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The Island of Misfit Shows: WWF WrestleFest 1988

May 26, 2007 | Posted by Louis Izzo
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The Island of Misfit Shows: WWF WrestleFest 1988  

– Much like the Big Event held in August of 1986, Wrestlefest ’88 was a supercard meant for the live audience only, but ticket sales were large enough to justify recording it for Coliseum Video, with commentary added in afterwards. Taped from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the latter part of July 1988, with the wonderful combination of Sean Mooney, Lord Alred Hayes, and Superstar Billy Graham on the call. And people thought Coach and Todd Grisham were bad…

NOTE: The outdoor atmosphere has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, so I’ll probably be more generous. Also, several matches are cut out, most notably Randy Savage defending the title against Ted Dibiase. In a weird decision, the match in question ended up being on the Macho Madness video, but since I don’t have it, I won’t review it as part of this show.

– The Killer Bees vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
(B. Brian Blair & Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell vs. Jacques & Raymond Rougeau)
Pretty much all of the matches held have little to no build up, much like any other typical arena show from the time. The Bees have some weird looking short/tights (see: Triple H circa Summer of 2002 for an example), and Brunzell looks a bit pudgy (noted by Hayes). The Rougeaus had just turned heel, but don’t have Jimmy Hart, theme music, or an American residance yet. Your usual tag team formula match… the faces control with hot tags and work the arm for 7-8 minutes, the heels cheat to take control for the next 5-6 minutes, then it’s time for the hot finish… and I pretty much described the whole match. I’m a bit of a Bee mark, but they needed to be in the ring with a great team or people they had good chemistry with to have great matches, and the Rougeaus don’t fall under that statement. It’s all action towards the end as Brunzell manages to throw his signature dropkick, but it only gets two thanks to Raymond. Blair gets sent out of the ring by the referee, allowing Raymond to kick Brunzell in the balls, and Jacques falls on top for the three count at 13:58. That sure as hell came out of nowhere, and what a way to job. This might’ve been the last “major” appearence of Blair and Brunzell as a team, as they went their seperate ways briefly in September until Blair left the company and Brunzell hung arounf jobbing like nuts until 1993. (**1/4)

– Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Bad News Brown:
Weird, I thought this feud was over with once the Hart Foundation (officially) turned babyface and entered into a feud with Jimmy Hart and his endless supply of Tag Teams. Anyway, to give a backstory to this, back at WrestleMania IV, Brown conned Hart into a partnership before turning on him to win the thing, then Bret beat up Brown and smashed his trophy. This went nowhere on T.V. from what I’ve seen, but they had some good matches. In one of those “for once it makes sense” moments, Bret Hart has his sunglasses on OUTDOORS instead of inside an arena with no sun in site. Way too short here, but with a few cute spots, like Bret Hart popping up out of nowhere to throw Brown off the top rope (a spot Angle has done countless times over the years), and Hart ducking the Ghetto Blaster. Everything else is your typical Brown brawl with great bumping from Hart (as usual). Hart with several near-falls off of a cross body, sunset flip, and a back breaker, but Brown ends up reversing a roll-up, and pulls the tights for leverage for the three count at 6:26. After the match, Jim Neidhart comes down to ringside to help gain a measure of revenge for the Hitman. Like I said already, a good match, but way too short for what they had to offer. (***)

– WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Honkytonk Man © (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan:

Ew…. Honkytonk Man’s run as the champions was on the clock at this point, less than a month away from SummerSlam. However, his opponent was still scheduled to be Brutus Beefcake, so no one saw the Warrior coming out of the wood work to take the belt in 31 seconds. Lord Alfred gives out a pretty pathetic “hooo” on commentary, cracking Graham’s shit up. The usual match you’d expect from these two… Duggan controls with his numerous forms of punching and screaming “Hoooo” while Honky plays the chicken-shit heel who only controls after using illegal methods, like for example, poking Duggan in his good eye, or maybe stomping on his toes. Who cares, though, and did anyone notice me working in a Bobby Heenan joke? Duggan manages to comeback with his crappy offense, but Jimmy Hart hooks the leg of Duggan during the 3-point stance clothesline, and that’s a Disqualification at 4:38. At least Jimmy wasn’t a lazy schmuck, running around the ring to do the spot, instead of having Duggan come to him. After the match, Duggan clears the ring with his trusty 2×4. Bad match, but at least it was kept short. (1/2*)

– The Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks:
(The Warlord & The Barbarian vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)
This one is fairly early in the run of the Powers of Pain in the WWF, who had jumped from the NWA only about 6 weeks earlier (no doubt afraid as shit of a potential Scaffold Match booked against the Road Warriors). The Bolsheviks are Slick-less for the match, but I’m sure they still had him as a manager until Volkoff took time off after the Royal Rumble and Zhukov became the Koko B. Ware of the heel locker room (as in jobbing every week to a midcarder). No idea who the hell booked this one, since it goes much too long for something that should’ve been nothing more than a Squash. The PoP are pretty over for two guys who spent the majority of their careers as heels. That’s pretty much where the compliments end for this match. The PoP dominate with a very basic set of moves that includes plenty of slams, and they spend maybe 20 seconds of the match getting beat up. Onto the finish, where the Warlord plants Volkoff with a running powerslam and the Barbarian comes off the top with a diving headbutt for the three count at 6:47. Sadly, they would have a rematch at SummerSlam ’88, which wasn’t much better, and had practically the same result. They would also debut their first of many managers (Mr. Fuji, Bobby Heenan, Slick, Harvey Wippleman, and Afa/Lou Albano) in the form of the Baron (formerly Baron von Rashke). (DUD)

– Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo:
Leaping Lanny Poffos’ going boffo! Despite working primarily as a babyface jobber for the last couple of years, Poffo gets a heel reaction. He makes sure to read a poem before the match and toss several frisbees to the crowd to kiss up. Anvil tries a sneak attack (so he was still playing a heel?), but Poffo cuts him off with a sidekick to the midsection and some rights. Poffo goes for the Honor Roll (a early form of the moonsault) 25 seconds into the match, but Neidhart gets the knees up. It’s basically a quick squash match from now on, with Neidhart controlling with his usual shitty offense and finishes Poffo off with the powerslam at 2:35. Rather pointless match to put on this show, I would say. Couldn’t they find a better opponent for the Anvil than Lanny fuckin’ Poffo? And what the hell was with this? I’m more than positive the Hart Foundation turned face at this point, but Neidhart was playing the heel here, after playing a babyface earlier in the card! Logic in Wrestling… (DUD)

– Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude:
By this point, the Cheryl Roberts angle had begun, which started when Rude picked her at random for his post-match Rude Awakening (kissing a woman in the crowd after his matches), and Roberts got pissed off when Rude was getting a bit too physical when Cheryl refused the advances. Definitely one of those “the angle out-classes the matches”, considering these two worked for months together, and had plenty of crappy matches. If you’ve seen one Roberts/Rude match, you’ve seen them all: Roberts cleans Rude’s clock with a succession of punches and clotheslines, Rude cheats and controls with some various crappy rest-holds, including a 3-minute chinlock, and then the big finish comes when the entire crowd anyone watching is dead, with a shitty finish to boot. My description before watching the match is dead-on-balls accurate too. After all of that crap, Rude decides to take a walk, but Roberts doesn’t want that cheap win, and beats him up the aisle until both men are Counted-Out at 15:44. After the match, Roberts unleashes the fury of Damion, and really, that’s all babyface Jake Roberts had going for him. He’s a much better heel who has that evil charm to him. As for Rude, I point out this feud for a reason why I thought he was a crap wrestler. Roberts was hardly a great wrestler, but the guy looked really lazy as shit with his constant resting. Maybe if the matches were 50 minutes long I can understand, but most of them were in the 10-15 minute neighborhood. It shouldn’t be that hard to come up with something to build up suspense in a match with Jake the Snake, the master of ring psychology. (-*)

– Weasel Suit Match:
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan:

By this point of the show, the sun has set and now it looks more like a regular arena rather than something like WrestleMania IX (or a baseball stadium). One guess who wins this one. The stipulations of the match state that the loser must wear a Weasel suit after the match. The suit in question is designed to fit Bobby Heenan… I guess there’s another hint on who is winning. Heenan of course, plays the cowardly heel, and who can blame him? He’s wrestling the Ultimate Maniac. Warrior pounds away on Heenan for a few minutes after a little bit of a game of Cat-and-Mouse. Warrior ends up putting Heenan out for the night with a Sleeper Hold for the victory at 4:59. Woah, the Warrior actually using a wrestling hold to win a match! That’s one of the most surprising moments of the night! Afterwards, Warrior puts the Weasel Suit on Heenan, who is playing unconcious. Heenan finally comes to, and does a bit of comedy chasing his own tail and tumbling around all over the place in embarassment. Really funny finish to make up for the obvious lack of action. (1/2*)

– WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Demolition © (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The British Bulldogs:
(Ax & Smash vs. Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid)
At this point of their run, the Bulldogs were coming close to the end of their run in the WWF, and Dynamite Kid was such a shell of his former ‘self at this point thanks to injuries and risky bumps over the course of his career that you can’t hope for any great miracle carry job or whatever phrase you want to use. A few weeks before this show (in television time), Demolition put Rick Martel on the shelf on PrimeTime Wrestling, so they had some good momentum coming into this part of their title reign. Lord Alfred naturally favors the Bulldogs, which allows SuperStar Graham to keep bringing it up on commentary. Since it’s in my contract, I must mention how awesome Demolition’s theme music was during this time frame. The Bulldogs are missing their bitch, but I doubt anyone cares. Fun match considering the lack of talent in Demolition, but nothing special. Bulldogs do their best for a wrestling match while Demolition do their traditional brawling and ugly looking chinlocks. Rather short match, too, something that would seem better fit for Saturday Night’s Main Event than an Arena Show. The usual finish of a Demolition match… all hell breaks loose, Ax bashes Dynamite good with a cane, and Smash covers for the three count at 7:09. That finish happend A LOT in 1988, didn’t it? (**)

– Ken Patera vs. Dino Bravo:
I’m going to re-use the same joke: If you’ve seen one Ken Patera match from 1987-88, you’ve seen them all. The guy is a terrible babyface and the finishes to all of his matches usually include him missing a charge into the corner and being nailed by his opponents finishing move a few moments later. It happend against Bad News, Ron Bass, and Rick Rude to name a few from the last month of his run. Bravo comes to the ring by himself… where have all the Managers gone? They go through the motions of the 50 matches they’ve had in 1988. Patera controls for a few minutes, gets beaten up for a minute, comes back, misses a charge, and bam, he loses. In this case, he only controls for about 90 seconds, since they’re pretty rushed for time. As expected, Patera misses a charge, Bravo nails a clothesline, and finishes Patera off with a Side Suplex at 3:28. I think four people over in Jordan didn’t see that finish coming from a mile away. (1/4*)

– Steel Cage Match:
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):

It’s now time for the Main Event of WrestleFest ’88, and obviously part of the Mega Powers/Mega Bucks feud going on to build up for SummerSlam four weeks later. Cage matches are generally a good idea to mask the weakness of a poor wrestler, but Andre was so fucking done at this point of his career, you could’ve put him in the ring with Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Bret Hart, and Jesus at the same time and it would still suck. Just to point out something worthless, Andre is almost as tall as the cage, shooting down the “15-foot high” bullshit. Hogan has on his road colors of red and yellow shirt instead of the traditional yellow and red. I think I just stole a joke from someone, but the hell if I can remember who. About as bad of a match as you expect, of course. Andre isn’t capable of much outside of headbutts, choking, and the occasional punch, and since Hogan was never Mr. Workrate to begin with, he’s not good enough to even get a 1-star match out of Andre, let alone something good. This match just drags on and on and on… making me long for the rumored Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus singles match that never got to happen in a WWF ring, so I’ll watch Rip vs. Zeus instead. After going through every circle of hell four times, the match finally comes to an end when Hogan ties up Andre in the ropes (who actually was climbing the cage!), beats up Heenan for no reason, and climbs out for the victory at 10:03… then Hogan revives the referee who was knocked out outside of the ring. So who called for the bell? Logic in Wrestling… And I just stole another joke from someone! Hogan does a posedown to make the crowd happy and not throw flaming garbage into the ring after this stinker. (-**)

The 411: After the first few matches (which weren't that great to begin with), this show really takes a nose-dive down to hell. A couple of anti-classic negative star worthy matches, a pointless squash, and some other long and dull matches make this a skipable show. Recommended to Avoid unless you're a completionist like me and must have every WWF tape possible, no matter how bad most of the wrestling is.
 
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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