Thursday, 14 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Event Poster
January 24, 1988,
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

Dusty Rhodes has an interesting reputation as a booker and a creative force in the world of professional wrestling.

On the one hand, he created War Games and came up with concepts like the Lethal Lottery which, you have to admit, was at least interesting.

On the other hand, he's the guy who thought The Shockmaster was a good idea, had a tendency to vanity-book himself into high profiles spots, and gave name to the much over-used Dusty Finish. 

The American Dream also came up with this:

The Bunkhouse Stampede:

A "street fight" style battle royal where the wrestlers wore "bunkhouse gear" (jeans, t-shirts, and boots, basically) and could use weapons to beat up their opponents with.

Over the course of several weeks, several bunkhouse stampede matches were held, with the winners all converging on Uniondale, New York to compete in tonight's final.

Of course, having created the concept, Dusty had won every single one of the past three Bunkhouse Stampede finals.

Would he win this one?

More importantly, would this be a War Games or a Shockmaster deal?







Let's go to New York to find out.

Welcome to the Bunkhouse Stampede Finals

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Jim Ross & Bob Caudle called the action
There was no fancy intro video for tonight’s show. Instead, the most basic of introductory graphics faded to the arrival of NWA Television Champion Nikita Koloff making his way to the ring.

The show then cut to our announcers for the evening, Bob Caudle and Jim Ross. The duo ran down tonight’s card before sending it to our ring announcer for the evening, the man with the most rockin’ 80s moustache-and-mullet combo in history, Tony Schiavone.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA TV Champion Nikita Koloff vs. NWA US Tag Team Champion Beautiful Bobby Eaton (w/ Jim Cornette)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Jim Cornette cheered on Bobby Eaton in a TV title match against Nikita Koloff
This could have been a great match if it didn’t start getting really stupid towards the finish.

The majority of the contest saw Bobby Eaton grind the champion into the mat and try and force him to submit to a standard armbar while Jim Cornette trash-talked The Russian Nightmare from a safe distance on the outside.

It was mostly fun in an old-school kind of way, but as the clock began counting down, you couldn’t help but feel as though Eaton was a bit of a dumb ass for not trying a different strategy to win.

Despite the fact that Koloff hadn’t submitted for the first 15 minutes of the match, the challenger continued to use the same hold for the last five when anyone with any common sense might have tried more desperate and decisive measures to capture the title.

Instead, he kept doing the same thing until Koloff made a last-minute comeback and battered his rival from pillar to post until the time ran out.
Time-Limit Draw

Afterwards, Eaton‘s partner, Sweet Stan Lane, came down to help him beat up Koloff while Cornette held back the referee.

Universal Wrestling Federation Western States Heritage Championship
UWF Western States Heritage Champion Barry Windham vs. Larry Zybysko (w/ Baby Doll)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Larry Zybysko and Barry Windham battled for the UWF Western States Herritage Championship
This was a lot of fun.

Barry Windham and Larry Zybysko played their parts well, creating a feeling that they really hated each other which helped make every move and every blow more meaningful.

The action itself was solid. The duo battled inside and outside of the ring with an intensity and urgency that the earlier match had lacked and which made the whole thing that much more enjoyable.

After the better part of 20 minutes, the referee took a tumble, allowing Zybysko to knock Windham out with Baby Doll’s shoe.

One three count later and Zybysko was the new champion.
Your Winner and New UWF Western States Heritage Champion: Larry Zybysko

Not only was Larry our new champion, but he was also our last champion. The Living Legend would hold on to the gold until he left for the AWA the following year, leaving the Western States Heritage Championship to fade away, practically unnoticed.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. Road Warrior Hawk (w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Ric Flair looks concerned as he defends the NWA world title against Road Warrior Hawk
This was a decent match that suffered due to the fact that you never really believed that Road Warrior Hawk had any chance of winning the title.

Since the outcome was something of a foregone conclusion, it was hard to get invested in the match.

Still, to be fair to them, both men did at least put a fair amount of effort in, trading the advantage several times as Ric Flair pit his wits and cunning against Hawk’s brute power.

The end came when Flair blasted Hawk with a chair right in front of the referee.
Your Winner via DQ: Road Warrior Hawk (Ric Flair retains the title)

As the ring crew set up the cage for our main event, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle ran through the show credits and reminded us how you win the bunkhouse stampede match

Throw your opponent over the top of the cage or through the door.

Right on, let’s do this:

Bunkhouse Stampede Final
NWA US Champion Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Tully Blanchard vs. Ivan Koloff vs. The Warlord vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Arn Anderson vs. Lex Luger vs. The Barbarian vs. Road Warrior Animal

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Paul Ellering leads Road Warrior Animal into battle in the Bunkhouse Stampede cage match battle royal
Yes, you read those rules right. This was basically a battle royal cage match in which you had to throw people out of the cage to lose.

It was a dumb concept because there was really no way to make it look believable. If you wanted to throw your opponent over the top of the cage, he first had to voluntarily climb to the top which, of course, he had no incentive to do.

It didn’t help either that the action wasn’t that interesting. It was one of those ‘come as you are’ affairs that Dusty Rhodes loved so much when everybody would dress in jeans, cowboy boots and sleeveless t-shirts, presumedly to add a sense of realism to the whole thing.

That was about the only thing worth mentioning here. The whole thing was just one big slow, sluggish, and bloody brawl. If you like that kind of thing then sure, then you might enjoy this match, but I doubt it.

After what felt like forever, Dusty Rhodes sent The Barbarian crashing over the top of the cage and won the Bunkhouse Stampede final for a third time.

Honestly, anyone would think he was booking the whole thing or something.
Your Winner: Dusty Rhodes

Post-match, Dusty celebrated with his cheque for ‘half a million dollars’ and an enormous boot that I assume was the Bunkhouse Stampede trophy.







Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 was not a show anybody should be in a hurry to track down.

Though this writer enjoyed the opening two matches, the fact that Bobby Eaton spent the better part of 20 minutes holding Nikita Koloff in the same hold means that the whole thing has more than its fair share of critics.

Likewise, the Zybysko/Windham bout wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but personally, I enjoyed it much more than the underwhelming world heavyweight championship match and the bland and bizarre bunkhouse cage match.



Other 1988 events:
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.