Demolition debuted as a tag team 25 years ago this month at the old Boston Garden, defeating the Islanders (Haku and Tama, a.k.a. the Tonga Kid).
The face-painted team comprised Ax (Bill Eadie, a.k.a. the Masked Superstar and Super Machine) and Smash (originally Randy Colley, a.k.a. Moondog Rex, but quickly replaced by Barry Darsow, a.k.a. Krusher Krushchev). They were Vince McMahon’s imitation of the Road Warriors, who had taken the NWA and AWA by storm. But Demolition became a good tag team in its own right, because with a slow build as heels and eventual babyface turn, the fans got into them.
The comparisons on the surface between Demolition and the Road Warriors were obvious: Both wore face paint and tried to portray a menancing image, although Hawk and Animal definitely stood out as people whom you might think were out of control in real life. But behind the scenes, the bookers protected both teams well. Ax, who had a long, successful career before donning the leather, was the best worker of the four, which immensely helped Demolition in the long run.
Demolition won the WWF Tag Team Titles three times, first defeating Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) at WrestleMania IV in 1988. They held the belts for 16 months, making them the longest reigning tag champs in WWF and WWE history. Can you imagine a team holding the titles for that long today?
Demolition went on to hold the belts on two other occasions between 1989 and 1990, tying them at the time with the Wild Samoans for the most reigns as tag champs.
Eventually the team went back heel and were joined by a third, member Crush (Brian Adams). When the Road Warriors finally came to the WWF in 1990, their feud with Demolition was anti-climatic, as the matches weren’t good and people didn’t seem to care about the comparisions anymore.
As a piece of pointless trivia, I remember hearing Big John Studd being interviewed on a wrestling radio show in the early 1990s, during which he claimed that a fourth member of Demolition was being groomed named Crash. As the story went, Crash was going to team with Crush to feud against Ax and Smash. Nothing ever came of the rumor.
I liked the fact that Ax and Smash worked hard to escape the shadows of Hawk and Animal and become a respected team in their own right. Ax’s “Gimme the boot!” line that he used to yell at Smash prior to throwing his opponent’s head into Smash’s nasty footwear has always stuck with me all these years later.