It’s time for a little “old school” action this week in Throwback Thursday as we throw it back 32 years to the day to a classic night of World Wrestling Federation action at the historic Boston Garden, pulled straight from the archives of the WWE Network of course!
With WrestleMania 2 in the books the WWF was cruising, doing their best business, to that point, in company history. Three weeks prior to this NESN event the WWF ran their sixth Saturday Night’s Main Event, which drew an impressive 9.3 rating. Everything the WWF touched, it seemed, turned to gold.
But on this night the fans were packing the Boston Garden for the first Boston showdown between World Champion Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage. Champion versus champion matches weren’t exactly commonplace in 1986 in the WWF, especially one of this magnitude, featuring two of the biggest stars in the wrestling world.
How well does this WWF event hold up 32 years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Edits for the show are minimal. Local promos have been cut and as well as any promotional work for future events. The biggest issue with this event if the lack of any milestone whatsoever, so the time signatures provided below are the only way to really navigate this show on the Network.
Context, for those wondering, isn’t great. While the last month of Prime Time Wrestling and all prior PPVs and SNMEs are available none of the syndicated TV of the day, All Star Wrestling (which ends in 1980 on the Network) and Championship Wrestling, nor All American Wrestling, is as of this writing, available.
WWF on NESN (WATCH)
Date: May 24, 1986 – Location: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 14,035 – TV Rating: N/A
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon & “Lord” Alfred Hayes – Interviews: N/A
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion: “Macho Man” Randy Savage
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)
WWF Women’s Champion: The Fabulous Moolah
WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai & Judy Martin)
Unlike previous editions of Old School we go straight to the ring after the usual opening, no ringside introduction by Gorilla or Hayes.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 0:41)
“Iron” Mike Sharpe vs. Tony Garea
Wrestling’s loudest wrestler (“Yaaah!”, “Raaaah!”), Mike Sharpe, has his hands full with the former five-time WWF World Tag Team Champion Tony Garea in this opener. Plenty of botches and flubs in this one to keep the eagle-eyed fan entertained, as well as the worst slingshot in the history of the WWF/E! Garea controls the first portion of the match until Sharpe makes the comeback. In the end Sharpe survives Garea’s offense and drives Garea face-first into the top turnbuckle to score the 1-2-3 at 11:40.
WINNER is “Iron” Mike Sharpe (Pin, 11:40)
After replays we heard to commercial break with the next match ready when we come back.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 14:34)
Sivi Afi vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
Recently dubbed the “excellence of execution” by Gorilla Monsoon Bret Hart was gaining a reputation as one of the best pure wrestlers not just in the WWF but the entire world. This is a very good wrestling match that tells a good story with great, old school psychology. Eventually Afi makes a comeback and goes for a flying bodypress when Hart rolls through and scores the pin at 10:18.
WINNER is Bret “Hitman” Hart (Pin, 10:18)
We see replays of the finish before going to break. After break the next match is waiting in the ring.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 27:03)
“Mr. USA” Tony Atlas vs. King Kong Bundy w/Bobby Heenan
Tony Atlas has his moments early but this match is all Bundy. In the end Bundy cuts off a late Atlas comeback, hits the Avalanche in the corner, and finishes things with the big elbow for the pin at 6:21.
WINNER is King Kong Bundy w/Bobby Heenan (Pin, 6:21)
We see replays of the finish before heading to a break, after which the next match is ready to go.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 36:06)
Tiger Chung Lee vs. David Sammartino
This was Sammartino’s first match in the WWF since November of ’85 when Sammartino submitted to a Ron Shaw backbreaker on a PRISM event, a match Sammartino was booked to win. This return would last until July of ’86 when Sammartino would quit the WWF to join the AWA. This isn’t a bad wrestling match but the fans are not as forgiving. There’s a dangerous botch partway through where David flubs a deep arm drag and nearly breaks Chung Lee’s neck. As the match continues Gorilla and Hayes are less forgiving of Sammartino and begin to bury the young man. In the end Sammartino manages to grab an inside cradle for the pin at 12:29. After the match Tiger beats up Sammartino and leaves with his heat.
WINNER is David Sammartino (Pin, 12:29)
We see a replay of the finish before going to break.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Champion vs. Champion Match” (WATCH – 50:39)
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. Hulk Hogan(c)
One of the sport’s greatest feuds was in its infancy here. These two first met on September 28, 1985 in Philadelphia and then sporadically around the country and on many of the regional sports networks (MSG Network, PRISM, NESN, etc.) around fifteen times prior to this event. There’s a lot of Memphis-style stalling to start and these two are so over that the crowd pops for any little thing they do!
It takes over five minutes for the match to actually start. Hogan dominates much of the action until Savage manages to get to Hulk’s eyes late in the bout, after which Savage has his way with the “Hulkster”. Savage lands the big flying elbow but Hogan “Hulks up” and hits the big boot only for Savage to roll to the floor. The match breaks down after Hogan clotheslines the referee and Savage ends up blasting Hogan with a belt shot from the top rope to the floor, busting Hulk wide open. The referee comes to and, with Savage reeling in the ring, counts Hogan out at 14:00. After the match Savage grabs both Elizabeth and Hogan’s World title and attempts to flee when Hogan stops Savage in the aisle and drags Savage back to the ring. Hogan attempts to clobber Savage with the World title but Savage rolls out of the ring and runs to the back. Afterwards Hogan poses because, ya know, “Hogan must pose!”
WINNER is WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth (Count-out, 14:00)
We see a replay of the post-match altercation and go to break, after which the next match is in the ring and ready to go.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:15:13)
Scott McGhee vs. Hercules Hernandez
Hercules, who had debuted on TV in November of ’85, was still wearing the Roman soldier getup to the ring, which is a far cry from the chains of the future. This is a decent, psychological match that starts out fast until Hercules slows it down to a crawl, dominating McGhee in and out of the ring. McGhee lands a dangerous snap suplex and makes a decent comeback before running into a huge Hercules’ backbreaker for the 1-2-3 at 8:06.
WINNER is Hercules Hernandez (Pin, 8:06)
After replays of the finish we again go to a break, after which “Leaping” Lanny comes to the ring and reads a poem to the crowd: “Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart has a crew cut and a beard / I’d say he looked like Elmer Fudd, but Elmer’s not as weird.”
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:26:12)
“Leaping” Lanny Poffo vs. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
Neidhart takes it to Lanny from the start until Lanny makes a late comeback. In the end Poffo misses a flipping senton and Neidhart finishes the match with a fistdrop from the second rope for the pin at 5:28. About a basic as it got for the era right here.
WINNER is Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (Pin, 5:28)
We see a replay of the finish before going to break, after which Nikolai Volkoff serenades us with the Russian national anthem.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:33:22)
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner
Kirchner is over, though his work is nothing to write home about. Though it’s sloppy this is a fast-paced, exciting match that has the fans hooked from the start. After a back-and-forth start Volkoff dominates the action. In the end Volkoff attempts to slam Kirchner into the ring from the ring apron when Kirchner rolls through and hooks a sloppy small package for the pin at 7:28, which Monsoon immediately takes umbrage with. Afrchner is announced the winner Volkoff attacks the Corporal, crotching Kirchner on the top rope before stalking back to the dressing room, leaving Kirchner holding his patriotic pills in the rinter Kig.
WINNER is Corporal Kirchner (Pin, 7:28)
After the match we see a replay of the finish that clearly shows Volkoff’s left shoulder off the mat. Monsoon apologizes to the fans as head to break.
— “6-Man Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 1:46:07)
“Luscious” Johnny Valiant & The Dream Team (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Brutus Beefcake) vs. Pedro Morales, “The Golden Boy” Dan Spivey, & WWF World Tag Team Champion Davey Boy Smith
This is a very solid closer that features three WWE Hall of Famers in Morales (1995), the late Johnny V (1996), and Greg Valentine (2004). The heels dominate much of this match, getting all the heat on Davey Boy, until Davey makes the hot tag to Dan Spivey, who debuted in the WWF in October of ’86. Though it’s a one-sided affair, for the most part, it employs some great psychology that sucks the remaining Boston crowd in. The match breaks down late after Spivey hits Johnny V with a running bulldog. In the end Pedro catches Johnny V with his hands in tights and delivers a crushing backbreaker that allows Spivey to score the 1-2-3 at 11:21 moments before Beefcake makes the save. After the match the heels complain about the finish but it stands nonetheless.
WINNERS are Pedro Morales, “The Golden Boy” Dan Spivey, & WWF World Tag Team Champion Davey Boy Smith (Pin, 11:21)
We see a replay of the finish before going to a final break.
After the break we see Monsoon and Hayes on camera at ringside. Hayes and Monsoon chat about the big Hogan/Savage showdown, hint that it’s far from over, before signing off (“Cheerio!”) to end the show, but not before an unnamed individual off camera hands Hayes a bouquet of flowers for a hearty laugh.
This is a fun and historic night of action that features eight WWE Hall of Famers, a decent Afi/Hart match, and the first (classic) Hogan/Savage showdown in the city of Boston. It’s not the best wrestling card from Boston but old school WWF fans will revel in the nostalgia of it all.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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