It Came From the Thrift Store: WWF Wrestling 1986

One of the things I’ve become more into now when I hit thrift stores is buying random VHS tapes to see what is on them. Mind you, I don’t buy a lot of tapes – there are hundreds of TV rebroadcasts of films like Iron Eagle III and The Money Pit out there, and who’s that desperate for Iron Eagle III? I tend to go for mystery tapes with vague labelling in hopes of finding pro wrestling and/or random broadcasts from the 1980s.

On one of these tapes, I was successful in finding 1986 broadcasts of both WWF Wrestling and International Wrestling. The WWF Wrestling show came from Hamilton’s CHCH, at that time one of Canada’s most well-known independent stations. International Wrestling could be seen on another well-known independent, Toronto’s CityTV.

CHCH doesn’t exist in its original form anymore. CityTV is still around, but its glory days have long since passed. International Wrestling (a/k/a Lutte Internationale – it did emanate from Montreal) died in 1987. The WWE, however, still airs jobber matches and continues to employ the Iron Sheik in some capacity. Some things never change, even when they need to.

The first match features everyone’s favourite 1980s jobbers José Luis Rivera and Leaping Lanny Poffo against…King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. Rivera and Poffo are fucked.

Poffo reads one of his famous poems. He hopes that Andre the Giant slams Bundy and Studd like a feather. Only Hulk Hogan and Andre were allowed to slam the “unslammable” main-eventers back in 1986, so you can guess the outcome of this match without using one brain cell.

What’s to say about the match itself? Bundy and Studd beat the crap out of their opponents – this is WWF TV formula, after all. At least the audience gets to hear great Gorilla Monsoon/Bobby Heenan banter. There are Hulk Hogan chants for some reason, even though Poffo and Rivera have been established as jobbers and thus not important enough to rate a run-in by ol’ Fu Manchu.

Here’s the Junkyard Dog promoting a match at Maple Leaf Gardens. Sylvester Ritter goes through the gotta-keep-fighting spiel, puts over a match between “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and bigs up a Dan Spivey/Mike Rotunda tag team. Savage and Steamboat would go on to make lots of money, Spivey and Rotunda would not and JYD would continue midcarding for a few more years. That’s not a slight on JYD – it’s hard not to like the man who grabbed them cakes, but Hogan was Vince McMahon’s cash cow for almost a decade.

The Macho Man puts over a King of the Ring tournament – crucially, not the official one – as he sells himself to Hamilton fans watching him on CHCH. Savage ohhh yeahs through his promo as he talks about some of the people in the tournament – Tony Atlas, the Rougeau Brothers, Mike Rotunda, Dan Spivey and himself, among others. You may notice a few seconds of silence during his promo, probably caused by someone being fired from or leaving the WWF. I’m not a good lip reader, so I don’t know who left. This is a standard Macho Man promo, but Macho Man promos are always entertaining.

Nikolai Volkoff (singing the Russian national anthem) and The Iron Sheik face off against the Marcus Brothers in another squash match, not that you couldn’t see this coming from a mile away. Are these matches entertaining to watch? Of course not – one of the teams is local, so obviously they have no chance of winning against the former WWF Tag Team Champions. Frankly, I just fast-forward through this match like I do all the other squash matches on the tape.

BONUS! This commercial for Fruit Fantasy is a bit homoerotic. It’s not meant to be, but what to make of lyrics like “whipping up the nectar” and “chomping the strawberry/nibbling the kiwi/munching the mango/biting the berries” sung in a breathy Caribbean style? Yeah, nothing suggestive in those descriptions.

For those ignoring the possible double entendres, there’s the black waiter in a white suit serving up this Fruit Fantasy while the Caribbean singer exhorts us to “taste the reality.” Fruit Fantasy, it should be noted, is a generic-looking frozen treat. Reading too much into twenty-two-year-old commercials is fun.

Stay tuned for International Wrestling action in my next post! Dino Bravo! A skinny Rikishi! Uhh…more jobber matches! All this and The Great Samu are coming your way! Don’t miss it!

C. Archer
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