Welcome everyone to my first review of 1988. As I mentioned in the last review, I will add the points system starting with this show, and the wrestler with the most points at the end of the year will win the SmarKdown award for WWF Wrestler Of 1988. Here’s how many points everything is worth:
- 1/2 point (0.5): a win via DQ or count-out; extra for pinfall/submission falls in stipulation matches (ie: iron man matches, elimination tag matches, steel cage match, etc)
- 1 point: main-eventing the show; winning via pin or submission (in a tag team match, the person getting the winning fall will get an EXTRA 1/2 point); winning a stipulation match; successfully retaining a title
- 2 points: capturing a title
- The star rating: the exact star rating a match gets will be considered points for all the participants
- Vice-versa for those wrestlers who get pinned or drop titles, as the exact same number of points will be TAKEN from said wrestlers
- In case there’s a draw, those two (or more) wrestlers involved will be untied by a) direct confrontations between each other; b) the number of appearances, as I will give the edge to the wrestler who appeared less times on the reviews and managed to get as many points as someone with more appearances; c) number of victories; and d) the overall number of main-events
Enjoy the review!
Before starting, here is the list of champions at the time:
- WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan
- Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
- Tag Team Champions: Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
- Women’s Champion: Sensational Sherri
The hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura
Match #1: Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)(c) vs. The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)(w/ Slick) – 2/3 Falls Match – WWF Tag Team Championship
The Bolsheviks were the first team eliminated at Survivor Series, so of course they get a title shot. Who said Vince never cared about his tag divisions!? Boris starts with Tito, who of course uses his speed to avoid the bigger heel. The babyfaces work on Boris’ arm before he tags in Volkoff, who does nothing either. The heels finally get something going and choke away, with Boris hitting a suplex. They go into a faster wrestling sequence that has some effort but not the best execution, as Martel comes in running wild for the first fall via Boston Crab on Boris.
Martel doesn’t waste any time in going for it again, but Volkoff interferes and the heels finally take over. Volkoff hits a backbreaker for two, and from there they cut the ring in half and use quick tags while working Martel’s back. Martel finally gets some separation with a sunset flip, and it’s hot tag Tito. He hits his Flying Forearm on Boris, but Nikolai gets in and breaks it up. Slick gives Nikolai an international object while Zhukov grabs Martel, but (surprise surprise) he hits Zhukov instead and that’s enough to finish the challengers in less than eight minutes!
Like I said earlier, the effort was there but the heels never felt like anything close to a threat. They were also not the best technical workers in the world, and they were clearly out of their league doing wrestling sequences with Martel and Tito. Perfectly acceptable wrestling. Nothing more, nothing less. **
Match #2: Jake Roberts vs. Sika(w/ Mr. Fuji)
Jake takes over to start, going after the Samoan’s arm. Sika misses a clothesline and Roberts pounds away, until a Fuji cheapshot allows Sika to take control. Sika works in his weird nerve hold that looks more like THE PEC MASSAGE OF DOOM, and that goes on for about a minute. Roberts finally makes the comeback, but Fuji trips him up. Sika charges, but Jake simply rolls him up for the win.
Well, that was apparently a match that existed. After the match, Sika runs away so Fuji eats the DDT and the snake instead. It took Roberts three minutes to beat the challenger for Hogan’s heavyweight belt two months previously. DUD – not that this was horrible, just a giant sack of nothing.
Match #3: Hulk Hogan(c) vs. King Kong Bundy(w/ Andre the Giant) – WWF Championship
At the previous edition of SNME, Bundy defeated Hogan via count-out. This is the rematch, without Bobby Heenan at ringside. Hogan rams Bundy’s face into all the corners to start, so Bundy bails to talk some strategy with Andre. Back in, Hogan with a clothesline and Bundy does the same. Again Hogan gets the better of him back in, working a wristlock, but Bundy brings him down by the hair. Bundy drops an elbow and works Hogan’s arm, who then slams Bundy but hurts his own arm doing so. Psychology in a Hulk Hogan match, the holiday season really is magic!!
Bundy slams Hogan but misses an elbowdrop, and Hogan tries to Hulk Up but Bundy quickly cuts him off. Bundy sets him up for the Avalanche, for the ref gets in the way for some reason and he’s bumped. The ref gets taken out on a stretcher as we go to break. We return with Bundy pounding away on Hogan and a second ref already in the ring. Bundy chokes Hogan down for the splash, but it only gets two. He hits two Avalanches and even adds another splash, but of course Hogan no-sells all of that and finishes with you know what to retain.
Hogan poses afterwards, but Andre gets in and chokes Hogan to death. A bunch of midcard babyfaces run-in, but Andre no-sells all their stuff and casually sends everyone flying before finally letting Hogan go. This would set up The Main Event the following month, which is still the most watched wrestling TV show in American wrestling history. (And is the next show to be reviewed, by the way.) The match was surprisingly better than I expected, though still not as memorable as their cage bout at WrestleMania II. **1/2
Main-event: Koko B. Ware vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine(w/ Jimmy Hart)
Quite the main-event, huh? Greg had recently gone solo, and found a new manager in Jimmy Hart. Koko starts in control, but that gets him nowhere as Valentine quickly cuts him off with an elbowdrop and goes after the leg. Valentine works him over for a while, until his former partner Brutus Beefcake joins us at ringside. That allows Koko to run wild for a bit and get a few nearfalls, but eventually Brutus is kicked from ringside and we take our final break. We come back with Greg still in control, before Koko slams him off the top. He makes the comeback, but Valentine catches him with a kneebreaker and the figure four is academic.
Beefcake then returns to save Koko from a beatdown, and he cuts some of Hart’s hair before they manage to run away and escape. Another match that wasn’t particularly bad, but there’s barely anything to care about here. 3/4*
A confident Bobby Heenan closes the show, saying he promises to make Andre richer than ever in 1988 and that he’s this close to signing a million dollar deal. Everybody’s got a price, after all, right?
Overall, quite the boring and skippable show. It did do a great job of making everyone wanna watch the big Hogan vs. Andre rematch the next month, plus the title matches weren’t bad, so I’ll give the show (a generous) four out of ten.
Don’t miss The Main Event next time, featuring the big rematch and two other title matches as we get closer and closer to WrestleMania IV. Feel free to use the comment section down below. And thank you for reading!
Here are the points for the show:
- Tito Santana: 1/2 point for a fall + 1 point for winning + 1 point for retaining + 2 points for star rating = 4.5 points
- Rick Martel: 1/2 point for a fall + 1 point for winning + 1 point for retaining + 2 points for star rating = 4.5 points
- Hulk Hogan: 1 point for winning + 1 point for retaining + 2.5 points for star rating = 4.5 points
- Greg Valentine: 1 point for main-eventing + 1 point for winning + 0.75 points for star rating = 2.75 points
- King Kong Bundy: 2.5 points for star rating – 1 point for losing = 1.5 points
- Jake Roberts: 1 point for winning
- Nikolai Volkoff: 2 points for star rating – 1 point for losing = 1 point
- Koko B. Ware: 1 point for main-eventing + 0.75 points for star rating – 1 point for losing = 0.75 points
- Boris Zhukov: 2 points for star rating – 1 point for taking two falls (1/2 point for each) – 1 point for losing = 0 points
- Sika: -1 point for losing