The Name on the Marquee: WWF Prime Time Wrestling (1.4.1988)

-Originally aired January 4, 1988.

-Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan. Gorilla is all over Bobby for ducking out of the show early last week to avoid interrogation about Matilda’s disappearance. Gorilla runs down the line-up for this week’s show, and Heenan thinks Ken Patera must be on the show this week because Gorilla used the word “line-up.”

-From MSG. Duggan’s already ditched his entrance music. Unintentional bit as Bobby Heenan goes on a whole run of anti-Duggan jokes in the studio, and then we go to the actual match with MSG commentary, and Heenan says word-for-word the same jokes.

-Right hand by Duggan. Sika just shakes it off, so Duggan goes for an arm wringer and takes him down to the mat. I have a weird feeling this is going to be a total style clash where Duggan doesn’t give Sika much offense. Sika punches out of the arm wringer, Duggan just yells “Hoooo!” and reapplies it. Duggan is the guy in improv class who ignores the “yes, and” command and just declares his own character President of the United States in the middle of the sketch. Slugfest emerges. Sika gives him a thumb to the eye and rams him into the turnbuckles. Duggan gives more right hands and reapplies the arm wringer, taking Sika off the mat with an arm wringer.

-Sika rakes the eyes again and tears at Duggan’s face. Duggan throws elbows at him and gets himself bleeped before elbowing Sika through the ropes and onto the apron. Duggan punches away. Sika rakes the eyes AGAIN and applies a chinlock. Shot to the throat by Sika, and he stays on the throat, choking Duggan over the midle rope. Hacksaw stands right up to show he’s not hurt and gives Sika a right hand. They collide on a double shoulderblock. Both men get up and Duggan cradles Sika for two. Sika goes for a backdrop, but Duggan turns it into a sunset flip for two. Duggan chops Sika and hurts himself on a headbutt.

-Sika tries to capitalize on that with a clothesline…but Duggan ducks it and connects with his own clothesline, and the three-point stance ends it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but years ago, I watched a Cowboy Bill Watts shoot where he talked about Duggan, and I remember this because of the term Watts used–he pushed Duggan because Duggan was over, but personally, it drove Watts crazy the way Duggan “guzzled” his opponents, meaning Duggan just would NOT let his opponents control the match or dominate him for a meaningful length of time. And honest to God, I think of Bill Watts now every time I watch a Jim Duggan match. He’s right.

HILLBILLY JIM vs DINO BRAVO (with Frenchy Martin)
-From the Spectrum, joined in progress.

-Jim shoves Dino down on the lock-up. Dino gets aggressive right away with right hands and boots. Elbows and chops by Dino, but Jim counters a corner charge with a boot to the head. Dino runs to Frenchy’s loving arms for a break. Back in, they have a test of crowd patience and also strength, with Hillbilly overpowering Bravo. They throw punches in the corner, but Dino lifts Jim for an inverted atomic drop and starts going to work on the back. Elbow by Dino gets two. Chinlock by Dino, but Jim elbows out. Dino cuts off the comeback with a thumb to the eye and puts the boots to Jim. Frenchy takes a free right hand. Side slam by Dino, but he goes for the elbow and pays for it, crashing to the mat. Jim starts to capitalize but gets distracted by Frenchy, and Dino sneaks up with a knee to the back for three. Not much to this one.

-Matilda is still missing after one week. We get words from Bobby Heenan and the Islanders, who insist that they don’t know where Matilda is and she appeared to be rabid, so they ran away as soon as they put her down in the dressing room. We get words from the British Bulldogs, who are trying not to cry as they beg Bobby Heenan to tell them where their dog is. Next, a fired-up Jack Tunney warns the Islanders that they have one week to return Matilda to the Bulldogs or severe action will be taken.

-From MSG. Raymond starts with #1. Raymond rolls him up right away for two. They criss-cross and #1 backdrops Raymond, who turns it into a sunset flip for another two. Raymond clears the ring right away. Conquistadors try to switch without tagging, but the referee actually catches them and demands a tag before he’ll allow the match to continues. We live in a society of rules, dammit.

-Side headlock by #2 on Jacques, but Jacques leapfrogs and monkeyflips him, and the ring is cleared again. #2 ties Jacques into the ropes and #1 tags in with a bodypress. Raymond just BLINDSIDES him with a dropkick (and the camera shot of this is great, as Raymond appears from literally nowhere and dropkicks #2 out of the ring). Jacques is still tied in the ropes so #1 dashes in and goes for his own bodypress, but Jacques unties himself and ducks down, so #2 goes FLYING over the top and lands on top of his partner. Holy shit that was amazing.

-Rougeaus double-team #1 and go to work on his leg. Rougeaus switch without tagging just to stick it to the Conquistadors and continue attacking the leg with toeholds. #1 gouges the eyes and then sells the injured leg beautifully as he tags out. #2 comes in but the Rougeaus just pick up where they left off and work his leg with the toeholds. #2 gets to his feet and Jacques applies the standing front facelock. #1 comes off the top with an axehandle and now he’s in trouble. Conquistadors keep him in their corner, and a suplex gets two. Conquistadors take turns coming off the top with axehandles.

Gorilla: Jacques has that “I don’t know where I am” look on his face right now.
Bobby: He’s from Canada.

-Raymond jaws with the referee while the Conquistadors gang up on his brother. Nerve hold by #2. Jacques fights it and the Conquistadors double-team again. Second rope splash by #1 misses. Back suplex by Jacques, and everybody tags. Raymond beats on both Conquistadors and all four men end up in the ring. Conquistadors are Irish whipped into each other. #1 ends up on the floor, and Raymond flips Jacques from the top rope onto #2 to finish. Fun match, all action, no resting, and a few fun surprises throughout. Bonus: NO FALSE TAG SPOT!

-We’re off to Paris for this one. Velvet monkeyflips Sherri and dropkicks her out to the floor right away. Velvet whips her back in the ring and slingshots her around the ring. Little detail I like: Velvet doesn’t aim for corners when she does the slingshot, she just lets Sherri go splat on the mat. Back in, Velvet dropkicks Sherri again, and the running gag for the match is that Sherri complains because absolutely all of Velvet’s offense is targeting her chest. The sound for this match is crazy because the crowd is whistling, and Sherri really plays up hating the whistles, so the crowd just whistles non-stop for the bulk of the match.

-Sherri finally gets a forearm to Velvet’s chest, but Velvet fires back with a shot that knocks Sherri across the ring and slams her for two. Sherri starts with the dirty tactics and takes control, choking Velvet out and raking the eyes. Velvet gets fed up and mounts Sherri like she’s going for the camel clutch, but instead she gets two big handfuls of Sherri’s hair and rams her face full force into the mat repeatedly, and even Gorilla and Bobby are like “DAMN!” watching that.

-Velvet ties Sherri in legscissors and uses them to lift Sherri and drop her on her ass repeatedly. Sherri stands up in the legscissors and yanks Velvet’s hair to lift her off the mat, then just drops her down. Tree of woe, and Sherri just jerks on Velvet’s hair and lets go to whip her head back and forth in that position. Sherri plants her on the top rope for something, but Velvet comes off with a sunset flip for two. Velvet connects with shoulderblocks, but she charges and Sherri and Sherri just lifts her and drops her on her face. Sherri blows a spot in the corner and the crowd is all over her for it. Sherri sends her to the other corner and there’s a funny moment as Sherri pauses and is clearly trying to decide if she should go for the spot again, and Gorilla, on commentary, reads her mind and just says, “Too late.” So Sherri does something different.

-Velvet ducks a clothesline and goes for a sunset flip, but Sherri blocks it. Velvet throws some nice kicks at Sherri. Giant swing by Velvet, and a splash off the ropes gets two. Cradle by Velvet gets another two. Bodypress off the second by Velvet misses. She goes for another one just running the ropes and connects, but Sherri rolls through and gets the three-count to retain the title. FANTASTIC match from start to finish. I still want to know who Velvet pissed off that they didn’t even want to give her a token run with the belt. She had the moves, and the crowd was always into her.

-Gene Okerlund hypes the Rumble Royal–this is a really quirky couple of weeks as the WWF could not decide what name they wanted to give the event and just promoted it under both for a while–and Outlaw Ron Bass helps him explain the rules. He says he’ll win the Rumble Royal “because I’m just plain bad.”

-Case in point, they have a segment hyping it next, and the graphic says “Royal Rumble”! Gorilla runs down the Royal Rumble undercard. Dino Bravo just happens to be attempting a bench press record the week before the Road Warriors and Paul Jones’ boys try to do the same thing. Gorilla mentions that a face-to-face interview between Hulk and Andre will be taking place, and Bobby slyly implies there’s going to be more to it than that.

-Joined in progress with SD slingshotting Iron Mike into the ring. Iron Mike demands the test of strength and gives SD the expected boot to the gut. He rams SD into the turnbuckle and SD gets good and fired up, causing Iron Mike to duck out and let him cool off. Back in, Iron Mike chops SD, but SD comes back with an atomic drop. Iron Mike does a glorious oversell of a boot to the gut, rolling out of the ring, onto the floor, into a clair, and toppling backward into a barricade. Back in, SD knocks him into the ropes and Iron Mike tangles himself and SD pounds away. SD untangles him and goes for a backdrop, but Iron Mike just levels him with a shot from the evil forearm brace. Iron Mike goes for a piledriver, but SD counters with the backdrop that he wanted in the first place. Oh, the irony! SD charges at him and Iron Mike takes one more strike with the forearm brace, and it dazes SD enough to give Iron Mike a three-count.

BAM-BAM BIGELOW (with Oliver Humperdink) vs KING KONG BUNDY (with Bobby Heenan)
-From Superstars of Wrestling. Somebody gave Bam-Bam some terrible advice so he’s clean-shaven here. Shoving and shoulderblocks go to a stalemate. Bam-Bam tries one more shoulderblock and gets Bundy off his feet. Bundy gets so pissed off that he goes for the avalanche immediately and misses, giving Bam-Bam a quick two-count. Armbar by Bam-Bam, but Bundy sends him into the ropes and meets him with a hard clothesline. Another clothesline sends Bam-Bam over the top and Humperdink stops Bobby Heenan from interfering, so he’s finally making himself useful.

-Back in, another big clothesline by Bundy. Splash off the ropes misses, Bam-Bam hits a splash of his own, and the referee makes an incredibly fast count to give Bigelow the win. And Bundy takes off to start his new career as a computer spokesman for a while. This was as good as a three-minute match between two big guys could ever be. Nothing wrong with it.

-Back in the studio, Bobby Heenan does a quick Bruno impression and Gorilla cracks up. The show ends with the two of them griping about USA endlessly moving the show’s time slot around. Next week, they’re on Tuesday, “and probably Thursday afternoon the week after that.”

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