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, starting today. 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?

Wrestlefest 1988
Date: July 31, 1988
Location: County Stadium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Attendance: 25,866
Commentators: Sean Mooney, Billy Graham, Lord Alfred Hayes

This is a big show with a huge double main event. In addition to the aforementioned Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant cage match, Randy Savage will be defending the World Title against Ted DiBiase in a rematch of the main event of Wrestlemania IV. DiBiase is one of the best heels of all time and at the top of his game here so the match should be a gem. Let’s get to it.

The announcers welcome us to the show but the shot looks weird, like they’re not really in the stadium. You can see the people moving but it looks more like a green screen than anything else.

Also of note: the stadium looks full to capacity which would mean about 53,000 people. The official attendance is less than half of that though, which makes me think either someone goofed or the outfield bleachers are completely empty.

Big Boss Man vs. Scott Casey

This wasn’t on the home video release, likely for time reasons. Casey is a pretty basic guy from Texas who later trained Booker T. Boss Man is well known enough and is just HUGE here, weighing nearly 400lbs. They trade wristlocks to start with the fans entirely behind Casey. Well it’s probably more about being anti-Boss Man which is just as good for someone in Casey’s position.

Casey’s wristlock keeps Boss Man in trouble before a backbreaker plants him down. The announcers talk about Boss Man wrestling at Summerslam 1988 in another match that was clipped for some reason. A bearhug (you can’t even see Casey behind Boss Man) is broken up with some ear slaps but Casey’s sleeper is broken up even faster. The Boss Man Slam (a bad one at that) puts Casey away at 4:15.

Rating: D. Boss Man would get WAY better once he lost about 100lbs and started wrestling a much faster paced style. He certainly had charisma though as his feud with Hogan drew ridiculous money soon after this, even without the title on the line. This was a sloppy match though with Boss Man just being too big to do a lot of stuff properly but the fans were in it.

Hercules vs. Brutus Beefcake

This was also clipped from the tape and Beefcake is now a barber and a good guy. They lock up to start with Beefcake actually pushing him into the corner for a surprising power victory. A slugout goes to Brutus as well and Hercules is knocked out to the floor. We hit the stall button for a bit until Hercules gets back in and has his head rammed into the buckle a few times.

Brutus starts throwing lefts and rights at the same time, only to get sent out to the floor to slow things down again. That means it’s time to hit the chinlock for a bit before a hard knee to the ribs drops Brutus one more time. Back to the chinlock until Brutus fights up and slugs away. The full nelson is broken up and Brutus grabs a rollup for the pin at 9:37.

Rating: D+. This was a little better but still nothing worth seeing, which is probably another reason it was cut off the video. Brutus was certainly not a great performer but he had so much charisma that he could carry a match to at least passable. Wins like these kept him in the Intercontinental Title hunt for a good while even though he never really won anything on his own.

Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. Killer Bees

The Rougeaus are now heels and the Bees wear long tights. Brunzell and Raymond trade some basic arm stuff to start until Raymond bails to the outside. Back in and some headlocks are countered by Brunzell’s headscissors before it’s off to Jacques vs. Blair. A monkey flip puts Blair down and Jacques stops to hug his brother. Hayes suggests that the Bees are too overweight to be successful (based on their physiques he might not be too far off) but Blair runs Jacques over to show the weight might have something to it.

It’s back to Brunzell who is quickly taken down by the leg so the Rougeaus can spin it around a bit. Blair comes back in and starts kicking at Raymond’s knee, followed by a double spinning toehold as this is taking its sweet time. Raymond gets over for a tag but Jacques pauses to try and help his brother’s leg. Now it’s Jacques having his leg worked on until he grabs the ropes to escape a Boston crab.

Raymond comes in instead and puts on his own Boston crab to bring us into a more standard formula of working on Blair’s back. Jacques grabs an abdominal stretch so Raymond can kick Blair in the ribs for two. A monkey flip is countered with an atomic drop and the hot tag brings in Brunzell to take over. Jim’s Figure Four goes nowhere so he hits that great dropkick of his for two as everything breaks down. With the referee distracted, Raymond punches Brunzell so Jacques can fall on him for the pin at 13:58.

Rating: D. WAY too long here, especially for a match that is opening the tape. It’s not the worst match in the world by any means but the Bees looked horrible here (which probably has something to do with this being their last major match as a team) and didn’t have anything resembling the fire and energy that made them so entertaining for years.

Bad News Brown vs. Bret Hart

Brown is a very angry man from Harlem who was a legitimate Olympic medalist in judo. He also eliminated Bret to win a battle royal at Wrestlemania to set this up. Hart is still just a tag wrestler at this point so Brown should be a heavy favorite. Brown sends him into the buckle to start but Bret jumps over him in the corner and hammers away before stomping on Brown’s ribs. The offense works fine until Bret charges into a boot.

Brown tries to go up but gets slammed down for two, followed by a legdrop for the same. A hard clothesline out of the corner puts Bret down again, only to have Bret duck the Ghetto Blaster (running enziguri) and backdrop Brown to the floor. We get a high spot for the time as Bret planchas over the top, getting the crowd much more into things. Hart gets two off a sunset flip but his O’Connor Roll is countered into another rollup with Bad News pulling the tights for the pin at 6:27.

Rating: B. That was actually a heck of a match with Bret showing what he was capable of doing if you gave him the chance. It would be a long time before he could really show off but it was clear that there was a lot of potential. Most importantly here though was Bret going from nothing at the beginning of the match to someone the fans wanted to cheer by the end. That’s really impressive for just seven minutes and it was a sign of things to come.

Post match Bret’s partner Jim Neidhart runs out to protest before helping Bret beat Bad News up a bit.

Intercontinental Champion the Honky Tonk Man (Champion for over a year despite getting beaten from pillar to post by every opponent because he would cheat to escape with the title like few villains could ever dream of doing.) and manager Jimmy Hart promise to embarrass Jim Duggan (I’m pretty sure you know him).

Intercontinental Title: Jim Duggan vs. Honky Tonk Man

Duggan is challenging of course and Honky Tonk hides on the apron to start. An early chase sends Honky Tonk around the ring until Duggan starts slugging him down with the ten punches in the corner. Mooney: “I’d like to see him go to eleven once just to throw everyone off.” Eh worth a chuckle. A big clothesline drops Honky Tonk but he gets in a knee to the head and some right hands of his own. Duggan comes right back with an atomic drop and elbow but Hart grabs Duggan’s leg for the DQ at 4:37.

Rating: D. Another match where the time took away anything they could have done, but when you think about it this was about all there was anyway. Honky Tonk wasn’t going to be worth anything on offense so just have them do the quick match with Duggan destroying him until Honky Tonk got disqualified or counted out or whatever it was that night.

Post match Duggan avoids the guitar and chases the villains off. He even gets the guitar away from Honky Tonk and smashes it with his 2×4.

Powers of Pain vs. Bolsheviks

The Powers of Pain (Barbarian and Warlord) are big bruisers and Road Warriors knockoffs. They’re new around here at the moment and actually faces for now. The Bolsheviks are Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov in your standard evil Russian team. The Russians are destroyed to start and knocked out to the floor before we settle down to Volkoff vs. Barbarian.

This doesn’t exactly go well for Nikolai so it’s quickly off to Zhukov who eats a powerslam. Warlord comes in for a test of strength with Volkoff which is much more to the Russian’s liking. Boris gets in a cheap shot from behind to keep Warlord down before both guys tag out again. This time Boris is smart enough to stay away from Barbarian by avoiding a charge in the corner to send Barbarian into the post. The double teaming doesn’t work though and it’s back to Warlord as everything breaks down. Warlord powerslams Boris and Barbarian adds a top rope headbutt for the pin at 6:47.

Rating: C-. I liked this one more than I was expecting as the Powers looked good, though it’s very clear that they would be a lot better as heels. The Bolsheviks are one of the least interesting teams that you could find and it was pretty obvious that they were never going anywhere. At least the Powers looked good and were never in the slightest bit of trouble.

Jim Neidhart vs. Lanny Poffo

Poffo is Randy Savage’s real life brother who would write poems on Frisbees and send them into the crowd. I’ve heard worse ideas. Poffo slams the bigger Neidhart (also known as the Anvil) to start and tries a moonsault (a big spot at the time) but only hits knees. Some shoulders to the ribs have Poffo in trouble and a powerslam puts him away at 2:37.

WWF World Title: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase

Savage is defending and this also isn’t on the tape for reasons that I’ll never understand. DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil goes after Ms. Elizabeth to start and that’s just not going to fly with Savage. The distraction lets DiBiase hammer away to start until Savage drops him with a running clothesline. A running knee sends Ted out to the floor and it’s time to be frustrated.

Back in and DiBiase counters a sunset flip to take over and takes it right back outside. He sends Savage face first into the timekeeper’s bell before sending the champ inside for two off a clothesline. Hayes is WAY too calm for a match this big and it’s kind of distracting. DiBiase gets in a backbreaker but Savage reverses a suplex into one of his own.

They slug it out from their knees (which Mooney says looks like “A midget boxing match.”) before DiBiase grabs a very long chinlock. The champ breaks the hold but DiBiase avoids a running knee in the corner to keep himself in control. Back up and Savage punches him out of the air as things turn around. DiBiase is sent head first into the turnbuckle a few times and a top rope ax handle drops him again.

Virgil offers a distraction to give Ted a break but it only gets his boss rolled up for two. The second attempt works a bit better with Virgil getting in a chair shot behind the referee’s back for a very near fall. Hayes thinks the referee should have at least heard that and he’s probably right for a change. DiBiase goes to pick Savage up but gets small packaged for the pin to retain Savage’s title at 14:52.

Rating: B. Quite a good match here but it wasn’t as strong as it could have been. It was like they didn’t have much of a formula to follow here and it brought things down a bit. As in DiBiase would do a few moves but it didn’t feel like it was building towards anything. Still though, this was the only logical opponent for Savage, even though DiBiase has cooled off a good bit since the loss in the title match.

DiBiase and Virgil go after Savage post match but the champ clears them out without much effort.

Terry Taylor vs. Curt Hennig

Again, not on the tape. This is the debut for both guys for all intents and purposes. Taylor is a talented guy who had success around the territories and Hennig would of course become Mr. Perfect. Feeling out process to start with Taylor dropping Curt before snapping off some armdrags. A hard shoulder puts Hennig down again and it’s off to a hard headlock. Taylor gets two off a backslide before Curt snaps off a knee lift, only to have the fans ignore the match and look at something opposite the camera. Taylor slugs away but eats a hard running forearm to the head for the pin at 4:52.

Rating: C. This could have been good with some more time but the ending was really weird as Hennig just hit him with a forearm for the pin. Taylor would have his career crippled soon after this with the Red Rooster gimmick while Hennig would become a star as Mr. Perfect. Allegedly Taylor turned down the Mr. Perfect character and was given the Rooster gimmick as a result, which goes to show you that things aren’t always as they seem. Well that and that Hennig was much better than Taylor.

Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude

Another Wrestlemania rematch but in this case there’s another big story added. Rude did a thing where he would kiss a random woman in the audience. He tried that on another given woman but it turned out to be Roberts’ wife Cheryl, triggering a huge feud during which Rude was stripped “naked” on TV. Rude talks about how his hip swiveling has Cheryl going crazy so here’s Jake to the ring to take over fast.

A gutbuster sends Rude to the floor, even though the abs are always a strong point for him. Back in and Rude loads up the posing, only to have the threat of a DDT send him bailing outside again. Rick tries to head in again and this time grabs a chinlock, which could go on for a good while if their Wrestlemania match is any indication.

Thankfully it’s only a few moments this time before Rude drops an elbow for two instead. It’s already back to the chinlock with Rude throwing his feet on the ropes. The referee sees it but just lets the match keep going after giving Rude a not very stern warning. The hold stays on for about two minutes until Roberts gets to his knees and spins his head around, making it more like a cheeklock instead. Well at least it’s something different.

Rude is finally driven into the buckle to break things up but Roberts can’t follow up. Instead it’s Rick coming off the top with a fist drop to the face, only to have Jake get up and tell Rude to bring it. Rick does just that by going up top so Jake can crotch him down for the comedy spot of the night so far. The fans want the DDT but have to settle for some fast punches and a knee lift. Rude’s tights are pulled WAY too far down before the DDT, which somehow crushed the referee in the process. That means no count so Rude bails, only to have Jake follow for the double countout at 15:23.

Rating: D. For some reason these two are incapable of having a good match together. This was very similar to their Wrestlemania match as it kept dragging on longer and longer, mainly due to a rest hold, before the draw finish. This kind of thing gets annoying in a hurry and it’s a shame too as these guys should have been able to have some very entertaining matches against each other. Rude was till a goon at this point though and that was going to hold him back to a strong degree, but this was just awful.

Post match Jake throws the snake on Rude, causing it to wrap up tightly in a good looking visual.

King Haku vs. Sam Houston

Haku is now the King of the WWF (a title that didn’t last long) and Houston is a cowboy. Houston gets pounded down by the much bigger Haku to start but Sam comes back with an armdrag. Of course that means the armbar because what else is Houston supposed to do? Haku throws him throat first onto the top rope and stays on the throat by catapulting him into the bottom rope. A hard clothesline sets up a nerve hold but Haku misses an elbow. Sam fires off some right hands and a clothesline, only to eat a superkick and jumping headbutt for the pin at 5:04.

Rating: C-. Completely acceptable power vs. speed match here with Houston trying but having no chance against someone like Haku. There’s always a place on the card for a simple little match like this and it helps that they didn’t waste all their time in that nerve hold as I was expecting them to do.

Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby Heenan

This is a Weasel Suit match where the loser has to wear said suit. Yeah this isn’t exactly a complicated idea and I think you know where it’s going. Warrior stomps on the suit before the match and it’s off to an early chase. Heenan runs to the floor and gets chased in circles, only to have Warrior duck low and surprise him with a clothesline to get the beating going. Back in and Heenan gets a few foreign object shots to Warrior’s throat. This has about the effect you would expect as Warrior starts ripping off some chops and a hard whip to send Bobby into the corner. A sleeper of all things knocks Heenan out at 4:56.

Rating: D. Ok yeah the wrestling was nothing but that wasn’t the point here. The fans got to see Heenan get beaten up and then the post match stuff is the real attraction. As mentioned earlier, Heenan is able to take a beating like this and then bounce back with a simple promo later on. The wrestling was worthless but that’s not the point here, which is just fine.

This one speaks for itself:

video
The unconscious Heenan is put in the suit and Graham hopes there’s something in there with him, such as itching powder or a snake. Heenan wakes up and sees that he now has a tail, sending him into a spiral until he falls down for a good laugh from the fans.

Tag Team Titles: Demolition vs. British Bulldogs

Demolition (Ax and Smash), with Mr. Fuji, is defending and this is one of the last runs for the Bulldogs. Smash and Davey get things going with Smith taking over off a wristlock and bringing in Dynamite, who is easily carried into the corner. Ax comes in for his quick ax handles and the fans are clearly very entertained. The champs start taking turns on Dynamite’s back until Ax slaps on a nerve hold.

Graham thinks that Hayes should manage the Bulldogs because all British people are the same and get along. Hayes has actually thought about it and wants them to be more ruthless. Back to Smash for the bearhug but Dynamite escapes and dives over for the tag to Davey as everything breaks down. Ax knees him in the back though and it’s already back to Dynamite. A press slam sends Dynamite onto Smash with a headbutt as Mr. Fuji gets on the apron. The distraction lets Smash blast Dynamite with Fuji’s cane for the pin to keep the belts at 7:03.

Rating: C-. Certainly not bad again here but you can see that the Bulldogs aren’t exactly trying. That being said, the point here was to put Demolition over and that’s exactly what they did. I’m sure this would have been a frequent match on house shows but it still wasn’t exactly thrilling. For a big house show with no story though, this was fine.

Dino Bravo vs. Ken Patera

Both are strong men and Patera used to be an Olympian weightlifter but a jail stint destroyed his career and he’s a shell of himself here. He’s a shell that jumps Bravo at the bell though and a slam sends Dino outside. Back in and Bravo grabs an atomic drop to set up some choking because he’s a villain and that’s what he does. Things settle into a basic squash formula with Bravo sending him into the buckle but eating an elbow for two. Patera misses a charge though and Bravo’s side slam (yes a side slam) gives him the pin at 3:28.

Rating: D-. Patera was so bad at this point that the announcers were telling him to retire a few weeks after this. These power vs. power matches rarely work and this was no exception with Bravo, a career midcarder who never had much success in the WWF, working circles around Patera here. Bad match and something that really didn’t need to exist here.

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan

Inside a cage, which is only about a foot taller than Andre, meaning the Giant stands about 14 feet tall. Hogan slugs away to start but gets choked with his own shirt. Well that’s what he gets for being so aggressive. Graham thinks Hogan looks normal compared to Andre. So in Graham’s mind, most people are orange and wear yellow trunks? Hogan hammers away in the corner as the announcers discuss how to win for the second time in two minutes.

Hulk starts with the ten punches until Andre just grabs the arm for the block. That’s not something you ever see but Andre can pull it off. Andre ties Hogan to the cage with the shirt, which works as well as you would expect it to. Hogan puts on something like a standing chinlock as they fight over taking off a buckle pad. As Graham says, why bother doing that WHEN YOU’RE SURROUNDED BY STEEL???

It’s Hogan going face first into the exposed buckle and we’ve got blood. A headbutt makes things worse for him but Hulk is still able to grab Andre’s leg to keep him inside. Back up and Hogan clotheslines him, followed by a bunch of right hands to finally put Andre down. There’s the big leg but Heenan comes in for a distraction. Andre TRIES TO CLIMB OUT but Hogan ties him in the ropes, beats up Heenan a bit, and climbs out at 10:04.

Rating: D. Eh it’s a stadium cage match. They’ve done these things for years and it’s not like anyone was expecting a masterpiece here. Hogan going over to send the fans home happy was the only way to end things and it’s not like Andre was going to be able to do anything special in the ring at this point anyway. It wasn’t good but it was really all you could expect.

video

The announcers wrap it up.

Overall Rating: D+. There’s some good stuff on here but the home video editing was just weird. We get Bravo vs. Patera and Neidhart vs. Poffo but can’t get the World Title match? It wasn’t a very good show as it was of course and that’s all you can expect here. Basically this was a big extended (FIFTEEN MATCHES) bunch of Wrestlemania rematches and other stuff to fill out a card which isn’t going to work all that well, especially when the wrestling is mostly awful. There’s some watchable stuff here but you would be better off just picking and choosing a few matches.

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. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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