wrestling / Video Reviews

Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (4.24.1989)

July 6, 2019 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Hulk Hogan Randy Savage Sensational SHerri
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Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (4.24.1989)  

-It’s April 24, 1989.

-Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Lord Alfred Hayes.

BLUE BLAZER vs. GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE (with Jimmy Hart)

-Tony marvels that for someone who has been competing as long as Valentine, he looks as good as he always did. Of course, if you’ve attended an indy show since 1989, you know that Valentine is a freak of nature who will continue looking like that forever.

-Blazer wrings the arm and bodypresses Valentine for two. Blazer applies the hammerlock on Hammer, which opens the door to a spirited debate about whether this qualifies as irony, and I encourage you all to post your thoughts below.

-Valentine stalls before trying a corner charge, but Blazer moves and goes to work on the arm some more. Blazer ends up getting thrown to the floor and Valentine ties him up on the apron and starts to yank the mask off, but the referee stops him before we get a rare glimpse of Barry O’s face. I can’t remember who Blazer turned out to be but “Barry O” feels right. I think I read that once.

-In the ring, Valentine thwacks Blazer with a forearm and gives him the lethal headbutt to the midsection. Motion to just starting calling it the Nutbutt going forward.

-Valentine goes for the figure four, but Blazer cradles him for two. Valentine tries again and this time he gets kicked out to the floor. Valentine heads to the top, but ends up meeting a shot to the gut. Blazer dropkicks him and comes off the second rope with a double axehandle for two. Backbreaker for another two. Okay, hold on, a second rope axehandle and a backbreaker, and we’re sure it’s OWEN under the mask?

-Blazer rams Valentine into the turnbuckles ten times and comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Blazer heads to the top rope again, but Valentine catches him and slams him for three. No complaints here. 1 for 1.

-I somehow never noticed it when I was a kid but I now love the running gag where Honky removes his jumpsuit and Jimmy holds up the belt like it’s a title belt. Hillbilly Jim greets all the MSG dignitaries at ringside, as the Rosattis AND Vladimir are all in attendance tonight.

-Jimmy Hart taunts Hillbilly Jim with the megaphone. Jim slaps it out of his hand, and Honky grabs it and wails on Hillbilly with it. And Honky and Jimmy just murder him after that and walk away triumphantly as the referee declares Hillbilly the winner by DQ without the match ever really starting. Hillbilly regains consciousness and as soon as he’s told the match is over, he’s not satisfied with the DQ win and demands Honky get his ass back down here, but Honky decides nah. 1 for 2. I have a feeling there’s more to come tonight.

HERCULES vs. DINO BRAVO (with Jimmy Hart)

-First time we’re seeing Jimmy in Dino’s corner. My guess is Jimmy just started walking to the ring out of habit, and Dino, without attention to details, figured the guy with long dark hair, facial hair, and eyewear was probably Frenchy Martin. Dino still has his old look though, and it’s kind of strange realizing how firm that image of Dino and Jimmy is in my head and how weird it looks to see Dino wearing black and red with Jimmy.

-Dino is immediately overpowered in the lock-up but shoves Hercules away and declares victory. They collide on shoulderblocks and neither man will budge. Test of strength as both men go through their strongman checklist. Dueling bearhugs should be coming shortly.

-Test of strength is broken by Dino throwing kicks, and Tony thinks nothing of pointing out that tests of strength usually end up going that way. Herc ducks a punch and applies a full nelson, but Dino makes the ropes and goes to the floor to rethink things. They trade poses before Dino tries a side headlock. Herc fights out and slams him. He tries the full nelson again, but Dino makes the ropes and goes to the floor to kill more time.

-Aaaaand Dino walks back to the locker room. And then he doesn’t. Back in, Dino pokes Herc in the eye and follows with an inverted atomic drop. Rear chinlock by Dino, and an elbow gets two. So Dino mixes things up with a regular chinlock. Herc elbows out but gets clotheslined down, and now Dino goes to a Boston crab.

-Herc makes the ropes and makes a comeback with right hands, but Dino stops him with…A BEARHUG! And Herc gets comfy, taking a full two minutes before realizing “Hey, my arms are free” and punching out. Herc avoids a corner charge next and throws punches. Series of clotheslines by Herc as he signals for the torture rack. Dino doesn’t submit immediately, so Herc just drops him for no reason and goes for the pin right next to the ropes, and Dino gets a foot out.

-They fight on the apron, with Hercules attempting a sunset flip, but Dino shifts his weight and holds onto the ropes to get a tainted win. Tainted not just by chicanery, but by how terrible the match actually was. You do not book two guys built like this to go over 15 minutes! 1 for 3.


-Boris slams Roma and hammers away as Lord Alfred marvels that Boris isn’t “blundering around the ring” like he usually does. Roma, almost on cue, dropkicks Boris out to the floor. Boris appears to injure his leg on the landing, so Roma targets it. Boris stops him with a rake of the eyes. He goes for a slam but collapses in pain due to the knee. Roma stays with that target, snapping it and ramming it into the post.

-Boris fights him off again with headbutts and Roma falls out to the floor. Fan taunts Boris by yelling “Russians are commies!” Hot take there, 1989man. Boris starts targeting the lower back with forearms and headbutts and MSG, while not exactly chanting “boring,” is pretty clearly ready to move on to the next match.

-Bearhug by Boris. Roma fights free and goes for a bodypress, but now Boris’ knee doesn’t hurt anymore, so he effortlessly catches Roma and makes it a backbreaker. Suplex gets two and Lord Alfred Hayes is disgusted that it didn’t even occur to Boris to hook the leg. Boris tries another bearhug. Roma punches free. Roma connects with Steamboat-style chops from the top, and a powerslam gets three out of nowhere. Total heat vacuum for ten minutes. 1 for 4.

-Hillbilly Jim storms out here, furious that Honky wouldn’t give him a real match and that he cheated MSG out of a fight. He wants Honky out here right NOW. Honky doesn’t answer the challenge, and Hillbilly walks off frustrated.

JAKE “The Snake” ROBERTS vs. “Million Dollar Man” TED DIBIASE (with Virgil)

-DiBiase tries to stall by running from corner to corner, only to scare himself by running toward Damien. Rapid fire right hands by Jake, and DiBiase falls right into the Damien corner and gets the hell out of the ring in terror.

-Back in, Dibiase brings Jake to his knees with a double wristlock. Jake fights back to his feet and goes for the DDT immediately and DiBiase gets out of there again. That was a nice touch of realism that I appreciate from Jake. He always went for that move the first time he saw an opening.

-Arm wringer by Jake. He connects with a kneelift and again, goes for the DDT the moment he can, and DiBiase dives for the floor. Jake heads over and noggin-knocks DiBiase and Virgil, and DiBiase blames Virgil for it. It’s been a while since we’ve touched on DiBiase being a total bastard as a boss, it’s nice to see that again. Virgil makes it up to him by distracting Jake, and DiBiase attacks him on the way back into the ring.

-Double axehandle by DiBiase gets two. Chinlock by DiBiase. Jake elbows out but runs into a knee. Million dollar dream applies, but Jake happens to drape a leg across the rope as he collapses, so the referee forces the break. DiBiase brings him to the center of the ring and tries a chinlock, but Jake turns it into a stunner. Short clothesline by Jake and the crowd goes nuts. Jake was so consistent about that, to the point that just hitting the set-up for the DDT got a bigger pop than the actual move.

-Virgil grabs a leg to stop it. Jake tries for a roll-up, but DiBiase hooks the ropes to block it. Then DiBiase showboats to the crowd about blocking it, so Jake just walks up to him and actually gets the roll-up this time for three. Much funnier finish than it reads. 2 for 5. Slower pace but really enjoyable. Jake gets a beatdown after the match. DiBiase escapes, but Jake manages to recover in time to kick Virgil’s ass.

-Intermission interview interstitials! Mr. Perfect tells us that perfect people don’t worry. Bushwhackers concede that the Brain Busters are smarter than them. And Randy Savage is here to take Hulk Hogan’s title belt, heart, soul, the red and yellow, and all of the Puke-a-Maniacs, who will see the truth and become Macho Madness Freaks.


-Lock-ups go nowhere, but Perfect stops to wipe his hands on the top rope because he got his hands in Bret’s hair. Hard shoulderblock by Bret, and he biels Perfect into the corner. Bret goes into the ropes and Perfect goes down to try to trip him with a drop toehold, but Bret tiptoes over him in a funny visual and taunts him.

-Snapmare into a side headlock by Bret. Perfect escapes but Bret crucifixes him for two, then goes back to the side headlock. Perfect escapes again and slams Bret down. Bret slams him back and clotheslines him over the top rope. MSG is digging Bret here.

-Perfect starts coming to life with axehandles and chops. Bret gets sent to the floor and knocked into the barricade. Back in, Perfect whips him and Bret takes his classic bump for that. Standing dropkick and a baseball slide by Perfect send Bret back out to the floor. Perfect applies a spinning toehold, but Bret pushes him into the corner and Perfect hits the post shoulder-first. Bret smells blood and gives him a hammerlock slam.

-Bret stays on the arm and gives it everything in his arsenal, but he goes for a crucifix and Perfect turns it into a Samoan drop. Bret manages to kick him to the floor before Perfect can put him away, and he connects with a plancha. Back in, Bret hits a snap suplex but it only gets two, and MSG lets out a wonderfully disappointed “Oooooooh.” Second rope elbow by Bret gets two right as the bell sounds, and Bret is dismayed at the shitty timing as the draw is announced. 3 for 6. Good match like you’d expect, but not a hidden classic or anything. Bret demands five more minutes, but Perfect declines. And then he attacks Bret from behind. Perfectly, I might add.


-Arn Anderson starts with Butch. Arn shockingly just tackles Butch and lays him out, and Tully cracks me up, coming into the ring just to do a strut and high-five his partner. Doesn’t even bother with a cheap shot or double-teaming, he seriously just came in to strut.

-Arn attempts a criss-cross, but Butch surprises him with a JYD-style crawling headbutt to send him to the floor. Ref loses control quickly and all four men end up fighting in the ring. Bushwhackers clear the ring with a battering ram. Whackers taunt Arn on the floor and don’t realize that Tully snuck back in. Luke gets knocked out to the floor and Arn rams his shoulder straight into the post.

-So the Busters have their target and start wrecking Luke’s arm while suckering Butch into starting an argument with the referee. Busters just stay on the arm relentlessly, switching off while Luke manages to bite them every now and then to stay alive. Armbar on the mat by Arn, but in the most startling moment ever in a Bushwhackers match, Luke bridges out and makes the hot tag. Luke. Did a bridge. And got to his feet. That happened.

-Butch nearly finishes Tully to get the win, but Arn breaks the pin. All four men battle it out in the ring. Referee gets Tully on the apron as Arn lifts Butch for a slam. Luke, from the corner, just dives at Tully’s stomach with a headbutt and Butch lands on top for the win. This did not disappoint at all. 4 for 7.

-Howard Finkel hypes the WWF’s return to the metropolitan area on May 8 at the Meadowlands. He runs down the card when, in a nice touch of realism, a WWF official runs to the ring to hand him a note, and Howard announces that Hillbilly Jim vs. Honky Tonk Man is now confirmed for the Meadowlands card.

WWF TITLE: HULK HOGAN (Champion) vs. “Macho Man” RANDY SAVAGE (with Sensational Sherri)
-Not a chance in hell this has a definitive finish. Just enjoy the ride.

-Hulk wants to lock up, and Savage tries to figure out a way to lock up while keeping one hand on the rope in his corner. Hulk get tired of waiting and attacks, so Savage grabs his cape and throws it in Hulk’s eyes, like in Naked Gun, and that’s enough for him to take control. Top rope axehandle by Savage. He drapes the cape over Hulk and poses on top of him in a great visual.

-But Savage celebrates prematurely and Hulk drops him in atomic fashion. Hard chops by Hogan, and he throws Savage out to the floor. Savage uses Sherri as a human shield and runs away, but Hulk catches up to him and gives him a beating on the apron. Back in the ring, great spot as Hulk whips Savage into the ropes and puts his head down for a backdrop, but when Savage throws the kick to counter, Hulk is ahead of him by two beats, grabs his foot, and says “Nope!” right to his face.

-Sherri distracts Hulk long enough for Savage to knock him to the floor. Sherri manages to push Hulk into the post. Hulk turns around to do something about it, and Savage comes off the top with a double axehandle. Sherri and Savage take turns distracting the referee and choking Hulk. Chinlock by Savage in the middle of the ring, but Hulk won’t stay down. He elbows free. Sherri trips him from the floor, and Hulk again gets distracted, allowing for a sneak attack by Savage. Savage snaps Hulk’s neck over the top, which was such a cool spot every time.

-Savage heads to the top and Sherri passes a weapon to him while he’s up there. Savage connects with a double axehandle using the foreign object, but Hulk still manages to kick out. The hulk-up spills out to the floor, and Sherri jumps on Hogan’s back. Hulk is dumb enough to keep falling for this, and Savage is smart enough to ram him into the barricade and dash back inside to take the win by count-out. Savage celebrates with the belt before Hulk snatches it back and runs everyone out of town. 5 for 8. And the feud goes on.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Some ass-tastic skippable stuff early in the show, but man it picked up steam after the intermission.