WWF @ Maple Leaf Gardens
by Scrooge McSuck
October 8, 1989
- So here's a funny story for everyone: After completing a recap of the May 13th, 1989 card held at the Boston Garden, I was getting all geared up to work on the show held at the Meadowlands Arena a week earlier... until I browsed our archives and found it's already been done. By me. I've gotten to that level where my brain can't even remember what shows I have or haven't done before. It was probably in the latter days of Classics On Demand, but it's before I re-discovered liking giving star ratings, so who knows. That's two cheap plugs in one introduction!
- Alright, on with the recap: We're in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, with Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes "at ringside" to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. Gorilla definitely doesn't sound like he's at ringside.
Paul Roma vs. Boris Zhukov:
Zhukov's singing would make for a poor attempt at doing the Swedish Chef voice (complete with the unintelligible dialogue), let alone the Soviet Anthem. Roma comes out to "Crank It Up." That song sure got passed around. Roma still has the "Stallion" logo on his tights and jacket, despite breaking away from Powers months earlier. A handful of impatient fans scream "boring" seconds into Zhukov's clubberin'. Roma ends a criss-cross sequence with a hip toss, then sends Zhukov out of the ring following a dropkick. Roma grabs a headlock, and uses a handful of beard to maintain control. That's not very sportsman-like. Roma with a sledge from the top rope for two. Zhukov takes control with more of the usual. Zhukov with a crummy backbreaker for two. Gorilla agrees with my assessment of the execution of that move. Zhukov works the back, then grabs a bearhug. Yay. Roma fights free, but can't lift him on a slam attempt. Zhukov with a snapmare into a chinlock. Then another boring bearhug. Twenty years later... Zhukov meets post on a charge, opening the doors for a Roma comeback. Zhukov rolls through a cross body for a two count. Criss-cross sequence, and Roma finishes with the Powerslam at 14:16. 3/4* These two worked together countless times throughout all of 1989. You'd think they could find a formula where they could produce a GOOD match. Roma had the talent and was quite capable of one, but Zhukov just sucked.
"Rugged" Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:
After stints as a referee and ring announcer, Garvin was finally reinstated from his "retirement" to resume an in-ring program with the Hammer. A feeling out process leads into a shoving match. Garvin lands a big slap to the chest, prompting Valentine to take a breather. Back inside, Valentine unloads with chops, and Garvin answers back with more slaps. Monsoon questions whether Ronnie is related to "Jimmy Garvin" (and no, not Gorgeous Jimmy, either). In the meantime, they continue beating the shit out of each other. Garvin blocks a Piledriver, so Hammer simply slams his face into the canvas. Garvin returns the favor and goes back to hitting some brutal shots. Sunset flip gets two. Valentine tries it and takes a fist between the eyes. Valentine winds up on the recieving end of the Garvin Stomp. He goes for the "Reverse Figure-Four" (Sharpshooter), but Valentine thumbs the eyes and dumps him to the floor. Valentine with a series of elbow drops. Garvin ducks under a clothesline and grabs a sleeper. Valentine hits an atomic drop to the knee, which can only mean one thing... Figure-Four! He spins around the Hart Breaker and applies the hold in the center of the ring, but Garvin somehow finds his way to the ropes. Valentine to the top, and naturally, he's slammed off. He rips off the shin guard, but as he tries to use it, Valentine rolls him up and hooks the tights for the three count at 13:24. Post-match, Garvin gets a few cheap shots in. *** Hard hitting offense and some no-nonsense wrestling... sometimes that's a GOOD thing.
The Bushwhackers vs. The Powers of Pain (w/ Mr. Fuji):
(Butch & Luke vs. The Warlord & The Barbarian)
This should end our streak of good matches at one. Barbarian attacks Butch before the bell, but here comes Luke to bite his butt. Great, a comedy match. Butch grabs a headlock but fails at a shoulder tackle. They use some school yard tactics to gain control, and it's time for some stalling. Warlord and Luke give it a go (as in "flush this turd down the toilet"), with Warlord no-selling Luke's pathetic punches. Whip to the ropes, Warlord grabs a bearhug. Luke escapes with biting, Warlord goes back to the fucking bearhug, and then Butch comes in to bite him. Butch gets knocked to the floor and whacked by Fuji's cane, because the spot needs to be done at least once. Butch's idea of "selling" is rather pathetic. Warlord and Barbarian take turns working over Butch with little of note taking place. Barbarian with a slam, and Warlord drops an elbow. Barbarian goes to the second rope, and as you would guess, misses the elbow. Luke gets the hot tag, and they quickly hit the Battering Ram on both men. Fuji's cane gets involved, and the Powers (of Pain) use it to draw a lame Disqualification at 9:10. -* This one SUCKED. Seriously, could they have found a worse combination to put out there for a Tag Team Match?
- Billy Red Lyons brings out Bobby "The Brain" Heenan for a Very Special In-Ring Interview. Just the announcement of Heenan draws the best heat of the night thus far, and by quite a bit. He runs down the Blue Jays and pimps the upcoming Main Event between the Hot Rod and Ravishing One.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage (w/ Sensational Sherri):
Savage won the quasi-title of King from Duggan a few weeks earlier, although I don't recall the match airing in it's entirety, just a quick "Update" on Superstars. Savage goes from Main Event program with the WWF Champion to working with JIMMY SNUKA? Holy demotion, Batman. Savage with lots of stalling. The "Macho King" era was not kind to Savage in terms of great matches ('Mania VII excluded). Snuka with chops, looking so juiced up, he might as well be smuggling a needle in his trunks to inject himself mid-match. Sherri hooks the ankle, allowing Savage to get some cheap shots in. Sherri whacks him with her boot, and Savage tosses him to the floor. Savage with a double axehandle as Lord Alfred informs us that yes, it was indeed her boot, and not a purse, as Lord Alfred originally speculated. Snuka randomly decides to stop selling and mount a comeback, but Savage told him the match needs to go another 8-minutes. Snuka with a double chop from the top for a delayed two count. Savage with a running high knee, resulting in a ref' bump. Snuka with a slam and second rope headbutt, but there's no referee. Sherri KO's Snuka with her loaded purse, and it's finally over at 11:51. Gorilla declares it a "miscarriage of Justice." I declare it mercifully over. * Like I said, the Macho King Era was not a good one if you're looking for quality matches. This stunk, but being stuck in there with Jimmy Snuka definitely doesn't help, and Snuka carrying 90% of the offense makes it even worse.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Akeem:
It's one of those matches I've no doubt recreated countless times with my Hasbro Figures. I sure did love my Akeem figure. Akeem attacks before the bell with clubberin' blows. He didn't even take off his Dashiki first! Duggan no-sells (surprise!) and returns the clubberin'. Whip to the corner, Akeem follows in with an avalanche. Akeem dry-humps Duggan's ear in what I'm assuming is an offensive manuever. Akeem grabs a bearhug, because there's no other move more boring for him to rest with. Duggan goes for a slam, but we can't hold it against him just because he's a little slow. The WWE production team is so bored we get the same Old School Flashbacks shown during the opening match! Did you know Jim Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fraud? The Televangelist? The guy (or one of them) that Brother Love is based on? Whatever... More Bearhugs. Yay. Akeem goes for the Splash, but Duggan rolls away. Akeem eats buckle, and Duggan adds some mounted punches. Akeem misses a charge, and Duggan school boys him for the three count at 5:54. That felt way longer than 6-minutes. -* Do I need to tell anyone this match stunk, too? Funny note: I've already recapped this match on another compilation... same rating. Good to see my common sense is still working.
Hillbilly Jim vs. The Genius:
What in the HOLY HELL is this?! Talk about a random match-up you've never seen before, or ever again. What was the deal with Hillbilly Jim? He seemed to disappear for months at a time, come back and work a few shows, then disappear again. This is the Classics on Demand version, so Hillbilly's "Country Boy" music is dubbed over by some generic Hee-Haw knock-off tune. The crowd actually BOO's Jim's hoe-down. HBJ rejects the Genius' handshake offer.. .what a hick. Lots of stalling. Jim stands his ground on a shoulder tackle, then scares Genius off with a kiss. Jim does his best impression of Hulk Hogan's impression of the Genius. That's not very PC. Genius takes control with tIhe tried-and-true offense of punch-kick-choke. Jim comes back with a goofy head scissors, ear smack, and headbutt. Genius uses the denim to throw Jim to the floor. They wander around until we get the lamest count-out at 7:02, awarding the match to The Genius. DUD Next...
Barry Horowitz vs. Richard Charland:
For reasons I can't explain (lies... shitty DVD), my copy of the show craps out at this point, but thankfully I have the Main Event available elsewhere. As for this match, here's a touch-up from when it was featured on the Christmas '89 Edition of Primetime Wrestling: We're JIP (not really) with Charland working as side headlock. He comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle, then goes back to the headlock. Horowitz escapes with an elbow. Charland reverses a whip to the corner, but misses on a charge. Horowitz taunts him with a pat on the back, then stomps him down. Horowitz with a hip toss, then applies a wristlock. Horowitz with a scoop slam and roll up for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Horowitz connects with a running high knee. He misses a charge to the corner, opening the door for Charland to mount a comeback. He unloads with rights and hits a dropkick. Whip to the ropes, and Charland puts Horowitz away with an Airplane Spin at 6:13. Really?! 3/4* Horowitz brought some energy, but Charland didn't really do much to impress. I guess Charland was a local "talent" that WWF felt obligated to use? I don't know.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
This is our Main Event of the evening. Piper and Heenan have been at odds with each other ever since Piper took over hosting duties on PrimeTime, and somehow Heenan dragged Rude into it, which lead to Piper helping cost him the IC Belt at SummerSlam. Before the match, the referee finds a foreign object and immediately tosses Heenan from ringside. Piper plays Matador with his Kilt and quickly goes to work cleaning Rude's clock. He knocks Rude to the floor and introduces him to a nearby table. Piper clowns around a bit more, until missing a dropkick. Rude drops a series of elbows for a two count. Rude pounds the back and grabs a bearhug. I hate that move so much. Piper counters a Rude Awakening with a back slide. Whip to the corner, and Rude gets a knee up. Rude continues working the back and sits across the back with a chinlock. Piper fights back to his feet and connects with a jaw buster. He rips a turnbuckle pad off and rams Rude into the exposed steel. That's as blatant as it gets. Piper unloads with a flurry of rights and lefts, then does his best (worst) impression of Rude. The referee gets sandwiched in the corner, then we get a collission spot, putting everyone down on the canvas. Rude comes off the top with a double axehandle. Rude Awakening Attempt #2 is countered, and Piper connects with a swinging neck breaker. Piper with an inverted atomic drop and running knee lift, knocking Rude to the floor. Piper uses the barely conscious referee to "count" Rude out, but it turns out to be a Disqualification victory for Rude at 12:07. I don't see the logic in that, but I guess you have to build rematches for the next show (Spoiler: They didn't do a Rematch at the Maple Leaf Gardens, rendering the finish POINTLESS). *1/2 There were moments of decent action, but damn if those bearhug and chinlock spots didn't drag a bit too long.
Final Thoughts: Not one of the better lineups when it comes to quality wrestling. With the exception of Garvin vs. Valentine in the undercard, HOLY CRAP is this show weak. The two "main event" matches were sub-par, and the most important one features a poorly conceieved cop-out finish that usually lends itself to hyping a rematch (that never takes place). The undercard includes an awful tag match with the Bushwhackers, an awful opener with Boris Zhukov, and a pair of awful matches between Akeem/Duggan and Hillbilly Jim/The Genius. If you're a fan of the era, it's watchable as background noise, but if you're looking for good wrestling, take a pass.
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