Saturday Night’s Main Event #27 was supposed to be a big show to build towards SummerSlam. That’s the whole reason it was taking place in July. Seeing as they had adjusted the majority of SummerSlam matches into those that would blow off their house show feuds from the previous few months, they needed to do something with those matches on a televised show. They knew that the Ultimate Warrior was not getting everyone in the building by any stretch. They also knew that giving him a big match on NBC may have been the way to pop a big rating and get some PPV buyers interested. It was time to give Warrior the chance to carry a show, and this was the result…
– Taped to air July 28th, 1990, from Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska
Before this starts, Lord Alfred Hayes was there and didn’t sell the show to Vince McMahon’s liking. I don’t get this opening at all, he called this show the WILD KINGDOM. OMAHA IS WILD. Okay. I don’t get this theme at all. Vince and Jesse Ventura talked about the matches, which apparently featured the Ultimate Warrior being challenged by Rick Rude, and the Rockers challenging Demolition. They also had Tito Santana challenging Mr. Perfect. So, three title matches! For the first time, the Ultimate Warrior got the signature spot in their open.
Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: These guys have had really fun matches. I don’t know if this will be one of them, but I’m interested to find out. I don’t see the wisdom in having them go with a fourth big televised match over a year and a half’s span, but that’s not really up to me. I feel the same way about Lex Luger taking on Ric Flair, but the NWA didn’t have a choice. The WWF did, they just didn’t want something different. Rick Rude’s promo was fitting for the theme, and good at the same time. The Ultimate Warrior looked a little different, cut a similar promo, and it was pretty good. I can see why people thought there were two Warriors, though. He also sounded different! Rick Rude’s main event hair and seriousness is awesome, I think. I read that the WWF had given away a lot of plastic Warrior masks, so if you’ve watched this show and seen a bunch of them, that’s why.
Match Review: Rude was smart and left the ring so as to not get attacked. He gets back in and attacks Warrior from behind, so here we go. Rude clobbers the guy, but gets rammed into the buckle a hell of a lot. Warrior then tosses Rude into the other buckle, and kicks away. He’s really blowing himself up. Warrior gives Rude an atomic drop, then clotheslines him over the top and out to the floor. He then rams Heenan and Rude into each other with a noggin-knocker, very mean. After ramming Rude into the apron, back in they go. Rude goes for a clothesline, but gets hit with one by Warrior instead. Warrior then heads up top, and down he comes with a double axehandle. Warrior goes for his BIG SPLASH, but Rude rolls out of the way. Warrior winds up rolling out to the floor, and Rude follows while grabbing Warrior’s title belt. Rude wallops Warrior with it, and wants a count. The referee counts, and Rude breaks it because Warrior was getting up. This crowd is HEATED. I’m somewhat surprised. Rude throws Warrior into the ring, then heads up top for the first time. Down he comes with a flying nothing, and Warrior hits him in the gut. Warrior uses an inverted atomic drop, then runs into Rude’s knees. Rude knocks Warrior down with a clothesline, and goes to work on the back area. Rude goes for a bodyslam, but Warrior blocks it and gives Rude his own bodyslam. Warrior goes for another, but Rude locks him up in a SLEEPER. Rude keeps it on for a bit, and the crowd seems sad that Warrior’s going down. Great heat we have now, and I don’t think it was canned. Warrior powers up, gets out of the sleeper with a jawbreaker, and misses a big clothesline. Rude hits him, but Warrior is in his comeback mode it seems. Or not. Rude steps on Warrior’s hand, hits him with an elbow, and goes for the RUDE AWAKENING. Warrior blocks the move, and misses a clothesline again. Now Rude hits Warrior with the RUDE AWAKENING, and Warrior kicks out at 2.9999. NO. Warrior gets to the ropes and starts powering up, and nails Rude with a series of clotheslines. Amazing bumping. Warrior hits Rude with a flying shouldberblock, then falls on top with a BIG SPLASH. Heenan grabs Warrior to break the pin, and Warrior meets Heenan in the aisle. Rude attacks Warrior from behind, and Warrior responds by picking Rude up, lifting him over his head, and trying to carry him back to the ring! Heenan hits Rude with a knee from behind, and gets chased in there by Warrior. Warrior corners him, and rams him into the buckle until he throws Heenan over the top and back out to the floor. The bell rings at 9:43, and the Ultimate Warrior’s hand was raised. Disqualification, I think.
My Thoughts: Rude was a hell of a worker, one of the only guys who could get a consistently good performance out of the Warrior. I thought Rude did a hell of a job. The wrestling here was right on, and they worked so hard. I’m sure Warrior was in the red from the first minute, and still did his best. Can’t say enough about Rude though. The way he bumped around for Warrior’s clotheslines was just great. Now, in a vacuum, and out of context, you may look at the result and think the booking was just fine, and that it made sense to have these guys in a cage match. However, there are a few things. Rude never had Warrior pinned in any way to merit a rematch. Heenan did not actually cost Warrior the match. Warrior won. Warrior kicked out of Rude’s finisher. The cage did not benefit Warrior in any way as he could beat Rude with or without it. They should have had Rude have Warrior pinned at some point, with a ref bump, or something. Doesn’t mean the referee has to count a 3 on Warrior once the referee wakes up, but it would show that Rude had him beat. I’d give it ***. A case of a great performance overshadowing incompetent booking.
Looks like we have a skit where Lord Alfred Hayes and Gene Okerlund are in safari gear. They talk about a possible safari, and tell some outdated jokes. Ho hum.
This video they aired paying tribute to Hulk Hogan was awesome. Hell of an angle with Earthquake if it got them to put together something like that. I think the most compelling part is that they were able to sell a PPV on the back of a Hogan/Earthquake match. I think it’s fair to say Quake didn’t bring a whole lot to the table. He was the B side of the equation. Really, it was Hogan against a guy, in his return match.
After that, Vince McMahon brought Hulk Hogan out for an interview. I hope it’s as good as the one I watched while putting together my last article. It wasn’t really similar, except for him talking about the cards and letters that were sent to him. He said he’d answer all of them. No idea if he actually did, that’s quite the carny thing to say too. This was good, and he said that THE HULKAMANIACS were the ones that brought him back. It sucks that Hogan was hyping up Tugboat once more. He actually hyped up Tugboat so much that it made Tugboat look terrible to get removed from the match. Now Earthquake, Jimmy Hart, and Dino Bravo head out to the ring. Hogan takes off his weight belt and starts swinging it, and HERE COMES TUGBOAT. He hits the ring and the heels bail out, good hype spot.
Before the next match, we have Okerlund and Alfred Hayes on safari once more. All of a sudden Koko B. Ware shows up, and he says that he’s looking for a mate for Frankie. WHAT THE HELL? Hayes keeps calling Gene Mean, “Jim.” This is really good. Gene trips and winds up next to a snake, and Jake Roberts shows up to save him. Look, I was watching this before bed. I think I’m going to have nightmares. The Bushwhackers then Bushwhack their way down a train track, hell of a skit. I can’t really do it justice. Disgusting that these were blocked on YouTube.
The Rockers vs. Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is a good way to wrap up that possible triangle feud it looked like they were going with after the last Saturday Night’s Main Event. This could be a hell of a match if they’re given time. All three Demolition members walked out to the ring, but which two were going to wrestle? Pretty sure everyone knew it would be Smash and Crush with Ax at ringside. The addition of Crush completely changed the dynamic of what a Demolition match looks like. Also, was anyone else ever awarded a title in the WWF without participating in more than a squash match?
Match Review: Marty Jannetty will start with Smash, and Smash clubs him down to the canvas. Marty dodges a charge to the corner, and nails Smash with an arm drag and leg trip to knock him down. He dropkicks Smash to the outside, and when he gets back in, Crush does as well. The Rockers take them down with flying head-scissors, and stereo dropkicks! Neat spot. Smash and Marty start over, and Marty makes a blind tag out. Marty dropkicks Smash leading to a monkey flip by Michaels, and Crush runs in to clothesline Michaels and allow them to keep control. Crush legally tags in, and Marty runs back in for a double hip toss on him. Marty makes a legal tag in, and Crush picks him up to place him on the top rope. He chokes Marty for a little bit, and Marty leaps off the second rope with a sunset flip that gets 2. The Rockers exchange tags and work on Crush’s arm, then Crush shoots Marty into the ropes for a setup attack by Smash. Marty ducks out of the ring to avoid it, and Ax levels him with a clothesline. Michaels tells the referee what happened, but the referee doesn’t do anything about it as we go to a commercial.
Back from that commercial, Smash was beating up Jannetty. Smash chokes Marty, and throws him back out of the ring. Crush grabs Marty and press slams him back into the ring, and Smash rams him into Crush’s boot. Crush comes in with a double axehandle from the top, and follows that with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He follows that with a regular backbreaker, and takes Marty down with a chokeslam. Oooh, new moves! Marty fights back a bit, but Crush tags out so Smash can cut him off. Smash picks Marty up for a bear hug, and when Marty gets out, he tries a sunset flip that is then cut off with a punch. Crush tags in and throws Marty hard into the corner, but Marty takes him down and rams his head into the canvas. Michaels makes the tag in, as does Smash, and Michaels is a house of fire. He takes Smash down with a shoulderblock, dropkicks Crush, and throws them together. They hit Crush with a double dropkick to knock him over the top, and follow with one on Smash. They hit Smash with a double superkick, then both Rockers head up top for a double fist drop. Crush breaks up the cover, and Michaels cradles up Smash. Ax clotheslines Michaels as the referee is distracted, and Ax picks up the win for his team at 9:31. But that’s cheating! The Hart Foundation walks out there to say so, and then comes the LEGION OF DOOM! They also have a problem with what happened, what a group of babyfaces in the ring right now. In the end, nothing happened.
My Thoughts: Crush wasn’t any good at all, but the match was still fine because of the Rockers. They could make something out of anyone. Truly a great team working a match like this with anyone they can find. Demolition doing illegal things was good, an interesting wrinkle into their matches. It wasn’t just the Mr. Fuji stuff they had done before, but they could bring their third guy in to make a pin, become part of the match by cheating, or get involved doing physical things outside the ring. **3/4 as already stated, the Rockers were so good. They should have held the title belts not long after this, too. Sorry Hart Foundation, but it’s true. I also liked the post-match.
Time for another segment with Okerlund and Hayes! Okerlund got bit by a mosquito or something, then started beating his chest and crawling on all fours. Hayes saved his life by putting leaves up his nose. Okay. That one was not so amazing.
Tito Santana vs. Mr. Perfect (w/Bobby Heenan) for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: The first of their title matches wasn’t great, but it was good. Given that this was on NBC, shouldn’t it be better? Sean Mooney was with Perfect and Heenan for an interview, and Heenan had nothing to say about what happened to him earlier. Perfect’s promo with all the puns stunk, but we’ll see what happens in the ring.
Match Review: Almost immediately, Perfect hits Santana with a knee. Santana comes back with a hip toss, arm drag, and a dropkick that sends Perfect over the top. That was a FAST start. Santana chases Perfect back into the ring, and Perfect ducks out again. Santana chops him to knock him down, and back in they go. The guys exchange wristlocks back in the ring, and Perfect nails Santana with a clothesline. Perfect hits Santana with a knee lift, then follows with a standing dropkick. A perfect move! He bodyslams Santana, and puts him in a neck vice for a little bit. A distraction allows Perfect to turn it into a choke, which Santana gets out of by nailing Perfect on the chin. Perfect runs into Santana’s boot, and Santana turns him upside down with a clothesline. Santana drills him with a right hand that knocks down the referee, and hurts him. Interesting. Santana signals for the FIGURE-FOUR, puts it on, and Perfect submits…but the referee doesn’t see him quitting. They did more to make Santana look legitimate than they did Rude based on that. Santana also hits Perfect with a FLYING FOREARM, and the referee takes a bit to go over to make his count of 2. Poor Santana. Santana goes up to the second rope, and drills Perfect with a flying clothesline only to get fucked on the count AGAIN. Amazing booking. Santana calls for another official, and there one comes to a big pop.
After a commercial break, the match continues with Perfect being hit with a cross body that gets 2. This crowd is far more heated than I’d ever expect for this match. Perfect comes back with punches, and a snap mare leads to his NECK SNAP. They trade punches for a while, building heat up again until Perfect kicks Santana in the face. Perfect and Santana trade punches again, leading to Santana knocking Perfect over the top with one. Santana brings Perfect back into the ring, and throws him across the ring and nut-first into the ring post. Great spot. Santana gives Perfect an inverted atomic drop, then an atomic drop that sends him into the buckle. Santana destroys Perfect with a clothesline, and it gets another close count. The crowd is going NUTS for this, I can’t believe it. Santana goes for a backdrop, and Perfect winds up trying to tie him up for the PERFECT-PLEX. Santana cradles Perfect up, but Perfect reverses that cleanly for the 3 count and victory at 10:11!
My Thoughts: This was just amazing, the heat was absolutely off the charts. Great action, and the crowd bought every false finish. They also got the crowd invested in Santana by having him have Perfect beaten multiple times. That was great booking. The funniest thing about this match was that they didn’t actually wrestle that much. They also didn’t start slowly or use that portion of the match to build. It was ALL ACTION. The booking call was right too, there was no reason for Santana to win that title. It just showed that with Perfect in the ring, they could book any title match in a fashion that would get people that invested in it. ***3/4, definitely wasn’t expecting to give out a rating like that. Sadly, this was Tito’s last real chance to have a match like this. Great finish to have it done clean as well.
Jesse Ventura is with Earthquake, Dino Bravo, and Jimmy Hart in the back. Earthquake’s promo style with the shaking was funny, but the puns weren’t so great. In this one, no puns!
Back to the jungle we go, and I see Jimmy Snuka this time! Funny skit there. Apparently Okerlund and Hayes were in Africa. So, they came across a boiling cauldron, and wound up running into Slick and Akeem! Slick and Akeem tried to tell them where to go, but they went the opposite way and wound up in DEEPEST, DARKEST AFRICA. Hayes throws Okerlund into the river, and throws tree bark at him to keep the piranhas away.
Buddy Rose vs. Kerry Von Erich
Pre-Match Thoughts: As was somewhat customary, they stuck a squash match on here. No surprise at all. They were calling Kerry both by his name and by Texas Tornado. They obviously wanted to lure people in using his name. The Omaha crowd didn’t react at ALL. Don’t know what quite to think of that. He also looked way too much like the Ultimate Warrior. His background was also mentioned, very unlike the WWF.
Match Review: Rose slaps Kerry, and that’s a bad idea. Kerry chases the big guy out of the ring, and Vince starts cracking fat jokes on him. Kerry blocks a hip toss and dishes out his own, and Rose goes for a bodyslam in response, which is blocked as well. Kerry slams Rose twice, then sends him upside down into a corner. Kerry follows that with a dropkick, and that gets 2. Rose gets tied up in the ropes, so Kerry clocks him a few times. Rose then tumbles out of the ring, and when he gets back in, takes Kerry down for a knee drop. Rose heads up top now, and Kerry gets up so he can slam him down. Kerry then hits Rose with the TORNADO PUNCH, and that gets the victory at 3:09.
My Thoughts: Not a lot going on here. Basic squash, mostly featuring Rose bumping around rather than Kerry busting out high spots or good spots. Very basic stuff, 1/2*. Good introduction I suppose.
Before the show’s over, we have some interviews. First, it’s Rick Rude! He sells his SummerSlam cage match against Warrior, which was difficult given the exact specifics of what happened in their match. Rude said he would climb to the top of the cage in order to finish Warrior. Not to climb out of the cage, but to FINISH HIM. That’s interesting.
The Ultimate Warrior had his own interview, before which he paced around like a freak. He talked so quietly I could barely hear him. I don’t like fluctuating volume. This was that kind of promo.
Lastly, Gene Okerlund and Lord Alfred Hayes wrapped it up. They had a monkey with them!
Now that’s over, and with that is the last time I’ll watch Jesse Ventura appear on WWF programming during this era. Part of the thing about watching these is that I have no intention to ever watch them again. Maybe I will, but I’m not so sure. Anyway, it’s unfortunate that the relationship between Vince and Jesse disintegrated so quickly. As for the show, while it was actually very good, the rating they pulled in was reflective of Warrior’s brand and lack of star power. A 7.2 rating was low then. Very low, most of the SNME episodes did far better. The rating is never reflective of the quality of one show. It’s reflective of the quality of past shows and the star power or lack of that the fans see being part of that show. Like I said, that’s too bad. If fans had been watching this show, there may have been some stars created. I thought it was an awesome watch. They sold parts of SummerSlam better than others. I thought the Warrior/Rude thing was a miss in terms of booking and selling despite being a good match. The tag title match and Hogan/Earthquake thing was great. Next up, going to the NWA from GAB ’90 to Clash 12!
Wrestling Time: 32:34. Good wrestling time with a Hogan angle and video chucked in there, and the safari stuff which was also good.
Best: Tito Santana vs. Mr. Perfect. No shortage of contenders for this spot, but I thought it was an absolutely fantastic match.
Worst: Kerry Von Erich vs. Buddy Rose. This was kind of by default. I don’t think there was anything else to put here.
Card Rating: 9/10. Note that I’m not rating this with the best PPV’s and Clash shows of all-time. This is with regard to one hour TV specials. It was excellent and this is the rating that has to be given. The whole thing was just fun.