Saturday Night Main Event #8 (11.29.86) review
Taped: November 15, 1986
We’re in Los Angeles, California at the LA Memorial Sports Arena. Home of the LA Clippers. Or it was in 1986. It’s now home to nothing, as it got demolished in 2016. The Clippers left in 1999. The last residents were the LA Temptation of the Lingerie Football League. Of course they were. The hosts are, appropriately, Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura. I bet Vince was mad as hell he didn’t think of the LFL. The league is owned by MIKE DITKA! The big pervert. This show did a whopping 9.7 rating, which is yet more evidence that the WWF was drawing huge in 1986. The Hogan-Orndorff program was a particularly big draw.
Ventura welcomes us wearing an obvious toupee. It looks like the one he wore in the Running Man. Seeing as he was in the Running Man in 1987, I assume he was filming it at the time. Did he have hair in Predator? If he did it was hidden by a bandana.
We get interviews with all tonight’s participants. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts and Roddy Piper included.
We get a second interview with Jake, with TWO cameras, where he talks about Haley’s Comet and Gene Okerlund is scared. “I’m the one your mother warned you about”. I don’t love Jake in the ring but his promos, holy shit. I love that he doesn’t shout. He’s sinister.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Randy Savage (c) vs. Jake Roberts
A heel-heel matchup, which is the company trying to figure out if the crowd would like Savage as a babyface. However, LA has other ideas and the crowd chant “DDT” loudly immediately. Even when Jake is waving that snake at Elizabeth. Hey, he was cool! Savage was a chicken as a heel. He used to hide behind Liz. Jake isn’t hiding behind Damien, it’s an extension of him. They had to turn him face. Vince thinks the crowd prefer Savage, as they continue to loudly pop everything Jake does. That Vince, eh, what a fucking genius? For modern fans, it’s nice to see how out of touch Vince has always been, even when he was at his creative pinnacle as a booker. Both these guys are great characters. The wrestling is almost secondary.
Both guys do a tremendous job with the acting in this. The facial ticks and behaviours. The concentration on Damien is well done. It’s clearly bothering Savage and throwing him out of his stride so he chucks the bag under the ring. Savage is also well aware of the DDT and goes into the ropes when it feels it coming. The crowd eat the whole thing up and it’s raucous in here! Both guys bump Dave Hebner and that’s a double DQ. Savage goes after a chair, but Jake has Damien! What a wild ride this was.
This was a great opener. The crowd were hot. They had two great characters to choose between. The other elements, Elizabeth and Damien, worked perfectly. Just top tier sports entertainment. ***. The show has peaked early.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Hercules Hernandez
Bobby Heenan has bought Herc off Slick, in order to get the big roided up freak to dethrone the Hulkster. This is the pinnacle of Herc’s career, and he’d do his best character work under Heenan’s tutelage. He still stinks in the ring though.
Hogan’s pre-match promo includes various Biblical references like “I’ve been hanging in the Garden of Eden with my main squeeze Eve”. You what mate? He says he’s been training like an immortal, which is possibly the route of him becoming “The Immortal Hulk Hogan”. “I hung and bung on the Titanic” is also madness. You can’t past tense hanging and banging for fuck’s sake.
“THIS IS WHERE THE POWER LIES”.
The match is a lot of this. The Anabolic Challenge, brother. The worst part of this match is the lack of leader. Hogan was good to bounce ideas off and let him Hulk up and whatnot. With Herc, there’s nothing to bounce off. Herc’s offence is routinely rotten. The only thing that looks any good is the Torture Rack. Herc randomly gives up on it and then takes forever to get the pinfall. Good lord, he fucking sucks. He can’t even bump the big boot properly so Hogan struggles to drop the leg for the finish. Just fall over backwards my guy, it’s not rocket science.
Bob Orton vs. Roddy Piper
We get a pre-match music video of Piper and Orton in happier times, when they were both dirty bastards, beating the piss out of babyfaces.
Piper cuts a rambling red-faced promo, stopping off to call Don Muraco “Fat Albert”, where he recalls dragging Orton out of a gutter after he was drunk on Thunderbird. It doesn’t even have an ending. Piper’s promos were something else. This is Piper getting his moment over Orton to confirm he was always the better man. I personally would have had this at WrestleMania, but they had Piper vs. Adonis there. Poor Bob gets squashed for free on TV. Orton collides with Jimmy Hart and Piper rolls him up to get the win. This is almost the end of Orton’s usefulness as a top guy for Vince. He was stuck in a tag at Mania and did a bunch of lower card stuff in 1987 before leaving.
Killer Bees vs. Hart Foundation
The winners here are in line for a title match. Although, it’s pitched as the Harts being the team in line for a shot. I don’t like either team, to be brutally honest. It’s only decent when Bret is in the ring. Bret isn’t polished, or near the finished article in 1986 but his technique is great compared to the bulk of Vince’s giants. The Harts are wearing pink for the first time here and Vince likes the look. So much so, he’d keep the team together for another FIVE years! They run formula into the ground here, although if you like formula it’s well done. The trouble is, when Anvil celebrates lobbing Brunzell out of the ring the crowd loudly cheer him. The Bees pull the blind switch with masks as Vince McMahon claims it’s perfectly legal. Is it though? They do it again and as Bret was jawing with a fan he missed it and gets rolled up. What a worker. This was a nice variation on the tag team formula theme. **½
Koko B. Ware cuts an unintelligible promo about Frankie disliking Russians.
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Koko B. Ware
So, we’re into the dregs of the show. Koko does a weird reverse rana thing into a monkey flip that looks like dogshit. Innovative, yet stupid. Volkoff has no idea how to bump it. Slick calls Volkoff over to give him some advice and Koko rolls him up for the win. Slick mate, you royally fucked that up!
We get another promo from Hulk Hogan saying he won’t be here forever, but Hulkamania will live forever. Every time I hear Hogan talking about his legacy, my brain immediately inserts the racist things he said to Bubba the Love Sponge. That’s your legacy, brother. Disliking black people.
Dick Slater vs. Magnificent Muraco
Unless I check out some Boston Garden shows from early 1987, this is it for Slater. To call his WWF run somewhat of a failure, would be accurate. Mr Fuji trips up Slater but it goes nowhere. Muraco hits him with a terrible clothesline for the pin. Awful match. Slater can go back down south now. Thanks.
Some absolute shit at the end of this show. It started hot though with the Savage-Roberts match. The tag match was decent. It’s not one of the best SNME’s. The Hogan-Herc match is probably what tanked the show. It’s just bad.