Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 1/25/88

Hulk Hogan and Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink) vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase and Virgil (w/ Andre the Giant)

So as we head back into the home office of the WWF for the first show at MSG in 1988, there was a lot to be excited about especially as we are one day removed from the Royal Rumble which debuted the day before. While that show saw Jim Duggan win the inaugural Royal Rumble match and the Jumping Bomb Angels win the tag titles, the event was highlighted by the contract signing between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant for their long awaited rematch which would take place on February 5th. This was pretty big at the time in that the match would not take place at Wrestlemania IV, but instead on a free TV show dubbed the Main Event which was a special edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. There was no doubt that the hype for this match was just as big as their match at Wrestlemania III, but the wild card in this equation was Ted Dibiase as he made it clear that he was going to get the WWF Title by any means necessary. But before we get to that show, we come here first as Hogan teams with Bam Bam Bigelow who was still riding pretty high off his performance at Survivor Series and they face Dibiase and his bodyguard Virgil though they would have Andre in their corner.

There was not much build to this particular match over the weeks as Hogan would spend most of December feuding with the One Man Gang while also having matches with Dibiase, and Bigelow would feud with King Kong Bundy. Hogan and Bigelow would start teaming at the end of the month and fought Dibiase and Bundy on the house shows, and they would split off again throughout the month as Hogan went back to feuding with Gang and Bigelow continued feuding with Bundy. Towards the middle of the month, Bigelow began feuding with Gang while Hogan fought Dibiase on the house shows, and on 1/23 Hogan and Bigelow would defeat Dibiase and Andre in a tag match. This was pretty interesting as this match wasn’t built up coming out of the last MSG house show and seemed pretty random, but given who was involved you knew it was still going to be a hot match.

Dibiase, Virgil, and Andre were red hot as heels as they strut out with great confidence and Bobby leaves the table to shake hands with Dibiase, and Hogan and Bigelow get the big pop from the crowd. Dibiase and Virgil waste no time and stomp on Hogan and Bigelow as they enter the ring to start the match, but Hogan and Bigelow battle back on Dibiase and Virgil before ramming their heads together. Virgil rolls outside as Hogan and Bigelow hit a double big boot on Dibiase and Hogan tears off his shirt while standing over Dibiase, and Dibiase begs off as Hogan rams him into the buckles before ramming him into Bigelow’s head. Hogan pounds on Dibiase and whips him into the corner before splashing him and he rubs his face into the mat twice, and Bigelow tags in and pounds on Dibiase before whipping him into the corner and hitting a clothesline. Bigelow hits a headbutt and knocks Dibiase down as Dibiase begs off and Bigelow rams the elbow into the back of the head twice, and Hogan tags in and he kicks Dibiase to the mat before walking across his back. Hogan nails Dibiase with a high elbow and drops a fist on him as Bigelow gets his shots in from the apron, and Hogan knocks Dibiase down again as Dibiase begs off in the corner and Hogan stomps on him repeatedly. Hogan hits a back suplex on Dibiase and knocks Virgil to the floor before dropping a pair of elbows on Dibiase, and he taunts Andre and knocks Dibiase down only for Andre to trip him up from the outside. Dibiase drops a trio of elbows on Hogan’s back and slams his head into the mat twice before choking him on the mat, and Andre rams Hogan’s head into the apron from the outside as Dibiase stomps on him repeatedly. Dibiase hits a clothesline on Hogan and stomps on him before tagging Virgil who goes up top and drives the fist into Hogan, and Virgil knocks Hogan down and drops an elbow to the back of his head before choking him on the mat. Andre chokes Hogan with the bottom rope from the outside twice as Virgil continues to choke him, and Dibiase tags in as he goes up to the middle rope and hits an axehandle on Hogan. Dibiase stomps on Hogan and gets a shot in on Bigelow before driving the elbow into Hogan and stomping on him, and he pounds on Hogan as he knocks him over the top to the floor. Dibiase goes outside and rams Hogan into the apron and the guardrail before returning to the ring, and Andre throws Hogan back into the ring as Virgil tags in and he pounds on Hogan while Dibiase holds him. Virgil hits a clothesline on Hogan and drops a fist on him before stomping on him and he pounds on him, but Hogan rakes the eyes only for Dibiase to tag in and he gets a shot in on Hogan. He drops a trio of fists on Hogan for a two count and hooks a submission on, and Hogan fights to his feet only for Dibiase to take him back to the mat and he grinds down on the hold. Hogan finally fights to his feet and breaks the hold before knocking Dibiase down, and he ducks a shot only for both men to clothesline each other and Bigelow gets the hot tag. He fires up on Virgil and hits a clothesline before hitting a press slam and a falling headbutt, and he drops an elbow on Virgil before avoiding Dibiase who drops an elbow on Virgil by mistake. Hogan comes in and hits the legdrop on Virgil as Bigelow hits the big splash on Virgil which gets the three and he wins the match for his team. After the match, Dibiase and Andre get in the ring and Hogan pounds on Dibiase in the corner as Andre grabs Bigelow from behind and hits a pair of headbutts, and Hogan goes after Andre only for Andre to hit a headbutt and the three men stomp Hogan out of the ring. Dibiase and Virgil go outside and pound on Hogan while Andre watches from the ring and Bigelow hits a dropkick to the back of Andre which knocks him down, and Hogan battles back and tosses two chairs into the ring before joining Bigelow as Andre rolls outside. Dibiase and Virgil hold Andre back and they head to the back as Hogan and Bigelow celebrate in the ring.

The match itself was pretty good as both teams worked hard and put on a solid tag match that fit nicely into the middle of the card. This was pretty much a way to further the issues between Hogan, Dibiase, and Andre as Bigelow and Virgil were just there to fill the teams out, and in fact Dibiase works most of the match which makes sense since Virgil was booked like a bodyguard who wasn’t a wrestler. Bigelow looked solid here and he still seemed like a guy that was ready to break out as a big star, but again he seemed to just fill out the team here though he does look strong by getting the pin. Dibiase looked pretty good here and is kept strong as well since Virgil ate the pin which doesn’t hurt him, and Andre looked menacing on the outside as he gets his shots in on Hogan to build towards their big showdown on February 5th. The crowd as usual was very hot for the match and they popped big time for Hogan and Bigelow when they won. Hogan and Bigelow get the win over Dibiase and Virgil and both teams move on as Hogan prepares for his epic rematch with Andre at the Main Event.

Final Grade: ***

Leave a Reply