The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #15 – 03.12.88
(Originally written 12.20.20)
Another favorite of mine that might not have needed a redo as such, but I’m happy to do it.
Taped 03.07.88 from Nashville TN, drawing a 10.0 rating on the road to Wrestlemania. That’s a FAST turnaround on the taping.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. Jesse checks Vince’s neck for redness, since he’s from the South and all.
Meanwhile, at The Main Event, Andre the Giant screws Hulk Hogan out of the WWF title with the help of Earl Hebner, who surely learned his lesson and would never participate in shady refereeing again.
Brutus Beefcake v. Greg Valentine
This is the final blowoff for their feud, a year after they broke up and Hammer switched managers. By this point there was no real feud between them and Valentine was just an obstacle on Beefcake’s way to Honky Tonk Man at Wrestlemania. Beefcake is packing both the hedge clippers as well as a backup pair of scissors because he gets some kind of weird sexual thing out of cutting hair, apparently. Pervert. Hammer beats on him to start, but Beefcake hits a high knee and follows with a big boot and a pair of atomic drops. Beefcake with a jackknife cover for two (“Now there’s a bit more of Brutus Beefcake than I wanted to see” notes Jesse) and Beefcake slugs away in the corner, but Valentine distracts the ref and then wallops Brutus before going to the top with an elbow to the back. He hits a very measured elbowdrop for two and that sets up the figure-four, but Valentine is too blatantly holding the ropes, even by his standards. Beefcake bails as Honky Tonk Man joins us for moral support of his stablemate, and he’s DISGUSTED by the idea of Beefcake cutting his hair. Hard to blame him, based on Beefcake’s mental state while cutting hair. We take a break and return with Hammer working the leg, but Beefcake blocks the figure-four and runs him into the corner for a Flair Flop. They slug it out again and Beefcake makes the comeback with a back elbow and gets the sleeper in the middle, but they tumble to the floor and continue the fight. But then Beefcake goes after Jimmy Hart like a moron and gets caught on the way back in. Hammer with a back suplex, but Beefcake lifts his shoulder for the pin at 9:03. And then Beefcake the creepy serial killer sneaks up and snips off a lock of Valentine’s hair as a trophy of his conquest. Sicko. *** I think this was actually my first time being exposed to the wishy-washy “lift the shoulder” finish that I can remember.
King Harley Race v. Hulk Hogan
Although Bobby promises that Hogan will bow to Race tonight, Hogan clarifies that he only bows to one man, and “that big dude walks on water, Mean Gene”. I’m sure Jesus is thrilled to be drawn into a pro wrestling feud. Race attacks before the music even ends, which offends Hogan so much that he beats Race down and rips off the shirt before battering the King with clotheslines. One more puts Harley over the top and onto a ringside table, which could have been one of the bumps that messed up his gut. Hogan goes after Heenan, but Race attacks again and tries a piledriver on the floor, which doesn’t work. Hulk sends him into the post as Race is bumping and selling like crazy here, and back in where Hulk chops him down and then CHOKES HIM OUT WITH WRIST TAPE! You’re telling me this cheater is a hero to kids? And who is the referee letting him get away with this bullshit? JOEY FUCKING MARELLA. HE’S THE WORST. CLEAR CUT EVIDENCE, PROVEN BIGLY. Finally Bobby is forced to interject himself to stop the cheating Orange Goblin from screwing his man over, which allows Race to take over with a belly to belly and a kneedrop. Piledriver and Race puts the boots to Hulk and they fight to the floor, where Race puts him on the table and comes off the apron with a headbutt that misses, bending the table in half. But Race takes all the impact on his midsection and THAT has to be the injury. Ouch. Back in, Race with a top rope headbutt that gets two, but Hulk makes the comeback with a corner clothesline and he drops the leg at 7:22. They had GREAT chemistry together and this was a really entertaining match. ***1/4
Randy Savage v. Ted Dibiase
Dibiase lets us know that “There’s nothing more macho than a man with money”. I guess that makes Virgil and his FUCK MONEY the most macho of all. Savage immediately storms out and slaps Virgil around, perhaps jealous of the neverending breadsticks that Virgil was no doubt enjoying that night, but Dibiase gets the advantage and hits Savage with a double axehandle from the middle rope. Ted chokes away while Jesse continues to question “which Dave Hebner” is refereeing, and Vince assures us that he’s been fingerprinted and verified. Even both crooked Hebners together don’t equal the terribleness of Joey Marella. Savage comes back with a short clothesline for two and necksnaps Dibiase, then chases him out of the ring with an elbow before inviting him back in again. So Dibiase does just that and beats Macho down, dropping the fists to set up the spinning toehold. But Savage kicks out of it to put Dibiase on the floor and they slug it out, at which point Andre the Giant comes over and backs Savage down. And then Virgil gets a shot from behind while Savage is thinking about this Andre situation, and the ref sends Virgil back to the dressing room so he can get an early start on the soup and breadsticks. Dibiase with a chinlock, as Jesse explains the concept of the move to Vince McMahon because he’s never been in the ring and thus doesn’t understand. And then he carries on ranting, complaining that the ref is asking him if he pulled hair, “as if he’s just gonna go ‘Oh yeah, ref, I pulled the hair’.” Jesse’s spitting fire so hot he could burn Bray Wyatt alive with it. Savage escapes and makes the comeback with a backdrop, but Dibiase bumps the ref intentionally and Savage throws him out and hits the axehandle to the floor. And that allows Andre to DESTROY him with a headbutt and a trip to the ringpost, manhandling him like garbage while Elizabeth runs away in terror, probably wanting to get some soup and breadsticks from Virgil. GET YOUR OWN, YOU HUSSY! Randy Savage is counted out at 14:45 and Virgil returns while waiting for his entrée to arrive, like when you go to the bathroom and come back to find your lasagna on the table, but Hulk Hogan makes the save with a chair. Probably stole Virgil’s lasagna before he came out there, too. Bastard. ***1/2
The Killer Bees v. The Islanders
Bobby Heenan, never one to pass up a chance to make a fool of himself, is wearing a beekeeper mask for protection here. Brunzell drops a leg on Tama for two right away and Blair comes in with a rollup for two and they work the arm. Tama gets a suplex for two as the heat machine is OUT OF CONTROL, so loud that it’s drowning out Vince and Jesse, and Haku gets a dropkick for two. I guarantee you that no crowd in the history of wrestling has ever cared about a match as vociferously as the canned heat is cheering for this nothing tag match, and that includes Goldberg v. Hogan. Blair gets a hot tag and gets a rollup on Tama, but that gets two as the ref doesn’t count even though Tama forgets to kick out, and Haku clotheslines them over and puts Tama on top for the pin at 4:00. I was hoping for a better match, but it was not to bee. *
The One Man Gang v. Ken Patera
I haven’t seen this show in a long while but I think we can all call the finish right now and predict Patera misses a blind charge and gets pinned. Gang attacks at the bell and chokes him out with his jacket, but Patera fights back with a bearhug. Gang rakes the eyes to escape that, but Patera goes to the full nelson and Gang makes the ropes. Patera slugs away in the corner, but Gang comes off the ropes and basically falls on top of Patera while trying a clothesline, and that somehow gets the pin at 3:08. What the FUCK was that finish? DUD
Last couple of matches in the death slot aside, this was an all-timer with one of the most memorable spots in wrestling history in the Hogan match, introducing the world to broken tables, and a banger of a Savage-Dibiase match that set up the tournament final. Unfortunately they weren’t really allowed to hype Wrestlemania on this show, despite it only being two weeks away. Well as long as no one airs any all time classic wrestling supercards on free TV up against the show, I’m sure it’ll do fine!