The Event Center #1: WWF House Show: Los Angeles Sports Arena 8-13-88
Welcome everyone to the Event Center, I am Steve Caudle. I am going to be your host as we travel back in time and review some of the best, and of course some of the worst shows of all time. I have a lot of different tastes so this review will be all over the place. So sit back and relax and enjoy this ride as we are heading out to the Los Angeles Sports Arena for a WWF House Show presented to you on the Z Channel.
We are going back to August 1988 in the World Wrestling Federation. Macho Man has won the world heavyweight title at Wrestlemania 4 and is in a feud with Andre the Giant. Jake Roberts and Rick Rude are right in the middle of their great feud and it will be showcased a lot as we go through these Los Angeles shows. So without any further ado lets get to the action.
Match 1: Sam Houston vs. Black Jack
We start off the show with Gorilla Monsoon and Superstar Billy Graham sitting down at the broadcast table hyping tonights show. They speak briefly about tonights matches. We go up to the ring for our first match. Its a doozy in Sam Houston vs. Black Jack. Lets get to the action:
Match starts out with the ref checking the boots and the mask of Black Jack. Billy Graham already going on about how Sam Houston should hit the gym and bulk up. Black Jack stalls by climbing out of the ring and avoiding the action. This is already a snooze fest. Black Jack finally decides to lock up with Sam so we can get this match going. Sam hits a few hip tosses and they look sloppy as hell.
Match continues on and they are already doing the rest hold head lock. Black Jack reverses it a couple of times and both times Houston jumps out of the leg scissors and goes right back to the head lock. Black Jack charges and runs into the turnbuckle, Sam goes for a cover and can’t even figure out how to hook the leg properly and we get a 2 count.
Sam punches Black Jack twice then he just spins around and gives up his back. Sam just stands there waiting for him to turn around and when he does he clocks him again. Sam hits an ugly drop kick, after Billy Graham said Sam delivers one of the best, that he didn’t even get full extension on. A little more action and we are right back to a head lock. Billy Graham is noticing all the head locks and is wondering why they keep going there.
Sam comes off the ropes and gets the back of Black Jack and hits him with his patented “Steer Buster.” It is one of the ugliest bulldogs I have ever seen. Black Jack wasn’t ready for it so Sam just grabs what he can and drives him to the mat for the 3 count.
This match was garbage and not worth anyones time. Sam Houston could do about 2-3 moves at a time before he had to go to the rest hold. The moves Houston did during the match were lackluster and not crisp at all. This match is not something I would ever want to watch again and I would recommend just skipping it if you are going to watch this shit.
Coming up next we have Barry Horowitz vs. The Blue Angel
Match 2: Blue Angel vs. Barry Horowitz
Thoughts: This should be an entertaining match up between Blue Angel aka Blue Blazer/Owen Hart and Barry Horowitz. Horowitz was one of the better enhancement talents going back in 88 and of course you have Owen Hart who was ahead of his time with his high flying moves. Lets not wait any longer, lets get to the ring:
Before the action gets going Billy Graham asks Gorilla what the point of the masks are. He throws out a few reasons why they could be wearing a mask and wonders if “they owe back child support.” Blue Angel gets in a hand lock then jumps to the top rope, bounces on it and back flips out and nails Horowitz with an arm drag. The moves were ahead of their time and always great to see.
We get a great sequence where Horowitz hits a shoulder block then Angel does a kip up, then a leap frog, then into an arm drag/arm bar. We get a standing monkey flip into a cover but Horowitz gets out at 1. Within 2-3 minutes of the match you see 4-5 moves from the Blue Angel that nobody else was doing at the time. A great change of pace guy and it’s a shame they didn’t do more with him during this run.
We get a little more action but its mainly arm bars and rest holds. Horowitz starts to get frustrated as the Blue Angel tries to get the crowd going. Blue Angel gets a body slam on the arm and he continues to work that arm with an arm bar. Horowitz finally gets control of the match by doing a leap frog then nailing the Blue Angel with an awesome side kick off the ropes. It looked like it landed flush and was very nicely done.
Horowitz does a sling shot under the bottom rope and the Blue Angel does a hand stand between the bottom and middle rope. Horowitz does the typical stomp and kicks for a few minutes before he Irish whips the Blue Angel into the turnbuckle chest first. Horowitz goes for another rest hold but the Blue Angel gets out of it and regains control of the match but Horowitz hits him with a flying knee to regain control.
Horowitz continues control before he gets him in a standing headlock. Blue Angel drives him to the turnbuckle and Irish whips him to the opposite corner that Horowitz reverses but Blue Angel hits him with the spinning cross body off the middle rope for the 2 count. Blue Angel reverses an Irish whip and hits a sunset flip for the 2. Horowitz goes up to the top but gets body slammed off.
Blue Angel goes to the top rope and hits a flying drop kick right into a kip up. Going right from the drop kick to a kip up all in one motion was one of the cooler things I’ve seen done in the wrestling ring. Blue Angel hits him with a suplex then he goes to the middle rope and hits a knee drop. Goes for the cover and gets a 2. Blue Angel hits him with a body slam then climbs to the top rope and hits the backflip for the 3 count.
This match was slow at times but the arsenal that the Blue Angel used throughout the match makes this match worth watching. The jump to the top rope arm drag spot, the drop kick off the top rope right into a kip up, and the moonsault are all worth checking out. You have to remember in 1988 nobody was doing these moves in the WWF so seeing them was refreshing and different. Also, you have to credit for Barry Horowitz in this match. He had some pretty solid offense and few sweet looking pinning combinations that he would use later on in his career when he got his push in 1995. I would recommend watching this match at least once and enjoy Owen Hart before he became Owen Hart.
Match 3: Powers of Pain vs. The Bolsheviks
Thoughts: Powers of Pain as a face team should be interesting to see. Looking for a lot of power moves and stalls. Lets get to the ring to see what happens:
Nikolai sings the Russian national anthem but the Powers of Pain doesn’t give them the time of day to finish the song. They run out to the ring and attack the Bolsheviks from behind. Fast start here for the Powers of Pain. Barbarian and Nikolai start off the match and there is a lot of stalling. Nikolai and Boris are playing to the crowd but they aren’t getting much of a response.
They finally lock up and Nikolai pushes the Barbarian, he then proceeds to flex his muscles which is awesome and something guys just don’t do anymore to get heat. Nikolai goes for a shoulder block and Barbarian just knocks him on his ass and flexes in front of him.
Boris comes in and gets the same sort of treatment. Barbarian nails him with a huge power slam and Nikolai has to come in and break up the pin at 2. Warlord enters the ring with Nikolai. They do a test of strength that Warlord gets the upper hand on. Boris jumps off the middle rope to give the upper hand to Nikolai. They do the same thing again and Boris goes for the axe handle off the middle rope but Warlord moves to the left and Boris attempts to hit Nikolai but Nikolai is too far away so Boris just slaps Nikolai in the back.
Warlord and Barbarian take turns working the arm of Nikolai. Third match in and theres already been about 15-20 arm bars. Wish these guys had the opportunity to go full steam. Nikolai goes for a clothesline that Barbarian ducks and he turns around and nails Nikolai with a big boot right to the face. Barbarian was pretty agile for his size and had some pretty good moves. The Bolsheviks get control for a short period of time before the Warlord breaks through and gets the tag to Barbarian.
Barbarian comes in and hits a couple of stiff clotheslines and then follows it up with a couple of big boots. Warlord comes in and atomic drops Boris into Nikolai. Warlord then hits the power slam and Barbarian hits the diving head butt off the top rope for the 3 count.
This match was eh. Nothing special but nothing terrible either. The Bolsheviks were extremely sloppy and were missing spots left and right. Barbarian was the best out of the bunch and to me is an underrated performer from this time frame. Seeing the Powers of Pain as the good guys was odd but they did a good job with it. I would check it out just for that aspect alone.
Match 4: Curt Hennig vs. S.D Jones
Thoughts: Prior to the match getting started, Jesse “The Body” Ventura joins the commentary team. Should be great to hear Jesse with Gorilla and Billy Graham. This should be a solid match we have here. Hennig with his athleticism and SD Jones with the experience. Should be a contrast of styles that hopefully pans out. Lets get to the action:
Hennig and Jones start with the traditional collar and elbow tie-up. Jones throws perfect into the turnbuckle twice then they lock up again and roll around the ropes for half the ring. Hennig is already selling like a champ for SD Jones as he rolls completely over as SD hits him with a shoulder block off the ropes. SD then locks in a head lock that Hennig tries numerous times to get out of but SD holds on. Perfect gets his two feet on the middle rope then SD just walks out from under him and drops him on his face.
Early on you could tell that Hennig was going to be something special in the WWF. He just needed the seasoning to adapt to the WWF. SD has Hennig in the corner and nails him with a big right hand. Hennig goes flying over the top rope and the selling by Hennig here is top notch. The ref tries to break it up because they are in the ropes and Hennig floors SD with a right hand to get control of the match.
Hennig starts working the lower back by hitting SD with a few knees then he puts him in a sit down head lock from the back. Hennig puts him in a Boston Crab and grabs the middle rope to get some extra leverage before the ref sees it and breaks the hold. Hennig hits a very sloppy back breaker and goes right into the pin and gets a 2 count. SD regains control of the match but it’s as if he is moving in slow motion so when he gets control its just terrible. They couldn’t get anyone better for Hennig than an old and slow SD Jones?
Hennig regains control and works the back some more. He puts him in a reverse chin lock then gets him up and body slams him for a 2 count. He then rams SD’s head into the turnbuckle and he no sells it. SD then nails Hennig with a huge right hand that Perfect nearly flips over for. The ref keeps interfering in this match and is making it about himself. SD gets tired of it and pushes the ref out of the way. SD then hits Hennig with an atomic drop and Hennig nearly flips over the top rope.
SD then hits Hennig in the knee with a few kicks so Hennig can get one of his favorite spots into the match. SD maintains control and nails Hennig with a dropping head butt for a 2 count. SD then hits Hennig with a power slam for another 2 count. Hennig gets fed up and regains control of the match and starts working the left leg of SD.
We have some back and forth action as SD hip tosses Hennig out of the turnbuckle and sends him flying. SD Irish whips Hennig into the turnbuckle and Hennig bounces out and nails SD with a vicious elbow to the head for the 3 count and the victory.
SD Jones really stunk in this match. He was blown up early on and was moving in slow motion throughout. It’s a testament to the outstanding ability of Curt Hennig to make this match somewhat enjoyable. His selling throughout the match, for someone the caliber of SD Jones, says a lot about how great Hennig really was. This match is worth checking out just for Curt Hennig alone.
Match 5: WWF Title Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Andre the Giant
Thoughts: Hopefully this match can live up to the low expectations that I have. The size difference is to much to overcome I think when it comes to Savage being in the ring with Andre the Giant. Savage, I’m sure, will do his absolute best to make this match somewhat enjoyable but that remains to be seen. Lets get to it:
The match starts with Heenan going after Elizabeth and distracting the Macho Man. This goes on for about 2-3 minutes until the ref finally sends Bobby Heenan to the back. Chief Jay Strongbow comes out to escort Heenan to the back. This is a quick and easy way to get heat on Heenan and Andre before the match even starts. Andre is upset that Elizabeth gets to stay ringside while Heenan got sent to the back. The match finally starts and it’s Savage attempting to hit and move so he doesn’t get caught in the grasp of the Giant.
Andre finally catches him and nails him with a head butt. Andre hits him with a second head butt and Savage is already on the outside licking his wounds. Savage gets back in the ring and Andre starts with the choke hold. Savage tries to get out of the choke but Andre takes his strap and really synchs in the choke. Andre keeps the choke on for a good 3-4 minutes.
Savage finally gets out of the choke with a few elbows to the midsection. Andre has enough of that and nails Savage with another head butt and Savage rolls to the outside. Andre paces around the ring like he’s the greatest thing ever and who is going to be the one to tell him other wise? Savage finally gets some offense in by going to the high rent district. Savage was awesome and his selling really shines in this match. Every move Andre does, Savage sells it like its the worst thing he’s ever felt. Makes Andre seem larger than life which is what you want from a Giant.
After a little fury from Savage, Andre gets him in another rest hold but this time its a bear hug. Savage gets out and ducks a few clotheslines and nails Andre with his own. Afterwards Andre falls down to the mat and gets his arms caught in the ropes. This was Andre’s favorite spot and it is always a joy to see. I love it myself. Savage delivers some offense while Andre is tied up. Andre finally breaks free and nails Savage with a couple of right hands to regain control.
Andre nails Savage with a couple of chops to the chest that sound and look brutal. Andre starts choking Savage in the corner and while doing so he starts to untie the top turnbuckle with his off hand. Andre comes in for a head butt but Savage gets out of the way and Andre nails the exposed turnbuckle. Savage throws him into the turnbuckle 4-5 more times and Andre falls to the mat. Savage goes up top for a big elbow and gets a two count.
Andre rolls out of the ring and gets near Elizabeth. She starts to climb up the steps and Andre grabs her by the ankle. Gorilla and Superstar sell this as if he is crushing her ankle and she can’t handle the pressure that Andre is putting on her ankle. Savage comes out for the rescue but Andre lets go and attacks Savage. Both men get counted out at this point. Savage takes Elizabeth and carries her to the back. Andre the Giant stands in the ring holding the WWF title over his shoulder and declaring himself the winner.
The match was pretty entertaining for what it was. Andre couldn’t do much in the ring by this point but he did his normal and thats always fun to see. Savage sold every punch, head butt, and choke as if it was the worst thing he has ever felt and really made Andre look like a million bucks. The ending was wishy washy and didn’t really come across that great. Savage was back in the ring during the count and Elizabeth, for no reason, starts climbing the stairs and getting herself involved? Cheap and lazy booking at the end but the match itself was decent enough to give a watch.
Backstage Interview: Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan
Gorilla is interviewing Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan in the back. Gorilla talks about snakes and how there is one snake allowed ringside. Heenan has a great rebuttal and says “If you want to talk about snakes, you wanna talk about something low life fine. We will talk about Jakes wife.” Rude then wants to know where Cheryl is at because the “victors should receive the spoils.” Rude states that he left Jake laying out of the kindness of his heart and he said that he will finish Jake off tonight.
Backstage Interview: The Rougeau Brothers
Gorilla says that they “claim they love the USA.” Jacques says they do love the USA and they are happy to be here. Raymond states that there is a lot of dissension amongst the Hart Foundation. Raymond also states that they love the USA so much that they plan on moving here. Gorilla said he is going to meet with Jack Tunney to get their winnings converted to the Canadian Dollar. Jacques says they have a 1-800 number to call and let them know where they should move. This interview is top notch. The Fabulous Rougeau brothers are amazing.
Match 6: The Hart Foundation vs. Rougeau Brothers
Thoughts: Two of my favorite tag teams are going at it in this one. The dry humor that the Rougeau’s possess and displayed in their promos make them one of my favorite teams of all time. The great wrestling of Bret and the power of the Anvil make them one of the best tag teams of all time. This should be a great match and I am looking forward to it. Lets get to the ring:
Jacques starts the match off by trashing the ring announcer and telling him to announce them that they will be soon be moving to the United States. The match starts out with Neidhart and Raymond in the ring. Neidhart gets Raymond in a top arm bar and Raymond calls for the ref to come over and look at it. Once the ref gets there Raymond uses him to flip out of the hold. Awesome heel tactic early on. Anvil shows off his power as Raymond gets bulled over with a shoulder block. He walks over to his brother and gets his hug to bring in the heat.
Raymond nails the Anvil with a drop kick and immediately poses to the crowd. Ray tries the move again but Neidhart stops instead of going under the leap frog and nails Raymond with a dropkick of his own. Raymond rolls outside as Jacques consoles him on the outside. Great back and forth action and nice work by the Rougeau’s getting heat on themselves early on.
Bret and Jacques get in the ring and Jacques would like to shake the hand of Bret. After a little bit of stalling Bret does shake the hand but he whips him into the ropes and Bret ducks and Jacques rolls over Bret’s back then points to his head because of how smart he is. Some more back and forth action that ends with Bret dropping the elbow right on Jacques’s head. Raymond comes in the ring to console his brother after the elbow drop. I know I’ve mentioned it twice already but this Rougeau gimmick is extremely underrated and is one of the best things going at this time.
The Harts keep control of the match and work over Raymond in the corner. The Hart Foundation are still showing some heel tactics at this point because they haven’t gone fully face just yet. Pretty awesome to see one semi-heel team and one full fledge heel team going at it. Bret synchs in a head lock but Raymond pushes him off. Raymond points the ref over to the Anvil as Jacques trips Bret from the outside.
Both Rougeau’s work the back for an extended period of time. They do a lot of good double teams and Jacques puts on the reverse chin lock from the back a few times as well. Raymond tags in Jacques and when he does he picks Bret up and drops him abdomen first. Jacques then grabs Bret’s feet and does a sit down pin for 2. Rougeau’s continue to control the match and work the back over Bret.
Bret gets the hot tag but the ref didn’t see it so Anvil has to go back to the apron as the Rougeau’s continue to work the back. There are a few rest holds but they don’t last long enough to where you notice them. Thats exactly how they should be done. There is a lot of great offense working the back here by the Rougeau’s. So far the match is living up to the expectations. Raymond puts Bret in a Boston Crab as Jacques drops a knee to the back of the head. Bret finally gets a chance to get the tag as he reverses an Irish whip and sends Raymond into the turnbuckle. Raymond gets the tag first and Jacques comes in and puts Bret in a reverse chin lock one more time.
Raymond comes in and Irish whips Bret into the ropes but Bret reverses it and gets Raymond in a small package for a 2 count. Raymond goes in for a monkey flip but Bret reverses it into an atomic drop. He finally gets the hot tag to Neidhart and he comes into the ring hitting body slams and drop kicks on both of the Rougeau’s.
Jim tags Bret back into the match as he hits Raymond with an elbow drop off the middle rope as Neidhart held him over his knee. All four men come into the ring and Bret nails Jacques with a devastating pile driver. Raymond comes off the middle rope and nails Bret with a double axe handle and gets the 3 count and the shocking victory.
This was a great back and forth match. There were some rest holds but they didn’t last long enough for them to be noticed. The great work the Rougeau’s did throughout the match was on point and definitely worth checking out. It’s a shame they got stuck with the Bushwhackers for as long as they did because the Rougeau’s could hold their own with any team in the WWF at this time. The Harts were the Harts and Bret did an awesome job of selling. This was a really good tag team match and is by far the best match of the night. I would recommend checking it out.
In Ring Promo: “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Macho Man comes out from the back wearing some tights and a towel around his neck. He cuts a prom on Andre the Giant stating that he has “paid his dues.” He mentions that Elizabeth is scared and she has been hurt by Andre the Giant. He states that “When Elizabeth is hurt, I’m hurt.” He states he has signed an open contract and that “any damn time he gets Andre in the squared circle I am going to kick his ass.” Savage messes up his hair and leaves the ring frustrated that Elizabeth has been hurt.
Match 7: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
Thoughts: With these two in the ring it should be a great match. They never really got the green light to let it all go at Wrestlemania so hopefully this match is a little different. There was high hopes for this feud so lets see if they live up to the expectations. It’s main event time so lets get to the ring:
Before the match starts Rick Rude cuts his normal promo and he then takes his robe off to pose. There is a guy on the side of the hard camera holding up his son who has no shirt on and is posing right in front of Rick Rude. It’s a great shot and is pretty damn funny because Rude no sells it and just continues to pose in front of him.
Also, before the match starts Jake comes out and states that he is disappointed that Rude didn’t wear the trunks with his wife on them. He states that “When you disappoint the Snake that only means one thing left for me to do and that is to kick your ass.” Two great promos to start the match. Hopefully the match can live up to what has already occurred.
Jake throws down the mic and chases Rude outside the ring. The match is starting off fast and furious just the way it should be. Jake maintains control and lays in his patented right hands. Rude tries to run but Jake goes after him. Rude body slams him and goes right up to the middle rope and misses a fist drop. Jake goes for a quick DDT and Rude slides out and goes to the outside to regroup. There is no Heenan outside the ring for this match but at the start of the match Gorilla stated that Heenan has been thrown out of the building all together.
Jake works the arm but Rude gets out of it and they have a standoff of sorts. Hebner is berating both individuals and telling them to open up the fists. Rude gets Jake in a reverse arm bar and Jake runs and sends Rude flying through the middle rope. Jake goes right out after him and starts working the arm again. One thing I don’t understand is that Jake is furious with Rude but he spends the majority of the match working the arm. Why not just go after him and settle the score? It makes more sense throwing punches and doing moves that would hurt him instead of working a body part.
Jake continues to work the arm for an extended period of time. Rude goes outside to regroup and he left his arm on the mat so Jake follows him out and grabs the arm and pulls him right into the post. Jake then clotheslines the arm across the top rope as he falls to the outside. Back to the arm bar we go. Instead of the LA Sports Arena we should just call it the LA Arm Bar arena because theres been at least 50-60 throughout the night here.
Jake continues to work the arm, we are going on 4 minutes, until he tries for a short arm clothesline that Rude ducks and nails Jake with his own clothesline. Jake rolls outside and Rude follows him out and pushes him back first into the ring post. Rude now has control of the match and he is working the back of Jake.
Rude Irish whips Jake into the turnbuckle relatively hard. Afterward Rude hits the pose and then gets Jake in a reverse chin lock as he puts all his weight on the lower back of Jake. Jake stands up and sends Rude flying off him from the reverse chin lock. Jake goes for another DDT and gets rammed in the corner. He tries it again and gets rammed into the corner again. Jake tries for a third time and gets hit with a backdrop for his troubles. It’s almost as if Rude did not want to do the DDT spot because any match I have seen of their’s Jake never connected with it.
Rude sends Jake outside and is counting down as if he is trying to win by count out. Rude goes out after Jake and he rams his back directly into the steel ring post. Rude gets back in and poses for the crowd as he is waiting for Jake to get back in the ring. Jake is on the apron as Rude tries to body slam him back into the ring. Jake holds onto the top rope and Rude falls down and Jake pins him for the 3 and the win to close the show. After the match Rick Rude attacks Jake and then he berates the referee for counting the three. Rude is about to deck the referee as the show fades to black.
There were a lot of rest holds on behalf of both wrestlers. At one point in the match Jake worked the arm for a good 3-4 minutes. One thing I didn’t understand about this feud is that it was based off anger and the fact that Rude was trying to steal Jakes woman but when they got in the ring it was if they were just wrestling to wrestle. These should have been fisticuffs and pier 6 brawls as Gorilla would say. But they weren’t, they were basic wrestling matches that were nothing to write home about. This is one of their better ones but this is one of the more disappointing feuds of this time frame for me because both of them could have done so much more with each other.
Overall, there isn’t a lot to write home about when it comes to this LA Sports Arena show. I always liked these shows because they looked different than almost anything else back then as far as the WWF was concerned. You also got the B side of the house show circuit so the match ups were different than what you saw as well. However, the matches just didn’t deliver. Top to bottom there was way to many rest holds and not enough action by some guys that can definitely go. There are a few things worth watching such as Blue Angel vs. Barry Horowitz. Owen doing moves that just weren’t done at the time were awesome to see.
I would also recommend watching the Hart Foundation vs. the Rougeau Brothers because of the psychology and just the great tag team action of that match. The Rougeau’s and Harts worked great together and it’s a shame they didn’t work together more. Some things that were nice to see but not worth watching is Curt Hennig’s selling for someone like SD Jones. He was selling like a million bucks for a jobber that hasn’t been relevant in years. Other than that there just isn’t much here. Savage/Andre was a disappointment but was expected because there is only so much Savage can do when it comes to the size of Andre. Jake and Rude also disappointed because the aggression and anger just wasn’t there for the match.
I hope you enjoyed this Event Center. I plan on being all over the place when it comes to reviews so look out for the next one coming soon.