The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Maple Leaf Gardens 07.24.88
Carrying on with the Canadian drops on the Network, and this one has a main event you can never go wrong with!
Taped from Toronto, ON
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Sean Mooney
Terry Taylor v. Scott Casey
Sean wonders if residents are “Torontonians” or “Torontans”. I had a punchline about Leafs fans ready but I can no longer mock them at the moment given what the Canucks have turned into this season already. Terry takes Casey down with a pair of headscissors and does some strutting, although it should be noted that he’s not yet any sort of bird character so let’s not make any yolks about him. Casey escapes the headscissors, but Taylor cries fowl and claims a hairpull. Casey faceplants him, so Taylor bails to the floor and pretends to be injured in order to egg him on. Back in the ring, Casey gets too cocky and Taylor slugs him down for two. To the headlock, but Casey powers up into a wristlock until Taylor uses his peck strength to block and then takes Casey down with a hairpull. They trade headlocks on the mat as Taylor keeps cheating like a real motherclucker. Taylor puts him down with a cheapshot and drops a fist on him, and follows with a kneedrop for two. Casey with a sunset flip for two, but Taylor drops an elbow for two and goes back to the headlock again, and then puts his feet on the ropes for two. Casey fights back and gets a running knee in the corner in a move where it looked like Taylor was supposed to move and forgot. So they kind of repeat the spot with Taylor running him into the other corner and then trying a sunset flip. Casey blocks that and makes the comeback with the corner punches and a clothesline for two. Another clothesline gets two. Casey misses another charge and hits the corner with his knee, and Taylor goes to work on it, setting up a Sharpshooter to finish at 12:13. Crowd was pretty bored to start but this one ended up being a pretty solid opener once I ran out of rooster jokes. **3/4 Afterwards, Billy Red Lyons interviews Taylor, who challenges Randy Savage, noting that there’s no one in the WWF who “could beat half of me with my other half helping”. I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE NO MATH.
King Haku v. SD Jones
Mooney wonders about the jurisdiction of Haku’s kingdom extending to Canada, but Gorilla counters that when you’re a king, you’re a king wherever you go. Can’t argue that logic. Haku beats SD down, but Jones fires back with some slams and chases the King out of the ring. Back in, Jones gives him some shots on the ropes and Haku takes another breather. Back in, SD tries a headbutt and that’s an interesting science question that gets answered when SD is the one who sells it. But SD continues beating on him and Haku hides in the ropes to stall again. They trade shoulderblocks, but Haku takes him down with an atomic drop and follows with a dropkick before going to the dreaded shoulder massage. And then Haku just beats him down and chokes him out on the ropes, and SD recovers on the floor for another stall. Back in, Haku boots him down for two and chokes him out on the ropes. Back to the Vulcan nerve pinch, but SD stomps on his toes to escape and slugs back, before hitting Haku with a headbutt to the side of the face. But then Haku just blasts him with the thrust kick and pins him at 10:24. This was a complete bore. *
Don Muraco v. Greg Valentine
This one stems from Valentine “retiring” Superstar Billy Graham with the figure-four, with Muraco swearing vengeance at a house show near you. Muraco attacks and beats Hammer down before going for the shinguard, which chases Valentine to the floor. Back in, Hammer catches him with an elbow in the corner and slugs away on him, but he misses a charge and Muraco starts beating on the arm. And then he drags Valentine to the floor and smashes the arm into the announce table and then stomps on the arm back in the ring. Muraco wraps the arm around the post as the crowd goes nuts for him, and Valentine complains to the ref and hides in the ropes while Muraco calmly waits him out. It must have been sweltering in the arena that night, everyone so far tonight is just pouring sweat. Muraco with a shoulderbreaker and he drops a leg on the arm, but finally he misses a blind charge and Hammer boots him down to take over. So Greg drops elbows on him for two and starts working on the leg and choking him out on the ropes. Hammer goes up with a forearm from the top and then goes to work on the leg to set up the figure-four, complete with spinning the shinguard around, but Muraco punches him in the face to escape and then cradles for two. Funny how such a dumb idea, like the shinguard, could revive Hammer’s singles career for a bit like that. Hammer goes up again, but Muraco nails him on the way down and follows with a piledriver where he pulls on the tights for leverage. In the WWE Champions game they refer to that one as a “Texas Piledriver”, probably in reference to Terry Funk doing it. Valentine fights back, but Muraco absorbs it and lays a beating on him right back. Clothesline and Valentine does a Flair Flop off that, but Muraco bumps the ref while hitting his tombstone finisher. So of course Muraco revives the ref, but Valentine takes off the shinguard and clobbers him for the pin at 14:00. Muraco was FEELING IT here and they had a hell of a match, definitely one of the best I’ve seen out of Muraco in this babyface run. ***1/2
WWF title: Randy Savage v. Ted Dibiase
Well we’ve managed to find another Savage-Dibiase match that I haven’t seen. Savage goes after Dibiase before even taking off his robe and belt, and then puts him on the floor with a kneelift and follows with the ol’ DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER on the floor. Back in, double axehandle follows, but Dibiase dodges a charge and slugs away in the corner to take over. Savage tries another charge and runs into a boot this time, and Dibiase tosses him over the top rope and goes to work on him outside. Back in, Dibiase chokes him out and beats on him with elbows on the apron before following with an elbow from the middle rope for two. Dibiase with the fistdrop and he stomps away, before hitting a backbreaker for two. He chokes away on the ropes and hits another elbow from the middle rope for two. Savage reverses a suplex and comes back with a crossbody for two, but Dibiase clotheslines him back down again and slugs away in the corner. Savage fights back, but misses yet another charge and runs into the turnbuckles with his knee, allowing Dibiase to go to work on the knee now. Dibiase with the spinning toehold, but Macho fights him off and launches him onto the ramp. Savage makes the comeback and slugs him down, then drops a knee on him and follows with the hooking clothesline. He necks Dibiase on the top rope and goes up with the double axehandle, but Virgil distracts him from hitting the elbow. Dibiase charges and hits Virgil by mistake and Savage rolls him up for two off that, but Dibiase slugs Macho down again. This sets up the Million Dollar Dream, but Savage manages to fall into the ropes, where Virgil runs in with a chair to the face. That only gets two as the crowd freaks out. Dibiase tries a slam, but Savage cradles for two and Virgil makes the save for the DQ at 12:28. Man that was a random place for him to run in. This was yet another great match in their series, with Savage taking a beating and then Dibiase bumping right back for him. ****
Richard Charland v. Terry Taylor
Apparently Taylor is subbing for Hercules, with no mention that Taylor already worked the opener. However, this makes sense, because these shows were divided up match-by-match for Maple Leaf Wrestling “feature bouts” and for Prime Time Wrestling, and the announcers had to introduce themselves before each match and couldn’t really acknowledge that it was all the same show. Really, unlike the MSG shows, these were never intended to be viewed as one long show. Taylor works the arm and beats on Charland with knees before chasing him to the floor. Charland with a sunset flip for two, but Taylor cuts him off with a spinebuster and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 5:45. This one was definitely not up the standards of the first Taylor match of the show. ½*
The Bolsheviks v. The Powers of Pain
This is pretty early on in the Powers’ WWF run after jumping from Crockett, and the crowd goes crazy for them. Dave’s theory at the time was that people thought the Road Warriors had jumped and were using a different name, and once they burned out that initial excitement then their babyface pops died off quickly. Certainly plausible. Everyone brawls and the Powers clean house, and then the Russians try to overpower Barbarian and fail miserably. If you squint, it’s kind of like seeing the Warriors and Koloffs in 1986. Warlord comes in for a test of strength with Volkoff while Zukhov tries to interfere, but the POP haul him over to their corner and Barbarian boots him down for two. The Powers work on the arm, but Volkoff gets a cheapshot on Barbarian from the apron and the commie regime takes over. Volkoff with a bearhug and they choke Barbarian out in the corner while Gorilla continues lobbying for two referees in tag team matches. I didn’t see two referees in tag team matches once Gorilla got to be President! Absolute power corrupts absolutely I guess. Volkoff and Barbarian collide for a double down, but the Bolsheviks cut off the tag and Boris beats on Barbarian. Finally Barbarian takes them out and makes the hot tag to Warlord, who runs wild. Well he never really runs, but metaphorically he runs wild. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Barbarian finishes Boris with a flying clothesline at 11:38. The crowd was, shall we say, exceedingly patient with this one, but the Powers were horribly miscast as babyfaces and this was pretty bad. ¼*
Demolition & Mr. Fuji v. The British Bulldogs & Ultimate Warrior
Dynamite actually starts with Fuji while Warrior paces the apron as if he was on some kind of adrenaline-enhancing substance, but that’s crazy talk. Kid slams Fuji and he quickly tags out to Ax, but Kid gives into the inevitable and lets Warrior into the match. Warrior comes in like a video game character with all three specials loaded and Ax just wisely stands back and lets him bounce off the ropes for a while. Ax beats on him in the corner after he calms down a bit, but Warrior clotheslines him out of the corner and Smash comes in to give it a try. Warrior immediately clotheslines him as well, and Davey comes in with a flying headscissor takedown before going to work on the arm. The Demos catch him in the corner and beat him down, which brings Fuji in for the banzai headbutt and Smash adds a backbreaker. Ax goes to a nerve hold and Fuji comes in for a flying legdrop, but that misses by a mile and it’s hot tag Warrior. So everyone brawls and Demolition beats on Davey, but Warrior comes off the top with an axehandle on Smash and pins him at 7:43. Surprised it wasn’t Fuj the Stooge taking the pin there but you knew how this one was going to end up no matter what. **
Hey, for a 90 minute show, a pair of great matches makes this one a solid thumbs up. Can’t go wrong with Savage v. Dibiase.