December 17, 1988
From the Philadelphia Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA
Your hosts are Dick Graham and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
On this show, Randy Savage defends the WWF World Heavyweight Title against King Haku, the Ultimate Warrior defends the Intercontinental Title against the Honky Tonk Man, and Andre the Giant faces off against Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Red Rooster vs. Sam Houston
Before the match, Rooster gets on the mic and says he is exclusively managed by Bobby Heenan. On commentary, Heenan says Rooster will be successful as long as he follows his game plan. Rooster stalls a bunch to start then gets pissed when Houston mocks him. They end in a few stalemates until Houston takes him down with a wristlock and works the arm. Rooster ducks outside to talk with Heenan after getting slapped as Heenan yells at him to slap him back. Rooster heads back in as Houston lands another slap. Rooster uses Houston’s momentum and tosses him outside. Houston slingshots back in with a sunset flip for two. Backslide gets two. Rooster takes Houston out again but Houston runs in and hammers away as Rooster had his back turned. Houston follows with a pair of clotheslines but Rooster counters a Thesz Press with a hotshot and gets the pin (5:09) *1/2.
Thoughts: Houston did most of the work here and looked really good. Too bad he was getting phased out as his in-ring work was really good at this point. The Rooster/Heenan relationship was really starting to get dicey too.
Curt Hennig vs. Paul Roma
Hennig starts off with a hip toss and a slam then follows with a dropkick. Roma ends up coming right back with the same sequence on Hennig. Roma hits a pair of elbow smashes from the middle rope as Hennig backs off into the corner. They battle over a test-of-strength as Roma has Hennig down one on knee. Hennig fights back with a chop then has Roma chase him around the ring before stalling out on the apron. Hennig heads back in as Roma catches him with an armdrag during an Irish whip sequence. Roma works the arm until Hennig is able to toss Roma into the corner. Hennig hammers away then slows things down with a reverse chinlock. Hennig hits a standing dropkick but Roma mounts a comeback after that and gets two with a dropkick. Hennig then ends up whipping Roma into the corner and ends up hitting the Perfect Plex for the win (8:00) *3/4.
Thoughts: This was a letdown, especially after the match they had last month at Madison Square Garden. While the MSG was all action for the most part, this was much, much slower. Anyway, Hennig gets another win while the company waits to use him for a feud.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Several in the crowd start a “faggot” chant aimed at Rude that continued throughout the match. Lots of stalling to start as Beefcake mocks Rude’s taunts. Beefcake catches Rude’s foot and turns him around for an atomic drop then wins a slugfest. Rude blocks mounted punches in the corner with an inverted atomic drop and hammers away. Rude works a reverse chinlock that Beefcake eventually counters with an electric chair drop as both men are down. Beefcake tries a splash but Rude got his knees up then Rude starts targeting the back. Rude works a bearhug then slams Beefcake down and heads up top for a fist drop that gets two. Rude heads back up top but Beefcake slams him off as the crowd is going nuts while Rude begs for mercy. Beefcake fires away then catches Rude with the sleeper. Rude breaks the hold as they both spill outside. Beefcake tries for another sleeper but Rude rams him into the post then rolls inside but the bell already rang for the double countout (8:59) *1/2. After the match, Rude taunts the fans until Beefcake heads back in with a pair of scissors to chase him away.
Thoughts: Not a whole lot to take away from this. Beefcake ended up wrestling Ron Bass this night in Lousiville, where Rude faced off against Randy Savage. The finish was done to protect both guys.
Kal Rudman is backstage with the Rockers. He actually had to ask Shawn for his name then wondered which guy had the “bluest eyes.” Marty did most of the talking here as he calls out the Brainbusters for thinking they can come right into the WWF and call them the top team while not going through the others. The Rockers also say that this is just the beginning of what is to follow.
The Brainbusters vs. The Rockers
Mel Phillips is now handling the ring announcing duties. Arn and Shawn start off as they go back-and-forth. Tully tags as Shawn takes him down and works the arm as the Rockers are in control. Marty is in and flips out of a double-team move and hits the Brainbusters with a double armdrag and a double dropkick as the Brainbusters head outside. Tully heads back in as Marty hits him with a dropkick that sends Tully scrambling to his corner. Tully keeps trying to trick Marty but it fails as then all four men end up in the ring. The Brainbusters try a sneak attack but the Rockers were ready as they clear the ring. Arn and Shawn are the legal men as Arn hits a shoulderblock while Tully runs in and starts taunting Shawn. Arn is in control briefly until Shawn fights back and takes Arn down with a hurricarana as the match breaks down yet again. After the Brainbusters regroup, Tully heads in and offers a handshake. Shawn acts like he is accepting then nails Tully with a super kick. Tully rolls outside and gets Shawn to chase him around but its a trap as Arn was ducking behind the stairs as he nails Shawn with a clothesline. They roll Shawn inside as Arn stomps away. The Brainbusters cut off the ring and stop every tag attempt made by Shawn. Arn nails Shawn with a spinebuster as Marty runs in to break up the pin. Shawn then slides underneath Arn and trips him up before diving over to Marty with the tag. Marty runs wild on both guys but as the ref is distracted, Arn chop blocks Marty while he was trying to suplex Tully as Tully falls on top for the win (11:34) ***1/2. After the match, the Rockers clear the ring.
Thoughts: A really good match here. The story of the veteran Brainbusters trying everything they can to outsmart the young Rockers told a great story. The Rockers also looked impressive in defeat as they were ready for just about everything the Brainbusters were throwing at them and lost due to cheating. Right off the bat, you could see how these teams clicked.
WWF Intercontinental Title Match: Honky Tonk Man w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Ultimate Warrior (c)
Warrior immediately runs in and beats on Honky then heads outside where he picks up Hart and carries him out back. Warrior returns and backs Honky into the ring where he beats him down. Honky gets his knees up on a splash attempt then starts kicking Warrior’s ribs as Hart returns and hits Warrior with the megaphone behind the referee’s back. Hart is now on commentary crying about what happened as Heenan advises him what to do while Honky is outside and hits Warrior with his guitar, very weakly I might add. Back inside, Warrior fights back but misses a corner splash as Honky then chokes out Warrior with a piece of string he pulled out from his ropes while Hart provides a distraction. The ref looks as Honky switches over to a nerve hold as Warrior escapes and hits a clothesline. Warrior then yanks a tassle off of his knee pads and starts choking out Honky while the ref is yelling at Hart, who is on the apron. Hart then grabs a handful of powder to through into the Warrior’s face but Warrior pushes his hand up as Hart gets the powder in his face then Warrior tosses Hart at Honky then covers for the win (6:50) 1/4*.
Thoughts: This was a lousy match. Nothing Honky did looked even close to believable and it was all smoke-and-mirrors for the most part. This pretty much marked the end of their feud too.
“Dangerous” Danny Davis vs. Harley Race
Race gets attacked while entering the ring. Davis knocks Race outside and roughs him up for a bit. They head inside as Heenan talks about Race’s surgery while Davis is choking Race out. Race then starts no-selling headbutts and punches as he takes Davis down with a headbutt of his own. They head outside where Race slams Davis’ head off of the table in front of Heenan and yells as Heenan seems confused. The action heads back inside where Davis heads up top after a brief comebck but Race cuts him off and hits a superplex for the win (3:14) 1/2*. After the match, Race slaps Heenan, who still seems shocked as to why he would do that.
Thoughts: The match was really slow and heatless. Race’s feud against Heenan just did not get over and they never even gave it much of a chance due to how it was handled. Despite all of that, Race just felt too out of place in the WWF at this time.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Match: King Haku vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth
Before the match, Savage yells at Heenan to stay away from Elizabeth. Haku attacks Savage to start off the match and stays in control. He hits an inverted atomic drop then we hear a vocal minority chant “Haku sucks” as he hits Savage with a pair of backbreakers for a nearfall. Haku whiffs on a dropkick as Savage takes control. However, Haku blocks a neck snap and starts choking out Savage from the apron. Haku targets the ribs after a reverse chinlock but Savage fights back and gets two with a back elbow smash. Haku boots Savage in the face then roughs him up in the corner before applying a nerve hold. Haku then cuts off another Savage comeback attempt and heads up top but misses a splash as Savage runs up top for the flying elbow drop and the win (9:22) *1/4. After the match, Heenan is shown with his head down on commentary as he is very disappointed.
Thoughts: This was heatless for the most part and at no point felt like a World Tittle match. The King Haku gimmick never got over as someone who could be a worthy challenger anyway. The crowd did pop for the finish though.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Frenchy Martin w/ Dino Bravo
What a treat! Bravo waves the Quebec flag to counter the “USA” chants from the crowd. After some stalling, Hacksawn takes Frenchy down as Frenchy complains of a hair pull. Frenchy keeps rolling outside as he cannot muster any offense then finally lands some stomps and chokes Duggan out after Bravo provided the distraction. Bravo hits Duggan with the flag but even manages to f--- that up as he completely whiffed on the first attempt. Duggan then fights back and hits Frenchy with the Three Point Stance for the win (5:02) DUD. After the match, Bravo attacks Duggan from behind and celebrates with Frenchy until Duggan chases them off with his 2×4. Duggan then leads the crowd into more “USA” chants.
Thoughts: This match was complete s--- but as we see later, it was to build to a match at next month’s show.
Brother Love is in the ring and welcomes out Elizabeth. He asks her if what Bad News Brown said about her providing favors for Jack Tunney was true. Brother Love keeps pulling the microphone away from her then Elizabeth says that Savage as something to say about this as Savage appears and backs Brother Love into the corner where he announces he will put up the title in a match at next month’s show. A solid way to promote next month’s event and seeing how many empty seats were here (the attendance was a pathetic 5,723, which is less than half what they drew last month with Hogan vs. Bossman as the main event) they needed all the help they could get. It worked a little bit as they drew 6,018 the following month and it goes to show you just how big of a draw Hogan was and how poorly Savage drew as the champ towards the end of his babyface run.
Mel Phillips lists off the card for next month’s show with includes: Akeem vs. Blue Blazer; Greg Valentine vs. Ronnie Garvin; The Bolsheviks vs. The Bushwhackers; Ted DiBiase vs. Hercules; Dino Bravo vs. Jim Duggan in a Flag Match; Demolition vs. Powers of Pain for the Tag Team Titles; and Randy Savage vs. Bad News Brown for the World Heavyweight Title. I have this show but will not be reviewing it as I have zero interest in doing so.
Andre the Giant vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Andre threatens to leave as Heenan gets on the mic and demands Jake remove Damien from the apron or else there will not be a match. Jake eventually shoves Damien underneath the ring. The match starts with Jake beating on Andre as he ties him up in the ropes and chokes away. Andre escapes then chokes Jake out against the ropes and grabs a headlock. Jake elbows out of that but Andre sends him into the corner with a headbutt. Andre rams Jake into the corner a few times. Jake then dodges an attack and whips the crowd into a frenzy as he signals for the DDT but Andre shoves him down and chokes Jake out again. Jake catches Andre with a boot then takes him down with an attack from the middle rope as he heads outside and slides Damien into the ring. Heenan runs in for the save but Jake catches him with a knee lift. Andre then leaves in a panic as the referee rules the match a DQ in Andre’s favor (6:20) 1/2*.
Thoughts: They did about the best they could here, given that Andre’s mobility was quite limited. The crowd popped huge for the DDT spot but other than that there was not much heat.
Final Thoughts: Overall, it was subpar for a house show. The lack of attendance was worrisome as there were entire sections that were empty. They barely filled 1/3 of the arena. The card was decent on paper as there was two title matches and we got to see some of the top TV feuds but besides the tag match the action was really lacking. I get why it happened as they all had to work later on this night and it was just one more day before their holiday break but it was still dull to watch.
Here is my schedule for the next several days:
Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 12/18/88
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 12/24/88
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 12/25/88
Monday: WWF Madison Square Garden 12/30/88