The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – 01.02.88
Taped from Landover, MD on 12.07.87, drawing 13,000
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura
Man, the pre-show promo roll doesn’t make this sound like a particularly inspiring episode. And who let Strike Force do a promo?!
Meanwhile, Hogan does warmups in the dressing room, getting ready for King Kong Bundy.
Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks are not impressed by Strike Force, in fact they’re DE-PRESSED. Because Slick hates capitalism so much, you see, which is the message that is being spread by the champions. Mean Gene thinks everything they’re saying is a lie. Well he’s the expert.
Meanwhile, Rick Martel keeps trying desperately to get “We’re going to be STRIKING with lightning FORCE” over as a catchphrase and failing miserably. FETCH IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
WWF Tag team titles: Strike Force v. The Bolsheviks
Speaking of never happening, what did “Girls in Cars” even have to do with these two? Did they just pick whatever Piledriver cut hadn’t been assigned to anyone else? You can’t tell me Rick Derringer couldn’t have written a kickass entrance song based on “Strike Force”. This match is of course a relic of the 80s and today we sadly can’t relate to the struggles of an elite Strike Force fighting the forces of communism. Cough. The champs double-team Volkoff and Martel rolls him up for two, but the commies get some punishment in their corner until Martel fights back with a bodypress for two. Volkoff cuts him off with a clothesline for two and it’s over to Santana, who gets choked out on the ropes after a cheapshot. Boris gets a backdrop suplex for two and goes to the chinlock, but Tito escapes that somehow and makes the hot tag to Martel. BAAAAAAACK BODY DROP for Boris and the crab finishes at 4:25 as we suddenly learn this is two out of three falls. That would have been useful information at the START of the match.
We take a break and return with the second fall as Martel goes for the crab again, but Volkoff breaks it up and they stomp Martel down in their corner. Backbreaker gets two. Volkoff drops a knee for two, but Martel gets a sunset flip for two and then makes the hot tag to Santana. “That idiot Zhukov just shoved Martel into his partner and allowed him to make the tag!” Thanks for that, Vince. Speaking of idiots, Volkoff grabs Slick’s cane, but hits Boris by mistake and Tito gets the pin at 8:40 to retain. This was pretty pedestrian stuff, as Iron Sheik had a certain manic energy that Boris just couldn’t match as Volkoff’s partner. **
Meanwhile, Sika has a giant baguette ready to serve up Damian as a sandwich. That oven must have been HUGE! Anyway, that Mr. Fuji, always serving up people’s pets as lunch, what a rib.
Jake Roberts v. Sika
Sika was LONG past his expiry date after his Hogan run and Jake was about to start one of the hottest feuds of his career, so this seems like it’ll be pretty obvious. Jake works the arm to start, but Sika puts him down with various savage Samoan tactics and goes to a nerve hold. Jake fights out and Fuji trips him up, but Sika charges and collides with Fuji and Jake rolls him up for the pin at 3:30. And since Sika wouldn’t take the DDT for whatever reason, Fuji gets to take the fall. And his hat doesn’t even come off! I’m tempted to give it a higher rating just for that. But not that tempted. DUD
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy
Jesse’s withering sarcasm is hilarious, as Vince is raging about Bobby Heenan costing Hogan the match by hanging on his ankle on the last episode, and Jesse just shoots him down with “Oh, that must have been so painful for Hogan, having little Bobby Heenan hanging onto his ankle like that.” So with Bobby wearing his perpetual neck brace after the last show, Andre the Giant is taking his place as Bundy’s manager tonight. Bundy charges and misses to start and Hulk slugs away in the corner and puts him to the floor with the big boot. Back in, Hogan throws the punches to put him down and goes to work on the arm, but Bundy uses his clubbing forearms and fires back onto Hogan’s arm. Bundy holds an armbar, but Hogan slams out of it and hurts his arm in the process. But then he pops up and slugs away, completely ignoring the injury, and hits a corner clothesline. Bundy hits the Avalanche, but the ref is bumped in the process and Bundy gets chased out as we take a break from this thrilling battle of 300 pound armbars. Back with the referee literally getting carried out on an old-timey stretcher as apparently they had to fashion one in ye olde days of 1988 from two flagpoles and a reem of sheepskin because the wheel hadn’t been invented yet. Back with Bundy working Hogan over and choking him out as all the stuff with the arm is completely forgotten already, and Bundy goes to a chinlock. Bundy gets the Avalanche, but Andre tells him to do it again, so he hits a second one and adds the big splash, but you know the rest. Big boot and legdrop finish at 12:02. Lightning so did not strike twice and produce a second good match between these two. * Jesse goes off on a ridiculous logical leap by saying that Bundy’s foot was touching Hogan’s while he was standing there jawing at the referee, which should have been a legal pinfall for some reason, but that’s too much even for him. Hogan talks some shit to Andre after his win, which seems like an idea lacking in wisdom. But then Andre teases leaving to fight another day, waits for Hogan to turn his back and start posing like the big orange narcissist he is, and then WALLOPS him from behind and chokes him into submission. The Bulldogs try to make the save and Andre just tosses them out like garbage and goes right back to teaching Hogan a valuable lesson in trashtalking a goddamn giant. As in, DON’T DO IT.
Guys, maybe they should do another match between these two. It might do pretty well.
Greg Valentine v. Koko B. Ware
So in a very 2020 moment, Jesse is interviewing Valentine and they do the usual stuff, then throw to Mean Gene, who compares Jesse to Rona Barrett and declares “Over to you, Rona!” Yeah that one suddenly takes on a totally new meaning. Hammer has now switched managers from the failed New Dream Team experiment with Johnny V and has gone back to Jimmy Hart again for a new singles push. Koko charges in and Valentine lazily drops him with a stungun and drops an elbow for two. He beats on Koko in the corner with chops, then goes to the chinlock while Vince suggests that someone should smash the megaphone into Jimmy Hart’s head. “Gee, you’re a violent man, McMahon” notes Jesse. Hammer with a clothesline for two and he works the count, but Brutus Beefcake joins us and Koko gets a distraction rollup for two. Backslide gets one and Hammer bails to the floor, rightly pointing out to the ref that Beefcake has no right to be hanging around ringside, and Joey Marella finally makes a competent decision and boots him back to the dressing room. I mean, he’s standing there threatening the man with HEDGE CLIPPERS, for fuck’s sake. I’d like to think that would qualify for getting sent back to the dressing room, if not an arrest for death threats. We take a break and Valentine slams him and goes up when we return, but Koko slams him off and makes a comeback as they continue sleepwalking through this end-of-SNME time filler. But then he stupidly gives up the leg to Valentine, and Greg hits him with the kneecrusher and finishes him with the figure-four at 7:20. Valentine continues the beating, but Beefcake makes the save. Man, that feud was BEYOND dead by the end of 1987, although they never had a significant TV or PPV blowoff. But they had been doing house show matches since JULY and they still couldn’t have a decent match together. Basically an extended squash for Valentine here. *1/2
Next time: We come to prime time on NBC with a show you may have heard about once or twice.
As for this one, if it’s not the worst in the series to date, it’s a serious contender or at least in the conversation. There’s definitely some bigger clunkers yet to come but this was severely dull stuff.