What the World Was Watching: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXVII

Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura are doing commentary for tonight’s episode, taped from Omaha, Nebraska.  The episode is dubbed “Wild Kingdom,” a play on the Mutual of Omaha television program with the same name.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show took place at a Superstars taping on July 16, drawing a sellout crowd of 10,303 fans.  And according to oswreview.com, the show drew a 7.2 television rating, the second lowest for a Saturday Night’s Main Event to date.  This would be the last Saturday Night’s Main Event that Ventura would call.

Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan promise that WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior will be eaten by Rude, who is the deadliest predator in the WWF jungle.  The Warrior rebuts that he fears no predator, setting out to prove that he is the ultimate animal in the company.

Opening Contest for the WWF Championship:  The Ultimate Warrior (Champion) (6-0) beats Rick Rude (12-1-1) via count out at 9:46:

The Warrior dominates most of the match, recovering quickly after Rude hits him with the WWF Championship and breaking up a Rude Awakening attempt.  In a weird spot, referee Joey Marella lifts the Warrior’s leg three times when Rude locks in a chinlock.  Rude manages to hit the Rude Awakening when he goes for it a second time, but the Warrior kicks out as two and starts shaking the ropes.  Heenan interjects to break up a pin after the Warrior hits a splash, getting beat up for that.  Rude tries to defend his manager but fares no better than Heenan, getting counted out.  So once again the booking of this feud does not make sense.  Rude looked ineffective here, so why would fans buy SummerSlam to see a rematch?  A double count out after Heenan’s interference would have been a better finish because then it sets up why both men have to fight in a cage at the pay-per-view.  Questionable booking aside, Rude bumped well for the Warrior and this was a much better outing for the Warrior than his last Saturday Night’s Main Event appearance against Haku.  The crowd was also popped big for the Warrior throughout the match, so maybe there is still time to save this title reign.  Rating:  **½

Lord Alfred Hayes and Gene Okerlund, decked out in safari gear, make jokes about wild animals and going on a wild journey to find the “mouth of the source of the Yangzi River.”

The Big Bossman dishing out punishment is the Mountain Dew Slam of the Night.

The Hulk Hogan video tribute is replayed.  Afterward, McMahon interviews Hogan in the ring.  Hogan thanks fans for writing him during his recovery and he is going to answer the mail he received.  The former WWF champion says that he is going to show Earthquake that he made a mistake going after him at SummerSlam.  Earthquake, Dino Bravo, and Jimmy Hart come out to confront Hogan and Hogan tries to hold them at bay with his weightlifting belt.  Tugboat runs in to even the odds and it is unclear whether fans are tooting for Tugboat or booing him.

Hayes and Okerlund are in the middle of their journey, with Hayes upset at “Jim’s” progress.  They come upon Koko B. Ware and Frankie, Jake Roberts and Damien, and the Bushwhackers.  The last act marches across train tracks for no reason.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:  Demolition – Smash & Crush (Champions w/Ax) (4-0) defeat the Rockers (13-2-1) when Ax pins Shawn Michaels at 9:25 shown:

To show how hard championship matches were to come by in this era, this is the Rockers first title shot in 1990.  After the Rockers work over Crush with some high-flying double teams, Ax blasts Marty Jannetty with a clothesline on the arena floor and the champions put him in peril.  Crush’s power moves add a lot to Demolition’s offense, which was too strike based before he came along.  After the hot tag, the Rockers knock Crush out of the ring with a double dropkick and hit Smash with the double flying fist drop.  However, Crush breaks up the count and when Michaels traps Smash in an O’Connor roll, Ax gets into the ring, blasts Michaels with a clothesline, and covers him for the victory because referee Joey Marella does not bother to check face paint.  This was a fun tag match that was packed with action, and it keeps putting over the advantage a three-man Demolition team has in conventional tag matches.  The result ends the Rocker’s seven-match win streak.  Rating:  ***

After the bell, the Hart Foundation come into the ring and take up for their babyface counterparts, complaining that Ax got involved.  This also brings out the Legion of Doom to argue their case, but Marella refuses to change the decision.

As the safari journey continues, Okerlund is attacked by “the Madagascar mosquito.”  This gives Okerlund a fever that makes him mimic animal actions and sounds.  Hayes has to save Okerlund’s life by having him sniff a leaf.

Sean Mooney interviews Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan.  Heenan says that Tito Santana will remain a former Intercontinental champion, while Perfect says he is at his best on Saturday night, and no one can stop him.

Intercontinental Championship Match:  Mr. Perfect (Champion w/Bobby Heenan) (21-2) defeats Tito Santana (13-5-1) after reversing a small package at 10:13 shown:

This is a rematch from the final round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament, and it sends the crowd on an emotional roller coaster.  After each man trades blows, referee Earl Hebner is bumped when Perfect falls onto his leg.  As a result, Hebner is not able to check on Perfect after Santana locks in a figure-four.  Nor is Hebner able to count a pinfall when Santana connects with the flying forearm.  And Hebner is late a third time when a clothesline off the second rope only nets Santana a two count.  A new referee finally comes out to replace Hebner ahead of a commercial break.  Santana weathers Perfect’s strikes, scoring another near-fall from a clothesline and countering the Perfectplex with a small package for two.  However, Perfect reverses the small package with his weight and barely manages to retain the title in an amazing match.  Rating:  ****

Ventura interviews Earthquake, Dino Bravo, and Jimmy Hart.  They pledge that Hulk Hogan is going to leave SummerSlam on a stretcher.

Hayes and Okerlund spot Jimmy Snuka in the jungle and meet “natives” Akeem and Slick.  Okerlund gets tossed in piranha infested waters but survives.

The Texas Tornado defeats Buddy Rose after a discus punch at 3:11:

The Tornado was Kerry Von Erich, a second-generation wrestler from the famed Von Erich wrestling family of Texas.  Booked as a main event talent in his father’s promotion, World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), Von Erich defeated Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship in May 1984, holding the belt for eighteen days.  In December 1988, he lost the World Class Heavyweight Championship in a bloody match to AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler at SuperClash III, later leading to the creation of the USWA Unified Championship.  Prior to coming to the WWF, Von Erich worked for the USWA in Dallas, feuding with Matt Borne.

Rose takes his usual funny bumps, but it is not a good squash for the Tornado as his offense is limited to strikes and not very exciting.  A big discus punch wins, with Ventura yelling that the finisher is an illegal move.

Ventura interviews Rick Rude and Bobby Heenan.  Rude says WWF Champion the Ultimate Warrior will have no advantages in a steel cage at SummerSlam.

Mooney interviews the Warrior, who looks like he is about to bolt the WWF and join Poison.  The WWF Champion says he will remain the company’s ultimate animal after SummerSlam.

Hayes and Okerlund are back at the lodge, with Okerlund scratching a monkey.

The Last Word:  From an in-ring standpoint this is one of the better Saturday Night’s Main Event telecasts of all-time.  The Intercontinental Championship Match was Tito Santana’s last hurrah as any kind of title threat and the tag team title match for SummerSlam continues to build nicely.  Sadly, the outcome WWF title match at SummerSlam looks like more like a formality because if Rick Rude could not get it done against the Warrior in a singles match when his manager could interfere, what makes him think he is going to beat him in a cage?

Up Next:  Wrestling Challenge for July 29!