The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #7 – 10.03.86
Taped on 09.13.86 from Richfield, OH, drawing 21,000 and a 9.4 rating. There’s probably a pretty good main event for this one with those numbers!
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura, as the Bobby Heenan experiment lasted exactly one show and Ebersol reportedly demanded Jesse return.
And this of course came two months after I dove headlong into the wacky world of wrestling fandom for the first time, as the landscape of the wrestling world was suddenly very different from the last time SNME had been on the air, with Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper reversing their alignments with dramatic results on both sides. Even though we had a Betamax recorder on our television, I was still gonna stay up to midnight to watch this one no matter what.
So this is also the debut of the dramatic music and the pre-credits promos, as everyone sums up their motivations via quick soundbites and they REALLY nailed it on the first try. I saw that as a kid for the first time and I was immediately in full Fry meme mode yelling “TAKE ALL MY MONEY!” at the screen.
Roddy Piper joins Mean Gene in the locker room, as Piper has sadly been injured via Adrian Adonis and is thus prohibited from wrestling tonight. But Piper isn’t going to put up with “fat nasty stretch-marked sons of…” putting him out of wrestling.
Hulk Hogan is still confused and shocked about Paul Orndorff turning on him, but rest assured that god created the heavens and earth and then created his 24 inch pythons, so he’ll use them to deal with Mr. Wonderful tonight.
Mean Gene gets the other side of the story from Mr. Wonderful, who will rip Hogan’s lying tongue out of his mouth and put on his new championship belt. Weird flex but OK.
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff
Orndorff stealing Hogan’s music is a tremendous heel move. Paul attacks to start, but Hulk no-sells him and bowls him over. He goes after poor Bobby Heenan, however, allowing Orndorff to beat him onto the floor for some abuse out there. Back in, Hulk makes a comeback and chops Orndorff into the corner as Paul is selling like crazy. Bobby goes for something in his pockets and Hulk knocks him off the apron, as Jesse points out how stupid Hogan is for falling for the same distraction TWICE. Heenan might have taken the biggest cut in kayfabe, but he sacrifices himself for his guys, you have to give him that. And indeed, Orndorff attacks Hulk again to take over and drops elbows on the apron, then runs him into the timekeeper and chokes him out with the TV cord. Back in, Paul drops knees on him and chokes him out for two. Suplex gets two. Orndorff kicks him in the head like he deserves for being such a selfish jerk, but Hulk comes back with a high knee, only for Heenan to grab his ankle and trip him up. Hulk dumps Orndorff, but the ref has the cops tackle Bobby and carry him back to the dressing room! What kind of biased officiating is that? I think that’s way overshooting his authority. We take a break and return with Hulk chasing Orndorff around the ring, but Paul cuts him off with a knee and pounds away on him. Paul continues choking him out and drops an elbow for two. And then we get the familiar setup of the short clothesline and piledriver, but Hulk backdrops out of it and makes the comeback. At least he didn’t take the move and kick out like 1989 Hulk would have. Hulk puts him down with the Ax Bomber and slugs away, then hits him with his own short clothesline to set up a piledriver. What a poor sport. Thankfully Adrian Adonis runs in for the DQ at 10:28 to keep him from botching Orndorff’s finisher on national TV. Given they were still selling out 20,000 seat buildings there was no reason to do a clean finish here. **1/2 The heel beatdown proceeds, but then Roddy Piper hobbles down on his crutches to make the save, and we nearly get a donnybrook before Piper decides to back off instead. Well, no Megapower handshake here, but Hogan would be stupid to trust any former enemies again anyway.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene meets Jake Roberts and his snake in the shower. Now there’s a setup for you.
Ricky Steamboat v. Jake Roberts
So yeah, this was the period when Ricky was bringing an actual Komodo dragon with him before animal rights people stepped in if I’m remembering correctly. They exchange chops to start and Ricky works the arm, then faceplants him for two. Back in for more armdrags, but he decides to go up for the finish and splats on the mat. So they’re both out and they both crawl for their bagged animals, but Jake cuts Steamboat off with a gutbuster for two. Jake works the ribs to set up the short-arm clothesline for two as the announcers bust on the slow-counting referee. Jake slams him and drops knees on the ribs and then chokes him out for good measure. Ricky fights up with chops, but Jake hits him with a kneelift and takes him down with a snapmare for two. Ricky fights back, but Jake gives him an atomic drop and Dragon sells it like Rick Rude. Jake sets up again, but Ricky hooks him with a crucifix for the pin at 6:20. Man, it feels like they had an epic in them but every match I’ve seen between them goes a few minutes like this and has an out of nowhere finish. **1/2 Jake attacks afterwards and goes for the snake, but Dragon whips out his lizard and chases them off.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene tracks Hogan down after his shower, and he’s pretty pissed about Piper getting up in his business because he’ll never trust him. Hulk has all kinds of weird courtroom metaphors to sum up his feud with Paul Orndorff as well.
The Iron Sheik v. Rowdy Roddy Piper
We are now graced with the presence of Slick as the manager for Sheik and Volkoff, which was certainly a weird fit. Pedro Morales was ready to take over for Piper here, but Roddy hobbles down and tells him to get lost because he’s gonna fight his own battle. Pedro wisely leaves, so Piper breaks the crutch over Sheik’s back and chases Slick out of the ring. Sheik kicks him in the broken leg and goes for a suplex, but Piper counters to a rollup with a handful of tights for the pin at 0:43. Piper was immediately amazing as a babyface.
Meanwhile, the Dream Team are still bitching about losing the tag team titles to the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Roddy Piper does what he wants and thinks that Adrian Adonis has pecs of someone who gave birth to a litter of puppies. When you carry a big stick, you don’t gotta walk soft no more.
WWF tag team titles: The British Bulldogs v. The Dream Team
The tradition continues with a 2/3 falls match for the tag titles, as Valentine attacks Dynamite in the corner and beats on the knee to start. Beefcake comes in with a suplex and stays on the knee, but Davey Boy comes in and goes after Beefcake’s arm. Beefcake drops him with a hammerlock slam and Hammer comes in and drops an elbow for two. Beefcake with a kneelift for two. Back to Kid, who slugs away on Valentine, but gets put down with an atomic drop. Valentine with a shoulderbreaker for two and he puts Kid down with a forearm for two. Beefcake hammers him down for two. Dynamite goes for a suplex, but Hammer hits him in the bad knee and hooks the figure-four to finish at 4:23.
Second fall and Hammer continues attacking the bad knee and goes for the figure-four again, but Kid kicks out of it, so the Dream Team double-teams him and works on the knee some more. It’s so weird how the Bulldogs were like a tornado when they debuted and ended up getting booked so weak and ineffective once they were champions. Beefcake with the press slam for two and Hammer goes up to the middle rope, but that misses and it’s hot tag Davey. Davey with a delayed suplex for two and a powerslam gets two, but Beefcake saves. So Davey puts him on his shoulders and Dynamite comes off with the diving headbutt to finish at 9:20. I love when they pull that one out.
Third fall and Hammer beats on Kid, but he fights back with the snap suplex and then misses a headbutt. Hammer drops another elbow on him for two as we get BREAKING NEWS from Jesse: Adrian Adonis has suffered a “shattered elbow” from getting hit by Piper’s crutch earlier. Well he got over it pretty quick then. Valentine goes for the figure-four, but Kid fights him off and makes another hot tag to Davey. And then Beefcake sprints in and cuts off the comeback immediately, hitting a backdrop and clothesline for two. That was weird. Davey comes back with a sunset flip for two but Beefcake cuts him off again and the unfortunate camera angle reveals that the crowd is emptying out rapidly by this point. Beefcake with a high knee for two, but he tries another one and hits the corner, allowing Davey to finish with a fisherman’s suplex at 14:57 to retain. Felt like they were just killing time with that last fall as the heels kept cutting off the Bulldogs’ offense, but this was some solid tag team wrestling. ***1/4
Kamala v. Lanny Poffo
Kamala quickly demolishes Poffo with the usual chops and kicks and puts him away with a big splash at 1:30. DUD
Vince and Jesse wrap things up.
Not particularly GREAT wrestling, but this was the true beginning of what we know as the Saturday Night’s Main Event format, and the Hogan/Orndorff and Piper/Adonis feuds were selling tickets like crazy via shows like this, so it’s an easy recommendation from here.