Written by: Jim
Madison Square Garden
June 14, 1987
We are just a few months removed from the historic Wrestlemania 3. Hulk Hogan and the Hart Foundation are still the World and Tag Team champions. Meanwhile, the Honky Tonk Man IC Title win over Ricky Steamboat was just shown on TV (Superstars) the night before. The last major event was SNME 11 that featured the Hart Foundation vs The British Bulldogs in a 2 out of 3 falls match and Ricky Steamboat defending the IC title against Hercules. Without a Summerslam to build to, it’s all open road until October when the next SNME will air (The birth of the Mega Powers).
The Can-Am Connection vs The Shadows
The Can-Am Connection is of course the precursor to Strike Force. Meanwhile, the Shadows were a brief tag team brought in shortly after Wrestlemania 3 and stayed until the end of fall. Shadow #1/Big Shadow was Randy Culley, the original Smash. Shadow #2/Small Shadow was Jose Luis Rivera, one of the future Conquistador’s. In some way, this is precursor team vs precursor team. Bobby Heenan joins Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes for commentary. The match is all Zenk and Martel. Heenan talks mostly about his newly heel turn Islanders and their win over Zenk/Martel the previous month. Even when The Shadows are on offense, they never look as if they could possibly win. To make the match more entertaining, Shadow #2 is absolutely horrible. Big Shadow was at least acting as if it was his gimmick to be bad. At the end, the Shadows look to Irish Whip the Connection into each other, but Zenk drops down and Martel hits a nice running cross body on Shadow #2 for the victory. After the match, Bobby Heenan gets on the mic to remind the Zenk and Martel that they lost to The Islanders the previous month. Martel challenges the Islanders to a match right now. The Islanders run out, but are stopped by WWE officials. The Islanders finally give in and return to the back. For a long squash, this wasn’t too bad. Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon’s banter can make anything entertaining. The nice looking finish ended the match on a high note. I really appreciated the building of the Connection/Islander’s feud. This wasn’t something that was common on these house shows. While Martel was easily the better member of The Can-Am Connection, I really wish he would of toned down the face mannerisms. It seemed like every time he was on offense, he was jumping around and pumping his fists. However, it is Martel, so I can forgive him. Decent opener. 2 Stars.
Hercules vs Billy Jack Haynes
A rematch from Wrestlemania 3. That match ended in a double count-out and doing a quick check, I gave the match 2 stars. While I always enjoyed Hercules, Haynes was a horrible wrestler. So I’m not expecting anything good here. Hercules spits in Haynes face to start the match, but he quickly pays for it. A lot of stalling from Herc in the early going. Hercules eventually takes over and works over the back of Haynes. Some great commentating from Gorilla Monsoon as he suggests that Haynes is always guarding himself from a possible Full Nelson, despite Hercules never trying to lock it in. Basically, Haynes is hurting himself because he’s too busy worrying about a move. Haynes takes a vicious Irish Whip into the turnbuckle. Easily one of the better turnbuckle sell jobs I’ve seen outside of Bret Hart’s. Hercules uses his unwrapped wrist tape to choke Haynes. Once the referee finally spots it, Herc rips it off. Haynes looks nearly dead. Herc finally goes for the Full Nelson, but is unable to lock in the fingers. After a long fight, Haynes is finally able to get out of the hold. In a nice twist, Haynes uses some of his own tape and chokes Hercules before the referee forces him to stop. Hercules gets in a low blow to even the contest again. Chops and forearms follow until both ends up on the outside. Fearing a count out like their WM match, I’m pleasantly surprised to see both men make it back in time. Both men are exhausted, sweating profusely and breathing deeply. Haynes gets in a few more blows before the bell rings. It looks like we have a twenty minute time limit draw (Closer to 24 according to the time on the DVD player). Wow. For a match that I had very low expectations for, they managed to not only add 15 minutes to their WM match, but also improve drastically on the quality. This is easily the best match I’ve ever seen from Haynes and most likely Herc’s best singles match. This just had two wrestlers pound on each other for nearly 25 minutes. Nothing flashy. It reminds me some of the Greg Valentine/Ronnie Garvin feud. The match isn’t perfect though, the early going has some boring moments and sloppiness. However, most of that is forgivable because of how good the good was. 3 1/4 Stars.
The Islanders w/Bobby Heenan vs The Young Stallions
I’m not sure if Jim Powers and Paul Roma are technically the Young Stallions yet, but I’m still going to call them it. The Islanders had just turned heel at the end of May and sided with Bobby Heenan. I’m really starting to enjoy Haku the more I rewatch him. Sadly, this isn’t a great example for Haku. The Young Stallions (Powers in particular) are just horrible. Their good looks along with their lack of talent (Something the Can-Am Connection had, which helped them) made them have a hard time getting face reactions from the males. I’m bored of the match shortly after it started. Tama, despite being sloppy, could be exciting just because of his difference of style compared to most Samoans/Island wrestlers. Near the end, Haku hits the ropes and nails a cannon ball flipping splash. A back breaker/top rope splash finishes Jim Powers off for the Islander’s win. Well, I’m glad to see some Haku. The Islanders, early on in their heel run, were treated very well. It looked as if they were destined to being WWE Tag Team Champions. Demolition, on the other hand, seemed to disagree with that. Anyways, nothing exciting, but it could have been worse. 1 1/2 Stars.
Paul Orndorff vs The Junkyard Dog
The Dudes with Attitudes explodes! Well, had this match happened in 1990, they would have been. The commentating claims are just so over the top. “These two could main event anywhere in the country” and any mention of how JYD looks in great shape. JYD is just killing time before he’s released in 1988. That should tell you what kind of shape he’s in. JYD gets in some headbutts and an awful looking head scissors lock that bores me to tears. Finally, something interesting happens as Orndorff hotshots JYD to get the pinfall. Well, it took the entire match, but they at least had one interesting move – the final one. Both of these men were on borrowed time and it showed. Despite this, Orndorff was still capable of putting on some good matches, but it’s hopeless against JYD. I have to wonder if Orndorff would had still left the WWE had Andre not have been able to work Wrestlemania. With Orndorff being the back up plan, he would have wrestled in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Instead, he was left off of the card entirely. I’ll add a quarter of a star for the hotshot, but other than that, the match was bad. 1 Star.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs Harley Race – WWE World Title – Texas Death Match
In a rarity in these early Vince Jr. days, a Texas Death Match, which basically means there are no rules. Hogan added a special stipulation that if he loses, he will take the WWE title and leave the WWE forever. So I guess that means even in losing, Hogan refuses to give up the title. To show how serious Hogan is, he’s wearing his alternate white tights. Race jumps Hogan to begin the match, but Hogan quickly takes control. A lot of brawling in this one. They fight up the entrance way and Race takes an Irish Whip into the guard railing. Hogan breaks a steel chair over the head of Race (Well, the seat of it popped off). Race has a very small cut above his eye. Race takes over with a piledriver, headbutt and a gut wrench suplex. On the outside, Race goes for a falling headbutt, but Hogan moves out of the way so Race lands on the floor. Race manages to recover and even nails a piledriver on the floor. Back in, Race hits Hogan with the WWE title. From the top rope, Race attempts a headbutt, but Hogan pulls the WWE title in the way. Race, knocked out, Hogan hits the ropes and nails his leg drop for the win. Not that there was any doubt that Hogan could lose, but this was still one hell of a match. Granted, Race wasn’t in his prime, but he could still deliver. This match mostly benefits from working a style not seen often in New York. Instead, the match felt more like a Southern hardcore brawl. This will end up being one of my favorite first title reign Hogan matches. 3 1/2 Stars.
With that, we are finally given a match without Bobby Heenan either commentating or one of his wrestlers in a match. Busy night for the Brain.
Outback Jack vs Jose Estrada
Oh, this should be pretty bad. Jose Estrada is the famed jobber who went on to be the other half of the Conquistadors. For Attitude Era fans, he’s probably best known as being the father to Jose Estrada Jr, a member of Los Boricuas who Edge beat in his debut match. Outback Jack is classic Wrestlecrap. The match is as bad as it sounds. Luckily, Estrada gets in a few offensive moves before falling prey to the Boomerang closeline. After the match, the two trades blows until Estrada runs off. Thank-God Vince gave up on Outback before too long. The guy was useless. This is easily the worst match of the night. 3/4 Star.
Before the final match, Howard Finkel announces that The Can-Am Connection will face The Islanders next month at MSG (July 25th). This would be Tom Zenk’s final MSG match before bailing on Rick Martel. By the next show, Tito Santana was being positioned into being Martel’s new partner.
The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs The British Bulldogs and Billy Jack Haynes
According to my research, Koko B Ware was scheduled to team with the Bulldogs, but he wasn’t around. So, Haynes is a last minute substitute. The Hart’s control most of the match with Dynamite and eventually Haynes playing the face-in-peril. Danny Davis comes in for short bursts while one of the faces is hurt. Later on, Haynes has the Full Nelson on Davis, but Bret Hart breaks it up. Davey gets in a hot tag and takes out everyone. Neidhart breaks up a pin attempt, so Dynamite comes in and headbutts Neidhart out of the ring. Now that’s using your head. (Yes, I know it’s a lame joke). With Haynes taking out Davis and Neidhart, Davey press slams Dynamite on Bret to get the victory over the tag champions. The Bulldogs and Harts were pretty much incapable of putting on a bad match. Although not quite as enjoyable as the Wrestlemania six man (Tito in Haynes part) it’s still a solid match. All six men were over at the time. With the comedy of Davis and Haynes being well…Haynes, there was a cap of how good the match could be. 3 Stars.
For a house show, it was pretty impressive. While there were a couple of poor matches, the good ones made up for it. Every match that was supposed to be good was. Meanwhile, the Haynes/Hercules match blew my mind. Billy Jack Haynes ended up wrestling for over forty minutes and yet it wasn’t a negative. Race vs Hogan is the main reason to check out the show. The best part about the show was the whole build for Islanders vs The Can-Am Connection. It felt as if it was a couple of Raw/SD in building towards a major match. And now I want to see their match which is exactly what good booking should make you want to do.