WWF at Madison Square Garden - February 22, 1988
by Scrooge McSuck
Obviously, we're from New York City with this one. We're just a few weeks removed from the Main Event special that saw Andre The Giant "pin" Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title, then hand it over to Ted Dibiase, only for the title to be declared vacant because a title cannot be given to another wrestler. Yes, we know this rule has been broken a lot since this angle, but let's just pretend it's important and march on.
- Commentary is being handled by Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes. This isn't too much of a factor, because the quality of this video is pretty bad, and the audio is low enough that I'm having trouble listening for the bells, so bare with me when it comes to match times, as if that really matters.
- The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond) vs. King Harley Race & Iron Mike Sharpe (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Odd choice for an opening match, with poor Harley Race put into a throw-away tag match with a Jobber replacing his originally scheduled partner, Hercules. The Rougeaus weren't really doing anything at this point, and it wasn't until after Wrestlemania IV when they started their slow-burn heel turn. Jacques and Race start the match for their teams with, you guessed it, a lockup. Irish whip, and Jacques connects with a dropkick, followed by a double-team dropkick from the Rougeaus. Jacques takes Race over with an arm drag then applies an armbar. Raymond tags in and works the armbar as well. Race tries to slam Raymond to break the hold, but Raymond won't let go, like a woman at a purse sale. Sharpe gets the tag in an is quickly taken down with a drop toe hold. Jacques works over the leg of Sharpe, who sells everything like he's being murdered and/or sodomized, your decision, Raymond tags back in and it's wish-bone time. The Rougeaus work over Sharpe with a boring toe hold. This just drags on for a while. Sharpe eventually tags out, allowing Race to take control of the match, nailing Jacques with a clothesline, followed by an elbow drop for a two count. Race connects with a piledriver, then drops a knee across the forehead for another two count. Sharpe tags back in and does his usual shitty offense. Race tags back in and nails Jacques with a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Irish whip, and Race with a clothesline. Sharpe is back in, and he back drops Jacques for a two count. Irish whip, and Jacques comes back with a sunset flip for a two count as well. Sharpe takes control again with a knee to the head, then does some choking. Sharpe with a snapmare, and it's time to go to... a chinlock. Race tags in and plants Jacques with a belly-to-belly suplex for a two count. Sharpe with a scoop slam, but he misses an elbow. Raymond finally gets the hot tag, and he hammers away. Raymond with dropkicks to both opponents, followed by a back drop on Sharpe. Irish whip, and Raymond catches him in a sleeper hold. It's all hell breaking loose time! The Rougeaus whip the heels into each other, and Race is clotheslined out of the ring. Rougeau Bomb time for Sharpe, and it's over at 9:26. ** An okay match, but I grossly overrated this one the first time through. I guess I was feeling very generous, or something. Just seemed to drag a little too much, but everyone seemed game for it, even Sharpe.
- George "The Animal" Steele vs. Sika:
Why? That's all I can say. George Steele was doing nothing at this point, although he was given a life-support technique known as "Mine" (Editor's Note: MINE came around June 1988. But we're probably confusing MINe with the other WWF lovable plush mascot of the era-- the Matilda stuffed animal), but Sika was just done for, working primarily as a JTTS ever since the departure of Kamala in the summer of '87. Sika won't let Steele into the ring, punching him off the apron every time Steele attempts to enter. Steele eventually makes it in the ring and starts biting, then sends Sika out of the ring. Sika pulls Steele out of the ring and rams him into a padded chair. Sika continues to keep Steele out of the ring, so Steele starts tossing chairs into the ring. Sika grabs a chair and swings, but hits himself somehow and Steele makes the cover for a three count at 2:49. Are you kidding me?! -* Trust me, it felt like an eternity with all the pre-bell nonsense. What was even the point of this match? Afterwards, Steele takes control of Lord Alfred's head-set, then promptly destroys it for whatever reason. Total waste of time.
- Ken Patera vs. Demolition Ax (w/ Mr. Fuji):
Interesting match, to say the least. Billy Jack Haynes and Patera had beef with Demolition towards the tail-end of 1987, but Haynes left the company not long before this show, so now everything seems pointless. We're informed that Demolition and Strike Force had just been signed for Wrestlemania IV. This is a rare singles match for Ax, as it seemed every time that there was a member of Demolition wrestling in singles, it always seemed to be Smash (see: all the Primetime specials leading up to PPV's). Bobby Heenan joins the broadcast team for whatever reasons. Lockup to start, and we get a clean-ish break. Lockup again, this time Ax gives Patera a shove. Patera hammers away on Ax, then knocks him out of the ring with a back elbow. Patera applies a wristlock, then drives a series of elbows to the shoulder. Ax counters with a hip toss, but Patera holds onto the hold and adds a few knee shots to the elbow for good measure. Patera goes back to the wristlock, and continues to work the arm with this kind of offense. Patera makes the mistake of going after Fuji, allowing Ax to nail him from behind with an axehandle. Patera doesn't give Ax much, and quickly rams him into the ring post and security rail. Back in the ring, and Patera comes off the top with a forearm across the back of the neck. Patera must forget he's the babyface, because he's choking Ax now, on top of dominating the whole match. Irish whip to the corner, and Patera gets a nice breakfast of Ax's boot. Ax stomps away on the previously injured arm of Patera, and Fuji adds some shots with his cane behind the referee's back, just because he can. Irish whip, and Ax connects with an elbow, but misses a headbutt. Patera whips Ax to the corner and follows him in with a clothesline. Patera rams Ax to the buckle and nails him with another clothesline. Patera has the Full Nelson applied, but Fuji runs into the ring and gets the hold slapped on him, instead. This draws out Smash to distract Patera, allowing Ax to clothesline him from behind and roll him up for the three count at 7:27. * Not the worst match in history, but definitely not a good one, either. Demolition work over Patera until, of all people, the Junkyard Dog makes the save, and now we've got...
- Junkyard Dog (w/ Ken Patera) vs. Demolition Smash (w/ Mr. Fuji & Ax):
Although we've jumped right into the match, they still take the time to break things up for formal introductions, at least. I have a feeling Junkyard Dog is subbing for Billy Jack here, otherwise I have no reasoning behind the inclusion of JYD in these shenanigans. Lockup, and Smash quickly grabs a headlock. Slugfest time, won by Smash, surprisingly. Irish whip is reversed, and JYD takes Smash over with a hip toss, then nails him with a headbutt. Patera threatens Smash, because that's the classy babyface thing to do. I'm surprised that Patera wasn't fed to the Big Boss Man, it would've been a natural transition. Smash hammers away on JYD, then throws some choking in to change it up. Irish whip to the corner is reversed, and JYD nails the sloppiest clothesline this side of Outback Jack. Whip again, but JYD misses a charge. Smash with a clothesline, followed by several forearms to the chest. Smash with a slam, followed by an elbow drop for a two count. Smash applies a chinlock, but it doesn't last too long. Irish whip, and we get a double clothesline spot. JYD connects with a headbutt, but gets near the ropes and Ax trips him up. Patera returns the favor on Smash, allowing JYD to nail Smash with his chain and cover for the three count at 3:44.Why are the babyfaces wrestling like total heels against Demolition? 1/2* Not much of a match, but at least it was kept short.
- Intermission time, and it's just a bunch of interviews conducted by Craig DeGeorge. We hear from Dino Bravo and his manager Frenchy Martin, Jake Roberts, Bam Bam Bigelow and his manager Oliver Humperdink, and finally Jim Duggan. I'm sorry, but only one of these guys was worth listening to, so it's fast forward time.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin):
..No real reason for this one, just something for both men to do, I guess. Both men ended up taking part of the Championship Tournament, and both men ended up being eliminated in the 1st Round. If only the world were allowed to see a tournament finals between Jake and Dino for the WWF Title. Lockup to start, and Bravo shoves Roberts hard to the corner. Lockup #2, and Roberts lets Bravo's own momentum put him face-down on the canvas. Roberts with a side headlock, then he turns it into an armbar. Bravo counters with a hip toss, then celebrates. Roberts works the armbar again, then a wristlock. Bravo tries to counter again, but this time Jake keeps the hold applied and wrings him out like laundry. Roberts with a hammerlock, followed by knees to the elbow. The crowd is chanting DDT, but it's going to be a while to see that. Bravo pulls the hair, but Roberts keeps working him over. Roberts pulls the hair in retatiation, and the crowd appreciates that one. Bravo applies his own wristlock, followed by a series of chops. Irish whip, and Roberts comes back with a running knee lift. Roberts goes for the DDT, but Bravo escapes and rolls out of the ring. Back in the ring, and Roberts goes back to work on the arm. Bravo escapes with an elbow to the face, but Roberts continues to out-fox him. Bravo boots Roberts in the midsection, then hammers away. Roberts escapes a slam attempt and jabs away, knocking Bravo down next to his bag containing Damian, and of course, Bravo freaks the hell out. We start getting a bit of stalling, as Bravo hides outside the ring after another failed DDT attempt. Bravo must be having an off day, as the "sneak up from behind while opponent goes after your manager" spot doesn't work for him, either. Back in the ring, and Bravo finally clobbers Roberts to take control. Bravo connects with a nasty jumping piledriver for a two count. Bravo drags Roberts barely living body to the center of the ring and applies a sleeper hold, but then turns it into a regular chinlock. Bravo hammers away on Roberts with forearms across the back of the head. Bravo applies a head scissors, then uses this position to slam Roberts' face into the canvas for a two count. Irish whip to the corner, and then back across the ring, complete with the usual Roberts sell-job for it. Bravo chokes Roberts under the bottom rope, then drops a headbutt for a two count. Thats twice Roberts used the ropes to escape defeat. Bravo goes back to the chinlock. Bravo heads to the second rope, and connects with a double axehandle for another two count, broken up with Jake putting his foot on the ropes. Bravo goes back to the chinlock, but Roberts keeps trying to fight free. Bravo drops an elbow for a two count, and it's back to the chinlock. Bravo lets go, thinking it's over, and covers for another two count. Roberts comes back with a jaw-buster, followed by a series of his signature jabs. Irish whip and Roberts with a fist to the midsection, followed by the short-arm clothesline. Jake goes for the DDT, but Martin trips him up. Roberts with more jabs to Bravo. Roberts comes off the ropes with a sunset flip for a two count, but the bell suddenly rings at 19:23, and it's a Time Limit Draw. Oh well, close enough, I guess. After the match, Roberts ties Bravo up in the ropes, then torments Frenchy Martin with Damian. ** Another match I seriously overrated the first time, but I still enjoyed a lot of the spots, even if it was dulled down by the resting towards the end. Not nearly the match I was expected from these two, something in the bottom of the barrel department.
- Bam Bam Bigelow vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):
Here we go with some top of the card material. Again, both men will be entering the Tournament to crown an undisputed champion at Wrestlemania IV. Before the match, Dibiase cuts a promo, claiming responsibility for the death of Hulkamania. Bigelow attacks from behind (damn babyfaces!) and rams Dibiase into all the corners of the ring, then sends him out of the ring with an atomic drop. Back in the ring, and Bigelow rakes the eyes. Dibiase chops away on Bigelow, but Bigelow comes back with a clothesline, followed by a series of forearms and a shoulder block. Irish whip, and Bigelow knocks Dibiase out of the ring with a back elbow. Dibiase with a lot of stalling.. lockup, and Dibiase with a knee to the midsection, followed by some clubbering. Bigelow fights back until a rake of the eyes stops him. Whip to the corner, and Bigelow bulldozes Dibiase with a shoulder block. Bigelow with an atomic drop. Whip to the corner is reversed, but Dibiase runs into a boot from Bigelow. Bigelow pounds away and plants Dibiase with a slam. Bigelow gets close to the ropes, allowing Virgil to trip him up. Dibiase rams Bigelow face-first into the canvas, then starts choking away. Irish whip, and Dibiase connects with a clothesline. Dibiase heads to the top rope, and connects with an axehandle. Irish whip, and Dibiase knocks Bigelow out of the ring with the power of the punch. Back in the ring, and Dibiase connects with a knee lift for a two count, then applies a chinlock. Bigelow fights back with elbows, but a rake of the eyes stops that comeback and Dibiase goes back to the chinlock. Bigelow finally escapes, then rams Dibiase into the turnbuckle a bunch of times. Irisih whip to the corner, and Bigelow follows in with shoulders to the midsection. Bigelow with a scoop slam, then goes for his signature slingshot splash, but Virgil prevents it. Bigelow goes for Virgil, allowing Dibiase to ram him into the ring post, then roll back in for the Count-Out victory at 11:04. *1/2 Incredibly disappointing match. I was expecting a lot more from two of the more talented wrestlers on the roster at the time. Really hate all the cheap finishes, too.
- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. "The Outlaw" Ron Bass:
I'm not going to look forward to this one. Don't know if these two were doing anything at the time. Duggan had just ended his program with Race, and Bass really didn't do much until his program with Beefcake later in the year. Bass attacks before the bell and pounds away on Duggan. Duggan avoids an elbow drop, then connects with a scoop slam. Duggan goes for his signature clothesline fairly early, but Bass rolls out of the ring to avoid it. Back in the ring, and the two exchange blows. Duggan with an atomic drop, followed by a clothesline, sending Bass back out of the ring. Bass tosses a chair in the ring, but Duggan catches it and sits down in the middle of the ring. More stalling from Bass. Duggan applies a wristlock, then works over the arm for a bit. Bass sends Duggan out of the ring, then rams him into the security railing. Duggan appears to have a bunch of drool in his beard. I guess it's not as bad as his snot bubble from Wrestlemania V. Bass pounds away and connects with a piledriver for a two count. Irish whip, and Duggan with an ugly sunset flip for a two count. Bass with some choking. Irish whip, and Bass with a clothesline. Bass applies an abdominal stretch, and yes, he uses the ropes for leverage. Duggan escapes with a hip toss, but misses an elbow. Duggan surprises Bass with a small package for a two count. Bass applies a chinlock, but Duggan isn't even selling it, thanks to the camera getting right up in his face. Duggan 'Tards up and hammers on Bass with rights and lefts. Duggan with a shoulder block for a two count, and now he works the rest-holds. The action "spills" out of the ring, but it's so sloppy, you couldn't tell what they were doing. They brawl around the ring, then get back inside for more punchy-kicky crap. Irish whip is reversed, and Duggan nails a clothesline. Bass comes back and starts choking Duggan with Miss Betsy. Duggan fights free and grabs the 2x4, then nails Bass, and we STILL don't have a bell ring. The action heads outside AGAIN, and finally, we get a double count-out at 15:16. Yes, 15-minutes for this garbage. -** Just an awful match that should've been left off the card. I feel bad for Bass, because he wasn't that bad, but God damn, both of these guys looked like shit here.
- Howard Finkel runs down Wrestlemania IV, since there won't be another card until after the PPV, I guess. The entire card seems to be set in stone, with the exception being the Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules, which was only being set up on T.V. shortly after this show took place.
- The Ultimate Warrior & Don Muraco vs. Butch Reed & King Kong Bundy (w/ Slick):
Who came up with these tag teams? It's really a shame to think where everyone's status was within the company at this point. Don Muraco was floundering as a babyface, King Kong Bundy was shown the door only a few weeks later, and Butch Reed was barely above JTTS status, and would be gone from the company as well. Even Warrior was doing nothing at this point, still refining the quirks behind the character. In a sign of team unity, the babyfaces run to the ring like a couple of morons. Warrior and Bundy brawl while Muraco rams Reed to the buckle. Muraco and Warrior pull off a battering ram with the heels' heads, and Muraco drops an elbow on Reed, knocking him out of the ring. Muraco brings him back in with a sling shot, and a double clothesline to Reed puts him down again. Lockup and Reed applies a side headlock. Irish whip, and Warrior introduces Reed to his fist. Muraco with an atomic drop, and Warrior rams Reed into the buckle. Bundy tags in, but the faces continue to use their opponents as weapons against each other. Warrior works over Bundy with a wristlock, then goes to an armbar. Bundy hammers away, but that doesn't last long, and Warrior comes back with a crappy looking clothesline. Muraco tags in, and comes off the second rope with an elbow. Reed tags back in and knees Muraco to the midsection. Muraco comes back, ramming Reed into the buckle a handful of times, followed by a knee drop for a two count. Muraco with a wristlock, and it's been all babyfaces so far. Reed hammers on Muraco, but gets whipped to the corner. Muraco charges, eating boot in the process. Reed with a snapmare, followed by a reverse chinlock. Bundy tags in and pummels Muraco with his bulk. Bundy with a snapmare, followed by an elbow drop for a two count. Chinlock by Bundy, now. Reed tags in and nails Muraco with a double axehandle, followed by a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Reed goes back to the chinlock. Snapmare by Reed, followed by an elbow for another two count. Irish whip, and Muraco nails Reed with a boot to the face. Bundy tags in and pounds away on Muraco. Reed is back in, and we get a double shoulder block spot. Warrior gets the hot tag and hammers away on Reed. Everyone brawls, as usual it seems in tag matches, leading to chaos. Warrior bounces off the ropes with a cross-body on Bundy, tripping over Muraco in the process, school yard style, and thats enough for the three count at 14:48. ** A little bit too long with some unnecessary resting, but it was a fun match, I suppose. Just not what I would expect for one of the higher on the card matches.
Final Thoughts: I was far too nice about this show originally. There's a handful of good matches, but nothing spectacular, and there's two matches that are an insult to wrestling. There's a lack of main event star power here, with no championships being represented, and almost all of the top names at the time not being present. When a card needs to be stretched out by splitting up a tag team into two singles matches, you know that the card was under-booked, or something. Don't worry about tracking this show down, although the final match has one hell of a random tag team pairing.
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