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WWF At Copps Coliseum
by Scrooge McSuck
March 13, 1988
- Taped from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with Craig DeGeorge and Nick Bockwinkel on commentary. I honestly thought Bockwinkel was done by this point but shows what I know. This card is mostly complete, with several matches Joined in Progress. The WWF ran the Copps Coliseum often, but they have a second-rate black canvas for this card like they borrowed it from a low-rent Indy company. I remember seeing clips of one of the matches on the VCR WrestleMania game and thinking "where did they tape THIS?". For reference, they held the Royal Rumble in the same building, and here it looks like NWA levels of production values compared to what the WWF was more likely to churn out.
"Special" Delivery Jones vs. "Luscious" Johnny Valiant
Oh my Goodness, JOHNNY V is still being used as a prelim guy?! We're Joined in Progress, with Valiant sending Jones into the post. Valiant brings Jones back in with a slam. Whip to the ropes and a weak knee to the midsection. Jones fires back with rights and lefts, followed by a YANK OF THE NOSE. Valiant gets to taste the top turnbuckle ten times, then another ten in a different corner. Whip to the ropes and Jones with a back body-drop. Valiant no-sells and takes Jones over with a snap mare. He goes to the top rope, but Jones recovers and slams him down for two. Whip to the ropes and Jones with a headbutt for three at 2:50 (shown). Not that it means much, but this ended up being Valiant's final match for the WWF.
The Killer Bees vs. The Bolsheviks
Volkoff sings the Soviet anthem, of course. Volkoff attacks Blair before the bell and works him over in the ropes. Whip to the ropes, Blair catches a boot and sends Volkoff into the corner with an atomic drop, where Brunzell greets him with an ear smack. Blair drops an elbow across the lower abdomen, but Zhukov breaks up a pin attempt. Brunzell tags in and works on the left arm. Volkoff pops Blair with an elbow and tags out to Zhukov. He sends Blair into a neutral corner and pounds away. Whip across the ring and Zhukov meets the post on a failed charge. Whip and the Bees take him over with a double back body-drop for two. Weird to note, but we actually see Bockwinkel and DeGeorge at ringside (it wasn't uncommon to tape footage and add the commentary afterwards). Blair with a fireman's carry into a wrist-lock. He hooks an abdominal stretch, but Volkoff saves. Blair goes for Volkoff on the apron, allowing Zhukov to recover and attack from behind. Volkoff sends Blair to the ropes and drives a knee to the midsection. Blair tries fighting out of the corner but Volkoff cuts him off with a rake of the eyes and an atomic drop. Zhukov with choking in the corner and a bear-hug. Bockwinkel shoots down the idea of having two referees, saying a good wrestler will still figure a way around things, and it adds another body to a potential mess. Blair goes for a slam but collapses under the weight of Zhukov's cranium. Volkoff lures Brunzell into the ring to prevent a tag. Whip and Zhukov with an elbow for two. We get heel miscommunication, but Volkoff keeps the referee from seeing a tag. Whip and Blair nails Volkoff with a diving forearm. Brunzell finally gets the hot tag and runs wild on Zhukov with rights and lefts. Whip to the ropes and Brunzell with a back body-drop. Whip and he connects with his signature dropkick but Volkoff saves. Brunzell gives them a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER and hooks a sleeper on Zhukov. Blair cuts off Volkoff, but that just distracts the referee, allowing Volkoff to hit a double axe-handle on Brunzell and steal the fall at 11:22. Well, if you're doing pin-fall jobs to the Bolsheviks, you're done. Match was decent. **
Koko B. Ware vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin)
Good thing we're not in Quebec, otherwise Bravo would be the number one babyface. Lockup and Bravo shoves Koko into the ropes. Bravo with a slam and pre-mature celebration. Koko blocks a hip toss, countering with his own. Whip to the corner is reversed and Koko sends Bravo out of the ring with a headbutt. Back inside, Koko avoids a wild right hand and rocks Bravo with another headbutt. Whip across the ring and Bravo counters a monkey-flip with an inverted atomic drop. Bravo with boots, sending Koko out of the ring. He follows and rams Koko into the guardrail. Martin gets a few shots in to earn his payday. Bravo pulls Koko back in the ring and connects with a piledriver (is that what love is like?) for two. Whip to the ropes and Bravo with a clothesline for two. Koko fights out of a chin-lock and comes off the ropes with a twisting body press for two. Koko counters a piledriver with a back body-drop and "flaps his wings" before hitting a pair of dropkicks. Whip and Koko with a clothesline, followed by a fist drop for two. Koko misses a dive into the corner and Bravo finishes with the side slam at 7:48. This was a particularly lazy effort from Bravo. ½*
Noriyo Tateno (w/ Itsuki Yamazaki) vs. Leilani Kai (w/ Jimmy Hart)
We have new commentary from Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, which is odd since all other matches featured on Prime-Time featured the original commentary. My theory? This is the last time we'll see the Jumping Bomb Angels on WWF television, with their last US appearance a week before WrestleMania IV, and they don't want to promote anything too much. Tateno originally comes out alone but retrieves Yamazaki from the locker room to balance the presence at ringside for Leilani. Lockup into the ropes, Tateno comes bouncing back with a high knee and boots Kai into the corner. They do a test-of-strength, with Kai putting the boots to Tateno to take control with an arm bar. Tateno counters and comes off the middle rope with an elbow across the shoulder. Kai sweeps the legs and grabs a blatant choke in front of the referee. Kai sends her across the ring with a slingshot as Gorilla can't be bothered to learn the names of either of the Bomb Angels. Tateno counters a body-scissors with a modified surfboard. Kai fights out of a body-scissors from Tateno and works the knee. Kai misses a dive, allowing Tateno to apply a Figure-Four Leg Lock, but Kai quickly rolls to the ropes to force a break. Tateno continues working the leg as Heenan asks why, if the Bomb Angels are from Japan, that they wear the colors of the US flag on their gear. Whip to the corner, Tateno boots Kai down but misses a senton. Martin gets a cheap shot in with the referee distracted. She seems to be hobbling, so maybe that's why we're getting this as a singles match. Kai with a snap mare, using a tag rope to choke her at the same time. Martin with more interference from ringside. Tateno comes back with a pair of slams for two. Kai quickly regains control with a thumb to the throat. Whip and Tateno with a body press for two. Whip and Tateno with a diving clothesline for two. Double under-hook suplex for two. Whip and Kai ducks another body press attempt. Kai with a variation of a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Tateno with a delayed fisherman suplex, but Martin hops on the apron to prevent the referee from counting. Tateno with a clothesline from the second rope for two. Hart hooks the ankle as Gorilla speculates the Angels swapped places. SHUT. UP. We get a miscommunication between Hart and Kai, allowing Tateno to get the three-count at 13:13. This was decent, but after working months of tag matches, they had to go with a new scheme, and you could tell. As I expected, they didn't go out of their way to promote anything in the future for this feud. **½
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
No entrances, leading me to believe this is JIP, but I'm wrong, it's bell-to-bell all here, with the footage from this match broadcast on an episode of International Wrestling Challenge. Valentine is taking a powder, so Beefcake pulls him to the apron and lays into him with elbows. He sends Valentine to the corner and plays to the crowd before dropping an elbow across the midsection. Beefcake with an atomic drop, comically over-sold by Valentine. Beefcake does it again and comes off the ropes with a jumping forearm across the top of the head. Valentine asks for mercy, but Beefcake isn't giving him the satisfaction, backing him up and unloading with mounted right hands. Valentine thumbs the eye while the referee tries to force them apart. Valentine climbs the ropes and connects with a double axe-handle. Valentine with a lengthy chin-lock, followed by some blatant choking. I don't know why he didn't last long, but Bockwinkel sounds really good at dissecting the psychology of the action, which is what the color commentator is supposed to be. Snap mare and Valentine drives his shoulders into the thighs of the Barber. I always thought it was a headbutt, and DeGeorge calls it such, but Bockwinkel directs us to look closer, and he's right. Beefcake blocks the Figure-Four by grabbing the tights. Valentine tries going high risk again but is met with a fist to the midsection. Beefcake unloads with chops and right hands. Whip to the corner and Beefcake hooks the sleeper. Jimmy Hart tries to save but Beefcake catches him coming off the top rope. Valentine picks up the megaphone and whacks Beefcake for the cheap Disqualification at 9:03. Slowed down in the middle, but decent. **1/4
"The Rock" Don Muraco & George "The Animal" Steele vs. The One Man Gang & "The Natural" Butch Reed
Oh my God, SO MANY NICKNAMES. No Superstar Graham or Slick at ringside. We immediately get under way with Muraco paired with Reed and Steele going for the Gang. The babyfaces clear the ring as Gang sells his arm being bit. Steele elbow drops the Gang's jacket years before Ric Flair made it famous for abusing apparel. Things eventually settle down, with Muraco and Reed in the ring. Lockup and Reed grabs a side headlock. Steele hooks him running the ropes and gnaws on him while we get a bizarre pull-apart between Muraco and the Gang, including the Gang THROWING THE REFEREE, and the match is allowed to resume. Gang suffers more biting, so I guess he's punished enough. Reed throws the world's softest knees and throws equally weak forearms. Whip and Muraco sends Reed out of the ring with a hip toss. Muraco is all-in on treating Steele like an actual pet. Muraco taunts Reed by calling him "Bruce." UGH. Muraco sends him into the corner with an atomic drop, where Steele peppers him with right hands. Ok, I looked between action, and Butch Reed's birthname IS "Bruce". MURACO'S SHOOTING! Muraco gets caught in the wrong corner but immediately causes heel miscommunication. Whip to the corner and Muraco with an elbow. Steele and Gang tag in, and we get MORE BITING. Even Muraco gets in on the act. Muraco sets up for the back body-drop and… yeah, he's an idiot. Reed with a snap mare and series of short rights. Gang uses the tag rope to choke out Muraco while the referee is taking a nap. Reed looks SO LAZY. As I type that, Gang grabs a chin-lock. Reed and Gang take turns choking him across the top rope. Did you know… three of these men will compete in the WrestleMania IV tournament, and all three were eliminated in matches against the eventual finalists? Yeah, I'm bored. Muraco fights out of another boring chin-lock and they bop heads for the double-down. The referee misses the tag, but it doesn't matter as heck breaks loose. Muraco and Steele are sent into each other in slow motion. Double clothesline knocks Steele out of the ring. Whip and a bad looking double elbow to Muraco. The referee is allowing a solid MINUTE of double-teaming. Steele trips up Gang and pulls him out of the ring, while Reed misses a dive into the ropes, and Muraco does something off camera to pin him at 17:54. What a mess. I wanted to give this something for Muraco going in with the Animal shtick, but it isn't enough to make up for everything looking so bad and/or lazy. NO STARS
Hulk Hogan & Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink) vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase & Virgil (w/ Andre the Giant)
There's no way this can be worse than the last dog we sat through. Poor Andre had to fly into Hamilton, Ontario to be the corner man for a match? We get the long intro version of "Real American" for one reason or another. Crowd still f*cking loves it, though. Hogan and Bigelow bum rush the ring. Hogan quickly lays out Virgil, then hits both opponents with big boots to clear the ring. Dibiase lays into Bigelow with chops. Whip to the ropes, Bigelow ducks an elbow and runs through Dibiase with a shoulder tackle. Hogan works him over in the corner, sends him across the ring, and follows in with a clothesline. Virgil rushes in for the obligatory DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER. Bigelow offers his cranium for assistance to the bludgeoning of Dibiase. He catches a boot and sends Dibiase into the corner with an atomic drop. He plays the ping pong ball for the heroes, and Virgil rushes in to get blasted again. Whip and double big boot to Dibiase. Another whip and Hogan with the axe bomber. Andre reaches in and picks the leg of Hulk, giving him some headbutts while Dibiase draws the attention of the referee. Virgil tags in and drives a headbutt into the midsection. Whip and Virgil bounces off the ropes with a clothesline. He poses with one foot on Hogan's chest for a two-count. DAMN, Virgil was doing his shtick years before the lonely Virgil/Olive Garden loving internet fame. Andre hooks the tights, allowing Dibiase and Virgil to work him over in the corner. Dibiase with a series of drifting fist drops for two. Dibiase hooks a chin-lock, sold as a sleeper. Remember, this is before he started using the Million Dollar Dream. Andre harasses the timekeeper, claiming Hogan has quit. Hogan fights out with elbows and comes off the ropes with a shoulder. Crisscross and we get a clothesline double-down. Bigelow gets the tag and pounds away with rights. Whip to the corner and Bigelow with a shoulder tackle. He plants Dibiase with a slam but is tripped up by Andre while running the ropes. Bigelow fights off Virgil, tossing him with a press slam and dropping an elbow for two. Hogan comes in, drops the leg, and Bigelow adds a splash for three at 10:08. Andre rushes in, knocks Hogan out of the ring, and takes aim at Bigelow. Hogan fights off Dibiase and Virgil at ringside, then tosses Bigelow an equalizer (a steel chair) to send Andre out of the ring. Not as good as the matches where Andre was teaming with Dibiase, but a satisfying Main Event. **3/4
Final Thoughts: The tag team bouts featuring Hogan, Bigelow, Dibiase and Co. continue to be entertaining matches to take top billing while the WWF Championship is without an owner. The underneath portion of the card is the usual ups and downs. The most unique of those matches is unfortunately the worst on the show, which is a shame since you'd more likely check out oddball combinations of Steele and Muraco teaming than a good match, but one in a long series of them, like Beefcake vs. Valentine. There's a decent balance, and worth a mild recommendation.
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