The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School–LA Arena 08.13.88

Taped from the LA Sports Arena

– Your hosts are Gorilla & Superstar Graham.

Black Jack v. Sam Houston

Black Jack? Seriously? Why not just “Mr. X” if they’re gonna stick some jobber under a mask? It was good enough for Danny Davis! Superstar thinks that Houston needs to go to the gym and bulk up. Which of course is carny code for other things. You know, you just don’t hear enough of the PRO-steroid argument from commentators, I feel. Frankly I’m shocked they didn’t go back and edit that out given everything in the last year. Mr. Jack runs away and gets hiptossed to start, and Houston grabs a headlock. They work through that as the announcers discuss Black Jack’s suntan, which leads me to wonder: Do masked wrestlers have tanlines on their face? Because I mean, no self-respecting masked man would just go out on the beach and tan without bringing their hood. So really, all you have to do is look for the guy with a pale face and tan body, and the identity is revealed.

OK, the match is boring me already, you got me.

Sam slugs away and follows with the dropkick they’ve been putting over all match, and he goes right back to the headlock. Jack puts him down with a knee and misses an elbow that’s weaker than my “Masked men tanning on the beach” material, allowing Sam to go back to the headlock. Even Superstar is dogging on the endless headlock now. Thankfully Sam finishes out of nowhere with the bulldog at 5:47. Yeah, that was the match: Headlock, headlock, bulldog. 1/4*

Barry Horowitz v. The Blue Angel

Holy CRAP, it’s Owen Hart! With his old Stampede tights and a bad mask. AWESOME. How did I ever live without this channel before? Barry hides out in the ropes to start, but gets wristlocked. Barry reverses, but Owen busts out the flipping escape for the first time in the WWF and takes him down into a hammerlock. He might as well have worn a name tag after that one. Criss-cross into an armbar from the Angel, then he monkeyflips Horowitz while in the armbar, holding on for two. That’s pretty cool, actually. Barry escapes with a slam for two, but Angel goes back to the arm. Barry slugs out of it, but gets hiptossed and it’s back to the armbar. Barry goes to the ropes and we get some stalling, but the Angel quickly gets the hammerlock slam and it’s back to the arm. Criss-cross and Horowitz gets a rather impressive superkick to put him down, and follows with a catapult under the ropes to take over. Kneelift and legdrop get two. Boot in the corner, and he cuts off a comeback attempt with the ol’ thumb to the eye, then whips Angel into the corner ala Bret Hart. 3/4 nelson cradle gets two off that. Double underhook suplex gets two. We hit the chinlock and Angel fights out of that, but walks into a high knee, which gets two for Horowitz. Gotta say, Barry had some pretty good offense back in the days before he became a “star”. Backslide gets two. Barry goes to the facelock, but Angel drives him into the corner to break and gets a cross body out of the corner for two. Barry slugs back to slow Angel up, then necksnaps him on the top rope. Angel comes back with a sunset flip for two, but Barry uses an abdominal stretch rollup for two. Angel reverses that for two. Horowitz with the Jewish legsweep and he goes up, but Angel kips up and slams him off, then goes up with a Stampede style missile dropkick. Suplex into a flying kneedrop gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Barry charges and hits knee, and the Angel goes up and finishes with a moonsault at 14:32. Wow, what a debut for Owen, and it was a hell of a match at that, with Barry pulling out all sorts of great stuff before Owen got to highlight his state-of-the-art offense to a big reaction. They just totally blew it with him and it’s a shame they didn’t know how to use him until years later. ***1/2

The Bolsheviks v. The Powers of Pain

You know, Vince McMahon is truly a genius. Because I mean, who wouldn’t want to cheer two guys named “Warlord” and “Barbarian”, who call themselves the “Powers of Pain” and are managed by former Nazi sympathizer Baron Von Raschke? The kids should have LOVED them. Not to say they weren’t over, because they were, but it was more due to their star presence and channelling the Road Warriors rather than any fans actually buying into the act, I think. The POP clean house to start, and Barbarian overpowers Volkoff in between posing. Over to Boris, who tries throwing chops, but gets powerslammed for two. Then it’s the epic Warlord v. Volkoff battle, as they do the test of strength and the Bolsheviks’ cheating backfires. Damn dirty commies! The Powers work on Volkoff in their corner and Barbarian boots him down for two. Warlord comes in and misses a blind charge, which allows the pinkos to work him over with their staggering array of shitty offense and choking. You know, when Warlord’s offense looks more believable than yours, you suck. Speaking of which, Warlord clotheslines them both and it’s hot tag Barbie, who hits them with a series of so-called clotheslines and a big boot for both. The Russians collide and the Powers finish with the powerslam and flying headbutt combo at 10:41. Big pop for that, actually, which kind of makes me wonder why they turned them heel soon after if it was actually working. 1/2* No real threat for the Powers here, much like their Summerslam rematch soon after.

SD Jones v. Curt Hennig

No perfection for Curt yet. Jones wins a lockup battle and they trade hammerlocks, and Jones tries a headlock until Hennig makes the ropes. Hennig takes him down with a drop toehold, but Jones reverses to a hammerlock and then slugs him out of the ring. Back in, Hennig pounds the back and gets an abdominal stretch, then a backbreaker for two. Jones slugs back, but Hennig boots him down for two. Curt pounds the back again and goes to a rear chinlock. Jones fights out and atomic drops him into the ropes, then starts kicking the leg. That allows Curt to do his crazy selling before SD headbutts him down again and drops a leg. Headbutt gets two and he pounds away in the corner, and a powerslam gets two. Suddenly (as suddenly as anything happens in this dull-ass match) Hennig beats him down and goes to work on the leg himself, then chops him down for two. SD hiptosses him out of the corner, but Hennig catches him with the Axe clothesline and finishes at 13:03. I think Hennig needs some sort of gimmick. *1/2

WWF World title: Randy Savage v. Andre the Giant

It’s the classic red tights/yellow boots for Macho here, so you know he’s amped up on the good drugs. Bobby Heenan immediately gets sent back to the dressing room for badmouthing Liz. Savage dodges Andre to start, but gets shoved down and pounded in the corner. Savage bails to regroup, but walks into a choke, and incredibly blatant at that. But really, would YOU argue with him? Savage elbows out of that, but gets put on the floor as a result. Back in, Andre pounds on Savage in the corner, but runs into a knee and Savage hits him with the double axehandle and slugs away. Andre casually headbutts him down again and it’s time for the bearhug. Andre misses a boot and lands in the ropes, allowing Savage to work him over. Andre is pretty pissed when he gets free and takes it out on Savage in the corner, then chokes away again while undoing a turnbuckle. Savage gets rammed into the STEEL, but Andre goes for a headbutt and hits the bare turnbuckle. Irony 1, Andre 0. Savage fights back, wisely using the turnbuckle because it worked so well before, and Andre goes down. Savage is up like a SHOT and the big elbow gets…two? Yikes. Andre throws him off and bails to regroup, and everyone gets counted out at 10:28. Andre should have just laid down for that elbow, because Savage shooting up to the top rope literally one second after Andre finally went down was EPIC. Andre was game here, and the results were good. ***

The Hart Foundation v. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers

This was the weird period for both teams, where the Harts were slowly turning face and the Rougeaus were slowly turning heel. Anvil trades headlocks with Ray to start, but gets dropkicked, so he fires back with one of his own. Over to Bret and Jacques, as they do a handshake and Jacques tries the sucker-punch, but Bret is too quick for him. The Harts work Raymond over in the corner and Bret gets the backbreaker for two and goes to the headlock, but Jacques trips him up and pounds away in the French corner. The Rougeaus switch off on a rear chinlock while trading cheapshots on Bret, and that goes on for a surprisingly long period of time. Double elbow gets two. Jacques with the abdominal stretch and requisite cheating to go along with it, and over to Ray for the sidekick for two. Bret with a small package for two, but the Rougeaus double-team him again and Jacques gets two. Bret fights up, but Jacques pounds him down. Ray comes in and gets whipped into the corner, but Jacques cuts off the tag and goes back to that chinlock. Bret fights out with a bulldog for two, but Ray pounds the back and Jacques is back in, so Bret cradles for two. The Rougeaus work Bret over again and sucker Neidhart in, but Bret blocks a monkey-flip attempt by Ray and brings him down with an atomic drop. Hot tag Anvil and he powerslams Jacques and dropkicks Ray, then elbows Jacques down for two. Demolition elbow gets two for Bret. Harts clean house and it’s BONZO GONZO, as Bret piledrives Jacques, but it’s the classic axehandle off the top from Ray and they switch off for the pin at 17:47. A little long, but solid formula tag team stuff. **1/2

Jake Roberts v. Rick Rude

Jake attacks to start, but Rude whips him into the corner, so Jake gets the kneelift to put him down. He goes for the DDT, but Rude bails to escape and goes up. He misses the fistdrop and Jake slugs away and goes for the DDT again, and Rude slips out again. Back in, as Superstar notes that Jake is fighting the rights of people everywhere to be morally upright. Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Rude keeps stalling and they trade hammerlocks, but Jake puts him on the floor and then tosses him back in again to start working on the arm. He even uses the hair to take Rude down, holding onto the armbar and cranking on the arm. Rick makes the ropes and bails, but Jake follows and yanks the arm into the post. Back in, Rude tries to get away again, but Jake snaps the arm on the top rope and goes back to the armbar again. Jake turns it into the hammerlock and tries the short clothesline, but Rude ducks it and gets his own. And this time it’s Jake who bails, but Rude gives him a receipt by ramming his back into the post to take over. Back in, Jake gets whipped into the corner a few times and Rude takes the time to pose, then goes to a rear chinlock. Jake whips him into the corner to escape and sets up for the DDT, but Rude rams him into the corner to escape. Jake tries again, back to the corner, and another try is blocked with a backdrop before Rude finally tosses him to get rid of him. He knocks Jake off the apron with a clothesline and won’t let him in, but when he tries a slam back in Jake reverses the momentum and falls on top for the pin at 13:26. Well that was out of nowhere. **1/4

– Pretty good show, actually, although early Owen Hart pretty much makes it a must-see if you have the Network. And if you don’t, sucks to be you.