The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Maple Leaf Gardens 04.24.88
By Scott Keith on 16th October 2022
The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Maple Leaf Gardens 04.24.88
Back to 1988 we go, although I can’t imagine the Toronto show being much different than the Hamilton show from a month earlier. But hey, this week is a Toronto kinda week for wrestling.
Taped from Toronto, ON
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan
Scott Casey v. Iron Mike Sharpe
Iron Mike actually gets a BABYFACE POP for his introduction. So he shows off his best flex and slams Casey to start, which quickly takes care of the babyface pops. Bobby is on fire tonight already, claiming ignorance of Wayne Gretzky (“Is he in the ballet?”) and noting that if Casey is a good friend of Lord Alfred Hayes “then that right there proves he’s a dummy”. Casey gets his own slam and Sharpe bails to yell at the front row before heading back in and demanding a test of strength. Sharpe cheats to gain control of that while Bobby moves onto burying Texas (except for Ron Bass, who hails from “uptown Texas”). Casey rolls out of the test of strength and Sharpe bails to the ramp and airs his grievances with the fans some more. Back in, Sharpe pounds on him in the corner and chokes him out before beating on him with the forearm brace. Meanwhile Gorilla spreads vicious rumors that Bobby Heenan was “the only one in the tenth grade old enough to vote”. Casey gets a piledriver for two, but Sharpe is in the ropes and then comes back with another shot via forearm brace to put him down again. Casey gets a backslide for two and Sharpe gets tied in the ropes as Casey gets some shots, but Sharpe clobbers him again with the forearm brace for two. That was a pretty clear three count, actually. Casey comes back with a sleeper, but Sharpe escapes with a backbreaker. Casey bulldogs him for the pin at 9:50, however. The difference was Casey spinning his arm in a circle before doing the move, the universal signal for the finishing move version of the bulldog as opposed to a near fall. *1/2
The Killer Bees v. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
The Rougeaus were in the early stages of their heel turn, thus drawing a mixed reaction from the crowd. These days I have trouble wrapping my head around Jacques Rougeau ever being a babyface, even though he was really good at it. The Bees actually refuse to shake hands, which is a clear violation of the Code of Honor! Blair and Jacques do an extended fight for the lockup to start and Blair takes him down with an armbar. Raymond comes in and hits Blair with a cheapshot to put him down, and the Rougeaus work on the leg as Jacques gets two. Gorilla playing Ed McMahon to Bobby’s goofy joke setups here is great stuff (“The Rougeaus are Canada’s second best tag team, you say…?”) showing why they worked so well together. The Bees take over and go to work on Jacques’ leg while Bobby suddenly goes into a supervillain rant and declares that soon HE WILL DICTATE THE RULES IN THE WWF. Gorilla and Bobby filling the numerous dead spaces in this match with their banter is far more entertaining than this boring match by a factor of 1000. Finally Blair gets sent to the ramp and Raymond puts the boots to him to take over. Back in the ring, the Rougeaus go full heel and double-team Blair, and Bobby is suddenly on board with them. Gorilla accuses him of being an agent of chaos. Well, duh. Jacques with the Boston crab on Blair, but Brian reverses for two and they trade near falls off that. Raymond comes in and Gorilla notes “he’s the fresh guy, literally and figuratively”. LOLWUT? Rougeaus with another double-team, as Raymond gets a Boston crab this time and Jacques drops a knee on Blair’s neck before going to a rear chinlock. Rougeaus switch off and Jacques ends up getting the abdominal stretch, with Raymond adding the superkick. Blair with a small package on Raymond for two. Rougeaus double-team some more in the corner while Bobby puts over Canada’s greatest basketball team, the Newfoundland Celtics. Sadly Gorilla has never heard of them. Finally Raymond misses a splash and Brunzell gets the hot tag and runs wild with a high knee on Jacques. Jim with the sleeper, but Raymond breaks it up, so Brunzell hits the dropkick instead and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. But then Brunzell goes for a slam on Jacques and Raymond hits him with a cheapshot behind the ref’s back, putting Jacques on top for the pin at 16:20. Surprisingly big heel reaction for that finish, but the match wasn’t really any good. **
Don Muraco v. Rick Rude
We switch commentary teams here, with Billy Red Lyons now taking over from Bobby while he manages Rude. They trade shoulderblocks and Rude swivels, so Muraco goes to a bearhug and Rude rakes the face to escape. Bobby provides some distraction and Rude beats on Muraco to take over and then goes up with a fistdrop off the top. Muraco retreats to the apron and Bobby gets some shots in. Muraco comes back with a clothesline, looking completely gassed already, and Rude quickly takes him down and pins him in the corner with Bobby holding the legs at 7:00. This was a contest to see who was going to be in more of a DGAF mood and I think it was a draw. Muraco in particular had hit his ceiling of usefulness as a babyface and coasted for the rest of his run. DUD And then Rude is going to give a lucky lady at ringside a Rude Awakening, but everyone is too fat and ugly for him, like Jake Roberts’ wife, so Jake heads down and attacks and chases him away.
Jake Roberts v. Greg Valentine
I feel like a Hammer would have a pretty good chance against a Snake. Valentine grabs a headlock to start as Bobby rejoins the commentary desk. Bobby quickly relates his own romantic adventures, as apparently tons of women hit on him (“That’s why you’ve got scars on your face” notes Gorilla) and then hold up a finger to tell him he’s #1. Huge if true. Jake sends Valentine to the floor to escape the headlock, and then stares menacingly at Bobby until he runs away to the dressing room, leaving Gorilla solo. Boo. Jake gets a kneelift and tries the DDT, but he takes forever and Valentine escapes and bails to the floor for some stalling. Back in the ring, Valentine takes him down with a wristlock as Gorilla notes that Hammer “literally sealed the casket on Jay Strongbow’s career”. Um. Anyway. Hammer continues working this exciting hold while Jake struggles to escape from someone holding his hands, and then he goes for the DDT again and Hammer runs away again. Back in the ring, Valentine drops an elbow on his throat and goes for the figure-four, but Jake fights him off. “A hush has fallen over the crowd!” notes Gorilla. Yeah and some are even snoring. Jake fights back and slugs Hammer down, but still can’t hit the DDT. Hammer tries another figure-four and Jake shoves him off, but he misses a blind charge and Valentine drops the elbow for two. Another one gets two. But then Jake finally slips away and hits the DDT, sells for a while, and then gets the pin at 14:02. Talk about a boring combination of guys. *
Andre the Giant v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
We shall see if the have the chemistry going in this one. Heenan immediately gets sent back to the dressing room, and Andre still clobbers Duggan into the corner and beats on him with chops. Duggan actually gets chased to the floor and threatens to go for his board, but Andre warns him of consequences. Back in, Duggan tries punching on Andre but the Giant just casually absorbs it and puts him down with a headbutt. Duggan is of course too stupid to quit and charges again, so Andre wraps him up in a surfboard and beats on him with headbutts. Duggan breaks free and Andre traps him in the corner and smothers him there while simultaneously pulling the turnbuckle pad off. But he tries a headbutt and hits the exposed steel instead, allowing Duggan to make the comeback. He throws clotheslines and hits the three point stance, but Andre won’t go down until he hits a second one. That gets two, but Andre tosses him to the floor on the kickout and they fight outside, where Duggan runs him into the table. But Andre grabs the 2×4 and nails Duggan with it, and walks back into the ring to beat the count at 9:14. Maybe don’t bring boards to the ring, dummy. Best match of the show thus far, just solid old school David v. Goliath stuff. ***
The Islanders & Bobby Heenan v. The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware
This is a Wrestlemania IV rematch, minus the dog training suit this time. Bobby teases starting the match but then tags out to Tama, and the babyfaces double-team him in the corner. Over to Haku, but the Bulldogs double-team him next and Davey goes to a chinlock. Gorilla notes that the winner of this match will be ranked very high for a match with Demolition. Um, why? It’s a six-man tag, not a tag team match. Also the Bulldogs lost to the Islanders all over the country and still ended up getting title shots, so obviously Jack Tunney is just as corrupt and incompetent as advertised. Davey works an armbar on Haku, and a crossbody gets two. Dynamite comes in and drops a headbutt on Haku, but he hurts himself! That’s tremendous. Kid with the snap suplex instead, and that gets two. Koko comes in for a double backdrop for two and then goes after Bobby for literally no reason, resulting in Haku giving him the thrust kick to take over. He got what he deserved there. Tama chokes him out and Haku adds a gut wrench, and now Bobby wants into the match. So the Brai puts the boots to him and chokes him out while the Islanders distract the ref. I have to wonder: Why did we never get the natural team of Haku and Koko, who would then be dubbed Haku B. Ware? Bobby continues slugging away on Koko, but he makes a comeback and Bobby wisely runs away and lets Haku handle things. It’s BONZO GONZO and Bobby just runs away to the locker room with Koko chasing him, and we’ve got a tag match with the Islanders and Bulldogs now. The Bulldogs work on Haku but he fights back with a back suplex on Dynamite as Koko rejoins us. So now the babyfaces have a 3-on-2 advantage while the Islanders fight from behind. This is kinda weird agenting. Haku puts Kid down with TONGAN MARTIAL ARTS and chokes him out on the ropes. The Islanders double-team Kid and Haku gets a backbreaker, not once, not twice, but THRICE, and that gets two. Haku slugs away but misses a blind charge, and it’s hot tag Davey Boy. He runs wild on Tama for a bit and brings in Koko, who puts him down and goes up to the top, but Bobby Heenan returns and hits Koko with a foreign object, knocking him off the top and allowing Tama to get the pin at 14:55. I don’t know what was going on with Bobby and why he disappeared for 10 minutes. Match wasn’t much. **
Intercontinental title: Honky Tonk Man v. Brutus Beefcake
Jimmy Hart has been barred from Toronto, so Peggy Sue is managing tonight. However, tonight she’s got way more rhythm in her dancing than usual and seems reluctant to show her face, hiding it behind a scarf for some reason. Oh well, I’m sure there’s nothing suspicious about any of that. As usual, we get the stalling to start, before Honky works the arm and Brutus reverses out. You’d think two guys who literally (in the Gorilla sense) had 50,000 matches together over the course of a year could come up with one of them as something good. Honky bails to the floor for advice from Peggy Sue, who still won’t take off the scarf or her sunglasses. Maybe she’s Muslim? Oh well, I’m sure it won’t factor into the finish of the match or anything. Brutus gets the sleeper and Peggy trips him up to break, allowing Honky to puts the boots to him and take over. Brutus retreats to the apron and Peggy chokes him out, and then Honky chokes him out and goes to a chinlock. He misses a charge and Brutus makes the comeback. But then he chases after Peggy Sue and gets counted out at 7:53. And shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, Brutus pulls off the scarf to reveal that it’s actually JIMMY HART in drag. That was like the big twist in all those Saw movies! We just needed the spooky music. This was a complete garbage main event, although kudos to Jimmy for making sure to wear a stuffed bra and panty hose under the dress to really sell it when Brutus strips him. -*
This one was definitely a pass from me, basically a total B-circuit house show that happened to be taped.