WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event #3 (11.2.85) review
Taped: October 31, 1985
We’re in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hersheypark Arena. Hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura. With the WWF gaining even more momentum and the ratings being clear wins for both them and NBC, the SNME shows started to become more frequent. This made it tougher for McMahon to make them feel special. This one, as with a billion WWF shows since, is an easy win because it’s filmed at Halloween. Therefore, allowing a Halloween theme. In the ring tonight there’s very little to get excited about. Hogan finds himself in a tag with Andre, set up at the last SNME, against Studd & Bundy. The rest of the card is just short matches, but every match has at least one outstanding wrestler in them.
We open with Bobby Heenan bobbling for…pumpkins? In what appears to be BBQ sauce.
Next, we have…foreshadowing! Look at the fear in Hogan’s eyes. Absolutely perfect. Andre is just telling him to hurry up so we can get to the wrestling but for a moment the Hulkster was in trouble.
Roddy Piper is “SuperRod”. Ventura is on his way to a ball in 1856. At this show they’ve changed how they film the intros. Whereas beforehand it was done in the arena with the crowd behind them. This is much cleaner and allows retakes and making sure it’s good enough to be on TV. Plus no one can pelt the wrestlers with garbage.
Terry Funk vs. Junkyard Dog
Funk joined the WWF way back in July but has been finishing up his AJPW dates. He’s got a branding iron gimmick and is managed by Jimmy Hart. JYD comes out to “Another One Bites the Dust”, which is dubbed, but you can hear it still playing when the match starts. This is another in a string of fun SNME undercard matches where they keep the pace high and do so by having Funk bump around like crazy. Funk even finds a way to bump the crawling headbutts by springing to his feet and then bumping. JYD goes after Hart, Funk comes charging after him and gets backdropped on the floor. Funk always had this energy about him that was hard to replicate. He was ahead of his time. JYD goes after Jimmy again, but Funk grabs the megaphone and bashes JYD in the back of the head for the pin. This was loads of fun, with so much energy and Funk dominated the match with his selling. It was great fun. The WWF’s lacklustre babyfaces should have been queuing up to wrestle this guy! **½. Jimmy Hart gets stripped of his trousers after the match and JYD shoves the branding iron up his ass! Wow, just an incredibly heated fun match. Wonderful.
Pie Eating Contest
There’s a lot to take in here. Yes, Bundy is Abraham Lincoln. Yes, he’s battling Lou Albano in a pie eating contest. Yes, Sheik & Volkoff are dressed as Batman & Robin from the 1960s TV show. Interesting to note Miss Elizabeth is out here. Savage is Tarzan, she’s Jane. Albano is like a garbage disposal here, just throwing food down his neck. 1-0 faces.
Roddy has the country boys on after Piper interrupted the Uncle Elmer wedding on the last SNME.
Piper mistakes Hillbilly Jim for Mrs. Elmer. Apparently, Ventura got a bit of heat for his abusive commentary on the wedding, so Elmer calls him out. A scuffle breaks out and the heels take a powder. I firmly believe Roddy Piper can get anything over. A miracle worker.
Heenan is battling Cousin Junior. An animated Randy Savage is cornering Heenan and Bobby just obliterates the simpleton. ***** for whoever put Liz in that costume. 1-1 in the battle of heels vs faces in this Halloween competition.
Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy vs. Hulk Hogan & Andre the Giant
The crowd are HOT for this one. The way Bundy has been built up makes the opening skirmish between him and Hogan interesting. It’s a shame Hogan feels the need to batter him and give him nothing at all. It’s the same formula as the opening match, with the heels getting beaten up, only without the energetic Terry Funk bumping. It is saved by the crowd reacting to every single punch like it’s a home run.
The heels tie Andre up in the ropes, everyone brawls around, and the referee gives up and throws the match out. This is an interesting curio given what happened later. They needed to build a friendship between Andre and Hogan for Andre’s shocking turn to work.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Tito Santana (c) vs. Randy Savage
Elizabeth is the start of a sad trend in wrestling where managers, who were useful, were replaced by valets to varying degrees of success. The idea behind a manager was that they could talk and interfere. Miss Elizabeth was, at the start, a fantastic idea because it made Savage different. He didn’t need someone to talk for him. He didn’t need someone to interfere. This is a time when every heel had a manager. It was just the way of things. Savage didn’t want to go that way.
This is predictably high paced but not because they need the show to be fast paced, it’s just the nature of Savage. The WWF seem to have gotten comfortable with NBC and know what will work and what won’t. They brawl out of the ring and it’s a double count out. Boo! They didn’t even feel like they’d gotten started. This is the start of Randy Savage being the most exciting wrestler on WWF TV. Something that would continue until Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels came along in the early 90s.
Not sure what Mr Fuji is doing here but it’s followed by Ricky Steamboat breaking boards. Then we go to Roddy Piper’s Halloween, with us following the man around his own house.
How did Piper manage to be such a cartoon character and yet remain a top tier heel? I’ll never understand it. He’s making candy apples by sticking sticks in a bowling ball. His chocolate for the kids is painted bricks. He’s completely off the reservation here. He’s lost his fucking mind. The little bits of improv, like him launching a stick at an offscreen “giraffe” while pretending to be a Scotsman, is crazy stuff.
“If they bother me once, they don’t bother me twice”. And there it is, he just goes deadpan serious straight into camera. It’s like watching the Joker. This whole thing is completely unhinged. They say wrestling is cinema now? Nonsense. Piper was cinema. This segment should be put in a museum.
Kung Fu Challenge Match
Mr. Fuji vs. Ricky Steamboat
Having Muraco not wrestle is a bonus. What is a “kung fu challenge”? I have no idea. They don’t say. Vince says the “rules are a bit different” but doesn’t embellish on that statement whatsoever. Like everything on this show, it’s rapid and Steamboat finishes with a missile dropkick. Muraco runs in afterwards to mist Steamboat. The feud must continue! This was the worst match on the show.
This is one of those parlour games where you need to pass a pumpkin from one person to the next without using hands. The babyfaces blatantly cheat until Lou Albano drops it. Savage somehow allows Liz to pass to Piper and she drops it. The heels lose while Savage chides Liz for her failure.
Ventura calls out the Hillbillies as the show closes. Piper & Ventura vs. The Hillbillies on the next SNME.
The WWF is really starting to lean into Sportz Entertainment here. There’s a lot of skits between matches and best thing on the show is Roddy Piper’s Halloween. That’s on YouTube if you don’t want to get onto the Network to watch it. SNME format suits WWF to the ground. They don’t have to fill time with boring undercard matches like an MSG show. Television was Vince’s preferred way to distribute his product and it shows here. This is the best SNME to this point with the company having settled down a bit. The first two shows felt a bit rushed compared to this. They did end the show with a dead segment, again, but I enjoyed the whole thing. WWF’s production clearly stepped up during 1985. Compare this to the start of the year and it’s a huge improvement. Everything seems that much tidier. I always said I didn’t care about production but rather how good wrestling is but when you get both right, it is satisfying.