REVIEW: The Big Event: Wonderful

REVIEW: The Big Event: Wonderful
REVIEW: The Big Event: Wonderful



Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

The Big Event
Date: August 28, 1986
Location: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Attendance: 70,000
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Johnny Valiant, Ernie Ladd

Yes that’s the correct attendance. As in exactly. Not rounded off a bit. Like I said, this is one heck of a huge crowd and they’re all standing outside to watch Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff in a major grudge match for the title. The only other match worth anything on the show is a Snake Pit match (meaning anything goes) between Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat. Let’s get to it.

Unfortunately the only version available of this show is clipped so please excuse some jumping forward in the matches. I’ll let you know every time it happens.

We open with Gene Okerlund in a helicopter over Toronto as we keep cutting to clips of various matches on the show we’re about to see. It’s very simple and really all you need for an opening on something like this.

The stadium looks AMAZING as the people just keep going and going.

Funk Brothers vs. Killer Bees

That would be Hoss (Dory Jr.) and Jimmy Jack (a storyline brother in a Lone Ranger mask) for the Funks. The Bees on the other hands are B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell who wore black and yellow trunks and jump around a lot. Blair and Hoss start things off with Jimmy Jack coming in and being slammed down just as quickly. The Funks take a breather on the floor before Jack comes back in and gets slammed one more time. A cross body gets two on Hoss before Blair comes in for another slam.

We hit the armbar as this match is ready to go into another gear. Brunzell slaps on a sleeper as Monsoon gets on Valiant for openly cheering the Funks. Well to be fair he is a heel manager. Hoss slams Brunzell on the floor and we’re clipped to both Bees on the floor with them pulling on their masks (a regular cheating tactic they used around this time) so Blair can come in and clean house without a tag. Ever the fast paced high flier, Blair grabs an abdominal stretch on Hoss. Jimmy makes the save and gets rolled up to give the Bees the pin at 6:44 shown.

Rating: C. It doesn’t seem that much was clipped but my goodness I’m not sure how much you can get behind a good team that uses masks to make an illegal switch. It doesn’t help that the switch is given away by Brunzell longer hair. The Funks were better than this but it didn’t work as well without the far more talented (than Jimmy at least) Terry.

Monsoon thinks this is justice due to the Funks cheating a lot. WAS HE THAT BAMBOOZLED BY THE MASKS???

King Tonga vs. Magnificent Muraco

Tonga is better known as Haku and the announcers use the names interchangeably. He also looks FAR smaller than he would in his later years, maybe weighing 220lbs here. There’s no opening bell so the opening hiptosses from Tonga should probably be a disqualification. Muraco bails to the floor for a chat with Fuji, only to be sent right back outside a few seconds later. Back in and we hit the wristlock on Muraco, which is clipped to later in the hold.

Muraco can’t even monkey flip his way out of it as the hold continues. A possible low blow breaks the hold as Valiant wants this to be a boxing match. The King is sent outside where Fuji hits him in the neck like a good evil manager should do. Off to a nerve hold (also clipped) and Tonga is in trouble. The mat is wrinkling up underneath them as Tonga gets up to his feet.

Muraco sends him into the post though and wraps the knee around the steel. It’s time to start on the leg with a shinbreaker and spinning toehold. We hit the Figure Four, which is really strange to see on a bare foot. Like almost any heel of his day, Muraco takes too much time going up top and gets slammed down, allowing Tonga to hit a high cross body as the 20:00 time limit expires at 11:24 shown. I really don’t want to imagine how long that armbar and nerve hold lasted.

Rating: D+. This could have gone somewhere with the leg stuff but as soon as they started spending such a long time in the rest holds, you knew exactly where this was going. It’s really surprising to see Tonga, a much lower level star than Muraco, getting a draw as well as having the pin when the time ran out. Not terrible but this wasn’t a good period for either guy.

Ted Arcidi vs. Tony Garea

Arcidi is an enormous strong man who legitimately held the world bench press record. Garea’s shoulder blocks have no effect to start and a headlock works just as badly. The fans are all looking at something in the crowd so Arcidi is ignored even more than usual. Garea gets sent face first into the buckle but comes back with a dropkick to actually put Ted down. Arcidi slaps on a bearhug to make Garea submit in 2:41.

Jimmy Hart wants Adrian Adonis (now very effeminate and wearing all pink gear with makeup) to get revenge on Junkyard Dog for ripping off Hart’s pants at the Slammy Awards.

Junkyard Dog vs. Adrian Adonis

Dog’s entrance is clipped and the fight is quickly on. Even Monsoon has to acknowledge Adonis’ out of control weight. Dog doesn’t take kindly to being jumped and hits Adonis in the face with his chain to draw some blood. Things get a bit more physical as Dog shoves the referee down (Can we please DQ this cheater already?), allowing Hart to spray him in the eyes with perfume behind the referee’s back. Adonis drops a knee and middle rope elbow for two before sending Dog outside. The referee goes down again and Dog beats the count for the win at 4:15.

Rating: F. It’s a really bad sign when the lead announcer is pointing out how fat one of the wrestlers is. Adonis wouldn’t be long for the promotion as he just couldn’t control his weight and this was the best thing they could do for him at this point. The Dog wasn’t much better but at least the fans are trying to cheer for him, which is a lot better than so many wrestlers get both today and back then.

Dick Slater vs. Mike Sharpe

Sharpe is a Canadian jobber who was something close to a big deal in his earlier days. Slater is a fairly well known southern tough guy who is called the Rebel here. Dick takes him down in a knuckle lock to start and stomps on the fingers. The announcers get in an argument over Sharpe’s forearm protection (eight years and counting) with Valiant having no idea why Sharpe hasn’t taken any time off to let it properly heal. Slater misses an elbow drop but gets two off a Russian legsweep. So he’s rebelling by going over to Moscow? A top rope elbow to the head and a jackknife cover give Slater the pin at 2:36.

Bobby Heenan takes credit for the success of the crowd tonight and promise to strap the title around Orndorff’s waist tonight.

Bobby Heenan/King Kong Bundy/Big John Studd vs. The Machines/Lou Albano

So the Machines are masked men from “Japan”, comprised of Super Machine (Bill Eadie, better known as Ax from Demolition and called Machine #1), Big Machine (Blackjack Mulligan, Machine #2) and Giant Machine (Andre the Giant, on the outside here and Machine #3). The idea was that Andre was suspended and then the Machines showed up very shortly thereafter. Heenan is at war with the team because if he can unmask Giant Machine and prove it’s Andre then the Giant is banned for life.

Super and Studd start things off with the masked man trying for a slam but John grabs the ropes. Three straight clotheslines put Studd down instead and Giant Machine sends him back inside. It’s off to Big vs. Bundy, the latter of whom misses a corner splash and eats an elbow to the face. Bundy knees him in the ribs to take over before handing it back to Studd. That’s enough for Heenan to come in and score a few shots, only to be knocked away with ease after trying to go for the mask.

Studd elbows Big in the face but Bundy runs into his partner to cause some issues. It’s still not enough for the tag though as Studd elbows him down and brings in Heenan, which allows Big to bring in Albano for the biggest reaction of the match. Albano gets dragged into the wrong corner though and the triple teaming begins. Bundy goes after Giant Machine like a schnook, drawing him in for the DQ at 7:49.

Rating: D+. This was actually better than I was expecting, which isn’t saying much as the expectations for this group of guys wasn’t the highest in the first place. The Machines were such a simple yet effective idea and would actually lead to the main event of Wrestlemania III. Heenan was a really valuable performer as he could talk anyone into a near riot but then get in the ring and take a beating like this on any given night.

The Machines clear the ring post match.

Jake Roberts vs. Ricky Steamboat

Snake Pit match which means street fight. These two fought on a Saturday Night’s Main Event where Jake DDT’ed him on the floor and legitimately knocked Steamboat unconscious, triggering a very hot feud for a few months. Roberts goes after him at the bell but gets chopped and sent over in a back body drop. Steamboat starts cranking on the arms before a big chop gets two.

Gorilla explains the original concept of the match which would have seen Jake’s snake and Steamboat’s komodo dragon in the corners but that wasn’t the safest thing in the world. They stay on Jake’s arm before a martial arts kick sends Jake out to the floor. Jake tries to get in a chair but the power of the chop knocks it away, allowing Steamboat to hit him with the chair instead. A top rope chop to the head gets two as the fans are WAY into this one. We hit another armbar with Valiant freaking out over the wrestling replacing the violence.

Even more chops have Jake in trouble as I wouldn’t mind Steamboat varying up his offense a bit. Jake sends him over the top and Steamboat hits his hip on the steps. A catapult sends Steamboat into the post and in 1986, that means blood. Ever the villain, Jake sends him into the barricade so Steamboat’s bloody (well not that bloody) face is right in front of a kid. Back in and Jake’s DDT is broken up so Steamboat tries a sunset flip. Jake is stupid enough to sit down on it and pose, allowing Steamboat to pull him down for the pin at 10:36.

Rating: B-. Match of the night by a mile with a ton of energy from the fans helping out a lot. While it’s certainly not up to modern standards of violent, this was a big deal back in 1986. It’s also nice to have Steamboat get a big win after being the guy who often came up short in his big feuds. This worked exactly as it was supposed to though and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Hercules Hernandez vs. Billy Jack Haynes

Haynes is a guy who was very proud to be from Oregon who wound up being a nutcase. I don’t think someone named Hercules needs that much of an explanation. Oddly enough this sounds like the commentary from Coliseum Video instead of the regular version with Monsoon on his own and talking like he would when performing voice overs. Jack grabs a headlock but eats a clothesline for his efforts.

We’re clipped to Hercules grabbing a bearhug but Hayes claps his hands around Hercules’ head to break it up. The fans think this is boring and I can’t say I blame them. Hercules gets sent into the corner for a collision and Monsoon thinks the fans were stunned by that move. Hayes comes back with a backbreaker and middle rope elbow but can’t get his full nelson. Instead Hercules sends him outside before getting two off a clothesline. With nothing else working, Hercules tries a neckbreaker but gets caught in a backslide for the pin at 6:08 shown.

Rating: D. Yeah another bad match here but at least they’re keeping it short. At least we don’t have to sit through the full and long versions of these matches and only get the highlights. Haynes was nothing to see as usual but he was able fill in a spot and had a decent full nelson. Unfortunately so did a lot of people and that’s why he never lasted. Well that and being slightly nuts, as in refusing to do a job because it was in Oregon.

Dream Team vs. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers

The Dream Team, comprised of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine, is managed by Jimmy Valiant (remember he’s on commentary here) and are former Tag Team Champions. The Rougeaus are real life brothers named Jacques and Raymond and a rather good team. It’s a brawl to start until Jacques sunset flips Valentine for two. Ray gets the same thing off a mule kick of all things, which Gorilla says he hasn’t seen in ten years.

Beefcake comes in for a powerslam on Ray and a VERY slow two count. It’s back to Valentine who eats a double dropkick for two with Jacques getting another slow count. Even Monsoon is making note of it. Jacques gets taken into the corner for some double teaming, followed by an atomic drop from Greg. Everything breaks down for a bit and the Dream Team is rammed together.

Brutus is left alone in the ring as the others brawl on the floor with Ray being send back first into the apron. Back in and the horrible refereeing continues with Brutus hitting a gorilla press backbreaker on Ray but for some reason the referee won’t count. If that’s not enough he makes sure to slide his hand under the shoulders after each count, meaning that by the time he gets to two, a normal referee would be at about five. Oh and he keeps counting even after Ray’s shoulder is up. This is horrible and somehow keeps getting worse.

Valentine’s elbow gets the same ridiculous near fall, followed by Brutus’ suplex getting two more. Greg slaps on a bearhug but misses some elbow drops, allowing Ray to roll over and make the hot tag as house is cleaned. Jacques misses a middle rope knee drop though and it’s Figure Four time. Ray comes in for the save so Greg puts the hold on again, only to have Ray grab a sunset flip while the referee is putting Brutus out for the pin at 14:54. Johnny Valiant EXPLODES in the commentary booth in a funny moment.

Rating: B+. Heck of a tag match here, horrible refereeing aside. This was the usual greatness that was 1980s tag team wrestling with even the not great Brutus looking fine enough. The Rougeaus are an underrated team who wrestled a very fast paced style that you didn’t see very often around this point. Awesome stuff here and actually worth seeing.

Harley Race vs. Pedro Morales

These two shouldn’t need an explanation but Morales is a forgotten legend who held the WWF and Intercontinental Titles for over a year each. Joined in progress with Race punching him down and throwing Pedro face first into the ring bell. Back in and Pedro reverses a suplex into one of his own but a small package only gets two. Morales’ signature sunset flip out of the corner gets two but Race sweeps the legs and puts his feet on the ropes for the pin at 3:23 shown.

Rating: D-. Just two old legends having a bad match to fill in time, likely to put some space between the best match of the night and the Hogan main event. Race would stick around for a good while doing the cheap midcard heat stuff but he was more than capable of having watchable matches with the right opponent. Unfortunately a very washed up Morales didn’t fit that description and the match was horrible as a result.

Hogan says he’ll win.

WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff

Orndorff is challenging and has Heenan in his corner. As a bonus he’s also stolen Real American for his theme song in a move I’ve always thought could be used again. Orndorff nails him from behind to start and Hulk is in early trouble. That lasts about five seconds before he pounds Paul’s face in, only to be dragged off by the referee. You can feel the fans into this one and it’s really making things seem more important. A trip to the floor goes nowhere and it’s Hulk dropping an elbow for two.

Hogan has to chase Heenan though and Orndorff drops an elbow on the way back in. A running right hand sends Hogan to the floor and the crowd gets a lot more quiet. Orndorff suplexes him on the outside and does the hand to the ear pose because taunting Hogan is never a bad idea. Paul gets in a forearm to the chest as Hogan gets back in but the referee pulls him off and threatens to end the match due to the cheating. A middle rope punch to the jaw looks to set up the piledriver but it’s way too early as Hogan backdrops him for the counter.

Orndorff is right back with a belly to back suplex for a cocky near fall. It’s Hulk Up time but the referee gets bumped. Hogan has no issues with that as he raises Orndorff’s hand and clotheslines him, which is exactly what Orndorff did to turn on him in the first place. Hulk sets for a piledriver but Heenan comes in and hits Hogan with a wooden stool. The referee slowly crawls over and taps Orndorff on the shoulder for the DQ at 11:05.

Rating: C+. This is a situation where the crowd really carried it to a higher level. They were smart to go with the DQ finish here as it was WAY too early in the feud to blow this thing off. Orndorff was a different kind of challenger for Hogan and it made him feel that much more dangerous. This was still a good match and a great way to give the fans their money’s worth. You can see the rematches from here too.

Orndorff holds up the title and Heenan puts it on but no one seems to be buying the title change. Hogan is announced as the winner so Orndorff stomps away, only to get kicked in the face to knock him out to the floor. A lot of posing ends the show.

Overall Rating: C-. The show isn’t exactly great but it’s still certainly entertaining stuff with the tag match, the Steamboat vs. Roberts match and the main event being worth at least a look. However, I’d definitely stick with the clipped version which is under two hours instead of the full version (assuming it exists) which is probably about forty five minutes longer (some of which would be entrances though). It’s a weird time for the company as they’re coming out of a dark period in the last few months but the hot streak is coming soon.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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