WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
October 24, 1988
- Lord Alfred Hayes, Rod Trongard, and Superstar Billy Graham are calling the action. May the lord have mercy on all of our souls for the next 2 and a half hours. Weird card, just because of how quickly certain programs transitioned from one to another, especially surrounding some of the main event level talent featured. I've never seen the full card before, so it should be fun to see, since this is the pegging point where I started watching wrestling (yeah, yeah, I was a tiny kid, but it still counted).
Paul Roma vs. "Dangerous" Danny Davis:
I've very recently recapped this on a Halloween edition of Prime Time, so C&P time (sorry): Roma is still using "Crank it Up" as his entrance music. Billy Graham: If he (Roma) was bigger, he'd give the Ultimate Warrior a run for his money." For WHAT? Too bad Roma didn't team up with a fellow Guido. Could've called them the ITALIAN Stallions. HAR HAR HAR! Stalling to start, of course. Lockup, and Davis complains of a hair pull. There is NO WAY IN HELL Davis is 230 pounds. I'm not one to complain about over-hyping someones weight, but that is just bullcrap. Whip to the ropes, Roma with a back drop, then more stalling. Davis with a slam, but no follow up. Lockup, and another slam. Roma returns the favor, so Davis takes a walk for MORE Stalling. Roma gives chase, and back in the ring, Davis pounds away. There's absolutely nothing worth noting, so I'll either start making random comments or give up entirely... and we go to a commercial break. Ugh... we come back, with David putting Roma down with a slam, and coming off the middle rope with a forearm for two. Whip to the ropes, and a clothesline gets two, as well. Chinlock! WE HAVE A CHINLOCK! Anyone got "Boring Bingo" yet? No? Okay, well... uh... anyone catch the new Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon? I hate the animation style, and didn't think it needed another reboot. Speaking of reboots, how about a new Super Mario cartoon? You know you want it! After another five minutes of pure torture, Roma comes off the top rope with a missile dropkick to the back of the head, and covers for three at 12:24 (less commercials and studio time). I understand Davis was pretty good at getting heat with cheap tactics, but it meant for some of the most boring matches from this era of the WWF, and this was no exception.
Koko B. Ware vs. Big Boss Man (w/ Slick):
It's a rematch from SummerSlam '88, also held at Madison Square Garden. Why does Koko's tights have "WWF" on them? Seems odd... at least these days the WWE doesn't have to blurr the "F". Koko uses his speed to avoid the Boss Man, landing a few shots as well. Two years later, Boss Man would end up quite agile, as well. Koko dives into Boss Man, but Boss Man is too strong and clubs him down to the canvas. Boss Man with choking across the ropes, then tosses the Birdman to the floor. Koko with shoulders to the midsection from the apron, but a sunset flip is countered with a butt across the chest. Boss Man with the splash across the second rope. Things are moving at a very deliberate pace. It's like they're stretching a 3-minute match into 10. Boss Man with a choke lift, then slaps on a bearhug. Koko uses the Bees ear smack to escape, but continues to take a beating. He comes off the ropes for a splash, but surprise surprise, Koko rolls out of the way. Koko starts to "Bird Up" and lands a series of rights and lefts. He bounces off the ropes, only to be planted with the Sidewalk Slam, and that's enough for three at 7:04. Worst, Comeback, Ever. Post-match beating and cuffing to the ropes is delivered.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
(Ax & Smash vs. Marty Jannetty & Shawn Michaels)
Demolition © (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers:
Sorry, another C&P... I promise it's the last one. ON a unrelated note, what's with there being no entrances on this show? Everything is cut to wrestlers already in the ring... hmmm. The Rockers were still fairly new, having debuted towards the end of June (so four months into their tenure), and Demolition are in the middle of their record-long championship run, lasting from March 1988 through July 1989. Ax and Michaels lockup, and Ax easily shoves him to the canvas. Ax with some clubberin' blows. Whip to the ropes, and a body press gets countered with a slam. Ax misses an elbow, allowing Michaels to pound away with rights. Smash tags in, and wants some of Jannetty. Why not? Everyone else does, too. Lockup to the corner, and Jannetty proves he has the speed advantage. Smash with a knee to the midsection, followed by axehandles across the back. Whip to the ropes, Jannetty surpises him with a dropkick, Michaels adds one of his own, and Jannetty with another for a two count. Smash works the arm, but Jannetty counters, and the Rockers take turns working him over. Whip to the corner, Smash misses a charge, and it's back to work on the arm for Jannetty. They take it into the Champions corner, and Ax tags in, only to get worked over, as well. Ax finally breaks it up with a headbutt on Jannetty. Whip to the ropes, and Demolition with a double elbow. Whip to the corner, and Jannetty with a mild over-sell. Ax with a scoop slam. Smash tags in, and Jannetty surprises him with a diving elbow. Michaels tags in, and sends Smash to the corner... and we take a weird break back to the studio.
Back to the action, Ax pulls the ropes down on Michaels, causing him to spill to the floor, to a fairly positive reaction for Demolition. No wonder they were turned face a few weeks later. Fuji gets a cheap shot in (I think, the camera missed it), but the crowd is boo'ing, so I'm assuming it did happen. Back in the ring, Smash turns Michaels over with a Boston Crab. If only they were wrestling Strike Force, that would be awesome. Ax with a snapmare, followed by choking. Smash hammers away on Michaels some more. Michaels offers a comeback, but Smash with a drop toe hold to hook the leg, then drags him back to the corner and tags Ax back in. Ax greets Michaels with a vicious blow across the chest, then slaps on a bearhug. Smash tags back in, and works a bearhug, as well. Whip to the ropes, and Michaels nails a boot to the chest from out of nowhere. Jannetty gets the hot tag, and pounds away on both members of Demolition. Twisting body press on Smash, and it's a pier six brawl! Double dropkicks on both men, followed by a shoulder tackle on Ax, and slam on Smash. Fuji on the apron, and he gets taken out. Jannetty to the top, and the splash gets two. Ax dumps Michaels over the top rope as things get out of hand. Smash catches Jannetty off the ropes, and holds him in place for an Axe clothesline from the apron. Smash covers, and the three count is academic at 13:27 (including studio break). Started off slow, but a couple of decent heat segments for Demolition, and a really hot finish really saved this from the boring pile.
Hercules vs. Virgil (w/ Ted Dibiase):
This is Chapter 2 in the "Dibiase buys himself a Slave" story. Chapter 1 was the purchase and refusal of becoming a slave, and now we're at "Purchased Slave beats up his Man-Servant." Dibiase tries to sneak attack, but Hercules fights him away and starts laying into Virgil with clubberin' blows. Hercules with an elbow drop, followed by some more mounted rights. Whip to the corner, completely over-sold by Virgil. Whip to te ropes and Hercules with his signature weak clothesline. Hercules with a powerslam, setting up for the finish. He locks the Full Nelson on, and it's all over at 2:11. Dibiase sneaks in afterwards, but Hercules won't let go of the hold. He brings a chair in now and Hercules continues no-selling. Dibiase with the chain, but Hercules throws him across the ring, swinging the chain triumphantly. Squash match you probably saw on Saturday Night's Main Event.
The Blue Blazer vs. Steve Lombardi:
Seems like the Blazer worked with Lombardi a lot at arena shows. Just because I have to do it every time, the Blazer is a masked Owen Hart. Lockup to start. Blazer uses the ropes to counter a knucklelock, then takes Lombardi over with a hurricanrana. Blazer with a dropkick, sending Lombardi to the floor. Who gets in the WWE Hall of Fame first? Owen or Lombardi? Sadly, the latter will always be a possibility. Whip to the corner, and Blazer comes springing off the buckle with a body press for a two count. Blazer with a snapmare, and he slaps on a chinlock. Blazer continues to show off his agility then comes off the top with a twisting body press. Blazer with a slam, followed by a knee drop for another two count. Superstar claims the Blazer has a "british" accent, triggering Alfred to discuss the differences between English and British... whatever. Blazer with a gutwrench suplex for a two count. He sends Lombardi into the post with an atomic drop. Blazer with mounted rights and a big chop. Lombardi finally gets offense, somehow blowing a clothesline spot, knocking Owen through the ropes. He brings him back in with a suplex for two. Lombardi with a slam for two. Small package for two. He takes Blazer over with a snapmare and slaps on a chinlock. Blazer escapes with elbows, but runs into a clothesline. That one looked good, at least. A loud grunt from the Blazer sounds a lot like Owen.... I know, that was random. Blazer ducks another clothesline and attempts a sunset flip, but Lombardi blocks. He goes to the top, but Blazer nips up and slams him off. Blazer to the top, and the missile dropkick connects. Whip to the corner and a monkey flip. Blazer with a back breaker, followed by an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Blazer with a slam, and a moonsault finishes it at 8:10. Decent pop for that finish. Well, this was surprisingly good, just because of Lombardi's involvement.
WWF Championship Match:
This is a rematch from the previous show at MSG, where we got an inconclusive DQ/Count-Out finish. That's always a smart way to stretch a main event program at frequent stops like MSG. If Savage loses by Count-Out, he loses the title, too, and any possibility of Heenan or Elizabeth getting involved will result in automatic Disqualification. Lord Alfred explains the champion has the choice of coming out first or second... wow, Alfred with a nice little "tidbit", be it real or not.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage © (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Savage tries to charge at Andre, but gets caught in a choke hold. Andre with a headbutt, sending him to the floor. Back inside, Andre with choking in the corner. Savage with a few blows to the midsection, but Andre returns the favor with punches to the lower back and more choking. Savage with a flurry of jabs to break free, followed by mounted punches in the corner. Andre throws him off and rams a knee into the face. Andre hooks his double chicken-wing move to kill a few minutes. Andre lets go and rips off a turnbuckle. Savage with more desperation offense. He rocks him with a series of running axehandles. Andre with a eadbutt, but Savage ignores it and knocks Andre into the ropes, but it doesn't result in the Andre Special™, unfortunately. Savage to the top rope and a double axehandle puts the Giant down on the canvas. Savage to the top once again, but the elbow misses. Andre rolls to the floor, and Savage follows with an axehandle. Heenan suddenly gets involved to draw a LAME Disqualification at 6:59. Savage rolls away from an Andre elbow and gets a shot in on Heenan for good measure. Really bad match, but the crowd was into it, for the most part.
- Sean Mooney standing buy with Intermission interviews with Ted Dibiase and Virgil, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and Bobby Heenan and "Ravishing" Rick Rude,
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchie Martin):
Dino Bravo, just another in a long line of "Strongest Men" characters. I don't know how this was set up, but it was probably Bravo saying USA stinks, and Jim Duggan taking personal offense to it. They managed to stretch this out on house show runs for a good three months, including a semi-blowoff at the first Royal Rumble PPV. Okay, so that would make it four months.
Bravo attacks from behind with clubbing blows. Whip to the ropes, and Duggan comes back with a clothesline, followed by a back drop. To the surprise of no one, lots of stalling. Lockup, and Bravo shoves him off. That's good enough for a celebration. Duggan shoves him to the corner, ducks a clothesline, and sends him to the floor again, this time with an atomic drop. Back inside, it takes almost no time for Martin to trip up Duggan, allowing Bravo to pound away on him. Bravo with a snapmare, and he slaps on a chinlock. This match is so boring, we get a news recap of October 1988, such as the divorce of Robin Givens/Mike Tyson, and the World Series. "I don't believe what I just saw!" and "In the year of the improbable, the impossible has happened" are going to remain two of the most iconic calls in sporting history. Duggan comes back with a sunset flip, but it only gets two. Bravo with an inverted atomic drop. He sets up for a piledriver, but Duggan counters. Whip to the corner, and Duggan lands a big forearm. Whip to the opposite side, and he connects with a clothesline. He sets up for the finish and hits the big clothesline, knocking Bravo to the floor. They brawl on the floor, but Bravo makes it back in the ring, and Duggan doesn't, and it's a Count-Out for Bravo at 8:20. Lame finish to a pretty lame match. I never noticed enough to care, but damn did Duggan do a lot of bullshit finish jobs.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
(Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but I have a feeling this is going to be long and dull. I only say that because these two teams were doing 20+ minute matches quite a bit at house shows, with most of it being the Rougeaus playing the stall game. Here's an interesting story to set up matches: Jimmy Hart, former manager of the Foundation, still owns part of their contract (and thus recieves money from their purse), and gives his share to the Rougeau Brothers. Unfortunately, I can't recall there being an excuse to blowing it off.
Neidhart and Raymond start. Neidhart wins the test-of-strength competition. Jacques and Bret tag in, and we get some stalling after the Rougeau's accuse of Hart's greasy hair. More heels need to do the "point to the head because I'm smart" spot. Bret with a headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Jacques attempts a monkey flip, but Bret counters with an elbow drop. I know doing this stuff works for the live crowd, because it's all part of getting heat, but watching it on television, it's really annoying. The Foundation with some heel tactics on Jacques, to crowd aproval. Bret with a headbutt and back breaker. Neidhart slaps on a bearhug, because this can't possibly move at a slower pace. Raymond comes in illegally and works on the leg of the Anvil. Now it's the Rougeau's turn to double team him in the corner. Jacques can't get Neidhart up for a slam, allowing Bret to tag in. He hits both Rougeaus with atomic drops, and it's double noggin-knocker time. Bret with a back breaker on Raymond, mis-identified as Jacques. One has a mustache and the other doesn't. Not that hard to tell them apart. Bret gets tripped up, giving the Rougeaus another chance to control the action. Raymond with a seated chinlock. We get a false tag spot, which means Bret gets worked over some more. Jacques with the abdominal stretch, and yes, he does use his partner for extra leverage. Raymond with another chinlock. Bret takes a hard bump to the corner, but counters a monkey flip with an inverted atomic drop. We get another fake hot tag spot. Bret fends off both Rougeaus, and FINALLY Neidhart gets the tag. He pounds on Jacques and sends him flying with a shoulder tackle. Bret with an elbow from the second rope, followed by a dropkick to Raymond. Hart gives the thumbs down for Jacques, and it's Hart Attack time. The bell rings at 20:30... but I guess Raymond did the ringing. The match is actually restarted, though, so the 5-more minutes is actually allowed?!? BOO! Lots more stalling, and the time limit OFFICIALLY expires. I never heard of a 26 minute time limit. That's pretty damn specific. Lots of stalling, cheap heat from the heels, a false hot tag spot, and the big finish with the bell interrupting a sure victory. Yes, it followed a standard structure, but watching it made me long for Duggan/Bravo, again.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts (w/ Cheryl Roberts) vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude:
Rules for this are a bit of a mess: It's Finisher vs. Finisher, with either man hitting the DDT or Rude Awakening to obtain victory, but then others say you have to cover for a three count, too, so who knows. These two worked countless matches together, so maybe this one will be decent. Rude got 3-star matches out of Brutus Beefcake and Ultimate Warrior. Surely he can do the same with Roberts. If you're an old school fan and don't know the feud history, you have no business reading the recap. This match is featured on the Jake Roberts: Pick Your Poison DVD, but no one really liked that set, so I'm sure it's gone unwatched since the release.
Roberts attacks from behind. Whip to the corner, Rude misses a charge, and Roberts pounds away on the arm. Roberts locks on the knucklelock and works a wristlock. Roberts goes for a DDT, but Rude rolls to the floor to escape. Roberts pulls him to the apron, and gets his eyes raked for his efforts. Roberts with an eye rake of his own, followed by his signature jabs and roundhouse right. Rude ducks the short-arm clothesline, and hits a clothesline of his own. Rude traps Roberts in the Andre Special™, then heads to the floor after Cheryl. Jake frees himself and makes the save, tossing Rude back in the ring. Rude with an inverted atomic drop, and Rude actually sells the knee, too. You don't see that very often. Rude rams the arm of Roberts into the post and introduces him to the top turnbuckle. Rude sneaks up on Roberts... and applies a chinlock. Roberts counters into a hammerlock, but Rude elbows him on the side of the face to break. He slaps on a seated chinlock, while taunting Cheryl at ringside. Roberts fights to his feet and claws at the back. Whip to the corner, Rude meets a charging Roberts with a knee to the face. Rude hangs him up across the top rope and goes for the Rude Awakening, but Roberts counters by biting the hands. Roberts blocks being rammed into the post, sending Rude into it instead, then planting him with a slam on the floor. Back in the ring, Roberts connects with a stomach buster. Whip to the ropes and Jake with a knee lift. Rude hooks the ropes to prevent the DDT, so Jake rams another knee into the face. We get a full moon from Rude, and Roberts connects with a short-arm clothesline. Rude rams Roberts into the corner to prevent another DDT attempt. Roberts tries for a knee lift, but Rude sweeps the leg. Rude to the top rope, coming off with a fist drop. He taunts Cheryl again, giving Jake time to recover. Jake counters a slam with the DDT, and covers for the three count at 12:25. Clean finish!? Wow, didn't see that coming. Probably the best match I've seen between these two. Post-match, Cheryl gets a few payback shots in, then Rude gets the Damian treatment. The babyface coming out on top? What a concept.
Final Thoughts: Pretty good show for a regionally broadcast show. Roberts/Rude was surprisingly good, just for the fact they never had the greatest matches together, we got a solid tag team championship match, and Owen Hart carried Steve Lombardi to a good match. While I personally found it a bore, the Foundation/Rougeaus was OK as it followed a set structure and went with that formula from start to finish. The only negatives would be the opener and Duggan/Bravo. Hercules/Virgil was a squash and while Savage/Andre was bad from a wrestling point, the crowd ate it up like a spoon, sans the chicken-wing spot.
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