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WWF @ Los Angeles, CA
by Scrooge McSuck
August 13, 1988
Taped from the Los Angeles Sports Arena and featured on regional network Z Channel, Gorilla Monsoon and Superstar Billy Graham are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Even though Graham was only in his mid-40's at this point, I can't help but think he looked much older than that. As a kid renting WrestleMania IV over and over, I just assumed he was a 60+ year old man who liked to dress like my grandmother.
Sam Houston vs. Black Jack:
Wow, how original. "Black Jack" is journeyman wrestler Jack Armstrong under a mask, subbing for the Iron Sheik, who to the surprise of no one, was fired a month or so into his return. You may have seen Armstrong as a wrestler, but not on a wrestling show, as he made appearances on shows like Night Court and Wild & Crazy Kids. The LA crowd, at least the ones visible for us watching at home, don't seem thrilled by Houston's cowboy routine. Graham says Houston needs to put on some weight to succeed. Bell rings and Jack hides on the apron. YAY. THAT KIND OF WORKER. Lockup to the ropes and Jack with a cheap shot. Houston with a pair of hip throws, standing around as Jack needlessly runs the ropes. Houston grabs a side headlock and embarrasses Jack with a top wrist-lock counter. Houston with several escapes from head-scissors, quickly grabbing a headlock each time. Whip to the corner and Jack misses a charge. Interesting way to feed a leg on a pin attempt. Whip to the ropes and Jack can't stay in position for a flurry of punches. Whip and Houston with a dropkick. Jack with a butt ugly slam, followed by missing a butt ugly elbow. Whip and Houston casually counters whatever the f*ck the guy is doing, hitting him with a bulldog, and we're done at 5:53. Wow. Jack Armstrong REALLY sucked. Bad technique, bad ring awareness, bad selling, bad bumping. BAD EVERYTHING. This match was awful, and Jack is 100% to blame. -**
The Blue Blazer vs. Barry Horowitz:
OH, THANK YOU JESUS FOR THIS BOUNTY I'M ABOUT TO RECEIVE. Technically this is Horowitz vs The Blue ANGEL, but we all know I'm going to flub it over and over, so we'll just say Blue Blazer and call it a day. The Blazer (Owen Hart) started in early July and as you can see by the mask used in the pre-match graphic, they are still working on things with the presentation. He's still wearing his Stampede gear too. If you still couldn't tell we were in LA with Billy Anderson serving duties as the ring announcer, LA-based referee Jesse Hernandez is the third man in the ring. Graham goes into an anti-mask rant as soon as the bell rings (woah, not that kind of anti-mask!). Lockup and Horowitz grabs a wrist-lock. Blazer rolls through with a counter and springboards off the top rope to pull off a hip toss. Deep arm drag and Blazer slaps on an arm bar. Horowitz pops the Blazer with a chin and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Blazer nips up and catches Horowitz with another arm drag. Blazer with a monkey-flip into a cover for two. Horowitz with a headbutt and deep scoop slam for two. Blazer regains control, still punishing the arm. Crisscross and Blazer with more from the Ricky Steamboat playbook. Horowitz gets to the ropes and hides in the corner. Lockup and Blazer with a hammerlock slam, followed by a modified hip throw into the arm bar.
Whip to the ropes and Horowitz nails a reverse thrust kick on the chin to take control. Horowitz gives himself a pat on the back and catapults Blazer's neck into the bottom rope. Blazer catches a boot but is caught off guard with a thumb to the eye. Whip to the corner, with Blazer taking a big chest-first bump. Horowitz continues to showboat before hooking a three-quarter Nelson for a near-fall. Double under-hook suplex for two. Blazer with elbows to the midsection, followed by a shoulder block. He bounces off the ropes again and Horowitz nails him with a high knee. Horowitz with a back-slide for two. Whip to the corner and Blazer surprises Horowitz with a twisting body press. Horowitz regains control, hanging the Blazer across the top rope. Whip to the ropes, Blazer ducks a clothesline and takes Horowitz over with a sunset flip for two. Horowitz with an abdominal stretch into a cradle for two. He hits a Russian leg sweep and makes the slow climb to the top rope. Blazer pops up to slam him down and comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Blazer with a suplex and flying knee drop for two. Back breaker for two. Horowitz reverses the whip to the corner but meets a knee charging in. Blazer plants him with a slam and comes off the top with a moonsault for three at 14:35. Good match, though I think they went a little long with what they were doing. ***
The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks:
My only wish is that this one is short. The Barbarian and Warlord are still new to the WWF, and of course have mostly worked with the Bolsheviks of all teams to get over as babyfaces. The POP attack during the singing of the Soviet Anthem. Whip and a double clothesline sends Zhukov to the outside. I wonder if the audience has smartened up to them NOT being the Road Warriors at this point. Barbarian and Volkoff start officially. For whatever reason, the bell rings a second time, so I'm going with the first bell. Lockup and Barbarian sends Volkoff into the ropes. Barbarian stands his ground on a shoulder block and knocks Volkoff to the canvas. Zhukov tries his luck and faces the same results. Whip is reversed and Barbarian with a powerslam but Volkoff saves. Warlord and Volkoff lockup for a test-of-strength. Warlord with the advantage until Zhukov attacks from behind with a double axe-handle. Warlord avoids a repeat performance and gives THE WORST DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER IN HISTORY. The Powers take turns working the arm of Volkoff. Right here is the biggest reason the POP weren't getting over: going 50/50 in matches with geeks. This should be a 3-minute squash at most. Warlord misses a charge into the corner, and say it with me: WARLORD IS THE BABYFACE IN PERIL. Warlord lays out the Bolsheviks with a double clothesline and Barbarian gets the "hot" tag. He runs wild with clotheslines and big boots. Warlord plants Zhukov with a powerslam and Barbarian finishes with a flying headbutt at 10:47. Way too long, especially with heels who can only do shtick. ½*
"Special Delivery" Jones vs. Curt Hennig
Jesse Ventura is sitting in on commentary for this one. Was he in the neighborhood? (Jesse: "Hey, Hollywood is MY town, McSuck!")
Otherwise, why not use him for the entire show? We're still a month or two away from Hennig's vignettes hyping his "Mr. Perfect" persona, so he gets the honor of having Jones do a piss-poor job of making him look good. Lockup and Jones shoves Hennig into the corner. Ventura talks about the screenwriters strike and mentions it's a good thing wrestlers can't go on strike or they would be out of a job. BURN. They trade hammer-locks until we're back in a neutral stance. Jones with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder block. Crisscross and Hennig with a drop toe hold into a headlock, but Jones quickly counters with a hammer-lock. Hennig forces a break in the corner only to get sent flying over the top rope from a right hand. Back inside, Hennig with a cheap shot in the corner to take control. He punishes the lower back with a series of knees and turns Jones over with a Boston Crab. You can tell Gorilla gives zero f*cks about this match. Jones teases a comeback but gets caught with a crummy back breaker for two. Hennig with more punch-kick offense since Jones won't take many bumps. Jones no-sells being sent to the turnbuckle and starts his comeback. Hennig over-sells an inverted atomic drop and gets trapped in the ropes. LAZY leg drop between the legs from Jones. There's no effort behind anything. EVEN WORSE SNAP MARE. How is Jones still getting work at this point? Whip and Jones with a powerslam for two. Hennig keeps bumping his ass off for a man who isn't willing to give him anything. Whip is reversed and Hennig finishes with the Axe at 13:08. Nice fast count from Jesse Hernandez to put an end to this nightmare. Jones' working style belongs in the mid 70's and he doesn't do anything to make his opponent look good, spending most of the match either taking all the offense or doubling over. ZERO STARS
WWF Championship Match:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (c) (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Andre the Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
I'm not expecting much here based on other matches where Andre gobbles Savage up and treats him like how Jones just treated Curt Hennig. Heenan acts like a pest, hovering around Elizabeth, and gets ejected for it. We even get a Jay Strongbow cameo! Andre doesn't seem pleased with that decision. Savage tries to keep his distance, then illogically goes for a lockup?! Andre wallops him with a headbutt and sends him to the outside. Back inside, Andre grabs a blatant choke before transitioning to the nerve hold. Andre goes back to choking, using his singlet strap. Savage tries fighting free with elbows but Andre cuts him off with a headbutt. Andre with shoulders to the midsection. Savage brings up a knee to stagger Andre and follows with a flying axe-handle. Andre cuts him off again and grabs a bearhug. Whip to the rope, Savage avoids a big boot and a clothesline knocks Andre into the ropes. Savage takes advantage, putting the boots to the trapped Giant. Andre gets back to his feet, throwing chops and another headbutt. Andre removes a turnbuckle pad and slams the back of Savage's head into the exposed steel. Andre winds up for a headbutt and knocks himself silly in the process. The referee allows Savage to continue using the steel to his advantage. Savage hits the flying elbow but Andre kicks out (with authority) at two! Andre rolls out of the ring, with Savage right behind him. Andre grabs Elizabeth by the ankle and the bell rings during the confusion. Andre celebrates with the belt, but it's a Double Count-Out even though Savage rolled back in the ring at one point. Dumb finish, but we knew we weren't getting anything close to a decisive finish here. *½
The Hart Foundation vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
The Rougeaus want the ring announcer to inform the audience that they will soon be moving to the United States. These two teams feuded for the rest of 1988 with Jimmy Hart giving his managerial contract with the Hart Foundation to the Rougeaus. Neidhart and Raymond start. Raymond flips through a top wrist-lock and showboats. He grabs a side headlock but a shoulder block doesn't budge the Anvil. Raymond slips out of a slam and connects with a dropkick. Neidhart throws a dropkick of his own, sending Raymond out of the ring. Bret and Jacques in. Jacques offers a handshake but Bret doesn't want any part of it. Bret doesn't fall for the sucker attempt and we end up with nothing but wasted time. Bret with a side headlock and shoulder block. Crisscross and Bret counters a monkey-flip with an elbow drop. Bret blocks a sunset flip from Raymond and takes him to the corner for shared punishment. Bret with a back breaker for a two-count. Jacques trips Bret up from the outside to take control.
Raymond with a forearm smash to the back before applying a seated chin-lock. Neidhart tries to make the save but it only allows the Rougeaus to switch out with the referee distracted. Jacques with a stomach buster and modified cradle for two. Jacques with a dropkick and splash for two. Raymond slaps on a front face-lock and we all know where this is going. Whip and the Rougeaus with a double chop for two. Jacques with the abdominal stretch and Raymond with a mule kick to the exposed midsection. Raymond plants Bret with a slam. He pulls Bret up and gets cradled for a two-count. He quickly regains control with a Boston Crab and Jacques drops a knee across the back of the neck for two. Bret fights out of the corner but Jacques cuts him off and sends him to the corner. Bret reverses a whip, sending Raymond across the ring. Jacques keeps Bret in the ring, sitting down with another chin-lock. Whip and Bret surprises Jacques with a cross body press for two. Whip and Bret struggles hooking Jacques with a small package. Based on the levels of perspiration, I'm guessing the LA Sports Arena wasn't adequately air conditioned. Bret counters a monkey-flip with an inverted atomic drop and finally makes the tag to Neidhart. He runs wild with forearms and slams. Whip and Jacques gets knocked 5-feet across the ring with an elbow. Bret with the elbow from the second rope but Raymond saves. Bret ducks a sucker punch, hits Jacques with an atomic drop, and connects with his signature piledriver. Hebner ushers Neidhart to the apron, allowing Raymond to drop an axe-handle on Bret and steal the cover at 17:43. Seems like everyone is going longer than normal tonight, and that meant more rest holds from the Rougeaus. **½
Randy Savage comes out to address Andre the Giant putting his hands on Elizabeth. He's got an open contract signed and promises to kick Andre's a$$ the next time he gets him in the ring.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude:
These two have been at each other's throats since Rude made the moves on Jake's wife a few weeks after WrestleMania IV. No idea why Heenan isn't at ringside, unless he's doing an unexpected run-in for the finish. Poor Dave Hebner is back out there for back-to-back matches. Roberts grabs the microphone and says Rude disappointed him by not wearing the tights of his wife. Roberts gives chase around the ring and gets caught for his carelessness. Rude sends Roberts to the corner, sets early for a back body-drop, and gets nailed with a knee lift. Roberts plants Rude with a slam. Rude bails out on the DDT, but Roberts sends him back in the ring. Rude catches Roberts with a slam but misses a flying fist drop. Rude avoids the DDT for a second time and hides in the corner. The referee doesn't care for the hair-pulling and fists flying and gives both men the business. Rude with a hammer-lock, but a leverage maneuver sends him through the ropes. Back inside, Roberts works the arm and uses a handful of hair to bring Rude to the canvas. Rude slides out of the ring and gets sent to the post. For such a blood feud, sitting down with a wrist-lock for 5-minutes is an interesting strategy. Rude finally gets to his feet and knocks Roberts out of the ring with a clothesline. Rude sends Roberts to the post and drops an elbow for two. Hard whip to the corner and Rude applies a seated chin-lock. Wow, I didn't see that enough during the last match. Roberts reverses a whip to the corner but Rude blocks the DDT. He goes for it again and Rude counters with an overhead slam. Rude with a clothesline, knocking Roberts off the apron. Either Monsoon has decided to stop talking or his headset died, because Graham is endlessly talking to himself. Rude tries to bring Roberts in with a slam, but Roberts holds onto the ropes and lands on top of Rude for three at 13:25. Rude pops up immediately and puts the boots to Roberts to end the night. Babyface Jake matches are some of the most boring matches you'll ever sit through. *
Final Thoughts: While not the worst show I've ever watched, there wasn't much that stood out. The few decent matches were done countless times during this period and often times better, and for whatever reason, the LA Sports Arena's acoustics made every match sound like there wasn't much heat. Combine that with Superstar Billy Graham on commentary, and you've got a boring atmosphere with terrible color commentary. Don't bother with anything here.
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