By Josh Molina for WrestlingObserver.com
Click Here: West Coast Eagles Guernsey
Airdate: Nov. 26, 1984
Run time: 1:30 minutes
Stars of the show: Tony Atlas’ body, Tony Atlas’ sketches, The Magician
Vince McMahon starts the show with his obligatory insult of Lord Alfred Hayes, calling him “Her Majesty’s answer to Cabbage Patch Dolls.” Hayes eats it up like a stooge as McMahon piles on that his likeness likely won’t be in stores in time for the Christmas season.
This is a great episode to remind us that no matter how bad Monday Night Raw ever gets, it probably won’t ever be as bad as this week’s episode of TNT. That’s actually a bit unfair because TNT isn’t exactly bad, but sitting through a 15-minute worked magician’s show really makes you think, “way the hell is this show about, again?”. But we’ll get to that.
Leading off the show is “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas.
Atlas has a bodybuilder’s physique and walks out onto the TNT set in a tight shirt and a bag full of his drawings. Atlas starts spouting off about how he has many talents, including singing opera, but today he is going to demonstrate his sketches. I have no idea if Atlas sketches, but something tells me he doesn’t. This is probably the 1980s-version of Jeff Jarret singing “With My Baby Tonight.”
Atlas reveals sketches of women, but stops at one of them and asks if it look like “Paul Orndorff.” Clearly, McMahon is trying to hotshot an angle here between Atlas and Orndorff.
After the Orndorff sketch, he shows one that would have immediately brought him a big push in 1984 if Triple were the booker: It’s a sketch of Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed up as Conan the Barbarian. McMahon remarks that Schwarzenegger’s arms are almost as big as Atlas’s.
McMahon spent most of the segment gushing over Atlas’s body: “There are few individuals in the world put together quite like Tony Atlas.” McMahon, of course, never saw a big man with muscles that he didn’t want to have pose on national television It’s not enough to see Atlas in his tight shirt; no we have to see him also get nearly naked.
“We have so many requests from people who want to see you posing and flexing, will you do that for us?” McMahon asks. “Your physique is nothing less than extraordinary.”
Atlas, in bright red trunks goes through a series of power poses for the audience. Atlas is huge and cut, but I couldn’t help notice a lot of acne on Atlas’s back. Just saying.
This Atlas segment lasted nearly 30 minutes and we are only going to see more of him. The next guess is Mr. Wonderful “Paul Orndorff,” who comes out like a rich, racist snob. That, of course, is his on-screen character. Orndorff attempts to dust off the seat that Atlas sat in before he sits in it. In an example of what you would never on modern day television, Orndorff insulted Atlas with a series of racial slurs, all by prompted of course by McMahon, who has decided to devote this episode of TNT to to starting a feud between Orndorff and Atlas.
McMahon asks Orndorff what he thinks of Atlas’s sketches and Orndorff responds: “You mean that souped up spider monkey? Do you know Willy B? He is that great big gorilla at the Atlanta Zoo. I have seen Willy B. put out greater drawings. He is a lot smarter and he’s a lot better looking as well.”
McMahon appears outraged by the comments, but, of course, he’s loving it. McMahon asks Orndorff why he is so arrogant and Orndorff responds: “People don’t like to hear the truth because I am good looking and I don’t like to hang out with negative people. I am talking about fat people.”
Orndorff rambles on about why he doesn’t get any title shots. In the ring Orndorff battles the tough “Quickdraw” Rick McGraw and pins him with his piledriver.
The WWE really needs to bring back jobbers. The jobbers played a huge role in wrestling. They established the stars. Now, the WWE has a problem establishing stars because everyone has lost to everyone already. Everybody is a jobber. Even John Cena, the most popular guy in the company, spent most of 2013 and 2014 jobbing, simply because the WWE doesn’t have strong jobbers. Instead, they have turned their mid-card guys into jobbers (Damian Sandow) and then wonder why these guys cannot get over.
Back in the TNT studio, McMahon asks Orndorff if he has any talents other than wrestling. Orndorff says he goes fishing, sailing, owns a yacht and a golf course. McMahon is not impressed. “That’s not really a talent. What do you do. What do you do with your hands? Can you sing.” McMahon had such high standards for his wrestlers back then.
McMahon then says it’s time to check in with Atlas who apparently has been sketching a photo while Orndorff was a guest. Atlas’ sketch is of a woman with a resemblance to Orndorff, with the word’s “Paula” written on it.
Orndorff barks: “Looks like someone with blonde hair. Probably his girlfriend.” If this same angle happened in 2015, Orndorff would have been the guy to get over because Atlas is acting like a real jerk. So he decides to paint a sketch of Orndorff looking like a woman, calling him Paula, just for kicks. That’s a heel thing to do.
Orndorff pops up from his studio chair and walks over to Atlas: “Are you trying to embarrass me?” Hr looks at McMahon and asks “Is that why you brought this big gorilla out here.” Damn, as Ron Simmons would say.
Orndorff says the sketch looks more like Boy George and then smacks the sketch off the easel and into the middle of next week. To prove his manhood, Orndorff challenges Atlas to a pose-down later in the show. Atlas says: “I am a wrestler, there aint nothing pretty about me.” That took up half the show, but the next segment had me longing for more of it.
In this week’s culture (ridiculous stereotype) segment, we go to “Cafe Rene” with Rene Goulet. Goulet was a great French wrestler who by the time 1980s came along was mostly a jobber to the stars. But since he’s French, that means he’s sophisticated, enjoys fine wine and hangs out at cafes, right? He is on TNT. The “Cafe Rene” segment begins with what appears to be about 10 people in the crowd as a magician, who bears a striking resemblance to Jeffrey Dahmer, announces that he will be the MC and magician for the evening.
In this segment, the magician makes a bird appear, a rabbit disappear, and pulls a bunch of flowers out of a handkerchief. I was hoping he’s cut Lord Alfred Hayes in half, but that didn’t happen. He first used Goulet’s wife as an assistant, but then brought up Hayes as well to make a fool out of him.
Hayes didn’t do much other than stand there and look goofy. Hayes, oddly, refused to drink water out of glass, which he was supposed to do to make the joke work later. Instead he didn’t drink the water, leaving the joke DOA. Did the magician not work with Hayes on this beforehand?
Later the magician asked Hayes to blow up a balloon. Hayes couldn’t not do it, so the magician did it for him, leading Hayes to say, “you have a really strong blow.” Why is Hayes here again? The magician looks legitimately annoyed with Hayes and mercifully ends the segment. Unfortunately, we would return to “Cafe Rene” later in the show.
McMahon takes us to an excellent wrestling match between Rocky Johnson and Moondog Spot. Again, here’s an example of a jobber doing great work and putting Johnson over. Gorilla Monsoon is on the mic and says that Spot looks a lot like a “St. Bernard or Collie.” Hayes also comments: “They are not very fast these moondogs, but they are methodical and they are brutal.”
Every little bit helps. These announcers weren’t burying the jobbers. They were always pushing them as though they could win a match at any time. Monsoon says: Spot is going to work with the heavy artillery on the side of the head of Rocky Johnson.”
Watching “The Rock,” Rocky Johnson, I wondered why he never got a title shot against Hulk Hogan, and then it occurred to me that Hogan never wrestled any of the good guys. Not Sgt. Slaughter, not Tito Santana, not Tony Atlas, not Johnson.
Hogan even back then was protecting himself. Ever wonder why people boo John Cena? One of the reasons might be because he actually wrestles other popular wrestlers. He wrestled Edge and Rob Van Dam and Daniel Bryan. Hogan never did that. What if Hogan wrestled Rocky Johnson. You can bet that there would have been some fans booing Hogan. Johnson won his match with a sunset flip.
Next up is The Spoiler who we saw wrestle last week. McMahon starts with the obvious question: “Why do you wear the mask?”
The Spoiler, who despite the outlandishness of the mask, is actually a very serious guy. It’s possible that he never had to develop a character and personality; the mask did everything for him. He says that the mask gives him a psychological advantage and that wrestlers often spend their time trying to take off the mask instead of focusing on the match.
McMahon goes on and on about how The Spoiler has a reputation for cheating and that “a man of your talents does not have to cheat.” The Spoiler takes the Jesse Ventura route and responds that “it’s only cheating if you get caught.”
In the ring The Spoiler takes on another great jobber — Billy Travis. The announcer introduces The Spoiler as the “National Heavyweight Champion,” although he doesn’t have a belt.”
The Spoiler dominated Travis like Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena at Summerslam, but we were treated to one hilarious moment. The Spoiler apparently did an “Old School” gimmick first, walking on the top rope like The Undertaker. Unlike Mark Callaway, however, the Spoiler fell off the top rope why attempting to walk it against Travis. Travis was even holding his hand for balance.
McMahon, who is calling the match, sells it like Travis pulled him off the rope. The old ECW crowd would have gone nuts on him. Instead, we just heard a lot of laughter from the crowd in the background. The Spoiler in the ring moved a lot like Triple H: slow, methodical and deliberate. He won with a claw hold. Back on the couch the Spoiler goes on about how he gets thousands of letters a week from his fans telling him he’s the greatest.
McMahon just gives him a hilariously confused look. The Spoiler was a legend before he arrived in the WWF. I don’t remember much of him beyond this TNT appearance so he must have had a falling out with McMahon.
The show ends with “Cafe Rene” and a pose down between Atlas and Orndorff. Atlas comes out nearly naked, huge and ripped. He has a ton of acne on his back. Just sayin’.
Orndorff comes out and is clearly smaller than Atlas.
The two posed for about one-minute each, and clearly Atlas deserved to win. McMahon decided to ask the crowd and Atlas’ cheers were stronger than Orndorff’s.
Since Orndorff has been bullied for the entire show, he finally snaps, and clubs Atlas from behind as he’s walking off stage into the crowd. Not sure why Atlas walked into off the stage into the crowd, but that’s what he did. The fight turned into a full-on brawl with everyone knocking over tables. McMahon turned into Mr. McMahon, totally spazzing out trying to stop the fight. Fortunately The Spoiler was there to get in-between them before Orndorff stormed off stage.
Atlas screamed, “What is wrong with him?” as they cut to commercial. To wrap up the show, Hayes showed the wine splashes on his ruffled shirt and McMahon said, “I can see why they call this show TNT.”
Most of this show was devoted to getting and Orndorff vs. Atlas feud over, but oddly I don’t remember that as being a feud. Atlas never went anywhere outside of his tag team title run with Rocky Johnson and Orndorff did go on to greater things, and eventually getting that feud with Hulk Hogan.
TNT is still doing a great job of getting guys over by giving them lots of camera time. Nothing feels rushed and McMahon is actually investing lots of time into developing his characters and setting up angles. Even the magician, in this episode, got over.