February 19, 2006
Louis Izzo

WWF @ Madison Square Garden - February 20th, 1989

- Once upon a time live from New York City, NY from the home of the New York Rangers and Knicks (and misc. other stuff), it's the World Wrestling Federation! God damn, you got to love these old openings, especially since I grew up watching the MSG Network. The commentary team for us tonight consists of Lord Alfred Hayes and Rod Trongard (spelling courtesy of the graphic on the screen). In other words, cover your ears and shut your eyes, here's our next clue on Figure it Out.

Match #1: Jim Powers (New York, NY... 235 lbs.) vs. Iron Mike Sharpe (Hamilton, Ont... 282 lbs.)
Much like I did with WrestleMania I, and because it's the MSG Network, I'll be a super-mark and type up the graphic telling us the participants hometowns and weights, for those none of you that really give a crap. Choice sign being held up on the ringside security rail: "The Madness is Back!!!" (Savage had turned heel about 2 weeks earlier on the Main Event, for the unfamiliar). Jim Powers enters to "Crank it Up" or whatever, sung by Jimmy Hart. Basically the same opener from the Boston Garden event, except much longer, and even more boring. As usual, Iron Mike spends about 90% of the match stalling and grunting really loud to show that he's selling. Powers is decent for a guy his size, but he's no Bret Hart, so this match sucks. After hours of resting, stalling, and punching, the match is still going on. Powers eventually makes the Superman comeback, and pins Sharpe with one fucking ugly inside cradle at 12:18. Blech, that was just terrible. How the hell could anyone believe these two could go this long, especially since they were jobbing in 90 seconds or less on Superstars and Challenge on a weekly basis? I have yet to watch a good match that included Sharpe. (DUD)

Match #2: The Red Rooster (Vero Beach, FL... 241 lbs.) vs. The Brooklyn Brawler (Brooklyn, NY... 250 lbs.) (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Oh boy, I bet a lot of people don't understand this one, so I'll sacrifice my sanity by trying to explain it. Terry Taylor had debuted in the WWF in August '88, but was pretty much a Jobber, until he took on Bobby Heenan as his manager. Heenan, seeing Taylor as a big loser, renamed him his "Red Rooster", and held his hand through every much, which usually consisted of Taylor looking up at the lights. At the January '89 SNME, Rooster turned on Heenan following a loss to Tito Santana. To counter this, Heenan took on Steve Lombardi as his new protégé to take out the Rooster, who was now calling himself the Brooklyn Brawler. Yes, this match actually has build up! I'm just as amazed as anyone reading this. To finally top it off, the Rooster began to color his hair red and spike it up, to look like an actual Rooster. No wonder he'll never live this gimmick down.

Just as the bell rings, I should once again mention the BROOKLYN Brawler is wearing a New York Yankees shirt, who are also known as the BRONX Bombers. Logic in Wrestling. Brawler gets on the house mic' to run down the Rooster. Some people actually cheer the Brawler... I feel so dirty. Much like the match I reviewed on the Best of the WWF Vol. 20 (Coliseum Video), when Rooster is on offense, the match is very much watchable, but when the Brawler is in control, oh sweet Jesus does it get bad. This match is also about 10 minutes longer than that one, so the Brawler literally applies a headlock for 5 minutes. Amazing as it may be, but this is a total squash match... FOR THE BRAWLER! Rooster manages to fight free of the dreaded headlock, but a diving bionic elbow thing sends the Brawler onto the apron. If you don't know the finish... GRR! Anyway, Rooster tries a suplex back into the ring, but Heenan sweeps the leg from under him, and the Brawler gets the victory at 14:11. Yes, the BROOKLYN BRAWLER pinned Terry Taylor. This had to be the low point of Taylor's career. At least everyone else he jobbed to had talent. About 10 minutes of this match were chinlocks, and the rest was generally brawling. In other words, this dog sucks, baby. Rooster gets his "heat" back with a post-match assault, but really, he just jobbed to the biggest jobber of all fucking time. He couldn't get his heat back if he killed Hulk Hogan. (1/4*)

Match #3: Big John Studd (Los Angeles, CA... 384 lbs.) vs. Akeem (Deepest, Darkest Africa... 450 lbs.) (w/ Slick):
Lord Alfred, for once, says something insightful... this is the first time MSG has seen Big John Studd since October 1986 (good enough for me, since it sounds close enough). Studd has an early version of Jim Duggan's theme, for those that like that sort of tidbit. These two had an extended suckfest sequence in the 1989 Rumble Match, but I don't remember an angle being set up otherwise. Plenty of stalling before the match. We get some power stuff to show Big John Studd is stronger than Akeem. The highspot of the match is Studd taking Akeem over with an arm-drag. Everything from there is punch-kick-resthold. Akeem takes a good bump to the outside, where the action spills. Studd and Akeem weakly (and I mean WEAKLY) brawl outside the ring, leading to a Double Count-Out at 7:48. Oh well, at least the finish was different from the Boston match, but the rest was the same. Studd gets on the mic' afterwards (just like at Boston) and calls Akeem into the ring, and proceeds to slam him. Huzzah for the shop-keep! (DUD)

Match #4: The Bushwhackers (Butch & Luke... Combined: 499 lbs.) vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond... Combined: 483 lbs.):
The best part of this match is the Rougeau Brothers theme music ("...all we like to listen to is Barry Manilow!"). The Rougeau's are without Jimmy Hart for this match. The graphic actually refers to the Bushwhackers as "Butch Miller" and "Luke Williams", even though no one in the WWF did so. Once again, this match is pretty much move-for-move the same from the Boston Garden show. Thank God this is the last match to be like that until the Main Event, because I'm running out of things to say like that. If you've seen one Bushwhackers/Rougeaus match, you've seen them all. It's basically a sucky comedy match until the Bushwhackers no-sell cheating and win with the Battering Ram/Double Stomach Buster. Let's see how close I am to the finish... Woah, I was really wrong. Raymond tripped up Butch, Jacques covers, Luke elbows him on the back of the head, and Butch rolls on top of him for the win at 12:14. The crowd pops HUGE for that. Damn, I never noticed how over the Bushwhackers were, back before they got really stale (they were only around about 2 months at this point). Match sucked, once again, but the hot crowd boosts it above the DUD rating. (1/2*)

Match #5: Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake (San Francisco, CA... 271 lbs.) vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (Robinsdale, MN... 252 lbs.) (w/ Bobby Heenan):
This match has suck written all over it... several times. Beefcake still has his ugly mullet and Rude looks like he put his head in a dryer or something. Yes, I'm making fashion jokes because I have nothing better to do. Sue me. Beefcake plays mind games by stripping his attire in a way to mock Rude. The women actually cheer louder for Beefcake, even though he has a bit of a gut, and Rude is about 500 times better looking than him... I'M NOT GAY! This show should be titled "Night of a Thousand Chinlocks", because every match has about a hundred of them. Beefcake is sweating bullets late in the match, but Rude isn't really showing any sign of fatigue. It must be the hair. Pretty good final few minutes to try and save the junk done beforehand. Both men exchange desperation moves and have some nice exchanges, and the crowd is really into it, as if it were Rock/Hogan. A bunch of counters leads to Beefcake applying the Sleeper Hold, but Rude has his foot on the ropes as the arm drops a third time. Crowd doesn't like that one. Rude uses the tights for leverage to bash Beefcake into the buckle. Rude heads up to the top rope, and nails his signature fist drop, only for a two count. Beefcake reverses a slam and rolls Rude up for the clean pinfall at 18:26. Good finish right there, but Rude rains on the parade with a post-match assault. Beefcake, the Hulkamaniac in training, no sells and chases Rude with his scissors. Rating the match... the last 5 minutes was, to my surprise, very good. However, everything before that was dog shit. I'll go with a "it was OK" rating, but if, for example, Coliseum Video used this match and clipped out the middle 10 minutes like with some WrestleManias, this would've been rated much higher. (*1/2)

- Intermission: Interviews with the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, and WWF Champion Randy Savage, conducted by Sean "Who?" Mooney. Not much of note is said, but seeing Savage as a heel is much more entertaining than babyface Savage, who kinda had his balls cut off for about 18 months.

Match #6: Rick Martel (Cocoa Beach, FL... 234 lbs.) vs. King Haku (Isle of Tonga... 273 lbs.) (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Martel had recently returned to the WWF after sustaining a "serious injury" at the hands of Demolition back in July '88. Martel is still going solo at this point, and didn't reform Strike Force with Tito Santana until WrestleMania V, their next and last match as a team. Martel was still a pretty good worker, but I don't expect any miracles with Haku, who had about 2 good/memorable matches in his career. Smart minds will remember Strike Force was formed when Santana saved Martel from a beating at the hands of the Islanders, Haku and Tama. Another way too long match. When the action is going, it's fairly good, but when you get some resting, the crowd dies and so does my patience. You can tell they're going for a Time Limit Draw, so sorry I gave away the result already. The match is so dull, the broadcast team runs down some of the matches already announced for WrestleMania V. As usual, the bell rings just when someone goes for their finishing move (in this case, Martel goes for the Boston Crab), and it's a TLD at 20:00. Yes, it actually went the full 20-minutes for once. Great timing. After the match, Martel scares Haku off with dropkicks. Decent match, but unspectacular, and definitely not memorable. (**)

Match #7: Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (Reno, NV... 281 lbs.) vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (Seattle, WA... 249 lbs.):
The Hart Foundation were feuding with Valentine and Honkytonk Man at this time, so the logical step is to split them into singles matches to build up to WrestleMania V. Too bad we didn't get Valentine/Hart instead, since that might've been good. This way both matches would most likely suck. I really have nothing to say about this one. It's not at all good, and it isn't too bad. Valentine spends most of the match working over the leg, but decides to end the match by bopping Neidhart with the Heart Breaker (Valentine's shin guard), and that's good enough for the Valentine pinfall at 8:06. The match was just "there", which can mean anything from "it wasn’t too bad" to "it was alright, I guess." This goes under "it wasn't too bad." ( * )

- Coming up next time at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, March 18th, 1989. Tickets available at all local Ticketmaster locations. Women's Champion Rockin' Robin defends the title against Judy Martin. Los Conquistadors battles the Young Stallions. Special Attraction: WrestleMania Poem from "Leaping" Lanny Poffo. Mr. Perfect steps into the ring to meet Ronnie Garvin. The Brain Busters square off against the Rockers in a return match. Also, in another return bout, the Brooklyn Brawler faces the Red Rooster, with Bobby Heenan barred from ringside. Also, Bad News Brown faces the mighty Hercules (here someone switches over to Steamboat vs. Flair from WrestleWar '89 for a few seconds) More Action... The Bushwhackers & Jim Duggan battle the Rougeaus & Dino Bravo in a Six-Man Tag. Finally... the MAIN EVENT: The Big Boss Man goes up against Hulk Hogan inside of a Steel Cage.

Match #8: The Ultimate Warrior (Parts Unknown... 275 lbs.) vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage (Sarasota, FL... 239 lbs.):
It's time for the Main Event of the evening, and it could've come much sooner. Warrior is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, and Savage the World Champion, but neither title is on the line here, for the obvious reasons (no way in hell would they give away a Title for Title match like this without it being on a SuperCard). These two wrestled plenty of times around the country, doing pretty much the same match, which includes Rick Rude coming to ringside to distract the Warrior, without much success. This would lead to Warrior eventually going outside of the ring to beat on Rude, and Savage coming off the top rope with the axehandle and beating the Count-Out for the lame victory. This is probably the best match of there's from this time frame, as Savage seems to have his working boots on, and Warrior seems to be one of Savage's favorite people to carry. Let's see how right I am this time (I was nearly completely wrong the last time)... here comes Rude at the 6-minute mark. Yup, same finish. Savage wins by Count-Out at 9:33 after knocking Warrior down with a double axehandle to the floor. Pretty good match by Warrior's standards, and the "boring" resting was at a minimal. Warrior cleans house of Rude and Savage after the match, but his attention is set more on Rude. Match of the Night, but not by much, since it wasn't a stand-out great match like from WrestleMania VII and SummerSlam '92. (**3/4)

Final Thoughts: Damn, this was one sad MSG event. Maybe it was because I've seen about half of the matches move for move on another Arena Show, or maybe every match was pretty damn boring with too much resting. Only a few matches stand out above the others, with Warrior/Savage being the only notable match. Unless you have a REAL hard on to see this match between the two, or Terry Taylor losing by pinfall to the Brooklyn Brawler (ahahaha...), then I have a strong recommendation to avoid this MSG broadcast.

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