Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas '86 at Maple Leaf Gardens: WWF Wrestling (part two)

Picking up the story from part one of the WWF wrestling show at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens from December 28, 1986 ....

Dick Slater took on Wild Samoan Sika in a match that makes no sense today. But back then, any match with two mid-card guys against each other was a reasonable match. Nowadays, the same top-level guys face the same top-level guys over and over again for months.

Hulk Hogan is given his WWF Championship back after losing a wrestling match at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on December 28, 1986.
Hulk Hogan is given his WWF Championship back after losing a wrestling match
at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on December 28, 1986.
Back then, there was an illusion that the promoter would try to sign interesting fights, and any fight could be interesting. Magnificent Muraco vs. George 'The Animal' Steele? They're not feuding, but sure! Rowdy Roddy Piper versus The Iron Sheik? There's no angle, but hell yeah! You know Piper can cut a promo, so get him out there in front of the camera with Ken Resnick or Gene Okerlund or Billy Red Lyons, and he'll talk people into buying tickets to see the house show like it was a big deal.

Hell, I remember that exact match being set up. I'm not sure they'd even run the Piper babyface turn in summer 1986. Piper was booked against Sheiky Baby at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. He cut a promo that acknowledged the fact that it was a weird pairing, since Piper was still ostensibly a heel, and so was Sheik.



"I don't think they like me in Buffalo," said Piper. "I don't think they give a damn about me in Buffalo! I ain't comin' to win or to lose. Obviously, the Sheik and I have beaten everybody. I think, why did they do this? What you're talking about is a couple of studs. *snort* What you're talking about here is a couple of guys that've never been rode."

Piper then went on a tirade about how the difference between the two of them was simply down to looks. He said Iron Sheik had a nasty, ugly face, and he could only get a woman with a hundred-dollar bill stuck to his forehead. Still, Piper was determined to win, as any good wrestler should be.

"Because I'm gonna use chairs, I'm going to use water buffalos," screamed Piper, his face turning red. "I might grab the kid ... I might BEAT him to death with my canary! But I know one thing for sure ....... I ain't datin' none of his broads!" Exit screen right, and Ken Resnick plugs the show one more time.

Back to Slater vs. Sika. Slater was brought in fall '86 with Koko B. Ware, Kamala, Blackjack Mulligan and Superstar Billy Graham in a big talent injection. Slater was a heel from the South, but he was being packaged as "The Rebel" for the WWF. A babyface. Nobody cared. I don't think he got over in the slightest. And Sika was working his old wide-eyed nonverbal savage gimmick with screaming manager The Wizard. Slater won the match by DQ. I can only presume Sika took Wizard's horn necklace and blated Slater in the head with it. Who cares.

Iron Sheik was next, defeating affable Antiguan jobber SD Jones.

Hercules Hernandez, a pale, long-haired bodybuilder, beat Corporal Kirschner, who bled like a faucet at my first wrestling show in Newmarket earlier in the year. No such gore this time. Kirschner was already doing jobs on his way out the door.

In the only other non-main event on the show, big Russian Nikolai Volkoff came to the ring and had ring announcer Marty order the crowd to stand and be silent and respect his singing of the Soviet National Anthem.

He barely began when a big guy in cowboy gear hit the ring. Blackjack Mulligan pounced on Volkoff and pinned him in mere seconds. Easiest payday of the night right there. Pin me, pay me. The crowd liked it, I guess.

Still to come....

Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in their blue robes prepare to wrestle The Hart Foundation in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on Dec 28, 1986.
Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in their blue robes prepare to wrestle
The Hart Foundation in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on Dec 28, 1986.
.... a rematch from the first wrestling show I ever saw. The Rougeau Brothers vs. Brett Hart and Jim Neidhart, the Hart Foundation. That's coming up in part three.

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