By Joshua Molina for WrestlingObserver.com
– Air date: June 27, 1985
– Run time: 45:20
1985 was absolutely not the fabled “Attitude Era,” but it was something special, nonetheless. It was the Hogan era, yes, but the WWF at the time was full of superstars who could carry their own weight.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to put on a successful professional wrestling show, as evidenced by the all-star ensemble the WWF had in 1985. Every episode of TNT gave a wrestler a bit of a push. No matter where they were on the card, they mattered. You could be Salvatore Bellomo and we cared. You could be Hulk Hogan and we cared.
On this episode of TNT, we care, surprisingly, about all of the guests. Mixed in with some hilariously stupid and ill-informed comments from host Vince McMahon and co-host Lord Alfred Hayes and we’ve got quite the episode.
The show kicks off with Cowboy Bob Orton, sans Rowdy Roddy Piper. Vince right aways asks him how his arm is doing. Orton tells him “not good.” McMahon referenced the in-house doctor that analyzed Orton a few weeks who concluded that Orton’s arm was healed. Orton said he and Piper concluded that the doctor was “a quack.”
We go to Orton in action in the ring against jobber named Bob Marcus. Orton was a good wrestler and better than at least three-fourths of the current WWE roster. He had ring psychology — the stuff you learn really well when you grow up in a wrestling family.
Orton was a ring tactician. Headlocks, wrist locks, arm bars, he did it all. The match is highlighted by Jesse The Body Ventura who is shamelessly cheering for Orton. Ventura loved the bad guys and displayed almost an obsessive passion for them.
After Orton gave Marcus a backbreaker, Ventura says “beautful reverse back breaker from Bob Orton there. We like it Bobby, Bobby we like it. He would show signs of his hot and heavy selling for a wrestlers throughout his career, with his description of Ravishing Rick Rude at the original Slammy Awards probably being his apex of his fandom.
Ventura continues to gush about how it takes a lot of guts to step back into the ring with an injury.
“You know everybody says Bob Orton is using that cast as a weapon, but I don’t think so,” Ventura says “I think it is a hindrance. I have seen Bob Orton better without that cast.” Orton wins with his patented Superplex.
Back on the couch, McMahon asks Orton if anyone has ever kicked out of the Superplex. Of course not. This is 1985, not 2015, where it would have taken three Superplexes with the final one on top of a steel chair for Orton to get the win. Orton says no one has ever kicked out of the move and no one ever will. McMahon tries to cause more trouble, asking Orton how much money Piper takes from him. Orton doesn’t sound worried. He shows off a $10,000 Rolex that Piper gave him.
Since when is Piper Orton’s manager. I thought Orton was his bodyguard? Orton insists that “Piper takes care of me.”
McMahon not getting the answer he wants from Orton asks Hayes, who says since Piper is Scottish he is stingy and that Orton is probably making only “$200 or $300” per appearance. WOAH! Slow down. Orton’s not making Wendi Richter money, now. McMahon tells Orton that he needs to check around make sure he’s not getting robbed by Piper and Orton shuts him down.
“I keep myself on horses and in blue jeans. I am happy,” Orton says.
It’s time for our next guest, Gamma Singh. McMahon shows us that you can be brilliant and also not know geography: He introduces Singh as hailing from the country of India before correcting himself saying “the continent of india.”
Singh, uncle to Jinder Mahal, walks out in his turban and traditional Indian garb. McMahon, because he loves to focus on ethnic stereotypes, asks Sing about his challenges in wrestling in America. Singh says learning English was tough and was finding protein other than beef to eat. He doesn’t eat beef.
Singh educates McMahon about the turban. He says that unfortunately everyone thinks when they see him that he is “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.” Singh explains that he wears the turban because he is a member of the Sikh religion and that the Sikhs started to wear the turban to distinguish themselves from other people during times of war.
McMahon doesn’t seem too interested in any of this. We go to the ring and and see Singh in action against some guy whom the announcers only refer to as “Butler.”
McMahon and Bruno Sammartino have to be the worst wrestling announcing team in history. And it’s not McMahon’s fault. Bruno is relentless in wanting to always talk about how “in-shape” or “out-of-shape” a wrestler is. That being said, Singh did not have a great body by WWF standards at the time. He was not overly muscular or even fit. Still he was quite the aerial wrestler and showed great submission skills.
Singh won with a flying dropkick. I don’t remember seeing much of Singh during this period. Unless you are 7 foot 4 inches tall and nearly as wide, the Indian wrestlers never really got much of a push. Since Singh is Indian, of course he has to be part of this week’s culture segment. From the deepest, darkest parts of India, Singh has brought an Indian Rock Python.
B. Brian Blair, who is a guest later on the show, is modeling the python, although McMahon doesn’t acknowledge it at the time.
Blair looks really uncomfortable holding this snake and very quickly it gets out of hand. The snake appears to lunge at Blair’s mouth and Blair full-on drops the python on the ground. Blair goes after the python and pulls it by his tail before a handler comes out to take control of the snake.
During all of this, Singh explains how how that snake eats eats rabbits, chickens and ducks, but when he gets older he will need to eat goats and other larger mammals. Scary.
After the snake is escorted off the set, McMahon asks Hayes if he ever wrestled in India and Hayes reminds us just how dorky he is. Hayes says that in India there are wrestlers who are champions of their village and over time they wrestle for championships in their states.
“There are just millions of wrestlers in India,” Hayes says. I guess statistically that is possible.
McMahon, not wanting to be outdone by Hayes for lamest comment of the show, asks Singh why so many Indians have the name Singh and if it is “like Jones in America.”
Singh, who’s coming across like the smartest guy in the room (affirmed later when Mr. Fuji and Muraco show up) explains that all male Sikhs have “Singh” as part of their name. It means “tiger-hearted.”
“If you are a male Sikh, you are a Singh,” he says. The segment ends in time for our next guest, B. Brian Blair.
I never liked Blair at the time. I thought he was a great in-ring performer, but super boring and when he got put in the Killer Bees tag team, it absolutely killed him.
But on this episode he was pretty incredible. Had he learned how to point his two index fingers into the air and shout “Yes!” three times, he might have been a big star (particularly since Triple H wasn’t around). Blair came out in a tight red T-shirt and immediately broke character.
“I am still shaking,” he said, after hold the snake that got loose. “I didn’t’ think they were that strong. I know I am supposed to be a tough wrestler, but I am still shaking.”
We go to the ring and see what made Blair so good. He was at least as good as Bret Hart on the mat, and wrestled a lot like Daniel Bryan. He could do a running knee, a sunset flip and a flying forearm with the best of them. He put on a wrestling clinic against Steve Lombardi, contorting him in positions that are typically only reserved for a yoga class.
Bruno is on the mic and of course has to say what he says about every wrestler with muscles. “Blair is a fine-looking athlete,” Sammartino says. “He is a beautiful wrestler. He is always in tip-top shape.”
Later Bruno says, “not an ounce of fat on his body,” about Blair. McMahon says “Blair will show you all the basics and then some.”
Blair wins the match after coming off the top rope. Before he leaves he plugs an upcoming wrestling tournament sponsored in his name by the Police Athletics League. Blair was probably ahead of his time. He could have been tearing it up in NXT, or kicking out of near-falls in a 30-minute classic with John Cena.
In our final segment, we get the Magnificent Muraco and his manager Mr. Fuji. I have never quite figured out Muraco. He just seemed really creepy to me and hanging out with the maniacal Fuji didn’t help much.
Muraco must have been getting a push here because he is calling out Hulk Hogan and says that he wants a title shot. We go to the ring and we get Muraco against Salvatore Bellomo, one of the TNT veterans. Bellomo, a first-ballot jobber Hall-of-Famer, has a body that let’s just say Bruno Sammartino would not describe as “tip-top shape.” Muraco looks a bit more cut than I remember.
Muraco is dominating the match because that’s what he is supposed to do; he’s getting the push so he needs to win and look good, not lose for the sake of losing in an endless cycle of even-steven booking.
Bellomo puts up a good fight, getting in some right hands, but Muraco is too strong for him. Bellomo goes for a high-cross body block and Muraco catches him and gives him a tombstone pile driver. Back on the couch, Muraco calls the move “the most vicious hold in professional wrestling today. Well, it certainly worked for the Undertaker for 21 years.
It’s been a couple weeks since McMahon has objectified women, so of course we’re due for a sexist segment, just like we need to see Stephanie and Triple H during a 2015 ratings decline.
For some reason, Mr. Fuji has arranged for two women to give Muraco a rub-down. Muraco, surprisingly, looks a bit uncomfortable with the segment. He’s sitting in bikini underwear, legs open as two women stand at his side. Muraco, as a true Hawaiian, insists that the women spread the suntan oil from the bottom up, rather than then the top down like “you silly white people.”
He said he needs to explain how to properly get a sun tan. As Muraco is explaining all of this, the girls can barely contain themselves, giggling and laughing. As the girls start massaging Muraco’s feet, McMahon gets grossed out, but Mr. Fuji is all in.
“Look at how stung his strong his back is,” Fuji says, and Muraco responds to Fuji to “take it easy.” The juvenile humor continues. McMahon asks Fuji what kind of oil he uses on Muraco and Fuji says “1040”.
The girls are just going to town on Muraco, unloading the suntan oil. McMahon says, “this is quite the experience.” The show ends with McMahon wrapping up at his desk saying that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan will be a guest next, when the two models come back out and starting rubbing the oil on Hayes, over his clothes.
Hayes looks uncomfortable, but goes along with it as the show ends.
It’s 1985 and clearly McMahon is having a lot of fun. The WWF is maintaining its popularity even after Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper and his expansion is still shaking up the wrestling world. Many WWF wrestlers are getting pushes. Hulk Hogan is rarely on television, which is a good thing, although he was tearing it up at live shows during this time. Why can’t McMahon do a relaunch of this show on the WWF Network?
I guess Stone Cold’s podcast is meant to fill somewhat of that sit-down interview role, but that show only get’s Austin over — not the guys who need it.