I’m quite late — two months!?! — in getting up another post about the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and the mark he left on the fans in Boston during his WWF heyday in the 1980s.
The first time I ever saw Heenan live was at the old Boston Garden, when he appeared as a manager at a house show in March 1987, just a few weeks before WrestleMania III.
Heenan managed Hercules and Paul Orndorff, who teamed up with Adorable Adrian Adonis to face Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Billy Jack Haynes in an elimination match. It remains one of my favorite personal matches I ever saw live, largely because it was allegedly Piper’s Continue reading
This year marks the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania 2, a lousy card that took place on April 7, 1986.
I’m not sure what to say about this show. Having just rewatched it recently on the WWE Network, Mania 2 was just as bad today as I remembered it back in the day. Even by 1980s standards, the matches felt rushed and there was no showstealer that you’d expect to see today.
This may have been the worst WrestleMania ever, with the only possible competition being WrestleMania IX.Embed from Getty Images
The event — which took place on a Monday night — emanated from three arenas: Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY; Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) outside of Chicago; and Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Vince McMahon — who clearly believed Continue reading
Man, it still feels so weird to think Rowdy Roddy Piper is dead. So many of the great times I had with WWF pro wrestling growing up centered on angles and matches with Piper. He was so entertaining at his peak.
Piper has some interesting history in the old Boston Garden. For those who don’t know, the Garden was an arena built in 1928 that was torn down 60 years later to make way for the stadium now known as the TD Garden. By the time I was going to WWF shows at the old Garden in the 1980s, it was run-down place with old, rickety seats that were way too small and the occasional rat scampering along the walls upstairs. It also had an overhanging balcony that gave you a great view for hockey, basketball, or wrestling — thus the name of my blog.
I first saw Piper live sitting in that balcony, taking on Bruno Sammartino in their first match in Boston following a famous Piper’s Pit at Madison Square Garden during which Piper called Sammartino a “wop.” Piper’s feud with Bruno is well remembered in Boston, and in their initial quick meeting, Piper was DQ’d.
After a tag team rematch in January 1986 that included “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Cowboy Bob Orton, Piper and Sammartino clashed in a steel cage match that is still talked about today here in Boston. Piper was at his bad-guy best in this bout, even taping posters of the Chicago Bears onto the cage to razz Boston fans who had seen the Patriots go down to the Bears in that year’s Super Bowl.
Sammartino beat a bloody Piper in the match, which drew on of the largest crowds I can ever recall at the old Garden: 16,180. It was the same night that Continue reading
Hogan. Andre. Savage. Ventura. Piper.
All five of these guys served as the cornerstones of WWF wrestling in the 1980s. Because these guys played such well-known characters during one of pro wrestling’s boom periods, they all ended up transcending their roles to outside the ring.
And now three of them are gone, with Rowdy Roddy Piper’s death on July 30 putting him beside Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Andre the Giant as stars who died way too young.
It’s really starting to suck being an old-school fan raised on Saturday morning WWF wrestling. Savage’s death blew us away in 2011, Hulk Hogan just last week got exposed for his terrible racist comments, and Piper now dies out of nowhere of a heart attack at age 61.
I grew up with Piper during middle and high school – and I know a lot of you who read this blog did, too. I can’t believe Piper – who at his peak was one of the most gifted performers on Continue reading
Some of you may remember Private Terry Daniels, who was a high-on-the-card prelim wrestler who was briefly thrust into the spotlight during Sgt. Slaughter’s feud with the Iron Sheik.
Daniels was a former U.S. Marine in real life, which his wrestling character reflected. At one point, Daniels was standing in the aisle facing the ring while holding the American flag during a WWF Championship Wrestling TV taping. The Sheik attacked him; however, Daniels, despite getting beaten down, never let the flag touch the ground, thus keeping the honor the country intact.
I read an interesting tale about Daniels’ beginnings in wrestling that I had never heard before, thanks to Continue reading
It seems to me that when the WWE started its Hall of Fame, the top five or 10 longest reigning WWF Heavyweight champions should have automatically been inducted in the initial years. As we know, that has not happened, but a big step in the right direction occurred on Monday Night Raw this week with the news that Bob Backlund was going into the hall’s 2013 class.
Backlund is technically a three-time former WWF champion, although I believe the official record books still say two-time. That’s because in 1979, Backlund did a quickie title exchange in Japan with Antonio Inoki that was not publicly acknowledged at the time (and still isn’t talked about often).
Taking the brief Inoki run out of the picture, Backlund held the belt from February 1978 until December 1983, nearly six years. Take that, CM Punk.
As was the case back in those days, Continue reading
The babyface turn of Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 1987 wasn’t known for a particularly inventive angle or hot feud, but rather for a series of shots that were brutal by even old ECW standards.
And the incident actually legitimately injured Roberts.
At the time, Roberts was hosting an interview segment called the Snake Pit. Original, huh? Typical of wrestling, after the runaway success of Piper’s Pit, the WWF went back to that well over and over. We had the Snake Pit, the Body Shop with Jesse Ventura, the Flower Shop with Adrian Adonis, Blackjack Mulligan’s BBQ Pit, and the Brother Love Show.
Back to my original point: Roberts had the Honky Tonk Man as a guest, and during the skit Continue reading
It was 28 years ago today – on November 3, 1984 –that Hulk Hogan fought Rowdy Roddy Piper at the monthly Saturday night house show at the old Boston Garden.
Not surprisingly, the match drew a healthy 15,635 fans to the Garden, according to the Boston Globe sports section, which used to run the results and attendance on Sunday morning. I took notes on the results back when I was in my teens, and still have them today in a notebook.
This was a rematch from the prior month, when Piper Continue reading
The Under the Ring blog recently talked to Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper about the 1980s scene in the WWF. There was some fun memories in the post, as well as least one instance in which Hogan’s famous tall stories reared their ugly head. Continue reading
There’s been an awful lot of talk about how some longtime pro wrestling stars, such as the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jerry “The King” Lawler, have swooped into angles on WWE Monday Night Raw and delivered promos better than anyone else on the current roster.
Let’s face it: The on-the-job training for interviews was a lot better in yesteryear. In the 1980s, the WWF had a lot of wrestlers and managers who could talk well on the microphone. People like Roddy Piper, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts understood how to push matches and angles.
However, more than a few promos in that decade were stinkers, which made me ponder the worst ones I had heard during the ‘80s. One of my qualifications here is that it had to be an interview that anyone could have seen (so house show promos really can’t count). And a bad segment doesn’t mean you gave a bad promo, as plenty of gifted talkers have been saddled with lousy circumstances (think about some of those corny Saturday Night’s Main Event skits).
Instead, my choices are reserved for those who truly butchered the art of the pro wrestling promo. With that, below are my five lamest promos from the ‘80s: Continue reading