Many of us could pick out moments in matches where a move is ill-timed or someone falls out of position. But these slip-ups generally are minor. A true wrestling blooper often doesn’t involve in-ring action at all, whether it’s instead an interview, skit, or even real life. The WWF had some lapses that were doozies in the 1980s, so here are my picks for the top five bloopers of that decade:
5. Salvatore Bellomo rolls pizza dough like the rest of us. On the Tuesday Night Titans talk show, prelim wrestler Bellomo told Vince McMahon that real Italians knead their pizza dough by hand, not with a roller. Bellomo headed over to the makeshift kitchen to whip up some pizza as the house band played. I’m not sure if there was an errant camera direction or a rib on Bellomo, because a quick shot appeared of him flattening the dough with a kitchen roller, followed by McMahon cracking up out of character when he realized what happened. In unrelated humor, this more recent shot of Bellomo and the Undertaker backstage at a WWE event made me a laugh, too.
4. King Kong’s Bundy’s “nine-second” victory. During the original WrestleMania in 1985, you could just imagine McMahon planning every last detail down. No doubt it sounded like a fine idea that newly introduced character Bundy would beat S.D. Jones in just nine seconds to make an impact on the big show. The problem was nine seconds dragged out to 23, and Jones seemed out of position, which didn’t help. The catch is the pinfall was still announced and hyped as a nine-second victory. This type of ridiculous lie would never last in today’s world of Twitter and online wrestling news sites. Besides, doesn’t a 23-second win sound pretty impressive, anyway?
3. Andre the Giant flubs one of his biggest promos in history. After their WrestleMania III match, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant fought again on a national stage in 1988, this time on NBC in a heavily hyped match that saw Andre win the WWF Championship. Andre was in cahoots with Ted DiBiase Sr. at the time, and in an interview immediately after the match, Andre bequeathed the title to DiBiase. The problem was Andre actually said he was giving DiBiase the “World Tag Team Championship” (about six minutes into this clip), a botch that probably made the executives backstage wince. This angle led to DiBiase being stripped of the title and set the stage for the championship tournament at WrestleMania IV. I previously blogged about seeing DiBiase wrestle in Boston in one of the few matches in which he walked out with the belt as champ.
2. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik share a bad, bad ride. In the midst of lackluster feud in 1987, all-American hero Duggan and Iranian sympathizer Sheik were pulled over by police as they drove together in New Jersey. Duggan was allegedly high on weed and the Sheik was allegedly blitzed on coke, which led to both being released by the WWF (Duggan returned shortly after). I fully believe the reason they got fired wasn’t the illegal substances, but because they broke kayfabe so bad and the incident received a lot of national press attention. The drug part was sad, but the carpooling aspect was hilarious back then.
1. Mean Gene Okerlund drops an F-bomb on pay-per-view. SummerSlam ‘89 was headlined by Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs. Randy Savage and Zeus, which was based on angles from the ugly No Holds Barred movie. But what people really were interested in was the rematch between Intercontinental Champion Rick Rude and Ultimate Warrior. Okerlund was starting an interview with Rude and Bobby Heenan when a SummerSlam prop fell off the wall behind Okerlund, which shocked Mean Gene enough to yell out, “Fuck it!” before the interview got cut short. I distinctly remember watching this with several friends and we all erupted after Okerlund’s gaffe. I still don’t know whether the interview was being conducted live or if someone inadvertently put the wrong pretaped segment on air, but either way, this was truly one of the funniest moments in wrestling if you saw it when it happened.