WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event #12 (10.3.87) review
October 3, 1987 (Taped: September 23, 1987)
We’re just now starting to get into stuff that I actually recall from my childhood. When I was first introduced to the WWF, Randy Savage was an enigmatic babyface. He’s one of the first characters that drew me into the colourful world of the WWF. It’s from here on out that the WWF was switching targets from dominating the USA to dominating the globe.
We’re in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan. I’m trying to figure out what Jesse Ventura was doing to make him miss this show. Maybe it was publicity for The Running Man, which came out in November? Predator came out back in the summer so surely that’s been put to bed by now? He doesn’t appear in another feature film until 1989.
If you’re expecting goddamn fireworks from this show, then expect away because it’s an ERA DEFINING show. There’s no real seeds here for a Savage and Hogan partnership. The Megapowers were never something that felt like an obvious next step. Who is the #2 babyface in the WWF at this point anyway? It was Roddy Piper, but he left after WrestleMania III. Is it Ricky Steamboat? It feels like there’s this huge babyface gulf between Hogan and everybody else. Is that by design? I don’t think so. Anyway, let’s get into it!
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. Randy Savage
After Steamboat’s huge win at WM3 it became quickly apparent that having the top two champions as babyfaces wasn’t working and they switched to HTM as the IC champ. Honky had that dirtbag, win at all costs, heel mentality that suited the role. He was never going to elevate the belt and there’s an argument that the IC belt stumbles down the order of interest when he had it, but he knew how to be a Vince heel. Honky had started calling himself the “greatest IC champ of all time”, which naturally got Savage hot as he felt that described him. Honky had also deliberately said, several times, he was going to “steal his woman” as well.
He’s cool, he’s cocky, he’s bad. As for Savage, they just kinda flipped him babyface overnight in August. One night he was challenging Hogan, the next night Honky. I guess they felt he could go either way. Heenan calls Liz a “valet, a servant” when challenged on whether she’s a better manager than him. Miss Elizabeth existed in her own world at this point. Valets were not a thing*. She was unique. Savage doesn’t really change his style of wrestling as a babyface. It’s all the same high-energy stuff but he just clips out some of the stalling. The crowd adore him. I love that he still throws in chokes and hidden punches. There’s work from Jimmy Hart on the outside, which is designed to show his effectiveness versus Liz’s inactivity. Jimmy breaks up multiple pins. Savage knocks Jimmy out cold and the Hart Foundation run out here, distraught by Jimmy’s unconsciousness.
*That said, NWA had experimented with valets like Precious, Baby Doll, Big Mama et al. Missy Hyatt was getting over pretty strong too. There’s a marked difference between all of those and Miss Elizabeth. Liz had class.
They carry Jimmy out of there and Savage is killing it on the visuals by standing on the top buckle, so you can see him watch this motley crew leave ringside. They go and put Jimmy Hart somewhere safe, and the match continues. However now the Harts fill Savage in, any chance they get. Savage still has this won with the Big Elbow, but Bret jumps in for the DQ. ***¼.
The match was really good with tremendous pacing and Honky fitted nicely into Savage’s routine. He was able to bump around and work with Savage’s speed. Honky was an inconsistent worker, in that he didn’t click with everyone, but when he did he was capable.
But, we’re not done here. The heels beat down Randy, and because he just turned face he has no friends or allies. Liz doesn’t know what to do. Honky goes to bash Savage with the guitar and Liz has seen enough, well, she’s very late on her cue, but she eventually jumps in front of him.
Honky shoves her over, and the crowd is in SHOCK. How dare he! Liz runs to the back as the beatdown continues. Savage gets whacked with the guitar. Liz returns WITH HULK HOGAN!
Hogan kills it here. He’s following Liz and being all confused and “why I am being dragged to the ring, my match isn’t on yet, brother”. Then he sees what’s happening in the ring and the reaction shot, which I’ve got for you here, is SO good. Hogan and Savage clean everyone out and they have another great moment.
Keep in mind, Hogan’s booking for the last 2 years has involved him trusting people and getting stabbed in the back. He’s fought Savage, on and off, for the past year. He’s naturally distrustful and without Liz, he wouldn’t even be here. Savage, himself, is in a quandary. This is the tipping point for him as a freshly turned face. Align with Hogan? That’ll take him away from the heel mafia for good.
It’s Randy that offers a handshake. The crowd goes nuts and they shake hands and the Megapowers are formed! It is interesting that Hogan gets in between Savage and Liz right away to raise both their hands. They were telling this story from the start! That heel turn is already in the works, brother! This is such a great angle. The whole Hogan-Savage storyline is just fantastic and makes perfect sense if you watch it back. It was sculpted. Hogan needed a best friend. His allies of the height of Hulkamania were not prominent on the shows anymore (JYD, Hillbilly Jim, Andre).
It’s important to remember that Miss Elizabeth is the catalyst for everything here. She would become the focal point of the WWF’s booking for the next year. The addition of Savage and Liz would make an unbearable Hogan more sympathetic in the short term and eventually make him the star for another year. It’s notable how the crowd starts to turn on Hogan after the Savage program wraps up. Randy gave him another year of being The Man. When he was finished with Savage the ‘peak’ Hogan era ended. After that it was Warrior, Earthquake, Sgt Slaughter, etc.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Sika
Heenan claims that Hogan has bitten off more than he can chew by coming out here once already. Vince suggests Hogan is riding high thanks to his new allegiance with Savage. Sika’s gimmick around this time was biting the necks off unplucked chickens. No, really. He’s managed by Mr Fuji and Kim Chee, for reasons. Sika spends most of the match working rest holds.
Sika dominates until the inevitable Hulking up and Hogan does the usual. Big boot. Legdrop. Hogan beats up Kim Chee for good measure. This was Hogan lazy formula. He’s already stolen the show at the top to be fair. This was by the numbers.
Paul Orndorff vs. King Kong Bundy
Orndorff missed three months around Mania time, and he returned to the Heenan Family, but he got babyface reactions, so they flipped him around August to face again. The idea was that he’d feud with Bobby Heenan, who he blamed for not getting him the WWF title, which was the whole promise of his heel turn in 1986.
They decided he needed a new manager, for reasons I do not understand, and they picked up Sir Oliver Humperdink. Who thought he would be a good babyface? Look at the man! He’d been a heel on the NWA circuit and probably could have done a job replacing Mr Fuji as a heel in the WWF. As a babyface, he was toast before he even got started.
Orndorff as a babyface this time around, seems like more of an asshole. He’s only a few months away from retirement, thanks to that arm problem he sustained in the Hogan main event program. Orndorff seems energised and he shows more fire than Hogan did in the last match. Bobby Heenan gets so invested in the action he has to leave commentary, after yelling at Vince to “shut up” repeatedly. Heenan sends down Andre the Giant! Bundy was having a shocker.
Orndorff’s constant throwing of punches gets the crowd fired up. He’s a really good babyface. Much better than Hogan in the last match. Andre holds Orndorff in the corner and Bundy finishes with the Avalanche. A good showing from Orndorff but him getting beaten like this shows he was done as a top guy. It’s a real shame, for Orndorff, that injuries took their toll. He could have been the champion.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Hart Foundation (c) vs. Young Stallions
Gene Okerlund compares the Harts attack on Randy Savage to Pearl Harbor! What the fuck Gene? Anvil points out Savage attacked their manager. Okerlund walks out. Seriously biased reporting from Scheme Gene here. Young Stallions are the team of Paul Roma and Jim Powers. In a strong tag team division, they are very much enhancement talent. Neither of them would achieve anything in the business worth talking about. They just didn’t have it. They do get the crowd going with their comeback and a powerslam gets a near fall but the Hart Attack gets rid of Roma and the champs retain. Just a straightforward defence here to end the show but it got feisty towards the end.
Video Control takes us backstage where Gene Okerlund introduces the Megapowers.
Look at Savage’s handshake. Amazing. “We might just blow the whole planet up” – Hogan. Savage coins the term “Megapowers” for the first time and they shake hands again. Savage is particularly reptilian here, his tongue randomly shooting out, tasting the atmosphere. Checking the room temperature. Man, I’ll have a shot of whatever he’s on, brother.
World Premiere: Piledriver
Holy shit. So, Piledriver, is a music video where a bunch of the boys are working on a construction site. This is so good.
The Megapowers forming was a huge angle and one of the most fun things they ever did on SNME. It’s a great twenty minutes of TV from the start of Savage’s IC title shot to the eventual Hogan save. It’s some of the best stuff the WWF did during their hot 80s era. I loved a lot of the Piper stuff from 1985, the Orndorff and Andre programs with Hogan, but there was something pure and fun about the Megapowers. The whole angle is just fantastic and I’m excited to see it play out.