WWF Tuesday Night Titans episode 2: The boats of Salvatore Bellomo
Episode two of Tuesday Night Titans from 1984 opens with Vince McMahon and Lord Alfred Hayes. There’s something really cool about seeing McMahon in his pre-evil Mr. McMahon Days. Here, he’s just a creepy, loud suit-wearing huckster who is on the verge of revolutionizing the industry.
The show opens with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in a match against SD Jones, one of the company’s most prominent jobbers of his time. Mean Gene Okerlund is on play-by-play and is actually pretty good about making us care about the wrestlers. The best part of the match was watching Okerlund and Hayes, the color commentator, treat the product with respect like it was real. There are no JBL-isms here and no subtle jabs at the talent.
Orndorff wins with a piledriver. At the time, he was one of the company’s biggest heels and in this episode, you can see why. He berates a group of men and women at the gym, calling them too fat or too skinny, but of course, they can’t compete with him when it comes to his body.
Orndorff is in fully bully mode here, berating a woman who he said was fat.
“You probably argue with your husband when he tells you to get away from the table,” Orndorff said. “You want to stay there and eat, don’t you? And that’s why you look like you look.”
I just wonder if these were real people or actors. I hope they were actors, or at least wrestling fans who understood the joke. Orndorff spent the rest of the segment in tight white shorts insulting everyone in the gym for not looking like him.
We then go from one extreme to another as we meet Salvatore Bellomo, whose physique leaves a lot to be desired. Bellomo definitely had a “dad bod” and it’s amazing to think that McMahon let him on television. I mean, McMahon loves his super muscular guys and his super fat guys, but walrus-shaped fat guys like Bellomo? Clearly, he was trying to sell tickets to Italians in New York.
Bellomo pinned Ron Shaw in a terrible match involving lots of cartwheels.
But that wasn’t it. Bellomo was then a guest, decked out in a suit, coming across all proper and normal. Maybe Bellomo was one of those guys who McMahon’s father Jesse made his son promise that he would keep around after the sale. He just didn’t seem to fit and was relatively charisma-free. Bellomo showed his skill of building boards out of everyday newspaper and magazines. To quote Tony Schiavone, “that will put the asses in the seats.”
Fortunately, the pace of the show picked up when we were treated to a match between “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Ivan Putski. Man, Piper was so good. He was the classic heel, stalling to start the match, yelling back at the crowd, and cheating every chance he could. Piper used a foreign object to blast Putski several times, but it was Putski who was disqualified after he snapped and hit the referee. To drive Putski crazy, Piper had his band of bagpipe players perform outside the ring for most of the match. Between the music and the foreign object, Putski couldn’t handle it and took out the referee.
Freddie Blassie was the next guest, a man that McMahon called “an extraordinary wrestler.” They showed some grainy footage of him inside the ring. The crowd shots were priceless. Everyone was dressed up nice and even the women were there to see the action.
Blassie showed off one of the championship belts he never lost, but McMahon wasn’t there to talk nostalgia. He showed the clip of Hulk Hogan defeating the Iron Sheik, Blassie’s protégé in Madison Square Garden, for the WWF title. Blassie vowed to get the title back, and played the role of agitated old man to perfection.
From there, we go to Mr. Fuji, clad in a robe and playing the character of a sinister Japanese man.
Like Blassie, Fuji was an old man by this time although he had enough in him to get past Nick DeCarlo with lots of chops, claws, squeezes and kicks before he won with a Vader bomb.
We were then treated to a geisha girl segment and it is clear where it was headed: Dr. D. David Schultz-level misogyny. The geisha girl appeared to drop a pot or a cup of tea and Fuji freaked out, saying he was disrespected. He laid out a few karate chops to the table and scared away Hayes and McMahon who were there for tea.
We then saw one of Fuji’s wrestlers in the ring, The Magnificent Muraco, whose gimmick was that of a “beach bum” and true Hawaiian.
Finally, we ended the 30 minutes of Fuji for more Bellomo in a match against Big John Studd. Studd was sort of the Braun Strowman of his time, but not nearly as athletic. Unfortunately, Studd was just Andre The Giant’s opponent for most of his WWF career. Bellomo again looked terrible, but it didn’t matter as he was there in the James Ellsworth role.
Studd was also interviewed on the show before he stormed off in a huff because McMahon wouldn’t admit that he was the real giant of professional wrestling.
The show ended with short clips of wrestling matches involving Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Rocky Johnson, and Tony Garea. Bellomo then returned at the very end of the show to show of the boat he made. And you thought Monday Night Raw in 2017 was bad?