Through the Years: Saturday Night’s Main Event #17

 

This is the first SNME since April of ’88, and I’m here to review it! In a rare twist, they put a closing match from one of their biggest programs on NBC. That didn’t happen much. We also have the Hart Foundation challenging Demolition again, and Hulk Hogan facing King Haku! There may be more, there may not. Let’s go!

 

– Taped to air October 29th, 1988, from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland

 

This starts with Jake and Cheryl Roberts making out before Jake cuts his promo against Rick Rude. Just what I needed to see! The camera cuts to Rick Rude gyrating in his tights that have Cheryl’s face on them, and he says his bit. The Big Boss Man is here! The Hart Foundation! Demolition! Looks like Jimmy Hart will be with Demolition again…which is exactly what we saw at SummerSlam. Hulk Hogan has a few things to say about King Haku, and it appears that Elizabeth will be in Hogan’s corner. Oh boy. Jesse Ventura is here tonight, with Vince McMahon in their hosting capacity! They go through the matches, without addressing any of the ones that were not advertised at the very beginning.

 

Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Jake Roberts (w/Cheryl Roberts)

Pre-Match Thoughts: In a nice touch for the NBC audience, they show the initial angle that started this feud, which was when Rude wanted to give Cheryl a Rude Awakening (the kiss, not the move). They show Rude wearing the tights with her face on them, and the following angle where Jake rips them off. Rude has a promo before the match, which is horribly scripted. Okerlund’s dialogue is really wooden as well. Jake Roberts has his own interview, and he says he’s going to get rid of Rude’s tights once again. Before the match, Ventura compares Cheryl Roberts to Robin Givens. Fantastic.

Match Review: Jake rushes the ring, and we’re underway. He goes for Rude’s tights, but Rude was ready for that and blocked the attempt. Jake goes for a wristlock, and they’re using a lot of the same spots that they did at the MSG show. I expected that, to be honest. Jake signals for the DDT after hitting Rude with a right hand, but Rude leaves the ring. Rude rakes Jake’s eyes on the way back in, and ducks a short clothesline to land one of his own. Rude rams Jake into the buckle a few times, follows that with an elbow smash, and goes over to Cheryl to taunt her. Jake comes back with a clothesline, and quite a few more right hands. He follows that with a stomach-breaker, and holds Rude in place for his wife to smack around. WHERE IS THE DISQUALIFICATION? Heenan wants that DQ, and as a compromise, Cheryl gets kicked out from ringside by the referee.

We have a commercial, and come back to Rude throwing Jake into the ring post. Those shots are really stiff, and Jake has to crawl back into the squared circle. He gives Rude a backdrop, and signals for the DDT again! Rude backdrops his way out of it, lands a few more elbows, and heads to the top. Down he comes with a flying fist drop, and he covers for a 2 count. After more taunting, Rude picks Jake up for the RUDE AWAKENING, but Roberts bites him. Jake plants Rude with the DDT, and he starts pulling off Rude’s tights, so Heenan walks in and starts clobbering Roberts. That leads to Rude being DQ’d at 7:22.

 

While Heenan continues to kick Roberts, here comes Andre the Giant! He makes his way into the ring, and clobbers Jake from behind. He gives Jake a headbutt, and goes to focus on his stablemate, who was given a DDT. Roberts has his bag, sneaks into the ring, and has…THE SNAKE! Andre sees the snake, and begs for Jake to keep that thing away from him. Jake throws it onto him, and Andre wrestles with it until he falls down and passes out. Jake rubs that thing all over Andre, who appears to be unconscious. After the commercial, it is made clear that he WAS unconscious. That was gold.

My Thoughts: This wasn’t as good as the MSG match, but only slightly. It was shorter, had no resting, and had a great angle after the match. I love the way they transitioned from one feud to the next. I’m glad this Rude/Roberts feud is over as it allowed Rude to move onto something that was better for him. I think it was a pretty good deal while it lasted. ** for the bout, with an angle I’d recommend. I’m happy with how that turned out, even though the match was really similar to a match they had the night before.

 

The Hart Foundation vs. Demolition (w/Jimmy Hart & Mr. Fuji) for the WWF Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is the same setup that we had at SummerSlam. Before the match, the Foundation has a terrible promo. These lines…are just brutal. I don’t know what’s going on here. Demolition has one of their own, during which Jimmy Hart does almost all the talking. WHY? This was so bad. Hoping for another good match between these two teams here.

Match Review: Neidhart and Ax start the match, but Ax gets out quickly after some punches from the Anvil. Smash and Ax both pound on Neidhart, but Neidhart comes back with a suplex to Smash for 2. Bret tags in, and he gives Smash a dropkick. Up to the second rope, down with an elbow smash for 2. Smash responds with a clothesline, and he whips Bret hard into the corner as well. Ax tags in, chokes Bret with his boot, and helps Fuji do the same with his cane. Smash tags back in, and puts Bret in a chinlock. A weird edit is made, and Smash tags right back out. Ax uses a rope clothesline, and out he goes too. Smash gets nailed with a running clothesline, and finally Bret makes the tag! This seemed a lot longer than it actually was. Ax rushes in, and Neidhart goes to work on both guys. After dropkicks to each one, he lands clotheslines! He gives Smash a powerslam, and it gets 2. Bret heads in now, and Demolition gets thrown into each other. The Rougeau Brothers are now at ringside, as Bret nails Fuji off the apron. Jimmy Hart gets choked by Neidhart, who then takes a swing at a Rougeau. Smash gets the megaphone, clocks Neidhart from behind, and wins the match via pinfall at 5:58. The referee looked lost at sea in all that mess.

My Thoughts: Demolition has a great team strategy of constantly tagging in and out, it makes them unique. In this match, they did that well and made the match seem a lot longer than it actually was. In the end it took 6 guys to beat the Hart Foundation. Vince was not able to get that over on commentary, but that’s exactly what happened. The Rougeau Brothers showing up here was a sign that the title match wasn’t of the utmost importance. It was Jimmy against his former team. Same rating as the first here, **.

 

King Haku (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Hulk Hogan (w/Elizabeth)

Pre-Match Thoughts: Before this match, we are reminded of Harley Race being injured at Saturday Night’s Main Event #15. Then, we cut to Heenan and Haku in the back, for their interview. Haku does not speak at all, because Okerlund has peasant blood. That’s a good bit. They also do an entrance where Haku gets carried to the ring! The canned heat was horrible, I don’t know why the hell that was put on there. Hogan’s promo refers to Big Boss Man just as much as Haku. With Elizabeth in Hogan’s corner, it’s uh…weird. I’m sure Savage was angered by this.

Match Review: Weird how Vince says he is inspired by Elizabeth. This begins with Haku surprise attacking Hogan, and using some BACK SCRATCHES. He pops Hogan in the throat, and Hogan starts to fire off his own shots. He knocks Haku down, and starts scratching the back himself. He hits Haku with a clothesline, drops an elbow, and stomps on the face. Heenan trips Hogan, which provides the distraction for Haku to attack from behind and choke the former champion. Haku puts a nerve hold on Hogan, and hits him with a thrust kick to knock him out of the ring. Haku celebrates in the corner, but this match isn’t over. Haku leaps off the apron, but Hogan pulls Heenan into the way of Haku’s flying chop. Hogan grabs Haku’s crown, brings it into the ring, and puts it on! That was funny. Heenan has to be taken to the dressing room, and we have a commercial!

Back from that, and Haku is getting beaten down. He comes back with a clothesline, and a diving headbutt as well. No cover though, he continues with stomps instead. Haku gives Hogan a suplex for 2, but Hogan’s not taking any of this stuff any longer. He lands a big boot, drops the leg, and picks up the win at 6:16. After the match, Hogan celebrates with Elizabeth and picks her up. I wish I had seen Macho’s reaction to that.

My Thoughts: This was nothing special at all. The transition to the finish was way too quick, and not built up to at all. They also wrestled the most basic match they could possibly wrestle, so I wasn’t a fan. This whole show has been along that same vein. *, will never watch again.

 

Dino Bravo (w/Frenchy Martin) vs. Ken Patera

Pre-Match Thoughts: Frenchy Martin brings absolutely nothing to Bravo’s act. Not only can I not figure out why he’s there, but I can’t figure out why Bravo is part of the company too. Their promo on Patera was idiotic. Patera’s was…I don’t even know. He looks so old and used up, way out of their target audience at the time. Didn’t have the look of a pro wrestler anymore, looked like a teenager’s dad.

Match Review: This match starts off somewhat quickly, with these two locking up and Patera nailing Bravo with a clothesline. Patera gives Bravo a backdrop, and a bodyslam as well. Bravo takes a break outside the ring, gets back in, and we keep things going. Bravo hits Patera with some stupid looking kicks and chops, and starts choking him. Patera nails Bravo with a back elbow in the corner, then hits him with 10 punches in the corner. That always makes the kids happy. Patera gives Bravo another bodyslam, and follows that with a shoulderblock. He goes for the FULL NELSON, but it gets blocked. He throws Bravo into the corner and misses a charge, so Bravo gives him an inverted atomic drop. Bravo picks him up for the SIDE SUPLEX, plants him, and gets the victory at 3:03.

My Thoughts: This was painful. Like I said in the pre-match, these guys just did not belong in the WWF. They didn’t have the look, didn’t have the working capability, and weren’t entertaining to anybody. Who exactly enjoyed watching these guys at this point? Please out yourself. 1/4* for the clean finish. The crowd just did not care about this at all. French-Canadian is not foreign enough for people to care, if that makes sense.

 

Big Boss Man (w/Slick) vs. Jim Powers

Pre-Match Thoughts: Yeah, this is totally a match that belongs on NBC!!! Actually, despite my sarcasm, it really was. They needed to get Boss Man a visible squash that everyone would see before his matches with Hogan. So, why they stuck it at the end of the show when everyone was in bed, I can’t answer that. Slick and Boss Man’s promo before the match was pretty good. That looks like a heel to me!

Match Review: These guys lock up, and Powers tries an early sleeper. Boss Man drives him back to the corner, and lands a big splash in the corner. After a hard headbutt, Boss Man starts yelling for Hulk Hogan to come out. He gives Powers a leapfrog body guillotine, and picks him up for a bear hug, only to drop him. That was kind of like a spinebuster. Powers tries a few dropkicks, but none of them knock him down. Boss Man catches Powers with the BOSS MAN SLAM, and that’s a pinfall win at 2:34. After the bout, Boss Man handcuffs Powers to the ropes and dishes out that PRISON STYLE BEATING WITH A NIGHTSTICK. POOR POWERS.

My Thoughts: I don’t rate squash matches, but this was pretty good. I may have enjoyed this more than anything else on the show, when you take the post-match into consideration as well. It’s nice to see a heel doing entertaining work, that’s all there is to it. Business needs to pick up going forward.

 

Once that’s done, they’re sure to show Boss Man beating up Hulk Hogan from Superstars. Now, they interview Hogan, and he’s really angry about what just happened both to Powers and to him. He’s going to put Boss Man on TRIAL, BROTHER. Great promo. I really want to see these matches now.

After that, we have Jesse Ventura with Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan. Jesse asks if Andre is afraid of snakes, and he grabs a hold of Jesse! DON’T MENTION THAT WORD IN FRONT OF HIM AGAIN! This was great too. Why did they shove all the good stuff at the end of the show? That’s the end of it!

 

There’s not a lot to go through here, honestly. At the time, I’m sure it was really surprising to see Andre pushed down into a feud with Jake Roberts. In hindsight, that’s absolutely where he belonged. He was given a chance to use his facial expressions to make something good happen, and he did just that. The canned heat on this show drove me nuts, as did the scripted interviews. They were both very annoying, but I guess the show wasn’t that bad. It was a below average effort, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. I’m looking forward to the Boss Man vs. Hogan program, although I know that isn’t on the next episode. The next episode of SNME, by the way, may be the worst of all of them. That’s just great! Next up, we’ll do some matches and angles from the NWA to take us up to Starrcade. Of course, cutting back to Clash IV will have to be done at some point before watching Starrcade.

Wrestling Time: 25:13. This isn’t a lot in comparison to their other episodes of this show, but the non-wrestling time was taken up by things that were by and large the best parts of the show.

Best: Andre the Giant’s acting.

Worst: Dino Bravo vs. Ken Patera. This was just…I don’t even know.

Card Rating: 4/10. Passed the time, but I expected better.

Written by Sage Cortez

Sage is a boisterous Los Angeles sports fan. Unsurprisingly, like many other loudmouth LA fans, he also likes the Raiders and a range of combat sports.

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