Best of the WWF Volume 1 – Three HUGE Angles Get Started

Best of the WWF Volume 1
Host: Vince McMahon
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Red Bastien, Vince McMahon, Alfred Hayes

This is the long delayed installment in the series from Coliseum Video. The word best is a huge stretch but it’s really just a collection of matches, some of which I’ve done before. There are 20 volumes in the set and I found some more of them recently so I’m required by reviewer’s law to be all over them. Let’s get to it.

I miss the old Coliseum Video intro. It’s just cool.

Most of these matches are clipped by the way but I’ll do what I can.

Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd/Adrian Adonis/Dick Murdoch

Murdoch and Adonis are tag champions. This is from the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Hogan and Andre say they’re awesome and best friends and all that jazz. This is from July 15, 1984. I have dates for most of the matches so I’ll try to remember to add those. Adonis is a biker here and not gay yet. No Real American yet either. Red Bastien of all people is on commentary with Gorilla. His most famous contribution to wrestling would probably be training Sting and Ultimate Warrior.

Hogan is in the white here. My there’s a lot of background and little things like that being thrown in here. Hogan and Adonis start us off. I’ll give you two guesses as to how well this goes for Adrian. Off to Murdoch and we’re clipped to him bringing in Studd as the heels work on Hulk’s arm. Clipped again (maybe 10 seconds between them) to Andre coming in for the giant staredown.

Andre wants a test of strength so let’s clip it to Hogan fighting the tag champions. Clipping can be so frustrating. Adonis is sent into the corner and Andre massacres him for some fun. Now it’s time for some more monster battles and he Andre gets all three heels trapped into the same corner and rams shoulders into them. The heels take turns triple teaming him and actually manage to get him down. Well score one for them.

Clipped for the fourth time to more of the heels beating on him. From what I can find, this match ran about 22 minutes so clipping it down is probably a good thing. Murdoch wraps the tag rope around Andre’s neck but Hogan comes to….do nothing at all. Andre gets the rope and chokes a bit but it’s off to Hulk who beats up a lot of people. Murdoch gets an elbow up and it’s clip #5 to Hogan being slammed by Adonis.

Adrian gets crotched so here’s Studd instead. Bastien doesn’t talk much. Andre comes in off a double clothesline by Hogan and Murdoch and everything breaks down as you would expect it to. Studd tries to run so Andre waddles after him. The tag champs beat down Hogan but he starts no selling punches. I think you can see the ending coming already. Andre drops down on Murdoch’s chest and stays there despite Adonis pounding on him. See, now why do you never see that happen? Doesn’t it strike you as odd that when a guy has a cover and is hit from behind he flies off to the side?

Rating: C-. Obviously this is just for what I saw, which is only about half of the match. This is very much a house show main event as there was only a feud between Andre and Studd. There was nothing I’m aware of between Hogan and Murdoch although he has some matches with Adrian if I remember correctly. Either way, thank goodness this was clipped.

The next match is the main event from the Brawl to End it All, which is kind of like the grandfather of Wrestlemania. It’s from July 23, 1984 in MSG and was aired live on MTV. This is the full version of the review and I copied and pasted it from the original so I have no idea if the whole match was put onto the tape or not.

Moolah says she’s a legend and this is going to be easy.

Women’s Title: Wendi Richter vs. Fabulous Moolah

Moolah looks old. Richter looks insane but this is the 80s so that makes sense. Nuclear heat on Albano. Lauper is at ringside too which gets a huge pop. Moolah throws her out onto the announce table almost immediately. Moolah probably had a hand in training Richter so this should be a pretty bad clash of styles.

Lauper’s manager is on commentary and can’t talk that well which is expected I guess. Richter gets an armbar to maintain control. Both miss dropkicks as it’s odd to see this being the big blowoff to a major feud as the feature contest. Albano’s ramblings are rather funny.

In a funny moment Richter gets her neck snapped over the ropes and Gene shouts OH SNAP! Rather sloppy match here as Moolah gets hung upside down in the ropes. She stays there for a good while until Albano saves her. Ok so he’s just trying to as it doesn’t work at all. Finally she’s out thanks to the referee.

Full nelson to Moolah and Cyndi pops up on the apron. And now she’s down. Was there a point to that at all? Lauper hits Moolah in the face with…something and the referee is fine with this I guess. Ok then. Suplex gets two for Wendi. This has been almost dominance by Richter here.

Moolah gets a monkey flip for two, as in back to back one counts. That was odd looking. She takes over a bit and pulls Wendi up off a backdrop which is one of her finishers. Why it was one of her finishers I’m not sure but whatever. Albano misses a wild punch and Moolah continues her dominance.

Belly to back with a bridge gets the pin but we’re not sure whose shoulders were down. Ah ok Moolah got pinned. Really don’t like that booking as Wendi needed the definitive pin to make this work. Moolah and Albano beat up the referee after the match. Richter and company celebrate to end the show.

Rating: C-. The match sucked but that wasn’t the point. This was for the big blowoff and we got it. This match was really just the appetizer and table setter for the big one coming up in February and then March. Nothing all that special but it’s better than a lot of what you would see today.

Gorilla Monsoon vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna

Ok, the match means NOTHING here. Before the match, Muhammad Ali is introduced to the crowd. Remember that, because it becomes VERY important later. This is from June 1976 and we’re in the Garden again. Baron jumps him to start and that doesn’t work at all. Gorilla chops him to the floor and Ali freaks out. He takes his shirt and tie off and Baron walks out. Yeah the match itself is over already.

And now we get to the important part of the show. Ali throws some punches without really trying to connect. He points a finger in Monsoon’s face and Gorilla picks up Muhammad Ali and gives him an airplane spin. Muhammad Ali is the world heavyweight boxing champion at this point. Ali is slammed to the mat and bails. Gorilla says he proved wrestling is superior over boxing.

This was insane at the time as it was huge mainstream publicity and Ali was the biggest sports star in the world, bar none. This would be like Lionel Messi or Tiger Woods doing this. It also set up a match in Japan with Antonio Inoki facing Ali in what is the grandfather of MMA fights. Gorilla, ever the definition of old school, would never admit if this whole thing was planned or not.

Jimmy Snuka vs. Bobby Bass

This is from some time in 1984. Just a squash with the Splash ending it in about 90 seconds. Nothing to see here other than the finish.

Time for something a little more famous. Jimmy Snuka is in Piper’s Pit and Piper won’t shut up to let Jimmy talk. Snuka was the second biggest star in the company at this point so this is pure evil from the Hot Scot. He offers Jimmy a pineapple, some bananas and some coconuts so that Jimmy can feel like he’s at home.

Jimmy asks if Piper is making fun of him and we get the famous scene of Piper breaking the coconut over Jimmy’s head. Jimmy goes flying through the set and Piper shoves the banana in his face then whips him with the belt. This set off a HUGE feud over the summer with tons of wars between these two and it’s also why Snuka was in Hogan’s corner at the first Wrestlemania.

Roddy Piper vs. Jimmy Snuka

August 25, 1984 in the Garden again. Snuka starts off with chops and a headbutt. Piper is begging off as is the custom to start a grudge match like this in the 80s. Piper tries a headbutt of his own and when that doesn’t work he thumbs Snuka in the eyes. Jimmy grabs a sleeper and Piper is apparently trying to shimmy his way out of it. They go to the floor with the hold still on.

Piper, more in his element now, is able to break the hold on the floor. Jimmy sends him into the post and is busted open. Jimmy “goes bananas” according to Gorilla, which is a very poor choice of words given what started this feud. Snuka hammers away and hits the headbutt but the top rope cross body is countered into a hot shot and falls to the floor for a countout. Again, they keep the feud going with a non-conclusive ending. Old school booking 101.

Rating: B-. Solid brawl here as you could feel the hatred. This was a house show match though so the ending is understandable. The feud between these guys was great and I’m sure it would be blown off at another house show just like this one. I love old school booking. It’s so much different than today’s. Actually it’s not so different but house shows were the life blood of the company back then.

Junior Heavyweight Title: The Cobra vs. Black Tiger

This is Black Tiger #1 who is a lot more famous in Japan. Cobra fought in Japan a lot more than in America. This is the light heavyweight title of the 80s and it eventually moved to Japan permanently until it was brought back in 97 for Taka to win. This is also from the Garden a few days after Christmas of 84. The title is vacant here. Black Tiger is a British guy under the mask and is billed from England. That’s different.

The fans have no idea who these guys are and are very quiet because of it. It’s clipped from a few minutes after the opening with Cobra in control to Black Tiger working on the leg. Cobra hits a spinwheel kick and a knee drop for two. Gorilla gives an idea of what it’s like to be in a mask and it’s off to a Boston Crab (clipped) by Cobra. Off to a surfboard which only lasts a few seconds.

We go from Cobra hitting the ropes to being in a full nelson. Gene Okerlund pops back on commentary now. Tiger goes up and is slammed down in a clip that is on the Coliseum Video intro. Clipped again (I think) to Black Tiger hitting a clothesline for some of his first offense. Swinging neckbreaker by Tiger sets up more clipping to Cobra taking over. A dropkick puts Tiger on the floor and Cobra hits a suicide dive to get the crowd into it. The selling is straight out of ROH here as Tiger pops up and hits a top rope splash for no cover.

Suplex gets two. Tombstone gets two for the Tiger. I think Tiger is the heel here but it’s really not clear. Cobra hits a tombstone of his own and I think we’re clipped again. Either that or the crowd got going VERY quickly out of nowhere. Cobra goes up and hits a senton back splash to win the title out of nowhere.

Rating: C. Not bad here but it really wasn’t anything to write home about, let alone write a full review of. This was nothing by comparison as it really wasn’t any kind of a fast paced match at all. The top rope move was a nice thing to see as that was still a big move. Not a bad match or anything but just kind of there.

We get a segment of Hogan training Mean Gene for a match with George Steele and Mr. Fuji. I think I’ve reviewed this before but whatever. Gene is having a cigar and coffee and Hogan freaks out on him and makes breakfast for him, which is mainly raw eggs. Gene looks like he lives in a trailer. They go for a run around the lake and some people are there to cheer them on. Gene wants a beer. Day 2 is weight training. This is set to the Coliseum Video theme song and is laughably bad. They train for two more days and Hogan is enjoying this way too much. Gene thinks he’s ready.

Hulk Hogan/Gene Okerlund vs. Mr. Fuji/George Steele

August of 84 in Minneapolis. This is when Fuji still wrestled on occasion so he’s not horrible. It’s all Hogan for the most part of course and by that I mean he wrestles most of the match. Gene in trunks and no shirt is something I NEVER need to see again. Clipped to Steele cheating and taking over on Hogan. Hogan sends him to the floor and struts a bit. Gene high fives Hulk and that counts as a tag. Gene, ever the idiot, tries his luck with Gene….and then dives through George’s legs for the tag. That’s better.

Clipped again to Hulk pounding on Fuji. Fuji tries to throw some salt but Hogan messes that up. Gene puts a knee into Fuji (or something like that) and then Hogan slams Gene onto Fuji for the pin. Yeah I think we all knew that was the ending that was coming here. Gene gets to kick both guys post match.

Rating: D+. Ok yes it’s bad, but at the same time what were you expecting here? I mean, you have to keep in mind what you’re watching when you look at something like this. It’s not going to be a masterpiece and yes it’s very bad, but you have to give it a big bit of slack as there’s a manager and an interviewer out there.

Larry Zbyszko vs. Bruno Sammartino

Now THIS is some legendary stuff. This is the original match where it’s more of an exhibition than a match. Basically Bruno is the teacher who taught Larry everything he knows but Larry wants to prove he can hang with Bruno. This is from January of 1980. This is going to be all feeling out/nice guy stuff until the very end. Sammartino takes him to the mat with a drop toehold and has dominated the entire match so far.

Bruno keeps putting holds on Larry and then lets them go which is an odd choice of offense. Larry grabs an abdominal stretch but Bruno powers out of it. Half crab goes on Bruno but Larry lets it go. Sammartino grabs about his fifth hold and lets go of it too. They try a crisscross and Larry gets tossed over in a hiptoss. He’s getting very ticked off here.

Apparently Bruno said he’d only wrestle defensively in this match. Larry heads to the floor to cool his head and Bruno looks the other way for some reason. Larry comes back in and in the biggest heel turn ever at this point, DESTROYS Bruno with a wooden chair. There is blood all over the place. This was shocking and came out of absolutely nowhere. It also set up the hottest feud of the year which we’ll get to the blowoff of in a second.

Rating: C-. The match itself means nothing as the heel turn is the whole thing. This was one of the biggest angles ever and is still a huge turn that works to this day. They would feud over the summer and would blow it off in front of about 40,000 people in the infield of Shea Stadium. We need to get to that now.

For the next match, bare in mind that it’s from the WWE 24/7 version. Michael Cole and Mick Foley did not do commentary for a tape released in late 1984.

Larry Zbyszko vs. Bruno Sammartino

Wrestling 101 here: Bruno was the mentor, Larry decided he had surpassed the teacher, teacher kept being the star, student attacks the teacher, they go to a baseball stadium and have a wrestling match in front of 36,000 people in a box with no lid on it. Tale as old as time. Old school cage here, as in the kind they have now. NUCLEAR heat on Larry. Bruno gets the only entrance of the night.

We even get clips of Zbyszko’s heel turn which is WAY rare. Bruno jumps him to start and Larry hits the cage 3 times in about 5 seconds. You can only go through the door here and not over the top for no apparent reason. Apparently Larry talks about this match to the point of annoyance. Low blow gives Larry a chance to breathe as this has been very intense so far.

Foley makes another interesting point: Bruno headlined all three Shea shows and only once was world champion at the time. That’s saying a lot. This is the first match with an angle and the crowd clearly knows it. We get into a discussion about whether Bruno would be successful today and the commentators say yes because he was the people’s man. You know, like that blue collar guy that represented the hard working everyman who didn’t like his boss. Someone you could have a beer with. Or maybe a case of them if you get what I’m talking about. Yeah I think Bruno would have worked today.

Almost all Bruno so far. Now we talk about Stan Hansen inspiring Foley to sleep with his wife. Ok then. We hear about Larry and Foley driving together and Cole says how would they get a word in edgewise? Foley says he only talks over Cole because he’s smarter than Michael is. Nice line! Bruno’s arm is bleeding so Larry punches away at it. After nearly ten minutes Larry makes the first attempt at the door, naturally not getting there.

We get into a semi-argument over whether or not Foley ever worked out. Foley seems genuinely pissed off about that and I can’t say I blame him. Bruno wakes up and beats the heck out of Larry, kicking him in the head one more time and walking out to win it definitively. Bruno beats on him some more after the match ends

Rating: C+. Solid match for what it was supposed to be which was a big time brawl. The fans loved it and Bruno decisively won. What more can you ask from them? This was a blowoff to a feud and that’s what they did. There’s nowhere for this feud to go from here and it ended. That’s what gimmick matches are for. LEARN THIS RUSSO!

Overall Rating
: C+. This is a weird one. It’s just such a different era and there are the start of three HUGE angles on here so the historical value trumps almost any other tape you’ll get from this era. This is about 4 months before the first Wrestlemania so you can really see how different things are back here. It’s an entertaining tape, but the drama outweighs the wrestling by about five Big Shows.

 

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