In this week's edition we travel back to 24th January 1988 for NWA's one and only Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. WWF just so happened to hold the inaugral Royal Rumble on the same day, Mats Wilander was defeating Pat Cash in the final's of the Australian Open Tennis and Belinda Carlise was rocking the UK charts with Heaven is Place on Earth.
The PPV focused around the eponymous Bunkhouse Stampede match, an eight man battle royal with a Steel cage around the ring. Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes, Ivan Koloff, Lex Luger, Road Warrior Animal, The Barbarian, The Warlord and Tully Blanchard are all on hand to take part it that one, whilst Ric Flair, Road Warrior Hawk, Bobby Eaton, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff and more appear on the undercard.
Before the show kicked off the Nassau Colliseam was treated to a dark match that saw Sting & Jimmy Garvin go over The Sheepherders by disqualification in 11 minutes and 45 seconds.
Match 1 - NWA World Television Championship -
Nikita Koloff (C)
Bobby Eaton with Jim Cornette
I can't get my head around the opening match of a PPV going to a 20 minute time limit draw. I mean, maybe if it's a balls to the wall kind of bout with loads of near falls, fought at a fast past that leaves both men exhausted, then perhaps it might just about work, lifting the crowd for the rest of the show. But this is completely the opposite. Despite the commentary team of Jim Ross and Bob Caudle putting over the idea that Eaton should be using his pace to get the better of the stronger Koloff, he decides to do the complete opposite and we get Eaton slapping on a hammerlock at every given opportunity. One of them lasts for four minutes. Four minutes of Nikita Koloff in a hammerlock. Take my monies, NWA.
There's a few moments that manage to stop this one being a complete dud, like a sweet missile dropkick from Eaton and Jim Cornette running his mouth at ringside (although he's pretty redundant in the story of the bout), but that's maybe a minute worth of stuff in a 20 minute bout. I found myself willing the time to go quicker, with the ring announcer letting us know how long was left in the bout, and anyone with a brain knowing exactly what was going to happen when the pair refused to up the pace for the entirety of the bout. If someone offer you the opportunity of watching this match or placing your testicles in deep fat fryer, take up the latter option.
Winner - NO ONE via time-limit draw in 20 minutes *STILL CHAMPION*
Next PPV - Koloff would be in action at NWA's next PPV The Great American Bash in July, teaming with Sting to challenge for Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard's WORLD tag team titles in ANOTHER time limit draw! Eaton would also be in tag team action, with Midnight Express partner Stan Lane, winning the UNITED STATES tag titles from The Fantastics.
Match 2 - UWF Western States Heritage Championship
Barry Windham (C)
Larry Zybszko with Baby Doll
There is absolutely no need for this one to go almost 20 minutes, after the previous bout had gone to a time limit draw. The three (including Baby Doll as she plays a big part in the bout, well it's conclusion, at least) clearly didn't have 20 minutes worth of ideas and therefore this bout is full of stalling and rest holds. Although, I'm not sure I'd call a heel hook a rest hold, but that's how it's treated here. I found it hard to suspend my disbelief that Windham would either be able to take the pain for the length of time he spent in the hold, or it the hold wasn't hurting that much that he would just quickly get out of it. Windham sold the leg well for a while, but quickly forgot about towards the end. The one big spot that the injury lead to, the looked like Zybszko was supposed to rotate out of a vertical suplex to get a cover, was completely botched and ended up in a some kind of weird brain buster situation.
That being said, this a much better bout than the opening contest, with the duo at least trying to put together some decent sequences of action, with the pace really building in the last five minutes or so. I thought that the finish was perhaps trying to be a bit too clever, with the ref getting bumped and Windham believing he won the match with a small package because, according to Jim Ross, Baby Doll was counting the pinfall at ringside. Of course, the cameras completely missed this and Windham celebrated like the stupid babyface he is with the referee clearly down in the corner. Baby would hand Zybszko hear shoe, which would lead to "The Living Legend" winning the title when the ref miraculously recovered.
Winner - Zbyszko via pinfall in 19 minutes and 16 seconds
Next PPV - Barry Windham would defend his newly won United States Heavyweight Championship against Dusty Rhodes at The Great American Bash. Zybszko wouldn't be seen again on PPV until February 1991's WrestleWar where he'd team with Barry Windham, Ric Flair and Sid Vicious to defeat Flyin' Brian, Sting and The Steiner Brothers in the main event War Games match.
Match 3 - NWA World Heavyweight Championship -
Ric Flair (C) with JJ Dillon
Road Warrior Hawk with Paul Ellering
With the majority of NWA's World title calibre talent in the main event, Road Warrior Hawk got World title shot, because why not? This is the strongest match on the card, but it featured Ric Flair so you should have known that already. Flair leads Hawk to an enjoyable 21 minutes (yes another, long ass match, but this one probably deserved the time most) that tells a solid story of Flair being unable to match Hawk's power, so resorting to a number of cheap tricks (low blows, eye rakes etc.) to take control of proceedings. The prototypical chicken shit heel, it was cool to see all the Flair trademarks present here, including working the leg after Hawk injures his knee doing a fist drop (Figure that one out!)
It's a real shame that this match has such a terrible finish. Flair just twats Hawk with a chair in front of the referee and get's disqualified. Like what the fuck Flair? You're more clever than that. Get Dillon to distract the ref then hit Hawk in the knee with the chair and slap on the Figure Four. Was it that hard? This is babyface levels of stupidity. This finish may have been acceptable if we'd gone less than ten mintues, but heading past the 21 minute mark and pulling this shit is not cool. I was invested in the action and wanted a conclusive finish. Damn you, Dusty Rhodes and you're stupid booking.
Winner - Hawk via disqualification in 21 minutes, 39 seconds. *STILL CHAMPION*
Next PPV - At The Great American Bash, Flair succesfully defended his title against Lex Luger in the main event. Road Warrior Hawk would slip down the card to compete in the Tower of Doom match, teaming with Jimmy Garvin, Ronnie Garvin, Steve Williams and Road Warrior Animal to defeat Al Perez, Ivan Koloff, Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda and The Russian Assassin
There's a lovely bit of stalling before the main event, as Ross and Caudle scramble to cover time as the steel cage is put up. Highlights include Caudle running down the behind the scenes staff who have put the show together, the pair trying to make sense of the finish of the Windham vs. Zbyszko bout and covering the previous Bunkhouse Stampede bouts. It's at a point like this that WWE would throw to a backstage segment today.
Match 4 - Steel Cage Bunkhouse Stampede
Road Warrior Animal
This gimmick is just stupid. It really is. Think about it, it's a battle royal, so to be eliminated your feet need to touch the floor, but the ring is surrounded by a steel cage. So how on earth is someone going to make your feet touch the floor, if you don't want them to? Stay on the ground and stay away from the door and you'll perfectly fine, right? Nah, guys are climbing onto the top rope and rolling around by the open door and all sorts. This makes it ridiculously hard to suspend your disbelief for the entirety of the bout. I get the idea that the cage is there to make things harder and to make a wrestler look stronger for eliminating everyone, but in practice it just doesn't work.
The first elimination is Warlord and Barbarian getting Koloff over the top after SIXTEEN minutes. SIXTEEN minutes for the first elimination. What happened in those first sixteen minutes? Absolutely nothing. There's some brawling and some more brawling and then a little bit more brawling. With eight men in there, all going at for themselves, this is pretty boring. The other eliminations come through the door and involved multiple people falling out the door, with Warlord and Animal both tumbling out at around the 18 minutes mark, before Anderson, Luger and Blanchard awkwardly exit the cage about four minutes later. None of these eliminations make anyone look good and neither do they make me want to see a fight between any of the competitors in the near future.
In fact, no one comes out of this one looking like a star, because there is really no attempt to tell a story and what you get is eight guys wandering around hitting each other for 26 minutes. Even the winner Dusty Rhodes doesn't look as good as I'm sure he was hoping he would have when he booked himself to win his FOURTH Bunkhouse Stampede in a row, as despite being a little bloodied, he only manages to eliminate Barbarian and does very little else all match. On the strength of this shit alone, Rhodes deserved to get fired from his job as booker, if you look at the booking at the booking for the rest of the PPV it's surprising that he ever got given the book again.
Winner - Dusty Rhodes in 26 minutes, 21 seconds
Next PPV - At The Great American Bash, Dusty Rhodes would get a shot at Barry Windham's NWA United States Heavyweight Championship, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard would team up to defend the NWA World Tag Team titles in a time limit draw with Nikita Koloff & Sting, Lex Luger would challenge for Ric Flair's NWA World Heavyweight championship and Road Warrior Animal and Ivan Koloff would be on opposite sides of a Tower of Doom match. The Barbarian and The Warlord would jump to the WWF, becoming the Powers of Pain, defeating The Bolsheviks at SummerSlam in August.
ATPW Scale Rating - 3.5/10
This is a piss-poor PPV, avoid it in it's full form at all costs. Ric Flair, at least, manages to pull an entertaining bout out of Road Warrior Hawk, that is worth a watch if you get the chance, but even that is hampered with some stupid, stupid booking. The opener and the main event are just terrible, with the opener being one of the most boring bouts that I've ever seen.
This PPV deserves it's place on the ATPW Scale (for the time being, at least) of dead last!
NEXT TIME - WCW Halloween Havoc 1998
Diamond Dallas Page challenges Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, Sting, Scott Hall and Raven are also on the card. Oh...and the infamous rematch between Hollywood Hogan and The (Ultimate) Warrior.