Remembering Wrestling Hulkamania Night
You may remember this as The Big Event, as that's what this 1986 supercard has become known as. But to me as a stupid mark kid in Toronto that witnessed it live, it was a defining moment.
I began watching wrestling in 1985, although it wasn't until the following summer that I became a massive fan. When my brother The Big Rybowski and I went to summer camp in '86, we brought with us Apter mags, action figures and made our father promise us that he would tape all the weekly syndicated programs on a Betamax videotape.
Literally the minute our three weeks of hell at Camp Northland were up, Rybowski and I were in front of the Beta watching hours upon hours of shitty jobber matches from All American Wrestling, Maple Leaf Wrestling and WWF Cavalcade. But we also kept watching the commercial to the right, advertising a BIG wrestling show coming to Toronto later that summer!
The main attraction to "Wrestling Hulkamania Night" was, of course, Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff, with the WWF Title hanging in the balance.
I heard a rumor while at camp that Orndorff had "accidentally" clotheslined Hogan during a tag team match and thanks to an advertisement in a contraband newspaper that someone at camp had scored, we knew it was no accident well before seeing the incident on Betamax. So this match was a big effing deal!
Luckily for Rybowski and I, Canadian Bulldog Sr. had secured tickets for us by the time we'd come home from camp. Talk about a pleasant surprise! I want to say we were sitting 12th row ringside or something ridiculous like that.
Wrestling Hulkamania Night was unusual in that it was held at Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Stadium, a baseball field that was home at the time to the Toronto Blue Jays. The crowd was something like 70,000 strong (at least, that's how the WWF spun it at the time, but it definitely felt like that).
Even though the event was held in late-August, I remember it being absolutely freezing (the CNE was outdoors and right near the lakefront - a dangerous combination on chilly nights). Still, nothing was going to crush my spirit on Wrestling Hulkamania Night!
I remember spending (what felt like) hours on a piece of bristol board that declared "Bund-a-Mania is running wild!" with a hand-drawn image of my idol King Kong Bundy. Never mind that he was buried in the mid-card in a meaningless six-man tag team match. I was convinced The Great Bundy would see my sign in a sea of two zillion people and appreciate the sentiment.
Although I can't say I remember every moment of every match (I'm pretty much a senior citizen today, so cut me some slack), the results were:
The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jumpin' Jim Brunzell) over Dory and Jimmy Jack Funk, with Jimmy Hart in their corner - The Bees used "masked confusion" to overcome the tough Texas duo.
King Tonga and The Magnificent Muraco, with Mr. Fuji, wrestled to a 20-minute draw. Lord knows why this went so long - the match absolutely sucked.
Ted Arcidi defeated Tony Garea - this was supposed to be Ted vs. Tony Atlas, but Atlas had since left the WWF.
Junkyard Dog over Adorable Adrian Adonis - given that Adonis was newly feuding with Rowdy Roddy Piper at the time, I have NO IDEA why Piper wasn't there instead.
King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd and Bobby Heenan over The Machines (Super and Big Machine) and Captain Lou Albano by DQ when The Giant Machine interfered - Giant Machine was quite obviously Andre The Giant but he couldn't wrestle due to injury. And hey, I guess my sign worked!
Ricky The Dragon Steamboat over Jake The Snake Roberts in a Snakepit Match - an incredible bloody brawl that I'd argue was the best match in their feud.
Billy Jack Haynes over Hercules Hernandez - this was before their WrestleMania III feud, and I want to say that Herc was managed by Slick at this point, though I'm not sure he was at the show.
The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond Rougeau) over The Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) - not a great match, but I remember Luscious Johnny Valiant not being at ringside because he was doing color commentary with Gorilla Monsoon for some reason for the commercial video release).
Harley Race over Pedro Morales - Harley wasn't The King yet, and I remember Pedro complaining to the crowd about how he was cheated afterwards.
Hulk Hogan defeated Paul Orndorff by DQ. This was a Dusty Finish, with Orndorff seemingly winning at first after Heenan knocked Hogan out with a chair. I remember an eight year old Rybowski being almost in tears.... until they reversed the decision and 70,000 fans (wait - the YouTube video says 70,000 and the VHS tape says 65,000 - hmmmmm) were sent home happy.
All in all, this was a pretty phenomenal show. Not quite a pay-per-view (it's important to note they'd only done two PPVs to this point - The Wrestling Classic and WrestleMania II), but a card that had some fantastic matches and boasted an incredible 20 or so WWE Hall of Famers.