Throwback Thursday: WWF Prime Time Wrestling #121 (June 29, 1987), As Seen on WWE Network

June 29, 2017 by Brock Allen

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This week Throwback Thursday, with a little help from the WWE Network, takes a trip in the WABAC Machine 30 years to relive a classic edition of Prime Time Wrestling!

By the summer of 1987 the World Wrestling Federation was in the midst of the biggest boom in industry history. With WrestleMania III (the single biggest event in wrestling history) in the books the WWF’s push to take over the word went into overdrive. Television production reached new heights, with each weekly show looking like Saturday Night’s Main Event, and the quality of the in-ring product dramatically improving with the influx of some of the sport’s greatest talent.

Unfortunately this period marked the very beginning of the end of the wrestling boom of the ’80s. While the WWF would remain hot for some time, contractions in the rest of the industry would lead to the eventual collapse of many of the key territories. By the end of 1988 Bill Watts’ UWF, Fritz Von Erich’s WCCW, Verne Gagne’s AWA, Jerry Jarrett’s CWA, Dick the Bruiser’s WWA, Championship Wrestling from Florida, Bob Geigel’s Heart of America Sports Attractions, Don Owen’s PNW, and Jim Crockett Promotions were either running off fumes, ceasing operations, or being sold. When the dust settled the WWF would be the only major independently owned promotion left in the United States.

Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon Hosting WWE Prime Time Wrestling
Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon Hosting WWE Prime Time Wrestling

Context isn’t great here, but it’s not too bad. 60 previous editions of PTW, all previous editions of Saturday Night’s Main Event and Tuesday Night Titans, as well as all prior PPVs, are currently available for your viewing pleasure on the Network.

WWF Prime Time Wrestling #121 (WATCH)
Date: June 29, 1987 – Hosts: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan

WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion: Honky Tonk Man
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart)
WWF Women’s Champion: Fabulous Moolah
WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai)

After the usual opening (the original opening theme has been overdubbed) Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan welcome us to the show. Gorilla immediately begins hassling Heenan for X-rays to prove his neck is in fact injured from Ken Patera’s attack at the Heenan/Patera debate (2:02). Heenan says there’ll be X-rays but Monsoon is skeptical. Monsoon talks about the main event, Hart Foundation against the Killer Bees, before calling Heenan out for Jimmy Hart having all the hot talent. Heenan says it’s a conspiracy that none of his family members are on the show.

Singles Match (WATCH – 2:19)
Terry Gibbs vs. Brad Rheingans
WWF Wrestling on CKCO-TV June 1, 1987 (Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

Prime Time Wrestling on WWE Network - Terry Gibbs vs. Brad Rheingans

Rheingans, who came to fame in Verne Gagne’s AWA, began working WWF house shows in January of ’87 before making his TV debut in March. Terry Gibbs, meanwhile, was one of the eras most notable and well known “enhancement” talents. This one is a back-and-forth rest hold bonanza. After Gibbs gets some offense in Rhiengans cinches in a rolling cradle for the win at 8:49.

WINNER is Brad Rhiengans (Pin, 8:49)

After a break Gorilla and Heenan talk about the WWF Superstar action figures in front of them, paying special attention to Bobby Heenan’s which Monsoon has put a small neck brace on. Heenan grills Monsoon about X-rays of his prior injuries before heading to the next match.

WWE - Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan Action Figure with Mini-Neck Brace!

Singles Match (WATCH – 12:32)
“Iron” Mike Sharpe vs. Hillbilly Jim
WWF Wrestling on CKCO-TV June 1, 1987 (Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

Hillbilly’s entrance, as usual, has been overdubbed. There is a lot of stalling to start this match and not a whole heck of a lot of action. Interestingly enough, the mid-match banter between Heenan and Monsoon about X-rays is more entertaining than the actual match. Sharpe dominates the majority of the match until he puts a foreign object in his forearm protector. Hillbilly blocks the forearm, smashes the loaded forearm back in Sharpe’s own face, and scores the pin at 9:34. After the match Sharpe goes after the referee until Hillbilly Jim makes the save.

WINNER is Hillbilly Jim (Pin, 9:34)

After the match Monsoon and Heenan discuss the Jim/Sharpe match before talking about Miss Betty bringing the X-rays to the studio before the end of the program. Monsoon implies Miss Betty offered certain “favors”, something Heenan seems to condone as he brags about her being the “top secretary in the country.”

Next “Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews the brand new Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion The Honky Tonk Man and his manager Jimmy Hart. After some humorous chitchat between Okerlund and Hart, the Honky Tonk Man, strumming a guitar that is obviously out of tune, enters the frame talking about not being able to win without his fans support. Honky Tonk tells “Mean” Gene that Peggy Sue has the Intercontinental belt, that “she’s makin’ sure it’s just right for the Honky Tonk Man.” Honky Tonk says he’ll wear the belt for his fans everywhere he goes.

WWE - Honky Tonk Man & Jimmy Hart Backstage Interview
WWE - Jake 'The Snake' Roberts Face-to-face with Hillbilly Jim

After a break Heenan produces the X-rays and prepares to show them when Monsoon tells him to wait, that there’s a special feature on Jake “The Snake” Roberts that they need to get to first.

Next we get a Snake Pit from the June 13, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling with Hillbilly Jim and Little Beaver. Roberts tells Beaver he’s a lucky to be alive after taking a slam and elbow drop from King Kong Bundy at WrestleMania III, which we see highlights of as they speak. Hillbilly says it was lowest thing he’d ever seen, that Bundy is a coward, and that Hillbilly Jim can’t wait to get his hands on Bundy. Little Beaver says he was hurt and in the hospital and that he’s back to help Hillbilly Jim get even with King Kong Bundy. “It takes a big horse to pull a big load,” Hillbilly says, “and I’m one big horse, King Kong Bundy.”

Heenan and Monsoon talk about the Snake Pit before Monsoon asks Heenan to review the X-rays. Heenan tells Monsoon to wait until the end of the show to make a big deal out of it, that they don’t have enough time to look at them and for Gorilla to offer a proper apology.

WWE Prime Time Wrestling - Heenan & Monsoon with Hasbro Action Figures on Desk

After a break Monsoon and Heenan talk about Junkyard Dog’s continued problems with “King” Harley Race, Heenan calling JYD “a thief.”

Singles Match (WATCH – 34:20)
Terry Gibbs vs. Junkyard Dog
WWF Superstars of Wrestling June 13, 1987 (Taped: June 2, 1987)

This one is a squash. After a few moments of action and Gibbs offense, JYD hits the Thump for the pin at 3:43.

WINNER is Junkyard Dog (Pin, 3:43)

In the studio Monsoon says he can imagine JYD delivering the Thump on Harley Race but Heenan retorts that JYD fears Race and will never get the “King” in that position. Monsoon wants to get into the X-rays but Heenan again tells him to wait.

Singles Match (WATCH – 40:07)
Frenchy Martin vs. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo
WWF on NESN June 6, 1987

Prime Time Wrestling on WWE Network - Frenchy Martin vs. Lanny Poffo

Prior to the match Poffo recites a poem about Heenan, who is doing color commentary with Monsoon and Craig DeGeorge at ringside, being in fear because Ken Patera announced that “weasel hunting season now is here”. Despite his role as “enhancement talent” Frenchy Martin is as smooth as ever, with every move meaning something. This one is all Frenchy which, makes the match watchable. In the end Poffo makes a short comeback and hits a moonsault for the pin at 4:48.

WINNER is “Leaping” Lanny Poffo (Pin, 4:48)

In the studio Monsoon warns Heenan to never walk out on him again as did during the prior match, telling the “Brain” that Poffo’s poem “fit right in.” Monsoon then opens Heenan’s X-rays and pulls out an X-ray of someone’s lungs, which Heenan tries to explain in classic fashion!

After a break Monsoon is still poring over the chest X-ray, telling Heenan that he’s in trouble with curvature of the spine, which Heenan runs with.

Singles Match (WATCH – 49:52)
Jose Estrada, Sr. vs. Sivi Afi
WWF on NESN June 6, 1987

Prime Time Wrestling on WWE Network - Jose Estrada vs. Sivi Afi

This match marked Estrada’s unofficial WWF TV return for the first time since June of 1983. This actually aired, nationally that is, two days after Estrada’s official WWF TV return on the June 27th edition of Superstars of Wrestling, a quick loss to Koko B. Ware. This one is painfully slow at times. Estrada controls much of the match until Afi gets going in the latter portion. Afi looks to be on the verge of victory when Estrada reverses Afi’s high crossbody into a cradle for the pin at 9:48.

WINNER is Jose Estrada, Sr. (Pin, 9:48)

In the studio Monsoon reviews another of Heenan’s X-rays, this time of the feet, which leaves both men dumbfounded. Monsoon tells “Brain” there are no more X-rays in the envelope. “Well that’s it,” Heenan says, “Miss Betty’s done.”

After a break Monsoon apologizes to the audience for not producing Heenan’s neck X-rays as promised. “I know how silly it sounds,” Heenan says, “but how many times have any one of you people gone to a hospital, been to a hospital, and heard about X-rays getting mixed up? They’re only that thick. Anything can happen.”

Tag Team Match (WATCH – 1:02:59)
The Shadows (Shadow #1: Randy Colley & Shadow #2: Jose Luis Riviera) vs. Paul Roma & Jim Powers
WWF Wrestling on CKCO-TV June 1, 1987 (Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

Prime Time Wrestling on WWE Network - The Shadows vs. Paul Roma & Jim Powers

Well, this is what it is, as they say. Lots of side headlocks and slow action in this one. While Jim Powers looks great, Roma looks borderline silly at times with his goofy selling (he grabs his stomach after an atomic drop) and wide eyes. Roma spends much of his time on the outside of the ring, beaten from pillar to post by the Shadows. Powers finally loses his cool and jumps into the fight to save Roma and the the match break down to a brawl. Eventually Roma comes off the top onto to Shadow #1 for the pin at 14:03.

WINNERS are Paul Roma & Jim Powers (Pin, 14:03)

In the studio Monsoon takes Heenan to task over not producing the proper X-rays.

Next “Mean” Gene interviews Koko B. Ware who says the fans excite him and Frankie, and expresses his shock at Honky Tonk Man defeating Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental title. Koko then says he’s keeping his eyes on Danny Davis, who says he wants to teach “how to wrestle real, real go so he can pay his dues.”

“Non-Title Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 1:22:56)
The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell) vs. WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) w/Jimmy Hart & Danny Davis
WWF Superstars of Wrestling June 20, 1987 (Taped: June 6, 1987)

Prime Time Wrestling on WWE Network - The Killer Bees vs. The Hart Foundation
WWE - The Killer Bees Beat The Hart Foundation!

As one would expect, this is a great tag team match, despite the time constraints. I can’t remember ever seeing a lousy Bees/Foundation match. The Bees try and take advantage but Davis’ repeated interference kill the Bees momentum. Soon Davis is escorted by police away from the ringside area and the Bees slip on the Bee Masks. Blair tries to sunset flip Bret but the “Hitman” holds on to the second rope. When Neidhart runs in Brunzell flips over Bret with a sunset flip, Blair rolls out, and the Bees win at 4:24.

WINNERS are The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & “Jumpin'” Jim Brunzell) (Pin, 4:24)

In the studio Monsoon and Heenan discuss the refereeing and the cheating in the previous match. Monsoon says that the moment a manager gets involved in the match it should be over.

WWE - Gorilla Monsoon 'Punishes' Bobby Heenan, No Telephone for You!

After a break Monsoon tells Heenan, “I’m gonna treat you just like I would treat one of my kids when they were children. I’m gonna punish you for all the little things that you do. Next week you will be without a telephone. That will be your punishment for next week. No telephone for you.” Heenan refuses to comply, saying the telephone is his. Heenan then knocks over all of the wrestling figures from the table and grabs the telephone, holding it close to his chest to protect it. The credits roll with Heenan turning his back to Monsoon and the two sitting in silence as the camera zooms in on the Booby Heenan action figure, with makeshift neck brace, face down on the floor.

Final Thoughts

The main event is definitely worth watching, as are the segments between Heenan and Monsoon, but the rest of this particular show unfortunately features far more misses than it does hits.

Though the matches might not be the greatest it’s still an entertaining edition of Prime Time Wrestling and good way to spend a nostalgia-filled 90 minutes.

WWE - Prime Time Wrestling Logo with Bobby Heenan & Gorilla Monsoon

Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then head on over there and see this classic edition of PTW for yourself. And, as always, let us know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!

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8 Comments left on this article...

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  1. LP1 says:

    I noticed you mentioned how the original Prime Time theme song was dubbed over. I just went back and checked the Network and it turns out the original 1985-1988 theme song is now completely dubbed over on every episode. That is strange since the original theme was on the Network for the last couple of years. They must have recently re-uploaded every one of those episodes with the dubbed over theme. I always thought that was an original WWF theme song. And they did the same thing with TNT. For years the Network had all of the episodes with a slightly modified version of the original theme song, but now they must’ve also recently re-uploaded every TNT episode with a completely new dubbed over theme. I wonder why.

    • Brock Allen says:

      Hello LP1. I noticed that as well. A few months back, maybe more, when they were starting to change the music on the newly uploaded PTWs I went back and checked and the music was still intact on the earlier episodes. In respect to TNT I noticed the original theme was still intact on earlier episodes in May of this year, so the changes to TNT must have been very recent while the changes to PTW happened some months ago. It is very strange. I’ll look into it and if (a big if, I will admit) I find any answers I will let you know. I am just as curious as you as to why this is the case.

      Thanks for reading LP1 and taking the time leave your thoughts. Have a good one!

  2. Mark Markson says:

    Love that show. I have just finished watching the episodes from 1986. Although not all episodes from 86 are good, there are some where most of the matches are pretty boring. But the awesome team of Gorilla and Heenan makes up for it. I was very happy when more episodes from 87, 88 and 89 were added to the Network.

    I have fond memories of watching Prime Time every Friday night back in the late 80es/early 90es. Can’t wait for those episodes to be added, but I guess that won’t happen this year. But that’s fine. I have more than two years of Prime Time episodes to watch. 🙂

    • Brock Allen says:

      Hello Mark Markson. I too am very find of the late ’80s/early ’90s portion of PTW. I liked the round table format (for a time) and I especially liked the live audience format. Heenan was so good in front of a crowd. I feel the same way about the addition of these episodes. Who knows, they may surprise us and throw another few years our way, ya know? At the same time, I figure there’s only so much a person can watch at one time. It’s going to take a person a long time to get through two years of PTW at a moderate pace.

      Thanks for reading Mark Markson and taking the time to leave your thoughts. It’s always appreciated. Take care!

  3. brandon vendetta says:

    I miss this show so much. I grew up in the 80s and was lucky enough to watch this every week. No the show didn’t feature the greatest matches all the time but the great thing about it was Monsoon and Heenan. They were a great pair and sometimes hilarious to watch. I really need to get the network. Are all the prime time episodes on there? I really don’t know. But anyway such a great show from wrestlings past.

    • Brock Allen says:

      Hello Brandon Vendetta. No, every edition of PTW is currently NOT on the Network. As it stands PTW runs from April of 1986, with #61 (I believe that is the episode in which Bobby replaces Jesse as co-host), to July of 1989 and #227 (featuring the second “Bobby Heenan Show”). Considering there is so much content on the Network and so much to be uploaded there’s no telling when they will add more to PTW. They usually do one major content “drop” a month that, in the case of program like PTW or NITRO or RAW, covers two years if not a little bit more. So it’s safe to say that the next PTW drop will carry the program to July of 1991 if not a little beyond.

      I, too, watched PTW in real time and loved every minute of it. There is still nothing quite like these two in all of wrestling.

      In respect to the Network itself, I’ve always found it to be a great value. Even if you only watch a handful of programs a month, be it archive or original, the fact that they include all PPVs is good enough for me. But, if you’re not a fan of the current product and you simply don’t watch then the archives (which have expanded immensely to include all RAWs, SDs, NITROs, ECWs entire TV library minus home video supercards, all but 1 edition on TNT, and a ton of other stuff) are the biggest selling point. Being a fan of 30-plus years the Network, for me anyways, is something I can’t live without.

      Thanks for reading Brandon Vendetta and taking the time to leave your thoughts. I hope I was able to help with your questions concerning the network. If you have any more feel free to ask! Have a good one!

  4. RCS1988 says:

    What were the quality issues with Afi Estrada?

    • Brock Allen says:

      Hello RCS1988. I have no clue. The graphic pops up at the very beginning of the episode and periodically throughout the program but I didn’t notice a single issue in either video or audio. Maybe someone who has a tape of the original broadcast can better help the both of us but for now, I’ve no clue.

      Thanks for reading RCS1988 and leaving your question. I hope I was able to help. Take care!

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