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WWF MSG 2/23/87

Guest Bruiser Chong

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Guest Bruiser Chong

I've already requested that we get a folder dedicated to looking at shows as a whole. Looking at individual matches allows for more detail and discussion, but there are quite a few shows that can be better appreciated within the context of the other matches on the card.


Since I've made it a goal to get rolling on these stacks of discs I've gotten from GH, I'm going through some WWF arena shows. Out of the stack last night was this particular show; one that featured some of the company's strongest points and showcased why 1987 was such a positive year from a creative, financial and quality standpoint. I don't plan to go through each match in much detail, just sort of recalling my impressions from the viewing. I expect certain matches will call for more analysis as time progresses.


- Paul Roma vs. Salvatore Bellomo: This may have been the first time I'd ever seen a Bellomo match. I gathered he's just a JTTS at best. His ridiculous outfit reminded me of something that a kid would piece together if he were dressing up like a superhero. Or perhaps something Lanny Poffo wore wheneve he wrestled in later years as The Genius (full-body suit).


Roma's fresh into the promotion at this time and looked especially roided up. Not a good choice for an opener, since it featured two guys with little talent or ability to get the crowd into the match. Heenan and Monsoon are probably the most entertaining aspect of the match and that's because they spend most of it talking about Andre the Giant. Gorilla recalled visiting Andre's secret training facility not too long before this show and stated that Andre was in "the best shape of any point of his career." Uh huh.


Roma wound up taking this with a powerslam, which goes to show how basic moves could end a match back then. Not a good start to the show, since it was clear the fans cared nothing about either guy. They even booed Roma during ring introductions.


- Demolition vs. The Islanders: This was Demo's first MSG appearance and they still had the mystique going on about their characters. Gorilla even questioned if they wrestled with the masks on and suggested perhaps they didn't speak English since they didn't want to remove them at the ref's instructions. It seems inconsequential, but they got a lot of heat just for taking so long to get the masks off.


I haven't seen a slew of Islander matches, but they really seemed to be one of the more overlooked midcard tags around this time. Haku was still a motivated guy and Tama featured an agile moveset.


The match seems to be a vehicle for putting the Demos over, even though the Islanders get their share of offense in. It's ironic to hear Bobby Heenan bash them so much, considering he'd be managing them by year's end. Demolition took the match with their trademark finisher. I know the Islanders didn't do much as a heel combo, but they certainly seemed to be going to waste as faces. Seems like the fans didn't know how to respond to them.


- Koko B. Ware vs. Sika: I wasn't expecting much, but I've been trying to check out more Koko matches, since he's someone I really overlooked before just because he was always jobbing. Unfortunately, this isn't a match to keep. Short and not too much action. Koko winds up winning on rollup thanks to a real fast count, but it's not acknowledged.


Probably the most interesting thing about this one was that it was more than a month before Wrestlemania III (the show they're pushing hard here) and Koko's match with Butch Reed had already been inked. It may not seem like a big deal, but having even the most insignificant matches on the card well in place weeks before the show is one of those things I miss about wrestling now.


- Tito Santana vs. Butch Reed: My god, Reed was dull during his WWF run. My thoughts on Santana is that he could go with the best of them in his prime and even work some okay matches with average workers. But he had a lot of uninspired matches when it came to hooking up with lousy workers. Both guys wind up getting DQed here because of outside shennigans.


- Hart Foundation vs. Killer Bees: The Harts had been champs around two months by this point, but I still don't think they were taken all that seriously. Their credibility constantly seemed hindered by the chronic reminder that Danny Davis was the reason they had the belts to begin with.


Anyway, this was your standard tag team match. As many times as it's been done, it's nice to see the crowd as into it as they were. The Bees were never a great team, but they usually proved to be a nice complimentary duo to the dazzling tag division of the time. I should note that they're sporting knee-high socks with black and yellow Nikes here, which is an odd visual to say the least.


The bell rang out of nowhere and I assumed it was one of those dastardly 14-minute time limit draws, but as it turned out, the match was still going and the Harts pulled off a cheap win with Davis' help. Match was probably what you'd expect had you seen one of the seemingly weekly matches these two had during 1986 and 1987.


- After the tag match, there's a chunk of interviews, including one with newcomer Outback Jack. I'd say I can't believe Vince expected this to get over, but then I see that nearly 20 years later, he's still peddling stupid gimmick characters with limitations.


- Outback Jack vs. Barry O: The whole character may not have been that bad if ol' Jack could wrestle at all. Something ain't right when your finisher's a pair of knife edges from opposite directions, cute as the idea may sound.


- Jake the Snake vs. King Kong Bundy: Jake against big men was always awful. As an aside, Jake was prepping for his match at WM III with the Honky Tonk Man around this time. This takes place the week after the now infamous Snake Pit segment where Honky made Jake's skull part of the non-prop guitar. More focus seems to go on Damien popping his head up through a hole in the bag instead of the match, itself and that's probably not a terribly bad thing. Jake takes it via countout and I'm reminded that Jake's strengths were never in the ring and were it not for his incredible skill for speaking, he would probably not have hit that level of wrestling immortality.


- Honky Tonk Man vs. Pedro Morales: The Slickster joins us for commentary now and it makes me sad to think he probably did very little after this point. His charisma really translates to the headset and his banter with Gorilla Monsoon (or as Slick refers to him, "Monsawn.") They bicker about that the rest of the card, with Slick playing the perfect thorn in the side ("Don't get mad at me just cuz you so dumb you can't pronounce your own name."). Oh, the match. It sucks. I hate Morales and really never understood how he could've been as popular as he was in his prime. Honky wins it by less than honest means.


- Harley Race, Adrian Adonis, Randy Savage vs. Roddy Piper, JYD, Ricky Steamboat: The saving grace. If you've not seen this one, do so as soon as you can. I first discovered it on one of the Best of the WWF videos from Coliseum and it's been one of my favorites ever since. This is elimination rules and within this match, we've got three WM III matches.


Those who've seen this can attest to its greatness; it's a real diamond in the rough and one of the reasons why going through old shows like this is a good idea. Piper winds up as the sole survivor from his side, but the ride is intense. The crowd is completely into the match, there's all sorts of craziness going on, but not so much that it feels overbooked. Slick further shows that he could've easily dropped into the booth more often and not missed a beat. Guy's just hilarious at times and another reason to check this one out.


In whole, the card feels like your typical arena show. Lots of guys who you wouldn't see on the PPVs of the time getting a little bit of time in the sun. The six-man is the real reason to track this down, but the Bees/Harts is solid and anything that features Bobby and Gorilla is worth a peep.

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