home | wrestling | flashback_reviews | wwe | house_shows
WWF At Maple Leaf Gardens (Toronto)
by Scrooge McSuck
September 18, 1988
Taped from the Maple Leaf Gardens with Gorilla Monsoon and Sean Mooney calling the action, unless otherwise noted. The WWF ran the A-Tour in San Diego, CA (featuring all three Championships defended) and a sorry-looking C-Tour in White Plains, NY on the same day. This card has the benefit of featuring Hulk Hogan, so for a B-Tour stop, they got the biggest draw (in a meaningless match). Almost none of the matches were featured on the various WWF package programs, so it'll be interesting to see what was left to rot in the video vault.
"Jumping" Jim Brunzell vs. "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig:
I wouldn't get too excited for this one, based on a disappointing outing they had at the Meadowlands a week earlier
. Hennig is now introduced as "Mr. Perfect", but it'll be a while until he switches from trunks to his signature singlet attire. Mooney asks if Brunzell got his gear from Billy Graham. Lockup into the corner and Hennig gives a clean break. They trade hammer-locks until ending up in a neutral position. Hennig with a hip toss and no follow-up. Brunzell with a side headlock. Hennig forces a break in the corner and lays into him with rights and kicks to the approval of the Toronto crowd. Monsoon openly acknowledges Jack Tunney as the promoter of Toronto. Brunzell tries to fight his way in from the apron but Hennig plants a shoulder into the midsection. Brunzell returns fire and throws Hennig out of the ring. Whip to the corner and Brunzell charges into an elbow. Snap mare out of the corner and Hennig slaps on a chin-lock. Brunzell escapes with elbows but the comeback is cut short with a knee to the midsection. Hennig sweeps the legs and slingshots Brunzell into the bottom rope when the Boston Crab attempt is blocked. Brunzell teases another comeback, lighting up Hennig with rights and lefts. He takes Hennig out of the corner with a monkey-flip and takes him over with a back body-drop. Whip to the ropes and Brunzell with the dropkick, but Hennig gets a foot on the ropes. Brunzell with a snap mare but he misses a leg drop and Hennig finishes with the Axe and (yet-to-be-named) Perfect-Plex at 9:54. Crowd seems to dig Hennig, giving him a mixed reaction. Perfectly fine prelim stuff. **
Tommy Angel vs. Iron Mike Sharpe:
OK, who missed their flight? I don't think I've ever seen Tommy Angel used in the WWF as more than syndication enhancement talent. Monsoon notes Sharpe's forearm has been injured for about 9-years. Lockup and Sharpe celebrates pushing Angel back a few feet. Angel grabs a side headlock but Sharpe throws him off. I love when Sharpe's loud grunting is acknowledged on commentary. The crowd seems to appreciate Sharpe a little more after each celebration. Angel escapes a Full Nelson and sends Sharpe out of the ring with an arm drag. Sharpe's actually getting the crowd invested in a test-of-strength spot. Sharpe controls and uses a well-placed knee to the midsection to remain in control. Angel escapes with a dropkick and Sharpe bails out again. Back inside, Sharpe loudly grabs a side headlock. Angel tries to counter but Sharpe yanks the hair. Whip to the ropes and Angel with a dropkick as Monsoon talks about how much Sharpe enjoys his showers (Sharpe was notorious for his obsessive compulsive disorder and once was locked in because he was in the shower for hours). Sharpe again takes control with the usual clubbing blows. Whip to the ropes, Angel ducks a clothesline and hits a cross body press for two. Sharpe gets trapped in the ropes, allowing Angel to throw a series of rights. Sharpe cuts him off with a boot to the chest and takes him over with a back body-drop for two. Whip and Angel surprises Sharpe with a sunset flip for two. Angel with a hip toss out of the corner. Whip across the ring and Angel with a monkey-flip. He goes for it again but Sharpe blocks, loads up the forearm, and clobbers Angel for the three-count at 10:22. Nothing exciting, but Sharpe was a blast to watch, working the crowd with his shtick. *½
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. "The Outlaw" Ron Bass:
It was only a few weeks earlier (in TV time) where Bass violently assaulted Beefcake and cost him his opportunity to challenge for the Intercontinental Title at SummerSlam ‘88. Bass tries to get the jump but Beefcake fights back with a series of rights and starts choking him with his jacket. Beefcake backs Bass into the corner and unloads with the mounted right hands. Bass bails out, with Beefcake right behind to send him into the post. Back inside, Beefcake whips out a pair of scissors to send Bass running for cover. Once things settle down, Bass teases taking control, but Beefcake takes advantage of a mistimed elbow drop. Bass grabs Betsy and smacks Beefcake in the throat. HOW THE HECK DID THE REFEREE NOT SEE THAT? Bass measures up and drops a pair of elbows for two. Bass busts out a piledriver and literally everyone facing the camera didn't react. I'm starting to suspect Bass wasn't over enough to justify a featured program with a guy who spent a lot of 1988 challenging for the Intercontinental Title. Beefcake fights out of a nerve hold and throws more rights. Whip and Beefcake with a big boot. Beefcake slaps on his signature sleeper but Bass grabs the referee and pulls him head-first into Beefcake. Bass grabs ol' Betsy and chokes Beefcake. Beefcake uses his momentum to ram Bass into the top turnbuckle. Beefcake gets hold of Betsy and gives Bass a taste of his own medicine. The bell rings at 10:21 and the official decision is a disqualification victory for Brutus. Match was little more than a punch-fest with the expected cheap finish. ½*
The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks:
OH COME ON, HOW MANY TIMES MUST I SIT THROUGH THESE TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER?! The Bolsheviks get the jump during introductions, but the Powers of Pain quickly take control and clear the ring. Things settle down and we've got Zhukov and the Barbarian in the ring. Zhukov grabs a side headlock but has no success with the shoulder block. Barbarian fares better and slams Zhukov face-first to the canvas. Barbarian cranks on a side headlock, and just like my complaint with their match in Los Angeles, having the Powers of Pain work long matches, especially with poor workers, is an interesting way to get them over. Volkoff in, asking Warlord for a test-of-strength. Warlord gets the advantage until Zhukov whacks him from behind. Warlord avoids a second attempt and busts out a double noggin knocker. Warlord counters a bearhug but Zhukov saves. The POP takes turns working the arm. You know a match is dull when I can't stop checking the clock. Warlord misses a charge to the corner, allowing Volkoff to take control. Warlord counters an attempted double back body-drop and makes the hot tag to the Barbarian. He runs wild with clotheslines and big boots. Warlord plants Zhukov with a powerslam and Barbarian finishes with the headbutt at 12:07. Please let this be the last time I ever watch these teams wrestle each other. ¼*
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude:
Speaking of match-ups I've seen a thousand times... They were finishing up in most markets around this time, giving us a solid 6-months of them wrestling each other across the country. Lots of chatter about the tights Rude had commissioned featuring the likeness of Cheryl Roberts. First contact is Rude raking the eyes before unloading with right hands. Roberts turns it around, but Rude ducks a short-arm clothesline and hits a clothesline of his own. Rude follows Roberts to the floor and sends him to the post. Rude teases removing his tights and indeed he has the Cheryl tights on underneath. Back inside, Rude sends Roberts from corner to corner. At least they are fighting like blood rivals this time instead of using extended arm holds. As soon as I type that, Rude grabs a chin-lock. Roberts escapes, only to get wiped out with a clothesline. Rude keeps showboating, exposing the tights. Not much excitement from the crowd as we get our second extended chin-lock. Roberts sends Rude into the corner and meets a knee charging in. We're almost TEN MINUTES IN and Roberts has done next to nothing on offense. Rude with a flying double axe-handle and more taunting with the tights. More chin-locks, more shtick. Roberts nails Rude with a jaw breaker and unloads with rights. Whip and Rude counters the back body-drop attempt. Roberts uses his leverage to send Rude through the ropes. Rude tries using the post but this time Roberts gives Rude a taste of the steel. Back inside, Roberts with the flurry of strikes and a stomach buster. Roberts hits the short-arm clothesline and the DDT, but somehow Rude takes the referee underneath him. Rude takes advantage of the lack of a referee and hits the Rude Awakening, but Roberts gets a foot on the rope. Rude tries sitting down on the leg, but Roberts avoids contact and rolls Rude up for three at 15:27. Rude attacks after the bell and shows off the tights for the 73rd time. This time, Roberts sees them and unleashes Damian, but Rude escapes and throws the referee in the line of fire. Dull as dishwater. *
Jim Powers vs. The Big Boss Man:
I swear, if Powers goes 10-minutes with the Boss Man, I'm done. Boss Man debuted back in June and is still working his way through some prelim chumps. Boss Man shoves Powers into the ropes and Powers pops back with a right hand. Lockup into the corner and Boss Man with headbutts to the chest. Whip across the ring and Boss Man charges in with an avalanche. Powers fights off from being dropped across the top rope. He smacks the ears and grabs a front face-lock. Boss Man easily carries him into the corner to break the hold, then catches Powers attempting a cross body press. Boss Man with a choke across the middle rope, followed by a splash across the back. Whip to the ropes, Powers slides between the legs and hops on the back of Boss Man. Powers keeps Boss Man at a distance, backing him out of the corner with a pair of double boots. He rocks Boss Man with a pair of dropkicks, but Boss Man hits the sidewalk slam out of nowhere for three at 4:08. After the bell, Boss Man gives Powers a whack with the nightstick. Just a short showcase. *½
Hulk Hogan vs. King Haku (w/ Bobby Heenan):
The final match of the night, and yes, they really ran Toronto with Hulk Hogan on the card against a guy who was at best a mid-card talent. This isn't just a normal appearance for Hogan… he's got the stupid fist helmet that someone thought was going to be the hottest gift for the Christmas season. I don't know if the helmet was used for syndication, but Hogan worked a handful of regional broadcasts with the gear. No idea why Heenan wasn't at ringside with Rude. Haku and Heenan attack before the bell but Hogan fights them off, dishing out headbutts with the helmet. Things settle down with Haku going to work on Hogan with his arsenal of chops and kicks. Hogan rolls away from some finger thrusts and sends Haku through the ropes with an atomic drop. Back inside, Hogan throws more right hands and takes a shot at Heenan. He drops a pair of elbows on Haku and rakes the eyes for the hell of it. Whip is reversed and Haku connects with a big chop. Hulk gives Haku a taste of his own medicine, yanking the hair. Heenan picks the ankle to interrupt the leg drop and buys Haku time to recover and nail Hogan from behind. Whip and Haku with a dropkick for two. Haku with a thrust kick, knocking Hogan out of the ring. Back inside, Haku with a suplex for two. Hogan fights out of a chin-lock and comes off the ropes with a pair of shoulder blocks. Hogan with a slam but he misses an elbow drop. Haku throws more chops, but it's time for the HULK-UP. Hogan sends Haku to the corner and follows him in with a clothesline. Heenan hops on the apron with the war bonnet. Hogan blocks getting hit with his own gear, dons the helmet, and drops the leg for three at 11:20. The crowd is happy, so that counts for something. Felt more like a Saturday Night's Main Event formula match than a competitive main event. *½
Final Thoughts: Another chore of a show to get through. There's nothing to get too excited about and some of the matches needlessly went long and suffered because of it. I know the WWF wasn't the "work rate" promotion in the late 80's, but there's some talented guys on this card, and it's just a bunch of empty effort performances from top to bottom.
Comment about this article on Da' Wrestling Boards!
back to Index