The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Philadelphia Spectrum 08.27.88
Off to Philly this time for another hour of old school house show goodness in the thick of Randy Savage’s first title reign, right before Summerslam 88. Don’t worry, I’m running out of the hour-long versions on the Network to review.
Taped from Philly, PA.
Your hosts are Dick Graham, Superstar Graham & Lord Alfred Hayes. Good lord.
The Hart Foundation v. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Oh man, the wide shot reveals that this arena is EMPTY. Attendance was apparently 4418, but they’re all concentrated in the middle on the hard camera side. So after we just reviewed the Boston show where these two opened the show shortly before Wrestlemania III, now they’ve switched and Harts are freshly turned babyface while the Rougeaus are heel. Raymond does some fancy wristlock escape, but gets overpowered by Anvil and retreats. Ray grabs a headlock and dropkicks Anvil down, but Neidhart gets his own and sends Raymond to the floor. Don’t see that very often. Bret comes in and the Rougeaus immediately complain that Bret’s hair is too greasy and the ref should check it. Check it for what? Jacques stalls and stalls and then offers a handshake, but takes Bret down and does some gymnastics. So he tries the same gag again, but this time Bret waits for him to drop down, and drops an elbow on him. And of course the Rougeaus stall for a while longer while Jacques sells his crippling throat injury. Raymond tries a sunset flip and gets blocked by Bret, and the Harts take him to the corner and beat on him there for a bit. Old habits die hard, as Bret chokes Raymond out behind the ref’s back with the tag rope, and then Neidhart goes to a chinlock. This is very definitely a “rest up before Summerslam” house show match. Bret comes in with the backbreaker for two on Raymond and goes to his own chinlock. Finally the Rougeaus turn the tide with a cheapshot and get Bret into their own corner for some double-teaming. They switch off on a chinlock while a frustrated Neidhart keeps running in to break it up, thus keeping the ref distracted. Come on, it’s just a chinlock, I’m sure Bret can get out on his own. Raymond tries a slam and Bret reverses for two, but then Neidhart distracts the ref AGAIN like a moron and the Rougeaus double-team Bret with a backbreaker onto Jacques’ knee for two. Bret fights back with a small package for two and heads over for the hot tag to Neidhart, but sadly the ref was preoccupied and misses it. So Jacques goes to the abdominal stretch and uses leverage from Raymond, and Ray adds the savate kick for two. Jacques tries a monkey flip in the corner and Bret blocks it with an atomic drop, and it’s hot tag Anvil. He runs the Rougeaus into each other and Jacques lands on the floor, leaving Raymond alone with Anvil for a beating. Back elbow gets two. Demolition elbow gets two. Bret goes after Raymond and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Bret hits a piledriver on Raymond behind the ref’s back while he’s busy with Neidhart, and Jacques hits Bret off the top and switches off for the pin at 18:00. This was just a super simple, safe tag team match with all the normal, classic stuff. **1/2
WWF title: Randy Savage v. Ted Dibiase
Savage attacks to start and he’s wearing a BADASS gear combo tonight, with blue tights and yellow boots.
(Edit: Had to remove the picture of Savage because it was TOO SEXY for Google)
AWESOME. Savage beats on him out of the ring and back in again for elbows in the corner, but Dibiase tosses him to get a breather and then runs him into the ringside table. Dibiase chokes him out in the ring and chops him down to set up the fistdrop. He goes up with the middle rope elbow and offers some words for Liz, and then goes back to beating on Savage with an atomic drop for two. Savage gets an inside cradle for two and fights back with a suplex, but Dibiase slugs him down again and chokes him out on the ropes for two. Macho fights back again and slugs away in the corner, then flies up to the top for the double axehandle, but Dibiase catches him with a shot on the way down. Dibiase with a backbreaker and he goes up for the elbow that never hits, and as usual it doesn’t hit. I swear I’d have a heart attack if that thing ever connected. Savage fights back and makes the comeback with the hooking clothesline and necksnaps him on the top rope, then follows with a clothesline to the floor. Savage follows with the double axehandle to the floor and they head back in for another double axehandle to set up the big elbow, but Virgil distracts him and gets beaten up for his troubles. Dibiase charges and hits his own man, and Savage rolls him up for two. Thought that was the finish. Dibiase catches him with a cheapshot and sets up the Million Dollar Dream, but Savage collapses into the ropes to escape. So Virgil clobbers him with a chair behind the ref’s back, but that only gets two in another great near-fall. Virgil tries to interfere again and undoes a turnbuckle this time, but Savage rams Dibiase into the steel and both guys are out. Savage recovers first and gets two, but Virgil interferes one more time and this time the ref calls for the DQ at 13:08. The heels double-team Savage afterwards, and as usual Elizabeth is NO HELP there, and Hulk is probably busy getting his “prescription” refilled before the PPV and thus Savage has to make his own save. Hell of a fight here, as these two were incapable of having anything less than a better than average match, and they were both feeling it tonight. ***1/2
Jake Roberts v. Rick Rude
Speaking of cool tights, check out this variation from Jake:
(Edit: Also removed Jake’s tights because SEXY. TOO SEXY.)
Never seen that one before. Jake attacks to start and takes Rude down with a headlock after punching him to block a leapfrog. Jake keeps grinding on the headlock, but Rude takes him to the corner for shoulderblocks, which just lets Jake hit him with a kneelift. Rude wisely bails to escape the DDT and then grabs his own headlock, but Jake grabs the snake bag and Rude runs away again. Jake hauls him in and slugs away while holding a headlock, but Rude catches him with a high angle suplex to escape a headlock…and Jake hangs on. I always like that spot. So Jake grinds on that and Rude gets to the ropes before finally hitting Jake with an atomic drop to take control. Jake lands on the floor and Rude runs his arm into the post a few times to work on that, and then back in with a double axehandle off the top and onto the shoulder. Luckily, there’s always time to swivel the hips, and he goes to work with a hammerlock on the mat. Rude works on that while making faces at the crowd, but Jake fights out of it and sends him to the floor. Rude pops back in via the top rope and stomps Jake down, and it’s back to the arm again. These two never really had barnburners on the house show circuit and this one is half again of their normal speed. Rude offers more gyrations, but jumps on Jake’s shoulder and hurts his own crotch in a cute variation of his usual atomic drop sell. Jake charges him, however, and hits boot in the corner. Rude tries to go up to the top rope, but his groin is just too painful and he can’t make it there and opts for another armbar instead. Jake escapes from that with a jawbreaker and slugs away to make the comeback, setting up the kneelift. Rude hides in the ropes to escape the DDT, so Jake pulls the tights and we get some blurred-out ass to set up the short-arm clothesline. Jake does his own gyrations, which are much more disturbing than Rude’s, but he goes for the DDT and the ref gets pulled in between them and knocked out. This allows Rude to hit the Rude Awakening, but the ref is still out and it only gets two. Rude jumps on the leg and misses, allowing Jake to roll him up for two. And they fight to the floor and Rude goes for the snake, which distracts Jake long enough to allow Rude to beat the count at 18:50. However, Jake gets his revenge afterwards with the DDT on Rude and puts the snake on him to send the crowd home happy. Really slow match. **
Overall, I’d call this one worth a watch. The Savage-Dibiase match in particular is worth your hour invested into the show by itself.