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[1988-10-24-WWF-MSG, NY] The Rockers vs Demolition


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Some years back, I saw Demolition on a Chikara King of Trios tape. They were old, fat, and frankly ridiculous in their ring gear. And they put the Chikara guys to shame. While the indy guys were trying to get their flippy spots in, Demolition put on a clinic about how to pace a match and build drama so the crowd got involved.


I see a lot of that here, too. They control a great deal of the match, dictating the pace and allowing some breathing room between spots so that heat can develop. When Shawn and Marty come in for their high-flying antics, it's a lot of fun. (If sloppy - I swear Marty didn't hit a target once, apart from the final pinfall. His punches, dropkicks, and even a flying shoulder tackle all seemed to miss by a mile.) The Rockers' antics are crowd-pleasing, for sure. I like the bit where they do a revolving arm twist. Twist-Twist Tag! Twist Twist Tag! But even that spot gets ruined by their need to do it again on the other guy. (I always forget which Demo is which.)They're like the Chikara guys in that match I saw: They're just biding time until they get to throw their cool moovez.


At this point in their career, the Rockers seem best when in the ring with controlled, thoughtful opponents like Demolition or the Brainbusters. A few years later, they'll be ready to produce sprintfest classics with The Orient Express. But in 1988, they're not there yet.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1988-10-24-WWF-MSG, NY] The Rockers vs Demolition
  • 2 months later...

WWF Tag Champs Demolition vs The Rockers MSG 10/88

"Stay in one place" - Smash barking at Marty Jannetty and that encapsulates the beginning of the match. I had very fond memories of watching this five years ago and this remains the best Demolition match ever and one of the best WWF Tag Team matches of the era. I know I gave a crazy monster rating to one of the Jumping Bomb Angels vs Glamour Girls matches which I need to rewatch, but I think this is the WWF Match of the Year for 1988. 

This is the compressed version of the RnRs vs the Russians (well without the babyface title change) as this is one of the better speed vs power tag matches, but it is not just that. Demolition being outquicked is only one part of their match formula. The other is that the babyface always have to double up their moves. I love Smash barking "Stay in one place!" to Marty. It might be the most Darsow has ever added to any of his tag matches. I do like the wrinkle of Demolition matches where it does seem like from the outset that all the babyface teams will overwhelmed immediately only for face teams to find an initial way around it. In this case, it was the rapid arm work as they trapped Smash in their corner. They really made sure to move as quickly as possible. The crowd was really going bonkers for this and this was just a month before Demolition's babyface turn, which really shows how fast the Rockers got over. Marty does a quick FIP, but the real fireworks start when Shawn crashes and burns to the floor when Ax holds down the top rope.

Demolition demonstrates a real singular purpose in attacking Shawn's lower back with the Boston Crab, sledges and bearhugs. This is the part of the match, which was psychologically sound, but it was Shawn that took it to the next level with great selling. What is so great about the Rockers is that their is not a huge gulf in talent between the partners. Shawn's FIP is as good as Marty's hot tag. Now we see that Rockers are not only keeping Demos outbalance with quick work, but lots of doubling up of their moves: double dropkicks, double slams, double clothesline. Rockers look like they are going to get the pin, but Ax breaks it up. Ref detains Michaels and Smash carries Marty over to be punched in the face by Ax for the pin.

This has all the usual Demolition motifs: babyfaces initially overwhelmed, they use their speed & double team moves; heel transition spot; Demos beatdown; go home. This is definitely the best Demolition match because the Rockers are best suited for this role. The Rockers had the high-octane offense and the selling chops to really bring the best out of the Demolition formula. The arm-wringer beginning was amazing. I thought the transition to Shawn heat segment was awesome and a really great bump from Shawn. The finish sequence had me pumped. I was right with MSG thinking that the Rocket Launcher from the top by Marty was going to bring home the gold for the Rockers. Amazing match that really should be seen to appreciate a really good power vs speed match. ****1/4

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 months later...

The start of the match is great. The Rockers using their speed and chemistry to overwhelm Smash, constantly locking him in arm wringers and controlling the match. All that and it only could be stopped with a thumb in the eye. Classic move. The match keeps a nice brisk pace, even when Demolition go one offence. The heat section was good but not great although the transition to it with Ax pulling down the ropes to make Michaels fall over was great. The hot tag was pretty wild at least. ***3/4

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  • 2 years later...

MSG loved the Rockers.  Commentary did a good job at the start putting over how important this match was for the Rockers.  They looked great to start, the arm wringer spot on Smash, then Ax, was pretty cool.  Demolition got control and slowed things down.  Good comeback, Marty gets pinned after Ax hits a clothesline on him from the outside while being held by Smash.  Clean win for the heels, even with Fuji at ringside.

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  • 1 year later...

This was part of a bunch of finishes where Fuji did not get to interfere, helping to set up the Survivor Series double turn by showing Ax and Smash doing their own thing (presumably what Fuji considered disobedient/insubordinant) 

Earlier that month of 8th at Bercy Stadium, Paris, at the same show as Rockin Robin's title win over Sherri, Fuji was not present at ringside (was actually not on the tour!) for the Demos beating the British Bulldogs without his help -  Canal+/RTL's footage would be screened on the 8th November Prime Time Wrestling with Gorilla and Bobby noting Fuji's absence and wondering where he was (they pretending to be themselves in France on the tour.) In Rome, Italy on 16th, still with no Fuji, Demolition again beat the Bulldogs cleanly (although they had lost a non title match a few nights earlier in Milan.)-camera copies of both of these are on YT. 

After this Rockers bout on 24th, Demolition go back to being pure cheaters using Jimmy Hart's megaphone and interference from the Rougeaus to beat the Hart Foundation in a Summerslam '88 rematch, but starting the night afterwards on the 26th is the first of a couple of experimental goes with Demolition as babyfaces for the night.  With no Fuji present (although erroneously announced as in attendence by ring announcer Mike McGuirk) they cleanly defend against the Bolsheviks that night in Salisbury, Maryland with the crowd enthusiastically behind them - the highlight being the former Kruscher Kruschev abusing the Bolsheviks as being "You Stinkin' Commies" (oh the irony).  The footage eventually got televised in May '89 with commentary to imply that this was months after Fuji was gone and was included on a Demolition VHS compilation

On 6th, two days before the Paris match was televised, the Demos are again babyfaces for the night, up against their eventual conquerors the Brain Busters at the Ottawa Civic centre, going to a DDQ.  Earlier that day, Fuji was reportedly "barred" (kayfabe) from the Maple Leaf Gardens so the Demos beat the Bulldogs when Smash pinned Dynamite after Ax hit a double axe handle from the middle turnbuckle.

In the meantime it's business as usual with  several more Bulldogs and Rockers matches in late October/early November, presumably with Fuji present and in on the finish. However November 15th a live Brother Love show was held where Love told Ax and Smash that they needed Fuji's help to win, so they ordered Fuji back to the dressing room and beat jobbers Nick Ferrari and Art Penna - although the real intention was to have some Fuji-less footage ready for the December 17th edition of Superstars, Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Dave Rosenbaum picked up on this as the start of Demolition/Fuji dissention, claiming that Fuji was "mad at Demolition for this snub" and "ripe for an offer." (from the Powers, whom Ronsebaum seemed to imply had put BL up to starting trouble between Fuji and the Demos.)

After this on the night of the Suvivor Series and mere minutes before the Demos turn babyface, Smash cleanly pins Dynamite Kid to eliminate the Bulldogs in their final WWF match.  A few minutes later, Warlord has pranged his shoulder on the corner post and the Demos have the clear advantage.  Whereupon Fuji gets up on the ring apron wavng his cane, gets ordered down by the ref, climbs up again - and the rest is history!

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