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The Name on the Marquee: WWF Prime Time Wrestling (11.8.88)

October 7, 2018 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
WWF Prime Time Wrestling Bobby Heenan
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The Name on the Marquee: WWF Prime Time Wrestling (11.8.88)  

-It’s a special three-hour episode!

-Originally aired November 8, 1988.

-Except when otherwise noted, all matches tonight come from Bercy Stadium in Paris.

“The Rock” DON MURACO vs. GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE

-This is unintentionally the blow-off for this feud because Muraco was fired on the way back from Europe, allegedly due to a locker room altercation with road agent Nick Bockwinkel. Paris is giving the babyfaces smoke, pyro, and pretty lights for their entrance, and all of the wrestlers are escorted to the ring by models holding up signs displaying their names.

-Muraco attacks before the bell and lays into Valentine with elbows. The lighting grid in the arena is all over the place instead of concentrated above the ring. Combine that with, apparently ,a format conversion issue when switching the master tape from PAL makes this episode absolute hell to look at from certain angles. Valentine throws uppercuts but misses a corner charge and goes into the post. Muraco takes full advantage, working the arm.

-Back from commercial with Valentine taking control with forearms across the neck and chest. French fans are doing that crazy thing where they whistle instead of booing. Elbows by Valentine get some near-falls. Muraco starts taking shots to the breadbasket and atomic drops Valentine onto the leg that he wears the brace on, which is an interesting bit of psychology that we haven’t seen that much since he started wearing it. Even Gorilla is complaining about the annoying lights in the arena now.

-Valentine cuts off the comeback and throws right hands and elbows at Muraco. Muraco punches back and goes for the piledriver, but Valentine’s legs accidentally take out the referee, so Muraco can’t go for the pin. He heads over to wake up the referee, so Valentine takes off the shin guard and whacks Muraco over the head right as the referee comes to, and Valentine gets the three-count. Pretty sluggish match, and the commentators were pointing that out too.

JUNKYARD DOG vs. ANDRE THE GIANT

-Okay, I try to give every match a chance and not pre-judge anything, but who in god’s name would book these two guys to go against each other in 1988? I feel like Jim Crockett must do a really good Gorilla impression and he prank-called Vince one night and said “Here’s a match you should book and put on your damn TV show!” and Vince fell for it. This match actually has something in common with the last one, as JYD was turfed on the way back to the states, although in his case, it was four years of a lot of little things finally coming to a head and the company was just at a point where they had to get rid of him. It’s interesting because as a result of typing these reviews, I’ve seen JYD’s run in the WWF from start to finish, and fans’ memories seem to severely overestimate the impact he made. I mean, he was a character on the cartoon show and apparently he moved a lot of merchandise, so he left an imprint that way. But he was adrift far more often than he had anything going on. He had a feud with Terry Funk that Funk got so sick of that he walked out of the company to avoid having even one more match with JYD. He had a mini-feud with Harley Race and lost that one decisively. He feuded with Outlaw Ron Bass and NOBODY gave a shit. And outside of those three runs, JYD was just the guy who popped up on TV once every three weeks, did the Thump, danced with the kids at ringside, and called it a night. The rest of the time, he was “And his tag team partner, the Junkyard Dog!” and for whatever other babyface they didn’t have plans for.

-Andre gets a sizeable number of cheers on his way to the ring, then refuses to enter until JYD gets rid of his chain. JYD won’t get rid of it, so Andre goes back to the locker room. Then he starts to walk back down the aisle to the ring. Then he walks back to the locker room. Well, Andre seems aware of why this match is a terrible idea, at least. He’s gone for several full minutes before Terry Garvin finally emerges and forces Andre to walk back to the ring. Then Andre circles the ring and checks under the apron to make sure the chain is gone. Andre FINALLY gets in the ring and the bell sounds.

-Andre starts choking out the Dog and knocks him out to the floor. Dog crawls back in and Andre sits on him a few times. He squashes JYD against the corner and probably farts on him to keep himself entertained. JYD surprises him with a clothesline and Andre gets tangled in the ropes, and JYD does rolling headbutts into Andre’s exposed ribs, which is a really smart approach to that move. JYD chokes him out and Andre untangles himself, then unties a turnbuckle pad and rams JYD’s back into it repeatedly. Andre rears back for a headbutt, but JYD ducks and Andre goes right into the turnbuckle and knocks himself loopy. JYD tries a corner charge, but Andre raises a boot and pins him. Interesting to see Andre dig down deep and realize, “Yeah, my body’s falling apart, but this one is up to me.” Funny spot afterward, as the ring announcer declares that your winner is “Andre Le Giant,” but Andre is so committed to being a heel in his homeland that he corrects the ring announcer and threatens him until he says “Andre THE Giant.”

LADIES TITLE: SENSATIONAL SHERRI (Champion) vs. ROCKIN’ ROBIN

-Robin drives elbows into Sherri and tries to pin her Warrior-style before Sherri even has her jacket off. Robin dropkicks her out to the floor and yanks by the hair back into the ring for another two-count. Robin goes to a side headlock. Sherri throws her into the ropes and tries a criss-cross, and Robin just steps on her, because why wouldn’t you? Sherri gets caught in the side headlock. Sherri gets so frustrated that she screams at the referee and Robin just sneaks up and rolls her for two. Sherri tries a hammerlock and finally gets something going with that, switching to a full nelson as Gorilla off-handedly mentions that “the French people are enjoying this match a LOT more than they enjoyed Andre’s match.” I love how freely Gorilla would call a spade a spade and bury a bad match.

-Robin comes back, taking Sherri from corner to corner and ramming her into all the turnbuckles. We return with Sherri choking out Robin, and for some reason, Bercy Stadium has decided we should have a strobe light exhibition in the ring during the match. Oh my god, I hope the next time the WWF went to Paris, one of the road agents said “We do a thousand house shows a year, give us the keys.”

-Robin makes her comeback, as she’s never really been in trouble for any length of time during this match, and starts chopping Sherri’s chest so hard that the Brain says she’s ruinign Sherri’s career as Frederick’s. Sherri fights back with a Russian legsweep for two. She plants Robin on the top rope and then just walks away to jaw with the referee, and Robin leaps off the top and bulldogs Sherri for the three-count to take the gold. Sherri marched out there and put Robin OVER. The bout went for a while but the whole story was that Sherri couldn’t get anything going and Robin could always counter, reverse, or shake off anything she did. So it was effective.

LEAPING LANNY POFFO vs. BARRY HOROWITZ

-Paris is so jacked for this event that Barry Horowitz gets the biggest heel reaction of his entire career, and he’s feeding off it really strongly. Poffo endears himself by reading a poem in French.

-Horowitz throws forearms while Gorilla touts his status as a graduate of Terry Garvin’s School of Self-Defense. Poffo fights back with a headlock and a dropkick as Bobby suspects that Poffo MAY be the Blue Blazer. Lanny traps Horowitz in a side headlock for a bit as we pause for a break. We return with Horowitz dropping a leg. It seems like they’re actually doing their commercial breaks in “real time” tonight, instead of the usual WWF pre-tape approach of cutting to commercial and returning exactly where they faded to black. Horowitz applies a bearhug, which Heenan casually calls a rest hold. Poffo escapes with “Uppercut City” and throws Horowitz out to the floor.

-Horowitz fights his way back into the ring as Bercy starts another light show in the ring as the match is in progress. This is SUCH an irritating show. Poffo keeps attacking, and Horowitz starts begging, which Gorilla calls “a signature Pat Patterson move.” Granted, Pat was a heel for years, but I just instantly assume any mention of him on commentary is an inside gay joke.

-Horowitz chokes Poffo and gives him a backbreaker. He heads upstairs but takes too much time and gets slammed off. Lanny tries a slingshot splash but Barry’s way too far away, so he does a forward roll on impact and makes it a legdrop, a move that Gorilla calls a “double furnum flip” and gets the three-count. Slow, but fine.

HULK HOGAN (with Miss Elizabeth) vs. KING HAKU (with Bobby Heenan)
-Elizabeth holds the rope open the way that she’s always done for Randy Savage, but Hulk will have none of that and holds the rope open for her. Hmm…

-Haku attacks from behind with kicks, eye rakes, chops, and everything else in his arsenal. Hogan gets fired up and does his own raking. Hey, at least he waited for the heel to do it first. Heenan tries to trip up Hulk near the ropes and Hulk goes to chase him, but Haku takes advantage as I’m suddenly concerned I might wear out my H key.

-Nerve hold by Haku hurts Hulk Hogan. Hogan breaks free, but Haku gets an impressive kick that sends Hulk out to the floor. Heenan orders Haku to chop Hulk from the apron, but stupidly stands next to Hulk while giving the order. Hulk pulls Heenan into harm’s way and Heenan takes the chop. Hulk celebrates by parading around the ring with the crown while help comes to ringside to take Bobby Heenan back to the locker room.

-Haku’s PISSED now and goes crazy with chops and stomps. Hulk hulks up and decides to wrap things up with the usual. 3 for 3. Pretty good Hogan formula, and actually, he carried the match, with Haku really doing nothing more than kicking for seven minutes and Hulk bumping his ass off every which way for it. Great line from Jesse while Hulk does his muscle poses: “Look at the ego! It’s never been bigger!”

TAG TEAM TITLE: DEMOLITION (Champions) vs. BRITISH BULLDOGS

-Davey Boy and Smash mix it up in roughhouse fashion to start. Davey Boy applies an armbar while Bobby Heenan entertains himself by predicting “the team with kneepads will win.” Oh, you! Bulldogs switch without tagging and stay on the arm. Worth noting that the “CANAL+” logo on the ring apron causes problems every time the hard camera zooms in, and it appears this event is being sponsored by a product called “Anal Plus.” Either that or, like, some sort of French butts version of the American Red Cross.

-Ax tags in and gets headbutted down, but kicks out with authority. Bulldogs work his arm until Ax gets frustrated enough to tag out. Bulldogs have been in control so long that you can tell this match is going to go for a while. Smash yanks Davey Boy’s arm over the top and Ax snaps the wrist down while Gorilla suddenly goes on a super-political rant about how it doesn’t matter if Dukakis or Bush wins tonight because we know that big business REALLY runs America. Well, that’s it, time to post a lengthy name-calling diatribe in the comments and then vow never watch Prime Time again.

-Ax and Davey Boy trade punches and the crowd is INTO it. Back from commercial with Dynamite just running back and forth between both members of Demolition and taking both of them on until Smash stops him in his tracks with a forearm. Smash smashes away and applies the armbar. Ax tags in and applies a nerve hold while Gorilla and Bobby fish for things to talk about. Smash runs into a boot and Ax hurries in to block the attempted hot tag. Ax dumps Dynamite to the floor and Smash posts him. Demolition double-teams him as Gorilla and Bobby turn their attention to the apron and ask what “CANAL+” means, and the crazy part is they seem to legitimately not know until somebody gets on Bobby’s headset and tells him.

-We get two fights, one on the floor and one in the ring as the referee restores order. Ax applies a nerve hold on Dynamite, and Smash applies a bearhug. Davey Boy breaks it with a bearhug, but Ax blocks the hot tag and goes to a chinlock. Dynamite jawjacks him to break it and makes the hot tag. Referee loses control of this one and Dynamite eats a clothesline hard enough to stay down for a three-count, and Demolition retains the gold. This was incredibly slow-paced, but they were always DOING something, switching from hold to hold and looking for the one that would work. I liked it.

JAKE “The Snake” ROBERTS (with Cheryl Roberts) vs. RAVISHING RICK RUDE (with Bobby Heenan)
-This feud finally, finally, finally dies after some of the most achingly slow-paced house show matches ever committed to videotape. Vince once again demonstrates that he doesn’t have a firm grasp on what the expression “bird’s eye view” means, noting Cheryl will have one while at ringside. Yeah, if the bird is seriously injured, I guess.

-Jake works the arm until Rude goes to the eyes. He pounds Jake down and swivels his hips at Cheryl a few times for shits and giggles. Rude makes a comeback with a clothesline and a stomachbreaker. He drags Rude over to the ropes and Cheryl slaps him across the face. This totally pisses off Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura, who quite correctly declare that to be outside interference. Vince tries to defend it by saying that it was just a slap in the face, and Jesse completely turns it around on him by calling him sexist for implying that a woman is weak. Vince is almost speechless.

-The referee forces Cheryl to leave as we pause for commercial. We return with a brawl on the floor. Rude wins the battle handily and goes back inside for a celebratory pose. Jake makes it back into the ring before ten and throws fists. Baaaaack bodydrop by Jake and he calls for the DDT, but he didn’t do a short clothesline yet, so you know he won’t get it.

-Sure enough, Rude backdrops out and heads to the top rope. Knee connects, but he makes a lazy cover and Jake kicks out easily. Both guys get desperate, with Jake biting Rude and Rude going to the eyes again. Jake gets the DDT out of nowhere and Rude is out cold, but instead of going for the pin, Jake starts ripping off the tights. Bobby runs in and attacks to stop him, drawing a DQ.

-Andre the Giant heads to ringside and attacks Jake, sending him out of the ring. Jake heads back in with Damien, and Andre freezes. Jake throws Damien right on him and Andre clutches his chest and passes out. EMTs head to ringside to check on him. When Andre wakes up, he’s incredibly jumpy and searches the ring for any sign of Damien. 1 for 1. Good match, which was a welcome change, though the finish was an unnecessary cop-out.

SURVIVOR SERIES REPORT

-Mean Gene runs down the card as it stands now. Mega-Powers cut a crazed promo about having a seance with their teammates while holding hands on the beach, until a lightning bolt struck all of them. That’s not a team, Hulk. That’s a cult. The word you’re looking for is cult.

-Next we get words from Boss Man, Akeem, and their teams. Ted DiBiase has treated him to five new sets of handcuffs for each opponent, including a special set of custom-made, extra-long, extra strong handcuffs for Hogan. Hey, they paid that off!

WWF TITLE: RANDY “Macho Man” SAVAGE (Champion, with Elizabeth) vs. AKEEM

-The woman escorting Akeem to the ring has a sign reading “One Man Gang,” and the ring announcer introduces him with both names.

-Akeem overpowers Savage, but Savage throws a flurry of punches and snaps his neck over the top, then sprints to the top for a bodypress and gets two. Akeem just levels him with a clothesline. Atomic drop and a bearhug by the African dream. Suplex by Akeem, but he goes for a lazy cover and only gets two.

-Back from commercial, Akeem tries a bearhug again, but Savage breaks it. Savage tries to make a comeback but is thwarted by fatness until Akeem misses Air Africa. Savage takes him from turnbuckle to turnbuckle and rams him, then throws him to the floor. Savage comes off the top with the axehandle and sends Akeem back in the ring for another one. Akeem stops him with the forearm blow to the stomach. And then your weak sauce finish sees Akeem shove the referee for no reason to get himself disqualified. It was fine but the finish just knocked the wind out of it.

5
The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Take a pass. The thumbs-ups weren't exactly given with the greatest of enthusiasm and two of them were for matches on the SNME.
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