As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, JT Rozzero, Chad Campbell, Jason Greenhouse, Scott Criscuolo, Brian Bayless & Dan McGinn are starting in 1975 and are planning to watch the entire offering of the WWE Network chronologically. They have plotted their course and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!
Saturday Night’s Main Event 10/5/85
Run Time: 64:35
Hulk Hogan vs. Nikolai Volkoff – WWF Title Match
Uncle Elmer vs. Jerry Valiant
Paul Orndorff vs. Roddy Piper
Andre the Giant & Tony Atlas vs. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy
Lanny Poffo & Tony Garea vs. Dream Team – WWF Tag Team Title Match
JT: Back in May, we saw Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff go at it inside Piper’s Pit as they exploded after their humiliating loss at WrestleMania. Things have boiled over since then and now Piper is looking to both eliminate Orndorff and also cash in on Bobby Heenan’s bounty along the way. The match got off to a red hot start as the two traded right hands before Piper took over in the corner. Hot Rod landed a great kick and then slammed Orndorff’s skull to the mat until Mr. Wonderful came back and hammered away with abandon. This was a real street fight as the two rolled around the mat tossing fisticuffs and ripping at hair and eyes. Piper’s kicks were fantastic here. The match briefly spilled to the floor but quickly returned inside the ring, where Orndorff took Hot Rod up and over with a back suplex. The crowd is going nuts for this. So am I. The two would collide in the middle of the ring and instead of covering, Piper just went on the attack again. That backfired, as Orndorff buried a pair of knees in his gut to block a big splash. Orndorff would get a head of steam and fly into Piper, sending them both over the top and to the floor. Things got wild out there, as they brawled all around ringside and saw Piper whiff with a chair. They would brawl to the back and through the hallways and both get counted out, meaning no bounty would be cashed in on. Piper would eventually lock himself in a dressing room to escape. That was an awesome brawl and about as exciting a four minute match you will see during this era of WWF TV. The passion and fire was tremendous and between the existing bad blood and the bounty money on the line, the tension was really palpable. Toss in a great performance by Jesse and Vince and a hot crowd and this was my favorite SNME segment so far. *1/2, DUD, **1/2, *, 1/2*
Brian: Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper had the best match on the show. It was under five minutes long but was extremely heated and the crowd was going nuts. I loved how they continued fighting backstage as Piper snuck away and locked himself in his dressing room, pissing off Orndorff in the process.
Dan: It’s very hard to go against Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. We’ve been waiting for this clash since their bad breakup at WrestleMania and here we are. You just knew from the get go, this wouldn’t be the most technical of battles. These two played up their hatred for one another perfectly. I love how Jesse Ventura was excited by Orndorff executing a suplex and praised it for being the first real wrestling move of the match. Honestly, aside from maybe Bobby Heenan getting involved in knocking out Orndorff, these two brawling around for five minutes with no definitive winner was the perfect way to end this.
Scott: I used to not like the Piper/Orndorff match because they didn’t give it time to build to a crescendo, but watching it again I have to say they really went all out and drove the house crazy. Hogan/Volkoff deserves an honorable mention but I’ll go with the quick brawl.
JT: I will go with Jesse Ventura as I thought his commentary carried much of this show, especially the wedding nonsense. He was a great star to showcase on NBC and he rose to the occasion, blending in ring psychology, storyline advancement and sardonic wit with ease. He was on point and destroyed the hillbillies throughout the show, which is always A-OK with me.
Brian: Jesse Ventura had an all-time great performance on commentary during Uncle Elmer’s wedding. His line about Elmer and his wife kissing looking like “two carp in the Mississippi fighting over the same piece of corn” was brilliant. He was fantastic on commentary too. According to Ventura, actor Bill Murray called him up after this aired and congratulated him on his performance here.
Dan: Jesse Ventura, just during the wedding itself, was the best of this bunch tonight. I usually try to pull funny lines out of these for my comments but Ventura was spitting them out so fast, it was difficult to catch them all. I loved how he just gave up and started laughing his ass off when Elmer couldn’t hear the priest over all the booing and hollaring. And when the bride gets clobbered with some debris from the crowd, The Body pounced saying it was a sign that the wedding wouldn’t work out. Still though my favorite line was when he said that the judge should sentence the bride and groom to jail. Awesome stuff tonight from our favorite wrestler turned rock star turned commentator.
Scott: Piper and Orndorff were awesome, but I’m giving it to Jesse Ventura for his hilarious mocking of the hillbilly wedding, ripping the ceremony to shreds and when Elmer can’t hear the judge, Jesse is losing his mind. I totally forgot how awesome he was during this.
JT: I am surprised they took the titles right back off the US Express so quickly after they had just regained them in June. I know the company surprisingly stumbled into something effective with the Dream Team but I don’t understand the rush to swap the belts. The Express could have hung on a bit longer before losing again and these quick reigns kind of make them look more fluky than effective.
Brian: Nothing truly surprised me here but I guess the fact they did a wedding on National TV was a tad bit surprising.
Dan: I was surprised the US Express didn’t get involved in that tag team squash match. They made the point of showing how they got screwed out of the titles. They even went through the trouble of sitting them in the front row of the match. And even when the champs went ahead and pounded on Poffo & Garea after the bell, they still sat like lumps. I just don’t get why they even bothered with that angle if the good guys weren’t going to re-stake their claim on the straps.
Scott: I’m surprised on a national stage that we went that much over the top on the hillbilly stuff. I would have thought that they would focus on Hogan and the characters, not on 70 year old Uncle Elmer.
JT: I am disappointed that we have this much focus on the hillbillies and that we are doing another fucking wedding after suffering through the Vachon debacle in late 1984. Enough with the nuptials! At least Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper were around to save this one by being assholes. “They look like two carp in the Mississippi River going after the same piece of corn”
Brian: I cannot imagine wanting to put Lanny Poffo & Tony Garea into a title match in front of a National audience. And it certainly did not make the champs look that great as it was far too competitive.
Dan: I’m disappointed in John Studd. It’s the same old act every time he’s out there now. He even mentioned the hair cutting incident. Wasn’t that like six months ago? Studd, you’re hanging out with Bobby Heenan all the time. Surely you can find more material to use against your arch-nemesis.
Scott: I was very disappointed that Piper/Orndorff only went a few minutes. The heat in the building was through the roof and both men went all out. Add Bobby and the $50,000 bounty and this was tremendous. I didn’t mind the double countout, but it should have been longer.
JT: Nikolai Volkoff’s jacket is bad ass; “No good Russian”; Jesse Ventura’s suit was something else but I loved him saying marriage had no place on a wrestling show; I liked Jesse saying the iron curtain wrestlers were all well schooled; Nikolai’s press slam backbreaker is always impressive; “Master of roughhouse tactics”; We get three Hogan promos/interviews within the first fifteen minutes of the episode; Jerry Valiant is a “big city slicker” according to Vince; I can’t believe they still stuck to the old :09 record for King Kong Bundy even though the clip clearly shows it was longer; The Body Shop segment was fun and really advanced the Orndorff/Heenan angle nicely and set up the match later in the night; The crowd was jacked for Mr. Wonderful and he was all fired up during his entrance; The energy between Piper and Orndorff was tremendous; I loved how the brawl spilled all the way backstage and ended with Piper diving into the locker room; Jesse saying Gene looked like the Phantom of the Opera was pretty funny; The wedding ceremony was absurd, saved only by Jesse’s great wit and acerbic commentary; A fan hitting Joyce with trash during the ceremony was rough; Andre had such an amazing presence out there and seeing him battle the two other giants was always impressive; The Okerlund and George Steele stuff was funny enough and helps push along Steele’s face turn; Jesse notes that Lanny Poffo is the “poet laureate” of the WWF; Poor Barry Windham has to sit ringside with an eye patch and then have salt added to the wounds with a “Ex-Tag Team Champions” graphic under their names; The reception had its moments but in general the wedding stuff just needs to end, especially when blended with the hillbillies; Poffo doesn’t look too upset about his loss from moments ago
Brian: Jesse ranting about weddings having no place in wrestling to start off the show was terrific. The show starts off with a World Title match as Hulk Hogan defeated Nikolai Volkoff. The match wasn’t that bad and was all action at least. Hogan even put over Uncle Elmer’s wedding in his post-match interview. Speaking of Elmer, he squashed the “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant and they billed that at six seconds when in reality it was twelve. After that, the “Body Shop” with host Jesse Ventura was next and he talked about Paul Orndorff’s bounty and they hyped up the Orndorff vs. Piper match. Speaking of that match, it was a great brawl. After that was Elmer’s wedding ceremony. Jesse Ventura made this great. I love how Vince yelled at Jesse for laughing at Elmer forgetting his lines. Hogan chasing off Piper for making fun of the wedding was also pretty funny. After that we had King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd vs. Andre the Giant & Tony Atlas. The match itself was not good at all but the angle at the end was hot. They put over Bundy here and set up a feud at the end with Bundy & Studd against Hogan & Andre in a match that will take place the following month. The George Steele at the zoo segment was harmless as the joke was Steele being in his natural habits then having Gene Okerlund point out animals, with Steele comparing them to wrestlers. The Tag Championship match was next with former champions Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo in the front row. The match was completely forgettable, which is a common theme in Garea’s matches. We end the show with Uncle Elmer’s wedding reception. Tiny Tim even came out to give Uncle Elmer a ukelele. Jesse got his comeuppance here too when he was tripped and fell into the cake.
Dan: I enjoyed Hogan vs. Nikolai much more than I was expecting. I do believe Volkoff went a tad over-the-top though by saying that he wouldn’t have any qualms with pushing the missile button and destroying America once he won the title! I hope when I get married in July, I can pull off the dress shirt under the overalls look like Hillbilly Jim did in 1985. I sense a theme developing here with this episode that there is no place in wrestling for romance. Ooo Nikolai singing. You classless Americans! Show some respect! Hogan wasn’t afraid to fight dirty in the opener and even busted out a rare headbutt on Nikolai. What would the reaction be today if the biggest face in the company spat on, rub his boots with and Gronk spiked another country’s flag in the middle of the ring. He’d probably be “future endeavored.” Boy, it didn’t take long for them to write Bundy out of the record books after that Uncle Elmer match. Another golden Jesse line came when he points out that “all friends of the family are already there” at the reception and the camera shows two baby pigs walking around. Geez, Tony Atlas looks like a cruiserweight in that tag match with all that beef in the ring. Hogan making the save for Andre ignited that crowd, who was probably still pissed about sitting through that wedding. Maybe he was concerned with the TV time, but Poffo has nothing on Ricky Morton when it comes to being the face-in-peril. You know that old ice-breaker question of who would you want to have dinner with if you could pick any wrestlers living or dead. It may be tough to beat Vince, Hogan, Orndorff and Jesse.
Scott: Love the huge list of opening promos, including Hogan & the hillbillies; These were such a big deal back then, as there was rarely Hogan matches on TV at all, much less WWF Title matches; Hogan looked trim here, not his usual bloated self; Hogan’s promos were a little rougher with different terminologies, like “Baby Doll”’; Wow Hillbilly-centric on this show, making JT sick to his stomach; at least mercifully the Elmer match was short and done; There weren’t nearly enough Body Shops on TV, but I guess with Piper’s Pit we already had a heel interview segment; Paul Orndorff was an equal opportunity insulter, saying Piper worked for Roto-Rooter; Piper is classic, saying that in 12 years we don’t need five more Uncle Elmers; They should have let this Piper/Orndorff brawl go on longer, the heat was nuclear. Well, it’s Piper who’s always nuclear; Jesse is hilarious during this wedding, I love when he says “The judge should send them both to prison”. Even Vince can’t really take this seriously; I love when Bobby told Mean Gene “What were you doing beating on that organ?” The inside jokes continue from TNT into this show; Tony Atlas was in pretty good shape, he had practically no waist; Andre was getting bigger pops than Hogan at this point; Hogan coming in pretty much eliminates Tony Atlas from the equation. Go back to drawing; The Dream Team were instantly heat machines as tag team champions, a good choice to transition off the US Express;
Consensus Best WWE Network Match to Date: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (NWA Starrcade 11/24/83)
Consensus Worst WWE Network Match to Date: Ivan Putski vs. Baron Von Rashcke (Madison Square Garden, 6/27/77)
JT: Well, this was certainly an interesting trip. The opener and Piper/Orndorff matches were a lot of fun and both had some pretty strong heat to will them along. The wedding stuff was quite campy but a fine enough through line for the episode. I also liked the Body Shop with Bobby Heenan to help push along the bounty angle. In fact, they did a nice job intertwining a few different angles throughout this show. Establishing the Hogan/Andre friendship was interesting too, lining them up as partners and setting up the main event for our next outing. Depending how entertaining you find the wedding stuff, your mileage may vary on this one. Regardless, it was a quick watch and the Piper/Orndorff brawl is certainly worth checking out. Until next time, may you find true love and one day wed in the middle of the ring. Final Grade: 5/10
Brian: It had some entertainment, a wild brawl, and they set up the main event for next month’s show. However, most of the action here was bad and it revolved around goofy segments. Your tastes in comedy will define how much you like this show, as the action was kept to a minimal, but the Orndorff/Piper brawl was incredible and I thought it breezed by for the most part. Final Grade: 5/10
Dan: This was a weird show. It had the competitive matches that TNT lacked yet still possessed the silliness and time filler that always made TNT a drag to watch. You know me, I always can do without wrestling weddings and George Steele. But, I can’t really pan this completely because Hogan had a fun title defense, Orndorff and Piper finally locked up, and Andre got some licks in against Studd and Bundy. The wedding, as expected, sucked hose water though I found it infinitely less painful than the Vachon crap from December. I’m still glad we’re beyond TNT and for the most part thrilled to be in the SNME era. But an episode like this may cause me to be cautiously optimistic moving forward. Final Grade: 6/10
Scott: This show is unbelievably frustrating. We had multiple title matches and a blood feud stemming from WrestleMania as well as the continuing feud of Andre vs. the Heenan Family all cut painfully short so we can watch nonsense like hillbilly weddings and receptions in barns with pigs running at your feet. Hogan/Volkoff could have been better with a few extra minutes. Paul Orndorff needed a definitive win to the feud with Piper, even if was by countout or disqualification. The tag match was fun but short and the Andre brawl with Bundy/Studd was great, including the Hogan run-in that sets up our next SNME main event. All that could have been so much better if we didn’t have to see that dope Uncle Elmer get married and poor Jesse gets embarrassed by falling into the stupid cake. I’ll give it a slightly higher grade than I originally wanted because of Piper/Orndorff but that stupid wedding keeps it from being middle of the road. Final Grade: 4.5/10
You can find every grade and category winner from the entire Excellent WWE Network Adventure by clicking this link!