The term “hoss fight” gets thrown around a lot these days it seems, but in reality, such a thing is nothing new in pro wrestling. In fact, it’s what the business was largely built upon – two giant meaty men clobbering each other with reckless abandon. And truth be told, we are pretty fortunate with what we get in 2022 in that regard: on a weekly basis it’s not uncommon for us to get something like Keith Lee vs. Powerhouse Hobbs in AEW while WWE could match up Brock Lesnar with say Bobby Lashley in
pay-per-view premium live events. And you know what? I feel pretty confident either of those would be a lot of fun to watch.
I can also promise you, without hesitation or fear of reprisal, that either would be approximately 10 gazillion times better than what we are going to review here today on our trip to the Boston Gardens on August 9, 1986. If you’d like to torture yourself and join along, this fiasco is in the WWE Old School section on Peacock. Watch it if you dare, but I warn you ahead of time to make sure you have some No-Doz nearby.
The bout in question would feature “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas versus Boston strongman Ted Arcidi. Woof.
There’s a possibility you’ve heard of Atlas – after all, he was featured in the WWF for quite some time not only in the ring, but also bringing him back after he retired for such fair as Legends House and The Abraham Washington Show, the latter of which was of such fantastic quality that we inducted it several years ago (and you can access it by clicking rightchere).
His opponent for this evening, however, may be something of a mystery to you.
Ted Arcidi was a power lifter in every sense of the word, the first man to legitimately bench press over 700 pounds. This wasn’t some phony baloney Dino Bravo BS, this was a guy who could lift a freaking musk ox over his head and do some reps. Short but powerful, it made all the sense in the world that he would wind up in professional wrestling.
It probably would also make sense he wouldn’t be, you know, good at it or anything simply due to the fact that he was the very definition of musclebound – the dude had all the nimbleness of a fully stocked refrigerator. And by this point in his waning career, Atlas wasn’t the most fleet of foot either.
With all that said, for whatever reason, the WWF decided to pit these two against each other in a battle of the bulls to see what would happen.
Now rest assured, the company tried to make this a titanic struggle, with television commentators Lord Alfred Hayes and Gorilla Monsoon hyping up the battle prior to introductions as best they could. As the two men eyeballed each other, Lord Alfred tells us that Arcidi has “won almost all of his matches on the strength of his power alone.”
I’ve always thought Al was kinda a bizarre choice for a commentator, but cramming the words “strength” and “power” in the span for four words make it clear he knew what his boss liked.
With the formalities out of the way, the foes lock up to begin this battle of burly brutes. Indeed, there’s so much tension it nearly takes Arcidi out of his Pony tennis shoes.
Anyone else ever have those? Those little white shoes with the single red chevron running across them? I can only assume that Ted had a deal with them because you NEVER saw him without those on his feet.
Which leads me to another question – why has no pro wrestler ever had a deal for shoes?
Did Roos short change Lex Luger (err, “Mr. Total”) on his deal back in the 80’s or something?
I have to believe that if Cody Rhodes had a deal with Skechers shoes would fly off shelves.
Especially if they had pockets for your stuff.
But I digress, let’s get back to the match.
So Atlas and Arcidi simply break apart from their lock up for no good reason, look around a bit, then lock up again. After about 45 seconds of, well, nothing much, they give up the lock up once more and decide to change things up with…
…a STANDING WRIST LOCK.
Which is essentially just a very slightly modified version of a lock up.
I should note that both men were good guys at the time, with Gorilla pointing out the crowd isn’t sure who to cheer for despite Arcidi being from Boston. I guess that was Monsoon’s way of covering for the deathly silence emanating from the stands.
Finally, Arcidi is able to back Atlas into the ropes to get a break, which leads to…
…a TEST OF STRENGTH!
Call me a cynic, but this is a tad bit repetitive. We are fully three minutes into this bout, and they’ve literally done nothing but LEAN against each other.
Even the always positive Alfred is starting to lose patience, chiding “I’ve yet to see Atlas try a wrestling move!”
And indeed, Gorilla starts telling us about the technical prowess of Atlas, regaling us with stories of his fantastic dropkicks and head scissors.
What we SEE however is him being gently pushed back into the corner…and then being released unharmed.
Alfred continues “There’s not been a great deal of movement so far.”
A “great deal” of movement? Dude, it’s been more than five minutes and there’s been ZERO movement.
Perhaps hearing the catcalls of the fans or Hayes’ admonishment, Atlas goes crazy and give us an honest to goodness HIGH SPOT!
I mean, look at that – he went airborne and everything with that head butt!
And Ted even took a bump!
Ain’t no stopping us now!
Now it’s Arcidi’s turn to go loco, going completely crazy with get this…a BODY SLAM!
You may think with his obvious power he’d hurl Atlas halfway to Andover, but nah, he just kind sets him down to the mat without much impact.
And now the tables are turned as we get a body slam by ATLAS!
My head is spinning from all this action!
Thankfully we get a breather from this nonstop thrill fest with yes, you guessed it…
…ANOTHER LOCK UP.
At this point Alfred notes they’re not moving too fast. For his part, Monsoon is a bit more blunt, having completely lost his patience: “both guys are walking around the ring like they’re on death’s door. I think rigor mortis may be setting in at any moment!”
Can you believe people used to lambast Gorilla for being a BAD commentator?
The defendants would like to present this as Exhibit A to the contrary.
Finally, we get a bit of lateral movement, with Arcidi whipping Mr. USA into the ropes and following up with a…clothesline?
Maybe kinda sorta?
Much like myself, Gorilla isn’t impressed: “Well that didn’t hurt him, unless he somehow hurt himself falling down to the mat!”
Atlas fights back with a wacky one-foot drop kick that looks like a total disaster. I mean, it’s not quite Erik Watts level bad but it’s in the ball park.
And now Alfred joins Gorilla in the bury both men club, proclaiming “Atlas can do better than this I’m sure!”
A second rope (!!!!) elbow to the top of the noggin drops Atlas to his keister.
At this point both Monsoon and Hayes are quite literally begging for the match to end, with Alfred coaching Arcidi to “Come on, turn him over. What a lackluster performance!”
Just when all hope is lost, Arcidi whips Atlas into the ropes and we get something I’ve never seen before:
A DOUBLE BEAR HUG!
No joke, both men are now just standing in the middle of the ring hugging each other like two long lost friends.
Two long lost friends who decided to take their shirts off and sweat all over each other.
That sounds like a very creepy and weird family reunion I want no part of.
Then the pair muscle each other into the ropes and decide to jump out of the ring together…
…and get counted out as they continue their never-ending test of strength into the audience, nearly crushing a young boy’s leg in a chair underneath their mighty combined girth. That kid really looks like he’s in a lot of pain.
In the interest of fairness, I should note for all the bad I’ve said about this match, I have to give Arcidi and Atlas credit – I’ve been following this great sport for nearly forty years and I have never seen THAT as a finish before.
I mean, I’ve seen a lot of stupid, STUPID conclusions to matches in the past, but never one quite that dumb.
Take a bow gents.
Somehow they continue hugging each other until they are back at the ring apron and now the REF gets in the middle of the lock up somehow as well. Yes, kids it’s a…
Finally the two are separated, and after much staring and mean facing each other, wherein the fans actually start to make some noise and get interested…
…they shrug and end with a hand shake.
To which Boston, the home of Arcidi may I remind you, boos both guys out of the building.
Can’t say as I blame them, but seriously, did you want a rematch or something?
Count your blessings, kids – count your blessings!