- Airdate: Feb. 28, 1985
- Runtime: 46:58
- Stars of the Show: Schultz & Sheik
Unscripted promos almost always work better than the stuff you get from the script writers. Dr. D David Schultz and The Iron Sheik proved that in 1985 on Tuesday Night Titans.
Both Schultz and Sheik were way ahead of their time. Had Schultz been around in the 1990s, he would have been a big star, probably feuding with the likes of The Rock, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Wait, he did, only he was called Stone Cold Steve Austin. Now, Austin was a way better worker than Schultz but Schultz' natural charisma was amazing. He was born for the Attitude Era.
The Iron Sheik also cut great promos that in retrospect were underrated at the time. But Sheik also had great in-ring skills. If this guy were around in the 1990s, he would have been one of those wrestlers with a ton of street credibility, like a Dean Malenko, Kurt Angle and Eddie Guerrero. Sheik's suplexes would have been enough to get him over in an ECW ring.
TNT this week kicks off with the Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff and their manager "Classy" Freddy Blassie. You wonder why Blassie was still having around the WWF at this time. He's the oldest performer on the roster, and if McMahon thinks Jim Ross is too old for TV, not sure what his explanation for Blassie would have been.
Blassie demands that the interview take place on a carpet that he brought to the ring. "If you are going to talk to us you are going to do it our way, on this carpet here," Blassie says. "This carpet costs more than this entire studio." They all take a seat on the Carpet, and The Iron Sheik, in his blue ring trunks and robe, looks quite comfortable.
Blassie starts screaming about how Sheik and Volkoff are going to derail Windham and Rotundo, the U.S. Express. Sheik then gets real: "We had a marine man, no more marine man. We had a howdy doody, and no more howdy doody. Now they bring young American and they call them All-American, whatever."
That's not a promo that a wrestler would cut today. Sheik buried Sgt. Slaughter, who was hot a few months ago, then mysteriously disappeared from WWF programming. Slaughter back then was apparently a proponent of unionizing professional wrestlers. Backlund was the longtime champion who dropped the belt to the Iron Sheik, so Sheik would lose it to Hogan. Backlund refused to lose to Hogan, well, because it wouldn't believable that a showman like Hogan could beat a real athlete like Backlund.
Backlund too was long gone by now, so Sheik had a point about the Marine and Howdy Doody disappearing. Sheik then tells all of the "uneducated Americans" to go to the library and learn about Russia and Persia "and find out about the oldest country in the world."
In the ring, the Sheik is putting on a suplex clinic against Quick Draw Rick McGraw, who died later that year of heart attack that was likely drug related. Sheik wasn't a great seller, but he had a great allure in the ring. And he was a great athlete. During the match, the Sheik runs over and starts yelling at ring announcer Angelo Mosca, in what was probably a short side-angle at the time. Mosca eventually left the announcer's table and attacked the Sheik.
Mosca was a former CFL player who jumped to professional wrestling, but who was way past him prime at the time. They sent him to the broadcast booth to call matches with Jack Reynolds.
Back on the carpet, and Volkoff is blabbering on about how the referee was prejudiced against Sheik and him, so he wonders if the same would be true when they get their title shot against Windham and Rotundo. Volkoff, wearing a thick coat that he called a Russian summer jacket, says the U.S. Express refuses to sign a contract for match.
Blassie out of the blue asks for something to drink, "like some Russian Vodka or Iranian Tea." Sadly, TNT only has water. Blassie drinks the water, then sets the glass on the table where he notices a basket of apples. Blassie takes a bite out of one and then says, "these are the worst apples I have ever tasted."
Blassie's character is that nothing is ever good enough for him. He's classy, after all, and a heel, so he needs to look down on everybody. Blassie hands an apple to Volkoff who crushes it with his bare hands into a glass. So that's kind of impressive, but also not really. Try it. Volkoff also didn't really "crush it," as much as he poked his fingers into it and just smashed it.
A little bit of juice came out as he screamed, "he's making Russian apple juice." McMahon uses his favorite world "extraordinary" to describe Volkoff's strength. The Sheik then decides to get real again: "See Americans drink Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The Russian and Iranian athlete is different, he drink apple juice, orange juice, pear juice, no Coca-Cola or McDonalds."
Volkoff then says "there's more crime in one U.S. city than all of Russia," prompting McMahon to zing him back with, "yes, but how many people have a pass to go out at night?" Before the segment ends, Sheik tells the cameraman to zoom in on his medals.
Lord Alfred Hayes, by the way, is practically invisible in most segments of the show by now. Up next is Rita Marie, the WWF's first "lady referee."
McMahon is looking at her like she's either a pot of gold, an ice cream sundae, or the first female he has seen in awhile. Whatever the reason, he's LOOKING at her. "Whatever possessed you to step into the ring with giants," he asks. Marie bears a bit of resemblance to Ronda Rousey, including that "I don't really trust you, snarl," that she has.
Marie explains that her brother always wanted to be a professional wrestler, but he died in a car accident, so Marie was going to do her best to carry out his dreams. "For you to step into the ring with these giants, you realize what could happen to you, do you not," McMahon says.
He apparently has no interest in her refereeing ability; essentially he wants to know what she's dumb enough to want to be a referee in the WWF. Marie would later claim during an interview with reputed journalist Geraldo Rivera that McMahon made sexual advances toward her and when she didn't play along, she didn't work much longer for the WWF. McMahon denied the allegations. Marie wasn't very charismatic, and like many of the non-wrestlers to appear on TNT, seemed to take the show way too seriously.
McMahon took us to a match in Madison Square Garden where Marie was announced as the first woman ever to referee a wrestling or any other event in the Garden. The match features Moondog Spot vs. BlackJack Mulligan. Marie was pretty inconspicuous in the match, which is probably want you want from a referee. She counted to five every time Moondog Spot attempted to cheat.
Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund mostly called the match and paid little attention to Marie. Up next is the highlight of the show, Dr. D David Schultz. Like a good heal, Schultz refused to shake McMahon or Hayes' hands. McMahon doesn't pull any punches, starting off by saying, "you are the most arrogant person I have ever met in the World Wrestling Federation."
Schultz laughs: "I don't care what you think about me. I am good. I am a winner."
McMahon shows two clips to illustrate Schultz' "judgment." A couple months prior, Schultz shoved a piece of wedding cake in the face of Paul Vachon's bride at a televised wedding. Then surprisingly, McMahon brought up one of the defining moments of 1980s WWF television. The night Schultz slapped John Stossel during an ABC 20/20 segment, where Stossel called wrestling "fake."
This incident happened in December of 1984. Schultz slapped Stossel twice and left him with hearing problems. McMahon seemed to be playing up the incident on the show, probably to make fun of Stossel.
"What you did to a 150-pound announcer by the name of John Stossel, my goodness, you almost slapped the skin right off his face, do you have any remorse for that?"
The 20/20 segment brought the WWF a lot of negative attention, so it's interesting that McMahon played it up on his television almost like it was an angle. It wasn't. Stossel later sued the WWF and won a $400,000 settlement. Schultz responds: "He must have been a boy. I slapped him with an open hand, baby. I slapped him to teach him a lesson."
Schultz then threatened to slap McMahon too because he doesn't care who he is. In the ring, Schultz put a whipping on Steve Lombardi, pinning him with an elbow drop from the top rope. Back in the studio, Schultz is wrapping up the interview with McMahon when he suddenly reaches into his jacket and pulls out a handgun.
McMahon gets the big eyes and Hayes slides down the couch. "This is a gun. You probably don't know anything about that because you probably don't have enough money to afford one," Schultz tells Hayes. McMahon asks if the gun is loaded, and Schultz says, "This gun could be loaded or unloaded. You don't know anything about guns so I won't let you touch it." Schultz doesn't point that gun right at McMahon, but in his direction.
When they come back from commercial, we go to Schultz' "gun room". Schultz explains each gun and what he uses it for. One of them he uses for "coon hunting" and another is for shooting doves. McMahon ducks and swerves every time Schultz pulls a gun out and Schultz asks McMahon if he's afraid of guns. McMahon says "I respect guns."
Schultz then turns to Hayes and starts cutting him off in cadence like he were Stone Cold Steve Austin. "You don't want to touch it? You don't ilk my guns. You don't like my guns." Schultz was impressive here. Schultz tells McMahon that he is a gun expert and that he "didn't go to Vietnam for nothing."
Then it takes a turn. Schultz pulls out a gun and points it in McMahon's direction and insists that it is not loaded. He fires it to prove it. Bad move. The gun fires in the air and McMahon screams, "You stupid idiot! What's the matter with you."
Schultz is embarrassed and grabs another gun, while claiming someone must have loaded that one without telling him, as McMahon and Hayes run off. Schultz didn't last much longer after this and in some ways it feels like McMahon set up the segment to further portray Schultz as a loose cannon, perhaps to justify firing him.
Schultz looked irresponsible here, even as his microphone work was off the chart. McMahon perhaps shows his hand a bit with Schultz by saying "we are back with an individual with much more common sense than Dr. D David Schultz".
The next guest is Salvatore Bellomo, who has more common sense in his brain and carbs in his body. Bellomo appeared on some early episodes of TNT and is now back to demonstrate a toy boat he made out of the WWF Magazine.
We go to a match with Bellomo and Johnny Rodz. Bellomo white singlet with Italian colors must have been some kind of rib on him. He did not look good in all that white. Bellomo wins with a high cross body block on Rodz and for some reason Bellomo's parents are in the audience cheering. Maybe they were saying, "My jobber son won a match!"
Bellomo killed an otherwise thrilling show.
We are about a month before the first WrestleMania and McMahon has yet to mention it or talk about any of the matches on TNT. TNT once again served as a forum for the wrestlers to showcase their abilities, building their characters and treating them like superstars. Whether it's a jobber like Bellomo, a new referee like Marie, or legends like Volkoff Sheik and Shultz, the wrestlers are the stars here, and McMahon does a great job of putting them over.
Wrestling is about to get really, really big, and TNT certainly played a role in introducing these stars to the public.