May 14, 2010
Matt D & Vic
Legion of the Damned
The Rockers vs. WWF Tag Team Champions Demolition
10/24/88; Madison Square Garden
Vic: When talking about Strike Force vs Demolition I say that visually Strike Force were the perfect rivals for Demolition. The Rockers fit into this mold too. But not for being white bread and plan. Here its more the youthful high energy and speed vs the brawling and power of Demolition. This match is why Pro Wrestling is the best.
The match works really well in the context of Demolition's 1988. From the start of the year they have destroyed teams like the Rougeaus, the Bulldogs and Strike Force with relative ease. In the summer they killed Rick Martel. At Summerslam they even beat the Hart Foundation. So it seems obvious the Rockers are going to be destroyed with Demolition taking them lightly.
At first Ax Lays out Shawn with clubbering. Shawn runs off the ropes with a great looking cross body but Ax catches him. I love the way he slams Shawn. Like he is just throwing him across the ring. Shawn starts firing back on Ax and Ax has this look of shock and anger that the pretty boy would dare fight back. the Rockers keep Demolition off balance with their speed and technique. As Matt said even now its striking how fast paced this match was. They are going 100 miles an hour and Demolition is keeping up. Doing lots of quick tags and arm wringers.
Compared to the Strike Force or Bulldog matches, its shocking to see Demolition selling this much for the Rockers. Smash is bouncing all over the place. Smash is really great at stooging in a way Ax can't. Love this section with ax taking all these dropkicks. Getting up and swinging wild at Marty with him ducking each one then coming back with more.
Later Ax comes in and the Rockers start using the same tactics with him. Before Ax ends the nonsense with a violent looking headbutt. Demolition now have the advantage and are really working Marty over. Marty flies across the ring off of one punch and Smash sells it hurting his hand. They are just whipping him from pillar to post. Marty get a nice looking flying back elbow and gets Shawn in. After a brief flurry of offense, Ax pulls him out of the ring. Again I have to put over how fast Shawn Micheals is. He looks like he was in a car wreck going to the floor.
The Rockers disadvantage here is not matching the Demos power and experience. Smash puts Shawn in the Boston Crab an tags in Ax. I love how Ax calmly walks in and drops a hammer across his back. Now Shawn is in trouble because Demolition are not using just brute force. But are methodically taking him apart.
Shawn finally gets the hot tag. He fights both of Demolition alone. Shawn joins him and the Rockers hit a great sequence of double teams concluding with the Rocket Launcher for a very near fall. This crowd is super hot. Going nut for everything. You can believe the Rockers could win the belts.
The finish is great because its clean. Demolition does not cheat they just out team the Rockers and catch Marty with a big clothesline to the back of the head.
Matt D: This is just a really great match. There's not too much to talk about in the way of background. The Rockers started their second stint in the WWF in June of 1988. Demolition was closing in on the face turn at Survivor Series 1988. Fuji is at ringside and he always works really well with the Rockers. Jannetty's said that Fuji was sort of a evil mentor in the ways of backstage pranks for them, and the chemistry shows over the years.
The most remarkable thing about the match is how it seems to start in super fast forward. The Rockers are just moving amazingly fast and Ax is keeping up and selling and stooging perfectly, going just as fast himself. Even twenty plus years later it's downright striking to watch. From there it moves on to the Rockers trying to work over Smash's arm with some really great double-teaming, doing anything they can to equalize the Demolition strength. It's back and forth for a bit until the rope is pulled down and Michaels takes a really nasty bump to the floor. When they get him back in, the story becomes about working over his back, injured in the fall, including a lengthy Smash Boston Crab. Despite how much the speedy beginning stands out, I think my favorite single part of the match is when Smash finishes the hold and tags in Axe. One of the announcers(check who) talks about the damage done to the Lumbar region and Smash, coming out to the apron, hears him and shouts. "It's not a Lumbar. It's HIS BACK!" making for a really funny moment.
Eventually Michaels gets out of a bearhug and makes the hot tag to Jannetty who comes in with punches and the Rockers' quick comeback leading to the finishing segment. The Rockers hit the non-rocket launcher and despite knowing better, I think the match might be over for a moment (and the crowd is SURE of it), until Ax breaks up the pin. The finish comes shortly thereafter when Smash gets Jannetty into a bearhug, bringing him over to the corner where Ax just destroys him with a punch/clothesline. It's a totally believable and nasty finish. Just a knockout blow.
Solid, exciting match all around. The transitions are believable. The work is logical. The crowd's really into it. The finish looks great. This is a totally slept upon match and it's a shame. More of a shame is that the Rockers actually get better over the next couple of years, but by the time Demolition are heels again, Ax is more or less out of the equation and the team is a pale reflection of what it is here.