WWF at the Philadelphia Spectrum - September 24, 1988
by Erick Von Erich
What the HECK?/Intro-
It's another edition of "Prism Wrestling" from the Spectrum in Phila-by-gawd-delphia! Our announcers tonight are Philly's own Dick Graham, Lord Alfred Hayes and the new geezer on the block; freshly re-located from Minnesota; Rod Trongard. In addition to Graham's catchphrases of "he's turned on" and "hoooo", expect plenty of miscalls in tonight's card!
Match 1: "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig vs. B. Brian Blair
Two things I notice as the show begins: 1- the crowd's not very big and 2- Hennig is NOT chewing gum! Hennig's also billed as being from "Elk River, MN", which I think would change soon. We also have a vocal crew at ringside, right behind the announcers' table that keeps chanting "NAME OF WRESTLER sucks" all night. Okay, so I really noticed FOUR things. But if there's one thing pro wrestling has never taught me, it's how to count.
They start with a lock-up and Hennig responds with two armdrags. Hennig starts the first of 642 kneelifts he'll use in this match, then tries a slam. Blair hops out, slams Hennig and delivers his own armdrags to send Mr. P bailing. Hennig returns and Blair works an armbar to the mat for about 5 minutes, making Verne Gagne proud. They hit the ropes and Hennig stun-guns Blair on the top rope. More kneelifts from Hennig, followed by the Gagne...errr, Hennig Sleeper! Blair downs to the mat to break, but Hennig comes right back with a seated reverse chinlock. Blair with a small package for 2. Hennig tries a double under-hook suplex, but Blair slips out and turns it into a backslide. Blair is tossed out and sneaks under the ring to surprise Hennig from the blindside with....a punch. Okay, you REALLY should've planted a dropkick or something cooler. Hennig, of course, oversells. Blair with both version of the atomic drop, a charging clothesline, then a flying body-press from the top (complete with "buzzing bee" arm movement). Hennig uses the ol' momentum to trick to reverse the press and get the 3 count. I left out all the instances of Hennig using the kneelift, yet this match was amazingly boring. Both guys needed more high impact offense, earlier in the match, to make it watch-able As it was, it was just a lame preliminary bout.
Match 2: David "DJ" Peterson vs. Barry Horowitz
He's billed as "David", but his jacket clearly says "DJ". Trongard recognizes DJ from the AWA and doesn't even bother trying to call him "David". Before the bout, the local ring announcer, Fred Talent, misidentifies Horowitz and announces him as "Peterson". He eventually figures it out. Horowitz offers a handshake and DJ foolishly accepts. A-ha, you fool! All Horowitz handshakes come with a kneelift! DJ gets slammed and covered, but DJ powers out and chases him outside the ring. Back in the ring, DJ hits two hip-tosses, a slam and a drop-kick to send Horowitz back outside. DJ's pretty nimble on his feet and is moving around well. Horowitz gets a low-blow, then hooks a shitty abdominal stretch. With DJ reeling, Horowitz PATS HIMSELF ON THE BACK, then lands a double axe-handle from the second rope. Backbreaker only gets 2, so Horowitz works the Boston crab. Horowitz suddenly thinks he's won the match and breaks the hold. DJ is quick with a roll-up for 2. Horowitz tries coming off the top, but gets thumped in the tummy. Backdrop and suplex score 2 for DJ. Nice "I'm not Magnum TA" belly-to-belly suplex also gets 2. Horowitz grabs the ropes after a whip and DJ blows a dropkick to hit the canvas. Horowitz vultures his way in with a Russian side leg-sweep to get the pin. Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins!
Match 3: Ken Patera vs. Big Bossman
Conspicuous by his absence is the Slickster. Fred Talent has also been replaced by WWF regular Mel Phillips. If you've seen ONE Patera match from this time period, you know how this one's going to end. The announcers are in their own little world, which is a shame. If Bobby Heenan was on duty, you just know he'd dive into this Patera vs. Prison Guard match-up and have a blast with it.
Patera holds his own in the initial lock-ups and shoves. Bossman tries a side headlock, but Patera pulls him down to the mat and tries a few pin attempts. Bossman eventually shoulder-blocks Patera away, then calls for the Penultimate Knucklelock Challenge. Bossman knees him in the mid-section, but Patera kicks back and cranks away on the arm. He whips the Bossman to the corner for Count-Along-Elevated Punches, but Bossman hits a reverse atomic drop. Choking from Bossman, followed by his trademark saddle splash on the second rope. Patera falls outside the ring, then brawls his way back in. He whips Bossman to the ropes for a clothesline, then follows it up with....punches. He whips Bossman to the corner and--- yup here it comes-- Patera tries a charge, but hits his shoulder on the ring post. Bossman with a charging clothesline and a big splash to get the 3.
Afterwards, Bossman tries to pound Patera with the nightstick. He tries to twirl it around, but DROPS it. Patera rolls outside, gets a chair and clears the ring. Patera sits in the chair, inviting Bossman back in and even gets the house mic to say something inaudible. Ehhh...not great by any means, but the post-match stuff had some heat. I suppose this match was more effective than having Bossman squash Koko B. Ware, as Patera still had that "heavyweight thunder" to him.
Prism Wrestling "Fan of the Month"
Here's a shot of local fan Shawn Murray and his family! They wrote in and were selected as our fans of the month! YOU can do it too, with THIS address (okay...don't). Cute little promotion, and I hope ol' Shawn has his own copy of this show. Shawn, the random fan: it's almost 25 years later and we're still talking about you.
Match 4: Intercontinental Championship:
Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart)
Yup...just like the previous match, if you've seen one of these matches from this time period, you've seen 'em all. Warrior's insanely over, as the fans go bananas (TM, Gorilla Monsoon) when he's announced. Warrior enters, shakes the ropes...and his championship belt falls off.
Warrior chases Honky around ringside, rolls him in and pummels away. He tries a Stinger Splash in the corner, but Honky dodges as Warrior eats turnbuckle. Honky with two elbowdrops, but Warrior shrugs 'em off and tosses Honky to the corner. Jimmy Hart jumps up on the apron and gives Warrior a Hug With Malicious Intent! Honky knees Warrior in the back and while the ref admonishes him, Hart blasts Warrior with the megaphone. Honky slowwwwwwwly pounds on Warrior. Warrior garners powers from unseen forces that prevail in regions of which we normals are unfamiliar with and comes back with a slam, flying shoulder-block and a clothesline. Hart is on the apron again, so Warrior chases him outside. Honky's out, too, but Hart grabs Warrior and prevents him from rolling back in. Honky wins by count out and hightails it out of there. Warrior, pissed, grabs a table and chairs, tosses them into the ring and sets up an office. Awful stuff, as fans really just wanted to see Honky get pummeled, like he did at SummerSlam. But since that event essentially started their feud, they had to milk it out for more mileage.
Match 5: WWF Tag Team Championship:
Demolition (c) (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The British Bulldogs
(Ax & Smash vs. Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
Another repeat/formula match, as they ran with this same match everywhere. Even on the "WWF Superstars in Paris" that aired in November, 1988. However, I always liked how these teams matched up and they usually delivered. They had a VERY minor feud that received a small push on "Superstars of Wrestling" in late September 1988, when the Bulldogs ran in to attack Demolition after a squash match. But it was soon forgotten as the WWF had to build up "Powers of Pain vs. Demolition" for the upcoming Survivor Series. In retrospect, it seemed that the Superstars run-in was essentially a going away present for the Bulldogs. After being bumped down the tag card in 1987 and 1988, then putting over Demolition since May, they got to chase the champs out of the ring on national TV.
Davey and Smash start. Smash whips him to the corner, but Davey rolls up and over for a sunset flip and a quick 2 count. Davey goes to the armbar and makes illegal switches with Dynamite to frustrate the champs. They keep working the arm, until Ax comes in for some pounding...but quickly gets trapped in the armbar bar switcheroo as well. Ax headbutts his way out and tags Smash, who walks right into a drop toe-hold from Davey. Smash manages to plant him on the top turnbuckle, but Davey flies off with a body-press for 2. The Demos finally turn the tables and double-team Davey for a few minutes. Davey comes back with a drop-kick and makes the tag to Dynamite, who clears the ring with headbutts. Smash blindsides him and DK is worked over for awhile. They tie him up in the ropes, send him outside, until Smash suplexes him back in. Ax whips him to Smash for a big bear hug. Davey makes the save, but Ax comes in to wear down Dynamite with a seated reverse chin-lock. Dynamite drops down to rattle Ax's jaw and makes the HOT TAG to Davey. Two drop-kicks! Slams for both Demos! Two clotheslines! Davey covers, but the ref is late and only counts 2. Dynamite runs in and delivers a snap suplex on Smash. All four guys brawl, with Dynamite cinching Smash in an abdominal stretch. In the ruckus, Ax gets Fuji's cane and blasts Dynamite in the dome. Ref didn't see, it didn't happen! Smash then covers the unconscious Dynamite for 3 to retain the title. Another decent match between these two, with good heat. Only thing that sucked was how Trongard and Graham kept misidentifying everyone involved.
Match 6: Junkyard Dog vs. Bad News Brown
Brown tries choking the Dog with his own chain, but things are soon reversed. Brown tries brawling with JYD, but hurts his hand when his hits him in the HARD HEAD. Four headbutts from JYD get a 2 count. Small package and a Russian legsweep also get 2 for JYD. Brown comes back with a forearm shot, shoulderblocks, elbowdrop and an elbow DIG into the throat. They trade head shots into the turnbuckles then settle into the Penultimate Headbutt Challenge. Of course, JYD has the advantage, so Brown gouges him in the peepers. Both guys hit the mat after charging clotheslines. JYD tries a slam, but Brown falls on top for a 2 count. JYD with an abdominal stretch, but Brown hip-tosses him over. Brown tries coming off the top, but JYD halts him and slams him to the mat. JYD goes into his doggy-style headbutts to send Brown outside. JYD suplexes him back in, delivers a diving headbutt and gets 2. Brown is whipped to the corner, but dodges gets his legs up to smack JYD in the mush. Brown quickly follows up with the Ghetto Blaster to get the 3 count pin. Sure, the headbutt stuff was stupid, but this match was a bit surprising because JYD actually got most of the offense and carried things.
Match 7: Hart Foundation vs. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/Jimmy Hart)
(Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
Starts off quick, with Hitman schooling Raymond with a legdrop and a reverse atomic drop. Neidhart comes in to pound on Raymond. Hitman drags Raymond over to the corner and allows him to tag Jacques. Jacques in reluctant, but comes in to get his own tushy kicking. The Harts distract the ref and use the tag rope to choke out Jacques. Hitman with a slam and a drop-kick, but then he hops to the second turnbuckle and gets smacked by Jimmy Hart and the megaphone. Rougeaus take over and double-team away on Hitman. Running kick, followed up by Jacques's patented flying reverse elbow for a 2 count. Rod Trongard hollers: "the belts almost changed hands, there!" Ummmmm.....
Jacques works a Boston crab on Hitman, then works the hold of the night--the Abdominal Stretch, with illegal help from Raymond. Raymond comes in for front facelock, as the ref misses Hitman's tag to Neidhart. The Bros do a whip-double-chop on Hitman. Raymond puts his head down for a backdrop attempt, allowing Hitman to make the HOT TAG to Anvil. Neidhart whips and back-drops Jacques, then shoulderblocks him into the corner. Hitman returns so they can do the do-si-do super whip as Neidhart crashes into Jacques with another shoulderblock. All four guys enter and the Harts set up Jacques for the Hart Attack finisher. Raymond shoves referee Dave Hebner into Hitman's charge, causing the ref bump. Harts don't care, as they hook the Rougeaus into a bearhug and a Boston crab. A new referee comes in signal the bell and deliver the official decision: Harts win by disqualification. Y'know...nice little match here. Each team had switched sides (heel or babyface) since 1986, but they still managed to keep this non-stop recycled match-up fresh.
Match 8: Jim Powers vs. "Iron" Mike Sharpe
Thankfully, Powers does NOT have his crappy "Crank it Up" music playing. Or maybe I just couldn't hear it. Either way, I'm not looking that Gift Donkey in the Mush (or however they say in you country). Graham goes off with his usual homoerotic comments about how Powers is a "good looking young man". Those vocal fans at ringside go OLD SCHOOL, as they heckle Sharpe with chants of "Wimp! Wimp!". Bob Backlund would be proud of you, sirs. Yet Trongard begins referring to him as "Mark Sharpe".
As expected, it's a horrible match with the only highlight being Sharpe's bellows. The formula is: Sharpe whips Powers to ropes, Powers comes back with something. Ending has Sharpe whip him to the ropes, but Powers reverses and hits his powerslam finisher for the 3 count.
Match 9: WWF Championship: Steel Cage Match
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (c)(w/Elizabeth) vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil)
Philly must've been late on the tour schedule, as these two had been doing their steel cage blow-off since mid-June of 1988. Here it is, about a month after the official blow-off at SummerSlam '88 and it's finally trickling down to Philly. For the record, this is still the somewhat strange Big Blue Cage that the WWF used at the time. DiBiase is announced as residing in his Fall residence of Bellaire, California. Also, it's probably the black cocktail dress she's in, but Liz is looking extra gorgeous.
DiBiase attacks right away with a elbowsmash and a backbreaker. He jabs Mach in the throat, then tries to climb out. That's the formula for this match: DiBiase thumps on Mach, tries to climb, Mach halts him. Savage gets a brief flurry with a body-press off the ropes. DiBiase decapitates him with a clothesline and tries climbing again. Mach meets him up top and both guys fall to the canvas. More punch/climb antics until both guys hit the cage. Savage tries to climb out, but Virgil smacks him at the top. Back on the mat, DiBiase and Savage criss-cross (jump! jump!) and knock each other down with a clothesline. They start up opposite sides, but DiBiase realizes he's losing and jumps back in to pull Savage down. Savage with an atomic drop and they both hit the cage again. Savage tries climbing out through the door, but Virgil goes all Terry Gordy and SLAMS it on his head! DiBiase tries crawling through; and almost reaches the floor; but Savage pulls him back in. They brawl on their knees, until Savage sends DiBiase into the cage. Macho climbs up the wall, but Virgil's there again. DiBiase jumps up, as well. Savage grabs both guys for a Double Noggin Knocker. Virgil hits the floor outside, while DiBiase hits the mat inside. Savage then continues his climb over the wall and wins. Not the best gimmick for these two, as they usually had better chemistry in a regular match. Plus,the WWF had better cage matches with guys like Hogan and Orndorff about two years earlier. So as a cage match this was rather lame and paint-by-numbers.
Why'd You Tape This??
The two tag matches are decent, but the rest is forgettable. The awful commentary crew brings the whole show down a few notches. When Alfred Hayes is the best stick-man on the show, you KNOW it's going to be painful. The WWF roster was pretty thin at this time, with only 5 top babyfaces (Warrior, Savage, Hogan, Hacksaw, Jake Roberts)...and two of those had belts. The rest of the guys were pretty much canon fodder. Yet, I'm thinking: "was this show any worse or better than SummerSlam'88"? I can't say that it was. Well.... this show didn't have "Superstar" Billy Graham calling the action. So for those reasons, this card made the best of what was on hand.