The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 30 Live on the WWE Network, from New Orleans, LA. I was watching on the PS3 tonight and the stream was 99% perfect, with only a couple of buffering issues and once or twice where something would repeat. Other than that, it looked HD quality, just like on PPV. For a four hour show I’m very impressed. Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Hulk Hogan joins us to begin his hosting duties and he already botches his lines by calling it the Silverdome. Thankfully the crowd corrects him. And holy shit, here’s Steve Austin. And you can tell the crowd respects him because they do the “What” on cue and not otherwise. And then, because why not, it’s the Rock. Not that I’m complaining, but maybe advertising some of these might have been a good idea. How the hell is anyone supposed to follow this?! Even Rock scores off poor Hulk tonight by pointing out that they’re in the SUPERDOME. So Rock takes credit for electrifying the crowd so much that people give birth nine months after Wrestlemania. And with nothing really important said, they all drink beer and wrap it up. Spectacular. Winner gets the title shot: HHH v. Daniel Bryan HHH’s entrance, which is as noted by the King “like he stepped out of a Frank Frazetta painting”, is indeed quite the deal. HHH and Steph making goo-goo eyes at each other is wonderfully obnoxious as well. HHH offers a handshake, so Bryan kicks him down for two. HHH bails for some brand synergy advice from Steph, and back in he starts working on the bad arm. Bryan takes him down with a headlock as I ponder what the hell is up with Bryan’s furry Berzerker boots. HHH goes work in the corner and takes Bryan down with a legdrag, but they head to the floor and Bryan follows with a tornado DDT off the apron. And then adds a dive off the top because he’s kind of insane. Back in, Bryan goes up and gets crotched, and they head to the floor for a brawl on the announce table. NOT THE MOUNTAIN DEW! Bryan escapes a Pedigree there, but HHH goes back to the arm in the ring. HHH bails and Bryan tries another dive, but walks into a forearm. HHH hammerlock slams him on the apron in a nasty spot and Steph gets some quality trash-talk in. Back in, we get a crossface chickenwing, which turns into a crossface, but Bryan makes the ropes. Slugfest and Bryan comes back with a forearm, and a german suplex gets two. HHH goes back to the arm with a tiger suplex for two, and they head up and slug it out on top. Bryan with a sunset bomb and he comes back with the corner dropkicks, but walks into a massive lariat. Steph is just awesome at ringside as the cheering section. Bryan reverses the Pedigree for two and goes up for the flying headbutt, but lands on the knee and it’s crossface time again. Bryan is fading in the middle, but rolls him over for two and then reverses to the Yes-Lock. HHH makes the ropes, to the disgust of the crowd. Bryan hits him with the suicide dive, but HHH won’t stay down, so he does it AGAIN and then kicks the hell out of him. Back in, missile dropkick and Bryan makes the comeback with the kicks, which gets two. HHH catches the running knee and gets the spinebuster, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. Bryan with a small package for two. HHH has had enough of this guy and pounds away in the corner, but Bryan counters another Pedigree for two. Hunter holds on to the arms, however, and knees him into mush. Another Pedigree is reversed into a high kick, and the running knee finishes at 26:03 to make the crowd lose their shit. **** Come on, no matter how much I was trolling everyone you knew that Hunter was going to do the right thing in the end. And then we get the Corporate Beatdown afterwards to really make sure Bryan has no chance in the main event. I had to add another ½* to the rating just for Steph’s heel mannerisms here. The New Age(d) Outlaws & Kane v. The Shield I’m thinking they’re not gonna match that opener. The Outlaws quickly get stacked up on the ropes and Reigns gives them the running kick, then hits Billy with the Superman Punch. The heels all end up on the floor and Gunn is left alone with the Shield, so he decides to run away. Reigns spears everyone and the Outlaws get put out of their misery with the triple powerbomb at 2:50. I knew they’d be awesome babyfaces. ½* Meanwhile, Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter have an action figure battle, refereed by DANNY DAVIS, but Ted Dibiase buys the playset out from under them. The Andre Rousimoff Memorial Battle Royale (ARMBAR) Everyone is already in the ring except for Big Show and Sheamus, so that should tell you who’s winning. And really, this is a FOUR HOUR show and they can’t even give these poor geeks their entrance? Yoshi Tatsu is gone before I can even type that last sentence. Khali chops Brodus out and then gets dumped by 3MB. And then Zack Ryder, of course. Darren Young takes a day off on the floor. Mark Henry gets tossed by Show and it’s a lot of people laying around and randomly punching each other. Cody and Goldust team up to get rid of Sandow. Big E powerbombs Gabriel out and then follows by throwing David Otunga out. Fandango kicks Big E out, but stops to dance on the apron and gets eliminated by Sheamus with a billion forearms. Show throws Truth out, and Del Rio kicks Kidd to the floor. C’mon, never go to the top in a battle royale, TJ! Goldust goes out via Del Rio’s feet, as does Cody. Rey gets CESARO’D to the floor as I hope to god this means we’re getting a Giant Giant Swing. Kofi gets tossed and lands with his feet draped on the steps, so he’s still in. Cute. Kofi runs wild for a bit, but it’s the GIANT SWING. Show breaks it up with the chokeslam to big heel heat, but Sheamus finally puts Kofi out. Del Rio superkicks Ziggler out to bigger heel heat. Sheamus and Del Rio resume their C+ rivalry and eliminate each other, leaving Cesaro v. Big Show for the SEVEN FOOT GOLD STATUE. Cesaro throws uppercuts but Show tosses him unsuccessfully. Back in, Cesaro SLAMS HIM OUT at 13:15 to win it. What an awesome callback and a pretty fun battle royale once it got down to a manageable number of people. The crowd is going to lose their minds for Cesaro tomorrow night, and clearly the push has begun. John Cena v. Bray Wyatt Bray offers Cena a free shot to “finish him”, but Cena opts for a headlock instead. Bray slugs him down and follows with a back elbow, but charges and runs into a clothesline. This finally prompts Cena to show some emotion, as he gets mad and slugs away on the mat. Cena chokes him out in the corner and puts him down with a big boot, but Wyatt gets a cheapshot and puts him down with a suplex. And we hit the chinlock, until Cena fights out and makes the comeback. Cena tries the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Bray bridges up into the crabwalk to freak Cena the fuck out. Wyatt gets the front rows to sway with him and hits a corner splash, but Cena gets a tornado DDT for two. He goes up and gets caught with a powerbomb, and that gets two for Wyatt. Cena comes back again with the Shuffle, but Bray puts him down with a gutbuster for two. To the apron, where Wyatt hits a DDT for two. The crowd starts swaying again and that’s probably gonna the big thing tomorrow night. They head back to the top and Cena decides to hit the Family with a dive, and the brawl is on. Cena is too good to hit him with the stairs, however, and they head back in for another serenade by Bray. Now, do they have to pay royalties for “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”? I would presume not because it’s a traditional hymn, but you never know with the music division in WWE because they’d probably get sued by the church and manage to lose. Cena with the FU for two. Harper gets a shot behind the ref’s back and Wyatt gets two. Cena gets tossed and puts Harper through the timekeeper’s table as a result, but Wyatt throws Cena back in and tries to finish, only to see Cena reverse to the STF. Wyatt quickly makes the ropes and hits Sister Abigail for two. Bray grabs a chair and offers it to Cena, but he hits Rowan with it instead. Cena finishes with the FU at 22:31. Are you KIDDING me? They spend months building up Wyatt and then he just loses to Cena? Kind of a weird, slow match, too. Good, but not great or anything. *** Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker Undertaker is nice enough to line up a series of caskets the Streak victims helpfully numbered, although the video package and panning shot both omit the 21st victim. Brock quickly slugs UT down and clotheslines him to the floor, but Taker goes to work on the arm. Guillotine legdrop on the apron and Snake Eyes, but Brock escapes the chokeslam and Taker misses a blind charge. Brock takes over and chokes away in the corner, and works on the leg. There’s almost no reaction from the crowd for any of this. Taker comes back with the big boot for two and the chokeslam for two. Brock with the F5 for two. Brock slowly walks around over Taker before getting caught with the gogoplata, but he powers out of it. Another try, but Brock powers out again. And now it’s Brock turn, as he grabs the kimura, but Taker reverses out. We go Old School, but Brock counters with the F5 for two. Brock with a pair of weak-ass german suplexes, as Taker can’t really go up for them any more. Brock pounds him in the corner, but makes the classic error of standing on the turnbuckles and gets powerbombed. Tombstone gets two. There was about a foot of space between his head and the mat on that one. Another try is turned into an F5…and the streak is over at 25:50. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!? Fans at ringside freak out and I can’t blame them. I think I can say without hyperbole that this was one of the worst booking decisions in the history of wrestling. This is a waste of the streak. Not to mention that the match sucked and Brock was booked like a chump leading up to this. **1/4 And then as Undertaker does his dramatic standing up, some guy in the front row yells “YOU SUCK” with perfect timing. There’s a good summation of the whole deal. I feel like this is going to dominate my inbox for the next two weeks. Divas Title Battle Royale Invitational Deal Thingie Does anyone really care about this after watching the streak end? Just a huge stupid trainwreck, including one of the women losing her top accidentally and Rosa Mendes suddenly going blonde for some reason. The Bellas clear the ring and hit a twin dive, but Nikki turns on Brie and gets two. However, in the end AJ puts Naomi in the Black Widow and gets the submission at 6:50 because the other 13 girls suck too much to get the job done. DUD Like really, the Bellas couldn’t have been smart enough to agree for one of them to lay down for the other or something? Meanwhile, Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff confront Hulk Hogan, and Mr. Wonderful is looking much better these days, thankfully. Piper and Orndorff reluctantly agree to bury the hatchet after 30 years. WWE World title: Randy Orton v. Batista v. Daniel Bryan We are blessed by Rev Theory doing the live entrance theme for Orton, since one can only presume they had no other gigs booked tonight. Or ever. Weird note in that Michael Cole hypes up Extreme Rules by calling it a “WWE Special” instead of a Pay-Per-View. That’s gonna take some getting used to. Bryan gets dumped right away and you can tell this crowd is basically dead and buried. Batista and Orton brawl on the floor as Batista sports boots that are the color of infected puss. Orton takes over on Batista in the ring and drops a knee for two while Bryan disappears into the void, but he returns with a missile dropkick on both guys. Bryan hits them both with kicks to wake up the crowd, but Orton puts him down with an exploder for two. Could you imagine Batista and Orton having to main event this show after what happened? There would have been entire sections walking out. Bryan keeps fighting off both guys, but Batista suplexes him to the floor and it’s back to the Batista-Orton snoozefest. Orton gets a superplex and Bryan flies in with a headbutt, as HHH and Steph join us at ringside and take out the ref. Well you knew that was coming. Scott Armstrong makes his return as Batista gets the powerbomb for two. This match was going nowhere anyway. Bryan takes out the crooked ref and then hits the Authority with a dive, and now HHH declares it sledgehammer o’clock. Bryan takes him out and cradles Batista for two, but Orton makes the save. The heels beat on Bryan outside and work together to clear off two tables. And we get a Batista Bomb into an RKO to put him through. The EMTs come for Bryan while Batista goes after Orton and they sluggishly fight on the floor. Orton with the draping DDT off the apron while Bryan gets taken out on a stretcher, but he fights his way off it and Orton hauls him into the ring again. RKO is countered into the Yes-Lock, but Batista makes the save. Bryan puts him in it as well, but Orton makes the save now. RKO on Batista gets two. Orton sets up the punt, but walks into the Bryan running knee and Batista steals a two. Batista Bomb, but Bryan runs in with the knee and wraps him up with the Yes-Lock to win the WWE title once and for all at 23:20. To say this was too long would be a major understatement, but they brought it home well enough with some near-falls that freaked out the crowd and nailed the landing with a great match. **** So everyone can breathe now. The Pulse It was certainly a newsworthy show, bookended by a pair of great Daniel Bryan performances and what will no doubt be the biggest booking controversy in forever. You sure can’t say it wasn’t memorable. I’ll go thumbs up because the two matches everyone wanted to see delivered and they nailed the big happy ending.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – August 2 2008 (And so we wrap up the series with a pathetic one hour show thrown together to fulfil their NBC deal and feature Jenny McCarthy for some reason. This show DIED in the ratings, but by this point no one cared at all.) – Taped from Washington, DC. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. JBL, Ted Dibiase, Cody Rhodes & Kane v. John Cena, Cryme Tyme & Batista. Kane hammers Batista down to start, but Dave comes back with a corner clothesline and boots him down for two. He gets caught in the heel corner and Cody Rhodes comes in and slugs away, but Batista powers him into the face corner, where JTG beats on him. Shad alley-oops JTG into Cody (that move needs a cool name in the worst way) and a press slam gets two. Snake Eyes follows, but a weak cheapshot from JBL slows him down and Shad is YOUR thug-in-peril. And thus we take a break. Back with JBL tossing him for some punishment on the floor from Kane, which gives JBL two. Dibiase comes in with a suplex and clothesline for two (complete with canned “oooohs” from the crowd and overdubbed NBC shilling from JR that sounds like it was bolted on with a rivet gun). Into the corner for more dull heel offense. Cody pounds away in the corner and follows with a weak dropkick to cut off the tag, and it’s over to JBL for some elbows that get two. Over to Kane for a seated dropkick that gets two, and he goes to a bodyscissors of all things. C’mon, this is prime time! This crap is supposed to hook viewers? Dibiase tries a suplex, but Shad reverses it and it’s hot tag Cena. Backdrop suplex for JBL and the five knuckle shuffle follows, but Kane breaks up the F-U. Batista dumps Kane and hits Dibiase with a spinebuster, which allows JTG to go up and get launched onto Dibiase. He’s not legal, so the ref won’t count, but when JBL hits him with the Clothesline from New York, he will count that and the heels win at 12:13. What happened to more realism in the reffing? (Vince went to sleep and woke up the next morning with a new obsession.) Dull match that got hot for about 10 seconds at the end but was all kicking and punching before that. And really, if you’re a new fan tuning in and watching Dibiase & Rhodes, you’d think they were a couple of jobbers instead of the World tag champs and the hot new act of the promotion that the WWE is pushing them as. ** (Well, you’d be half right.) Jeff Foxworthy wants us to know that autism is reversible and he’ll be watching later when Jenny McCarthy talks about it. I thought they were trying to convince advertisers that rednecks WEREN’T watching their shows? Carmen Electra also dislikes autism. Really bringing out the A-list celebrities here, aren’t they? The Great Khali v. Jimmy Wang Yang Yang doesn’t even get an entrance, not that there was any doubt about the finish anyway. Khali clotheslines him and tosses him around, then swats Yang out of the air and finishes with the tree slam and pins him with one foot at 1:24. Lemme just say, had they taken the time to book Big Show this strong in 1999 he might have ended up as a major star instead of the minor one he is now. Khali, however, is a lost cause, no matter how much crowd noise they pipe in. DUD Ben Stiller reads his sincere greetings off a cue card. Autism, it sucks, man. Anyone else waiting for him to endorse the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too? And now, it’s Jenny McCarthy. Who really gives a crap about Jenny McCarthy in 2008 anyway? Anyway, autism is bad, we get it. (Oh man, we didn’t even know the depths of her insanity at this point. Even WWE wasn’t crazy enough to give her prime time TV and tell us how we shouldn’t vaccinate our children because of all the EVIL MERCURY and instead just let her talk vaguely about autism. Sadly, this is still a thing that idiots propagate in Facebook groups to this day, no matter how many times the science is discredited.) I’d rather not be preached to in a one-hour wrestling show, especially when they go from something where we’re supposed to see the “good side” of the WWE and then they cut right to… Edge’s trashy (but awesome!) wedding soap opera with Vickie and the wedding planner, which immediately makes them look completely low-class and silly again. Lemme say, HD close-ups of Vickie = EPIC FAIL. Edge needs Lita back in his life as a stabilizing force again. Lita v. Vickie in a battle of trailer trash would be so amazing that they’d have to go super-duper HD to contain it. Edge v. Jeff Hardy Hardy takes him down to start and they exchange baseball slide attempts, which allows Jeff to hit a pescado. Edge rests on the railing and Jeff tries to follow with a somersault off the stairs, but he splats into the barricade with a nasty bump and we take a break. Back with Edge working the leg, and he counters away from the mule kick and takes Hardy down again. Edge wraps the leg around the post, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and puts Edge in the Tree of Woe. Baseball slide misses, but Jeff recovers and mule kicks him for two instead. Twist of Fate is reversed into the Impaler by Edge, and that gets a very close two. Edge tries the spear, but Jeff moves and hits the Whisper in the Wind for two. Jeff hits him with a front suplex and goes up for the swanton, but Edge rolls away and Jeff can’t limp over and continue the advantage. Edge tries another spear, but misses again and lands on the floor. With the ref counting Edge, MVP pops out of the crowd and hits Jeff with the high kick out of nowhere, making him even goofier, and that darn spear finally finishes at 13:26. Good stuff, with Jeff selling the knee consistently and Edge looking like a star as usual. *** The Pulse Pretty pointless show from my end of things, as they had a timeslot on NBC and just kind of did a half-hearted Summerslam build because they knew no one would be watching anyway. But that autism, it’s the real heel! (More like the “doctor” who came up with that fucking anti-vaccine bullshit.)
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #35 – 08.18.07 Taped from Madison Square Garden. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jim Ross & JBL Meanwhile, Vince confers with the Coach about who his illegitimate child might be, and Coach promises to investigate. This leads to an awkward reveal that Vince might actually be his father. Oh, we’re getting off to a grand start already, I see. Batista & Kane v. Finlay & The Great Khali Oh yay, the World champion Khali era. Kane pounds on Finlay to start and hits him with a sideslam for two, and Batista comes in with an elbow for two. Batista with a suplex to send Finlay to the floor and we take a break. Back with Khali working on Kane’s ribs, but he gets the hot tag to Batista. Bossman slam gets two on Finlay and Khali gets tied into the ropes. The midget gets abused as a result, and Batista spears and powerbombs Finlay to finish at 7:42. Not much to this one. ** Meanwhile, Vince is tripping out and sees his 80s self in a mirror. Yeah. Meanwhile, MVP hangs out with Holyfield. Vince McMahon and Coach join us to continue their hard-hitting investigation of Vince’s child. Eugene and Melina are eliminated as suspects after some goofy innuendo, and finally Steve Austin is unveiled as the final choice. Hey, he WAS adopted. Austin reminisces a bit about the times he could have been spending with Vince as a child, but then decides to just hit Vince in the nuts and stun Coach instead. Austin feels bad for abusing his potential long lost father and offers him a beer, but then gives him a stunner anyway. The whole storyline was a complete dead end (original plan Kennedy, eventual payoff Hornswoggle) but Vince getting repeatedly smashed in the junk is always entertaining TV and Austin can get any stupid shit over by sheer force of willpower. John Cena v. Carlito Man, they just kept trying to reheat Carlito even when Carlito himself had no interest in it. Cena chases him out of the ring and we quickly take a break. Back with Carlito in control, but Cena hits the Throwback and goes up with the guillotine legdrop before finishing quick with the STF at 4:19. Literally only 2:00 of this was actually shown. * Randy Orton lays him out with an RKO on a chair afterwards to build up the most boring Summerslam main event ever. Boxing match: Evander Holyfield v. Matt Hardy This was supposed to be Hardy v. MVP, but MVP backed out due to his legit heart problems (which were discovered as an indirect result of the Benoit investigation) and we get this freakshow instead. Michael Buffer as the ring announcer, declaring that MVP is “STRAIGHT UP BALLLLLLLIN” is worth your $9.99 right there. So Holyfield unsurprisingly destroys Matt in every way. I suspect that this boxing match might not be on the up-and-up. Matt makes it through the first round and MVP offers some unwanted coaching to Evander (I’m reminded of “You, Strawberry, hit a home run!”) until Holyfield has finally had enough and just knocks MVP out instead. This was goofy comedy right out of the 80s, but it was fun. The Boogeyman & CM Punk v. Big Daddy V & John Morrison So this was a real match. Morrison was ECW champion and looking to hold onto it long-term, but in another weird side-effect of Benoit’s death John got popped for steroids during the ensuing fallout and Punk ended up with the belt instead, kickstarting his career for good. Punk with a backslide on Morrison for two and a leg lariat for two. And we take a break. Back with Boogeyman consuming some worms for energy, but Big Daddy lays him out and pounds away in the corner. Blind charge misses and Punk gets the hot tag, hitting a springboard clothesline for two. Morrison blocks the bulldog for two, but Punk cradles for the pin at 6:15. *1/2 The Pulse This show was decidedly light on wrestling to say the least, kind of a throwback to what Vince wanted the show to be in the 80s, and while it wasn’t terrible there’s nothing here you can’t skip in a heartbeat. No good matches and some stupid comedy is not exactly classic material.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #34 – 06.02.07 Welcome to the 2007 SNME, now cut down to a 90 minute show and abandoned to die by NBC. Which it did. This would be the very definition of “by contractual obligation”, as neither side had any real interest in continuing with the relationship. In kind of a throwback to the 80s, there’s a weird theme of “biggest, strongest, strangest, smallest, etc” like it’s a circus act or something. Taped from Toronto, ON Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. John Cena v. The Great Khali Oh, also, that chick Ashley from the Diva Search who got hired because she agreed to pose nude for Playboy, is the ring announcer and she’s pretty much the worst one ever. So this is building up to a match between them at One Night Stand the next night, and I’m like…what? Give away the match on free TV to build up the same thing on PPV? Also, I guess Cena wasn’t the champion at this point? I’m guessing it was Randy Orton, but I wasn’t even checking results at this point and I feel like I woke up in The Cube with no idea what I’m watching or how I got here. Like seriously, I couldn’t even tell you 2 or 3 things that happened in the entirety of 2007 as far as WWE goes, including anything outside of the main event of Wrestlemania. And of course one other thing. Khali throws Cena around and boots him down like he’s Brock Lesnar or something and we get OVERSELLING CENA. Khali chokes him down and pounds away, but Cena gets him up for the FU and Khali elbows out and puts him down with the JUDY CHOP OF DOOM. Thanks, Caleb! Tree slam finishes with one foot at 6:00. Post-match commentary reveals that Cena was in fact the champion and the next night is a title match. So yeah, Khali squashed the shit out of Cena here and apparently this was supposed to make us want to see the rematch. ½* Arm Wrestling Match: Bobby Lashley v. Vince McMahon Apparently Vince McMahon was ECW World champion at this point. I ranted on the show where that happened, too, and totally blocked it out of my mind. So Vince doesn’t want to actually face Lashley and calls in a ringer, Mark Henry, and then it quickly turns into a brawl between Henry and Lashley. I don’t feel like I’m properly communicating all the stalling and boredom that this entailed. Batista & Chris Benoit v. Edge & MVP This one is more than a little uncomfortable to watch knowing what would happen less than a month afterwards. We pick it up after a break with Benoit throwing chops on MVP and hooking the crossface, but MVP makes the ropes. Over to Edge, who is crazy over as a babyface here, but Benoit chops him down and drops an elbow for two. Batista comes in and pounds away on MVP and follows with a suplex for two, then boots him down for two. Benoit with the rolling germans, but the diving headbutt misses and MVP takes over. They get the heat on Benoit, but he fights off MVP and makes the hot tag to Batista. Big Dave runs wild and a powerslam gets two, which is enough for Edge. He grabs the belt and abandons MVP, and the diving headbutt finishes him at 8:13. It was a match. ** Finlay & Hornswoggle v. The Boogeyman & Little Boogey So…yeah. This is a thing that happened on national TV. Yes, there was a midget version of the Boogeyman. Boogey had a neat look and weird charisma, but COME ON. As if wrestling wasn’t embarrassing enough as it is. Boogey with a spinebuster on Finlay and the midget Boogey comes in for a buttdrop that gets nothing. Finlay then has to tag out to his own midget because he’s getting too beat up by the first midget, and then just kicks Little Boogey in the face anyway. And then Finlay gets to do midget spots, but just boots Little Boogey for the pin at 3:51 anyway. Also, Candace Michelle was ring announcer for this one, which just ups the embarrassment one more notch. DUD Extreme Expose dances for us, and I totally forgot about Tessmacher being in WWE. Layla with the curly hair looks totally different and not in a good way. Sadly, they cut to the back for the midget fight and it spills into the ring. For some reason the midget brawl compels the girls to take sides and fight as well. IS THIS SHOW OVER YET? Kane, Eugene & Doink the Clown v. Kevin Thorn, Umaga, & Viscera I have no idea who would have been playing the clown, since Dinsmore was usually the guy they used in the role around this time, and he’s pretty small. So there’s like still 12 minutes left in this show, which means this match isn’t gonna be quick. The babyfaces work over Kevin Thorn (the vampire, by the way) and Umaga bulldozes Eugene, who bails to escape Viscera as we take a break. Back with Thorn hitting a flapjack on Eugene for two and Umaga goes to the nerve pinch. Thorn comes in with a chinlock and Umaga tries a pump splash and hits knee. Hot tag Kane. Yay. Kane with the flying clothesline on Thorn for two, and he dodges Viscera and chokeslams him for the pin at 12:40. * The Pulse Can we declare this one the worst SNME of all time or do we need to check out the August show first?
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – 07.15.06 Now we’re getting into the SNME shows I’m REALLY dreading, when the ratings tanked and both NBC and WWE stopped giving a crap at either end. Much like me, because I was all in on WWE 24/7 and paying zero attention to the product. This show was hyping the Great American Bash PPV that no one remembers. Taped from Dallas, TX. Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole & JBL. Hulk Hogan joins us to start with Brooke, back before they were ruining TNA. Hulk really has nothing to say, and Randy Orton interrupts to give Brooke a rose and respectfully challenge Hulk to a match at Summerslam. He accepts, and that’s that. King Booker, Mark Henry & Finlay v. Lashley, Rey Mysterio & Batista Entrances take FOREVER here, dragging on for nearly 10 minutes total. We immediately take a break and return with Finlay headlocking Rey, but Mysterio gets a moonsault for two and the heels bail. Hornswaggle appears from under the ring to get some shots in while the ref was presumably off making a sandwich or something. Over to Henry, who misses a corner splash on Rey and it’s a false tag to Batista, allowing Booker to come in and take a rana from Rey. Now the real tag to Batista and he hits Booker with the spinebuster as JBL way oversells an upcoming Batista v. Mark Henry match. IT’S KING KONG AGAINST GODZILLA, MAGGLE! Well except King Kong injured himself for the millionth time and the match didn’t happen. 619 into Batista Bomb finishes Booker at 8:25. As a reminder, Booker was the guy challenging Rey for the World title a week later. Lashley was literally not even in the match and poor Mark Henry blew out his knee and was out for months. * Meanwhile, Vince gives the Spirit Squad a pep talk, and DX overdubs his speech with “hilarious” new dialogue. It’s prime time on a G rated show, so it’s lots of talk about “butts” and poopy joke type stuff. Meanwhile, the Divas have a bullriding contest. And later tonight is the finals! Johnny Nitro & Melina v. Carlito & Trish Stratus I don’t remember Carlito as a babyface at all. Trish throws forearms on Melina, but gets tripped up by Nitro and Melina takes over with a hairtoss. Over to the men, as Carlito gets a dropkick and backdrop suplex and the ladies brawl outside. Carlito finishes Nitro with the backstabber at 2:38. Barely even a match. ½* Meanwhile, Kevin Von Erich makes a quick cameo. Shawn Michaels & HHH v. The Spirit Squad This was pretty much the final burial of the Squad. This is elimination rules and when you’re gone, you get locked in a cage at ringside. Shawn cleans house with the plastic megaphone and superkicks Mitch out of the match at 1:14. We take a break and return with HHH pinning Johnny after a spinebuster at 1:41. Kenny tries to take a walk and Shawn follows, but that allows Vince to come out and hit Shawn with a chair. Back in the ring, Nicky gets an elbow in the corner for two and follows with a sleeper. Kenny misses a flying legdrop and it’s back to HHH, as he fights off the clowns with ease and tosses Nicky. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE kills Nicky dead at 5:01. Mikey follows at 5:38. Shawn finishes the squash with the superkick on Kenny into the Pedigree at 6:18. Why would someone supposedly as powerful and smart as Vince use these morons to do his dirty work? ½* On the bright side, Nicky did OK for himself as Dolph Ziggler. The Great Khali is out for a promo about how he’s going to destroy the Undertaker, but Big Show interrupts. As if this show wasn’t swirling the toilet already. Remember at this point that Khali was actually being sold as a dangerous threat who had pinned Undertaker with one foot in their first match! So Undertaker interrupts this pointlessness and we get a three-way brawl that ends with Undertaker getting laid out with a chokeslam from both heels. JBL was really insufferable on commentary here, acting like Undertaker was literally dead from the chokeslam and claiming that, quote, “The dong has sounded for the last time.” Meanwhile, Big Show challenges Undertaker to an ECW World title match this Tuesday. Extreme Rules match: Sabu v. Stevie Richards Sabu quickly hits Air Sabu and a sloppy moonsault for two. A table gets involved and breaks before Stevie even gets situated on it, so Sabu improvises a flying chair for the pin at 2:00. Fucking awful. DUD Meanwhile, Orton keeps talking up Brooke, but Hulk wants none of that. Understandable. But then Orton turns on him with an RKO on the trunk of the car. Brooke is mystified as to what happened to Hogan, even though Orton was kneeling there with his evil smirk on his face. I’m guessing Summerslam bombed that year. Bull Riding Finals: Michelle McCool v. Victoria Michelle lasts 12 seconds, Victoria lasts 6. Well at least it was quick. RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena Brawl on the floor to start and Cena charges, but hits the floor as we take a break. Back with Edge clotheslining him, which sets up a sloppy superplex. Edge boots him down for two, but they slug it out, which allows Cena to get the backdrop suplex. Five knuckle shuffle and FU follow, but Lita pulls out the ref. Cena dodges a spear and hooks the STFU, but Lita decks the ref again and it’s a DQ at 5:00. Just a quickie TV match. ** for Lita’s boobs. The Pulse Keep in mind that this was during the time when WWE was still actually TRYING to put on a good show with these. Just wait until we get into 2007 with NBC leaving them in the death slot with no promotion. A complete and total waste of 2 hours.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #32 – 03.18.06 This was pretty near my lowpoint for wrestling fandom so I had little interest in watching this when it aired on NBC. This was building up to Wrestlemania 22, another show I had little interest in and didn’t see until much later. The cast of characters gives their introductory blurbs to start, in the style of the original shows. Taped from Detroit, MI Your hosts are Jim Ross, Tazz & Jerry Lawler HHH & John Cena v. Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio & Kurt Angle Not surprising they’d get Cena on TV right off the bat. I don’t even remember Rey’s theme from this time, the one between the original and “Booyaka 619”. Orton with hair, body fat and no tattoos is so weird now. So of course the gag here is that the RAW half of the Wrestlemania main event is facing the Smackdown half, and clearly the one side is the bigger deal. Angle throws suplexes on Cena to start, but walks into a spinebuster that gets two. HHH comes in and stomps him down in the corner, but Angle fires off the german suplexes and Rey springboards in with a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Cena comes in, but HHH saves him from a 619 and lays out Rey with a lariat and we take a break. Back with HHH tossing Rey around on the floor and there’s TENSION between HHH and Cena. If they can’t co-exist here, how can they ever compete for the title in the main event of Wrestlemania? Yeah, I don’t get the motivations here, either. HHH with a spinebuster for two, and it’s time for the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. Amazingly, Rey escapes this devastating hold and hits a moonsault press, setting up the hot tag to Orton. Cena with the backdrop suplex and FU for two, but HHH takes him out with a Pedigree and puts Orton on top for two. Rey makes the save there for some reason and Orton takes out Angle with an RKO, but Cena rolls him up for the pin at 13:49. Decent enough, but the ending made no sense. ** And who could actually look at Orton v. Angle v. Rey as a serious Wrestlemania main event after they got turned into a bunch of goofs here? What a mess this was. Meanwhile, Booker T is in tremendous pain and is unable to wrestle Boogeyman tonight. His knee is so bad his career might be over, in fact. Edge and Lita’s spectacular rack are out to interview Mick Foley. Oh man, 2006 Lita. Edge runs him down and lights a table on fire, so Mick responds by beating him down and dumping thumbtacks all over the ring. Edge goes into them and takes a conchairto to boot. You see, they didn’t like each other. We get a video recap of the Vince v. Shawn feud, which didn’t particularly make any sense and went on for months, leading to the first DX reunion of many. Meanwhile, Booker and Sharmell celebrate pulling one off on the doctor, by dancing on national TV where everyone can see them. Sadly, the Boogeyman interrupts their revelry to continue the stupidest feud of the year. Kudos to Booker and wife for doing whatever it takes to get it over, though. Beer Drinking Contest: JBL v. Steve Austin So we’re at the one hour mark with one match so far. JBL gets heat by literally saying “Your sports teams are all pathetic.” Come on, he’s had better material than that. Austin runs through his usual material and JBL just goes for every cheap heat line about American beer being terrible and Detroit’s hockey team being terrible, which is part of his charm, and then the beer drinking is ON. Of course, JBL cheats and just pours them down his shirt, and that’s the most offensive thing you can do around Austin. JBL tries to run, but Chris Benoit throws him back in and JBL takes a dozen beers to the head and KICK WHAM STUNNER. And then JBL went on to win the US title from Benoit anyway. This was fine, exactly what you’d expect from it. Victoria & Candice Michelle v. Mickie James & Trish Stratus This was in the thick of the awesome “lesbian stalker” storyline that ended up getting abruptly dropped. I don’t even remember Michelle, to be honest. She does appear to have impressive boobies, which would probably explain her Playboy shoot and thus employment in general. Trish gets choked out in the heel corner and Victoria slingshots in for two, but Trish quickly fights back and reverses a double suplex. Hot tag to Mickie is cut off as Trish is selling like it’s 20:00 in, but then she just hits the bulldog anyway and pins Michelle at 2:40. DUD Mickie offers a handshake and goes in for the kiss, but Trish turns away from it, so Mickie lays her out with the high kick. Psycho Mickie was pretty great. Mark Henry is out with Daivari (was that really a thing that happened?) to cast aspersions on Undertaker’s chances of winning at Wrestlemania, so Undertaker responds by tombstoning Daivari on the casket and chasing Henry off like a geek. Yeah, that sure makes me want to see the match now. No wonder no one remembers this Wrestlemania. Street Fight: Shawn Michaels v. Shane McMahon Shawn attacks during the Shane Dance and they brawl in the aisle, with Shawn hitting him with a chair and then setting up a table. Shane reverses him into the post and retrieves a ladder before sending Shawn into the post again. Vince puts Shawn on the table, but he fights up and they slug it out on the ladder. That results in Shane getting superplexed through the table, although Shawn gets most of that one as well. And we take a break. Back with Shawn slugging away in the ring, and he slams Shane and goes up the ladder, only to have Vince break it up with a kendo stick. Shane pounds him with the ladder for two, then runs the ladder into his face for two. Shane goes to a surfboard, which lasts a lot longer than you’d like for a street fight, and a hurricane DDT gets two. Chairshot sets up the Shane Terminator, but Vince gets too close and takes it instead. Shawn comes back with the flying elbow and superkick, but Vince pulls the ref out now as they stretch this out with every shortcut possible. Shawn goes after Vince, which allows Shane to go low and hook Shawn in the Sharpshooter, and of course Vince is there to ring the bell at 13:50. Seriously? They went with THAT finish? Shane just kind of does the same match over and over. *** The Pulse This show was a pretty big flop at the time, although today the rating would be considered spectacular given some of the ratings for their NBC specials since then. A total nothing show with only two real matches that did a pretty good job of making you want to see Austin v. JBL and not much else. And it would only continue going downhill from there. Recommendation to avoid.
The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – October 27 1992 – Another show I’ve never seen, because Fox didn’t debut in Edmonton until well into the 90s, believe it or not. – Taped from Indiana State College, IN – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan WWF World tag team titles: Money Inc. v. Randy Savage & Ultimate Warrior Big brawl to start and the, ahem, Ultimate Maniacs clean house and toss the champions twice. This gives Bobby a chance to work in a lame telestrator joke, and we’re back with Savage getting two on Dibiase. Necksnap and it’s over to the Warrior as the canned crowd noise is REALLY obnoxious here, like something from the early 80s. I mean, the crowd isn’t even MOVING and yet the sound is off the charts. Warrior suplexes Dibiase for two, but misses a shoulderblock and lands on the mat. IRS comes in with a sleeper to take advantage, which gives us a chance to hear from Razor Ramon and Ric Flair backstage, as they hype Survivor Series. So they’re using the tag champions to warm up the babyfaces for another team. That’s swell. Dibiase comes in and gets the Million Dollar Dream, but Savage breaks it up with a knee to the back. Warrior and Dibiase clothesline each other, but it’s hot tag Savage. And now at least the crowd is excited to see him for real. Clotheslines for Money Inc and he drops the big elbow on IRS, but Dibiase breaks it up and we’re BONZO GONZO. Warrior dumps Dibiase with a clothesline and IRS goes out from an atomic drop, and they’ve had enough tonight and walk out at 6:10. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Ramon and Flair and Perfect beat the crap out of the Maniacs on the way back to the dressing room. They might as well have put this together from a store bought kit. ** – A music video about Bret Hart follows, although obviously the original song, Tom Petty’s “Making Some Noise”, has been replaced with ultra-generic country rock. Intercontinental title: Davey Boy Smith v. Shawn Michaels Bulldog overpowers him to start, of course, so Shawn goes with the cheapshot, into a hiptoss and short-arm scissors. Hey, wonder what Bulldog will do to counter? And yes indeed, he powers Shawn up and drops him on the mat. Press slam follows and a clotheslines puts Shawn on the floor, as he’s just bumping all over the place in his big solo network debut. Back in, Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Bulldog wins a battle of reversals and gets the armbar. Shawn dumps him to escape and unties the turnbuckle, as we take a break. Back with Shawn going to the chinlock and Bulldog slamming out of it, but Shawn works on the back and goes to the abdominal stretch. Bulldog fights out and faceplants him, then sends him into the corner and out with a clothesline. Catapult into the corner is followed by a clothesline for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Finally the turnbuckle comes into play, however, as Shawn gets a desperation whip into the dreaded cold steel to slow Bulldog’s comeback. Another whip, but this time he eats the turnbuckle, and Bulldog goes to finish with a superplex…but his back gives out and Shawn pins him to win the title at 10:15. Clean as a sheet, as they say. Really liked this one, as the psychology was consistent, with Shawn working the back and then winning the title when Bulldog’s back gave way. ***1/4 That’s all I ask. – Back to Ramon & Flair for more trash talk towards the good name of the Ultimate Maniacs. WWF World title: Bret Hart v. Papa Shango Bret gets a bodypress on Shango for two right away, and puts him on the floor with a clothesline. He follows with a pescado, and we take a break. Back with Bret missing a charge into the turnbuckle and Shango pounds him in the corner. Bret slugs back, but walks into a bearhug, forcing him to bite Shango’s head to escape. Shango pounds him down again and chokes him out, and it’s … no … it can’t be … the deadly VOODOO NECK PINCH OF DOOM! What a fiend. Bret elbows out, but walks into a clothesline, and it’s back to that nerve hold. Bret fights out and grabs a sleeper, but Shango rams him into the turnbuckles to break right away. Shango starts chanting, which Bobby clarifies is a bad thing for Bret, but instead he misses an elbow off the middle rope and Bret comes back. Russian legsweep gets two. Backdrop gets two. Clothesline off the middle rope gets two. Shango whips him into the corner, but misses a charge and the Sharpshooter ends it at 7:10. Bill Alfonso excitedly pushes Bret off Shango to break the hold in a weird deal, and Bret looks kind of pissed at him. Usual Bret match as they wanted to put him over huge on network TV. **1/4 – And we wrap it up with comments from Paul Bearer and Undertaker, as they prepare for Kamala in the casket match. The Pulse Well, this show tanked in the ratings compared to the NBC glory years, and the PPV was a gigantic flop, neither of which were terribly surprising because Vince was trying to put out a product that looked like the 80s glory days but with people who didn’t yet have the star power to draw money for him. A totally forgettable, throwaway show, although the Shawn title change is worth seeking out if you don’t have the DVD already. Recommendation to avoid.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #30 – 02.08.92 Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to FOX we go with the SNME series, although only for two one-hour episodes. And with a terrible opening sequence and logo. As I’ve mentioned before, the FOX network wasn’t available in most parts of Canada until well into the 90s, so this was a show I never got to see. Taped from somewhere. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan. Intercontinental title: Rowdy Roddy Piper v. The Mountie Mountie attacks from behind, but Piper tosses Jimmy Hart out and rolls up Mountie for two. A cheapshot puts Mountie in control and he hangs Piper in the Tree of Woe and stomps him down for two. Splash hits knee, however, and Piper makes the comeback while we get an inset promo from Bret Hart hyping his title shot at the winner of this. Ref is bumped and Mountie gets a piledriver, then follows with the shock stick, but Piper no-sells it. Mountie gets shocked in return and pinned at 3:40. And then the payoff, as Piper reveals a shock-proof rubber vest under his shirt. Uh huh, because that’s totally a thing. Nothing match. ½* Meanwhile, the Royal Rumble, Sid Justice dumps Hogan and they overdub the crowd reaction to booing for both Sid and Flair. Thankfully modern airings of the clip have restored the smarky crowd to all their glory. Then at a Wrestlemania press conference, Jack Tunney names Hogan the #1 contender and Sid flips out. Hulk Hogan & Sid Justice v. Ric Flair & Undertaker Flair starts with Sid and gets backdropped out of the corner, and it’s over to Hulk. He hiptosses both heels and runs Taker into Sid’s knee. Sid adds a slam, as does Hulk, and the heels bail and regroup. Back in, Taker gets an uppercut on Sid and Flair adds a clothesline for two. They double-team Sid, but Hulk comes in for the brawl and they give Flair the double-boot and clear the ring. Hulk poses and Sid looks none too pleased about him hogging the spotlight. We take a break and return with Undertaker attacking Sid while he seethes, and we get double-teaming in the heel corner. Sid rams them together and brings Hulk back in, but Flair takes out the leg and goes to work. Figure-four, but Sid turns his back on him. The heels continue to double-team, but Hogan slams Flair off the top…and Sid denies him the tag again. Hulk hits the heels with a double clothesline, and Sid takes a walk. Flair tosses the ref for the DQ at 10:58, allowing Hulk to clean house. Nothing as a match, but again it had to be here for the Sid heel turn. *1/2 Meanwhile, Sid goes full-on supervillain to complete his heel turn. Meanwhile, Brutus Beefcake tells a creepy story about waking up from his boating accident with Hogan laying in the bed next to him, pumping blood from his own veins into Brutus. Um, OK. Hacksaw Duggan & Sgt. Slaughter v. The Beverly Brothers Apparently this was advertised as the LOD but they were removed from the show without explanation. Duggan quickly gets double-teamed by the Beverlies, but makes the hot tag to Slaughter, who gets a backbreaker on Blake for two. Then he just decides to cheat and hit Blake with the Genius’ scroll for the pin at 2:38. What a hero. DUD Jake Roberts v. Randy Savage Savage’s pre-match promo is a work of art. I would not want to fuck with this man. Savage launches a crazed attack on Roberts on the floor and chokes away in the ring, and Jake has a broken nose from something already. So Savage goes after it, forcing Jake to toss him to escape. Back in, Savage attacks again, so Jake tosses him again to buy time and then sends him into the ringpost. And then again, HARD. And we take a break, with Savage shockingly not bleeding all over the ring after that. Savage comes back with an elbow and goes up for the double axehandle, but Jake catches him coming down and follows with the DDT. He demands a knockout count instead of a pin, but Savage is up at 8. Savage backdrops out of a second DDT and drops Jake on the railing, then finishes with the flying elbow at 7:26. Clearly the best match of the show. *** Savage isn’t done yet and he goes OLD SCHOOL with the ringbell, but Jake manages to escape a Steamboating. Liz comes out to celebrate to end the show, but Jake lurks behind the curtain at the Gorilla position as the show ends. Later, we would see him try to ambush Liz, only to be foiled by Undertaker in his babyface turn. The Pulse I can see why this one didn’t set the ratings on fire.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #29 – 04.27.91 End of the line for the NBC version of the show. In a reverse of the November 90 show, this one was taped as The Main Event and then edited into a full SNME after the fact because NBC didn’t want to give them a primetime slot. So all the banners say “The Main Event”. This is another one I’ve never seen because advertising for the show was so minimal that I didn’t even know it was on at the time. Taped from somewhere that is again never mentioned. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Randy Savage. Sgt. Slaughter may have lost the title, but he threw fire at Hogan, so everything is cool. Oddly, Randy Savage is playing backstage interviewer and Slaughter puts him over as a “great American”, which is opposite of what he should have been doing after Savage’s babyface turn. Ultimate Warrior v. Sgt. Slaughter Warrior slams Slaughter off the top and slugs him out of the ring, but Slaughter pokes him in the eyes and tosses him. Cheapshot from Mustafa allows Slaughter to take over, and he stomps away in the ring and follows with a backbreaker. Bearhug follows, but Warrior slams out of it, so Slaughter goes back to it again. This allows Paul Bearer to wheel a custom Warrior casket out for him, and there’s way too much ick factor there right now. Warrior contemplates his own mortality while we take a break. Back immediately after the cut with Warrior making the comeback with clotheslines, but Undertaker pops out of the casket. Warrior is again freaked out, and Slaughter attacks for the beatdown and DQ at 7:30. Warrior should have got his job back here, but they needed Slaughter for the house show run against Hogan I’d assume so it had to be a screwjob. Shit match. ½* Undertaker gets chased off by Warrior afterwards, but he showed a real star presence here and would have fit in with the bigger era of the show with no problem. WWF tag team titles: The Nasty Boys v. The Bushwackers This is the end of a great SNME tradition, as this is the last “first title defense” on the show for the tag champions. All it was lacking was Tito Santana and a random partner. I would presume it was taped as a dark match and added in afterwards. The Bushwackers manage to clear the ring, but Sags hammers away on Luke. The Bushwackers clear the ring again, however, and the Nasties are forced to cheat and take over on Luke. Butch gets a quasi-hot tag and quickly gets double-teamed down again and it’s BONZO GONZO, allowing Knobs to roll Butch up for the pin at 6:50. Another terrible one. -* Battle Royale We’ve got Hulk, Earthquake, Rockers, Orient Express, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Texas Tornado, Warlord, Tugboat, Mr. Perfect, Haku, Greg Valentine, Power & Glory, Big Bossman, Barbarian, British Bulldog and Jimmy Snuka. Roma and Jannetty put each other out and then it’s a whole lot of milling around and punching. Hulk and Hammer team up with elbows on Perfect, but can’t put him on the floor. Warlord dumps Bulldog and Tanaka goes out off-camera. Quake takes Snake. Jake gets pissed and lets the snake slither around the ring, so the ref halts the match and we take a break. Back with Hulk and Tugboat having a dramatic altercation until Warlord interrupts and gets tossed out for his troubles. Barbarian puts Tornado out, and Duggan stands there going “Hooo” until Earthquake tosses him out. Hulk dumps Quake in retribution. Hulk puts Kato out, but Tug puts Hulk out, then Shawn puts Tug and Herc out. Wow, good showing for Michaels. Perfect dropkicks Bossman into a Barbarian backdrop over the top, making him the only choice left with a shot to win. Shawn dropkicks Haku out and goes after Perfect, but can’t get him over the top. Shawn bumps to the apron, however, and Perfect slugs him to the floor and out. That leaves Perfect, Valentine and Barbarian. Hammer can’t get Barbarian out and the heels double-team him, but Perfect accidentally dropkicks Barbarian out of the match. Perfect and Hammer exchange chops in the corner and Perfect goes down, then Hammer puts him down with an elbow for good measure. He drops the elbows and tosses Perfect, but he still won’t go out. Another go at it and Perfect takes him out while holding the ropes, winning the match at 12:30. Bret Hart v. Ted Dibiase Dibiase slugs away in the corner, but Bret comes back with a hiptoss and a pair of clotheslines before clotheslining Dibiase to the floor and following with a pescado. Back in, Bret grabs a headlock, but gets tripped up by Sherri before recovering with a rollup for two. Bret charges and runs into a stungun, however, and Dibiase takes over with a piledriver. That gets two. Dibiase tosses him and Sherri gets some cheapshots, and back in for the choking. Bret takes the corner bump and it’s Million Dollar Dream time, but Bret runs him into the corner to break. Bret makes the comeback and Dibiase begs off, so Bret gives him an atomic drop and back elbow for two. Russian legsweep gets two. Middle rope elbow gets two. Sherri trips Bret up again and this time he chases her (Piper: “This is on purpose!” Ya think?), which allows Dibiase to attack from behind. And in fact Piper is so pissed that he leaves the “booth” and heads down to help Bret, sending Sherri running with a broom. Back in the ring, Bret hammers away in the corner, but Dibiase chases after Piper and Bret follows for the lame double countout at 9:37. Weak, this was in **** territory before the cop-out finish. ***1/2 I feel like the Piper-Dibiase feud was a wasted opportunity to book a cheap Scotsman against the richest man in the company. Think of the vignettes! Tito Santana v. The Mountie Whoa, a Wrestlemania rematch to close out the NBC era of the show! Fitting that Santana would get to be the guy to turn out the lights on the series. Tito chases him from the ring with dropkicks and slugs away in the corner, but Mountie blocks a monkey flip to take over. He runs Tito into the turnbuckles, but Tito comes back with the Flying Jalapeno for two. Jimmy Hart gets involved and takes one for the team as well, but the DILDO OF DOOM puts Tito down for the pin at 4:22. Nothing much to this one. * Next up: The brief FOX era of the show!
The SmarK Rant for The Main Event #5 – 02.01.91 This is the last of the Main Event primetime specials, and one which I’ve never even seen before. NBC was basically burning off their contractual obligations at this point because the product was ice cold and ratings were falling fast. Taped from somewhere never mentioned. Turns out it was Macon, GA. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Roddy Piper Hulk Hogan & Tugboat v. Dino Bravo & Earthquake Hogan wins a test of strength with Dino Bravo and the babyfaces beat on him FOR ‘MURICA! Earthquake comes in and misses an elbow on Tugboat, so Hogan slams both heels to pretty definitively show who won that feud. But as usual, Tugboat comes in and immediately fucks up, allowing Quake to take over with choking. Elbow gets two. Tugboat gets dumped and beat up on the outside and we take a break, as Vince notes “we’ve got trouble here in River City.” That kind of pop culture reference sounds about right for Vince. Back with the false tag to Hulk, which allows the heels to put Tugboat down again, but as usual Hogan cheats and prevents them from winning. Hot tag to Hulk, and he schoolboys Bravo for the pin at 13:02. * Recap of the Warrior-Savage storyline from Royal Rumble. Fucking Randy Savage, man. Hope Warrior retires him. Meanwhile, Sgt. Slaughter is on top of the world and doesn’t foresee any circumstance where he could ever lose his title. WWF World title: Sgt. Slaughter v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan Slaughter claims a hairpull and then chokes him out in the corner, but Duggan comes back and pummels him down. Clothesline puts Sarge on the floor in an awkward bump, but Adnan trips Duggan and Slaughter gets two. Heel miscommunication and Duggan makes the comeback, but Slaughter slugs him down and we get more choking. Am I watching LeBron James here? SEE, BASKETBALL REFERENCE! Board to the head gets two. LOADED TOE OF DOOM follows, but Duggan comes back again and Slaughter takes his trademark corner bump. Finally he’s had enough and lays out Duggan with a chairshot to draw the DQ at 7:00. Fucking terrible. DUD As usual Slaughter looks like a chump who isn’t even worthy of being champion and can’t even beat Duggan, and then they wondered why Wrestlemania was a giant bomb? The Legion of Doom v. The Orient Express Animal overpowers Kato and the faces clear the ring as Vince notes that Jack Tunney will be announcing the #1 contender for Wrestlemania shortly. The Express briefly gets some offense on Hawk, but he shrugs them off and destroys Kato, followed by Animal laying him out on the floor with a clothesline. The Express are just bumping like crazy here, taking somersaults off every move. Finally Fuj the Stooge throws salt in Animal’s face just to give the heels a heat segment, but that literally lasts 10 seconds before Animal makes the hot tag and Hawk obliterates everyone. Doomsday Device ends the slaughter at 5:10. Just a total and complete massacre. * Mean Gene interviews Jack Tunney in the ring, and he puts an end to all the rampant speculation by announcing Sgt. Slaughter v. Hulk Hogan for Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, Slaughter isn’t particularly worried about facing Hogan. Hulk Hogan is out for the main event interview and blah blah blah Saddam Hussein blah blah blah Hulkamania. He literally ends the promo with the Pledge of Allegiance in the most sickeningly pandering attempt to cash in on the Gulf War you could imagine, as if the US military strategy in Iraq is riding on him winning the title or something. Just totally embarrassing to watch as a fan. The Pulse This has to be the worst of the series by far, although the final SNME is still upcoming.
The SmarK Retro Rant for the Main Event #4 – November 1990 – Taped from Fort Wayne, IN – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Roddy Piper – So with SNME going down the crapper, ratings and quality-wise, by 1990, we get this strange experiment. Originally taped to be a 90 minute Saturday Night’s Main Event show, complete with a controversial tag team title switch, the show was instead moved to prime time and chopped down to an hour. The result was not only horrible ratings, but the Rockers’ tag title win over the Hart Foundation being erased from history until the recent retroactive change has seemingly given them the belts again. Oddly enough, both Michaels and Jannetty would go on to win the belts with different partners anyway. – WWF title: Ultimate Warrior v. Ted Dibiase. Warrior was tanking badly as champion by November and a title change was imminent, while Dibiase was a non-factor by this point and was reduced to feuding with his own hired help by Wrestlemania VII, so that shows you how well this one was destined to do. Warrior powers Dibiase into the corner to start, but he slugs back, so Warrior dumps him with a clothesline. Back in, Warrior clotheslines him off the top and slugs away in the corner. Blind charge hits knee, however, and Dibiase takes over with the middle rope elbow. Piledriver gets two. Another is reversed and Warrior shoulderblocks him down, but gets dumped. We take a break and return with Dibiase dropping a fist for two. He grabs a side headlock, and clotheslines Warrior down. Warrior comes back with a backslide for two, but Dibiase suplexes him for two. Another is reversed to a sunset flip for two by Warrior, and Dibiase tosses him. Back in, Warrior reverses a suplex and starts no-selling, and they collide for the double KO. Warrior recovers and comes back with some rope-shaking, and the clotheslines and shoulderblocks follow, so Virgil runs in. (Warrior d. Dibiase, DQ, 9:50, ***) As much as I bust on Warrior’s in-ring prowess, Dibiase handled him like a champ and got a really good match out of him here. And of course the Macho King runs in afterwards and lays out Warrior to set up the fateful title change at Rumble 91, and the eventual WM classic between Warrior and Savage. – Nikolai Volkoff v. Sgt. Slaughter. No match, as Slaughter lays him out and whips him with the riding crop, and the camel clutch follows. Jim Duggan makes the save. (Volkoff d. Slaughter, DQ?, no rating) – Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman. Texas Tornado was busy borrowing the IC title at this point, so Perfect doesn’t have it. Perfect sticks and moves to start and leads Bossman in a chase, but walks into a clothesline. Bossman hammers him in the corner and whips him into the turnbuckles, then hairtosses him around the ring and into the post. Backbreaker and Bossman goes up (!), but misses a splash. Perfect necksnaps him to take over, and gets two. Small package gets two. Perfect slugs away and undoes a turnbuckle, but Bossman blocks and sends him into it. Ear-wringer and Bossman comes back, but Perfect whips him into the exposed steel. Perfect goes to finish, but gets cradled for two. They slug it out and it’s the Perfectplex, but it only gets two. Criminal. Bossman dumps him and goes after Heenan, and gets counted out. (Perfect d. Bossman, COR, 8:29, *1/2) Could we actually have a FINISH to a match tonight? Just one? – And now, Blow Away. Where to start with this one? This was a fake infomercial for a weight-loss product which revolved around a gag with Buddy Rose. Basically, Rose pours a magic powder all over himself, eats whatever he wants, and when he blows the powder off he loses weight. Except of course he doesn’t lose any weight and looks exactly the same. This bit was, to say the least, famously bad and completely bombed on every level, as no one got the joke or those who did get it didn’t think it was funny. Mostly the latter. Now, on a deeper level, from what I understand the skit was a tryout of sorts for hot Stampede manager Dr. Jonathan Holliday, as Stampede itself was a feeder system for the WWF by that point. The skit was apparently his baby, and he decisively did not win himself a job with it, although it would have appealed to Vince’s sense of humor. – Rick Martel v. Tito Santana. Martel attacks to start and tosses Tito, but runs into the post. Back in the ring, Tito gets a double axehandle and starts working the arm, then blocks a monkeyflip with the a stomp to the face. Back to the arm, and a small package gets two. He says on the arm, but Martel grabs a chinlock, so Tito reverses to a hammerlock and forces Martel to go to the ropes. Martel chokes him out and works him over in the corner, and gets a backbreaker. He goes up and gets brought down by Tito, who goes nuts in the corner and dropkicks him. Backbreaker and top rope clothesline get two. Figure-four is reversed by Martel for two. Boston Crab finishes. (Martel d. Santana, boston crab — submission, 6:43, **1/2) Kind of disappointing compared to previous outings from them, but at least it’s a clean finish. The Pulse: It’s the show with BLOW AWAY. What more do you need to know? Throw it out the window and watch Impact or something instead.
The SmarK Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #28 (October 1990) It’s OKTOBERFEST! Oh man, I kind of love this one. Taped from somewhere that isn’t Germany, sadly. I believe they were trying to get away from naming the city at this point for some reason. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Rowdy Roddy Piper in front of an obvious green screen. Demolition v. The Ultimate Warrior & The Legion of Doom Sadly, the backstage interviews have been replaced by generic green-screen cut-ins at this point, showing the budget cuts for the series. And really, would it have KILLED them to do Ax & Smash v. LOD here, just so we could get it once for posterity? Big brawl to start as we get a quick shot of 19-year old Dustin Rhodes watching at ringside, possibly plotting revenge for getting his father fired from the NWA two years earlier. Smash chokes out Animal, but walks into a powerslam for two. Warrior comes in and runs wild on the Demos with slams, but Ax evades the big splash and Warrior is the nutjob-in-peril. They work him over in the corner and it’s DEMOLITION DECAPITATION, but Hawk has had enough and makes the save before they can hit it. Hot tag to Hawk follows, which seems a bit unfair since he broke up their finisher illegally, and he hits Smash with a flying clothesline before Warrior finishes him off with the big splash at 5:33. Demolition was circling the drain at this point anyway. * Meanwhile, at Oktoberfest, Mean Gene introduces some of the guys partying down and getting hammered. I haven’t seen this show in 20 years but I’m already predicting a food fight to end it. Dusty Rhodes v. Macho King Randy Savage The feud was long dead and buried by this point so this should be an easy win for Savage. Savage doing the iconic “Stand on the apron and point menacingly at the camera from above” pose was incredibly badass and shows how effective their crew still was at that point. Dusty dominates him with elbows to start, but he gets distracted by Sherri and attacked from behind. Kneedrop gets two. Savage goes to the sleeper, while Ted Dibiase buys the entire front row with CASH MONEY, until Dustin takes a stand and throws their money back at them. To be fair, Dusty was doing pretty good and he probably didn’t need the money anyway. So clearly not understanding the concept of personal space, Dibiase and Virgil sit right next to Dustin to watch the match, which really upsets Dusty. C’mon man, leave a buffer seat at least! We take a break and return with Sherri choking out Dusty and Savage hitting the double axehandle for two. Dusty makes the comeback and reverses a slam for two. Savage goes up and gets caught coming down, prompting Dustin to pick a fight with Dibiase and that, uh, doesn’t go too well for him. So after Dibiase thoroughly kicks his ass, Dusty goes out to make the save and gets counted out at 12:22. Really, Dibiase was a jerk, but Dustin threw the first punch, so really a chair to the head was kind of warranted. It’s mostly Dustin’s fault for being born a Rhodes. Decent enough match here. **1/2 Meanwhile, Hulk and Tugboat feel like Rhythm & Blues will be playing the glockenspiel after tonight. Please don’t let Tugboat talk anymore. Although Hulk promising to “Bavarian cream” them makes me feel dirty. Meanwhile, The Bushwackers demonstrate how well they can cut the cheese. Meanwhile, Lord Alfred Hayes continues getting drunker by the segment. Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine v. Hulk Hogan & Tugboat What exactly was Tugboat’s gimmick supposed to be, anyway? Is he supposed to be an actual boat, or the captain of a boat? Or just a random sailor? When he became Typhoon did he actually transmute into a storm? Was there a backstory where his boat got wrecked by an actual typhoon and he swore revenge? Really, the whole thing was just lazy. Hulk easily dominates both heels by himself and they control Valentine, and of course Tugboat is completely useless and gets clobbered from behind. Honky with an elbow for two and some choking. Hey wait, I think I just got that Bushwackers joke! See, they were literally cutting cheese, but it was a metaphor for farting! Ho, the wit and wordplay on these shows. Hogan gets the hot tag and is going to finish, but Earthquake and Bravo are wandering out so Tugboat stops him from hitting the legdrop. Uh, why? He’s still 100 feet away! Like Earthquake is gonna sprint out there and break up the pin or something? So we take a break and return with the match continuing until Honky quickly nails Tugboat with the guitar for the DQ at 11:11. And the beatdown is on as the four heels destroy Hogan while Tugboat is busy tripping over a piece of the set outside or something. And they wonder why the fans turned on Tugboat? Uncle Fred finally gets around to making the save. Why would Hogan bother keeping this goof around to help him? Maybe he finally got sick of people turning on him and knew Tugboat was too stupid to think of doing that? Meanwhile, the sausage stuffing contest, presided over by “master sausage stuffer” Lanny Poffo. Ha! Mr. Fuji throws a blatantly premade sausage on the table to win via cheating. Ha! This was a great segment. Intercontinental title: Kerry Von Erich v. Haku Tornado takes him down and tries the claw, which would seem to be an “unstoppable force v. immovable object” conundrum, but Haku escapes to the floor avoid the whole philosophical argument. He gets some advice from Bobby Heenan, and that advice was “Learn to sell cars.” Haku grabs a headlock and pounds away in the corner, but Tornado gets the clawhold and finishes with the discus punch at 4:09. ½* I feel like we were missing a wacky segment where Kerry crashes the party while completely drunk off his ass while clutching a beer stein and Mean Gene goes “What are you doing here at Oktoberfest?” and Kerry goes “What’s Oktoberfest?” THANK YOU, I’m here all week, try the veal. Sgt. Slaughter v. Koko B. Ware This was shortly after they shifted the character from “Former patriot who can’t deal with the cold war ending” to “cartoonish Iraqi defector” in order to cash in. Koko controls with armdrags, but Slaughter claims a hairpull in a funny heel bit. Because he’s bald, you see. That’s why it’s funny. In case you didn’t get it. Koko throws dropkicks, but misses a blind charge by a mile and Slaughter takes over with his boring offense. Backbreaker gets two, but Koko comes back with yet another series of dropkicks before walking into a stungun. And Slaughter finishes with the greatest motherfucking finisher in the history of the WWF, the MOTHERFUCKING ATOMIC NOOGIE OF DEATH, at 5:18. It was a sad day when he switched to the camel clutch, let me tell you. * Meanwhile, Slick and Anvil have a dance off and Lord Alfred is really fucking drunk. And then, as this trainwreck can only end with, the FOOD FIGHT closes things out. In his book, Bret Hart said that the other participants came to him with a tear in their eye and told him that it was the best food fight they ever had. Meanwhile, Ultimate Warrior gives a post-match interview, where he has now completely changed his makeup and tights, but he does grant Randy Savage a title match. Savage, also in a different outfit, is overjoyed to hear about this. Thankfully, Roddy Piper is still man enough to pay attention to continuity and keep his stupid Bavarian suspenders outfit from earlier. Meanwhile, Mean Gene and Alfred wrap things up. Vince promises that the next show will be in November after Survivor Series, but in fact that did not happen and instead NBC cut the show down to an hour and put it in a death slot at The Main Event instead. BAIT AND SWITCH! The Pulse This one was so stupidly fun you had to love it. See, they were CUTTING THE CHEESE.
Saturday Night’s Main Event (July 28 / 90) (Found this one in the archives as well, although it was just a text file so the formatting is wacky.) – Taped from Omaha, Nebraska. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura – This one has a “Wild Kingdom” theme. (Because of Mutual of Omaha, which is exactly the kind of decade-delayed pop culture reference Vince would get.) – Opening match, WWF title: The Ultimate Warrior v. Ravishing Rick
Rude. Warrior destroys Rude (who has the new crewcut look at this
point in an effort to give him credibility) by tossing him from end to
end and atomic dropping him out of the ring. Back in and Warrior with a
couple of clotheslines and an axehandle off the top, but Rude moves out
of the way of the splash. As per the Saturday Night’s Main Event
formula, Rude gets Warrior to chase him out of the ring and nails him
with the designated foreign object (in this case, the WWF title belt)
and takes control until the commercial break. But first Rude takes his
contractually obligated reverse atomic drop. But alas for Warrior, Rude
gets a sleeper hold after slipping out of a bodyslam. In an insanely
ridiculous bit, Joey Marella tests the Warrior’s consciousness by
lifting his leg (instead of his arm). Warrior fights out, but Rude hits
the Rude Awakening. It gets two and Warrior makes the wildman comeback
with the usual, but Heenan puts Rude’s foot on the ropes at two. They
fight outside the ring and Rude gets counted out. Warrior brutalizes
Bobby Heenan for fun. Not a good match. 1/2* (No way This was leading to a
cage match at Summerslam 90. I thought it would have sold better to
have Rude win the title here and Warrior regain it at Summerslam, but
then I’m not the booker. (Oh man, if you thought Warrior couldn’t draw before, dropping the title to Rick Rude would have KILLED him.) Some say I should be… – And wasn’t the world just waiting for a career retrospective on Hulk
Hogan, who suffered that awful career-ending injury against Earthquake.
*Sniff*. Get well, Hulk! Just to piss me off way back when, my dad
made a giant banner saying “Get Well Hulk” and hung it in my room, for
which I’ve never quite forgiven him. Of course, this is the same guy
who used to fashion nooses and randomly hang my LJN wrestling figures
around the house, so you can see how my upbringing may have warped my
life…. (“May have…”?) – The Immortal Orange Goblin comes out for a quasi-inspirational
interview to hype his grudge match against Earthquake at Summerslam. I
fast forward. Earthquake and Dino Bravo run in to attack, but Tugboat
makes the save. Wow, this is sure exciting. – WWF tag title match: Demolition v. The Rockers. This is the sort-of debut of Crush, who was known as “B.A.” at house shows before this.
Let’s see, we have a wannabe golf pro (Barry Darsow), an nWo Japan scrub (Bryan Adams), a retiree (Bill Eadie), a jobber (Marty Jannetty) and a three-time WWF World champion (Shawn Michaels). 8 years ago, could *you* have guessed which would be which? Smash and Crush are doing the honors tonight. The Rockers start with some SWEET double-team flying
headscissors and housecleaning. Shawn hits a sort-of rana (with help
from Marty) but Crush decks him from behind to give the champs the
advantage. Crush is really, really bad at this point. He fucks up a
sunset flip with Jannetty and can’t sell properly. (But he did demonstrate the three qualifications for a push in the 90s and beyond: Tall, muscular, full head of hair.) The Rockers control with double-teams on the arm of Crush but inevitably the Demos cheat and
gain the advantage. Jannetty is dead on the outside as we head to
commercial. We return with Smash going medieval on Marty, who takes a
couple of really choice bumps. Crush debuts the tilt-a-whirl
backbreaker and hits a pretty good chokeslam. Marty hits a desperation
move on Crush after some more punishment and hot tags Shawn, who is his
usual awesome self. Superkick and double dropkicks get rid of Crush,
and they hit the double superkick and the double flying fist on Smash
for two, but Crush makes the save. Shawn rolls up Smash and Ax rolls in
and hits a wicked clothesline on Shawn and makes the illegal pin
himself. Good little match with a hot ending. *** (Pretty sure it was better than that.) The Hart Foundation and the LOD run in to plead the Rockers’ case, but no luck. – Intercontinental title match: Curt Hennig v. Tito Santana. Hennig dumped the Genius at the end of May and won the Intercontinental title
tournament with the help of new manager Bobby Heenan, defeating Santana
in the finals. This is the rematch. From here until Summerslam 91,
Hennig was God. (Not HHH level God, of course.) Santana blitzes Hennig to start, sending Hennig over the top (of course) and chasing him around the ring. Tito puts his head
down and gets decked very quickly. Off-night for Hennig as he kicks and
rests his way through the offensive portion. Tito hairpulls his way out
of a chinlock and begins El Comeback Superman-o. Hennig does a triple
somersault off a punch and takes out Earl Hebner, and of course Santana
goes for the figure-four then. Crowd is going nuts. And you know the
great part? When Tito releases the hold, Hennig sells the STRAIGHT LEG!
Awesome. Flying jalapeno as Hebner crawls over…for…two. Santana
with a clothesline off the top for…another…two…count. That’s some
twisted ankle Hebner’s got there. Santana calls in a new referee as we
go to commercial. We come back as Hennig also comes back. Chops
(whoo). Now Hennig goes through the Patented Offense ™ and gets
towelled off by Heenan. Hennig even pulls out a thrust kick. Santana
returns fire and sends him over the top again with a punch, and of
course Hennig goes crotch-first into the ringpost. Santana with atomic
drop both ways, and a clothesline for two. Super hot crowd. Santana
puts his head down and Hennig hooks the Perfectplex, but Santana inside
cradles him for two, but Hennig reverses that for three. Whew. GREAT
MATCH! **** – I’m skipping the various stupidity with Mean Gene and Lord Alfred
Hayes on safari for obvious reasons. – Playboy Buddy Rose v. Kerry Von Erich. This is the Tornado’s WWF
debut. The announcers make fat jokes about Rose to kill time. Total
squash as Von Erich decimates Rose. Rose gets the token offense but
gets dumped off the top and tornado punched for the pin. DUD – Rude comments. – Warrior rebutts. – Vince and Jesse wrap it up. The Bottom Line: An *awesome* show for a SNME. Nuff said. (Indeed, a stone cold classic episode.)
(Fair warning, this is an old rant and I don’t like it very much, but today was my daughter’s birthday party and I’m sunburned to a crisp from being in a swimming pool for three hours and don’t feel in the mood to redo it, so this is what you get. However, everything else from here will have to be fresh rants because I don’t think I’ve done any more.) Saturday Night’s Main Event (April 28 / 90) – Taped from Austin, Texas. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. – Okay, this is the fallout show after Wrestlemania VI, as Warrior is now the World champion and Hogan is reduced to a secondary role. Thus begins the end for the glory years of the WWF. – Curt Hennig offers his opening thoughts, wearing yellow tights. When he emerges for the first match, they’ve magically become orange. Pre-taping or miracle, you decide. – Opening match: Curt Hennig v. Hulk Hogan. The usual as Hogan dominates with the punches and the body slams, all of which are hideously oversold by Hennig. This is pretty much move-for-move the same as the tag match from the first SNME in this rant, and my thoughts will be confirmed if Hennig tags Hulk with the scroll to gain the advantage. Yup, Hogan chases Hennig outside the ring and gets clobbered with the steel scroll. (Well really, by this time the formula was set with the main matches being move-for-move copies of the house show circuit from a couple of months before, so it shouldn’t have been surprising.) We come back from commercial with Perfect doing the usual spots and stalling. Hennig with the Perfectplex but it only gets two. Comeback, three punches, big boot and legdrop and that’s it. This was, as they say, good enough for government work, and it was a better match without Warrior weighing it down like in the tag match. ** Hogan goes over clean but Hennig would go on to bigger and better things over the next year. (I feel like this was a better match than I’m giving it credit for, but I checked my redo for the Hulk Still Rules DVD set and I actually downgraded it by a star.) – Rick Martel does a western themed ad for Arrogance. – Earthquake v. Hillbilly Jim. (This would be the last significant appearance of Hillbilly Jim, would it not?) What is with Vince and redneck wrestlers? Canned heat is in full effect as Hillbilly starts off quickly. Jimmy Hart distracts Jim and it’s elbow and FATTEST BUTT SPLASH IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT for the pin. Lasted a bit over a minute. DUD Earthquake does the world a great service and flattens Hillbilly Jim with about five elbowdrops and two butt splashes. (Oh man, I’m gonna hear about this one from a certain person on the blog…) – Another Arrogance spot. – The Rockers v. The Hart Foundation. YES! YES! YES! Awesome opening sequence that is ruined for me by my roommate telling a disgusting bar story. (I believe that would have been the infamous “SMELL ME, JOHNNY!” story, but I could be wrong. There were a LOT of them.) Rockers double-team Bret, but Anvil takes out Shawn with power. The Harts take over with their patented knee-to-the-back from Bret on the apron. Is it me, or is Bret hitting Shawn really stiffly? The Harts get several two counts on Shawn, and then Demolition wanders down to have a look at the action. Bret is yelling at the Demos and Shawn dropkicks him right into them as we go to commercial. We’re back as Bret continues to lay an ass-whupping on Shawn. Hot tag to Marty, who cleans house for a bit and brings Shawn back in. Anvil nails him with a shoulderblock and Shawn does a triple somersault. Hennig must have taught him or something. Shawn goes over the top and gets beat up by Demolition, triggering a three-way brawl. Now see, if they knew what a three-way dance was in 1990 this would have been a killer match at Summerslam. Still, a great match ruined by a bonehead ending. ***3/4 (No way it was that high. Let’s check the redo from the Bret Hart DVD…) The Hart Foundation v. The Rockers. From SNME, 4/29/90. Bret and Jannetty exchange takedowns to start, and the Rockers double-team him until Anvil comes in and overpowers Marty. Shawn comes in and can’t slam Anvil, but a dropkick works. Anvil has no such trouble slamming Shawn, allowing Bret to come in (along with a moment of FORBIDDEN COMMENTARY from Jesse Ventura!) and the Harts do the quick tags and work Shawn over. The theme is “pounding the back” and the double-whip gets two. Shawn comes back with a sunset flip for two, as Demolition comes out to scout. Bret stops to yell at them, and we’re clipped for an ad break. Back with Bret pounding on Shawn in the corner, but missing an elbowdrop. Hot tag Jannetty, who superkicks Bret for two. Sunset flip gets two. Bret comes back with a neckbreaker, but slingshots Anvil in and misses with that. Back to Shawn, who promptly runs into Anvil and takes a two-count as a result. High cross body gets two, however, and Demolition runs in for the double DQ at 9:02. Seen better, but this was fun enough. **3/4 (Sounds more reasonable.) – Earthquake gives an environmentally friendly interview. – Bobby Heenan lists the good points of Texas. Oh, and the cow dung, can’t forget that. – Warrior says…something. I think. – WWF Title match: The Ultimate Warrior v. Haku (geshundheit). I should point out that Warrior needs canned heat here whereas Hogan needed none. Further, the lights are *gone* past the first few rows, which means that everyone past the floor seats has left and they had to darken the arena to cover it up. (Maybe they all went to sign up for the Network?) That is an unspeakably bad sign for the Warrior’s popularity (or lack thereof). Haku takes control with whatever but Warrior makes the comeback to canned cheers with the usual clotheslines, shoulderblock and splash. Totally underwhelming. 1/4* – Another Arrogance spot, this time on a tennis court. The spiel could be used by Val Venis today! Picture this: “Hello, ladies! You know ladies, when the Big Valbowski plays at Wimbledon, heh heh, he’s always the NUMBER ONE SEED. (Pause for screams of ladies) And the Big Valbowski is always one SHOT, right into the royal box!” (Man, I think just like Vince Russo!) Hmm, Jim Cornette said that the statute of limitations on stealing angles is 7 years, so Val could use that one if he wanted. Rick is retired anyway. (Wow, and it’s now been SIXTEEN years since I wrote that! Time flies.) – Big Bossman v. Akeem. This is the last match so it should be quick and painless. The arena has brightened considerably, so either the people came back or this was taped earlier in the evening. Jesse takes shots at dirty politicians, foreshadowing his own political career. (He was elected mayor pretty soon after this, in fact.) Akeem dominates quickly with punches and butt splashes in the corner, then hits the big splash for two. Bossman backdrops him over the top rope and then slingshots him in. Nice spot. Cross corner whip and Bossman splash, but Dibiase and Virgil run in for the DQ. Not terrible or anything. * The Million dollar beatdown ensues. This is the first and only time you’ll see a black guy beating on a cop with a nightstick. Go fig. – Warrior offers more thoughts, ostensibly taped after his match, although he’s still wearing the belt, he’s not sweating, and his makeup is in perfect condition. Plus his hair isn’t messed up. I bet they taped the first interview, sprayed some water on him, and then taped the followup interview. The Bottom Line: Not a bad show overall, with a great tag match and a better-than-usual Hogan match. Considering that these shows were usually the bottom of the wrestling quality barrel, that’s not bad.
The SmarK Rant for The Main Event #3 – 02.23.90 My original rant was ridiculously bad, so here’s a redo. Live(ish) from Detroit, MI Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura By this time the bloom was definitely coming off the rose as far as the WWF’s relationship with NBC went, and swapping out Mike Tyson for Buster Douglas certainly didn’t help the ratings any. Show still did good, but this was the last one that was a big deal in prime time. WWF World title: Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage James Buster Douglas is the special ref, coming off his 15 minutes of fame as the first guy to knock out Tyson and thus replacing him as the ref. Savage gets the necksnap to start and puts him on the floor with a high knee, but Douglas prevents any followup from Savage. Back in the ring, Randy accidentally puts Sherri down with a high knee and Hulk clotheslines him and slugs away in the corner. Corner elbow and Hulk slugs away, then puts him down with a clothesline before slugging away on the mat. Savage comes back with a back elbow and drops the knee for two. Sherri gets her cheapshots in, resulting in Douglas sending her back to the dressing room. And we take a break. Back with Savage holding a sleeper, but Hulk elbows out and overpowers him. Double clothesline, but Savage is fine and gets two. To the floor for the double axehandle, and back in for another one for two. Jesse notes that Earl Hebner counts like “he’s throwing a baseball 200 yards.” He’s got a point. Savage throws the rights and puts Hogan on the floor, but Douglas gets in the way again. Savage slams Hulk and drops the elbow, but it’s Hulk Up Time. Big boot puts Savage on the floor and the ref is bumped as Hogan hits the legdrop, so Douglas counts instead at 9:55, despite Savage kicking out at two. BUSTER DOUGLAS SCREWED RANDY SAVAGE. This was on the shitty end of their never-ending series, although not WCW-bad. ** But really, Savage was booked so bad leading up to this that there was no way anyone would buy him as a legitimate threat to the title, let alone one worthy of a prime time title shot. Meanwhile, Dino Bravo and Earthquake posit that they have more brains than Ultimate Warrior, and better insurance coverage, and therefore Bravo will walk out with the title tonight. I’m not sure I agree 100% with your detective work there, Lou. Meanwhile, WARRIOR NEEDS NOT INSURANCE! He’s got brainwaves speaking to him on an unknown frequency. Or something. Spectacular. Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Dino Bravo Warrior, who has managed to change facepaint between the promo and the match, storms in with a powerslam and chases Bravo out of the ring, but gets clubbed to the floor. Warrior retreats under the ring and pulls Jimmy Hart under there with him, possibly to rape him, but probably not. Queering don’t make the world work. But I should note that Jimmy emerges without his pants. Just saying. If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that you can say whatever horrible things you want about a person living and dead, as long as you finish your rant with “Just saying.” Back in, Bravo with the bearhug and SIDESLAM OF DOOM, but that only gets two and Warrior makes the comeback and finishes destroying the geek of the week with his usual at 4:11. DUD Earthquake comes in for the heel beatdown, and I have to say it’s surprising that they never did the Warrior-Earthquake program in any serious fashion after Warrior won the title. Anyway, Hogan makes the save, which offends the other-dimensional voices in Warrior’s head because there’s like six people up there and he probably felt he had enough backup with just them. And then we’ve got like 10 minutes left, so let’s go back to Royal Rumble for the Hogan-Warrior showdown, and their following run-ins on SNME, to really sell the shit out of Wrestlemania VI. See, this is what you call THE HARD SELL, which is why they used to do monster buyrates and make money off PPV and stuff. The Pulse As a show, this was a total throwaway, with a mediocre Hogan-Savage match and the definition of a forgettable guest in the form James Douglas. Definitely skip it.
(So the remainder of the Main Events went up on the Network this morning, and apparently I have a SHITLOAD of modern-era ones to review. Damn you, NBC deal. This show was done twice, so for fun here’s the original 4-in-1 version and then the redo from the 24/7 era.) Saturday Night’s Main Event (Jan 23 / 90) – Taped from the UTC arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. – Opening match: “Macho King” Randy Savage v. Jim Duggan. This is the same match that I reviewed in one of my Coliseum rants a few weeks back, so I won’t bore you with the details here, but suffice it to say it’s the usual SNME opener, with lots of meaningless action and running around that doesn’t really lead anywhere. Savage takes a few nice bumps but the wrestling is nonexistent. Duggan gets some near falls but Sherri keeps interfering to prevent the win. Duggan goes for the kill with the CLOTHESLINES OF DEATH but Sherri runs in to prevent the pin again. Repeat a couple of more times. The canned heat is painfully obvious. The LOADED PURSE OF DOOM gives Savage a two count, then Duggan makes the super-idiot comeback. More CLOTHESLINES OF DEATH and Duggan goes for the THREE POINT STANCE OF ALL-ENCOMPASSING DOOM, but Savage gets knocked out of the ring and they do the “manager hooks the leg on the suplex attempt” cheap-o ending for the Savage pin. Bad match. 1/2* – Curt Hennig & The Genius (The Ambiguously Gay Duo) have some poetry for Hulk and the Warrior. – Flashback: The Orange Goblin and the Face-Painted Moron have an epic confrontation at the 1990 Royal Rumble. In all fairness, I was marking out so hard that my head nearly exploded when it originally happened, but it’s not so great to watch today. – Goblin and Moron have some words for Hennig & Poffo. Warrior is his usual incoherent self, yelling something about chemical reactions at 150 words per minute. I guess the drugs were kicking in at that point. (Man I was feeling mean to Warrior at that point.) – Curt Hennig & The Genius v. Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior. The Egomaniacs have separate entrances, of course. Hogan cleans house on both guys with a hiptoss (!) and some slams. Warrior manhandles them next. Watching this from a “smart” perspective, it is SO obvious that Hennig and Poffo are doing all the work and it increases my respect of them that much more. Hogan wallops on Perfect (with requisite overselling to the nth degree) until Hennig manages to nail Hogan with Poffo’s scroll to gain the advantage. Hogan won’t sell any kind of significant offense for Hennig, forcing him to rely on punching and kicking after bumping all over the ring for Hogan. Hennig gets the Perfectplex, but breaks it at two and allows Poffo the chance to pin Hogan. Poffo tries a MOONSAULT (!) but Hogan gets the knees up, and hot tags Warrior. Warrior with the press slam and Hogan tags himself in when Warrior comes off the ropes for the splash, and legdrops Poffo for the pin. Hennig and Poffo attack right after the win, and Hogan accidentally nails Warrior in the melee. Warrior and Hogan do the big staredown, which led to Wrestlemania VI. * for Perfect’s bumps. – Flashback: Jake Roberts steals the Million dollar belt. – Jake Roberts and Greg Valentine do generic hype interviews. – Jake Roberts v. Greg Valentine. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, elbow, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, kneelift, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, short arm clothesline, but Roberts can’t hit the DDT. Valentine goes for the figure four (with Jimmy Hart conveniently standing on the apron) but Jake pushes Greg into Hart, and DDT’s him, and Dibiase runs in for the DQ. Nobody’s trying here, but it did set up the Dibiase v. Roberts match at WM6 nicely. 1/4* – Ravishing Rick Rude v. Dusty Rhodes. AAAH, THE SPLOTCH! MY EYES! Punching and restholds until Heenan starts yelling at Sapphire, leading to everyone getting sent back to the dressing room. We come back from the commercial with Rude applying move #193 (ARM-bar) as Sapphire has snuck back to ringside by buying a ticket. Rude jaws with her as Rhodes makes the comeback, and they end up fighting down the aisle for the double-countout. Yay. DUD This was utterly pointless because neither guy was involved with anything at the time. – Dino Bravo v. Ronnie Garvin. Earthquake is at ringside, so you can guess how this one ends. They exchange some rights and Garvin rolls out of the ring and gets beat up by Quake. Back in and Bravo with a side salto for a two count. Garvin makes the comeback with his useless offense but he makes the mistake of going after Jimmy Hart. This guy beat Ric Flair cleanly? Garvin begins the GARVIN STOMP OF DEATH! but Earthquake distracts him. Garvin to the top rope for a bodypress, but Bravo rolls through for the pin. Two minutes if that. * Earthquake does the big squasheroo to Garvin (YES!) with two Earthquake splashes, leading to a Garvin stretcher job. – Randy Savage hypes the upcoming match against Hogan in prime time, which Mike Tyson was supposed to referee. But everyone’s plans got screwed up when Tyson lost to Buster Douglas, and he took over as the referee and did a horrible job. – Hogan offers a rebuttal. I like his heel interviews better, sadly enough. – Vince and Jesse wrap things up as we review the Hogan-Warrior confrontation from earlier in the night. The Bottom Line #1: A pretty subpar effort aside from a hot angle with Hogan and Warrior. The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event – January 27 1990 – This is a redo of a rant from 98-ish and a pretty fun show anyway. This one ties into the January theme of “ring royalty” via Macho King, I’m thinking. – Taped from Chattanooga, TN. – Your hosts are Vince & Jesse. Macho King Randy Savage v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan This is a “title” match, for those wondering. Savage’s coked-out promo is classic stuff (“The guillotine is what peasants use to get their hair cut, yeah!”) and Mean Gene notes that some people are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them, and still others steal it. Very true. Duggan insolently dumps over Savage’s carriage to start, but puts his head down in the ring and gets nailed. Duggan comes back with a clothesline for two and follows with an atomic drop, but gets distracted with Sherri, allowing Savage to dump him. Double axehandle follows and they head back in for another one, and that gets two for the King. Necksnap gets two. Blind charge misses and Duggan fights back, backdropping Macho out of the ring. Vince declares the match OVER, but he’s not there to elbow the timekeeper in the ribs so it continues regardless. And we take a break. Back with Duggan slamming Savage and following with a kneedrop for two. Forearm gets two, as Sherri continues being a pest. Duggan puts Savage down with a pair of clotheslines and dumps him again, but again with the Sherri and a chase ensues. Duggan threatens to backhand her, but Savage nails him from behind and follows with the double axehandle. Once more from Sherri, as she gives Savage her purse and he KO’s Duggan for two. Jesse is mystified that anyone could be dumb enough to fall for it twice. Duggan recovers with a small package for two and makes the comeback, sending Savage into the corner with an atomic drop. He sets up to finish, but Savage rolls out and reverses a suplex back in to finish at 7:55. You have to hand it to Sherri — Elizabeth would never get her hands dirty like Sherri would. In fact, it’s probably her fault that Savage lost the World title to Hogan. Fun, fast-paced match with Savage cheating six ways from Sunday to retain the crown. He’s no worse than Prince Charles, I suppose. *** (That rating got a bit of an upgrade, didn’t it?) Mr. Perfect & The Genius v. Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior Hulk Hogan should bring Warrior in as a coach for any further seasons of CCW and then make his students watch and imitate the pre-match promo. Without coke. Now that would be entertainment. (I miss CCW. It was so balls-to-the-wall terrible that I couldn’t help but be entertained.) Anyway, Hulk slams the heels repeatedly to start and Warrior cleans house. Back in, Perfect slugs away in the corner, but Hulk elbows him out of the ring and sends him into the post, as Hennig is already on bump overdrive tonight. Back in for another 180 bump off a trip to the turnbuckle, then one off a punch, then another off the turnbuckle. And people wonder why he had back problems. Genius, meanwhile, grabs his scroll and presumably does a live blog from the ring apron while Perfect bumps to the floor off the big boot. The headline turns out to be “WHAM!” as Perfect uses the scroll on Hogan to take over, and slugs away in the ring. Hulk sneaks in a small package for two, but Perfect stomps him down again and adds an Ax clothesline. Necksnap and it’s over to Genius for his mincing offense, and Warrior is offended. Queering don’t make the world work, you know. Perfect slugs away and now you’re gonna see a Perfectplex, but he releases at two and lets hetero lifemate Poffo try the moonsault. That misses, so Perfect goes up and tries himself, but lands on Hogan’s foot. Hot tag Warrior, and he beats the swishiness right out of Poffo, dumps Perfect, and that fucking jerk Hogan tags himself in and legdrops Genius for the pin at 7:50. That was WARRIOR’S kill! Warrior “accidentally” clotheslines Hogan in the post-match fracas with the heels (but really could you blame him?) and they nearly come to blows, setting up Wrestlemania VI in the process. Hennig bouncing all over the ring like a superball makes anyone look good. ***1/4 (Another big jump in the rating.) Jake Roberts v. Greg Valentine Hammer takes Jake down with an armdrag to start, but Jake tries for the DDT, forcing Valentine to bail. Back in, Greg gets a cheapshot and throws chops in the corner, then whips Jake into the turnbuckle and drops the elbow for two. He slugs Jake down for two and drops a knee on the back for two. Jake slugs back and runs Hammer into the corner, which sets up the short-arm clothesline. He tries the DDT, but Valentine backdrops out of it and sends Jake into the corner to dodge a kneelift. The figure-four appears imminent, but Jake runs Valentine into Jimmy Hart and KICK WHAM DDT follows. Ted Dibiase runs in for the DQ at 5:14. Sadly, Virgil is afraid of snakes, so he’s unable to reclaim the stolen Million Dollar Belt. This would have been better with 15 minutes instead of 5. ** Ravishing Rick Rude v. Dusty Rhodes This is another feud that would seem to have been a natural fit and yet never happened. Rude attacks to start, but Rhodes puts him down and drops an elbow on the back. They head to the floor and Dusty rams the back into the apron to work it over. Back in, Rude tries a slam for the comedy spot, only to get elbowed down. Dusty misses an elbow and Rude goes to a chinlock, while Bobby Heenan gives a piece of his mind to Sapphire. Tempers flare outside the ring and the managers are sent packing as we take a break. Back with Rude kneeing Dusty out of the ring and into the post. He goes to an armbar while Sapphire returns to sit in the front row, as ticket sales were so bad in early 1990 that you could buy a ringside seat halfway into a TV taping. Dusty and Rude collide, allowing Rude to go up, but Dusty nails him on the way down and works the leg. Rude stomps away in response and Dusty comes back (“Hit him in the gut!” notes Jesse as he tries to cheer Rude on) but Rude slugs him down again. Sapphire draws Rude out of the ring with a “seductive” pose, and the menfolk brawl to the back for the double countout at 8:38. No official decision announced, but I’m just assuming. This was Rude’s last tour as a comedy heel before his repackage as a main event killer at Wrestlemania VI. ** Dino Bravo v. Rugged Ronnie Garvin Poor Garvin doesn’t even get an entrance at this point in his WWF career. Bravo pounds away to start and tosses Garvin, allowing Earthquake to get a cheapshot and send him back in. Bravo drops an elbow for two off that. Gut wrench gets two. Bravo misses a series of elbows and Garvin slugs back and puts him down with Hands of Stone, but he’s such a jobber here that Bravo just gets up. Garvin goes after Jimmy Hart, but his Garvin Stomp is interrupted by Earthquake. Bravo tosses him and Garvin goes up with a flying bodypress, but Bravo rolls through to finish at 3:15. The Canadian beatdown commences from there and that was pretty much it for Garvin on the national scene. * You could definitely tell that the SNME concept was running out of steam by this point, but this is a fun show with some good matches that you didn’t often see on TV, so it’s well worth checking out.
The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #24 – November 1989 – Taped from Topeka, KS – Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura (And we wrap up the current run of SNME shows on the Network here until they upload the next batch. I have very few of the remaining ones done past this, so anything further they upload will probably result in fresh rants.) – Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Andre the Giant. Andre starts choking and that goes on for a while, and Warrior bails. Back in, Warrior uses Andre’s own tights to choke him out. TASTE THE IRONY! But back out he goes again, as this car wreck picks up momentum, threatening to take out the whole freeway. Andre surfboards him, which looks not painful in the least, but Warrior clotheslines the giant out of the ring, and we take a break. Back with Andre fighting back from the floor, with what else, choking. Warrior bearhugs him in a silly spot, but Andre headbutts out. Warrior responds with an ugly charge to the corner that misses and Andre gets his own bearhug to really ramp up the excitement. Warrior makes the comeback, clotheslining Andre into the ropes, but he runs into a boot, and Bobby Heenan runs in for the merciful DQ finish. (Warrior d. Andre, DQ, 7:50, -**) Real ugly, probably the worst match ever on SNME, as it was booked to go too long (ie, over 30 seconds) and they were tripping over each other. (Man, Meltzer absolutely TRASHED this match, both at the time and even recently in his Warrior bio pieces, I believe calling it one of the worst TV matches in history.) – WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. “The Genius” Lanny Poffo. (So this is pretty famous.) Genius’s pre-match promo is actually quite refreshingly laid-back compared to the yelling and screaming most guys do. I still think he was a really underappreciated guy in a lot of ways. Hogan powers him out of the ring, but he gracefully returns and Hogan applauds it. Hogan slams him, however, and Genius is forced to use his amazing intellect to evade the big boot. He stops to write out a formula on one of his scrolls, which apparently spells doom for Hulk. How can you not love this match? They fight over a lockup and Genius gets a cheapshot, thus annoying Hulk. So Genius prances and minces while Hulk waits him out, until he’s ready to charge out with a lariat that nearly rips his head off. Tremendous. Corner elbow and atomic drop follow, and a backdrop suplex sets up the elbowdrops. Hogan hammers away while Mr. Perfect joins us at ringside and disrespects the belt by spitting gum on it. Hogan chases him, but runs into the post. Back in, it’s a Genius moonsault for two. Hulk Up Time, and Poffo’s reaction is classic, as he quickly eats the big boot after nearly shitting his pants in terror. (Lanny Poffo on the receiving end of the Hulk comeback, doing the exact opposite of what every other heel did in reaction, was such an awesome character touch.) So they trade backrakes as Genius desperately alters the game plan, and then Poffo takes a great bump as Hogan tosses him to the floor. He makes the mistake of chasing him out, however, and after tossing his victim back into the ring, Perfect clocks Hogan with the belt and the most famous upset in SNME history is complete. (The Genius d. Hulk Hogan, COR, 8:35, **) Not a great wrestling match or anything, but for comedy value and entertainment it was tremendous. – Big Bossman v. Dusty Rhodes. Bossman attacks and gets repelled, but catches Dusty from behind. Slick chokes away, which angers a vocal fan at ringside. Dusty eats post and Bossman pounds him back in the ring and starts working on the arm. He knees Dusty down and stays on the arm, then elbows him down. He misses a charge, however, allowing Big Dust to slug him down. Bossman chokes him on the ropes, however, and then makes the mistake of stalling, which allows the cheap rollup finish. (Rhodes d. Bossman, rollup — pin, 4:39, *) The annoying fan at ringside joins Dusty for some dancing in the ring, and would later be known as Sapphire. – Red Rooster v. Mr. Perfect. By this point, Rooster was little more than a jobber, and would be back in WCW by the beginning of 1990. Perfect slugs away to start, but gets taken down. They work on the mat and Perfect goes to the ropes, then suplexes him. Necksnap, but Rooster sunset flips him for two. Perfect gives him some quality trash-talk in the corner and they slug it out, and Rooster bulldogs him. Backdrop gets two. Perfect has had enough of that, and you know what comes next. (Perfect d. Rooster, Perfectplex — pin, 4:14, *1/2) – The Rockers v. The Brainbusters, 2/3 Falls. I totally forgot about this match. This was Tully’s last televised match before a failed drug test forced him into premature retirement. The storyline is welded onto the match with a blowtorch, as they insert a pre-match promo where the Busters are arguing with Bobby Heenan to establish that they’re done with the promotion. Those magic production gremlins strike again, as the pre-match promo sees Tully Blanchard wearing black tights, then heading out to the ring, at which point his tights magically turn red. Speaking of failed drug tests, Marty headlocks Tully to start and armbars him, as a frustrated Blanchard can’t keep him down. Marty stays on the arm, but gets suckered into the heel corner, and narrowly escapes. Sunset flip out of nowhere gets the pin on Tully at 1:40. Bobby Heenan flips out, and the Rockers get a double rollup for two. Bobby walks out on his team as Arn slugs it out with Shawn, who then gets a rana on Tully and the Rockers clean house. Rockers double-team Arn, who brings Tully in. Marty slugs away and Shawn gets a kneelift for two. Finally, clotheslines Shawn on the top rope to block a headscissors, and Tully gets the pin at 5:00. Third fall and Shawn is hurt, so naturally Tully is all over it. Arn gets the spinebuster for two, and they do the knucklelock spot. Arn turns it into a catapult, however, and Tully comes in with a flying knee and tosses Shawn. He comes back with a high cross for two, but Arn cuts off the ring. Arn and Shawn collide, and it’s hot tag Marty. The Busters double-team him and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the Busters set up the spike piledriver. Shawn, however, comes back in with a high cross on Arn to end the WWF careers of Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. (Rockers d. Brainbusters, Shawn pin Arn, 9:02, **1/2) Not stellar or anything. – And then another famous moment to finish, as an enraged Perfect smashes the WWF championship belt with a hammer to set up his winter program with Hogan. This would become even more famous when the belt returned some 9 years later, taped up and re-dubbed the Hardcore title. (Nope, this was of course debunked conclusively once WWE.com starting doing history pieces.) The Pulse: Oh come on, Genius v. Hogan and Perfect smashing up the title belt with a hammer? How can you lose?
The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #23 – October 1989 – Taped from Cincinnati, OH. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura – “Macho King” Randy Savage v. Jimmy Snuka. So Sherri gets into the Hall of Fame but Randy Savage doesn’t? That’s fucked up, dude. Extra props to Lanny Poffo in the pre-match video showing the coronation of Macho King, as he rhymes “ravage” with “Savage”. You think Kanye West can pull that off? (He did rhyme “Yeezus” with “Jesus”.) Savage blindsides Snuka to start, but gets chopped down. Snuka sends him out with an atomic drop, and back in Sherri trips him up and Savage takes over. Kneedrop gets two. Savage tosses him and follows with the double axehandle, and Sherri gets her damage in as well. Back in, it’s two for Macho. A knee to the back sends Snuka to the corner, but he hulks up. Clothesline out of the corner sets up the Tree of Woe, but Sherri gives Randy her purse, and a handful of tights later it’s all over. (Savage d. Snuka, rollup — pin, 5:35, *) Snuka was useless here, much as he was for his entire comeback run. (I hear he has a daughter, though, who might be pretty decent.) – WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Ted Dibiase. Zeus is lurking at ringside, much like herpes lurks where you least expect it or want it. (Or, uh, so I’ve heard. From friends.) Hulk wins a slugfest to start, but Zeus trips him up and slugs away. Hulk fires back, but keeps going after Zeus, allowing Dibiase to get a clothesline. Jake Roberts comes out to threaten Zeus, which gets Dibiase all flustered and allows Hulk to roll him up for two. Dibiase misses his elbow. And now Virgil gets into the act, stealing the snake and thus removing Roberts. We take a break and return with Dibiase getting a clothesline for two. Suplex gets two. Middle rope elbow gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Hulk fights out and they clothesline each other. Like an idiot, Hulk runs right into Zeus’ direction and gets clobbered. Dibiase goes up and a weird-looking flying kneedrop, but it’s Hulk Up Time. Zeus comes in for what seems like the sure DQ, but Hulk cradles Dibiase instead. (Hogan d. Dibiase, small package — pin, 7:40, **) Too much extracurricular junk. (Wait, it just occurred to me that no one ever did paternity tests to determine if Zeus actually was the father of Hercules while they were in the same promotion together. We could have solved an ages-old mystery! And why didn’t anyone ever team them up as the Gods of Olympus?) – Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Haku. Piper was basically brought out of Hollywood retirement by Rick Rude, and this begins his quest to beat all the Heenan family members. Slugfest is won by Piper and he dumps Haku, following him out for more punishment. Piper goes after the Brain, but gets caught by Haku. Back elbow is sold in typical goofy Piper fashion, and a shoulderbreaker gets two. Legdrop and Hauk goes up, but a diving headbutt misses and Piper comes back with a faceplant. Belly to belly finishes. (Piper d. Haku, suplex — pin, 3:00, *) Very short. (Man, once he lost that crown, Haku went plummeting down the depth chart until the tag title run saved him. In fact, he might have been tag champion by the time this show was taped. Let’s check the history books right now!) (Nope, that wasn’t until December. Never mind.) – Tito Santana v. Rick Martel. This was basically a commercial for the Survivor Series, as Martel has Honky Tonk Man and the Twin Towers with him, while Santana sports the imposing team of Red Rooster, Brutus Beefcake and Dusty Rhodes. Martel attacks and gets dumped as a result, and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Martel hammers away, but Tito gets a sunset flip for two. He chokes Martel out and goes to an armbar, and a crossbody gets two. Martel leverages Tito into the corner and takes over. Tito gets hung in the Tree of Woe and stomped, but blocks a backdrop and fights back. Backdrop and flying forearm look to finish early, but it’s a huge schmoz and we take a break. Back with Martel slugging away, but Tito hiptosses him and then gets dumped. Back in, Martel goes to work on the back and hits the chinlock. They fight for a backslide and Tito wins, for two. Martel comes back and chokes him down, setting up the Crab. Tito quickly makes the ropes and reverses for two. Martel takes him down with a backbreaker and goes up, but Tito shakes him down, then rams him into the turnbuckle a number of times that can only be summed up as excessive. Figure-four, but it’s another schmoz, and we’re running low on time so it’s just a DQ instead of an ad break. (Santana NC Martel, 8:35, ***1/4) I was really digging the intensity and hatred before the easy-out finish.(Given their obsession with breaking up tag teams, I’m still shocked we never got the big PPV blowoff of Strike Force. In fact you’d think they would have done the split before Wrestlemania V and done the singles match there.) – The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Sheepwackers. Oh no, now I’ve got that song in my head again. Brawl to start and the Rougeaus bail, and Jimmy Hart loses his pants. It’s always fun and games until someone loses their pants. The match starts, such as it is, as the Rougeaus double-team Butch and Jacques elbows him down. Hot tag quickly follows, however, and the Wackers quickly finish. (Bushwhackers d. Rougeaus, Butch stomachbreaker — pin Jacques, 3:18, 1/2*) Just a quickie comedy match. The Pulse: Not much here, although Santana v. Martel is surprisingly worth a look.
The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #22 – July 1989 – Taped from Worcester, MA – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura – WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Honky Tonk Man. Not exactly a promising opener. Honky tries using the guitar to start, but Hulk evades that pretty easily and drags Jimmy into the ring. Honky then gets the crap kicked out of him and clotheslined, and Hulk hits an atomic drop and follows with an elbow in the corner. Jimmy gets involved again and the result is the dreaded DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER OF DOOM. Finally, Jimmy manages to pull a Jeff Jarrett on Hogan from behind and Honky takes over. Honky works the back and tries a camel clutch, but just ask Iron Sheik how effective that move is against Hogan. Collision, but Honky’s hair protects him from damage, and he recovers with Shake Rattle N Roll. Is this the end for Hogan? I’ll give you one hint. (Hogan d. Honky Tonk, legdrop — pin, 6:14, *) This was a rarity for a Hogan match, as he easily dispatched his challenger without the usual extended heat segment and barely broke a sweat in doing so. – Jimmy Snuka v. Greg Valentine. Ronnie Garvin is the special referee. Hammer attacks and chokes away, but gets chopped down by Snuka. Snuka goes up and hits knee, and Hammer takes over. Elbows get two and he dumps Snuka, and Valentine keeps beating him on the apron. This builds high tension with Ronnie Garvin, who is all “Hey, stop that, you meanie” This leads to a shoving match, and amidst all the gravitas, Snuka finishes with a high cross. (Snuka d. Valentine, bodypress — pin, 3:12, *) Garvin v. Valentine wasn’t exactly setting the promotion on fire at that point. – Brutus Beefcake v. Randy Savage. This was leading up to Summerslam, a PPV audacious enough to expect us to pay to see Zeus wrestle. This one seems to be begging for a non-finish. Savage attacks and gets nowhere, and Beefcake uses his coat to choke him out. That gets two, but he quickly runs into a boot and Savage pounds him with rights. Beefcake comes back with a bodypress for two, but goes after Sherri. He ducks a sleeper from Savage and gets the high knee for two, but Savage uses a well-timed cheapshot, then misses a charge. Beefcake hits another knee to dump him. Man, rough night for the Macho Man. They brawl outside and Sherri distracts Beefcake long enough for Savage to blindside him with the double-axehandle to the floor. Savage and Sherri trade off cheapshots on Brutus, and Sherri distracts the ref while Beefcake gets a fluke rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Savage is all “enough of that” and chokes him down again, as does Sherri. To the top for the axehandle, but Beefcake nails him coming down and makes the comeback. Savage blocks the sleeper, but hits Sherri by mistake. Beefer misses a charge, but so does Savage, and he ends up on the floor. With Savage in trouble, he sends Sherri to the back in a funny callback to the Megapowers, and we take a break. Back with Savage missing a kneedrop, but managing to drop Beefcake on the top rope for two. Beefcake gets a sunset flip for two, however, and tries to finish with the sleeper, but Zeus the Human Sucking Machine wanders in to wreck a perfectly good match. (Beefcake d. Savage, DQ, 9:45, ***1/4) Good, fast-paced, hard-hitting match between two guys on a roll at that point. – WWF tag title, 2/3 falls: Demolition v. The Brainbusters. You may recall the Demos getting DQ’d at the last SNME. Or maybe not. Ax starts with Tully, who quickly bails, but gets tossed back in by Smash. The Demos pinball Tully in the corner, and then Ax fights off both Busters. They brawl outside and it’s chaos in the ring, so the Busters regroup. Back in, it’s Smash v. Arn, and Arn headbutts him in the gut, but Smash catches a stomp and AA is in a bad place. He gets axed and smashed in the corner, and Tully has about as much luck. Arn keeps slugging, a horrible idea if there ever was one, and finally Tully goes with cheating and has more success. Go with what you know. AA spinebuster gets two. Ax breaks up a double-team, allowing Smash to stun-gun Tully for the pin at 4:57. Second fall and Smash is choking Arn in the corner, and Ax chops him down. Smash pounds away and goes to a neckvice on Arn, and Ax dumps him on the top rope, and stays on the neck. Arn escapes and brings in Tully for some choking, and a catapult under the bottom rope. He whips Ax into Arn’s knee and cheating abounds, as they cheapshot him like nuts. Arn goes to a rear chinlock and switches off with Tully, but Ax makes the hot tag to Smash. Slams for both and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Demolition won’t obey the ref, so he calls for the DQ at 9:46. And now Andre joins us. Third fall and Ax elbows Tully down and Smash tosses him. Back in, Ax elbows him down again, but Tully rams Ax into Arn’s head, never worried about sacrificing a partner for the greater bad. Arn and Ax then collide in the corner, in a signature AA spot, but Arn tags Tully while Ax tags Smash. Smash clotheslines Tully in the corner, but Tully reverses a suplex and it’s chaos again. Tully hits Smash with a chair, and history is made. (Brainbusters d. Demolition, Anderson chair — pin Smash, 13:26, ***1/4) This was historic for quite a few reasons, as it was the one and only title change on the NBC version of Saturday Night’s Main Event and marked the first time that a team had won the NWA and WWF versions of the tag titles. It also marked Bobby Heenan’s first tag team champions. (As big of a Demolition fan as I was, I was more about Tully & Arn at this point and this was a HUGE shock to me as a young fan. Actually seeing my favorite team WIN, that is.) The Pulse: Weak start, but the Beefcake-Savage and Brainbusters-Demolition matches were a strong finish to the show, making this one of the better SNMEs I’ve seen. (A personal fave. Not much else to add.)
The SmarK Retro Rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event #21 – May 1989 – Taped from Des Moines, IA – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. – Intercontinental title: Rick Rude v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. So it’s the fallout from Wrestlemania show, as Rude is now the IC champion and Duggan is the King, although the second one didn’t come from WM. Sadly, Duggan proved to be a mere transitional monarch. (Well he held the crown for, what, four months? That’s a pretty healthy monarchy.) Of course, the inherent irony of a “King” waving the American flag probably would have struck him dead soon after anyway, so it’s probably for the best. (Oh yeah? What about Rodney King? Or Martin Luther King? Or Larry King? ALL AMERICANS.) Long lockup to start and Rude pounds him, but Duggan blocks a sunset flip. Rude hits the floor and Duggan suplexes him back in for two. Duggan adds a series of clotheslines and a kneedrop for two. Bad camera angle on the kneedrop, as you can see the six inches of space between the knee and Rude’s chest. Duggan charges and hits knee in the corner, and Rude goes up with a fistdrop. To much gyrating allows Duggan to come back with an atomic drop, however, complete with comedy sell from Rude. Piledriver gets two. Haku, meanwhile, tries to steal the crown back, and we take a break. Back with Rude on the attack again, as he dropkicks Duggan and gets a series of elbows, for two. We hit the chinlock and Duggan fights out, but runs into a knee. Rude goes up for another fistdrop. Funny moment as he slides through to the camera at ringside and makes kissy faces, and Vince gets all worked up with disgust. So mark your calendars, we’ve found something that actually offends him. However, the antics allow Duggan to come back again and hit the three-point stance clothesline, and Rude elegantly bumps out of the ring and doesn’t rush getting back in. (Duggan d. Rude, COR, 7:14, **) Weird finish, but Rude was feeling it tonight and got something pretty fun out of Duggan.(1989 was a pretty great year for Rude in the ring.) – Jim Neidhart v. Randy Savage. According to the pre-match promos, if Savage wants a title shot at Hogan, he’ll have to go through Neidhart! I know I’d be losing sleep over that one. These many SNMEs in a row have given me renewed appreciation of Savage’s body of work in the 80s. Sherri immediately interferes during the lockup, but Neidhart blocks a sunset flip for two. Bearhug follows, but Savage escapes quickly and knees and him into the corner. Choking follows, from both Savage and his manager. Savage goes up with a double axehandle for two, but can’t slam him. Anvil fights back with a slingshot shoulderblock and gets another three of them for a two count. A standing dropkick (0.5 Watts) puts Savage on the floor, and Anvil follows him out and dropkicks him again. What a sadist. Back in, powerslam gets two, and Savage gets tied in the ropes. Neidhart, being a moron, charges and misses, and Savage puts him out of his misery with the flying axehandle and big elbow. (Savage d. Neidhart, flying elbow — pin, 5:56, *1/2) Randy was, shall we say, more generous with the offense given then you’d expect. – WWF title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. Big Bossman. (So this one is pretty famous.) Before the match, we are introduced to Tony “Zeus” Lister at ringside, who we are supposed to buy as a legitimate wrestler just because he plays one in a Hulk Hogan movie. By that logic, David Arquette should be a former World champion. Uh, bad example. Anyway, to say that 1989 was a misguided year at the top of the promotion would be a gross understatement, so we’ll leave it at that. So Hogan gets laid out by the cross-eyed freak before the match, giving Bossman the initial advantage. Bossman chokes him out to start and headbutts him down, but Hogan comes back with a clothesline. Big boot out of the corner and Hulk starts climbing, but Bossman slugs him down again. Big splash follows and he goes back to the door, but Hulk grabs his ankle and fights back. Bossman spinebuster and he climbs, getting over and out of the cage…but Hulk reaches through the cage and grabs him by the throat to stop him from dropping the two feet required to win the title. And then, in the spot that elevated this match to a weirdly legendary status, Hogan pulls him up to the top of the cage and superplexes him back in. I think that the crowd was grasping for a “Holy Shit!” type chant, but just weren’t brave enough to go for it. Both guys are, understandably, dead, and the ref comes in to check their arms. I have to stop and wonder if the world would be a better or worse place if paramedics checked on the condition of patients like that. Does it take medical training to know that if the arm drops three times, the guy is out? (You would not BELIEVE the looks you get when you run into an ER and try that on random accident victims. People can be so rude.) Anyway, Hogan recovers first and crawls for the door, but Bossman grabs him. Bossman clotheslines him and Slick sends a chain in for some choking by Bossman. You’d have to think that the handcuffs would have made for a better strategic move. Both guys ram each other into the cage, which I’m sure violates SOME law of physics, and Hogan gets the chain to make his comeback. Sportsmanship, n., def: Conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing. Just saying. Bossman eats cage, then the legdrop, and Hogan actually proves to be the smarter one, as he steals the handcuffs from Slick, cuffs Bossman to the top rope, and walks out. (Hogan d. Bossman, escape from cage, 10:00, ***) Not a classic or anything, but quite good for a Hogan cage match. – WWF tag titles: Demolition v. The Brainbusters. Smash starts with Tully and intimidates him out of the ring, then catches a bearhug on the way back in. The Busters try double-teaming, but Smash holds them off alone and Ax comes in. He pounds on Arn and they work him over in the corner. Cheapshot from Tully puts Smash into the heel corner, but he no-sells a suplex from Arn and slams him. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Busters regroup. Tully pounds Ax to no effect, but catches him with a knee, which Ax no-sells. Tully takes more punishment in the champs’ corner, as he bails and gets pressed back into the ring by Smash. Ax promptly dumps him again, and the Busters regroup as we take a break. Back with Ax hammering on Tully and going to a neck vice. Smash chokes him out, but turns his back on AA and that’s never a good idea. To quote Champ Kind, WHAMMY, and Smash is your face in peril. (Well, I didn’t really pick the Anchorman quote that stood the test of time there, but at least I’m more on the pulse than Vince.) Tully comes in with a kneedrop to the knee and AA follows with the spinebuster for two. Tully taunts Ax for a bit and they double-team Smash on the ropes, and Arn drops the knee for two. More frustration for Ax as the Busters work Smash over on the floor, and back in for a slugfest with Arn. Smash wins that, but Tully brilliantly fucks with Ax and yanks him off the apron before he can get the tag. Finally the Demos have had ENOUGH, and Ax charges in illegally and bowls over the ref, and that’s a DQ. (Brainbusters d. Demolition, DQ, 9:14, ***) This was really good before the non-finish, but it did effectively set up a 2/3 falls rematch at the next SNME. – Jimmy Snuka v. Boris Zhukov. Yeah, whatever. (Snuka d. Zhukov, superfly splash — pin, 1:09, DUD) The Pulse: Holy cow, this was a really good show, with an unheard-of pair of *** matches and a pretty decent Rude-Duggan match. (Clearly one of the top tier SNMEs.)