From the WWE Network: The WWF’s Hottest Matches!

Strike Force collides! Plus Dusty Rhodes and Jake the Snake take on their most hated rivals of 1990!

Tito Santana vs. “The Model” Rick Martel

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan call the action. Santana is wearing the Strike Force tights – perhaps as a method to remind himself of Martel’s betrayal. The men trade a fairly even back and forth opening sequence, establishing their familiarity as well as their desire to show up the other one. Santana wins round one by delivering a better dropkick than Martel, sending the Model into retreat.

Heenan makes racist jokes that would not fly today about Hispanics running from border guards. Santana focuses his attack on Martel’s legs and knees, stretching his ligaments before wrenching his knee. He then wraps it around the ring post. Santana tries to lock on the figure-four, but Martel rakes his face.

“Chickens are ambidextrous!” – Bobby Heenan being hilarious. I’ll make you watch this to get the context… Martel gets some heat on Santana before Santana catches him on the top rope and drops him on his jewels. Tito fires into his former partner and blasts him with the flying forearm. Martel falls to the floor from the impact. Santana and the ref argue over Santana trying to get at the Model, allowing Martel to grab his “Arrogance” spray. He blinds Santana and steals the pin. This was above average, rock solid wrestling for the period,  aided by the Brain and Gorilla being as good as ever on the call.

Tag Team Championship retrospective: We see the final minutes of Strike Force vs. Demolition from Wrestlemania 4. Santana makes a hot tag to Martel, who shows great fire as he dropkicks both men. The casino crowd is dead silent, souring the moment some. Martel locks Smash in the Boston crab, while Ax is blasted with the flying forearm from Santana, which gets zero reaction from the fans. Fuji gets on the ring apron, and is whacked by Santana. Ax grabs Fuji’s cane and knocks Martel out to steal the titles (and earn a big pop!)

Lord Al Hayes buries the Brain Busters (they were gone from the company) as he mentions their brief reign. He then notes that Demolition crushed them in a rematch before losing the gold to Andre the Giant and Haku. We see a few seconds of this as Andre drops his mass on Ax and wins the gold. We see a brief clip of Demolition winning the titles back to a HUGE ovation at Wrestlemania 6 and I mark out like a mother#*#**%! We skip ahead to Summerslam 90 and witness the Road Warriors disrupting Demolition’s assiduous plot to use 3 men in the match to stay fresh against the Hart Foundation. With Demolition’s plan foiled, the Foundation prove good can and will triumph over evil as they capture the straps for a second time. I’m ravaged by tingles watching my childhood flash before me!

The Rockers vs. The Orient Express

Sean Mooney and Lord Al are on the call here. The Rockers are jumped by the heels, but they quickly turn the tide on Sato and Tanaka. I recently read that Tanaka was actually all but signed by WCW in late 1989, before the WWF snagged him away – probably just to be dicks. Tanaka would have been part of the J-Tex angle I assume. Shawn and Marty take turns outclassing the heels during the opening minutes. The heels switch off illegally and put Jannetty into a position of peril.

The Express use a wide array of nerve pinches and headlocks to keep Marty in trouble. Fuji and his cane get a few licks in too. They play the standard game of teasing the hot tag, showing Michaels to be within inches of making the tag which would bring a fresh fight to the heels.

Shawn finally makes the tag and starts to blast both heels with dropkicks, clotheslines, fists and superkicks. The match quickly breaks down to a four-way fight, which spills to the floor. The Rockers slip in and earn a count-out victory. This was shockingly dull, as the Express controlled the most of the bout and weren’t interested in trying too hard on this day.

I question why the faces won via count-out. If anything it should have been a double-count out or the heels sneaking in to beat the count. That would more naturally set up a rematch.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

Mooney and Hayes are again calling the action here. This is early in his WWF run, as Rhodes is not in polka dots. Rhodes’ physical charisma shields the fact that his abilities had been eroded from age and weight gain. Valentine sells Dusty’s elbow shots hugely, putting over Rhodes’ big move to the fullest. Rhodes’ machinations before throwing simple strikes really helps make Rhodes’ basic moveset something worth watching.

Valentine gets a brief advantage with a standing headlock, giving Rhodes a chance to breathe. Rhodes makes a comeback as Hayes points out that Rhodes is playing to the fans in lieu of hitting moves. (MOVEZ?)

Rhodes is downed, but manages to avoid the figure-four. Rhodes sells for Valentine, but then the Hammer takes the ref’s attention. Jimmy Hart tries to scale the ropes to attack the Dream, but Ronnie Garvin (then a WWF ref due to Valentine retiring him) yanks him down. Rhodes scores a roll-up that is sloppy in execution and half-ass in practice, and yet he secures the win. Dusty is drenched in sweat and gasping for air as he celebrates with Garvin. All I can think about is this would have been taped around a year after Garvin turned on Rhodes, which was never resolved in a JCP ring. If your a Dusty fan, you’ll enjoy this – if not, it’ll just be kind of sad to you.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Akeem

Lord Al and Mooney ruminate over this event. Akeem misses an early elbow drop, but slips out of a DDT attempt. Akeem screams and screams as Roberts locks on a simple arm bar. Mooney has the gall to suggest Akeem isn’t from Africa.

Slick distracts the Snake, allowing Akeem the chance to get the jump on him. Akeem hacks away at Roberts, slowly battering the life out of Roberts. Jake sells like a champ, really putting over his plight. Akeem misses a corner splash and a standard splash, opening Roberts up the chance to hit a short clothesline. Slick blocks the DDT attempt, so Roberts goes after him. Slick is tossed into Akeem in the ring, earning his charge a DQ loss. Roberts DDT’s Slick, but Akeem saves his manager from Damien. This was okayish, with both men selling really well for the other.

Roberts shows off his many snakes, threatening the Million Dollar Man with a rattlesnake, a viper and other nasty serpents. Dibiase was credited with breaking Roberts’ neck in storyline, so Roberts stole the million dollar belt as part of his revenge.

Jake ‘The Snake” Roberts vs. The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase

Mooney and Monsoon will call this one. Virgil and Dibiase double team Roberts, but he fights them both off and sends them fleeing. Once things settle down, Roberts dominates the early minutes. He attempts the DDT multiple times and makes Dibiase uneasy enough to take several walks to the floor to regroup. Roberts is full of unrest, as well as blinded by a desire for vengeance, so he attacks Dibiase and Virgil on the floor.

Roberts focuses too much on Virgil and gets jumped by the Million Dollar Man. Dibiase focuses his attack on the Snake’s recently surgically repaired neck for several minutes. The moves are not flashy, but Roberts sells each masterfully and makes the little things count. Roberts is probably lucky his genetics made him tall, because with his awesome selling ability his role could have easily have been as a top of the line jobber.

Roberts manages to deliver a neck breaker, but hurts himself in the process. Roberts starts to make a comeback, which includes dropping a series of knees to Dibiase’s neck in a moment of sweet revenge. Roberts hits the short clothesline, but the DDT is interrupted by Virgil for the DQ. Both heels work over the Snake. Roberts makes a comeback and downs Virgil. Dibiase is chased to the back, and the fans actually boo the fact that Damien was not used. Roberts returns to ringside and DDTs Virgil. Damien is tossed on top of him to thrill the fans. This was a solid encounter, focusing on psychology over flashy exchanges.

Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. Haku

OOOF. Both guys can be entertaining in their own way, but this screams “styles clash”. Mooney and Lord Al are in the commentary booth. Beefcake gets the crowd to chant “weasel!” at Heenan, so Haku jumps him. Beefcake quickly recovers and downs Haku with a pair of knees. Beefcake takes the fight to the floor and Haku actually begs off.

Beefcake has Haku rattled, so he pauses to strut and threaten Heenan with a hair cut. Haku jumps him for this. Good.

Haku hacks away at Beefcake then starts to work the rest holds of extreme discomfort. Beefcake tries to fight his way back into the match. The camera shows Heenan digging in his pockets for…something.

Beefcake hits 3 straight body slams. By gawd that man has a family! They then botch a backdrop of all things. Beefcake locks on the sleeper. Heenan runs in, but ends up trapped in a sleeper as well. Beefcake gets his shears and keeps Heenan and Haku at bay until they flee. Ugh. I think that covers this one well. UGH!

Queen Sherri hisses through a promo about the Macho King’s royal life.

Shawn Michaels vs. Ted Dibiase

Sean Mooney teases this is a “match of the year” candidate during his intro. Lord Al and Monsoon call the action. This is still “Rocker” Shawn Michaels. Dibiase scores a few hip tosses and arm drags, stopping to gloat in between each one. Michaels catches Dibiase with a rapid fire series of arm drags and hip tosses, showing he can hang with the more experienced foe. The announcers point out they are in San Antonio, which makes a lot of sense due to both men having pre-WWF history in the city.

Michaels controls things with the basics. Dibiase hits one move, gloats, and is caught with a drop kick. Dibiase’s confidence has been his undoing so far.

Dibiase catches Michaels rushing into the turnbuckle at him, which leads to Michaels selling big for Dibiase’s offense of clotheslines, elbows, and punches. Dibiase ups the intensity with suplexes and such, but Michaels shows heart and fights on.

A piledriver attempt by Dibiase is turned into a backdrop by Shawn. Both men collide with clotheslines. Dibiase gets up first, but misses a diving elbow, setting up Michaels’ comeback.

Michaels rattles Dibiase with several dropkicks, a neck breaker, and nearly wins it with a flying crossbody. Virgil interrupts the offensive, leading to Marty Jannetty to chasing him. Dibiase clotheslines Marty and tosses him over the top rope, giving a non combatant the biggest bump of the match so far. Jannetty and Virgil get involved again and a four-way brawl busts out. The Rockers clean house, but Dibiase cheap shots Jannetty to leave with his heat. Mike McGuirk announces a double count-out, which Monsoon buries since everyone was in the ring. She then announces it was actually a double-dq. I definitely got a NWA champ being outclassed by the local underdog vibe from this match, which is not a bad thing in the least.

ROID ALERT! Power and Glory give us work out tips. ZUBAZ! Things get homoerotic as they pull off each other clothes, groan and grunt over the other’s body, and then talk about going to bed as the camera flashes on their sweaty, glistening muscles. This went on for several minutes too long. Vince McMahon probably enjoyed it though.

Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage and Queen Sherri

Monsoon and Heenan call the action again (Hooray!) Brother Love joins the heels. Miss Elizabeth comes down with the faces. Dusty gets on the mic and threatens to kick Brother Love’s “ass”, leading to Love trying to get in the ring and throw down.

Sherri and Sapphire kick things off. Monsoon buries Sapphire as a “minus-3” compared to Liz. Yes Monsoon, the babyface, said that….

Sherri gets her dress yanked up, revealing skimpy undergarments. Monsoon wonders what kind of weird S+M Sherri is into. Sapphire tags in Dusty, who hovers over Sherri doggy style and sends her fleeing in a funny/creepy moment.

Savage launches down on Rhodes several times, gaining the quick advantage. Sherri and Love go crazy at ringside to keep the fans stirred up as Savage locks Dusty in a headlock for a while. Rhodes catches Savage coming down with another attack, but Brother Love makes sure the heels retain control.

Rhodes goes to the floor and harasses Love. Sherri jumps Dusty and holds him for Love, who cracks Sherri accidentally after Rhodes moves. Savage goes nuts on Love for hurting his woman. Good spot.

Rhodes traps Savage in a sleeper, but Love cracks him with the loaded purse. Both men are down. A wounded Savage tags in Sherri, who tries to pin Rhodes. Sapphire comes in and hits a sloppy airplane spin into “slam” of sorts.

Everybody fights at once. Savage accidentally crashes into Brother Love. Sherri attempts to use her purse on Sapphire, but Elizabeth sneaks in and grabs it. Sherri is whacked and pinned. The fans go bonkers. This was a terrible match in any form of an artistic sense, but it was entertaining and fabulously goofy pro wrasslin.

Final thoughts: If your a fan of their era, you’ll find some entertainment here. Otherwise, the workrate freaks have a few clashes worth analyzing as well.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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