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Welcome To The Vault! In This Edition, Harry Simon Goes Back To Yesteryear To Bring Us Best Of The WWF's Grudge Matches '86!




Approx running time: 90 min

Approx time period covered: 70s – Mid-80s

Released: 1986

Host: Gorilla Monsoon


Monsoon opened the video by cautioning viewers that these matches are violent, even for pro wrestling (i.e., there are gonna be blade jobs).  I don’t know if the WWF actually planned it this way, but Gorilla’s soft-spoken warning was a great way to get you psyched up for the video.


1) World champion Hulk Hogan b The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji) by DQ to retain the title [5/20/85].  Muraco started fast and strong, attacking Hogan before the bell.  On commentary, Okerlund said “If anyone would know about a Pearl Harbor, it would be Fuji.”  Ah, life before political correctness.  Muraco was a good foil for Hogan in that he wasn’t a coward or a monster, yet he was perceived as one of the stronger heels of his time, and thus, a credible threat to Hogan’s belt.  Hogan was unusually aggressive in this match, headbutting the hell out of Muraco and even using a chair on MM at ringside.  Muraco bladed and this was a good “curtain jerker” blade job to start the video (compared to Bruno’s “busted fire hydrant” juice later in the tape).  The crowd went nuts with bloodlust as Hogan threw Muraco over his shoulder (like for a running powerslam) at ringside, and “ram-rodded” him headfirst into the ringpost.  Ouch.  Good false finish as Hogan hit the legdrop, but Fuji put Muraco’s foot on the rope.  Fuji then passed Muraco some salt, which he threw in Hogan’s face for the DQ.  While a short solid match, the presentation of this “grudge” could have been much better.  They mentioned this was a rematch, but they didn’t tell us what happened in the first encounter.  Seeing as how this was a DQ finish, it’s safe to assume that Hogan got his pin in the re-rematch.  I’m assuming, anyway.  It’s like they showed us the middle of this grudge, but not the beginning or the end.  (David)


2) The Junkyard Dog b Terry Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart) by DQ [1/28/86].  This was during a time when JYD was arguably the #2 babyface in the company, but already starting to bulk up (and I don’t mean in muscle).  A lot of internet fans can’t say enough good things about Terry Funk…and I’m one of them.  Terry was sensational as the classic “middle aged and crazy” loon, and he was bumping his ass off for JYD to make this match.  Finish saw Dory Funk Jr. run-in and attack JYD while Terry was tied up in the ropes.  Strangely, Vince and Bruno called him “Dory Funk Jr” even though the WWF would soon repack him as “Hoss Funk.”  Tito Santana led a pack of wrestlers into the ring to make the save.  Good setup match (the JYD-Funk culminated at Wrestlemania 2 with both Funks vs. JYD & Santana).  Funk deserves all the praise he gets and then some.  (David)


3) Funk (w/ Hart) b JYD [Saturday Night’s Main Event, 11/2/85].  By standards of the time, Funk took a sick bump when JYD slammed him over the top rope directly onto the concrete floor (this was pre-blue-mats, too).  Both Terry and Jimmy bumped and sold for JYD at every opportunity, making Dog look like a million bucks.  Funk’s one serious offense spot was when he locked Dog in a sleeper (which Dog quickly reversed, natch).    Hart distracted JYD, causing him to release the sleeper.  As JYD roughed up Hart, Hart pitched his megaphone in the ring.  Funk nailed JYD with the megaphone and got the pin.  Funk then tried to use his branding iron on JYD, but JYD made his own save.  Next came the famous spot where Funk and JYD got into a tug-of-war over Jimmy Hart, with JYD depantsing Hart for a monster pop.  JYD then used the branding iron on Hart’s butt and the fans went berserk.  Great 80s TV match with both wrestlers gaining something.  Funk went over, but JYD got his heat back and then some.  This wasn’t actually the blowoff to the JYD-Funk feud (that happened at the aforementioned WM2 tag match), but it was more than acceptable for the purposes of telling a story on this video.  (David)


4) Bruno Sammartino (w/ Arnold Skaaland) b World champion Ivan Koloff by DQ so Koloff retained the title [11/17/75, JIP/clipped].  I was negative-21-days-old when this match took place.  Classic match with fans chomping at the bit for Bruno to regain his title.  One great aspect to Bruno’s gimmick was when he would see his own blood, he’d snap and go Butterbean on his hapless opponent.  Such was the case here as Bruno did a tremendous blade job.  At one point they “paused” the match so Bruno’s cut could be examined by a ringside doctor and man was there a pop when the sawbones allowed the match to continue.  Bruno and Ivan got in one of those larger-than-life Popeye vs. Bluto slugfests, with Bruno getting the better of the evil commie, of course.  A frustrated Ivan decked the referee to save his title and the locker room emptied for a pull-apart.  A screwjob ending, but the road leading up to it was a fun ride.  (David)


5) Greg Valentine (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) b Tito Santana to win the IC title [9/24/84, clipped].  As Santana jawed with Albano from ringside, Valentine attacked his leg before the bell.  Santana was amazing at selling the leg, and more than a couple of today’s guys could learn a lot from watching Tito in his prime.  Santana was super over as a lionheart with “Tito” chants all throughout the match.  The announcers mentioned that Santana is Mexican at least two or three times.  Great false finish as Santana hit the flying forearm but Valentine got his foot under the ropes.  Tito celebrated prematurely, allowing Valentine to knee Santana in the back for the pin.  Awesome heat for the finish, with fans chanting “bullshit.”  Albano was hilarious, hamming it up with the IC belt after the match.  Santana sold his leg before, during, and after the match like a champ.  After the official announcement, Valentine attacked Santana and slapped on the figure-four.   Personally, I think this angle would have been even more effective had Valentine actually beat Santana with the figure-four, but the whole thing got over huge anyway, so I’m just picking nits.  Historically, this was one of those once-in-a-blue-moon successes where a fluke IC title win over a popular babyface MADE a heel in the eyes of WWF fans (right up there with The Honky Tonk Man beating Rick Steamboat and Rick Rude over The Ultimate Warrior).  Good match, great angle, incredible setup for the rematch.  (David)


A lengthy segment aired with Santana in the hospital.  At first, Santana talked about torn ligaments and claimed all he wanted was to get well.  They showed clips of Santana getting surgery, which were effective in part because they didn’t show anything graphic, yet the ominous tone of the whole segment conveyed that this was a serious matter.  After the operation, a down-but-not-out Santana weakly told fans from his sickbed that the operation was a success.  Santana calmly vowed that he would return to get revenge on Valentine.  “Arriba,” Santana concluded in a soft voice.  A unique, stirring, powerful promo.  Santana conveyed the best emotion of his career during this angle, which easily rates as one of the best 80s WWF feuds I’ve ever enjoyed.  This segment was great as a sympathy machine for Tito, but I can’t help but think it would have been more effective had Tito not been wearing his sunglasses in the hospital bed before and after the surgery.  A slight annoyance, but not terribly important.


6) Santana b Valentine (w/ Hart) in a cage match to regain the IC title [7/6/85].  Gorilla told us that this was the first time the IC title had been contested in a steel cage, which was incorrect.  If nothing else, the famous Jimmy Snuka vs. Magnificent Muraco cage match that changed the life of an 18-year-old Mick Foley was a championship bout for Muraco’s IC gold (Snuka cost himself the match when he hit Muraco with such a forceful headbutt that he knocked MM clear out of the cage to the floor).  This was also another example of Coliseum Video’s attention-deficit-disorder as not even a mention was made of Valentine switching his management from Albano to Hart.  That’s almost it for the complaints.  Santana channeled the spirit of Pedro Morales’ offense, with the patented “latin temper” exploding as he started fast on Valentine.  Great heel stuff by Valentine as he tried to run away from Tito and exit the cage at any given opportunity.  The cage itself was put over huge, as bumps into the steel fence were sold as killers; you know, the way a cage match SHOULD be portrayed.  Santana was at his tenacious best, grabbing Valentine’s ankle or trunks like a pitbull when Valentine would tease an escape.  Tito kicked Valentine in the head to prevent the first figure-four attempt.  Santana hit the flying forearm in the first real hope spot of the match, earning a “Tito” chant.  Valentine stun-gunned Santana into the cage and slammed his head into the cage several times, with both Santana and Gorilla selling it like Tito was done for.  Nice modest blade job by Santana.  Valentine tried to escape again, but Tito crawled over and grabbed the ankle.  In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, Valentine was also awesome in selling his “hammer” elbowdrops, too.  Valentine went for another figure-four, but Santana kicked him off and headfirst into the cage.  In one of the best cage match finishes ever, Santana climbed over the top (just around the corner from the cage door) while Valentine staggered toward the door.  As Valentine was about to leave the cage, Santana kicked the cage door shut, playing whack-a-mole with Valentine’s head.  Valentine was smashed back into the ring and Santana dropped down to the floor.  The Baltimore crowd came unglued and it was a sight to behold.  Valentine played a great sore loser, smashing the IC belt against the cage until Tito chased him off.  Still selling, Santana climbed to the top rope and raised the belt for all to see, earning another loud Rocky Balboa-esque “Tito” chant.  My only real criticism of the match itself was that Valentine actually should have put the figure-four on Santana to make Santana look like even more of a lionheart when he eventually won it.  Again, I’m just kvetching as this match was just awesome through and through.  Even though this was early in the WWF’s home video enterprise, they already had the formula down to perfection, as this feature illustrated.  The tale of Santana vs. Valentine had a beginning, a middle, and an end, with Gorilla’s voice-overs doing a first-rate job of tying it all together.  Santana vs. Valentine was a fantastic feud capped off by a phenomenal match.  From start to finish, the past 19 minutes make for some of the best Coliseum stuff ever.  This grudge program alone makes the tape a must-rent.  (Kerry)


7) World champion Superstar Billy Graham (w/ Grand Wizard) NC Sammartino (w/ Skaaland) so Graham retained the title.  Gorilla Monsoon was special referee [8/1/77, clipped].  Graham was the “other” guy who beat Bruno for the WWWF World title.  Interesting perspective as Monsoon did commentary for this match on tape, explaining what was going through his mind during the match and why he made some of the calls he did.  This was a classic performance by two of wrestling’s greatest World champions ever.  Graham was fantastic as the cocky muscleman heel, and Bruno was likewise outstanding as the everyman hero.  Inspired spot as the desperate Graham went so far as to yank Monsoon’s shirt in an attempt to escape a half-crab before he made the ropes.  A frustrated Graham hit Bruno with the belt to take over on offense.  On commentary, Monsoon explained that a DQ wouldn’t do Sammartino any good because, say it with me now, “championships in the WWF can only change hands via pinfall or submission.”  Bruno did another trademark gusher of a juice job and you know what was coming next.  So did Graham, who tried to save his title by bailing out of the ring and taking a countout, but Monsoon chased after him and stopped him in the aisle.  Graham took a swing at Gorilla, but Monsoon ducked, hoisted him up in a fireman’s carry and threw him back in the ring to an insane crowd pop.  Bruno went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and beat the steph out of Graham, locking in his famous bearhug for another huge pop.  To break the hold, Graham popped Gorilla in the jaw.  On commentary, Gorilla again explained that fans didn’t want to see a DQ finish.  Remember that, folks.  A sick spot, but a jaw-dropping visual came when the bloodied Graham staggered into Monsoon, leaving a huge bloody smear across Monsoon’s white ref shirt.  In today’s HIV-conscious society, a routine like this would probably do a promotion more harm than good, but these were simpler times and it really did convey the sense of an unnaturally brutal match, even by pro wrestling standards.  Bruno basically proceeded to make Graham his personal bitch, so Gorilla stopped the bout “and threw the match out because there was just too much bleeding.”  Great match with a great gimmick with Gorilla as the ref, but the finish sucked.  (David)


8) World champion Hogan & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy Snuka) b Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (w/ Bob Orton Jr.) [Wrestlemania I: 3/31/85].  A suitable end to the video.  As the main event of the first Wrestlemania, this was one of the most significant matches in WWF history, just like Hogan vs. Piper was one of wrestling’s most celebrated feuds ever (well, the first time, anyway).  You know the story on this one.  Orndorff did the lion’s share of the work while the other three got the lion’s share of the heat.  Finish saw Hogan pin Orndorff after Orton’s interference backfired.  There’s really no point for me to do a blow-by-blow review of such a well-known match, because you either a) already know what happened, or b) don’t care.  Solid, hugely successful match which sent the fans home happy and officially gave wrestling fans their own version of the SuperBowl.  (David)


Overall over-analysis:


A great video that, for the most part, delivers on its title.  The JYD-Funk story was quite good, and the Santana-Valentine saga was off the charts.  Both Bruno matches were a hoot despite the screwy finishes.  I mentioned the problem with the presentation of Hogan-Muraco above, but even so, this was as good an 80s Hogan match as you’ll find anywhere.  As for the closer, it made sense as it certainly fell under the “grudge match” umbrella, yet they avoided the easy trap of letting all the pomp and circumstance of Wrestlemania overshadow the actual bell-to-bell main event.  With the exception of glossing over Hogan-Muraco, Gorilla did an awesome job on commentary and the presentation was largely solid and well done.  If you’re a serious student of the game, you can learn a lot from this video…and you should.


Grade: A-


(match dates courtesy of www.prowrestlinghistory.com)

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).