Through the Years: WWF Matches & Angles from Survivor Series ’88 to Royal Rumble ’89


After Survivor Series, it’s time for the WWF to get their shit into gear and get things moving. The product is in need of some changes and a new look. It will be nice to see new talent getting pushed. Ron Garvin made his debut, but I have no footage of that. Garvin isn’t exactly new talent, but there are new matchups ahead for him. I have a nice run of stuff to watch, including a new title challenger for the Macho Man!


– Taped to air November 26th, 1988, on Superstars, from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland


The Brother Love Show with Jack Tunney


This aired right after Survivor Series, which is where Bad News Brown cut a promo demanding a title shot. Brother Love is the worst, but this is the only place heels were able to go off and say what they had to say. Tunney coming out for the show made it a given that Bad News would show up. Anyway, Brother Love gets angry and Bad News shows up. He brings up the WrestleMania IV battle royal, which was an interesting bit of continuity. When is Cesaro going to bring up his battle royal win from WrestleMania 30? Bad News claims that Elizabeth is doing favors for Jack Tunney, and Bad News grabs a hold of the WWF President. I’m slightly confused as to how that equated to Bad News getting title shots, but uh…there we go. I may have something later to explain why!


King Haku (w/Bobby Heenan, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil) vs. Hercules

Pre-Match Thoughts: The SNME banners don’t really belong as part of this match. It can’t even be argued that they intended to tape this match for SNME, as Haku wrestled in the SNME portion of the corresponding taping. DiBiase is there to get his slave back, duh.

Match Review: Hercules rushes the ring with his chain, and swings it around to get everyone out of it. Haku attacks from behind, and we’re underway. Hercules comes back with a back elbow, and drops an elbow too. DiBiase says some stuff about Hercules being his slave on an insert promo, as Haku gives Hercules an inverted atomic drop. DiBiase slaps Hercules around, with it not being spotted by the official. Haku follows with a bodyslam, but misses his own elbow drop. Hercules gives him a powerslam, and a clothesline too. DiBiase trips Hercules while he runs the ropes, and Hercules knocks down Virgil and DiBiase with punches. Herc gives Haku an atomic drop, and grabs his chain to nail Haku with, getting disqualified at 2:32. Hercules chases everyone except Haku to the back and…now I’m confused.

My Thoughts: I don’t understand why Hercules would hit Haku with a weapon and get cheered for it, but WWF crowds make no sense like that. Was a surprising match for a Superstars affair as a lot of offensive moves were dished out. *3/4. The Hercules/DiBiase feud is getting more and more prominent on their programming.


– November 26th, 1988, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York


Big Boss Man (w/Slick) vs. Hulk Hogan

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is what I’ve been waiting for. Been wanting to see this series get going and it’s finally time. Video quality on the match from this date is poor, but I couldn’t care less. The building was sold out, just so everyone knows. This match drew money. Boss Man gets pelted with trash during Hogan’s entrance, that is a good sign.

Match Review: Hogan throws Slick out of the squared circle, and gives Boss Man an atomic drop to knock him out of the ring. To say the crowd went crazy is no exaggeration. Hogan follows Boss Man to the floor, and Slick jumps on his back. Hogan carries Slick into the ring, but Slick gets out of there, allowing Boss Man to attack from behind with clubbing blows. Boss Man misses a charge to the corner and Hogan tries to slam him, only for Boss Man to fall on top for 2. Boss Man follows with a leapfrog body guillotine, and taunts the crowd. The fans absolutely hate this guy. Boss Man gives Hogan a bodyslam, and misses a big splash. Hogan knocks Slick off the apron, and gives Boss Man a few running elbows. A clothesline can’t knock Boss Man down, and Slick decides to trip Hogan. Hogan confronts Slick, and Boss Man attacks from behind again! Boss Man gives Hogan a SPINEBUSTER, and Hogan kicks out at 2. Hogan is selling so hard for this guy, he must have liked him. Boss Man puts Hogan in a bear hug that lasts for a very long time, and finally Hogan lands some punches to get out of it. Boss Man plants Hogan with the BOSS MAN SLAM, but doesn’t cover. He puts Hogan in place for a big splash from the top, but it misses! Hogan is ready to HULK UP, he hits Boss Man with his punches, and follows with a big boot. Hogan gives Boss Man a bodyslam, and drops a few elbows too. Hogan gives Boss Man a clothesline in the corner, and Boss Man has handcuffs! He hits Hogan with something, and cuffs Hogan to the rope…or not! Hogan wound up cuffing Boss Man, and clotheslining him over the top rope. The referee counts Boss Man out at 10:57, but Hogan’s not done. He turns his attention to Slick, and brings him into the ring. Hogan has Boss Man’s nightstick, but Boss Man runs in before Hogan can hit Slick with it. Sadly, that’s it…but they did leave me wanting more.

My Thoughts: This didn’t tear the house down or anything, but it was a lot of fun. The crowd was really into it, and there’s more ground to cover as far as this feud goes. They sold MSG out, which didn’t happen often by this point. Gotta milk that for all its worth. **1/2 for the match, I’m sure they can do even better.


– Taped to air December 3rd, 1988, on Superstars, from the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California


The Brother Love Show with Randy Savage


I suppose this is the response to Bad News Brown being on the Brother Love Show the week before. You don’t have to watch these videos, and frankly I wouldn’t if I thought I didn’t need to. Brother Love asks which favors that Elizabeth is doing for Jack Tunney, and Macho grabs a hold of him. Macho also says that Bad News Brown can have a title shot, and that he’s going to finish him after those insults about Elizabeth.


– December 3rd, 1988, from Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts


The Powers of Pain (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: There wasn’t much TV before this that would explain the double turn, so the fans reaction will have to tell the tale. I don’t really know what to expect as far as that goes. Now that I’m watching the match, the Powers of Pain got a very mixed reaction. Demolition got the same, but much more favorable. People always wanted to cheer them, so that’s no surprise.

Match Review: The Powers attack immediately, and get thrown out of the ring. Before Demolition can attack Fuji, the Powers hop back into the ring. Ax and Barbarian are the legal men, and Ax gives him a clothesline. Smash tags in and they pound on Barbarian, with him being given a back elbow afterward. Fuji gives the PoP some advice, and Barbarian gets beaten up yet again. He lands a chop, a big boot, and gets the hell out of there. Warlord bumps off a chop, and that’s about all he can do. Ax tags in, and Demolition gives Warlord a double clothesline. Ax bodyslams him, and drops an elbow too. After another, Ax puts a chinlock on Warlord. Barbarian rushes in to break it, and with the referee distracted, Fuji hits Ax in the throat with his cane. Barbarian tags in and gives Ax a shoulder-breaker, then applies a nerve hold. NERVE HOLDS ARE THE BEST. Warlord tags in, misses a charge, and Ax gets out. Smash gives Barbarian a bodyslam, and clotheslines him over the top. Smash continues to beat up Warlord, but Fuji climbs into the ring. Ax grabs the cane, and the bell rings for a double DQ at 5:40.

My Thoughts: This was the exact same match they did at MSG. That exposes the business, but that’s hardly my biggest problem with this match and feud. Warlord was terrible, could do nothing except bump. Barbarian is the good part of the team, but Warlord is a major problem. There is no heat on this feud at all and Warlord is incapable of anything. The other thing is that this feud was just a bad idea. The Powers of Pain gave Demolition way too much offense and were made to look bad. I have absolutely no further interest in this feud and will not be going out of my way to watch it. 1/2* for Barbarian’s bumps, forget the rest.


– Taped to air December 10th, 1988, on Superstars, from the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California


The Brain Busters (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Rockers


I became one year old on this date! The WWF was trying to build to a house show series, and they really came up with something good here. At Survivor Series, the Rockers and Brain Busters brawled to the back. Fans thought the WWF was just going to give this match away on free afternoon TV? I don’t think so. Michaels gets tripped, Marty flies over the top rope onto Arn Anderson, and this shit is on. No bell, no match. They brawl, and I can safely say I would have paid to watch them wrestle at a house show if I had the opportunity. It was a very real looking fight.


– December 17th, 1988, from the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


The Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: I never watched a match of decent length between these two guys. This one fits the bill. The question here is whether or not Warrior has improved. The result of the match is not even in question, nobody could possibly think Honky would pick up a victory. There are TONS of empty seats.

Match Review: Warrior rushes the ring at full speed, and decides to pick Jimmy Hart up to carry him to the back! Now he attacks HTM, and puts him in a bear hug. After dropping him, he launches HTM into a turnbuckle. Warrior follows with a back elbow, and has his big splash attempt blocked. Hart comes back to ringside, and he hammers Warrior with his megaphone. That’s what Warrior gets. HTM cracks Warrior from behind with his guitar, never was spotted by the official. Warrior misses a charge to the corner, and HTM uses Warrior’s tassels against him by trying to tie him to the ropes. That failed, so Hart hits Warrior again with the megaphone. HTM chokes Warrior with a tassel, and the referee never saw any of this. Warrior breaks free, hits HTM with a running clothesline, and follows with a flying shoulderblock. Warrior has a tassel, and he chokes HTM with it. Hart has powder, and Warrior throws it into his face! Warrior press slams Hart onto HTM, and covers HTM for the win at 6:50.

My Thoughts: This match was the definition of wrestlers getting cheap heat, and the crowd ate it up completely. The powder finish was funny if nothing else, the rest of the match was the worst officiated match in history. * for entertainment value, there was nothing here that could be described as wrestling.


King Haku vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) for the WWF Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: Bobby Heenan is on commentary, so he cannot accompany Haku to the ring…even though he’s sitting right there. I don’t understand that at all. On his day, Haku was capable of having really interesting matches, and he’s facing a great opponent. Would love for this to be a good match.

Match Review: Macho has a problem with Heenan’s presence, but that won’t prevent the match from taking place. Haku hits him with a chop to the throat, and gives him an inverted atomic drop too. After some chops to the throat, Haku follows with a back elbow for 2. He gives Savage a backbreaker, and some moron in the crowd calls Haku a “spear chucker.” WHAT THE FUCK? Wish he went in the crowd and tore the nose off that guy. Haku misses a dropkick, and gets thrown over the top by Savage. He throws Haku into the wooden steps at ringside, but Haku comes back in and hits Savage with strikes. He puts a chinlock on the champion, but Savage gets out of it. He hits Haku with a back elbow for 2, and gets kicked on a backdrop attempt. Haku uses a nerve hold, but Savage gets up and ties Haku in the ropes. Haku comes back with a clothesline, and misses a big splash from the top. Savage heads up top, completely botches the flying elbow, and pins Haku for the victory at 9:22. That was hilarious.

My Thoughts: This match stunk. Maybe somebody was nursing an injury, or mad about the small crowd, because nothing was good about this. Given that the finish was botched I can’t think of one good thing about it. It was so boring, DUD.


– Taped to air December 24th, 1988, from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida


Bad News Brown vs. Bob Emery

Bad News attacks this poor sap immediately, and nails him with the GHETTO BLASTER after a few seconds for the victory. After throwing him to the outside, Bad News grabs the house microphone. He calls Randy Savage out, and Randy Savage is no punk bitch. He runs to the ring, attacks Bad News, and here we go. They brawl, and many wrestlers come out from the back to break it up. I am shocked that they actually put juice on one of Savage’s house show programs.


– December 30th, 1988, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York


Bad News Brown vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) for the WWF Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: Fortunately, WWE put this match on their YouTube account. I’m pleased with that as I really wanted to see it. They’ve built this feud up well, now it’s time to see the business end of the equation. The Bushwhackers made their MSG debut on this show, but watching that is not an option. I simply don’t want to. Ron Garvin also made his MSG debut, facing Greg Valentine. They also took Superstar Graham off commentary, replacing him with Hillbilly Jim.

Match Review: Savage sneak attacks Bad News, and hits him with an elbow too. He hits him with his title belt, and throws Bad News over the top. Savage follows him, gets him back in there, and gives him a double axehandle from the top rope. Bad News comes back with a clothesline, and returns the favor from earlier by throwing Savage over the top. He threatens to hit Elizabeth, and when Savage crawls back in, Brown rams him into the buckle. He drops Savage throat-first on the top rope, and continues to stomp away for a few minutes. Savage tries to come back with a running elbow, only to get kicked down. Bad News places Savage on the top rope, and headbutts him. He throws Savage to the floor, and into the crowd too! That never happens on these cards. Bad News chases down Elizabeth, fortunately the referee gets in the way. Savage throws Bad News into the post, and inside the ring hits him with a high knee from behind. Bad News blocks a backdrop and goes for the GHETTO BLASTER, but he completely whiffs. Savage backdrops Bad News over the top, and Savage decides to follow him out there with a Tope! I don’t recall ever seeing Macho do that. Bad News tries to give him a piledriver on the floor, but Savage reverses that into a backdrop. Savage heads up top, and comes down with the big double axehandle to the floor! The action really picked up over the last two minutes. Savage suplexes Bad News back into the ring, it gets 2. Savage tries another double axehandle from the top, and Bad News hits him in the gut. He gives Savage a Russian leg sweep for 2, and heads up top himself. Savage slams him down, and heads up top for the FLYING ELBOW, which misses. Damn, I bought that being the finish and was in the middle of writing it out. Bad News tries to give Savage a bodyslam, but Savage rolls through with a small package for the 3 count at 9:54!

The match is over, but you’d be silly to think this whole thing was done. Savage attacks Brown from behind to knock him out of the ring, and Brown leaves ringside. He waits until Savage turns his back, runs out with a garbage can, and beats Savage over the head with it. The referee stops the second try, Bad News gets knocked out of the ring…this feud is certainly not over.

My Thoughts: I loved the way this match finished up. Started off slow, similar to the Haku match, but it was able to get going towards the end. These two had good chemistry and worked pretty hard. This pairing couldn’t have headlined a PPV or anything like that, but it was a decent combination. ***, I liked the clean finish as well. Rare to see the first match in a feud end that way.


– Taped to air on January 7th, 1989, on Superstars, from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida


Greg Valentine & the Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation

Pre-Match Thoughts: They’re advertising a six man tag for the Royal Rumble, with the Rougeaus and Dino Bravo facing the Hart Foundation and Jim Duggan. So, with the Hart Foundation facing Valentine and HTM…that’s all of Jimmy Hart’s wrestlers they will face in such a short period of time. While Valentine and HTM become Rhythm and Blues in the future, they currently were not. The Hart Foundation has music now!

Match Review: Neidhart and Valentine will start the match off by trading bombs, which Neidhart gets the better of. The Anvil and the Hammer. That’s pretty funny. Bret tags in, gives Valentine an atomic drop, and HTM tags in. Bret gives him a bodyslam, and apparently this idea was Jimmy Hart’s master plan. Alright then. Bret cradles HTM for 2, and follows with a backbreaker. Up to the second rope, and Bret gets distracted by Jimmy Hart. Valentine clotheslines Bret from behind, switches in, and hits HTM on accident with a running elbow. The Anvil makes the somewhat hot tag, and gives Valentine a backdrop. Also has a bodyslam for both his opponents, and a noggin-knocker after that. Valentine and HTM get tossed into each other, and HTM gets set up for the HART ATTACK. Valentine breaks it up, and HTM tumbles with Bret to the floor. Valentine clotheslines Neidhart and adjusts his shin guard, then places the figure-four on Neidhart. That’s cheating! Bret comes back into the ring to break up the hold, and drops the elbow a few times. Jimmy drops his megaphone in the ring, and HTM clobbers Bret from behind with his guitar at 4:38. That looked like it HURT. For whatever reason, the referee rules this match a double disqualification.

My Thoughts: This was pretty good stuff for WWF syndicated TV. These teams worked hard, they had an interesting finish that made Honky look really tough, and the match put a lot of sympathy on Bret. That seems to have been the point. ** for this one.


Sadly, that’s it. I do have a news note though! Haku was found guilty of biting the nose off of a fan in Baltimore. How he didn’t wind up in jail for that is beyond me. I tried to get as much as possible out of this, but they weren’t exactly putting on great cards at this time. Fortunately, that’s about to change. The Royal Rumble is coming up, and the WWF was booking some awesome ideas for house shows. Brain Busters vs. the Rockers is particularly intriguing. Next up, I have SNME #19, which just so happens to feature another match between the Ultimate Warrior and Honky Tonk Man. Sadly, the match between Randy Savage and the Big Boss Man did not make the show. I’m pretty bummed about that. After that is Royal Rumble 1989!

Best: Randy Savage vs. Bad News Brown stuff. All of it, really.

Worst: Demolition vs. Powers of Pain booking. This is a complete failure to me.


Written by Sage Cortez

Sage is a boisterous Los Angeles sports fan. Unsurprisingly, like many other loudmouth LA fans, he also likes the Raiders and a range of combat sports.

Leave a Reply