WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event #1 (5.11.85) review
May 11, 1985
We’re in Uniondale, New York at the Nassau Coliseum. It’s weird not seeing a show in MSG at this point as WWF have run all their big shows at MSG since 1983. SNME came about because the WWF was smoking hot and NBC needed some cheap content to fill in for Saturday Night Live when it wasn’t airing. The result was Saturday Night’s Main Event. Getting eyeballs on all of Vince’s talent and the company getting more and more popular. The crossover with MTV had already done huge TV numbers. The first SNME would do an enormous 8.8 rating. The Rock N’ Wrestling Connection had officially catapulted the WWF back into the big time. Vince’s gambles (Hogan, Cyndi Lauper, WrestleMania) had all come off and he was riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. Speaking of Vince McMahon, he’s host for this alongside Jesse Ventura. I’d much rather have the Gorilla-Ventura pairing but hey, it’s his company if he wants to ruin commentary he can.
We start off with some promos featuring the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T.
The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff & George Steele vs. Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo & Ricky Steamboat
This is an extension of the tag title feud between US Express and the evil foreigners.
The heels won the belts at Mania and there must have been a temptation to just switch them back here. I mean, who cares? Instead, this match exists to turn George Steele babyface. As with WrestleMania they keep a swift pace to make sure any casual viewers who’ve tuned in don’t immediately tune out. The heels get next to nothing. Steele tags in, gets beaten up, goes to tag out and the champs drop off the apron. Animal gets rolled up and pinned. Volkoff and Sheik jump Steele after the match but the Animal makes his own save and leaves the ring a babyface.
The guest is Paul Orndorff, where they’re going to discuss the finish of WrestleMania.
Piper is keen to make amends, but Orndorff has no interest in playing nice. Piper blames Orndorff for losing the main event at WrestleMania. Piper calls him “a piece of garbage” and goes to sucker punch him. Orndorff goes to hit the piledriver as revenge but Orton nails Orndorff with his cast. Mr. T runs down for the save. The whole angle would turn Orndorff into one of the WWF’s most over babyfaces. We cut to Hulk Hogan being interviewed and it’s notable he didn’t make the save for Orndorff.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Bob Orton
“Eye of the Tiger” is dubbed for “Real American” on the Network sadly. As much of a banger as that is, it’s not Eye of the Tiger. In keeping with the quick pace of the show this is also a brief contest with lots of Hogan offence. They do run the Hogan formula, where Hulk sells for a big chunk of the match. This is the first time I’ve seen it applied like this. I guess they figured out Hogan’s inability to structure a match and just let his opponent do it. The Hulking Up is employed, again the first time I’ve seen him do it. Instead of that leading to a hot finish, we go back to heat. Hogan would figure this out during 1985. Hogan gets the legdrop but Piper leans in there and socks Hogan in the face for the DQ. This was really good and had the kind of structure that favoured Hogan’s personality and skillset. **¾
Post Match: Mr. T gets beaten up leaving Hogan 2 on 1 and Paul Orndorff runs in for the save. Again, Hogan didn’t help him but he helped Hogan.
Gene Okerlund talks to Cyndi Lauper, who’s here to be at ringside in Wendi’s corner. Cyndi talks shit about Moolah and her actions at “Wrestling Mania”. So close.
WWF Women’s Championship
Wendi Richter (c) vs. The Fabulous Moolah
Moolah looks old as shit. She’s 61 years old here. Cyndi Lauper is banned from ringside after interfering in previous matches.
Moolah treats that like a victory, assuming without Lauper at ringside she should be able to beat Wendi comfortably. They’ve left super-mark David Wolfe at ringside so he can mark out some more. Wendi takes a couple of nice bumps, but the match is mostly terrible. Wendi takes this with an inside cradle and Cyndi sprints back to ringside to celebrate, having to fight her way past fans in the process. This sucked and Wendi hasn’t got long left as a famous person.
Junkyard Dog has brought his momma to New York for this show, as it’s Mother’s Day. Bertha Dog shoots on Gene Okerlund by slyly suggesting they’re keeping his son on the road too much.
Junkyard Dog vs. Pete Doherty
This is the kind of match they don’t want people to see because it stinks. I’m surprised Vince let this happen. It is stuck at the end of the show so people will have already seen the good stuff and been won over. It’s about 3 minutes long, which is about 2:30 longer than it needs to be. Doherty would continue doing TV jobs for WWF until 1991.
Cyndi Lauper’s Mother’s Day Party
All the stars are here! Cyndi invited the Iron Sheik who badmouths Cyndi the whole time. Fred Blassie’s mother is about 28 years old. One of the perks of watching these shows back is realising how funny Fred Blassie was. Gene Okerlund goes along the row interviewing people.
Cyndi’s mom looks very happy and has the same yappy New York accent. Fabulous Moolah gatecrashes the party to abuse the Lauper’s.
Obviously the cake goes flying. We have time to check in with Jesse Ventura who stops off to abuse Hulk Hogan before we check out.
I’ve seen this before but not on the back of re-watching WrestleMania and that makes the show make sense. The fallout from Mania is clear with Wendi-Moolah, Piper/Orton-Orndorff and the tag titles situation being the backbone of this show. Having to stick to an hour time limit tightens up the product and forces the most important shit into view. There was heavy use of celebrities here with Cyndi Lauper getting lots of airtime and Mr. T also checking in. The wrestlers who are involved with that process do seem to benefit. Apart from Wendi Richter but at the time it looked like she was. I quite enjoyed this. The WWF seems to be best value for money when they’re forced into time constraints. Far too often their shows are bloated by a bunch of useless undercard crap. This is the only SNME that I’ve seen in full before this project. So, I’m scared a lot of SNME is going to be in my immediate future.