The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – 05.11.85
Screw it, I’ve been wanting to redo these from the start forever now and we might as well just jump into it so I can purge the awful “new format” versions for good. I didn’t start watching these until 1986, with 12 year old me anxiously waiting for the quarterly episodes at 11:30PM because I guess West Coast feeds weren’t a thing back then.
Cyndi Lauper gives Wendi Richter a peptalk in the cold open, and Hulk Hogan and Mr. T collectively pity any fools who are messing with them tonight.
I am saddened that “Obsession” has been removed and replaced with the infinitely lamer theme from later on. I was hoping that the usage at Wrestlemania this year meant that they had got the rights back or something.
So yeah, the long term impact of this show can’t be overstated, as Dick Ebersol overhauled the entire look and feel of the WWF product to put it on national TV, creating the glossy sheen that the WWF would have for decades to come. There are still differences, as the lighting was still being worked out and the ring wasn’t lit up like the surface of the sun at high noon quite yet. Also the audio sweetening was…questionable.
Taped from Long Island, NY, drawing 8300 and an 8.8 rating. In Saturday Night Live’s timeslot! That’s crazy.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura
Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo & Ricky Steamboat v. Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff & George Steele
The wacky pre-match promos are done on the arena floor rather than in the back like on later shows, which is a bit trippy. Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t replace the Russian national anthem with a soundalike. Speaking of music replacements, WHAT THE FUCK did they dub in for Barry Windham’s music? I’m assuming they were replacing “Born in the USA” at this point, but instead we get some kind of country song, like Kid Rock’s country phase. Windham grabs a headlock on the Sheik to start and the US Express double-teams him in their corner and works the arm. Over to Steamboat and you don’t have to ask him twice to work the arm. The babyfaces clean house and chase them out of the ring, and we take a break. Back with Steamboat working on Sheik again with a powerslam and he goes up with a missile dropkick and flying bodypress for two. Over to Volkoff, but Steamboat uses his “karate style” to fight him off, and the Express hits a double dropkick for two. Rotundo drops the leg for two and gets a backslide for two. He tries a rollup but ends up in a position that, let’s face it, looks like he’s nose first in Volkoff’s taint, and he tags out to Windham. I think that’s better for everyone. Windham gets a sunset flip for two, so they bring George Steele in, and then leave him high and dry while Windham rolls up a confused Animal for the pin at 8:21. Sheik and Volkoff try a beatdown on him, but Steele fights them off and then reunites with Lou Albano to complete his babyface turn. This was kind of weird because I don’t think Steele was really featured much at this point, so it was kind of out of nowhere for him to turn. This was a decidedly OK opener to the series. **1/2
Piper’s Pit with Paul Orndorff is next, as Roddy just wants to talk with Paul man to man, but Paul is all jumpy about Bob Orton standing nearby. So Piper sends Bob to the corner and then settles things down again by noting “I don’t know what it’s like myself, but you are a LOSER”. That’s tremendous heeling. Paul gets all fired up about that one, but Piper sits him down again and clarifies that it was PAUL who was getting pinned at Wrestlemania. Paul has LOST HIS GUTS and let Roddy down as a partner! Orndorff notes that Piper has “been drinking too much of his own bathwater”, and I don’t know what it means but it sure sounds inflammatory. So then FAMILIES get dragged into the argument and Piper threatens to walk, but then he jumps Orndroff instead and Paul is about to piledrive him, before Orton nails him with the cast. Luckily Mr. T is there to save Orndorff from further damage. As always, I must stress how awesome this feud was and how sad I am that we never got a proper resolution or big PPV match out of it.
Hulk Hogan chats with Mean Gene about what just went down, and tonight he’s got a special match for his mother, brother. Gene nearly cracks at that one. Gene wonders what Hulk is gonna do about the cast, but Hulk wonders whatcha gonna do etc etc. Well I guess we should have known that one was coming. That’s why Gene is the pro, because he can throw out the setup lines and then stand back and let him go.
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Cowboy Bob Orton
Hulk and T rip each other’s clothes off before the bell, and you know, they’re both consenting adults. The coward Hogan attacks Orton before he can even get his chaps off and hits him with a backdrop and a bunch of slams. The man has a BROKEN ARM, you monster. Finally Orton is able to get his gear off on the floor, and get a knee in the corner, but he misses a charge and Hogan works on the broken arm, and then BITES him! And not even a warning from the referee! Finally Orton puts him down with a high knee to escape the horrendous rulebreaking of this maniac, and takes over with an atomic drop for two. Orton drops fists and Jesse cheers on the punishment, advising him to punish Hogan for a few more minutes to be on the safe side. Orton slugs away while Hogan cries for mercy, but Bob makes the mistake of being merciful and that allows Hogan to make the comeback. Orton’s kind heart was always his downfall. Hulk drops an elbow on him for two and slugs away in the corner, but Bob takes him down with an atomic drop, as the Hogan formula was still working out the kinks. So Bob sets up for the superplex, but Hulk slugs him down and drops the leg for one, but Roddy Piper clearly sees brass knuckles on Hogan’s fist and breaks up the pin to prevent a miscarriage of justice. And yet HE’S the one who gets Orton disqualified at 6:52! It just makes you sick to your stomach. **1/2
Fabulous Moolah joins Mean Gene and she’s sick of Cyndi Lauper and will not tolerate having her at ringside any longer.
WWF Women’s title: Wendi Richter v. Fabulous Moolah
Of course I’m sure you know that “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” has been purged and replaced with something that sounds like music playing on the main menu of a Nintendo game. Meanwhile, Moolah gives the referee an actual rolled up parchment with an official decision that Lauper is banned from ringside. I bet the invention of paper was an exciting day for Moolah. Moolah immediately chokes her out on the top rope while Lauper yells at a monitor over by the entrance. Moolah stops to yell at Lauper, who is nowhere near the ring as requested by her, but Wendi dropkicks her to the floor. Back in, Moolah gets a slam for two and Vince busts out his top rating for wrestling matches: SEE SAW BATTLE BACK AND FORTH! Richter chokes her out on the ropes and yanks her to the mat for two. Moolah gets her own choking, but goes for a slam and gets cradled for the pin at 3:23 as Richter retains. ½*
Junkyard Dog has brought his mother, Bertha Dog, to New York for Mother’s Day.
Junkyard Dog v. Pete Doherty
“Grab Them Cakes” is overdubbed onto whatever the entrance music originally was, which is weird because they usually purge that song. Dog quickly destroys the Duke of Dorchester with a headbutt and clothesline and then hauls him into the ring by the hair to keep him from escaping. Pete takes a swing at Bertha, so Dog has had enough of him and gives him some headbutts before slamming him off the top rope. More headbutts put him down and Dog follows with an atomic drop before finishing him for good with the Thump at 3:03. ½* Mama Dog’s involvement was somewhere between Judy Bagwell and Sue Barretta, but it’s not like she had much to do. Dog was in one quarter speed here, but the whole point was him dancing with Mama Dog anyway.
Meanwhile, everyone left from the show congregates for a Mother’s Day party in the back, organized by Cyndi Lauper. Sheik and Volkoff are offended that they’d be invited to a celebration while their mothers are thousands of miles away. Of course, there is a cake prominently featured, at which point Fabulous Moolah storms in and insults everyone’s mothers and their children. And so Moolah (and Gene) get shoved into the cake, because apparently calling Catrine “Latrine” was just too much.
Vince and Jesse wrap things up and the credits reveal that Lauper’s manager David Wolff managed to get an Associate Producer credit on this. And they say wrestlers are the carnies.
Anyway, the first one was a huge success and many more would follow and I love them all.