Bill Watts and the UWF were gone. In early April 1987, Paul Boesch switched his allegiance from the Louisiana based UWF to promoting the WWF. The decision shocked everyone who was a regular Houston Wrestling watcher. Boesch then began to promote WWF television, and matches for the Sam Houston Coliseum. By August 1987, Boesch began to tire, and made plans for retirement (a retirement that was short lived). So, as only the WWF can do, they made Boesch’s retirement a can’t-miss card.
In what could legitimately be called the precursor to Summerslam, the WWF presented a special show just for Houston fans that was billed as... The Paul Boesch Retirement Show. There were special guests galore. Some included the following: Red Bastein, Tiger Conway, Sr., Verne Gagne, Stu Hart, Gene Kiniski, Ernie Ladd, Jose Lothario, Bronco Lubich, Billy Red Lyons, Boris Malenko, Vince McMahon, Sputnik Monroe, Pat Patterson, Lou Thesz, and Jack Tunney.
As you can see, this card was loaded with wrestling celebrities. And, there were many more there than just the ones listed. Needless to say, the Coliseum was also loaded with fans. Attendance figures ranged from 11,000-12,000 fans, which would indicated a standing room only crowd for the Coliseum. Now, onto the show itself.
(1) Sam Houston beat Steve Lombardi. Houston was still trying to make a name for himself in the WWF, and Lombardi was still in the opening matches before his “push” as the Brooklyn Brawler. Houston gets the duke in a fairly long (for opening match standards) match.
(2) Bruno Sammartino beat Hercules Hernandez via count-out. Sammartino, who was finishing up a run against the Honky Tonk Man, agreed to wrestle on the card as a tribute to Boesch. Many of the fans in attendance had never seen Sammartino in his prime, but were happy to see him at all. Sammartino won via count-out in the first match up that contained a notable name from Houston’s past.
(3) Brutus Beefcake beat Johnny Valiant. This was the finish to Brutus’s face turn that had begun at WrestleMania 3. Beefcake beat Valiant with the sleeperhold and cut some of Valiant’s hair. Not much to be said with this one.
(4) Tom Pritchard beat Mark Lewin: This was a return for both wrestlers, as neither had been seen in the area in some time. Pritchard played the face in the match and got the win. At the time, Tom’s brother, Bruce Pritchard, was doing color commentary for the WWF matches at the Coliseum with Peter Birkholtz. He would later be known as Brother Love (and is now TNA's VP of Talent Relations). Once again, not much to the match, but a chance to see some old favorites.
(5) Hulk Hogan vs. One Man Gang. If this match had been held just three months prior, it would have been that rare “dream match.” It would have been champion vs. champion, WWF vs. UWF. Instead, it was Hogan against an incoming One Man Gang. Fans knew the Gang intimately, as he had been in the UWF for well over a year before switching to the WWF, around the same time as Paul Boesch. Hogan pinned Gang to the crowd’s delight. But for this night, Hulk Hogan was not the main event. That honor would be reserved for two wrestlers who made huge contributions to Houston history.
(6) Sherri Martel beat The Fabulous Moolah. This was a re-match from the July 1987 show that saw Martel defeat Moolah for the belt, ending Moolah’s last reputable reign as champion. Martel beat Moolah to retain the championship.
(7) Junkyard Dog & Tony Atlas beat Sika & Kamala. This match was rich for longtime fans, for three out of the four stars in the bout had storied pasts in Houston Wrestling, most notably the Junkyard Dog. At the time, Tony Atlas was wrestling for World Class Championship Wrestling, but was allowed to wrestle for Boesch this one last time. Kamala had run rampant through here with Skandor Akbar, and we all know about the Junkyard Dog. JYD was perhaps Houston’s most over wrestler, even more beloved than Mil Mascaras himself. Dog and Atlas got the duke, which was a nostalgia fest for long-time fans.
(8) Terry Funk beat Chavo Guerrero. Guerrero was a longtime Houston favorite, but failed to get the nod here. Funk was familiar to fans more for his 1970s antics than for his WWF stint that ended in 1986.
Then, there was a break from wrestling as they held a ceremony for Paul Boesch.
(9) Ted DiBiase beat Hacksaw Jim Duggan: Talk about your memories. DiBiase and Duggan headlined more than one Houston Wrestling card, and the night would not have been complete without them wrestling on this one. Duggan, who had been busted for drugs months before, was making his return to the WWF. DiBiase, who had just made his debut, was needing a win to feed his heel push. These two men tore it up for the fans who had longed to see some “Houston Wrestlers” on the card. DiBiase came out on top.
(10) Mil Mascaras & Tito Santana beat Demolition via DQ. Both Mexican wrestlers had huge followings in Houston, and they proceeded to beat Demolition by disqualification. No word on why this match was the main event instead of DiBiase-Duggan. However, it should be pointed out that Mascaras was very popular here.
All in all, it was a very emotional night for those involved. We had come to bid Paul Boesch goodbye. But, strange things happen in wrestling. No one really loses a retirement match. And, it seems like no one actually retires in wrestling period….including Paul Boesch.
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