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Over the past couple of weeks, I have been watching a lot of classic matches on the WWE Network. I had been watching a lot of WCW stuff from the mid 1990's as I was pro WWF. Recently, I started looking up old house show matches in the Old School section. On a side note from what I want to go in a little bit of detail with this post, I highly recommend watching what I came across last weekend....the Boston Garden House Show from 3/8/86. In that show, you will see a FANTASTIC match featuring Ricky Steamboat vs. a young but prime Bret Hart. Also, you will see the return IC Title Match with Randy Savage defending against Tito Santana (shorter than their technical clinics, but effective). The Main Event was Bruno Sammartino vs. Roddy Piper in a steel cage...WOW, did Piper work the crowd and man, Bruno was still over!

This weekend I watched a match from the 4/21/85 house show from the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. This match featured RICKY STEAMBOAT and TITO SANTANA vs. IC CHAMP, GREG VALENTINE and BRUTUS (not yet the barber) BEEFCAKE! This was a very good match. Here are my observations:

1) It was great watching match from 35 years ago where all of the participants are still ALIVE...RIP of course to Gorilla in commentary and as always a great job by Jesse Ventura doing color.

2) Steamboat and Tito were BOTH incredibly over. Steamboat of course had a good track record recently coming over from the NWA and in the territories. Tito (who is underrated and underappreciated in the annals of history) was very popular as a former IC champion and a being a great worker! The hot Toronto crowd was behind them 100% and did not get bored or waver.

3) Valentine was a great worker as a heel and was in phenomenal shape. Monsoon brought up that he had shed 15lbs and was moving much better in the ring. Both he and Ventura put over how great of a champion he was. Like Tito, The Hammer is historically underrated and under appreciated. Brutus Beefcake was never the greatest of workers, but he did a good job as well. He too (as noted by Monsoon and Ventura) was in fantastic shape and complimented Valentine well as a tag partner. Good pairing and of course they became tag champs a few months later. They were managed by Jimmy Hart who is an all time great as a manager, but Hart wasn't much of a factor here.

3) The action was great. The faces who are 2 of the best workers of all time did well together (they would have been an insanely popular team had they worked together full time) and the heels (specifically the work rate of Valentine and the heel tactics of Bruti) worked well. The match was well paced, they worked the crowd, AND....

4) The finish was GREAT! Simple, yet effective and played into the story of the Tito/Hammer feud! Steamboat fought off Beefcake and in the ring, Valentine went for an atomic drop on Santana. Tito blocked the impact and grabbed Valentine's leg and perfectly countered it into the Figure Four Leg Lock (FFLL) for the submission. It was different seeing Valentine submit to that move as it was his finisher, but Tito used it as a finisher as well in those days before he settled for just the flying forearm. How it played in to the finish...

5) THEY TOLD A STORY...or specifically continued telling a long term story. Gorilla and Jesse reminded the viewers that Valentine put Tito in the hospital while taking the IC Title from him. With the finish, Tito held on to the FFLL in an attempt to injure Valentine....he had to be pryed off. Also, the action after the match saw Steamboat and Beefcake fighting up he ramp.

6) As I alluded to earlier, the crowd was HOT...through the intros, through the match, and with the finish and aftermath, Toronto was on fire for the WWF!!!!

Great match to watch and the wrestlers of today need to watch this to learn how to incorporate story telling and psychology with their athleticism.
 
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