If you like wrestling shows that start with Jake Roberts making out with his then-wife Cheryl, then this is the show for you. If you like seeing a close up of Rick Rude’s crotch, well, that’s the second thing seen on the October 1988 episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. A lot of moving pieces on this show from Baltimore, Maryland. Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura are the hosts and Jesse immediately compares Vince to hapless then-VP candidate Dan Quayle. For those who don’t know, Quayle is the guy who misspelled “potato” during an elementary school visit by adding an “E” to the end.
Recap of the memorable Jake Roberts-Rick Rude war that has raged since the spring. It all started when Rude faced a reluctant woman who did not want to kiss him, because that was Jake’s wife Cheryl. Rude gets slapped, and some dude taps Cheryl on the shoulder in support but Rick grabs her wrist and all hell breaks loose. Jesse says Jake looks like a drunken Marine. Shawn Michaels could not be reached for comment. We then see Jake ripping off Rude’s tights on Superstars because they featured Cheryl’s likeness. Gotta respect that, since it was done without consent. In the end, is this an intellectual property case? No, probably not.
Gene Okerlund is with Rude, who says he is never embarrassed about his body. “Jake and Damien couldn’t beat me in a three legged race,” says Rude, a very early dick joke on WWF TV.
Jake Roberts along with Cheryl tells Okerlund that to insult a man you have to be a man. Now that’s a twist on the Ric Flair phrase. But he says Cheryl was offended, so that’s enough for him. Cheryl says she brought a fig leaf to help Rude cover up his little Ricky.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan)
Before this gets going, Vince makes fun of Jesse’s outfit, which The Body dubs the “Wall Street look” and tells Vince “what would you know about Wall Street?” some 11 years before the WWF IPO made Vince richer than he ever was before.
Rude and Roberts had one of the worst matches at WrestleMania 4, and there was a lot of competition for that “honor”. Their feud was more based on good character work than great matches, which is something of a Jake staple over the years. He tries to rip off Rude’s tights early but then works the arm and fails to get a DDT. When Rude gets command, he preens for Cheryl with the hip swivel. In many ways, you’d almost expect Cheryl to turn on her husband the way this was set up, but she wasn’t much of a performer so there was no need to keep her around. They had better plans for Jake and Rude going forward anyway.
Jake hits a Gutbuster and brings Rude over to the ropes so Cheryl can slap him, which gets her ejected from ringside. She and Jake later divorced and she lived a quiet life in Georgia according to various accounts.
Rude throws Jake into the post, then back drops out of the Snake’s DDT try. He hits the fist drop off the top rope but the Rude Awakening is countered with Jake biting Rude’s hands. That’s effective.
After a biiiiiig back body drop, Roberts nails the DDT which prompts Bobby Heenan to get up on the rope and signal to the back. Instead of going for a cover, Roberts attempts to rip Rude’s tights. Heenan hits the ring for the DQ because it will take a bit for Andre to Giant to make his presence known.
And now Jake gets Damien the snake out and it’s a faceoff with Andre, who is not happy about this at all. Is this cheesy and corny? Yes, probably. But I love the character work that Andre is doing here. He can’t do much in the ring anymore, so that is all he has left and he is using it to get guys like Roberts and Jim Duggan elevated to a higher level. Andre tells him to back off and his facial expressions are great. He doesn’t retreat, so Jake just tosses the snake on him and Andre “faints”. The fake heart attack is a bit much, as Bobby rips Andre’s shirt to try and revive him. Jesse: “Bobby! Give him mouth to mouth!” Even after the break, Andre is asking the others to search the area to make sure the snakes are gone. Suffice to say, I think Andre’s favorite Simpsons episode would have been Whacking Day, had he lived to see it.
I really enjoy the days of transitioning immediately to the new feud at the end of the blowoff match. Thoughtful booking…who knew?
The Hart Foundation don’t want Okerlund to mention Jimmy Hart’s name, saying he drove them crazy with his megaphone. It was kind of weird how Bret turned babyface first and there was a lag before Anvil joined him in turning on Hart.
Ventura is with Demolition, Mr. Fuji, and the scorned Jimmy Hart, who says Bret and Anvil deserted him so now he’s sharing all the secrets with Demolition. Presumably stuff like “when you run the ropes, watch out for Bret on the apron sneaking a knee in as a transition spot.” Fuji says knowledge is power. Ax gets all political and says they’ll be conservatives and the Harts will be liberals. Bleeding Hart, I guess. I suppose it makes sense since Mike Dukakis was about to get his ass kicked by George H.W. Bush in the election.
Demolition (w/Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart) vs. Hart Foundation for the WWF Tag Team Titles
It’s quite strange how they just ignored the Summerslam 1988 match these two teams had, which also featured Jimmy Hart at ringside. The only difference is that now Jimmy is about to take the newly heel Fabulous Rougeaus as his new charges.
The Hitman gets some offense in early with a dropkick and the 2nd rope elbow, but then ends up in peril for a good 4-5 minutes which is a long time in the SNME world. Certain snobbish sectors of the IWC point to Ricky Morton as the end-all of face in peril guys, but Bret was damn good at it. For some reason, it’s become not cool to praise the Hitman, maybe because he shits on the current product. I think he’s earned every right to be pissed off at all times.
Jesse says this wouldn’t be happening if the Harts had kept Jimmy around. Well of course, they wouldn’t book a heel vs heel match again. Even if those matches are an effective way to turn someone babyface.
Anvil gets the hot tag and lands dropkicks on Ax and Smash. To the stomach, but I give him credit for trying. He follows with clotheslines and the big powerslam on Smash, which was Neidhart’s finisher so the pin gets broken up.
The Rougeaus saunter down to ringside to scout, so this isn’t so much a run-in than it is a stroll-in. Things break down with managers on the apron and Jacques sees the megaphone so he tosses it in and Smash nails Neidhart and gets the pin. So this ended differently than Summerslam, when Ax was the one who hit Bret with the megaphone.
A graphic for the upcoming Ken Patera-Dino Bravo match and I question what I am doing with my life.
Recap of what happened to former King Harley Race. In short, he impaled himself on a table.
Bobby Heenan and King Haku won’t comment on Andre’s status. They do a hilarious closeup of King Haku where he staring up and away. Gene asks if Haku will bow to Hulk Hogan if he loses, and Gene is tricked into bowing himself. Okerlund then says no one can fool Hulk Hogan, because he doesn’t know what a Bubba the Love Sponge is yet.
Hogan addresses the recent Big Bossman attack from last week’s Superstars and tells Haku that no one can tell his Hulkamaniacs what to do. Except for him, I presume. He then brings in Elizabeth and says she is “on loan from the Macho Man” and will be his inspiration tonight. Elizabeth says “come on Hulk, we have a date with royalty.” Hmmmmm, interesting choice of words there Liz.
Hulk Hogan (w//Elizabeth) vs. King Haku (w/Bobby Heenan)
Haku is carried on a throne to the ring by faceless jobbers. Jesse remarks that Liz being with Hogan is very peculiar because he’s never seen Liz without the Macho Man. Oh Jesse, you can sniff out these conspiracies like nobody else.
The King attacks during the instructions. Earlier in 1988 was his infamous nose biting fight which was at a hotel at the nearby Baltimore/Washington International airport. Hogan comes back and rakes the eyes with his boot, which enrages Jesse.
Quick tangent, two things I need to track: 1. Hogan’s hair loss seemed particularly pronounced in 1988 as the year went along, after it had looked roughly the same since around 1985. 2. A ranking of all of Bobby Heenan’s outfits. The best is the white jacket with the car from WrestleMania 4, but runner-up in my opinion is the black jacket with the Hollywood Walk of Fame star that says “Bobby Heenan”. I don’t like the 1990 one that says “Brain” because it’s so late in his managerial run. It’s like seeing Willie Mays in a Mets uniform.
Thrust kick by Haku sends Hogan to the outside and Ventura calls Elizabeth “worthless” in terms of helping. Haku tries something from off the apron but Hulk pulls Heenan in the way.
As Heenan is escorted out, Hogan steals the crown and parades in the ring wearing it. See, he had a hair problem then and they did whatever they could to cover it. Crowns, war bonnets, you name it. Titles of nobility are prohibited per the U.S. Constitution under Article I, Sections 9 and 10 and you would think a “real American” like Hogan would understand that.
Haku ain’t done yet, as he fights back with a clothesline and a vertical suplex as Ventura puts over his strength. Hey, when he was King Tonga he slammed Big John Studd when that mattered. But Hogan hulks up and you know the rest.
Post-match: Hogan invites Elizabeth into the ring so she can watch him pose and do the ear cup thing for crowd approval. He then sneaks up behind her and picks her up on his shoulder which is offensive in two ways: putting his hands on Macho’s woman AND stealing his celebratory bit. It’s almost like Hogan is channeling Carlos Mencia here. Ventura mocks all this by declaring it a great show of strength to pick up Liz.
Oh no. Okerlund is with Dino Bravo and Frenchy Martin. Bravo says Olympians are all cheaters. Well, he would know being from Canada <cough> Ben Johnson <cough>.
Ken Patera asks that Bravo have his passport in order so that he can stamp it for him. Hmmm, I don’t know if a Customs Agent gimmick would work, really.
Dino Bravo (w//Frenchy Martin) vs. Ken Patera
A personal note: as I write this, I’ve been suffering from a severe toothache which will likely result in root canal sooner rather than later. The root canal is preferable to watching these two guys work in 1988.
Not much to say about this match other than it ends quickly with a Bravo side slam.
Ken Patera was very good in the early 1980s. It can be argued he might have been Bob Backlund’s best opponent during his 1978-83 title reign. He had a solid run as IC champion in 1980-81. All of his best work was as a heel. This comeback angle in 1987-88 as a babyface in his mid-40s did more damage to a reputation than just about any wrestler ever. It’s all people remember, outside of the McDonald’s thing and the jail sentence.
Okerlund is with Big Bossman and Slick, who is in a green suit ready for St. Patrick’s Day either 7 months late or 5 months early. Slick says he doesn’t find new protégés, they come to him. Gene is admonished when he leaves out “Big” in the Bossman’s name. The Bossman says he loves his work. Good for him. Okerlund says that Bossman is the kind of guy who would bring a box lunch to a lynching.
Big Bossman (w/Slick) vs. Jim Powers
Gee, I wonder who wins this. Powers gets in two bits of offense: an ill-advised sleeper, then a couple dropkicks in a late hope spot before he gets the Bossman slam. He cuffs Powers and beats him with a nightstick and Paul Roma is nowhere to be found.
Flashback to Hogan on the Brother Love Show, which Jesse calls one of his favorite moments in wrestling.
Hulk is with Gene and he’s put a handcuff on his wrist to remind him of what happened. Dude, that’s just weird.
Ventura is with Andre the Giant and Heenan, and poor Andre looks like me the morning after drinking red wine. Andre grabs Ventura for even mentioning the word “snake” and they ask the Body to lobby Jack Tunney to ban snakes. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Summary: There is not a ot of good wrestling on this show. Hogan-King Haku is passable. The Snake-Rude blowoff is fun, and Bret Hart’s work is good as well, but turn off the TV and run like hell away from everything when you see the Patera-Bravo graphic.