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?
WWF House Show
Date: August 13, 1988
Location: Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Superstar Billy Graham
It’s another show that was recently added to the Network and it’s from my favorite era so let’s take a look. Randy Savage is the World Champion here and defending against Andre the Giant while Hulk Hogan is taking a bit of a break. We’re also coming up on Summerslam so you can expect to hear quite a bit about the show. Let’s get to it.
The announcers talk about the World Title match a bit with Graham thinking Miss Elizabeth made a mistake by signing Savage to the contract. Since when can she do that?
Sam Houston vs. Black Jack
From what I can find, Jack is a local wrestler whose career started back in 1963. No wonder he’s under a mask. Graham thinks Houston needs to put on some weight, which likely means doing some steroids. To be fair he said the same thing about Elizabeth so the guy isn’t all there sometimes. Sam dances around the ring as is his custom but Jack bails to the apron. It works so well that they do it again as the announcers keep talking about Houston needing to gain weight.
Some hiptosses have Jack down and of course he’s complaining about a mask pull. A headlock slows Jack down again as the fans aren’t exactly thrilled with this. The solution? Talk about Jack’s beard. Back up and Sam slugs away but we’ll hit another headlock instead. A bad looking slam puts Sam down but he avoids an elbow. Even the announcers point out how many times Houston is using a headlock. Not that it matters as Jack sends him in but walks into the bulldog to give Sam the pin at 5:48.
Rating: D-. Terribly boring match here with most of it spent on a headlock. That’s a very poor choice for an opener too as the fans didn’t care and the whole thing felt like an exhibition in how to do a headlock. You can always tell when the announcers are bored and it’s not good when that’s the case less than ten minutes in.
Blue Angel vs. Barry Horowitz
Horowitz isn’t as big of a loser as he would become just yet. Angel is of course Owen Hart underneath a mask. Graham’s guess on why everyone is wearing masks: they owe back child support. Yeah Graham was kind of the Booker T. of his commentary of his day. Angel does his traditional spin out of a wristlock before bouncing all over the place for a wristdrag. It’s off to the hammerlock for a bit before Angel gets shouldered down, right into a nip up.
The armbar keeps Barry in trouble and Angel works on a series of arm locks. Barry finally gets up and chills in the corner for a bit, drawing a count for some reason. Billy says he can go to the ring for a twenty count if he needs. Since when is this Ring of Honor? A hammerlock slam sets up another armbar on Horowitz but a superkick of all things gets him out of trouble.
Instead of following up though, it’s time to pat himself on the back. Barry drives Angel’s head into a boot before poking through the mask to the eye. A butterfly suplex gives Barry two as the fans are trying to stay with this one (as they should be able to do). Another comeback is cut off by a kneelift, which continues Barry’s strategy of keeping things simple. The announcers aren’t even sure if Barry knows any more moves, which is about a condescending as you can get, especially from Graham.
Angel manages a sunset flip for two, which of course has Horowitz complaining about a pull of the trunks. Horowitz takes WAY too long going up and it’s a nip up into a missile dropkick to have Barry in some real trouble. A belly to belly (Gorilla: “Suplex City coming up.”) gives Angel two but he finishes with a decent looking moonsault at 14:36.
Rating: B-. Well that worked. Owen was clearly miles ahead of most wrestlers of this time, which is even sadder when you consider how long it took the company to figure out how good he was. Keep in mind that this was 1988 and he just did a MOONSAULT. That was insane back then (just look at Great Muta in the NWA) and something you just didn’t see around then. Horowitz looked good too, which isn’t surprising given how solid he really was. You don’t keep a job that long by being horrible.
Powers of Pain vs. Bolsheviks
This is during that weird face run for the Powers of Pain before the company realized the obvious. The Bolsheviks do their Russian national anthem until the Powers jump them from behind (capitalist jerks) to clear the ring in a hurry. The bell rings for a second time as it rang once during the blindside attack and again when the Bolsheviks got back in, making me wonder how incompetent this Hebner guy is.
Nikolai and Barbarian shove each other around to start as the announcers talk about the size of Boris’ head. Neither Russian can move Barbarian so it’s a powerslam for two on Boris. Nikolai makes the save and is smart enough to pull Boris over to his corner. Score one for the Russian school system. It’s off to Warlord for a test of strength and more cheating takes Warlord down. They try the same thing again but Warlord is ready for them this time (because Warlord is suddenly intelligent).
It’s off to Barbarian as the arm work begins, leaving the announcers to compare American and Russian athletes. A big boot gives Barbarian two but Warlord misses a charge, allowing the Russians to get in some token shots. All it takes is a double clothesline to put them both down though and it’s a hot tag to Barbarian. Everything breaks down and a powerslam into a flying headbutt is enough for the pin on Boris at 9:12.
Rating: D. Long and boring here with the Powers of Pain winning a match just a step above a squash. That being said, who in the world looks at the POWERS OF PAIN and thinks they should be a face team? The match was boring of course, mainly because there was no doubt over who was going to win the thing. Then again, the Bolsheviks are hardly worth anything in the first place.
Jesse Ventura comes out for commentary.
SD Jones vs. Curt Hennig
Hennig has only been around for a few weeks here. Feeling out process to start with pretty much nothing going on in the first minute. At least Jones lasted longer than the “eight seconds” at Wrestlemania. Jones cranks on a headlock as it’s pretty easy to see why he wasn’t exactly a top star around this point. It’s off to a hammerlock while Graham talks about Ventura wanting to be a lover in Hollywood. Hennig finally takes him down and drops some knees (albeit not perfectly).
We hit the Boston crab with Curt grabbing a rope, sending Jesse and Gorilla into an argument over breaking rules. I’ll let you figure out who is on which side. A bad looking backbreaker gives Hennig two as this is hardly lighting up the world. Instead, Graham asks Jesse some annoying questions about Hollywood that you can tell he doesn’t feel like answering. Jones fights back with some left hands and a headbutt as the fans just do not care.
The comeback seems to be in slow motion so let’s compare Hollywood to being a Navy SEAL. A powerslam gives Jones two (with one of the worst covers I’ve seen in a long time) and is nice enough to stand there while Hennig hammers away. Back to the Hollywood discussion as this match just won’t freaking end. Some right hands in the corner don’t do much on Hennig so he pops out of the corner with a hard forearm (one of his dad’s old finishers) for the pin at 13:08.
Rating: F+. I like Hennig but MY GOODNESS Jones was dragging this through the floor. This was one of the most uninteresting, dull matches I’ve seen in a good while as neither guy seemed interested in being out there and Jones looked to be about 59 years old. There was no fire or even energy here and it felt like it should have been about ten minutes shorter. Just awful stuff.
That’s it for Jesse. Thank goodness as I don’t think he could have handled any more movie questions.
WWF World Title: Andre the Giant vs. Randy Savage
Savage is defending of course and this should wake the fans up a bit. Actually hang on a second as the referee ejects Bobby Heenan before we’re ready to go. Liz gets to stay of course though because the referee is rather sexist. Andre isn’t pleased and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in wrestling, it’s that you don’t want a 7’ 500lb giant ticked off at you. Savage charges into a headbutt and falls outside in a heap.
Back in and we hit the choke as this is already looking like a squash. Andre chokes with his strap so Liz gets on the apron, allowing Andre to choke even more. Thanks a lot Liz. Another headbutt sends Savage outside but thankfully Andre doesn’t follow. Back in and Andre charges into a knee so Savage can get in some right hands, only to get dropped with another headbutt. I love how simple Andre’s offense was, because really what else did he need to do?
We hit the bearhug for a bit until Savage clotheslines him into the ropes, meaning Andre is tied up. Savage rips at the nose like a….well like a savage actually, until Andre gets an arm loose. More choking in the corner have Savage in trouble and Andre makes it worse by taking off a turnbuckle pad.
Naturally Andre headbutts it by mistake and Savage rams it in again a few more times. About five rams in a row FINALLY put Andre down and the flying elbow gets two. Andre is basically out on his feet so they fall outside with Savage ramming him into the steps. For some reason Andre grabs Liz by the leg, sending Savage outside after him for a double countout at 10:25.
Rating: C+. They were close here and if Savage had pinned Andre it would have blown the roof off the place. Andre was trying out there but there was only so much he could do by this point. I had a lot of fun with this one though and that’s more than I was expecting given how dull so much of this card has been.
Savage carries Liz to the back so Andre throws the title over his shoulder.
Earlier today, Rick Rude didn’t like Gorilla Monsoon calling Bobby Heenan a snake. Heenan calls Jake Roberts’ wife a slimy snake and Rude talks about being ready to take care of Roberts tonight. Just a quick filler as we’re probably on intermission.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers love America and can’t wait to move here.
Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. Hart Foundation
This should be good. Raymond starts with Neidhart and uses the referee to flip out of a wristlock. Well he’s resourceful. A shoulder block doesn’t go as well as Raymond is sent into the corner. Graham: “Neidhart reminds me of a block of granite.” A joke like that writes itself. Raymond flips out of a powerslam attempt and hits a dropkick to little avail, though he does get a hug from Jacques.
Neidhart is right back with a dropkick of his own to send Raymond outside and it’s off to Bret. The fans give quite the notable reaction when he comes in, which Monsoon ties back into the battle royal at Wrestlemania IV. Back in and Jacques keeps offering a left handed handshake, with even Gorilla seeing what’s coming. Bret reverses the ensuing Irish whip but Jacques flips over him to…..do nothing.
That’s enough for some stalling, including a chest massage for Jacques. The Harts are sick of waiting around though and take Raymond into the corner for a hard stomping. A backbreaker gets two on Raymond and we hit a rare face chinlock. Thankfully Graham gets the chance to mention talking to his opponents while holding a chinlock as a way to explain spot calling. Fair enough really.
Back up and Bret gets sent back first into the corner so we can have a target. It’s off to the reverse chinlock with the Brothers doing the behind the back switch. I know it’s a really common spot but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. Jacques gets two off a splash and it’s right back to the reverse chinlock. As usual, we get the hot tag but the referee doesn’t see it (still a classic).
We hit the abdominal stretch with Gorilla being RIGHT THERE to complain about Jacques’ form. The villains cheat and Gorilla is saying Neidhart should use his five seconds to come in for the save. Sweet goodness why did Ventura have to leave??? That would have been a field day. Bret finally reverses an Irish whip but still can’t make the hot tag. Therefore, let’s hit the FOURTH reverse chinlock. Come on people: come up with something else already.
With nothing else working, Bret rams Raymond face first into the mat. An atomic drop FINALLY allows the hot tag to Neidhart and the fans are right back into this. Neidhart whips them into each other but there’s no referee to count. Egads these Los Angeles referees are getting dumber by the match. The Harts hit something like a Demolition Decapitator (not mentioned by commentary) for two, followed by Bret planting Jacques with a piledriver. Raymond makes the save with a middle rope ax handle though and steals the pin at 17:43.
Rating: B-. This was more long than good with the never ending reverse chinlocks bringing it down a lot. That being said, it’s also rather entertaining at times with the Harts picking the Rougeaus apart and beating the heck out of them for awhile until they got to the second phase of the match. It was good stuff though as the tag division was at its peak around this time.
At this point, there was a Ron Bass vs. DJ Peterson match. Bass won, but more importantly before the match he challenged Monsoon to a fight. Monsoon got up and was ready to go, even taking off his sunglasses. Graham calmed him down, though that was a rather interesting idea that I’m sure they did multiple times. This was cut from the WWE Network version and might not have been filmed.
Before the main event, here’s Savage again to say that Elizabeth is injured really bad. And Savage just left her back there with Andre presumably back there as well? Anyway he has an open contract for the next time they’re in Los Angeles and he’ll kick Andre’s….I didn’t think you could say that in 1988. They would have a rematch next month with Savage winning via DQ.
Rick Rude vs. Jake Roberts
Big time feud at this point (Rude had offered a fan a chance to kiss him before the match, as was his custom. It just happened to be Jake’s wife and that’s not cool.) and a rematch from last month when Rude won via countout. No Heenan here for some reason, likely another pesky referee. We do the customary shots of women as Rude comes in and one is KNITTING. Well to be fair you can do it and watch the show at the same time so it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever see.
Jake starts fast with a knee lift but the threat of a DDT sends Rude bailing to the floor. Back in and Rude misses an ax handle, banging up his arm in the process. Gorilla uses the break to recap the feud because he’s a good announcer who knows how to do his job. Back in and Jake cranks on the arm with Rude’s hilarious selling ensuing. Rude gets lifted up by the bad arm and we hit the armbar. An attempt at a breather goes badly for Rude as well with Jake sending the bad arm into the post.
Back in and Rude tries for the snake bag but the referee throws it away as fast as he can. We hit something like an abdominal stretch on the mat with Graham thinking it’s over. The short clothesline misses and Rude hits a regular one of his own, albeit with the bad arm. Rude is good enough to take him outside for another posting.
Back in and we hit a one arm hip swivel as someone says one minute. We hit the reverse chinlock for a bit before Jake fights up for a hard whip into the corner. Jake can’t get the DDT so Rude throws him over the top and gets in another posting. Rude tries a slam back in but Jake grabs the rope….and falls on top for the very fast pin at 13:24.
Rating: B-. Well it was better than their mess at Wrestlemania IV. This was a bit rushed (especially the ending), though it felt like a teaser for a third match instead of the blowoff. These two had a long running feud and having them do this around the house show circuit made a lot of sense for the two of them. Good match, though nothing great.
We’re off the air maybe thirty seconds after the show, which makes me think they cut something off the end.
Overall Rating: C. This got much, much better in the second half but there was some awful stuff on here to cut it down. It’s not the biggest house show in the world but it’s cool to see a show with some continuity from month to month. The fans seemed to like it and really, as long as they keep buying a ticket for the next show, you can’t ask for much more. Not bad, though pretty standard for its time.
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. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!