Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that should be exiled from the business like Hannibal! It’s WCW Bunkhouse Stampede 1988, a new year brings new wrestlers, new angles and possible new stars! So what do we have on our plates tonight? Well it seems to be the night where tag team wrestlers go solo as Bobby Eaton challenges Nikita Koloff for the NWA Television Championship while Road Warrior Hawk challenges Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Larry Zbyszko takes on Barry Windham for the UWF Western States Championship and the main event is a Bunkhouse Stampede match which should be all sorts of fun! Smaller card, long matches. Winning formula or recipe for disaster? Let’s find out!
(NWA Television Championship Match) Nikita Koloff © vs Bobby Eaton W/ Jim Cornette
Everyone knows Bobby Eaton is one of the best workers of all time but can he carry Koloff to a fun match? Cornette talks strategy with Eaton before the match, they hug and get lots of heat out of one hug. Lock-up with Koloff and Eaton breaking even, Cornette continues talking with Eaton. Another lock-up with Eaton backing up Nikita, clean break from Eaton. Hammerlock from Nikita, Eaton goes right to the ropes. Eaton lands massive rights to the faces of Nikita but Nikita answers with a massive shoulder block. Nikita works the arm and takes down Eaton, they end up on the floor and Eaton rakes the eyes. Nikita blocks the buckle and sends Eaton into the ring-post, Eaton lands a side headlock takedown.
Nikita manages to escape and powerslam Eaton, knee and side headlock takedown from Eaton. Nikita reverses the hold but cannot maintain control, Eaton lands a terrific right hand and batters Nikita on the floor. Nikita manages to send Eaton into the ring-post shoulder-first. Hammerlock throw into the ring-post and a hip-toss on the concrete, Eaton begs for mercy. Eaton rakes the eyes and distracts Nikita, clubbing blows weaken The Russian Nightmare. Elbow drop for two, hammerlock from Eaton. Cornette sucks chants ring throughout the arena, Nikita begins to come up out of the hold. Elbows from Nikita and a shoulder block before Eaton lands a massive knee to the ribs. Eaton lands a beautiful missile dropkick for two, Eaton continues working the arm in a hammerlock and slapping the head of Nikita. Nikita elbows out of the hold and lands a Russian Sickle into the ropes, Eaton lands a single arm DDT into the hammerlock. Nikita elbows his way out of the hold, Eaton lands a big knee to the guy and the single arm DDT. Another hammerlock from Eaton, Nikita escapes and sends Eaton to the corner before nailing The Russian Sickle but time expires as Nikita is beaten up by The Midnight Express.
How to waste twenty minutes of my time? This match was an awful lot of nothing with Eaton working the arm and sitting in that hold for God knows how long, how they thought this would be a good way to open their PPV, I have no earthly idea. Nikita has gone down so much in my eyes because they keep making him work these awful matches that do him no favours, WCW in 1988 is a peculiar company for sure.
(UWF Western States Heritage Championship Match) Barry Windham © vs Larry Zbyszko W/ Baby Doll
Baby Doll pokes Windham over and over, Windham is having none of it while Zbyszko is not very happy about anything. I don’t want a slow match following what I had to watch previously, they lock-up and Windham tosses Zbyszko across the ring with an arm-drag. Zbyszko brings Windham to the ropes, clean break from Zbyszko. Side headlock from Windham, Zbyszko eats a shoulder block, make it two. Zbyszko eats a hip-toss too with Zbyszko rolling to the floor and rethinking his strategy. Zbyszko trips up Windham, working the leg but Zbyszko gets flustered by Windham paint-brushing him. Zbyszko misses a dropkick and hurts his back bad, The Living Legend is not a happy man.
Hammerlock from Zbyszko, Windham counters into a fireman’s carry. Windham continues to out-wrestle Zbyszko which frustrates the challenger even more, Baby Doll and Windham are having words. Zbyszko goes after the bandaged knee of Windham, Windham elbows Zbyszko in the back of the head and Zbyszko wants no part of a brawl with Windham. The stalling is unreal here, when are we getting into the meat of this match? Shoulder block from Zbyszko, Windham reverses with a drop toehold and applies a headlock before Zbyszko drop toeholds Windham and applies a single leg Boston crab like manoeuvre. Windham escapes and lands a powerslam followed by a scoop slam, Windham misses a diving elbow drop as Zbyszko moves out of the way.
Zbyszko works the leg, another stretch from the challenger. Back-breaker for two, Zbyszko slaps on a sleeper. Belly to back suplex from Windham, drop toehold from Zbyszko to work the leg. Windham uses elbows to stagger Zbyszko, the challenger goes down hard. Dropkick from Windham, beautiful suplex for two. Windham slaps on a sleeper, Zbyszko manages to reach the ropes to survive. To the floor, Windham bounces Zbyszko off an announce table, Zbyszko manages to throw Windham into the ring-post. Windham pulls down Zbyszko and sends the challenger into the ring-post by his tender parts. Windham misses a flying crossbody as Zbyszko drops down, backslide from Windham for two.
Windham blocks a piledriver and back body-drops Zbyszko, Baby Doll is screaming at the challenger to get up, Windham blocks the right and nails one of his own, Windham whips Zbyzko and drops down with both men banging heads. Windham is sent to the corner, Zbyszko misses a corner knee. Windham lands big right hands, ten punches in the corner. Whip to the buckle again but the referee was in the way, Windham schoolboys Zbyszko but Baby Doll pounds the mat and Windham believes it was the referee. Meanwhile, Baby Doll gives Zbyszko her high heel as the referee is checked on by Windham and Zbyszko clocks Windham in the head for the win.
After watching the first match go to a time-limit draw, imagine my excitement at this match going nearly as long with lots of stalling on the part of Zbyszko. Yeah, I was less than thrilled at this point and this was a tough one to sit through despite the crowd’s support of Windham.
Winner: Larry Zbyszko over Barry Windham via High Heel To The Head!
(NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match) Ric Flair © vs Road Warrior Hawk
Hawk wants to murder Flair which is always a fun concept, Hawk shoves down Flair to begin the proceedings. Side headlock from Hawk, Flair backs Hawk to the corner. Chop with no effect, Flair chops back but runs into a shoulder block and is pressed to the mat. Hawk does it again with Flair screaming out in pain, Hawk stomps the bejesus out of The Nature Boy. Hawk pummels Flair, hip-toss out of the corner. Flair asks for Dillon to help, Flair is on the floor by the fans. Suplex from the apron into the ring, Flair’s chops do nothing on Hawk. Flying shoulder tackle from Hawk, Hawk continues destroying Flair until a cheeky low blow turns the tide.
Boot from Flair and a chop too, Flair rakes the eyes for extra emphasis. Eye rake from Flair, snap-mare into a knee drop from Flair. Hawk powers out at two, Hawk is thrown to the floor by the champion. Hawk meets the barricade hard, more chops and right hands as Hawk meets the guardrail. Flair climbs high and lands a diving axe handle, snap-mare and a knee-drop from The Nature Boy. Two for Flair again, Flair begins working the leg of Hawk. Dropping his weight on the knee, another low blow behind the referee’s back. Precious Paul is backing down JJ Dillon, knees and right hands from Flair. Flair drills Hawk with a belly to back suplex and slides to the floor, Hawk’s knee meets the ring-post. Figure For Leg-Lock from The Nature Boy, Hawk is screaming out in pain.
Hawk turns the tide by reversing the pressure on Flair, Flair has to break the hold. Flair screams out the name of the lord while getting back to his feet, elbow to the head of Hawk. Flair scrambles to the top rope, Hawk walks over gingerly and yanks Flair off the top rope. Flair whips Hawk to the corner, Hawk explodes with a clothesline taking out Flair and the referee, Hawk ducks a clothesline and sends Flair to the floor. Hawk powerslams Flair, right hands in the corner and a clothesline. I think Flair is bleeding because why not? Eye-poke from Flair and Flair is up high again, Hawk cuts off Flair again. Superplex from Hawk but there is still no referee, JJ Dillon cracks Hawk with a chair. Hawk is back up, Dillon is backing up as Flair grabs the chair. Flair waffles Hawk with the chair, Hawk kicks out of the chair-shot. Suplex by Flair, Hawk pops right back up.
Hawk lands ten punches in the corner and a fist drop, Flair is begging for mercy but goes low with a knee and cracks Hawk again with the chair. No effect on Hawk but the referee has to call for the bell. Hawk whips Flair into the buckle and Flair runs off before being blasted with the chair.
It was fine, nothing different from Nikita Koloff vs Flair. Hawk does all sorts of awesome power moves before Flair works the knee and gets caught, referee bump happens and shenanigans ensues. As a PPV match, having two tag team wrestlers wrestle for singles’ championships is an odd one for sure plus with two non-clean finishes, I don’t think the NWA were going to win over any new fans.
Winner: Hawk over Ric Flair via DQ!
(Bunkhouse Stampede Match)
Eight men who have won previous Stampede matches meet so what is this match? Basically, a cage match where you throw people over the top while wrestling in street fight clothes. Interesting concept? Not really but Dusty Rhodes was very out there in terms of ideas, some were great and some were not so great. So we have Dusty Rhodes, Ivan Koloff, Tully Blanchard, The Warlord, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, The Barbarian and Road Warrior Animal. Everyone is brawling to begin, not going to be much structure to this one I imagine. The Horsemen attack Luger and Rhodes, Rhodes goes after Koloff. Animal looks to shove out Blanchard but The Barbarian goes after Animal, Koloff will not be eliminated by Rhodes. Luger is taking a pounding from The Horsemen, Rhodes bites the head of Koloff while managing to nail some vicious elbows while he is at it. Barbarian comes after Rhodes, lots of brawling here making it quite difficult to recap.
Koloff and Blanchard are bleeding after being sent into the cage over and over, Luger and Rhodes are dominating, Blanchard is getting rocked by Rhodes. Luger rakes the head of Anderson off the cage wall who is now bleeding, Koloff goes after Luger but it is not working out for The Russian Bear. Warlord and Barbarian batter Animal, the babyfaces begin firing up and taking down the heels in the match. Rhodes whips everyone with Blanchard’s belt, the crowd comes alive briefly. Animal is whipping everyone standing tall in the middle of the ring. Animal and Rhodes are working together to take down the heels, Rhodes whips Koloff. Nearly everyone is bleeding by this point as Luger continues to brawl with The Horsemen.
Animal knocks Barbarian down with a flying shoulder tackle, Luger is using Anderson’s boot to batter Tully but Tully scores big with a low blow. Koloff and The Horsemen attack Luger, Barbarian and Warlord are chopping the shit out of Luger. Tully is trying to choke Koloff out of the door, Koloff survives that onslaught. All of a sudden, Animal picks up Koloff and Koloff cannot hold on and gets thrown to the floor, finally an elimination. Luger rakes the face of Barbarian across the top rope, Animal picks up Blanchard and throws Blanchard onto Anderson. Animal throws Warlord into the cage, Rhodes stalks his opponents as Animal boots and boots Warlord but Barbarian ends up booting both men out of the ring.
Down to five, Horsemen brawl with Rhodes and Luger. Barbarian is down currently as Luger powerslams Blanchard. Luger racks Blanchard, Barbarian stomps all over Rhodes. Horsemen try dumping out Luger, Luger is fighting back though, Luger kicks off both men. Luger is near the door still though, Blanchard is trying to get behind Luger but they are all near the door. Luger and The Horsemen are by the door, Luger continues to brawl and brawl. Anderson and Blanchard work on eliminating Luger and they all end up being thrown out in a rather disappointing event so now we only have two-time champion Rhodes and Barbarian. Paul Jones hands Rhodes an object, Rhodes is drilled in the eye with the object. Rhodes and Barbarian are by the door, Barbarian pushes and pushes but Rhodes clubs and elbows the dastardly Barbarian. Irish whip and an elbow from Rhodes, Rhodes and Barbarian are on top of the cage. Rhodes almost has Barbarian over the top, massive elbow from Rhodes. Make it double and Rhodes wins the match.
Imagine a battle royal with no drama or suspense and all the participants are limited to what they can do because of the cage, you picture that? Well that’s this shit-show. Not a problem with a match like this going 8 to 10 minutes and getting out of my way but no this match goes on forever. Twenty-six minutes of people sloppily punching one another, getting colour and walking around out of breath for a finish that you could see from space. It’s unbearable like not one redeeming quality from this match, I can’t imagine why they thought this was a good idea let alone the idea they had for a PPV. A baffling match concept made even dumber by the laughable wrestling that was going on inside of it, a total waste of time and God bless anyone who enjoyed that match because it was torturous for me to sit through.
Winner: Dusty Rhodes!
WCW’s Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 is a horrendous first attempt at PPV by Dusty Rhodes and Co. 4 lengthy matches that do not deliver or live up to that PPV hype. Nikita again works a 20-minute match where all his flaws are on display, Nikita is not the best seller nor the best at going so long inside the ring so why the insistence on doing so to the man? Let the man do what he does best and brawl and batter people. This notion that it has to be 20 minutes kills the interest in the match and the crowd despite how good Bobby Eaton is inside that ring. Things don’t pick up with Larry Zybszko stalling and stalling and stalling and stalling! It just feels like it is never going to end and that’s a terrible feeling to have in a wrestling match. Hawk vs Flair is fine but I have seen it before, I have seen the formula and I want something different or maybe more interesting? The DQ finish just puts down the match further in my eyes and then that main event, arguably one of the dumbest stipulations I have ever heard of and when everyone is plodding along lazily with a bit of colour with no real rhyme or reason to the match, I tune out and I tuned out big time. One of my least favourite PPVs to cover of all-time with a shockingly dreadful main event. Avoid like a plague! Thanks for reading and remember: there’s always another night!