Monday, October 9, 2017

Greg Valentine: Dream Team Era 1985-1987

Greg "The Hammer " Valentine
Best of 1985-1987 in World Wrestling Federation
Dream Team Era



1.  The Dream Team w/Jimmy Hart vs Tito Santana & Ricky Steamboat - MLG 4/85
2.  WWF World Tag  Team Champions British Bulldogs vs Dream Team -
2 Out of Three Falls SNME 10/86
3. Team Hart Foundation (Hart Foundation, Islanders, Demolition, New Dream Team & Bolsheviks) vs Team Strike Force (Strike Force, British Bulldogs, Rougeaus, Killer Bees & Young Stallions) - Survivor Series 1987
4.  WWF World Tag Team Champions US Express vs The Dream Team - Philly 9/24/85
5. Dream Team vs Can-Ams – MSG 1/19/87
6. WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream Team vs British Bulldogs - Wrestlemania II

The Dream Team w/Jimmy Hart vs Tito Santana & Ricky Steamboat - MLG 4/85

This match sure lived up to the hype and may be the best Beefcake performance I have ever seen. This match was all about tempo. Santana was in his red-hot feud with Valentine who had broken his leg and taken his title. The crowd was molten for that angle. The babyfaces worked their entire end in an up-tempo, fired -up fashion. The Dream Team knowing they could not match this attempted every trick in the book to break their momentum and work a real grinding style. This led to a really good match.

Early on Steamboat and Santana have a hot shine sequence with Beefcake and Valentine just bumping all over the place for them. I have been down on WWF Steamboat, but he was pumped for this match just flying around the ring. You know that Tito is going to bring the hate with his fists balled up. Beefcake and Valentine do their best to stall and break this momentum, but at first there seems like no end to this onslaught. Until, Tito goes for the figure-4 on Valentine, who grabs his trunks and hits a knee in the midsection. Once he hits a shoulderbreaker he consolidates the advantage for the Dream Team and grinds the match to a halt. They work on Santana with some double teams and Valentine slaps on an arm bar. Tito is almost able to make the tag, but Valentine knocks Steamboat off the apron and then Beefcake comes around and beats on Steamboat. The crowd was just eating this all up. The Beefer gets cocky and goads Steamboat. Tito is able to crawl past Beefcake and get the hot tag to Steamboat. IT IS BREAKING LOOSE IN TORONTO! Steamboat with his best hot tag I have seen. He unloads on both the Hammer and the Beefer with karate shots. The crowd was losing their shit for this. Steamboat grabs the sleeper hold, but Beefcake with an eye-rake. Valentine and Steamboat have a good exchange until an eye-rake does Steamboat in and Valentine consolidates with a gut buster. I preferred the Steamboat FIP is a better at selling and the Dream Team really unloaded with double teams and offense. Valentine starts to warm him up for the figure-4, but Steamboat knows his way around the figure-4 and grabs an inside cradle. Steamboat fights out of the corner and is able to Tito. ARRIBA! Double noggin knocker. Tito drops Valentine with a right. Flying Burrito to a huge pop! Beefcake saves. Melee ensues. They are double teaming Tito and Steamboat flies off the top onto Beefcake. Tito blocks Valentine's atomic drop and applies the figure-4 for the submission victory. ARRIBA! Wooooooooooooo, I am out of breathe after that one.

This is babyface wrestling 101, folks. Steamboat and Santana gave maximum effort and I bet it is real easy when you have a crowd as hot as this one at the Maple Leaf Gardens. The Dream Team wrestled a smart match to ensure constant heat throughout the match as they built not one, but two really hot tags. In some of those double FIP AWA tags, the first hot tag is not all that hot, but in this match that Steamboat hot tag is just as red-hot as the following Santana one. Beefcake actually wrestled pretty well here and was not as awkward as usual. The Hammer is going to clog the lane every time and make sure that babyface earns every shot. This up there with the Bulldogs match as one of the best WWF Tags of the 80s. ****1/2
WWF World Tag Team Champs US Express vs The Dream Team - Philly 9/85

I am glad I went back and watched these two Dream Team matches because they could contend with the Islanders as my favorite heel tag team in 80s WWF. I will say one of the disappointments of Valentine sticking in one promotion for so long is that we did not get stuff like Valentine vs Windham one on one at length. Also, what I do not understand is why Beefcake seemed to suck so hard in '86. I mean Valentine barely let Beefcake wrestle in Wrestlemania II. He wrestled pretty decently in these two matches. He is still only the fourth best wrestler in these matches, but he is not sucking out loud.

I loved the start to this match as the Dream Team jumps them and a melee ensues. The Windham/Valentine exchange makes me want that singles match so much. The faces send the heels packing. Valentine & Beefcake true to form work smart and try to break their momentum. We get Windham/Valentine proper and the two minutes we get is awesome. Valentine stops the runaway freight train with a knee lift. Beefcake loses this advantage and we go to Heel In Peril with some arm work. I actually think Beefcake sold this pretty well and Rotundo worked pretty well in this segment. The US Express even hits a double dropkick (way better than Rockers one) on Beefer. Beefcake works Rotundo to his corrner and he blind tagged Valentine, who came off the top with a sledge onto Rotundo. Valentine suffocates Rotundo and is relentless on his legs and Rotundo sells pretty well. Rotundo is good at working some strikes in his hope spots in the corner. I dig Dream Team double whip into the corner. We hit the front facelock for a while. I will say the Valentine drop toehold to prevent Rotundo from making the tag is one of the best of those kind. Windham and Valentine get back into it. I just love how chippy this is. Valentine hits his shoulder breaker. I dig the shoulderbreaker I think someone should incorporate it in their moveset, but it is weird for Valentine's moveset. Valentine gets kicked off by Rotundo on his figure-4 into his corner so he can tag Beefer. Rotundo and Beefcake knock heads and The Hammer throws the Beefer on Rotundo and it is a close two! The crowd lets out a collective sigh of relief. But Rotundo escapes and hot tag to BIG BARRY!!! I love how Windham steps through his punches. He hits Valentine with a bulldog, but Valentine KICKS OUT! Now that's a death sentence for a babyface. Windham goes for the second bulldog, but Beefcake puts "Luscious" Johnny V's hair product in Barry's eyes. Valentine hits an elbow to seal the deal. I love how Windham is writhing in pain while he is being pinned, perfect selling.

The other match is definitely the better workrate match and the front facelock stuff does drag, but Windham & Valentine are really excellent. I wish they would some of that beginning melee stuff in other matches it gives matches a more heated feel. I thought this is one of the better title switches I have seen. ****


WWF World Tag Champions Dream Team vs Tito Santana & Pedro Morales - MSG 11/25/85

Anytime Valentine and Santana have a chance to hook it up whether it is in a tag or in singles, you know you are going to watch something special. There is just so much heat and urgency to their work. The beginning is great with Valentine and Pedro going hard body shot for hard body shot with Pedro winning. Morales I think only contributed left hands, but they were all great. Valentine was stooging and hitting TIMBAAAAAHHHHH early. Valentine and Santana tease figure-4s and the Garden is rocking for Tito with big Tito chants. I love Tito opening up with rights on Valentine. Valentine tags out but the story remains the same for the Beefer. Valentine is outside hugging Johnny V while Beefcake gets his ass handed to him. Double noggin knocker. They start to vere into heel in peril with arm work on Beefcake. There is an awesome game of chicken between Valentine and Santana over Morales going for a Chickenwing/Half Nelson pin that Valentine wins. Valentine comes in and just rocks Pedro with wicked elbows that send him tumbling through the ropes. When it is time to get mean, nobody is better than the Hammer. Beefcake is in and hits the Sleeper, which is the best they he can do. Jesse and Gorilla both are surprised this is in his arsenal as it ends up becoming his finish. Pedro crawls to his corner, but Valentine distracts the ref so he can't see the tag and then when the ref sends Tito back they toss Pedro over the top rope. That is some well done chicanery. Beefcake applies a spinning toehold when Pedro kicks out, Beefcake immediately tags out and Valentine wastes no time flying over to knock Santana off the apron and Valentine obilterates Pedro with a right elbow. Valentine goes for the Figure-4, but Pedro as one last burst of energy and makes the tag to Tito. Tito is such a great pissed of house of fire just hitting anything that moves and applies the figure-4 to Tito. Katie Bar the Door a Pier-Six Brawl is a brewing as Valentine deliberately attacks Tito triggering the disqualification.

I love Valentine in this period so much. He is totally selfless in getting the other team over, but at the same time does not necessarily need to cheat to take over. Sometimes, he is just going to hit you really hard in the mouth. I love the urgency of everyone's actions involved with great cheating thrown in by the Dream Team. The shine and hot tag were both excellent as to be expected from always lively Tito Santana. The finish leaves a lot to be desired, but that's the 80s for you. ***1/2


WWF World Tag Team Champs Dream Team vs Killer Bees - Boston 12/85

Holy shit! It is Jim Brunzell with a beard! "He must got tired of looking 16." - Jesse The Body

Valentine is one of the best 80s WWF workers by far and away. He is always great to watch when he is in the ring. He works a great chain sequence with Blair similar to the '87 match. He takes a bunch of suplexes from the Bees He sells well for both Bees as they work over his legs. Of course, he works in TIMBAAAAAAAAH! Blair gets caught trying to put the figure 4 on Valentine. Beefcake comes in. He stomps around and makes a lot of noise but doesnt do much. Valentine forsakes grappling and earns the moniker "The Hammer" with his sledges from the tough. Blair is able to maneuver away from Beefcake to tag in Brunzell. Jim and all his nefwound masculinity overwhelm the Dream Team. His new look does not affect his dropkick, but it does affect his awareness as he gets hit from behind while applying the sleeper to Beefcake. That is the finish. It was a decent match, but demonstrates what could have been with The Hammer.


WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream Team vs British Bulldogs – MLG 12/15/85

For the first time in Tag Teams Back Again (Whoomp! There it is) history, the heel in peril is featured strongly as the Bulldogs not only dominate the opening, but are working holds targeting Beefcake’s and Valentine’s arms. Valentine throws in a TIMMMMBBBAAAAHHHHH! For good measure just to put over how much the challengers are overwhelming the champions. The turning point is Valentine and Bulldog get tied up and Valentine is able to make the tag and hold Smith at bay for Beefer to cheapshot him. They work over Davey Boy’s leg as a means to set him up for the vaunted figure-4. I love Valentine picking a fight with Dynamite on the apron and the scuffle that ensues. Valentine obliterates Davey Boy with a wicked forearm and then some wicked slaps to the fallen Bulldog. He goes for the figure-4, but Davey Boy fights it off and Dynamite gets the tag. BOOM! Dynamite kicks some ass and hits a snap suplex, but Beefer saves. Dynamite grabs a sleeper, but unbeknownst to him Valentine gets a tag and Beefcake stomps around. Dynamite takes the patented Dream Team double whip back into their corner. Valentine gets knocked down, but comes out swinging, God Love The Hammer! Davey Boy was the best hot tag of this era and just had a mean dropkick. He hits his running powerslam and Beefcake kicks out?!?!? Valentine tripped on the ropes before he could save. Smith hits a delayed vertical and a couple nearfalls before tagging in Dynamite and pandemonium breaks loose. The Bulldogs hit the wicked badass rocket launcher diving headbutt that should be three, but Valentine drops an elbow on the back of Dynamite’s head for the Dream Team to retain. It was a solid first match in the series that showcased that the Bulldogs were the better overall wrestlers, but the Dream Team was going to level the playing field with cheating. The transitions were pretty weak and the Dynamite heat segment did not go anywhere. The Bulldogs got a better showcase for their offense and their pops were strong. Valentine is so great at bringing the fight to his opponent and this allowed Bulldogs to shine brighter.
WWF World Tag Champions Dream Team vs Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff -
Championship Wrestling 12/17/1985
In this rare heel vs heel match, nothing terribly exciting happens even though I think Valentine vs. Sheiky Baby would be a ton fun as a singles match. Dream Team play de facto babyfaces using generic arm work as the base of their strategy. First Beefcake falls prey to Volkoff's headlock. Beefcake's punches are even worse when viewed next to Valentine's. Valentine and Sheik finally square off and Sheik busts out the dropkick for the TIMBAH bump. Sheik hits a gutwrench suplex and applies the Camel Clutch, but The Hammer saves The Beefer. Valentine looks for figure-4, but the world's weakest donnybrook breaks out for the double disqualification. You know the whole match was weak when the highspot is Sheik hitting a dropkick. Nothing really happened. Surprising lack of cheating for heel vs heel. Don't waste your 8 minutes.

WWF World Tag Champs Dream Team vs British Bulldogs - SNME 3/1/86

They show a clip of the Bulldogs beating the Dream Team non-title and the finish was sweet for any time period. Davey Boy did his running power slam on Beefcake and then hoisted up Valentine fireman's carry style and then Dynamite jumped on Valentine while he was on Davey Boy and hit his diving headbutt to win. I marked out.

This was an offensive showcase for all the Bulldogs' high tech offense, plain and simple. Matches like these will never be rated among the greatest, but at the same time I never complain about them especially when a team like the Bulldogs is being showcased because they are so good at offense. It never feels like heel in peril because there are literally no holds. It just slam bang spots from the Bulldogs. The only problem is that it is Valentine and Beefcake taking them. I like Valentine a good bit, but this match isn't exactly his forte. He is much better in even, long-ish brutal or scientific matches. These matches pretty show he has his one "TIMBAHHHH" bump and other than that he doesn't do a great job putting over the Bulldogs. It is serviceable, but not great. Beefcake sucks. I forgot how truly shitty he is.

The best parts of the matches were the Hammer's forearm exchanges with each of the Bulldogs. On the first one, Bulldog answered with a dropkick, but in a nice touch he really sold Valentine's offense (maybe he didnt have to wink.gif ). Then second exchange with Dynamite led to the very brief face in peril segment where the Hammer actually hit his second rope elbow. Dynamite pushes him off on the figure-4 attempt; Valentine takes the Flair gorilla press slam bump off the top. Just as the Bulldogs seem like they are closing in on the titles, Dynamite and Valentine collide on a criss-cross and Valentine falls on top.

If I ever wanted to show somebody the Best Hits of the Bulldogs, so to speak this would be the match. I actually think that was a good finish because the story of the match was how much the Bulldogs dominated, but fell short due to unfortunate circumstances. It makes you want to see the Wrestlemania II match. It is an effective and fun match. ***1/2

WWF World Tag Champs Dream Team vs British Bulldogs - Wrestlemania II

Beefcake's total amount of time in this match is literally one minute. Thank God. At one point, Gorilla says Valentine has been in there a while and whilst the Hammer conferring with Luscious Johnny V remarks he can't believe Johnny V wouldn't advise a tag out. All I have to say is Gorilla have you seen Beefcake wrestle? Of course, Beefcake's one big move is actually a nice hammerlock slam that was perfectly fed to him by Davey Boy and perfectly setup by Valentine's arm work, but it doesn't stop Gene and Gorilla from going gaga over the Beefer's one move. Give me Dino Bravo every day over that chump.

This begins as less of an offensive showcase for the Bulldogs. They still get in their assortment of suplexes (Davey Boy- delayed vertical and Dynamite's snap) and Davey Boy does a gorilla press slam, but Valentine is able to get in a few forearms edgewise throughout. I wouldn't go so far to call spot monkeys like the Steiners (who I love, even though I know most people around these parts arent too fond of), but you do get the feeling that don't really give much of a fuck about structure. Case in point, Dynamite forces Valentine to do the TIMBAHHH bump twice, when he could have done a better job to maximize its effectiveness.

Valentine irks me as he randomly just picks up Dynamite at one point and gives him what can be best described as a reverse tombstone piledriver. It just annoys because it felt so much like "Ok now it is my turn" rather him even doing an eye rake to set that up. That does setup Valentine doing his best Flair impersonation, crotching himself and then taking the gorilla press slam. The Bulldogs go for the rocket launcher diving headbutt, but Valentine does some cat and mouse is able to the knee the fuck out of Dynamite (those were pretty vicious). Davey Boy comes in only for his shoulder to eat steel setting up the face in peril segment. Valentine shoulder-breaker and usual hammerlock related offense including Beefcake's sole contribution to the match, I mentioned above. Valentine makes the cardinal mistake of overconfident heels and picks up Davey Boy after the shoulderbreaker.

Davey Boy throws Valentine off who collides with Dynamite head first standing on the turnbuckle. Dynamite takes a wicked bump off-camera and the Bulldogs win the titles. I actually like that finish as a callback to the SNME finish. This match was an outstanding one man effort by Valentine as he was bumping and selling for the Bulldogs better because he made this into more his style match as a brutal strike based match. However, he still let the Bulldogs get their spots in. As evidenced by Beefcake's inability to take Dynamite's hooking clothesline in the last match, he clearly was not the man to do that. I have watched the Funks vs Tito/JYD recently, while that is good. This match is still my pick for the best match at the woeful Wrestlemania II card. ****

WWF World Tag Team Champions British Bulldogs vs Dream Team - MSG 5/19/86
Cold feet on the Beefcake babyface turn?
The Dream Team is coming off losing their tag team titles to British Bulldogs at Wrestlemania II and this is the MSG rematch. From the prematch it seems that perhaps the reason for Beefcake’s lack of participation in the Wrestlemania II match was supposed to foreshadow a babyface turn, but they did not pull the trigger until next year. The new Dream Team strategy seems to be get Beefcake involved more and cheat all the same. The Bulldogs focus on arm work and overwhelming the Dream Team with quickness and crispness. The Bulldogs just are not good at drawning the imaginary diagonal line as they are susceptible to be tied up the wrong corner and the Hammer crashing down. It does not last long as Dynamite rocks and rolls and sends Valentine down hard on TIMBAH! The Hammer responds with a rabbit punch to Dynamite on a suplex attempt and the Dream Team double team Dynamite liberally. The Dream Team are excellent at suffocating their opponent in the corner. Beefcake hits his one good move a match a big backbreaker. But he should have stopped while he was ahead when he hurts himself on a suplex. What a loser! Davey Boy gets a short burst of a hot tag that is punctuated with a running powerslam, but Valentine is there to break it up.  Valentine misses his elbows and now here comes Dynamite and he has Valentine reeling. Shoves him down and now a standing headbutt for only two. Valentine is on the ropes, but using the trunks he sends Dynamite into Beefcake’s boot. Valentine takes advantage with the figure-4, but Davey Boy saves. Valentine follows up with an elbow to the escaping Dynamite and Johnny V hooks the leg. 1-2-3! NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS! WAIT! The ref saw it and waives it off and Dynamite rolls Valentine up to win. ***1/2
Greg Valentine vs Davey Boy Smith - 10/20/86 MSG

I was pretty pumped when I found out this match exists, but it never reaches unheralded classic status I hoped it would. If Davey Boy bothered selling, maybe things could have been different, but as the match is it is just a plain 'ol good match between two very good wrestlers. What sets Valentine apart from the rest of WWF at this point is just how stiff he lays in his shots. It really gives his matches a special feel. They trade bearhugs, which is actually a unique way for Davey Boy to show off his power. Valentine really starts to lay into Davey Boy with forearms and then his shoulderbreaker. I am not against the shoulderbreaker, I think it is a move that should be utilized more frequently, but I don't really get why "Master of the Figure 4" Greg Valentine would be using it. Valentine begins working on the leg, but that ends up being no sold as Davey Boy slaps on the Sharpshooter of all things. Had Bret even debuted the Sharpshooter at this point?

So much for that leg work as Davey Boy does a delayed vertical suplex and his powerslam. Valentine does his cat and mouse game trick. Does anyone really believe Valentine could outrun Davey Boy? Davey Boy was struggling to go slow enough to not overtake Valentine, maybe if he sold the leg it wouldn't look so phony. Valentine with some stomps and here comes the figure-4, but Davey Boy gets to the ropes. Davey Boy immediately hits a dropkick. What is selling?

Weird finish as Valentine pretty much out of nowhere double legs Davey Boy and hold onto the ropes to pick up the victory. This match suffered from the 80s WWF hyper-compression issues. Did any WWF match from '84-86 ever go over 25 minutes? The finish didn't make sense because the Bulldogs were about to be programmed with the Harts and the Dream Team shunted down the card. Plus it felt like they just cut the match off prematurely. There is good stuff here and there is no reason to believe that these two could not have delivered an all-time classic, but I just dont think Hulkamania era WWF was the right setting for these two to deliver that. ***

WWF World Tag Champs British Bulldogs vs Dream Team - 2 Out of Three Falls SNME 10/86

One impressive thing about this series so far has been that these teams have really gone out and had different matches each time. This match saw the Dream Team in control of majority of the match. Hell, Brutus Beefcake looked shockingly competent. Valentine gets a hold of Dynamite's knee early, but Davey Boy comes in and the Dream Team overwhelm him bringing the injured Dynamite back in. I got to give the man some credit, but the Beefer worked Dynamite's knee pretty well, before Valentine was able to wrangle him into a figure 4 and garner the first fall.

They continue to work over Dynamite's leg at the beginning of the second fall. But Valentine goes for the always tempting second-rope elbow and misses allowing for Davey Boy to come in like the proverbial house afire. Bulldog hits his dropkick, delayed vertical suplex and running powerslam on Valentine before re-doing that wicked bitchin finish from the non-title match with Dynamite leaping off Beefcake and doing a headbutt on Valentine for the second fall.

Towards the beginning of the 3rd fall, there is a strike exchange, which makes me wish there was a Dynamite vs Greg Valentine match. Snap suplex by Dynamite, but he misses the standing headbutt. Valentine is back on the leg, but Dynamite pushes him off on the figure-4 attempt and tags out to Davey Boy. Beefcake gets the tag simultaneously and cuts off Davey Boy (I always want to write Bulldog, but have to stop myself). Valentine hits a suplex and Brutus connects with a high knee, but Dynamite saves. Brutus goes in for a high knee in the corner, but Davey Boy side-steps and picks up the win with a fisherman's suplex.

I would say it is close with the Wrestlemania II, but this is the my favorite match that I have seen between these teams. The match runs through the heels more, which is something I prefer. Hell, Beefcake came through in the clutch and proved me wrong in this match. Valentine was his usually violently awesome self. It is not like the Dream Team ate up the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs got in all of their offense and looked both resilient and impressive in their match. I actually think the other matches were too lop-sided in the favor of the Bulldogs that it actually made the Dream Team look like chumps. This match actually made the Bulldogs look more badass for overcoming the Dream Team in a way that just being on offensive never would. Dynamite sold really well throughout the match and Davey Boy is a really good hot tag. I would say this is my pick for best WWF 80s tag match I have seen so far. ****1/4
The Dream Team vs Islanders 12/86 Boston

Tama is looking PIMP at the beginning of the match. That jacket is fuckin *****, maybe that's why I got distracted. beefcake add his one useful contribution drops down to the Superfly pose and does "Up Yours!". Haku/Tama start with early double teams on Valentine's arm. Haku gets him a figure 4 armlock and head headscissors and also a hammerlock pinfall attempt. Tama and Valentine have a nice vicious exchange and Valentine also takes a cross body from Tama. Haku veers off cours and starts going after legs: single Boston Crab and spreading his legs apart. Basically the first half of the match was jaw-jacking and then has been working over Valentine. Valentine has kept it interesting with some stogging, but I really want to see him light someone up. Valentine gets a wicked reverse elbow to turn the tide and send Tama crashing to the paraquet floor. Tama is milking it for all its worth and once back in gets thrown back to the outside to take some light Beefcake offense. Valentine brings him in a with a suplex. Tags in Beefcake, but before exiting steps on Tama. Beefcake distracts Haku & ref for more Valentine offense. Beefcake knew where his bread was buttered.

Beefcake displays why he is a candidate for worst wrestler of all time with his lame offense. Tama is selling incredibly well and really trying to make up for Beefcake's shitty offense. In such a short time period, Tama has proved himself to have more versatility than most wrestlers display in their whole careers as he plays both an excellent sympathetic face in peril and a great douchebag heel. Valentine comes in and hits a reverse tombstone and then gets a figure 4, but Haku sensing the end is near breaks that up. Tama blocks a Valentine suplex and hits his own. Haku gets the tag and the place is rocking. Haku is a Tongan Tribal Fire Fully Ablaze!!! Haku is just killing the Dream left and right. TIMBAAAAAAAH! Beefcake is calling for timeout. The Islanders have the former champs where they want them. Haku hoists Valentine up and Tama comes acorss with the flying cross body and the bell sounds signaling the time limit draw. TAMA IS PISSED!!! He calls for 5 more minutes. The Dream Team tease taking them up on the offer before bailing. Gorilla gets a word with the three of them and it is a pretty non-descript promo.

Maybe I shouldnt watch matches so late because I did not think it was nearly as good, but I didn't think it was bad either. It was just disappointing. I wanted Valentine and Islanders to really light each other up. Haku was more explosive offensively than I had seen before in the babyface run and Tama was his usual badass self. If only the match I originally outlined was the match that took place. ***


Dream Team vs Can-Am Connection– MSG 1/87

Was looking for this forever and my main man, Ricky Jackson, found it and we reviewed it on Tag Teams Back Again #8.

Ricky Martel and Tom Zenk may look similar, but Martel has so much more pep in his step that is differentiates him from Zenk. Standard WWF babyfaceshine using the armbar as base. I have always like the spot where they roll through bodyslam and maintain the armbar. Valentine fights back, but cant get anything going. Zenk is in and then Beefer, BOOOOOOOO. Beefcake takes an atomic drop and so does Valentine pinballing him into Martel TIMBBBAAAAAAAH! Martel back to arm, but Valentine drops him throat first on rope and Beefer goes to town. Dream Team double team Martel. Martel scores a big blow, but as Valentine falls down he grabs Martel’s wrist and pulls him with him to his corner. AWESOME SPOT!!!

 Beefer is at his peak as a work with great movement off a chinlock that was exciting. Then Valentine and Martel just have it out. Martel hits with Lawler like fists of fury! Valentine romps and stomps his way back into control. Suplex into a weird cover that was just lackadaisical and un Valentine like. Beefcake bearhug. Valentine figure-4 inside cradle. Slugfest in corner! Martel crawls over to Zenk. Zenk dropkicks and now double noggin knocker, but Beefer hits clothesline. They work the washboard abs of Zenk. :P

 Valentine ab stretch, gut buster and steps on Zenk on his way to tagging Beefer. Bruti tries to hold him down, but Zenk bridges out. Beefer crotches himself on Zenk’s knees tags in Valentine. Collision. Beefer rolls Valentine on top, but only for two. Do two false tags and Martel is PISSED! He throwing strikes but keeps getting forced out. He takes a couple cheapshots because of his frustrations. When Hammer put Zenk in the Figure-4, he launched himself across the ring and looks similar enough to Zenk to get the win! AWESOME MATCH! ****

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs "The Rebel" Dick Slater - 1/87 Boston
I have not fully fleshed this out yet, but hear me out. Valentine is like the Flair of the WWF in the 80s. Valentine and Flair have very similar spots: very stiffing, hard-hitting strikes, Flop vs TIMBAHHH, begging off, figure-4. Flair cuts a bit better pace. Valetine prefers to work on top and Flair is more giving in the ring. I think people who's major hang-up on Flair is that as the champ he got his ass kicked too much, but probably love the Hammer because he does all the Flair stuff, but works on top in the majority of his matches. Since the WWF had Hogan as its ace, they needed their "Flair" to be on top, but rather in the midcard and tag division where he can be put in place to have great matches with a whole host of folks. I thought the following match could be viewed as what a Valentine NWA title defense could be like. I don't even think it is anywhere near his best match, but felt more in that vein than any other singles match I have watched. The one issue with being in the WWF midcard and now being featured is you became prone to getting lost in the mire, which is what hurts Valentine in comparison to Flair.

I love how Gorilla and Lord Alfred always goof on Joey Marella. That's definitely something my Dad would definitely do to me if we were ever on TV together.

Valentine works this match in a style that you would believe would be how he would work a NWA World Title defense. Unlike Flair, even though they have similar mechanics and spots, Valentine is going to work the match more on top and make Slater earn his keep. Valentine has vaulted into my Top 5 wrestlers I wish got World Title runs at some point. I will say I believe this is the only Dick Slater match I have ever seen. I know of the tag team with Bob Orton and feud with Jake the Snake in Mid-South, but other than he is a blind spot in wrestling. He definitely lives up to his reputation as a poor man's Terry Funk with how he sells Valentine's chops and blows. Valentine bails early after Slater gets the first punch in. They regroups, but Slater is able to maintain the advantage until Valentine tosses him over the top rope. Before he brings him in, he swings down the hammer across his chest. Valentine goes for the figure-4 after some hard-hitting work, but Slater counters into the small package. Valentine unloads, but here comes Slater with some punches of his own. TIMBAAAAAHHHHH! He even begs off after this. They have a wicked slugfest in the corner. Valentine gets his foot on the ropes and Slater drops down on his knee and goes for the figure-4 of his own, but Valentine eyerakes. Valentine pours it on with a sleeper and a figure-4 with Slater countering each, but unable to garner any momentum. Valentine pulls his trunks into corner gaining the pinfall while Joey Marella is oblivious to Slater's feet on his ropes. That is not going to help his reputation.

Valentine still went out of his way to put over Slater with TIMBAAAHHH and selling the leg of the figure-4, but I did not get a good feel for what were Slater's spots or what him unique. This really felt like Valentine was the champion and they were going to run his match which is a high-intensity slugfest.

I take it back, this following Tom Zenk match is a better representation of what I think would be a prototypical Greg Valentine NWA Title Defense. Zenk is that perfect mid-card white meat babyface fodder that Flair would defend against (as he would in early '90) often. It was interesting to get to see Valentine in this context.

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs Tom Zenk - 2/87 Philly

The Dream Team was programmed with the Can-Ams (I have not found the tag match and we are robbed of Valentine/Martel in '87, my dream match) thus they broke it up to singles affairs for this show. They start off with some hot arm work with a good sense of struggle. Valentine follows up with a Oklahoma Slam into the post and then proceeded to stand on Zenk quite a long time. This is a great match to contrast with the Flair match (1990) because Valentine is working on top and Zenk is forced to shine via selling rather than through offense. He hung him out to dry with a front suplex onto the ropes followed up with a figure-4. Valentine knees Zenk onto the floor and then swings the Hammer down on the ropes. I loved the bit with Zenk pulling Valentine out to the floor and he holds onto the ref. Even though Valentine prefers to work on top, he still shows ass like the above and then later lets Zenk chase him around the ring. Valentine wins the chase, but Zenk finally fires up and does a poor man's Martel with his highstepping. Finally, Valentine hoists him up and crotches him on the top rope, which the ref signals for the DQ.

I don't think this is as good as the Slater match, but it is not a bad match per se. The Flair-style matches let the opponents look good, but they are just doing the Flair spots and only the cream of the crop were able to actually stand out by contributing. The Valentine-style matches force the opponents to look good at selling and earning it. However, again, his opponents do not show anything that makes them stand out. They look plug-in-play wrestlers while Valentine wrestle around him. You have to hold these wrestlers accountable. I think the Valentine/Blazer match is a great showcase of how the Valentine can get a wrestler over, but it is on that wrestler ultimately to get himself over by contributing interesting and unique spots. Valentine has proved time and time again that he can get good matches out people as disparate as Zenk and Muraco, which shows his style is readily adaptable.
Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs Brutus Beefcake - 7/87 MSG

I felt compelled to include a match from this series even given my disdain for the Beefer. Valentine must have really not wanted to lose his hair because they put over the ultimate goal being to cut "Luscious" Johnny V instead of Valentine's golden locks. This series is also important because it bridged Beefcake from top heel tag wrestler to #3 or #4 babyface from 1988-90. Shockingly, this is a very good match, but who am I to doubt Greg Fuckin Valentine. They work in this WWF feud style so it is not a Katie Bar The Door Pier-Six Brawl, but just a version of it. Beefcake knocks their heads together and starts teeing off on Valentine. I love how Valentine sells the atomic drop as hurting his body from the tailbone to the top of his head. Valentine uses the leverage move into the turnbuckles to gain the advantage and Johnny V chokes Beefcake. "Luscious" Johnny V taunts the debilitated Beefcake with his hair. Valentine crashes down on Beefer with all his weight. Valentine applies the figure-4 onto Beefcake. He kicks Valentine off on his second attempt into the turnbuckles. I like how in WWF matches this is not an immediate transition, but there is a real sense of struggle. Valentine goes for a desperation suplex, but Beefcake reverses it. Beefcake reels off a nice lariat and follows up with his sleeper on Valentine and then on Johnny V before Dino Bravo interferes. They cut off a couple locks before the Bulldogs save.

It is not an all-time great match, but Beefcake is surprisingly good throughout this match. He brought plenty of energy in his shine and home stretch runs. He actually worked in some hope spots in the heat segment and he sold pretty well. Valentine was Valentine, which is to say he was pretty damn good. I loved him crashing down on Beefcake with all his weight and I thought he sold like a million bucks for Beefcake. Given, the crowd reactions it was to easy to see that Beefcake was getting over and definitely part of that was how well Valentine sold for him and structured the match around him.
The "Not Yet Fabulous" Rougeaus vs The New Dream Team - 9/87 MSG

"Luscious" Johnny V has to rank among the most worthless managers in history. He is doing the Buddy Roberts wig gimmick since Beefcake chopped off his hair, but way lamer. The three members of the Dream Team do a lot of hugging. In 2012, hugging gets you babyface heat, o society how far you have fallen. :D  Bravo and Valentine even do a heel miscommunication spot early and hug afterwards warming my cockles of my heart. So Bravo strikes me as an energetic, yet less smooth version of Don Muraco. He isn't half-bad. Valentine does his "TIMBAAHHHH" bump 4 times, but is like "Fuck you, if you expect me to do any other bumps or sell". The heat segment is better than expected even though the Raymond is quite boring as a face in peril because Valentine and Bravo have so much stuff. I guess that is what happens when both your heels used to be singles wrestlers. Jacques gets the hot tag and he is house afire, but his offense isn't impactful. Johnny V gets his wig knocked off, but it takes way from the match rather than add to it because it happens outside the ring. Double bodyslam by Dream Team sets up a Valentine figure-4, but the time limit expires even though the Dream Team thought they had won. Weird finish as it made the Rougeaus look like they were lucky to even be hanging with the Dream Team. It was clear looking at the Rougeaus match listing that they weren't getting over as faces so maybe the finish stems from that. At that same time, I don't think the New Dream Team was going anywhere. Maybe it was just Vince throwing a curveball. This is a better match to showcase that Valentine/Bravo were actually a pretty decent team, better than Valentine's one man show with Beefcake. However, it is not a good showcase for the Quebecois.
New Dream Team vs The Killer Bees 10/87 MSG

I like Valentine enough that I thought this could be good. Actually before the shit finish, I liked the match quite a bit. Valentine did some really excellent wrestling with both the Bees working in a nice fireman's carry by Blair and grabbing a headscissors on Brunzell before tagging out. It was nice to see some actual grappling as a change of pace. Bravo was a little stiff in the ring, but he showed energy and even did a leapfrog. Brunzell played face in peril after Bravo threw him into the Valentine's elbow. I really felt that the Dream Team had the blueprint for how Demolition should work as Valentine has that similar rough and tumble style with a lot of elbows and general rough housing. He is just way more convincing than either of the Demolition, which look like a bunch of cartoon characters as they stomp on the ring. Valentine got kicked off on his figure-4 attempt. TIMBAAAAAAH! They throw Brunzell on the outside and it is Masked Confusion. It is not an inherently stupid gimmick. I think someone who played it off with a little comedic panache like Eddie Guerrero would have made it into a great gimmick. Instead these two white bread wrestlers just seem like dicks for doing this. This is a decent Valentine match, but it shows after a weak 1987 that 1988 does not look too much better for him. I believe he broke up with Bravo shortly after, but with the Hart Foundation & Demolition turning babyface in 1988 and the onset of the Rockers, I think they could have used a Valentine heel tag team to even the sides.
Team Hart Foundation (Hart Foundation, Islanders, Demolition, New Dream Team & Bolsheviks) vs Team Strike Force (Strike Force, British Bulldogs, Rougeaus, Killer Bees & Young Stallions) - Survivor Series 1987

I knew this match was well-regarded, but I had no idea what outcome was. I can not believe the two bottom feeding babyface tag teams were the winners. More so, I cant believe the match was booked around the Young Stallions being booked as the stars. There was no reason before or after to understand this book decision as Strike Force and British Bulldogs continued to be the preeminent babyface tag teams for the near future with the Rockers, Hart Foundation and Demolition ending the next year as the top three babyface tag teams. Odd booking aside, this was a really fun match. They did not really try to weave a story, but it was action-packed and they busted out some pretty cool moves. The only story, I really noticed was the resiliency of the Young Stallions. Just because the Young Stallions were booked as the stars, does not mean they wrestled well, mind you. They were the worst wrestlers out there. Notably, Jim Powers was being a huge pussy for not taking the hotshot on 2 occasions.

The match started off with Martel/Volkoff tearing it up shades of how good their SNME match would turn out. Volkoff looked like a monster Tito hit the Flying Burrito to get the pin on Boris. Ax came in and did his usual Demoition bit. They establish the nature of the gimmick with tons of quick tags that keep the action fresh. One notable exchange was the chop exchange between Haku/Dynamite, where the hell was that in their matches. Everyone is hitting all their stuff with a lot of intensity. The Stallions get worked over a little bit. Jacques gets the tag, but crashes and burns on a reverse cross body and Ax gets the pin. The Stallions get crushed by a Neidhart backbreaker/Haku flying chop. The Valentine adds a sweet shoulderbreaker and a vertical suplex (he throws him more than slams him back). Dino Bravo hits like the best gutwrench suplex ever and they still cant pin the Stallions. Demolition becomes fustrated and gets themselves DQ'd by pushing the ref. Bret crushes Dynamite with a piledriver and cant get the pin. The heels just cant buy a win. Tama/Martel have a great exchange as usual, but Martel applies his Boston Crab too close to the heel corner and Neidhart clobbers him. Santana makes a similar mistake on a pinfall attempt and gets whacked in the big of the head by a Bret elbow and gets pinned!?!?!??!?!? That was the first sign something fishy was up.

Now there is a long Stallions heat segment with Valentine that is pretty decent because Valentine stiffing shitty wrestlers is always fun. Powers refuses to get dropped across the ropes properly because he is a mega-pussy. The match gets clipped here and we miss the Bulldogs getting eliminated. According to one review, I missed a Bret backbreaker into a Tama knee and other general awesomeness. Disappointing. When we come back, the Stallions are still getting beat on, so it appears as if you missed nothing even though you missed the number 2 face tag team being eliminated. Valentien goes for the figure-4, but Roma gets a sunset flip (blind tag) for the win. For shame, as the New Dream Team were the best workers. Though Hart Foundation and Islanders have been working pretty friggin well also. The Killer Bees have been non-existent and Young Stallions have sucked but been the crux of this match.

The Bees begin and Brunzell hits a pretty sweet high knee. Roma is back in to be the face in peril. Islanders start busting out their offense and look great. Brunzell is working offense for the faces, Stallions on FIP duty and Blair on the apron, just where he should be. smile.gif This is the best Brunzell has looked in the WWF. Roma gets the first bit of offense for the Stallions with a fist drop on Bret Hart, but that is short-lived with Bret hitting a suplex on him. Islanders again rocking it in the ring. Brunzell is in with the Hitman. He has the Hitman to be slammed. Tama dropkicks Hitman to get him on top of Brunzell, but Brunzell rolls through for the pin. At this point, I was in shock because I expected the top 2 heel teams to easily vanquish the two babyface jobber tag teams.

Islanders jump right on Brunzell to press while they still can. Islanders do a little too much vulcan nerve pinch, but Haku works in a shoulderbreaker and they are doing their best to keep Brunzell in their corner. Stallions get a quick powerslam, but Islanders are able to overwhelm them again. Blair gets tagged and swarmed (pun intended). Islanders always press their advantage. Wicked reverse elbow by Tama. Tama misses a big elbow, the key weakness of all 80s WWF heels. Brunzell, hot tag, double noggin knocker, DROPKICK~! Haku saves. Brunzell attempts sunset flip on Tama and Blair with mask jumps over and gets his own sunset flip to complete the upset. Brunzell puts on his mask too outside as they celebrate. MASKED CONFUSION~!

On one hand, the Stallions looked awesome by surviving and resilient because they got beat on mercilessly. But they only got in like two offensive moves and they sucked in the ring. Bees showed up half through the match and it was the best Brunzell looked in the WWF, but none babyfaces aside from Martel looked all that great. This was a great showcase for the heel teams as they had a ton of offense and really worked crisp and efficient. It is crazy to think in one years time there would be an utter dearth of heel tag teams and an overabundance of babyface tag teams. I went in with high expectations and it was a bit of a let down. It was action packed and 30+ minutes flew by which is a credit to the teams, but it lacked a great story to really make it classic. It was a great fun, action blockbuster. ****1/4
Missing Matches:
WWF World Tag Team Champions US Express vs Dream Team - MSG 8/1985
WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream vs British Bulldogs - Championship Wrestling 9/9/85
WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream vs British Bulldogs - Championship Wrestling 1/6/85
WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream vs British Bulldogs - Philly 1/11/86
WWF World Tag Team Champions Dream vs British Bulldogs - Philly 2/8/86
Dream Team vs Rougeaus - The Big Event
Greg Valentine vs Tito Santana - Challenge 3/11/87
Brutus Beefcake/Rougeaus vs New Dream Team/Johnny V
Greg Valentine vs Brutus Beefcake - Superstars 11/17/87
Greg Valentine vs Brutus Beefcake - MSG 12/26/87

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