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WWF at Philadelphia Spectrum
July 23, 1988

by Scrooge McSuck


- Presented on PRISM (for anyone asking, it's "Philadelphia Regional In-Home Sports and Movies") with Dick Graham, Lord Alfred Hayes, and "Superstar" Billy Graham at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. Despite having all three titles featured on the card (a loaded concept for the era), the show only draws about 9,000 people, which is almost double the June 18th show, but quickly fell back to that same number for August. We all know my disdain for the Philadelphia Spectrum shows, so we'll move on from a long-winded introduction and get to the action...

Sam Houston vs. The Big Boss Man:

We're only a month or so into the run of the Boss Man, looking as beefy as you've ever seen him, and even beefier when next to the lanky Sam Houston. This would be recycled on the Coliseum Video "Best of the WWF Vol. 17" if you're curious about that sort of stuff. It's kind of funny that some of the early babyface complaints for the Boss Man was that he wrestled with his badge on, and that thing is sharp, BRUTHA. Boss Man with a shove, but Houston isn't taking that abuse and comes back with a right hand. Lockup to the ropes and Boss Man pounds away at the body. Whip to the ropes and Houston puts on the breaks to crank on a front face-lock. Boss Man escapes, ramming Houston into the corner, and lays him out with a headbutt. Crisscross and Houston hops on the Boss Man's back with a sleeper, but Boss Man dumps him over the top rope to break the hold. Houston fights his way in, but a sunset flip attempt is easily countered. Houston rolls through a surfboard and hits a mule kick. Boss Man regains control, taking Houston over with a gut-wrench suplex and grabbing a chin-lock. Houston breaks with a jaw breaker and peppers Boss Man with rights. Whip is reversed and Boss Man misses an avalanche. Houston with more rights, knees to the body, and a running high knee. He makes the trip to the top and connects with a missile dropkick for two. He climbs again but Boss Man catches and plants him with a powerslam for three at 7:10. Post-match, Houston gets to serve a little hard time. They had a more energized match in Boston, but this was still a decent David vs. Goliath effort. **

"The Rock" Don Muraco vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine:

Valentine recently injured Billy Graham with the shin-guard of death, officially writing him off television as Muraco's manager, giving us more Superstar on color commentary. DAMN YOU, HAMMER! With this being the original broadcast, I can at least enjoy the original licensed music. Muraco doesn't wait for the bell to pound on Valentine and go for the shin-guard, but Valentine rakes the eyes and bails out. Back inside, Valentine hammers away (pun intended) but meets the post on a failed charge. Muraco tosses him to the floor and slams the arm across the table at the request of his former manager. "YOU'RE SEEING PAYBACK!" Back inside, Muraco continues to work the arm, even wrapping it around the post. Muraco with a shoulder breaker that Dick Graham calls a piledriver. Ugh. Whip across the ring and Valentine greets him with a knee to the face. He makes the trip to the top rope and comes down with a forearm across the back. Valentine with a series of elbow drops for two. The ring post gets to work overtime tonight, as Valentine wraps the left leg of Muraco around the solid steel. Snap mare and Valentine stretches the hamstrings. He jaws at Superstar before spinning around the shin-guard. Muraco blocks, thumbing the eyes. They trade blows until Muraco buckles under a slam attempt. Valentine goes to the leg again but Muraco cradles him. Muraco counters the piledriver with a back body-drop but Valentine regains control, dropping an elbow across the thigh for two. Superstar claims he's seen Muraco bench over 700 pounds. I think Dino Bravo would like to dispute that claim in 1988. Muraco blocks the Figure-Four for a third time, sending Valentine into the turnbuckle. Muraco no-sells a bunch of strikes and throws a series of rights and lefts of his own. Whip and Muraco with a clothesline. He hits the reverse piledriver, but Valentine is able to get a foot under the ropes to break the count. Superstar's bias commentary is out of control. Valentine removes the shin-guard, nails Muraco in the throat, and stacks him up for three at 11:07. Valentine is the definitive meat and potatoes wrestler at this point of his career. He's not flashy, but he's usually a safe bet if you want something decent. **1/2

The British Bulldogs vs. The Bolsheviks:

Another match recycled for the "Best of the WWF Vol. 17" home video release. A group of fans chant disparaging things at the Bolsheviks about 10 years before the ECW faithful made it cool. Davey Boy and Zhukov start. Zhukov stalls, playing to the crowd for chanting how much his home country sucks. I'd say this is what you call a night off performance, but Zhukov never worked hard a day in his WWF career. They finally lockup and Davey Boy sends him into the corner. Zhukov whiffs on a wild right and gets taken over with a pair of arm drags. Whip to the corner and Zhukov hangs himself in the ropes meeting the post. Dynamite grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Snap suplex for two. Volkoff tags in to showcase his stalling abilities. Lockup to the ropes and Volkoff with a headbutt to the body. Whip and Davey Boy catches the boot. Volkoff goes down in slow-motion and Davey Boy gives him a one-man wish-bone. Dynamite in to assist on the move and turns Volkoff over with a single-leg crab. Zhukov in for the save, so the Bulldogs make an illegal switch. Davey Boy with the Scorpion Death-Lock and Zhukov saves again. Volkoff comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle and poses. Whip and they bop heads for a double-down. Dynamite in with forearm smashes. Whip to the ropes and Zhukov with a knee from the apron. Zhukov with a back suplex for two. I'm having a hard time staying awake. Volkoff drops him throat-first across the top rope and puts the boots to him. We get miscommunication, allowing Davey Boy to tag in and run wild. He gives Zhukov the running powerslam but Volkoff saves and takes control, trapping Davey Boy in a bearhug. Davey Boy escapes, taking Volkoff over with a sunset flip for two. He runs through Zhukov with a clothesline and tags Dynamite back in to clean house. Hook clothesline to Zhukov gets a two-count. Heck breaks loose, Volkoff hits Dynamite with a clothesline, and Zhukov covers for three at 12:53. WHAT?!? Coliseum Video cut this match down to nothing, and for good reason: IT SUCKED. Maybe the worst Bulldogs match I've ever seen. ZERO STARS

Scott Casey vs. Terry Taylor:

I need something to wash the taste out of my mouth after that last stinker. Taylor hasn't debuted on TV yet, so he's a solid 2-months away from being branded the Red Rooster and having his career flushed down the toilet. Lockup and Taylor snaps Casey over with a side headlock. There's no hiding it, he's definitely working heel here. He's strutting around with a cocky demeanor. Casey surprises Taylor with a head-scissors, forcing him to get to the ropes for a break. They trade shoves, with Taylor taking a big tumble through the ropes. Taylor cries about some phantom hair-pulling. Whip to the ropes and Casey slams Taylor face-first to the canvas. Casey gets tired of the fake accusations and tosses Taylor with a double-handful of hair. Casey with an inverted atomic drop for two. Taylor with a hip toss but he misses an elbow drop. They do a little chain until Taylor hides in the corner again. Whip to the corner and Casey with a high knee for two. Taylor grabs the tights, sending Casey into the turnbuckle. Taylor in control, grabbing a chin-lock. Casey teases a comeback but gets sent through the ropes. Taylor blocks a sunset flip, using the ropes, but the referee forces him to release the grip, allowing Casey to finish the move. Taylor goes to the eyes to cut the comeback short. Casey counters a piledriver, taking Taylor over with a back body-drop. Casey counters a sunset flip with a right hand and unloads with a series of strikes. He misses a knee to the corner and Taylor finishes with the Scorpion Death-Lock at 10:11. Boring prelim stuff, but watchable. *1/2

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

The WWF ran this match into the ground for most of the Spring and Summer, drawing good numbers until it started overstaying its welcome. Oddly enough, THIS is their first time in Philly, almost FOUR MONTHS on the road together, likely as an attempt to save the town after cratering in recent months. Savage makes a move for Virgil as he gets too close to Elizabeth, allowing Dibiase to come from behind with a double axe-handle. He sends Savage into the ring and into the turnbuckle. Whip to the ropes, Savage ducks an elbow and bounces back with a clothesline. He sends Dibiase to the corner and pops him with an elbow. Fist to the midsection and a running knee lift sends Dibiase through the ropes. Savage holds the ropes open, inviting Dibiase back in the ring. Savage blocks a boot, spins him around, and sends Dibiase over the top with an atomic drop. Savage gets on the house mic to give us an "OOOH YEAH". Dibiase comes back in but Savage blocks a sunset flip attempt. Dibiase begs off and grabs the tights, sending Savage out of the ring. Back inside, Dibiase drops Savage with an elbow and grabs a blatant choke. We get some split screen to see Elizabeth's reaction. Savage fights back but gets caught with his head down and nailed with an uppercut. Dibiase with the drifting fist-drop and elbows across the throat. Dibiase comes off the middle rope with a double axe-handle for two. Whip and Dibiase with a clothesline, followed by another fist drop for two. Savage blocks a suplex, countering with his own. They trade blows from their knees, with Savage taking control. Whip is reversed and Savage with a cross body press for two. Dibiase quickly recovers and lays Savage out with a clothesline for two. Savage fights out of a chin-lock, only for Dibiase to pull the hair and reapply the hold. Savage breaks it again, using his momentum to send Dibiase into the turnbuckle. Dibiase climbs the ropes and gets nailed on the way down, complete with somersault bump. Savage unloads with rights and has Dibiase begging off again. Savage gives him a taste of the turnbuckle (10 to be exact) and takes a swing at Virgil on the apron. He hangs Dibiase across the top rope and comes off the top with a double axe-handle. He teases the elbow, but Virgil grabs Elizabeth, luring Savage out of the ring. Virgil pounds away on him, IN FULL VIEW OF THE REFEREE, and Savage gets counted out at 12:45. Savage slams Virgil on the concrete floor during the chaos and sends Dibiase out of the ring. BUT WAIT, Dibiase attacks from behind and celebrates with the belt until Savage chases him away with a chair. BUT WAIT AGAIN, Dibiase clips Savage from behind as he had Elizabeth on his shoulder and whips him with his own Championship belt. Good enough match and clearly a desperate attempt to drum up interest for a rematch (spoilers: the return date drew a paltry 4,400). ***

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Demolition (c) (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Powers of Pain:

I hope this is short. The Powers of Pain have only been on TV for a couple of weeks at this point and were shoe-horned into a feud with Demolition once Strike Force was written off TV. Slugfest to start, with all four men taking it to the floor and back in the ring, with the Warlord and Barbarian standing tall to settle it. Ax grabs a side headlock but can't budge the Warlord with a shoulder tackle. Ax with a flurry of knees to the midsection. Whip to the corner is reversed and Warlord las him out with a clothesline. Barbarian comes in and works the arm. Smash tags in to try his luck, but he is run over with a clothesline as well. He plays ping-pong ball between the Powers of Pain. Ax gets some clubbering in, but long-term selling doesn't seem to be a thing for these guys. Swinging neck breaker to Barbarian, followed by a clothesline that sends him over the top rope. Smash greets him on the floor, sending him to the post. OK, that might work. Back inside, Demolition with a double clothesline. Barbarian teases a comeback but meets the post charging into the corner. Ax with a snap mare into a nerve hold. Smash sends Barbarian to the corner and meets the boot. Warlord with the hot tag, hitting Smash with a clothesline and giving out slams like candy on Halloween. Barbarian gets dumped and we get a double-team pounding on Warlord. The action spills to the floor, and somehow Barbarian rolls in for a super-cheap Count-Out victory at 9:46. The brawl continues, and again, it's Demolition sent to the floor. I'm not sure what's worse, babyface Powers of Pain matches or heel Powers of Pain matches. ¾*

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Honkytonk Man (w/ "Peggy Sue") (c) vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake (w/ Georgia):

Great ready for some high-quality comedy... is what I would say if I had anything to look forward to here. OK, so the gimmick is Jimmy Hart is banned from ringside, so he dresses in drag as Peggy Sue to skirt around it, despite still carrying the megaphone to give it away. Beefcake's response? Having GEORGE STEELE in drag as his cornerman to keep things in check. He even has a "Mine" doll dressed in drag. OK, that's slightly amusing. Stalling to start, of course. Honky uses a distraction from Not-Peggy Sue to get the first blows in. Beefcake breaks a choke hold with BRUTE FORCE (pun intended) and unloads with right hands and elbows to the crown. He drops a series of elbow drops, and I half-expected a rake of the eyes, since Beefcake's offense is usually poor-man Hulk. Honky regains control and we get more interference from Honky's "girlfriend." OH MY GOD, THE COMMENTATORS ARE PLAYING IT STRAIGHT. Snap mare out of the corner and Honky misses an elbow. Whip to the ropes and Beefcake hits a high knee that sends Honky to the floor. Back inside, Beefcake with more right hands. Whip across the ring and Beefcake meets the turnbuckle on a missed charge. If this hot action isn't keeping your fire burning, how about a lazy chin-lock? Beefcake fights free and comes off the ropes with a clothesline. He keeps pounding and signals for the sleeper. Georgia hops on the apron and claws at Honky's face but the referee is blind. Beefcake with the sleeper applied, but he releases it to take a shot at a "woman." Georgia chases "Sue" into the ring, the megaphone is used, and Honky steals the three-count at 10:35. Lazy, unfunny comedy, and a bad finish. I think you can count the number of bumps taken on one hand and have fingers left over. -*

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules:

Final match of the card (thank God). These two worked quite a bit in the months following WrestleMania IV, but I figured they were done with each other by this point. Hercules bails out but Warrior stalks him around the ring. Hercules with an ambush from the top rope and lays Warrior out with a short clothesline. He drops a pair of elbows and unloads with rights and lefts in the corner. Warrior fights back with some ugly rights and chops but Hercules cuts him off, using the tights to throw him out of the ring. Hercules follows, slamming Warrior face-first into the ringside table. They trade blows, with Warrior getting the advantage and gives Hercules a taste of the table as a receipt. He carefully removes the monitors from the table, but his efforts to move it are stopped because there's so many cables wrapped around it. He throws Hercules face-first into the table and rolls him back in the ring. Whip to the ropes and Warrior with a clothesline. He plants Hercules with a slam and finishes with the splash at 3:22. That was decisive (and thankfully short). *

Final Thoughts: Three Championship matches, three terrible finishes. Just your average card at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Bad lighting, bad camera work, and a lot of bad wrestling. There's a couple of decent matches, but not enough to recommend going out of your way to find these shows when they aren't available on the WWE Network. Strong Recommendation to Avoid.

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