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WWF WrestleFest 1988: Special Edition

by Scrooge McSuck

- Originally taped on July 31st, 1988, from Milwaukee County Stadium in Milwaukee, WI. The intent for taping the show was for a release through Coliseum Home Video. 15 matches were presented that night, but only 10 were kept together. The majority of the matches not featured were actually used as feature matches on episodes of Prime Time Wrestling in the weeks that followed. The most surprising exclusion... a WWF Championship Match between Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase is not only cut from the original Home Video release, but was never broadcast on television. It did find its way onto a Randy Savage themed video called Macho Madness, featuring about 6 different matches between Savage and Dibiase. Anyway, what follows is the show that I could best put together with the source material available. Match orders are courtesy of TheHistoryofWWE.com, so if anyone has any complaints, send it to someone else. The only match NOT included is Curt Hennig vs. Terry Taylor, mostly because the only commentary track available is a modern audio with Michael Cole talking over it... and time reasons. I just couldn't find room for it on the DVD.

- Commentary falls(or should I say fails) in the hands of newcomer Sean Mooney, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Superstar Billy Graham. Joy. Note: For matches not featured on the actual WrestleFest '88 video cassette, it's only going to be Mooney and Hayes calling the action. I guess that improves things a bit, but even though Mooney is a below-average match caller, he was even WORSE here because he clearly had never worked in such an environment before.

Scott Casey vs. Big Boss Man:

Pulled from the August 22nd, 1988 episode of Prime Time. Boss Man has only been on TV for a little more than a month at this point, and is looking extra beefy. It's almost like two different guys comparing early days Boss Man to the dang-near slim figure he had in 1991-92. Lockup and Boss Man shoves Casey across the ring. They trade wristlocks until Boss Man thumbs the eye. Casey skins the cat back in, returns the favor, and goes back to the arm. Boss Man casually catches him off the ropes with a back breaker. Boss Man puts the boots to Casey and sits down across the back with Casey draped across the middle rope. Mild "Casey" chant to my surprise. This must be the opening match if the crowd is hot for a JTTS. Whip to the ropes and Boss Man grabs a bearhug. Casey with ear claps and biting to break the hold. Whip is reversed and Casey hops on his back with a Sleeper. Casey with axehandles, but he runs right into the Sidewalk Slam, and it's good enough for the three count at 4:17. Boss Man serves Casey some "hard time" afterwards. * Standard undercard match to get over the new heel about to get a considerable push.

Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Hercules:

No Bobby Heenan with Hercules, despite being in attendance for his own match later in the night. Pulled from the August 15th, 1988 episode of Prime Time. Lockup to the corner, and we get a clean break. Beefcake grabs a headlock. He pounds away on Hercules with rights and sends him to the floor following a jumping elbow. Back in the ring, Beefcake remains in control despite a valiant attempt at a cheap shot from Hercules. Beefcake pounds away until Herc' uses a handful of tights to throw him out of the ring. Hercules with a snapmare and chinlock to further slow things down. This sleeper nearly put me to sleep waiting for something to happen. Beefcake finally escapes with elbows. Punchfest '88 continues as the crowd wakes up. Whip to the corner and Beefcake follows in with an elbow. Whip and a clothesline. Beefcake calls for the finish, then decides to punch some more. Hercules with his second leverage move of the night. He goes for the Full Nelson, but Beefcake rams him into the corner and counters with his Sleeper! Hercules tries the same trick, but Beefcake sends him into the corner for a second time, and school boys him for the three count at 9:37. It was clean, so that's good. 1/2* The rest of the match, unfortunately, was not. Pretty much all punching and resting.

The Killer Bees vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:

(B. Brian Blair & Jumpin' Jim Brunzell vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
I'm not sure when the Rougeaus adopted Jimmy Hart as their manager, but it has to be soon, if not already had happened. The Bees are on their last legs as a team, and for some odd reason are wearing new tights I don't recall them ever wearing before. Remember when Triple H was working hurt in the Summer-Fall of 2003 and wore bicycle shorts? Think those, but with Bee stripes. Just weird. Brunzell and Raymond start. Raymond with a not-so-clean hit before taking a powder on the floor. Raymond with side headlocks, quickly countered with head scissors. Blair and Jacques have a go next. They go back-and-forth until Jacques takes Blair over with a monkey flip. He offers a left-handed handshake, but his tactics fail. Raymond picks the leg of Brunzell and the Rougeaus with a wish bone. Blair tags in, works the leg of Raymond, and it’s the Bees turn with the wish bone. Brunzell with an elbow and grapevine. Bees with a double spinning toe hold, but Raymond avoids a Boston Crab attempt. Jacques tags in and gets rolled up for two. Jacques with a drop toe hold. Blair fights out of the leg lock, takes Jacques down with a drop toe hold of his own, and more working of the legs. Blair with the Boston Crab, but Raymond helps Jacques make it to the ropes. Raymond quickly sweeps the legs of Blair and applies his own Boston Crab. Blair counters, and Raymond counters that into a roll up for two. Blair hooks a full nelson, but Jacques helps break it up. He traps Blair in an abdominal stretch, and Raymond with a super-kick to the chest for two. Blair blocks a monkey flip and counters with an inverted atomic drop. Brunzell with the hot tag, unloading on Jacques with rights. Whip to the corner, followed by a monkey flip. Double noggin’ knocker! Figure-Four applied to Jacques, but Raymond breaks it. Brunzell with his signature dropkick, but it only gets two. Chaos erupts, and we get a weak ass finish with Brunzell getting knocked over with Jacques up for a slam, and Jacques landing on top for three at 13:59. **3/4 Lame finish, but solid action and a hot crowd. Very little resting (I know, unheard of for a heel Rougeau Brothers match), and I liked the formula of each team trying to show each other up.

Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Bad News Brown:

I guess they’re still fighting over the double-cross at the WrestleMania IV Battle Royal. By this point, I thought the Bret Hart singles push was abandoned, as they started building up the break-up of the Hart Foundation and Jimmy Hart, leading to the feud with the Rougeau Brothers. Lockup into the ropes, and Brown naturally cheap shots the Hitman. Whip to the corner, Bret barely gets over Brown on a charge attempt, then throws him across the ring with a hip toss. Bret with a slam, followed by an elbow drop. Whip to the ropes, boot to the midsection, and a rake of the eyes across the top rope. Billy Graham continues to call Brown “The Bad News Man.” My God, he’s awful. Whip to the corner, and this time Bret meets boot on a charge. Brown takes his time going to the top rope, allowing Bret to pop up and slam him off. Bret to the second turnbuckle with an elbow drop for two. Snap suplex and leg drop for another two count. He goes for the back breaker, but Brown rakes the eyes. Whip to the corner is reversed, but Brown comes right back with a stiff clothesline. He screams for the Ghetto Blaster, and sure enough, he whiffs on the attempt. Bret ducks under a charge, sending Brown over the top rope, to the floor, then follows with a slingshot plancha. Back in the ring, Bret comes off the ropes with a body press. Brown kicks out, sending Bret out of the ring. He sunset flips back into the ring, and that only gets two. Bret with a back breaker for two. Whip to the ropes, fist to the midsection, and a roll up for two. Bad News reverses with a handful of tights, and that gets three at 6:28. Post-match, Jim Neidhart shows up to chase Bad News off. *** Good match, but short on time.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Honkytonk Man © (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan:

The doomsday clock was finally ticking on Honky’s reign, but there’s a better-than-good chance he won’t be dropping it to Duggan. Total filler match, as both men were in different angles at the time, with Honky usually paired up with Brutus Beefcake, and Duggan working with Andre. If you couldn’t guess, Honky stalls to start. Duggan chases him back into the ring and unloads with rights and lefts. Whip to the corner and more punches, this time from a mounted position. Count along with Hacksaw continues, with Honky tasting the turnbuckle 10-times. Duggan with a clothesline, sending Honky to the floor. Honky finally mounts some offense, driving a series of knees to the midsection. Jimmy Hart gets his cheap shots in behind the back of the referee. Duggan teases a rally, but a rake of his good eye slows him down. He blocks being rammed to the buckle and knocks Honky silly with rights. Whip to the ropes and an elbow. Duggan sets up for the big clothesline, but Jimmy hooks the leg and it’s a Disqualification at 4:38. Post-match, Honky tries bashing Duggan with the guitar, but the 2x4 wins the war of illegal objects. ½* All punchy-kicky, but it was short and the crowd was into it.

The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks:

(The Warlord & The Barbarian vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)
The Powers of Pain are fresh from NWA, having walked out in protest of being booked in scaffold matches. I guess non-compete clauses didn’t exist at the time? Of all the names in wrestling, does WARLORD AND BARBARIAN scream babyface? No Slick with the Bolsheviks, and no “Baron” (von Rashke) with the PoP. All four men brawl before the bell. Volkoff gets thrown out and a double clothesline lays out Zhukov. Babarian and Volkoff start, formal. They take turns trying to over-power each other in lockups. Volkoff comes off the ropes with shoulder tackles, but they don’t have any effect. Zhukov tags in, and Barbarian plows through him with ease. Whip to the ropes and Barbarian with a nice looking powerslam for two. Warlord and Volkoff do a test-of-strength… it’s as exciting as it sounds. Zhukov with a cheap shot to help Volkoff gain control, but it doesn’t last long. They try it again, but Warlord out-smarts them. Barbarian posts himself on a charge, finally giving control to those evil commies. Barbarian quickly lays them out with a double clothesline, and here comes the Warlord. He plants both Bolsheviks with slams. Running powerslam by Warlord, and a diving headbutt from Barbarian finishes Zhukov at 6:48. ½* Just an extended squash match to showcase the Powers of Pain and how strong they are. They are clearly being groomed for a run with Demolition.

Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. Leapin’ Larry Poffo:

Unusual to have a babyface vs. babyface match, since Neidhart was turned by default through his association with Bret Hart. Poffo actually gets the heel reaction, but still reads his poem and tosses a couple of Frisbees to a few pops. Neidhart tries attacking before the bell, but Poffo fights him back. He plants Neidhart with a scoop slam, but a moonsault meets knees. Neidhart pounds away and drops Poffo throat-first across the top rope. He continues to pummel Poffo with the usual. Poffo attempts a sunset flip, but Neidhart blocks. Neidhart with shoulders and choking in the corner. He meets the buckle on a charge attempt. Poffo teases a comeback, but is quickly finished with a Powerslam at 2:36. DUD Almost no reaction to the match, since the fans didn’t know what to make of the situation. Both were technically babyface, but Neidhart worked heel and Poffo got a negative response. Just felt like an excuse to squeeze an extra match in.

WWF Championship Match:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage © (w/ Elizabeth) vs. “Million $ Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):

By this point, they had finished their house show run in New York and were finishing up in Boston, but they kept working in Philadelphia until the end of September! Talk about mileage. Virgil doesn’t waste time taunting Elizabeth, allowing Dibiase to come from behind with an axehandle. Whip to the ropes and Dibiase with an elbow. Savage ducks under another and comes back with a clothesline. He sends Dibiase to the corner, drops him with an elbow, and knocks him to the floor with a running knee lift. Back in the ring, Savage with an atomic drop, sending Dibiase right back out. Savage controls until getting thrown by the tights to the floor. Whip to the ropes and a clothesline gets two. They take turns reversing a whip to the corner, but Savage meets boot on a charge. Dibiase with a flurry of rights, followed by an axehandle from the second rope for two. Back breaker for two. Savage blocks a suplex and counters with his own. They trade blows from their knees, with Savage getting the upper hand. Whip is reversed, Savage ducks a clothesline and comes off the ropes with a body press for two! Dibiase is up quickly and connects with a clothesline for a two count as well. Dibiase grabs a chinlock, and I never noticed until now, but their matches (on this tape) have had little, if any, rest holds. Savage fights free, but misses a knee to the corner. Dibiase punishes the leg with a spinning toe hold until being kicked off over the top rope. Dibiase tries an axehandle from the top, but takes a fist to the midsection. He introduces Dibiase to the buckle 10-times and covers for two. Savage hangs him up across the top rope and follows with a double axehandle. He goes for the big Elbow, but Virgil with the distraction. We get heel miscommunication, and Savage rolls him up for… two!? Whip to the ropes, Savage sets too soon for a back drop and takes a forearm to the back of the head. Million Dollar Dream applied, but Savage makes it to the ropes. Virgil with a cheap shot behind the back of the referee, but Savage still manages to kick out at two. Dibiase with rights, but a slam attempt is countered with a small package, and that’s good for three at 14:52. Post-match, Virgil and Dibiase work Savage over. ***1/4 Really good match. They changed up a few spots and thankfully didn’t follow the same formula considering how many times they worked houses, especially televised, through the Summer.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude:

I always dread sitting through their matches… we are solidly into the feud centered around Cheryl Roberts, which would last through the Fall. Again, no Heenan, even though he’s present. Rude calls everyone “dirtball dairy farmers” in his pre-match routine. Roberts rushes out without introduction and lays into him with rights and lefts. He quickly connects with a stomach buster, sending Rude to the floor. Roberts signals for the DDT, but Rude escapes. Rude goes after Damien, creating enough of a distraction to put the boots to Roberts. CHINLOCK! Roberts escapes, but Rude lays him out with a clothesline. He puts the boots to Roberts before going to chinlock #2. I shit you not, this hold lasts over three minutes. If you think I’m slacking on PBP, I’m being dead-on balls accurate here. Roberts FINALLY escapes, but meets knee on a charge. Rude comes off the top with a fist drop. Arrogant cover is reversed for two. Rude keeps taunting, and that’s all he’s done this match. Roberts tries to act all badass, but to be fair, I think I could survive a 5-minute chinlock. Rude gets the best of a slugfest (with a little help from a thumb to the eye), but a trip to the top rope goes against him. Whip to the ropes and Roberts with a knee lift. DDT attempt #2 is blocked. Roberts damn-near exposes Rude’s asshole before laying him out with a short-arm clothesline. DDT attempt #3 includes Rude throwing the referee underneath them. Roberts sends Rude to the floor and they brawl in the aisle for a cheap Double Count-Out at 15:42. Post-match, Roberts gets the better of Rude and gives him the Damien treatment. -* You couldn’t find a more lazy effort than this. Almost 10-minutes was nothing but stalling or chinlocks, and then they had the balls to sell it like a hard fought match!

Sam Houston vs. King Haku:

Another filler match, probably to cool down to the crowd… or maybe it wasn’t even placed at this point, and I’m winging it. According to theHistoryofWWE.com, Houston is subbing for JYD, which automatically makes it a better match. Haku was very recently promoted to “King” after a career-threatening injury to Harley Race. Third match for Heenan Family members, still no Heenan. Haku attacks before the bell with rights. Whip to the ropes and Houston comes back with a body press. He takes Haku over with a pair of arm drags, sending him to the floor to recover. Back in the ring, Haku misses a charge and Houston takes him over with another arm drag. Whip to the ropes, and Haku finally takes over, dropping Houston throat-first across the top rope. He follows with a slingshot underneath the bottom rope. Whip to the ropes and a clothesline. Haku settles in with a nerve hold, the preferred rest-hold of Samoans and Tongans. Houston avoids a splash attempt and lays into Haku with rights. Whip to the ropes and he connects with a hooking clothesline for two. Haku goes to the eyes and lays Houston out with a Super-Kick. He comes out of the corner with a jumping headbutt, and that’s good for three at 5:02. The slow motion replay looks pretty brutal. *1/2 Fine for what it was, an extended squash match for Haku and Houston getting his token offense in.

Weasel Suit Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan:

I don’t see this one being too competitive. I can understand putting this on the normal house show tour, because Heenan would gloat about winning at WrestleMania and offer an open contract, and so Warrior would accept it and beat the crap out of him. For this show, it feels like a waste of a match with such a bloated card. Heenan refuses to get in the ring, so Warrior rams him into the post and chases him around the ring area. Warrior introduces him to the top turnbuckle of each corner until Heenan whips out a foreign object and bops him in the throat. Heenan playing hide and seek with the weapon is some high quality chicken-shit heel subtlety, finding new places to store it when the referee checks him. Warrior quickly recovers and sends him hard to the corner, doing the failed versions of the Harley Race and Ric Flair tumbles. Warrior grabs a sleeper hold… and that actually wins the match at 4:59! Post-match, Warrior stuffs Heenan into the Weasel suit, and comedy ensues. DUD Short and inoffensive.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Demolition © (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The British Bulldogs:

(Ax & Smash vs. Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
Demolition just wrapped up a house show run with Strike Force, including a worked injury angle that kept Rick Martel out of action until the new year. The Bulldogs on the other hand… they were just treading water at this point. They kind of started a TV angle with Demolition during the Fall, but it went nowhere and they were gone after Survivor Series. Smash and Davey Boy start, trading blows. Smash misses a charge and gets rolled up for two. They fight over a wristlock, with Davey Boy getting the best of it. Dynamite tags in and instantly gets pounded on in the corner by Ax. Whip to the ropes and Dynamite comes back with a headbutt for two. Ax with a slam, followed by an elbow drop. Smash in for some more pounding, Demolition style. Ax with a snapmare and slows things down with a chinlock. Dynamite with a surprise small package on Smash, but it only gets two. Smash regains control, taking him over with a suplex. Dynamite gets dumped out and stomped into a pile of goop. Davey Boy eventually gets the hot tag and unloads on both members of Demolition. Clothesline and back drop on Ax gets two. Dynamite tags back in and nails Smash with a hard clothesline, then takes him over with a snap suplex for two. Davey Boy press drops Dynamite onto Smash with a headbutt, but Ax breaks the cover. Dynamite hooks a vicious octopus hold, but Ax nails him with the cane, behind the back of the referee of course, and Smash covers for three at 7:12. ** Standard affair from the Bulldogs at this point, with Davey Boy Smith doing most of the work and Dynamite doing a spot here and there, but was obviously limited.

Ken Patera vs. Dino Bravo:

Please God, let this be short. I’m trying hard, but I can’t recall if either man was working separate angles or not. Patera was definitely in his JTTS role, but Bravo didn’t get any significant push until a weak angle with Duggan to close out 1988. No Frenchy Martin with Dino tonight. Patera attacks before the bell with rights and throws Bravo across the ring with a hip toss. Whip to the ropes and he takes Bravo over with a back drop. He slams Bravo in from the apron and drops an elbow for two. Whip to the ropes, Bravo lands a kick to the chest, and follows with an inverted atomic drop. Bravo with a jumping elbow drop, followed by choking. Bravo unloads with weak chops, and Patera comes back with a clothesline. Whip to the ropes and an elbow gets two. Small package for two. Bravo avoids a charge (the token finish of choice of Patera at the time), knocks Patera across the ring with a clothesline, and finishes with the side slam at 3:29. ¼* As good as you could expect from this duo. Bravo was capable of being carried, but Patera looked so old and slow with everything he did.

Steel Cage Match:
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):

Final match of the show, and possibly the last one-on-one encounter the two would have. Heenan hasn’t bothered to change out of his tights, but at least he’s no longer wearing the Weasel suit. Andre instantly attacks with choking. He grabs Hogan’s torn up shirt and chokes him some more. Andre with rights and more choking. Hogan fights free with elbows, a rake of the eyes, and starts choking Andre. Hogan with mounted punches in the corner… and more choking. He’s using his foot, so he’s at least changing it up. Andre recovers and ties Hogan to the cage with the shirt. He unloads with some brutal chops. Andre goes for the door, but Hogan somehow frees himself and prevents escape. Andre survives another offensive flurry and grabs a bearhug. He knocks Hogan down and drops a big elbow. Hogan stops another escape and works over the Giant. Meanwhie, Andre removes the turnbuckle pad. FORSHADOWING! It doesn’t take long for Andre to ram Hogan into the exposed buckle. Andre continues to dish out punishment, allowing Hogan a chance to blade. Whip to the ropes and Hogan comes back with a clothesline. Another clothesline knocks Andre into the ropes. One more drops the Giant! Hogan quickly comes off the ropes and drops the leg! Heenan comes in to prevent an escape, but Hogan knocks him silly. Andre actually tries climbing out, but Hogan unloads with a “foreign object”, trapping Andre’s arms in the ropes in the process. Heenan takes a bump into the cage, and Hogan escapes at 9:54. DUD This wasn’t very good, but the crowd was alive for it and it wasn’t as insultingly bad as their match at WrestleMania IV.

Final Thoughts: Even with a 15-match card, the run-time is just shy of 3-hours thanks to a lack of between-match interviews and nonsense, but that doesn’t excuse some of the poor match selects. While I can say there’s a handful of good matches (Savage/Dibiase, Bret/Bad Bews, Rougeaus/Bees, and Bulldogs/Demolition), there’s a lot of needless fluff and two of the high profile matches (Andre/Hulk and Rude/Roberts) are a chore to sit through, especially the latter. You can tell this particular era of the WWF wasn’t heavy in work-rate, but it still is a fun nostalgia trip if you’re a fan of the period, and if not, I’d say you aren’t missing much if you haven’t seen it.

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