The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #4 – 01.04.86
Taped from Tampa, FL in December ’85. Attendance apparently isn’t known but it did a 10.4 rating (!!!). HOLY SMOKES.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan, since Jesse is working with the Hillbillies tonight.
Hulk Hogan introduces Mean Gene to his patented python protein shake by the pool in our cold open, as we get closer to the format that would become famous later on.
Rowdy Roddy Piper & Cowboy Bob Orton & Jesse Ventura v. Uncle Elmer & Hillbilly Jim & Cousin Luke
Sadly the match isn’t just Ventura and Piper riffing together because that likely would have been far more entertaining. Jesse goes in with the eyerake on Elmer and pounds away in the corner, but Elmer chokes him out. Over to Luke, but Piper and Orton double-team him in the corner as Luke’s selling is just AWFUL. Elmer gets a hot tag and the Hillbillies chase the heels out of the ring, and we take a break. Back with Piper hitting Jim with headbutts, but that just gets him mad and they get into a slugfest before Piper lures him into the heel corner. Ventura comes in and beats on Jim with forearms, but Jim brings Luke back in and he hits everyone with terrible axehandles, only to fall victim to Piper’s sleeper and a well timed cast from Orton to knock him out at 7:24. This was pretty awful, as Luke was somehow even worse than Cousin Junior. ½*
Bobby Heenan tags out on commentary, letting Jesse back into the booth again.
Meanwhile, at the waterslide park, Jimmy Hart challenges JYD to a waterslide race to settle their differences. I don’t know what music they’re overdubbing here but it’s REALLY distracting. And of course Jimmy Hart gets all tripped up at the gate and does the job. And then Jesse does a poolside interview with Terry Funk, who is prepping his tan for the cover of Sports Illustrated once he wins the title.
Meanwhile, at a house show in Denver in “Winter 1985”, Hogan defends the title against Funk and wins by DQ when Terry brands him, so tonight JYD will be in his corner to keep things kosher.
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Terry Funk
Hulk (wearing the ultra-rare blue tights and red kneepads combo) immediately hits Funk with the corner clothesline to put him on the floor, but Funk comes in with chops, so Hulk clotheslines him out again. Back in, Vince pays Funk the ultimate compliment, noting that he is a master of both “scientific wrestling” and “rough-housing”. Funk gets all tripped up on a criss-cross and bails to the floor again, so he freaks out and throws chairs in the ring. Back in, Funk throws chops in the corner, but Hulk slugs away and Funk does a Flair Flip in the corner before Hulk yanks him back in by the hair. Despite this blatant cheating, the ref doesn’t even warn him, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Funk fights back with headbutts and kicks him right in the nuts, but goes up and Hulk crotches him, which Vince calls poetic justice. Hey, he actually uses a saying RIGHT! Hulk drops an elbow on him, but Jimmy Hart trips him up, so the Dog chases him under the ring in terror. Back in the ring, Funk chokes Hulk out with the wrist tape and follows with the piledriver for two. But then Funk slugs away and Hulk makes the comeback and puts him on the floor with the big boot. Hulk brings Funk back in, but Jimmy hits him with the branding iron and Funk lands on top for two. Funk thinks he’s won, but then turns around and walks into the AXE BOMBER and Hulk retains the title at 8:30. Surprisingly subdued crowd heat for this one, but obviously it did a huge rating and it was a really good match. ***
Meanwhile, Randy Savage teaches Elizabeth how to swim, by tossing her off the diving board on the pool. Jesse Ventura thinks this is HILARIOUS. Also we recap George’s babyface turn and treatments from “famed psychiatrist/gynecologist Zigmund Ziff”. That’s quite the specialty.
Randy Savage v. George Steele
So the Animal is smitten by Elizabeth while Savage puts the moves on women at ringside, kicking off a long-term storyline. And of course, the truly notable thing about this match is young DEAN MALENKO doing the referee duties. Savage quickly retreats, not being the confrontational sort, but finally we get contact made 2:30 into the match, as Savage attacks in the corner. Steele quickly chases him out again and they brawl out there, with Savage wisely hiding behind Liz. Back in, Steele eats a turnbuckle, but then gets all horny for Liz and Savage hits him with an axehandle and pins him at 4:05. What an epic. ½*
Meanwhile, Gene and Hogan are back at the pool with a review of 1985. I know I say this often, but WHAT THE FUCK is with the music overdubbed here? It’s like a godawful ripoff of a Survivor B-Side.
Peace Match: Corporal Kirchner v. Nikolai Volkoff
Volkoff does get a funny line in his promo beforehand, noting that the Russians are a peaceful people and won’t stop until they bring peace to the whole world! Meanwhile Kirchner is at the water park, happiest place in Florida, cutting a TERRIFYING promo like he’s the Punisher and suffering from PTSD or something. So the idea here is that it’s a “peace match”, so it’s only clean scientific wrestling allowed. The Corporal works a headlock, but Volkoff rolls him over for two. They fight over a wristlock and Volkoff makes the ropes, so Corporal gives him a clean break. Volkoff takes him down and rolls him over for two, but Kirchner rolls him up for two. Back to the corner and Volkoff gives him a clean break, so Kirchner goes to a hammerlock and Volkoff escapes from that. Kirchner takes him down with another hammerlock as the canned heat is REALLY obvious here. Like people are nearly dozing in their seats but it’s like the Thunderdome in my ears. They lockup in the ropes again and Volkoff teases another clean break, but this time gets a cheapshot and then finishes him off with a kneedrop at 4:22. If you get pinned because your opponent didn’t break cleanly on the ropes, you’re a GEEK and deserve to lose. **
Magnificent Muraco & Mr. Fuji v. Junkyard Dog & Ricky Steamboat
Mean Gene notes that Ricky has been hijacked, hoodwinked, AND bushwacked by the heels, so you know it’s serious. The heels attack JYD at the bell and Fuji slams Steamboat on the floor. JYD comes back with the BAAAAAAAAACK BODY DROP on Muraco, but misses a headbutt and Fuji comes in for some martial arts. Dog fights back with some slams on Muraco, so Fuji has to come in and take care of Dog. Muraco wants a piledriver, but Dog backdrops out, so Fuji comes in and goes low with the headbutt to put him down again. Muraco misses a blind charge and hits the post, and it’s hot tag Steamboat, who runs wild with chops. Enzuigiri for Muraco and he catapults him into Fuji and then goes up with the flying bodypress for two. But Dragon tags out to the Dog again and he headbutts Fuji and pins him at 5:15. So Steamboat doesn’t even get revenge in his own grudge match? Decent enough match. **1/4
This was a fun show, anchored by the Funk-Hogan match, and definitely the best of the SNME shows to date. Certainly not everything was good, but it was all at least interesting, and that’s enough.