Happy Saturday Everyone!
I’ve never watched WrestleFest 1988 in full before but I have seen the Main Event. That actually won’t change here as I’m watching the Silver Vision version and I believe they cut some of the matches out. This was a big stadium show where Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan would seemingly settle their long running feud inside a Steel Cage. I think this might have been their last big singles match together but they would face off in tag team matches after this show.
You can view the card by clicking below so you can see what matches I’m missing;
The event is emanating from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 31st of July 1988 in front of over 25,000 people
Calling the action are Lord Alfred Hayes, Superstar Graham and Sean Mooney
Our commentary team welcome us to the show, although it looks like they’re in front of a green screen and not actually at the event. Sorry if that kills the magic for you somewhat.
Les Fabuleux Rougeaus (Jacques et Raymond) Vs The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair)
Brunzell is a former AWA guy, so I imagine some of the crowd here will remember him seeing as Milwaukee was a regular AWA town. Les Rougeaus were Heels by this stage, with the gimmick being that they say they are Pro-American but they actually aren’t and the fans know it. I’m not sure if they’ve sold every ticket they had to sell, but they’ve picked a cracking place to stick the hard cam and the setup looks very impressive as a result.
The Bees are a good example of the depth the WWF tag division had at the time, as they are a solid team and the company was doing basically nothing with them at the time because they had so many other tandems they could push instead. That’s a good headache to have I’m sure. This is a solid tag match where they trade the momentum a bit, with the match usually following the pattern of Jacques being a cocky twerp and then eventually getting shown up. Jacques is of course an excellent stooging Heel so all of that is good fun.
The crowd gets into The Bees working the Heels over and boo Les Rougeaus whenever they have the upper hand. Blair eventually gets Jacques in THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, but Raymond pushes the ropes with his feet when the ref isn’t looking, thus allowing Jacques to grab them and save himself. Blair “imposes” (Mooney’s word, not mine) a Full Nelson on Raymond a bit later on, which the crowd pops for as a potential finish, but Jacques gets a cheap shot to save his partner from certain defeat.
Hayes is quite withering of The Bees’ performance on commentary and talks about how Les Rougeaus are showing them how it’s done, which makes sense as I think The Bees were basically done as a team by the time this tape came out so you’re going to focus on the team that’s still around. That being said, it doesn’t really fit the match we’re getting as The Bees have held their own perfectly fine here and the crowd has enjoyed their wrestling. Brunzell eventually gets the hot tag and does a nice segment where he bumps the Heels around whilst the crowd loves it.
The Figure Four Leg Lock from Brunzell to Jacques looks to end things, but Raymond makes the save, although Brunzell then follows with his famed dropkick, leading to things breaking down with all four wrestlers in the ring going at it. That leads us to Les Rougeaus doing the old Midnight Express finish of one of the Heels hitting the babyface mid-move in order to give their partner the out-of-no-where win, with Raymond punching Brunzell whilst he has Jacques up for a slam, leading to Jacques falling on top for the flash three count.
WINNERS: LES FABULEUX ROUGEAUS
This was good fun and I enjoyed it. A solid way to start the tape!
The Heels bail following that whilst Blair comes in to check in on his partner.
Bad News Brown Vs Bret Hart
Bret was a babyface by this stage, as this was a follow up from WrestleMania IV where Bad News had thrown Bret Hart out to win a battle royal and a trophy, leading to Bret then destroying Bad News’ trophy in an act of revenge. Bad News used to work for Bret’s dad in Calgary, so they know one another and they have some decent chemistry as opponents.
Bret bumps Bad News around to start, with Bad News selling well and taking some nice bumps for him. The crowd is into Bret and he’s already got most of his singles babyface match down, including the Five Moves of DOOM™ on full display. Bad News manages to go to the eyes in order to block a back breaker though, and that leads to Bad News working some heat, which Bret sells well.
Bret manages to duck The Ghetto Blaster (Enziguri) which was what Bad News was using as his finisher at the time. It’s ironic that Bret’s brother Owen would end up taking that move as one of his big attacks when he started getting pushed as a singles properly in the 90’s. Bret gets some quick near falls on Bad News with things like a sunset flip, as the crowd is totally buying into Bret here, but Bad News eventually steals a win with a handful of tights to counter an O’Connor Roll.
WINNER: BAD NEWS BROWN
Another decent match there, as Bret looked comfortable as a singles act and Bad News entered a strong performance as an unlikable Heel
Jim Neidhart is mad that his partner got cheated out of the win there, which leads to he and Bret sending Bad News packing following the decision.
The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart join Mean Gene Okerlund at the interview podium ahead of Honky’s match with Jim Duggan next. Hart and Honky cut a fun Heel promo, with Honky being an excellent insincere Heel on the microphone, as he promises to sing and dance once he retains his Title.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: The Honky Tonk Man w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Honky wasn’t far away from dropping the belt to The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1988 and it was about time that he drop it in all honesty. He’d been exceedingly successful in the role, as fans were happy to pay through the nose in order to see him lose during the peak of his run with the belt, leading to Honky drawing solid houses against the likes of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat and Brutus Beefcake. Duggan had been another of Honky’s many challengers, and had in fact fought against him back at Survivor Series 1987 when he’d been on the opposite team.
Duggan is way over with the crowd here, as he chases Honky around to start whilst Honky stooges around in classic Memphis fashion. Honky’s selling is bordering on being cartoonish at points, but it’s also quite entertaining, so I’ll let it slide. This was late 80’s WWF anyway, so turning everything up to 11 was very in vogue and that’s a good reason why Honky was so effective in his role. Honky eventually uses Hart in order to cut Duggan off, leading to Duggan doing some of his own wacky selling, as this really is the most 1988 WWF match you could possibly get.
Duggan only sells for a bit and then makes the comeback with some big wild haymakers, leading to Honky doing even more selling and bumping. Well, it’s what he was best at so it makes sense to base the majority of the match around it. Duggan looks set to win the match with a big clothesline, but Hart dives into the ring to grab him, leading to the DQ, meaning that Honky retains. Honky usually retained that way, with the second most likely ending being him straight up running away for a count out.
WINNER BY DQ: HACKSAW DUGGAN (HONKY TONK MAN RETAINS)
Give that a pin fall finish and I might have bumped it up an extra ½*, as it was quite a short match but still relatively entertaining
Duggan sends the Heels packing following the match and then destroys Honky’s guitar with his 2×4, as somewhere a young Jeff Jarrett weeps and vows to defend the honour of guitars the world over going forward, dedicating his very career to bringing guitars in wrestling to prominence…maybe
The Bolsheviks (Boris Zhukov and Nikolai Volkoff) Vs The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord)
PoP would eventually be managed by Baron Von Raschke, who was also a big AWA name who might have helped them get a massive reaction here, but I’m guessing this was before they’d been put together? I’ve seen these two teams have a few matches and I think they always made the PoP sell far too much against these guys, which I don’t think helped with getting them over with the fans as a big babyface act. I’ve nothing really against Zhukov and Volkoff, but every match between these two teams should have been done Road Warrior style where the PoP came in and ended it in less than 2 minutes in quick brutal fashion.
This is quite a boring match in all honesty, as well as being kind of plodding from an in-ring perspective. PoP get a decent reaction to start, but the crowd sit on their hands whenever they’re being worked over by the Heels, which is probably because I don’t think the fans have any belief that the Heels might actually win or are any kind of a physical threat for the babyfaces nor do they hate them enough that they’ll get behind the babyfaces, which is why you needed to keep the match short.
The fans even start looking away from the ring at something else going on at one stage, which I’m guessing was a fight in the stands or something? Anyway, PoP finally decide to pull their fingers out and pick up the win when Warlord gives Zhukov a slam and Barbarian comes off the top with a head butt for the three count. That was quite impressive from Barbarian as he covered a lot of ground with that head butt.
WINNERS: THE POWERS OF PAIN
Not terrible, but dull and heatless for the most part
I don’t know if Alfred was referring to them as “The Powers of Paint” there or it just sounded like that, but it was certainly something that would be on brand for him if he got it wrong.
Leaping Lanny Poffo Vs Jim Neidhart
These two would both be babyfaces I believe here, as Poffo does a pre-match poem and doesn’t insult the fans or anything. It’s interesting that Bret was working as a babyface early but Neidhart is defacto Heel here? I wonder if the eventual plan was for Bret to go Face and Neidhart to go Heel? Poffo was an excellent enhancement guy, as he takes some nice looking bumps here and just generally makes Neidhart look like a big scary powerhouse.
Poffo does eventually dodge a charge in the corner and gets a brief flurry of offence until getting caught in a power slam for the three. I’m not sure what the point of booking an outright squash on this show was, I guess they just wanted to give Neidhart something to do seeing as Bret was busy working Bad News?
WINNER: JIM NEIDHART
Neidhart doesn’t get much of a reaction for winning that. It might have made more sense to have him beat up a Heel in that fashion instead seeing as Bret was working as a Face elsewhere on the show.
Ravishing Rick Rude Vs Jake The Snake Roberts w/ Damien
Rude had insulted Roberts’ then wife in an interview segment, leading to a feud between him and Roberts. Roberts attacks Rude during Rude’s pre-match posing, leading to a fast paced opening section where Roberts bumps Rude around to pop the crowd. They of course do the classic Roberts spot of Jake prepping for the DDT in the early going only for the Heel to slip out of it and bail outside of the ring. Roberts always used to do that in his matches and it usually always worked because the fans really wanted to see the move.
Rude ends up going after Damien outside the ring, which leads to Roberts dropping his guard by going out to rescue his cold blooded chum, leading to Rude getting the cut off and working some heat, which Roberts sells well. Rude is drawing some good Heel reactions from the crowd here, with his hip swivel entertaining a few of the ladies whilst Superstar Graham complains about it on commentary as being too lewd for children. So bringing a live snake down to the ring and keeping it in a sack in order to unleash it on your opponents is okay but swivelling your hips a bit is cause for contract termination? Duly noted there, Billy.
A long chin lock slows things down a bit, which takes some of the heat out of the match in all honesty. The crowd was very up for this in the early exchanges, but they’ve flattened them out a bit with the rest hold, and it is a rest hold as opposed to a working hold, because they’re really just sitting there not doing much. Roberts eventually manages to jam the ropes, leading to Rude going crotch first onto the top rope and Roberts making a comeback.
Roberts gets the knee lift and calls for the DDT, but Rude grabs the ropes to break it. Rude tries to flee following that but ends up having his pants pulled down to reveal a full moon for the crowd’s enjoyment, which I’m sure some of the folks who are interested in dudes in the building enjoyed very much. The DDT follows that, but the ref gets bumped in the process when he falls down underneath them, with the suggestion being that Rude pulled the ref underneath them before the move took place. It wasn’t executed very well though. Rude decides to try and run away again following that as he couldn’t be pinned due to the ref being down, but Roberts chases him and it’s a Double Count Out.
DOUBLE COUNT OUT
This was overly long, especially for that kind of finish, and the DDT ref bump didn’t really work. The rest hold in the middle really killed the momentum too. The actual wrestling wasn’t bad, but I don’t think these two had particularly good chemistry together, even though their issue was clearly over with the ticket buying public
Roberts unleashes Damien from his sack following that and wraps him around Rude’s neck for a bit until Rude is eventually able to run away. Well, the crowd got some snake action at the end then I guess, but the match was disappointing overall.
Lucha de Apuestas
Loser Wears a Weasel Suit
Bobby The Brain Heenan Vs The Ultimate Warrior
Heenan used to do this match with Groovy Greg Gagne in the AWA of course, with the concept basically being that Heenan continuously flees from the much stronger and more competent babyface until the babyface can finally grab hold of him and inflict some punishment. Heenan famously hated working with Warrior due to Warrior flinging him around with reckless abandon and not really caring about whether he hurt him or not.
Heenan has a concealed international object in his singlet though and he uses it to clock Warrior whilst the referee isn’t looking, which allows Heenan to get a little bit of heat in, although it doesn’t last for long. Heenan was very effective in this role, as he said he used to wrestle like a manager and manage like a wrestler, which describes him pretty well I feel. Heenan ends up losing his concealed weapon eventually though and that leads to Warrior slapping on a Sleeper Hold for the win.
WINNER: THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Heenan was entertaining here and Warrior mostly just existed. You could have transplanted in any of the WWF’s babyfaces from this era here and it would have worked
Warrior puts the knocked out Heenan in the weasel suit and then leaves so that Heenan can wake up and then flop around in the suit to pop the crowd. Heenan is certainly entertaining and does an excellent job of being humiliated, although the commentary team undercuts it a bit by doing the exaggerated WWF commentator laugh over it.
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Demolition (Ax and Smash) w/ Mr. Fuji Vs The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid)
This is the match I’m probably most intrigued to see, seeing as The Bulldogs were one of the more revolutionary teams to pass through the WWF whilst Demolition have always been one of my favourite brawling/powerhouse tandems. I possibly enjoy Demolition more than I enjoy The Road Warriors, and I saw The Roadie’s first so it’s not like it’s a nostalgia bias either. I just think they were a more versatile team and they were more prepared to sell for their opponents in order to have a good match rather than just focused on protecting their aura.
The Bulldogs get plenty of offence in here and the match is worked at a peppy pace, with the wrestling generally being good. Dynamite was on the downward slope of his career here after his back injury in 1986, but he could still go well enough to be a solid half of a tag team and he takes the heat here, selling well for Demolition. Davey eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, bumping The Champs around.
Smash takes a bump from Dynamite’s trademark lariat in the closing stages, which I couldn’t really picture Hawk doing for instance. Things break down following that, with Dynamite getting Smash in a submission hold for the apparent win, but the ref is distracted by Smith and Mr. Fuji, which allows Ax to clobber Dynamite with Fuji’s cane in order to give Demolition the win.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: DEMOLITION
This was a good match but it was a bit short. I would have enjoyed another five minutes I think, although the bout had good energy as they packed as much action into the run time as they could
The replay shows the finish as we didn’t get to see it when it happened due to the camera crew focusing on Mr. Fuji getting bumped on the apron.
Dino Bravo Vs Ken Patera
Patera runs wild to start, bumping Bravo all over the place, and dare I say that it’s actually rather entertaining. I know the Blog of DOOM really hates Dino Bravo, but I think he benefits from the fact that so many worse wrestlers have come along the pike since the 80’s so he’s ended up looking better without having to do anything. I will concede that Bravo is about as exciting as putting the peel back on an orange you’ve just peeled, but he’s not an especially terrible wrestler or anything by my watch. Most of the match sees Patera dominating, but the crowd doesn’t really care and Bravo eventually catches Patera with a Side Slam OUTTA NOWHERE for the three count.
WINNER: DINO BRAVO
Just two blokes having a match for three minutes
We don’t even get any replays for that finish, as the tape treats the bout as an absolute afterthought.
Steel Cage Match – Escape Rules
Andre The Giant Vs Hulk Hogan
Hogan won at WrestleMania III, Andre “won” at The Main Event in February 1988 and the two wrestlers fought to a Double DQ at WrestleMania IV, so now they’re getting into a cage to settle things. Andre stops to look out to the crowd before entering in an iconic image that would be replayed quite a bit over the years to display how impressive and otherworldly a star he was.
I actually quite like the match between these two at WrestleMania III as they tell a good story with it and the big stadium setting really adds to things. I don’t like this one quite as much, as the narrative isn’t as expertly crafted and the match feels a bit more thrown together, with both wrestlers having a bit of a sloppy brawl inside the cage. Andre was also an extra 17-18 months more broken down by the time this match came along and it’s quite noticeable.
The opening exchanges are mostly built around both wrestlers using Hogan’s t-shirt to choke one another, which is about as exciting as it sounds. Andre eventually uses the shirt to tie Hogan to the cage wall and gets some shots in before heading for the door, but Hogan is able to get free and brings Andre back in with some punches. Things pick up a bit once we’re past the shirt choking, with Hogan even taking a bump off the second rope when trying to escape and Andre leaving his feet with an elbow drop at one stage.
It’s still a very scrappy battle, but it actually feels like a struggle now at least as both wrestlers desperately try to gain a foothold in the bout so that they might escape. Hogan ends up blading after getting his face thrown into an unprotected turnbuckle, which leads to some great selling from Hogan as he tries to pull himself up to his feet and prevent Andre from exciting through the door.
Hogan eventually manages to stagger Andre and gets him down on the mat with a clothesline, although Andre basically just slowly laid down onto the mat rather than taking anything really resembling a bump from it. Hogan drops the leg and would appear to be on the way to victory, but Bobby Heenan interferes. Hogan manages to fend Heenan off though and then takes the concealed weapon that Heenan was using in the earlier match to clobber Andre in a nice call back. Andre gets tied up in the ropes following that and Hogan escapes the cage to win.
WINNER: HULK HOGAN
Like I said earlier, I actually enjoy the Mania III match between these two and I don’t really mind The Main Event match either as it has incredible crowd heat, but this match and the bout at Mania IV are both pretty much toilet. Andre could barely move and the only thing that redeemed it was that Hogan sold very well and did his best to get the crowd invested
Hogan poses outside the cage and then heads to the back whilst the reality of the result hits Andre and Heenan inside the ring. Security has to surround Hogan so that he doesn’t get mobbed by the fans seeing as he was a big star in the AWA before jumping to the WWF when Verne Gagne wouldn’t put the AWA Title on him.
The commentators recap the show from in front of the green screen…err…I mean elsewhere in the stadium, and we’re out.
The Silver Vision cut of this runs at about 1 hour and 50 minutes, so it was a relatively breezy watch for the most part. There was some decent wrestling but the show kind of ran out of steam after a certain point, and that’s with a handful of matches being cut. They probably could have done with putting some more babyface wins on the card to be honest as it was quite a Heel heavy show and that might have sapped the life out of the crowd as it went on. Overall there wasn’t enough good here to recommend it, but I wouldn’t say it was a major thumbs down or anything.
Not a recommended show