This week Throwback Thursday, with the help of the WWE Network, goes “old school” as we take a trip back to the historic Boston Garden for a night of classic World Wrestling Federation action!
The late summer and early fall of 1986 were a defining time for the WWF. Nine days prior to this Boston Garden event the WWF ran The Big Event in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in front of a then-record crowd of over 64,000 fans. The national expansion of the Federation was kicking into high gear with the debut of Superstars of Wrestling on the same day as this Boston Garden event and Wrestling Challenge the next (September 7, 1986), the new syndicated “A” and “B” shows of the WWF, replacing Championship Wrestling and All-Star Wrestling, respectively. At the same time the WWF was running Boston Garden a second crew was touring Australia, a followup to the successful the previous year, which marked the first WWF tour of Australia since 1966.
On this night, however, with no Hulk Hogan on the card and only one standout main event (Randy Savage versus George “The Animal” Steele) the Garden was more than a third empty, drawing the lowest attendance since the April 26, 1986 event (5,000).
The card was anything but a one match show, but how well does it hold up 32 years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
As for edits, all the local promos and interviews have been cut and only the matches are shown. Context, meanwhile, is decent with the last 17 weeks of Prime Time Wrestling, all previous editions of Saturday Night’s Main Event, and all prior PPVs available on the Network for you to enjoy anytime.
World Wrestling Federation on NESN (WATCH)
Date: September 6, 1986 – Location: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 9,100 – 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: Randy “Macho Man” Savage
WWF World Tag Team Champions: British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)
WWF Women’s Champion: Fabulous Moolah
WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai)
We get the usual WWE Old School open before jumping to Gorilla Monsoon and “Lord” Alfred Hayes at ringside in the Boston Garden. After Monsoon has a bit of fun with Hayes we go up to the ring for our first bout of the evening.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
“The Duke Dorchester” Pete Doherty vs. Sivi Afi
Early on Gorilla mentions that Sivi Afi would like to be called “Toma” (later “Tama”), Afi’s “native name”, while King Tonga would like to be referred to as “Haku”, Tonga’s “native name”. Hayes talks about Afi making an alliance with Tonga, a team that would go on to be known as The Islanders. As for the match, it’s nothing special. Lots of Doherty groaning and grunting, a la Mike Sharpe, and some decent work from Afi. The “Duke” gets a bit of offense in but Afi survives and ends up landing a nice flying crossbody for the pin at 7:02.
WINNER is Sivi Afi (Pin, 7:02)
After replays we go to break and return with the next match in the ring, ready to go.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH)
The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) vs. The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo & “The Golden Boy” Danny Spivey)
By this point the U.S. Express and Hart Foundation were both top contenders for the British Bulldogs’ World Tag Team titles and Monsoon & Hayes do a fantastic job selling this match as a title “eliminator”, helping to explain the story and build stakes. This match is a clinical display of what great tag team wrestling looks like, particularly the brilliant psychology. After U.S. Express get lured into a fight with the Foundation Bret & “Anvil” take over. Eventually Spivey gets the hot tag and Spivey goes to work on the Foundation. In the end Spivey lands a big bulldog on Bret and goes for the pin as “Anvil” interferes. The clock, though, running on a bit of “Titan time”, runs out and the match ends in a draw at 18:32, a similar finish to what the teams were doing in a few cities prior to this event.
NO WINNERS declared (Time Limit Draw, 18:32)
After the match Spivey asks for, but doesn’t get, five more minutes. After replays the Hart Foundation tease a return to the ring only to take a powder.
— WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH)
George “The Animal” Steele vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage(c) w/Miss Elizabeth
This is a great, fun match that, judging by fan’s response, was the most anticipated match on the card. These two tear into each other from the opening bell, gripping the fans in the palm of their hands in the process, and never let up. While it’s no catch-as-catch-can clinic it is a masterclass in respect to psychology, pacing, and the art of less-is-more. Savage uses a foreign object to take control of the match and even crawls under the ring from one side to the other to ambush “Animal”. Steele goes to the floor and swipes a mentally challenged fans wooden folding chair and hurls it into the ring before Savage puts Steele through the wooden security wall. “Animal” survives the security wall and tosses a set of chairs in the ring before cracking Savage in the back with the wooden folding chair for the disqualification at 5:25.
WINNER and STILL WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, Randy “Macho Man” Savage w/Miss Elizabeth (Disqualification, 5:25)
After the match Steele stands in the ring with a wooden folding chair as Savage and Elizabeth scurry to the back. Soon enough Savage returns, waylaying “The Animal” with the same taped object Savage used during the match. Steele fights Savage off, steals the object, and begins tearing apart a turnbuckle for a light, foamy snack when Savage returns again! This time Steele gets the upper hand and beats the bejabbers out of Savage until wrestlers and officials separate the two.
When the fight’s over “Animal” returns to the ring, clobbers the ring announcer for announcing Savage the winner via DQ, and goes after another turnbuckle. Soon enough Steele brings an annoying kid in the ring, who looks like a castaway from Jefferton (“Mayor’s office”), and the two go after the turnbuckle and act goofy.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
“The Number One Frenchman” Rene Goulet vs. Pedro Morales
As longtime WWF fans know these two were no strangers to one another. Monsoon, again, refers to Goulet as the “Michael Jackson of the wrestling world” on account of Goulet’s sequin glove. Hayes, meanwhile, says that both men are “two institutions of wrestling”, Pedro for his tremendous success and Goulet for his lack of it. The match itself is a decent veterans match but the fans can only stand so much before they turn on it. The story is all about Goulet stubbornly refusing to use his signature claw hold which gives Morales the opening to make the comeback late and roll Goulet up for the pin at 10:51.
WINNER is Pedro Morales (Pin, 10:51)
After replays of the finish we get a break and return, as usual, with the next match ready to go.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH)
“The Giant” Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy w/Bobby Heenan vs. The Machines (Big & Super)
The Machines music (and accompanying commentary) is muted, replaced with some generic Godzilla-inspired music. “Big Machine” is Blackjack Mulligan while “Super Machine” was Bill Eadie. This is a decent, nearly all action tag match that fires up the crowd. The Machines fluster Studd & Bundy to the point that the two behemoths nearly come to blows. Near the end Studd & Bundy take control until Super Machine gets the hot tag, at which point the match falls apart. Super hits a massive back elbow on Studd and looks to have the match won when Heenan, who just barely misses his cue, jumps in the ring for the DQ at 9:07.
WINNERS are The Machines (Big & Super) (Disqualification, 9:07)
After the match Heenan gloms Super Machine with a set of knucks before “Brain” and Studd work to unmask Super Machine until Big makes the save. Eventually Heenan gets on the mic and says the Machines shows him nothing and challenges the Machines to find a third man to face Studd, Bundy, and Heenan himself.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
“King” Harley Race vs. Corporal Kirchner
Harley Race had won the second annual “King of the Ring” tournament on July 14, 1986 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, pinning Pedro Morales in the finals, and held his coronation on the August 30, 1986 final edition of Championship Wrestling (a series currently unavailable on the Network), taped August 5, 1986. This one is better than it had any right being. The fans are into this fight for the most part as both Race and Kirchner takes turns beating the stuffing out of one another in and out of the ring. Eventually Kirchner attempts a flying crossbody but Race rolls through to steal the win at 13:47.
WINNER is “King” Harley Race (Pin, 13:47)
After the match Race taints Kirchner, who challenges Race to get back in the ring. After replays Race says that a king “only plays with peasants so long!” Kirchner follows Race to the floor but ends up being beaten down by a steel chair. Race struts triumphantly to the back as we got to break.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
“Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. vs. Cousin Luke
Cousin Luke’s “Don’t Go Messin’ With A Country Boy” theme is overdubbed with some generic banjo fare. Orton, by this time, was “Adorable” Adrian Adonis’ right hand man, so to speak, hence the pink cowboy hat. Though a sizable “boring” chant breaks out in the early goings of this match it’s not all that bad once the two pick up the pace, which is the last 90-seconds or so. In the end Orton catches a hard-charging Luke with a beautiful high knee for the 1-2-3 at 4:13.
WINNER is “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jr. (Pin, 4:13)
After the match we see replays of the finish before going to break, after which the Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff are in the ring.
Nikolai Volkoff takes off his jacket and sings the Russian national anthem to a shower of garbage and boos. As Sheik begins his “Iran number one” shtick the Bulldogs music hits and the World Tag Team Champions make their way to the ring.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship (WATCH)
Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik w/Slick vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)(c)
The Bulldogs were, by this time, one of the most popular and well-known tag teams in all of professional wrestling. As for the match, it isn’t bad for what it is. Dynamite takes the brunt of the punishment from Volkoff & Sheik and it seems as if the Tag Team titles could change hands at any moment. Davey Boy gets the hot tag and ends up putting Volkoff and then Sheik in the bear hug before Sheik blindsides Davey. Iron Sheik cinches in the Camel Clutch on Davey Boy and looks to be moments away from winning the gold when Dynamite clotheslines Sheik before battling Volkoff. In the commotion Davey hooks Sheik in an inside cradle that Volkoff flips over to put Sheik on top. As the referee ushers Volkoff out of the ring Dynamite rotates the inside cradle back the other way and Davey Boy scores the 1-2-3 at 10:57 to retain the World Tag Team titles.
WINNERS and STILL WWF World Tag Team Champions, The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) (Pin, 10:57)
Afterwards Slick raises his teams hands as the Bulldogs’ music plays. As they exit the ring a piece of trash hits Slick in the face and Slick responds by cracking a kid at ringside with his cane. Don’t mess with Slick!
After we see replays of the finish go to a final break. After the break we go to Gorilla Monsoon and “Lord” Alfred Hayes at ringside. Monsoon and Hayes chat about some of the action we’ve seen before Monsoon signs off and the show fades to black.
This isn’t the best Boston Garden show but, as usual, it’s a lot of fun!
With only one real dud (Orton/Cousin Luke) this is an enjoyable show with something to like about every match on the card, especially the Hart Foundation/U.S. Express match, the Savage/Steele encounter, and the Race/Kirchner fight. If you haven’t seen this card it’s well worth the time.
Already subscribed to the WWE Network, are ya? Then relive this classic night of WWF action or see it for the very first time right now! As always, let us know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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