WWF at Madison Square Garden - September 30, 1989
by Scrooge McSuck
- We're heading back to the post-SummerSlam lull of 1989. For whatever reason, the WWF didn't run shows at Madison Square Garden for the months of May through August, with the MSG Network broadcasting a couple of shows from the Nassau Coliseum instead. Whatever the reason, we're back at the greatest arena in sports, and with so much lined up (OK, that's a lie) lets not waste any more time and go down to ringside.
- Tony Schiavone and Hillbilly Jim are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted. I have to mention this every time: Hillbilly Jim is NOT as bad as you would think, and Schiavone was still tolerable calling matches, so this isn't a "must mute" broadcast.
Koko B. Ware (w/ Frankie) vs. The Genius:
I don't like Koko's chances, even if it's Lanny Poffo in the opposite corner. For all the times the roster was trimmed, I am surprised Koko survived them for steady employment through 1993. Genius goes through his typical pre-match stalling, getting major heat for a friggin' cartwheel. Lockup to the ropes, and Genius with boots to the midsection. Whip to the ropes, and Koko sends Genius to the floor with a dropkick. Back inside, Genius hammers away, but is quickly sent back to the floor following a headbutt. Genius shows off his physique (admitted steroid use), and over-powers Koko in a test-of-strength. Koko fights back to his feet, escapes with a monkey flip, and another dropkick sends Genius out of the ring once again. More stalling, as I am starting to lose patience. Koko brings him back in with a slingshot, then sends him to the buckle. Whip across the ring, and Koko meets the post on a charge. Genius stomps away, and slaps an armbar on the damaged shoulder. The "action" spills to the floor, with Poffo still in control. Back inside, and it's back to the armbar. Koko tries fending him off with wild kicking, but no luck. Koko escapes with a headbutt, but Genius is back on the arm. Koko with failed comeback #47. Genius with a slam, but a trip to the top results in kinda-missing the Honor-Roll. Koko didn't roll out of the way enough, I guess. Koko with a pair of forearms, followed by a diving elbow. Koko with headbutts, but he misses a dive into the ropes. Surprisingly, he kicks out of the cover at two. Whip to the corner, and he misses ANOTHER dive, and this time the roll up gets a three count at 12:13. That long, for that little, for that finish? Well, that's our first stinker of the card. I'm expecting it to not be the last one, either. Genius with post-match trash-talking, so Koko sends him away with a dropkick. Hurray undercard babyfaces everywhere.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. The Honkytonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Whenever I recall storylines and angles from 1989, this one always seems to fall off the radar, despite running for a considerable amount time. Honky attempts a sneak attack, but Snuka catches it coming with a headbutt, followed by a big chop. Snuka with his usual offense, followed by a giant headbutt. Snuka with an atomic drop and a chop from the second turnbuckle. Is it me, or was Honky's selling way too over the top? Snuka turns on the heel dial with some choking, followed by more chops. Whip across the ring, and Snuka charges into a knee from the Honkytonk Man. Honky works over the midsection, but Snuka starts no selling and slaps on a side headlock. Jimmy Hart interferes, then gets chased around the ring until Snuka goes back into beating on Honky... give the guy some offense, please. Honky gains control, sending Snuka to the arena floor, allowing Jimmy some cheap shots. Back inside, and Snuka again takes control before meeting the knees on a splash attempt. Honky slows things down a bit more by slapping on a chinlock. Irish whip, and Honky with a knee to the midsection, followed by some choking. Honky tosses Snuka out of the ring once again, then brings Snuka back into the ring with a back suplex. Honky goes for the Shake, Rattle, N' Roll, but Snuka blocks it and counters with a back drop. Snuka starts doing the Superman comeback, hammering away with chops and headbutts. We get heel miscommunication, Snuka lays Honky out with a slam, then finishes him off with a top rope headbutt for the three count at 10:27. Long and boring, and quite amusing to see Honky doing clean jobs to guys like Snuka after nearly two years of cop-out finishes and cheap victories.
The Red Rooster vs. Mr. Perfect (w/ The Genius):
It's a SummerSlam rematch, and considering that only went roughly 3-minutes, it'll be nice to see two quality workers get a little bit more time than that. Hillbilly Jim on the Genius: "Is he a manager or a managette?" Perfect with some pecking to mock the Rooster, followed by a cheap shot. He introduces the Rooster to the buckle, then stomps away. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Rooster takes Perfect over with a hip toss. Rooster sends Perfect to the floor following an atomic drop, and it's struttin' time. He brings Perfect back in with a slingshot and continues to pound away. Rooster gets a lame one count, then goes to work with a hammerlock. Perfect counters, and Rooster with a school boy for a two count. Rooster with heel-like tactics to control an armbar. Perfect takes it to the corner and hammers away with rights and lefts. They exchange chops until Perfect kicks the leg from under his leg. His left knee is bandaged up good, so maybe he was legit injured at SummerSlam. Perfect stretches the leg and slaps on a spinning toe hold. Rooster escapes with a bitch slap, then unwisely goes for a slam. Perfect lands on top, but that only gets two. Slugfest in the corner, won by Perfect kicking the leg from under him again, then back to the step-over toe hold. Rooster surprises Perfect with a back suplex, then hammers away with rights. He rams Perfect to the turnbuckle 10-times, then takes him over with a back drop for two. Perfect quickly lays Rooster out with an uppercut, goes for a figure-four, and a series of counters leads to Perfect picking up the three count at 9:09. Wow, this wasn't good at all. Anyone remember Perfect's theme music before using his more well-known one?
Mark Young vs. Barry Horowitz:
Oh man... I'm sure I've mentioned not knowing who he was before, but I recall someone informing me that Young is the son of Jay Strongbow. He's got some bad music, and appears to be into break dancing, from what I recall of his previous appearances. Mark Young did a spin-a-rooni in a WWF ring YEARS before Booker T. There's your tidbit of the day. Horowitz starts with rights. Whip to the ropes, and a long criss-cross ends with a back drop, sending Horowitz to the floor for a breather. He brings Horowitz back in with a sling shot, takes him over with a pair of arm drags, then slaps on an armbar. Another criss-cross, with the same results. Horowitz goes to the eyes to escape, and a slam gets two. Young recovers quickly enough for another arm drag/armbar special. This becomes a pattern, so I'm tuning out until something new happens... Horowitz finally brings Young down with a back suplex and gives himself a pat on the back. Horowitz with a knee lift and gutwrench suplex for two. Young with a surprise back slide for two, but Horowitz regains control. Horowitz with another knee lift, followed by a double-underhook suplex for two. Horowitz with several more pin attempts, with the same result. Small package for a two count. He rolls up Young with a few more different cradles for near falls, then clamps on a body scissors. Horowitz throws in some choking, just to change it up. Young powers out, but waits forever to do anything by asking the fans, and ultimately misses an elbow. Whip to the ropes, and Young with a sunset flip for two. Horowitz with a back breaker and double chest stomp, Kevin Sullivan style. Horowitz to the top rope, and this can't end well... he takes an axehandle to the midsection, followed by a knee lift. Young with a dropkick and clothesline. He heads to the top, and a twisting sunset flip gets the three count at 11:03. That kind of came out of nowhere. The way Horowitz was working, you'd think they were going 20. Can't complain about pulling the trigger that soon when Young was obviously very green. Watchable match. It's a shame Horowitz never got any kind of a heel push during these days.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Ultimate Warrior © vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Here's a case of a match I want to watch, but don't want to recap. I want to watch it for the sake of it being Warrior vs. Andre, but at the same time, it's Warrior vs. Andre. Warrior transitioned from feuding with Rude to feuding with Andre since SummerSlam, so fans around the world got the enjoy... this. Andre is actually introdued as "Andre the ULTIMATE WARRIOR." Me thinks the Fink flubbed that. Warrior damn near runs over none other than Vince McMahon on his way through the locker room area. We get a stalemate for a while, so this WON'T be a 30-second squash. Andre blocks a clothesline and quickly chokes. Warrior escapes and tries to give himself a piggy-back ride on Andre, but that ends with Andre choking him in the corner. Andre removes the turnbuckle pad and the two trade choking. Andre rams himself into the exposed steel, allowing Warrior to unload with a flurry of blows. The the surprise of no one, Andre shrugs it off and slaps on a rear choke. Warrior escapes and goes for a BEARHUG? They chatter a moment, and suddenly Warrior scoops Andre up for a slam. I don't know why, but Andre seems really pissed off, flailing at Warrior, hitting him in the crotch TWICE while hitting the ropes. This is just a mess. I'd say the action spills to the floor, but it's not really action. Warrior to the second rope, and he meets boot on the way down. Warrior fights off being sent to the exposed buckle, and a pair of clotheslines knocks Andre out of the ring. Was he trying to tie himself in the ropes? On a second look, I want to say yes. Whatever, this match needs to end, fast. Warrior goes for another clothesline, but Andre pulls the referee in the way. Andre with headbutts, and hey, that clip was in the Hasbro commercial! Andre drops the big elbow, but the referee is down. He wakes up and calls for the bell at 9:30, giving Warrior the victory by Disqualification. I'm pretty sure this was worse than their "Worst Match of the Year" Saturday Night's Main Event encounter. Andre gave Warrior nothing, and the whole match seemed to be a power struggle.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
(Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Ax & Smash)
The Brain Busters © (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Demolition:
The Busters won the Tag Titles from Demolition at the July episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in controversial fashion. Brawl before the bell, and Demolition still have the masks on. Blanchard tries coming off the top rope, but takes a fist to the midsection. Smash blocks a sunset flip from Anderson, and pounds away with rights. He plays ping-pong ball and takes a boot to the face. Blanchard tags in, gets caught going for a Thesz Press, and double pounded in the corner of the challengers. Whip to the corner, and Ax lays him out with an elbow. Anderson breaks things up, but gets laid out with a clothesline for his efforts. Smash takes Anderson over with a snapmare, and slaps on the chinlock. Blanchard tries to tag in, but the referee disallows it for him using the ropes for leverage into the ring. In the mean time, Ax pulls a switch-a-roo behind the referee's back, and continues working the chinlock. Smash tags back in, and stomps Anderson out to the floor, where Ax greets him with an introduction to the ring apron. Blanchard with another attempt to help his partner, and Ax sends him into the ring post. Back inside, Smash chokes away on Anderson, and Ax pounds him to the canvas. Ax with a cheap shot to Blanchard, and Smash comes in with a back elbow to Anderson for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Anderson drops an elbow across the back of the neck. Blanchard to the top rope, and he comes down with an axehandle. Whip to the ropes, and Anderson with his signature spinebuster. He hits the ropes and drops a knee, but Smash blocks it and sends Anderson into the boot of Ax following an atomic drop. Smash turns a suplex into a slam, but Blanchard breaks the pin, and comes in without a tag to slug it out.
Whip to the ropes, and Ax with a knee to the back of Blanchard. Ax tags in and continues to punish Blanchard. Ax with a snapmare, and it'stime for a chinlock. Blanchard ecapes with a rake of the eyes. Anderson tags in, gets taken over with a hip toss, and Ax with another chinlock. Blanchard comes off the top rope to break the hold. He uses the tag rope to choke Ax out, and Anderson stomps him out of the ring. Blanchard with an elbow across the back, and he applies a seated chinlock. Ax fights to his feet, with Blanchard still on his back, but Anderson tags in and nails him with a fist to the midsection. They ram Ax into the corner, and choke him out with the tag rope once more. Anderson stomps Ax out of the ring, and this time Blanchard's illegal attack backfires. Back inside, and a criss-cross leads to Ax and Anderson banging heads. Ax goes for the tag, but Blanchard pulls Smash off the apron. Anderson to the second rope, and he jumps into a clothesline. Smash gets the hot tag, and lays into everything walking. Slam to Anderson, and he dumps Blanchard over the top rope. He catches Blanchard coming off the top rope and turns it into an inverted atomic drop. He sends Blanchard to the floor with a clothesline, then hangs Anderson up across the top rope, but Blanchard pulls the referee out of the ring to break the count, and it's a Disqualification victory for Demolition at 12:48. Fink flubs the finish, originally saying the Brain Busters won by DQ... heh. Solid tag formula match. I've always like the tag style that Arn and Tully brought: Get the crap beat out of them for 10-minutes, control for a few, then the big finish. Time subject to change. About damn time we got a match worth watching on this card.
"Rugged" Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Can you believe this program ran for nearly 9-months? It started in April when after a bit of nonsense, Valentine defeated Garvin in a loser retires match. Garvin then found jobs in the WWF, from referee to ring announcer, where he would constantly get under Valentine's skin, to the point Valentine demanded the retirement be lifted so he can kick Garvin's ass again. Actually, that's pretty good storyline there. Seems odd they wasted it on such a lower profile program. Valentine tries a sneak attack, but Garvin clotheslines him with a towel, and knocks him to the floor. Lockup, and they jockey for position before taking it to the corner, where a shoving match breaks out. Back to a neutral position, and Valentine ducks through the ropes to cool Garvin down. They exchange blows, with Valentine offering chops to Garvin's slaps. Garvin wins that battle, and Valentine takes a walk to consult with Jimmy Hart. Back inside, and Garvin hammers away in the corner. Valentine offers some punishment of his own, clubbing Garvin with elbows and jabs. Valentine keeps Garvin trapped in the corner, choking him down. They exchange blows again, with Garvin throwing a flurry of rights and lefts to fell the Hammer. Garvin drives a knee into the ass, then rolls him up for the first near fall of the match. Valentine pleads for mercy, but Garvin isn't giving any, and sends him to the buckle. Garvin with a wristlock, followed by a headbutt and elbow drop for another two count. Garvin takes Valentine over with a chicken-wing roll up, but he uses his neck strength to prevent the shoulders touching the canvas. Valentine fights through the lock and slaps on a head scissors. Garvin escapes, and rolls over for another two count.
Valentine hits Garvin questionably low, then unloads a series of chops. Valentine with a scoop slam, followed by a wind-up forearm across the chest for a two count. Valentine slaps on a chinlock. Garvin struggles to escape with an overhead wristlock, but Valentine yanks the hair to regain control of the hold. Garvin with another attempt to break the hold, and he brings Valentine down for a two count. Hammer pulls the hair again, and goes back to the chinlock. Garvin grabs a leg, so Valentine releases to nail Garvin in the throat, and this time has a sleeper hold on. Garvin with elbows to the midsection, but Valentine releases the hold willingly and beats Garvin in the corner with chops. Garvin throws everything he has, rocking the Hammer. They take it to the floor for a game of cat and mouse. Back inside, and Garvin catches Valentine coming off the ropes with his own sleeper hold. Garvin lets go with Valentine barely concious, so it's GARVIN STOMP TIME! He goes for the "reverse figure-four", but Garvin goes to the eyes to escape, and drops an elbow on Garvin for a two count. Valentine measures Garvin up for another elbow, and again gets two. Valentine slaps Garvin around, which of course brings Garvin back to life. Valentine connects with an atomic knee drop, and signals for the finish. He turns the "Hart Breaker" around, but Garvin fights off the Figure-Four attempt. Valentine goes for it again, and gets kicked into Jimmy Hart and rolled up for two. Valentine tosses Garvin to the floor, and celebrates as if he's victorious. Back inside, Valentine with a slam, but he misses a forearm. Garvin sets up for a piledriver, but can't lift him up. Valentine counters with a back drop, which Garvin turns into a sunset flip for two. Whip to the ropes and Valentine with a sunset flip, but Garvin blocks with a well placed right, and covers for two. Valentine with a back breaker, and for whatever reason, goes to the top rope. Garvin recovers in time to slam Valentine off, and we get another slugfest. Valentine goes down like a tree, but Garvin can only get a two count. Valentine dumps Garvin to the floor, but he's quick to come back with a sunset flip, but Valentine blocks it, and uses the ropes for assistance to get the three count at 17:08. Hard to rate this for what the product was at the time, but this had the look of a good old fashion NWA fight. Wasn't high on actual wrestling moves, but high on tension and ass beatings. Valentine's desperate use of the ropes for the victory actually works into the finish, rather than just a lame ending to a match that need the heel to cheat.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Time for the officially unofficial "Main Event" of the card, and damn did Heenan have a busy night, making his third appearance of the card, and all three matches were main event level caliber, in terms of name value, at least. I'm sorry, I'm still hung up on how awful Warrior/Andre was. Piper has been feuding with Heenan and Rude since around SummerSlam, including Piper helping Warrior win the Intercontinental Belt from Rude. I guess this was Piper's first of MANY returns to the ring, having been out of action since his victory at WrestleMania III. Piper has the deadliest stare in his eyes, making his way to the ring. Rude taunts him about his kilt and threatens him with DEATH. That's hardcore.
Piper avoids a sneak attack and tosses Rude over the top rope with ease, then chases Heenan back to the locker room. Piper quickly returns to the ring, throws the kilt on Rude, and pounds away. He takes off the shirt and chokes Rude with it. Rude escapes, grabs the belt, and starts whipping Piper with it. Nice of Danny Davis to not DQ anyone yet. Piper responds with a dropkick, and it's a free-for-all for the belt. Rude snapmares Piper over, but Piper hangs on and gains control of the belt, and starts whipping Rude like a mule. He wraps it around the neck, and sends Rude to the buckle. Piper hops into Rude, only to be hit with an atomic drop. Rude with a series of clotheslines to finally put Piper down, then drops a flurry of fists across the chest and throat. Piper continues to offer a fight, with Rude remaining in control, and locks on a bearhug. Piper escapes and applies his own, but Rude goes to the eyes and continues pounding the back until settling in with a seated chinlock. Piper fights free, and takes another beating for it. Rude goes back to the chinlock, and this time Piper counters with an electric chair drop. Piper goes for a suplex, but the back gives out. Rude misses a clothesline, but manages to land on top of Piper while going for a slam attempt. Whip to the ropes, and Piper with a sunset flip. Rude blocks and misses a fist drop. Whip to the ropes, and a fight over a back slide goes in favor of Rude for a two count. Piper with a small package for two. Rude to the top rope, and he comes off with a fist drop for a two count. He goes for the Rude Awakening, but Piper escapes with a lot blow and connects with a swinging neck breaker for two. Piper charges, and a back drop sends him to the floor. Piper tosses a beverage in Rude's face, then unloads with rights. Whip to the ropes, and a cross body press takes them both to the floor. They continue brawling, and it's a Double Count-Out at 11:10. Way to end the show with a bullshit finish. Piper stands tall in the end, but he still didn't win. An OK main event, but those long chinlocks really dragged things down for such a short match (short in comparison of the previous match, that is).
Final Thoughts: The undercard sure was some throw-away stuff here, but everything after the Intermission really clicked. The Tag Title match was classic Horsemen formula tag team action, Valentine/Garvin had a nice old school "we hate each others guts" feel, and the main event mostly delivered in awesome intensity. Everything else is pretty bad, especially the IC Title match between Warrior and Andre. I couldn't tell if it was bad based on ability or bad based on inability to work together, but either way, an embarassment to wrestling. The rest of the undercard was a sign of how weak and uninteresting it was becoming. As usual, I recommend for fans of the era, but Demolition vs. Brain Busters is something I'd recommend for all fans.
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