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Let’s talk about a crazy, hilarious, inexplicable match that you’ve probably never heard of. It wasn’t a big deal, just the world tag-team champions against two squashes on a Saturday morning WWF Superstars show. But it’s a match I’ll never forget, and if you watch the linked video here, neither will you. Why? Because this match features one of the most inexplicably over-the-top attack-dog announce jobs in the history of wrestling.
It’s July, 1985 (so long ago that “WWE” still ended with an “F” and Rotunda’s name still ended with an “O”) and Windham and Rotundo are up against Barry O (as in Orton, Randy’s uncle) and an unheralded jobber named Larry Finnegan. The faces are coming off a huge feud with Sheik and Volkoff and about to feud with Valentine/Beefcake, but somehow Vince McMahon (still doing commentary in those days as a kayfabe straight man) loses all interest in his stars and takes off on a rant against Finnegan as soon as the poor guy tags in.
If you’ve not seen the video, I encourage you to watch the link below before reading on. (Sorry about the video quality; it’s literally kind of a dark match. Don’t worry, though, only the audio matters.)
So...here’s a partial transcript and some play-by-play:
Vince McMahon: Up goes Barry O, and a slam. Tag is made; let’s see what this uh—Oh, you gotta be kidding me . . . I think he’s—you gotta be kidding me! Look at that! That’s the biggest piece of garbage I think I’ve ever seen.
Yes, McMahon welcomed the jobber into the match by calling him the biggest piece of garbage he had ever seen. That colorful detritus metaphor leads directly into the line that has ever since served as the de facto title for the clip. Back to the transcript:
Vince McMahon: He could be wrapped in a Glad baaa — In a Glad bag! Give me a break!
OK, OK, we’ve had our fun. McMahon is a millionaire on his way to being a billionaire; clearly it’s beneath him to use his syndicated TV program to slander the part-time help. The name on the marquee is wrestling, as Gordon Solie used to say, so Vince gets back to calling the wrestling moves. He’s assisted by legendary WWF world champion and less-than-legendary color man, Bruno Sammartino.
Vince McMahon: What? Look at that. Nicely done. What a suplex.
Bruno Sammartino: Boy—eh, I’ll tell you what, he doesn’t look too good, but he must weigh well over 300 pounds. And uh—
Vince McMahon: And 200 of it’s gotta be blubber.
Oh, nice try, Bruno, but bad Vince is back and looking to make fun of a ham-and-egger $10-a-match man on national television. Wait, hang on, I think good Vince has returned:
Vince McMahon: Double drop-kick! They nailed him!
No, wait, he hasn’t:
Vince McMahon: What a walrus!
Bruno Sammartino: But Windham was still able to pick him up for a suplex, and look at Rotundo go to work on him now.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if Bruno Sammartino starts coming across as the competent member of your announce team, something has gone very wrong. And now comes, if not the end of the video, at least the climax of Vince’s attack on the ample Mr. Finnegan.
Vince McMahon: He’s just all over the canvas, that man is. He’s leaving . . . he’s leaving stains everywhere!
Now I’ll ask you, wrestling fans, what the freaking heck? What does Vince McMahon, who after all employed Rusty Brooks and Buddy Rose for years without complaint, have against Finnegan to attack him like that? I would love to hear your best theories and explanations.
There’s a possible clue, maybe, in that “stains everywhere” line. Between 0:56 and 1:02, Vince seems to start that line but crack up into silent chuckling. He has to stop and try it again. (At least, that’s how I hear it.) It makes it sound like he had the line prepared in advance and was so amused by it that he had trouble delivering it. But why would a promoter prepare insults to use on a jobber? If you think he’s that out of shape, don’t hire him, Vince! Here’s my best guess: Finnegan shook down McMahon for extra money. They’re about to go to air, Barry O doesn’t have a partner, and Finnegan demands quadruple pay to go out there or something like that. McMahon has no choice but to agree, but he decides to get back at the guy on air.
I found some info on Finnegan online, and while it doesn’t help his case, it all took place years after this match, so I don’t think it answers the mystery of McMahon’s disgust and comic overdo here. So I leave it to you, denizens of RSN: you be the booker. Tell us the tale of what you think started the devastating, blood-curdling, stain-leaving feud of McMahon vs. the Glad Bag Man . . .