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WWF at Madison Square Garden - April 25, 1988

by Scrooge McSuck

- I reviewed this one a LONG time ago, in a time when Dinosaurs weren't confined to zoos. Props to anyone who can figure out that reference. It was around the time I originally wrote a review of this show where I began tweaking my recap techniques. While I still slip into heavy PBP, I usually limit it for the "bad" or meaningless matches, because, honestly, who wants blow-for-blow paragraphs on matches I grade with a half of a star?

For those who forget, I'm obsessed with Madison Square Garden, and love recapping the old shows held there that were later broadcasted on the MSG Network, usually on a day or two tape delay. We're only a few weeks removed from Wrestlemania IV, host of quite possibly the most boring Wrestlemania of all time. We've got Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes calling the action, and with that pair, you never know what you're going to expect.

- Brady Boone vs. Steve Lombardi:
In a few sentiments I shared five years ago, I always found it odd to have such low card talent opening the show. I know that it's just standard for house show tours, but you'd think they could do a little bit better. Where's Koko B. Ware vs. Ron Bass, or something. Also I noted back when this was the FIRST time I reviewed a match of Steve Lombardi, before he adopted any of his many (lame) gimmicks. Five years later, I've reviewed a few too many, I think. Brady Boone was coming off a mild midcard push as the "Cousin" of Billy Jack Haynes, but with Haynes' sudden departure, Boone was put back into enhancement talent roles for the remainder of his time in the company. Early in the match, Gorilla Monsoon wastes no time dropping a Pat Patterson/Lombardi reference on us. See also: The Terry Garvin School of Self-Defense. Boone controls early, taking care of Lombardi with arm drags and trading off rest-holds, most of them being the armbar. Lombardi sends Boone out of the ring with a clothesline, then brings him back in with a sling shot from the apron. Lombardi with a back breaker for a two count, followed by a surprising small package for another two count. Chinlock time! After about three years of that, Boone finally escapes. Boone with a scoop slam, but a splash attempt meets the knees of Lombardi. Boone surprises Lombardi with a victory roll, but that only gets a two count. They exchange blows in the corner, with Lombardi using under-handed tactics to take control. Whip to the corner and Boone misses a charge. Lombardi goes for a suplex, but Boone blocks it and snaps off his own, and both men are down and out. Boone is up first, and nails Lombardi with a spinning heel kick and running knee lift. Irish whip is reversed, and Boone comes off the ropes with a diving back elbow. Boone snaps off another suplex, then heads to the top, but Lombardi knocks him off balance and takes him over with super-plex. It wasn't as exciting as it should, if you're wondering. Stuff happens until Boone finally puts Lombardi away with a German suplex at 14:56. * Incredibly long and boring, with very little flow. The wrestling was okay, I guess, but that was just too much time to devote to such a low-card match. Boone kept doing nothing, but Lombardi would be repackaged by the beginning of 1989 as the Brooklyn Brawler, Bobby Heenan's answer to the face turn of The Red Rooster. Feud of The Year!

- Arm-Wrestling Challenge:
Ken Patera vs. Dino Bravo:

I don't like the looks of this. After the arm-wrestling contest, we're supposed to have a match between the two. Keyword: supposed... to. Okay, that's two words, so sue me. Frenchy Martin is absent, and that makes no sense, because even if there were other shows going on with the WWF's roster, he only managed Bravo, and would they be that desperate for roster depth as to have him on a different tour to wrestle as a JTTS? Speaking of JTTS, we have Ken Patera, who's fire burned out once he tore a muscle in his arm and lost all the heat built up for his feud with the Heenan Family. If this weren't rigged, Dino Bravo would have to be the favorite, considering Patera looks like someone's out-of-shape, middle-aged dad. This nonsense goes on for a while until, shockingly, Bravo gets frustrated and beats the crap out of Patera to the point that their match never takes place, with Bravo being announced as the winner via forfeit. Well, by any means necessary, right?

- Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Bad News Brown:
And now some old school Stampede fans start getting excited. Flashback to Wrestlemania IV. Bad News Brown and Bret Hart work together to take the JYD out and making themselves the final two in the ring. Brown double-crosses Bret and tosses him out fairly easily to win the match. Bret, poor sport of 1988, jumps Brown afterwards and smashes the trophy he was awarded for winning the match. Bret hasn't officially turned face, because of his connections still with Neidhart and the fact Jimmy Hart was still their manager, but he might as well be considered one at this point. Brown jumps Bret before the bell and pounds away. Irish whip, and Brown takes Hart over with a hip toss. Irish whip, and this time Bret takes Brown over with a hip toss, then follows with a slam. Irish whip, and a Hitman elbow sends Brown out of the ring. Back in the ring, and Brown takes control, then sends Hart hard into the buckle. Whip to the corner, but Bret fights back and hammers away. Hart takes Brown over with a hip toss, followed by a scoop slam and elbow drop. Brown charges and gets thrown out of the ring for his troubles. Hart slingshots Brown back in, and now he's begging for some mercy. Bret doesn't fall for the tactics, though, and nails Brown with an atomic drop, followed by a series of uppercuts. Whip to the corner, and Bret runs right into a boot from Bad News. Brown heads to the top rope, but Bret manages to slam him off. Bret with a boot to the chest, followed by an inverted atomic drop. Bret connects with a leg drop, then comes off the second rope with an elbow. Bret tries for a back breaker, but Brown thumbs the eyes to break it up. Brown comes out of the corner with a stiff clothesline, then connects with an elbow drop. Brown hammers away with rights then drops a knee across the chest. Brown chokes Hart across the top rope, then uses the rope to leverage Bret back into the center of the ring. Brown with a scoop slam, followed by a fist drop. Brown with an elbow across the chest, then takes the action out of the ring, slamming Hart on the arena floor. Back in the ring, and Brown whips Bret hard into the turnbuckle. Whip to the corner is reversed, and this time Brown takes a hard bump. Bret comes off the second rope, missing an elbow drop. Brown continues to punish the Hitman with his usual offense. Brown with a leg drop for a two count. A little surprised to see leg drops being used, considering their #1 face in the company uses it as a finisher. Brown with a series of headbutts for another two count. Brown with a scoop slam, then heads to the top rope. Good camera work, as Brown's actions are tracked, and the end result is missing his target. Bret hammers away on Brown, then takes him over with a back drop. Hart continues pounding away, then drops an elbow. Bret with a back breaker for a two count. Bret tosses Brown out of the ring, and follows out with a forearm from the apron. Hart with a slam on the outside of the ring, then he brings Brown back into the ring with a suplex. Hart with an elbow drop for another two count. Hart with a dropkick, followed by a snapmare, but he misses an elbow drop. Brown hammers on Hart with rights. Irish whip is reversed, and Hart takes Brown over with a monkey flip for a two count. Irish whip, and Bret boots Brown in the midsection. They exchange blows until Brown tosses Hart out of the ring. Brown goes for a piledriver, but Bret counters with a back drop. Back in the ring, and Bret nails his signature piledriver, but that only gets a two count... and then the bell rings for a Time Limit Draw at an odd time of 18:35. Never heard of that time limit before. I guess they went home too early. Bret continues to punish Brown after the match, because he can. ***1/2 Really good match, but I hate TLD's. There was a little bit of stalling in the beginning, but once things got going, the action was practically non-stop. It didn't hurt that the crowd was really into it, too. I guess that's what good wrestling does to people.

- Bam Bam Bigelow vs. One Man Gang:
Here we go with a Wrestlemania Rematch, and we're going to be seeing a lot of them the rest of the show. For those who forgot, the Gang won that match, because the referee counted Bigelow out of the ring, despite being on the apron, and the Gang practically kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow uses his agility to avoid the Gang, but he can't be that nimble, if the stories of how bad his knees were at the time are true. Lockup into the corner, and they take it around the ring with no one taking clear advantage. Bigelow grabs a headlock, and a shoulder block leaves both men standing in place. Bigelow comes off the ropes with another shoulder block, followed by a series of headbutts. Bigelow works the arm with a wristlock, then takes Gang down to the canvas, where things come to a screetching hault. Bigelow with a series of headbutts to the arm, then goes back to the armbar. Irish whip and Bigelow tries for a sunset flip, but the Gang blocks and squashes Bigelow instead. Gang with some choking, followed by the typical fat-man offense of crushing the opponent in the corner. Bigelow tries a comeback, but gets thumbed in the eyes and choked some more. Irish whip, and the Gang connects with a clothesline, then goes to the single most devestating hold ever invented... the vulcan neck pinch. Bigelow fights free with elbows and it's fistifcuffs time! Irish whip is reversed, but Bigelow nails the Gang with a boot and follows with a diving clothesline. Bigelow puts Gang down with a shoulder block, but ends up being thrown out of the ring. Bigelow comes back in and rams the Gang to the buckle... and keeps ramming him. The ramming continues, until the referee DISQUALIFIES Bigelow at 9:09 for the excessive nature of the move. I can honestly say I have NEVER seen that finish as an excuse for a DQ, ever. DUD This match sucked, and just like at Wrestlemania IV, the finish was trying to set a new standard for retarded finishes. Bigelow was gone from the WWF by the Summer, and the Gang was quickly forcec into accepting his African-American heritage and became Akeem.

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

The second Wrestlemania rematch of the night, and at least this one has the potential to tear the house down. For those who forgot, these two met in the finals of the Championship Tournament, and with a little help from Hulk Hogan, Savage over-came the odds and pinned Dibiase to become the UNDISPUTED Champion of the World Wrestling Federation. We're only weeks into this program and it's the middle of the card, so expect a screw-job finish for Dibiase, probably by Count-Out. Savage goes after Virgil before the bell, allowing Dibiase to nail him from behind with an axehandle. Dibiase rams Savage into the ring apron, and in return, Savage introduces Dibiase to the post. Into the ring we go, and Savage sends Dibiase back out with an atomic drop. Savage heads to the top rope, but Virgil is blocking the desired path of Savage, i.e, right in front of Dibiase. Savage pulls Dibiase back onto the apron and jerks the arm across the top rope. Savage heads outside again, and rams Dibiase's elbow into the ring post. Back in the ring, and Savage works a wristlock. Irish whip, and Savage connects with a shoulder block, followed by a running bionic elbow. Savage goes back to the wristlock, but Dibiase fights free. Whip to the corner, but Dibiase misses a charge. Savage stomps away on Dibiase, then chokes him. Dibiase uses the Macho Man's tights for leverage to toss him out of the ring, then follows him out and uses the security rail to his advantage. Back in the ring, and Dibiase comes off the ropes with an elbow drop for a two count. Dibiase with some choking, followed by a clothesline for another two count. Savage tries for a comeback, but Dibiase takes him over with a suplex for a two count. Savage surprises Dibiase with a small package for a two count of his own, but Dibiase is up fast and stomps away on the still groggy champion. Irish whip is reversed, and Savage blocks a sunset flip attempt, then takes Dibiase over with a suplex. Dibiase regains control and quickly traps Savage in... a reverse chinlock. Savage fights to his feet, but a yank of the hair keeps him grounded. Savage is back up again, and this time he rams Dibiase face first into the buckle. Dibiase is up first and slams Savage, but misses the second rope elbow that always misses. Whip across the ring, and Savage connects with a back elbow. Savage drops Dibiase across the top rope, then follows with his signature axehandle smash. Savage misses a charge, and we get a referee bump. Savage with a clothesline, then he heads to the top rope. Virgil trips him up, causing Savage to fall to the outside, where he's eventually counted-out at 11:59. That was predictable, to say the least. **1/2 Entertaining match, but nothing to write home about. Their matches around the house show circuit grew increasingly better, especially their cage matches. This was just the opening act to months worth of matches the two would have.

- Jose Luis Rivera vs. Barry Horowitz:
We come back from intermission, and we've got this. I guess it could be worse, right? Horowitz hung around, working as a scrub on the weekend shows for about seven years before getting his "big" push in 1995 where he finally won a match (Note: Obviously, he won matches on these shows, but just be quiet and agree for now). Rivera, unmasked, was just a jobber, but with masks on, he was even more of a Jobber. Rivera would compete under masks as members of the Conquistadors and (I think) the Shadows throughout the late 80's. Lockup to start, and we get a clean break. Irish whip is reversed, and Rivera takes Horowitz over with a back drop. Irish whip to the corner, and Rivera takes Horowitz down with a series of hip tosses, then goes to a wristlock. Rivera continues the trend, trading off rest-holds in-between countless uses of the hip toss and arm drag, depending on the mood of the moment. Seriously, there's about eight times where I could've typed "hip toss, back to the armbar". Horowitz eventually takes control, and rams Rivera to the buckle. Horowitz takes Rivera over with a gut-wrench suplex for a two count. 3/4-Nelson pin attempt by Horowitz gets another two count. Horowitz wiith a front facelock, but Rivvera escapes and takes him over with a back slide for a two count of his own. Horowitz with a rake of the eyes, then rakes the eyes of Rivera across the top rope. Rivera surprises Horowitz with a small package for a two count, and Horowitz takes Rivera over with a victory roll for yet another two count. Irish whip, and Horowitz connects with a back breaker. Horowitz heads to the top rope, but gets slammed off for his troubles. Rivera with a suplex, followed by a knee drop for a two count. Rivera knocks Horowitz out of the ring with a dropkick. Back inside, and Rivera remains in control. Rivera sweeps the legs from under Horowitz and sends him into the corner. Irish whip, and Rivera misses a dropkick. Horowitz connects with a Russian leg sweep, and that's enough for a three count at 10:40. Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins! 1/2* Long and boring match, but Horowitz was a much better wrestler than this match gives him credit for... it was Rivera that sucks ass.

- WWF Women's Championship Match:
The Sensastional Sherri vs. Desiree Peterson:

Not that I hate women's wrestling, but the WWF's ladies division in the late 80's was pretty god damn awful. I dare everyone to sit through, say, a Rockin' Robin match and not have the urge to gouge your eyes out. If it didn't involve the tag team of the Jumping Bomb Angels, just fast-forward and don't look back. Don't know who Peterson is, but she's introduced being from Edmonton, Alberta... like that matters. Lockup to start, and Sherri gives a clean break to the surprise of everyone. Sherri tries for a sneaky handshake, but Peterson counters (yes, counters a handshake) and connects with a cross body for a quick two count. Peterson with a wristlock, followed by dropping a leg across the arm and switching off to an armbar. Sherri uses the hair to escape and hides in the ropes to piss the crowd off. Sherri nails Peterson with an axehandle, but Peterson remains in control. Irish whip, and Peterson with a back drop and scoop slam for a one count. Peterson goes back to the wristlock and I'm just bored out of my mind. Peterson catches Sherri off guard with a roll up for a two count. Irish whip, and Peterson with an 0.7 on the Erik Watts scale of ugly dropkicks for another two count. Sherri comes back and puts Peterson down with a shoulder block. Criss-cross sequence, and Peterson with a monkey flip and scoop slam for a two count. Sherri rams Peterson to the buckle, then tosses her out of the ring. Irish whip, and we get a double clothesline. Peterson tries to put Sherri away, but Sherri casually slams her face first into the canvas, and THAT gets a three count at 7:32. 1/2* There was very little chemistry here, with no real flow. It just seemed like two people doing whatever they wanted until someone finally said enough and told them to take it home.

- The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules:
The classics keep coming, as we've got our third Wrestlemania Rematch, and we're not even at the end of the card, yet. For those who forgot, their Wrestlemania match was originally set-up on an episode of Wrestling Challenge, when the Warrior and Hercules snapped the chain in half in a weird impromptu tug-of-war with it. They then proceeded to have a stinker of a match at Wrestlemania. Warrior steals Hercules chain before the bell and swings it around like a maniac. They go face-to-face to argue over who gets a needle in the ass later in the bathroom. We get some shoving, and Warrior does some posing. Lockup, and we get a clean break. Lockup again, and Hercules fails to shove Warrior back. Hercules with a hammerlock, but Warrior no-sells and tries to counter, but Hercules pulls him down with a yank of the hair. Lockup, and they fight over a hammerlock again. Since I'm bored senseless, it's a Vladimir siting! We get some stalling (a Family Sized Portion of it). Irish whip is reversed, and we're at a stale mate again. Hercules tries to boot Warrior, but it's blocked, and Warrior throws him down. Whip to the corner, and Hercules nails a clothesline, but that's no sold. Hercules tries to whip Warrior to the clothesline, but it's blocked, and Warrior floors Hercules with his own clothesline. Hercules uses the tights for leverage to toss Warrior out of the ring. Hercules takes control, and kills time with the ever wonderful forced knuckle-lock. Because that's what this match needed to make it more exciting. Warrior fights back, but Hercule smakes Bobby Heenan proud with a rake of the eyes. Hercules makes me less proud by going to a bearhug to kill a few more minutes. Warrior escapes, but Hercules nails a clothesline for a two count. Hercules with a snapmare and elbow drop for another two count. Irish whip, and a double shoulder block puts both men down, with Warrior falling on top for a near fall. Hercules with another clothesline for two. Warrior with a powerslam for a two count. Warrior goes into his fit of rage, and it ends with a press slam for a three count at 12:47. -** Awful. Who in their right mind would give these men that much time, when clearly neither was capable of doing ANYTHING in there to make a match out of it. Hercules could go a long time with the right opponent, but NOT Warrior.

- Howard Finkel promotes the show to be held right here, at Madison Square Garden, on May 27th. Among the matches announced is a rematch between Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase, a 6-Man Tag featuring the British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware taking on the Islanders and Bobby Heenan, the long-awaited match between Ken Patera and Dino Bravo (SARCASM!), a clash between Brutus Beefcake and the One Man Gang, the Junkyard Dog faces off with the Outlaw, Ron Bass, Don Muraco takes on Jim Neidhart, and the Young Stallions get to take on the recently dubbed Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. Get your tickets today! Doesn't sound like a great card in terms of workrate, but you never know.

- WWF Tag Team Championship Match:

Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. Strike Force:
(Ax & Smash vs. Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
We've come to the conclussion of tonights card, and it's the fourth match that is being respawned from Wrestlemania IV. I don't think these teams had a proper feud. I think it was just "Demolition is really over, so let's give them the titles", and thus got the win at Wrestlemania, kicking off the longest tag title reign in WWF/E history. It's a big brawl to start, with Martel taking care of Ax, then Strike Force putting the double team hurt on Smash. Double clotheslines for everyone, and Martel puts Ax in the Boston Crab. Smash eventually makes the save, but damn that would be pretty awesome for a title change to happen, with a sudden finish like that. No one would ever expect it. Smash misses an elbow drop, allowing Martel to take control with a wristlock. Santana tags in and connects with an elbow to the back of the head, then works the wristlock as well. Irish whip, and Santana takes Smash over with a hip toss, then goes back to the wristlock. Martel tags in, but he's quickly taken to the corner of Demolition, and Ax pounds him into ground beef. Martel manages to fight back, taking Ax over with a wristlock and dropping a leg across the elbow. Strike Force with some double teaming, but Ax rakes the eyes and tags out to Smash, who runs right into an arm drag and is caught in a wristlock by Martel. Irish whip, and Ax nails Martel from behind with a clothesline, and now it's time for Demolition to punish him. Demolition with their double pounding offense, then Ax applies a chinlock. More double teaming, and Smash tags in to connect with a back breaker for a two count. Double teaming again, and Ax with a scoop slam for another two count. Ax hammers away on Martel, getting a babyface reaction from the crowd in the process. See, Girls in Cars really was THAT bad. Ax dumps Martel out of the ring, where Smash takes advantage of the situation. Martel tries to take Smash over with a sunset flip, but Ax gets the tag and kicks him in the head for his troubles. Martel mounts a comeback, but the referee doesn't see a tag made, allowing Ax to pound Martel into Jell-o some more. Irish whip, and Martel puts him down with a back elbow. Santana gets the hot tag and nails Ax with a clothesline. Santana dominates both men, then nails Ax with a flying forearm. Everyone brawls in the ring, and during the chaos, Fuji nails Santana with his cane, allowing Smash to make the cover for a three count at 7:29, retaining the Tag Titles in the process. *** Not a scientific wrestling masterpiece, but the action was pretty much nonstop, and the crowd was really into it, especially when Demolition was in control. Much more enjoyable than the Wrestlemania match, but after watching so much Demolition from this time frame, the "use Fuji's cane" finish got old pretty quickly.

Final Thoughts: Everything here was either hit or miss. Three matches produced quality results, while a few produced the exact opposite, and everything else was just "there." Not an earth-shattering good show or anything, two of the best matches had lame finishes and can be seen on other shows with better results, and did I mention all the stuff that wasn't good? Give it a watch if you must, but I won't twist your arm or anything. It was just there. sorry to repeat that phrase twice in one Final Thought section.

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