January 16, 1988
From the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, AL
Your hosts are Bruno Sammartino, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and Vince McMahon
Before the introductions, Jesse Ventura promises a huge announcement will take place on the show as the announcers tease that briefly. In action will be Strike Force, Ted DiBiase, Bam Bam Bigelow, Greg Valentine, and the British Bulldogs
Strike Force vs. Dusty Wolfe & Iron Mike Sharpe
Martel gets the best of Sharpe as the announcers talk about all the top teams gunning after Strike Force and their Tag Team Titles. Wolfe grabs Martel while on the apron but Sharpe accidentally hits him as Martel fires away. Santana works the arm of Sharpe before getting a nearfall with a crossbody. Santana goes back to the arm but Sharpe escapes and tags out. Strike Force work over Wolfe then the match breaks down after Sharpe breaks up a pin. Strike Force maintains control until Sharpe attacks Santana from behind. Santana fights back and tags out as Martel runs wild. Strike Force hits Sharpe with a double backdrop then Santana puts him away with the figure four leg lock (3:30).
Thoughts: This crowd loved Strike Force as the announcers put over the fact everyone is gunning for them, particularly the Hart Foundation.
WWF Update with Craig DeGeorge. This week, DeGeorge lets us know that Hulk Hogan has agreed to put his title up against Andre the Giant in a match that will air on Friday Night on February 5th in Indianapolis, IN. The match will be broadcasted on NBC. We get video clips of Andre choking out Hogan and promising DiBiase that he will deliver him the WWF World Heavyweight Title. DeGeorge says the rest of the card will be announced in the remaining weeks. That was certainly a bombshell dropped by the WWF.
Van Van Horne vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart
Valentine immediately beats down Van Horne as the announcers talk about the upcoming Hogan vs. Andre match. Valentine hits a backbreaker then no-sells Van Horne’s punches before knocking him back down. Valentine continues to suplex around Van Horne as we are shown an insert of fans talking about how Brutus Beefcake should be able to bring his scissors to the ring. Valentine continues to slam Van Horne around then drops an elbow before getting the win with a figure four leg lock (2:37). After the match, Valentine maintains the hold as Jesse notes that he put away his opponent a lot quicker with the move than Tito Santana did in the previous match.
Thoughts: Impressive squash by Valentine, who destroyed this poor jobber. They have done a good job reestablishing him as a singles threat after the disastrous New Dream Team pairing with Dino Bravo.
Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Oliver Humperdink vs. Tiger Chung Lee
Bigelow shoves Lee into the ropes to start. Lee catches him with a throat thrust but gets taken down with a shoulderblock. Bigelow hits a falling head butt and a slam as the crowd goes nuts. Bigelow fires away then takes Lee down with a standing dropkick before getting the win with a slingshot splash (1:27).
Thoughts: Bam Bam was insanely over and continues to impress.
“Outlaw” Ron Bass vs. Rex King
Bass beats down King to start then chokes him out on the ropes. We get an insert promo from Scott Casey, telling us on behalf of Texas that they do not like Bass. Back to the match as King hammers away at Bass’ request then gets beaten down and put away with the Gourdbuster (1:47). After the match, Bass wraps Miss Betsy around the neck of King and tosses him around.
Thoughts: Man, Bass looked good here too. They seemed to tease a feud or least a potential match between Casey and Bass but to the best of my knowledge, nothing happened between them.
Gene Okerlund is backstage with Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow, who will be facing Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant at the 2/6/88 Boston Garden show. Hogan puts over how Andre nearly killed him at “Saturday Night’s Main Event” then Bigelow tells Hogan that he has his back. Also, prior to Hogan & Bigelow coming out, Okerlund let us know that the Islanders suspension has been lifted, which in storyline was to only happen if Matilda was found. I find stuff like that bush league and should have been corrected before this made it to air especially when you see how the rest of the show played out.
We get a replay of the Islanders and Bobby Heenan kidnapping Matilda.
British Bulldogs vs. Gino Carabello & Brian Costello
The Bulldogs are sporting “Matilda” t-shirts. The announcers talk about how the Islanders are still suspended (which you would know wasn’t the case if you listened to Okerlund) as the Bulldogs are in control of the match. The Bulldogs are even more aggressive than usual, with the announcers attributing that to Matilda’s kidnapping. The fans are jeering as Bobby Heenan and the Islanders are with Craig DeGeorge on the interview platform as Dynamite puts Carabello away with a back suplex from the middle rope.
Thoughts: The story here was that the kidnapping of Matilda made the Bulldogs more vicious than ever before. They looked awesome here but those Matilda shirts made them look like goofs. They were horrible and looked like something a little girl would have made.
We go to Heenan and the Islanders on the interview platform. The Bulldogs approach them as Heenan lets them know the Islanders are no longer suspended and to go back and find Jack Tunney so they can find their “doggy.” Heenan lets everyone know they are innocent as the Islanders pretend to play with the imaginary dog. Heenan then tells the Bulldogs to enjoy their doggy as the Islanders are back in business.
Dave Wagner vs. “The Rock” Don Muraco
Jesse plugs the WWF Magazine article on Muraco and how he saved Superstar Billy Graham but also made some enemies in the process. Muraco backs Wagner in the corner before the ref makes him break. Vince informs us that Matilda’s whereabouts are known but no word on Matilda’s well-being as Jesse sarcastically quips that he is holding is breath. Back to the match as Muraco reverses an Irish whip then fires away on Wagner. He hits an atomic drop and a back suplex. Muraco then hits a kneelift and a suplex before driving Wagner to the mat from the top with a knee to the chest. Muraco then sets up Wagner for the Tombstone piledriver and the win (3:15).
Thoughts: Muraco exploded here in the final minute and looked awesome in the ring. They are still pushing his feud against Slick and his guys.
We now get a message from WWF newcomer Bad News Brown, who tells us all to forget about all of the good news this year because “Bad News” is here. And that is the brief introductory piece on Bad News Brown. Bad News, who went by Allen Coage, had a few TV and MSG appearances nine years prior in the WWWF but never an established WWF TV personality.
“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase w/ Virgil vs. Brady Boone
DiBiase takes Boone down with a hip toss after an Irish whip sequence. We then get an insert promo from DiBiase, bragging about how his money will get him the WWF World Heavyweight Title on February 5th. Back to the match as Boone fights back and hits a slam as DiBiase bails. Boone does a backflip from the top rope but DiBiase hammers away. He catches Boone with a back elbow smash then a clothesline before putting him away with a falling back elbow smash from the middle rope (2:38).
Thoughts: Decent action and another chance to hype the huge Hogan vs. Andre match on February 5th.
Okerlund is with the British Bulldogs. He asks them about Matilda’s condition. Davey tells us that Matilda is sick and will barely even eat or walk. He then warns Heenan and the Islanders that they are looking for revenge. Dynamite repeats Davey’s sentiment but made it more difficult to understand. It ends with Okerlund plugging the Bulldogs vs. Islanders 2/6/88 match at the Boston Garden. This angle was so damn ridiculous.
In action next week will be Rick Rude & King Harley Race & Hercules, Jim Duggan, One Man Gang & Butch Reed, and Randy Savage. Plus, an interview with Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase along with an update on the physical condition of Matilda.
Final Thoughts: Well, the announcement of the Hogan vs. Andre match was all you needed to have a good show here. The Matilda storyline is ridiculous though. Plus, you add some decent action (by WWF TV match standards) and we got to hear from WWF newcomer Bad News Brown, who would quickly make his presence felt in the company. All in all, a solid show.
And my schedule for the next several days:
Wednesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/17/88
Thursday: KC Timeline 1985 WCW as told by Magnum TA
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 1/23/88
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/24/88
Tuesday: 1988 WWF Royal Rumble