Back to the WWF it is, and there were a lot of developments in these three months. The most important was probably the release of No Holds Barred. Everyone knows the movie sucked and it didn’t make any money. The question was the effect that Hogan being in the movie would have on the WWF’s business. Time will tell on that one, and I’ll report my findings at the end of this article. There will also be some debuts, some big and some small. Another thing that happened, was that Jake Roberts had a series of neck operations and did not come back until later in the year. His arrest for assault charges wound up in him being convicted after punching somebody who was in his car.
– June 3rd, 1989, from Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) vs. DUSTY RHODES
Pre-Match Thoughts: So, Dusty Rhodes joined the WWF out of nowhere, and this was one of his first televised appearances. Of course, he joined the company with a ton of heat. Such is life for a former booker. He buried so many guys and had so many bad and good ideas that nothing else could be the case. Also, as we know due to the vignettes, the WWF pretty much punished Dusty for his past successes immediately. I’m not surprised they signed him though, any chance to make a buck is one Vince will always take. With Jake Roberts out, they needed a babyface and got one. Dusty really needed to lose weight to get in shape based on what I saw here, too.
Match Review: Dusty rushes the ring, stumbles on the way in, and I’m interested to see how the rest of this goes. He rejects DiBiase’s offer of money by punching him, and we’re underway. Dusty takes the money and gives it to the fans, what a guy. DiBiase runs into some elbows, takes a double shot to the face from Dusty, and that clears the rings. He brings DiBiase back in the hard way, and picks him up for an atomic drop that sends the Million Dollar Man back to the floor. He uses a noggin knocker on Virgil and DiBiase, all this stuff is getting a loud reaction even though it’s as cheesy as could be. DiBiase finally lands some punches, but Dusty hits him with a back elbow. Virgil trips Dusty, which allows DiBiase to attack from behind with a double axehandle. DiBiase then lands his own back elbow, only to be rammed into the buckle a short time later. Dusty hits DiBiase with big elbows, and follows them with a dropkick. DiBiase kicks Dusty in the gut, then hits him with another double axehandle from the second rope. After a fist drop, he covers for 2. DiBiase puts a chinlock on Dusty, and keeps it on for an unsurprisingly long time. He eventually lets go and knees him, then heads up to the second rope again. Dusty hits him on the way down, and goes to the corner for punches in bunches. He gives DiBiase a bodyslam, then Virgil tries to trip Dusty again. He grabs a hold of Virgil, evades a DiBiase charge, and rolls DiBiase up for 3 at 8:30.
My Thoughts: A bit strange that Dusty would win that match, but he did a decent job of working hard. Dusty celebrating with the fans after the match was a nice moment too, good performances all around. The actual match was more like 5 minutes, though. *3/4. Dusty in the WWF wasn’t too great. This was the last televised card from Boston, so that’s one source of videos dried all up.
– Taped to air June 4th, 1989, on Wrestling Challenge, from LaCrosse Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Honky Tonk Man confronts THE SUPERFLY
To start this one off, Gene Okerlund decided to crap on Honky’s singing abilities. Jimmy Snuka then came to the podium for an interview, and was immediately interrupted. HTM then rattles off a lot of racist type stuff, and Superfly leaps off the podium with a cross body. That was funny. A few weeks later, we had…
HTM attacks Snuka from behind with his guitar, and I guess we have a house show program now.
– June 6th, 1989, from Dane County Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin
Rick Rude (WWF Intercontinental Champion) & Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. King Duggan & the Ultimate Warrior
Pre-Match Thoughts: I don’t quite have a reason to subject myself to this. My assumption is that Big John Studd was supposed to be in this match instead of Duggan. The problem with that is, Studd walked out of the company. His WrestleMania check was poor, the pay he was getting was poor because he and Andre didn’t do good business, and the WWF probably didn’t think he was that important to begin with. Hacksaw taking his place could make for a better match, but who really knows. This video appears to be awfully long.
Match Review: Hacksaw and Rude will start the match after much deliberation and stalling, they tangle up in the ropes of course. Hacksaw gets the better of the fighting, so Andre rushes in to hold Hacksaw in place. Rude accidentally clotheslines Andre into the ropes, which ties him up, then Warrior rushes in. Duggan and Warrior use Rude’s body as a battering ram into Andre, that was a weird spot. Warrior tags in legally, and rams Rude into the buckle a bunch of times. Warrior picks him up with a choke, then drops him and tags back out. Rude misses a charge at Duggan, but Andre grabs a hold of the King and headbutts him. Rude rams Hacksaw into Andre’s knee and tags out, Andre really looks bad too, it must be said. After some knees by the Giant, he wraps his hands around Hacksaw’s neck for a choke. He squashes Hacksaw in the corner, and tags out as Rude covers for 1. Rude puts Hacksaw in a chinlock, but Hacksaw reaches the ropes, forcing Rude to break it. Hacksaw rams Rude into the buckle, then they collide with each other. Andre makes a tag in, and puts a bear hug on Hacksaw. He lets go and sits on Hacksaw, and even does a hip swivel. Some of the stuff Andre’s doing here is really funny, his mannerisms are on point. Hacksaw breaks free and rams Andre into a turnbuckle that has no cover pad, then finally Duggan makes his exit. Warrior comes in with a bear hug of his own that he puts on Andre, but he gets out of it with a headbutt. Rude makes a tag in, during which Andre tries choking Warrior relentlessly. Once he leaves the ring, Rude is immediately given an inverted atomic drop. Andre gets back in the ring without tagging, as Duggan hits Rude from behind with the 2×4. Andre goes down after being clapped in the ears, and Warrior lands a big splash on Rude for the pin at 12:47.
My Thoughts: This was space filler, I couldn’t think of much else to watch or I wouldn’t have watched it. That being said, I thought Andre performed pretty well given his physical condition and did his best to entertain. 1/2*, I suppose. Not a good wrestling match at all, but the fans popped big for the finish despite the lack of action.
– June 10th, 1989, from Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York
The Powers of Pain (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The Hart Foundation
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is once again against my better judgment, but you’d have to think the Foundation can get a better match out of these guys than almost any other team. Right?
Match Review: Neidhart and Barbarian will begin the match, they lock up and the Anvil puts the big guy in a headlock. Barbarian and Neidhart then collide in the center of the ring, then Neidhart follows with a clothesline. Bret tags in, causes Barbarian to miss a charge to the corner, and dropkicks him. Bret then lands an elbow from the second rope, and in comes the Warlord. The Anvil heads in too, and Neidhart shoulderblocks Warlord while Bret sets up shop behind him to make sure the Warlord goes down. Then, Bret throws Neidhart shoulder-first into the Warlord, only to be given a big backbreaker. Barbarian tags in, drills Bret with a big boot, and uses a drop toe-hold as well. Warlord tags in for an elbow drop, and I’ve just realized that was a crappy version of the Midnight Express double team move. I applaud the effort though. Warlord clobbers Bret until he falls out of the ring, then launches him hard into the corner after Barbarian puts Bret back in there. Barbarian then tags in, and puts Bret in a bear hug. Neidhart rushes in to break it, but ultimately that does nothing, and the Powers switch places. Warlord puts Bret in a bear hug and drives him back to the corner, then Bret falls on top with a Thesz press for 2. Didn’t expect that! Barbarian tags in before Bret can mount much of a comeback, and he blocks a cradle. Bret’s still able to tag out, and Neidhart hits Barbarian with a hard clothesline for 2. He follows with a powerslam, that also gets 2. Warlord rushes in, gets thrown into his partner, and given a dropkick. Neidhart bodyslams Barbarian, then Bret flies in with a slingshot splash for 2. All four guys are in there now, as Warlord and Neidhart tumble to the outside. Barbarian follows, misses a clothesline and hits the post, then Bret flies out with a plancha onto Warlord. What a move! Barbarian holds Bret in place and gets accidentally hit with Fuji’s cane! Bret slides back into the ring, and the Powers of Pain get counted out at 13:34.
My Thoughts: This was surprisingly a good match, possibly the best I’ve seen the Powers of Pain have. This was well paced to make sure neither of them blew up, and it had a good count out finish. That doesn’t happen too often, either. Definitely worth tracking this match down, I’ll give it **3/4. I love watching the Hart Foundation, they can drag a good match out of nearly anyone. The slingshot splash does look a little dangerous for Bret to be doing, but he hasn’t injured himself too bad yet.
– Taped to air June 24th, 1989, on Superstars, from Dane County Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin
Barry Windham debuts!
This Widowmaker thing doesn’t make much sense to me. Also, Windham had an issue with the front office when he quit in 1985, so there was no reason to assume that grudge wouldn’t continue. As we know, it did and he did absolutely nothing in the WWF in 1989 or really ever. In this match, he used the superplex as his finisher. I approve!
NO HOLDS BARRED MUSIC VIDEO
This is absolutely absurd. I appreciate their calling attention to failure, as everyone knew by this point that the movie was a total flop.
– July 1989…
THE AMERICAN DREAM
Damn, that’s a disgusting log in that toilet. I don’t think that would get shown on TV these days. I cannot believe Dusty’s willingness to get this gimmick over. NO MORE DRAINO, IF YOU WEEL. This vignette actually got one sponsor to bail on the WWF and many of their other sponsors threatened to do so as well.
HAHA, Dusty Rhodes working at a butcher shop. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This vignette wasn’t as good as the last one. Dusty would have made a good Travel Channel host, without question.
DUSTY PUMPING GAS. This was at the standard of the first one, I thought. These are unbelievable. He even spit shined the windshield!
I was going to show a thing that explained how Big Boss Man and Dusty Rhodes had a house show program going. It would have shown us exactly how Dusty got Boss Man’s nightstick and handcuffs. Boss Man’s promo about it was hilarious.
In my opinion, they’ve completely built Dusty Rhodes back up as an interesting character. Putting him on the Brother Love show may change that opinion. While Dusty’s essentially playing a minstrel character now, he’s doing a really good job of it.
– July 10th, 1989, from Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York
The Twin Towers vs. Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: The uncomfortable nature of the title of this match aside, I’m looking forward to this match. It’s the only title match I have to watch here. The Nassau Coliseum venue has replaced MSG for the time being as there was some construction going on there. In addition to that, Slick isn’t with the Towers because the managers didn’t go on the road anymore unless it was deemed necessary for the act. Sucks for them.
Match Review: Demolition gets in the ring, clears it, and I suppose that’s one way to start the match. Akeem got beaten down big time. Ax clotheslines him for 1, and Demolition exchanges tags for a while with nothing of value going on. Boss Man tags in, and Ax beats him down too. After ramming him into the boot of Smash, Smash tags in and these guys keep double teaming Boss Man. Akeem tags back in, uses some shoulder charges in the corner, and Akeem chokes Ax as well. Out he goes, and Ax goes out as well. Smash hits Boss Man with a clothesline, and Demolition tries to pick up Boss Man for a suplex, only for Akeem to break it up. Boss Man kicks Smash in the face, and tags in his partner for some sitting in the corner. Ouch. Boss Man tags in for a back elbow on Smash, and throws him out to the floor as well. Very strangely worked match so far, not a lot going on. Akeem pushes Smash back into the ring, for Boss Man to choke Smash with a chain. Dirty fighter. Boss Man puts Smash in a chinlock that bores me nearly to the point of sleep, then tags out so Akeem can cut Smash off from tagging. Boss Man tags in and gives Smash a SPINEBUSTER, then Smash comes back with a small package for a 2 count. Boss Man misses a leapfrog body guillotine, and Smash makes the tag out only for the official to not see it. Like we needed more of this. Akeem drops an elbow and Boss Man covers Smash for 2, keeping this boring heat segment going. Smash hits Boss Man with a clothesline, and finally Ax tags in. He slams Akeem, which makes Hulk Hogan look pretty silly, doesn’t it? Boss Man has the nightstick, accidentally hits Akeem with it, and Ax covers Akeem for the win at 11:06.
My Thoughts: This match was terrible, really. I was getting increasingly more bored during the heat segment and considered scrapping my entire review of the match so as not to keep watching. This match was the exact kind of thing I don’t like in wrestling at all. Both teams didn’t try hard and just went through the motions. DUD.
– August 8th, 1989, from the Coliseum in Oakland, California
THE WIDOWMAKER vs. The Red Rooster
Pre-Match Thoughts: This may not have been what Windham had in mind when he joined the company. He has gained some weight, no doubt about that. In theory, this could be a great match. Both guys are very good workers, among the best in the company. Hopefully they work hard.
Match Review: These two lock up, and Windham throws Rooster across the ring with an arm drag. Windham tries to intimidate Rooster with a staredown, then chops away at him. Rooster has some chops of his own, then hits Windham with a dropkick. Windham picks Rooster up for a back suplex, then misses a knee drop. Windham takes a break, and when he gets back in there, Rooster hits him with some punches in the corner and a clothesline. Windham pulls Rooster out to the floor, rams him into the rail, and finally Windham has some control of the situation. Rooster gets back in and is given an inverted atomic drop, then Windham smacks him with a big right hand. Windham finally lands a knee drop on his opponent, and follows with a powerslam. Rooster misses a charge to the corner that came out of nowhere, and Windham suplexes him for 2. Rooster comes back with a clothesline, and takes Windham down with a single arm DDT. Windham sends Rooster out to the floor, then whips him into the post, only for Rooster to block it. Windham then stops Rooster from getting back into the ring, and Rooster gets counted out at 8:19. Rooster then backdrops Windham, clearing the ring.
My Thoughts: This was a nothing match, although it was a good effort on both their parts. Personally, I would feel jaded if I was either of these guys. I’m not, and they worked hard. Good for them. **. Windham was so capable of doing better in the WWF, but he never got pushed. He really should have been. Also on this taping, Windham had a squash match that had to be redone. Sad.
– Taped to air August 12th, 1989, on Superstars, from the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts
The Brother Love Show with Sensational Sherri, Randy Savage & Zeus
This is one of the big sell-job segments for SummerSlam. There was also a bunch of that at SNME #22, which I will be reviewing after this. Sherri was there to introduce Randy Savage, who she called the next champion. Well, this SummerSlam match isn’t a title match, so I don’t quite know what that’s about. Savage does a good job with his promo, and introduces ZEUS! Zeus looks so physically impressive that you could buy this whole thing. The eyes sell the PPV.
– August 21st, 1989 on Prime Time Wrestling
Roddy Piper and Rick Rude
I haven’t mentioned it, but Bobby Heenan was removed from Prime Time Wrestling and replaced by Roddy Piper. Doing this led to a big ratings boost. I’ve never enjoyed the Piper/Monsoon duo, so frankly, I don’t think it was a good thing. Anyway, Heenan got a 30 minute show that was dropped with the quickness. They then did a studio show where Heenan and Rick Rude had their own studio, and Roddy Piper and Gorilla Monsoon had their own studio.
Rude went crazy cutting a promo on Piper, then Piper had a response of his own. This was a great promo war, one of the best they had done in the WWF in a really long time. Piper tells Rude that he should go away and save his life. Oh boy. Piper and Rude then leave their studio positions, and I think we’re about to get something great out of this. Piper goes over to Rude’s studio, and Rude goes to Piper’s. Funny how they wound up in the opposite studios. Piper then begs Rude to stay where he is, and says he’ll be there shortly. Piper shows up about 20 seconds later, and gets in Rude’s face. Rude pours water in Piper’s face, and sadly that’s the end of it. DAMN, SON. Can’t wait to see these two wrestle each other.
– Taped to air August 26th, 1989, on Superstars, from the Coliseum in Oakland, California
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR & ANDRE THE GIANT
So, these two guys had a house show thing going on, that the WWF wanted to continue. There was a ton of controversy about the finishes of these house show matches, as the matches only lasted a few seconds and fans felt like they got cheated out of their money. Who could blame them, right? Apparently in this video, it was being played off as Andre protecting a Heenan Family member in Rick Rude. Andre the Giant lumbers out from backstage to attack Warrior from behind, and chokes him out in a sequence that lasted longer than any of their matches. The promos by Heenan and Warrior were great. Anyone could tell Andre was nearing the end of his career, this was just a way for him to put the next guy over on the way out.
Those months weren’t packed with matches, but they had a lot of angles and build towards SummerSlam and beyond. MSG being out of commission did hurt the product in that way, as the quality of performances wasn’t as high. One very unfortunate thing that happened, was that Andre the Giant got arrested for pushing a camera man in Iowa. The guy pressed charges and I’ll dig into that more as we continue through the year 1989. The stuff between Piper and Rude was probably the best thing going on here. The main SummerSlam build hasn’t been reviewed by me, as it happened at SNME #22. That article’s next, and I’ll see you guys then!
Best: Roddy Piper and Rick Rude going to war. Without question.
Worst: Demolition vs. Twin Towers. Or the stuff with guys like Hercules that I’ve deemed too bad to review.