It’s hard to imagine a time when Lorne Michaels lacked clout at NBC since he now controls the entire late night landscape of the network. In late 1985, he returned to oversee Saturday Night Live after a five year hiatus and was rebuilding the show with an entirely new cast that included some names that would be much bigger in the future like Joan Cusack and Robert Downey Jr. The only survivors of the disastrous season were Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz, and Nora Dunn. Their season premiere was pushed back until after this show and they would be preempted by Saturday Night’s Main Event somewhat regularly in 1986, angering Lorne since he was trying to rebuild his great institution. Anyway, onto to the wrestling show which was taped on Halloween in Hershey, PA.
Like many SNMEs, this one leaned heavily on the Halloween theme. Bobby Heenan was dressed as Davy Crockett. The frontier guy, not the annoying broadcaster. Roddy Piper was dressed up as Superman and he would welcome all the hillbillies (Uncle Elmer, Cousin Junior, Hillbilly Jim) onto Piper’s Pit to discuss the wedding from the last episode that Piper interrupted. Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant discuss their match against Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy as Andre finally picked a viable partner, but the price is that Hogan sucks all the air out of the room.
The legendary Terry Funk makes his first SNME appearance and declares his desire for the WWF title and he spits tobacco juice all over the camera lens. Oh Terry, never change. We are shown footage of Funker violently assaulting Mel Phillips who in retrospect had it coming. Who the hell takes a man’s hat and just puts it on, let alone Terry Funk’s? This was a victory for ring boys the world over.
The match between Terry Funk and Junkyard Dog was carried by Terry’s willingness to take crazy bumps both in and outside the ring. Quick match as Funk wins by blasting JYD with the megaphone in direct foreshadowing of the Wrestlemania 2 tag match finish. After the match Jimmy Hart would get involved and JYD would end up stripping him of his pants and branding him with Funk’s branding iron. Ventura decries this on commentary and I have to agree, this is bullying to the nth degree. The Dog would actually win the Wrestling Classic tournament a week later in the first WWF PPV. (Wrestlemania was on closed circuit only) Interesting that the Classic is not promoted at all on this show, probably because the access to PPV in late 1985 was so limited.
In the back, all the wrestlers are dressed up in costumes so it is literally guys dressed in character dressing up in another character. So meta. Bundy is Abe Lincoln and Capt. Lou Albano is Julius Caesar. Randy Savage is there with Elizabeth, who looks rather fetching as Jane to Macho’s Tarzan. Albano beats Bundy in a pie eating contest which I consider a bit of an upset. Bundy gets his heat back by putting a pie in Capt. Lou’s face after the matchup.
Piper’s Pit had the showdown between Hot Rod and Uncle Elmer. Piper figuratively suffered a career-ending back injury carrying this segment, which ended with Ventura coming to the ring, losing his hat and Elmer stomping on it to set up a six man at the next SNME. Rough week for Piper: Earlier that day and episode of Championship Wrestling aired where Piper ruthlessly beat down Rick McGraw with neck breakers and DDTs. McGraw actually passed away on Friday 11/1 but the WWF aired the match anyway which led some people to believe that Piper literally killed McGraw. Yikes.
Before their match, we hear from Hulk and Andre and the Giant seems visably annoyed by Hogan’s talking and just wants to go to the ring. The match was pretty standard stuff that had been seen before. The heels are DQ’d when they beat up Andre after there was a referee bump. Hogan gets the glory by making the save and we get to hear more from them after the match. This is the last we see Andre on SNME until after his heel turn in early 1987, and the last non-battle royal match from him until the Main Event in February 1988.
There is a pumpkin bobbling contest between Bobby Heenan and Cousin Junior and thankfully the Brain pulls it out. Elizabeth is the star of this segment for me by just standing there in the Jane outfit.
Randy Savage and Tito Santana is a match that given more time would really shine, but they got only 4 minutes to a double countout finish, so Tito retains his IC title.
Roddy Piper shines again in a segment where he is shown at home messing with kids who are trick or treating. He gets comeuppance when the kids slip him an ultra-spicy piece of candy. Stuff like this is why Piper was viable in Hollywood, and you can do segments like this if the right person is involved.
Bizarre segments leading up to a “martial arts” match between Ricky The Dragon Steamboat and Mr. Fuji. The Dragon is breaking boards and Fuji does stereotypical stuff. Don Muraco and Fuji hung Steamboat over the ropes recently which didn’t air on an episode of Fuji Vice. The match starts with some martial arts stuff of little note and ends with a missile dropkick from the Dragon that probably isn’t taught in the Cobra Kai dojo. Muraco comes in after the match to stomp a mudhole in Steamboat. So I guess that feud continues.
The final Halloween event is a “pumpkin pass” which the babyfaces win because Elizabeth is unable to pass the pumpkin so she gets berated by Piper and Savage. No wonder why she looked so frightened most of the time, all she ever knew was these large men screaming at her all the time.
Summary: This is fine because the Terry Funk stuff is always compelling. Hogan and Andre teaming is kind of neat but not a whole lot to it. Piper messing with children is something that could have been made into a weekly series and I would have watched it. The Hulk/Andre tag is only about 8 minutes but is the longest SNME match of 1985. Not the best edition, but certainly not the worst.