The final Saturday Night’s Main Event of 1986 aired on November 29 and was taped at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, nicknamed by Bruce Springsteen as “the dump that jumps”. Although it is closer to either downtown or Inglewood, Jesse Ventura welcomes us to his town Hollywood. Ventura had already filmed Predator, which would be released in June 1987. This SNME would kick off with a doozy of a match, one that would be repeated in a 1992 episode: Jake the Snake Roberts versus Macho Man Randy Savage for the latter’s IC title. It is even more notable in that it was that rarest of wrestling matchups: heel against heel.
Before the match, Jake sneaks up on Gene Okerlund with the snake and Gene is terrified, shaking as he holds the mic. “How do you know where I’m headed when you don’t know where I’ve been?” says Jake. Ventura’s reaction is priceless, as he doesn’t know if Okerlund was holding a microphone or a vibrator. Yes, he said that. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is not allowed to talk in the Macho Man’s promo and says he will skin Damien. Macho in the future needed to be more vigilant about snakes.
Jake the Snake Roberts vs Macho Man Randy Savage (C) w/Elizabeth for the IC title:
As the match starts, Vince McMahon and Jesse discuss who the crowd might favor as the crowd starts a “DDT” chant. This is very much a wrestling match early on, and Roberts tries for a DDT but Macho bails. Savage drives Jake into the corner on DDT try #2. Whip to the corner by Jake, but Savage gets a boot up on the charge and gets a two count. Big knee drop by the Macho Man, who keeps going for covers and gets 2 counts. The Snake gets a foot on the rope, so Savage hooks the leg. Savage ties Jake in the ropes and goes for the snake bag…so he can move it under the ring as the show takes a commercial break.
Jake gets free and hits a knee lift and immediately goes outside to put the bag back into the corner to restore that intimidation factor. Roberts hits that classic short arm clothesline and tries a pin but Savage is too close to the ropes. Front facelock doesnt lead to a DDT, but a front suplex. The Snake decides to taunt Liz on the outside as he gets a few two counts. His interactions with Liz in 1991 would be a bit more dark especially at This Tuesday in Texas. Referee Dave Hebner warns on closed fists and Jake’s response is to blow snot at him. Another DDT attempt is counters by Savage falling back through the ropes, and then he uses Liz as a human shield on the floor making clear who the heel is here. Jake is sent into the post and Savage hits the double axe handle from the top to the outside. Savage was on fire at this point, with the start of the Steamboat angle airing the prior Saturday on Superstars with the Macho Man destroying the throat of the Dragon. Back to this match, Savage gets a double axe on the inside, but a 2nd try gets him punched in the gut. They end up outside and fight back in, where both shove the referee and each are DQ’d. Macho gets a non-folding chair and tosses it in, and Jake gets Damien. Howard Finkel announces the double DQ saying “due to the uncontrollable nature” of the match.
Verdict: A really fun and very interesting match. The dynamics of this probably gave the green light to eventually make Roberts a babyface, which would happen in early 1987. People really dug the DDT because it was a fairly original move at that time.
We are shown managers Slick and Bobby Heenan haggling over the sale of the contract of Hercules as I light a candle for the days of quality heel managers. Slick would like straight cash if you please and Heenan gets a giant pile of cash from a bank teller. Heenan explains why he bought the contract but the real reason is that he was by far the best Hogan foil. Hogan’s promo puts over the power of Hercules and takes a bizarre turn when he mentions hanging in the Garden of Eden and that he’s been on the Titanic. “This is where the power lies,” says Hogan. Well alright then. Whatever you say.
Hercules (w/Bobby Heenan) vs Hulk Hogan (C) for the WWF World Title:
Hogan is wearing the rare combo of yellow trunks with blue kneepads. Test of strength spots has Herc on top early before Hulk overcomes. Hulkster reverses a whip to the corner and follows up quick with a clothesline. Hogan hits a high knee…that’s not often seen in the repertoire. Hogan chases Heenan but stays in control with a big boot and a slam, but an elbow misses to transition control to Hercules.
Dave Hebner is referee again and Jesse Ventura objects. They were a bit low on fair refs since this was during the height of the Danny Davis crooked ref angle. Bear hug by Hercules leads to a backbreaker where Hogan is pushed with extra force into the leg of the challenger. Hercules gets Hogan up in his version of the Human Torture Rack, but lets go when he thinks he had a submission. Hogan hulks up with a more extended offensive sequence and the big boot with the leg drop to finish. Ventura goes on an angry rant on Hogan, angrier than usual. Supposedly 1986 was a year where Hogan undermined Ventura’s effort to form a union for the wrestlers and there was tension there forever more. Ventura also suggests instant replay in wrestling like in the NFL where it was in its first season in its original form.
Verdict: A good quick power match where Hogan protected Hercules pretty good. It’s weird how Herc became a sort of “auxiliary” Megapower in late 1988, but Ibet Hogan respected what he could do. But this was about his WWF peak, right here.
Ventura conducts a strange interview with Jimmy Hart and Bob Orton in a restaurant as Orton prepares to face his old buddy Rowdy Roddy Piper. A recap video is shown of the Orton-Piper friendship dating to 1984, when the Cowboy was Piper’s bodyguard. Orton isn’t a good promo guy, but Piper is over the top hilarious here, making fun of Orton’s newer buddy the Magnificent Muraco calling him the “fat Albert of professional wrestling”.
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs “Ace” Cowboy Bob Orton (w/Jimmy Hart and Magnificent Muraco):
Muraco is wearing a shirt with a no smoking sign on it for some reason along with a kilt to mock Piper. He distracts to start, but referee Dave Hebner tosses him out of ringside. Ventura is pissed about this authority being exerted and wonders why this guy is refereeing again. Piper scores with some fists of fury, a bulldog, and then bites Orton which seems like a pretty bad idea if you know the Cowboy’s medical history. A whip to the corner sends Orton upside down in the finest Harley Race tradition. Piper with a knee lift but Orton takes control with that old Goldust move: Piper puts his head down for a back drop and Orton goes to one knee for an uppercut. Quick move to the finish, where Orton almost hits Jimmy Hart but stops, then Piper throws Orton into him anyway and rolls him up for the pin.
Verdict: Piper matches after his face turn were not going to be 15 minute classics but they were pretty fun and the crowd was insanely into him. He was getting very close to the Hogan level.
Piper is in the locker room with Okerlund and they allude to this newfound popularity. “When I’m good I’m good, when I’m bad I’m better,” says Piper.
Killer Bees vs Hart Foundation (w/Jimmy Hart)
The Bees were in the midst of a mild push where they would use “masked confusion” to switch out in matches freely. While it was an interesting thing for babyfaces to do, that was about all the Bees had. Jim Bruzell had the great dropkick, but B. Brian Blair was charisma-less. The Harts were a few months away from the tag titles. They take control with their usual transition spot: Hitman getting a knee on the opponent from the apron off a whip.
One thing I never see talked about: The Harts would literally do the Demolition Decapitation move even when the Demos were also in the promotion. Hitman’s elbow would be more straight on but it’s just odd. Anvil Neidhart hits a standing dropkick and you know I love those from big guys. The Harts are new in wearing pink tonight; Vince was definitely in favor of this new color scheme. Harts cut the ring in half then Brunzell is launched to the outside. False tag to Blair is disallowed, but the Bees hit the outside and go under the ring for their masks. Blair is in and runs over both guys then gets Anvil in a sleeper. Hart comes off with an axe handle, but the Bees switch with the referee’s back turned and Brunzell gets an inside cradle on Hart for the win.
Verdict: Such an odd result in retrospect, but the Harts were never pushed as much as people remember. They only got the tag titles because the Bulldogs insisted on dropping only to them. Meanwhile the Killer Bees never got out of 2nd gear, and Blair’s suspension in the summer of 1987 probably didn’t help.
Koko B. Ware vs Nikolai Volkoff (w/Slick):
Slick is in a sling for some reason, and I can’t remember what that angle was. I remain amused that Slick was put with the communist gimmick. Koko is brand new to the WWF. Slickster said he liked his bird deep fried, though I’m sure he doesn’t eat parrots. Koko hits a missile dropkick but only gets two. Volkoff hits his press slam into a backbreaker but picks up Ware at two. Wow, very strange to see guys hitting finishers like this is Cena-Rock II or something. Volkoff consults with Slick and gets rolled up and pinned.
Verdict: That’s so odd because we already had a distraction rollup finish on this show, and couldn’t you put over Ware’s missile dropkick instead? Oh well. Story of Koko B. Ware’s time there, I suppose.
Hulk Hogan cuts another strange promo, but this one on Jesse Ventura because the Body was very critical of Hulk earlier. Hulkster says Ventura has weaknesses; yeah brother, he’s got blood clots in his lungs and can’t work. I’d say that’s it. Very odd how they seemed to be going for Hogan-Ventura here: I wonder if maybe they had an eye toward that at Wrestlemania 3 if Andre was completely unable to go? That would have been a terrible match.
“The Rebel” Dick Slater vs Magnificent Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji):
Oh right, Dick Slater worked a good ol’ southern boy gimmick in late 1986 WWF to the point where Dixie was his theme music. Funny how Muraco hung out with Orton and Jimmy Hart, but Mr. Fuji was his actual manager here. In the promo before the match, Fuji sings Dixie and that may be the only non-Fuji Vice time that he has made me laugh. This isn’t much, Fuji trips Slater with the cane and Muraco wins with a clothesline. Jesus, what is this, the Survivor Series?
Verdict: Neither guy was going anywhere but this is in the final slot so who cares.
Summary: This show started super hot and faded badly toward the end. So it was pretty much like a standard Saturday Night Live episode. Check out that Roberts-Savage match because of how unique it was. On to 1987!