The Best of the WWF Vol. 1
These days, you kids have it easy. Want to see a match - track it down on YouTube or DailyMotion. Watch it on Netflix or DVD. Or dig through the massive vault that is the WWE Network.
But back in my day (1924), we didn't have any of these newfangled technologies. No, I was forced to walk a mile in the snow to a local video store (The Video Station and later, Videoflicks) to get my wrestling fix.
Such was the case with The Best of the WWF Vol. 1, practically the only way to track down the greatest matches of the modern era and watch them on "videocassette" (in my case, Betamax. No, I ain't kidding.). Believe it or not, I once owned this very gem and even today, it still holds a special place in my heart.
The opening for all Coliseum Home Video releases is a work of art - no one who's ever seen it before will forget the catchy 1970's "night at the movies" style soundtrack as well as the Star Wars-esque crawler explaining to stupid marks everywhere how wrestling dated back to ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc. This was followed by classic clips of everyone from Ken Patera to Tiger Mask, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones, Magnificent Muraco to Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff, and Andre The Giant slamming Kamala in a steel cage. By the time Hulk Hogan was pinning Iron Sheik for the 1-2-3 and the music hit its crescendo (is that the right word for it? Crescendo?), you knew the shit was on!
We're joined by Vince McMahon, but not the evil billionaire. Rather he's still the suit-with-shoulder-pads-built-in announcer, coming to us from a video screen straight out of a 1982 television production studio (four television screens of varying sizes, a Radio Shack brand mixing board, and a wallunit that was shades of brown and beige). Vinnie Mac previews the action we're about to watch, including several "never before seen" encounters.
Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant vs. Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch and Big John Studd: Before kicking things off in East Rutherford, New Jersey, we're treated to a backstage interviews with the babyfaces. The announcers make a huge deal out of the fact that it's three against two, but anyone who's watched, like, five minutes of wrestling before know that Hogan and Andre were going to go over. Nothing special here.
Wendi Richter (with Cyndi Lauper) vs. The Fabulous Moolah (with Captain Lou Albano): In the opening interview backstage, Albano stumbles badly, saying his client has held the Women's Title for an amazing 12 years. Moolah corrects him and says that it's actually 27 years. A decent back-and-forth contest with really good crowd reaction from the Madison Square Garden faithful. Richter wins the match and the championship in a somewhat klunky finish.
Gorilla Monsoon vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna: This is a very quick squash match, with Monsoon sending the Baron out of the ring. But the real attraction here is the interference of ringside observer Muhammad Ali, who actually battles Gorilla for a while. I'm shocked WWE doesn't still use this clip to this day when they talk about celebrities that have been involved in wrestling. A ringside interview with Vinnie Mac shows Gorilla talking exactly as he did as an announcer.
Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Bobby Bass: Just a squash to set up the next segment...
Piper's Pit with Jimmy Snuka: Likely, you've seen this segment before, somewhere. But nonetheless, it's an awesome segment, and I never get tired of Snuka smashing into the partition and bringing the set down to reveal the backstage area.
Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper: This one may be on Piper's DVD, but it's a great lesson in how to pay off a tremendous rivalry. The crowd in Madison Square Garden is red hot, reacting to literally everything these guys throw at each other. Sadly, we never find out how they react to Piper winning on a screwy countout finish, because that probably led people to riot. Amazingly, the ref only counted to nine before giving a bloody Piper the victory - surely someone else has noticed that before now?
The Cobra vs. The Black Tiger: In the intro, Vinnie Mac calls this "one of the most action packed matches seen in years" and he's not totally wrong. This is to fill the vacant WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship (who knew?) and is also from MSG. Tons of high-flying and high-risk moves from the two masked competitors. Cobra wins the Junior championship following a senton-type move. The only complaint is that the match is highly clipped, moreso than others in this compilation.
Next, we're shown the infamous training vignettes of Hulk Hogan and Mean Gene Okerlund working out to get ready for a tag team match. This series is so bad it's good, complete with Mean Gene running around Venice Beach in short shorts and a homemade Hulk-A-Mania t-shirt. Well worth tracking down for the comedy value alone. The training is completed, which is all a set-up to....
Hulk Hogan and Mean Gene Okerlund vs. George "The Animal" Steele and Mr. Fuji: Talk about an unusual matchup! Of course, it's all in the name of watching Okerlund wrestle. Obviously, The Hulkster and Mean Gene go over.