The WWE Network uploaded several WWF on Z Channel events from the Los Angeles Sports Arena. In this review, I look at the first WWF on Z Channel special.
First, a brief history of Z Channel
In 1974, Theta Cable launched a pay-TV station called the Z Channel in the Los Angeles area. The avant-garde movie channel was later acquired by Group W (Westinghouse Broadcasting) in 1981. In 1987, Group W sold Z Channel to Seattle-based Rock Associates. The station was later sold again to Cablevision and NBC in 1989, who were running SportsChannel as part of a joint venture.
The history of Z Channel is an interesting one for people into cinema and television history. It featured a wide variety of films that ranged from B movies, foreign films, silent films, and unedited cuts of films. Z Channel would also have an influence on directors such as Quentin Tarantino, and is credited for helping Woody Allen’s 1977 film “Annie Hall” win the Academy Award for Best Picture due to it being heavily aired during the voting weeks. The station is also credited for being the first to popularize “Director’s Cuts” and letterbox broadcasts on television.
By 1988, the station went from airing movies and content related to cinema to adding sports to its programming. The station had begun airing Dodgers, Angels, and Clippers games. Also that year, the Z Channel began broadcasting World Wrestling Federation house shows from the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
In 1989, the Z Channel would be turned into SportsChannel Los Angeles. The Z Channel’s last broadcast before fading to black was a showing of the John Ford film My Darling Clementine on June 29th, 1989. At its peak, the Z Channel had about 110,000 subscribers.
There’s more to the Z Channel story and the story of its program director Jerry Harvey than what I’ve wrote. The station had a real impact on the entertainment industry that’s worth looking into.
WWF on Z Channel – July 15th, 1988
Note: The Iron Sheik defeated Terry Taylor in a dark match on this event.
Scott Casey vs. Big Boss Man
We start things off with Scott Casey already in the ring. The referee kept trying to get Boss Man to remove his badge before the match. This was used to get some heat. Casey used speed and technique to get the better of Boss Man before he mounted a comeback. Boss Man was an entertaining heel in this one, as he would trash talk Casey while working him over. He would also play to the crowd a lot to get some boos. Boss Man worked over Casey with a bear hug, and Casey countered one by biting Boss Man’s nose. Casey mounted a quick comeback before the Big Boss Man hit a Bossman Slam for the victory.
After the match, Boss Man handcuffed Scott Casey, and started beating him with a nightstick for a bit. Billy Graham was really upset about this on commentary.
The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs. Los Conquistadores (Conquistador Uno & Dos)
Some fans around my age might remember “Los Conquistadores” best as a gimmick used by Edge & Christian in the late 90s. In this match, Los Conquistadores are played by Jose Luis Rivera (Uno) and and Jose Estrada, Sr. (Dos). The Rockers came out to the Ultimate Warrior’s theme song.
The pace in the opening sequences was pretty good. There was a spot with the Rockers doing stereo Slingshot Planchas. early in the match The fans were really into the Rockers’ offense. Halfway through the match, Jesse Ventura came out to ringside and joined the commentary team. He started to bicker with Billy Graham for a bit. Los Conquistadores worked over Shawn Michaels halfway through the match. They used various heel tactics to prevent Marty from getting a tag from Michaels. Shawn eventually got a hot tag, and Marty cleaned house. The Rockers got the win when Marty pinned one of the Conquistadores after Shawn hip tossed Marty on him, followed by Shawn delivering a top rope fist drop. This was a fun match.
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. Andre The Giant
Ar this point in his career, Andre was in a tremendous amount of physical pain. Moving around was a chore for the guy. You could see the pain in his face when he would do something physical.
There was a lot of stalling at the beginning of the match. Andre mostly stood on the ring apron, which got a lot of heat from the crowd. There was more action involving Duggan having Billy Graham watch over his 2×4. Eventually Andre got in the ring and put Hacksaw in a nerve hold. The match was mostly Andre using holds and strikes on Duggan, who played to the crowd to help rally him back into the match. Duggan made a comeback and got Andre to the ground. Andre got the win after hitting Duggan with a big boot while also having his feet on the ropes during the pin.
After the match, Duggan protested to the referee. The referee asked Andre if he used his feet on the ropes, and Andre denied it. He was then attacked by Duggan with his 2×4.
Sean Mooney interviewed Jake Roberts about his match with Rick Rude. They’re doing an angle involving Jake’s wife. After that, an interview with Rick Rude is played. He was upset his music wasn’t playing.
Weasel Suit Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
This match was included on “Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection.” The gimmick for this match is simple. The loser gets put inside a weasel suit. This was Bobby Heenan’s signature match in the AWA that the WWF ended up using. Warrior came out to his own music, so the fans heard his theme song twice that night. He was really over with the crowd.
Heenan wanted no part of the match and kept trying to stall, which drew “weasel” chants from the crowd. When the referee tried to get him back in the ring, Heenan said ‘I don’t give a shit!” Shit was bleeped out though, but it was still amusing. Warrior eventually got Heenan inside the ring, but Heenan kept running from Warrior. It turned into a cat-and-mouse game before Warrior caught him again. The match wasn’t anything special quality wise, but the crowd was really into it. Heenan used an object and got some punches in, but Warrior made a comeback and Heenan took some bumps in the corners. Warrior applied a sleeper hold on Heenan to put him to sleep for the win, and then he put the weasel suit on Heenan.
After Heenan regained consciousness, Heenan flipped out. This was a pretty funny segment.
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. Bad News Brown
Before the match, Brown got on the mic and complained about being booed by the crowd. Neidhart ran out during his promo and attacked him leading to a quick brawl, which the fans enjoyed. Billy Graham made a joke about the city of Watts again. He’s obsessed with that town. Neidhart worked over Brown for awhile. Brown would get some offense in after he moved out of the way of Neidhart attempting an axe handle smash from the middle rope. Neidhart started to “hulk up” after Bad News Brown went for his goatee. The match was pretty back-and-forth until Brown hit Neidhart with a kick to the back of the head. This wasn’t an exciting or interesting match. I recommend skipping this match.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
Prior to the match, Rude cut a promo where he put down the fans in LA. Jake Roberts made his way to the ring while Rude was taking his robe off. After a fast start, Rude slowed things down to get some heat. He kept stalling and leaving the ring when Jake was getting the better of him. Rude worked a chin lock for most of the match. At one point the fans seemed to be distracted by something that was happening in the crowd. Jake made a comeback late in the match when he punched Rude as he was on the top rope, causing Rude to crotch himself. Jake hit his signature Short-Arm Clothesline and teased a DDT before Rude grabbed the referee. They started brawling outside of the ring, and Rude was able to beat the count to win the match. The fans started to boo the finish.
After the match, Jake put his Burmese python, Damian, on Rude. Damian squeezed Rude, and Rude bumped for the snake. After that, Rude ran from the ring and to the back. At ringside, Gorilla Monsoon interviews Jake Roberts. He said he’s sick of what’s been going on and cut a promo on Rick Rude as the show comes to a close.
This was an enjoyable “old school” show. Fans of today don’t realize how lucky they are, as the action back then was a lot slower than it is now. The Rockers’ match was the best of the show, and the Warrior/Heenan match was a fun comedy segment. If you’re a fan of old school wrestling or wonder what a WWF show in Los Angeles was like in 1988, check this out. If you’re looking for an exciting event, I’d probably skip this.