Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WWF at Madison Square Garden 6/25/88

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

As the spring comes to a close and we hit the summer of 1988, there was a feeling of excitement in the air surrounding the WWF even with Hogan having now been gone for almost two months. We have seen a bunch of new faces come in over the last few weeks and there was buzz over the upcoming brand new show in August dubbed Summerslam, and the main event scene was still as hot as ever as Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase would still in the midst of their hot feud. There is no question that Savage has been handling his spot as the top dog in the company very well as he was still incredibly over with the fans and still putting on great matches, and Dibiase was still a viable contender as they come to their third match here at MSG which you know means it’s time to break out the cage and settle their issues. It would be interesting to see if this ends the feud for good or if it’s just another match for them as we do have Summerslam in August as well as a major outdoor show set for July, so it will be interesting how this match ends up going.

Since their last match here at MSG back in May, these two would continue their feud on the house shows with Savage usually getting the win over Dibiase by pinfall, and they would mainly stay apart on TV following the match Savage had with Virgil on Superstars though they would still cut promos on each other. They were pretty smart to keep them apart from each other on TV by having them just cut promos because you knew that they would probably have a big blowoff match either on TV or at Summerslam to put that show over strong.

After being the middle of the card the last two months, these two men get the main event spot tonight as we see the cage being erected by the crew, and I always like when the announcers put over the danger of the cage and that Savage has everything to lose while Dibiase has everything to win. Dibiase gives a great promo before the match as he sounds very confident that he will walk out as champion, and Dibiase was red hot as a heel while Savage gets a huge pop from the crowd. Dibiase wastes no time and attacks Savage as he gets in the cage to start the match and he stomps on him, and he rams Savage into the buckle and pounds on him in the corner before hitting a snapmare and dropping a knee on him. Savage trips him up and drops an elbow on him as he drives the elbow into his head and rams him into the buckle, but Dibiase gets a shot in and rakes the eyes before pounding on Savage and he hits a back elbow. Savage avoids the elbow only for Dibiase to stomp on him and he drops a fist on Savage, and he knocks Savage down only to miss the knee and they trade blows until Dibiase knocks Savage down. Dibiase starts climbing up the cage only for Savage to pull him back down and he rams Dibiase repeatedly into the buckle, and Savage hits a snapmare and drops a knee on Dibiase only for Dibiase to catch him ducking by knocking him down. Dibiase hits a backbreaker on Savage and drops a fist on him twice before climbing up the cage again, but Savage grabs him and tosses him to the mat before dropping an elbow on him. Dibiase blocks a ram into the buckle and he rams Savage into the buckle before pounding on him in the corner, but Savage blocks a ram into the cage and Dibiase gets a shot in before hitting a stiff clothesline. He drops another fist on Savage and again looks to climb up the cage, but Savage again pulls him down and hangs him up in the ropes as he stomps on him before climbing up the cage himself. Virgil climbs up and nails Savage which forces him back down as Dibiase frees himself and he pounds on him, but Savage blocks a ram as he sends Dibiase face first into the cage and he climbs up the cage again. Virgil climbs up and pounds on Savage as Dibiase climbs up as well and pounds on Savage before putting him in the tree of woe, and he stomps on Savage until Savage trips him up and frees himself as he tries to climb up only for Dibiase to grab him though Savage gets a kick in. He rams Dibiase into the buckle and climbs up again only for Dibiase to grab him and pound on him before tossing him to the mat, and Dibiase goes for the door only for Savage to grab him by the leg and he pulls Dibiase back as Dibiase gets a shot in. He rakes the eyes only for Savage to reverse a whip and he hits a hooking clothesline on Dibiase, and he crawls for the door only for Dibiase to grab him and he rams Savage’s head into the mat twice. He pounds on Savage until Savage ducks a shot and both men clothesline each other, and both men climb up a side as Virgil again climbs up and pounds on Savage which causes him to fall and get his foot tied up in the ropes. Dibiase comes down as well and stomps on Savage only for Savage to block a suplex attempt and he hits one of his own, and Savage ducks a shot and hits an atomic drop on Dibiase that sends him face first into the cage. Savage quickly crawls for the door only for Virgil to take the door and slam it into his head, and Dibiase crawls for the door and is halfway out only for Savage to grab him and pull him back in. They trade blows on their knees with Savage taking control and he rams Dibiase into the cage, and he climbs up the cage as Virgil again climbs up to stop him and Savage grabs at him as Dibiase comes up from behind him. At the same time, a fan hops the guardrail and climbs up the cage to stop Virgil until security pull him down and drag him away, and Virgil tries to pull Dibiase over the cage only for Savage to ram their heads together. Dibiase falls to the mat and Virgil falls to the floor as Savage climbs over the cage and reaches the floor which gives him the win and he retains the title.

The match itself was very good as both men worked hard and put on a fun cage match that felt a bit rushed at just over 12 minutes and it could’ve easily used a few more minutes to really get cooking. You figure that since we have two guys who could go about 15-20 minutes for their matches and can put on a great, long match that they would get the time, but for some reason these last three matches have been kept between 9-13 minutes which is a crime for how good both men are. I also think that they could’ve used the cage more though I understand that the whole reason behind the cage was to keep Virgil from interfering, but clearly it didn’t work since he constantly interfered until the end when the interference finally cost him and Dibiase. You could tell that security in the building was not what it could’ve been since a fan was easily able to jump the guardrail and climb up the cage, and it would’ve been funny to see if he was able to knock Virgil off and how that would’ve affected the ending though thankfully he didn’t get too involved before he was dragged off. I thought the announcers were solid in putting over how Dibiase had nothing to lose and that Virgil was still a threat even with the cage there, but still putting over Savage for being able to overcome the interference and retain the title. Even though Savage does win pretty clean here, I think there was enough of a protection of Dibiase that he could keep chasing Savage especially since they haven’t fought on TV since Wrestlemania. The crowd was red hot for the match and popped for Savage when he won the match. Savage gets the win over Dibiase and retains the title in the cage, but this issue is not over yet.

Final Grade: ***1/2

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