Saturday Night’s Main Event from May 1986 was as notable for who wasn’t there than for who was. Jesse Ventura was not on commentary, busy with filming Predator and he wasn’t seen again for several months. Ventura was brought back to the WWF at the insistence of NBC executives, who saw him as a key piece of the show. Taking his place alongside Vince McMahon for this show in Providence, RI was Bobby Heenan, who was not the comedian he would become in the early 90s working with Gorilla Monsoon.
After Mean Gene Okerlund runs down the card tonight we get to the promos. The Funks lead off and this is the final time we see Terry Funk on WWF TV for many years. And cripes, they’ve brought in Jimmy Jack Funk to take up space, a non-related “relative.” Little Haiti and Junkyard Dog join Hulk Hogan, who uses the word “buttwashers” to describe their opponents the Funks. Go ahead and look that up on Urban Dictionary. It’s disturbing, though I don’t know if Hogan meant it that way.
To the match, which sees Hogan in the road white trunks and knee pads: JYD slams both Terry and Dory Funk Jr. and Hogan is down on all fours for the JYD-style headbutts. Terry hits the post on a charge, and Heenan is very combative on commentary but gets in a good line saying JYD’s mom had 9 months to come up with a name and went with Junkyard. Jimmy Hart whacks the Haiti Kid with the branding iron and they go to break while they carry the little guy out.
In what should come as no shock, Terry is bumping everywhere even with one foot out the door, taking backdrops and body slams on tables and the floor which did not have the blue pads that we will see on the next SNME. Dory Jr. has a vertical suplex blocked and Hogan scored with one but is also hit with the branding iron. JYD chant as the Haiti Kid comes back to ringside. Hogan eventually gets the leg drop on Terry for the win, but Terry kicks out at 3.0000001 seconds. They beat up Haiti Kid after the match before Hogan gets to play hero again. And I can’t help but notice that Jimmy Jack Funk only shows up now, after everything is done. Wow, what a terrible gimmick.
The bout between King Kong Bundy and Uncle Elmer is more than just a fat guy duel. “Uncle ‘Elmo’ is in big trouble” says Bundy and he was right for reasons that had nothing to do with Bundy. Elmer was about 50 years old by this point and largely an afterthought, and yet he still threatened to no-show this match to the point where they had to get Hillbilly Jim on a flight from the west coast to Rhode Island to fill in, according to the story Jim tells on The Art of Wrestling podcast with Colt Cabana. As it turned out, Elmer did wrestle and was hardly heard from again. Bundy won this one rather quickly.
Adrian Adonis is going to play on the prejudices against gays in 1986, singing “hey hey Paula I want to wrestle you” to a cardboard cutout of Paul Orndorff. Mr. Wonderful says Adonis is “light in the loafers” which is something your parents might have said during the time. By the way, Orndorff is with Okerlund in the sauna for that interview for some reason.
Adonis plays a game of one-bumpsmanship with Terry Funk because he’s bouncing like a pinball. Heenan says his motto is to live and let live with Adonis’ lifestyle. Funny how the libertarian view is the heel position here. Also amusing that Heenan ended up managing Bundy in a “trade” with Jimmy Hart in exchange for Adonis. Mr. Wonderful tosses Jimmy Hart into the Adorable one, so the rough night for the Mouth continues. Orndorff does an airplane spin but Adonis adroitly grabs the rope to get out of it. Wonderful loses his cool and chokes Adonis out using a shirt and shoves the ref to get DQ’d. While the gimmick was a bit much for the time in terms of playing to people’s prejudices, Adrian Adonis was one hell of a worker and it was nice he got some time here.
Hulk Hogan is in the stands of the empty arena to talk to Okerlund where they talk about how he was attacked at the last SNME. This all leads into a highlight video of the Wrestlemania 2 main event cage match with Bundy, a much better match than remembered. One thing I loved about that match: Jesse Ventura is on PBP and the color is done by Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira, who was more game for it than any celebrity ever. “Why don’t they stop this???” she asks as Bundy is bleeding from the forehead and Jesse’s serious reply is priceless. “It can’t be stopped,” he sternly informs her.
So here’s a famous moment: Jake the Snake Roberts taking on Ricky the Dragon Steamboat. Promo beforehand with Jake talking to his snake, the usual Jake brilliance. Steamboat is ambushed on the apron before the match and Jake heads out to the floor and delivers a stiff as all hell DDT on the frickin’ concrete. And nobody can sell it like the Dragon, whose lifeless body is put in the ring and the snake is draped on him as his horrified wife looks on. That feud would culminate at the next SNME.
There are two things you need to know about the British Bulldogs: 1. They almost certainly peaked as a unit before winning the tag titles in April 1986 and 2. They could not talk. This is why even as babyfaces they had Lou Albano as a manager until his retirement. Footage of them winning the titles is shown, where Valentine is rammed into Dynamite’s head in the corner, similar to the finish of the SNME a month prior. The opponent here is the foreign duo of the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. The Russian does the anthem, and Sheik does his thing and I love the disgusted way Howard Finkel grabs the microphone back from them.
This is two out of three falls, and Dynamite Kid is injured so there is not much to go on here. Davey Boy submits to the Camel Clutch in the first 5 minutes to lose fall #1. After a buffoonish moment where Volkoff thinks he won, he gets rolled up for fall #2. Bulldogs get dominated in 3rd fall, as Sheik/Volkoff score with a gut wrench suplex, a bear hug and more, but the Bulldogs get the win with an inside cradle by Davey Boy even if Dynamite was legal. Not much they could do with the match, but they had to showcase the new champs. If you want to see the Bulldogs, watch this squash from 1984 at Maple Leaf Gardens. It’s freaking revolutionary:
Summary: This is a pretty good show in a vacuum even if things would change quickly. The Funks would soon be gone, Elmer would be heading back to the farm, and Orndorff would be turning on Hogan to start a huge money program in about two months. But there are terrific performances here by Terry Funk, Adrian Adonis, and Ricky Steamboat taking that punishment to set up a feud. So recommended, but in lieu of the Bulldogs match from this show, watch the video above.