WWF Saturday Night's Main Event - November 29, 1986
by Erick Von Erich
WWE Network has recently (as of July 2014) added a new block of SNME broadcasts to their service, enabling me to get back into this series. To keep my reactions somewhat fresh, I'm starting with a November 1986 broadcast that I have never seen. In a nice upgrade over the old "WWE 24/7" repackaging, these SNME episodes on the Network seem to have the WWF-produced instrumental theme that was used from March 1988 and on. I've said before that I prefer that theme, so stop obsessing about Animotion! Originally taped on November 15, 1986, we're coming to you the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. We get a gaggle of show-opening promos from Jake "The Snake" Roberts (w/Damien), "Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/Liz), "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Koko B. Ware (?!), The Hart Foundation, Hercules Hernandez (w/Bobby Heenan) and finally Hulk Hogan. Whew, that's quite the promo load. For those Bret Hart fans, you may want to know that he actually does his promo without his trademark shades... and his eyes don't seem to wander. Our hosts are Vince McMahon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura-- wearing a fairly blatant wig that Vince needles him about. But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...
WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Funny how "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Vince and Macho Man all talk about this being for "The Intercontinental Championship of THE WORLD". Yeah, a rare Heel vs. Heel match-up in the kayfabe era. Vince mentions that this is featuring "two of the most hated wrestlers around" and that it'll be interesting to see who the fans support. Before the bell, Macho Liz gets freaked out by Damien. Macho then hides behind her as Jake approaches with the snake bag. The two guys feel each other out, with neither gaining a real advantage. Jake takes him over with a headlock to the mat and Macho constantly pulls the hair. Jake plays the rest of the match as the de facto babyface and some "DDT" chants can be heard. Jake controls the early going, until Macho gets his boots up to block a charge into the turnbuckle. Macho drops some knees and elbows, but gets frustrated as he only gets a series of 2 counts. Macho ties him up in the ropes (the Andre the Giant Special), then goes outside to toss Damien's bag beneath the ring. Jake catches him with a kneelift upon re-entry, short-arm clothesline, then delivers a face-front suplex. Cover, but Macho has his foot on the ropes. They both make it to their feet and begin to brawl. Referee "Good" Dave Hebner tries to break it up, but gets shoved my Macho. Hebner tries to get Jake to stop, but he gets shoved out to the timekeeper's table. Hebner then throws the match out as it's a double disqualification. Jake clears the ring with Damien, afterwards. About 9 minutes of solid action. Definitely a highlight of Macho's IC championship run. This may have been what sparked Jake's babyface turn, at least on a national level. He had been getting positive reaction from fans with his "Snake Pit" and you could officially score him as a "tweener" during this time. So I guess from after his Ricky Steamboat feud (September '86) until Honky Tonk brained him with the gee-tar (February '87) was Jake's "WWF tweener phase".
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (c)(w/Elizabeth) vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts (w/Damien)
WWF World Championship:
Awesome pre-match promos from both sides. We flashback a few weeks to "The Selling of Hercules" when Heenan and Slick met at a bank to deal Herc's contract. Slick wouldn't take a personal check from Heenan, so he demanded cash. Heh! Hogan then cuts an energetic promo saying Herc looks like an immortal, so he's been "training like an immortal. I've been in the Garden of Eden with my main squeeze, Eve..." He doesn't use "whatcha' gonna' do", but points to his palm as "this is where the power lies"! Vintage stuff from Hogan. Match begins with the Penultimate Knucklelock Challenge and Herc gets the early advantage. Hogan powers back, but Herc headbutts him in the tummy and lifts him into the corner. Hogan turns the tables with a charging clothesline, high-knee and a slam. He mixes in a little Weasel Chasing, too. Hogan misses a big elbowdrop and Herc's back in command, working the lower back with some kneedrops. A bearhug happens and Hogan appears to be fading. Herc then hoists him up in his backbreaker submission finisher (or "Torture Rack" if you're into Lex Luger)! Herc thinks Hogan has given up (so does Jesse) and releases the hold. He waltzes around for a bit, then realizes that the match isn't over. He goes for the cover, but in a suprising turn of events: Hogan kicks out at 2! Couple of shots, two charging elbows, big boot and legdrop as Hogan gets the 3 count to retain. Jesse complains about how "where the power lies" actually meant Hogan had referee "Good" Dave Hebner in his pocket. Good for variety's sake, since Herc wasn't one of Hogan's usual challengers. Herc working the back throughout the match was a nice touch, too.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Hercules Hernandez (w/Bobby "The Brain" Heenan)
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Cowboy" Bob Orton (w/Jimmy Hart and Magnificent Muraco)
The Piper's Pit Powers Explode! We get some pre-recorded footage of Jesse interviewing Orton and Hart at an LA restuarant. Jesse: "whatever you do, don't get the burritos. They give ya' gas". Orton: "Heh! I'll take 12!" Orton then delcares that there was never a friendship, as Piper just used him. Next is a musical interlude showing Orton and Piper palling around doing their usual mischief. It's dubbed over with generic piano music, but I think the original broadcast might've had "You're a Friend of Mine" by Jackson Browne and Clarence Clemons. "Mean" Gene is with Piper in the hallway, as the latter is in full "Hot Rod Mode" rambling about Orton, Muraco and Adrian Adonis. According to Piper, he picked Orton out of the gutter, next to a bottle of Thunderbird. Heh.
As the match start, Muraco gets up on the apron to distract and, almost immediately, is dispatched to the back by "Good" Dave Hebner. Piper's a brawlin' house o' fire, then plants Orton with a bulldog. Whip to the corner as Orton over-sells it with a flip. Piper kicks and bites and get a 2 count. Orton blocks a backflip attempt, then works over Piper with a series of blows and a gut-wrench suplex for a 2 count. Orton misses an elbowdrop, so Jimmy Hart gets on the apron to distract. Orton charges, Piper ducks, but Orton halts before running into Hart. In the confusion, Piper rolls-up Orton from behind and gets the 3. Surprisingly short, especially for an Orton match.
After the commerical break, "Mean" Gene catches up with Piper in the locker room, asking about his recent popularity amongst fans. Piper kinda' downplays it, then fires away on Orton, Adonis and Muraco.
The Killer Bees vs. The Hart Foundation (w/Jimmy Hart)
(B. Brian Blair & "Jumping" Jim Brunzell vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart)
It's hyped that the winner of this match will get a shot at the British Bulldogs and the Tag Team Championship. Hart and Brunzell start out fast, but the Bees get the advantage and work over Hart. Blair tags in as they trade roll-ups and reversals for 2 counts. Anvil tags in to get an arm-drag and a double-team elbow. Hart gets a cheap shot knee on Brunzell, allowing the Harts to take over. Second-rope "decapitation" move scores 2. Anvil comes in for a standing drop-kick. Hart returns to wear down Brunzell and the Harts do their "illegal tactics" behind the ref's back. Side back-breaker from Hart. He misses the second-rope elbow, so he tosses Brunzell out to the floor. Brunzell comes back in with a sunset flip from the apron for 2. Front face-lock from Anvil as they cut the ring off. Desparation backslide gets 2 for Brunzell. Criss-cross (JUMP! JUMP) time and Brunzell lands his Drop-Kick! Tag to Blair, but the ref didn't see it. Both Bees are knocked outside, where they duck under the ring and dons their masks. Blair makes the illegal substitution and turns the tide. Atomic drop on Hitman and the Harts and shoved into each other. Hart is sent outside as Blair hooks a sleeper on the Anvil. Blindside elbow from Hart breaks the sleeper. As the referee shoo's Hart away, the Bees switch again, with Brunzell now back in the ring. Hart tags in, but gets small-packaged by Brunzell for the 3 count! Y'know, if you're scoring along at home, Brunzell was actually the legal man. Nice continuity, there. Great match between these two, as the shorter time frame didn't slow down the action. At the top of the show, this was billed as a "tag team elimination match", but I guess that meant "one team will be eliminated from being the #1 contenders".
Koko B. Ware (w/Frankie) vs. Nikolai Volkoff (w/Slick)
Slick has his left arm in a sling, but in the pre-taped promo appears without it. I'm suspecting "hidden object in the sling" shenanigans, but who knows? Nikolai stomps away and forces Koko into the corner. Whip to buckle, but Koko leaps over and...punches. Koko hops on Nikolai's shoulder for a disjointed reverse victory roll manuever, of sorts. Two big drop-kicks get a 2 count for Koko. Nikolai presse shim off with authority, then connects with a spinning kick and slam on the ropes. Slam, then Nikolai misses a kneedrop. Koko goes upstairs and scores with a flying drop-kick for another 2. Press-slam into a side back-breaker from Nikolai, followed by another slam. Nikolai sticks his head outside to confer with Slick, then Koko rolls him up from behind with the same underhook pinning combo Piper used. Short, but they hit all their signature offense. Koko's biggest win at this point in his WWF career... and possibly his biggest WWF win, overall. Oh, and so much for my sling theory, huh?
"Mean" Gene is with the Hulkster, who cuts a fairly generic promo about Hulkamania.
"The Rebel" Dick Slater vs. Magnificent Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji)
Fuji and Muraco cut a pre-match promo sernading the audience with their version of "Dixie". Match starts slightly in-progress, with Muraco dishing out some punishment. Muraco tries an airplane spin, but Slater slides out and rolls him up off the ropes for a 2 count. Slater with closed fists to the jaw and a reverse elbowsmash. Air Slater with a flying elbowsmash from the top rope. Cover, but Fuji pulls Muraco's leg onto the ropes. To the ropes and Fuji trips Slater with his cane. Big clothesline from Muraco, who uses the ropes for leverage to score the 3 count pin. Quick and inoffensive "Superstars" type of match. Oh, and because I always bitch about it: despite common Internets Chatter, Slater was NOT "only in the WWF for a few months". He was there for over a YEAR as "The Rebel".
Vince and Jesse close things out, with Jesse mostly bitching about being cut-off. After all, this was "his town, Tinseltown, Hollywood". Well, the LA Sports Arena isn't exactly in Hollywood, but who cares?
Why'd You Watch This?
Top-to-bottom, a pretty great SNME episode. The first four matches are all worth a look, while the last two are quick and acceptable. I'd heard about Jake/Macho as sort of a "smark favorite match" and I can see why it remains popular; it's good stuff. Harts/Bees showed both teams at the top of their games and I was truly surprised that the Bees won. With the Bulldog Situation, I expected the Harts to steal a win. The only real disappointment on this episode was that Piper/Orton was kept short. Orton, the "technician", could've carried the match for a few more minutes. But that meant they would've had to cut out that second Hogan interview, which I suppose would've been blasphemous. Regardless, check this episode out, it's Worthy Viewing. It appears this episode is in the "golden age" of SNME, which I'd say runs from about October 1986 until the May 1988 episode.
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