It’s time for the WWF Wrestling Classic What If Tournament, the imaginary event that envisions 32 of the world’s greatest wrestlers competing in a titanic tournament to determine the winner. Unlike the WWF Wrestling Classic from 1985, this one features wrestlers from a variety of promotions including the American Wrestling Association (AWA), various territories from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), Japan, and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF_. It also ups the stakes by awarding the winner a Rolls Royce (much like one lucky fan who ordered the pay-per-view did) along with a title shot against the NWA, WWF, or AWA World Heavyweight Champion. The tournament also features a main event tag team match with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair teaming up to take on Magnum T.A. and WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. Hogan, who is scheduled to meet Flair at Starrcade ’85, will meet Flair in the ring for the first time.
The matches will be held under traditional WWF rules which means you can win by count-out, disqualification, pinfall, or submission. There is no disqualification for throwing your opponent over the top rope, unlike other promotions. The matches in rounds one and two matches have a 20-minute time limit while rounds three and four have a 30-minute time limit. The fifth and final round will be a one-hour time limit. Just as was the case with the 1985 Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup, the tournament will feature randomly selected referees from a pool of referees from every promotion that is sending competitors.
The event will be held over five nights with the first eight matches of round one taking place on Thursday November 7, at the famous Boston Garden. Round One’s first eight matches saw Antonio Inoki, Tito Santana, Larry Zbyszko, Tully Blanchard, Harley Race, Jerry “The King” Lawler, The Junkyard Dog and Bob Backlund enter the winner’s circle. They’re now on their way to the second round. Round One’s final eight matches took place at the fabled Philadelphia Spectrum on Friday November 8, with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Kerry Von Erich, Nikita Koloff, King Kong Bundy, Ricky Steamboat, Big John Studd, Kamala and Sgt. Slaughter advancing to Round Two.
It’s time for round two as the action moves to Canada’s famous venue, Maple Leaf Gardens on Saturday November 9. Your announcers for the show are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Gorilla says it’s time to send things to the ring for our first match in Round Two.
Tito Santana vs. Antonio Inoki
Inoki and Santana shake hands before the match starts. Gorilla Monsoon admires the tremendous display of sportsmanship. Jesse adds a tremendous display of stupidity by Chico Santana as he should have sucker-punched Inoki. “There’s a world championship match and a Rolls Royce awaiting the winner” Jesse says, adding “You gotta win by any means necessary.”
Collar and elbow tie-up as both men jockey for control. Inoki forces Tito onto the ropes but gives a clean break as AWA official Tommy Gilbert monitors the match. The two go to lock up but Tito catches Inoki with an arm drag, turning it into an armbar. Tito keeps the hold locked in for a minute but Inoki is able to reverse, applying an arm bar of his own until Tito grabs the top rope, forcing a break. The two lock up again as Inoki puts Tito in a side headlock. Tito escapes, whipping Inoki into the ropes. Shoulderblock by both men but no one moves. Inoki whips Santana into the ropes this time and goes for a back drop, but Tito leap frogs over him and bounces off the ropes, going for the flying forearm. However, the Japanese legend has obviously scouted Santana and he gets out of the way, with Santana crashing down to the mat. Inoki drops a knee onto Santana’s back then picks him up for a side suplex.
Inoki drops another knee into Tito’s back as Gorilla Monsoon says it looks like Antonio is softening Tito’s back up for his patented Cobra Twist abdominal stretch. Jesse asks Gorilla if Antonio has the move patented, why are so many other wrestlers using it? Gorilla says you’ll have to take that up with Inoki’s attorney. Back in the ring, Antonio slams Tito to the mat then picks him up. Inoki goes for the abdominal stretch but Tito is close to the ropes and forces a break before Inoki can put the hold on. Inoki then takes Santana and delivers a Bridging Fallaway Slam. However, Santana is able to kick out at two-and-a-half. “That was close!” Jesse says. “Chico Santana is in trouble. The good thing is that he can always go back to his grandmother’s taco stand if things don’t work out.” Gorilla points out that Tito is the Intercontinental Champion. He’s got a long career ahead of him. Jesse says not judging by the way Inoki is manhandling him.
Antonio lifts a groggy Santana up and whips him into the ropes. Dropkick by Antonio sends Tito back down to the mat. Inoki climbs to the top rope and goes for the flying knee. Tito summons the strength to roll out of the way. Inoki grabs his knee as the referee checks on it. Gorilla suggests Antonio may have injured his knee. Tommy Gilbert asks Inoki if he wants to continue and he gets up, waving the referee off. Tito kicks Inoki’s hamstring, knocking him down. Elbow to Inoki’s weakened knee. Tito grabs Inoki’s leg and applies the figure four leglock. Santana has Inoki in the center of the ring. Antonio works to escape. As he does, his shoulders fall to the mat and the referee counts to three as Inoki is too busy trying to escape or in so much pain that he doesn’t notice.
Winner: Tito Santana
The referee raises Santana's hand and the Intercontinental Champion goes to check on Inoki. Jesse Ventura says Chico's win just goes to prove that sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Larry Zbyszko vs. Tully Blanchard (w/ Baby Doll)
Gorilla says referee Danny Davis will be keeping an eye on things for this match and as far as he’s concerned, Davis should have an extra referee to keep an eye on these two characters as well as Blanchard’s valet Baby Doll. Jesse says that kind of talk shows a clear bias against both men and Jesse says “I’m glad you’re not calling the shots. Leave the presidential stuff to Jack Tunney, Monsoon!”
Zbyszko is showing off his nunchaku skills and Blanchard is pointing at Zbyszko’s weaponry. Larry sets the nunchaku down on the mat apron and as he does, Blanchard races across the ring and knees Larry in the back. “Pearl Harbor job by Blanchard!” Gorilla shouts as Baby Doll exits the ring. Blanchard lays into the self-professed “Living Legend” with punches and forearms. Blanchard starts choking Larry as Danny Davis is trying to get in and stop the ambush. Davis orders Blanchard out of the corner and as he does, Zbyszko gets in a cheap shot on Blanchard. Zbyszko takes off his kimono and throws it over Blanchard’s head. Karate kick to the gut and Blanchard goes down. Larry drops a knee across Blanchard’s back then chokes him, using his black belt. Jesse laughs and says this is what he likes to see, two wrestlers who don’t hold back. Gorilla counters that this isn’t a wrestling match, it’s a brawl!
Danny Davis starts a five-count and Zbyszko releases the choke right before five. Body slam by Larry. Zbyszko jumps up, dropping both feet on Blanchard’s head. Larry lifts Tully up and delivers a swinging neckbreaker. Cover on Blanchard but he kicks out at two. Baby Doll is on the mat apron. She’s trying to get Larry’s attention and she does. “Is Baby Doll asking Larry Zbyszko out on a date?” Jesse asks as Baby Doll is all smiles with Zbyszko. Baby Doll seems quite fond of “The Living Legend” Gorilla adds. Larry doesn’t seem interested however. “I guess we won’t be seeing those two together” Gorilla says as Zbyszko turns his attention back to Blanchard. However, Tully has recovered and he kicks Larry in the gut. Big punch to the head as Blanchard throws Larry through the ropes. Blanchard follows him out and slams Zbyszko on the concrete.
Blanchard rolls in and out of the ring to break up referee Danny Davis’ ten-count then kicks Zbyszko in the gut as he’s getting up. Zbyszko falls back down as Blanchard goes for a piledriver on the concrete! This match will be over if Blanchard hits the move Gorilla says. “Match?” Jesse says, “His career could be over!” Tully lifts Larry up but Zbyszko counters, delivering a back body drop that sends both Blanchard down. Larry rolls into the ring as the referee continues counting. Baby Doll helps Tully to his feet and he manages to stagger into the ring.
Larry isn’t giving Blanchard any time though. Zbyszko closes in for the kill as he lifts Blanchard up for a suplex. As he does, Baby Doll trips him up and Blanchard positions himself to fall on top of “The Living Legend.” Cover by Blanchard as Larry gets his leg on the rope, only for Blanchard’s “Perfect 10” to knock it off. The referee misses everything as Gorilla Monsoon says he doubts if anyone is crying any tears over Larry’s loss.
Winner: Tully Blanchard
Harley Race vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
Jesse says it’s a battle between the multiple-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and “The King of Wrestling,” and “The King of Memphis.” Gorilla asks what about Elvis Presley? Jesse says what about him, if he wants to dispute things, he can step into the ring. “Will you stop!” Gorilla protests. Toronto’s own Terry Yorkston is officiating this one. He signals for the bell after checking for foreign objects and both men charge in, locking up. Side headlock by Lawler, who punches Race right in the mush. Race goes down as Lawler stomps at him. Race gets to a knee and fires off a punch to Lawler’s breadbasket. Lawler staggers back as Race headbutts him then whips Jerry into the ropes. Big running knee by Harley knocks Lawler down. Cover on Lawler but “The King” kicks out at two. Race drops a knee onto Jerry’s head as Gorilla says “Tremendous blow to the occipital protuberance.” Race lifts Lawler up and hits a beautiful underhook suplex. Another cover but again, “The King” kicks out.
Race lifts Lawler up for a vertical suplex, but Lawler blocks it then reverses it. Both men are down! Referee Yorkston begins a ten-count. 1, 2, 3 no one is up yet. 4, 5…Gorilla says someone could be getting a bye in the next round. 6, 7…Race gets to a knee as Lawler pulls himself up by the ring ropes. Jerry kicks Race in the gut then fires off with a series of big right hands. Lawler whips Race into the ropes and hits a big elbow to the chest. Race throws a punch but Lawler blocks it and knocks Race into the corner. Lawler climbs on the second rope and unloads with punches as the fans count off each punch. Gorilla says that the referee has lost control. He’s letting anything go.
Lawler pulls down his strap as he unloads with punches on the eight-time world champion. “The King” climbs to the second rope and delivers a fist-drop on Harley. Race is on rubber-leg street Gorilla points out. Lawler raises Race for a piledriver but Race stops him. Big back body-drop as Lawler goes down. Race backs up into the ropes but accidentally bumps into the referee, knocking him down. Race moves in but Lawler rakes the eyes. With Race momentarily stunned, “The King” reaches into his singlet and pulls out a small chain. Lawler swings at Race as the referee begins to stir. Race blocks the punch and headbutts Lawler, knocking him down as the chain falls from his hand. Race grabs the chain and slugs Lawler. “The King” falls to the mat as the bell rings. Terry Yorkston has disqualified Harley Race!
Winner: Jerry "The King" Lawler (by disqualification)
The Junkyard Dog vs. Bob Backlund
WWF referee Gilberto Roman is your official for this match. Roman does the pre-match preliminaries then signals for the bell. Backlund extends his hand and the Dog shakes it. The two go to lock up but the Dog surprises Backlund by whipping him into the ropes, knocking him down with a shoulderblock. Jesse says the Dog has the weight and power advantage and it’s his best move to use it. Backlund surprises the Dog with a double leg takedown then applies a front facelock, wearing him down. JYD fights his way out, reaching for the ropes. Jesse says Backlund needs to watch out if the Dog starts brawling. The two go to lock up but the JYD headbutts Backlund, knocking him back into the corner. The Dog whips Bob into the opposite corner and charges in with a clothesline. The JYD connects as Backlund falls out of the corner. Cover by JYD but Backlund kicks out. The Junkyard Dog slams Backlund to the mat then drops a knee on him. Another cover but Backlund kicks out. Gorilla says Backlund has obviously maintained the physical conditioning he was renowned for during his lengthy reign as WWF Champion.
The Junkyard Dog moves in but Backlund knocks him down with another double leg takedown. Backlund applies a head scissors to the Dog as JYD tries to power his way out. However, Backlund is using his incredible knowledge of leverage and amateur wrestling to keep him locked in. After a couple minutes, the JYD goes to “Plan B,” getting his leg on the bottom rope. The Dog shakes off the effects of the head scissors then surprises Backlund with a head butt. Backlund is staggered and the Dog whips him into the ropes. Big back body drop sends Backlund crashing to the mat. Cover by the Dog but Bob kicks out at two. The Dog picks Backlund up again and whips Backlund into the ropes, going for another back body drop. However, Backlund counters, landing a Sunset Flip on the Dog. 1, 2 but the Dog kicks out. Backlund grabs the Dog’s arm and applies a hammerlock. The Dog is working to escape and elbows Backlund in the face. “Some rough tactics by the Dog”, Jesse observes “But nothing unexpected. The Dog is as big a cheater as Hulk Hogan.”
The JYD goes to kick Backlund in the gut but Backlund catches the Dog’s boot and spins him around, hitting an Atomic Drop! Gorilla says that Backlund won many matches with the Atomic Drop during his WWF title reign. Backlund goes for the Chicken Wing on the Dog, but there’s some sort of commotion going on outside the ring. Nick Bockwinkel is making his way to the ring talking about how Backlund robbed him of his win. Backlund turns to confront Bockwinkel, turning his back on the JYD. Bockwinkel trash talks more as various officials come out to restrain him. Bob Backlund turns around as the Dog picks him up for the “Thump” powerslam, sending Bob down onto the mat. The Dog gets the win as Jesse Ventura says Backlund deserves to lose after he stole a win from Bockwinkel. The only bad thing is that the Junkyard Dog is going to round three. Jesse says that big dumb mutt could luck his way into the finals. Knowing the way things are going, he might even get a bye. Gorilla reminds “The Body” he said sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Winner: The Junkyard Dog
That’s it for this time fans. Join us next time as Round Two concludes with four more big match-ups! Be sure to check back as the WWF Wrestling Classic What If Tournament continues, exclusively at Wrestling Merchandise and Memories.