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Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (1.23.1989) Review

February 7, 2019 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
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Madison Square Garden Presents the WWF (1.23.1989) Review  

-It’s January 23, 1989 in the Garden.

-Your hosts are Rod Trongard and Lord Alfred Hayes. Stylistic change, they’re now in a press box instead of at ringside. So…feel free to make a note of that.


-What tickets were these guys selling that merited keeping this feud going for 13 damn months?

-Houston throws a punch and Danny stalls. Houston punches again and Danny stalls. Houston applies a side headlock. Danny sends him into the ropes and Houston connects with a bodypress, so Danny stalls. Might be worth noting that in three months, one of these guys will be out of a job and the other will be demoted to referee. Just throwing that out there.

-Houston applies a side headlock. Davis takes over, unleashing his unmatchable arsenal of stomping as well as stomping but on the other side of the body. Forearm from the second rope gets two, because 13 months wasn’t dragging this feud out long enough.

-Danny throws Houston out to the floor and blocks him from coming back in. Houston gets all fired up and runs a lap around the ring before charging back in and mounting a comeback, but Davis clotheslines him down and applies a Boston crab. Houston breaks free and bulldogs him to finish. 0 for 1, next!

BRUTUS “The Barber” BEEFCAKE vs. “Mister Perfect” CURT HENNIG

-Weird entrance for Brutus, who heads to the ring with a guy in a suit showing him a piece of paper. Beefcake looks at the paper, nods approvingly, and heads out for his match. My guess: The paper said “Do you like tater tots?” So he was nodding because he likes tater tots. Beefcake gets screams from the fans as he takes his jacket off and we get a great shot from the cameraman frantically looking for ONE woman somewhere in the MSG crowd reacting to Brutus and he can only find row after row of bored-looking men.

-Side headlock by Beefcake, followed by a shoulderblock. Hennig tries a drop toehold, but Beefcake turns it into a hammerlock and Hennig makes it to the ropes. Hennig throws a hard chop but gets slammed down. So Hennig changes his strategy and tries a test of strength. Nice sequence as Beefcake tries to turn it into a new hold and Hennig anticipates and just unloads on him with knees.

-Rear chinlock by Hennig. Beefcake fights back to his feet and snake-eyes Hennig to break it, but Hennig cuts off the comeback by targeting the back. Forearms to the skull have no effect on Brutus, so apparently Beefcake is Samoan or something, and he punches Hennig out to the floor. Back in, Beefcake signals for the sleeper, but Outlaw Ron Bass shows up to steal Beefcake’s stuff, so Beefcake goes out to do something about it and gets himself counted out. The feud’s dead, why keep it running on fumes like this? 1 for 2. Beefcake was in the zone at this point, and Curt Hennig is Curt Hennig, so it was a good match.


-Flying headscissors by Horner sends Estrada retreating. Another flying headscissors because Horner sticks with what he knows. They do the nifty counter they did in Philly where Estrada tries to escape it with a headstand but Horner just drills him by turning that into a mini-piledriver.

-Horner stays with the headscissors a wee bit longer than MSG would prefer and Rivera wins the crowd back by turning it into a fight. Fist off the top rope by Estrada, but he wastes precious time by celebrating. Backdrop by Estrada gets two. Chinlock gets an INSTANT “boring” chant from MSG.

-They slug it out some more and Horner connects with an elbow off the ropes for two. They fight for a roll-up, and Horner wins that battle by turning it into a bridge for three. 2 for 3. This was fine.

BRET “Hit Man” HART vs. HONKY TONK MAN (with Jimmy Hart)

-Some kids at ringside are wearing Conquistador masks. Honky’s debuting his blue jumpsuit, which might is of the single best entrance get-ups any wrestler has ever had. Honky stalls while Jimmy Hart warns them that if they don’t shut up, Honky won’t sing for them, and one guy in the front row gets REALLY fired up by that and has to be held back by security!

-Honky suckers Bret into chasing him, but Bret actually catches him and goes to work with elbows and punches. Honky goes into the turnbuckle ten times, and Bret atomic drops him. Honky takes over and Bret tries to roll him, but Honky runs to the ropes to thrust Bret out to the floor, and Jimmy connects with the megaphone.

-Honky stomps away and Jimmy uses every opening he gets to choke Bret out. Rear chinlock by The Honk, but Bret fights to his feet and elbows out. Lord Alfred Hayes’ headset is busted and we can’t hear him, which boosts the match’s enjoyability by 50%. And then lazy booking takes over as Bret gets distracted by Jimmy Hart, allowing Honky to attack from behind. Oh, come on, we’ve seen that tonight! Oh, wait, this time, both guys get counted out. That changes everything. 3 for 4.


-Hey, it’s these guys! This is promising.

-Rockers clear the ring right away. Tully Blanchard tries a standing wristlock on Shawn Michaels, but Shawn shoves him right into Arn Anderson, knocking him off the apron. Shawn follows this with an armdrag . Rockers work the arm, switching off without tagging to the consternation of the Brain Busters. Moments where the faces blatantly cheat are the moments when I most wish Jesse Ventura was calling these house shows because he did his best work in that situation.

-Busters try double-teaming Janetty, but the Rockers counter every move they try to do and clear the ring with simultaneous superkicks. Arn Anderson is on the receiving end of a Shawnensteiner and the Busters get dumped to the floor again.

-Busters try to get something going again and in a funny twist, Shawn winds up for a punch and now they just go to the floor on their own to avoid it. Tully tricks Shawn into chasing him around the ring and Arn Anderson is crouched down waiting to strike, and one solid clothesline from Double-A completely changes the match.

-Busters cut the ring in half and Tully clamps down on a chinlock. Arn tags in and misses an elbow drop, but rather stupidly tries to finish with a sunset flip instead of, say, tagging. So he kinda gets what he deserves and gets caught in an abdominal stretch. The worst part is Gorilla isn’t there, so Arn can do the hold with total confidence.

-Busters try to switch without tagging, but the referee catches them, which has them all kinds of annoyed. Shawn bridges out of a pinfall attempt, but Tully just carries him off when he tries for the tag, and Arn comes in with a spinebuster that almost finishes, but Marty breaks the pin.

-Shawn gets away with a low blow and finally makes the hot tag and Marty cleans house. Pier sixer breaks out, but the Rockers’ ring gear actually works against them in a neat finish, as Marty lifts Tully for a suplex, but Arn reaches in, unravels a ribbon on Marty’s boot, and hangs onto it so Marty loses his footing and can’t kick out as Tully gets the three-count. 4 for 5. It was a pleasure just to watch these four guys tell a story. They had so much chemistry that it just feels like a match this good came easy to them.

-Sean Mooney talks to Ted DiBiase and Virgil. Virgil is supposedly barred from ringside, but since Virgil takes orders only from Ted DiBiase, by god, he’ll be there.

-And it must be intermission time because Hercules has some stuff to say too, and so does the Big Boss Man…question, how tall is Sean Mooney? Everybody in these interviews is TOWERING over him, but he’s standing behind them with his arm outstretched to hold the microphone. It looks like everyone is standing on a box except for Sean.


-I’m watching this from an original broadcast recording, and holy damn it’s nice to hear Rude’s actual theme music again.

-Rude tries to attack during the entrance, but Hillbilly just backdrops him. Rude begs for a handshake and Hillbilly whips him back and forth and locks on a bearhug. Apparently these two have an actual issue, which Alfred recaps in the early minutes of the match. Hillbilly Jim called commentary during the last show and when Rude pulled a woman into the ring for a Rude Awakening, he was such a douchebag to her that Hillbilly Jim went into the ring and stole the woman away.

-Rude breaks the hold and takes over, targeting Hillbilly’s throat, which seems like bad strategy because moonshine probably turned that part of Hillbilly completely bulletproof. Rude stays on the throat, lifting Hillbilly off the mat with a choke and giving him a right hand to the neckal region.

-Axehandle off the top by Rude gets two, due to his most cavalier cover. Rude gets caught in an inverted atomic drop and a big boot. Impressive show of power, as Jim lifts him by the armpits and just drops him straight on his ass. Jim tries to finish with a splash, but Rude raises a boot to daze him and springs right up to hit the Rude Awakening the moment he has the opening, and Rude gets the pin, clean as a sheet. That…was actually one hell of a good Hillbilly Jim match. 5 for 6.

HERCULES vs. “The Million Dollar Man” TED DIBIASE

-Virgil comes to ringside and Howard Finkel suddenly flexes a little power, refusing to introduce DiBiase as “accompanied by Virgil” and telling him to take his ass back to the locker room before he’ll introduce Hercules. Virgil tries to bribe the referee and DiBiase is shocked when the referee refuses to take the money, so Virgil heads to the back in a huff and NOW Finkel will allow the match to proceed.

-The match starts on the floor as they trade punches, but DiBiase gets sent into the post and Hercules takes it from there. They head into the ring and Herc atomic drops DiBiase for two. DiBiase gets to his feet and takes a swing at him, but Herc ducks and applies a full nelson, and it looks like it might be a short night. DiBiase makes it to the ropes and Herc clotheslines him out to the floor after releasing the hold.

-Handful of tights by DiBiase brings Herc back out to the floor and DiBiase slams him on the padding. Back in, DiBiase goes for a chinlock. Herc eventually hammers his way out, but DiBiase powerslams Herc with his last ounce of strength for two. Back to the chinlock. Hercules fights free but they collide on a double clothesline. Herc recovers first and cradles DiBiase for two.

-DiBiase fights back and slams Herc to the mat. He heads to the top rope, but Herc slams him off. Herc dishes out everything he has and charges at DiBiase in the corner, but DiBiase ducks down and hooks the legs, pinning Hercules with both feet on the ropes to MSG’s collective dismay. 6 for 7. These guys had MSG eating out of their palms tonight, and there was really nothing special or unusual about the match, they just did something great with what they had.


-Bass is forced to remove the hat before starting the match and gets good and angry about that, hammering Tito down aggressively. Tito comes off the ropes with a double-forearm, which is like doing his finisher twice, but it only gets two.

-Bass jerks the hair and takes control from there, ramming Tito into the turnbuckles and driving a forearm into him. Bass faceplants him, which is fundamentally the same as his finisher except he didn’t put Tito’s head in his crotch first, but apparently his crotch is the secret ingredient to victory because the faceplant only gets two.

-Tito cradles Bass out of nowhere for two. He tries a backdrop but Bass counters it with a big boot. Beefcake heads to the ring to play with Bass’ hat in the corner, and Bass is so flustered by this tomfoolery. So much so that Tito rolls him up for three. 6 for 8. Pretty indifferent to this one, and shoving a settled feud down our throats for a predictable finish didn’t sit right with me.

-Howard Finkel runs down next month’s card, including Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage, and the crowd sees where stuff’s headed and boos Randy Savage’s name.

HULK HOGAN vs. BIG BOSS MAN (with Slick)

-Boss Man has the gimmicked handcuffs again.

-Hogan lights into the Boss Man with rights and Slick heads into the ring right away, only to get avalanched by his own man. Back suplex by Hogan has Boss Man writhing, and now the part where Slick gets handcuffed to the turnbuckle. And now the part where Hogan is a dick to him just way, way, way beyond what Slick actually has coming to him.

-Hogan slams the Boss Man and goes outside to kick Slick’s ass some more. Back in, Hogan keeps beating on the Boss Man until Boss Man counters a backdrop and clotheslines Hogan down. Piledriver by the Boss Man, and he heads over to free Slick. Slick chokes Hogan with the Boss Man’s wrist tape. Spinebuster gets two.

-Boss Man goes for the piledriver again but Hogan backdrops him over the top rope. Hulk gets distracted by Slick and gives him chase until he runs right into the Boss Man Slam, and a big splash fini–OH MY GOD HOGAN KICKED OUT! HOLY SHIT!

-Big boot sends Boss Man to the floor and the Hulk-up is cut off by a hard shove into the post, and Hogan is prone on the floor, so Boss Man grabs the handcuffs and locks Hulk up. In the ring, Boss Man goes for an avalanche but crotches himself on the top rope, and Hogan snaps the handcuffs (with Earl Hebner icing the cake with a great “holy shit” face). Hogan legdrops Boss Man twice and refuses to go for the pin, instead grabbing the nightstick. Hebner tries to stop him, but Hogan screws Hogan, shoving him down to earn a DQ while the Boss Man makes a getaway. 6 for 9. Hogan just squashed the shit out of the Boss Man here to a comical degree.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Well, it crapped out at the end, but damn, WWE Network has uploaded much worse shows than this one and this is worth a look if you can find it elsewhere.