It is always difficult to follow up an event as huge as Wrestlemania 3. Once Hulk Hogan beats the unbeatable Andre, what is left? The Saturday Night’s Main Event from 05/02/1987 was different because it was the first time Hogan did not wrestle on the show. But the promised footage of his match with Andre was enough to lure people in for a 9.5 rating. Of course in today’s world, there would be a Vine on Twitter of the slam of Andre within 30 seconds. This show was taped in South Bend, Indiana on April 28, 1987 so let’s check out this present the WWF gave me for my 8th birthday, a year before I actually started watching.
The opening montage tells us that George Steele and Randy Savage will have their final confrontation. Thank God. This thing was starting to reach Cena/Orton levels, and all because they liked to screw with Savage and his paranoia over Elizabeth in real life. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat defends his newly won IC title against Hercules, and the Hart Foundation defend against the former champions the British Bulldogs. And Hacksaw Jim Duggan appears to tell us he’s going to shut up Nikolai Volkoff because this is the home of the free. We really needed someone to have a debate on free speech with Duggan. Speaking of debates, Bobby Heenan is with Andre and the Brain is in a neck brace after Ken Patera ended their own debate by tossing Heenan with a belt around his former manager’s neck. It’s not Heenan’s fault McDonald’s was closed, Ken!
Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura kick things off by referencing the Patera/Heenan thing from “earlier in the day” on Superstars. I love those days when they would pretend it was all live, like with Bret Hart at King of the Ring ’94 and they are talking about what happened to him on Action Zone that morning.
Kamala is with Gene Okerlund and his new manager Mr. Fuji, who is now with face paint! He’s slightly more coherent than The Wizard, who used to manage the Ugandan headhunter. Jake Roberts does his routine, scaring Okerlund with the snake. Then a replay is shown of Jake getting hit by Honky Tonk Man’s non-gimmicked guitar.
Kamala (w/Mr. Fuji and Kim Chee) vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts
What an odd matchup here. Jake doesn’t have music yet, who dumps the snake bag in the ring and lets Damien loose so Kamala comically runs away. Kamala was always good on comedy, right up to the “I’m afraid of caskets” angle with the Undertaker in 1992. Kamala has control early in the match until Jake stomps the bare toes and I wonder why everyone doesn’t do that. Wrestling in bare feet seems a bit strange when you consider that ring is probably filthy. As Kamala gets almost all the offense, Jesse asks about the dynamic between Fuji and Kim Chee. I enjoy stuff like that because it makes me think without taking me out of this fantasy world. Jake gets a knee lift coming back into the ring, then scores with a neat looking 2nd rope knee lift. But now it is time for the typical heel victory sequence: Fuji distracts the ref, and Kim Chee nails Jake from behind to allow Kamala to get the big splash and the win.
After the match, Kim Chee unmasks and it’s the Honky Tonk Man. Ventura expresses astonishment that Honky was Kim Chee all this time. The regular Kim Chee was portrayed by Steve Lombardi, later the Brooklyn Brawler and other baseball gimmicks. The crowd HATES Honky, who tells them they are a beautiful audience. They want to see Honky die, and that is why he got the IC title a month later because he generated enough heat to warm Nunavut in January.
Short clip is shown of Hogan-Andre with a teaser. Now that I think of it, I wonder how many people watched this that didn’t see WM3 because the show had a huge buyrate for the PPV universe of 1987, and it was widely available on closed circuit.
Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs George “The Animal” Steele
This is a lumberjack match to finally end the feud. Vince gets all upset when Kim Chee and the Honky Tonk Man both are ringside. Okerlund is with Steele in the back and the Animal is confused by what a lumberjack match is. Various lumberjacks get their own entrance for some reason, including Duggan who is still very much in his Mid-South gimmick with the bandana and all.
But the star here is Randy Savage, who is enraged by Okerlund calling him the “former” champion. During this period on TV, Savage was a complete maniac over losing the title and was starting to get a sliver of cheers. You even see fans pumping their fists at him as he makes his way to the ring for this one. This match is built around tossing opponents out of the ring and lumberjacks fighting, and Duggan gets himself tossed for being too liberal with the 2X4. Hacksaw then audibly says “bullshit” as he turns to leave. Steele makes a comeback but then literally eats a turnbuckle and Savage hits a vertical suplex that I suggest no one try again with Steele. To the outside, Savage and Steamboat go at it, and Danny Davis takes this opportunity to clock Steele with the ring bell. Savage hits the big elbow, and the circle of life is complete. Let’s examine: Savage hit Steamboat with a ring bell, then when he tried it again at Mania 3, was pushed by Steele and lost right afterward. Now Davis hits Steele with the bell. So we’ll await someone hitting Davis with a bell down the road. Jake Roberts (complete with taped ribs) runs in to drive everyone out with the snake.
Okerlund is with Bobby Heenan and Andre the Giant, and I feel bad for the Giant because of the lack of clothing choices he had. He says he was cheated in the match with Hogan, and the footage is shown. Gene asks what Hogan is saying to him, and Andre says that Hogan railed against black men dating any future daughter of his. Just kidding. The rematch is floated here.
The British Bulldogs (w/Tito Santana) vs The Hart Foundation (C) (w/Jimmy Hart and Danny Davis) – Two out of Three falls
This is the ultimate in “sounds better than it is” because Dynamite Kid was still pretty hurt, but could work a little. The Bulldogs have Matilda the bulldog who attacks Jimmy Hart and rips his pants and chews on the megaphone. Points to the dog trainer who made that one work. It is Bret and Davey Boy to start and the latter works in some of his junior heavyweight offense, and his usual crucifix spot. But Bret takes command and it is clear to see that this guy is damn good and coming into his own. His work is so very crisp. Dynamite does get a hot tag and looks like the Ghost of Benoit out there with the snap vertical suplex. Eventually, the Anvil runs in and double teams Dynamite and the Harts are DQ’d on fall #1. This is BS, as we’ll see in a minute.
To start fall #2, the Harts do what is really the Demolition Decapitation, and I wonder why they were allowed to use something so close to another team’s finisher. Only difference was Bret would elbow more straight on, and Ax would come at an angle. Harts are in their glory here, cutting off the ring with some superlative cheating. But Kid does make that tag to Davey Boy, who does get worked over for a bit but takes command on the Anvil. Davis tries to interfere but Tito Santana stops that in its tracks. Tag to Dynamite and Davey Boy press slams his partner onto Neidhart which gets a 1-2-3 and the crowd goes crazy thinking it’s a title change. Ventura is laughing, because he knows the DQ in the first fall prevents this. The WWF would shift this rule around to where two years later a title change would occur with a DQ on fall #1 against the champions.
Okerlund is with Hulk Hogan in a rather bizarre backdrop for a wrestling promo. I’m not sure what that stuff is on the wall but it may be a psychologist’s office. Or something on the Notre Dame campus, whatever. Hogan talks about Wrestlemania 3, which he will only do for the rest of his life. He said he would up for the “ultimate challenge” though that doesn’t mean he would win all future ultimate challenges.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (C) vs Hercules (w/Bobby Heenan) for the IC title
Randy Savage is backstage, shown watching this match on the monitor and he would steal the show. The Dragon controls until Hercules grabs the front of his tights sending Steamboat face first to the buckle. But on the smaller picture in picture, Savage is shown CHEERING for the Dragon. He is so insane, he wants to only win it from Steamboat. Or is just so sane, because he knows a Hercules win means no heel vs heel title match? The match is very much back and forth, and Hercules gets his full nelson and this prompts Savage to head to ringside. The Macho Man grabs Hercules’ leg which breaks the hold and Heenan and Herc get up in Macho’s face as the show goes to commercial.
Savage stays near ringside, but more in the aisle. Hercules comes off the top but the Dragon gets the knees up. Despite this, Hercules re-assumes control and the Brain slips in the chain which Hercules chokes Steamboat out with for the DQ. Very strange finish. Savage can be heard saying “Steamboat’s the winner!” and Heenan and Hercules leave and stare down Savage along the way. Vince and Jesse talk about more damage done to the throat of the champion. Savage hits the ring and looks to be showing sympathy…but then sneaks up top and hits the big elbow and again you can hear portions of the audience cheering. Awesome stuff from Savage, whose 1987 is one of the more interesting years by a wrestler ever.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan is shown at ringside in the front row for the upcoming match featuring the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Man, Duggan was all over this show.
The Can-Am Connection vs The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (w/Slick)
And now it’s time for the SNME debut of Section309.com Hall of Famer Ricky Martel and that other guy. Slick does a promo in back where he takes a stand for freedom of speech. I am very amused by Duggan talking to all the people around him. Ventura makes the point about free speech that I’ve been making when Hacksaw rushes the ring to stop the Soviet anthem from being sung. Yet, Hacksaw is allowed back to his seat!
Bad start as Vince can’t tell the difference between Martel and the other guy. I can tell, because it’s the other guy taking a variety of suplexes from the Iranian: a gutwrench, a vertical, a belly to belly, all leading to the abdominal stretch which the other guy hip tosses to counter. Both Can-Ams are in but tossed out which allows Duggan to distract Slick’s guys. Martel rolls up Sheikie and scores a surprising pinfall in all the chaos caused by Duggan, who was attacked after the match but saved by the Can-Ams.
“The Other Guy” is of course Tom Zenk, who would quit abruptly in the summer because Martel made more money than him. Well no kidding dude. He’s a former world champion, and you suck. That’s why he makes more.
That does it for this SNME. The next show would be in October and a lot would change between this point and then. For the next post in this series, I will make a slight detour and attempt to imagine what a Summerslam 1987 card might have looked like had they added that to the PPV schedule a year earlier.