Thursday, 16 January 2020

EVENT REVIEW: WWF Slammy Awards 1987

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 -
December 16, 1987
Caesars Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Vincent Kennedy McMahon has never made a secret of the fact that when it comes to his patented brand of sports entertainment, it's the entertainment part that he's really interested in.

So it was unlikely to come as much of a surprise when, in 1986, he sent his roster of pro wrestling superstars into the music studio to record a music album, known simply as The Wrestling Album.

Nor was it overly shocking when he decided to promote that album by producing his own music awards, a parody of the Grammys known as The Slammy Awards.

That whole process worked so well that, one year later, Vince decided to it all again.

In 1987, the World Wrestling Federation released Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 and once again used The Slammy Awards to promote it.

This year however, they took their unique brand over-the-top entertainment to a whole new level.

Don't believe me, here's what went down at the 37th 2nd annual Slammy Awards.





Welcome to the 37th Annual Slammy Awards

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - The Hart Foundation arrive
No, that's not a typo. The World Wrestling Federation promoted this as the 37th Annual Slammy Awards when in actual fact it was only the second.

Why did they do this?

Presumedly to make the whole event seem bigger than it was, even though this would have meant that the first Slammy Awards took place in 1950, two years before Vince McMahon's grandfather, Jess McMahon first founded the Capitol Wrestling Corporation that would eventually become the WWF.

So, despite the inaccuracy, Howard Finkle's voice welcomed us to the 37th Annual Slammys then proceeded to show us all of tonight's star nominees arriving for this 'prestigious' event.

For some unknown reason, half the wrestlers arrived in ambulances, though Bam Bam Bigelow did pull up in a pretty cool looking roadster and George 'The Animal' Steele hilariously turned on a pushbike.

Most of the guys were wearing tuxedos, but Bam Bam Bigelow and Ultimate Warrior simply wore their wrestling attire.

For Warrior, that meant turning up for what was essentially a black-tie event in his underpants.

The Traditional Home of The Slammy Awards

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Vince McMahon cut an impassioned intro
Keeping up the pretense, Vince McMahon walked out on stage to open up the show by welcoming us to the arena.

This wasn't just any arena. According to McMahon, this was 'The Traditional Home of The Slammys.'

Again, I'll remind you that there had only been one other Slammy Awards event before this one, and it took place in an entirely different venue in an entirely different state.

Clearly getting carried away with himself, McMahon called the event 'a joyous celebration of the human potential' and -I kid you not- 'A LOVE FEST OF MUTUAL ADMIRATION AND SUPPORT!'

Vince wasn't kidding, either. He looked deadly serious as he said all this, at times coming across like a religious preacher.

It was hilarious.

Giving you just enough time to stop laughing, McMahon next introduced our hosts for the evening, Mean Gene Okerlund and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura.

The WWF Academy of Sports and Sciences

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Jesse 'The Body' Ventura and Mean Gene Okerlund
Ventura and Okerlund's first job was to introduce the man who had apparently collected and tallied all the votes for tonight's event, Jack Tunney.

We all know that Tunney was the WWF President, but did you know that his official title was 'President of World Wrestling Federation Academy of Sports and Sciences?'

Yes, that does give you the acronym 'WWF ASS.'

Of course, this was all a set up so that Mean Gene could say "ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Jack Ass. I mean, Jack Tunney."

It was a lame joke, but it could have been worse.

He could have called Tunney a JOCK ASS!

Tunney walked out on stage, waving and smiling to a crowd who were clearly booing him, then walked off again. It was funny, in a random and unintentional sort of way.

Moving on, Jesse left the stage to go and get ready for something else, leaving Mean Gene to announce the first award.

Best Performance by an Animal

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - George Steele won 'Best Peformance by an Animal'
'Now, historically, this category has been the springboard to even greater achievements' said Mean Gene, somehow managing to keep a straight face.

The nominees were:
  • Damien, with Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
  • Frankie, with Koko B. Ware
  • Matilda, with The British Bulldogs
  • George 'The Animal' Steele.
In a moment of unplanned madness, Matilda tried to attack Frankie. Apparently, nobody questioned the judgment of placing both animals so close to one another.

'And now, the moment that animals performing all over the world have been waiting for,' said Okerlund. 'The Winner, is George 'The Animal' Steele.'

Keeping the level of absolute ridiculousness at an all-time high, Steele got lost on his way to the stage and had to be shown the way by Hillbilly Jim.

In lieu of an actual acceptance speech, The Animal simply ripped the turnbuckle off the host's podium (which had been designed to look like the corner of a pro wrestling ring), then chased off the girl who had brought his Slammy award out for him.

Honky Tonk Man Sings


Forget Michaels/Taker, Flair/Steamboat, or R-Truth's 'My Bad' moment, this was the single greatest thing to ever happen in pro wrestling.

I mean, OK, it really wasn't, but it was so over-the-top that I couldn't help but enjoy it.

With Jimmy Hart sitting in a Cadillac, clapping along in the background and Jesse Ventura on the keys, Honky Tonk Man shook, rattled, and rolled his way through a fun rendition of his theme song, complete with dancers, backing singers, and a hysterical cameo from The Hart Foundation.

Seriously, you've not seen funny until you've seen Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart getting jiggy with it.

Woman of the Year

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Miss Elizabeth won Woman of the Year
Honky and Jimmy Hart were on double duty tonight, presenting our next award for Woman of the Year.

Jimmy came out solo and insisted that Honky Tonk Man wouldn't set foot on the stage until he'd received a proper introduction, even though we'd just seen him on stage a few moments earlier.

Okerlund obliged anyway, introducing The Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time back to the stage.

The nominees were:
  • Sensational Sherri
  • Dolly Parton
  • The Fabulous Moolah
  • Yoko Ono
  • Elizabeth
Dolly Parton and Yoko Onoo were represented by actresses who looked nothing like either woman. Not that it mattered anyway, Elizabeth was the obvious winner, but before she could make her acceptance speech, Macho Man Randy Savage had to run on stage and save her from the advances of The Honky Tonk Man.

"I'd like to thank you all very much," she said sweetly. "But I'd especially like to thank the man who made me the woman I am today, the Macho Man Randy Savage."

Best Ring Apparel

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Demolition looking awesome
Savage would make another appearance in the next category as he was nominated for 'best ring apparel.'

The award was presented by Hacksaw Jim Duggan who, proving he knew a thing or two about fashion, forwent the traditional tuxedo in favor of a t-shirt with a tuxedo print on it.

The 1988 Royal Rumble Winner did at least bring a touch of class to proceedings by sticking a bow-tie on his trusty 2x4.

The nominees in this category were:
  • Demolition
  • Macho Man Randy Savage
  • Honky Tonk Man
  • King Harley Race
  • The British Bulldogs
Brilliantly, Ax and Smash wore their wrestling attire with a collar and bow-tie. I won't lie, it looked kinda cool.

King Harley Race was declared the winner, but Duggan was so incensed by this that he refused to announce it. Instead, he had the pretty young model who was holding the Slammy Award do it for him.

"And the winner is...King Harley Race?" she said in a fashion which suggested she'd never heard of him and wasn't sure if she was pronouncing his name correctly.

Race's manager, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan accompanied him to the stage and declared that The King could only accept the award if it was properly presented to him.

The Brain tried to get Hacksaw to drop to one knee in order to offer up the award. When he refused, Race attacked him.

What is a Donkey Doing at the Slammy Awards?

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Donkey Doug Yo!
The two fought their way into the dressing room for a wild and thoroughly enjoyable brawl reminiscent of the kind of backstage hardcore matches we'd see 12 years later in the Attitude Era.

Gorilla Monsoon popped up to provide commentary for the whole fight, calling the action while at the same time expressing his absolute bewilderment that a random donkey and some chickens were hanging out backstage.

The whole thing ended when Race, now down to his wrestling trunks and shirt, tried to hit Duggan with a flying splash but instead crashed through a table in what was probably the first instance of this spot ever happening on a WWF show.

The whole thing was brilliantly good fun in a wacky, over-the-top kind of way.

Vince McMahon Performs Stand Back

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's the moment you've all been waiting for.

Or, as Jesse Ventura put it in his introduction.

"And now, a man who has repeatedly proven that he can't talk, and will prove that he can't sing, either."



Vince McMahon took to the stage to strut his funky stuff and sing 'Stand Back,' in a performance which, ten years later, would famously be ridiculed by D-Generation-X.

One often overlooked part of this performance is that McMahon wasn't alone.

Along with his backing dancers, the WWF Chairman also had an ensemble of pro wrestlers behind him.

Fresh from his Metallica audition, The Immortal Hulk Hogan stood tall and proud, slapping the bass like a mother. He was surrounded by a horn section comprised of Junkyard Dog, The Killer Bees, Macho Man Randy Savage, Brutus Beefcake and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts.

George Steele was there too, playing a tambourine of course.

Like just about everything on this show, McMahon's performance was glorious...in an absolutely ridiculous sort of way. The Chairman held nothing back, singing his heart out and throwing himself through the choreographed routine with commendable gusto.

I don't care if DX mocked him, if I were Vinny Mac, I'd be rightly proud of that performance.

Wait, a Llama?

Backstage, the Hacksaw/Race brawl continued with Monsoon standing by, calling the action.

Obviously, a random llama walked by, because why wouldn't it?

Then Race and Heenan managed to lock Duggan inside some kind of mesh cage. Duggan shook at the cage wall, trying to get out. The cage easily opened so that Duggan could have just pushed through it, but that would have ruined the whole storyline, so he just had to pretend like he was still trapped and instead managed to push a tower of empty cardboard boxes onto his rivals.

The Hulk Hogan Real American Award

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Superstar Billy Graham won the Hulk Hogan Real American award
Up next, Hulk Hogan made his way through the crowd to the stage, accompanied by a small group of rent-a-cops who were about half his size.

I mean, seriously, if somebody did try to attack Hogan, what were these short, flabby dudes going to do exactly?

Anyway, The Hulkster made his way to the stage to present The Hulk Hogan Real American Award to a man he said embodied the things that made a Real American like integrity and perseverance in the face of adversity:

Superstar Billy Graham.

Decked out in a salmon suit with enormous earrings in both ears, Graham used a walking cane to help him get up onto the stage. There, he used his acceptance speech to put over Hogan.

Repaying the kind words, Hulk took Graham's walking cane and snapped it over his knee before encouraging the legendary grappler to pose with him.

You have to hope that cane was a gimmick, otherwise, that was a bit of a dick move by the WWF Champion.

The Christmas Party is Ruined

Backstage, Hacksaw and Harley battled into a room that had been reserved for the cast of tonight's show to enjoy a celebratory Christmas party. No random animals popped up this time, though Hacksaw did blast Heenan over the head with a giant fish which was pretty funny.

The Jesse The Body Award

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Mean Gene covers up Rick Rude
Up next, Jesse Ventura presented an award named after him to the person he declared to have the best body.

The nominees were:

  • Ravishing Rick Rude
  • The Natural Butch Reed
  • The Ultimate Warrior
  • Sensational Sherri
  • Hercules.

Ravishing Rick Rude was declared the winner. Clearly having the time of his life, Rude strutted onto the stage and stripped off to his undies.

He then started to take his undies off too, but Mean Gene ran on stage and put a towel in front of him.

Interestingly, despite the fact that he'd run out to stop Rude from showing his junk, Okerlund couldn't stop looking at it. As Rude took his pants all the way off, Gene continually stared at what was going on behind the towel.

I suppose this shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

A few months later, at Wrestlemania 4, Gene would literally point at Brutus Beefcake's groin and yell "What a package!"

Rude eventually made his way to the podium, where he thanked Jesse and the millions of women around the world who worshipped him. In true Rick Rude fashion, he then draped his arm around the girl holding the Slammy and walked off with her.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

"When I say 'Greatest Tits' you probably think of Jesse The Body," said Ventura.

Of course, he meant "Greatest Hits," but I'm telling you, he definitely said "tits."

The point of all this was to introduce a video package in which clips of various wrestlers hitting a bunch of moves, all set to the song 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' by Pat Benatar.

The Greatest Hit Award

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Hacksaw Jim Duggan won the 'Greatest Hit' award - tough guy!
This video package was to set up our next award, for the 'Greatest Hit' or in other words - the best attack/wrestling move.

The nominees were:

  • Andre The Giant (for throwing Hulk Hogan out of a battle royal)
  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan (for drilling Harley Race with a 2x4)
  • The Honky Tonk Man (for smashing Randy Savage with a guitar)
  • Strike Force (for beating up Hart Foundation)
  • Bam Bam Bigelow (for hitting a sweet slingshot splash)

Before the nominees could be read out, however, Duggan and Race burst onto the stage for some more fighting.

Gorilla Monsoon held Duggan back, giving Race and Heenan a chance to escape, but then Duggan was back a moment later as he was declared the winner of the award.

Duggan's acceptance speech was short and simple:

"HOOOOOO!"

Manager of the Year Award

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Manager of the Year Award
After a commercial break, Monsoon presented the award for Manager of the Year, an award he said would go to a man who has improved his wrestler's career the most while displaying sportsmanship.

The nominees were:

  • Slick
  • Jimmy Hart
  • Mr. Fuji
  • Bobby Heenan.
Hilariously, all four men made their way to up to the stage as though it was a given that they'd win.

As it turned out, none of them won. Monsoon announced the winner to be "None of the Above."

Get it?

Because all the heels were so terrible that none of them deserved it!

Naturally, this caused much outrage among the wrestlers.

Koko B. Ware Performs Piledriver

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Ultimate Warrior performed as Koko B. Ware's backup dancer
Another nominee for 'Song of the Year' saw Koko B. Ware performing the lead track from Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2.

Koko was joined on stage by a saxophone-playing Bam Bam Bigelow and a bunch of wrestlers including Hillbilly Jim, Davey Boy Smith, and The Ultimate Warrior all dressed up as construction workers.

It's a shame that I couldn't find a video of this, because you've honestly never seen a man look so uncomfortable as Jim Hellwig strutting around on stage in a hard hat, pretending to have a good time.

Best Personal Hygiene Award

Returning from commercial, Mean Gene was up to present what he called 'the oldest and most prestigious' award for best personal hygiene.

The nominees were:

  • Sika (for his table manners)
  • Hillbilly Jim (for creating a new cologne out of pig swill)
  • George Steel (for "his tidiness in and around the ring")
  • Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zuchoff and Slick (for sharing a toothbrush)
  • King Kong Bundy (for doing a smelly turd, seriously).

Volkoff, Zuchoff, and Slick won the award. Making their way to the stage, Volkoff and Zuchoff tripped over the steps and fell flat on their faces. Making a swift recovery, they flanked The Slickster, who raised the ire of the crowd by talking about how the Russians were clean and peaceful people.

Jimmy Hart Performs Girls in Cars


On the album, Robbie Dupree sang this song as Strike Force's theme song. Tonight, Jimmy Hart picked up the microphone to croon his way through it as girls on roller skates skated by with cardboard cut-outs of cars stuck to their sides.

One girl apparently couldn't roller skate, so she moved across the stage on a child's tricycle instead.

Things got weirder when Tito Santana and Rick Martel turned up on dirt bikes to steel the girls, after which a big fat woman dressed up like a school bus started to chase Jimmy Hart around the stage.

Seriously, just writing that sentence makes me question what kind of messed up drugs were floating around backstage at the Slammys.

Best Vocal Performance Award

Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth came out to present this award, though not before the pair took a moment to put over how dapper Savage looked.

The nominees for this award were:
  • Junkyard Dog (for his growl)
  • One Man Gang (for his bellow)
  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan (for his 'howl')
  • Jimmy Hart (for his shrieking megaphone)
  • George 'The Animal' Steele (for his wail)
And the winner was:

Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

Once again, Duggan gave us a big "Hoooo!" instead of an actual acceptance speech.

The WWF Superstars perform If You Only Knew

Finally, it was down to the last performance of the evening; the entire cast of World Wrestling Federation Superstars on stage, swaying back-and-forth and clapping their hands in a performance of 'If You Only Knew.'

Some, like Dynamite Kid, looked clearly uncomfortable in the song-and-dance number, but others, like Bret Hart and Butch Reed, for example, looked to be having tremendous fun.

Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase even had a smile about him as he danced on the front row, though his bodyguard, Virgil, stood stoic, arms folded, scowling the whole time, probably wishing he were at Olive Garden.


And the Winner Is...

All the song performances throughout the show were supposed to lead us to the big reveal of the Best Song Award winner.

Yet when Mean Gene tried to announce it, Jimmy Hart stole the envelope and passed it around all the heels. It eventually ended up in the hands of Sika, who, naturally, ate it.

Jesse told Mean Gene not to worry, he could always hang out with the Wild Samoan and pick up the results the following day.

The Missing Awards

WWF - Slammy Awards 1987 - Director - Kayfabe
Apparently, there were some awards handed out which were cut from the broadcast I watched.

Ted Dibiase won the Humanitarian of the Year. One Mang Gang was the obvious winner of the 'Best Group' Award, and the Bobby "The Brain" Heenan Scholarship Award was presented to all of Heenan's wrestlers.

The was also an award for 'Best Head' presented to Bam Bam Bigelow and Mean Gene Okerlund. If you're as disappointed as I am that what was clearly a fellatio joke was cut from the broadcast, I guess there's only one person we can blame:

The show's director, Kay Fabe.





If you've never seen the 37th Annual Slammy Awards, here's the best way to describe it:

Imagine the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen in pro wrestling and multiply it by a thousand.

The Slammys was bizarre, cheesy, over-the-top, ridiculous, stupid, and gloriously, gloriously wonderful.

If you take pro wrestling seriously, you'll probably hate this. It was intended to be a comedy show, and to that end, it worked. OK, so most of the humor was low-brow, but let's be honest, wrestling isn't exactly known for being high-concept performance art, is it?

Overall, this is one of the weirdest and most fun things you'll ever see as a wrestling fan, and I highly recommend it.



Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

0 comments:

Post a comment

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.