The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Maple Leaf Gardens 10.09.88
I decided to install Boot Camp on the Macbook so I could play my Steam library properly under Windows, and I had an afternoon booked off for all the headache and drama of a good Windows installation session, and then it look like 10 minutes and was done on the first try with no problems. What kind of a rinky-dink operation is Apple running here where stuff just works without having to reconfigure drivers and shit? Well I guess I’ll just review some wrestling instead. And it’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s check out a house show on the Network featuring the HART Foundation.
No more big ramp by this point! That’s disappointing. This is nearing the end for the Maple Leaf Wrestling era anyway.
Taped from Toronto, ON
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Sean Mooney
Scott Casey v. Richard Charland
Gorilla claims to have started his career in Toronto, and in fact Cagematch verifies that he’s telling the truth for once, as indeed he began in 1960 in Toronto. Well you know what they say, a bullshitting carney is right twice a day. They do some mundane takedowns to start and Charland complains about not getting a test of strength, until finally Casey rolls him up for two. Charland continues exercising his first amendment rights to voice his displeasure until Casey finally accepts his challenge to the test of strength. Meanwhile Gorilla goes on an old man tangent about his career wrestling bears, letting Mooney do the heavy lifting of calling the match for this show.
Charland finally loses the test of strength and decides to walk out on the match, but Casey catapults him back into the ring and Charland is so muscle-bound that he can barely rotate all the way for the bump and lands on his face. Yikes. Casey gets two off a shoulderbreaker, but Charland tosses him, and then Casey pops right back in and throws Charland out as well. Casey follows with an atomic drop on the floor, but Charland takes him down and works the leg while Grampa Gorilla moves onto complaining that THE HEADSETS ARE TOO DAMN TIGHT. I’m just waiting for him to start writing letters to Congress demanding that they remove three states. Charland tries a sleeper and Casey runs him into the corner to break and then follows with a “bulldog” to finish at 13:38. Holy crap, Charland was so stiff and muscle-bound that he couldn’t even fall down on the bulldog bump properly. Paging Maffew for that one. He made Dino Bravo look like the Young Bucks. DUD
Iron Mike Sharpe joins us for whatever his match is supposed to be, but we don’t get an opponent, so he does a funny promo and celebrates a sign from a fan, and ends up working out in the ring while waiting for whatever was supposed to be the match. Finally, we get…
Iron Mike Sharpe v. B. Brian Blair
I don’t know what the hell took so long for Blair to show up, and in fact the crowd boos him after Sharpe spent the past few minutes turning himself babyface while waiting. Sharpe offers multiple handshakes after giving Blair a clean break on the ropes, but Brian turns him down and so Sharpe is forced to cheat and turn on him. He had little choice. Sharpe hides behind the ref after Blair takes things personally and threatens a closed fist, and they trade headlocks before Blair is the one who does the cheapshot and drops an elbow on him for two. Sharpe bails to think it over and works on his Tiger-Cats fantasy draft on the floor, but then Blair runs him into the turnbuckles back in the ring.
Blair misses kind of a charge and Sharpe takes over with the clubbing forearms from the ALLEGEDLY loaded guard and chokes Blair out on the ropes. Backdrop gets two. Blair comes back with a sunset flip for two and a small package for two. Sharpe actually tries a dropkick and misses, and now Blair rakes the back and rubs Mike’s face on the ropes! What a cheater! Atomic drop and side legsweep finish at 8:34. Where’s Jack Tunney to correct a miscarriage of justice like this when you need him? This was a match that existed. *
Steve Lombardi v. The Blue Blazer
A surprisingly subdued reaction for the Blazer here as I thought the Toronto crowd would be hip to the room but I guess Owen wasn’t a big deal east of Manitoba at this point. Gorilla immediately jokes about Lombardi being “a top student of the Terry Garvin / Pat Patterson school of self-defence” and the duo “instilling a lot of information into the youngster”. Ew. Blazer slams Steve and drops a knee for two, and a backbreaker gets two. Meanwhile Gorilla has a pretty good idea of who the Blazer might be, but he doesn’t want to offend anyone by revealing his secret without permission. Blazer with the abdominal stretch, but Lombardi takes him down and drops his own knee for two. Lombardi with a chinlock while Gorilla complains about masks and what a horrible experience it is to wear one. Not a fan of lucha libre I’m guessing.
Lombardi tosses the Blazer to cut off a comeback attempt while Gorilla compares Blazer to a young Killer Kowalski (?) and then offers to take Mooney into the ring and stretch him so that he can call the moves better. Back in the ring, Lombardi goes up with a flying nothing and Blazer nails him on the way down and makes the comeback with a suplex for two while Gorilla complains that Blazer isn’t showing very much tonight. I actually agree, Owen has been completely lethargic here. Blazer with the belly to belly and there’s only one person who throws it like THAT, and a flying splash finishes at 8:17. Blazer looked like he blazed one up before the match and couldn’t be bothered to do anything. Too bad, they normally had good chemistry together. 1/2*.
Bad News Brown v. Koko B. Ware
Gorilla and Sean discussing the black power salute from Brown like a couple of awkward white guys is…something. Brown is in no mood for Koko’s crap tonight and puts the boots to him, but misses a charge and Koko rolls him up for two. But then he charges and Brown tosses him out right onto the “WWF” logo on his ass. What is WITH Koko putting that on his tights, anyway? We know what show we’re watching already. Anyway, Gorilla and Sean actually bring up the elephant in the room and point out that this is the end of the Ramp Era in Toronto. Brown beats Koko down again and chokes him out on the ropes, but then he tries a headbutt and loses that battle.
Koko fights back with a shoulderblock and it’s a double down. Bad News is up first and he misses a blind charge as the boring undercard has completely killed the crowd. And then Koko makes his big comeback with…an abdominal stretch. Yay. Maybe they should just team him up with the Blue Blazer instead, I’m sure that would be a pretty cool tag team! I mean, it would be pretty hard to screw THAT idea up. Bad News decides to go to the top rope for god knows what reason and Koko slams him off and follows with a missile dropkick, chasing Brown to the apron. Koko with a suplex back into the ring for two. But then he misses a charge and crotches himself in the corner, and it’s GHETTO BLASTER time at 10:20. Match sucked but I still marked out for the finish. *
WWF World title: Randy Savage v. Dino Bravo
Come on, now they’re just fucking with me. Anyway Macho with the baby blue tights, yellow boots and red kneepads is a WINNER and makes him look like a superhero. This is a man who could coordinate an outfit. Elizabeth is even at ringside for him, which finally awakens the Toronto crowd. Macho slugs away on Bravo and gets a sunset flip for two, but Bravo bails to the floor for some advice from Frenchy. That advice? “Vous etes le pire.” Ouch.
Bravo drops a knee on Macho to take over and goes to a chinlock, but Randy fights out, so Dino piledrives him for two. Bravo with another chinlock and he tosses Randy for a cheapshot from Frenchy, and then back in for a bearhug. Sideslam only gets two, and Savage makes the comeback and Bravo runs into Frenchy, allowing Savage to get a rollup for two. Randy goes after Frenchy outside and Dino kind of gives chase and then hides behind Elizabeth and throws her at Macho and then beats the count at 11:05. Jesus Murphy, they put Dino Bravo over RANDY SAVAGE? What a load of shit. 1/2*.
I presume this leads to a rematch where Savage destroys him, which indeed turned out to be the case when they came back two weeks later. We even get the backstage promo from Savage where he promises that he’s coming for blood next time.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Hart Foundation
And your special guest referee is Brother Love, so you probably know how this one is ending up. And we of course get a lengthy promo from Brother Love before the match while Neidhart paces around the ring. Well I am writing this on Valentine’s Day. Finally Anvil threatens Love into ringing the bell, but first the Rougeaus share a brotherly hug to waste more time and the heel team deals with “debris” in their corner for safety reasons.
Jacques takes Bret down with a handful of hair and Brother Love doesn’t see it, and then Bret reverses and Love sees a hairpull and threatens to DQ him. Man, hopefully Bret never runs into a situation in Canada where a crooked ref costs him a major match. Bret with a bodypress on Jacques for a very very slow count of two from Brother Love and the crowd goes nuclear. Brother Love wasn’t wearing his glasses and had trouble seeing the shoulders, you see. Bret with a rollup for another glacial two count, and of course Jacques gets his own for a super-fast two count and Bret is losing his mind. OK we’ve seen this gag before with the teams but it always worked and was always hilarious. Neidhart comes in and Love deals with Bret on the apron while the Rougeaus blatantly double-team Anvil outrageously. TO BE FAIR, Bret’s not holding onto the tag rope like he’s supposed to.
Jacques with a snapmare on Anvil for two at lightning speed, and then he goes to a chinlock. More blatant double-teaming from the Rougeaus while Love admonishes Bret, and then he suddenly dives over for a fast two count on Anvil when Raymond goes for a cover. Anvil gets the tag to Bret and Love just pretends he didn’t see it, and we get more shenanigans from the Rougeaus as the joke finally runs out of steam, so Bret gets the hot tag and cleans house. Glad they knew when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Bret pounds away on Jacques and dropkicks him to set up an elbow drop, but that only gets one. Middle rope elbow gets one as even Gorilla has just given up on justice for the Harts at this point and is resigned to the impending loss.
Finally the Harts get sick of it and toss our impartial official out of the ring to a giant pop, then hit the Hart Attack on Jacques with a second ref counting the surprise pin at 12:18, as the arena EXPLODES with happiness and there’s people blocking the camera from jumping up and down in the crowd. OK that was tremendous. And then Love boots John Bonello in the gut after the match for further heat, although in all fairness he was a piece of garbage in real life anyway. ***1/2.
Hillbilly Jim v. King Haku
I don’t see them topping that last match and I’m not sure why they didn’t just main event with it. So I was checking the house show results and in fact they did the match again the next night in Boston, and that time they DID end the show with it. Also the Boston show was a way better mix of the same guys, with Savage defending against Bad News Brown instead of Bravo and a couple of other minor changes. This of course is your archetypal “royalty v. common man” match, taken to the extreme of an actual Tongan King wrestling against an actual hillbilly who wrestles in overalls. We get a lengthy test of strength as the crowd is definitely on the come-down after that tag match. Haku with a dropkick for two, but he misses a charge and Jim makes the comeback and runs Haku into the turnbuckles for two. But then Haku hits the thrust kick and finishes with a diving headbutt at 8:07. Yeah. 1/4*.
Randy Savage hits the ring and promises to return to face Bravo when they return to Toronto and next time it’s gonna go really badly for Dino and he’s going to get hurt really badly for touching Elizabeth.
Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Honky Tonk Man
Yeah if this is the main event then they definitely should have gone with the Rougeaus match as the closer. We’ve got maybe 5 minutes left in the show here so it’s not running long. And indeed Warrior storms the ring and destroys Honky as usual, but Jimmy distracts him and Warrior goes after him outside. Honky attacks from behind and Warrior just gets annoyed and presses him back into the ring before continuing with the beating in the corner. Finally Honky gets the megaphone and uses it for the heat and beats on Warrior for about 2 seconds before Warrior makes the comeback and Jimmy Hart runs in for the DQ at 4:00. DUD.
The Harts match was exactly the kind of nonsense I love about wrestling, although oddly they only ran that match a couple of times and the rest were just the Rougeaus going over via cheating with no Brother Love referee. Anyway, that’s the only match worth watching here, as the rest is just epic bad or even worse, straight up boring.