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WWF at Madison Square Garden - October 28, 1989
by Scrooge McSuck
- It's time, once again, to hit the road to Madison Square Garden, my personal favorite location for wrestling cards, and still really dig watching these old shows from MSG. The Fall of 1989 wasn't exactly the most memorable for the WWF, and with the Survivor Series coming up in about four weeks, you would be pressed to understand who was doing what, considering the thin level of talent featured on this card. You've got the usual "main event" level stuff, but the midcard looks like a mess for tonight. With that bleak over-view, let's head to the ring...
- Gorilla Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim are calling the action. I've said it before and I'll say it again... no, this duo isn't as bad as you could imagine, Hillbilly Jim is actually pretty good in this role. I just wish we had a heel to ruffle Gorilla's feathers. We head to the ring for the opening match of the card...
Tito Santana vs. Boris Zhukov:
Well, this is a great way to start. Santana was kind of doing nothing, but he always had some sort of relevance in his never-ending saga with Rick Martel. Zhukov was relegated to Jobber thanks to the departure of Nikolai Volkoff earlier in the year, but he was still given plenty of ring time on televised cards like these. Lockup into the corner to start, and Santana gives a clean break. Another lockup, and this time Santana avoids a sucker punch. Whip to the corner, and Santana with a series of arm drags, forcing Zhukov out of the ring. Much like Monsoon would complain about Valentine "taking too long to warm up", he constantly complains about Santana not getting mad enough. Lockup, and they fight over a wristlock. Zhukov grabs the ropes and stalls some more. U-S-A chant to bother Zhukov, since it clearly isn't for Santana, who's announced from Tocula, Mexico. Greco-Roman knucklelock time, and Santana surprisingly wins. Zhukov uses his perfectly round head to bop Santana and take control. Santana fights free and stomps the hands. Lockup, and Santana works the wristlock, then quickly turns it into an armbar. Zhukov makes it to the ropes and drives a knee into the midsection. Zhukov continues working over Santana's midsection, using headbutts and stomps. Irish whip, and Zhukov connects with a clothesline for a one count. Zhukov steals a page from Haku's book and slaps on a nerve pinch. Santana with elbows to escape, but he runs into an elbow, and Zhukov covers for two. Zhukov with some clubberin' and choking, but he breaks before the five count is completed, and covers for two, again. Gorilla must be bored, because he's bringing up Hillbilly Jim's introduction into the WWF. Zhukov with a back suplex for a two count. Zhukov looks like he's massaging Santana more than anything, and Santana's "selling" makes that seem more appropriate to say. Santana fights free with elbows, and they blow something. Whip to the corner, and they almost blow another spot, but Zhukov barely gets a knee up, and covers for a two count. Zhukov calls a spot and scoops Santana up, but Santana grabs the top rope, and eventually lands on top for a two count. Santana with a small package, but that only gets two, as well. Irish whip, and Santana with a boot to the chest. Irish whip, and Santana with a back drop. Mounted punches in the corner, but only a few this time. Irish whip is reversed, and Santana with the Flying Forearm for the three count at 12:49. Crowd popped pretty big for that, surprisingly, especially since they were pretty dead for most of it. *1/2 I was willing to go higher at first, but those two sloppy spots blown back-to-back noticably interrupted the momentum of the match.
Al Perez vs. Conquistador #1:
The Conquistador is from "Somewhere in Latin America", and I noticed both guys basically came to the ring at the same time. Al Perez hung around, wrestling house shows and appearing on Primetime Wrestling, but I don't think he ever appeared on the syndicated shows. "How do they know that's not Conquistador #2?" Gorilla channeling the spirit of Bobby Heenan. Lockup, and Conquistador complains about mask pulling. Lockup, and Perez with a fireman's carry, then slaps on a wristlock. Perez with a snapmare and knee drop, before going to the armbar. Monsoon drops his usual "glad I'm retired" comment as Conquistador yanks the hair, then prances around like a Latino Rocky before grabbing a headlock. They're so bored calling the action, we get a lengthy conversation about Hillbilly Jim's GRANNY! Perez hammers away, but there's nothing really to comment on. Whip to the corner is countered with an arm drag, but Perez comes back with his own, and it's time for a timeout in the corner. Conquistador rakes the eyes and pounds away. Whip to the corner, and Conquistador runs in with an elbow. Now we're talking about Hulk Hogan. Irish whip and a knee to the midsection by the Conquistador, followed by a slam for a two count. You know it's quiet when the referee is clearly more audible than anything else. Whip to the corner, and Perez posts himself on a charge attempt. He should've used his American Express. Conquistador with a suplex for a two count. Irish whip, and Conquistador gets tossed over the top rope. Perez follows out and rams him back first into the ring apron. Perez with a slam on the baby blue gym mats, then takes it back into the ring. Delayed vertical suplex from Perez, followed by a knee drop for a two count. CHINLOCK! Irish whip, and Perez with a back elbow. Perez to the middle turnbuckle, and he comes off with a double axehandle. Perez scoops Conquistador up for what I thought was going to be a powerbomb, but he finishes it with an airplane spin, and the three count is mercifully made at 10:18. * Not very exciting, but an excellent showing of power to finish the match. The Conquistador continues selling the spin move long after the match is over.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Dino Bravo:
This could be interesting... Bret was in the middle of his second failed singles push, although the term "push" could be used very lightly, as he really didn't do much of note on his own, other than wrestle Dino Bravo every night. Bravo had most recently dumped Frenchy Martin as his manager, and traded in his boring ring trunks for ones with the Fleudelise printed across them, and adopted Jimmy Hart as his new manager. Such interesting information, don't you think? Lockup, and Bravo shoves Bret across the ring, and celebrates. Lockup #2, and Bravo slaps on a headlock as Monsoon credits Bravo for his strength, but discredits his claims of being the holder of a new bench pressing record. Irish whip, and Bravo with a shoulder tackle, followed by an inverted atomic drop. Bravo hammers away, but Bret comes off the ropes with a cross body for a two count. Bret with his own inverted atomic drop, followed by a dropkick and a pair of clotheslines, sending Bravo out of the ring for a breather. Back in the ring, and they fight over a wristlock, won by the Hitman, of course. Bret takes Bravo over with an arm drag, then bars the arm. Irish whip to escape, but Bret blocks a shoulder tackle, snaps Bravo over, and goes back to the arm. Irish whip leads to a criss-cross sequence. Bret avoids a monkey flip, then goes back to working the arm. Bravo escapes, but Bret rolls him up for a surprise two count. Bravo goes for a neck breaker, but Bret counters into a back slide for another two count. Bret slaps on a hammerlock, then takes Bravo down to the canvas. Bret ducks an elbow and takes Bravo over with a hip toss, then sends him back out of the ring with a dropkick. Bravo takes a nice walk up the aisle, but makes it back to the ring before being counted out. Bravo offers a handshake, but Bret snubs it. It wasn't even left handed! Bret spits on the second handshake offer, to a big pop. Lockup, and Bret goes back to the wristlock. Bravo takes it to the corner and boots Bret in the midsection. Bravo continues hammering away, but Bret spins it around and works over Bravo with the same offensive fluery. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Bret only gets about 80% of his usual momentum on the corner bump, allowing Bravo a two count.
Bravo stomps away, knocking Bret to the outside of the ring. Bret climbs on the apron, but Bravo shoves him back off, right into the security rail. Always a cool spot, and Bret would definitely evolve it into more painful looking scenarios over the years. Back in the ring, and Bravo connects with a gut-wrench suplex for a two count. Bravo turns Bret around and slaps on a chinlock. For some reason, the WWF On Demand bleeps Bravo talking trash to the crowd. Weird... Bravo looks like an orangatan, sitting on Bret's chest, making puffy-faced expressions. Bravo drops the weight of his body across the back of Hart and covers for a two count. Bravo picks Bret off the canvas, then chucks him through the ropes. Bret climbs back on the apron and slingshots back in for a sunset flip for a two count. Bravo throws Bret down and covers for a two count as well, then it's time for a bearhug. At least Bravo isn't just standing there like a dead slug. Bravo wrestles Bret down to the canvas, with the hold still applied. The arm drops twice, but not thrice, and it's time to fight back to his feet. Bret uses the technique of biting to break the hold, but Bravo drops a pair of knees across the back for a two count, then goes back to the bearhug. Monsoon gets on the referee's case for counting, despite Bret's shoulder not being down. Bret smashes Bravo in the face with a series of elbows to break the hold. Whip to the corner, and Bravo runs into a boot. Bret heads to the second rope, but misses an elbow drop, and Bravo covers for a two count. Bret counters a suplex, and snaps Bravo over with his own. Bret pounds away with rights, but takes a thumb to the eyes. Irish whip, and Bret boots Bravo in the chest. Irish whip, and Bret with a back drop, followed by an elbow for a two count. Irish whip, fist to the midsection, and a roll up for another two count. Bret with a small package for another two count. Hart takes Bravo off his feet and stomps the chest, then connects with a back breaker. Hart goes to the second rope again, and this time connects with the elbow, and the bell sounds at 17:30 for a time limit draw? I've never heard of that much of a detailed set time limit. Lame finish. Really lame. The match was joined slightly in progress, but only by a few seconds. Bret wants five more minutes, but that's not happening. **3/4 Surprisingly good match. As much as I ride Bravo for being a below average worker, he's had a handful of matches I found quite entertaining, and not just because it was with Hart. I did knock a little off for the lack of a finish, since Time Limit Draws were pretty lame to me, unless it was for a championship, like the NWA Television title where matches always had specific time limits and it almost always came down to the wire.
Jose Luis Rivera vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
We're really scraping right now... we just sandwiched a fairly decent match featuring an upper-midcarder and tag team guy getting a singles push, between two matches featuring Conquistadors in singles action and the Brooklyn fuckin' Brawler. I'm wondering, did Rivera work double duty here? Vladimir is rockin' a Macho Man shirt... thought everyone would like to know that. Brawler attacks before the bell and rams Rivera to the corner. Irish whip, and Brawler with a crummy clothesline, followed by a crummier elbow drop to the midsection. Hilllbilly Jim makes fun of Brawler's ring etiquette. Whip to the corner, and Brawler football charges a shoulder to the midsection. "Maybe he's looking for a job with the Jets, they could use a few players right now." Irish whip, and Estrada with a boot to the chest, followed by roundhouse rights and a dropkick. Brawler regains control and tosses Estrada through the ropes. Brawler pounds away as Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim continue to poke fun at the Brawler's appearance. Back inside, and Brawler with a snapmare and a stomp of the face for a two count. CHINLOCK! Monsoon rides him about it, too. Estrada escapes, but Brawler side-steps a charge, and Estrada lands outside the ring, again. Irish whip, and Brawler with an elbow for a two count, then goes to another chinlock. The crowd sounds like they're trying to start a "boring" chant, but they're too bored to sync up correctly. Estrada counters a suplex, but Brawler is up first, and heads to the top rope. "He doesn't have a clue" says Monsoon, and Estrada casually slams the Brawler off. Estrada with a running knee lift, followed by some clubbing blows in the corner. Irish whip, and Estrada with a dropkick for a two count. Whip to the corner, but Estrada meets a knee, and Brawler slams him face-first into the canvas for the three count at 7:33. Thank you, next please. DUD Just nothing worth a crap, and I can't award stars for the commentary bashing one of the competitors for the entire duration of the match.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage (w/ Sensational Sherri):
It's time for the pre-intermission Main Event. Savage had recently won the "title" of king from Jim Duggan, but I don't recall how that was set up, or why it just suddenly happened. It just did, and one day, they did the coronation and everyone was like "okay." The King era is probably my least favorite of Savage's, in his WWF run, that is. He seemed too obsessed with playing to the crowd and making Sherri too much of a focal point in the matches. Savage attacks before the bell, pounding away. Irish whip, and Duggan connects with a clothesline. Duggan continues to hammer away, and connects with another clothesline. Sherri tries to make the save, but Duggan sends her on her ass for it. Duggan with an atomic drop, then stupidly tries to bounce off the ropes, only to have Sherri pull the ropes down, causing him to spill out of the ring. Sherri with cheap shots, and Savage comes crashing down with a double axehandle. Back in the ring, and Savage quickly covers for a two count. Savage drops Duggan across the top rope and covers for another two count. Savage heads to the top rope for another axehandle, and that gets two. Savage with an elevated knee drop across the throat for yet another two count. Savage decides to throw finess out the window and chooses to choke. Savage heads to the second rope, but misses a splash. Duggan is up, and quickly misses an elbow drop. Savage heads to the top rope, but Duggan greets him coming down with a fist to the midsection. Duggan no-sells an eye rake and sends Savage flying over the top rope with a back drop. Duggan follows out and chucks Savage into the crowd. Duggan rams Savage into the steps and bops him with a folding chair, but doesn't get disqualified? What kind of nonsense is that?
Back in the ring, and Duggan is all over Savage like stink on a Monkey. Duggan with a scoop slam, followed by a knee drop, but the referee is distracted by Sherri. Duggan connects with one of his trademark punches, and THAT gets a two count. Duggan becomes distracted by Sherri, but is smart enough (Heh...) to avoid Savage's sneak attack, and puts him down with a shoulder tackle. Duggan charges, but Savage sends Duggan crashing into the turnbuckle. Savage connects with a clothesline, then heads to the top rope, and misses his flying elvow. Duggan with a series of clotheslines, then calls for the big one. Duggan charges and connects, but Savage goes flying out of the ring on the momentum. Duggan, once again, becomes dstracted by Sherri, and this time Savage nails him with a running high knee, and we get a referee bump in the process. Duggan counters a slam with an inside cradle, but Danny Davis is still knocked out. Duggan with an atomic drop and clothesline, but still no referee, so he counts the fall himself. Sherri manages to slip her loaded purse to Savage, and he wallops Duggan with it. The referee finally comes to, but only gets a two count out of it! Suddenly, Savage rolls Duggan up, and uses the ropes for leverage to get the three count at 16:05. Talk about anti-climactic. *** Surprisingly good match, I say that because of Jim Duggan's ability to almost never have good ones, at least not with his formula matches in the WWF. Started off a bit dull, but it slowly picked up and had a pretty good sequence towards the end before the rather lame way it ended. The whole feud with Savage over the crown might have been Duggan's last real feud, until his "swan song" of putting Yokozuna over every night for most of 1993.
- Intermission! Let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves some snacks! Sean Mooney is in the locker-room with Mr. Perfect. Mooney questions how being good, correction, perfect, at golf and ping pong is going to help him in the ring against the Superfly. Perfect's answer: Because I do everything perfectly. DUH! Next Mooney is with the Bushwhackers. They love New York, and I'm sure they were the inspiration for Madonna's song... yes, I'm going to get some flack for making a MADONNA reference. Butch starts gnawing at Mooney's tie, for whatever reason. Finally, Mooney is with Bobby Heenan and Andre, the ULTIMATE Giant! Remember that nonsense? When Andre painted his face like the Warrior, cutting some creepy promos in the process? Yeah, it wasn't that good. Andre promises to not only bring the Intercontinental title, but the TAG TEAM Championships back to the Heenan Family. Wow, forshadowing. This was a good 6 weeks before that television taping took place.
Hercules vs. Akeem:
Here we go with some intense WWF action! Hercules was already in limbo after flaming out as the next "top" babyface in the WWF, and Akeem's only value was being the Boss Man's sidekick, and that wasn't going to last much longer, either. At least we get to jam to Jive Soul Bro. Akeem is without Slick, but I've always enjoyed his ridiculous Dashiki for entrance attire. Hercules swings his chain around before the match. I mention this because it has a chance to be the highspot of the match. We get some trash talking. I guess Akeem thinks Deepest, Darkest Africa is better than Ancient Greece or something. Hercules with a series of left jabs and a roundhouse right. Hercules pounds the midsection and applies a wristlock. Akeem tries to over-power him, and uses a well placed boot to the midsection to make that dream a reality. Hercules finally gets back to his feet and they fight over a wristlock. Hercules works the arm while I find more enjoyment picking the scabs on my knee. Gorilla gloats about having the shortest and longest matches in MSG for a time, so you know he's bored shitless. Akeem fights free and chokes Hercules across the top rope. Hercules goes for a slam, but Akeem blocks it and pounds Hercules to the ground. Chinlock alert! What a dull piece of crap. Hercules with elbows, but a knee to the back puts him back down. Hercules conveniently places himself across the middle rope, allowing Akeem to splash across his back. I hate obvious spots like that. Akeem with a slam, but he misses the big splash. Hercules with his signature jabs, just as he opened the match with, then comes off the ropes with a trio of clotheslines. Hercules with mounted punches in the corner. Whip across the ring, and he eats boot on a charge. Whip to the corner, and Akeem follows in with an avalanche. The crowd is DEAD. Akeem charges for a clothesline, but Hercules ducks, causing Akeem to spill out of the ring, and gets counted-out at 11:20. DUD What a horrible waste of time. I'm being quite generous not going into negative stars for this one. It was that crappy.
"Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. Mr. Perfect:
I'm not expecting this one to be any good, but it can't possibly be worse than the last match. Snuka was in the middle of a go-nowhere feud with the Honkytonk Man, and Mr. Perfect was on his way to inserting himself into a program with Hulk Hogan over the WWF Title, but that one was given the axe rather quickly, before any blow-offs could happen until after WrestleMania VI, when Hogan had already lost the belt to the Warrior. Perfect talks trash and slaps Snuka before running out of the ring. Hillbilly Jim steals Monsoon's line about this being a main event anywhere in the world. Back in the ring, and Snuka's savage attitude scares Perfect back out. Lockup into the ropes, and Perfect with another slap. Lockup into the corner, and they exchange chops, with Snuka sending Hennig over the top rope with his. Snuka with a standing side headlock and a thumb to the throat for good measure. Snuka with blows to the midsection, but a charge attempt leads to Perfect dropping Snuka throat-first across the top rope. Perfect with a pair of elbows across the face, then catching him under the bottom rope with a sling shot. THAT looked painful, as it appears Snuka's face just scraped across the rope, with his nose taking most of the force. Perfect with a snapmare, followed by his float-over neck snap. Perfect drops Snuka across the top rope, then slaps on a chinlock. Snuka fights back to his feet, but Perfect remains in control. Snuka no-sells being rammed into the turnbuckle (because all non-white people at heads made of stone, in the WWF universe) and it's time for REVENGE! Perfect runs out of the ring, wisely, then begs Snuka off. Snuka doesn't oblige, and chooses to ram Perfect into all of the turnbuckles and the canvas for good luck. Irish whip, and Snuka catches Perfect coming with a knife edge chop. Irish whip to the corner, and Snuka follows in with a crappy clothesline. Whip across the ring is reversed, and Perfect rolls through a cross body for a two count. Irish whip, and this time we get the Perfect-Plex for the three count at 10:39. * Well, I didn't expect much out of it going into the match, and it definitely delivered in that aspect. Just a total nothing match until the last 30-seconds or so, and even that didn't really make Perfect look very strong.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Ultimate Warrior © vs. Andre, The Ultimate Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Oh dear God, please let it be short. Andre was picking up for Rick Rude in the Heenan Family vs. Warrior feud, and, well, it really sucked. Depending on who you listen to, Andre REALLY didn't want to work with or make Warrior look good in any way, so the matches were either incredibly long and terrible, or so brief that, while in the eyes of the fans, it was shocking to see someone like Andre lose so quickly, but in the eyes of the wrestlers, it was Andre not having enough respect for Warrior to give him a real rub. Andre mocks Warrior for his entrance and starts shaking the ropes, so Warrior clotheslines him from behind, drops him with another, and finally takes him off his feet with a third. Warrior hits the ropes and splashes Andre for the three count, but the bell never even rang! Case and point made, I guess. Warrior basically hits Andre from behind and the match never even got to start. Warrior sprinted around the ring the entire time, sans the three count. Andre grabs the microphone and yells at the referee "why you count one, two, twee!?" He has a point... Andre throws a chop at Danny Davis, but he makes a run for it before taking any damage. No rating, since it wasn't a real match.
The Bushwhackers vs. The Powers of Pain (w/ Mr. Fuji):
(Butch & Luke vs. The Warlord & The Barbarian)
I really hate when these house shows end the night on such a pathetic note. Why couldn't they have swapped the placement of the two "main events", so that a worthy match could go on last, instead of a junk tag team match that's highlighted by the crowd filing out like there's no tomorrow? The Bushwhackers lick each other in some bizarre pre-match ritual. Butch ends up starting with the Barbarian and gets stomped and choked in the corner. Luke comes in and bites Barbarian's ass to break it up. Butch slaps on a headlock, but loses in a battle of the shoulder blocks. Butch decides to play to the crowd rather than wrestle, and gets his head licked for luck. Butch goes back to the headlock, and it's the same result. Warlord looks like he'd rather be anywhere else right now. Luke sneaks in, and it's the old playground trick with a school boy trip, sending Barbarian out of the ring in the process. Now it's time for Luke and Warlord to go at it as Gorilla claims they've been licking and whacking their way through the competition. Luke pounds the midsection with little success. Irish whip is reversed, and Warlord slaps on a bearhug. Butch comes from behind and bites the leg, so Barbarian clobbers him. No tag was made, but Butch stays in the ring. Warlord comes charging out of the corner with a stiff clothesline, and Butch completely over-sells it. Butch rolls out of the ring and takes a cane across the back, because he sucks. I don't even want to waste any clever jokes on these guys, that's how much I hate them. The crowd rallies behind Butch, who humps the apron in response. Back in the ring, and Warlord maintains control with his boring power stuff. Barbarian to the second rope, and comes crashing down with a sledge, followed by a running big boot. Barbarian with a scoop slam, and Warlord comes in, dropping an elbow. This match is dropping a deuce in response. Barbarian tags back in and puts Butch down with another slam, but misses an elbow from the second rope. Has he EVER hit that move? Ever? Luke gets the lukewarm tag and works Barbarian over with Three Stooges moves. Battering rams to both men, and Luke is REALLY Curly'ing up. Barbarian responds with a big boot, and in comes Fuji with another cane shot, and the referee sees it and calls for the Disqualification at 7:59. Lame. -* I'm going that low because bad comedy matches are worse than bad wrestling matches. What an awful way to end the card, with this kind of crap.
- We go backstage with Sean Mooney, who is hanging around to get comments from Hacksaw Jim Duggan and "Macho King" Randy Savage. They're going to have a rematch, on November 25th, right here in Madison Square Garden. This time there's going to be TWO referees, so you know there's going to be a screwy finish that has Savage going over. Maybe I have that show hanging around somewhere for me to recap, too.
Final Thoughts: Well, the first half of the card was perfectly acceptable, and most of the times, enjoying to watch. Then, after the intermission, it took a nose dive into a steaming pile of buffalo crap. The highest profile match on the card is about 10-seconds long, you've got a snoozer between two stiffs, a boring match between one of the best workers in the company and someone long past being useful, and finally, ending the show with a nonsensical Bushwhackers comedy match. I give the first half a strong recommendation, but I highly suggest hitting stop once the Savage/Duggan match ends, because that's where the entertainment ends, as well.
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