On August 29, 1988, in Madison Square Garden the (then) WWF put on a PPV that would go on to become the second most important PPV on the WWE calendar. Gorilla Monsoon and “Superstar” Billie Graham, who sounds a great deal like Dusty Rhodes, are the commentary team for this extravaganza. They start with a quick introduction and talk a bit about the main event but quickly cut down to the ring for the first match.
Match 1: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacque and Raymond Rougeau) VS The British Bulldogs (Davey-boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid)
After The Bulldogs come to the ring and Matilda (their bulldog mascot) has made her obligatory appearance, they get right into the match. The Bulldogs get super hot early because the crowd is 100% behind them as the, clearly over, babyfaces in this match up. Dynamite’s work, in particular, is really crisp here and they both take turns working over Raymond and displaying great tag team continuity. That is until a trip from Jacque, on the outside, to Davey as he hits the ropes gives Raymond the chance to tag in his partner.
With The Rougeau Brothers now on top, they slow down the pace of the match while they take turns working over Davey’s leg. To his credit, Davey does a great job selling that they are really laying it into him and gets some good heat on the Brothers. Davey does get a tag to Dynamite, who wreaks havoc for a minute, but the comeback is ultimately shut down by some heel trickery on the part of The Brothers. They continue to work over The Bulldogs and even manage a 2-count off of a beautiful splash in the middle of the ring by Jacque. It’s shortly after that great exchange that The Bulldogs get the hot tag and run rough house on the two Rougeau boys, but just as they are about to do a signature press slam flying head butt, the bell rings and it’s announced that the time limit has expired. Soon after the end of the match The Bulldogs attack the Brothers and chase them to the locker room.
This is a fantastic tag match by two teams who are at the top of their game. The pacing works perfectly to get everyone a chance to shine without dragging anything out. The only downfall is the finish as, by the end, you really want to see The Bulldogs go over.
Match Grade: A-
Before the second match they run a video package about the eye injury to Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, at the hands of Ron Bass, which prevents him from wrestling for the Intercontinental Championship tonight.
Match 2: Bad News Brown VS Ken Patera
This match is awful. Brown is vicious and Patera does his best to sell but there’s so little charisma between the two that I found it hard to care or even pay attention. Bad News Brown wins.
Match Grade: D-
Before the third match they interview The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage) which is every bit as insane, crazy, and awesome as one would expect. They mention something about Miss Elizabeth being their “secret weapon” which is intriguing.
Match 3: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan) VS The Junkyard Dog
We’re treated to some classic Rude with the “fat ugly sweat hogs” robe gimmick before the match, which got a pop from me, plus he’s, of course, wearing tights with JYD’s face on them. The Match gets started and they jockey back and forth until Rude gets the upper hand and works JYD over for a bit. He then, for whatever reason, unintentionally gives himself a low blow on JYD’s shoulder, which is more confusing than anything else.
JYD’s momentum is short lived, though, as Heenan quickly causes a distraction to give Rude the upper hand again. Rude eventually goes up to the top rope and reveals a second set of tights before delivering a great flying elbow. This set has Cheryl Roberts’ face on them which draws Jake “The Snake” out to attack Rude and the match ends in a DQ.
Now the whole Jake, Cheryl, and Rude storyline was super hot at this time so I can see why they went with this finish but the match itself never really goes anywhere before the run-in by Jake. Other than the finish, it’s not an interesting match.
Match Grade: D
Match 4: The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) (with Slick) VS The Powers Of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) (with The Baron)
When I was a kid, we used to call the Powers of Pain the “fake Road Warriors” and you can see why here. The Barbarian is pretty good at times, but Warlord is stiff and green. As the match progresses it’s pretty obvious that Nikolai is the best worker in the match.
There’s a slow start that leads into some sloppy exchanges, but some decent power moves balances it out until the Bolsheviks work over Warlord. He is barely selling and, thusly, discrediting the hot tag that he eventually makes to The Barbarian who, actually, looks good once he gets in the ring. They then use the Bulldogs’ old finisher (running power slam followed by a diving head butt) to get the victory.
Match Grade: C-
Next they do a Brother Love Segment with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. It drags for a minute, but seeing Duggan threaten Love into running away is fun.
Match 5: Honky Tonk Man (champion) VS Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental Championship
Warrior was a surprise opponent for Honky and the place goes ballistic when his music hits. The whole match was over in less than a minute and Warrior becomes the new champion. It was exactly what needed to happen after Honky Tonk’s run of DQs and count outs to keep the title for so long. I mean, who didn’t want to see Honky get squashed in the summer of 88?
Match Grade: A+
Match 6: “The Rock” Don Muraco VS Dino Bravo (with Frenchie)
This one is a classic “Power versus Power” old school match. The momentum swings back and forth a few times. Muraco pulls out a devastating Russian leg sweep, but in the end Bravo wins with a side suplex. It’s a short but sweet match that makes sense and entertains. Bonus points for having Heenan on commentary during this one.
Match Grade: B
Match 7: The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) VS Demolition (Champions) (Axe and Smash) (with Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Heart) for the Tag Team Titles
The Harts start out strong and really work over Demolition for a while until Axe illegally puts a boot into Bret’s back, as he comes off the ropes by Demolitions corner, to take the advantage. They manage to work over Bret until he gets a tag that fizzles as soon as it’s made. Demolition do a great job of using double team moves, both legal and illegal, to keep the Harts down.
It’s somewhere around this time that Superstar’s commentary starts to get tiresome and repetitive, but it’s not awful. The Harts finally get the hot tag and go to work on Axe and Smash. There’s one point where Brett slingshots Anvil over the top rope onto Smash on the floor that just looks phenomenal. Brett continues working over Axe and gets a few close 2-counts until Jimmy throws Axe the megaphone, which he pops Bret in the back of the head with to get the pin and the win.
This was another great tag team match by two teams who know what they’re doing. Nothing was wasted and nothing was added that shouldn’t have been. It is a clinic in how to wrestle as a team and look good doing it.
Match Grade: A+
Match 8: The Big Boss Man (with Slick) VS Koko B. Ware
Koko starts out hot with an onslaught to Boss Man that sees him get tied up on the ring ropes so Koko can deliver a beautiful splash while he’s neutralized. Boss Man manages to get untangled and takes a walk around the ring to regroup and slow the pace. It’s very effective, as he beats on Koko until he is out cold in the middle. Boss Man covers Koko but pulls him up on the 2-count. This strategy seems to work as he comes of the top rope, which for a guy Boss Man’s size is impressive, but he gets greedy and goes for it a second time, only to get caught and have the tide turn against him. Koko looks good as he delivers a missile dropkick to the Boss Man, but only ends up with a 2-count. There’s some sloppy work in here, as they set up for the finish, which sees Boss Man get the win.
This wasn’t a bad match and was actually good at points but it did have sloppy execution during some of the exchanges.
Match Grade: C+
In between matches, they catch up with the new Intercontinental Champion, The Ultimate Warrior, in the locker room. This is a classic “Warrior making absolutely no sense” promo about parts unknown, and spaceships, and crossing over. It’s enjoyable.
Match 9: Hercules VS Jake “The Snake” Roberts
This match sees Jake go for his DDT almost right as the match starts, but Hercules blocks it. Jake gets Hercules in a headlock and works it for a little while until it’s reversed to Jake in a headlock. Hercules continues to work over Jake and hits him with a powerful looking clothesline only to have it end in a 2-count and its back to the headlock.
At this point, the match starts to drag a little with Jake seemingly to stay in that same hold forever and delivering little in terms of false comebacks. Eventually, though, Jake does get out of it for a sprint to the finish which, sees him deliver, out of nowhere, a great looking DDT for the pin. Of course, as is custom, Jake dumps Damien (the snake) onto Hercules knocked out body while the crowd goes insane.
Despite dragging a bit during the middle, this is a pretty fun match. The end sequence of moves really puts it over in my book but getting there is a bit hairy.
Match Grade: B-
Next is the Main Event so to catch everyone up on the storylines involved they run a video package. It’s worth watching as there are so many angles set up in advance of this match.
Main Event: The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth) VS The Mega Bucks (Andre The Giant and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Virgil) *Special Guest Referee: Jesse “The Body” Ventura
This match starts like an old truck in the winter; it sputters and kicks before it gets going. The slow start is due to Ventura trying to make the two teams shake hands and then, for whatever reason, moving the tag ropes around. He’s also not much of a ref, as he doesn’t seem to know where he’s supposed to be in the ring, and he gets shoved out the way a few times.
Once the bell rings and the match does get started, it’s hot from the get-go. The Mega Powers get up on Dibiase early and work him over well. There’s one spot where Hogan and Savage have him “pinballing” between them as they take turns punching him in the head. Dibiase sells like a champ the whole time, as one of the best things about him was his ability to make it look good but not phony.
Dibiase does, eventually, manage to tag in Andre, who looks so much better than he did at Survivor Series in 87. Together they drag Hogan out into deep water by just relentlessly working him over. We all know that Hogan won’t let it go on for too long as he eventually “Hulks up” in order to set up a nice looking double clothesline with Dibiase, which sets up the hot tag to Savage a short time later.
Savage comes in like a house on fire, to borrow a phrase, and pummels Dibiase with his uncanny speed and agility. He moves around the ring like a cat and is so fun to watch when he gets going. The swerve comes when Dibiase somehow makes the tag to Andre to switch the momentum once again.
I’m going to take a second to talk about Andre. He didn’t really like Savage or enjoy working with him. He was also known to enjoy farting on and around people, whether as a joke or to just piss off an opponent he didn’t like. I mention this because there’s a spot where he basically sits on Savage in the corner and then gets up laughing. I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty damn sure he let out a giant’s fart right in the Macho Man’s face. It’s not storyline-related but I did get a kick out of noticing it.
This match is full of back and forth momentum swings which is what we get leading into the finish. The Mega Powers have the Mega Bucks about down for the count when Andre gets a big boot up on a diving Savage. Andre and Dibiase knock both of the Mega Powers out of the ring and Ventura starts to count them out. Meanwhile Miss Elizabeth gets up on the apron and walks out in-between the two posts. Ventura tries to get her to get back down, but then she pulls off her skirt to reveal a bathing suit bottom underneath. Everyone in the ring looks shocked, and they are all so distracted that they don’t see Hogan and Savage shake hands on the outside. She was the secret weapon, and they capitalize on it to deliver the flying elbow and big leg drop to Dibiase for the win.
I loved this match. It’s paced perfectly and, every time you think one team has a clear advantage, the momentum swings the other way. All four guys know what they’re doing, what their roles in the match are, and they play everything to perfection. The finish with the babyfaces getting one over on the heels by using a distraction is a nice touch. Dibiase, in particular, impressed me in this one, as he did most of the heavy lifting, due to Andre not being able to go like he once did. He sold well and was a bastard when he needed to be. I can’t say anything negative about it. Great match, enjoyed it.
Match Grade: A+
This is a really fun PPV full of some good, and a couple great, matches. It has a few clunkers but, fortunately, they are all toward the beginning and, mostly, bunched together. Unless you really want to see them, you could skip matches 2-4 and not lose anything except a crazy Mega Powers promo. The Brother Love segment could be skipped unless you’re a Duggan fan, like myself, then is a fun five minutes of Hacksaw being Hacksaw. Overall, I highly recommend this PPV.
Overall PPV Grade: A