Remembering WWF’s WrestleFest ’88

Brian Damage

Professional wrestling has always been a cutthroat business in some which way or form. Promoters and / or bookers trying to get a leg up on their competition. That was the case with Vince McMahon and Jim Crockett Jr. Their wrestling war in the mid to late 1980’s was vicious and brutal at times…as noted in this piece. The year 1988 was a great example of that.

A perfect example was Crockett running a free show on TBS called Clash of Champions to counter program the WWF’s signature show Wrestlemania IV. A few months later in July of 1988, McMahon decided to run a house show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This wasn’t going to be any ordinary house show however. Vince McMahon was a “Go big or go home” type of promoter and booked the Milwaukee County Stadium…home of Major League Baseball’s Brewers to host this show. The show was called WrestleFest.

If Milwaukee seemed like a random location to host a huge outdoor stadium show…keep in mind that his rival Jim Crockett was holding a Great American Bash show the very next night in the same city. The Bash was being held at the smaller Mecca and featured a War Games match featuring Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Sting, and The Road Warriors against Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, JJ Dillon, Ric Flair, and Tully Blanchard. To counter that show, the WWF booked 15 matches that had a double main event of WWF champion Macho Man Randy Savage defending against The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase and a cage match pitting Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant.

Other notable matches saw Bret Hart vs Bad News Brown, Bobby Heenan versus the Ultimate Warrior, Honkytonk Man defending the Intercontinental title against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Demolition versus The British Bulldogs for the tag team titles. WrestleFest was also known for the return of Curt Hennig to the company right before he was given the ‘Mr. Perfect’ gimmick. Hennig had wrestled for the promotion from 1981 to 1983. Hennig defeated another newcomer to the WWF in Terry Taylor (Right before his Red Rooster gimmick). Hennig’s debut at WrestleFest in Milwaukee was also a slap to Verne Gagne and the AWA. Milwaukee was always a hotbed for the AWA and Hennig was their world champion at one point before jumping ship to the WWF.

At the time, WrestleFest was the largest wrestling show ever held in Milwaukee with a paid attendance of 25,866 fans. The gate for the show also a success for McMahon as it grossed over $300,000. In contrast, Crockett’s Great American Bash show had an attendance of 3,800 fans the next night. As mentioned earlier, WrestleFest was not a show for pay per view or closed circuit television. It was offered as an edited VHS release for Coliseum Video.

The announce team for WrestleFest was the odd team of a newcomer named Sean Mooney, Superstar Billy Graham and Lord Alfred Hayes. The entire card results were as follows…

The Big Boss Man defeated Scott Casey

Brutus Beefcake defeated Hercules

The Fabulous Rougeaus defeated The Killer Bees

Bad News Brown defeated Bret Hart

Jim Duggan defeated The Honky Tonk Man (c) by DQ in a WWF Intercontinental Championship Match

The Powers Of Pain defeated The Bolsheviks

Jim Neidhart defeated Lanny Poffo

Curt Hennig defeated Terry Taylor

Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude ended in a Double Count Out

King Haku defeated Sam Houston

The Ultimate Warrior defeated Bobby Heenan in a Loser Wears Weasel Suit Match

Demolition defeated The British Bulldogs to retain the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Dino Bravo defeated Ken Patera

Hulk Hogan defeated Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan) in a Steel Cage match

Randy Savage (c) (w/ Miss Elizabeth) defeated Ted DiBiase (w/ Virgil) to retain the WWF Championship

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