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WWF at Philadelphia Spectrum
February 11, 1989

by Scrooge McSuck

Hulk Hogan

Originally broadcast on PRISM, the last time the WWF would broadcast regionally from this location. The WWF ran the Boston Garden the same day, and with a completely different lineup. Typically, they would run a matinee in one building and travel to the other for the evening. The Boston card didn't do much for me, featuring a lot, and I mean A LOT, of bad wrestling, so let's see what the WWF has to offer at the Spectrum. Dick Graham is our host, so that's automatically a point against. Graham will be joined at times by Slick and Kal Rudman. WOW, the WWF sent Mooney and Alfred to Boston, and left Philadelphia with this mess. Halfway through the card, I checked the results of the day, and the WWF ran a THIRD TOUR that touched down in Richmond, VA. Featured: Andre the Giant def. Jake Roberts, The Rockers def. The Brain Busters, Bret Hart def. The Honkytonk Man, Hillbilly Jim (sub. For Jim Duggan) def. Dino Bravo in a Flag Match, The Blue Blazer def. Danny Davis, Ron Garvin and Mr. Perfect went to a Draw, and NIKOLAI VOLKOFF def. Tim Horner. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HANGING AROUND, VOLKOFF?!?!

The Red Rooster vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:

Welcome to preliminary purgatory, Mr. Rooster. Once Rooster and Heenan went their separate ways, Heenan recruited Steve Lombardi, rebranded him the Brooklyn Brawler, and that's all we need to give these guys an excuse to work around the house show circuit for the next 3-4 months. Brawler attacks the Rooster as he enters the ring. You know you have competent employees when the timekeeper is sleeping. Rooster quickly turns things around, hitting the Brawler with a dropkick and jaw breaker. Brawler counters a back body-drop and levels the Rooster with a clothesline. He doesn't waste time going to the chin-lock. Rooster fights to his feet several times, only for the Brawler to yank him down with a handful of hair. Brawler cuts off another comeback, sending Rooster over the top rope with a clothesline. Rooster with a shoulder to the midsection and sunset flip for two. He counters a slam with an inside cradle for two. Why is THE BRAWLER gobbling up someone else?! Whip to the corner and Brawler with an elbow on the chin for two. Snap mare into a cover for two. Rooster finally counters a chin-lock with a back suplex. The fact he can't string together more than 10-seconds of offense before the Brawler cuts him off is astounding. Whip and Rooster surprises the Brawler with a swinging neck breaker. Whip and a BAAAAACK body-drop, followed by a diving clothesline for two. Rooster meets a boot in the corner. Whip is reversed and Rooster counters a hip toss with a back-slide for three at 10:53. I don't know how Lombardi parlayed his early 70's prelim heel nonsense into a career that lasted nearly 30-years. This style was already feeling dated in 1989. *

Sam Houston vs. Barry Horowitz:

I'm honestly looking forward to this one. Two under-appreciated talents that aren't hindered by slugs. Lockup and Horowitz shoves Houston away, acting like a big shot. Horowitz tells the "cowboy" to show him what he's got and gets sent face-first to the canvas for being a loudmouth. Horowitz with a headlock, holding on with a handful of hair to block a whip. Houston fights free with forearms. Crisscross and Houston with a hip toss, followed by a dropkick and a series of arm drags that sends Horowitz out of the ring for a breather. There's a fan front row with a "Horowitz #1" shirt and suspenders. Houston leapfrogs the referee and brings Horowitz in with a slingshot. Houston with another deep arm drag before settling in with an arm bar. This is like the opposite of the opener, with the heel making the babyface look good before he eventually takes control on offense to build the comeback. Horowitz uses a leverage move to send Houston to the corner and pats himself on the back (literally). Horowitz with a gut-wrench suplex and jumping knee drop for two. Double thrust to the throat and a rolling cradle for two. Half-nelson cradle for two. Houston fights to his feet, trading right hands. Whip and Houston with a diving clothesline for two. Crisscross and Houston hits his signature bulldog for three at 10:27. This is what you'd called perfectly acceptable wrestling. Just a decent prelim match that didn't overstay its welcome. **½

Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):

This feels a little random, then I remembered that Dibiase and Hercules were already several months into a house show run that flamed out as fast as it began. Beefcake, meanwhile, isn't doing much of note, either, other than hanging and banging with the Hulk. Virgil taunts Beefcake with the fistful of cash, allowing Dibiase to get the jump on him. Beefcake no-sells being rammed into the turnbuckle and turns things to his favor. He ducks a wild right hand and sends Dibiase out of the ring with an atomic drop. Back inside, they lock hands for a test-of-strength and Beefcake is aware enough to block a boot to the midsection. Lots of shtick and stalling since before the bell rang. Beefcake interrupts a huddle, giving Dibiase and Virgil a double noggin knocker. Whip to the corner and Beefcake unloads with mounted strikes. Crisscross and Virgil picks the ankle, allowing Dibiase to regain control. Beefcake gets dumped to the floor, only for Virgil to roll him back in the ring. GREAT INTERFERENCE. Whip and Dibiase with a clothesline, followed by an elbow drop for two. Beefcake fights out of a chin-lock but is nailed coming off the ropes with a knee to the midsection. Dibiase drops a knee across the chest for two and goes back to the chin-lock. Beefcake with another escape, sending Dibiase into the turnbuckle. Whip across the ring and a BAAACK body-drop, followed by a big boot and high knee. Virgil trips Beefcake again! We get heel miscommunication and Beefcake rolls Dibiase up for three at 10:55. If you're a fan of tracking bad Ted Dibiase matches from an era where he was rarely having them, here you go. *½

Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:

I always found it odd that they continued with the Hart Foundation/Jimmy Hart feud with Honky and Valentine opposing Bret and Neidhart, but mostly worked the house show loop in singles matches. Sure, we got the big tag match at WrestleMania V, but it just feels weird. Neidhart attacks, backing Valentine into the corner with right forearms. He goes for the shin guard but Valentine bails out. Back inside, Valentine throws a series of elbows and forearms. Neidhart avoids a charge into the corner and throws more rights. Valentine leads Neidhart on a chase around ringside, gaining control inside the ring. Dick Graham sounds so out of it; I might as well watch this on mute. Neidhart fights out of a chin-lock and bounces off the ropes with a pair of shoulder blocks. Valentine brings up a boot to counter a third attempt and drops the elbow for two. He starts working the leg of Neidhart, wrapping it around the post. Neidhart ignores it for a brief comeback before he buckles under a slam. Valentine spins around the shin guard and sets up for the Figure-Four, but Neidhart rakes the eyes. Neidhart blocks a second attempt, sending Valentine to the post. Neidhart with more shoulder blocks for a two-count. Crisscross and Anvil with a clothesline. He removes the shin guard and threatens to use it, but the referee blocks him and Valentine with a roll-up and handful of tights for three at 6:40. Yes, back-to-back finishes with a distraction roll-up. Post-match, Neidhart cleans house so that Valentine's win is rendered meaningless. Basic syndicated TV feature bout. *¼

Hulk Hogan vs. The Big Boss Man (w/ Slick):

I'm guessing this is a non-finish to build a payoff match when they return to the Spectrum next month. Full disclosure: I accidentally wrote this up as a Championship Match, completely forgetting this was before WrestleMania V. Like, WAY BEFORE. The referee forces the Boss Man to relinquish the nightstick. Does he have that authority? Lockup and Boss Man goes to the eyes. Hogan blocks a right hand and unloads with a flurry of rights of his own. Slick climbs into the ring and ends up being squashed in the corner. Hogan takes advantage of Boss Man's distraction, taking him down with a back suplex, then handcuffs Slick to the post. Back inside, Hogan drops the Boss Man with a clothesline and follows with a pair of elbows. They take the action to the floor, with Hogan bopping Boss Man weakly with a chair. Remember the Huckster impression from 1996? Yeah, Hogan's chair-shots always looked bad, not just in WCW. Back inside, Hogan sends Boss Man to the corner and charges in with an elbow. Whip to the ropes, Boss Man puts on the breaks and surprises Hogan with a clothesline. Boss Man doesn't waste time going for the big shots, spiking Hogan with a piledriver. He frees Slick from the handcuffs and splashes Hogan across the middle rope. Boss Man has Hogan in the rocking chair, landing punch after punch. He teases a piledriver near the ropes, but Hogan back-drops him over the top rope. Slick with another distraction. Hogan ducks a clothesline but runs into a spine-buster. Hogan starts no-selling Boss Man's strikes. He hits the big boot, knocking Boss Man to the floor. Boss Man pulls Hogan out and sends him to the post. The handcuffs come into play again, with both of Hogan's wrists cuffed. The referee sees the handcuffs and just shrugs, like this is perfectly legal activities. Boss Man should've cuffed the hands BEHIND Hogan's back, but then Hogan would be royally screwed. Whip to the corner and Boss Man straddles himself on a missed dive. Hogan powers up and breaks the handcuffs. Clothesline and leg drop finishes at 9:22. I didn't expect a clean finish, nor did I expect the handcuffs to be broken. Good match with zero resting. ***

WWF Women's Championship Match:
Rockin' Robin (c) vs. The Sensational Sherri:

Even in 1989, the women were the piss break match. Kal Rudman notes we haven't seen women or midgets in quite a while at the Spectrum. Sherri goes to the body and sends Robin into the corner. Robin blocks the turnbuckle in the opposite corner and sends Sherri around the ring. Too bad this isn't contested under strap match rules. Robin with a clothesline, but Sherri gets to the ropes at two. Crisscross and Sherri bails out. Sherri jaws at the crowd and gets rolled up for a one-count. Sherri is the QUEEN of getting up at one based on a steady body of work that I've sat through. Robin works the arm until missing an elbow. Sherri prematurely celebrates and misses an elbow as well. Robin gives Sherri a spin-out on a wristlock. Whip is reversed and Robin with a shoulder block. Crisscross and Robin smacks the ears. Sherri forces a break in the corner and drives a knee into the midsection. Robin gets dumped out, which probably doesn't help with the scattered chants of boring. Some dingus hops the rail and is immediately taken care of. Sherri tries knocking Robin off the apron and ends up taking a spill over the top rope. Robin drags Sherri in by the hair and drops her as she has her feet on the ropes. Whip and Robin with a spinning elbow for almost a two-count. Robin throws chops in the corner and connects with a powerslam for two. Sherri counters a back body-drop with a boot to the chest. Sherri with shoulders to the body, ignoring Hebner's count multiple times. On the third sequence, Robin climbs the ropes and surprises Sherri with a sunset flip for three at 9:20. No heat and a lot of shtick. *

Hercules vs. King Haku:

This almost feels like a warm-up show for WrestleMania V. Hercules' feud with Ted Dibiase was already in the rear view, so he gets to linger without direction in the mid-card for the next year-plus before a desperately needed heel turn in the Summer of 1990. Haku is in no rush to make the first move. Eventually, they lockup into the corner and Hercules gives a clean break. Another lockup and Haku gives the break after teasing uncertainty. Hercules avoids a cheap shot but misses an elbow. Haku charges into a knee and Hercules comes off the middle rope with an elbow. Haku throws chops to break a wristlock. Crisscross and they meet in the middle for a body press, with Hercules landing on top for a two-count. Hercules ducks a right hand and connects with an atomic drop. Haku cuts Hercules off with a low headbutt and uses the trunks to send Hercules out of the ring. Haku brings him back in with a suplex for two. Snap mare out of the corner and Haku grabs a chin-lock. Hercules fights free with elbows, but Haku cuts him off again with a rake of the eyes and follows with an inverted atomic drop. Hercules fights out of a bearhug and the two trade blows. Haku with a headbutt and slam, but a splash meets knees. WHAM-O. Hercules avoids a charge into the corner and throws a series of rights and lefts. Whip to the ropes, Hercules with a fist to the body, followed by a running knee lift. Whip and a BAAAAAACK body-drop. He lays into Haku with a pair of clotheslines but is caught with his head down attempting another back body-drop. Hercules quickly regains control, grabbing a Full Nelson, but Haku breaks the hold with a little momentum shift. I'm guessing the fingers weren't locked. Haku desperately grabs Hercules' chain and whacks him with it for the Disqualification at 13:27. These two would have a better, shorter match at WrestleMania. *¼

WWF Tag Team Championship; No Disqualification Match:
Demolition (c) vs. The Powers of Pain (w/ Mr. Fuji):

Final match of the card (Hogan vs. Boss Man was the Main Event). See what I mean about my warm-up WrestleMania V card? PRISM spells Fuji's name as "Fugi", which I'm sure is the correct spelling for something, but not this. Barbarian attacks Ax from behind thanks to a distraction from the Warlord, but Ax turns it around and punishes Barbarian with axe-handles. Smash tags in for the double-team treatment and immediately grabs the chin-lock. Ax with a snap mare and a chin-lock of his own. Barbarian avoids a charge in the corner and puts Smash down with a big chop. Warlord with clubbing blows to keep the trend going. Barbarian with a whip and big boot. Smash blocks a second boot and throws Barbarian off his feet. Ax with a whip and clothesline for two. The referee ushers Smash from the ring, allowing the Powers to double-team Ax in the corner. Barbarian with a back breaker before slapping on a bearhug. Warlord in and he grabs the same hold. This match is boring me to sleep. Ax surprises Warlord with a clothesline and tags in Smash. He runs wild with right hands and slams. This crowd is surprisingly dead for Demolition. Hot Shot to Warlord but Barbarian saves. They hit a modified Hart Attack on Smash, but this time Ax saves. Ax and Warlord brawl on the floor while Barbarian whacks Smash repeatedly with the cane. Ax intercepts it, smashes it across the Warlord as he's climbing on the apron, and the referee finishes counting him out at 7:39. Wow, what a terrible finish to a boring match. ¼*

Final Thoughts: I'd say this was a better show than what Boston got that day, though it isn't a huge difference in quality, just lucky that half the card wasn't contenders for worst matches of 1989. I've long mentioned the Spectrum shows were my least favorite, mostly due to the poor work on commentary. If you're a hardcore fan, this is a historic "final broadcast" appearance at the building, otherwise, Hogan vs. Boss Man was done better elsewhere, and the rest is poor man's WrestleMania V.

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