WWE’s new retro SummerSlam report with Mean Gene is hilarious

I wanted to make a quick post and a tip of my hat to the WWE and Mean Gene Okerlund for producing a tremendously entertaining, 1980s-retro preview of Sunday’s SummerSlam show.

If you haven’t seen the preview and you watched pro wrestling back in the ’80s, it’s worth watching to the very end.

 

Some of my favorite highlights: Continue reading

Orndorff, Piper, and Flair join Hulk Hogan for his 61st birthday

It was great to see 1980s stars like Rowdy Roddy Piper, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Mean Gene Okerlund, and “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart join Hulk Hogan this week as Monday Night Raw celebrated the Hulkster’s 61st birthday.

Has it really been 30 years since Hogan climbed to the throne by taking his first WWF Heavyweight Championship? I remember that match so well.

All of those guys who made the rivalries so fun in the 1980s were looking old on Raw (well, except Hart), but they all got huge ovations from the crowd. And surely Paul Orndorff is giving serious competition to Daniel Bryan for the best facial hair in the WWE with Mr. Wonderful’s crazy mustache.

Ric Flair also came out during the birthday bash. Seeing Flair and Hogan in the ring acting chummy is still Continue reading

Comparing Rusev’s rise to the Iron Sheik’s famous run in 1984

I’ve been thinking a lot about current WWE foreign menace Rusev and what his future may bring.

For eons, pro wrestling has exploited either current world situations or long-standing xenophobia to create hugely effective heel characters. But it’s been a while since the WWE has put its force behind a foreign threat like Rusev, who is alleged to hail from Russia.

When I think of bad guys from other countries, my mind immediately goes to the Iron Sheik and his successful run in the WWF in 1983 and 1984. It’s possible in ’84 that the Sheik was the most hated guy in wrestling (the irony being he is a nice guy outside the ring, having met him before briefly).

 

Can the WWE replicate the Sheik’s atmosphere with Rusev all these years later? Longtime mid-carder Jack Swagger seems prepped to take the role of the All-American hero who will fight Rusev.

I read a piece by one of my favorite blogs, Ring the Damn Bell, which Continue reading

Summer has me thinking of the old small-arena shows on the WWF circuit

Summer is upon us, and I find my mind wandering back to the days when the hot temperatures would bring the WWF around to some of the smaller buildings for live action here in New England.

I hit most of the big arenas back in the day for house shows and TV tapings, such as the old Boston Garden, the Worcester Centrum (the DCU Center)today, the Providence Civic Center (now called — ugh — the Dunkin’ Donuts Center), the Springfield Civic Center (MassMutual Center currently), and the Hartford Civic Center (XL Center).

But I also fondly recall squeezing into sub-par stadiums to get a more close-up experience with pro wrestling, including these spots: Continue reading

Happy birthday to the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz

I was certainly surprised to read in the Wrestling Observer’s daily update that the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz turned 76 today.

Wow. Anyone who grew up watching WWF wrestling in the 1980s and earlier will no doubt remember Rodz, who was a career-long jobber in the federation, but one who was taken seriously.

That may be a hard concept to grasp these days, but there was an upper echelon of enhancement talent that got respect from the fans. People like Rodz, Jose Luis Rivera, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Jose Estrada, S.D. Jones, and others gave the stars real fights during bouts.

My friend Tom likes to remind me that Rodz actually was a star in Continue reading

Austin comments on Steamboat vs. Hart: “That is what professional wrestling is supposed to be”

This post is a long time coming, but luckily nostalgia knows no boundaries, ha, ha.

A while back, I heard a Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast during which he interviewed Bret “Hitman” Hart. It was a great discussion between two of the biggest WWE stars ever. A surprise came, however, when Austin brought up a match Hart fought against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in the old Boston Garden.

 

The match took place on March 8, 1986, just a few weeks before WrestleMania 2. A huge crowd of 16,000-plus fans was in attendance in Boston that night.

Hart had been in the WWF for about a year and was hitting his stride with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart as the Hart Foundation tag team. Steamboat was already one of the top performers in wrestling in the midst of his first WWF run after making his mark in the NWA.

Austin told Hart Continue reading

Remembering Warrior’s bouts with Savage, Andre, and Slaughter in Boston

Like many of you, I’m still getting my head wrapped around the highs and lows of the last week and thinking a lot about the death of the Ultimate Warrior just one day after returning to the address his fans on Monday Night Raw.

I saw Warrior fight at the old Boston Garden plenty of times, and he was certainly an exciting guy to see run to the ring. The quality of his matches depended on whom he was in with. Personally, I think Warrior’s bouts with Ravishing Rick Rude were among his best.

 

Warrior never had a spectacular or particularly historic match at the Garden, but here are three Warrior appearances in Boston that I remember well: Continue reading