses a whip, and Ricky bumps to the floor. Jake slithers out there after him and slingshots him into the post. Gorilla declares Steamboat busted open prematurely, but that serves well because a minute later when a small amount of blood is able to be seen, he looks like a genius. Jake obliterates him, but the blade job is pretty weak. Back in the ring, Jake jabs away. Jake is in firm control, and hits the short clothesline. He goes for the DDT, but Steamboat drives his back into the corner to counter. Jake responds with a kneelift and an inverted atomic drop. He hits a stomachbreaker, and then covers in a cocky manner, with his arms up in the air to celebrate his dominance. Steamboat of course sunsets him over with his legs and gets the surprise three count to take the match at 10:17. You know, that spot works a lot better when the ref doesn't take forever to get over there and count the winning fall. The fans pop big for Steamboat, while Jake kicks himself for allowing his stupid arrogance to cost him the match. This was a really good match, especially for the time. ***1/4
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules Hernandez
Gorilla calls this one solo. Did Ernie and Johnny V really have to go take a leak at the same time? The match is clipped to the tail end of a Hercules bearhug. Haynes fights out but gets elbow dropped three times. This awesome fan heckles the ref on the heel Hercules' behalf for making a slow two count. The same guy was pulling for Jake during the last match. There's a double knockout spot, presumably to build heat for the finish, with the only problem being that there's NO heat. Gorilla says that the crowd is stunned to explain their silence. Haynes makes the comeback with an elbow, backbreaker, and forearm off the second rope to get a two count. Haynes tries the full nelson, but Herc low blows him. Perfectly legal. Hercules suplexes him for two and clotheslines him. He covers, but Haynes gets his foot on the ropes at two. Herc thinks he's won, so Haynes rolls him up from behind, but only gets two. There's still no heat, by the way. Herc goes for a neckbreaker, but Haynes counters with a backslide to get the three at a clipped 6:08. *1/2 The finishing sequence was surprisingly good, but the rest was standard fare from these guys. I liked their Wrestlemania III match a little more.
The Rougeau Brothers vs. The Dream Team
This is another match that would go on to occur at Wrestlemania III. I guess you could call it not a rematch, but a prematch. The announcers have now returned, but Gorilla's voice seems totally different than it did in the previous match, which to me indicates that the commentary for that match was done in post-production, for reasons that I have no way of knowing. The Rougeaus are wearing red trunks here, which is odd to see. There's lots of Rougeau double teaming to start, as all four men being in the ring. Raymond almost gets Greg Valentine with a sunset flip early on, as Johnny V comments that he wishes he was down there at ringside to guide his team. Things calm down, but the Rougeaus maintain control, and Raymond picks up a two count with a savate kick. A Jacques reverse elbow gets only a one count because the ref was out of position and Valentine didn't want to look bad by laying down for him too long. Jacques hooks an abdominal stretch. The Rougeaus were like the only people to ever use that as a legitimate move and not as a resthold or heat grabber. Valentine tags out to Brutus Beefcake, who comes in with a bodyslam. That gets a slow two count from the ref. Raymond comes in with a weird looking buttdrop type move and gets two, but ends up in the heel corner, where he's pummeled. Valentine tags back in and slams him for two, but Raymond answers back with a crossbody for a two count of his own. The Rougeaus score a double dropkick, and Jacques rolls over Valentine for a close two count. The Hammer plants Jacques with an atomic drop. All four men somehow end up in the ring without a tag, and the Rougeaus whip Valentine and Beefcake into each other. Jacques slams Beefcake, and the Rougeaus bust out the Cannonball (the move that Jacques' Quebecer team would later use as their finisher) and cover. Valentine makes the save at two. The Dream Team takes Raymond out to the floor, and Valentine rams his back into the ring apron. Back in, Beefcake hits a big backbreaker for two and covers for two. This ref is awful. I've seen Nikolai Volkoff move faster. Beefcake gets another two count with a suplex. Valentine tags in for a bearhug. Not surprisingly, the match has been all downhill since the Dream Team has been in control, but if the finish is hot, I can forgive it. Valentine misses an elbow and Jacques gets the hot tag. It's dropkicks for everyone. He puts both heels down with a double clothesline, but misses a fist off the second rope. Valentine gets him in the Figure Four. Raymond comes in to break it up and stomps on Valentine to do so. This draws Beefcake in, and they end up on the floor while Valentine decides to go for another Figure Four on Jacques. He starts to turn him his knee to start the move, but Raymond comes in and sunset flips him while Valentine bends over to reach for Jacques' other leg. Valentine goes down and Raymond gets the three with the sunset flip at 14:57, which means Valentine was a mere three seconds away from getting warmed up (if you don't get that one, you've never heard Gorilla call a Valentine match, have you?). Bitchin finish and a terrific match. ***1/2 The whole thing was beautifully executed. No sloppy spots or weak areas or awkward transitions. These guys were great. In the broadcast booth, Johhny V throws a fit about his team losing, but it sounds way too emotional coming from him and is nowhere near Heenan level in terms of greatness. It's good to see that this match was shown in its entirety.
Pedro Morales vs. Harley Race
Morales was an important draw for Vince Sr. in the late 70's and early 80's, as he was able to attract people of his own ethnicity, which is quite a large demographic. He became the WWF's first "Triple Crown" winner, as he captured the World Title in 1971, and later won the Tag Team and Intercontinental Championships in 1980. A lot of people say he was overrated but I never really saw much of him and I wasn't aware that his legacy was a particularly treasured one anyway (thus raising the question of how can he be overrated if nobody remembers him), so I can't comment on that. Race, meanwhile, held the NWA World Championship eight times (including a few double switches) from 1973 to 1984, before closing out his career in the WWF. So you'd think that with all the history, this would be a highly anticipated matchup. Well, you thought wrong. Really, it's just two slow old men nearing the end, serving as a filler match before the main event. They punch and kick at the start, as they move very slowly. Valient makes light of Pedro's race. See, when Heenan and Ventura would rip on Tito Santana, it was light hearted and jovial, which made it comical. The way Valient talks, it just comes off as malicious and offensive. But then again, Johnny V is apparently a poor excuse for a human being. Just ask Bobby Heenan. Pedro hits a suplex and grabs a two count with a small package. He sunsets Race on a corner charge and gets two with that. I love that move. Race backtracks Morales into the corner, scoops the legs, and does the old Flair pin with his feet on the ropes to score the win at 3:22. 1/2* Gorilla declares it to be "a miscarraige of justice". The crowd declares it to be "bullshit". I declare it to be "over".
WWF Title: Hulk Hogan vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff
Hogan's music and entrance begin while Orndorff is still in the aisle. Clever microcosm of the angle or shoddy 80's production? You make the call. For those unaware, Orndorff turned on Hogan a few Saturday Night's Main Events prior to this, and they proceeded to draw like crazy across the country. Orndorff suckers him with a clothesline right off the bat. Hogan rebounds and sends him to the floor, but chases Heenan around the ring, which allows Orndorff to stomp away. Orndorff suplexes him on the floor, and the standard Hogan formula follows, including the Hulkster selling an elbow drop like he'd been shot. Hey, say what you will for Hogan, but before he squashed his opponents he would usually sell like crazy for them. I mean, sure, it was just to build up his own comeback even more and make himself seem like even more of an "immortal", but that's still got to be worth something. Or not. Orndorff hits a forearm off the top rope, but Hogan backdrops out of the dreaded piledriver. Orndorff jaws with the ref and hits a back suplex for two, as Hogan gets his foot on the ropes. Hulk doesn't do a full Hulk-up, but rather just no-sells everything. A high knee to the back of Orndorff sends Mr. Wonderful crashing into the ref. Hogan short clotheslines him, which is exactly how Orndorff turned on him to start the whole feud in the first place. Hogan goes for a piledriver of his own, but Heenan runs in and nails him with a stool. Orndorff covers, the ref taps him three times, and Mr. Wonderful thinks he's the new Champion. Heenan even straps the belt around his waist, as the fans pollute the ring with all sorts of crap. Hogan is still out, but the ref's decision turns out to be an Orndorff DQ (at about 11:05), which means that Hogan wins via DQ and retains the Title. *1/2 I assume the DQ was for the ref bump, but really that's just Orndorff getting cheated because Hogan is the one that was responsible for the move, but no one cares because he's Hulk Hogan and everyone loves him no matter what. Now that's a clever and fitting microcosm of the feud. Orndorff goes nuts at the decision, but Hogan blocks a beltshot, and a big boot sends Mr. Wonderful out of the ring for good.
This show didn't feature the highest workrate in the world, but it's a fun show. The stadium environment certainly doesn't hurt it, but even on its own, this is a good reminder of old school WWF. There were two good to great tag matches, a hot midcard blowoff (Jake/Steamer), a heel squash (Arcidi), a face squash (Slater), two heated special attractions with schmozz finishes (Machines/Heenan's guys, JYD/Adonis), a token downtime match or two (Haynes/Herc, Morales/Race), a token wrestling exhibition (Muraco/Tonga), and of course the somewhat typical Hogan main event. There's a little bit of everything, and that makes this fun for nostalgia's sake. Entrances and the time between matches are all edited out in addition to part of most of the matches being clipped, so they were able to pack over 80 minutes of in ring wrestling on to a 120 minute tape. Not bad, says I.
The Big Event Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 81:14 (A lot of clips)
Average Match: 6:23 (Ditto)
Average Match Rating: *1/2
Top Moments: The Bees, seeing a younger Haku, Heenan in the tag match, Steamboat's smarts, the magic of the Rougeaus, and Hogan and Orndorff trying to settle their red hot feud
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