March 5, 2006
WWF Wrestlefest '88
Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee Wisconsin, July 31 1988
Wrestlefest '88 wasn't a PPV or televised event. It was a super card from the Milwaukee County Stadium that was taped for a Coliseum video release. The event had a total of 15 matches but the CHV cut out several of them to keep the tape at 2 hours. The matches that weren't on the commercial release were aired on Prime Time Wrestling in the summer of 1988. The copy I have is a compilation that has all the matches from the Milwaukee (except Terry Taylor vs. Curt Hennig which doesn't exist on film as far as I know). For those of you who don't know Wrestlefest was held shortly before the WWF's first Summerslam event. Hulk Hogan was still feuding with Andre The Giant at the time and Randy Savage was feuding with Ted Dibiase. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts had an issue with Rick Rude over Roberts' wife. Demolition was doing a program with the British Bulldogs and the Powers Of Pain were a newcomer team to the WWF but were rising quickly in the ranks. Many people hold the Wrestlefest event in high regard, as it was essentially an example of the house shows the WWF was putting out at the time.
We open this video with Sean Mooney, Lord Alfred Hayes and Superstar Billy Graham who run down the card. For whatever reason Vince assigned these guys to call the action. Wait…what the hell? WHY?!?! Why the hell is the worst announcing team ever put together calling this show? Where's Monsoon? Where's Ventura? Where's Heenan? Oh well hopefully it won't ruin the show.
*Big Bossman vs. Scott Casey
This is the opening match of the actual event (it was left off the CHV version). Bossman is relatively new to the WWF and had only debuted at the beginning of the month. It should also be noted that Slick isn't accompanying him to the ring tonight. Scott Casey was a jobber struggling to get into the mid-card. Both wrestlers are great workers though and put on a nice little match. Big Bossman dominates of course since he's being pushed big time. Casey gets in some offence but when he attempts to finish it off Bossman finishes him off out of nowhere with a Bossman slam, for the victory. After the match he nails Scott Casey with his nightstick and places his handcuffs on him before leaving. **
Match Analysis: This wasn't necessarily a hot opener but it was a good match. It was brief but consistent and there were no real flaws. Big Bossman was put over as a force to be reckoned with in the WWF as well.
It should be noted that my version of Wrestlefest '88 is essentially the CHV with more matches. There are absolutely no interviews on this tape. So it really only goes match-to-match with the announcers opener and closer.
*Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake vs. Hercules
Here is another match that was from Prime Time rather than the CHV. You can tell because Monsoon and Heenan are calling the action. Unfortunately that doesn't save this from being a bad match. Still it's surprising that Coliseum Video wouldn't put on a match with Beefcake (a big WWF draw at the time). Guess the match didn’t impress them either! Standard awful Beefcake match where he insults Herc at the beginning, does okay for a while, then plays face in peril and things get really SLOW. All Monsoon and Heenan do is hype up Beefcake's Summerslam '88 IC title shot against Honky Tonk Man (a match that would never happen at Summerslam because Ultimate Warrior would take his place). This one seems really long and it simply isn't worth my time to review. The only neat spot is at the end when Beefcake shoves Herc into the corner then rolls him over for the pin fall win. 1/2*
Match Analysis: Awful, awful, awful. Never understood why WWF was so high on Beefcake (besides he's Hogan's friend). Ed Leslie should've trained more and maybe he would've deserved his push and put on matches better than this.
*Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. The Killer Bees
Now we get into the bulk of the CHV! The Rougeaus had just turned heel a month before this and were already into their "All American Boys" shtick. The Killer Bees on the other hand are nearing the end of their run (they have some interesting long tights on during this match). Brunzell and Raymond start with an exchange of holds. B. Brian Blair tags in and exchanges some great holds with Jacques. Jacques gets the upper hand with a surfboard on Blair then offers him a handshake with his left hand. Blair accepts and is whipped into the ropes he reverses it and Jacques rolls over him. He attempts to celebrate but is knocked senseless. The Bees dominate the early goings working on Raymond's legs big time. Raymond finally tags Jacques and he attempts to stretch out his brother’s legs for him. This enables Blair to roll him from behind for a 2 count. Jacques gets up and gets on Brian's case basically offering him to hit him from behind. Great psych-out by Jacques and Blair looks bad. Man! Jacques knew how to work heel like no one else! Killer Bees work on Jacques leg for a bit until he tags Raymond who puts Blair into the Boston crab. Brian toughs his way out though and puts Raymond in a full nelson. Jacques sneaks in and enables Raymond to nail Blair. Rougeaus dominate with some double-teaming. Hot tag to Jumping Jim Brunzell who cleans house and gets his killer drop kick on Raymond. Pier six brawl erupts and as Brunzell attempts to slam Jacques but Raymond smokes him with a punch, which causes Jacques to fall on Jim for the pin. ***1/2 Good match!
Match Analysis: Great tag team match. It's a shame the Bees were basically done. All they'd do is become jobbers after this. The Rougeaus were awesome in this. They'd go on to some more great matches with various teams.
*Bad News Brown vs. Bret 'Hitman' Hart
Bitter feud here. Bad News had double crossed Bret Hart at the Wrestlemania IV battle royal costing him the match, and Bret had smashed his victory trophy. Bret's enjoying a nice fresh baby face run at this point and receives a warm reception by the Milwaukee crowd. Bad News yells at Bret to take off his sunglasses then yells at the crowd to shut up. Great heel heat. Bad News dominates at the beginning viciously chopping away at Bret and ramming his head in the turnbuckle. Bret Hart dodges a corner and unloads on Bad News. He then cleverly rakes Bad News eyes across the top rope. Bret whips him into the buckle and meets Bad News' boot during a corner charge. Bad News goes to the top but Bret plays possum and slams him off the top and drops an elbow. Snap suplex gets Bret a two count. Hart attempts to go for a side suplex but has his eyes raked. Bad News nails Bret and attempts to go for the ghetto blaster, he misses though and Bret gets his WM IV revenge by tossing Bad News over the top then doing an awesome pescado move. Back in the ring, high cross body gets Bret another two count. Sunset flip gets two. Bret rolls up Bad News but he pulls Hart's tights and rolls through for the pin fall upset victory. Great match! ***1/2 Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart comes down in protest and both Harts attack Bad News after the match.
Match Analysis: Great match. Bad News and Bret had a history in Stampede so they worked well together. This match was good and it's amazing how a mid-carder like Bret got one of the biggest pops of the night.
Mean Gene is on the floor with the Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. The general point of this interview (the only interview on this tape) is to hype the upcoming Intercontinental match with Jim Duggan. Honky doesn't say much and heads for the ring. Okay...
*Intercontinental Title Match: Honky Tonk Man (Champion) vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan (Challenger)
Standard Honky title defense: Duggan beats the crap out of him. Honky gains the advantage but not for long as Duggan makes an easy comeback. Jimmy interferes resulting in a DQ. After the match Duggan smashes Honky's guitar to the crowd's delight. DUD
Match Analysis: This is as bad as Honky's title defense at Wrestlemania IV...maybe worse! Fast forward material!
*The Powers Of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks
Volkoff sings the national anthem of the USSR while Mooney, Graham and Hayes crack lame jokes about the communists. Isn't that nice? The Powers Of Pain run down the aisle and waste no time in chasing the Russians out of the ring. Volkoff and Barbarian exchange holds and tackles for a second. Volkoff tags in Boris Zhukov who runs right into an awesome power slam by the Barbarian. Warlord tags in and Nikolai asks for a test of strength. Things get slow as Warlord as attacked from behind by Zhukov illegally. Zhukov tries again and Warlord throws Volkoff in front of him to take the blow. Lord Alfred calls Boris Zhukov a "young Russian". Heh! Barbarian misses a corner charge and The Bolsheviks dominate for a bit but it doesn't last long as he hot tags the Warlord who cleans house and running power slams Zhukov, then Barbarian comes off the top with a diving head butt for the win. **
Match Analysis: This wasn't as bad as one would think. The Powers Of Pain no sold everything by the Bolsheviks but that was the point. WWF was grooming them for a feud with Demolition in the fall. I thought Warlord and Barbarian were a great team and it's a shame they were essentially dumped after the Demolition feud.
*Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart vs. Leapin' Lanny Poffo
Neidhart seems to be working as the heel in this match. He attempts to jump Poffo but he's too quick. Poffo prematurely goes for a moonsault and misses the mark. Neidhart dominates for the next 2 minutes and finishes off Lanny with a power slam. 1/2*
Match Analysis: Very brief. I think it was just a way to keep Neidhart on the card. Strange that he worked heel in this match while the Harts had recently turned baby face. Whatever.
*World Title Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (Champion) vs. '”Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (Challenger)
Another match, which was strangely left off the CHV version. Bizarre considering this is the match that makes the event. Virgil harasses Elizabeth which allows Dibiase to jump a distracted Macho Man. Dibiase goes to work on him with some chops but misses a clothesline and Macho Man counters it with his own. Savage goes to work and send Ted flying out onto the floor. Dibiase attempts to get back in and Savage saves him the trouble then gives him an atomic drop back out! Virgil helps up Dibiase who paces outside the ring frustrated. Finally Ted gets back in and gets some control but it doesn't last long as Savage gains control again. Dibiase buys some time with a leverage move on the tights pulling Savage out of the ring. Million Dollar Man follows him out and stomps a mud hole in the WWF Champ. Back in the ring Dibiase delivers a few punches to Savage then goes for the cover but only gets a two. Savage counters a turnbuckle hit but eats boot on a corner charge. Ted gives him more punishment and goes to the second rope to deliver a double elbow smash. A Dibiase back breaker gets two as he argues with the ref. A suplex attempt is countered and both men exchange blows. Flying body press gives Savage two. Dibiase counters with a sleeper hold. Macho Man tries for a comeback but it goes nowhere as Dibiase drives his knees into Savage's back while in a chin lock. Savage breaks out of the hold by driving Dibaise's head into the turnbuckle. Ted does a Flair flop as Savage tries to follow it up with a corner charge but his knee hits the turnbuckle. Capitalizing on Savage's knee injury Dibiase works on the legs. Savage throws Dibiase onto the floor. Dibiase climbs to the top but misses an elbow drop and Savage makes a comeback. Macho Man delivers several blows and clotheslines him on the top rope. Virgil ties up Savage but a Dibiase knee misses the mark from behind clocking Virgil. Dibiase gains control in the confusion regardless and goes for the Million Dollar Dream. When the ref's back is turned Virgil smokes Savage with a chair. It looks as if Dibiase is going to win but out of nowhere Savage counters a slam attempt with a small package for the pin fall victory. Dibiase and Virgil attack the champ after the match and take the title belt but Macho returns with a chair chasing off the two and getting his belt back. Magnificent match. ****
Match Analysis: Wow! This is great! Far better than their Wrestlemania IV match! Mainly because it was given more time and Savage pinned Dibiase cleanly without Hogan's help!
*Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
Crowd is hyped for this one! The story here is Rude said some bad comments about Jake's wife and it cost him big time, as Jake was enraged. Rude does his usual shtick on the mic but he calls the fans "dirtball dairy farmers". Heh! Rude poses as Jake slithers down the aisle and beats the living shit out of Rude. The Ravishing one takes a powder outside to nurse his wounds. Back in the ring, Jake dominates a fistfight that causes Rude to once again roll out. Rude gains control after a psych-out but wastes time and loses it as quick as he gained it. Rude avoids a DDT attempt then grabs Damien in the bag, which allows him to sucker Jake in and gain control. Rude's already going for a chin-lock 5 minutes in which isn't good. Rude continues to dominate after Jake tries to muscle out of the chin lock. He continues to show boat and Graham bitches about Rude's attitude in the ring and how he's disgusting. Maybe Graham should turn on RAW once in a while these days! Back to that damn chin-lock and things...get...ugh...slow. Roberts makes a comeback ramming Rude into the corner both men get hurt though. Rude sneak up on Roberts and clothesline him on the top rope. Knee drop floors Jake as Rude moves the hips for the crowd. Rude goes for a weak cover and Jake reverses it. That was close. Rude once again dominates the weakened snake. Jake toughs out Rude's arsenal inviting him for more. Rude rakes the eyes and goes to the top rope. Roberts crotches the Ravishing one and Jake makes a comeback. He signals for the DDT but Rude grabs the ropes. Rude tries to run but Jake grabs his tights exposing his ass to all of Milwaukee as Lord Alfred has a spasm. Ref is knocked and Roberts clothesline Rude out. Rick tries to get away down the aisle but Jake catches him and the two brawl to a double count out. Meh! *3/4 After the match Jakes feeds Rude to Damien. Not literally of course.
Match Analysis: Wish I could say this was better but it was very slow. At least the crowd was into it and it was a slight improvement over their Wrestlemania IV match. Which isn't saying much.
*King Haku vs. Sam Houston
Houston comes in with some fancy footwork. Crazy! At this point Haku is the new "King Of The WWF" which means The Islanders are now disbanded and Haku has little to no heat anymore. That would explain this lame King gimmick that he stole from Harley Race. Anyways Haku catches Houston by surprise with a crescent kick out of nowhere! Nice move! He goes to work on Sam but misses a clothesline and is met with an awesome high cross body by Sam Houston. Nicer move! They collided viciously in mid-air! Houston continues to control the tempo of the match with some arm drags. Haku powers out of the hold and drops Sam on the ropes. Houston sells like crazy for the King. Haku goes for the nerve pinch of doom and head butts his way out of the hold. He still dominates though as Houston is still hurting. Sam makes a comeback finishing a flying clothesline he leaps frogs over Haku but is met with a crescent kick. Haku finishes him with a splash for the win. Good match! ***
Match Analysis: For a mid-card match this was awesome. Houston was underrated and Haku certainly didn't suck either! Some great spots make this the ideal mid-card match!
*Weasel Suit Match: Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Not even gonna review this one in-depth. Warrior destroys Heenan. A foreign object changes things quick but just as quick Warrior gains control and finishes the Brain with a sleeper? Weird and awful. DUD To think Warrior beat Honky Tonk Man in shorter time than Heenan. Ridiculous. After the match Warrior stuffs Heenan into the weasel suit for comic relief.
Match Analysis: Horrible. The only thing good about this is Heenan's double take when he comes to in the weasel suit and he flails around the ring.
*Tag Team Title Match: Demolition (Champions) vs. The British Bulldogs (Challengers)
These two teams were doing a house show program at the time. We got some really good matches out of it. British Bulldogs enter without Matilda. Anyways Demolition won the tag team titles from Strike Force at Wrestlemania IV and had been dominating the tag ranks up to this point. Smash is sporting some strange face paint here, as his face is a dark red color with white. Smash immediately starts hammering on Davey Boy Smith. Smash misses a corner charge and Davey does a double under hook for a two count. Bulldogs gain control as Davey tags Dynamite Kid for a double head butt. Smash gains easy control of Dynamite and tags Ax. Ax chops away on him and sends him across the ring but puts his head down and receives a head butt. Another pin for two. Dynamite controls but Ax slams him and the Demos double team. Ax and Smash keep Dynamite in their corner and wear him down. Dynamite small packages Smash but only gets two. Demos continue to dominate taking Dynamite outside and destroying him some more. Smash bear hugs him but Davey Boy breaks it up. Ax eats an elbow in the jaw allowing a hot tag to Davey. Davey Boy is on fire taking on both Demolition. Demolition gains control again but Dynamite changes that quickly with a nice snap suplex on Smash. Bulldogs go for their finisher as Davey press slams Dynamite onto Smash to get a 2 count. Dynamite then puts Smash in a stump puller submission. Fuji tries to interfere distracting Davey Boy and allowing Ax to clock Dynamite with the cane and Smash to get the pin fall. Great tag match! ***1/4
Match Analysis: Demos retain in a great (albeit short) tag match with the Bulldogs. Too bad the WWF tag team scene isn't this good these days!
*Dino Bravo vs. Ken Patera
Wow. This is no different than the hundred other matches these two had on WWF TV in 1988. It sucks. Patera attacks Bravo early on and destroys Bravo. Dino gains easy control though and chokes out Patera. Some action goes on one the outside but nothing noteworthy. Yeesh! Patera looks awful here! Should've never returned to the WWF. Patera looks like he's going to win but Bravo changes that with a side-suplex for the win. 1/4* Dull match.
Match Analysis: Pretty bad. This match was around the horn in mid-to-late 1988, I'm just glad no one has made of compilation of their matches together. Ugh!
*Cage Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant
Hogan enters to a huge crowd eruption. This is the only cage match between the two and it's also supposed to be the blow off to their epic feud. Can't help but notice Hogan's wearing an old school 1985 red shirt. The two titans grapple with Andre getting the upper hand choking out Hogan. Andre takes Hogan's shirt and chokes him some more. Andre punishes Hogan some more but so far action is really slow. An attempt to throw the Hulkster into the cage is thwarted and Hogan gets some control. Andre chokes his way out of the corner and tries to tie him to the cage with his own shirt. Andre destroys Hogan with some mighty chops. Heenan yells at Andre to get out of the cage but Hulk stops him very quickly. Hogan tries to climb but Andre nails him off the second rope then drops the elbow. Hulk tries to wear down Andre but Andre takes off the turnbuckle padding and nails him into the steel of the turnbuckle. Hogan blades, as Andre dominates the tempo of the match. Andre attempts to leave but Hulk hold on and Andre further hurts him. Hulkster comeback, Heenan interferes and Andre tries to escape. Hogan nails Heenan and stops Andre from escaping. Andre is tied up and Hogan escapes over the top and to the floor for the win. Well at least the crowd was into it. *
Match Analysis: Not great by any standards. However it's Hogan and Andre in a cage so it's slightly noteworthy :) Plus the crowd was really into it.
Mooney, Hayes and Superstar close it up and run down some of the action CHV fans got to see. Mooney signs them off and plugs in further CHV release. Heh!
Jinsell's Bottom Line: Well Wrestlefest '88 is certainly a major improvement over the excessive Wrestlemania IV. While there were no ***** affair matches the card was consistent and pretty good. All the DUDs and bad stuff were brief and the good stuff was what stood out. Not a classic show but it's memorable and a good watch if you have a compilation of all the matches, the chopped up incomplete CHV isn't worth your time though. Recommended!