Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
The Main Event #1
Date: February 5, 1988
Location: Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant II. I’m not sure what else there is to say here because that’s all that could possibly matter with this show. This is the long awaited rematch from WrestleMania 3, which featured a bit of a controversial moment where Hogan may not have gotten his shoulder up in time. There is some other stuff around here but do you really think it matters? Let’s get to it.
Randy Savage promises to knock Honky Tonk Man back to Memphis.
Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart (oddly enough not wearing his sunglasses) say Savage can’t hold onto the title or his woman. Hart uses the same “at least it wasn’t a piano” line from a few months back.
DiBiase says Andre is the real champion and the belt will fit around his waist, just like his hands fit around Hogan’s neck. Andre promises to do it again and again.
Hogan is ready to use the powers of Hulkamania to fight off Andre. All of the Hulkamaniacs are in his corner because Hulkamania will never die.
Opening sequence, using the same style of clips and the same song from Saturday Night’s Main Event.
The set has changed a bit as there’s now a WWF logo over the entrance, which would become a standard for the era.
Vince does the intro over the loudspeaker for a change. Jesse is next to him, wearing a large leopard print wizard’s hat. At least the point is black to make it look slightly less ridiculous. He predicts all of the villains winning tonight.
We get a Hogan training montage, set to what would become Jake Roberts’ music.
Honky Tonk Man reiterates that Elizabeth is head over heels for him. After retaining the title tonight, he’s going to take her to the Heartbreak Hotel, where he won’t be cruel because Elizabeth wants her to love her tender. The Hotel is, of course, in the ghetto.
Savage, barely able to drown on Honky Tonk’s music, says those comments just give him more motivation.
Intercontinental Title: Honky Tonk Man vs. Randy Savage
Honky Tonk has Jimmy Hart, in addition to girlfriend Peggy Sue, a stereotypical 50s girl played by Sherri Martel. Like any dimwitted heel, the champion looks surprised when his opponent’s music hits. Savage goes after Hart, leaving Honky Tonk Man to shake his hips in front of Elizabeth. The chase is quickly on outside the ring with Savage catching up to Honky Tonk and snapping his throat across the top rope.
He rams Honky Tonk’s head into Hart’s, but Jimmy finally grabs Savage’s leg to give Honky Tonk an opening. Savage blocks a sunset flip attempt with a big right hand as the fans are just insane for this match. Back up and Savage misses a charge into the corner (a common mistake for him), only to avoid an elbow drop. The villains are still ready though as Hart runs into the ring and intentionally drops the megaphone, allowing Honky Tonk to nail Savage in the ribs for two.
We hit the chinlock on Savage before a knee to the ribs sends him out to the floor. The fans have settled down again but you can tell they’re waiting for a reason to explode. Peggy Sue: “That’s my Honky!” Honky Tonk starts getting cocky though, causing the fans to start chanting for Randy. Some elbows to the head start Savage’s comeback but another knee to the ribs stops him cold. The champ goes outside after Elizabeth with Peggy Sue and Jimmy cornering her from the other side.
Savage pops up for the save though and now Honky Tonk is begging off. The top rope ax handle to the head has Honky Tonk reeling and a second ax handle is good for two. Now Jimmy is dragged into the ring, only for Honky to accidentally get knocked to the floor. Savage grabs a sleeper but lets go when Peggy goes after Elizabeth. Honky Tonk goes after him but gets posted, allowing Savage to win by countout.
Rating: D+. It was actually a fairly dull match but the fans were white hot here. This continues to be the standard Honky Tonk Man formula and that reaction is the validation that it was working. The fans WANTED to see Honky Tonk Man lose and were willing to pay to be there when it happened, because it had to happen soon.
The other note here is that Honky Tonk Man really comes off as an idiot most of the time. He had Savage in major trouble but went outside to go after Elizabeth instead because he was too stupid to stay on his opponent. It made the fans even madder because someone like Savage, Steamboat or even Duggan or Beefcake were smart enough to go after an opponent when they were in trouble. They felt Honky Tonk Man didn’t deserve to have that title and he used every chance he had to drive them even crazier. It was a brilliant move and would keep going for a good while.
Honky Tonk Man gets the guitar post match and Savage starts backpedaling, right into the mega phone shot to the back of the head. Elizabeth gets in the ring and Honky Tonk Man stops his swing. The breather lets Savage get the guitar away and chase Honky Tonk away. He breaks the guitar on the post to relieve some tension. Savage holds the ropes open for Elizabeth because he’s a changed man and even puts Elizabeth on his shoulders. His day would come soon enough.
We recap the World Title match from Wrestlemania III with the controversial count as well as the contract signing at the 1988 Royal Rumble where DiBiase told Andre to put his stamp on it, leading to another beatdown of Hogan.
DiBiase says his bodyguard Virgil will make sure the referee calls a fair match and Andre can take care of Hogan. He’s spared no expense on Andre’s training and the Giant has never been more ready. Hogan’s account is overdrawn and Andre is going to close it. Andre again promises to never stop squeezing.
Hogan has looked at the film 1001 times and knows it was only a two count. He’s beaten Andre once before and he’s ready to do it again. Hogan has invested his training, prayers and vitamins into a profit sharing plan with his Hulkamaniacs. Tonight he’s ready for his biggest challenge. He makes a point to say that DiBiase has picked the referee.
WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Hogan is defending of course and clears the ring with the belt. Jesse is pleased that Joey Marella isn’t refereeing tonight and that we have a fair official in Dave Hebner. They stall for the first minute plus as Andre slowly gets in the ring. DiBiase tries to give him some last minute advice but Hogan beats up all three heels to get things going. The champ hammers away with all he’s got but Andre will not go down.
Even Jesse is stunned that Hogan can’t put Andre on the mat. A running clothesline in the corner has Andre staggered and the big wind-up punch still won’t do it. With nothing else working, Hogan goes up top but get slammed down, only to avoid a falling headbutt to finally put Andre down. Andre reaches up from the mat and grabs the choke though as momentum completely switches. A big slam puts Hogan down again as Andre is literally throwing him around the ring.
Virgil throws Hogan back inside and Andre chokes with the strap from his singlet. The champ is in trouble again but powers up to his feet and starts hammering away. The punches have more effect this time though and a middle rope clothesline drops Andre. Hogan drops the leg but Virgil has the referee. Back up and Andre plants some headbutts to the back of Hogan’s head. He hooks a kind of butterfly suplex and covers. Hogan clearly gets his arm up before two but Hebner never looks at it as he counts the three to give Andre the title.
Rating: D. As a wrestling match it was terrible but that’s not the point here. This was ALL storyline as Hogan’s title reign comes to an end after a remarkable four years plus. This is the first time a lot of fans are going to remember Hogan not being champion but it was a necessary step to find another top guy. The WWF knew the audience would be huge here and it made perfect sense to do something big to keep them coming back for more, which they did in droves.
Hebner raises Andre’s hand as Hogan pleads his case. Andre is awarded the title (now the famous Winged Eagle design, which was not the belt Hogan had in his pre-match interview due to a production blunder) and announced as the new champion as Jesse is almost giddy. Okerlund gets on the apron to interview Andre, who famously calls the title the World Tag Team Championship. He immediately surrenders the belt to DiBiase who puts it on and poses at a stunned Hogan. The villains bail and Hogan goes after Hebner as the announcers want to know if DiBiase is really champion.
As Hogan chases them off, Dave Hebner is confronted by…….DAVE HEBNER! There are two men in the ring in referee outfits and they’re identical. This was one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve ever seen in wrestling as no one knew that Hebner had an identical twin brother (Earl of course).
Hogan sees what’s going on and is even more stunned. He grabs both referees by the throat and demands to know what’s going on. They get in a fight and the evil one beats up the good one, meaning he’s the one who took the money. Hogan picks him up to throw at DiBiase and Virgil, but completely over throws him, sending Hebner down in a crash to the floor.
After a break, Hogan is near tears and demands to know how much the plastic surgery cost. He had everything covered and gets ripped off by a referee. We see the pinfall and there is no question that Hogan’s shoulder was up before two. Words can’t do justice for how insane Hogan sounded here, even though he has a totally valid complaint about the ending.
Tag Team Titles: Hart Foundation vs. Strike Force
Strike Force is defending and the bell for this match rang during Hogan’s rant. I love that actually as it makes the events feel so much more real as opposed to the heavily structured modern product. This is actually an interesting match as only about thirty seconds were originally shown as they ran out of time. However, the full version (at least the part after the commercial) is available on the WWE Network. Unfortunately that adds all of ten seconds to the match, giving us a total of under a minute shown. Martel is in trouble with Neidhart but Bret comes in and tries a sunset flip, only to have Martel drop down for the pin.
Overall Rating: D+. This is a show where you have to look past the wrestling, which is about as run of the mill and nothing special as you’re going to get. That being said, I see that argument and point you to the thirty three million viewers that watched this show on a Friday night. That number has never and will never be approached by a wrestling show in this or likely any other country ever again.
The show was a massive success and had one of the most amazing twists the company ever came up with. Hogan vs. Andre would continue as there had to be a resolution to the drama around the title, but for the next few days, DiBiase actually held the belt and even defended the title in a handful of matches against Bam Bam Bigelow as well as teaming with Andre in some tag matches against Bigelow and Hogan.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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