THIS RETRO BUSINESS: WWF The Big Event – August 28th, 1986

This was Vince’s McMahon’s first attempt to reach out to a wider audience. As Crockett Promotions was trying to expand, so was the WWF.

Jack Tunney had already been pushing shows out in Canada for a few months and there was a major feud bubbling between Paul Orndorff and Hulk Hogan. They were set to let the whole thing climax in the States at their usual Madison Square Garden stomping grounds…except, as Hogan claimed, MSG wasn’t available…

So the WWF made a bold move: they’d host an event at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, former home to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The event had some issues:
  • 10,000 people were expected…but 70,000+ showed up.
  • Near-freezing temperatures.
  • Seats were promised to ticket-holders but were taken when those people got there. Many had to be re-located and several were left in a standing-room-only capacity.

Nevertheless, the event turned out to be a genuine success and paved the way for the WWF to succeed in the future.

Let’s get going…

We open with a shot of Toronto, Canada. Mean Gene is your tour narrator. He says that Toronto is the home of the Blue Jay’s and the NHL’s Maple Leafs. This is interspersed with shots of TBE action that’s already been taped.

We get a nice sky shot of Exhibition Stadium. Mean Gene says they expect a crowd of 60 to 70,000.

So join the WWF (“and Hulkamania” — wonder if that was in Hogan’s contract) as we watch “THE BIG EVENT”!!!

We are LIVE(!!!) from a sold-out Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Canada!

Gorilla Monsoon, Ernie Ladd and Lucious Johnny Valiant are your announcers.

MATCH #1: Jimmy Jack Funk & Hoss Funk (w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) vs. The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair)
Hoss vs. Blair to start and Blair’s all over Hoss with a hip toss and a slam. Jimmy comes in and gets slammed. Hoss gets slammed again. So does Jimmy. So does Hoss. They retreat and Hart sends them back to the ring. Hoss pushes Blair into his corner but Blair beats on both of them and tags Brunzell in who Hoss hits some uppercuts on. Brunzell hits a nice crossbody and two count. Tag to Blair who hits an elbow off a rope run. He puts Hoss into a wristlock but Blair gets out. Blair hits some hip tosses and slams, however, and it’s a tag to Brunzell. He punches at Hoss who tags in Jimmy. Brunzell hits and arm twist and it’s a series of back and forth tags before Brunzell gets a Sleeper but Hoss saves Jimmy when the ref’s back is turned. Hoss tosses Brunzell outside. Hart taunts him and calls him a wimp. The ref comes over and Jimmy beats on Brunzell as well. Blair goes to clear the heels but gets told to go back to his corner. Brunzell continues to get beat so Blair makes the save again…but, this time, pulls their “bee masks” out and they each put one on. The tired Brunzell stays outside to heel a bit and Blair goes in there to wreak havoc on Hoss, knocking him down. Jimmy comes in and Blair tosses him into Hoss, then hits an Atomic Drop. He puts Hoss into an Abdominal Stretch but Jimmy comes in for the save. The ref pushes him back and the Bees switch places again. When Jimmy comes into the ring, he gets hit with a Small Package pin and the Bees win.
WINNER: Killer Bees via pinall.
GRADE: C+. Love the ol’ Switcharoo cheat. The Bellas did that the other night and it made me smile.

  • Hoss Funk made a short return to NWA, then wrestled in Japan for a good chunk of time before reappearing again in WCW…
  • Ferrin Barr, Jr. (AKA “Jimmy Jack Funk”) left the WWF in 1988. He would wrestle for the WCCW and finish out his career in Portland, doing tag team work. 

MATCH #2: King Tonga vs. “Magnificent” Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Neither guy is liked here. Tonga is, essentially, Haku before he was Haku. He hop tosses Muraco around the ring as Gorilla says Tonga has his “hot Polynesian blood flowing” which, I guess, is supposed to mean that Polynesians are angry all the time and are good in fights. Muraco gets tossed out and then gets back in where Tonga dropkicks him out again. Muraco gets back in and Haki puts him into a wrist lock. Muraco tries to put Tonga into a slingshot but Haku keeps the hold going then goes into an Armbar. Muraco tosses Tonga into the ropes but Mr. Fuji hooks Tonga’s leg going by and Tonga trips and falls. Muraco tosses Tonga out of the ring and then distracts the ref. Fuji whacks Tonga with his cane and jabs Tonga in the ribs. Tonga gets back into the ring. Muraco powerslams him and goes for a nerve hold on Tonga’s neck. After YEARS, Tonga breaks free and the action FINALLY picks up with Tonga hitting kicks and legdrops. He tosses Muraco into the steel post but Muraco reverses and Tonga hits instead, falling down.

Muraco goes outside and slams Tonga’s leg against the ringpost. Back in the ring, Muraco hits a kneebreaker and stretches out Tonga’s leg further as Gorilla calls is straight, Ernie tries to sound smart and Valiant just yells whatever comes into his brain. Muraco hits a falling headbutt to Tonga’s nuts (I’m not making that up) and then goes for the Figure Four. Tonga, however, gets to the bottom rope and Muraco breaks. But Muraco isn’t done with the leg yet. He beats on Tonga some more, then goes to the top rope but Tonga press slams Muraco off the top rope. Tonga hits some chops and then goes to the top rope himself and hits a Cross Body. The ref goes to count and the bell sounds…it’s a draw.
WINNER: No contest.
GRADE: D-. Wow…this sucked. I mean, 20 minutes of slow-moving nothing. I saw 11 minutes of it and was bored as shit.

Next match…

MATCH #3: Ted Arcidi vs. Tony Garea
Arcidi kinda shoves Garea to start. Then Garea hits some shoulderblocks but Arcidi just takes them. Then he gloats because that was awesome. Garea tries a headlock. Arcidi shoves him, then slams him. He picsk Garea up and hits a back elbow off a run. Then he poses because strong. He tosses Garea into the ropes. Garea comes back with shouldertackles and a dropkick. He runs into Arcidi who Bear Hugs him. Garea submits.
WINNER: Ted Arcidi via Bearhug
GRADE: F. Why was this even on the card? 

  • Ted Arcidi was a pro weight-lifter before this. He’s also done some acting in TV shows like Law & Order. His wrestling career didn’t amount to much as he went Indie shortly following this and never got back into the spotlight. He was the strength coach for Triple H and Chyna during the Attitude Era.
  • Tony Garea was coming to the end of a 15-year-old wrestling career at this point, having been with NWA and the WWF. He was a former Tag Team Champion but ended his in-ring career as a Jobber to the Stars. He retired a few months following this event. He is currently a road agent for the WWE, a position he’s held for over 30 years.
Post-match, we get some replays.
Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart who pumps up Adrian Adonis and says they’re gonna get JYD who, at the time, had some strange obsession with trying to rip Hart’s pants off.
MATCH #4: “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) vs. The Junkyard Dog
Just so you understand: I’m watching this on the WWE Network which has, apparently, decided to post an edited copy of this thing. I’m guessing that this was originally three hours long. The version I’m watching is two hours. So, if I’m missing material or I jump around a match, it’s not my fault. Anyhow, there was a cut during JYD’s entrance and, suddenly, Adonis is all over JYD in the corner as Hart jumps on the mat, wearing pink tights and make up and colored legwarmers. JYD fights out and JYD uses his steel chain to punch at Adonis who fights back. JYD starts hitting headbutts and Adonis goes down in the corner. He tosses Adonis into another corner and Adonis falls out of the ring. JYD tries to pull him back in and finally does. He punches Adonis and the ref keeps pushing JYD back, so JYD shoves the ref. Hart jumps up and sprays something in JYD’s face. Adonis puts JYD into the ropes and hits a clothesline and a few splashes. Two count. Adonis tosses JYD out of the ring. JYD lands on his feet and tries to chase off Hart. Hart responds by beating on JYD with a stick but JYD punches him. Adonis goes after JYD for that but JYD gets back in the ring with the ref down. Hart gets on the mat. Adonis tries to attack JYD but hits Hart instead and falls out of ring. The ref calls for the bell and JYD is declared the winner via countout…which makes no sense since Adonis was in the ring, but ok.
WINNER: JYD via countout
GRADE: F. This was terrible on every level. Neither guy did much of anything and this match was clunky and awkward.
 
MATCH #5: “Iron” Mike Sharpe vs. Dick Slater
The fans mock Sharpe by roaring after he roars when Slater puts him in an armlock. After some pacing, Slater kicks Sharpe in the stomach until he rolls outside. The fans throw shit at him which is always nice of them and Sharpe rolls back into the ring. He nails Slater in the head and Slater chases him around the ring as Valiant goes insane on commentary, yelling at Gorilla. Slater works on Sharpe in the corner. Sharpe tosses Slater into the ropes, tries to kick him, but Slater grabs his foor and hits a swinging neckbreaker and Russian Legsweep which Gorilla calls a “Reverse Neckbreaker” and Ernie Ladd quietly corrects him on. Slater hits an elbow off the top rope and hits a perfect flipping pin for the win.
WINNER: Dick Slater via rolling pin
GRADE: C+. Quick match. 
  • Slater was practically buried following this match, as the WWF decided to use him as a Jobber to the Stars. He made a brief return to the AWA but was fired for an incident where he used a plastic bag to choke Ric Flair. He would work in Japan for a few years and then moved on, full-time, to WCW. More on him later.
  • Sharpe became a Jobber to the Stars for the rest of his career until he retired from the WWF and wrestling in 1995. He ran a pro-wrestling school in New Jersey to make a living but the school closed down years ago.
Mean Gene has Bobby Heenan about his upcoming 6-Man Tag Team Match. Heenan looks like he aged about five years in a few months. Heenan says he makes history. Heenan is wrestling. Wrestling is Heenan. Even RAW IS HEENAN. The fans chant, “Weasel”.
MATCH #6: The Machines (Big Machine & Super Machine) (w/ Giant Machine) & Captain Lou Albano vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
A bunch of top heels vs. Lou Albano and Bane Sin Caras. I am convince that McMahon was just throwing shit at the wall at this point to see what stuck. It’s Studd vs. Super Machine. Super tries a slam and Heenan tries to get involved(!) but the ref holds him back. Heenan’s wearing a Bundy onesy as he taunts the crowd for calling him “Weasel”. Bundy gets into the ring with Machine #2 as #1 and #3 switch places. Bundy misses a clothesline and #2 is all over Bundy, hitting a back elbow. Bundy beats on #2 and tags Studd who hits some big club punches on #2. Then it’s Heenan but #1 clubs him. #2 kicks at Studd and tags #1. Studd comes back with an elbow and tags in Bundy who kicks at #1. Studd holds on to #1 and Bundy tries a splash but #1 moves and Bundy hits Studd instead. Bundy recovers and stomps at #1, then tags Studd.
Studd hits a back elbow, then tags Heenan who turns his back on #1. #1 tags Albano and I can finally stop writing numbers for a bit. Heenan is afraid for his life and slaps Albano who proceeds to kick the shit out of Heenan, tossing him into the corner. Heenan manages to tag Studd who who nails Albano, knocking him down, then attacks #1 and #2. This pisses off “Giant Machine” (or “#3”) and he comes roaring into the ring, headbutting the shit out of every single heel he sees and we’re done.
WINNERS: Studd, Bundy, & Heenan via DQ
GRADE: D-. Another terrible match. Par for the course, I’m afraid.
 
Post-match, the beatings continue as Andre–er, #3, clears the ring. Then Giant Machine gets a huge headbutt on Heenan and, thankfully, that’s over with.
  • Lou Albano would retire from wrestling shortly after this but, then, made a short comeback in the WWF, in 1994, managing The Headshrinkers.
  • Robert Jack Mulligan (AKA “Big Machine” & “Blackjack Mulligan”) is part of the famous Rotundo family of wrestlers. He would come back to the WWF as “Blackjack Mulligan” in December of 1986 and wrestle until mid-1987 when he got into trouble with the law for counterfeiting. He served time and turned up in 1993 with WCW for one more run.
  • Bill Eadie (AKA “Super Machine”) would wrestle as one of The Machines until their end in October of 1986. Next year, the WWF would re-brand him as a new character: “Ax” of Demolition.
  • Andre the Giant (AKA “Giant Machine”) was…Andre the Giant, obviously. He would return in 1987 as part of an angle where Heenan would turn him against Hulk Hogan, leading to Wrestlemania III.
MATCH #7: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in a Snakepit Match
The onscreen graphic says “SNAKEPIT MATCH!!!” which, I assume, is short for “Ricky’s got theme music! Jake’s not all Coked out! It’s no-DQ, no-Countout! There’s your three exclamation marks for ya’.” Roberts is all over Steamboat before either guy gets their entrance stuff off. Steamboat responds by back dropping Roberts out of the ring. He gets his robe off and gets back in the ring. Steamboat hits a huge chop and gets two. Roberts tries an arm lock but Steamboat uses that to toss him to the mat and put on a wristlock. He twists Roberts’ arm, misses a chop off a run and then finally hits one on the second go-round, getting a two count. Steamboat nails Jake in the mid-section and he rolls out of the ring. Steamboat follows and it’s a brawl as the two trade blows. Jake blocks a blow and slams Steamboat, then drapes Steamboat across the support platform and drops a knee. Jake grabs a chair but Steamboat knocks it from Roberts hand, then clubs him in the stomach aand head..
Back in the ring, Steamboat climbs the ropes and hits a HUGE chop, getting a two count. He puts Roberts in an armbar, holding him to the mat. Roberts gets to his feet but Steamboat rams Roberts’ head into the buckle and then climbs on him in the corner, punching away. He tosses Roberts into the opposite corner but Roberts reverses and Steamboat gets thrown over the buckle and out of the ring. Roberts slides outside and begins chopping at Steamboat, then slingshots him into the ringpost. Steamboat is busted open and Roberts follows him around the ring, dropping punches. After rolling him back in, Roberts hits some quick jabs and hits the Short Arm Clothesline. He goes for the DDT but Steamboat counters by ramming Jake into the corner. Roberts hits an Atomic Drop and a reverse backbreaker. He sits on Steamboat as the ref hits the slowest count in the world. Steamboat reverses it into a Sunset Flip for the win.
WINNER: Steamboat via pinfall
GRADE: B-. Not bad. Horrible ending, though.

MATCH #8: Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules Hernandez
Haynes and Hercules pumps up this match like it’s the next big thing. Monsoon is solo on commentary for this match as Haynes hits a shoulderblock to start then runs into a Hercules clothesline. This prompts Monsoon to chide Valiant for “running off”, saying he’s already missed “some tremendous action”. Hercules continues in that tradition, taking over with punches, elbow drops and a headlock. He tosses Haynes into the corner but Haynes reverses and the two men end up colliding in the corner. Haynes comes back with punches and kicks, then hits a back elbow off an Irish Whip. After a backbreaker, Haynes goes off the turnbuckle and hits a forearm, getting a two count. Haynes tries the Full Nelson but Hercules manages to break it. Hercules tosses Haynes from the ring. Haynes tries to get back on the mat so Herc just pounds on his chest and Haynes hits the floor outside. Haynes gets back on the mat so Herc hits a suplex to put him back in. Two count and then a big clothesline. Another two count. Hercules complains to the ref so Haynes tries to roll him up for a pin. Two count. Herc goes for a neckbreaker but Haynes counters into a backslide pin for the win.
WINNER: Haynes via pinfall
GRADE: D+. Boring.

MATCH #9: The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond) vs. The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
The Dream Team beats on the Rougeaus to start as it’s a big brawl to start. Jacques tosses Beefcake outside and a NEAR fall after Valentine gets rolled up. Jacques drops some knees on Valentine and tags in Ray who hits a mule kick and gets a one-count. Another tag to Jacques who hits an Abdominal Stretch but Valentine counters with a hip toss and tags Beefcake who slams Jacques. Ray is back in and drops his ass on Beefcake’s chest after knocking him down. Beefcake pushes Ray into the corner, hitting some knees, then tags in Hammer who comes down off the ropes. Hammer hits Jacques outside the ropes and slams Ray, getting a two count.Valentine misses a chop and Ray hits a crossbody for two. Tag to Jacques and the boys double-team with a double dropkick. Jacques tries to flip pin Valentine but gets two. Valentine puts Jacques into the heel corner and it’s a bit of double-teaming. Valentine hits an atomic drop and tags Brutus who comes in and struts. Jacques is put in the heel corner and Ray’s had it. He comes in for a brawl. The heels line up headlocks and try for a double headbutt but the Rougeaus reverse and heels collide.

Beefcake and Jacques end up in there together but Beefcake dumps both of them out. Brutus distracts the ref as Valentine beats up on Ray outside. The heels come over to double team Ray and the ref puts Jacques back into his own corner. Ray crawls back into the ring and gets a huge backbreaker from Brutus who gets the slowest, botched two-count I’ve ever seen. Beefcake tags in Valentine who keeps trying to hold Ray’s arms down and it’s another tag to Beefcake, who stomps on Ray. Ray fights back but Brutus hits a suplex and gets another two count. Tag to Valentine again and he hits a Bear Hug. Ray punches at him, fighting back, and breaks free. He tries to make a tag but Valentine drops a fist…then locks up another bear hug. Jacques tries to make a tag but can’t. Beefcake is tagged back in again and the two heels are all over Ray in their corner. Hammer tries to elbow drop Ray but misses twice and FINALLY we get a tag to Jacques who dropkicks and slams the heels.

Valentine attempts to swarm Jacques and the two heels try a double clothesline but Jacques counters and knocks them down. He goes to the top rope and misses a knee. Hammer tries the Figure Four but Jacques quickly kicks out. Hammer goes back again and hits it. Again, another brawl as all four men get back in the ring. Hammer kicks away at Jacques again and tries the Figure Four but Ray runs into the ring and hits a Sunset Flip for the win even though he’s not the legal man.
WINNERS: The Rougeaus via pinfall
GRADE: C+. This match didn’t need to be that long.

Upstairs, Valiant is losing his shit and calls bullshit.

MATCH #10: “Handsome” Harley Race vs. Pedro Morales
Morales starts beating on Race near the corner and Race falls out of the ring. Pedro goes to pull him back in but Race trips him and both men end up outside. Race tosses Morales into the Timekeeper’s Table, then hits a falling headbutt as Valiant starts mocking Morales’s accent in the most offensive way possible. The action finally gets back in the ring. Race tries a suplex but Morales reverses it. Morales tries for a small package pin but only gets two. Race hits an Irish Whip in the corner but Morales comes back with a Sunset Flip. Morales hits punches in the corner. Race grabs Morales’s legs and pins him by putting his feet on the ropes.
WINNER: Race via pinfall
GRADE: F. Another shit match.

  • Morales was in the twilight of his career here and would retire a year later. He would go on to work for WCW, as a commentator, in the 1990’s. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995. He was an icon in the world of wrestling, specifically in the Latino and Puerto Rican communities and is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time.
MATCH #11: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (challenger) (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Hulk Hogan (champion) for the WWF Championship
Hogan does the usual shtick when gets to the ring. Orndorff clotheslines the fuck out of him and then punches him when he’s down. Hogan comes back much to the joy of the crowd. The ref pulls Hogan off of him by his hair but Hogan comes back with a series of punches and Orndorff rolls out of the ring. Hogan tries to pull him back in but Orndorff drags him outside. He tries to ram Hogan’s head into the mat but Hogan reverses it and rolls Orndorff back in the ring. He hits a clothesline and big elbow, then hits a corner clothesline. Heenan tries to distract Hogan. Orndorff goes for a punch but Hogan blocks it and hits an Atomic Drop, then chases Heenan outside the ring. He gets back in and Orndorff punches Hogan and kicks him while he’s down.
Series of stomps by Orndorff as the crowd is FINALLY alive after almost two hours of crap. Orndorff stomps Hogan out of the ring and then hits a suplex, celebrating once he rolls back inside. Hogan gets to his knees as Orndorff poses and gets to the mat. Orndorff, however, knees him in the face, then stomps him some more. Hogan hangs off the edge of the mat and Orndorff elbows him in the chest and neck. Hogan takes his time getting back to the mat again. Orndorff picks him up and hangs him off the top rope, punching away at him. Finally, we’re back in the ring. The ref yells at Orndorff to back off when he tells him to. Orndorff drops a knee and gets two. Hogan tries to get up but Orndorff hits an elbow and gets two.
Orndorff goes to the top rope and hits a punch to Hogan’s face and goes for the piledriver but Hogan hits a counter with a body drop. Orndorff, however, is still fresh, kicks Hogan and then chokes him. The ref yells at Orndorff again as Hogan gets to his feet. The ref checks on Hogan but Orndorff grabs Hogan and bites at his face. Hogan grabs Orndorff and puts him in a headlock but Orndorff reverses into a Side Suplex. Hogan hulks up as Orndorff celebrates, then hits a knee on Orndorff, causing the ref to take a huge bump. Hogan hits a huge clothesline, then does a weird hip thrust thing. He goes for a piledriver but Heenan rolls in with a stool and knocks Hogan down with it. Heenan rolls out of the ring as the ref tries to wake up. Orndorff covers and tries to count his own “three” which he does several times. The ref taps Orndorff’s shoulder and Orndorff gets up, celebrating with the belt. The bell rings. Heenan puts the belt around Orndorff’s waist. Finkel declares Hogan the winner.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Hogan via DQ.
GRADE: D-. Ugh. Slow and clunky and not one thrill save for the stool spot which SHOULD have put the title on Orndorff but Vince was a coward who didn’t want Hogan to lose any heat. The worst part of Hogan matches is that his mediocre style brings every opponent down with him.
 
Post-match, Hogan clears the ring of Orndorff and celebrates.
OVERALL: This was a solid “D” for me. Terribly booked, slow matches, and horrible production (the commentary and editing were amateur efforts).
 
That’s it.
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