WWF Wrestling Challenge - March 27, 1988
by Scrooge McSuck
- From the day of Wrestlemania IV, depending on your syndication market at least. It's the "final" stop before the biggest event in the history of the World Wrestling Federation, featuring a Championship Tournament to declare an Undisputed WWF Champion. With so much going on, we're sure to hear about all the big happenings for the big event.
- Hosts of Wrestling Challenge is the super-team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Monsoon wastes no time throwing out their his famous "you can cut it with a knife" to describe the excitement from the crowd. We're from the Viking Hall in Bristol, TN, for those that care enough. I'd like to note how seriously out-dated the clips in the opening of Challenge are. Seriously, everything seems to be pulled from 1985 or something, with the exception of a clip of Butch Reed from 1986. We've got a Live Interview with Hulk Hogan, plus Ravishing Rick Rude, a Wrestlemania IV Report, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Tag Team Champions Strike Force, and a lot more coming up in the next "hour".
- Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Dave Wagner:
The crowd seems to aprove of Beefcake. He's scheduled to face the Honkytonk Man at Wrestlemania IV, for the Intercontinental Championship. Lockups, and Beefcake can't over-power the scrub. Beefcake grabs a headlock, but a shoulder block doesn't do much. Beefcake comes off the ropes with a running high knee, then follows with some strutting. Inset promo from the Honkytonk Man and Jimmy Hart. Beefcake drives an elbow into the chubby face of his opponent, then follows it with a scoop slam. Beefcake with a snapmare and a rake of the eyes. Beefcake signals for the end, and the Sleeper Hold puts an end to this squash at 2:34. After the match, Beefcake does a little trimming on his hairy opponent. Then he takes a few inches off the beard for good measure. You'd think the hairy jobbers would stop signing up for matches against Beefcake, but it's Logic in Wrestling.
- "Leaping" Lanny Poffo vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Before the match, Poffo reads off one of his poems, and it's about Wrestlemania IV, of course. Monsoon is going it solo for this match, for the obvious reasons. I know I list Poffo first as if this weren't a squash, but trust me, it's a squash, and not a "feature" match. Rude gets on the house mic' next and does his usual routine. Lockup to start, and Rude works a headlock and armbar before sucker punching Poffo. Poffo comes back with blows to the midsection, but Rude no-sells, so Poffo punches him in the face. Irish whip is reversed, and Rude drives a knee to the midsection. Rude drops a series of elbows across the throat, then comes off the top with a fist drop. That's enough for a three count at... oh wait, he gets up to taunt the crowd, and now we get a Jake Roberts promo. He's got Rick Rude in the 1st Round of the Tournament, you know. Rude Awakening time, and NOW it's a three count at 1:36. That did it's job, I might say.
- Mean Gene Okerlund is joined by the threesome of the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) and Koko B. Ware. You might say fivesome, considering they all have mascots in the forms of Matilda the Bulldog and Frankie the Parrot. We get a montage next... of MATILDA. Matilda being held, Matilda being dognapped, Matilda being walked around the ring, Matilda fighting the Legion of Doom... okay, I made the last one up, and no, I didn't mean Hawk and Animal.
- Gorilla Monsoon shills WWF Magazine, featuring an article on the heated feud between the Ultimate Warrior and the MIGHTY Hercules. Heated?
- Strike Force (Tag Team Champions) vs. Barry Horowitz & Terry Gibbs:
Oh no, it's GIRLS IN CARS! The most pussiest entrance music ever, that even the instrumental only version sounds kinda campy. Santana and Gibbs start with a lockup, and Santana gives a clean break. Santana with a wristlock, followed by a shoulder block and a roll up for a two count. Santana with an arm drag and armbar and now we've got an inset promo from Demolition and Mr. Fuji. Martel tags in and works the arm, as well. Irish whip is reversed, and Martel connects with a dropkick. Gibbs rakes the eyes and tags out to Horowitz. He gets a few shots in on Martel before being taken down with a hip toss. Martel with a wristlock, and Santana tags back in to continue working him over. Gibbs tags in again and rake sthe eyes, then snaps Santana over for a one count. Slugfest! Martel tags in again and he's a house of fire and takes Gibbs over with a hip toss. Irish whip, and Martel with a back drop AND A BEAUTY. Santana tags in and nails the Flying Forearm, and it's over at 2:44. This did it's job, too, I guess.
- We're back with Mean Gene, and this time he's joined by the Islanders, Tama and Haku, and their manager/partner for Wrestlemania IV, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. I never cared much for the Islanders, but I definitely liked them better as heels than babyfaces. Still never cared for this feud, although, to be fair, I didn't watch when it originally happened, but even as a young mark a few years later, watching Wrestlemania IV, I didn't care.
- "The Rock" Don Muraco (w/ Superstar Billy Graham) vs. Unnamed Scrub:
Lockup to start, and Muraco takes his opponent over with a hip toss, followed by a knee lift. Muraco with another hip toss, followed by a throat thrust and a diving forearm. Inset promo from Dino Bravo and Frenchy Martin. Muraco with a belly to belly suplex for a two count, as Muraco gets up before the final count can be made. Muraco signals for the end, and the Spike Piledriver (later known as the Tombstone) is enough to put the scrub away at 1:45.
- Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Brady Boone:
We seriously just jump to the start of the match after the three count of the previous match was done. Boone's taste of glory ended pretty fast, after spending the winter paling around with freshly departed Billy Jack Haynes and Ken Patera in their battles with Demolition. Valentine is scheduled to be in the Tournament as well, you know. Lockup into the corner, and Valentine works him over with chops. Whip across the ring, and Valentine misses a charge. Boone backflips to the opposite end of the ring, and Monsoon chimes in "you can't win matches that way." Valentine with a knee to the chest, followed by a slam. Boone gets turned inside out with a clothesline, and we get an inset promo from the Dragon, Ricky Steamboat. Valentine with... spike piledriver? But he doesn't want the pin. Valentine drives a series of elbows into the skull of Boone, then takes him over with a suplex. Valentine tosses Boone out of the ring, as Heenan and Monsoon discuss who they think will walk away Champion at Wrestlemania, with Hogan and Andre being mentioned from the obvious suspects. Back in the ring, and Valentine sends Boone to the buckle. Whip across the ring is reversed, but Boone misses a... leap? Valentine heads to the top himself and comes off with an elbow to the back of the neck. Figure-Four time, and it's finally over at 3:20. Boone got NOTHING and Valentine looked pretty good.
- Special Interview with Craig DeGeorge (Craig Minervini of the Florida Marlins FSN broadcasts), with none other than the FORMER WWF Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan. He cuts his usual generic promo about wanting to win his title back. Then he starts taking like his Wrestlemania IV promo, about the world coming to an end and Donald Trump clinging to his family for dear life while the oceans flood him, except he just talks about slamming his opponents into the Atlantic Ocean, instead. Seriously, that was the most nonsensical promo in WWF History. Until Wrestlemania VI, when Hogan and Warrior had dueling nonsensical ramblings.
- Wrestlemania IV Report with Mean Gene Okerlund. It's Wrestlemania Weekend, and in less than 24-hours, it'll be the biggest spectacular of all-time! You can see it on a closed circuit location or at home on Pay-Per-View. The card is announced as followed...
- WWF Championship Tournament. In Round 1, it's Jim Duggan vs. Ted Dibiase, the Rock Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo, Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine, Randy Savage vs. Butch Reed, Bam Bam Bigelow vs. One Man Gang, and Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude. Then in the 2nd Round, Hulk Hogan takes on Andre The Giant. The special presenter of the championship will be Robin Leach.
- The Honkytonk Man defends the Intercontinental Title against Brutus Beefcake
- Strike Force defends the Tag Team Titles against Demolition
- The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware, with the returning Matilda, take on the Islanders and Bobby Heenan.
- Ultimate Warrior takes on the MIGHTY Hercules
- Gladis Knight and the Pips will be performing Americal the Beautiful.
- Vanna White will be the special guest time keeper. We even get a promo from Vanna! "Who's Mr. Baseball?"
- Also, in a 20-Man Battle Royal will be, among others, George "The Animal" Steele, Bad News Brown (he threatens the BLACK plague), the Hart Foundation, the Young Stallions, the Rougeau Brothers, the Killer Bees (donning their masks), and the Outlaw Ron Bass.
- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Brian Costello:
We're coming to the end of the episode, and Jim Duggan, as mentioned above, will also be in the Tournament. Duggan no-sells a sneak attack from Costello, then plants him in the corner with a powerslam. It's like the weak-ass version of the Oklahoma Stampede. Duggan drops a knee across the chest followed by a clothesline. Inset promo from... Himself. He's got Ted Dibiase, you know. Duggan tosses Costello out of the ring in honor of all stupid people around the world. Back in the ring, and Duggan drops his 7th ho of the match. Irish whip and a back elbow from Duggan, followed by his signature clothesline for the three count at 1:43.
- Craig DeGeorge is back to hype up Wrestlemania IV one more time. He brings in Ted Dibiase, Andre The Giant, and Virgil. Dibiase has words for Jim Duggan, his first round opponent. It almost sounded as if DeGeorge introduced Dibiase as the Undisputed Champion, but it was more about him flubbing his lines, than anything. Like when a referee held up Bret Hart's tag title belt in a singles match at MSG, when clearly it wasn't on the line. Just a dumb mistake.
- Next week, we've got the Junkyard Dog (the Fred Sanford of wrestling, according to the Brain), Outlaw Ron Bass, and the Results from Wrestlemania IV in a special Report. In a SPECIAL Interview, we've got Don Muraco and Billy Graham, as well as the King of the WWF, and even MORE on the Undisputed Champion ("Ravishing Rick Rude, right?").
Final Thoughts: They certainly packed a lot of squashes into 40 minutes, although that's probably because introductions and post-match celebrations were non-existant for most of them. A good enough job hyping the PPV, I guess, but I'm shocked that certain suspects (cough:Savage:cough) weren't given a second of screen time to get them hyped up, like almost everyone else was. I guess you can say "what about Butch Reed, the Gang, and Bigelow" who also got zero time to talk or be in action, but Savage was a bit more of a deal than all of them. I've already covered Wrestlemania IV a while back, so why not check out that recap in the archives to see what did go down at the biggest extavaganza of all time.
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