Saturday Night’s Main Event – Episode 02
Date: Taped Oct 3rd, 1985 and aired on NBC Oct 5th
Location: Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Commentators: Vince McMahon & Jesse “the Body” Ventura
We skip ahead six months into the future. Hulk Hogan has ended his feud with Roddy Piper for the most part and has moved on to other opponents. He would face the big Russian, Nikolai Volkoff on this night, in what was billed as the USA VS. USSR. Other major developments around this time were the debut of the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and the Dream Team has snatched the tag titles from the U.S. Express. On this show we get an in-ring Body Shop segment and the real life wedding of Uncle Elmer…Let’s get to it.
Episode two opens with Nikolai Volkoff who promises to bring the WWF title back to mother Russia, and will then instruct the ruskies to press the nuke button. The Hulkster tells us not to worry, he’ll save America from nuclear disaster, and more importantly, hold on to his WWF title. Hogan is decked out in his all-white “American Made” outfit, so you know he means business. I never liked the look of the 85 title belt as it looked too much like the NWA’s National and TV titles, although I’m sure it was the NWA who copied the WWF. Back in a makeshift reception area, Uncle Elmer tells Mean Gene he’s a man on a mission of love.
Opening montage with a few new faces added to the mix. ‘Obsession‘ is predictably replaced with the 1988 theme in an odd sync job. Vince and Jesse (snazzy purple tux, no do-rag surprisingly) run down the card. Vince calls Andre the Giant the 8th, 9th, and 10th wonders of the world all rolled into one. Nice.
MATCH #1 FLAG MATCH – WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION HULK HOGAN VS. NIKOLAI VOLKOFF with Freddie Blassie
We kick off with the main event. After Nikolai sings the Russian national anthem he tells the New Jersey crowd, “you are typical Americans, no class.” Pre match promo where Hogan says after the match there will only be one flag left standing…the red, white, and blue brother. Hogan comes out to ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ instead of ‘Real American’ in a nice touch.
Volkoff attacks before the bell, rips off Hogan’s shirt, and chokes him with it. Hogan regains (Rogains?) control and a big boot sends Nikolai out onto the timekeepers table. Volkoff turns the tide and picks up Hogan in a gorilla press, giving the Hulk a massive wedgie before planting him with a backbreaker. McMahon says Volkoff is the “master of roughhouse tactics.” A big slam on Hogan gets only two and it’s Hulk Up time, signaling it’s time to go home. Hogan drops the big leg for the win.
Hogan grabs the Russian flag from Freddie Blassie and shines his boots with it. Jesse is disgusted with how wild Hulkamania is running. The champion then throws the flag on the mat and spits on it. I was fully expecting Hogan to wipe his ass with it next. Hulk Hogan has singlehandedly saved America in roughly five minutes time.
VERDICT: THUMBS UP – Quick, entertaining match. We were very lucky back in the mid 80’s to have Hogan and Reagan keeping us safe from the Russians.
Post match interview and Hogan says he’d love to beat up baby doll Volkoff again and is pumped for the big wedding tonight.
The bride of Elmerstein is getting ready backstage. The hillbillies say they aren’t nervous about anything they have to do tonight.
MATCH #2 JERRY VALIANT VS. UNCLE ELMER
A youthful Jerry Valiant awaits the groom to be. The hillbillies come out to a dubbed theme instead of ‘Don’t Go Messin’ with a Country Boy’ if I remember right. Anyway, they do a little hoedown before the bell. Valiant rushes Elmer just to be slammed and pinned. Howard Finkel says the time of the fall set a new WWF record of six seconds. Time to hoedown again and Uncle Elmer breaks out a JYD dance.
VERDICT: THUMBS DOWN – Nothing match, just an excuse to get the hillbilly wedding party out in front of the crowd early. They kept it short, probably so Uncle Elmer wouldn’t injure himself before he ties the knot. Elmer couldn’t do anything in the ring anyway, and was pretty much just a novelty attraction at the time.
Post match, Mean Gene asks Elmer if he will set another speed record tonight. HA! They show Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd and it’s not treated as a big deal at all.
We get an in-ring Body Shop segment with host Jesse Ventura and special guest Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. The Brain has placed a 50k bounty on the head of his former client Paul Orndorff. Paul must be a very forgiving man because he would rejoin the Heenan family just six months later. Maybe that’s why they call him Mr. Wonderful?
Pre match interview with Orndorff who says the only thing Roddy Piper knows about plumbing is that he used to “skin dive for roto-rooter” in what I guess is our second sex joke of the night. Interview with Roddy who says if Heenan doesn’t pay up he’ll rip his throat out too. Classic Hot Rod.
MATCH #3 “MR. WONDERFUL” PAUL ORNDORFF VS. ROWDY RODDY PIPER
A fired up Orndorff comes to the ring and yells into the camera “I want Piper!” and then throws a phantom punch at Finkel. Piper comes out with a full pipe band. Pure awesomeness. Heenan teases Roddy with the bounty cash and we’re off for a commercial break.
It’s a slugfest to start. Piper punt kicks Orndorff’s face and then stomps it into the mat. Hells yeah. This is an all out brawl. Orndorff bites Piper’s head. Jesse says fittingly, “This is a street fight with ropes around it.” DDT from the rowdy one and the fight goes to the outside. Mr. Wonderful slams Piper’s head into a ringside table. Flying elbow into a backdrop suplex and Piper sells it beautifully. Roddy fires back with his patented eye poke to slow Orndorff down. A flying cross body sends both men over the ropes. They brawl all the way back to dressing room area, resulting in a double count out.
VERDICT: THUMBS WAY UP – Fun brawling street fight that left me wanting more, which I’m sure was the idea for their house show run. These two had great chemistry together and it’s a shame they never had a proper blow off to the feud. I don’t think the bounty angle ever went anywhere either.
It’s now time for Uncle Elmer’s wedding, with Okerlund tickling the ivories to Here Comes the Bride. This whole wedding thing is nothing more than a cheap ratings ploy. Did anyone seriously tune in just for this? From everything I’ve read this was indeed a real life wedding. The only thing that makes this tolerable is Ventura’s commentary. We have Hogan who looks like a Chippendale dancer in a sleeveless shirt and bow tie and Andre the Giant in his wrestling tights. Jesse says the judge should sentence the bride and groom to jail instead of marriage. The bride gets pelted with something from the crowd and Jesse laughs, saying, “It’s a sign from the heavens that this marriage is not gonna work.” It’s funny how the judge calls Elmer “Uncle Elmer” throughout the ceremony.
Elmer has trouble getting the ring on Joyce’s finger and Vince says, “I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come,” and Jesse responds, “You know what they say about grease and hogs,” and there folks is our third and fourth sexual innuendo of the night. Piper crashes the wedding and objects, “this whole damn wedding stinks,” but Hogan keeps things in order. The bride and groom kiss and Jesse says, “looks like two carp in the Mississippi river going after the same piece of corn.”
Pre match interview spot with Bobby Heenan, Big John Studd, and King Kong Bundy. Mean Gene says to Heenan, “You must have been moved by that beautiful wedding ceremony,” and Heenan responds, “I’ll tell you what moved in a minute,” HA! Gotta love the Brain.
Okerlund shows a clip of the beat down Bundy and Studd gave Andre in Toronto.
MATCH #4 ANDRE THE GIANT & TONY ATLAS with Captain Lou Albano VS. BIG JOHN STUDD AND KING KONG BUNDY
Andre and Bundy to start and Vince says, “Look at the humanity in there, wow!” Andre chokes Bundy with his singlet. Headbutt-choke-chop- yeah it’s going to be that kind of match. Another choke and the ref has no control of this match. Tag to Tony Atlas who luckily avoids a big Bundy elbow. Atlas leapfrogs over Studd in a nice spot. That move alone probably got him into the hall of fame. Dropkick from Atlas misses by a mile. Illegal man Bundy gets in a monster splash on Atlas and the ref does nothing. Tag to Andre –headbutt-chop-and an impressive big boot to Studd’s mug. With Atlas out on the floor the heels double team Andre and the ref finally calls for the bell. Out comes hero Hogan for the save.
VERDICT: THUMBS IN THE MIDDLE – Not a great match but as Mr. McMahon said, “Look at the humanity in there!” which was the whole point. It served to advance the storyline and gave fans at the Meadowlands a chance to see the giants of the WWF in action all at once.
After a break Okerlund asks Hogan why he’s out here and Hogan declares the face team the winners.
Classic segment where “Jungle Gene Okerlund” goes in search of George “the Animal” Steele at the Detroit Zoo. I miss these kinds of segments that take place outside the arena.
Pre match interview with the newly crowned Dream Team. Mean Gene shows a clip of Valentine and Beefcake stealing the titles from the U.S. Express.
MATCH #5 WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS THE DREAM TEAM (GREG “THE HAMMER” VALENTINE” & BRUTUS BEEFCAKE) VS. LEAPING LANNY POFFO & TONY GAREA
Veteran Garea is apparently a five-time tag team champion. I guess that fact is supposed to make us think an upset could take place. Leaping Lanny (aka the Genius) is sporting a “Poffo”, (perm/pornstache combo), and looks ready to fight. Valentine nails (hammer, get it) Poffo to start and works a headlock. We get a shot of the U.S. Express watching the match from the cheap seats. Poffo fights off both champions and slams Beefcake for two. The Dream Team work over Lanny in the corner before he can make the hot tag to Garea. Tony speeds things up for a bit until the Beefer gets in a cheap shot on the apron. Valentine drops the hammer and hooks in the figure four to retain the titles in 3 ½ minutes.
VERDICT: THUMBS DOWN – Sloppy match that was basically a squash. I was expecting a run in or something from Windham and Rotunda but nothing happened.
The wedding reception eats up the remaining ten minutes and the less I say about it the better. Hogan calls McMahon “Vicious Vince” and said the wedding was beautiful. Leaping Lanny and Jesse Ventura each read a poem for the bride and groom before best man Hillbilly Jim sends Ventura into the cake for our second cake dive in two episodes.
Vince signs off and the newlyweds dance the night away.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The whole wedding thing really hurt what could have been a great show. The tag title match was a disappointment but the Piper/Orndorff brawl and the main event made up for it. The WWF was still learning how to produce a network special and will continue to work out the bugs as they press forward.
DISCLAIMER: These reviews are just my opinion. Feel free to disagree with me and point out any mistakes I may have made. My goal is to spark a bit of nostalgia for us older fans and maybe generate some interest from younger fans to check out these classic shows on the WWE Network.