WWF @ Maple Leaf Gardens
by Scrooge McSuck
April 24, 1988
- We're setting the WAYBAC Machine for April 24th, 1988. The location: Toronto, Ontario's Maple Leaf Gardens. We're only a few weeks removed from WrestleMania IV... will any of the fallout from that card spill out onto the following two hours? Time will tell. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are on commentary, unless otherwise noted.
Opening Match: Scott Casey vs. Iron Mike Sharpe:
I guess I should be happy it's not another in the series between S.D. Jones and Steve Lombardi. Sharpe with lots of stalling, to the surprise of no one. They lockup and Sharpe puts Casey down with a slam. Lockup, and this time it's a hip toss, followed by an arm drag. Casey grabs a headlock, and cycles through his own slam, hip toss, arm drag combo. More stalling, and now we get a Test of Strength. Sharpe cheats to control, naturally. Casey counters and Sharpe takes ANOTHER walk. Back inside, Sharpe controls with the classic punchy-kicky-chokey routine. Casey blocks a boot and connects with an atomic drop, followed by a piledriver for two. Whip to the ropes, Sharpe with a forearm across the back. Casey with a back slide for two. He grabs a sleeper hold, but Sharpe rams him to the corner. Slugfest to zero reaction. Casey goes for a body press, but Sharpe counters with a crappy back breaker. Sharpe misses an elbow, and Casey finally puts an end to things with a bulldog at 9:50. Total crap, even by opening act, Battle of Jobbers standards.
The Killer Bees vs. The "Fabulous" Rougeau Brothers:
(B. Brian Blair & Jim Brunzell vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
This is fairly early in the Rougeau's heel-turn transition. They've just started to insist on being called "Fabulous", but still wrestle mostly a clean style. The Bees refuse handshakes, because that's the mark of true sportsmen. Blair and Raymond start. They fight over a waistlock until Blair applies a head scissors. Lockup to the corner, and we get a clean break. Jacques tags in and we get another clean break in the ropes. Blair takes him over with a fireman's carry and grabs an armbar. Raymond gets a blind tag and goes to work on the leg. Jacques in with a standing toe hold, and it's Wish Bone time. Jacques sits down across the chest for two, then more work of the leg. Brunzell tags in (FINALLY), and lays Jacques out with a double clothesline. Blair with a drop toe hold, and it's the Bees turn to do the wish bone trick. The Bees take turns working the leg and apply a double spinning toe hold. The way the Bees are working, you would think THEY were the heels here.
Blair gets sent to the ramp and takes a cheap shot from Raymond to finally turn the tide back in the Rougeau's favor. Jacques and Raymond make frequent tags, double teaming Blair with blows to the back. Double slam and Jacques with a Boston Crab. Blair fights free, so Jacques slaps on his trademark abdominal stretch. I'm wondering... is Brunzell hurt? He's working roughly 90-seconds of the match. Raymond comes off the ropes for a splash, but meets the knees. Brunzell gets the hot tag and nails Jacques with a running high knee. Whip to the ropes and he grabs a sleeper hold. Brunzell with an atomic drop, sending Jacques into Blair for the Ear Smack, and the Dropkick connects. Mayhem breaks loose, and a weak cheap shot from Raymond KO's Brunzell long enough for Jacques to cover for three at 16:01. It was okay-ish, but a little too long and the Rougeau's hardly worked a convincing heel routine. Again, what was with the complete lack of Brunzell's involvement? Just not feeling it?
"The Rock" Don Muraco vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
No introductions, thanks to Muraco's licensed music having to be cut. I prefer that method than dubbing in new, crappier music, with ghost introductions from whoever was willing to offer their vocal talents. Heenan is at ringside, so Gorilla is joined by Billy Red Lyons for this. Lockup into the ropes, and Rude offers some taunting. Rude grabs a headlock, then wiggles his hips at Muraco, again. Muraco grabs a headlock and sends Rude to the floor with a single punch, then stomps the hand of Heenan for whatever reasons. Back inside, Rude with another headlock, but a shoulder block does nothing and Muraco grabs a bearhug. Rude goes to the eyes to escape and pounds away with rights. Snapmare takeover and knees to the face. Rude to the top with a fist drop, and Heenan offers up a cheap shot in retaliation for earlier. Whip is reversed and Muraco connects with a clothesline. He takes Ruder over with a snapmare, but allows Heenan to distract him and Rude with the leg sweep roll up in the corner at 7:27. There was ZERO effort on that finish, from either man. I guess it went well with the rest of the match, because that sucked too. Jake Roberts runs down to interrupt Rude's gloating.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:
Is it me, or did EVERYONE have nicknames around this time? Crowd chants for the DDT as soon as the bell rings. Lockup, Valentine grabs a headlock. This lasts a while, so we welcome back Bobby Heenan to the commentary table. Roberts eventually escapes and uses a hair pull to control a headlock. Roberts sends Valentine to the floor for more nothing to happen. Back inside, Valentine with chops, but he gets caught with his head down and takes a knee lift. Roberts goes for the DDT, but Valentine slips away. Knucklelock, and we're so bored, Monsoon references Valentine ending Jay Strongbow's career. Five-minutes later, and we're still in the same spot. Roberts escapes and fails at another DDT attempt. Valentine goes for the snake bag, but what a shocker, it's a trap and he pounds away on Roberts. He winds up and drops an elbow for two. Figure-Four is countered with a cradle for two. Valentine goes back to working the leg and slaps Jake around like a crack whore that owes him money. Valentine gets the Figure-Four applied, but Roberts forces a break by going to the ropes. Jake makes another comeback, but the DDT is countered with an overhead throw. Valentine's Figure-Four is kicked off, and Jake meets knee on a charge. Valentine drops an elbow for two. Roberts counters a slam and finishes Valentine with the DDT at 14:03. That was long and tedious to sit through. Valentine carried the whole damn thing, but even he looked disinterested.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
I guess this is our Main Event, taking place immediately after intermission. Odd. Anyhoo, Andre cost Duggan his Championship Tournament Match at WrestleMania, and Duggan responded by KO'ing him with the 2x4 on an episode of Superstars. Simple and effective reason to feud, and they milked this program through August. Andre and Heenan complain about the 2x4's presence at ringside. The referee forces Duggan to move it, then throws Heenan from ringside. Duggan tries to sneak up on Andre, with negative results. Lockup, and Andre shoves Duggan to the corner. He grabs him for some choking and does the body crush move. Duggan offers a comeback, only to be knocked to the floor. Andre traps him under the arms, but Duggan fights free with some nose biting. Duggan with rights and Andre with headbutts. Andre grabs the double chicken-wing and holds that for a while. He smothers Duggan in the corner until ramming his own head onto the exposed turnbuckle. Duggan with a series of clotheslines and shoulder tackles, putting the big man down. Andre responds to Duggan's pin attempt with a simple punch to the face. The action "spills" to the floor, where Andre blasts Duggan with the 2x4 and re-enters the ring to pick up the cheap Count-Out victory at 9:17. Duggan argues afterwards, but to no avail. Andre's matches always had this weird "unwatchably watchable" feel, where the quality was barely above a "DUD" but you still wanted to watch it anyway.
The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders & Bobby Heenan:
It's the WrestleMania IV ReMatch nobody demanded! Heenan teases starting, but quickly runs from Koko and tags out to Tama. Koko sends him into the Bulldogs with an atomic drop, then plays dog-and-weasel with Heenan. Haku and Davey Boy have a go, now. Whip to the ropes, Dynamite gets a blind tag and lays Haku out with a clothesline for two. Whip and the Bulldogs with a double shoulder tackle. Davey Boy with a snapmare, and he slaps on a chinlock. Davey Boy changes things up by working the arm. Whip and a body press gets two. Dynamite with a slam, followed by a headbutt, but that seems to hurt him more than it did Haku. Dynamite with his signature snap suplex for two. Koko tags in, likely to become the face-in-peril... and yep, after about 10-seconds, Haku kicks him on the back of the head to turn the tide. Tama with a snapmare and choking. Haku with a gutwrench suplex, and in comes Heenan to pick at the leftovers, using the tag rope to choke Koko out. Koko starts no-selling Heenan's blows and mayhem breaks loose. Heenan runs back to the locker room, with Koko trailing behind him. Dynamite with a stiff clothesline on Haku, followed by a snapmare and knee drop for two. Haku counters a side headlock with a back suplex, and it's DK's turn to play FIP. Not a whole lot worth noting going on right now. Haku with a trio of back breakers for two. Davey Boy eventually gets the hot tag and cleans house. Koko to the top rope, and here comes Heenan to throw him off, allowing Tama to cover for three at the 15:00 mark. That long for that shit finish? Barely better than their match at WrestleMania, but not by much. Don't worry Koko gets his revenge next month... oh wait, nevermind. He does the job to Heenan at that show, too.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Honkytonk Man © (w/ "Peggy Sue") vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake:
Yay, this is the shit biscuit I'm served to end the show? Jimmy Hart is dressed as Peggy Sue, because... I don't know. Honky's entrance is trimmed (is his theme music no longer allowed to be used, either?!). To the surprise of someone watching wrestling for the first time, Honky stalls to kick things off. Beefcake actually leads the crowd in a chant of "Haircut." Marks. Lockup, and Honky quickly goes to work on the arm. Beefcake easily takes control, sending Honky to the floor for a breather. Beefcake with a snapmare and hair fluffing, because that's what wins Championships! This pisses Honky off enough for him to take control with rights. Gorilla is so bored he lists off some of the "great" Intercontinental Champions, and pretty much names them all except Ken Patera. By 1988, there were only like 7 or 8 different Champions, unlike now where you need to Google search the title's lineage thanks to how meaningless it became. Honky with choking, and "Peggy Sue" with some cheap shots as well. Gorilla is actually playing along with it. For shame! Beefcake with the comeback, and it's still all punchy-punchy (Nnt even punchy-kicky!). They take it to the floor, and Beefcake ends up taking the count-out at 7:52. Whatever. Post-match, Beefcake reveals Peggy Sue to really be Jimmy Hart in drag. Stupid comedy to a terrible match. Talk about sending the crowd home happy: Jimmy Hart in a padded bra and stripped to his undies.
Final Thoughts: On paper, this card had so much potential, with plenty of star power and minimal "preliminary" matches (a.k.a Battle of the Jobbers). It's too bad the entire show, from start to finish, was so fucking boring. The tag matches were both OK, but other than that, I have a hard time giving anything else a positive note. It just seemed like everyone was moving at half speed or flat-out weren't putting any effort into their performances. Strongest recommendation to avoid. Check out the MSG show from the next day, which features among other things, Savage/Dibiase for the WWF Title, Strike Force/Demolition for the Tag Titles, and a solid undercard match between Bret Hart and Bad News Brown
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