WWF Prime Time Wrestling (1.26.87) review
January 26, 1987
The build to WrestleMania III had officially begun. Hogan had wrapped up his feud with Paul Orndorff, although Bobby Heenan was still mad about the outcome of that cage match. Now the fires were starting to burn on the Hogan-Andre build. WrestleMania III was just three months away and the WWF were planning one of their biggest ever shows.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan host. Gorilla asks Heenan tough questions, which he mentally wrestles his way out of. For example, he asks about Studd and Bundy not getting a tag title shot and he immediately accuses the champs of running scared.
Dream Team vs. American Express
This is a follow up to Beefcake & Valentine kicking the shit out of Mike Rotundo after his match last week. Demolition are mentioned for the first time here. We’re in Maple Leaf Gardens. How can you tell? The entrance ramp goes straight to the ring in Toronto.
Hammer took it easy during his Dream Team run. He still carried the team, but his effort levels were nowhere near during his IC title singles run of 1985. The ‘Valentine takes a while to get warmed up’ narrative has now begun. American Express switch blind here, which is incompetent refereeing. Johnny V is mad about it. It’s interesting to note when something goes ‘wrong’ for the Dream Team the man in the ring is Brutus Beefcake. That’s deliberate, I’m certain.
Colour commentator here is Billy Red Lyons, who Heenan calls a “flunky”. Heenan isn’t interested because he’s received a phone call about WrestleMania. Heenan’s skill on these wrap up shows was exemplary. What a worker. He turns a dry studio show into a work of art, usually with excellent prop use.
Anyway, back to Toronto! American Express work over Hammer but Beefcake does nothing to help and indeed hinders a tag by getting drawn into the ring. They switch with Beefcake getting beaten up and Hammer cuts it off by kneeing Rotundo from the apron. I love how they’ve been sewing seeds for the Dream Team split. The best part is that no one is drawing attention to it, like that dumb shit Vince McMahon (one of the most “I’m talking to children” style commentators in history). It’s just there, out in the open but sly.
Given that the American Express switch blind earlier in the match, they get two legitimate tags that the referee misses and he doesn’t allow it. That’s just making the ref look stupid. Beefcake, the dumb bastard, allows a hot tag but Hammer does accidentally elbow drop him afterwards. So, it’s not all Beefcake’s fault but it does continue to show their issues.
Hammer blindsides Spivey when he has Beefcake pinned and that’s enough for Beefcake to get the pin. Again, it’s Valentine who does all the hard work. Even his miscue was him trying to help Beefcake out. I liked a lot of the psychology on show here, leading to a nice pay off, but the match was dull and the American Express were full on checked out here. The match is almost a third of the entire show and that’s a lot of time for this contest.
Bobby Heenan, after his long phone call, tells us the date of WrestleMania III; March 29, 1987. Gorilla points everyone knew that already. Even when he’s exposed like this, Heenan never misses a beat. As Monsoon throws to Piper’s Pit by saying Andre the Giant is on it, Heenan is more relaxed than last week. “They deserve each other” he mutters. If I’m overthinking this AND BAH GAWD, I AM, imagine in the background that negotiations between Heenan and Andre had broken down over the past week and he’s now annoyed? Or, more likely, he was told to tone it down as to not blow the storyline.
This week Piper, again, introduces Jack Tunney (BOOOOO!) who is here to honour Andre the Giant for his unbeaten run, which was a kayfabed 15 years in WWF time.
Andre doesn’t even get to speak before Hulk Hogan, desperate to make amends for last week, comes out and makes it all about him. He talks about his own career and how he tried to be like Andre. It’s meant as a compliment, but Andre is all “this fucking guy?” He walks off. The crowd, who loved Andre when he came out here, are confused but still cheer like trained seals when Hogan asks for applause for him.
We go back to the studio and Heenan points out they gave Hogan a bigger trophy and Hogan stole Andre’s spotlight. Gorilla says he’s wrong but he’s really not. Hogan should have stayed in the back here and he’s only got himself to blame.
It’s amazing the job Jimmy Hart does laughing at Honky’s lame one liners, which aren’t even jokes. Just bad word play. Honky is a guy, I cannot stand. The good thing about Honky Tonk Man is he was an individual and he had a distinct style and brand of wrestling. The bad thing is; he sucked. He stands out and he was a heat magnet for sure, but name one good Honky Tonk Man match? Actually, I’ll go one better; name one Honky Tonk Man match that’s not him getting squashed by Ultimate Warrior?
We go back to Heenan, who’s still pissed off. “Hogan couldn’t even let him say thank you”. We head to Gene Okerlund, who has special video of King Kong Bundy and Kamala. Not at the same time, but rather a clip of one followed by a clip of the other. Okerlund makes no statement about any of it. Is this a match they’re planning on doing? Monsoon says “sooner or later” they’ll have to get it on. I ran a search on Cagematch and it came back with nothing, so this never happened. Bizarre.
Dino Bravo vs. Scott McGhee
Dino has been shooting up the steroids to a degree that Vince thinks he’s big enough to be on his TV show.
McGhee works around him for the most part and takes a few decent bumps. Bravo finishes with a backdrop driver. McGhee just about held this together, but Bravo is terrible. If you’re looking for positives, at least he’s not as bad as Ted Arcidi.
Paul Roma vs. Barry O
“Paul Roma? Sounds like a cheap bottle of wine” – Heenan. WWF has all the money in the world, they could sign anybody and yet…Paul Roma. Make it make sense? Roma has been exclusively a WWF guy to this point. It has NOT helped his development at all. At 45:35 on this tape they do one of the funniest botches I’ve seen in ages. Barry O drops his head expecting a backdrop and Roma just runs right into him. Credit to them, they just keep going like it didn’t happen. Modern wrestlers hit a botch and both guys stop, because everything is pre-planned.
Then Roma can’t figure out where to put his head on a shoulderbreaker and it’s another horrendous botch. It’s ok to be crap. It’s not ok to be dangerous. Jesus. He turned his head into Barry’s knee! The weird thing is; Roma can put together some very decent technical stuff but anything where they’re not in close contact and he just gets lost. Powerslam finishes. -**
We get a word with the Can-Am Connection. Two handsome young men. Rick Martel jumping from AWA, and the title, to be in a midcard tag team with Tom Zenk. He says “you know” a lot before switching to French, where he’s more coherent. Can-Am Connection is a weird team. They came in hot, worked WrestleMania (and won), and then Zenk was gone by July.
Koko B. Ware vs. Magnificent Muraco
When I see the line up here, I’m wondering how the WWF has put two guys together who probably shouldn’t be losing to one another. It would be huge if Koko won. Likewise, a Muraco win would be a momentum killer for a new signing. It’s a strange contest to put on a show. Muraco uses the power of steroids to overpower Koko.
Don Muraco sweats profusely in a rest hold. It’s like Robert Hayes in Airplane. Seeing as Airplane came out in 1980, that’s not that dated a reference for 1987. Muraco continues with the ‘nerve hold’ so they go back to the studio. Muraco is very giving in this match. He bumps around and uses the ropes to save himself instead of kicking out. He makes Koko look great. Well, as great as Koko can look. I’m begging them to run a DCO about ten minutes in though. It’s so dull. The bell ends up ringing and we’ve been going for 20:00. That’s a win for Koko, taking a guy as high up the card as Muraco to a draw. Good lord, it was boring though. Koko would make it onto the Mania III card. Muraco will be tagging with Bob Orton vs. Can-Ams.
WWF Tag Team Championship
British Bulldogs (c) vs. Hart Foundation
Dynamite Kid is injured, and won’t be back until March, so Junkyard Dog (Dog? Dogs? Get it?) is working in his place. These two teams would be working together at Mania III and the consistency of the Harts had not gone unnoticed. They switched the belts to them just after this.
I know what you’re thinking? Will JYD be able to replicate the style of Dynamite Kid and adequately keep the balance of the British Bulldogs? Well, no. It’s a very different team of two powerhouse singles guys now. In all honesty, they should have had them lose here. At least it would leave the Bulldogs with an out for losing the belts. Bret does the fake out here, pretending he’s been punched by JYD from the outside, so the Harts can use the distraction to work over Davey. It’s smart stuff. Bret is improving as a worker by the match. His clever additions to matches are making his bouts unique.
A big part of this is Danny Davis, who counts quick for the Harts and slow for the champs. The Harts would end up teaming with Davis at WrestleMania III. Did the Bulldogs call their dog buddy JYD? Nope, Tito Santana. Bret vs. Davey is great in this match. Davey knew to follow Bret and the match would be good. It would take a while before the rest of the workers followed suit. Bret gets a roll up but Davey flips it over as Anvil tells Davis there’s a pin. JYD ends up on top and Davis fast counts it, the big dumbass. This was decent. While I’m never likely to be convinced by Anvil, Bret was getting really good at this point. **¾
The best thing about these shows is watching Bobby Heenan tee off on various babyface wrestlers. It feels like a borderline shoot when he disregards midcarders as unimportant to him. He’s sensational in the studio. His use of props is amazing.
The show itself was mostly bad matches. The Andre angle on Piper’s Pit is another little brick in the wall of that feud. While Andre was a bit weird last week, Hogan is completely to blame for pissing him off this week. What a jackass. It was also cool to see some of the Harts-Bulldogs build for WrestleMania III.