WWF at Philadelphia Spectrum - August 27, 1988
by Scrooge McSuck
- We're only a few days away from the Inaugural SummerSlam, which, like Wrestlemania, was just a glorified house show that took place at Madison Square Garden, and was marketed as a big deal. When the main event is a tag team match, and the undercard is just a bunch of random pairings with no ambition to blow off any feuds, then that's just like a normal arena tour the WWF would do back in the day.
Judging by the running time of this show on the WWE website (WWEClassics.com), a lot of stuff might be clipped out, so once I recap through what's here, I'll do some research to fill in the holes, just to give the idea of what happened that didn't make it past the cutting room.
- Dick Graham, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Superstar Billy Graham are calling the action from ringside, so automatically, I'm enthusiastic to turn the mute button on for the entirety of the show. They hype up the card before we head to the ring for the "opening" match of the evening.
- "Leaping" Lanny Poffo vs. "The Outlaw" Ron Bass:
Wow, I wonder who's going to win this one. Poffo cuts a pre-match poem then tosses his novelty flying discs to the fans. Bass was entering a feud with Brutus Beefcake at this point, but regardly of his place on the card, I just never cared for Bass. The crowd might be still piling in, because the arena doesn't look very full on the wide camera shots. Lockup to start, and Poffo works a headlock. Bass turns it into a hammerlock, but Poffo uses the referee for leverage to flip out of it, and go back to the headlock. Criss-cross, and Poffo with a cross body for a two count, then takes Bass over with a headlock. Poffo continues working the headlock, despite Bass' numerous attempts to escape. Poffo looks incredibly small compared to the Outlaw. Bass uses the leverage of Poffo's tights to toss him out of the ring, then introduces him to the turnbuckle. Irish whip, and Bass connects with a back elbow. Irish whip, and this time Bass puts Poffo down with a lazy running high knee. Poffo mounts a mild comeback and connects with a dropkick for a two count. Poffo with mounted punches in the corner, but he eats boot on a charge to the corner. Bass quickly puts Poffo away with an early version of the pedigree for the three count at 5:24. 1/2* Not much of a match, and that's all I can really say. There's just nothing to comment about.
- The Hart Foundation vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
(Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
Here we go with a fresh feud that never really had a big time blowoff, I don't think. The Foundation had recently dumped Jimmy Hart as their manager, turning face in the process. The Rougeaus had slowly turned heel, becoming pompous assholes that pretended to embrace the United States, and eventually took on Jimmy Hart as their manager. The wild card of the situation was that Jimmy Hart still owned a percentage of the Foundation's contract, and eventually gave his portion of it over to the Rougeaus. Interesting concept, indeed. Woah, check out all the empty seats. At least WCW was smart enough to not use those camera angles.
The Rougeaus offer a handshake, but the Foundation wasn't having none of that. Raymond and Neidhart start with a lockup, and Neidhart has the definite strength advantage. Raymond escapes a wristlock and celebrates. Raymond with a side headlock, but a shoulder block doesn't budge the Anvil. Raymond grabs another headlock, and this time he nails Neidhart with a dropkick. Neidhart comes back with his own headlock and dropkick combination, forcing a retreat of the Rougeau Brothers. Jacques and Bret are both in the match now, and I'm already losing interest here (for those who care, I REALLY hate watching the Rougeaus. Never was a fan, either as faces or heels). A LOT of stalling going on here. Jacques with a sucker hand-shake and some show-boating, but Bret seems unimpressed. Bret grabs a headlock, and puts Jacques down with a shoulder block, followed by an elbow drop. More match delaying tactics from the Rougeaus! MORE I SAY! Raymond comes in and is quickly taken to the corner for a beating at the hands of the Hitman. Neidhart tags in and does the same, then Bret chokes Raymond behind the referees back, because the Foundation was cool like that. Neidhart with a snapmare, then applies a chinlock. Bret tags in and connects with a back breaker for a two count, then goes to a chinlock. Irish whip, and Jacques trips Bret up, finally bringing on the heel heat segment of the match. After some double-teaming, Jacques goes to his signature sitting chinlock, and we get the old heels come in without tags to continue working the same hold. Raymond tries for a slam, but Bret falls on top for a two count. The Rougeaus remain in control, double teaming as often as possible. Bret continues getting surprise pin attempts in between a lot of nothing. Neidhart gets a tag, but the referee doesn't see it. Irish whip, and Jacques catches Bret in the abdominal stretch. Yes, the Rougeaus cheat some more, just incase you were wondering. Whip to the corner, and Bret counters a monkey flip attempt with an inverted atomic drop. Neidhart finally gets the hot tag, and unloads on Raymond, then nails a dropkick on Jacques. Neidhart whips the Rougeaus into each other, and now it's just Anvil and Raymond in the ring. Irish whip, and Neidhart with a big back elbow, but the referee is distracted, and only gets a two count out of it. Bret tags in and comes off the second rope with an elbow drop, and that gets two as well. Bret plants Raymond with a piledriver, but Jacques nails Bret with a forearm across the back of the head, then makes an illegal cover for the three count at 17:45. Way too long. *1/2 Match picked up decently for the last half or so, but damn it if the first half of this one wasn't a complete waste of time. Confession Note: I was doing this match in-between commercials of the Knicks/Celtics game on ESPN (December 15th, 2010).
- WWF Championship Match:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage © (w/ Elizabeth) vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil):
I never cared for the World Title match being contested in the middle of a show. It just seemed too obvious that there wasn't going to be a clean fall, especially in favor of the babyface. Savage attacks before the bell and cleans Dibiase's clock, nailing him with the belt, and sending him out of the ring with a running knee lift. Savage follows him out for more punishment then offers Virgil some, if he dares. Back in the ring, and Savage is on Dibiase like stink on a monkey, then sends him out of the ring again. Savage heads outside and rams Dibiase and Virgil into one another. Back in the ring, and Savage works Dibiase over in the corner. Whip across the ring, but Savage misses a blind charge. Dibiase hammers away, but Savage retakes control for a moment before running into a boot in the corner. Dibiase tosses Savage out of the ring, and quickly follows out, introducing Savage to the announcers table. Back in the ring, and Dibiase with an obvious choke-hold, according to Graham. Dibiase remains in control, dropping his signature fist drops, followed by a series of elbows across the throat. Superstar drops a nugget of knowledge, saying there's A LOT O' DRAMA goin' on here. Irish whip, and Dibiase connects with a back elbow. Dibiase has words for Elizabeth, then puts Savage on his ass courtesy of an atomic drop. It's only good enough to get a two count, though. Irish whip, and Savage surprises Dibiase with a sunset flip for a two count. Dibiase tries for a slam, but Savage with a small package for another two count. Dibiase goes for a suplex, but Savage counters and snaps Dibiase over with his own. Dibiase chokes Savage across the top rope, then slings him back into the center of the ring for a two count. Savage fights back with blows to the midsection, then sends Dibiase to the buckle. Savage heads to the top rope, but gets nailed coming off for an axehandle attempt.
Dibiase with a back breaker, and now he's going up the ropes to miss his elbow drop that always misses. Savage unloads with a series of rights then connects with his guillotine clothesline. Savage hangs Dibiase up across the top rope, then clotheslines him out on the opposite side of the ring. Savage to the top rope, and he comes crashing down with a double axehandle. Savage heads to the top rope again, and this time nails an axehandle in the middle of the ring. Savage wants to go up one more time, but opts to take care of Virgil, who is on the apron for some heel miscommunication. Savage rolls up Dibiase, but that only gets a two count. Irish whip is reversed, and Dibiase nails Savage with a forearm. Dibiase applies the Million Dollar Dream, but Savage staggers his way into the ropes to break the hold. Virgil nails Savage with a chair while Dibiase distracts the referee, and Dibiase covers for a dramatic two count. Virgil undoes one of the turnbuckle pads.. well, he tries to at least, but can't seem to get it done fast enough, but at least the referee makes a case to yell at Elizabeth. Both men end up tasting the steel of the exposed turnbuckle, but Savage is up first. He tries to pin Savage, but Virgil runs in for the Disqualification, signalling the bell at 12:34. Dibiase and Virgil double team Savage, despite the attempted interference of two referees. Jesus, did this feud ever have a true blowoff on the house show circuit? I could've sworn they did Cage matches, but that was back in June and July. **1/2 Didn't care for the lame finish, but it was a pretty entertaining match, despite having seen these two wrestle about a million times since Wrestlemania IV.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude:
We're right in the middle of the whole feud between Roberts and Rude over Rude disrespecting Roberts' wife following a match on an episode of Superstars. At least this feud kind of had a blowoff to it on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. Kind of. Looks like the final match of the card, so we'll go check out and see whats missing after the match, mm'kay? You notice that Billy Graham ends EVERY sentence with "Lord Alfred Hayes"? Slugest to start, and Roberts grabs a headlock, and he's grinding it hard on Rude's neck. Rude with a handful of hair, but Roberts isn't letting go any time soon. Rude climbs over the ropes to try and make a break, but Roberts drags him back in and takes him down to the canvas. Rude finally escapes, but takes a shot to the mouth, and Roberts takes him over with another headlock. Billy Graham makes a good point(!) claiming Roberts is more interested in punishing Rude rather than putting him away as early as possible. Rude escapes, but a knee lift haults him again, and a DDT attempt allows Rude to roll out of the ring for a breather. We get a lot of stalling now, and Rude wants a test-of-strength, in between showing off his muscles. Roberts boots him and takes him over with a headlock, then drags the ominous green bag near Rude. Rude runs away like he just commited a crime. Roberts pulls Rude back into the ring and pounds away on him, but he goes to the headlock again, and Rude takes him down with a back suplex... but Roberts hold onto the hold! Roberts means business, tonight! Rude makes it to the ropes as the referee checks to see if he's still concious. Rude catches Roberts off guard with an inverted atomic drop, giving him a chance to recover from the previous beatings he's been taking. We head outside the ring, with Rude sneaking up on Roberts and ramming him into the ring post. Back in the ring, and Rude comes off the top rope with a double axehandle to the shoulder. Rude works a hammerlock as the camera continues to focus on the bag at ringside that contains "Damian."
This one rest spot goes on for a good couple of minutes. Roberts makes it back to his feet and uses his momentum to dump Rude out of the ring. Rude quickly goes to the top rope, but Roberts crawls towards Damian. Rude cuts off the tag of hotness and applies an armbar. Remember how boring their match was at Wrestlemania IV? Right here. We get a friggin' inset video of the god damn bag! THAT'S HOW BORED THEY ARE! Rude crotches himself across the arm of Roberts, in a spot that works but doesn't at the same time. It's smart, but stupid, if you know what I mean. Whip to the corner, and Roberts meets the boots of Rude to end that comeback attempt. Rude drops Roberts' arm across the top rope then goes back to the armbar. Roberts with a jaw-buster to escape. Roberts hammers away on Rude, then nails him with a knee lift. Roberts undoes his wrist tape to sell the arm some more, and signals for the DDT, but Rude hooks the ropes. Roberts pulls Rude back in the ring from the rear, exposing Rude to the world. Short-arm clothesline from Roberts, followed by some taunting of questionable taste. DDT connects, but Rude goes down with the referee underneath himself to take the impact of the blow, and now all three men in the ring are down. Rude attacks Roberts from behind, as he's checking on the referee, and connects with the Rude Awakening. I remember that clip in the old Hasbro Action Figures Commercial! (Series 1, that is). Rude revives the referee then makes the cover, but Roberts gets a foot on the ropes. Roberts surprises Rude with a roll up for a two count as well, then dumps Rude out of the ring. We get a slugfest at ringside, with Roberts taking control of that. Rude throws the snake bag on Roberts, then crawls back in to beat the Count-Out at 18:50 for the cheapest victory of the night. After the match, Roberts nails the referee, then takes Rude over with a back drop. Robert unleashes Damian and wraps it around Rude for redemption of the loss. Rude sells for the snake like his job depends on it. ** Match had some cute spots and a good pace to it for the most part, but the spot towards the middle with Rude working the same rest-hold for over three minutes just killed my enjoyment for it. Still not the worst match they've ever had. Not very surprising we didn't get a clean finish, but whatever.
... And before we get to my Final Thoughts, lets just take a look at what didn't make it on the WWE Classics broadcast of this card...
- The Blue "Angel" vs. Barry Horowitz - One of the earliest televised matches of Owen Hart under a mask as what the gimmick would eventually be called the Blue BLAZER. These two had matches on other various televised arena shows, and were a popular request for some, considering it got 10+ minutes. Blue Owen wins.
- The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks - Probably as boring as their SummerSlam match. The Powers were still babyfaces managed by a hooded, face-painted Baron von Rashke.
- Tito Santana vs. King Haku - Fought to a Time Limit Draw. Seen these two on a Coliseum Video from the previous year and they had an okay match then, so maybe this was watchable, too. Haku is definitely someone I've grown to appreciate more, even if he still wouldn't crack the list of my favorite wrestlers from this time.
Final Thoughts: I guess we should be thankful we got most of the good stuff from the show, although I'm sure a 15-minute match between two low-card guys would've been nice for the smart mark in me. According to a certain website, the attendance for this show was a pathetic 4,400. I guess that explains why PRISM stopped airing these events not too long after. Three of the most high profile feuds were represented, but two of them had cop-out endings, and one of them (Savage/Dibiase) had all but been settled at most of the other usual stops at the house show circuit, so the Spectrum crowd was getting stuff on a two month delay it seems. I would take a pass on this, mainly because the two main matches can be found in abuncance, thanks to running them at shows for months.
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