July 18, 2023

WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event #4 (1.4.86) review 

WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event (1.4.86) review 


Taped: December 19, 1985 


We’re in Tampa, Florida at the Sun Dome. WWF’s first major show of 1986 was actually taped before Christmas of 1985. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan. Ventura has a match tonight so Heenan subs in to begin with. This isn’t Heenan’s first ever commentary gig but it’s the first big one. They’d start using him on TV shows around the middle of 1986. 

Hulk Hogan introduces us by saying he’s preparing some Python Protein drink. Ingredients; milk, eggs, caffeine, pineapple juice, anabolic steroids…I mean, coconut water. We’re back to doing interviews in the aisle here with Okerlund talking to Roddy Piper and Bob Orton. “These people play each other the banjo”. Yes, Roddy. This is true.  


Roddy Piper, Bob Orton & Jesse Ventura vs. The Hillbillies (Uncle Elmer, Hillbilly Jim & Cousin Luke) 

This stems from Uncle Elmer’s wedding when Roddy Piper interrupted and bad mouthed Elmer. Ventura is in here because of his commentary on the social event of the season. Cousin Junior, with his dancin’ feet, has been replaced by Cousin Luke. He’s fresh from an AJPW run as “Texas Red”. Sounds like an early Mark Callaway gimmick. All the faces stink but luckily the weight is carried by the heel team. It was testament to Piper that he could get over the most ridiculous of angles. It’s funny to me that the New York promotion is the only one to feature hillbillies. No southern promotion even thought of doing it. The finish is Orton bashing Luke in the back of the head with the cast and Piper finishes with the sleeper. This was nonsense but surprisingly ok considering how bad the Hillbillies were.  


Jimmy Hart, beaten up, stripped and branded by JYD, has challenged him to a waterslide contest. I’m not sure what that involves but JYD gets down first and takes the duke. They bring in Jesse Ventura and Terry Funk for waterslide analysis. They show footage of Hogan vs Funk in Denver where Hogan got beat on count out, after he’s bashed with the branding iron. This is cool. It gives this context.  


WWF Championship 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Terry Funk 

Hogan is wearing his turquoise gear tonight. Don’t see that very often. He has clashing red knee pads on. Poor fashion. Funk is dubbed as “middle aged and crazy” already. He’s already retired once, back in 1983. This WWF run was tremendous fun, and he bumps around for Hogan giving us a match outside of Hogan’s normal formula. Hogan’s even smart and brings JYD out here to offset Jimmy Hart.  

Not that it works. JYD is too slow and/or stupid to stop him and Hart can hide under the ring where the wrestlers are too jacked up to follow him. Even with the finish Funk screws with Hogan’s moves. He bumps out to the floor off the big boot so Hogan switches to the Axe Bomber for the finish. This was a wild brawl, Funk dragging Hogan, kicking and screaming into a completely different match to his usual. Terry Funk has a legitimate claim to be the best wrestler of all time. *** 


Video Control gives us clips from Zigmund Ziff’s treatment of George Steele, the Animal in Detroit Zoo and now Steele playing with a rubber duck. Elsewhere, Randy Savage shows Elizabeth how to swim.  

Randy’s idea of teaching Liz to swim is chucking her off a ledge into the pool. Liz looked terrified during the whole thing, which makes you wonder how badly he treated her off camera.  


George Steele vs. Randy Savage 

Steele seems fascinated with Liz, which would lead to a bunch of crappy matches between these two and an underlying feud that would contribute to the Steamboat match at WM3. While it was good run-on booking, in the meantime we must sit through Savage vs. Steele, part 1, of a lot. They’d go on to meet at WM2. Savage gives it his all but it’s tough to keep George focused. Steele gets transfixed with Liz again so Savage hits him with the double axe handle for the pin. This was bad but Savage tried hard and it was mercifully short.  


1985 Year in Review 

This is hosted by Hulk Hogan and Gene Okerlund. It’s a music video detailing how 1985 went. The rise of Hulkamania, Piper vs. Mr. T around Mania time, Bundy’s arrival, Andre slamming John Studd, Uncle Elmer’s wedding, Savage & Elizabeth arriving, Paul Orndorff going after Piper, the Hillbillies, Moolah, Cyndi Lauper, Wendi winning the gold, various Hogan challengers coming up short, JYD, Dream Team winning the tag belts etc. They did a fine job of clipping out the boring undercard stuff but it’s weird there’s no Bulldogs, Steamboat or assorted exciting wrestlers who would have better years in 1986.  


Peace Match 

Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirschner  

Political history lesson here. Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as Soviet leader in 1985 and began the gradual end of the Cold War, through “glasnost” (openness). The policy would eventually lead to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War ending entirely. Which means Volkoff, and assorted other Russians, are on borrowed time. Florida hasn’t forgiven the Russkies yet and Volkoff is still heel. The innovative NWA switched Nikita Koloff babyface later in the year. Just to give you an idea of where that whole story was at, globally.  

“Old time hockey”

Volkoff kept up the Russian heel act until 1990 before turning face. This is supposed to be a “peace” match, which means we have “scientific wrestling” aka no cheating. The result is surprisingly pleasant. There’s lots of chaining and roll ups. Volkoff has enough of that though, clubs Kirschner on the ropes and knee drops him for the pin. This was decent! I’m shocked. 


Who would be the next evil foreigners? The next US war was against Libya and Gaddafi. The US made such short work of this one that it’s hard to even establish a bad guy. After that they had some issues with Iran, which would have been perfect for the Iron Sheik if he’d not already left for WCW. After a quick invasion of Panama, the US went on to battle the first Gulf War in 1990, which Vince McMahon considered ripe for exploitation. I’m sure we’ll get to that in due course. Sgt Slaughter, Iron Sheik and Adnan Al-Kassie would all get involved in that shit show.  


Magnificent Muraco & Mr. Fuji vs. Ricky Steamboat & Junkyard Dog 

Muraco, again, looks disinterested. He can barely muster the energy for a pre-match promo. This is Steamboat’s revenge match after being mistreated by Muraco & Fuji over recent weeks. JYD gets picked off for heat as Ventura points out he’s doing Steamboat a favour and getting his ass kicked for it. Steamboat gets a hot tag but can’t get the pin and JYD comes back in to headbutt Fuji for the pin. Huh. Not much of a revenge for Steamboat. 90 seconds of chops and armdrags. The heels got nothing out of it either. All in all, a bizarre bit of booking. Not that I care about anyone in this, bar Steamboat who needs to get away from all these midcarders ASAP. 


The 411: 

The running theme of wrestlers goofing around in a water park was an odd one to have in January. I guess a Florida winter is the same as a Florida summer. The Hogan-Funk match from this show is worth tracking down because it’s just so different from anything Hogan was doing during his run on top. He needed more people like Terry Funk to keep him fresh. Unfortunately there aren’t many Terry Funk’s in the business.  

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