Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 5/27/88

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil) for the WWF Championship

As we continue into the spring of 1988, the WWF was still rolling along even though they were now without Hogan as he had finished up his commitments and was now off filming the movie “No Holds Barred”. With him being gone, the pressure was now on the new top dog in the WWF which was Randy Savage to try and fill that void left behind. To his credit, Savage has been doing a great job as the crowd has been behind him and he has continued to put on great matches specifically with his main rival at this time Ted Dibiase. You knew that this was going to be a long running feud that would last several months and the only question would be how long they intended the feud to last, perhaps going into the summer when Hogan was set to return. It would be interesting to see how this match would end up going after the last match ended in a countout win for Dibiase and you figured Savage would probably win though it wouldn’t be clean so they could continue the feud.

Since their last match at MSG back on 4/25, the two men would continue their feud on the house shows with Dibiase winning the next few matches by countout, and they were kept apart at the 4/30 SNME with Savage defeating the One Man Gang and Dibiase defeating Don Muraco. Savage would pin Dibiase on 5/12 in Winnipeg and on 5/13 in Omaha only for Dibiase to win the match on 5/15 in Chicago by countout, and Savage would pin Dibiase on the next few house shows heading into this show. On TV, they would cut promos on each other and almost had a few altercations that were always broken up, and on the 5/21 Superstars Savage would defeat Virgil and almost came to blows with Dibiase. This has been a really hot feud that in essence came from out of nowhere and it was one that you again hoped would go on for a few more months.

Dibiase was still red hot as a heel as he saunters down to the ring with Virgil and exuding tremendous confidence, and Savage gets a big pop from the crowd as he and Elizabeth look amazing like they usually do. Savage wastes no time and attacks Dibiase from behind to start the match, and he pounds on Dibiase in the corner and hits a hooking clothesline before going up top only to come down when Dibiase moves away and he knocks Dibiase down. He takes his robe off and rams Dibiase into the buckle before taking the belt off and he nails Dibiase with it, and Dibiase falls to the outside to regroup with Virgil before returning to the ring. They lock up and trade blows with Savage ducking a shot and he hits an atomic drop on Dibiase, and he hits a clothesline that sends Dibiase over the top to the floor and he regroups again as Virgil taunts Savage from the floor. Savage goes outside and stalks Virgil as Dibiase comes up from behind only for Savage to nail him first and he rams Dibiase into the apron, and he throws Dibiase into the ring only for Dibiase to roll back outside to regroup though Savage follows him out and chases him into the ring. Dibiase stomps on him coming in and throws him over the top to the floor as Elizabeth checks on him, and we see Dibiase has a bloody nose as he goes out to the apron and kicks Savage back to the floor before returning to the ring. Virgil throws Savage back into the ring and Dibiase pounds on him in the corner before stomping on him, and Savage tries to battle back on Dibiase only for Dibiase to get a kick in and he rams Savage into the buckle. He hits a back elbow on Savage and chokes him on the mat repeatedly before stomping on him, and he goes up to the middle rope and hits an axehandle on Savage before dropping a fist on him for a two count. He knocks Savage down and pounds on him only for Savage to catch him with an elbow twice though Dibiase blocks a ram into the buckle and he rams Savage into the buckle, and he pounds on Savage in the corner and hits a clothesline before going up to the middle rope again and hitting another axehandle on Savage for a two count. He pounds on Savage and hits a piledriver for a two count before going up to the middle rope again, but Savage nails him coming in and he gets a kick in before driving the elbow into the head three times as he knocks him down. Dibiase begs off as Savage kicks at him and rams him into the buckle repeatedly, and he hotshots Dibiase on the top rope before returning to the ring and he drives the elbow into Dibiase’s head twice. Dibiase avoids another charge and sends Savage through the ropes to the outside as Elizabeth checks on him, and Dibiase goes outside and rams Savage into the apron before pounding on him. He hits a slam on the floor and rolls back into the ring before pulling Savage into the ring and hitting a back elbow, Dibiase drops a fist on Savage and hits a clothesline before dropping a pair of fists on him for a two count, and Savage tries to battle back as Dibiase pounds on him and Savage starts to fire up only for Dibiase to rake the eyes. He hits a suplex on Savage for a two count as Virgil gets on the apron and takes the padding off the buckle while the ref is distracted by Elizabeth on the apron, but Savage blocks the ram into the exposed buckle and he rams Dibiase into the exposed buckle only for Virgil to come in and break the pin up which draws the DQ and Savage retains the title. After the match, he stomps on Savage until Savage grabs his foot and tosses him to the mat before stomping on him in the corner, but Dibiase nails Savage from behind and stomps on him as he knocks him to the outside. Savage regroups and grabs the title as he slides in the ring and clears Virgil and Dibiase out of the ring, and Savage celebrates with the title as Elizabeth gets in the ring and he puts her on his shoulder as they pose for the crowd. Just then, Dibiase and Virgil run back into the ring and knock Savage down as Elizabeth remarkably lands on her feet, and they stomp on Savage and pound on him as officials come out and separate them before sending Dibiase and Virgil to the back as Savage chases after them.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid match that was better than their match last month, but still not quite up to their match back in March at SNME. I liked how they played off of their last match with Savage jumping Dibiase from behind and getting off to a faster start, and then Dibiase controlled a majority of the match though again it felt a tad bit short and could’ve used a few more minutes to really get cooking. I also thought this could’ve been in the main event spot of the night since the rest of the card was pretty underwhelming and they should’ve went on last even with the DQ finish. I didn’t mind the DQ finish because again they had to keep the feud going and at least they had Savage get the win this time after Dibiase won last month, so you knew that these two would have one more match and it seemed pretty obvious what the match would be after Virgil got involved in both matches. The only issue is the commentary as it was weird not hearing Gorilla or Alfred and instead having to deal with Roger Kent and Billy Graham, which is so bizarre since Graham was a great promo in his day but he is not the best at commentary. The crowd was red hot for the match and popped big for Savage when he won. Savage gets the win over Dibiase by DQ and retains the title, but this issue is not over yet.

Grade: ***

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