July 19, 2005
Graham Cawthon

WWF World Champion Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil)
New York City, NY
Madison Square Garden
May 27, 1988
Taken from the Macho Madness Coliseum Video

This was the second in the three-match series between Savage and Dibiase at MSG. The previous month’s show saw Dibiase beat the champion via count-out in Savage’s first title defense at the Garden since winning the tournament at WrestleMania IV.

Roger Kent and Superstar Billy Graham are on commentary. For those asking “Roger who?”, Kent was an AWA mainstay before the WWF's national expansion. I hope for the sake of his career he was good then because I can certainly do without him at this point.

The Match:

With Dibiase and Virgil already in the ring, the champion and his valet are introduced. Savage slides in the ring and jumps Dibiase from behind as the challenger is playing to the fans in the corner. Still wearing his cape, Savage drops the challenger with a clothesline. After disrobing, belt shot behind the referee's back knocks Dibiase to the floor. The champion climbs to the top and dares Virgil to interfere, as he did the month before.

An enraged Dibiase orders the referee to force Savage away from the ropes so he can reenter. After he does, the two trade blows in the center, with Savage gaining the upper hand, landing an atomic drop, and once again sending the challenger to the outside.

The champ and Virgil share words, leading to Savage jumping out to the floor and stalking the bodyguard around ringside. The challenger attempts to take advantage of the opening but Savage sees him coming and lands the first blow, then slams Dibiase’s head into the apron before rolling him back in the ring.

The Million $ Man rolls in the ring, begs off, then rolls out the opposite side, with Savage in hot pursuit. Dibiase reenters the ring first and catches the champion with a stomp as Savage follows. The commentary team comments on Dibiase’s bloody nose, suggesting it may be broken, as the challenger tosses Savage up and over the top rope to the floor. The nose injury leads to blood ending up on Dibiase’s chest and arm.

Virgil rolls the dazed Savage back inside the ring, allowing the challenger to continue his onslaught with a series of hard punches to the forehead, while at the same time taunting the fans in attendance. With the champion down in the corner, Dibiase connects with a number of stomps. Savage attempts a comeback but the challenger keeps the heat on and hits a back elbow before choking the champion in plain sight of the referee. Moments later, Dibiase connects with an axe handle off the top and his trademark falling fist drop. A 2-count follows.

The champion again gains a brief advantage but soon is rammed face-first into the turnbuckle. The Million $ Man follows with a number of chops to the chest, then sends Savage off the ropes and drops him with a clothesline. A second axe handle off the top results in a near fall.

“The Macho Man is in trouble, Roger. He’s in the worst trouble I’ve seen him in since he won his championship. The man is delirious out there.” – Superstar Billy Graham

With 6 minutes gone in the match, the challenger hits a piledriver in the middle of the ring. Dibiase delays in making the cover, allowing Savage to kick out with force.

The challenger heads back up top and comes off with intent of landing a third axe handle but Savage sees it coming and lands a blow to the midsection, resulting in Dibiase falling to the mat in a heap.

No longer in control of the match, Dibiase drops to his knees and begs off as Savage points at him. The champion pulls the Million $ Man up to his feet, rams his head into the turnbuckle for the obligatory 10-count, then runs and, while holding onto the challenger, jumps over the ropes to the floor and drops Dibiase throat-first across the top rope.

Back inside the ring, Savage hits two running elbows to the head. On the third try, the challenger side steps him and throws Savage out between the ropes to the floor, with the champion landing awkwardly on a folded steel chair on the outside.

Kent suggests that managers, in this case Elizabeth, should learn EMT skills so they can treat their men in bad situations such as this. Wow … that was dumb.

Dibiase slides out to the floor, bodyslams Savage on the thin blue mat, and slides back in. Moments later, the challenger hits a back elbow inside the ring while Kent wonders what Elizabeth’s EAL (Emotional Anxiety Level) could be. … Okay, I guess in comparison Todd Pettingill would actually be a step up compared to this guy.

Virgil cheers his man on as Dibiase beings a more methodical offense, connecting with a clothesline and two falling fist drops in route to earning a 2-count.

With 10 minutes elapsed, a visibly tired Million $ Man lands a vertical suplex on the barely conscious champion. A near fall follows.

With the referee busy ordering a worried Elizabeth off the ring apron, Savage sends the challenger head-first into an unprotected turnbuckle. The padding was removed by Virgil while the cameras were focused on the referee and Liz.

Both Savage and Dibiase are down and out as the referee begins his standing 10-count. At the count of 7, Savage beings to move. At the count of 9, he rolls over and drapes an arm across the chest of the Million $ Man. 1 … 2 … and just when it seems as though the last count is inevitable, Virgil gets in the ring and attacks the champion before the hand can come down for 3. The official calls for the bell at 11:55.

Savage easily fights off Virgil and pounds away at him in the corner until Dibiase regains his senses and jumps the champion from behind. Moments later, Savage grabs his title belt and slides in the ring with intent to use it as a weapon. Dibiase and Virgil hastily leave ringside as Howard Finkel announces Savage the winner via disqualification.

My View:

For a match that barely goes over 10 minutes, this was very good. Within 3 minutes Dibiase has a busted nose and at the halfway point both men are selling like they’ve been in the ring 20 minutes or more. It’s a fast paced battle with some good psychology. Dibiase dominates but Savage remains the persistent champion that refuses to give up.

If you look at the WWF roster in 1988, there’s no surprise as to why Savage and Dibiase were headlining MSG. They were easily the two best all-around workers in the company. And when you keep in mind that the mid-card was comprised of the One Man Gang, Bad News Brown, Jim Duggan, and the Ultimate Warrior (or as Harley Race would call him, “that faggot Indian”) … well, Savage / Dibiase comes off as a 5-star encounter in comparison.

Their series would conclude the following month in a steel cage match. It wouldn’t be a sell out (few MSG cards were during that time that didn’t feature Hogan) but they must have done something right with this match because the cage drew 18,300, a few thousand more than what this battle drew.

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