WWF Prime Time Wrestling (2.23.87)
February 23, 1987
I was looking for the MSG house show from the same date as this, but the WWE Network is so bad I don’t even know how to find it. If anyone can find it, please message me on Twitter and I’ll do it.
Hosts here are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. The latter calls Hogan a “lying piece of garbage” when he agreed to the Andre match. Monsoon calls it the “biggest match in professional wrestling history”. For once, that might not be hyperbole.
Kamala vs. George Steele
Oh, good lord. What have I done to deserve this?
Both wrestlers’ gimmicks are that they’re fucking stupid. Kamala uses a whip and hits a top rope splash (urgh) for the pin. This was awful. “He’s out cold, like a Jewish salami” – Johnny V. What does that even mean? We go back to the studio and Monsoon says that match was from Maple Leaf Gardens. It was from November. Why did we get that? What was the point?
Terry Gibbs vs. Jose Luis Rivera
What the fuck lads? Rivera has changed gimmicks since this match. This is also from Maple Leaf Gardens but a completely different show from January 26. They have a great spot here where Gibbs does a drop down and it’s so close to the ropes that Rivera gets caught in the ropes jumping over it. You don’t get that thought process nowadays. The rest of the match is dogshit. Why would you put this on a big WrestleMania lead in show? Rivera wins. We move on with our lives.
Back in the studio Monsoon grills Heenan about the Bundy ‘midget’ match at Mania and he doesn’t care. Even Heenan can’t bring himself to give a shit about that match.
The Snake Pit
Jake is still a heel, and they gave him this chat show to counter the babyface chat show of Roddy Piper. His guest is the Honky Tonk Man. Honky claims he was born on a pool table in Memphis and that’s why he’s the Honky Tonk Man.
Jake basically laughs at Honky the whole interview for a) being scared of Damian, b) having a “stupid name” and c) having no talent. Honky once again claims Elvis stole his song. Once again WWF, ELVIS DIED IN 1977. Jake runs him off with Damian, so Honky hits him with the guitar. It does not break at all.
As an aside, Honky claims that Jake was too wasted to get hurt and while Jake blames Honky for having to have neck surgery, which was two years later. Honky claims he cut up the guitar and it should have fallen apart because it was so gimmicked. I’ve seen the footage, Wayne, it didn’t break at all. Jake says the guitar “nearly fucking killed me”. Both these guys are fucking liars, because they work. They’re from the era of kayfabe.
Look at the guitar though. They gimmicked the back of it but not the frame. This isn’t one of those Jarrett balsawood deals that goes to shit at the slightest contact. This thing was HEAVY, and I can believe it caused Jake some serious neck issues because he took the first shot right in the forehead. That said, I wouldn’t blame Wayne for it, it should have been a prop guitar sourced by the WWF. The fact they had no idea and didn’t test it shows complete negligence on their part and Jake would have had a decent case for a lawsuit. He’s down for ages and no one comes out to check on him. I can only assume he got a concussion as a bare minimum.
We get Gene Okerlund running down the WrestleMania III card so far. Can-Am Connection vs. Muraco & Orton with the Can-Am’s having a ‘special guest’ (Sidenote: I don’t remember them having one?). Koko vs. Butch Reed. Killer Bees vs. Sheik & Volkoff. Hercules vs. Billy Jack Haynes in the “battle of the full nelson”. Bundy & midgets vs. Hillbilly Jim & midgets. Race vs. JYD. Rougeaus vs. Dream Team. Savage vs. Steamboat. Bulldogs & Santana vs. Hart Foundation & Danny Davis. Piper vs. Adonis in Roddy’s “farewell match”. Hogan vs. Andre. Add in Honky Tonk Man vs. Jake, which hasn’t been booked yet, and that’s the card. Gene shows us footage of fans predicting the main event and it’s a mixed bag. A lot of fans thought Andre would win. That’s the aura of him.
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Harley Race
It’s odd they booked two guys on the Mania card against each other. That usually means we’re headed to a schmoz or a fuck finish of some kind. Handsome Harley is still out here taking huge back bumps. He is only 43 at this point but there’s a lot of miles on the clock. This is his last year as a full timer.
Commentary comes from Jesse Ventura and Bruno Sammartino and its two colour guys. So, Ventura has to call the play by play and he’s done that before (most notably at WrestleMania II), but it doesn’t work. Full nelson gets hooked and Bobby Heenan runs in for the DQ. It is interesting they used this as a match to put over the full nelson. Heels really got nothing in the WWF. In what reality would you put Haynes over Race?
“Midget action this week” says Gorilla.
Lord Littlebrook vs. Cowboy Lang
I can’t believe they even raided AWA for the little people. “The top two men in the midget category” according to Monsoon.
I spent a while trying to figure out when this match happened and I’m pretty sure it was summer 1986. It’s only on here because they’re trying to sell the Bundy vs. Hillbilly Jim match at Mania. Lang wins with a rolling cradle after all the usual spots.
Blackjack Mulligan vs. Jimmy Jack Funk
They had Mulligan squash Volkoff last week. Wait, this is from SNME. I’ve seen this already. I don’t really understand the massive Mulligan push in early 1987. They had him look like a superstar, didn’t have him on WrestleMania at all and he left around March.
We get an interview with Roddy Piper where he states he is officially retiring after WrestleMania III. “Win, lose or draw I’m going out March 29”. Okerlund points out he’s retiring at the pinnacle of his career. “May you be a half an hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead”. Man, I’m going to miss Piper. He will return in 1989 but he was never this good again. He’s off to make movies, largely unsuccessfully. God bless John Carpenter for “They Live”. What a fucking movie that is.
Islanders vs. Joe Mirto & Al Navarro
I have to look up the jobbers here because they’re just named as “Mirto & Navarro”. The Islanders are Haku and Tama. This is the last shot for Tama at being a success. He’s flopped in singles but Haku is a badass so they’ve stuck them together. Haku is so badass that Eric Bischoff wouldn’t release him from WCW because he feared what would happen. As a team, the Islanders were ok. You had one big powerhouse and one fleet of foot youngling. The trouble is, unlike the Hart Foundation, they don’t differentiate themselves that well. Tama finishes with a Superfly Splash and he’s finally over for doing Snuka’s spots. Only took him 18 months!
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy
Here’s where Bundy is a year on from his title shot at Mania, getting a throwaway title shot at Boston Garden. Bundy never struck me as title material. Hogan gives him a little spell in charge but not long. Not like a normal Hogan formula match. The whole point of this is Hogan attempting to slam Bundy. The idea being that if he can’t slam Bundy, he can’t slam Andre who is much bigger. Hogan eventually gets the slam after Bundy runs into it. This was ok, much better than the WrestleMania II cage match. It also helped to tell a bigger story about Hogan’s bodyslamming ability. **1/2
There’s some interesting build here for WrestleMania. Hogan slamming Bundy, with the intention of showing he can slam Andre. Honky Tonk Man turning Jake Roberts babyface with that guitar shot. Piper saying he’s retiring. The whole full nelson gimmick. The midgets. There’s still some weird filler like Rivera vs. Gibbs and the Islanders tag but on the whole they’re doing a good job of selling the PPV.