Way back in March 2019 (which feels to me like ancient history or some alternate universe), I posted an article called “Tag War ’89, Part 1” in which I praised the excellent ring psychology exhibited by the Brain Busters — Arn & Tully — as they dominated the cute Young Rockers — Marty & Shawn.
At that time, it was my intention to locate and write up more great battles between these top notch Tag Team artists during their hot feud, to analyze the excellent story-telling and dive deep into the hot Heel Mastery and Face-in-Peril Agony as they faced off 69 times in under a year. But then I got distracted by other great wrestling, and then I did some traveling, and then the world went haywire, and now here we are. There was never a Part 2 to my Busters-vs.-Rockers “series.” Until today.
A few days ago, one of my wrestling beat-off buddies (who understands my kinks very well) sent me some links to great matches he’s enjoyed recently on YouTube. Wouldn’t you know one of the links he sent me was a match between the Busters and the Rockers which I’m recapping today. The video quality is really crisp and clean, the close-up camera-work is great, and of course the Tag Team rasslin action does not disappoint, so it ticks all the boxes to be written up on this blog. My dude hooked me up for sure by sending me this link.
So why did my buddy link me to this particular video? Did he recall reading Part 1 of my series and my plan to Blog more about this legendary feud, or does he just know I’m a sucker for the sort of Heel brutality and pretty-boy suffering exhibited in this bout? Whatever his motives, his choice definitely hit me in my sweet spot that craves one-sided Tag Team domination inflicted by thick Heel Daddies on young, high-flyin’ Good Guys. Thanks bud!
At first I thought this may be the same match I had reviewed in Part 1 of this series because it’s so similar. We see the same gear worn by both teams as in the prior match. Same clueless ref. The red, white & blue ring ropes are the same. We see many of the same “spots” performed in both matches. However, there are some key differences in the flow of the match, different commentators, and the camera angles are different (and superior) in this more recent video.
So I was curious when this newer match took place — whether it occurred before or after the other one I reviewed in Part 1 of this series. I know that the other match took place on 12/17/1988 in Philadelphia, but this more recent upload does not identify the date it was filmed.
However we see the letters “MSG” in the title, which provides a clue because MSG probably stands for “Madison Square Garden.” I think I was able to find the date of this match on one of those websites that lists every match in a wrestler’s career and who won:
I found just one instance where the Brain Busters defeated the Rockers (spoiler alert) in Madison Square Garden and that was on January 23, 1989 — so I’m thinking this video is from that event, a month and a week after their bout in Philly.
To illustrate the superior cinematography in the newer video, let’s compare both instances of Shawn’s Dick-to-Face Flying Headscissor near the end of his Babyface Shine, where he flips Arn and then tea-bags him while drilling him in the forehead a few times:
We can also compare the Cut-Off move, performed just the same in both matches. Shawn foolishly chases Tully around the ring, where Arn is waiting to clothesline the gullible kid — utterly knocking the fight out of him. Here is how it went down in Philly in December ’88:
And here is the same Spot from the January 1989 bout. I love how airhead Shawn fell for this same trick — what a dummy! Doesn’t this chump recall being ambushed at ringside like this, just 5 weeks prior??
The Cut-Off is followed (in both matches) by a long, delicious Face-in-Peril performance by Shawn Michaels, which continues for 4.5 minutes in the Philly match and a wonderful 7 minutes in the New York match. Shawn repeatedly flops like a European soccer player who got tripped and is trying to draw a penalty, flat on his back and in great woe and misery. It’s beautiful.
Here are more images of Shawn getting his ass kicked by the Brain Busters in the MSG beat-down — my fav part of any Young Rockers match:
As they do in many of their matches against the Rockers, Arn locks Shawn in an Ab Stretch, then joins hands with Tully to double the pressure. The camera is all over Shawn’s woeful expressions.
Here is how I described the Joined Hands Ab Stretch scene in Part 1 of this series:
“One of my favorite moments occurred when Arn locked Shawn in the Ab Stretch, a spot they will enact frequently in their 69 matches with the Rockers, as you will see in future articles on this feud. We see the dirty cheaters join hands, working together to separate Shawn’s ribs. This moment perfectly illustrates their Heel cruelty and naughtiness contrasted with Shawn’s martyrdom.“
By the way, Lord Alfred Hayes is criticized in the comments posted to this video for his verbal errors in calling the match. For example, he uses the phrase “Tag Team-ship” and he confuses Shawn with Marty a couple times. But I thought several of his comments were very thrilling and colorful, such as:
When Michaels is clobbered by Arn at ringside: “He followed the lion into the lion’s den there, and he GOT CAUGHT!”
After the Spinebuster: “GREAT move by Anderson. Took that man clean out of mid-air, slammed him down, did maximum damage there to Michaels.”
Shawn unable to reach the tag: “He has taken such a CRUEL amount of punishment in this last five, six, or seven minutes. It’s hard to believe that a youngster could really stand up to that!”
Mmm, keep it up Lord Hayes!
Eventually Shawn makes the Hot Tag and Jannetty rages against both Brain Busters. Jannetty then tries for a Suplex and, just like he did 5 weeks prior, Arn trips the fool so Tully can pin him. Here is Arn taking down Marty in Philadelphia in December:
And here is Arn making a stooge of Jannetty, the perennial loser, in Madison Square Garden in January:
This match was a treat — the beefy old Brain Busters were appropriately cruel and sneaky and unbeatable. The “inexperienced” young Heroes were hunky and gullible, repeatedly falling for the same old dirty tricks the Brain Busters pull every time they wrestle. And it’s fun to see Shawn endure the abuse for most of these matches, only for clumsy Marty to tag in and lose the match every time. How humiliating for Marty and frustrating for Shawn.
Thanks Guy Who Sent Me This Link — I owe you one in return.