Roddy Piper vs. Macho King Randy Savage
This is quite the marquee match to start things off, featuring two very intense guys who positively oozed charisma. Both are bona fide all-time wrestling legends. We are in Miami, Florida in January 1990, the night after the Royal Rumble. Savage is wrestling in the shiniest tights you will ever see. His orange boots are frankly ridiculous. Piper is great, he just stands there taking in all of Sherri and Savage’s histrionics, responding to her looking up his kilt by looking up her skirt and tripping her up. Classic Piper. See Hogan, that is how you do it. Savage comes off the top with the double axe handle, but Piper responds instantly. An atomic drop and clothesline get a two count, and Sherri gets on the apron to distract him. It doesn’t work, and he scouts Savage, giving him a clothesline and a sunset flip. A Savage elbow is countered with an inside cradle, and a wound-up Savage leaves the ring. Nice exchanges early on, and this is a match that really should have taken place on PPV at least once. Back in the ring and a double axe handle gives Savage an advantage. He then clotheslines Piper on the ropes before giving him a knee to the back, which sends him outside, following up with a double axe handle from the apron. He doesn’t let Piper back into the ring, and Sherri gives him an impressive kick in the back of the head. Once again, I will say how much Sherri adds to Savage’s act. Often managers and especially valets can be either a pointless distraction or a detriment due to their ineffectiveness, but that was never the case with Sherri. The fact that she hit and bumped just as hard as the men added to her appeal. Savage with a sleeper hold, but Piper fights out and hits a clothesline. He measures Savage for a big right and then unleashes a flurry of boxing punches in the corner. He sends Savage into the corner upside down and stomps away, but Sherri gets him free. Airplane spin from Piper, but he dizzies himself as well. Savage does it back to him, but does it at SPEED, and for an age. That was fun. Savage’s equilibrium is affected, and he falls off the top rope to the outside. Piper blocks the count, and hits a double axe of his own off the apron. Sherri gets involved and she and Savage double team Piper, leading to a disqualification. Piper puts the sleeper on Savage after the bell and then puts it on Sherri too. Savage stops him with a knee to the back and they go at it back-and-forth again. We then get an incredibly gratuitous shot of Sherri’s ass, covered only by a tiny thong. Very saucy for the WWF! I am actually surprised they would show that. Piper throws Savage into Sherri, then gets his belt and starts whipping Savage with it, causing Macho to hightail it to the back. Pretty wild post match there, and a good contest between two superior talents. Entertaining stuff, shame as usual, about the crappy non-finish.
Final Rating: **¾
WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Dino Bravo
It’s a fan favourites match, which instantly spells doom. The kid who wrote in apparently asked for this, Snuka-Rude and Rockers-Brainbusters. Why oh why did this one win out? Bravo has Earthquake with him, who is wearing a ghastly shade of brown. Sean Mooney asks Alfred Hayes if he can imagine Warrior wrestling Earthquake. I have seen that, it is bad, bad, bad. Bravo can’t get a foothold in the match, and his attempts at knocking Warrior down with shoulder blocks fail. Earthquake grabs Warriors foot, giving Bravo the opportunity to knock him to the outside, where he quite randomly crawls under the ring. Even more bizarrely, he emerges with a de-trousered Jimmy Hart. Just WHAT were you doing under there Warrior!? Warrior press slams Hart into Earthquake, then chops away at Bravo. He hits a big suplex but his splash hits knees. It always hits knees. He just doesn’t learn. A test of strength is won by Warrior, though he probably shouldn’t be winning that against a guy whose gimmick is the world’s STRONGEST man. Protect your gimmick, sir! This has actually been pretty well-paced and watchable considering the participants. It takes a while before things slow to the expected levels, as Bravo goes to the bearhug. A missed elbow allows Warrior back into the match, and he hits a big slam, but puts his back out doing so. Bravo sends him outside where Earthquake slams him on the floor. Warrior kicks out of a Bravo sidewalk slam and then starts gyrating and selling like someone trying to escape from being buried alive. He “Warriors Up” and debuts his new move: pushing his opponent over. Lazy or what!? Warrior hits the flying tackle but Earthquake comes in for the cheap DQ finish, then attacks Warrior after the bell. Quake goes to hit the Vertical Splash off the top, but Hulk Hogan runs out to prevent it, and knocks Quake off the ropes. Warrior and Hogan were about to meet at WrestleMania VI, and this post-match angle was part of the lead-up to that. The whole thing was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, but still not a great deal more than clubbing and the odd power move.
Final Rating: *½
Mr. Fuji is the feature of a manager profile segment. He says that if his charges don’t listen to him, they get disciplined with his cane. He finishes off by saying how much he enjoys watching people’s eyes pop out. Each to their own, I guess. We then get no matches featuring him. Some profile! But a bonus for us, the viewer. Fuji was the pits.
Rick Martel vs. Brutus Beefcake
Back to December 1989 in MSG for this one. Gorilla Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim are on commentary duty. Someone should tell Beefcake not to run with scissors! Dangerous bastard. They have stall for an age here. It’s very dull. They do literally nothing at all for minutes on end. It’s very much a routine house show match, but I would expect more at MSG. Beefcake finally takes a headlock but sees a monkey flip coming and stomps Martel in the head. He hits a bell ringer, but Martel responds with a running inverted atomic drop, then stands on his throat. A slow heat section from Martel follows, made up of mostly chokes and kicks. The most entertaining thing about this is Hillbilly Jim and Gorilla on commentary, discussing among other things, just how fair Danny Davis can be. “Once a dawg, always a dawg” says Jim. My sentiments exactly. Will this tedious chinlock ever end? Beefcake fires out with some big elbows and a shoulder block, but Martel takes over again with a knee to the gut, then delivers a multitude of punches and stomps. It is as if Martel has forgotten how to do any moves! This is one of the worst performances I have seen from him. Martel takes too long up top, and Beefcake shakes the ropes and crotches him. Triple bounce inverted atomic drop is followed by a regular one, and a clothesline sends Martel out through the ropes. Beefcake follows him out and gives him a few shots on the outside. He throws Martel back inside and goes to sunset flip back in the ring, but Martel catches him in a pin and holds the ropes for the win. Referee Danny Davis questions it afterwards, but Martel protests his innocence. Beefcake puts the sleeper on Martel and is about to cut his hair, when Bobby Heenan runs down to wake the Model up, saving his locks. Long, drawn out and dull. That could have easily been condensed into five minutes.
Final Rating: ½*
The Hart Foundation vs. The Powers of Pain
This is the first of three matches profiling the Harts. The match comes from January 1990 in Florida, two days after the Royal Rumble. I am delighted that the Hart Foundation are the focus of this profile feature instead of say, oh I don’t know, the Bushwhackers! Hopefully we will be in for three treats. There is a power battle to start between Barbarian and Anvil, and shoulder blocks from both reap little reward. Warlord holds Anvil but he moves out of the way of a Barbarian clothesline, and he hits his partner. Bret comes in, and he uses his quickness to avoid the big man, before making a blind tag to Neidhart who takes Barbarian over with a big clothesline. Quick tags and the Harts control Barbarians arm, but a powerful slam allows him to tag in the Warlord. It’s a deliberate start from the Harts. Because of the mix of styles that Bret and Anvil had, it made them unique in that they could work good and different matches with teams of any size. In this era teams were generally all one mode, either large and plodding or small and quick, but the Harts were both. They continue to work over the Warlord, making quick tags to control his arm. Eventually he powers out and hits a backbreaker on Bret, and Barbarian comes in and wipes him out with a big boot, giving one to Anvil on the apron as well. I wonder if there is a Hart Foundation match where Anvil takes the extended heat? I will be curious to see if that occurs in any of these three matches actually. POP slow down the match and work over Hart methodically with clubbing blows. Hart gets his boot up in the corner, and makes a lukewarm tag to Neidhart. Big clotheslines and shoulder blocks take both Powers down, but Fuji trips him. Neidhart chases him but gets caught with a double axe handle off the apron from Warlord. It breaks down, but Neidhart beats the count and wins the match for the Hart Foundation. Not exactly the most shining example of what the Hart Foundation can do. Formulaic and by the numbers.
Final Rating: *½
The Hart Foundation vs. Dino Bravo & Honky Tonk Man
This is a weird one. Why are Bravo and Honky teaming? Ok, they are both with Jimmy Hart, but its a strange combo. The match comes from August 1989, a few weeks before SummerSlam, where the Hart’s battled the Brainbusters in a classic. I don’t really expect this to be anywhere near that level, unfortunately. Bravo is a sloppy, clumsy oaf of a worker. Early on the Harts dominate, as they should though. They are a well-established tag team, specialists in the division, whereas Honky and Bravo are just thrown together. Logically the Foundation should be the aggressors and outclass them. Double teaming causes Anvil to get caught out, and the heels cut the ring off and work him over. The heat is on Neidhart! I am stunned! Obviously he doesn’t sell anywhere near as well as Bret does, in fact, he just looks rather annoyed. A big slam from Bravo gets a two, as the heels continue to goad Bret into the ring and switch who is in there without making tags. Another big slam from Bravo keeps Neidhart down, but they waste too much time and Honky misses a fist drop. Bret comes in and takes both guys apart. O’Connor roll gets two and his trademark middle rope elbow brings Bravo in. We break down, and Jimmy Hart throws the megaphone in the ring. Before his charges can use it, Bret takes out Bravo, and Neidhart uses the megaphone on Honky, for a blatant DQ. That was a pretty dumb move from Neidhart, because Bret had the match won. The WWF was very frustrating with its constant lame non-finishes, and there was no reason at all to protect Bravo and Honky. So that is a count out win and a DQ defeat in a Hart Foundation profile so far. Poor choices, but a half decent bout.
Final Rating: **
The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers
Ah ha! Now we are talking! We go to the day after SummerSlam 1989, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Both sides are of course babyfaces, so this is something of a rarity for the WWF in this era. I would expect the Hart’s to take on the heel role here though, due to their superior size. Hart and Jannetty start things off, and they exchange some smooth counters, before the Rockers target Hart’s arm. Bret catches a Michaels leapfrog, and turns it into a reverse atomic drop, then bringing in Anvil. Bret catches Shawn as he is running the ropes with a big knee, then, the Hart’s take over on Michaels. It is a heelish move from the Hart Foundation, which is just what I expected. Neither side has particularly controlled this, but the Harts are definitely the aggressors. A chinlock from Neidhart is escaped by Michaels, but he gets caught in a bearhug. Bret back in, but Shawn counters a backbreaker attempt by flipping through into a slam. Shawn is too beaten down to make the tag, and Bret stays on him with punches, as the Harts continue to isolate the Rocker. Anvil comes in and hits an impressive dropkick, then sends Shawn flying with a back body drop. Shawn took a huge bump from that, he absolutely flew. Both he and Jannetty used to get incredible height when they took that move. You know, it is very intriguing to see Shawn and Bret go at it back then, when you know how things ended up going down between them nearly a decade later. Shawn has been in for a while now, and he is getting picked apart by the Harts and needs to tag. He moves out of the way of a Hitman elbow from the ropes, and finally tags Jannetty. Spinning back elbow, a dropkick and a powerslam connect on Bret, but Anvil makes the save. There is a bit of miscommunication as Jannetty comes into the corner with a clothesline, but Bret hits one also; it looks dodgy. Jannetty just pretends it didn’t happen and continues to hit Bret with moves for near falls. The crowd doesn’t really know who to cheer though. Double Superkick on Bret brings Neidhart in for the save again. Suplex from Shawn, but Bret kicks out. The pendulum has swung very much in the favour of the Rockers, but Bret buys some time with a hard clothesline. Both men are down, but Bret makes the tag first. Neidhart delivers a huge shoulder block but then accidentally knocks Hart off the ropes. The Rougeaus run-in and attack the Rockers, and the official decision is a no-contest, as both the Hart Foundation were outside the ring at the time as well. The Harts come back in to help the Rockers and both teams chase off the Rougeaus. That was a barnstorming affair, with both teams having periods of control. Probably not as good as it could be at their collective best, but still very entertaining. That makes it two consecutive impressive real-time performances from the Harts following their match with The Brainbusters the night before. You have to admire their excellent work-rate. It is just a shame that there was no clean win in any of their profile matches and that on the tape so far, only one match has had a pinfall victory.
Final Rating: ***¼
We get a feature on the WWF’s “big wheels” presented by Hayes, which looks at the lorries used by the WWF production crew. What a waste of time. It Is literally just footage of big trucks with the WWF logo on them, driving along a few roads. That could have been pretty interesting if they had done a “day in the life” type feature. What we got instead was some traffic.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Mr. Perfect
It is January 1990 and we are in MSG. These two had a house show run around this time, and did a few matches on TV. Six days later, they would be the last two in the Royal Rumble as well, with Hogan eliminating Perfect to win it. Perfect was actually earmarked to win that match, but Hogan’s legendary ego got in the way and he demanded that he won it. He was already WWF champion as well, so it was completely pointless and killed Perfect’s main event push. Hogan powers Perfect into the corner from a lock-up, and Perfect instantly leaves the ring to regroup. Back inside and a hiptoss and two big slams from Hogan send Perfect reeling again. Hogan follows and gives The Genius a slam on the outside as well. Yes, as usual Hogan is behaving like a complete tool. Genius and Perfect both stomp away on Hogan in the ring, which incredibly doesn’t result in a DQ. Perfect then gets tied up in the ropes in a hangman, and Hogan takes the opportunity to go after Genius again with atomic drops, then throws him shoulder-first into the post. I mean, this is ridiculous now. Hogan is nothing more than a bully. He has absolutely dominated this match, even though the odds are against him. Perfect’s bumps are as impressive as ever though. Hillbilly Jim says something a little close to the bone when he comments that: “Perfect is going to develop a drug problem after this match, as in he has been drug all over the ring”. Yeah, the word is “dragged” you hillbilly moron. The pace remains very quick, until Hogan puts his head down and Perfect connects with a big kick to the head and then a clothesline to the back of the head. Perfect takes over but he is still dazed. Outside the ring, Hogan stops selling completely to throw Perfect twice into the post, where he takes two wild bumps. God, he was good. Perfect goes to the eyes to try and regain his momentum, then locks on a sleeper hold. Hogan tries to fight out, but Perfect grounds him and removes his height advantage. For the first time, the match slows. Hogan tries to escape by pulling the hair. It’s unreal what a cheat he was. Perfect’s push came along at the wrong time really. It fell in between Hogan’s feuds with Zeus and the WrestleMania match with the Ultimate Warrior, so he never got to work Hogan on PPV. If he had, it probably would have been one of Hogan’s best outings on that medium. It is a shame he never reached that main event level on a major card. Perfect wastes time on the top and gets crotched, then Hogan in a unique spot, climbs up top and grabs Perfect’s hair, lifting him up and dropping him crotch first over the buckles a few times. Every Mr. Perfect match I see has something unique and interesting that you just don’t see anyone else do, in any era. I have never seen that one before. He further highlights how wild a bumper he was by taking an atomic drop and doing a star jump in mid air before he bumps it. Hogan kicks Perfect’s legs away from him and Perfect lands on his head a few times, but Hogan misses an elbow drop. Perfect is struggling, but still manages to get the Perfectplex. Hogan kicks out, Hulks Up, and hits the big boot, but it sends Perfect out of the ring. They brawl outside and Perfect tries to hit Hogan with a chair, but he moves and Perfect hits the post. As Hogan is trying to get back in the ring, Perfect clocks him with brass knuckles, but Hogan beats the count. Against anyone but Hogan that would be a count out win. Perfect tries to clock Hogan with the knucks again, but he stops him. He puts them on himself and hits Perfect with them, then hits the legdrop, but he gets disqualified. Wow, nice to see Hogan not win for a change! Like Ventura has said in the past, there was no need for Hogan to lower himself to that level by cheating. But hey, it’s Hogan and that is what he does. Perfect’s bumping was a masterclass as ever, and that was one of the better Hogan matches out there.
Final Rating: ***¼
The Ultimate Warrior & Jake Roberts vs. Akeem & Ted DiBiase
This is from March 1990 in Sacramento, California. The Big Bossman is the special guest referee for this, and he has had his issues with Akeem and DiBiase. He would go onto face his former Twin Towers tag partner Akeem at WrestleMania the next month. Roberts and DiBiase met on that show as well. There are some strange combinations in this, but there is certainly star power in there. DiBiase was one of the few guys who could carry Warrior to good matches, so this might be ok. Roberts and DiBiase waste no time going at it, and DiBiase targets Roberts previously injured neck. Jake unloads with a series of punches and goes for the DDT, but DiBiase bails. Back inside and Roberts outwrestles DiBiase with ease, and again goes for the DDT, with DiBiase once more realising the danger and escaping. These opening exchanges have been really smooth, though Akeem and Warrior are just coming in for the first time now. Warrior knocks Akeem down with a flying shoulder block. A big clothesline knocks the big man down again and Jake tags back in. He goes for the DDT, but Akeem powers out of it with a back body drop. Akeem sends him hard into the corners, jarring his neck. Akeem and Bossman get into a shoving match because Akeem won’t let Roberts get up when he is in the ropes. There is definitely an extra element to this match with Bossman as the referee. It has been all action and highly entertaining thus far, with an electric atmosphere. DiBiase with a piledriver to Roberts, and he and Akeem cut the ring in half like an established tag team. Akeem stands on Roberts’ throat and DiBiase comes in with elbows to the neck. A jawbreaker buys Jake some time, and a reverse atomic drops leads to a clothesline. Roberts with the short arm clothesline and he signals for the DDT, but gets backed into the corner. The lack of Warrior has been smart. It has kept this really well paced, and the crowd is rabid when he makes the hot tag. Warrior cleans house, taking out DiBiase with a clothesline and then slamming Akeem effortlessly. Big splash to DiBiase gets the win for his team. Post match the faces beat up Virgil, and Jake covers him with his snake Damian. Super hot match and a lot of fun. It was the perfect length and didn’t pause for breath once. Much better than I expected.
Final Rating: ***
Summary: A slow builder, but once it got going it was very entertaining. The non-finishes in the majority of the matches put a dampener on things, and some of the stuff was only average, but there was nothing horrendously bad. The last three matches were really good, and that is a rarity on a Coliseum comp tape. The workrate of guys like Perfect, Hart, The Rockers, Jake and DiBiase made this very rewarding viewing. Recommended!