WWF Prime Time Wrestling (2.13.87) review
February 13, 1987
Hosts in the studio are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. This is it, lads. This is the week where it all went down. Prior to this the WWF had awarded Hulk Hogan a trophy for being champion for 3 years. Andre had come out to congratulate him, as he did when Hogan first won the title. He cryptically said “three years is a long time” before walking off. The week after, the WWF gave Andre an award for being unbeaten in 15 years. Hogan, attempting to repay what he saw as a favour, came out to put Andre over but ended up talking about himself. Andre walked out as Hogan called him humble. All the while Heenan was stirring the pot, suggesting that Hogan had been an egomaniac and stolen Andre’s spotlight.
Interesting to note Andre hadn’t wrestled at all since September. He took a huge chunk of 1986 off to film The Princess Bride. He also had serious back issues. He only wrestled 20 matches in 1986 for the WWF. Many of them in tags where he was hidden away or short house show matches.
Davey Boy Smith & Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hart Foundation
Once again Dynamite Kid is injured, so a sub is required to team with DBS. As was common at the time, the referee is heel Danny Davis.
Jimmy Hart, excellent as always, runs away from Matilda. This match was an MSG main event. Bret’s work improved a lot during 1986, as he learned to project his selling to a larger audience and also make his close up selling more visible on TV. He just got better is what I’m saying. About a year before this he was still doing the kind of bumping and selling that was better suited to the Indies. He tightened everything up and it shows.
We head to the studio as Gorilla tells us the Harts have won the titles since this match happened. Monsoon blames Danny Davis and says “referee’s pay leaves a lot to be desired”. Of course it does. All Vince’s money goes on the top boys, steroids and hookers*. Everyone knows this. Gorilla goes on to say Davis’ house cost $400,000 and he thinks that’s suss. He also “drives an El Dorado”. Like, a classic one from the 50s or the piece of shit they were selling in 1987?
Having recently seen a Harts vs. Davey +1 match, the spots are familiar. They basically do all the same shit. They really miss Dynamite Kid. Billy Jerk isn’t a good sub. They do have a better finish where Davis literally holds Billy Jerk for Bret to punch him but Billy Jerk ducks and Bret waffles Davis. A second ref comes in as Bret is beaten in the full nelson. The match was recycled house show stuff until the finish, which was pretty good. Danny Davis’ cheating was way out in the open at this point and it beggars belief that the WWF would continue to use him as an official.
Piper has Jesse Ventura on. Piper invites Hulk Hogan out here. Ventura introduces Andre the Giant. Andre comes out with Bobby Heenan.
Hogan is all “what are you doing with him?” Hogan whines and appeals to Andre.
Bobby Heenan starts yelling at Hogan about how he’s jealous of Andre and we call back to Andre congratulating Hogan when he won the belt. “You never offered him a title opportunity”.
“I’m here for one reason to challenge you to a world championship match at the WrestleMania”. Andre tears Hogan’s shirt and crucifix off.
I always loved Piper’s interjection here as Hogan is yelling and saying “it doesn’t have to be like this”. Piper just says “you’re bleeding”. The shellshock of this moment still has me, even today. The audacity of the turn, the simplicity of the moment. Andre barely did anything. He just turned up with Heenan and freaked out Hogan’s nut. He’s in his head man!
We go back to the studio and Gorilla grills Heenan about it. Heenan says that “maybe I made a mistake” when asked why he’s suddenly changed tack on Andre. Heenan cuts a promo straight into camera blaming Hogan for never giving Andre his shot, his chance at the title, his spotlight. Heenan continues to rant about how Hogan won’t accept the challenge as Monsoon talks about WrestleMania III and the potential attendance in the Silverdome.
That whole segment was so good. Andre couldn’t do anything in the ring and he couldn’t really talk but the history, combined with the mic work of Hogan and Heenan made this work.
Video Control takes us the Memphis, where the Honky Tonk Man is recording stuff. Jimmy Hart bigs up how Honky is in the same studio as Elvis Presley. Honky proceeds to verbally abuse Elvis and say how shit he is and how bad his hair looks. Heenan claims Elvis copied Honky’s looks after seeing him wrestle years ago. Honky debuted in 1978. Elvis died in 1977.
Honky Tonk Man vs. Corporal Kirschner
This is a dark match from SNME, and the SNME banner is hanging over the ring. Which means it was taped way back in the middle of December 1986. The Honky Tonk is a type of bar, which is something I had no idea about when I was kid. It’s also a style of music. Your common Honky Tonk is a bar is a dive, which has music and dancing or a low-end theater. It’s the kind of place a sailor would go and spend all his pay in. The WWF probably got the idea from the Rolling Stones’ song “Honky Tonk Women” or the Clint Eastwood movie of the same name from 1982.
The match is exactly what you’d expect of it. Both guys are really bad. Honky is marginally better and does a judo style throw that looks decent. Most of his offence is dumb Memphis stuff that doesn’t translate well to a wider audience. Like fist drops. The fist drop might be the dumbest move in wrestling. Honky finishes with the Shake, Rattle and Roll, which was, at least, a cool finish. A swinging neckbreaker with some added theatrics.
Blackjack Mulligan vs. Nikolai Volkoff
I haven’t even figured out when this match took place and Mulligan has already won with his back elbow. SQUASH!
Back in studio Gorilla talks about the Bundy and Hillbilly Jim mixed tag match, with four “little guys”. A freak show. Elsewhere, Jake Roberts is interviewed about the DDT.
Jake has sunglasses on because he’s hungover. No wait, it’s because “his future is so bright”. Considering this was a promo about nothing, Jake is still mesmerising. He’s also still heel and hasn’t been turned face yet, although he will be shortly.
WWF Tag Team Championship
British Bulldogs (c) vs. Hart Foundation
Dynamite Kid was so badly injured they had to give up on this tag title run. This originally aired on Superstars. Jimmy Hart hits Dynamite with the megaphone to eliminate him.
Dynamite Kid literally couldn’t work so they leave Davey 1 on 2. If that isn’t bad enough, the referee is Danny Davis. Davey even has Bret beaten with the powerslam but Davis is out ‘checking’ on Dynamite. The Harts illegally double team and the Hart Attack finishes Davey off. The fast count is unnecessary. And just like that the Bulldogs era is over. The Hart Foundation are the tag team champions. Probably, in no small part, to Dynamite Kid’s injury and reckless style of wrestling, the Bulldogs never held the belts again.
The title switch coincides with the Hart Foundation getting good. Bret especially.
Back in the studio Gorilla disparages Andre’s ‘unbeaten’ record saying he’s not faced anyone worthwhile, compared to Hogan. Oh, now we see where loyalties lie.
Lanny Poffo vs. Red Demon
The Red Demon is Jose Luis Rivera, better known as one half of the Conquistadores. He was working under his shoot name but he couldn’t get over so now he’s under a hood. The Red Demon is a terrible gimmick. Red body suit, sparkly silver tights, leopard skin mask. They gave up on this gimmick quickly and switched him to one half of the Shadows before Los Conquistadores by the end of 1987. This match was in MSG about a month beforehand. The trouble with Prime Time is that all the matches are so old.
Gene Okerlund claims that the Red Demon “may be” a member of the Denver Broncos football team. Hey, it does look a bit like John Elway. I see where he’s coming from. “I guess if he wore green, he’d be the Green Demon” – Gorilla, You can tell they’re getting bored watching this. Red Demon chokes with his wrist tape for a while. How long is this shit? Poffo isn’t much better. He spends most of the match going after the mask. Imagine if he pulled that sucker off and it WAS John Elway? This is how he warmed up for the 1987-88 season. No wonder they made the SuperBowl that year. He was toughened up. Poffo finishes this with a flipping senton! Hey, it looked better than his terrible moonsault. This was incredibly boring. Like 15 minutes of grabass crapola.
Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis
This is from SNME where Adonis wins on count-out after blinding Piper with his perfume. It is what it is. It helps us get closer to WrestleMania and gives a reason for Piper to wrestle Adonis. Before this, Adonis was just another guy Piper wanted to get even with.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Randy Savage (c) vs. Bruno Sammartino
We’re in Boston Garden for this one. They ran a match here with a count out finish so they could come back in February and do a lumberjack match to prevent the count out.
Savage is still a chickenshit heel, hiding behind Liz. Bruno has to do very little to get massive pops. He just throws punches and Savage bumps around like there’s an earthquake happening. Savage, as a heel, had unreal chemistry with almost everyone. He’d give his opponents, regardless of their mobility, this incredible shine segment.
Gorilla implies that Bruno doesn’t want the IC belt, he just wants to punish Savage for his behaviour and comments. So, it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t win because he kicks Randy’s ass for most of the match. Savage just about squeaks it on count out after hitting Bruno with a chair. The referee should probably have called that a DQ. This was great fun but sadly only 6 minutes long. They could easily have put the WWF title on Savage as a heel, in my opinion. It’s a shame Vince had no concept of what a heel champion looked like. ***
A very good TV show here. The Andre-Hogan angle ruled and is an all-time great heel turn. There’s barely any contact but Hogan is freaked out regardless. The WWF booking was quite subtle around this time. Subtle and WWF in the same sentence? Huh. We also had the tag title change and the cracking Savage-Bruno program. None of this ever seemed to have a meaningful blow-off, which is unfortunate, but the booking seemed to be firing on all cylinders.