Written by: Colin Rinehart
WWF @ MSG 1/15/90
January 15th, 1990
Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim
More boredom on my part means more random reviews for you. It’s a win-win! Pretty big card tonight with Hulk Hogan defending the WWF title against Mr. Perfect, Ted DiBiase and Jake Roberts meeting up, and the Rockers taking on the Powers of Pain.
The Genius vs. Jim Neidhart
Good lord, what is with the Genius being in the opening match of almost every old school house show? Seriously, this must be the 5th or 6th consecutive house show I’ve watched in which Genius opens the show. Genius reads his usual terrible poem before the match to a chorus of boos, and out comes Neidhart. Genius does his usual cartwheeling and prancing before the match. They finally lock up and Neidhart easily overpowers him. Lots of stalling from the Genius here as he taunts the crowd and complains to the referee everytime Anvil overpowers him in a lock-up. And we have more ringside prancing from the Genius. You know Poffo actually makes a pretty damn good heel, he can really get a crowd on his case quickly. Genius keeps evading Neidhart long enough for him to give chase, only to hit a cheapshot and dropkick Anvil to the outside. Back in Genius goes to work on Neidhart in the corner, blinding Anvil with a thumb to the eye. Neidhart swings blindly only for the Genius to continue the beatdown in the corner. More eye-raking from Genius, literally directly in front of the referee who doesn’t seem to care. Cross-body block gets Anvil a quick two and then the Genius is back on top in the corner, where’s he’s met with a big atomic drop from Anvil. Genius goes for a moonsault off the second rope but Neidhart gets the knees up and starts to take the upper hand, throwing Genius around the ring by his long hair. Another footchase on the outside and out of nowhere Mr. Perfect runs down to the ring and gets a few cheap shots on the Anvil while the Genius distracts the ref. Perfect slides the Anvil back into the ring and Genius gets the cheap win at 9:23. Typical house show opener, good heat but no real in-ring action to speak of outside of some brawling and eye-raking. Cheap finish didn’t help matters either. *
The Rockers vs. Powers of Pain
The Rockers were still pretty new to the WWF at the time but were already over big-time across the country. Really makes you question why they never got a real tag title run. This is unofficially a numbers one contender match to the tag titles in Monsoon’s eyes. Shawn and the Barbarian start off, Barbarian easily overpowering Michaels in a lock-up. Barbarian catches Michaels in a cross-body but Marty tags in and dropkicks Shawn onto him for a quick two count. They trade frequent tags, working a double-wristlock and then serving up a pair of double-superkicks, sending the Powers of Pain the outside to regroup with Mr. Fuji. Back in the ring the Rockers continue the double-teaming shenanigans for a bit, but the Warlord hits a huge power-bomb on Marty putting a stop to that. Warlord continues the beatdown, sending Marty 10 feet into the air with a both members of huge back body drop for a two count. Moments later he follows it up with a huge pancake and Barbarian chokes him in the corner while Shawn is complaining to the ref. Huge big boot sends Marty up and over the top to the outside. Man, Marty is bumping his ass off in this match. Fuji gets a cheap-shot with the cane on the outside and then Barbarian rams him into the steel post, all the while Shawn and the referee are arguing away. Back in the ring Marty gets taken inside-out and 360 degrees from a huge clothesline by the Warlord, but only for a two count. Marty tries to fight back with lefts and rights but he keeps getting taken down. Marty has a whole lot of fight him in though as he keeps getting back up despite all the punishment he’s suffered so far. He get’s held in a bearhug for a bit but comes back with an axe handle off the top. He goes for a cross-body block off the top but gets a big powerslam instead. Barbarian misses the elbow off the top though and Marty gets the hot tag to Shawn! Michaels is a house of fire inside, laying in shots to both members of the Powers of Pain. Things break down here as all four men are in the ring, the Rockers flying around like maniacs. Fuji trips up Shawn though from the outside and the Warlord powerslams him for the victory at 9:59. Wow this was actually a damn good tag match as Marty has never looked so good, bumping all over the place like a madman. Even the Powers of Pain seemed game here. Damn good tag match and excellent work from Jannetty especially. ***¼
After the match Fuji and his boys continue the beatdown for awhile. Marty is really hurt here and has to be stretchered out of the arena, selling all the while. Now where the hell was this Marty Jannetty in the 90s? Amazing work all the way through on his part, from the bell to being stretchered out.
Al Perez vs. Paul Roma
This is a rarity actually as Al Perez was a big player for a few years in the late 80s, making a name for himself as one of the top heels in World Class and successful stints in Florida and WCW. Alot of people thought he could be a star, but shortly after signing with the WWF he kind of just faded away into obscurity. Hiplock and armdrag exchanges to start us off at a crisp pace. Roma works the arm for a bit sending Perez outside for a breather. Back in Roma continues the arm work. Perez blocks a body slam and chokes Roma in the corner with his boot briefly. He works a strange chinlock on Roma for a bit, twisting his neck awkwardly. Small “boring” chant starts out as they trade near falls with sunset flips. Backslide gets Roma a two, but Perez takes the upper hand again locking that same chinlock on again. Roma comes back by slamming Al’s head into the turnbuckle 10 times and following it up with a top-rope axe handle. Suplex from Roma and he follows it up with a high cross body block off the top, but Perez rolls through and gets the 3 count at 11:19. Rather boring match for the most part, but Roma didn’t look half-bad towards the end. *½
WWF World Title Match
Hulk Hogan (C) vs. Mr. Perfect
Genius introduces Perfect again. Perfect was still pretty new to the promotion at the time but was already over huge as a heel. Helps that he feuded with top guys like Hogan and Bret to start. Hogan dominates to start with a few big scoop slams and Perfect bails, but Hogan follows him and slams Perfect and Genius’ heads together! Crowd is eating this up as he body slams Genius outside and then rolls him into the ring, apparently giving him a pass in the ref’s eyes as he lays boots into Hulk to no DQ. Hogan makes quick work of Genius while Perfect’s head is stuck in the ropes. Watch out Curt, that’s how you lose an ear! Big elbow sends Hennig out and Hulk follows him out again, as this has just been ALL Hogan so far, he’s completely destroying both Perfect and Genius and the crowd is loving it. Back inside Hennig get’s thrown around like a ragdoll, until FINALLY he gets a clothesline to stop the nonstop onslaught of offense from Hogan. Genius and Perfect work him over for a bit with the ref distracted, but back outside Hogan comes back with a big toss into the turnbuckle for Mr. Perfect. Hennig pokes Hogan in the eye and comes off the second rope with an axe handle. He works a headlock for a bit, grinding Hogan down on the mat. He goes for the Perfect-plex, but it only gets two! Pretty sure that’s the first time someone has kicked out of that move. Hogan starts to Hulk up with the usual comeback, but they end up brawling on the outside again. Perfect grabs a steel chair but Hulk ducks just in time before he can use it. Hulk tries to come back inside but Perfect nails him with a foreign object he pulls out of his trunks, but the ref doesn’t apply the count for some reason. Back inside Hulk grabs the brass knucks that Perfect had and nails him with it! He hits the legdrop but the ref saw everything this tiime and he DQs Hogan giving Perfect the cheap win at 13:36. Good title match here as the crowd was red-hot and Perfect bumped around the best he could. Definitely one of the better house show title defenses you’ll see from Hogan, good stuff. ***
After a commercial break we go to Sean Mooney backstage who gets a few words with Jake “The Snake” Roberts about his match against Ted DiBiase in the main event with the Million Dollar title on the line. Another quick break and Mooney gets a few words with DiBiase and Virgil.
After another break Mooney interviews Ronnie Garvin and Jimmy Snuka backstage about their match against Greg Valentine and the Honky Tonk Man.
Akeem vs. Bret Hart
Akeem is of course the One Man Gang pretending to be a black guy (no way would that fly today) and Bret is really just starting his first real singles push around this time. Lockup to start and Akeem easily overpowers Bret. Bret tosses Akeem over the top though and they brawl outside. Bret works a wristlock in the ring and Akeem is literally screaming at the top of his lungs. Bret foolishly tries a headbutt to no avail. Akeem takes advantage for a bit, shrugging off Bret’s advances for several minute. Crowd is pretty dead here as a lazy splash from Akeem gets two. Back on their feet Bret starts to comeback, ramming Akeem’s head into the top turnbuckle repeatedly. Flying forearm gets Hitman a two. Bret gets a schoolboy but the ref, who looks about 80, takes FOREVER to get to the mat and only count a one when it should have been a five count. Akeem hits the devastating butt splash as this time the ref is right on it and Akeem wins at 8:30. Wow, bad match here with the wrong man going over. Lets just move on. *
We get a short Royal Rumble commercial.
Jimmy Snuka/Ron Garvin vs. Greg Valentine/Honky Tonk Man
Snuka had recently returned and Garvin and Valentine were feuding around this time, setting up an underrated submission match at the 1990 Royal Rumble. Valentine and Honky are receiving their last big pushes here as a tag team under Jimmy Hart. Snuka and Honky start off as Honky rakes the eyes and starts laying in shots. This goes on awhile, Valentine tags in and lays in some of his own shots but Superfly gets the tag to Ronnie Garvin and Valentine wants none of him. Ronnie lays in stiff chops and unloads on Valentine in the corner. Big headbutt sends Valentine to the mat, and he locks on a sleeper. Garvin is in complete control here, laying in big kicks and going for a sharpshooter only for Valentine to rake his eyes and slam his head into the turnbuckle. Honky tags in and they both double team Garvin. Honky works an armlock for a bit but Garvin reverses it for one of his own. Snuka tags in and hits a double axe-handle from the second rope. Match is pretty slow here in the opening stages with lots of armwork from Snuka and Garvin on the Hammer. Valentine slaps the figure four on Garvin for he completely no-sells it, laughing in the Hammer’s face and sticking his tongue out. Ahh, he reversed his kneepad so apparently that’s what nullified the figure four. Snuka tags back in and lays in some chops. They fight outside and Snuka gets a body slam on the floor. Back inside Honky and Valentine isolate Snuka in their corner for a bit, but Snuka comes back with a double-clothesline and tags Ronnie back in. Things break down from here with all four men fighting in the ring. Garvin gets a backslide that appears to be a bloody 5 count, but apparently is only 2. Garvin jumps off the top with a diving sunset flip on the Hammer, but only for two. Garvin gets hung upside down in the corner in the tree of woe while Honky removes Garvin’s leg brace and beats him with it. Hammer locks on the figure four in the center of the ring and this time Garvin is in a world of pain, but Superfly comes in to break the hold. Garvin can’t even stand on the wounded leg, but reverses another figure four attempt for a near fall. Garvin is somehow able to fight both men off on one leg and he removes Valentine’s leg brace and nails him with it. Garvin goes to lock in the sharpshooter and suddenly the bell rings as we’ve reached the 20 minute time limit and the contest is ruled a draw at 20:00. Slow match for the most part and there’s no reason this should have gone 20 minutes, though I surmise it was actually a minute or two shorter in reality. Garvin and Valentine had good chemistry, but otherwise this was a slow affair that the crowd just was not into at all. **¼
Howard Finkel plugs the next MSG show in February and runs down the crowd, which I will be reviewing next. When we return we pan to Regis Philbin who’s in attendance at ringside, before he was ancient.
Million Dollar Title Match
Ted DiBiase (C) vs. Jake Roberts
And we arrive at the main event, which should be pretty good. Big ovation for Jake who slides right into the ring and goes right after DiBiase immediately, tossing him over the top and dragging him back inside, slapping on a headlock. He works this same headlock for literally 5 straight minutes, and the crowd is dead again. What the fuck guys? They were red hot just for your entrances, pick up the pace. Finally the hold is broken and they trade a series of near falls before Jake locks the damn headlock on again. Damnit Jake! DiBiase gives Jake a back suplex but he holds onto that damned headlock, as this has been a painfully boring match off thus far, and with two good workers like these there’s no excuse for that. Big “boring!” chants ring out and I don’t blame them. Crowd calls for the DDT but DiBiase just flings Jake into the corner instead. DiBiase starts getting some offense in, laying in kicks to a grounded Roberts in the corner. Big piledriver from DiBiase gets two. Atomic drop gets him another two count. Big slam from DiBiase but he doesn’t hook the leg and it’s another close two. Jake tries for a neckbreaker but DiBiase holds onto the ropes and sends Roberts flying. Big neckbreaker gets DiBiase two. DiBiase tries to apply the Million Dollar Dream but Jake gets the rope break. They brawl outside and Roberts slams DiBiase face-first into the steel post. Things start to speed up as Roberts starts pumping himself up, backdropping DiBiase and slamming him, refusing him a breather outside. Quick lariat gets Jake a two. Backbreaker sends DiBiase to the outside where Roberts follows him. He tosses DiBiase back in but Virgil attacks the Snake before he can get back into the ring, and Jake slides back in and hits the DDT! The ref calls for the bell before the pinfall though, as apparently he counted Jake Roberts out while he was brawling with Virgil to end the match at 20:31. Wow what a cheap finish that was. This started off REALLY slow, but things picked up nicely towards the end. Unfortunately a bullshit finish didn’t help matters though. **¾
The arena emptys out as backstage Sean Mooney gets interviews with the Powers of Pain, Mr. Perfect, and finally Hulk Hogan.
Pretty good show here outside of a few overlong matches, the Rockers and Powers of Pain put on a surprisingly great little tag match thanks to Marty’s great work, Hogan and Hennig have a very good World Title match, and the main event is probably worth a viewing, even with the slow start and lousy finish. All around a pretty entertaining show, just enough good to mark this into positive territory and give this show the slight Thumbs Up.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.