Written by: Brian Bayless
December 30, 1988
From Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY
Your hosts are Rod Trongard, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Hillbilly Jim
Red Rooster vs. Blue Blazer
Rooster stalls to start the match. They trade holds for a bit but Rooster goes back to stalling. Blazer then slaps Rooster across the face and goes to work as he has had enough. Rooster kicks Blazer low then works a side headlock. Blazer escapes and works the arm after catching Rooster with an arm drag. Blazer gets two with a clothesline but Rooster catches him with a back suplex. Rooster dumps Blazer but turns his back as Blazer comes in and takes Rooster down. Blazer works a Boston Crab until Rooster reaches the ropes then goes back to the arm. Rooster hits a neckbreaker as he finally regains control of the match. Blazer misses a charge in the corner and rams his shoulder against the post then Rooster applies an armbreaker. Rooster continues to work the arm and cuts off a comeback by Blazer. Blazer bridges out and almost puts Rooster away with a backslide then gets dumped outside. Rooster heads out and smashes Blazer’s head off of the apron. Blazer heads back in with a sunset flip but Rooster kicks out then chokes out the Blazer. Rooster drops an elbow from the middle rope then goes back to the arm as a “boring” chant starts up. Blazer comes back with an enziguiri then blocks a piledriver attempt. Blazer fights back then hits a missile dropkick for a nearfall. Backbreaker gets two. Rooster rolls outside after getting hit with a dropkick then Blazer flies out with a tope and fires away as the crowd goes nuts. Blazer suplexes Rooster in from the apron for two. Rooster then comes back and catches Blazer with a hotshot. Blazer manages to put Rooster in a small package but the bell rang, signaling a time-limit draw (20:00) **1/4.
Thoughts: There was too much stalling and resting here but it was awesome when the Blazer was on offense. The last few minutes of this was really good. However, seeing that Blazer drew a guy who is treated like a complete joke, it really shows you how they are not considering pushing Blazer up the card, despite his great crowd reactions.
After the match, Bad News Brown heads into the ring and tells us this is the date he made history as for the first time a true New Yorker will be the WWF Champion. He also tells us he does not need anyone in his corner to do favors for Jack Tunney. Good promo from Bad News to hype the match and put himself over as a heel.
Koko B. Ware vs. “Mr Perfect” Curt Hennig
These two lockup as we can hear Frankie squawking. They now stare each other down after a stalemate as things get more intense. Hennig uses a side headlock then catches Koko with a hip toss. Hennig walks on top of Koko but turns his back as Koko sends him outside. Koko chases him around then fires away and walks on top of Hennig as he returns the favor. Koko works the arm before sending Hennig down with a chop. They now trade slams as Koko hits a few armdrags before knocking Hennig outside. Koko suplexes Hennig back inside for a two count but misses a corner splash as Hennig regains control. He knocks Koko off of the apron a few times to the enjoyment of Hayes. Koko blocks a turnbuckle smash from the apron and heads up top but Hennig cuts him off and knocks Koko to the floor. Koko fights back from the apron as he heads inside. Koko fires away as the crowd goes wild as Hennig bumps likes a madman. Koko then tries a splash as Hennig gets his knees up and hits the Perfect Plex for the win (11:42) **1/2.
Thoughts: Hennig finally got a reaction from the WWF crowds due to his crazy bumps he took here. No wonder he continued that in the company. Anyway, Hennig did an excellent job here as these two had themselves a solid match.
Rick Rude heads into the ring. He tells the men its easy to see how they are jealous of him but should all be thankful because he is promising one sexy gal the Rude Awakening. He then asks for his music while removing his robe as he convinces this plain looking girl that she wants him. This lasts for too long then Rude closes his eyes and asks her for a kiss but Hillbilly Jim comes in and kisses her instead. Rude then opens his eyes and beats Jim down. Jim then gets up as Rude bails.
The Bolsheviks vs. The Bushwhackers
This is the MSG debut of the Bushwhackers. They head into the ring and immediately beat on the Bolsheviks. They send Volkoff over the top rope with one poor excuse of a double clothesline before getting rid of Zhukov. The match settles down as the Bushwhackers beat on Zhukov. The Bolsheviks collide with each other as the crowd warms up to the Bushwhackers antics. Luke breaks out of a bearhug from Volkoff then gets two with a forearm smash. Volkoff finally gets Luke in the bearhug but Butch runs in and bites him in the ass. The ref struggles to maintain control as the Bushwhackers beat on Luke. Butch rallies the crowd behind his partner from the apron. The Bolsheviks stay in control then Butch tries to save his partner and accidentally hits him as Luke chases his own partner outside. Luke fights back and beats on Zhukov until Volkoff makes the save as the match breaks down. Zhukov accidentally clotheslines his own partner over the top rope then the Bushwhackers hit Zhukov with the battering ram before getting the win with a double gutbuster (9:23) 1/2*.
Thoughts: The work in this match was awful but the Bushwhackers managed to get themselves over with the crowd doing a comedy gimmick so it at least served a purpose. Must have been quite the shock for those used to seeing them as the Sheepherders. The Bolsheviks were terrible as usual and Volkoff did one appear to give a fuck at all, which seems to be the case when he is booked to lose.
Flag Match: Dino Bravo w/ Frenchy Martin vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Before the match, Frenchy claims that Bravo will be the next champion. The crowd is just rabid for Duggan. Bravo stalls for a while outside then comes in as Duggan works the arm. He hammers on Bravo in the corner until he gets caught with a boot as Bravo chokes him out on the ropes. Frenchy throws in a few cheapshots behind the referee’s back then Bravo goes back to work. Duggan fights back until Bravo boots him in the face on a backdrop attempt. Bravo hits an inverted atomic drop then taunts the crowd as Frenchy waves the Quebec flag. Duggan fights out of a chinlock and lands a few shots in the corner until Bravo regains control. Duggan then catches Bravo with a boot to the gut and sends him in the corner. Duggan catches Bravo with a clothesline and sets up for the Three Point Stance but Frenchy grabs his leg. Bravo heads in from behind to break it up and drops an elbow but cannot put Duggan away. He hits a side slam as Duggan kicks out of that but Bravo thinks he won the match anyway and celebrates. Duggan fights back but Bravo grabs him as Frenchy is on the apron. Frenchy tries to hit Duggan with the flag but accidentally hits Bravo as Duggan covers for the win (7:26) 3/4*. Duggan then parades around as the American Flag is raised.
Thoughts: The match was terrible and the finish poorly executed but again, the crowd loves Duggan. This feud does not have much steam left either.
Tim Horner vs. Barry Horowitz
This is Horner’s MSG debut. Hillbilly Jim is back on commentary and is sick and tired of Rude and challenges him to a match next month. Match starts off with a fast-paced sequence that ends with Horner working the arm. Horowitz catches Horner with a great cheapshot after a a break in the corner but Horner catches Horowitz with an amrdrag and goes back to work on the arm. Horowitz acts like he hurt his knee landing after a leapfrog then attacks Horner from behind. He skies Horner on a backdrop then stomps away. Horowitz ducks his head and Horner catches him with a small package for two. Horowitz rams Horner into the corner then works a front facelock. Horner breaks out of an abdominal stretch then they clothesline each other as both men are down. Horowitz heads up to the middle rope but Horner catches him with a punch then fires away. He gets two with a snap suplex then Horowitz rakes his eyes. Horner flips over Horowitz then jumps on his back and uses a rollup for the win (8:20) ***.
Thoughts: Good match. However, they buried Horner on commentary and tried to say he looked overwhelmed in his MSG debut but it was not congruent with what we saw in the ring. Horner pretty much ended up in the “Brady Boone” roll of the athletic TV jobber and Horowitz was doing some great work himself at this time but it never led to anything.
WWF World Tag Team Title Match: Powers of Pain w/ Mr. Fuji vs. Demolition (c)
Hayes makes a bold pick as he believes the Warlord will win the Royal Rumble. Ax gets the best of the Barbarian to start. Demolition work Barbarian over in the corner now as they target the arm. Smash misses a charge in the corner and gets beat on in the corner. He then fights back and beats on the Warlord. Ax tags in and stays in control until Fuji trips him up on the outside. The Powers of Pain are cutting off the ring then they knock Smash off of the apron. Barbarian gets a nearfall with a shoulder tackle that the announcers sold like it was death as the Powers of Pain stay in control. Fuji lands a few more cheapshots as the ref orders Smash back on the apron. Back inside, Barbarian hits a shoulderbreaker but misses a diving headbutt as both men are down. Smash finally tags in and cleans house as the match breaks down again. Fuji runs in and hits Smash with the cane then Ax chases Fuji outside. Smash rolls outside as the Warlord stands inside and ends up getting counted out (6:55) *. After the match, Demolition clears the ring.
Thoughts: A short and forgettable match designed to build for a rematch. The end was terrible though as Warlord stood around like a goof inside while everyone else was outside.
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin
These two feel each other out as Hayes argues with Jim over the Women’s Title Match at the Royal Rumble. Garvin and Valentine trade chops then fight in the corner. Valentine ducks out on the apron after getting shoved down then comes back in to work the arm. They trade more chops in the corner as the fans approve Garvin winning that battle. Valentine heads back in after another breather then Garvin punches him down. Valentine finally takes Garvin down but they end up trading more strikes as these two are really laying into each other. Garvin lights up Valentine in the corner then catches him with a sleeper. Garvin almost puts him away with a crucifix but Valentine sneaks out and starts working the arm. Valentine hits a shoulderbreaker for two as his chest is bleeding. Garvin gets up and headbutts Valentine before laying in more chops as that gets two. Valentine knees Garvin low and starts chopping him in the corner. He takes Garvin down with a forearm smash then Garvin starts fighting back. He uses the Garvin Stomp on Valentine but after that gets run into the corner. Valentine targets the knee and turns around his shinguard but Garvin uses a small package for a nearfall. Valentine chops Garvin down then tries the figure four but Garvin trips him up. Valentine then steps on Garvin’s leg but still unable to put on the figure four. Garvin gets up and uses a side headlock but Valentine breaks that up with a shinbreaker. They struggle on the mat as Garvin rips off the shinguard. The referee tries to yank it away then Valentine sneaks up from behind with a rollup and a handful of tights for the win (17:09). ***1/4. After the match, Garvin attacks Valentine until he runs away.
Thoughts: Man, these guys beat the shit out of each other. It was more of that than an actual match but it was entertaining and the crowd really dug this too. I loved how Garvin ripped off Valentine’s shinguard as these two seemed destined to feud and that is a good thing due to their chemistry.
Howard Finkel runs down the 1/23/89 show. Matches include: Danny Davis vs. Rick Martel; Ron Bass vs. Tito Santana; Honky Tonk Man vs. Bret Hart; Rick Rude vs. Hillbilly Jim; Brainbusters vs. Rockers; Curt Hennig vs. Brutus Beefcake; Ted DiBiase vs. Hercules with Virgil barred from ringside; and Big Bossman vs. Hulk Hogan. Rod Trongard said he would pay money to see all of these matches. I have this show but will likely not review it as I have others to recap.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Match: Bad News Brown vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) w/ Elizabeth
Savage immediately goes after Bad News. He whacks him with the belt then tosses him over the top rope. Back inside, Savage hits a double axe handle but shortly after that runs into a clothesline. Bad News beats on Savage for a while as he cuts off a comeback attempt with a boot to the gut. Bad News takes Savage off of the corner with a headbutt before sending Savage outside. He tosses Savage over the guardrail as Bad News chases Elizabeth off for trying to help out her man until the referee cuts him off. Savage sends Bad News into the post then heads inside as he knees him in the back. Bad News kicks Savage in the face but Savage backdrops him to the floor. Savage then flies out with a plancha. He heads out again and counters a piledriver with a backdrop then hits a double axe handle from the top rope. Savage suplexes Bad News from the apron and gets two. He heads back up top for another axe handle but Bad News catches him with a punch. Bad News gets two with a reverse leg sweep and heads up top but Savage slams him off. Savage heads up top for the flying elbow drop but misses then Bad News lands a few shots. Bad News picks up Savage for a slam but Savage turns it into a cradle and gets the win (9:54) ***1/2. After the match, Savage sends Bad News outside as he was harassing the referee. Bad News comes back in with a trash can filled with garbage but the ref stops him and Savage chases Bad News away. Bad News even whacked Dave Hebner at the end.
Thoughts: Really good match. It had a ton of heat and both guys did a great job, especially Savage. According to Bad News, Vince McMahon came up to him after this match and said it was the best MSG main event he had seen in years. I wish their feud would have lasted longer than it did. I’d seek this match out if you are a fan of this era.
Final Thoughts: Overall, a good house show. The action was better than usual and we had a hot main event. One of the better shows I have seen from 1988 WWF. And the commentary sucked, as you would expect, but I’ve seen worse.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.