Induction: The Wrestling Classic – To quote Nelson Muntz, “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title!”

25 Submitted by on Thu, 20 February 2014, 21:00

WWF, 1985

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After the first Wrestlemania, Vince and company wanted to capitalize by throwing all the great wrestlers and Corporal Kirchner and Moondog Spot onto one spectacular themed event. This concept would eventually come to fruition at 1987′s Survivor Series, but an abortive attempt was made along the way in November 1985: it was a similar concept, but instead of a few long matches, fans were subjected to a bunch of really short matches. The same roster on that night’s card could have been put into giant tag matches, but were instead booked into a sixteen-man tournament and squeezed into a three-hour time frame.

See, it’s not just the parts that make the whole great, but how those parts are used, whether it’s wrestlers on a supercard or words in a sentence. That’s how Survivor Series had an “awful lot of wrestling,” while the Wrestling Classic only managed a “lot of awful wrestling.”

And awful it was. Think Wrestlemania IV was bad? What about King of the Ring 1995? While those tournaments excelled in terms of boredom and Savio Vega, respectively, the Wrestling Classic surpassed them in sheer stupidity.

You could tell things would go awry when we saw the tournament board and it was about eight feet tall. This monstrosity, plus a Hulk Hogan title defense, was supposed to fit into three hours. Our hostess, Susan Waitkis, even needed one of those long pointers that school teachers use just to reach the first match. twc01 
twc02  That match was Adrian Adonis (whom Gorilla euphemistically pointed out had “bulked up”) vs. Corporal Kirchner. The announcers noted that Adonis had teamed with Jesse Ventura as the East-West Connection (once winning the AWA tag team titles by forfeit while Verne Gagne vacationed in Europe. Geez, and you thought Shawn Michaels’s excuses were lame).
Just as the announcers were explaining that the 10-minute time limit in the first round meant that the wrestlers couldn’t mess around, Kirchner drove home the urgency of the match by slapping on a rest hold for a solid minute. Was he both being methodical and trying to put Adonis away early? Whatever the case, Adonis scored a victory anyway in 3:22. Unos, dos, adios!
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twc04 Following the loss, Monsoon said Kirchner was “bent out of shape,” which, ironically, were two things that would characterize his opponent‘s impending run as The Adorable One.
In the second match, The Dynamite Kid interrupted Nikolai Volkoff’s singing of the Soviet National Anthem to win in 9 seconds. Nine seconds is also the official length of that year’s King Kong Bundy-SD Jones match. Yes, these two matches supposedly lasted the same amount of time: twc05 
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Fans disappointed with the brevity of the previous match should have been happy to see nearly twice the action in newcomer Randy Savage’s battle with Ivan Putski. Unfortunately, that still only amounted to about 18 seconds of action in 2:47, with Macho Man scoring a dirty pin on Polish Power. twc07
twc08 Three matches in, and you could tell that the name “Classic” was just a marketing gimmick, like that year’s newly repackaged “Coca-Cola Classic,” except at least the soft drink had stopped using cocaine by then.
The Wrestling Classic finally appeared to live up to its name, however, when Ricky Steamboat faced off against Davey Boy Smith in a sure-fire technical masterpiece. The Bulldog from Leeds would get off to a lively start with the man unfortunately dubbed, “Steamer” by Monsoon. Sure, the action cooled off about two minutes in, but Gorilla assured us that the match was “a long way from being over.” Precisely 35 seconds later, Davey Boy dove into the ropes, injuring his groin and losing the match by referee’s decision.  twc09
twc09  The crowd voiced their overwhelming excitement for Steamboat’s abrupt TKO victory, drowning out Mean Gene in his subsequent interview with The Junkyard Dog.
JYD went on to humble the Iron Sheik with a headbutt in 3:27, a marathon by this show’s standards.
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twc12  Speaking of former world champions jobbing in short order, Terry Funk lost in under 30 seconds by countout after his plan to sucker his opponent backfired. His opponent was Moondog Spot.
In a battle of future ECW champions, Don Muraco defeated Tito Santana with a pin, but the referee immediately threw out his decision after being told Chico’s foot was on the ropes. Santana then rolled up Muraco for a cheap victory after the bell had already rung. A classic heel move if there ever was one, tempered slightly by the fact that Santana was the good guy here.
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twc14  Finally, Paul Orndorff beat Bob Orton by disqualification for use of his cast. That made JYD the only face to win clean in the first round. Don’t fret, though, as Junkyard Dog still had three more rounds to pick up cheap victories in.
Lord Alfred Hayes took a short break from forcing himself on our female host to give an analysis of the first round so vague, you could have sworn it was his first time hearing of the results. He seemed completely unaware of any of the first-round shenanigans, like, say:

the nine-second Dynamite match

Savage’s tainted pin

Davey Boy’s TKO

Terry Funk’s instant countout

Tito’s victory after the bell

Paul Orndorff’s DQ victory.

It sounded as though, just maybe, he hadn’t even seen any of the matches. That is, until he declared, “I don’t think you could have seen a better first round anywhere” and removed all doubt.

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twc16 In the second round, Adrian Adonis (who, contrary to urban legend, did not enter to Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House”) fell to the Dynamite Kid with his foot on the rope (a fact completely ignored by Monsoon, who commentated the match solo).
Next, Randy Savage wrestled The Steamer. If you thought his second WWF run as the fire-breathing “Dragon” was bad, imagine what they could have had him do as “The Steamer.” In what could best be described as a teaser for their Wrestlemania match a year and a half later, Savage used a foreign object and pinned Steamboat in 4 minutes with his hand down the front of his tights (Macho Man’s, not Steamboat’s). Sorry fans, but if you wanted to see these two go at it for real, you’d have to pay for it. Again, I mean. Did I mention the WWF charged people to see this? twc17 
twc18  The Federation further lifted its leg on the paying audience with the Moondog Spot/Junkyard Dog match. In this original “Kennel from Hell,” no referee was present, so JYD counted his own pinfall after exactly three headbutts, 33 seconds, and zero opening bells.
In the last quarterfinal match, Orndorff and Santana eliminated each other via countout while “literally exchanging right hands” on the outside of the ring. Were they detachable, Monsoon? By the way, of the 12 matches so far, there had been 2 clean finishes, in case you’re keeping score. twc19
twc20 A Hogan-Piper match, the first-ever WWF title match on pay-per-view, ended in yet another disqualification when Bob Orton interfered barely seven minutes into it. So no, there weren’t very many decisive victories or clean finishes on this card, but as the saying goes, 2 out of 13 ain’t bad.
In the semi-final match, Randy Savage faced the Dynamite Kid. Why do I say the semi-final match? Because the Junkyard Dog got a bye to the finals while his two prospective opponents had to battle it out. JYD was a babyface, for the record.

Just like Steamboat-Savage earlier in the night, this was another certain classic that just wasn’t meant to be. This time around, both men had to feign exhaustion from their several grueling minutes of action earlier in the night, and Macho Man again won in under five minutes.
 

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That’s not very macho.

twc22 Still, three victories in one night was nothing to sneeze at, which couldn’t be said for Savage’s next opponent, who, despite being the good guy, had been allowed to referee his own match and get a free ride to the finals.
Before the finals, though, the WWF attempted to make at least one fan happy he paid to see this show, giving away a car. The good news for Michael Hamley of Batavia, Illinois was that he won a Silver Cloud Classic Rolls-Royce; the bad news was that Federation President Jack Tunney made him forfeit his other car, which was eventually won by Mr. Perfect. twc23 
twc24  As the main event approached, Jesse Ventura rightly pointed out the injustice of Junkyard Dog’s easy road to the finals. Perhaps in an effort to level the playing field, JYD caught Randy Savage’s steel chair and proceeded to smash his own head into it eight times. If this were today’s WWE, Junkyard Dog would have been fined for each of those chair shots. How much? I don’t know; does any mathematician out there know what 8 x (an undisclosed sum) is?
JYD won the match after tossing Savage over the top rope and onto the floor. No, it wasn’t a battle royal; Randy got counted out in the main event… twc24 
twc25 …and Junkyard Dog won the tournament, Berzerker-style.
Jesse Ventura then rushed to the ring to protest JYD’s tournament win, as if one pinfall, a self-awarded victory, a bye, and a countout hadn’t earned him the prestigious victory. Then he left the ring. Not exactly Jerry Lawler “crowning” Bret Hart with his throne, but it was the best finale one could expect from a tournament like this. twc26
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The 1st and last annual Wrestling Classic. That’s pretty bad, considering that both the so-called “One Night Stand” and the “Once in a Lifetime” match ended up getting sequels.

Vince and company then signed off from the “first annual” Wrestling Classic. Or maybe it was the first monthly Wrestling Classic. First weekly? Daily? It really didn’t matter, since they only ever hosted one.

 

The sole Wrestling Classic event was neither a classic, nor did it feature very much wrestling, but that didn’t stop Gorilla Monsoon from hailing it as “undoubtedly the greatest tournament in the history of professional wrestling.” Anyone who plunked down cash to watch this farce, though, would no doubt have preferred any other tournament in the sport’s history…

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…even if it meant staring at a blank screen for Río de Janeiro, 1979.

 

 

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
25 Responses to "Induction: The Wrestling Classic – To quote Nelson Muntz, “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title!”"
  1. Scrooge McSuck says:

    I love tournaments. I hate bloated tournaments on PPV. I think the 1993 King of the Ring (and mild exceptions with 94) is the only one to get it right. Good matches (for the most part) and a deep talent pool.

    • Mike Rotch says:

      KOTR 2002 was pretty decent. Three of the four semi-finalists were either past or future world champions (RVD, Jericho and Lesnar). The other was Test, but he went out to Lesnar so it didn’t matter too much. Shame the rest of the pay-per-view was mostly terrible.

      • Scrooge McSuck says:

        It was decent, but DQ’ed from my list for only being 2 rounds/3 matches and factoring into roughly 25-30 minutes of the shows run-time. When it came to 3/4 rounds crammed into one show and being the dominant aspect of the night, it’s hard to find a great one-night tournament, but I still love them.

  2. Jimbolian says:

    Whole-hardheartedly agreed induction. The only thing this induction forgot to mention was one of the referees that night was so awful that he had no clue what he was doing. As Art Donovan was for commentary, the poor bastard was for referring.

  3. John C says:

    It’s funny since everyone thinks of the late 90′s Raws & Nitros’ as being ridiculous with all the non-finishes to the matches. Run ins, ref bumps, double countouts, double dq’s but this was the grandpappy of them all. How has Super Cena never finished a match yet by counting the pin himself?

    • Mike Rotch says:

      If they did that, Cena would probably refuse to count the pin on himself and insist a referee come down and do it, leading to him losing the match.

  4. The Doctor of Style says:

    Gorilla wasn’t far off. Definitely the greatest *Wrestling Classic* tournament of all time.

    Then again, also the worst Wrestling Classic tourny…

    BTW Art, planning anymore Figure Friday posts?

    • Art0Donnell says:

      Maybe in the summer, I’ll do some more non-Raw posts on my blog. When I started the blog, I wasn’t employed, so I could do three or four posts a week, but now I’m teaching full-time.

      • The Doctor of Style says:

        Okay. As important as it is to analyze Hasbro figures, admittedly your priority is to shape the minds of the new generation (and not the mid-90s WWF kind).

  5. patricko says:

    Saw this on WWE Classics on demand (or whatever it’s called.) I had never heard of it before, which got my attention because I’ve been watching for 30 + years. Thought it would be cool to see Steamboat and the dynamite kid and Savage…

    I was stunned by how terrible it really was. Most notable was the odd rules.
    The Davey Boy Smith stoppage and JYD’s counting his own pin especially stood out.
    Kept thinking they’ were rushing through it all so that there’d be time for a payoff at the end.
    Nope.

  6. patricko says:

    WWE suffered from a lot of bad viewing around that time, and a bit earlier. There was a ton of bad BAD wrestling via MSG television or some such. 10 minute matches between nobodies featuring very little action. Someone paid to televise them….

  7. king1836 says:

    Supposedly, this was the WWF’s first-ever PPV. If true, it was a horrible beginning LOL

  8. Alexandru says:

    Dam this seemed like one gigantic mess, as, of course mentioned, way too many matches, barely anything clean, and for some reason all the babyfaces acting like heels. Too bad as there really was a lot of talent on this card. It’s like thus PPV was a rib on all the guys to see who could have the shortest match ever for his career.

  9. Doc 902714 says:

    “The good news for Michael Hamley of Batavia, Illinois was that he won a Silver Cloud Classic Rolls-Royce; the bad news was that Federation President Jack Tunney made him forfeit his other car, which was eventually won by Mr. Perfect.”

    I wonder if there ever was a Michael Hamley of Batavia, Illinois and was he actually WORKING for WWE at that time

    Plus I don’t get the second part of the sentence about him having to forfeit his other car to Mr. Perfect, unless it has something to do with the Mr. Perfect and Shawn Michael’s brawl on an early MNR episode where they brawled on top of a car in the parking lot. I thought the car belonged to Howard Finkel. Huh?

  10. Mike says:

    “Jesse Ventura then rushed to the ring to protest JYD’s tournament win, as if one pinfall, a self-awarded victory, a bye, and a countout hadn’t earned him the prestigious victory”

    LOLOLOLOLOL!

  11. Thomas Moffatt says:

    To steal a line from Krusty the Clown – I WANT TO MAKE A COMPLAINT!!!!!!

    In the Lord Alfred Hayes break section no comment has been made about the expression McMahon is wearing – surely you could up with a comment??? Personally I think you should redo the induction and pass comment on McMahon’s expression…

  12. TerrierChad says:

    I always found it strange that I’ve never seen this available on video here in the UK. Seems like they tried to forget about it.

  13. Thun says:

    Great Induction, lame event. How the hell did they even consider this an idea worthy to be done back then?

    And even though I hate to sound like the Grammar Nazi, Rio doesn’t have an accent, Art.

  14. Lucas V. says:

    I love this induction for referencing one of my favorite Simpsons episodes – Bart on the Road! :D

  15. Huw Roma says:

    Pretty labored induction. At this point maybe the entire history of wrestling can be inducted in one go.

  16. Evil Bazz says:

    “The Bulldog from Leeds would get off to a lively start ”

    Nope, he was from Wigan a full 46 miles away from Leeds, also WWF whilst i’m at it, he wasn’t from Sheffield, London or Manchester either!
    The adventures of Davey Boy Smiths place of birth always made me laugh as a kid, just pick one and stick with it! is it that hard?

  17. Mattie says:

    I don’t know… I thought this event was pretty exciting for the time period it was released.

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