WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
May 27, 1988
- Rodger Kent and Superstar Billy Graham are at ringside to call all the action. Kent is probably best associated for his work with the AWA, and dang does he sound a bit out of place calling a WWF broadcast. Graham, no matter what the scenario, is just garbage, so hopefully he’ll shut up for most of the night. This is the original MSG broadcast, so no Classics on Demand edits this time around.
S.D. Jones vs. The Conquistador:
I’m not sure which Conquistador this is, as in I can’t tell if it’s Jose Estrada or Jose-Luis Rivera. Always good to see S.D. Jones. Just like any other scrub vs. scrub match, I really couldn’t pick the winner here. Lockup into the ropes and Jones gives a clean break. Conquistador with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Jones with a pair of arm drags and a slam, sending Conquistador into the corner to recuperate. Conquistador with a clothesline, but he misses an elbow. Jones with more slams to frustrate the masked man from Latin America. Whip to the corner and Jones takes him over with a back drop. Conquistador escapes an arm-bar with a clothesline and comes off the ropes with a fist drop. If I had to guess, it’s Estrada under the mask. Jones no-sells being rammed to the buckle and connects with an atomic drop. Whip to the ropes, Jones sets up early for a back drop and takes a boot to the face for it. Jones counters a chin-lock by lifting Conquistador up on his shoulders. Conquistador with a shot to the back of the head, followed by a sledge off the middle rope. Jones mounts a comeback, sweeping the leg and dropping a leg across the midsection. He makes the unwise decision to go for the mask, unsuccessfully. Jones with headbutts and more attempts for the mask. Graham is channeling the 1988 version of the wellness policy to sell the devastation of those headbutts. We see black hair, so maybe it’s Rivera. Jones with a body press, but Conquistador rolls through for the three count at 9:38. **1/4 I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, but Jones brought his working boots.
George "The Animal" Steele vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:
I keep forgetting Steele is still kicking around. Valentine has recently debuted his heat device known as the Hart Breaker, a shin guard he uses to inflict extra damage with the Figure-Four. No Jimmy Hart tonight for Valentine. Hammer tries to attack, but Steele takes control and sends him to the turnbuckle. He tries biting but Valentine kicks him off with the padded leg. Valentine with elbows, Steele with biting. All punchy-kicky-chokey so far. I would like to wager we won’t see an actual wrestling move in this entire match. Steele uses a foreign object on Valentine, and "hides" it in his mouth to fool the referee. Is that a shoe-horn?! Valentine with a forearm from the top rope followed by knees to the back. He starts working on the leg, teasing the Figure-Four. Steele’s all "screw this", grabs the time keeper’s hammer (called a wrench by Graham), and draws the cheap Disqualification at 5:45. -* These two would put on practically the same match 11-years later on the Heroes of Wrestling PPV, and it was surprisingly not much worse than this one.
The Young Stallions vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
(Paul Roma & Jim Powers vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
The Rougeaus have slowly transformed into insincere, obnoxious heels after spending nearly two years as vanilla baby-faces. They offer handshakes before the match, just to show how nice of guys they are. Powers and Raymond start with a lockup and clean break. Criss-cross ends in a stalemate. They do it again, with Powers rolling him up for a two count. Jacques helps Powers up off the arena floor and Raymond holds the ropes open for him to get back in. Jacques tags in and cradles Roma for a near fall. The insincerity of Jacques’ kindness is just too much (in a good way). Roma with a wrist-lock into a monkey flip. Roma offers the hand and rubs his head in the same insulting way Jacques just did to him. Raymond picks the leg of Roma and Jacques sits down across the knee. They give him a wish-bone while Jacques counts along for the legal 5-seconds both men are allowed in the ring. Roma surprises Jacques with a drop toe hold and now it’s the Stallions using the wish-bone. Powers drops a pair of elbows across the knee and grabs a toe hold. Stallions with a double hamstring pull as Powers counts with the referee. Roma tries turning him over with a Boston Crab, but Jacques makes it to the ropes. Raymond gets worked over and Roma puts him in a Boston Crab. Jacques tags in and puts Roma in a Boston Crab. Roma counters and they start trading pinning combinations for near falls. Raymond with the blind tag and a hard clothesline to the back of the head. The Rougeau’s take turns working the back, using all legal tactics. Jacques goes for a splash but it meets knees. Powers with the hot tag, ramming Jacques to the buckle. He grabs a sleeper, but Raymond attacks from behind to break it. Whip to the ropes and a Power-Slam gets two. Powers with a cradle, Raymond turns it over, and the Rougeau’s steal one at 14:25. *** Good wrestling match and a great story with the Rougeau’s really rubbing it in everyone’s face how nice they are, and then cheating to win because, gasp, they’re jerks. Then, add to insult to defeat, offer a post-match handshake, which the Stallions rightfully refuse.
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. One Man Gang:
The Gang doesn’t have Slick with him tonight. I guess he was in between meaningful programs, and just kind of hung around until being reborn as Akeem, the African Dream. Beefcake was still working houses with Honkytonk Man over the IC Title, so smart money is on him. Gang misses a few charges to the corner to kick things off. Lockup and the Gang shoves him across the ring with ease. Beefcake pounds away with rights, trapping him in the ropes. Beefcake continues to dish out punishment despite this, because faces who break the rules are too cool for school. He works the arm, practically lifting the Gang onto his back I the process. Gang uses his girth to crush Beefcake in the corner. He slows things down, slapping on a bear-hug. Beefcake escapes with an ear smack, but Gang remains in control. Gang crushes Beefcake in the corner some more and goes back to the bear-hug. Gang with a slam and elbow drop. He goes to the second rope and misses the splash. Beefcake with rights and a running high knee. He slaps on a Sleeper Hold, but the Gang goes spilling over the top with Beefcake still on his back. They play dead and we get a Double Count-Out at 10:27. Post-match, Gang attacks, but Beefcake fights him off and cuts a tiny bit of hair. * You’re not going to have too good a time when Beefcake is carrying the load.
The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs. Haku, High Chief Afi, Bobby Heenan:
This was originally advertised as the official members of the Islanders and Heenan teaming up, but Tama quit the company shortly after TV tapings just as Sivi Afi was reintroduced, and Haku was soon repackaged as the new King of the WWF leaving Afi with nothing to do. Koko and HEENAN start. Heenan cowers in the corner to avoid locking up. Koko offers himself on his back to lure Heenan away and unloads with rights in the corner. Heenan takes a comical bump to the buckle and scurries to the floor. Next in are Dynamite and Afi. They lockup, with Afi complaining about a hair pull. Dynamite avoids a leap frog and lays him out with a clothesline. Whip to the ropes, Dynamite with a shoulder tackle, followed by a hip toss. Haku walks into an atomic drop and taken over with an arm drag. Haku escapes a wrist-lock with forearms and takes Dynamite over with a sunset flip for two. Dyanmite with a slam and more work on the arm. Koko no-sells a headbutt and comes off the turnbuckle with a twisting body press for two. Afi pounds away on Davey Boy until missing an elbow drop. Dynamite with a big clothesline on Haku, followed by a leg drop for two. Haku catches Dynamite off the ropes and connects with a back breaker. Afi chops away while mocking Koko with his worst impression of a chicken dance. Second-rope headbutt gets two. Dynamite from out of nowhere with a sunset flip, but the Islanders remain in control. Afi with a snapmare and a Tongan Nerve Pinch. Heenan tags in, chokes with the tag rope, and quickly tags back out. Haku and DK exchange forearms until Haku takes him down with a back suplex. Dynamite blocks and counters a suplex with his own snap version. Davey Boy with the hot tag. He takes Haku over with a back drop and knocks Afi off the apron. Delayed suplex to Haku, but no cover. He plants Haku with the running Power-Slam, but Afi breaks the count. Koko in for a double clothesline. Whip to the ropes and a dropkick. Afi tags in and takes a dropkick as well. Heenan blind tags, KO’s Koko with a foreign object while everyone else brawls, and steals the pin at 14:11. Heenan sure did pin Koko B. Ware a lot during the Spring of 1988. **1/2 Much better match than what we got at WrestleMania IV, but that might also be due to a crowd that actually gave half-a-shit.
Jerry Allen vs. Iron Mike Sharpe:
Some unnecessary padding of the card with two scrubs. Jerry Allen is not to be confused with Terry Allen, a.k.a Magnum T.A. Not to take this down a morbid road, but it wasn’t until recently I found out Allen had passed away back in 1995. Lockup and they quickly trade arm locks. Sharpe grabs a side headlock. Criss-cross in slow motion and Sharpe misses a dropkick. Allen with a sunset flip for two. He takes Sharpe over with a pair of arm drags and we get more stalling. Allen brings him back in with a slingshot and sends him into the corner with an atomic drop. Whip across the ring and Sharpe gets a knee up on the charge. Sharpe chokes while Graham constantly complains about his wrist brace. Sharpe with clubberin’ blows and a ton of hollering. Allen teases a comeback, but gets nailed across the back of the neck. Allen goes for a roll up, but Sharpe escapes at two. Allen with knees in the midsection, followed by a hip toss and slam for two. Allen misses a blind body press and Sharpe drops an elbow for three at 6:26. *1/2 Short, but pointless fluff.
WWF Championship Match:
Last time we were in Madison Square Garden, Dibiase got a cheap Count-Out victory over the Macho Man, making a return match a necessity. On a side note, they really did milk this feud for all they could for the Spring and Summer. I recently covered this in the Macho Madness Coliseum Video, and my views probably are unchanged since then, so here’s a copy-and-paste job: Savage attacks Dibiase before the bell, complete with robe on. He knocks him silly with the Title belt (behind the back of the referee), knocking Dibiase to the floor. They exchange rights until Savage sends Dibiase back to the floor following an atomic drop and clothesline. Virgil tries creating a distraction, but Savage doesn’t fall for it. Dibiase lures Savage into a game of cat-and-mouse and dumps him over the top rope. Back in the ring, Dibiase stomps and chokes. He comes off the second rope with an axehandle, followed by his signature fist drop for a two count. Savage teases a comeback, but gets sent to the turnbuckle. Dibiase with a big clothesline and another double axehandle for a near fall. Dibiase with a flurry of rights and piledriver for another two count. He goes high risk again, but this time takes a fist to the midsection. Savage with a series of elbows. Dibiase gets introduced to the turnbuckle 10-times. He hangs Dibiase across the top rope and follows with a pair of running elbows. Dibiase side-steps a third attempt, throwing Savage through the ropes. Dibiase follows, planting him with a slam. Back in the ring, Dibiase drops a pair of fists for a two count. Savage teases a comeback, but Dibiase goes to the eyes and takes him over with a suplex for two. Dibiase tries sending Savage to an exposed turnbuckle, but Savage counters. He throws an arm over for the cover, but Virgil runs in for the DQ at 11:55. **3/4 Good match, but felt a little rushed, and you can tell we’re just building to the next level in their series.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage © (w/ Elizabeth) vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):
"The Rock" Don Muraco (w/ Billy Graham) vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart:
Oh yes, that odd period where Bret Hart was working as a face, but Neidhart remained heel and they were kind of broken up, only for Neidhart to officially turn face as well a month or so later. Graham has ditched the broadcast position and is replaced for this match by Lord Alfred Hayes. Lockup ends in a stalemate. Another lockup and Neidhart gives a surprisingly clean break. They get into a shoving match before trading rights. They collide in the center of the ring, with neither man budging. Neidhart with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. They trade blows again and Neidhart again stands tall on a collision. Whip to the corner and Muraco meets a boot on the way in. Neidhart with choking and more rights. Muraco no-sells some shoulder tackles and catches Neidhart off the ropes with a slam. Muraco with a body press for two. He knocks Neidhart into the corner with a dropkick. Whip across the ring, Muraco blows a sunset flip, and Neidhart blows sitting on him and "hooking" the leg for the three count at 6:27. -* This was just "bad" before the finish, but how two men could spectacularly fuck up that finish is beyond me. Things don’t look good for Muraco, doing a pinfall job to Jim Neidhart.
Ken Patera vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin):
This match was supposed to take place at the last MSG card, but Bravo put a beat-down on him following an impromptu arm-wrestling contest. I guess someone figured the world didn’t want to be robbed of such an instant classic. Bravo tries a sneak attack, but Patera clobbers him, knocking Canada’s Strongest Man to the floor. Patera goes for the Full Nelson, but Bravo makes it to the ropes. Whip to the ropes and Patera with an elbow. He nails Bravo with some sad looking forearms, knocking him to the floor. Bravo teases taking a walk, but then remembers its Ken friggin’ Patera. Patera meets the post on a charge and Bravo plants him with a Piledriver. Patera teases a comeback, but gets put down with an inverted atomic drop. Bravo with knees to the midsection, knocking Patera to the floor. Martin gets a cheap shot in while the referee is distracted. Bravo goes for another Piledriver, but Patera counters with a back drop. Whip to the ropes and Patera with an elbow. Scoop slam gets two. Small package for two. Sunset flip for two. Patera with a whip to the corner, followed by a clothesline. He signals for the Full Nelson, but Bravo makes it to the ropes. Martin with a distraction, allowing Bravo to attack from behind and finish Patera with the Side Slam at 7:17. *1/2 Surprisingly watchable match. Sometimes miracles do happen.
- The Fink runs down the card being held at Madison Square Garden on June 25th. Scott Casey takes on a newcomer to the WWF... the Big Boss Man. The Conquistadors oppose the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (?). "Dangerous" Danny Davis faces "The Rock" Don Muraco. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine takes on George "The Animal" Steele in a return bout with No Disqualifications. Bad News Brown takes on Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (?), the One Man Gang faces "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Andre The Giant returns to MSG to take on Bam Bam Bigelow. In the Main Event, "Macho Man" Randy Savage defends the WWF Title against "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase inside a Steel Cage! There’s More! Bobby "The Brain" Heenan will face The Ultimate Warrior, who is going to stuff Heenan inside a Weasel Suit after he wins. This brings out Heenan to complain about that decision. I guess his open contract challenge has backfired on him. The question marks indicate "what the fuck" booking considering what we saw from the Rougeaus and Neidhart and they’re both scheduled to face heels.
Junkyard Dog vs. "The Outlaw" Ron Bass:
Definitely not the Main Event of the evening. If anything, this just means everyone will head for the exits a little early to beat the traffic. Trust me... this is going to suck. Bass attacks before the bell. JYD responds by hitting Bass with the collar of his chain and hangs him over the top rope. Where the hell is the Disqualification?! The bell has already rung. Bass blocks a hip toss, so JYD knocks him silly with headbutts. We get a test-of-strength to ensure neither man breaks a sweat in this match. Bass hangs JYD up across the top rope and pounds away. Bass with a lame rest-hold while JYD makes funny faces. He escapes, but Bass lays him out with a clothesline. He drops a pair of knees across the chest for two. JYD starts no-selling... more... and makes his comeback. Whip to the corner and Bass comes out with a clothesline. Bass with a slam, and somehow it turns into a counter with JYD landing on top for three at 8:15. -* An awful JYD match? Who would’ve guessed that would happen? I didn’t think it was possible for two basic finishes to be blown on one show, and just a couple of matches apart, but it happened.
Final Thoughts: Mostly enjoyable show, at least up until the WWF Championship Match. Nothing that’s going to knock your socks off, but there’s a handful of solid tag team matches, the above mentioned Championship match, a surprisingly decent opener, and a handful of other matches that fall under the "watchable" title. There’s three matches that were bad enough to dip into the negatives meter, but to look at it from a positive perspective, they weren’t TOO long, I guess. It’s a tough one, but I can give this a very slight recommendation. Just stop watching after Savage vs. Dibiase unless you want to see the one good(ish) match between Patera and Bravo.
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