Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 11/24/86

The Islanders vs. the Dream Team (w/ “Luscious” Johnny Valiant)

So as I mentioned at our last MSG house show, it was around this time that the tag team division was starting to get heated up as we had several pretty solid tag teams in the company which we saw on full display since all the matches featured tag wrestlers. When that show came to an end, it was clear that the Islanders were the showcase team as they won their singles matches and would end up winning the battle royal to earn $50,000. I had mentioned that I thought it was weird that they didn’t receive a title shot at this show as I thought a match with them and the Bulldogs would’ve been really good, but it was clear the Bulldogs were being locked into a feud with the Hart Foundation so it wasn’t that big of a deal. On the other hand, the Dream Team had clearly been lapped by the Hart Foundation as the top heel team and you wondered how much longer the team would last and if they would still get any type of push. So when this match was announced for this show, it seemed like a lock that the Islanders would probably win since they were the slightly hotter team and the Dream Team wouldn’t get too hurt from a loss.

Since the last MSG house show, these two teams would face off on several house shows with the Islanders winning most of the matches though the Dream Team would get a few wins as well. Haku would also wrestle a few singles matches and the Islanders would wrestle other teams, and the Dream Team would also wrestle other teams as they were kept pretty strong with wins. It was pretty interesting that these two teams were facing off here since they didn’t have much interaction at the last show and the Islanders didn’t even eliminate the Dream Team from the battle royal, but again maybe it just seemed that the Dream Team would be used to put the Islanders over and keep their momentum going.

The Dream Team were still pretty hot as heels as the crowd showers them with boos, but there was one fan in the crowd with an “I Love Brutus Beefcake” sign which was pretty funny and the Islanders get a pretty good pop from the crowd. Haku starts off the match with Valentine and they square off as Valentine backs off in the corner and they lock up with Haku giving a clean break in the corner, and they lock up again with Valentine backing Haku into the ropes and he gives a clean break as well. Valiant joins Gorilla and Hayes on commentary periodically as he puts his guys over and the two men lock up again with Valentine backing Haku into the ropes, and they exchange shoves before locking up again with Valentine backing Haku into the corner and he pounds on him. Haku no-sells an elbow from Valentine and he catches a kick attempt before hitting an atomic drop, and he chops Valentine to the mat for a two count and grabs the arm before tagging Tama who goes up top and nails a blow to Valentine’s arm. He pounds on Valentine’s arm and continues to work on it before tagging Haku who kicks at the arm, and the Islanders hit a double chop on Valentine who begs off in the corner and he confers with Valiant on the outside. The two men square off until Valentine gets a kick in and he hits a snapmare before tagging Beefcake who stomps on Haku, and he goes after the arm only for Haku to turn it around and he tags Tama who goes up to the middle rope and nails a blow to Beefcake’s arm. He pounds on Beefcake and continues to work the arm until Beefcake gets to the ropes to force a break, and Haku tags in and they lock up with Haku hitting a fireman’s carry and he goes back to the arm of Beefcake. Beefcake gets to his feet and backs Haku into the ropes before whipping him off and he leaps over Haku twice, but Haku ducks a shot and he hits a high crossbody on Beefcake for a two count. Beefcake retreats to the corner to regroup and he confers with Valiant on the outside, and Beefcake preens to the crowd only for Haku to get a shot in and he goes back to the arm of Beefcake. Tama tags in and the Islanders hit a double back elbow on Beefcake as Tama rakes his boots across the face of Beefcake, and he pounds on Beefcake and teases a stomp to the groin before hitting a sitdown splash on Beefcake. Tama goes back to the arm of Beefcake and tags Haku who pounds on Beefcake and he continues to work the arm, but Beefcake turns it around and goes behind Haku only for Haku to hit a drop toehold and he hooks a submission on Beefcake. He goes back to the arm and tags Tama who pounds on Beefcake and goes back to the arm, but Beefcake hits a drop toehold and hooks a headlock on Tama who fights to his feet and Beefcake backs him into the corner. The two men trade blows in the corner until Tama goes back to the arm of Beefcake who doesn’t really sell the pain as he tags Valentine, and they lock up with Valentine getting a shot in and he knocks Tama down with a chop. He hoists Tama up and hits a stiff inverted piledriver for a two count as Haku breaks the pin up, and Valentine throws Tama through the ropes to the outside and pulls him onto the apron where he nails a stiff shot as Tama falls into the ring. Valentine whips Tama into the ropes only for Tama to duck a shot and he hits a high crossbody for a two count, and Valentine gets a shot in and hits a back elbow on Tama before tagging Beefcake. The Dream Team stomp on Tama and Beefcake taunts the crowd before working on Tama’s arm, and Beefcake kicks at Tama and hits an atomic drop for a two count before going back to the arm as he tags Valentine. He stomps on Tama and attempts a Figure-4 only for Tama to counter with a small package for a two count, and Valentine gets a shot in on Haku before knocking Tama down and he attempts a suplex which Tama blocks and he hits one of his own. Haku gets the hot tag and fires up on Beefcake before whipping him into Valentine and he hits an atomic drop on Beefcake, and he pounds on Valentine before hitting a back elbow and he kicks at Beefcake before hitting a headbutt. He pounds on Beefcake and hits a headbutt as Tama goes up top and hits a crossbody on Beefcake though he catches Valentine coming in and pounds on him, and Valiant gets on the apron only for Tama to grab him and hit a headbutt as Haku comes in and pounds on Valentine. The ref forces Haku back out and Valentine hoists Tama up from behind and crotches him on the top rope which allows Beefcake to get the three and the Dream Team win the match.

The match itself was decent as both teams worked hard and put on a solid 13-minute match, but I think the match was slightly disappointing in that I thought it would be a lot more hard-hitting between the teams. We know that Haku and Tama could bring the stiffness and Valentine has no problem returning it while Beefcake was getting there as well, though again it seemed like they went back to the old formula of Valentine working most of the match instead of Beefcake. I thought that it was weird that this was given the main event slot as I think that the Hogan/Piper vs. Race/Orndorff tag match should’ve been the main event and this match be in the middle of the card since there was no real build for it. I also don’t agree with the fact that the Islanders lost the match since they were coming off that huge battle royal win the previous month and the Dream Team were clearly being pushed down, and a win would’ve given the Islanders a lot of momentum and all this did was stunt that which sucked since the Islanders were really growing well as a team. After the commentary disaster that we had last month, I thought Gorilla and Hayes got back into a rhythm though Valiant jumping in also took some focus off the match and on him. The crowd was into the match and the Islanders, but are clearly not happy when the Dream Team get the win. The Dream Team steal the unnecessary win over the Islanders and both teams move on.

Final Grade: **

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