The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #23 – 10.14.89
Taped on 09.21.89 from Cincinnati, OH, drawing 14,000 and a 9.5 rating on NBC
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura
TONIGHT! The “sixth season” premieres as Ted Dibiase gets a shot at the WWF title, as we’ve waited long enough for the rich white guys to finally break through the glass ceiling!
But first! Randy Savage is fresh off beating Jim Duggan to win the crown, complete with coronation via Genius poem. This was truly a golden age for non-official titles, with both Savage’s crown and Dibiase Million Dollar belt filling up the midcard. But damn if Savage didn’t immediately take to this gimmick like a duck to water, proclaiming himself THE MACHO KING in his pre-match interview with Jesse and everyone is struggling not to crack up by the end, with Jesse kissing Sherri’s hand while praising the King effusively, and even Savage is about to corpse. But he’s a PRO, so he makes it through his own awesomeness without wrecking the take.
Macho King Randy Savage v. Jimmy Snuka
It also cannot be understated how perfect it was that Savage already had “Pomp and Circumstance” as his entrance music, which made the transition all the more smooth. Snuka charges in to start and puts Savage down with a headbutt and then an atomic drop as Savage flies to the floor. Savage gear update: Royal purple trunks and gold kneepads, with gold highlights on his ass. BADASS. Sadly he’d switch to the long tights by 1990. Snuka makes the mistake of yelling at Sherri, and Savage nails him from behind and drops a knee for two, then tosses Snuka to the floor. He follows with the double axehandle and Sherri just puts the boots to Snuka. He’s not so tough when he’s the one TAKING a beating from a woman. She adds some choking with the purse, and Savage gets two. Snuka comes back with chops in the corner and Savage gets hung up in the Tree of Woe, but Sherri unhooks her King while the idiot ref deals with Snuka. Snuka goes after Sherri (“Is he gonna hit her?” wonders Jesse, and history says that yes, he probably will) but Savage avenges her by hitting Snuka with the loaded purse and gets the pin with a handful of tights at 5:23. But then Macho tries to drop the big elbow afterwards and misses, so Snuka goes up and threatens a Superfly splash, only for Sherri to save her man by putting herself in the way. You think Liz would ever do that? **
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Ted Dibiase
So with Virgil having failed him as bodyguard, Dibiase has now temporarily upgraded to Zeus in preparation for Survivor Series 89. Hulk slugs him down to start and goes to a headlock, but he keeps getting distracted by Zeus and gets into a choking fight with him. Dibiase can’t capitalize and Hogan puts him down with a corner elbow and slugs away on the mat, but again Zeus is living rent-free in his head and interferes to allow Dibiase to take over. This brings out Jake Roberts to help as we assemble the Survivor Series teams without ever saying the words “Survivor Series”, and Hulk rolls up Dibiase for two. Hulk makes a comeback, but now Virgil runs out and steals the snake like someone grabbing the breadsticks right off your table! We take a break off that and return with Dibiase in control with a back elbow for two and he follows with a suplex for two. Middle rope elbow gets two and he goes to a chinlock, but Hulk fights out of that and we get a double clothesline as both are out. Hulk is up first and Zeus hits him AGAIN as Hogan is dumb enough to keep going to that side of the ring, and Dibiase goes up with a flying kneedrop (?!) from the top. That gets two and Hulk makes the comeback, but Zeus comes in and Dibiase runs into him by mistake, allowing Hogan to get the pin with a small package at 11:54. Good stuff here but they had a million matches by this point so it’s not surprising. ***1/4 And then of course Zeus takes out Hulk again with the neck wrench, setting up the PPV that Vince wasn’t allowed to hype on NBC. But even with Hogan selling big for Zeus here, you could tell that the peak was already passed by Summerslam and the character was fading fast.
Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Haku
The star power continues on this episode as poor Haku was pretty aimless for most of the year before suddenly getting a GIANT direction a couple of weeks after this. Piper slugs away on Haku and chases him to the floor before going after Bobby, which allows Haku to attack with a cheapshot on the floor. Back in, Haku takes over with a back elbow and gets a shoulderbreaker for two. He goes up misses a diving headbutt, allowing Piper to come back with a faceplant and belly to belly for the pin at 3:02. You definitely didn’t see Piper winning with that one very much, if ever. *1/2
Meanwhile, Zeus and Dibiase talk about beating up Hogan on “Thanksgiving”, and Vince even slips in a mention of The Survivor Series as they cut to break! That’s pretty huge since they were never able to mention any of this stuff previously.
Rick Martel v. Tito Santana
Well with the first mention out of the bag, now the floodgates are completely open as Martel brings his Survivor Series team to ringside and so does Tito. I like how the heels have to act all terrified because THE RED ROOSTER is making his entrance. They slug it out and Tito gets a sunset flip for two and actually tries to choke Martel out in the corner, and gets a bodypress for two. Martel leverages him into the corner, however, and stomps away to take over. These teams are so incredibly random. Like, why would I care that Honky Tonk Man is backing up Rick Martel and how does it make me want to see the PPV? They don’t even have a clever collective nickname! That being said I should probably redo that show pretty soon anyway. Tito makes a quick comeback and gets the forearm, but Slick takes the ref and everyone threatens to come in and battle in a sort of royale, but another ref comes down to maintain order and we take a break instead. Whew. Back with Tito in control, but he misses a clothesline and lands on the floor. Back in, Martel goes to work with a chinlock, but Tito fights out and reverses to a backslide for two. Tito chokes him out and goes for the crab, but Tito immediately makes the ropes, which results in him falling on top for two. Martel beats him down again as Vince has TWICE declared the match SEE SAW MATCHUP BACK AND FORTH so you know it’s a banger. Martel goes up to finish but gets crotched by Tito and they slug it out on the top rope before Martel goes down the hard way. Tito rams him into the turnbuckles for the 10 count and follows with a forearm, but he goes for the figure-four and all hell breaks loose at 11:40. That Honky Tonk v. Rooster battle really sells the PPV for me. But of course the babyfaces triumph here as Vince gets one more plug for the PPV in. The fact that they could have such a great match in such a nothing slot makes me wish all the more that they would have been allowed a PPV blowoff. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Roddy Piper accuses Bobby and Rick Rude of calling each other on 1-976 sex lines and “talking to each other until 3am” and now he’s working his way through the family. Although that didn’t really go anywhere, since he stopped with Rude, the same idea would be recycled more effectively with Bossman a year later.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwhackers
Jimmy Hart immediately gets beat up by the babyfaces, giving us the hilarious (cough) visual of Jimmy Hart in Quebec underwear. Thankfully the Rougeaus use the distraction to take over on Butch, but Jacques hits Raymond with a knee by mistake and Luke gets a tag and cleans house. Battering ram and gutbuster finish Jacques at 3:18. Total nothing match in the death slot to finish off the show. *
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan complains about Zeus SNAPPING HIS NECK and thanks god that he takes his vitamins, which apparently allow him to recover faster. Maybe if they had played this stuff in court instead of whatever evidence they used against Vince, the feds would have nailed the case.
Kind of a filler episode to be honest, but Hogan-Dibiase and Martel-Santana were both pretty great despite all the gaga, so this makes another thumbs up episode for 1989.