The SmarK Retro Repost – WrestleFest ’88

The Netcop Retro Rant for WrestleFest 88

– Taped from Milwaukee, WI

– Your hosts are Sean Mooney, Superstar Graham and “Lord” Alfred Hayes.

– You probably have no idea what the hell this show is. It was,

basically, a Wrestlemania IV followup show, kind of like the April PPV

today in the WWF, except not on PPV. The stadium looks huge, about

40,000 or more. A little checking places attendance at 26,000ish.

– Opening match: The Killer Bees v. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. The

Bees are into their goofy long tights mode, and are nearing the end of

their usefulness to the WWF. Fairly nondescript feeling out period

establishes the Rougeaus as burgeoning cowardly heels, since the Jimmy

Hart thing was not yet in the cards. Funny bit as Raymond gets his knee

worked on by the Bees, then heads to his corner to have some improvised

physiotherapy done by Jacques. Jacques tags in stalls to piss off the

crowd, and Bees keep working on the knee. Kind of a lot of comedy

stalling by the Rougeaus, but you have to have a lot of that broad

entertaiment appeal for big stadium shows, because subtlety doesn’t work

on those in the cheap seats. B. Brian Blair turns his back at an

inopportune moment and gets jumped, and plays face in peril for a few

minutes before making the hot tag to Brunzell. Jim gets the figure-four

on Jacques, and the Bees do their trademark spots. Brunzell goes to

slam Jacques, but Raymond kicks him low and punches him in the head,

thus putting Jacques on top for the pin. Not exactly a classic, but it

served it’s purpose. **

– Bad News Brown v. Bret Hart. Welcome to Aborted Bret Hart Singles

Push #1. But Vince was trying. He was trying. These guys did a

million matches in Stampede, so they should be familiar with each other.

The Bad News man batters Bret for a bit, but Bret leapfrogs him on a

cross-corner whip and hits a couple of the five moves of doom (no

capitalization warranted yet), then throws in some heel moves. He eats

boot on a blind charge, however, and Bad News goes to the top. Bret was

faking, however, and slams him off for two. Suplex and legdrop gets

two. Bad News rakes Bret’s eyes to block the backbreaker and goes to

work. He rips Bret’s head off with a clothesline (BNB is my hero). Bret

ducks the Ghetto Blaster and dumps Bad News over the top. He follows

with a pescado, drawing “ooohs” from the crowd. Bret goes back to work,

hitting a cross-body for two, but getting dumped out of the ring on the

two-count. He sunset flips back in for two. Backbreaker gets two.

Rollup for two. Bad News reverses for three, with a handful of tights.

Great match for the time. ***1/2

– Intercontinental title match: Honky Tonk Man v. Hacksaw Duggan. David

Flair WISHES he could draw heat, money and the fans’ general disgust

like HTM could. This is formula Honky: Duggan destroys him with all

the kicks and punches in his arsenal, Honky cheats to come back, Duggan

comes back again and hits his finisher, Jimmy Hart draws the DQ. Later,

rinse, repeat. Not as bad as Ernest Miller v. Rick Fuller or whatever

the crap match du jour on WCWSN is, but it entertained the rubes nd

there wasn’t any resting. *

– Just to bring up something else: Besmirching the good name of the

Honky Tonk Man. Okay, look, trashing David Flair I can understand, but

Honky was a very capable wrestler who is one of the biggest

professionals in the business. Sure, the guy had an undeserved title

reign for 18 months, but he didn’t duck ANYONE. He gave everyone from

the jobbers all the way up to Hulk Hogan shots at the title, and it was

THEIR job to beat him, not the other way around. And Honky (the

character) outsmarted them all, until finally the Warrior figured out

the way to beat him. In the real life sense, losing to Honky was the

best thing to happen to many of those guys, because you always came out

of the match looking like the greatest wrestling alive. Honky let them

all beat him to within an inch of his life and he’d sell ANYTHING,

sometimes going to comical lengths to do so. And once he lost the

title, he spent the next two years returning the jobs to anyone from

that time period who was left in the WWF, and then some, and he always

put them over clean as a sheet. And when he was still champion, he drew

money like nuts, because he’d fill entire arenas with people who wanted

to see him die. And the bigger the underdog he was, the more money he

drew. It was a can’t-miss prospect, and that’s why he was champion for

so long.

So think about that next time you compare David Flair to HTM.

– The Powers of Pain v. The Bolsheviks. I’d FFWD if I wasn’t taping

this for someone. Thanks, John. Hayes calls Zukhov a “young Russian”

at one point. Well, I guess from Alfred’s perspective that’s true. The

Powers sell absolutely nothing, which is amazing because the match goes

like 7 minutes. Powerslam / headbutt combo finishes it. 1/4*

– Jim Neidhart v. Leapin’ Lanny Poffo. Poffo attacks early and misses a

moonsault. Neidhart proceeds to squash Poffo while the announcers relay

the usual bullshit story about Neidhart’s fictional football career.

Powerslam finishes it about 2 minutes in. Quick and inoffensive. 1/2*

– Ravishing Rick Rude v. Jake Roberts. Crowd is JACKED for this one.

Jake attacks during Rude’s pre-match promo, totally laying into Rude to

the crowd’s delight. That Cheryl Roberts angle was GOLD, seriously.

Rude bails a couple of times after taking rights from Jake. Rude kicks

Jake in the gut instead of locking up, and he goes to work. Jake

escapes and goes for the DDT early, but Rude escapes. The psychology of

the DDT was always great, because it sent heels running for the hills at

the very attempt. It remained an unkickoutable finisher until

Undertaker did just that at Wrestlemania VIII to end Robert’s legend and

begin Undertaker’s, in the proper way to use a fading star like Roberts.

Superstar Graham has a major cow over Rude’s hip gyrations, because kids

are watching. Man, I hope he doesn’t watch RAW these days. Major rest

period as Rude chinlocks Roberts to bore the crowd. It’s an effective

one, because it works on me, too, 11 years in the future. It’s still

more exciting than ChatThis 2.n, but not by much. It should be noted

that the angle behind this match is the precursor to Val “Love ‘Em and

Leave ‘Em” Venis and his wacky misadventures with the ladies. Rude gets

the fistdrop off the top, but does the posing cover for two, only to get

rolled up for two. Roberts sucks it in and comes back. Rude goes to

the top but gets crotched, which he oversells as only he can. Crowd

starts calling for you-know-what. Rights, kneelift, and DDT attempt,

but Rude grabs the ropes. Short arm clothesline (and gratutious shot of

Rude’s ass to boot), and after some disturbing pelvic thrusts, Jake gets

the DDT…and the ref gets sandwiched in between them. Rude walks, Jake

follows, everyone is counted out. Bad match, bad finish. 1/4*

– Loser-wears-a-weasel-suit match: The Ultimate Warrior v. Bobby

Heenan. I have to say: The stipulations are just a BIT slanted in

favor of the Warrior. Heenan runs like a track star, but Warrior

outsmarts him. WARRIOR outsmarts THE BRAIN? Yeah, right. Warrior rams

Heenan into all four turnbuckles a bunch of times, until Bobby pulls a

Jerry Lawler and finds an international object in his tights, which

turns the tide. After a couple of minutes of that, Warrior decides to

stop selling and tosses Heenan around like a ragdoll. Man, Heenan is

such a trooper, putting Warrior over even in retirement. Warrior

finishes him with a sleeper at the 5:00 mark. Which is really weird,

considering that a long match on RAW is about 3 minutes these days.

Warrior stuffs him in the weasel suit. Ha ha. DUD Heenan’s

double-take is pretty funny, actually.

– WWF tag team title match: Demolition v. The British Bulldogs. I have

no idea why the WWF doesn’t re-release “Piledriver”. The Demo’s theme

and Jive Soul Bro could be minor hits today if packaged properly. Smash

gets double-teamed by the Bulldog, but Ax tags in and gets the advantage

on Dynamite Kid, and the champs do their thing. Very slowly. Someone

is having an off day here. The WWF was generally smart with the Demos,

putting them in there with teams that made them look good like the

Bulldogs, the Harts and the Rockers. Davey Boy crawls through dog feces

and gets the hot tag and does his usual power stuff, then Dynamite tags

in for a snap suplex, which gets two. Bulldogs hit the finisher, but a

brawl breaks out. We repeat the Strike Force ending as Dynamite pulls

out the Octopus on Smash while Fuji distracts the ref, and that allows

Ax to whack the Kid with the cane for the pin at 7:20 (yeah, so I’m

adding times now, so sue me). *1/2

– Dino Bravo v. Ken Patera. And we’ve only seen this match 300 times on

Wrestling Challenge. Patera attacks quickly, but put his head down and

gets mulched. Patera comes back with an elbow and small package for

two, but (like in every other match he’s involved in), misses a blind

charge and Bravo hits the side slam for the pin at 3:29. 1/2*

– Cage match: Andre the Giant v. Hulk Hogan. Bet ya didn’t know about

this one, did ya? You know, the WWF’s claims of 15-foot high cages are

kind of shot down here: Andre is 7 feet tall, and he’s only a foot from

the top of the cage, and the rig apron is maybe 3 feet high, so that

makes 10 feet, not 15. I feel so betrayed. Andre chokes Hogan out

right away. Hogan chokes and punches to come back. Choke! Punch!

Punch! Choke! Bearhug! Graham sums it up pretty good: “Oh, man, this

is a gruesome fight”. No argument there. Andre blocks an escape

attempt and drops an elbow, but Hogan comes back. Andre tries to pull a

turnbuckle off, and Graham points out the folly of that: There’s 10

feet of steel all around the ring, just use that. Hogan gets it anyway

and blades. Andre runs through his blinding array of punches and

headbutts. Hogan ducks under a big boot and hammers away on Andre.

Andre goes down, Hulk drops the leg, and Hogan spends a couple of

minutes beating up poor Bobby Heenan, because beating the largest

athlete in the world just wasn’t QUITE impressive enough. Hogan climbs

out at 9:52. DUD

The Bottom Line: Shit, they cut Macho v. Dibiase out, and the

Taylor-Hennig match where they made their debut. Fuck it, don’t bother

with this tape, then, because that’s the match that makes it! My

roommate must have a different version than I remember from 11 years

ago, because I distinctly remember those two matches being on there.