WWF Wrestlers Performing Land of 1000 Dances

Anytime I’m down or feeling blue, nothing picks me up quite like watching the wrestlers of the WWF from the 1985-ish era singing “Land of 1000 Dances”. Not just for the silliness of the song, but also for the exagerrated actions of the wrestlers in the video.

If you’re having a bad day, this should lift you a little. If you’re already having a good day, this will make it a little better. And yes, that’s Meatloaf playing the drums. Your day is already a little better because of that last sentence.

O’Boisies Potato Chips

Those little Keebler elves have made a lot of tasty treats in their day.  Unfortunately, a lot of them left the shelves far too quickly.  O’Boisies, for me, is the primary example of this.  They hit the market in the mid-late ’80s and were gone by the early ’90s.

Keebler always tried to claim that O’Boisie’s weren’t a “chip”.  I’m not sure what they thought they were, but they were the finest example of a potato chip that I can think of.  The flavor in these things packed quite a punch.  It seemed like they had a higher salt content than other chips, and their main feature was little pockets of air baked into them.  This made them one of the crunchier chips I can recall….and when it comes to potato chips, I want them crunchy! 

You could get O’Boisies in Original, Sour Cream & Onion, and BBQ flavors.  I’ve never been a fan of BBQ chips, but I was all in on the other two flavors.  You could always find these chips in our pantry for an after-school snack, or a Saturday afternoon pick-me-up while playing Nintendo.  But my favorite memory of them is that my Mother and I would sit at night snacking on them while watching Nick at Nite when my Dad was out of town and my brother was at work.  And in recent years, she and I would mention them to one another and reflect back on those good times. 

Toys I Never Had: Hit Stix

Now while I don’t remember very much about this toy, I DO remember being super pumped when I saw the commercials. The producers did a very good job at making these things sound incredible. Supposedly, you could walk around playing “air drums” but actually produce drum sounds. Pretty cool concept.

They were a combo of fluorescent orange and yellow, a pretty extreme and eye-catching color combination back in the early ’90s. Each stick had a thin cord running from it to a sound box that you wore on a belt. All you had to do was make a striking motion in the air like you would while playing actual drums, and the sticks registered this “hit” and sent a signal to the soundbox that emitted a sound as if you had just rapped a snare drum.

I wanted these things so much. I would lay around and daydream about being the coolest kid in school if I had those things. Walking through the halls, playing a radical solo, with lots of girls following me and talking about how cool I was. I even joined the school band and chose to play percussion, just in the hope that the band director would let me play Hit Stix instead of an actual snare drum.  Sigh. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

Wrestlemania 2 VHS Tape Advertisement

With Wrestlemania 40 about to kick off this weekend, I’ve been thinking back on some of my favorite memories of the yearly event that launched way back in 1985. And my earliest memory of Wrestlemania is watching the Wrestlemania 2 VHS tape with my cousin Tim.

I wasn’t into wrestling yet when the first Wrestlemania took place in 1985. And I was just starting to get into the WWF when Wrestlemania 2 rolled around a year later. I became aware of their existence during the buildup to the event. But when the VHS hit our local video store, Tim and I couldn’t wait to watch it and we weren’t disappointed.

The cage match main event between WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy was a big draw for us, as was the 20-Man Over the Top Battle Royal that featured stars of the NFL mixing it up with WWF grapplers. A third match was of particular interest to me as one of my favorites of the time, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat would be in action.

Tim and I watched that tape twice when we rented it and loved every second of it. Even today I go back and watch the whole event about once every two years. Wrestlemania 2 usually isn’t high on fans lists of best Wrestlemanias, but the nostalgia I have for the event has kept it solidly in my top ten.

But that $39.95 price tag in 1986 though, holy cow, how did people afford these things back then?!?

Pizza Hut Street Ball

Pizza Hut has had some of the best premium items in the history of fast food, and maybe one of their coolest offerings was their Street Balls they rolled out during March Madness for a few years in the early ’90s. Kinda like I’m doing with this post…trying to capitalize on the season. The street balls were non-standard-looking basketballs with custom prints that reflected what Pizza Hut thought the culture on the streets was like.

I had the one featured in the video above and used it all the time in my driveway shooting hoops by myself or playing a game of Around the World with my neighbor. I somehow felt like it made me a better player, but it probably just made me look like an even bigger doofus than I already did as a skinny, pasty-white white boy in the rural Appalachians trying to dribble between my legs on the way for a layup.

While I actually did play basketball in school and was a really good shot from downtown, I just didn’t look like a real ball player. What made matters worse was the fact that every one of us lanky kids who got one of these balls would bring them to practice trying to look cool. That doesn’t work when everybody brings one.

But I’ll say again, these street balls were a great piece of promotion by Pizza Hut, and anyone who was around back then surely remembers them.

Weekend Reading 03/24/24

It’s been a little while since I shared a curated list of fun retro and nostalgia-themed articles and posts with you all, so today I’m dusting off the Weekend Reading feature to bring you a list of fun stuff I’ve come across online recently. So sit back, relax, and go check these out.

  • A Fortress Falls (Retailpocalypse) – great read about the demise of the old K-Mart headquarters and its vast history.

Taco Bell’s Texas Taco Sandwich of 1995

The Texas Taco Sandwich hit the market in 1995 with a fun commercial starring Jack Palance. Palance was coming off a resurgence thanks to the movies City Slickers and City Slickers II, so he lent credibility to Taco Bell’s latest offering with a Texas flair. I was driving by the time this came out, so as soon as I saw the first commercials, I was making my run for the border to try one.

It featured Taco Bell’s traditional taco profile of seasoned ground beef or chicken, lettuce, and cheese, but also added diced tomatoes and a “special southwest sauce”. Some folks say they remember, and others theorize, that the southwest sauce on this was the same sauce used on the Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito that was also released in 1995 as part of another promotion. The real focal point of the Texas Taco Sandwich though was the shell. It was advertised as “Texas flatbread”, which was unique for the time since it was thicker than a tortilla shell. I personally can’t confirm this, but I believe it was an early version of the Gordita shell they would debut in 1998.

The Texas Taco Sandwich was a unique item that captured my attention, as well as my taste buds while it was on the menu. I do seem to remember it being larger than the later Gordita, but it probably had to be since it was marketed as being associated with Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas I hear.

Campbell’s Has Revealed a Limited Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Campbell’s® Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I came across this news release today from Cambell’s announcing they are releasing a new Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup for a limited time this spring. For all of my life, my favorite way to enjoy tomato soup is paired with a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup was a regular dinner for me growing up. My dad traveled a lot, and my brother was older than me and working, so it was just my mom and I for dinner a lot of the time, and this combination was a go-to.

I’m intrigued by this soup idea and really want to try it. My wonder though is whether will it pair well with a grilled cheese sandwich, or will that be overkill. If it’s designed to incorporate both flavors, it might be just fine on its own.

Here is the news announcement straight from Campbells:

Introducing Campbell’s® Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup. This first-ever limited-edition Campbell’s® soup flavor celebrates the brand’s iconic Tomato Soup infused with the comforting flavors of a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s the ultimate bowl of comfort bursting with satisfying flavor.

You’ll enjoy the toasty, cheesy notes of a grilled cheese combined with Campbell’s Tomato Soup in each and every spoonful.​

Whether you prefer to prepare with water (for a more robust tomato taste) or milk (for a delightfully cheesier taste), each spoonful will remind you that these flavors are just better together.​

This limited-edition soup is set to hit shelves at select grocery stores soon, but we’re giving you the chance to win a free 2-pack before it disappears. Enter today and you and a friend could celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12) in the coziest of ways.

That last line there references winning a free 2-pack of this new soup, and you can enter at https://campbellsgrilledcheeseandtomatosoup.com/

Pepsi Free

I have long been a connoisseur of sodas. Through the years I’ve probably tried every new offering that hit the shelves at least once. And for whatever reason, a simple can of caffeine-free Pepsi really hit the spot for me. Of course back then, I didn’t know it was just caffeine-free Pepsi, I thought it was it’s own kind of thing. I was hooked on Pepsi Free.

While technically, this is still available, it’s just not the same as it was in the beginning.  The can has changed, and there are no longer many advertising dollars spent on it.  Today, you know it simply as Caffeine Free Pepsi. 

Back in 1982, Pepsi became the first major soda company to introduce a caffeine-free soda to their product line.  They pumped a lot of advertising dollars into the launch and continued to heavily promote it throughout its lifespan. 

The original can was a reddish-orange in color, with a blue logo outlined in white, and struck quite an image to a young soda fan like myself.  While not really knowing what it even was, I was hooked by the can design, the promotion of this hot new thing, and the “taste”.  I swore to everyone that it was the best-tasting soda on the market. 

Everywhere I spotted a Pepsi machine while out and about with my old man, I begged for him to buy me Pepsi Free, and he would oblige.  At this point in life, I’m assuming that he was more than happy to supply a can of “pop” without as much kick as other sodas so he may hopefully get a little peace and quiet in the afternoon without a wired child running around. 

The product in its original name was phased out in 1987.  From that point on, it’s been known simply as Caffeine Free Pepsi. But I believe the sales would rise a little if they would go back to that beautiful orange and blue can.

Mike “Virgil” Jones, RIP

Damn. Two RIP posts in back-to-back days. Just yesterday I wrote about the passing of Ole Anderson. It’s been a tough stretch for old-school wrestling fans. They say these things come in threes, but I hope that superstition doesn’t come true.

If you were a pro wrestling fan in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s you know who Virgil was. For several years in the late ’80s, Virgil was paired with “The Million Dollar Man” as his servant and helped play a hand in all of Ted DiBiase’s dastardly deeds, drawing the ire of the fans along the way.

Virgil’s WWF run came to its apex when he finally had enough of DiBiase’s treatment of him and stood up to The Million Dollar Man at the 1991 Royal Rumble. He blasted DiBiase with his own Million Dollar title belt, and went on to win that belt from him at Wrestlemania 7. Virgil went on to moderate success as a good guy before finishing his mainstream career as part of the nWo in WCW in the late ’90s.

While most fan’s memories of Mike Jones are as Virgil, my favorite memories of him were from his early days in the Memphis circuit when he went by the persona of Soul Train Jones (pictured above).

He was a middle-of-the-pack performer back then, but I didn’t know things like that back then, and he was one of my favorites. We got the Memphis television show on a couple of week’s delay here in my neck of the woods, and it was on at midnight. I had to record it each week and watch it the next day, and I was always excited to see how Soul Train Jones each week. His battles against the likes of Tojo Yammamoto’s men, Goliath, Big Bubba, and a young Cactus Jack always thrilled me. He was such an electric performer in that persona.

Whether you were more of a fan of Virgil or Soul Train Jones like me, the fact remains that another one of our wrestling heroes has left us, and that leaves another hole in my heart. Rest in peace Soul Train.

Ole Anderson, RIP

Alan Rogowski, better known as Ole Anderson, passed away yesterday. Details as to the cause of his death have not been made public, but his obituary states that he passed peacefully.

For those of you who don’t know, Ole Anderson was a professional wrestler. He was not just one of your run-of-the-mill wrestlers either. He was a tough-as-nails, take no gruff, star throughout the ’70s and ’80s. While he was a bigger attraction in the Carolinas and Georgia, he was known the world over.

As a founding member of the legendary Four Horseman, Ole Anderson was always in the mix at the top of the card and was a money-making draw for promoters everywhere. From his incredible run with his brother Gene as one of the top tag teams in the world, The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, to his later tag team run with “cousin” Arn Anderson, to his role in the Four Horsemen, and his bitter rivalry with Dusty Rhodes, Ole entertained millions for years.

For me personally, I hated Ole Anderson when I was a kid. The Rock & Roll Express were my favorites when I got into wrestling in 1985 and 1986, and one of their toughest challenges was Ole and Arn. Ole would continually put beatings on Ricky and Robert, and I would sit on the edge of my seat hollering at the TV and Ole in particular.

As I got older and understood pro wrestling better, I came to admire the persona of Ole. The tough SOB always put on entertaining matches and was always involved in storylines with my favorites, so I had a vested interest in his matches more times than not.

Ole’s way of doing things behind the scenes rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and over the last two decades, you’d be hard-pressed to find many good comments made about him by his peers. But I’ve never paid much attention to that in the past, and I still don’t now. From a fan’s perspective, Ole was a fantastic performer and knew how to get you riled up while you watched. That seems to be a rare trait among the crop of today’s wrestlers.

Being a lifelong wrestling fan, I’ve seen a lot of my childhood heroes pass on, and it’s always tough seeing the news when it pops up. Ole’s passing surprised and saddened me, but I hope he’s finally able to rest in peace. Thanks for the many memories Rock, you’ll be missed.

Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff in the Cage

I’m a lifelong fan of pro wrestling, so naturally, I have a lot of memories from years gone by that jump out at me. One of the memories that came flooding back to me recently was the night that Hulk Hogan fought Paul Orndorff in a cage on NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. Thanks to the guys of TRN’s House Show Podcast reviewing the show, I felt like a kid again.

Saturday Night’s Main Event was at one time THE biggest wrestling show on television. Pay-per-view was in its infancy for most of the series run, the NWA had yet to launch their Clash of the Champions series and the regular wrestling shows on television were still filled with non-competitive matches for the most part. Yeah, they’d throw us a bone every now and then and give us a decent main event match, but even that usually was just to set up something for later, and would often end in a non-finish.

So when a Saturday Night’s Main Event show would roll around on NBC about once a month, it was must-see TV for young wrestling fans. Or must-record-TV in my case. Even being the weekend, my mom wouldn’t let me stay up to watch it as it happened. Instead, I would set the timer on the VCR, record it, and then watch it the next morning as soon as I got up.

The match I’m going to be talking about here took place on the January 3rd, 1987 Saturday Night’s Main Event. The “main event” of the show pitted World Wrestling Federation champion Hulk Hogan against his one-time friend turned bitter rival, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. And this wouldn’t be just another match. No sir. This match was going to take place inside the walls of a 15-foot-high steel cage! The only way to win one of these cage matches was to put your opponent down to the point that you could leave through the door, or climb over the top. The important thing is that your feet must touch the floor.

So I’m watching the tape the following morning after the live event, and the Hogan-Orndorff match was up first. It was a good back-and-forth affair, but nine-year-old me really had no reason to think that Orndorff would actually beat Hogan. But it got to a point in the match when both men were a little groggy, and they started to climb out on opposite sides of the ring. Jesse “The Body” Ventura on commentary exclaimed that it was a race! I kinda got on the edge of my seat. It was neck and neck as they both started down the outside. Vince McMahon was yelling for Hogan to drop down! Then it happened. Both men hit the floor at the same time! The theme song “Real American” started playing, which after the bout a winner’s music is played, but in this case, it didn’t really tell you who won since both men used the same theme song!

Wait…who just won the match? There was confusion at ringside as both men were claiming victory. McMahon and Ventura were each arguing the case for a different competitor. Referees Joey Marella and Danny Davis were each declaring a different winner. Multiple replays of the finish were shown, but no official announcement had been made. It was Saturday night suspense at its finest! The show went to a commercial break, leaving everyone pondering what the outcome was! When the show returned, an announcement was made that this match had been declared a tie. But since a tie is like kissing your sister (my words, not theirs), the referee ordered the match to be restarted!

So after we had just witnessed an incredible battle, with an incredible ending, we were about to get even more! Unfortunately, the rest of the bout was not as exciting as the first half. Hogan went on to soundly defeat Orndorff once they were back in the cage. He even gave Bobby Heenan a good thrashing for good measure after the match was over.

Hogan would go on to an even bigger moment just a month later that I’m sure I’ll be covering at some point soon, while Orndorff would start to fall off in his importance as the rest of 1987 rolled on. But none of that could take away from the flat-out excitement of their cage match on that Saturday night so long ago. I still get goosebumps re-watching it today. You can watch the full match below and re-live the excitement, or live it for the first time.