Saturday Night’s Main Event Countdown: #5

The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #5 – March 1986 – Taped from Phoenix, AZ – Your hosts are Vince & Jesse – Opening “match”: Mr. T v. Cowboy Bob Orton, boxing match. This would be setting up the Piper-T atrocity at Wrestlemania 2, which wasn’t bad from a “parody of a boxing match” perspective, but had no place on a wrestling show. And this too is as silly as you’d expect, with Orton jumping T before the bell and cheating like nuts, while no actual contact is ever made with the gloves. T takes a thumb to the eye, to the usual delight of Jesse, and sells it with some Oscar-caliber acting. Oscar the Grouch, that is. (High five!  Anyone?) Orton sucker punches him after the bell to end the first round, but gets cocky in the second round and gets knocked out of the ring for the countout at 5:02. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Bigass beatdown from the ambiguously gay duo of Piper and Orton sets up Wrestlemania 2 properly. – King Kong Bundy v. Steve Gatorwolf. I’m not sure what a gatorwolf would be, but I don’t want to meet one. (Sounds like a SyFy Original movie!) Squish squash, goodbye. (Bundy d. Gatorwolf, Avalanche — pin, 0:37, DUD) This was just to establish that Bundy is in the building. – WWF Title: Hulk Hogan v. Magnificent Muraco. To really hammer home the point about Bundy, we cut to Mr. Fuji in the back with a melodramatic hot water bottle on his head, which means that Bobby Heenan is subbing for him as manager in this match. “Real American” debuts as Hulk’s theme song here, as he also debuts a weird-looking yellow trunks/white kneepad variant. Did he save all his weird color schemes for this show or something? Muraco attacks to start and pounds him in the corner, so Hogan uses the Knives of Eternity on Muraco’s back and follows with the corner clothesline. I like to slip in a Destroyer reference every now and then to keep people on their toes. (I was pretty bummed when they discontinued the series, but at least the old ones are on Kindle now at reasonable prices.)  Atomic drop puts Muraco on the floor and they brawl, but Muraco catches him coming in. They slug it out and Hogan gets two. He goes to the bearhug, an odd choice for a babyface, but Muraco breaks free and punts him in the ribs. Ah, I see Don’s feeling a little more uppity tonight than usual. Kneedrop gets two. Muraco follows with the dreaded ASIATIC SPIKE~! and a kneelift. A headbutt just a bit north of south sets up another spike, from the middle rope. Hogan is dead! Call the undertaker! Well, AN undertaker, Mark Callaway was busy in high school at that point. Could this be the end of Hogan? No! Hulk Up Time, totally catching me by surprise because this would be the match where the heel would get the pin after hitting his finisher. Just to change things up, you see. Punch, punch, big boot, legdrop, DQ. (Hogan d. Muraco, Heenan run-in — DQ, 6:50, *1/4) Typical Hogan stuff. However, things look up as King Kong Bundy joins in for a two-on-one beatdown and they break Hogan’s ribs, setting up the cage match main event of Wrestlemania 2, which was lame and sucked, by the way. Time and hindsight make me think that they should have run with Hogan v. Piper as a major PPV main event when both were huge, but I don’t think anyone foresaw Piper going Hollywood and succeeding. – WWF Tag titles: Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake v. The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were in the midst of a months-long chase of the tag titles, having beaten the champs in a non-title match on TV the previous month. Dynamite Kid headbutts Valentine down for two and suplexes him for two. Beefcake comes in and he’s as useless as ever, getting worked over at will by the Bulldogs. Davey’s elevated armbar is particularly cool, as the Bulldogs were pulling out all the primo shit for network TV. Back to the Hammer, who gets press-slammed by Davey for two. Kid drops a knee in vicious fashion and a backdrop suplex and headbutt get two. Flying kneedrop and back to Davey Boy, who trades forearms with Valentine and then dropkicks him into a small package for two. Kid works him over, but Valentine escapes with an atomic drop and Beefcake adds some stomps. We take a break and return with Beefer still getting bootfucked in the corner, as Davey gives him a missile dropkick for two. You just did not see stuff like this on TV in 1986, man. Back to Valentine for some double-teaming, and it’s figure-four time. DK quickly drops a leg on his face to break that up, as he was just no-nonsense when it came to making the save. He quickly tags in for more beating on Valentine, but now the Hammer is all warmed up and takes it like a man, then comes back with a middle rope elbow. I just didn’t appreciate Greg like I do now. He wasn’t spectacular, but he carried goddamned ED FUCKING LESLIE to ***+ matches night after night, on his back, and had a real nuance and subtlety to his craft that I enjoy watching much more these days. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Beefcake uses his HHH-like assortment of knee-strikes and Greg drops the hammer on the Kid for two. Another figure-four is quickly blocked, so Greg goes up top and gets slammed off. Kid follows him up and hits a missile dropkick, Stampede style, and a clothesline gets two. Snap suplex gets two and it’s BONZO GONZO. However, in the midst of royally whomping ass, Dynamite accidentally collides with Valentine, they knock heads, and the Hammer happens to fall on top for the surprise pin to retain. (Dream Team d. Bulldogs, Valentine headbutt — pin Dynamite Kid, 9:27, ***1/4) I approve of that finish — it gives you a clean pinfall without making the Bulldogs look weak, and I’m frankly shocked they haven’t ripped it off lately. Anyway, the Bulldogs would get revenge and win the belts at Wrestlemania. – Update from the hospital: Hogan is still orange. More later. – Junkyard Dog v. Adrian Adonis. Oh, hey, great, a comedy match to wrap things up. Dog attacks to start and ties Adonis in the ropes, then slingshots him back in. Clothesline gets two. Adonis slugs back, but does a Flair Flip and hits the floor. Adonis stalls and works the count, so JYD drags both him and Jimmy Hart back into the ring, and then back out again they go. We take a break and return with the Dog slugging Adonis down for two. Headbutt misses, which allows Hart to tie Dog to the ropes and allows Adonis to do some dirty work. The ref pulls him off by the hair, which is dubious interpretation of the rules. Adonis shoves him away and gets a splash on Dog for two. Ref is bumped, but Adonis eats the megaphone instead. (JYD d. Adonis, megaphone — pin, 6:13, 1/2*) It was what it was. The Bottom Line: Bulldogs v. Dream Team is pretty amazing stuff for the time and is well worth tracking down, Hogan-Muraco is so-so but ends with Hogan going to the hospital, so hurrah. Add those to your compilation tape, fast-forward the rest.