Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: Saturday Night’s Main Event #1- May 1985

All the post-Wrestlemania hype comes to network TV as Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T and the Hulkster thrill a national audience!

This being wrestling’s return to network TV after decades away really gets lost in the historical shuffle as the years pass by and the TV world expands and changes.

Cyndi Lauper is the first face we see as she and Wendi Richter talk up Moolah’s deviousness.

Mr. T is next to Hulk Hogan for more threats as T will be seconding Hogan for his title defense against Bob Orton. That “foo” Roddy Piper better not try anything! Well, they wisely got all the big outside stars on camera right away to hook the casual fans who heard so much about this “Wrestlemania” nonsense six weeks earlier.

Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura call the action.

Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda and Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat vs. George “the Animal” Steele, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik

Capt. Lou is wired to a 12 out of 10 on the zany scale during the pre-match promo. Steamboat is totally ignored during the interview, with all the focus being on the tag teams champions and the U.S. Express. The Network replaced “Born in the USA” with some other generic patriotic song that even has lyrics.

Steele prepares to start, but the Iron Sheik hops in to open the match instead. This goes poorly as all three babyfaces take turns unloading on him for the first several minutes. A six-way brawl sees the faces clear the ring and that sets up a commercial break.

We return to see Steamboat dominating the Sheik. Volkoff finally makes the tag. He doesn’t make much headway as all three faces pretty much do as they please with him.

Steele gives it a try, but a few punches from Windham convinces him that he wants out. Sheik and Volkoff jump off the ring and a confused Steele is rolled up for the pin. Sheik and Volkoff attack Steele and he fights them off by himself. Capt. Lou makes it into the ring and calms Steele down. The heels stop at the end of the aisle for a promo with Mean Gene, and Steele attacks them there again.

Good psychology as the heels were unable to do anything, then acted indignant when Steele suffered the same fate, setting up the turn.  Interestingly, in Bob Backlund’s book Steele talks of Vince planning on benching him before this whole new crazy gimmick came about and prolonged Steele’s relevance for another four years.

Piper’s Pit

In order to save a little time, intros are bypassed and we get right to Roddy Piper confronting Paul Orndorff over taking the fall in their Wrestlemania clash with Hogan and T. Piper hugs Mr. Wonderful close to try and set up an ambush by Bob Orton. Orndorff threatens him, so Piper relents and puts Orton in the corner.

Orndorff takes command of things after Piper calls him a loser. He backs down both heels before the interview settles down a bit. The men have an intense face to face trash talking session for several minutes. Piper tires of Orndorff’s attitude and attempts a cheap shot. Mr. Wonderful wipes out both heels but a piledriver attempt on Piper sets Orndorff up to be whacked with Orton’s cast from behind. Orndorff falls to the floor and is in peril as the heels close in. Mr. T rushes to Orndorff’s aid and protects him from further harm. The crowd is way into T. Piper was great here, as one would expect. Plus Orndorff got all kinds of shine for his fresh baby face run.

We go to a Hulk Hogan promo in the entryway. This was obviously taped out of order since none of the men who were in the last segment appear in the aisle. Why didn’t Hogan help T save Orndorff if he was standing so close?

WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton

The narrow entryway that allows the fans to mob the Hulkster as he makes his way to the ring is one of the little things I miss about the old days. Then again, who would invoke such passion in a landscape where top baby faces are either old news (Randy Orton) or partially reviled (Roman Reigns and John Cena?)  Maybe Daniel Bryan or Ronda Rousey could fit the bill?

We go to commercial and come back to see Mr. T has now joined Hogan. They rip each other’s clothes off and are set for battle. Orton tries to jump Hogan, but the Hulk out slugs him, sending him into retreat.

Hogan cranks on Orton’s bad arm, spending a bit finding ways to abuse the limb, including using the ringpost. Orton gains control and uses his boots, elbows and forearms to punish Hogan. Hogan “Hulk’s up” without a finisher being hit. Jesse Ventura wisely suggests Orton bail out. Hogan fails to secure the win and Orton is able to deliver a reverse atomic drop to down the champ. Orton sets up a superplex, which appears to draw a fan over the railing as a host of security rush the area and the fans are distracted as Hogan fights out of his predicament.

Orton is downed and about to be finished, so Piper runs in. Mr. T saves his friend, but then finds himself battered two on one. Hogan is cornered, but Mr. Wonderful hits the ring. He shoots Hogan a grin and proceeds to help the Hulk and T chase the heels from ringside.

It was surprising to see the Hulk not use his formula, although he wasn’t as regimented of a worker at this point yet. This cemented Orndorff as a top babyface.

WWF Women’s champion Wendi Richter vs. The Fabulous Moolah

Moolah has paperwork that she says is from the WWF officials banning Cyndi Lauper from ringside. Lauper is up next with Mean Gene in the aisle way and she’s disgusted that Moolah’s cheating ways went unabated, like at “WrestlingMania”.

Lauper wants to do her over the top entrance celebration before being sent off, but the tight entryway makes her more worried about losing her hat than dancing. Moolah rakes Richter’s eyes and chokes her right away. Moolah takes her eyes off the action and ends up drop kicked to the floor.

Back in the ring, Richter tries to choke Moolah, but she won’t go for the spot. Richter kicks Moolah, which the Fabulous one doesn’t really sell. Moolah taps her feet several times, finally cluing Richter in to what spot Moolah wanted to set up. Richter yanks her feet as Moolah hangs on to the ropes and takes a half ass bump.

Moolah goes back to choking, but Richter snags a small package to steal the win out of nowhere. Lauper rushes back to the ring to dance and celebrate. Lauper was all-in on getting this stuff over and always seemed genuinely happy to be part of this nutty business.

This was brief and widely inoffensive. These two have had several awkward matches I’ve reviewed, and I guess we have to blame Moolah not wanting to play ball.

JYD introduces his mother to the world as it’s Mother’s Day Weekend. I have to wonder if it’s really her because she resembles the stereotype that Vince later used for Sheldon Benjamin’s big black mama.

JYD vs. “The Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty

The Duke is a wacky jobber, prone to emoting with goofy faces and over the top selling, JYD no sells Dorherty’s attacks and head butts him to the floor. More head butts rattle Doherty and a power slam finishes things in short order. The fans were silent for the match, but pop for “Another One Bites the Dust” and JYD dancing with his mother.

We totally make a mockery of kayfabe as JYD, his mom, Sheik, Volkoff, Fred Blassie, Capt. Lou, Hulk Hogan, Ruth Hogan, Lauper, Richter and allegedly Lauper’s momma are all at a party backstage. Blassie has a young woman with him as his “mother”. Moolah shows up dressed like Zeus (the wrestler, not the God) and trash talks Lauper and her mom. The acting here makes me assume Lauper’s mom is a put on as she’s chewing up the scenery. It appears the big blow off for the scene was suppose to be Richter sending Moolah face first into a cake, but Moolah grabs Gene, knocks him into most of it, then falls to the floor. Moolah tries to stand up and appears to legit slip and fall on her ass, which made me smile.

T would make only 3 more appearances all year. That Fall he seconded Hogan in Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis house show appearances. Lauper made one final appearance in September for a Puerto Rican stadium show that was ruined by a rainstorm.

Final thoughts: This was a lot of glitz and huzzah as the big names were pushed in front of the largest audience possible. One interesting thing I noted was that they didn’t plug anything for the future specifically. I’ll cover more on this event in my “May 1985” history piece that is forthcoming.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

Leave a Reply