Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XI – 5/2/87

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

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Saturday Night’s Main Event XI – 5/2/87

May 2, 1987
Joyce Athletic & Convocation Center
South Bend, IN
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura
Attendance: 9,345

Fun Fact: This is the first Saturday Night’s Main Event that did not feature Hulk Hogan in a match,

1) Kamala defeats Jake Roberts with a big splash at 4:18

Scott: We open the show with a match that has a lot of unpredictability here. Jake Roberts is coming off that cheap loss to Honky Tonk Man at WrestleMania and was having neck and head issues after that stiff guitar shot from the Snake Pit before Mania. Kamala is back in the WWF after being here earlier in the decade and having a legitimately great feud with Andre the Giant that ended with an epic cage match in Toronto. Great psychology early on as Kamala uses his big strength to set up a bear hug, but Jake uses Kamala’s bare feet as a liability by stepping on his toes over and over again. Kamala takes control again and starts choking Jake out with his bare feet, which looks really gross. Jake mastered the face in peril quite quickly after becoming a fan favorite. Jake makes the big comeback, including a sweet knee lift off the top rope but as he’s about to hit the DDT on Kamala, Mr. Fuji distracts the referee and Kim Chee hits Jake from behind. Kamala hits the big splash and gets the victory. However the even cooler swerve at the end of the match happens when Kim Chee takes off his shirt and mask to reveal it was the Honky Tonk Man in disguise! What an awesome heel moment, and he completes the screwjob by beating Jake down further and even hitting the Shake, Rattle an Roll to cap it off. I was stunned that Jake lost but the Honky swerve made the moment for me. Grade: **

JT: As we shift past WrestleMania III and head towards the summer, the company has definitely undergone some changes, both on the roster and in overall presentation. And also for the first time in SNME history, we have a show without Hulk Hogan wresting in the ring. I guess the company felt the brand was now established enough to draw a strong rating sans the Hulkster. Our opener does feature one of the top non-Hogan faces on the roster in Jake Roberts. His opponent is the Ugandan Giant Kamala, led to the ring by Kim Chee as always, but he also now has Mr. Fuji with him. Fuji took the reigns from The Wizard who had vanished from the company. The story heading in is that Kamala was afraid of snakes, but Fuji was sending him out there to confront it anyway. Kamala would jump Roberts before the bell but the Snake came back with a few right hands as the crowd rallied him. Kamala came right back and locked in a bear hug but Roberts stomped his foot to break it. The tide turned right back yet again and Kamala took his time choking away at Roberts in between dancing around. The Snake kept plugging away with right hands whenever he could but he could not get any sustained offense going. He finally would get enough momentum to allow him the time to smash Kamala with a leaping knee off the middle rope. However, before he could follow up, Fuji hopped on the apron to tie up the referee. That gave Kim Chee the chance to sneak in and bop Roberts with the cane. Kamala followed with the big splash and picked up a surprising win. After the bout, Kim Chee unmasked and revealed himself to be Honky Tonk Man under the hood. Jesse was great here, acting like Honky has always been Kim Chee. Honky would hit the Shake, Rattle and Roll and then thank the audience. I was definitely shocked to see Roberts eat another loss coming off his face turn and the Mania defeat to Honky. But, I would assume they were prepping Kamala for a house show run with Hogan or another top card star and also wanted to keep the Honky/Roberts feud burning. The match was as basic punch and kick as it gets with a fun spot or two blended in but the after match was a lot of fun and a nice swerve that completely caught me off guard. Grade: 1/2*

2) Randy Savage defeats George Steele in a lumberjack match with the big elbow at 6:44

Lumberjacks:
Danny Davis, Ricky Steamboat, Hercules, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan, Kimchee, Honky Tonk Man, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, Rick Martel, Tom Zenk, Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff

Fun Fact: This would be the final match in the feud that began back in January 1986 at SNME IV. At WrestleMania III, George Steele helped Ricky Steamboat get the win and the Intercontinental title over Randy Savage. Looking for a degree of revenge, a lumberjack match was signed here between Steele and Savage.

Scott: I can’t believe that this is the 11th installment of SNME and this is the, what, fourth match between these two? And really none of the others was any good, but perhaps with all the guys around the ring this will add to the juice of the match and not make it as much of a stinker as the others. At least Savage has been showcased throughout his time in the WWF via this show and now as former Intercontinental Champion he has to come to the ring beltless. We are of course coming off the five star classic he and Ricky Steamboat had at WrestleMania, and that feud is still fresh with both men on camera here. Most of the early match is both guys getting tossed in and out of the ring by the lumberjacks while the other feuds in the promotion are going on outside the ring, including matches later on. The in-ring action is better than the earlier matches but the lumberjacks break things up, including Jim Duggan and that stupid 2×4. Ugh, I was reminded during the open of the show that this clown finally has arrived in the company. Shoot me now. The match continues with Savage using wrestling moves and Steele using the turnbuckle fluff. Savage has definitely showed his workrate chops in the couple of months after his match with Steamboat, realizing the Memphis stalling he used before that wasn’t going to fly in this company, as the mid-card needs to be more mat-based since currently the main events aren’t at all. I have to say this is the most entertaining of the matches these two have had, including last year’s disaster at WrestleMania II. The lumberjacks start brawling outside, and while the chaos is going on Savage drills Steele with the ring bell and after the big elbow Savage gets the three count. As expected the lumberjacks just start brawling around the ring until Jake lets out Damien and everybody scatters. The match actually wasn’t bad and the lumberjacks added some more fun to it. Grade: **1/2

JT: How are these two still feuding? Every time they throw down on SNME I assume it has to be the last one. Yet, here we are yet again. Of course, George Steele played a big role in Randy Savage dropping his IC Title to Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania, so Savage is looking for revenge once and for all. This time we have a bevy of lumberjacks around the ring to keep things contained and hopefully put this feud to bed. In a funny touch, Honky Tonk Man and Kim Chee come out to ringside together to take their spots as lumberjacks. Prematch, Steamboat says “WrestleMania number three” which made me chuckle. The Dragon would accompany the Animal to the ring for this one. Steele started hot, beating Savage around the ring and getting an assist from the face lumberjacks a couple of times. Steele started biting as well which drew the immediate ire of Ventura. Savage peppered his way back into the match and started working him over in the corner. Savage followed with an axe blow off the top rope and then pitched him outside, where the heels all went right to town on the Animal. Jim Duggan would storm the ring with his 2×4 to get the crowd fired up but Dave Hebner would eventually kick him out and send him backstage. On the floor, Steele pasted Danny Davis with a headbutt and came back in on fire. After spiking Savage he tore open the turnbuckle and shoved the foam into Macho’s face. Savage countered with a suplex and then dumped him outside again into the comforting arms of Steamboat, which pissed Ventura off even more. A moment later, Steele sent Savage flying into the Dragon, who aggressively shoved him back inside. This may be the best of the bunch between these two thanks to all the bells and whistles. With Savage back on the outside again, a big brawl erupted with the lumberjacks. As they warred, Davis snuck in the ring and pasted Steele with the the ring bell. Savage would scamper to the top rope and drop the big elbow for the win. After the bell, the lumberjacks all piled into the ring and erupted into a massive fight as the crowd went nuts. Roberts would reemerge with Damien, chase Honky off and then pitch the reptile onto Kim Chee. Well, I enjoyed that way more than I expected as Steele’s deficiencies were hidden well enough and the lumberjacks all stayed active and kept things chugging along nicely. That said, I really hope we are done with these two wrestling as enough is enough. It has been over a year! Savage needs to move on and Steele needs to go home. Grade: *1/2

*** Gene Okerlund sits down with Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan to discuss Andre’s encounter with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. They argue that Andre was cheated due to biased referring, which they aim to prove by showing video of the close near fall at the start of the bout. ***

3) British Bulldogs defeat Hart Foundation in a Best of Three Falls match; Hart Foundation retain WWF Tag Team Titles

Falls
British Bulldogs win by disqualification at 4:34
Dynamite Kid pins Jim Neidhart after Davey Boy Smith slammed him on top of Neidhart at 9:48

Fun Fact: The Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs continue their tag team feud here after the Harts’ controversial win of the titles and their win at WrestleMania III. The Bulldogs are joined at ringside by Tito Santana as they were at WrestleMania III to try to even to odds as the Hart Foundation has manager Jimmy Hart and former referee Danny Davis in their corner.

Scott: Now for the workrate portion of the show, as the tag team champions give the former champions their rematch. We had that great six-man tag match at WrestleMania with more heel chicanery leading to the bad guys winning. The Bulldogs have their new mascot Matilda chasing Jimmy Hart around the ring and even chewing on the megaphone. The Harts dominate early in the first fall, while Jesse rips Vince’s announcing, saying Jimmy on the megaphone is a better PBP guy than he is. Dynamite Kid is getting double teamed by the Harts while Tito Santana chases Danny Davis around the ring, leading to a DQ finish. So the Bulldogs lead 1-0, although this is where the whole “what constitutes a fall in a 2 of 3 falls match” confusion starts. In fact Jesse says when the second fall starts that there’s two falls left. How do we know that? Don’t the Bulldogs already have one and need just one more to win? Dynamite Kid gets a bloody nose during the second fall while Neidhart has him in a front face lock. The second fall overall is tremendous wrestling as Davey Boy Smith hits big moves on the Anvil but he keeps kicking out of the pinfall attempts. Davey Boy throws Dynamite Kid on top of Anvil and they get the second fall. However since the first fall was a DQ, the Bulldogs win the match but not the titles. So make two out of three falls no DQ then? It makes absolutely no sense and that’s probably why you saw this stipulation slowly be fazed out. Too much confusion involving it, although it probably gets tweaked for storyline purposes. This was one of the best matches in SNME history with so much action in the ring and great announcing. Grade: ***

JT: In one of the hottest feuds on the roster, the tag team champion Hart Foundation are set to defend their straps against the former champion British Bulldogs in a best of three falls bout. I do enjoy how that stipulation is utilized regularly here on SNME. Playing off their WrestleMania matchup, the Bulldogs are backed by Tito Santana here while the Harts have the ever-present Danny Davis with them. I do always enjoy just how smug Davis acts when he struts to the ring. That expression changed quickly when Matilda started gnawing on Jimmy Hart as they entered the ring. Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith opened things up, trading some early arm work that saw Davey take full control of the limb. Smith grabbed a near fall with a crucifix but art eventually rammed his shoulder hard into the sternum to slow his roll. Neidhart entered and hammered away and from there the champs tagged in and out while punishing the Bulldog. After a Hart near fall on a backbreaker, Smith was able to tag out to Dynamite, who punished Hart and grabbed a near fall. Anvil popped into the ring and chucked Smith to the floor, where Davis put the boots to him. As Santana chased him off, the Harts double teamed Dynamite mercilessly until the referee called for the DQ to bring an end to fall one. After a commercial break, the match continued with the Harts working over Dynamite some more, continuing to mix strikes with double team maneuvers. The referee started to lose control again as the Hart brigade ran interference to allow his boys to maintain their offense. Dynamite’s selling was on point here and the quick tagging by the champs really kept the pacing up. Things quickly changed when Dynamite ducked a charge and Hart careened into the ropes. Both men would tag out but Smith was all over Neidhart, including a great vertical suplex for a near fall. A Harts double team would finally backfire as Neidhart accidentally smashed Hart off the apron. Tito would drop Davis and the crowd started to go bonkers as they sensed an impending title change. A moment later, Smith pressed Dynamite over his head and slammed him down hard onto Hart for the win. As the fans lost their minds and the Bulldogs and McMahon celebrated, Jesse Ventura reveals the twist…because the first fall ended in DQ, the titles wouldn’t change hands. Well ain’t that a kick in the nuts. The Harts scampered off with the gold as the Bulldogs stewed in the ring. Dynamite also had a pretty gnarly bloodied nose from that one. The match was very fun with great heat and a quick pace with all the tagging. No surprise here at the chemistry of these four and having Davis and Santana at ringside helped the excitement as well. Grade: ***

*** Gene Okerlund chats with Hulk Hogan, who narrates us through some clips from his iconic battle with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. He says the footage speaks for itself and that he would welcome a rematch as he fears nobody. ***

4) Ricky Steamboat defeated Hercules by disqualification to retain WWF Intercontinental Title at 6:42

Fun Fact: After winning the IC title at WrestleMania III, Ricky Steamboat asked WWF management for some time off to be with his wife as she gave birth to their first child. Steamboat had been set up to be a long term champion, so this news did not sit well with management. It was decided that they would strip Steamboat of the title. A month after this defense here on SNME he would drop the title to the Honky Tonk Man, who went on to hold the title for over a year and become the long term champion that Steamboat should have been.

Scott: The Dragon apparently hasn’t defended the title since WrestleMania which has been longer than 30 days as Mean Gene says to Steamboat it’s his first title defense. Hercules has alrady received a World Title shot on SNME against Hulk Hogan, and now he has an IC Title shot against the Dragon. The match has added sizzle when we see Randy Savage watching the match backstage and rooting for Steamboat to win so he can win the title himself. Both men go back and forth until Hercules hooks the full nelson on Steamboat until Savage comes out and pulls Hercules’ ankle which breaks the hold. Seeing heels arguing with each other was very rare and weird in 1987 WWF. Savage stays at ringside and openly is rooting for Steamboat to win the match. The match ends when Steamboat is being choked by Hercules’ chain and the champion wins via DQ. Jesse does refer to the injured throat from last year as Hercules is choking Steamboat out with the throat. Savage gets into the ring and looks to be helping Steamboat but then Savage, the awesome heel he is, goes to the top rope and drops the big elbow. The match was ok but Savage’s presence makes everything better. Grade: **

JT: Our next bout features Ricky Steamboat defending his newly won IC Title on SNME for the first time. His challenger is the rejuvenated Hercules, hot off his big battle royal win and a stiff war with Billy Jack Haynes at WrestleMania. As Steamboat hit the ring for this WrestleMania II rematch, we saw Randy Savage watching the match on a monitor in the locker room and he lets Gene Okerlund know he wants Steamboat to win so he can take the title off Steamboat himself. Bobby Heenan is out with Hercules but is sporting a neck brace after he was assaulted by his former charge Ken Patera on Superstars. Hercules brawled out of the gate, hammering Steamboat with clubbing blows. The champ came back with a series of chops to knock Herc to the floor. Dragon followed outside and hit a big atomic drop but Herc was able to push him into the post to gain control. As the match worse on we would see Savage in an inset box rooting on the Dragon. Herc would pop Steamer with a stiff clothesline and do an elbow for a near fall. Steamboat fended off the assault and ran Herc into the corner before landing a swinging neckbreaker but he was too worn out to cover. Herc took advantage of how tired he was by locking in a full nelson. As he worked the hold, Savage sprinted to the ring and yanked Herc’s leg to break the hold. As Herc slid outside and argued with Savage we took a break. After the show returned, Herc tried to come off the top rope but ate a pair of knees on the way down. Herc came back with a nice scoop slam but missed an elbow. This is some pretty good stuff and Herc is all full of pep. Steamboat would dodge a charge in the corner and lay in some chops to the ribs and chest but Herc caught him with an atomic drop. Heenan would throw the chain into the ring and Herc used it to choke out Steamboat, drawing a DQ along the way. Macho looked on from the aisle as Herc viciously yanked on the chain as it was tied around the champ’s neck. Herc and Heenan would leave and a moment later Savage would pretend to help Steamboat but instead leapt to the top rope and dropped an elbow on his nemesis. I really enjoyed that match. Hercules looked damn good with some crisp offense and more energy than usual and Steamboat’s selling was great as always. Plus the Savage stuff was really shrewd and well done, especially with the payoff at the end. Steamboat looked a bit weak, basically getting bailed out twice, but the feud with Savage continuing was a good thing. Grade: **1/2

*** Gene Okerlund interviews Jim Duggan at ringside. He espouses his love for America and states his hate for those that oppose it. He bought a ticket to sit ringside and will refuse to allow Nikolai Volkoff to sing that “Russian trash”. ***

5) Can-Am Connection defeat Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Sheik when Martel pinned Sheik with a roll up at 4:45

Scott: This match is nothing but a chance to introduce us all to the face of America: Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Yeah, I double take that too. Actually the other reason for the match is to introduce us to this fresh team the Can-Am Connection, which got a big win at WrestleMania and now faces former tag team champions in Slick’s charges. Slick looks dapper in his suit and his Mercedes logo on a chain. Tom Zenk is the face in peril as the Iron Sheik works him over with suplexes and an abdominal stretch while Duggan keeps sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Duggan gets in the ring to interfere while Zenk wins the match with a roll up on Sheik and Jesse is beside himself. Joey Marella is the referee and Jesse continues to rip him to pieces as he was the ref in the Hogan/Andre WrestleMania title match. The match isn’t much but Duggan’s fingerprints are all over it. Grade: *

JT: Time for our final bout of the evening, crammed in late in the show. The Can Am Connection was a hot team comprised of Rick Martel and Tom Zenk and they had just grabbed a good win in the opener at WrestleMania. Sheik and Volkoff amble out and despite a warning from Jim Duggan, Volkoff proceeds to sing the Russian National Anthem anyway. And Duggan makes good on his promise as he charges the ring and decks the “two commies”. After rallying the crowd, we take a break. Upon returning, the match was underway with Martel pasting Volkoff with a dropkick. The Can Ams staying in control with Zenk slugging away at the Sheik. Sheik would land a kick to the chops and then send him flying into the boot of Volkoff. After a gutwrench suplex for a near fall, Sheik hit a vertical suplex for a second two count. Volkoff and Sheik hit a few quick tags and laid the wood to Zenk, including a nice belly-to-belly suplex by Sheik. He followed with an abdominal stretch and then chucked Zenk hard to the floor. Sheik would do the same to Martel and then he and Volkoff headed outside as well. While out there, Duggan got involved, swatting at the foreign duo and then threatening them with his 2×4. He would eventually slip into the ring and as he did, Martel was able to roll Sheik up for the win. Sheik and Volkoff laid the boots to Duggan, but Hacksaw and the Can Ams slid back in and ran them off. That was another peppy little match with a good offensive display by the Sheik. I wish we got more from the Can Ams on offense, but they just ran out of time. The Duggan stuff was slightly overbearing but they were working to get the feud over. Grade: *

Final Analysis

Scott: Although it seemed like the focus of the show was the controversy surrounding the Hogan/Andre match at WrestleMania, the showcase guy was indeed Randy Savage. His match with George Steele was very entertaining with all the lumberjacks and the chaos. Then he interjects in the IC Title match between Steamboat and Hercules but when we think some compassion’s coming he drops the big elbow. Pretty awesome stuff, as well as Honky Tonk Man dressed as Kim Chee to get some extra shots in on Jake Roberts. The tag title match was great and may be the best SNME match thus far. Overall this was a really fun show and it served two purposes: Continuing the Hogan/Andre feud and really pushing Randy Savage as a top guy in the company. Final Grade: B-

JT: This was quite the fun little episode. On paper the card was questionable but each match over delivered in one way or another. The Honky Tonk Man stuff in the opener was really well done and the lumberjack match surprised me big time. The tag title bout was hot and the IC title match was a good sprint with strong booking. Toss in a decent closer and all of the Hogan/Andre stuff and this was a non stop installment with tons of stuff to enjoy. They also really kept a lot of feuds burning hot throughout the show, with each match meaning something, which is different than some past episodes. The overall workrate was decent enough too, buoyed by the two title matches. The Hogan/Andre progression was well done, as they didn’t bang you over the head but they clearly hinted a rematch was on the way. A healthy dose of Savage will always be welcomed by me, but there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy on this one as well. Final Grade: B-

Author: Vintage Vault

Vintage Vault Reposts are a collection of reviews that Scott and JT have written over the years.