The Name on the Marquee: WWF Prime Time Wrestling (1.12.1988)

-Originally aired January 12, 1988.

-Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan. Bobby’s neckbrace is off, this time for good.

PAUL ROMA (with Jim Powers) vs BRET “Hit Man” HART
-From Hamilton, Ontario. Bret sneaks up on Roma and attacks to start off. Clothesline sends him over the top and the Spectrum is on Bret’s side tonight. Roma slingshots back in and connects with a dropkick, and now Bret goes out for a break. Back in, Roma attacks the arm. Bret sends him into the ropes, but Roma bodypresses him for two and goes back to the arm. Bret seems keenly aware of the boom mic nearby and puts on one hell of a performance for it. “Ahhhh, he’s pulling my arm RIGHT OUT OF THE SOCKET! And he’s pulling my hair! Jesus! Arrrgh! My arm!” Roma demands, “Ask him, ref! I’ll tear it off!” I love it, this is what a wrestling match SHOULD sound like.

-Bret knocks the wind out of Roma and headbutts him. Elbow gets two. Bret snapmares him into a chinlock. Roma elbows out and tries for a sunset flip, but Hart gives him a shot right between the eyes and chokes him out. Roma gets dumped on the floor and Bret won’t let him back in. Roma finally gets his way back in and Bret drops the leg, but he can only get two (“Come on, what was THAT! You hardly even counted it!”) Dropkick by Bret gets two as Gorilla and Nick Bockwinkel agree that Bret’s his own worst enemy here and he keeps doing really lazy-looking covers. Roma reverses a suplex. Hit Man bounces up and goes to the second rope, but he meets a fist to the gut on the way down. Dropkick by Roma. Atomic drop and a clothesline follow for two.

-Roma slams Bret into position and drops a fist from the second rope for another two. Roll-up gets another two. Roma hits the ropes and charges at Bret and Bret catches him for a backbreaker. Second rope elbow gets three, clean as a sheet. Seesaw match back-and-forth as Vince would say, and a good solid use of ten-plus minutes.

-Still in Hamilton. Warrior enters to Jimmy Hart’s “Crank It Up” and it actually fits pretty well. Lombardi, “a graduate of the Terry Garvin School of Self-Defense who patterns himself after Pat Patterson,” gets shoved into the corner and takes a really nice bump just from that. Lombardi hits the ropes but runs right into an elbow, and he goes out to the floor to rethink his life choices. Back in, Lombardi runs into another clothesline and offers Warrior a friendly handshake to stop him in his tracks. Warrior squeezes his hand and hurts him with the handshake, and an atomic drop sends Lombardi shoulder-first into the post. Warrior goes for a bearhug while Gorilla surprises me by mentioning that Bockwinkel hasn’t retired yet. Did they actually have something in mind for him?

-Lombardi breaks the bearhug by raking the eyes. Warrior tries a corner charge, but Lombardi dodges it and Warrior crashes. Lombardi chokes him out. He goes for a pin but Warrior just presses him through the ropes and out to the floor. Lombardi springs up and goes to the top rope, connecting wuth a double axehandle. Boot to the gut and a chinlock by Lombardi. Warrior elbows out of the chinlock, but misses an attempted elbow drop and Lombardi gets two. Lombardi tries another chinlock. Warrior escapes and tries a clothesline, but Warrior no-sells it and clotheslines him down. Powerslam by Warrior gets two because Warrior decides he’s not done yet. Gorilla press, and Warrior pins him with one foot. Ultimate Warrior vs. Steve Lombardi actually ended up being a competitive match where Warrior made his opponent look good and they had a logical, believable battle for a while before Warrior made his comeback. Amazing.

-We go to the closing minutes of Hogan vs. Bundy on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hogan gets three, and Andre sneaks in and strangles Hogan until an army of guys plus Jim Duggan’s 2×4 breaks his grip.

-In the studio, Bobby is gleeful that Hogan’s been injured exactly the same way that Hogan injured him.

-Craig DeGeorge is at the interview platform with Ted DiBiase. Hulk Hogan was a fool for rejecting the most generous offer that The Million Dollar Man has ever made. But The Million Dollar Man ALWAYS gets what he wants, and he promised that one way or another he would buy the WWF Heavyweight Title. So he brings out Bobby Heenan and Andre the Giant. Bobby says that he’s financially set for life now as a result of a deal that he just closed. Andre the Giant pledges to DiBiase that he will defeat Hulk Hogan for the “World World Wrestling Federation” and deliver the belt personally to Ted DiBiase after the win.

-Gorilla Monsoon calls out Bobby Heenan for his hypocrisy. He’s walked around for four years promising he would manage the WWF Champion someday, and now he actually has that opportunity and he’s immediately going to surrender the belt to some other guy? Heenan explains, “The price is right.”

-Joined in progress from Hamilton. Iron Mike chokes out Koko and chops him with the forearm brace for two. Koko dodges a clothesline and bodypresses Sharpe for two. Iron Mike tries the piledriver but Koko backdrops out. Koko knocks Sharpe into the ropes and he gets tangled. Diving headbutt into Iron Mike’s stomach. He untangles Sharpe from the ropes and London bridges him to the middle of the ring for two. Sharpe clobbers him with the forearm brace a few times, but a corner charge misses. Forearms and headbutts by Koko. Missile dropkick and the ghostbuster to finish this one. Nothing special about it, but nothing wrong with it either, and hey, I’m an Iron Mark.

-Gorilla wonders why Bobby just expects Andre to be named #1 contender when he hasn’t even wrestled a singles match since Wrestlemania III. Quite simply, Bobby expects Hulk to be stupid enough to agree to it.

-Matilda is still missing. Jack Tunney promised last week that more severe action would be taken if this wasn’t taken care of. Therefore, Jack Tunney is suspending the Islanders indefinitely. They can begin wrestling again as soon as Matilda’s whereabouts are known.

-Joined in progress, still in Hamilton. Poffo punches his way out of a bearhug, but Spivey cuts off the comeback with a clothesline. Spivey throws Poffo out to the floor. Back in, Poffo is fired up. Right hands and a slam take Spivey down, but a moonsault only gets one. Spivey dodges a dropkick, and a neckbreaker gets three. Just a squash.

-Gene Okerlund hypes the January 24 special, which we’re calling the Rumble Royal this week. Ricky Steamboat promises that he’s going to show all of the critics that the Dragon’s fire is still burning.

-Afterward, Gorilla and Bobby talk about the January 24 special, which they call the Royal Rumble. This inconsistency about the name is like some hilarious stupid thing you’d remember from the downfall of the AWA or some other crumbling promotion.

-And for a change in scenery, we go to Paris. Lord Littlebrook actually gets pyro for his entrance. Cowboy Lang comes to the ring to “Crank It Up.”

-Lang ducks a punch and Littlebrook trips over the rope and lands on the apron. He trips again on the way back. Lang applies a standing wristlock. Littlebrook takes Lang off his feet nd boots him, then struts to celebrate. Paris is again whistling at the heel instead of booing. Littlebrook chops Lang and Monsoon & Heenan are totally ignoring the match and entertaining each other with shtick. Littlebrook sneaks up on Lang and attacks from behind, and Heenan finally pays attention to the match long enough to say that midgets apparently have NO peripheral vision at all because there’s no way Lang didn’t see him.

-Back in the studio, Gorilla can only muster “interesting match” for this one so far. Bobby makes a phone call and asks if the midgets are done yet. Gorilla tells him no, so Bobby stays on the phone.

-Back to the match, Lang stomps on Littlebrook’s hand. Littlebrook fights back by biting the fingers. Lang bites him on the ass, which Heenan says is a commentary on the quality of the food in Paris. And the referee gets bitten on the ass too. Vertical splash by Lang gets two, and they do the spot where the referee keeps accidentally throwing one midget onto the other for two-counts. Legscissors by Lang and he rolls over with it to turn it into a pinning combination for three. This match did nothing for me, but it’s almost worth watching to hear the crowd reactions. Paris enjoyed the shit out of this match.

BILLY JACK HAYNES & BRADY BOONE (with Ken Patera) vs DEMOLITION (with Mr. Fuji)
-From Houston. This match is interesting and weird all at once. Patera has an arm injury so he’s sitting this one out. So subbing for him is Haynes’ kayfabe cousin, Brady Boone, who looks similar to Haynes and wears similar ring gear. In other words, before the bell even sounds, this match just instantly underscores the way that Haynes got paired up with the wrong guy for a tag team.

-All four men braw in the ring to start and Haynes presses Boone onto Smash for a two-count. Boone works the arm. Haynes tags in and hiptosses Smash. Boone tags back in and the faces stay on the arm. Ax tags in and Haynes works his arm too. Smash comes back in and takes over, pounding Haynes down and sending him out to the floor. Mr. Fuji tees off on Haynes and Boone with the cane while the referee is distracted. Back in, Ax works the neck with a vice as Boone tries to get an “Oregon” chant going. Yeah, no.

-Haynes reverses a suplex and everybody tags. Boone tries to clean house like it’s a hot tag, but instead Ax just cuts him off immediately with a clothesline and tags out. Demolition tags turns axing and smashing his back, then sends him out to the concrete. Back in Demolition tags behind his back and prevents a near-fall. Smash vices the neck. Boone escapes and makes the tag, and THAT’s your hot tag, as Haynes fights off both opponents. Running powerslam on Smash nearly finishes but Ax breaks the pin and we have all four men in the ring. Haynes is weirdly selfish here, as he won’t let Boone get any heat on his own and attacks whoever Boone is trying to beat up. Next is a weird spot where Boone flops off the top rope onto Smash for a two-count but somehow also hurts himself, and a stungun by Smash on Boone gets the three count. Holy shit that fell apart in the final two minutes.

-Gorilla and Bobby continue griping about the shitty time slot jumping, signing off from this Tuesday night edition and inviting us to tun in on Monday.

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