Saturday Night’s Main Event Countdown: #21

The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #21 – May 1989 – Taped from Des Moines, IA – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. – Intercontinental title: Rick Rude v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. So it’s the fallout from Wrestlemania show, as Rude is now the IC champion and Duggan is the King, although the second one didn’t come from WM. Sadly, Duggan proved to be a mere transitional monarch. (Well he held the crown for, what, four months?  That’s a pretty healthy monarchy.)  Of course, the inherent irony of a “King” waving the American flag probably would have struck him dead soon after anyway, so it’s probably for the best. (Oh yeah?  What about Rodney King?  Or Martin Luther King?  Or Larry King?  ALL AMERICANS.)  Long lockup to start and Rude pounds him, but Duggan blocks a sunset flip. Rude hits the floor and Duggan suplexes him back in for two. Duggan adds a series of clotheslines and a kneedrop for two. Bad camera angle on the kneedrop, as you can see the six inches of space between the knee and Rude’s chest. Duggan charges and hits knee in the corner, and Rude goes up with a fistdrop. To much gyrating allows Duggan to come back with an atomic drop, however, complete with comedy sell from Rude. Piledriver gets two. Haku, meanwhile, tries to steal the crown back, and we take a break. Back with Rude on the attack again, as he dropkicks Duggan and gets a series of elbows, for two. We hit the chinlock and Duggan fights out, but runs into a knee. Rude goes up for another fistdrop. Funny moment as he slides through to the camera at ringside and makes kissy faces, and Vince gets all worked up with disgust. So mark your calendars, we’ve found something that actually offends him. However, the antics allow Duggan to come back again and hit the three-point stance clothesline, and Rude elegantly bumps out of the ring and doesn’t rush getting back in. (Duggan d. Rude, COR, 7:14, **) Weird finish, but Rude was feeling it tonight and got something pretty fun out of Duggan.(1989 was a pretty great year for Rude in the ring.) – Jim Neidhart v. Randy Savage. According to the pre-match promos, if Savage wants a title shot at Hogan, he’ll have to go through Neidhart! I know I’d be losing sleep over that one. These many SNMEs in a row have given me renewed appreciation of Savage’s body of work in the 80s. Sherri immediately interferes during the lockup, but Neidhart blocks a sunset flip for two. Bearhug follows, but Savage escapes quickly and knees and him into the corner. Choking follows, from both Savage and his manager. Savage goes up with a double axehandle for two, but can’t slam him. Anvil fights back with a slingshot shoulderblock and gets another three of them for a two count. A standing dropkick (0.5 Watts) puts Savage on the floor, and Anvil follows him out and dropkicks him again. What a sadist. Back in, powerslam gets two, and Savage gets tied in the ropes. Neidhart, being a moron, charges and misses, and Savage puts him out of his misery with the flying axehandle and big elbow. (Savage d. Neidhart, flying elbow — pin, 5:56, *1/2) Randy was, shall we say, more generous with the offense given then you’d expect. – WWF title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. Big Bossman. (So this one is pretty famous.)  Before the match, we are introduced to Tony “Zeus” Lister at ringside, who we are supposed to buy as a legitimate wrestler just because he plays one in a Hulk Hogan movie. By that logic, David Arquette should be a former World champion. Uh, bad example. Anyway, to say that 1989 was a misguided year at the top of the promotion would be a gross understatement, so we’ll leave it at that. So Hogan gets laid out by the cross-eyed freak before the match, giving Bossman the initial advantage. Bossman chokes him out to start and headbutts him down, but Hogan comes back with a clothesline. Big boot out of the corner and Hulk starts climbing, but Bossman slugs him down again. Big splash follows and he goes back to the door, but Hulk grabs his ankle and fights back. Bossman spinebuster and he climbs, getting over and out of the cage…but Hulk reaches through the cage and grabs him by the throat to stop him from dropping the two feet required to win the title. And then, in the spot that elevated this match to a weirdly legendary status, Hogan pulls him up to the top of the cage and superplexes him back in. I think that the crowd was grasping for a “Holy Shit!” type chant, but just weren’t brave enough to go for it. Both guys are, understandably, dead, and the ref comes in to check their arms. I have to stop and wonder if the world would be a better or worse place if paramedics checked on the condition of patients like that. Does it take medical training to know that if the arm drops three times, the guy is out?  (You would not BELIEVE the looks you get when you run into an ER and try that on random accident victims.  People can be so rude.) Anyway, Hogan recovers first and crawls for the door, but Bossman grabs him. Bossman clotheslines him and Slick sends a chain in for some choking by Bossman. You’d have to think that the handcuffs would have made for a better strategic move. Both guys ram each other into the cage, which I’m sure violates SOME law of physics, and Hogan gets the chain to make his comeback. Sportsmanship, n., def: Conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing. Just saying. Bossman eats cage, then the legdrop, and Hogan actually proves to be the smarter one, as he steals the handcuffs from Slick, cuffs Bossman to the top rope, and walks out. (Hogan d. Bossman, escape from cage, 10:00, ***) Not a classic or anything, but quite good for a Hogan cage match. – WWF tag titles: Demolition v. The Brainbusters. Smash starts with Tully and intimidates him out of the ring, then catches a bearhug on the way back in. The Busters try double-teaming, but Smash holds them off alone and Ax comes in. He pounds on Arn and they work him over in the corner. Cheapshot from Tully puts Smash into the heel corner, but he no-sells a suplex from Arn and slams him. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Busters regroup. Tully pounds Ax to no effect, but catches him with a knee, which Ax no-sells. Tully takes more punishment in the champs’ corner, as he bails and gets pressed back into the ring by Smash. Ax promptly dumps him again, and the Busters regroup as we take a break. Back with Ax hammering on Tully and going to a neck vice. Smash chokes him out, but turns his back on AA and that’s never a good idea. To quote Champ Kind, WHAMMY, and Smash is your face in peril. (Well, I didn’t really pick the Anchorman quote that stood the test of time there, but at least I’m more on the pulse than Vince.)  Tully comes in with a kneedrop to the knee and AA follows with the spinebuster for two. Tully taunts Ax for a bit and they double-team Smash on the ropes, and Arn drops the knee for two. More frustration for Ax as the Busters work Smash over on the floor, and back in for a slugfest with Arn. Smash wins that, but Tully brilliantly fucks with Ax and yanks him off the apron before he can get the tag. Finally the Demos have had ENOUGH, and Ax charges in illegally and bowls over the ref, and that’s a DQ. (Brainbusters d. Demolition, DQ, 9:14, ***) This was really good before the non-finish, but it did effectively set up a 2/3 falls rematch at the next SNME. – Jimmy Snuka v. Boris Zhukov. Yeah, whatever. (Snuka d. Zhukov, superfly splash — pin, 1:09, DUD) The Pulse: Holy cow, this was a really good show, with an unheard-of pair of *** matches and a pretty decent Rude-Duggan match.  (Clearly one of the top tier SNMEs.)