The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Maple Leaf Gardens 11.06.88
And we come to the end of the Canadian shows added to the Old School section last year. Another one with a promising lineup at least, but the last one let me down and I hope this one doesn’t as well. After this, there’s a couple of MSG shows from the 90s that I haven’t done yet, but I’m running out of stuff in that section to review otherwise and that makes me sad.
Taped from Toronto, ON, and the ramp is BACK.
Your hosts are Sean Mooney & Gorilla Monsoon
Iron Mike Sharpe v. B. Brian Blair
Seriously? We already had this match last month. Gorilla makes some small talk about how Wayne Gretzky had just signed a huge endorsement deal, but promises to keep his residence in Canada despite the money. That was kind of a sore spot with Canada in general around this time, so I don’t know if Gorilla was being sarcastic or what. They fight over a top wristlock and Sharpe wins that, being that he’s Canada’s strongest athlete and all, while Gorilla reminisces about Mike’s failed tag team with Haystacks Calhoun years ago. Sharpe misses a charge and Blair chases him to the floor and Sharpe airs his grievances, given that Festivus was rapidly approaching.
Back in the ring, Blair works the arm, but Mike escapes with a spinebuster and then loads up the ALLEGEDLY loaded forearm and clubs away on Blair to take over. Sharpe chokes him out on the ropes and hits him with a clothesline out of the corner, which gets two. Sharpe backdrops him for two. Blair gets a sunset flip for two, but Sharpe hits him with a cheapshot to the gut and Blair bumps to the floor off that. Not sure what was supposed to be happening there, exactly. Gorilla explains the physics behind taking a backdrop bump and how it affects your hips and back 25 years later. Man he would be a DELIGHT if he was around for the bumps guys take today. Blair makes a comeback and slugs away in the corner, then puts him down with an inverted atomic drop, before missing a splash. Sharpe goes for a slam, but Blair reverses to a Russian legsweep and gets the pin at 10:29. Pretty much the same match we got last time but I’d say it was a bit better. *1/2.
Koko B. Ware v. Steve Lombardi
Truly a main event in any arena in the country. Lombardi attacks to start and puts the boots to him in the corner while Gorilla again brings up the Terry Garvin School of Self Defense and declares that “anyone who graduates from there is a bit shady”. Koko no-sells a shot to the turnbuckle and dropkicks Lombardi out of the ring. Back in, Steve goes for a monkey flip and Koko drops a fist on him to block it, but Lombardi boots him down again and stomps him for two. Lombardi with a nerve hold while the announcers discuss the lifespan of birds and whether they have retirement homes for them. I think Frankie actually lived for many years after this, and tragically died in a house fire at an advanced age. Lombardi with a slam for two, but Koko rolls him up for two as the crowd is more quiet than a group of Maple Leafs fans after they lose in the first round yet again. Lombardi goes up and Koko slams him off and finishes with a missile dropkick at 7:12. “Wow, was that exciting!” declares Gorilla. What a liar. 1/2*.
The Brainbusters v. The Young Stallions
Holy cow, we were only a month removed from Tully & Arn losing the NWA tag team titles to the Midnight Express on the way out of the promotion, so this must have been a fairly surreal surprise for a good chunk of the crowd. The Busters try to double-team Powers, but he fights them off and chases Tully to the floor. Back in, Roma gets a dropkick on Tully, and then rolls up future tag team championship partner Arn for two. Roma cleans house with dropkicks and slams and the Busters bail to escape the, ahem, awesome offense of Paul Roma. Tully stalls on the ramp, so Powers tosses him back into the ring as Tully very generously bumps around the ring for these two jabronis. Roma goes to work on the leg, but then he tries a flying headscissors and Arn comes in and punches him in the head to break it up. Normally that would be a BIG reaction from a WCW crowd, but it doesn’t get much here. Spinebuster gets two, as again this is clearly a hardcore WWF fanbase because it barely gets a pop.
They toss Roma and double-team him in the corner before going to an abdominal stretch with requisite amount of cheating. Powers tries to save and that allows the Busters to double-team Roma some more, but Arn imports the knucklelock spot to the WWF and lands on Roma’s knees. Tully dives in and cuts off the hot tag before spitting at Powers to theoretically draw big heat but the crowd just doesn’t know the guys and won’t bite. Back to Arn, but Roma gets a sunset flip for two and Tully easily saves. Tully tries the slingshot suplex and Roma reverses to his own suplex, and it’s hot tag Powers. Powerslam for Tully and noggins are knocked as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Powers tries a suplex on Arn, but Tully comes in with a sunset flip off the top behind th ref’s back, and Arn clotheslines Powers for good measure as Tully rolls him up for the pin at 12:25. This wasn’t like state of the art stuff like with the Rockers, but Tully & Arn know exactly what to do with Generic Babyface Team and they can do this all day like Captain America. But with cheating. ***
The Blue Blazer v. Danny Davis
Davis asks for a handshake while Gorilla shoots down rampant rumors that the Blazer is actually Lanny Poffo with a blond wig under the mask. Also Lord Alfred Hayes is spreading rumors that the Blazer may have done extensive training in Europe, which actually was true. Blazer reverses all of Danny’s stuff and chases him to the floor, while some fans loudly start an “Owen” chant. Davis blocks a kick and Blazer hits him with an enzuigiri for a big pop, chasing Danny to the ramp this time. Back in, Blazer puts the boots to Danny in the corner, but misses a dropkick and Davis takes over. Davis chokes away and gets two. Blazer comes back with the belly to belly and a delayed suplex, and he goes up with a flying splash to finish at 5:42. Owen looked like he was prepping for Davis to move on that one because he was all tensed up, but he just hit it and went home. **
Big Bossman v. Hulk Hogan
Hulk attacks Slick before the bell for literally no reason and chases Bossman to the floor. Back in, Hulk slugs away and then goes after Slick AGAIN, but thankfully Bossman saves this time and beats on Hulk in the corner. Avalanche gets two and he goes to work on the back. How’s it feel when you’re NOT beating up on a helpless manager, Hulk? NOT SO GOOD. Bossman with a slam, but he misses a splash and Hulk makes a comeback before tripping in front of Slick like a klutz. Took a dive like a soccer player there. Hulk chases after Slick to cover for his own clumsy mistake, but that allows Bossman to catch him in a bearhug. Hulk of course has to resort to closed fists to break free, but thankfully Bossman puts him down with a big boot to show that cheaters never prosper. That gets two, but of course Hulk makes the comeback and hits his own big boot before slamming Bossman. Hulk with a corner clothesline as they’re doing a weird variation on the usual Hogan match formula here. Bossman tries to handcuff Hulk to the ropes, but Hulk uses the cuffs on him instead and then clotheslines him to the floor for the countout at 9:44 while Bossman is cuffed to the ropes. HOW IS THAT LEGAL?!? Mostly the usual match between these two. **1/4.
WWF tag team title: Demolition v. The British Bulldogs
This was the end for the Bulldogs, as they did this show and then exited the promotion after Survivor Series for their disaster of a run in Stampede Wrestling. Ax beats Davey down to start, but Davey gets a slam and it’s over to Smash. He goes to work on the arm, but Kid comes in and backdrops Smash into a headbutt for two. Kid gets caught in the Demo corner and double-teamed, as the champs beat on him. Kid with a sunset flip, but Smash blocks that and puts the boots to him. Kid fights back with a clothesline on Ax, and it’s hot tag Davey Boy. He runs wild with forearms on Demolition and Kid just stands on the apron while he goes 1-on-2. Clothesline on Ax gets two, but he puts his head down and Ax catches him with a forearm. Back to Dynamite, who hits Smash with a snap suplex for two, but Ax hits him from behind and Smash pins him at 10:00 to retain. The Bulldogs looked like they just wanted to wrap it up and go home as soon as they got there, which probably wasn’t far from the truth. *
Dino Bravo v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Wow what a main event. And we’ve got 15 minutes left in the show, so they have lots of time to craft a classic. Bravo wins a lockup battle, but Duggan hits him with an atomic drop and Bravo takes a “bump” to the floor off that. Back in the ring, Duggan hits him with a clothesline and backdrop to put Bravo on the floor again. Duggan goes after Frenchy and that allows Bravo to go to a devastating chinlock to really ramp up the excitement, but Duggan gets a sunset flip for two. Bravo chokes like he’s a Maple Leaf in the playoffs, and goes to another chinlock, but Duggan slugs back. So Bravo puts him down with a forearm for two. Back to the chinlock, but Duggan comes back and slugs away in the corner to set up the three point stance. But of course Frenchy trips him up and Bravo pins him at 6:46. Wow, you outsmarted Hacksaw Duggan, good for you. DUD.
WWF Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. The Honky Tonk Man
Ah, well that explains why the real main event can be squeezed into a show with only 5 minutes of airtime left. I’m sure the entrances will go longer than the match. This is no DQ, no countout, no time limit (LOL) to a finish. So Warrior immediately blitzes Honky with a shoulderblock and then tosses Jimmy off the ramp for the best bump of the night. Warrior misses his big splash and Honky gets his 20 seconds of axehandles and kneedrops on the ropes for his contractually obligated bit of offense, and then chokes him out behind the ref’s back even though it’s supposedly anything goes. And Warrior has places to be, so he quickly comes back with a shoulderblock and then chokes Honky out before Jimmy Hart runs in with the megaphone to break up the press slam. So Warrior kicks his ass and slams him onto Honky for the pin at 4:30 to retain. Complete junk. DUD.
The Brain Busters match was decently OK, but the rest of this show was a complete waste of 90 minutes, sadly.