Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 2/23/87

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and the Junkyard Dog vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Adorable” Adrian Adonis, and “King” Harley Race in a Elimination match

As we continue on into 1987, it was becoming pretty clear that Wrestlemania III was shaping up to be one of the biggest shows of all time and was going to dwarf the first two Wrestlemanias. We had our venue set as the show was to take place at the Pontiac Silverdome and was looking to draw almost 90,000 people, and the main event of the show was also set as Hulk Hogan would defend the WWF Title against Andre the Giant in a mega match. However as we all know, you need a solid card surrounding the mega match that would help compliment it and to this point the card for Wrestlemania III was shaping up to be pretty good. Of the matches announced so far, we see three of them showcased in this huge 6-man tag match with Savage/Steamboat, Piper/Adonis, and JYD/Race so to see those matches in one match here was pretty cool. What made it even better was the fact that it was an elimination match as well so you knew that these 6 guys would get a lot of time for an MSG house show and it would be interesting who would be kept strong going into Wrestlemania.

All three feuds pretty much began at the end of 1986 beginning with Savage and Steamboat as Savage would put Steamboat on the shelf by driving the ring bell into his throat, and Steamboat would return to confront Savage on the 1/3 Saturday Night’s Main Event. The issues between Piper and Adonis began during the summer when Piper left Piper’s Pit in Adonis’ care, and he would change it to the Flower Shop which didn’t make Piper happy when he returned. Adonis, Bob Orton, and the Magnificent Muraco would assault Piper and injure his leg, and Piper would return the favor by destroying the Flower Shop and the two faced off on that same SNME with Adonis winning by countout. It was then announced that they would face off at WM in a match where the loser would have their head shaved bald, and on 2/21 Piper announced that the match would be his retirement match. The feud between JYD and Race also began in late 1986 as JYD refused to bow to Race, and the two men would face off at that same SNME as well with JYD winning by DQ and it was announced they would face off again at WM with the loser being forced to bow to their King. The heat for these three matches was pretty hot coming into this MSG house show and with only a month to go before WM, it would be interesting to see how this match would play out especially since it appeared to be Piper’s last MSG house show.

I thought that it was a wise move to have this match as the main event since it would have the most heat going in, and the team of Piper, Steamboat, and JYD get a big pop from the crowd while Savage, Adonis, and Race were red hot as heels as they come out with Elizabeth, Jimmy Hart, and Bobby Heenan though they are forced to the back. Piper starts the match off with Adonis only for Adonis to quickly tag Savage in and Piper gets a shot in on Race, and then he tries to corner Savage before tagging Steamboat only for Savage to bail outside to regroup. Savage returns to the ring and they lock up with Savage getting a knee in only for Steamboat to duck a shot and he hits an armdrag, but Savage ducks a shot and quickly rolls away before tagging Race. Steamboat pounds on Race and rams him into JYD’s head before tagging him in and he knocks Race down, and he hits a trio of crawling headbutts on Race who rolls outside to regroup before returning to the ring. The crowd chants “JYD” as he fires up on Race and knocks him over the top to the floor, and Race regroups before returning to the ring as he hits a headbutt to the ribs of JYD and he hits a belly-to-belly suplex before tagging Savage. He chokes JYD on the mat and drops a knee on him for a two count before going up top only for Steamboat to force him back down, and Savage grabs at Steamboat only for Steamboat to get a shot in and JYD hits a headbutt on Savage. Steamboat tags in and hits a chop as Piper pushes Savage into a shot from Steamboat, but Savage catches Steamboat ducking with a kick and he tags Adonis who kicks at Steamboat and he hits a back suplex. Steamboat catches Adonis in the corner with a kick before tagging Piper though Adonis again retreats to the apron, but Piper pulls him back in and pounds on him as Race comes in to pull him off. Steamboat and JYD also come in and all six men brawl in the corner until Savage tosses Steamboat over the top to the apron and JYD checks on him. Race and Adonis double team Piper until JYD comes over to assist though Savage nails him in the back with an axehandle, and Adonis and Race hit a double suplex on Piper and Adonis gets a two count as Steamboat breaks the pin up. Savage grabs Steamboat from the apron only for Steamboat to block a ram into the buckle and he rams Savage into the buckle, and Piper reverses a whip into the corner only for Adonis to lock Goodnight Irene on Piper. Piper rams Adonis into the corner to break the hold and he hooks the sleeper on Adonis only for Race to break it up, and JYD tags in as does Savage and they lock up with Savage going behind JYD only for JYD to get a shot in and he hits a slam on Savage for a two count. Adonis tags in as Savage holds JYD and Adonis pounds on him only for JYD to no-sell his shots and he pounds on Adonis, but Adonis avoids a charge as he sends JYD through the ropes to the apron. Adonis goes outside as Piper goes after him and pounds on him as Race pounds on JYD, and all six men brawl on the outside as Steamboat pounds on Savage and Piper grabs a chair as he nails Adonis in the head with it. Piper and Adonis brawl up the aisle as JYD rams Savage and Race’s heads together until Race rolls back into the ring, and he attempts to suplex Piper into the ring only for Piper to escape it and he hits a back suplex on Race. He goes for the pin only for Savage to break it up as the ref declares that both JYD and Adonis have been counted out, which means that both men are eliminated and the crowd is not happy that JYD is eliminated. Race pounds on Piper and hits a clothesline before continuing to pound on him, and Savage tags in and continues to pound on Piper and chokes him on the ropes only for Piper to block a suplex attempt though Savage gets a kick in. Piper rakes Race’s eyes as Savage grabs him from behind only for Piper to ram him into the corner, but Savage grabs his leg as Race comes in and drops an elbow on Piper. Savage chokes Piper on the ropes and snaps him to the mat only for Piper to avoid a charge as Savage bounces off the ropes to the mat, but Race quickly tags in and grabs Piper only for Piper to block a suplex attempt and hit one of his own. Steamboat gets the hot tag and he fires up on Race before whipping him into the corner and knocking him down, and he drops a fist on Race and slides under him before knocking him down with a chop for a two count as Savage breaks the pin up. Piper comes in and he and Steamboat hit a double clothesline on Race for a two count, and Savage comes in only for Steamboat to knock him down as he goes up top and nails a chop on Race for a two count. Piper nails Savage coming in as Race attempts a slam only for Steamboat to counter with a small package, but the ref is distracted getting Piper out which allows Savage to roll Race on top of Steamboat which gets the three and Steamboat is eliminated much to the crowd’s dismay. Piper comes in as Race and Savage corner him briefly until Savage is forced out and Piper fires up on Race, and he whips Race inside out in the corner and drops a fist on him until Savage comes in and nails Piper from behind. Piper recovers and continues to pound on Race before knocking him over the top to the floor, and Piper goes outside and nails Race as Savage grabs a chair only for Piper to block it and he gets a shot in on Savage. Race gets a shot in on Piper as Savage pulls him back into the ring and he chokes Piper on the ropes, and he snaps Piper to the mat before going up top and hitting an axehandle on Piper for a two count. Race tags in and they pound on Piper who tries to battle back on both men as he bites Savage in the face, and Race nails him from behind and hoists him up before hitting a powerslam for a two count. Piper blocks a gutwrench suplex and hits one of his own on Race only for Savage to break the pin up, and Race pounds on Piper and holds him as Savage goes up top only for Piper to move and Savage nails Race with the axehandle by mistake. Piper takes advantage and gets the three which eliminates Race as it is now one-on-one, and the two men have a standoff as Race stands on the apron and tries to distract Piper only for Piper to whip Savage into Race which knocks him to the floor. Piper pounds on Savage in the corner and hits a running bulldog as Savage begs off in the corner, and Piper offers a handshake only to bite Savage’s hand and Savage again backs off in the corner as he spits on Piper. Piper chases Savage to the outside and forces him back into the ring only for Savage to nail him coming in, but Piper attempts a sunset flip only for Savage to nail him and then he hits a hooking clothesline for a two count. Savage goes out to the apron and drives the elbow into Piper’s throat for a two count, and then he attempts a slam only for Piper to fall on top for a two count as Savage chokes him on the mat only for Piper to return the favor. Piper hoists Savage up in a choke and slams him to the mat before pounding on him on the mat, but Savage hooks a headlock and Piper whips him off as both men clock heads which knocks Piper to the mat and Savage to the outside. Piper recovers first though he lies back down and plays possum as Savage goes up top, but Piper avoids the elbow and hooks a small package which gets the three and Piper wins the match as the sole survivor.

The match itself was very good as all six men worked hard and put on a pretty chaotic, but fun match nonetheless. This was a pretty stacked match with a lot of star power involved and they all got some decent time to shine, and I thought that it was also smart to give them 20 minutes to work with especially since it was an elimination match. Given how hot the feuds had gotten heading into this match, I thought it was smart that they put them together in this match and they all worked well together as we got some pretty cool matchups. It was pretty clear that the hottest feud was Piper/Adonis as they kept them apart for most of the match until Adonis was counted out with JYD, which made sense since JYD was clearly behind Piper and Steamboat on the face side. I thought Race looked pretty strong here as he gets a pin on Steamboat which seems a bit weird, but it made some sense since Savage was the one who caused Steamboat to get eliminated to continue that heat. Obviously, Piper looked the strongest as he ends up winning the match and stands tall in what was believed to be his last match at MSG and he left a conquering hero. I thought that Piper and Savage was a pretty cool matchup and it’s too bad where both guys were going because I think that they could’ve had a great feud and put on great matches. The commentary was pretty interesting as we had Slick on commentary instead of Bobby or Alfred and he did a decent job though you could tell he was getting on Gorilla’s nerves with some of the things he was saying. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and popped big time for Piper when he won. Piper, Steamboat, and JYD get the win over Savage, Adonis, and Race with Piper left as the sole survivor, and all six men continue on as they continue the build to Wrestlemania III.

Final Grade: ****

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