The push to WrestleMania 33 is in full swing!
With that in mind, Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com is looking back to 30 years ago today when the then-World Wrestling Federation produced a classic pre-WrestleMania edition of Prime Time Wrestling, as seen—where else?—but the WWE Network.
27 days before the biggest WrestleMania in history, the road to Detroit and the Pontiac Silverdome was becoming clearer by the day. With the massive card still taking shape and the Hogan/Andre story still developing, there was a lot going on in the WWF in the early spring of 1987. The main focus, of many, on this edition of Prime Time is the WWF World title match between Hogan and Andre, specifically the foreshadowing of Andre’s defeat at the hands of Hogan, done with surgical precision throughout by both Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon.
Much of this edition of Prime Time comes from a February 15, 1987 Maple Leaf Wrestling show at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in front of a near-sell-out crowd of 17,000 fans. Two of the matches (noted below) come from the February 28, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling (taped February 16, 1987) from the New Haven Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut in front of an estimated 8,900 fans.
As for context, it’s not perfect (weekly syndicated TV is still not available as of this writing) but it’s not bad either as there’s 43 prior editions of Prime Time currently available for viewing on the Network, as well as all previous PPVs and SNMEs.
WWF Prime Time Wrestling #104 (WATCH)
Air Date: March 2, 1987
Hosts: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion: “Macho Man” Randy Savage
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart)
WWF Women’s Champion: The Fabulous Moolah
WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai)
After the usual opening credits, Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan welcome us to the show. Talk immediately shifts to WrestleMania III and the historic main event with Monsoon saying that “never in the history of professional wrestling has a match of this magnitude gone down like the match between Andre the Giant and World’s Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan.” Gorilla then thanks “The Brain” for inviting him to Andre’s training camp. Gorilla mentions Andre’s conditioning before telling Heenan, “Andre the Giant is the most dangerous individual, at this particular point in time, of anyone I can think of in the realm of professional sports.” Heenan, eager to gloat, asks Monsoon if he is more impressed now with Andre than he was last week, to which Monsoon agrees.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 2:14)
Sika the Samoan vs. Moondog Spot
Aside from the front chancery there’s not much to this match besides punches and kicks. In the end Sika cuts off a Moondog Spot comeback with a stiff looking Samoan drop for the pin at 6:57.
WINNER is Sika the Samoan (Pin, 6:57)
In the studio Monsoon and Heenan again talk about Andre the Giant’s training camp. Monsoon tells Heenan that Andre isn’t thinking for himself and that come WrestleMania III Andre will have to do it all himself. Bobby explains that he’s doing all the talking and thinking so Andre will have only one thing to think about when he gets to Detroit: Hulk Hogan. Monsoon tells Heenan that kind of thinking can backfire and promises to tell Heenan how as the program goes on.
After a break Heenan is pressing Monsoon to tell him what weakness or flaw he saw in Andre. “What makes you think I would tell you?” Monsoon fires back. Heenan grows irate. “I invited you up there, I foot the bill for ya. Ya ate like you were goin’ to the chair!”
— Singles Match (WATCH – 12:47)
S.D. “Special Delivery” Jones vs. “Outlaw” Ron Bass
This match isn’t all that bad, but it’s no classic either. Bass takes control when the match goes to the outside where Bass posts Jones before slamming S.D. on the floor. Jones makes a comeback but gets caught with a flying back elbow, a la Blackjack Mulligan, for the pin at 6:55.
WINNER is “Outlaw” Ron Bass (Pin, 6:55)
After the match talk quickly turns to the contact signing for the WrestleMania III main event as both men talk about how big and monumental the main event is.
After a break Heenan offers Monsoon a payoff to reveal the flaw Gorilla observed during his visit to Andre’s training camp. “You’re ‘The Brain’,” Monsoon says, “I should have to tell you something?” After some more banter we see the contract signing that first aired on the February 28, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling.
At the table for the signing are WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan, Andre the Giant, and, at the head of the table, WWF President Jack Tunney. Before Andre can sign the contract Heenan tells Tunney he wants a bigger belt made for Andre (which Tunney debuts during “Piper’s Pit” on the March 21, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling) before berating Hogan for not once giving Andre a shot. Hogan, shaking in rage and staring a hole through Andre, slams his hand on the table. “Sign it if you’re gonna sign it!” Hogan snaps, silencing the room. Andre smirks and signs the contract.
President Tunney passes the contract to Hogan who tells Andre that he and Hennan “are both sick. If you wanted a title shot all ya had to do was ask. I’d’ve given ya anything, man. Andre, you were bigger than the World title to me.” Hogan signs the contract, telling Andre he’ll get his attention at WrestleMania. Hogan tells Andre that when he ripped the shirt and cross off his chest he “tore the heart and soul outta all the little ‘Hulksters’, not just me.” Andre tells Hogan that he didn’t teach Hulk everything he knew and that the final lesson will be at WrestleMania III. When Andre starts speaking French Hogan explodes. “Speak to me in English when you talk to me! As far as I’m concerned it’s not signed in ink, it’s signed in blood!” Andre stands up and tells Hogan, “If you want me to speak in English I will speak—in the ring at WrestleMania. Au revoir.”
Next we get a classic WrestleMania III Report hosted by “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Okerlund announces that the final match added to the card will be Jake “The Snake” Roberts versus The Honky Tonk Man and that Alice Cooper will be in Roberts’ Corner. Okerlund runs down the other 11 matches on the card and we get a couple promos from Bob Uecker and Mary Hart. Okerlund announces that Aretha Franklin will sing “America the Beautiful” before reminding us of Alice Cooper and signing off.
After a break Monsoon tells Heenan the size of the World title doesn’t matter. Heenan says Andre wants to be seen in front of the 93,000 fans with the title around his waist. Ego, Monsoon says, will be Andre’s downfall.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 34:49)
Corporal Kirchner vs. Johnny K-9 (sub. for Butch Reed) w/Slick
Before the match Slick announces that Butch Reed has the flu and can’t compete so Kirchner challenges Slick to take his place before running Slick off. There’s a lot of stalling to start this one with the recently deceased K-9 seeming to relish the “boring” chant. Every time Kirchner gets something going K-9 hits the floor. It seems like this was a four minute match stretched way too far. In the end, K-9 seems to have the match in hand when he misses a diving headbutt. Kirchner, after some pounding, hits a sloppy Parachute Drop for the pin at 11:19.
WINNER is Corporal Kirchner (Pin, 11:19)
In the studio Heenan again tries to get Gorilla to tell him what he saw at the training camp before Monsoon runs down the rest of the card on this edition of Prime Time.
— “Six-Man Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 50:36)
The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine) & “Adorable” Adrian Adonis w/Johnny Valentine, Dino Bravo, & Jimmy Hart vs. The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) & “Leaping” Lanny Poffo
WWF Superstars of Wrestling February 28, 1987 (TAPED: Feb. 16, 1987)
This match is fast-paced from bell to bell with lots of tags and action, though there’s little in the way of any real psychology. The finish in this one is a hot mess. Adonis thinks it’s Rick Martel in the corner when it’s actually (obviously) Brutus Beefcake and cuts Beefcake’s hair, thus setting up the eventual WrestleMania III Beefcake angle. Martel takes advantage and rolls Beefcake up for the pin at 3:34.
WINNERS are The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) & “Leaping” Lanny Poffo (Pin, 3:34)
After the match Monsoon calls Adonis a “big dummy” before talking about WrestleMania III being available via closed-circuit and PPV around the world.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 59:22)
King Kong Bundy w/Bobby Heenan vs. Billy Jack Haynes
WWF Superstars of Wrestling February 28, 1987 (TAPED: Feb. 16, 1987)
This isn’t much of a match. We do get, however, one of the greatest crowd signs ever in a “King Kong Big But (sic)” sign, complete with a bare bottom and with oversized anus. As soon as Haynes makes his comeback and gets Bundy in the full nelson Heenan runs in and breaks it up, giving Billy Jack the win by DQ at 1:55. After the match Billy Jack chases Heenan until Hercules runs down and attacks Haynes. Hercules and Bundy then double-team Haynes.
WINNER is Billy Jack Haynes (Disqualification, 1:55)
In the studio Monsoon asks Heenan if he’s got something going on behind the scenes with WWF President Jack Tunney seeing as Heenan has no fear of suspension. “Brain” says that because he manages Andre the Giant he has carte blanche to do as he pleases. Heenan says that anyone who tried to make a fool out one of his Family members will pay a price.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:06:06)
Pedro Morales vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff w/Bobby Heenan
This was still when Orndorff was using Hulk Hogan’s music, which really riled up the Toronto crowd on this night. As for the match, it’s virtually all Orndorff from beginning to end. Morales attempts to make a comeback and hits a leaping crossbody that Orndorff reverses into a roll-up for the pin at 4:30 with a foot on the rope.
WINNER is “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff w/Bobby Heenan (Pin, 4:30)
After the match Heenan and Monsoon argue about Andre the Giant winning the World title and explain that the following match is non-title because it was signed prior to Danny Davis handing the WWF World Tag Team titles to the Hart Foundation.
— “Non-Title Match” (WATCH – 1:15:14)
Special Guest Commentator: Billy Red Lyons (sub. for Bobby Heenan)
The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell) vs. WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhardt) w/Jimmy Hart
This is a very good tag team match (as many of the Foundation/Bee matches were) with plenty of action and psychology. The Hart Foundation control much of this match, using one heel tactic after another to keep Blair from Brunzell. Unable to make the tag the Bees go to the floor and slide on their “bee masks”. Brunzell, the illegal man, gets in the ring and starts taking to it to both “The Hitman” and “The Anvil”, who subsequently collide with one another. Moments later Blair, the legal man, comes off the top with a sunset flip on Bret to score the pin at 8:40.
WINNERS are WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhardt) w/Jimmy Hart (Pin, 8:40)
In the studio Heenan and Monsoon chat about the celebrities who will be at WrestleMania III. After a commercial Monsoon and Heenan talk about Alice Cooper being in Jake Roberts’ corner and George “The Animal” Steele being in Steamboat’s corner. Heenan says this isn’t just another match, Hogan versus Andre, it’s history, that everyone will get to see “the World’s Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan go down at the feet of Andre the Giant.” Monsoon says that that remains to be seen, before signing off.
Featuring a couple of good matches and lots of build for WrestleMania III, this classic edition of Prime Time Wrestling proves that less is often more in the world of professional wrestling.
Though most of the matches leave a bit to be desired the rest of the show is a brilliant demonstration of old school promotion and psychology, one definitely worth checking out if you haven’t yet seen it.
You can watch this classic edition of Prime Time Wrestling and so much more – that is, if you’re subscribed to the WWE Network. Check it out, see it for yourself, and (as always) let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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