April 29, 2006
WWF @ Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York, February 23rd 1987
This Madison Square Garden show is special for a couple of reasons. First of all, it the last time the WWF would be in MSG until after Wrestlemania III, which was a little more than a month away at this point. Second, this is supposed to be Rowdy Roddy Piper’s last match in MSG, which indeed was a big deal at the time. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan are on commentary, which means this show is going to be entertaining in some form regardless of how the card turns out.
On a side note (for anyone who cares): this show took place two days after the SNME taping in Detroit where the 20 Man Battle Royal took place (that show would air on NBC on March 14th 1987).
*Paul Roma vs. Salvatore Bellomo
Both guys are pretty much enhancement talent at this point in their career. Bellomo is a heel working a Rocky-type gimmick here, claiming to be “The Italian Stallion.” He’s got a really weird outfit on. Almost like a body suit. Anyway, the match gets underway with Bellomo stalling and playing up to the crowd. Lock up and Bellomo slaps on headlock. Criss-cross action ensues and Roma goes for a roll up pin but only gets two. Bellomo complains about a pull of tights. Second lock up and Bellomo takes Roma down with an arm drag and begins to work on that part of the body. Roma tries to power out of it twice but a handful of hair sends him down to the mat each time. A hammerlock is slapped on and Roma fires Salvatore across the ring. Paul Roma is now in control with an arm ringer but Bellomo rakes his eyes and goes to work with some hard rights before executing a drop kick. Salvatore slaps on a sleeper but Roma backs into the corner and gives him at hip toss. Roma goes back to work on the arm but Bellomo manages to get a snap mare to turn the tide. Salvatore continues to batter away on Roma and then puts on a reverse chin lock. Heenan cracks on Bellomo’s last name, claiming it sounds like a bottle of wine. Roma turns things around with a big backdrop and follows it up with a beautiful drop kick. Bellomo bails to the outside to regroup and then comes in to offer Roma a handshake. Roma doesn’t buy it though and slams him. Bellomo is in trouble as Roma drops a fist off the second rope then takes the Italian Stallion’s head off with a clothesline. Roma misses a corner charge though and Bellomo goes for an Irish whip of his own but Romeo reverses it. Roma goes for a high cross body but ends up missing his mark and hitting the canvas instead. Things seem to be going Salvatore’s way but Paul Roma delivers a power slam out of nowhere to get a four count? The referee screwed up the finish as his hand went down four times. Whatever. Roma wins the match anyway. *
Match Analysis: Since this is a match where two jobbers are pitted against each other no one really cares. That being said these guys were given too much time as well. The wrestling was standard at best and the pace was lousy with waaay too many rest holds. One star may be too generous but I’m sticking by it.
*Demolition vs. The Islanders
“Islanders are going to have their work cut out for them,” Monsoon states upon their entrance and Heenan adds, “so does their tailor!” remarking on the colourful flowered robes the Haku and Tama are wearing. This is before Heenan took the Islanders under his wing so they are baby faces that are just kind of coasting along, going nowhere. Haku is clean-shaven here, which makes him look totally different. This is Demolition’s MSG debut as they had only been around for about a month at this point. Barry Darsow is already assuming the role of Smash here as he made his debut earlier in the month replacing Randy Colley. Demolition was managed by Johnny V around this time but he is noticeably absent for tonight’s match.
A hush overtakes the MSG crowd as Demolition enters to an early version of their theme without lyrics. A lot of the fans seem to be in awe of Demolition, which is not hard to understand why because this was probably the first time a lot of the people in attendance ever saw them. Demolition doesn’t take their masks off and The Islanders start to give the referee static about it. After some stalling the Demos finally removes them. You can tell this is early Demolition because Smash has a buzz cut and both guys’ face paint jobs look totally different from what they’d have later on. Smash and Tama start with Demolition clearly dominating in the strength-department. The Islanders gain control with a double drop kick on Smash. Ax comes in and receives some double team treatment as well. Demolition regroups on the outside and Smash heads back into the ring. The Demos try to keep Haku in their corner but he chops his way back to his corner. Islanders begin to go to work on Ax, taking him off his feet and working on the legs. This is probably the first time Demolition ever sold for anyone.
Ax gains control of Tama though and tags in Smash, who sends him to the arena floor. Ax follows up by grabbing Tama on the outside and sending him crashing into the steel barricade. Tama is hurt but he manages to stumble back to the ring. Smash slaps on a blatant chokehold but breaks at four. Demolition continues to relentlessly assault Tama but the young Islander fights back and tries to pin Ax. Ax kicks out causing Tama to go out onto the concrete again. There is a huge welt on Tama’s lower back. Ouch! Must have been a pretty bad bump he took. Smash tries to attack Tama on the outside but Haku makes the save. Back in, Ax drops Tama with an elbow to the jaw and goes for a pin but only gets two. Smash drops Tama throat first onto the top rope before slapping on a bear hug. Tama slugs his way out of it but is unable to make the hot tag. Smash ends up putting his head down on a backdrop attempt and gets caught. Hot tag is made to Haku who is a house of fire on Smash. Islanders execute their double head butt move on Smash and Tama heads to the top for a splash but only ends up getting a two count as Ax breaks up the pin. A pier-six brawl erupts and in the midst of it all Demolition executes the decapitation on Tama for the win. **1/2
Match Analysis: I enjoyed this match but Demolition dictated the majority of it (which they should have since they were the monster heels) and because of that it kind of seemed to lack a good flow. This only points out that Demolition hadn’t quite clicked yet as a team yet. Mind you they (the new Demolition with Darsow as Smash) had only been together for two weeks or so.
*Koko B. Ware vs. Sika
Sika enters the ring and starts pointing at the ceiling for some reason. The look on ring announcer Howard Finkle’s face is priceless. Sika seems more interested in yelling in the microphone then wrestling Koko B. Ware. Still, he clearly out-muscles Koko in the early goings but there is a lot of stalling. Koko uses his speed and agility to out smart and out maneuver Sika. More stalling until finally Sika starts to run through some slow offence. He zeroes in on Koko’s windpipe and begins to resort to choking. Sika sends Koko out onto the concrete but Koko B. Ware uses his brains and climbs under the ring and comes out the other side. Koko nails Sika from behind with a drop kick and rolls him up for the three count. This was somewhat of an upset but a lousy match nonetheless. DUD Sika goes ape shit on Koko afterwards.
Match Analysis: Thankfully this match was very brief but it was still pretty brutal. Anyone who wants to see Koko B. Ware and Sika go the distance is crazy. While the finish was somewhat creative, it had been done before. There wasn’t enough wrestling in this match to warrant any good rating.
*Tito Santana vs. “The Natural” Butch Reed
“The Natural” Butch Reed enters with “The Doctor of Style” Slick. The story behind this match was that Slick had been a thorn in Tito Santana’s side in the weeks prior to this, and Santana had body slammed Slick after he interfered in one of his matches. Slick wants payback and has sent Butch Reed after Chico. It’s amazing what constitutes the beginning of a wrestling feud back in those days. A minor confrontation leads to a three-month program! My how times have changed. Butch Reed stalls big time at the beginning of the match and goes to Slick for advice. Lock up finally, but Reed complains about a pull of hair. He goes for a right, but Santana counters with a series of his own jabs that send Reed out to the floor. Reed stalls and complains even more. “The Natural” tries to gain control but Tito counters with a leapfrog and a series of drop kicks that cause Reed to topple over the top rope again. Slick yells at the crowd as Santana tries to pull read back into the ring. It backfires though and Reed begins to choke Tito on the second rope. Back in, Reed gives Tito an Irish whip but puts is head down and gets caught. Slick heads the commentators’ way and Monsoon inquires him about how Reed is not fairing all too well. Slick bitches about the incompetent referee. This is real funny stuff. Back to action, Reed is in control as he drops Tito throat first on the top rope. “The Natural” continues to focus on Chico’s throat giving him a slingshot into the bottom rope. He plants a fist drop on Santana and goes for a sleeper. Chico tries to power out of it but Reed takes him down with a handful of hair. He tries again to get the adrenaline flowing and finally breaks the hold with a few uppercuts. Tito goes off the ropes and Reed catches him with a knee. Butch goes for a pin but only gets two. Reed slaps a camel clutch, but Santana manages to fire him off into the turnbuckle. Tito’s still dazed as “The Natural” heads to the second rope and tries to execute a double axe handle. Santana catches him with a fist to the breadbasket and Reed does a 360. Tito makes a comeback and Reed begs for mercy. Butch regains control though when he uses Chico’s tights for leverage pulling him into the turnbuckle. A knee lift and Tito is hurt. Reed tries to follow up with an atomic drop but Santana blocks it and slaps on the figure four. Reed struggles to the ropes in a hurry, and Chico breaks the hold. Back in control, Reed continues to batter Santana relentlessly. Referee gets on his case and Slick sneaks into the ring to nail Chico with his pimp cane. Koko B. Ware comes out of nowhere though and delivers a roundhouse right. Butch Reed goes after Koko and Santana makes the save, sending Reed out onto the floor. “The Natural” is pissed and tries to get back into the ring with a chair but Slick holds him back. Both men end up being DQ’d. *1/2
Match Analysis: Not bad but certainly not great either. For the time it was given, the finish could’ve been a lot better than the screw job ending we got. Koko making the save for Tito was just adding fuel to the fire for his upcoming match with “The Natural” Butch Reed at Wrestlemania III though so it did make sense. This match had a lot of stalling, but thankfully Slick’s antics outside the ring saved it from being a total dull bore.
*Tag Team Championship Match: The Hart Foundation (Champions) vs. The Killer Bees (Challengers)
Jimmy Hart and evil referee turned wrestler Danny Davis accompany The Hart Foundation to ringside. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Jumping Jim Brunzell start. Monsoon and Heenan ask Jimmy Hart why Davis is at ringside. The Mouth Of The South says he is an “official ringside observer” and begins running down some bullshit credentials. Bret “Hitman” Hart tags in and locks up with Brunzell. Jumping Jim counters a hip toss with a flying head scissors into a sunset slip. Nice move! The Killer Bees gain control of Hart and work over his left arm. Bret unloads on B. Brian Blair but misses a clothesline and Brian nails him so hard he gets tied up in the ropes. Bret’s trapped as B. Brian tackles him with a flying shoulder block. Neidhart tries to break him loses but ends up getting sucker punched himself. Blair then slingshots the Hitman into the Anvil on the apron. Hart Foundation goes to the outside to regroup.
Back in, Hart goes for a test of strength with Blair and tries to gain control. The Killer Bees continue to control the tempo working over Bret’s left arm. A distraction on B. Brian gives Bret the chance to blindside him and gain the advantage. The Harts begin to dismantle Blair by keeping him in their corner. Blair plays face in peril and is thrown to the outside. Anvil comes around to attack him and Bret tries to suplex back in, but Blair rolls through for a pin fall attempt that only gets two. The Harts prevent Blair from reaching his corner. Anvil ties up the referee while Bret takes the tag rope to Brian’s throat. Neidhart slingshots Bret into the ring onto Blair and Jim Brunzell is forced to come in a break up the count.
Irish whip by Bret but it is reversed and he does his chest first turnbuckle hit. Blair goes to slam Hart but Neidhart shoves him down causing Bret to land on top of him. B. Brain manages to roll through though and goes for a pin, but only gets two. Blair fights desperately to get to his corner but is unable to. Brian is hit by a knee from Hitman while going off the ropes and Anvil slaps on a bear hug. A hot tag is teased but the referee doesn’t see it. Hitman comes in and puts Blair in a camel clutch. Blair manages to get to his feet with Hart on his shoulders and falls backwards. Ouch! That must of hurt. Hot tag is made to Jumping Jim Brunzell is on fire as he cleans house. He executes his patented drop kick on Bret and goes for the pin. However, Neidhart breaks the count and the bell rings randomly for no reason. A brawl erupts and Danny Davis creeps into the ring and sucker punches Jim Brunzell who is attempting to slam Bret. The blow is enough for The Killer Bee to lose balance and have The Hitman land on top of him for the pin fall victory. The Hart Foundation retains the tag team championship! ****
Match Analysis: This was a great tag team match. Both teams had wrestled numerous times before so they had great chemistry. The action was fast and furious and the wrestling moves were crisp and well executed. The match may have been a tad formulaic but I don’t think anyone expected The Killer Bees to win because The Hart Foundation had only held the belts for about a month at this point.
Gorilla Monsoon is backstage during the intermission with Outback Jack, who will be making his MSG debut later tonight.
Gorilla Monsoon is with Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Jake cuts a great promo on The Honky Tonk Man who smashed his guitar over Jake’s head this past weekend on Wrestling Challenge. He also tells us that he’ll drive King Kong Bundy’s head right through the mat with the DDT.
Gorilla Monsoon is with The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. Honky cracks on Jake “The Snake” before focusing on Pedro Morales.
Gorilla Monsoon is with the Intercontinental Champion “The Macho Man” Randy Savage & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan who discuss tonight’s main event.
*Outback Jack vs. Barry O.
For those of you that don’t know Barry O. is the other Orton who wasn’t as successful. Heenan calls Outback Jack “Outhouse Jack” which seems to be a far more fitting name for this poor man’s Crocodile Dundee. Outback extends a hand but Barry O. brushes him off. They lock up and Barry O. complains about a pull of hair. Outback gains easy control with a slam and hip toss. Barry O. heads to the outside for a breather. Outback catapults Barry back in but gets a rake to the eyes. Barry O. runs through some lukewarm offence but Outback gains control again easily. He polishes off Barry O. with a boomerang-type clothesline for an east three count. 1/4* Outback Jack goes to shake Barry O’s hand but once again Barry O. turns his back on him. Jerk…
Match Analysis: Not a spectacular MSG debut by any stretch but it was kept brief which was good.
*Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. King Kong Bundy
As mentioned earlier, Jake “The Snake” Roberts had suffered a concussion the night before (in TV time) from having a guitar smashed over his head by The Honky Tonk Man. Therefore, Jake is going against doctor’s orders by facing King Kong Bundy in this match tonight. Since Bobby Heenan is in Bundy’s corner, Jimmy Hart comes down to join Monsoon on commentary. Monsoon asks The Mouth what he wants and Jimmy Hart tells him that he’s scouting Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Roberts and Bundy lock up but Jake is too quick for the big man. Damien tries to get out of the bag through a hole and Jimmy Hart starts to freak out. Jake dominates early on with some fast jabs. The crowd is cheering big time for The Snake. Jimmy continues to freak out as Damien tries to get out of the bag. More stalling by King Kong Bundy but it doesn’t matter because Gorilla Monsoon and Jimmy Hart are in top form on commentary, which seems to be more of the focus of this match. Bundy asks for a test of strength and Jake obliges. Bad move as now Bundy is in full control of the hold. Jake still manages to get the upper hand and Bundy is frustrated. A Bundy slam changes things though and he gains control. Jake sells his neck injury. Heenan joins the bickering on commentary, which makes it even more enjoyable. Meanwhile, Bundy has a reverse double-chin lock on Jake. You know if it weren’t for the commentary this match would probably blow. Bundy puts his head and gets caught with a knee lift. Jake tries to follow up with the DDT but gets back dropped. Bundy misses an elbow and Jake tries to go for the DDT again but Bundy rams him into the corner. Jake spills to the outside and Bundy goes after him. Jake manages to get back in but Bundy doesn’t and he is counted out. Jake wins but Bundy still goes after him but misses a corner avalanche. Jake pulls out Damien and chases King Kong Bundy out of the ring. He then goes after Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart, chasing them backstage. *1/4
Match Analysis: Pretty dull match but the commentary really saved this one and made it fairly entertaining. The crowd was really into it as well and when Jake was in control the match was exciting. Still, the reason this match gets a better rating is because the commentary by Monsoon and Jimmy Hart was excellent.
*The Honky Tonk Man vs. Pedro Morales
Jimmy Hart gets pelted by garbage as he accompanies Honky Tonk Man to the ring. “The Doctor of Style” Slick joins Gorilla Monsoon on commentary since it doesn’t look like The Brain is coming back. Slick cuts a promo on both Koko B. Ware and Tito Santana. Lots of stalling by Honky to begin with as he yells at the crowd. Slick keeps calling Monsoon “Mon-so-on.” Funny stuff! Lock up finally and Honky breaks clean surprisingly. Second lock up and Honky goes for a punch but misses. Morales delivers a series of slams and Honky slides to the outside, freaking out about his hair. Gorilla Monsoon and Slick are really good on commentary together. Honky slaps on an arm ringer but Pedro returns the favour. Morales is in control and messes up Honky’s hair just to get him bent out of shape. Honky is pissed and threatens to leave ringside. Back in, Honky rakes Pedro’s eyes but telegraphs a corner charge and Honky ends up on the outside again. Monsoon tells Slick he’s pronouncing his name wrong and Slick replies, “It’s not my fault you so dumb you can’t pronounce you own name!” Honky can’t gain any long sustained offence and Morales continues to control the pace. A Honky Tonk Man knee causes Morales to spill onto the Japanese commentary table. Morales is hurt and Honky is in control as he rams him into the steel post. Why didn’t the WWF put Slick on commentary more often? The guy is great. Morales drags Honky outside the ring and rams his head into the barricade and steel post. Pedro is back in control as he nails Honky’s head into the turnbuckles. Back in, Honky gets a vertical suplex gets two. A follow up slam but he misses an elbow from the second rope and Pedro Morales makes a comeback. Small-package gets two. Honky on the receiving end of a backdrop and Morales goes for a Boston crab. Jimmy Hart gets up on the apron and Pedro stupidly breaks the hold going after him. He turns around only to have Honky sweep out his legs from under him and pin him with his feet on the ropes. * Big win for The Honky Tonk Man over a former WWF Champion. The exchange between Monsoon and Slick on the replay is gold.
Match Analysis: The match was nothing to get excited about but turned out to be not so bad. It’s clear the WWF was pushing Honky at this point, but no one was taking him seriously. A win over Pedro Morales was big even though Morales’ best years were behind him. Again, the commentary made this match far more enjoyable.
Howard Finkle runs down the Wrestlemania III card and tells fans that it can be viewed in closed circuit locations all over the Metropolitan area.
Gorilla Monsoon and Slick discuss Wrestlemania III. Monsoon asks Slick’s opinion on who will win between Hogan and Andre. Slick claims he respects Hulk Hogan but just can’t see him defeating the undefeated Andre The Giant.
*Six-Man Tag Team Elimination Match: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, & The Junkyard Dog vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The King” Harley Race, & Adorable Adrian Adonis
This is the one we all been waiting for! The crowd hyped for this one. Slick calls Elizabeth a fox and I gotta agree with the brutha (sorry for that). Each of these guys has an issue with one another. Piper is feuding with Adonis, Steamboat with Savage, and JYD with Harley Race. Piper enters to a standing ovation that is unreal. Piper and Adonis have a stare down to start but Adonis tags out to Macho Man. Piper responds by nailing Race on the apron for not paying attention and quickly tags The Dragon. Savage bails out to the floor. Back in Savage and Steamboat lock up and Macho gains control with a well-placed knee. Irish whip by Steamboat counters it with a beautiful arm drag followed by a karate chop. The King tags in and Steamboat rams his head into JYD’s. JYD goes to work on Harley with a series of head butts and the king takes a powder. Savage tries to go for a blind side attack but Steamboat stops that in a hurry. Back in, The King is on the losing end of a slugfest with JYD and is sent to the outside. A huge JYD chant starts up from the crowd. Slick accuses JYD of being illiterate as Race gains control with a belly-to-belly suplex. Savage tags in and gives a knee drop before heading to the top. Instead he goes after Ricky Steamboat though and ends up paying for it. Steamboat tags in and unloads on Savage. He puts his head down though and gets caught. Tag made to Adonis who comes in to punish Steamboat with a back suplex. Dragon tags Piper and Adonis tries to bail out but gets caught. A brawl erupts and Adonis and Race deliver a double vertical suplex on Piper. Adrian goes for the pin but Steamboat breaks it up. Adonis slaps on the sleeper on Hot Rod but he backs into the corner and slaps on his own sleeper. The King breaks it up though. Savage works over JYD and tags in Adonis who clearly hasn’t done his homework on the guy as he goes for the head. JYD misses a tackle and action spills onto the floor. All hell breaks loose on the outside between the six men. Roddy back suplexes Race back in but can’t make the pin because of Savage. Referee calls for the bell and we find out that Adrian Adonis and The Junkyard Dog have been counted out.
The King relentlessly pounds away on Roddy Piper and floors him with a clothesline. Roddy is in trouble as the heels work over him in their corner. Savage goes for a vertical suplex but can’t execute it. A hot tag is teased but Harley Race keeps it from happening. Savage chokes Piper on the ropes but misses a splash and tags out to the King quickly. Race goes for a vertical suplex but Roddy reverses it with one of his own. Hot tag is made to The Dragon who cleans house on Harley Race with a series of chops. Double clothesline by Piper and Steamboat get two on the King. Savage tries to interfere but Steamboat stops him then heads to the top rope and nails Race with a double axe handle. Savage breaks up the pin though. Race goes for a slam but Ricky reverses it into a small package. Savage sneaks in though and turns it over causing The Dragon to be pinned and eliminated. Steamboat has a brief stare down with Savage before wishing Piper luck and leaving ringside.
Piper is now on his own against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “The King” Harley Race. The crowd is going WILD! Savage and Race try to psyche out Piper but he goes right after the King with a flurry of fists. Savage stops Piper’s assault but Hot Rod sends Race over the top with a hard right anyhow. Piper goes out after him. Savage tries to nail him with a chair but he stops him. Race is able to gain control though. Back in, Savage begins to wear Piper down by choking him on the ropes. Macho heads to the top and drops a double axe handle but only gets two. Savage and Race continue to relentlessly double team Piper. Piper tries to fight back but gets tied up again. The King delivers a power slam but only gets two as Piper kicks out. Race goes for a gut wrench suplex but Piper hits his own. Race and Savage try to double team again by Savage accidentally clobbers The King with a double axe handle. Piper goes for the pin and The King is eliminated. The crowd is jumping for joy!
Now it’s down to Macho Man against Rowdy Roddy Piper. Savage and Piper have a stare down. Race comes back to provide a distraction but ends up getting accidentally clocked by Savage again. Piper goes after Savage and executes a bulldog on him. Savage is in trouble as Piper corners him and bites him. Savage spits at Piper, which causes him to snap and chase after him to the outside. Back in, Savage gains control and hits a devastating clothesline. He only gets a two count. Savage continues with attack laying Piper over the ropes and dropping an elbow on his throat. Macho goes for a scoop slam but Piper falls on him for a two count. Savage resorts to choking but Piper retaliates in kind. Savage falls to the outside after he and Piper collide. Piper plays dead as Savage climbs to the top rope for his finisher. Macho goes for the flying elbow but misses and Piper executes a small package for the win! The crowd goes bananas as Piper bids farewell to the fans in MSG! ****
Survivor: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Match Analysis: This was a great main event. It had everything: the wrestling, the drama, and a crowd that was really into it. The elimination rules were a nice touch and worked really well in building the match. The success of this match was probably why the WWF decided to book the Survivor Series PPV in November.
Gorilla Monsoon is backstage to congratulate a victorious Roddy Piper. Piper is beside himself claiming he’s looking forward to Wrestlemania III and bids farewell to the fans at MSG as the show goes off the air.
Jinsell’s Bottom Line: Overall this is an enjoyable MSG show. With two matches arguably in the four star range you really can’t complain. That being said, the obvious highlights were the main event, the tag title match, and the other tag team match. The rest of the card wasn’t very memorable or great but it wasn’t horrible either. The crap was kept relatively short or was sweetened by the stellar work of the commentary team. Demolition’s MSG debut was cool. Piper’s farewell was emotional at the time, but seems somewhat tainted now. Especially when one considers that he would be back at MSG in September 1989. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good show that I’d definitely recommend picking up. Most of the matches are available on various Coliseum Home Video releases, but if you can, try and get a copy of this MSG broadcast (it aired on WWE 24/7 in March 2005) because the commentary alone makes it a show worth watching. Highly recommended!