September 11, 2023

WWF Saturday Night Main Event #9 (1.3.87) review  

WWF Saturday Night Main Event #9 (1.3.87) review  


January 3, 1987 (Taped: December 14, 1986) 


We’re in Hartford, Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center. Finally, a building that still exists! I’m so used to them all having been demolished, it’s a rarity. The Civic Center is now known as the XL Center, after the XL Group bought naming rights for the stadium in 2007. It’s home to the Hartford Wolf Pack, since 1997, and previously was home to the Boston Celtics. The Celtics would have been in residence back in ‘86 when this taped. The building has hosted several WWF PPVs including Survivor Series 1990 and WrestleMania XI. Attendance tonight is around 10,000. It did a whopping 10.6 rating on NBC though as it featured a cage match pitting Hulk Hogan against Paul Orndorff, the end to their lengthy 1986 feud. It should have ended sooner, but Orndorff kept wrestling through a serious injury because the money was so good. Hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura.  

We get a series of recorded comments. Hogan cuts his promo from inside the cage.  


Cage Match 

WWF Championship 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Paul Orndorff 

Orndorff is still coming out to “Real American”. 1986 was the year of mimicking the babyface for heat. Hogan’s pre-match promo involves the theme of ‘roads’. I don’t like cage matches in the WWF because they tend to involve one guy running away. A cage match should serve to keep people out and should only finish via pinfall or submission. That’s my cage take. So, any WWF blue bar cage match is shit. This feud deserved a brutal conclusion. They had a great turn and everything since was cheap finishes.  


Speaking of cheap finishes, they do a gimmick where both guys climb out at the same time and land at the same time. There are two referees and each one declares the other guy the winner. Howard Finkel announces it’s a tie, so the match MUST CONTINUE.  


They could have used that bogus call as a reason for another match and not ended the feud here but hey, Orndorff was too broken to keep going. While I dislike the blue bar cage, at least Orndorff blades in there. Heenan jumps in there, Hogan runs him into the cage too and climbs out to win, beating Orndorff cleanly as he failed to get to the door. The intrigue about who’s feet landed first on the false finish is the only thing this match is famous for. It’s not the feud ending match it should have been. **½  


We get a cracking slow-motion replay with time stamps and you can see, with the benefit of time stamps, that Hogan actually won the match the first time around. Is the footage doctored? It’s hard to say. If they’d had split-screen, you could see it in real time but they didn’t. We’ll never know. Despite this, Ventura claims a win for Orndorff because Hogan’s legs are bent. I mean, Paul’s are too. Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?  


In a pre-match promo, Savage gets upset with Elizabeth for talking and Gene Okerlund for asking her a question. George Steele has a surprise for tonight. Is it a surprise for Liz?  


WWF Intercontinental Championship 

Randy Savage (c) vs. George Steele 

This is the pinnacle of Steele’s run as a babyface. His involvement in Savage-Steamboat along with it. Steele’s surprise is an action figure of himself, which he gives to Liz. No wait, there’s another surprise; the return of Ricky Steamboat. Savage put him out before this by crushing his larynx with the ring bell. Steamboat freaks Randy out, and Steele kidnaps Liz. Steamboat had missed about a month of action with that larynx issue. Steele runs through his antics until Savage clocks him with the ring bell for the win.  

The Steamer runs down to stop further punishment and stroke the bald head of George Steele. This unusual friendship is a core ingredient of one of the greatest matches of all time. Wrestling is a bit weird. How weird? Steamboat makes it ‘snow’ on George’s head with the filling from the turnbuckles while George moans “nice”. Weird. 


Harley Race vs. Junkyard Dog 

This is a feud that would rumble into WrestleMania three months from now. Race has started using more regal music and it’s the same music that Jerry Lawler used. I’m sure they were hoping Race would do the same number for JYD that Terry Funk did. The 43 year old Race is looking far more deteriorated than Funk the same year though.  

JYD steals the royal fineries of the King, which draws the ire of Bobby Heenan. JYD socks him and Heenan takes one of the biggest back bumps I’ve ever seen. Anyway, Heenan shouldn’t be in the ring and it’s a DQ.  


Backstage we catch up with Bobby Heenan and Paul Orndorff. Heenan claims Orndorff won that match and he’s taking the footage to Jack Tunney. Heenan promises the title to Orndorff. It would never happen, and he wouldn’t even get a shot. By March he’d be on the shelf injured and by the end of 1987, he’d have to retire, albeit temporarily.  


Adrian Adonis vs. Roddy Piper 

Adonis has been out injured after Piper hit him with a crutch. He missed a couple of months with an elbow problem. Piper was on crutches because of Adrian and his shitheel mates. So, I guess turnabout is fair game. As with the last match, this would also be a Mania match in 1987. Adonis was a decent bumper for a big man. He was carrying a lot of timber. His offence in this is garbage though. Lots of raking of the skin, and not even back rakes. Who does a stomach rake?  

Goodnight Irene should finish for Adonis but they fall outside, Jimmy Hart gets involved and Adonis sprays Piper in the eyes with his perfume for the count out victory. Vince has decided he’s going to call the perfume “crap” and won’t change his mind. “He just sprayed him with that, with that…crap”. It’s sad to see Roddy on his way out. WrestleMania III was billed as his retirement and he wouldn’t wrestle again until late 1989.  


Blackjack Mulligan vs. Jimmy Jack Funk 

What the actual fuck is this? It doesn’t even serve a purpose. Unless we’re here to tell Jesse Barr he’s now a jobber. Mulligan cuts a picture in picture interview about a party they threw and Aunt Laverne is now missing after she got into the red eye. That’s more entertaining than the match. JJ, as he’s now known, loses to a back elbow. Good.  


The 411: 

As a reminder of what we’re going to get at WrestleMania III, undercard wise, this works. As a SNME, it’s not great. The last couple of been reduced from a ‘best of the current product’ to one good match and a bunch of shit. There’s card building galore and three Mania matches are roughly set here; Race/JYD, Adonis/Piper and Savage/Steamboat.  

Leave a Reply