wrestling / Columns

The Best Of Times 3.06.08: December 1988

March 6, 2008 | Posted by Matt Adamson

Well, we’re into March now, and just 19 days away from my 1 year anniversary with 411wrestling.com. Sadly that day falls on a Tuesday so I’ll be celebrating my time here all month long just for you. My humble beginnings were with the column “Destiny” which was an opinion column about Japanese Pro Wrestling, or puro as we call it. Those were good times. I may once again write a Destiny column, but I’m enjoying this one so much I think I’ll keep my focus here.

Let me explain things to you first-timers before we get going. The Best of Times is a column in which I will be evaluating several wrestling promotions during a selected month from the past. I’ll take anywhere from 3-5 promotions that were thriving during the period I’m covering and go over what went down in each promotion during that month including results of big shows and major angles going on at the time. I’ll give my opinion of each and then choose the best wrestler, tag team, match, feud, show and promotion of the month. I hope to give this is slight old school kayfabe feel with a lot of modern analysis. Well, on with the show!

December 1988

It’s always sad to me when bad things happen in the month of December. It’s supposed to be a great month of celebration for many people around the world. December 1988 reflected the despair going on in many parts of the world. On December 2nd a cyclone rips apart Bangladesh leaving over 5 million homeless and thousands dead. On the 7th in Armenia and earthquake kills 25,000. Later in the month, on the 21st a Pan-Am flight is blown up by Libyan terrorists over Scotland killing 270. It was all bad as Benazir Bhutto, who was in the news recently for all the wrong reasons, is sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, making her the first woman leader of an Islamic nation. Also, Mario Lemieux scored 5 goals in 5 different ways (even-strength, power-play, shorthanded, penalty shot, and empty-net) in one game and this happened in professional wrestling…


After Survivor Series was over at the end of November, the WWF was going through a transitional stage. They knew their main event for WrestleMania V was going to be between Hogan and Savage, but they had to keep stretching out Savages evolution into a heel for a while longer. During December 1988, Savage was the top guy along with Hogan. They were getting along for the most part and things didn’t look like they were going to completely blow up. Hogan was feuding with The Big Bossman, which was the major feud at the time that had been fully realized. Savage had his hands full with Bad News Brown, but he proved to be less a threat than a nuisance. On the 30th, the WWF ran its monthly supercard at Madison Square Garden. Here are the results from that show…

1. The Blue Blazer fought The Red Rooster to a 20 minute draw
2. Mr. Perfect def. Koko B. Ware
3. The Bushwackers def. Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov
4. Flag Match: Jim Duggan def. Dino Bravo
5. Tim Horner def. Barry Horowitz
6. WWF Tag Team Championship: The Powers of Pain def. Demolition © by countout. Demolition retain the titles
7. Greg Valentine def. Ronnie Garvin
8. WWF Heavyweight Championship: Randy Savage def. Bad News Brown

It wasn’t the best of shows, but the crowd went berserk when The Powers of Pain posed with the belts after their match. There were a couple notable MSG debuts at this show. They were The Bushwackers and Ronnie Garvin.


For the previous 5 years, November was always the month that NWA/WCW fans looked forward to, but due to the WWF’s attempt to upstage Starrcade with the Survivor Series, the NWA looked to hold their biggest event of the year a month later in December. It was always an exciting time, the month leading to Starrcade and December 1988 was no exception. Flair and Lex Luger were still going at it from earlier in the year. Rick Steiner had left the Varsity Club in his dust and was battling each of them, but specifically Mike Rotunda. The biggest feud in the company however was the Dusty Rhodes vs. The Road Warrior feud that was made during the month of December. The blowoff to the Rhodes/Warriors feud came at Starrcade. Here are the results from that show…

1. United States Tag Team Championship: Kevin Sullivan and Steve Williams def. The Fantastics © to win the titles
2. The Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton) def. The Midnight Express (Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey)
3. The Russian Assassins def. Ivan Koloff and The Junkyard Dog
4. World Television Championship: Rick Steiner def. Mike Rotunda © to win the title
5. United States Heavyweight Championship: Barry Windham © def. Bam Bam Bigelow by countout
6. World Tag Team Championship: Sting and Dusty Rhodes def. The Road Warriors © by DQ
7. World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair def. Lex Luger

The show went off extremely well, but only because Flair refused to drop the title as was originally booked to RICK STEINER. Yes, Ric Steiner was a single complaint by Ric Flair away from being a World Champion of the NWA. Thank goodness things went as they did as this was one of the best Starrcade’s ever.


By the end of 1988 the AWA, World Class and Memphis were all in bad shape. So, they decided to work together with the AWA and work the AWA’s first and only Pay Per View, Superclash III. Superclash was an event that ended up being held about every year and a half. The first was in September of 1985, the second April of 1987 and this one on December 13, 1988. This was the night of the Unification of the AWA and World Class Championships. The stage was set and very few showed up and it drew an awful buyrate, but the event wasn’t all that bad. Here are the results from Superclash III…

1. Hector, Chavo and Mando Guerrero def. Cactus Jack and The Rock and Roll RPM’s
2. Eric Embry def. Jeff Jarrett
3. Jimmy Valiant def. Wayne Bloom
4. Texas Heavyweight Championship: Iceman King Parsons © def. Brickhouse Brown
5. Mixed Tag Team Match: Pat Tanaka, Paul Diamond and Medusa Micelli def. Ricky Rice, Derrick Dukes and Wendy Richter
6. AWA Television Championship: Greg Gagne def. Ronnie Garvin by countout
7. The Syrian Terrorist won a Lingerie Street Fight Battle Royal
8. Boot Camp Match: Sgt. Slaughter def. Col. Debeers
9. World Class Tag Team Championship: The Samoan Swat Team © def. Michael Hayes and Steve Cox
10. Indian Strap Match: Wahoo McDaniel def. Manny Fernandez
11. AWA/WCCW World Title Unification Match: Jerry Lawler (AWA) def. Kerry Von Erich (WCCW) to unify the titles due to referee stoppage (blood).

With the show bombing in the attendance and buyrate department, the AWA, WCCW and CWA wrestling were struggling to get by so Gagne horded the money and the relationship between the three promotions was damaged beyond repair. The main event was a fantastic match that certainly is among the best the AWA ever had.

The Best of Times: December 1988

Best Wrestler: Jerry Lawler (AWA/CWA)

Not only was the match between he and Von Erich at Superclash fantastic, but he also was just on fire in Memphis. While things weren’t going well for the promotion he worked for, the guy was on top of his game. His win of the World Class Title to unify it with the AWA was legendary, especially considering how short it lasted due to strife between the territories.

Best Tag Team: The Powers of Pain (WWF)

It’s tough to choose this one because nobody really stuck out. Sting and Rhodes don’t count as a team as it was a one time deal for them to be teaming together and frankly nobody else besides the Midnight Express (both of them) really had any worthwhile success. So, the Powers of Pain’s performance in their match against Demolition, as short as the match was, is worth Best Tag Team of December 1988.

Best Match: Jerry Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich (AWA/CWA/WCCW)

Its not that Flair vs. Luger wasn’t awesome, and the two matches are about as good as one another, but this match just sticks out as something special. It was brutal, and Von Erich bled a GUSHER from his arm. The mat got covered in blood to the point of being disgusting. It was a great match from both entertainment and quality standards. It was also a match that didn’t happen many more times where it can be seen.

Best Feud: Dusty Rhodes vs. The Road Warriors (NWA/WCW)

The Dusty Rhodes spike incident (which happened in November) and the shenanigans following were brilliant. Rhodes actually got fired for blading, which at the time was strictly against the rules of the promotion at the time. The Starrcade match was his last for Jim Crockett and company before becoming the “Common Man” dressed just like common men do, in yellow polka dots.

Best Show: Starrcade ’88 (NWA/WCW)

From 1983 to 1988 Starrcade was a great show than NWA fans always looked forward to with great anticipation. The 1988 version rivaled any of the previous or any that followed and in December 1988 was hands down the best show in wrestling in North America. Several tremendous matches and blow off’s to big feuds made Starrcade one of the best shows of the year.

Best Wrestling Promotion: NWA/WCW (Jim Crockett Promotions)

There is little denying that if Starrcade or WrestleMania are being run that the chances are pretty great that the promotion that runs the show will be having a great month. In December 1988 it was Jim Crockett Promotions turn and Starrcade was a big success. It would usher in the next year of fantastic wrestling and put to rest the biggest feuds of the year.


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Matt Adamson

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