WWF Prime Time Wrestling (7.19.86) review
We’re in Poughkeepsie, New York at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. This was taped on June 24, 1986, and contains an angle that is so killer that we’re doing the whole show.
Hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan in the studio. They talk about today’s show and Heenan pops off a few zingers. I said the show is from Poughkeepsie, but we also have matches from MSG. The MSG commentary comes from Gorilla and Alfred Hayes. Poughkeepsie comms comes from Vince McMahon, unfortunately.
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Brutus Beefcake
Yeah, the WWF have finally caved and signed Billy Jack. He’s ridiculously over in Portland but he ain’t here. He looks like a dime store knock-off toy version of Steve Williams, or possibly Randy Savage if you squint. It does not help him that’s he’s wrestling Brutus. Hammer is busy with JYD on this show. This match feels super fake. You can see them feeding each other and Brutus works feather soft. Gorilla drops the “external occipital protuberance” on us here. That’s that little bump on the back of your head, if you’ve never heard the Gorilla at work. Johnny V trips Billy Jerk and the ref sees it. DQ. This was bad wrestling all round.
We go back into the studio and Heenan says he didn’t see a trip from Valentine, but figures Haynes would fall over anyway because he’s so awkward. A character assassination from Bobby there. Gorilla promises a “scientific match” next, which means two babyfaces. Heenan suggests if anyone needs the bathroom, they should go now.
Lanny Poffo vs. Tony Atlas
Poffo cuts his usual poem but is less abusive because it’s a scientific match. Atlas is 250lbs but Poffo is announced at 252lbs, so Finkel tells us Atlas now weighs 270lbs because otherwise that would look stupid. Face vs face matches were pretty rare in 1986 and they never seemed to know what to do, nor the crowd how to react. It doesn’t help that this opened the show in MSG. They do a load of boring mat work until tempers flare.
This is where the match could have gotten interesting as the MSG crowd want them to start popping each other with right hands. Both men supress their urges and remain good babyfaces. The match is so boring they cut back to the studio. “Who cares?” – Heenan. We head back for the finish and they’re still exchanging mat holds. Some of it is ok but neither of them are good enough at mat work for it to be exciting. When they try other things it’s even worse. An Irish whip is bad. A biel out of the corner is bad. Atlas has no idea how to control a match. Atlas wins with a backslide. Jeez, this was dull.
We go to an interview with the American Express. When Dan Spivey was hired to replace Barry Windham in the US Express. Spivey is a creepy interview. When you’ve seen Waylon Mercy, it looks like this creepy bastard is staring into your soul.
WWF Tag Team Championship
British Bulldogs (c) vs. Moondogs
Gorilla has to remind me the Moondogs used to be tag champs because that was in 1981. While they were champions just five years ago, they’re nowhere near being champs in 1986. The tag team division has a lot of depth. It’s nice to see a healthy Dynamite Kid.
Gorilla says they’re thinking of assigning two referees to tag title matches. Hey, that STILL hasn’t happened. That championship committee really did move slowly. The Moondogs can’t sell a lot of the Bulldogs offence, which makes for a sluggish encounter. Especially by the Bulldogs high standards. When the Moondogs take over, it’s no better as they don’t have much in the way of offence either. They run heat on Davey for a while and the match feels long. Hot tag leads to a breakdown and DK does something cool by diving over a brawling Rex and Davey with a crossbody on Spot for the pin. Hey, if you’re only going to do one cool thing all match then make it the finish.
We cut to Tuesday Night Titans, when Gene Okerlund interviewed Sheik & Volkoff. Sheik has his own private camel, so they’ve dressed Volkoff up and stuck him on the back of a camel. “Is very smooth and good animal” – Sheik.
Okerlund bad mouths the camel, claiming it has fleas, before chatting up the camel handler.
The camel isn’t happy with the weight of Volkoff, and this would probably pass as animal cruelty nowadays. Everyone laughs about it, and Volkoff eventually gets off.
Paul Roma & SD Jones vs. Mike Brown & Paul Berger
Roma debuted last year and went straight into WWF development as an in house jobber. He’s done ok, so they’ve teamed him up with an established guy in SD Jones. The other two are scrubs, who look like trainees. SD slams Roma on top of one of the jobbers for the win. Roma has a chat with SD about how the match went right away. I can’t get past how much Roma looks like an extra from the Sopranos.
We go to Ken Resnick again who is chatting with Mr. Fuji. He mentions Fuji Vice. If you’ve not seen Fuji Vice, go and watch that right now. “Mr. Fuji is very alergic to mud” – Muraco. They start talking about brainwaves and electrical disturbances. I have no idea what they were talking about here. I think that was the aim.
We get video of the build up to the main event. Adrian Adonis had Paul Orndorff on the Flower Shop to point out to him how his tags with Hogan were structured. Orndorff wrestles most of the match, then Hogan comes in to finish. “So what if I do 90% of the work” says Orndorff, clearly a little gotten to.
Next week Adonis has Hogan on and he calls Orndorff his “blood brother”. There’s a great line from Hogan where he says he went to dinner with the Orndorff family and his mama said “you’re like a number one son to me”. Man, that would wind me up if I was Orndorff. They have Bobby Heenan on next who calls Orndorff “Hulk Jr”. Heenan tells him to call Hogan and they can have a tag match with Studd & Bundy. The way Bobby flips a quarter at Paul so he can make the call is genius. Elite heel work.
A hopping mad Orndorff gets on the blower and you can see he’s steaming about the whole situation. Hogan is in the gym, brother. Vince interviews Orndorff who’s fuming because Hogan is too busy to take his calls. Orndorff, still mad, has taken a match with the Moondogs as a warm up for the Hogan & Orndorff team. “The old Mr Wonderful, I like that” – Hogan. Oh, I don’t think you will mate. The Moondogs match saw Orndorff win on his own and refuse to tag Hogan in.
Hulk Hogan & Paul Orndorff vs. King Kong Bundy & John Studd
Howard Finkel and Hulk Hogan both treat Orndorff like an afterthought. Orndorff just stands in the face corner shaking his head. Orndorff still works like a superstar babyface here. He batters both big heels in an incredible shine sequence.
He soaks up the adulation one final time and tags in Hogan. The first thing Hogan does is slam Studd, which is the one thing Orndorff couldn’t do in his opening shine, and you can see how mad he is about it. The big heel team turns it around and beats up Hogan for a bit. Orndorff is very animated on the apron, mad that he dominated and now Hogan is getting his ass kicked. Mad about Hogan’s showboating. Hogan accidentally falls into Orndorff and elbows him off the apron. While that’s happening the ref disqualifies Studd and Bundy. They double team Hogan for a bit while Orndorff complains of a bad jaw. Orndorff comes in to save as Hogan gets double teams AND BATTERS HIM WITH A CLOTHESLINE. The crowd are all “oh no, who saw this coming”. PILEDRIVER! Yes!
The match is pretty good but the angle is blow away great. The build of Orndorff getting slowly more and more frustrated with how Hogan had treated him. He let the heels get into his head. The betrayal of Paul Orndorff would set up a series of red hot matches against Hogan for the rest of the year.
The house show circuit was lit up by these matches. Usually for Hogan’s title but occasionally featuring other players. Hogan even teamed with Piper, who was now leaning babyface, against Orndorff and Adonis. They’ll work a title match at the next SNME but before that is the Big Event. A show in Toronto, which was taped specifically for home video release. Hogan vs. Orndorff on top. 76,000 attendance, in case you’re wondering if this feud drew! They had this incredible run of house show business right up to the end of the year. It probably would have gone longer but Orndorff was injured and desperately needed surgery, which he never got and ended up with a much smaller right arm because of it. He was so badly hurt he missed WrestleMania III, so the WWF had to come up with an alternative to the Hogan-Orndorff blow off (doing so at SNME 9 instead) and switched gears to Andre.
While most Prime Time shows are pointless, it’s nice to drop into the format. Gorilla and Heenan made for a great pair, explaining storylines and stuff. This one has a killer main event. The Orndorff turn is one of the most substantial ones of the entire decade. Not only that it would set in Vince’s mind the ideal way to do a heel turn, which is how it’s become such a trope ever since. All because this one landed so perfectly.