It has now been over a full year since I started this sojourn through all the WWF Saturday Night Main Event shows and I hope at this point next year I will have wrapped with the weird FOX editions from 1992. But for now, we are at Thanksgiving weekend 1988, two days after the Survivor Series. Of course this was taped ten days before that PPV and it wasn’t referenced at all on the show. No newly turned Demolition is what that means since that would be tough to explain to the live crowd in Sacramento at the Arco Arena, home of the Sacramento Kings. On the night this aired, the Kings lost to the New Jersey Nets at Arco to drop to 1-9 on the year.
Despite being in a less glamourous part of California, Jesse Ventura reminds you that he is a Hollywood star and that makes him more important than Vince McMahon. He also says he’s got a better physique than Vince, who no doubt took that shit personally. I appreciate their dynamic so much more now than I did 15-20 years ago.
Mr. Fuji lets us know he has the Super Ninja ready to challenge the Ultimate Warrior. Which is good, except who the hell is the Super Ninja and why is he here? More on that later. Warrior for his part shouts a bunch of stuff incoherently instead of talking about the Bush transition team.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Super Ninja (w/Mr. Fuji) for the WWF Intercontinental title
This thing was over before it began, so let me examine the Super Ninja. The masked man was played by Portland wrestling veteran Rip Oliver, who won many championships in that area and also held the World Class TV title for a brief period in 1985. He wrestled one match in the WWF in 1988 as Rip Oliver, in Portland, losing to Koko B. Ware. This was the only time the Super Ninja was ever on television. And upon watching this a few years ago, I had no recollection of this happening so it is a candidate for least memorable WWF wrestler ever.
As stated the match sucked, with all sorts of blown spots. Gorilla press and splash ended it in about three minutes. And this is why you had a dude in a mask that would never be seen again: this was the first time for the Warrior in a match on SNME, and the idea was probably to make him look as strong as possible. No WWF regular was going to be willing to job that quickly on national TV to a guy who might very well actually hurt them in the process. Honky Tonk? Gotta protect the house show rematches for now. Greg Valentine? Nah, he’s too smart for that and hated working with Warrior. Another good opponent here might have been the Red Rooster, to jump start the tension with Heenan. All they did was rib the guy, so why not let Warrior rag doll him for a few minutes?
A recap of the Hercules angle with Ted DiBiase, wherein Hercules was sold by Bobby Heenan to be Ted’s slave. I do love how Hercules just kind of stands there like a dope while Ted and Bobby discuss business, then gets all indignant when he gets wise to this.
DiBiase and Virgil are with Jesse Ventura, and Ted says he has title to Hercules in spite of the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution. He will be sending Virgil to fight in his stead against Hercules and Jesse asks why that is. “Does Donald Trump wash the windows of his buildings?” No, he doesn’t but it’s fun to picture The Donald with towels and Windex. Ventura then recommends DiBiase for Secretary of the Treasury for the incoming Bush administration. (Bush stuck with Nicholas Brady as a holdover from the Reagan administration)
Hercules tells Gene Okerlund “I wear these chains freely” which falls under “shit you didn’t hear in Roots”. Ventura says “Doesn’t he look like Kunta Kinte?”
Hercules vs. Virgil (w/Ted DiBiase)
Hercules jumps on both guys early and clotheslines Virgil over the top. While he was a wrestler before his WWF time as Mike “Soul Train” Jones, Virgil is so awkward in the ring. He’s all arms and legs like a crab. Each time he takes a back drop, it looks like he’s doing a sunset flip and forgetting the grab the man. And that is why you didn’t see Virgil in the ring often between 1988 and 1990.
In an earlier post, I alluded to Heenan ripping off DiBiase on the Hercules deal, but it’s very clear that Ted had a lot of FU money to burn. As Montgomery Burns once said, “What good is money if you can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?” Four years before he said that on The Simpsons, DiBiase lived that way. Hercules got the win with a power slam so he gets his freedom but doesn’t get to use his finisher. I can’t think of a single time where Hercules got that “torture rack” style backbreaker on a name guy as a babyface which is a shame because it was cool when he did it to Hulk Hogan in 1986. Along with the Power and Glory PowerPlex (also featuring Hercules!), I recommend someone bring back the Torture Rack as a finisher.
Replay of Jake the Snake scaring the hell out of Andre the Giant with Damien the snake. Okerlund says the word “snake” to Andre and he is less than pleased about that. Heenan then does a complete retcon of the “Andre sells the world title” angle by saying he was robbed of it by Jack Tunney. Come on Heenan, you can do better than that. We all know you took Ted to the cleaners on that deal.
Savage says that to be truly great, he has to beat the Giant. Very subdued chat with the champ, at least by Macho Man standards.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) (C) vs. Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) for the WWF World Title
It’s a shame that Savage never got a SNME title defense against someone more his size; the only two were against One Man Gang and Andre, who is trying his best but Savage is doing all the selling. Long sequence at the start with Andre choking Savage with his singlet strap. Lot of weight based stuff from the Giant.
It’s only when Macho Man gets in some offense that the crowd gets into it. In the meantime, Jake Roberts comes down to ringside to play head games with Andre. Yet all I can think about is how Jake and Macho had their memorable all-heel SNME match two years ago, and the insane feud they would have in late 1991, including the feud blowoff on the next to last SNME of the era.
Jake decided to just hide the snake bag at ringside to spook Andre. Let’s think about this in human terms here: that’s some nasty bullying given that he KNOWS what happens to Andre. In fact, I will go so far as to describe Jake’s actions here as “light terrorism”. If Andre had a “heart attack” then Jake is doing this with actual malice and perhaps looking to finish the job. On the other hand, the 80s were a different time.
Hilarious moment as Heenan can’t find the bag and looks to ring announcer and frequent Brain target Mike McGuirk for help but she completely no sells that. When he finds the bag, he is confronted by Jake and eventually the bell rings for a puzzling double DQ. Andre ends up tied in the ropes and Randy Savage invites Jake into the ring to do as he wishes. Ironic since Savage would end up bitten by a fucking cobra while tied up three years later. It’s a worthy lesson: don’t embolden a guy because it might bite you in the ass someday. Kind of like Democrats supporting increased Presidential power for Obama while shitting their pants over Trump.
Hacksaw Duggan is with Okerlund and this is the start of Jim Duggan: buffoonish American patriot. It was a winning gimmick and made him stand out, but it also kept him paired with Dino Bravo forever. I prefer the more general “blue collar” Duggan from Mid-South and 87/88 WWF. Hacksaw ridicules the fleur de lis that Bravo sports, even if his opponent tonight is Boris Zhukov. He says something about the Soviet flag being from a hardware store; you know, because of the hammer and sickle.
This is a rare treat where BORIS gets to do the solo singing of the Russian national anthem, but he’s cut off quickly. The wrestling on this show hasn’t been great and this won’t help. There is one spot I absolutely loved: Duggan puts his head down for a back drop, Zhukov goes to kick like the usual transition spot but Duggan backs away and Zhukov ends up on his ass. Duggan with the three point stance clothesline to win. Ventura excuses Boris by stating that he’s just not used to American football.
Since this was a flag match, the USA flag is raised and the anthem plays.
Replay of Hulk Hogan getting whomped by the Big Bossman on the Brother Love Show, which Ventura calls one of the highlights of his career.
Brother Love Show with Hulk Hogan
This doesn’t start with Hogan, but rather Slick who dances in the aisle. In rewatching SNME over the past year, Slick has been quite the gem. His promos are always entertaining. Hulk and Gene Okerlund are upset about this so Hogan leaves and gets down to the ring.
Slick talks some trash and Love does the thing where he pulls the microphone away and doesn’t allow Hogan to speak. Slick uses the word “exact-a-tiggly”, which he also said during that year’s Survivor Series and maybe my favorite words ever invented on a wrestling show.
Hogan finally grabs the mic and channels his inner Paul McCartney, saying the love you give is equal to the love you receive. He asks Slick how he would feel to be tied up and beaten. Hogan calls Love a phony and asked how he’d like to be put on a witness stand. Oh Hulk…always with the legal system stuff. In any event, Hogan chucks Slick over the top and cuffs Love then slams him. Ventura asks, “Is this how Hogan reacts to a little abuse?” Love then takes a nice clothesline over the top, a good looking bump for a non-wrestler.
Jesse is now with the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, now with miniature American flags! They got a big secret and its that they have moved to the USA! Now making their home in….Memphis, TN! I firmly believe they chose Memphis as some sort of a rib on Jerry Lawler.
Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Young Stallions
The Stallions are already in the ring as this is about the end for them. The Rougeaus are so delightfully obnoxious during this period I start to wonder if they missed the boat on them. The fight with the British Bulldogs probably didn’t help matters much even if they weren’t officially punished for it. The WrestleMania 5 comedy match with the Bushwhackers was probably some sort of signal, and they were lapped by the Brain Busters the second Arn and Tully showed up. They would have been better off going heel a year earlier. Plus Jacques was notorious for being difficult, always threatening to quit in 1989.
Jacques misses a crossbody off the 2nd rope and Paul Roma is in as the house of fire, a role he was pretty good at for whatever it was worth. But he gets Rougeau Bombed quickly and it’s over.
Ventura is with Heenan and Andre, who really just wants Jake to fight him like a man. You know, sportsmanlike. Okerlund allows Jake a rebuttal.
Hogan is with Okerlund and refers to himself as Judge Hogan and has a biased jury on his side of all his Hulkamaniacs. That was also true in Hulk vs. Gawker. Hogan says it is time for Hulk Hogan Law to take over. I have no idea what this means for the 1st amendment.
Summary: This show is only okay as a curiousity and there isn’t much to see. Give this one a hard pass, and skip right to 1989.