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WWF Saturday Night's Main Event - Jan 2, 1988

by Erick Von Erich

Originally taped on December 7, 1987 from the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland. Hosted by Vince McMahon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, with backstage interviews from "Mean" Gene Okerlund. This episode aired over the New Year's Eve weekend and basically begins the build for Andre/Hogan II. Show-opening promos are aired from Jake "The Snake" Roberts (with Damien), Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart and a bad joke), Strike Force ("Strike hard! Strike first! Strike Force!"), Slick & the Bolsheviks (who actually wish everyone a happy, peaceful new year), Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (with King Kong Bundy & Andre the Giant), then finally the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. The usual staccato in-ring hype videos of each particpant are shown, still with Animotion's "Obsession" being played. I chuckle that Bundy's brief clip shows him slamming Little Beaver at WrestleMania III. In an odd choice, we actually see Junkyard Dog branding Jimmy Hart with Terry Funk's branding iron. Wha? But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...

WWF Tag Team Championship (2/3 Falls)
Strike Force (c) vs. The Bolsheviks (w/Slick)

(Tito Santana & Rick Martel vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov) In the pre-match promo, Slick claims that Mikael Gorbachev was recently in Washington DC, not to talk to President Ronald Reagan, but to discuss tag-team strategy with the Bolsheviks. It's kinda' funny how Slick claims his men are "ambassadors of goodwill", tongue-in-check, yet that SAME phrase was used as Volkoff's babyface gimmick in 1990. Pretty much the high-point of the Bolsheviks' run; they were still relatively new and had beaten a few "name" teams; so they're challenging for the tag straps before going on to their lower mid-card status. And yes, this is more discussion about the frickin' Bolsheviks than you ever wanted to hear! Sorry to burden you, but Strike Force's pre-match promo sucks. Santana says "Yeah baby" frequently, almost approaching Jim Neidhart levels.

Fall #1: Chico and Zhukov start off in a nice little criss-cross (JUMP! JUMP!) and countering session. Chico gets a powerslam and takes over with the armbar. Martel tags in for a double-team Tummy Punch. Volkoff tires a press-slam, but Martel hops out and gets a roll-up off the ropes for 2. Small package from Martel gets another 2. They club away, errr, "they're Hammering Away" on Martel for a bit, until Santana tags in and get his flying forearm on Zhukov. Volkoff makes the save, then smacks Chico with a clothesline for 2. Sneaky double-team work, as they choke Chico with the bottom rope. Belly-to-back suplex from Zhukov nearly gets 3. Zhukvo slams, then misses an elbowdrop, allowing tito to make the Hot Tag to Martel. Hip-toss, backdrop and the Boston Crab as Martel gets the submission victory for the first fall.

Fall #2: Volkoff protests about Zhukov starting the second fall, so Chico drop-kicks him over the top. Double-team drop-kick on Zhukov. Martel with a slam, then hooks the Boston Crab again! Volkoff makes the save. He drops Martel on the top tope, delivers a gut-wrench suplex (the Iron Sheik would be proud) and gets a 2 count. Press-slam into a backbreaker gets another 2. Bolsheviks tag in and out, working over Martel with headbutts. Double-team elbowsmash, then Volkoff drops a knee for 2. Martel with a desparation sunset flip, then both guys smack noggins on a shoulderblock attempt. Both guys tag-off at the same time, but Chico gets the upper hand with a series of drop-kicks. Flying forearm! But Volkoff saves again. Brief PANDEMONIUM breaks out with all 4 guys. Slick tosses his cane into the ring, but Volkoff smacks Zhukov in the usual heel miscoummincation. Zhukov is down, so Chico covers for 3 to retain the tag straps. Probably about the best match you could get with the Bolsheviks. As usual, Volkoff was made to look strong and Zhukov like a putz.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Sika (w/Mr. Fuji)

Another of those completely random match-ups that SNME was known for. Fuji and Sika bring in a tub of mustard and a giant 8 foot long submarine sandwich for their pre-match interview, saying they'll eat Damien for dinner. Sadly, they don't bring the sandwich to ringside. Jake gets two nice armdrags before things settle into punchy/kicky. Sika lands a backdrop, then scratches away. The Fuj gets a cane-shot, as well. Least we forget he's a Samoan...wait for it... here comes a headbutt! Trapezeis nerve-hold until Jake comes back with a knee-lift and his dancing punches. Sika misses an avalanche into the corner and eatsturnbuckle. Jake's right there to roll him up and score the 3. Afterwards, Mr Fuji gets a DDT and the Damien treatment. Complete garbage. Only purpose seemed to be getting the uber-popular Jake the Snake on the show

WWF Championship:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy (w/Andre the Giant)

Return match from the last SNME, when Hogan actually lost by count-out, when Bobby Heenan interferred. To pay for his crimes against Hulkamania, Heenan was then flung around the ring, re-injuring his neck and being forced to wear his neackbrace again. Now, Heenan's on the sideline ("dcotor's orders") and has arranged to officially have Andre the Giant seconding Bundy. Similar to Slick's pre-match promo, Hogan mentions that he met with President Reagan in a "summit meeting of the Super-Powers, brother"! Hogan starts fast, taking Bundy on a Tour De Turnbuckels. Whip and a big boot sends Bundy outside...and chance to get camera time for Andre. Back in, Hogan gets three elbowsmahes and a charging clothesline to send Bundy out, again. Hogan lets him return, for some thumps and an armbar. Bundy reverses the armbar, pulls the hair, and takes Hogan to the mat. Hogan tries a comeback with charging shoulderblocks, but can't knock Bundy down and eats a reverse elbowsmash. Bundy targets the left arm and takes Hogan down, again. Hogan works his way up, slams Bundy, but misses an elbowdrop with his injured left arm. Bundy with his own slam and elbowdrop miss. To the corner, as the ref gets caught between Hogan and Bundy during an avalanche. Hogan knocks Bundy outside, as the match stops for a bit to strecther away the ref. Pretty sure this was a legitimate injury, but the guy over-sells it very well, acting all "comatose". Earl Hebner (or is it Dave) runs it to restore order as Bundy regroups with Andre. Action resumes with Bundy taking over. Knee-drop to the throat gets 2. Bundy chops, then dumps Hogan over the top rope to the floor. Bundy lets him back in for s shoulder-block and anotehr knee-drop for 2. Reverse chin-lock resthold time. Bundy lands another AVALANCHE in the corner! Then a SECOND one! Big splash off the ropes connects for 1...2.. in a surprising turn of events, Hogan kicks out! Bundy is whipped to the corner, then staggers back and hits the canvas for Hogan to land the Big Leg-Drop. Hogan gets the 3 and retains. This match marked Bundy's last hurrah for the WWF. He disappeared right after this, only returning for one match at MSG in March '88. A good way to send him out, though: going toe-to-toe with the champ.

Then the drama begins, as Hogan invites Andre into the ring. Andre gets up on the apron, but declines. Hogan then goes into his posing routine. Never turn your back on a 550 pound French Giant! Andre "sneaks" in from behind, grabs Hogan's skullet, head-butts him, then chokes away. The British Bulldogs try to make the save, but Andre tosses them away, easily. Jake the Snake, the Junkyard Dog and Strike Force try to make the save, but nobody can break Andre's grip on Hogan's neck! "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan finally gets Andre's attention after two smacks with the 2x4. As Andre's attention is diverted, everybody else finally manages to pull Hogan out of the ring. Andre then poses with the championship in the ring. The first shot has been fired in in the "Road to WrestleMania IV". Great way to build up Andre: if the entire babyface locker room couldn't stop him, how can Hulk Hogan?!

Koko B. Ware vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart)

A vehicle to re-establish Valentine as a bonafide singles threat, after being a tag-teamer for the past 2 years. Both competitors talk about Valentine's feud with Brutus Beefcake in their promos, so you know who's going over. Rope bounce sequence to start, but Valentine catches Koko and drops into a stun-gun. Chops and elbows from Valentine and he tries to set-up the figure four, early. Koko takes forever to get going, as Valentine comes off the topr rope with a double axe-handle. Big winding Hammer-elbow gets 2. Resthold reverse chin-lock, then Koko gets tossed out. Valentine pulls him back in for a clothesline and a 2 count. Valentine does his usual shoulder-strecthing pin attempt, which is Beefcake's cue to walk down the aisle. Distraction results in a roll-up and a 2 count for Koko. Koko gets a slopp backslide for 1, but Valentine squirms to the floor to yell at Beefcake. Referee Joey Marella exercises his authority for once and order Beefcake to the back. Match resumes and it's all Valentine. Koko catches Valentine on the top rope and slams him. Fist-drop from the second rope gets 2 for Koko. Koko tries a standing side headlock, but Valnetine counters into an atomic drop on the knee. Valentine then quickly hooks the figure four and gets the submission victory. Valentine re-applies the hold after the bell, causing the obligatory run-in from Beefcake, again. Valentine is chased back to the locker room, but Jimmy Hart is stuck in the ring and gets a "trim" at the top of his hair from Beefcake's garden shears. No hair seemed to come out, though. Match was nothing more than a jobber squash. I think Summer 1987 is when Koko officially was downgraded to his famous "Jobber-to-the-Stars" status.

Replays of Andre's choke attack lead us into an interview with the big man and Heenan. Heenan prognosticates that there will be a new champion in 1988. Heenan drops a hint about how he's working on a big money deal for Andre.

"Mean" Gene can't get a word with the injured Hulk Hogan, so Jesse Ventura is around to run some smack. Gene speuclates that Hogan has damage to the windpipe and possibly a crushed larynx.

Why'd You Watch This?
A fairly sub-par SNME, with only Hogan-Bundy worth watching. Even then, once Andre pops up, you know there's no way Bundy will win and that he's just window dressing for the bigger issue. Strike Force/Bolsheviks is just okay, but nothing you need to see. Andre's attack was shown constantly on WWF TV for the next few months... which is fine, because that was the only notable thing that occurred in this episode.

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