James Dixon: Why does the thought of this make me shudder? Probably because on all the other tapes we have reviewed, the “fan favourites” match is usually the absolute drizzling shits. I’m convinced the tag is cursed. I know they were bullshit and a complete work, but at least make the match choices believable! Let’s see if they manage that here. Sean Mooney says “fans are the backbone of the WWF”. I think he means the “WWF Universe”…
Koko B. Ware vs. The Brooklyn Brawler
Are you kidding me? Who is the right mind would want to see this? I feel ripped off already. What a jobbertastic opening. With this being from Rochester, New York, Brawler is the hometown hero here. Of course in reality, the crowd doesn’t care about this match at all. Hey, Danny Davis is the referee. Just a few months before, he was wrestling Koko on High Flyers. Conflict of interest! Right away it becomes clear that this is going to be a waste of time, with Brawler doing a generic heat, and everything just rolling along sluggishly. Koko comes back into it with a sunset flip, but is taken out with a clothesline. We slow back to a crawl with a Brawler chinlock. Hayes desperately tries to get this over, saying how exciting it has been and how the fans were right to choose this match. Lord Alfred Hayes: liar. After a long, long heat segment, Koko finally mounts a comeback when Brawler charges shoulder first into the ring post, and then the past ten minutes of Koko selling go out of the window. Oh Koko, what a pile of small shit you are. The Ghostbuster wins it for Koko at 10:15, which was at least five minutes too long if they wanted to showcase these guys. A horrible but entirely expected start.
Final Rating: DUD
Greg Valentine vs. Dusty Rhodes
I would imagine this one will be plodding. Dusty is charismatic but Valentine was Mr. Boring by this era, this being from June 1989. This is not long after Dusty’s WWF debut, and his attire is pre-polka dots. A shoving match is won by Dusty, and a bionic elbow drops Valentine first time. Dusty proceeds to wear ‘the Hammer’ down, but misses an elbow drop. Tony Schiavone calls this a “heavy hitters” match, which is commentator speak for fat guys clobbering each other? Rhodes gets out of a chinlock and they go toe-to-toe in a blistering exchange of shots and punches, before Dusty hits a standing dropkick to win that particular contest. Dusty looks to put on the figure four, Valentine’s own finisher no less, but he gets cut off before he can. It is probably a good job, because his legs are too fat to put it on anyway! Valentine tries to put the move on himself, but Dusty rolls him up for a near fall. Hayes continues to talk utter nonsense, saying that Dusty is someone who dedicates himself to going to the gym and getting in shape for big matches… Lord Alfred Hayes: liar. A long chinlock segment from Valentine induces apathy, and both guys are sweating profusely now. Schiavone puts it down to the heat of the building, but I put it down to their collective blubber. Jimmy Hart climbs the top buckle as Valentine has the ref distracted, looking to hit Dusty with the megaphone, but Ronnie Garvin comes down to prevent it. The distraction allows Dusty to roll Valentine up for the three. That was not as bad as I thought it would be. It felt like a contest, and while it was slow, it was always solid.
Final Rating: *¾
The Twin Towers vs. The Hart Foundation
Here comes Bret Hart to save the tape, as ever. I mean, the last match was ok I guess, but it was hardly Savage-Steamboat. This is from May 1989 in Minnesota, with Hayes and Schiavone again on commentary duties. They make the Hart Foundation favourites because of their tag team experience, but again I must disagree: I make the Twin Towers the favourites due to Vince’s hard-on for big guys. Anvil surprisingly bounces off Bossman a couple of times from a shoulder block, and doesn’t move when Bossman tries one of his own. A dropkick from Neidhart gives the Harts an early advantage. It is interesting to note that even at this stage in ’89, the commentators were putting over Bret as the best technical wrestler in the WWF. Now that I agree with. Akeem probably shouldn’t be bumping around as much as he is here. For example, Bret reversed an Irish whip and Akeem went with it; it just is not believable. Twin Towers work a heat on Bret, utilising their size to control the match. Hart shows fight, but everything he tries is swiftly stopped by the Towers. Schiavone says how Akeem is one of the most agile big men in the WWF. Well, he is I guess, but he is also the campest. He moves around almost like The Genius, flailing and dancing to sell moves. Hart fights out of a bearhug and then a chinlock, but gets thwarted both times by Bossman’s size. Neidhart gets the hot tag when Bossman misses a charge in the corner, and the crowd comes alive for this. It breaks down and ends up with all four guys fighting outside the ring. The referee calls for the bell and awards the match to the Twin Towers via count out. Well, that is the wrong decision for sure. Hart was the legal man and he was the last to exit the ring, so the Towers should surely have been counted out. They didn’t even get back in the ring anyway, so I have no clue where the ref plucked that shitty call from. Post match, the Hart Foundation beat the hell out of the Towers and handcuff Slick to the top rope, then beat on Akeem with the nightstick. This was mainly a long heat segment on Bret, with an exciting finish and a poor decision. Not much to it.
Final Rating: *¾
Tito Santana vs. Mr. Perfect
Well, Bret didn’t quite make this tape worth seeing, but this match most certainly could. This is a match that I can believe the fans would actually want to see. This is June 1989 for the third time this tape, and it seems all the matches on it were recorded around the same time. Again it is a different show though, this coming from Rockford, Illinois. They do fast-paced back-and-forth stuff early on, which is as impressive as you might imagine. Tito murders Perfect with a clothesline, and of course it looks even better because of the way Perfect sells it. Santana is pretty adept in that department too, and takes a running knee lift wonderfully. That move puts Perfect in the driving seat, and he picks Tito apart surprisingly methodically. It is actually very slow for Perfect. He locks on the abdominal stretch, and we get our video case cover shot. Tito fires back and sends Perfect inside out with a bell ringer. Rick Martel makes his way down the ring, seemingly just to watch, though it seems skulduggery is afoot. And there it is, as Martel puts Perfect’s leg on the ropes to prevent the Santana win after the Flying Forearm. Martel’s presence is a distraction to Tito, and Perfect rolls him up for the win. Good in places, but again it was hampered by a naff finish and a bit of a boring heat section. These two can do a lot better.
Final Rating: **½
Ted DiBiase vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka
May 1989 in Wisconsin here. These two would go onto have a match later in the year at SummerSlam ‘89 also. DiBiase tries to buy off Snuka before the match. Hey, he should just take it. At this stage he was little more than a jobber to the stars and his win/loss record was poor. Play the odds Snuka, take the cash. But no, he rejects DiBiase’s attempts to buy him, instead hitting him with a right hand and giving the money to the fans in the front row. That is theft. Never trust a bare-footed man. Snuka has spent the first minute of this match wrestling in his robe. He also sells like he has developed a nervous tick. Lord Alfred Hayes: “Snuka is someone who indulges in self-hypnotism and he says it works for him. These Island people do, you know. I make a point of talking to Fiji islanders. Sometimes they know pretty girls”. Lord Alfred Hayes: IDIOT. A double axe handle attempt from the top is avoided when Snuka catches him with a punch to the gut. A snapmare and a head butt from the second sets up the Superfly Splash, but Virgil prevents it. Quite bizarrely they lock-up, and Snuka moves out of the way of a DiBiase knee charge and he hits Virgil. Snuka takes the win with a roll-up, and hits the Superfly Splash on Virgil afterwards for good measure. Despite Hayes’ claims that it was fought at a blistering pace, it really wasn’t. Not a great deal to hold the attention there. Those two didn’t have good chemistry together in any of their matches with each other.
Final Rating: *
The Ultimate Warrior & King Duggan vs. Andre the Giant & Rick Rude
Back to Wisconsin and back to June 1989 for this. Rude and Warrior feuded extensively, with Rude dethroning Warrior for the IC title at WrestleMania V three months prior. Andre and Duggan worked a programme around the house show circuit and on TV too. Duggan is the King of the WWF at this point, and it is somewhat weird seeing him come out to Jerry Lawler’s theme music. If this match is watchable, Rude will deserve a medal. You know you are in trouble when the workrate guy of one of the teams is Duggan. A lot of stalling to start, and Duggan loudly shouts “Bullshit” as the referee puts his 2×4 under the ring. Role model! Warrior and Duggan both shake the ropes like they have been electrocuted, then both shout “Hooooo” to the crowd. My sense of dread has not dissipated at all, and they haven’t even touched each other yet. Andre goes to his spot in the ropes early, and the faces use Rude as a battering ram on him. Rude is in an arm wringer and Andre escapes the ropes and punches Duggan in the face, but he doesn’t even acknowledge it, never mind sell it. Rude takes a beating early on, with the focus on his arm. Andre grabs Duggan by the hair and gives him a headbutt, buying time. When Andre comes in, the pace slips below anaemic. I am amused with him mocking Warrior by shaking the ropes. I really get the feeling that Andre just did not like that guy. Andre-Duggan is real bad. Andre and Rude are in charge here, with Duggan taking an extended heat. In a bizarre moment, Andre decides to do the Rick Rude hip swivel before going back to the bearhug on Duggan. I don’t ever need to see THAT again. Warrior gets the hot tag… and puts on a bearhug. Erm, sorry? That has to be the worst hot tag I have ever seen. He didn’t even do a clothesline or anything, just straight to the bearhug. What a gormless twat. Things fall apart, and Duggan clocks Rude behind the refs back with the 2×4, allowing Warrior to cover for the win. Cheats! Cheats! Cheats! I expect nothing less from Duggan. Heenan is right to be furious. That was tough to watch.
Final Rating: DUD
Summary: Not a lot to get excited about on this one, it was 90 minutes of dull non-action. There was nothing above mediocre on here, and two of the matches were the pits. The curse of the “fan favourites” tag continues, and I am dreading any future matches tagged with that moniker that I might have to review. Avoid!