Saturday Night’s Main Event #4 – 01/04/1986

As the year 1986 dawned, Hulk Hogan was firmly established as the biggest wrestling star in the world. The WWF used the celebrity of Mr. T to get eyes on their champion and before long he was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Hulk still had feuds ongoing with Roddy Piper and Bobby Heenan, but at this point was in a war with another legend in his own right, Terry Funk. Middle aged (42) and crazy even then, the Funker was still PO’d about Hogan being on the cover of SI. This show was taped in December 1985, but aired on 01/04/1986 from Tampa, FL.
Because of the Florida backdrop, the show opens with wrestlers around a pool and Hogan is making a shake of some kind. Let’s hope that’s all legal. Piper and Ventura are spying on the hillbillies as they talk about the upcoming 6 man tag. Vince does the arena open and actually says the word “wrestling” as I nearly have a heart attack at hearing that word come out of that man’s mouth.

Jesse Ventura has been replaced on commentary by Bobby Heenan for the 6 man opener to close out a feud from the prior two SNME shows. Ventura makes a rare ring appearance to team with Piper and Bob Orton against the Hillibillies: Uncle Elmer, Hillbilly Jim, and Cousin Luke. Why does there have to be a Cousin Luke and a Cousin Junior hanging out with the same people? Piper gets suckered off a handshake and he’s very upset. The mountain men all clean house leading into the first commercial break.

Piper is hilarious in the way he slaps guys around, and while it’s nice to see Ventura in the ring, he was never a a great worker but was an excellent tag wrestler and the heels are in control using quick tags. Ventura had asked prior to the show if you’d ever see Brent Musberger or Vin Scully leave the booth to join the action. That’s awesome because both guys are still active, thank God. The sneaky Bob Orton hits Cousin Luke with his cast and Piper finishes with the sleeper. Wow, what a smart trio Orton, Piper and the Body are. Tag work as it’s supposed to be coupled with timely cheating never goes out of style. That’s why I like Dash and Dawson so much in NXT now.

Back to the water park for a water slide match between Junkyard Dog and Jimmy Hart. Dog wins and I don’t know what this is supposed to be. Harmless fun, I guess.

Better movie: Predator or Road House?

Terry Funk is here to tell us why he hates Hulk Hogan as footage of him attacking the Hulkster in Denver is shown. Hogan’s retort is to have JYD in his corner, as the Dog has ongoing issues with the Funker that would culminate at Wrestlemania 2 in April. You see, this was well before Hogan’s issues with people of color so he could do this.

Hulk still rotated out of red and yellow at this point, and is in the blue trunks on this night. Funk is actually referred to as “middle aged and crazy” on commentary which is so funny because this is airing in 1986 and he STILL WORKS in 2015. Funk is bumping like crazy here and at this point there is still no padding outside the ring. The match shifts when manager Jimmy Hart grabs Hogan’s leg then hides under the ring from JYD, where there happens to be a camera. Good planning, guys! Funk chokes Hogan and nails a piledriver which gets a very slow two count.

After some punches, we get a very subtle Hulk-up from Hogan and subtle is not an adjective commonly used for him. Back elbow and the big boot knock Funk to the apron. Suplex attempt back in, but Hart hits Hogan in the stomach with the branding iron and Funk falls on top for a two count. Hogan got his foot on the rope. JYD is over to headbutt Hart into the next world. Funk starts manhandling referee Dave Hebner in protest, and gets hit with a huge Hogan lariat. Hulk really hooks in the leg to get a pin here in easily the best SNME match to date. Lot of fun and it’s capped by Funk tossing chairs into the ring. Hart is dragged by a pant cuff to the back by the defeated challenger. Quick in-ring promo from Hulk and JYD follows.

A recap of the evolution of George the Animal Steele is shown, as he was abandoned by his tag partners on the first SNME in May 1985. Back at the water park, Randy Savage tells Gene Okerlund that he will teach Elizabeth to swim, and chucks her into a lagoon. Now that was a bit startling, but very much in line with Vince McMahon’s love of people getting thrown into bodies of water. Savage and Steele have an early version of their usual match. The Macho Man shows off athleticism while Steele does character work in being distracted by Elizabeth. Double axe handle off the top finishes, not the big elbow. One of my all time favorite forgotten WTF moments ever: George Steele kicking out of the Macho Man top rope elbow at Mania 2 because it looks insane in retrospect for the time period. Savage picks Liz up over his shoulder and gets out of there.

A year in review video for 1985 is played with some dubbed in music on the network. The next match is another that would be seen at Mania 2: Nikolai Volkoff vs Corp. Kirchner in a “peace match” that is supposed to be scientific. We all know how that goes. The referee is actually the best wrestler of the bunch: a young Dean Malenko. The big Russian wins through mild cheating that I don’t find to be a big deal. A stun gun can be made to look like an accident, and Volkoff was never that slick, even when he was managed by Slick.

The Magnificent Muraco stands with a surfboard as cheesy music plays. It’s not often that Mr. Fuji isn’t the most bloated looking guy in the group. Those two took on JYD and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat to tie up some loose ends for the Dragon from the last SNME. The match needs more Steamboat, and Ricky’s 1994 career ending back injury was likely a result of carrying too many matches over the years. JYD headbutts Fuji to score the win.

Summary: The six man is a fun watch for someone like me who appreciates good heel tag work, and Funk-Hogan is one of the best SNMEs they would ever air. Feel free to turn this off when that match ends though.

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