“Is it live or is it Memorex?”-Stone Cold Steve Austin
Sometimes, it is hard to remember how I became a wrestling fan. Since birth, I have had wrestling involved in my life. Naturally, I don’t have any memories before the age of two or three, but then I have my mother to fill in the blanks.
My sister, who is several years older than me, got caught up in the “Rock N Wrestling” era of wrestling and Hulkamania. My mom took her to a close circuit event for WrestleMania I and she had all of the LJN action figures of the time. By the time that I came into this world, my sister had lost interest and my mother had plenty of toys and entertainment to provide to the young whippersnapper known as Chris Mullet that had just entered the world.
One of those avenues of entertainment was the old school Coliseum Home Videos that WWF released in the mid-1980s. I watched these tapes religiously as a child and recently came across a couple of them in an old box of VHS tapes. I couldn’t help myself and popped one of those bad boys into the VCR and decided to do a Retro Diary on the events that take place to A) entertain the masses and B) talk out whatever vague memories I have of this tape.
The tape is called “WWF: The Biggest, The Smallest, The Strangest, The Strongest” and let’s all hope for the best because it is the WWF and it is 1985.
0:21-The old school Coliseum Home Video intro begins with its awesome music, ultra-serious “Star Wars” text putting over wrestling as wrestling and not sports entertainment and all of the boring action you would come to expect in 1985. When the highlight is a spinning full nelson by Ken Patera, trouble is afoot.
1:51-Jesse Ventura opens up the show and knows that he is going to wait years until he gets paid for it. Meanwhile, Jesse cannot read cue cards convincingly. Apparently, he didn’t learn to act until Predator.
2:51-We see clips of Tony Atlas flexing and usual midget hijinks. I am intrigued.
3:21-We start with the biggest and Andre the Giant against “Samoan Number 3.” All that talk of racism in wrestling and stereotyping has never been more evident right there.
4:38-I think Samoan Number 3 is Samu…but I am not going to think about it anymore.
5:06-We get an awful slow motion of Andre rubbing his butt and bumping Samoan Number 3 off with his large ass. We then cut out of the match to a clip of Bobo Brazil and Freddie Blassie. Why is this happening to me?
6:03-Now we go to Haystacks Calhoun. Jesse is much better with these voiceovers than he was reading cue cards.
6:44-Ernie Ladd! Alright, I am down with this now.
7:15-We are robbed of more Ernie Ladd and get some Ivan Koloff. This is like keeping up with WCW storylines in 1999. Now ,we see Gorilla Monsoon plodding about until he lands the best splash in history of wrestling, the Manchurian Landslide.
8:33-The TNA pace continues with Blackjack Mulligan in Piper’s Pit thinking about money laundering, surely. Folks, this isn’t what I remember and I am trying my best. The highlight of this clip: the phrase “wide eyed pole cat.”
9:21-Big John Studd versus Hulk Hogan, who is billed at 364 fucking pounds. That’s a lot of Hulkaroos at PastaMania!
10:10-Go figure, it looks like we are actually going to have to watch this match. Meanwhile, the commentators are Gorilla Monsoon and HOWARD FINKEL?!?! I am legitimately interested in hearing this.
10:53-Hogan’s punches back then made Sid Vicious look like Tito Ortiz.
11:09-Nevermind, the match cuts away to Nikolai Volkoff’s wretched offense. That is also briefly (thankfully) and now we watch King Kong Bundy and Tony Garea. No 25-year-old man should be doing this.
12:38-Pack up your wife/sister and make your way to Mud Lick; it is Hillbilly Jim time! Jesse informs us that a future release will focus on Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer. Maybe that was a warning and not an advertisement.
13:47-We are fortunate enough to see a nice spot where Hillbilly catches Rene Goulet off the top in a bearhug and thrashes him about like a ragdoll. Go figure, Hillbilly Jim steals the show so far. Now, we see Hillbilly Jim on Piper’s Pit introducing the worst wrestler ever, Uncle Elmer.
15:01-Right on cue, it looks like we are going to see Elmer in action…nope, just walking around ringside. Thank god.
15:29-MIDGETS!!!!!!!! IVAN THE TERRIBLE AND BILLY THE KID VS TINY TOM AND BUTCH CASSIDY! BRING IT ON!!!
16:12-Jesse talks about one midget, Frenchy LaMont, apparently carrying Gorilla Monsoon on his back once. I would pay PPV-like money to see that.
16:42-The next clips include Tiger Jackson, who looks like a shrunken version of Charlie Villenueva, and Haiti Kid against Dana Carpenter (who is surely missing Lilith Fair to appear in this match) and PANCHO BOY!!! Let me make sure you read that correctly…PANCHO BOY!!!
18:01-I like this Tiger Jackson guy. It’s like Verne Troyer took 18 Red Bulls and decided to wrestle. Yes, this is the longest we have seen one match. We get an actual result to a match after Tiger Jackson botches a head scissors and cross body to pin Dana Carpenter and not PANCHO BOY.
18:56-Sky Lo Lo and Little Beaver are now in the mix and it is comedy hour! Vince can’t help but make a “short end of the stick” joke and Gorilla Monsoon tries to legitimately call the action.
20:09-It has never been explained to me why midgets love biting asses.
20:43-Little Beaver is a boss! He overhead presses Sky Lo Lo like Jim Hellwig and wins the match. We immediately go to another match. It is a tag match that features Little Joey and Little Brutus and the announcer reveals this is TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS WITH A 45 MINUTE TIME LIMIT! Please show me all of it.
22:34-The ref for this match apparently has no idea what he is doing because he is just ignoring crucifix pins. He is also dressed like an auto mechanic.
23:24-I just saw that Frenchy LaMont guy and…yeah, he could carry Gorilla Monson. What a tall, jacked midget.
24:15-What I have seen of this midget tag match has had better psychology and crowd reactions than any WWE tag division match in 10 years.
25:32-The heel midgets win again and Jesse informs us we are moving onto the strangest. We start with The Rugged Russians, who had a bunch of strange rituals apparently. The racism is killing me inside.
27:04-We are introduced to The Canadian Wolfman, which mean a kind of hairy Charles Manson-looking dude with a loincloth. Oh, this was the guy that wrestled Gorilla earlier. I know this because it shows us another clip from that same match.
28:08-Pampero Firpo. Nuff said.
28:52-Crazy Luke Graham, or as I will call him, an even more sloppy-looking Kenny Rogers, enters the picture. This segment is more so about the classic manager, the Grand Wizard. If you close your eyes, it sounds like an older and better Truth Martini.
31:19-This interview is still going on. I mean, it’s good…but it’s still going on. I just have to keep you informed.
33:55-That interview is finally over, but we move to Minneapolis and a warm welcome for Mad Dog Vachon. He gets beat up by his opponent and sells it worse than an executive for Disney pitching “John Carter”.
35:09-Gorilla’s first Pearl harbor reference. The memories are coming back to me now.
35:40-Already a second Pearl Harbor reference. Thankfully, that is the end of that and we are treated to Lord Alfred Hayes serving tea to the British Bulldogs, Vince McMahon, Mister Fuji and, specifically, Moondog Spot. This is going to be rough.
36:55-Fuji tells Moondog to smash, eat and generally make a mess. And we complain about comedy bits on Raw.
37:23-Mil Mascaras in the house! I don’t know if he should really be considered one of the strangest, but Jesse again does a great job putting him over. Thankfully, the clip is of Adrian Adonis selling like a beast for Mil. Besides the midgets, the highlight of the tape thus far.
38:17-Captain Lou!!! There is way too much here to love and appreciate. Just look up clips of Captain Lou and enjoy. Do that while I now have to watch Nikolai Volkoff sing the Russian national anthem.
39:59-Jesse introduces “The Stranger Side of Fashion” segment with cool 80s synth music and we see all of the outrageous outfits of the era. The highlights: JYD’s chain being considered fashion, homoerotic clips of Hogan ripping his and Mean Gene’s shirt off, Cyndi Lauper’s name being misspelled and, naturally, Jesse Ventura taking up the last part of the segment looking like only he can.
44:45-After the worst montage ever, Bobby Heenan is getting ready to cut the hair of an Abe Lincoln lookalike. I think I remember this…this could get good.
45:36-Ken Patera and John Studd tie the guy down and an edit brings us to him covered in disgusting stuff that doesn’t remotely appear to be related to cutting hair.
46:16-Vince starts to break over all the garbage being dumped on the poor man and the crew is dying as well because all of Bobby’s comments are hysterical. That was great. I wish there was more of that segment on this tape.
47:08-We come crashing back down to earth with Mad Maxine and now…THE MISSING LINK. As a child, this man terrified me to no end. We are in the cave in which the Link was found and Vince and Alfred Hayes look frightened. Vince asks Link a question. He freaks out and Bobby tries to calm him down.
48:16-George “the Animal” Steele gets the focus now and he is throwing the turnbuckle stuffing into a very young Steve Lombardi’s face.
50:06-Jesse begins to segue to the strongest segment and, of course, it starts with Bruno Sammartino beating the snot out of Bepo the Mongol.
51:26-I still chuckle when Jesse Ventura mispronounces Ivan Putski’s name as “Ivan Paduski.” Oh boy, it looks like there is an arm wrestling match between Ivan and Jesse coming up.
52:54-If Ivan Putski wasn’t on the best steroids of the time, I don’t have male genitalia.
53:44-FLEX OFF! That was so awkward; I actually doubt if I DO have male genitalia anymore.
54:22-They finally sit down to start the contest…and Jesse stalls some more once they lock up. Oh, the cheapest of cheap heat. Never gets old. I hope you sensed that sarcasm.
56:18-It finally seems like it is going to happen after multiple stalls and then Putski does the same walkaway to toy with Jesse. A-Ha! Well played, you Polish son of a bitch.
57:06-Putski might have created the “YAY…BOO” concept during this segment just by pointing.
57:32-AND THEY ARE FINALLY OFF! Putski makes a big comeback, but Jesse cheats with the table to regain the upper hand. This has been over a minute of fucking arm wrestling…and Jesse cheats again. Come on!!! I got shit to do.
58:57-Ventura finally has enough and starts beating the crap out of Putski with a chair. That was a decent payoff for watching essentially eight minutes of arm wrestling.
59:55-The Iron Sheik is cutting a promo that is equally as unintelligible then as it is now and proceeds to play with his Persian clubs.
60:59-Okay, is this a WBF video? Big John Studd is now going to try and break a live bench press record.
61:58-Studd calls Andre “Andrea the Giant.” Vince corrects him, not realizing that it is a joke.
62:24-Studd is pretty funny here, making fun of Vince’s lousy lift-off as he helps Studd bench press.
64:11-Studd is now attempting to lift 700 pounds, an apparent record and we see way too much of Studd’s armpit. Studd fails and rips into Vince and his partner.
65:32-Bruno Sammartino is being interviewed by Vince and gets interrupted by Studd, who requests Bruno to spot him for the record again, all the while talking trash about Da Brune. The look of the TNT set never gets old with me.
67:20-Okay, this segment has worn out its welcome with me. Studd is now stalling and answering Vince’s stupid questions. He might have forgotten the goal of this segment.
68:24-Studd finally benches the 70 pounds and I want the phrase “What a lousy liftoff” on a Barbershop Window shirt after hearing it delivered hilariously three times in this video.
69:04-Put your feet away!!! Tony Atlas time! He poses back and forth with Ken Patera and Jesse teases some weird/cool stuff Patera will do on the video after he “wastes his time with Mr. USA”.
70:37-Pearl Harbor reference number three!
70:57-Ken Patera is cutting promos. It is either going to be pretty decent or completely terrible. His demonstration includes driving a spike with his hands through a thick ass piece of wood. He does it and I can’t tell if it is impressive or not.
73:13-Now, Patera is going bend some stainless steel bullshit. Vince’s strategy back in day: mimic stupid pet tricks with his ‘roided out heels.
74:14-Okay, the fuck? He is blowing up a hot water bottle with his mouth. Next: Patera is chop a Winnebago in half.
75:29-Patera blows the bottle up, it pops on him (naturally) and he makes a goofy face. The crowd just keeps booing.
76:06-Patera is outside now with shorter hair and Vince is going be behind the wheel of a car that Patera is going hold up with his leg WHILE IT IS ACCELERATING. Number one: it is a big ass van. Number two: Patera is awesome. Number three: Vince is routinely hysterical in these clips, not out of actual hilarity, but retrospectively being a dolt.
77:44-Patera tries to cut a promo and Vince keeps revving the engine like he actually wants to run Patera over. I just realized Patera looks like a jacked to the gills Bob Uecker.
79:22-This is actually going to happen. Patera holds the car with his legs and the effects attached to it surely indicate that it is rigged.
80:16-As Patera and Vince bicker over Vince trying to kill him or not…we ABRUPTly CUT TO THE CREDITS?!?! WHAT THE FUCK?!? No final say from Jesse? Talk about fucking anticlimactic.
81:25-Jesse is back! Alas, it is only a voiceover to preview the Best of WWF IV, WWF Presents the Managers (yep, a whole tape of just managers) and Wrestling’s Country Boys (the tape I have been dying to see since Jesse talked about it earlier on) and now the tape is over. The last image: Uncle Elmer splashing Big John Studd in the corner. Yikes.
After spending these 80 minutes watching this VHS tape, I am having serious regrets about my entire childhood. I will never get that time back from my life. When the highlights are funny midget names, Bobby Heenan shaving a man’s head and Ken Patera doing sideshow acts, you know that the quality is subpar.
With that, I am going to place this tape back into its clear, plastic case and bury it back into the box from which it came. Maybe it will turn into a catastrophe of Jumanji-like proportions and create more devastation in the future.
All I know is it won’t grace my television screen ever again.
My tape of Midget Wrestling Bloopers...now that is another story. No Pancho Boy means I riot!!!