Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XII – 10/3/87

*** 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! ***


Saturday Night’s Main Event XII – 10/3/87

October 3, 1987
Hershey Park Arena
Hershey, PA
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan
Attendance: 9,000

1) Randy Savage defeats Honky Tonk Man by disqualification when Bret Hart interfered at 13:00; Honky Tonk Man retains WWF Intercontinental Title

Fun Fact: As was mentioned at the last SNME, Ricky Steamboat asked for time off from the company for the birth of his son. Since he was holding the IC title at the time, someone had to be found to take the title from him so the champion could stay on the road. On the July 13, 1987 episode of Superstars, The Honky Tonk Man won the title in a major upset by reversing Steamboat’s inside cradle and holding onto the ropes. At the time, The Honky Tonk Man was only supposed to be a transitional champion who would drop the title to Jake Roberts. But Roberts was still suffering effects from the guitar shot The Honky Tonk Man had given him earlier. As a result, he remained champion much longer than originally planned.

Fun Fact II: After his IC title victory, The Honky Tonk Man began proclaiming himself to be the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time and putting down former champions, including Randy Savage. The Macho Man was on his way to a big face turn during this time and began challenging HTM to get the title back. This match would be the first of those IC title matches.

Scott: Wow what a huge change we have since our last episode. Back in May, Randy Savage was a smarmy heel hell bent on regaining his Intercontinental Championship from fan favorite Ricky Steamboat. Well Steamboat lost his title to the HTM, and now all of a sudden Savage is getting huge pops from the crowd. I do think it was only a matter of time before they would switch the Macho Man to a fan favorite. We have a very different dynamic with Bobby sitting next to Vince this episode, replacing Jesse Ventura who was shooting “Predator” at the time. The match has Savage going on Honky with reckless abandon with punches and chokes. Elizabeth and Jimmy Hart cause chaos outside and Savage protects here, which leads to Honky hitting him from behind and taking control. Savage and Honky go back and forth until Jimmy Hart gets involved again and Savage takes him to school as well. This brings out Hart’s other charges, the tag team champion Hart Foundation. The Hitman, Anvil and Honky take Jimmy to the back as they go to commercial. For the early part of the Federation Era, even though Bobby Heenan was more high profile, Jimmy Hart was the top heel manager as he had two of the three champions in his stable. After commercial, the stable really gives Savage the business as Honky takes full control. Savage does try to make a comeback but the Hart Foundation come in to cause the disqualification. Savage is beaten down, and when Elizabeth tries to save him, Honky (in a memorable heel moment) shoves Liz to the ground. She leaves for backup, and returns, with…HULK HOGAN? He comes in and helps Savage clean house, then they go back to back, but instead of brawling, they shake hands. Oh yes, the first of what was yet to come with these two. We’ll discuss this more in future episodes but for now, Savage has gotten his first glimpse of the main events. Grade: **1/2

JT: After taking the simmer off, we are back for the twelfth installment of Saturday Night’s Main Event and the landscape of the WWF has changed quite a bit in that time. We have an influx of new talent and some stalwarts have switched allegiances, one of which is on display right out of the gate here. Also on display is our brand new Intercontinental Champion. Over the summer, Ricky Steamboat requested some time away from the ring to be with his wife and new son and as a result he was asked to drop his strap to someone that would be on tour. And in an upset of upsets, the Honky Tonk Man was the competitor chosen to be the next champion. In the booth tonight is Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan, once again subbing for Jesse Ventura. That is some amazing depth. The Savage/Honky issue got heated quickly as Savage was hellbent on getting his title back and Honky kept teasing him along by claiming to be the greatest IC champion of all time. It was only a matter of time before Savage turned face as the fans were really getting behind him, especially after his classic at WrestleMania III. Plus they have always adored Elizabeth. And the Hershey fans were no different as Macho gets very warm welcome as he marches to the ring. After a brief lockup, Savage took control of things, choking away and slinging the champ into the corner. As Savage dropped a stiff knee to the head, Heenan tried to convince everyone that Liz had eyes for Honky. Jimmy Hart would run some interference on the floor, using Liz to bait Savage out and allowing Honky to nail him from behind. However, back inside Savage came right back with a flurry of jabs before he whiffed on another knee drop. Honky landed some strikes but things would spill to the floor with Savage making another comeback, capped by a big double axe blow off the top rope. In the ring, he almost tool the title with a roll up and a back suplex but Hart broke up three separate pin covers. Savage finally decked Hart to a huge pop and then continued to stomp away at the champ but as he worked him over, the Hart Foundation showed up at ringside. They would carry Hart to the back and then return after a commercial, but Savage still maintained control in the ring. Even when Honky would get an opening, it was always short lived as Savage just dominated the majority of the action here. Macho started to pick up near falls again until Honky slung him to the floor, allowing the Harts to pounce right away, dropping Savage across the guard rail and stomp him viciously. Savage rebounded again and dropped the big elbow but as he covered, Bret Hart leapt in the ring and broke up the pin for the DQ. So close! Honky and the Harts pounded Savage over and over as Liz looked on frightened. The Harts would hoist Savage up as Honky grabbed his guitar and taunted Macho. Before he could swing, Liz hopped in the ring and stood in front of Honky. She begged for Savage’s mercy but Honky shoved her down, berated her and then bashed Savage with the guitar. Talk about heel heat, my lord. The crowd was pissed but then exploded as Liz returned with Hulk Hogan! Hogan caught a quick beating but he battled back and he and Savage partnered to clean house. The two would shake hands and celebrate afterwards and the crowd just lost its collective mind over it all. The match was pretty basic but the heat was there all throughout and the post match was next level. Great way to open the show while both continuing the war and also launching the partnership of Savage and Hogan. Grade: **1/2

2) Hulk Hogan defeats Sika to retain WWF World Title with the legdrop at 7:59

Fun Fact: A few weeks prior to this event, Kamala walked away from the WWF due to unhappiness over pay. He left the company without warning, causing the company to fill in previously advertised events with other members of his group, including Mr. Fuji, Kim Chee and, in this case, Sika. In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, James Harris, aka Kamala, indicated this was his biggest mistake in the business and that he should have handled the situation better.

Scott: After the memorable opening to this show, we have a non-descript Hogan title defense against a former tag team champion. Sika returns to the WWF for a quick payday in the twilight of his career. The match is mostly Mr. Fuji using his cane to choke Hogan out, but then when Hogan tries to use the cane a second referee comes out to stop him from using it, which is pretty funny. It’s Dave Hebner and that infamous “always angry looking” referee. Sika dominates the middle portion of the match with shots to the throat and a chest claw submission move. Heenan keeps saying that Hogan is spent from running in earlier to save Savage. The Hershey crowd is hot as we have our first repeat SNME building, and they’re rooting for our champion as he’s working for the comeback but Sika actually brings the business to Hogan more than I thought he would have. Hogan would eventually recover and get the victory. That was a better match than I anticipated as Sika really brought the goods and Hogan had to bring his working boots for this one. Grade: **

JT: Fresh off of saving Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan has to head back to the ring to defend his WWF Title against the beefy Samoan Sika. Sika has Mr. Fuji and Kim Chee with him as he is replacing Kamala here. It was lined up as a pretty formulaic Hogan defense, but Sika was portrayed as quite dangerous, as most Samoans are. Sika came right at Hogan, laying in heavy kicks and feeding him right to Fuji, who choked Hulk with his cane. Hogan fought through it and dropped Sika down before landing some elbow drops. The match spilled to the floor where Hogan shoved Sika into the post and then yanked Fuji’s cane away. The referees would eventually wrest away the weapon but that gave Sika a chance to regain the advantage. He landed a few thrusts to the throat and then choked away. Fuji again got involved with his cane and all of a sudden Sika looked like a threat. The Samoan would lock in a nerve hold for a bit until Hogan broke it up. The challenger knocked Hulk back down and started pelting him with falling headbutts for a two count. In the blink of an eye, Hogan made his big comeback and put Sika away with the legdrop to retain his title. This wasn’t Hogan’s best formula match as it was fairly pedantic with the majority of the heat coming thanks to Fuji’s cane. Sika tried but in no way was h a credible threat and his lack of offense really hampered things. Hogan’s rolls on but his involvement earlier in the show was much more important than this outing. Grade: *

3) King Kong Bundy defeats Paul Orndorff with the Avalanche at 8:00

Fun Fact: After his weightlifting injury and taking time off to recover, when Paul Orndorff returned in July 1987 he received a babyface reaction. This wasn’t the reaction the WWF expected and caused them to change Orndorff’s character again. He fired Bobby Heenan again in late August and took on Sir Oliver Humperdink as his manager. Here Orndoff takes on one of his former Family members, King Kong Bundy.

Scott: In the battle of guys who may be on the way out the door, Bundy isn’t even the biggest guy in the Heenan Family anymore, and in the span of 18 months Orndorff has switched from face to heel and back to face again. Orndorff is a great talent but it seemed that by the end of 1987 into 1988 the company really had nothing left for him. Honestly he may have had the spot Randy Savage is getting if Savage wasn’t here. That’s the upper mid-card spot and maybe forgiveness from Hulk Hogan but sadly the crowd probably doesn’t buy Orndorff as anything anymore. As for Bundy, he went from main eventing WrestleMania II to facing midgets a year later in Pontiac. We also see the SNME debut of Oliver Humperdink as a manager. There hasn’t been a solid face manager since the fat, sloppy pig Lou Albano but Ollie brings some stability to the mid-card fan favorites. Orndorff was actually dominating this match until Heenan’s “surprise”, Andre the Giant comes to ringside. Bundy weathers the storm and with the help of Andre holding Mr. Wonderful’s tights. Bundy hits the avalanche and get the victory. A much needed win for the Heenan Family and perhaps the final nail in Mr. Wonderful’s WWF coffin. Grade: *1/2

JT: Over the summer, Paul Orndorff decided to turn face and realign with Hulk Hogan yet again. As part of that process, he had a big falling out with Bobby Heenan and hooked up with newcomer Oliver Humperdink as his new manager. Here, his feud with the Brain continues as he battles longtime family stalwart King Kong Bundy. Before the match, Gene Oklerlund tells us that Heenan is staying in the booth and Bundy says that choice is all about confidence. The camera work during Bundy’s entrance was pretty neat as the angle was over his shoulder looking at Orndorff in the ring baiting him on while the crowd booed loudly. Orndorff jumped Bundy off the bell and hammered away as Vince needled Heenan right away for making a mistake by staying in the booth. Bundy quickly turned the tide and started to lean on Orndorff while clubbing away. Paul tried to fend him off with kicks but Bundy’s size was too overwhelming. He continued to use some basic strikes mixed with choking but Orndorff kept tossing blows wherever he could. Bundy would finally slip up by whiffing on an elbow drop and Orndorff laid into him with a flurry of punches as Vince trolled Heenan some more. Bundy would hit the mat for the first time followed by an Orndorff elbow for a near fall and that was enough to finally draw Heenan down to the ring. Orndorff nailed a dropkick but the camera panned over to see Andre the Giant march to the ring as Heenan returned to the booth. Bundy got knocked to the floor and conferred with Bundy as Humperdink and Orndorff chatted as well. After a break, Orndorff stayed in control with more right hands but Bundy hung in with strikes of his own. The crowd was going nuts as Orndorff landed some sharp elbows one after the other until Bundy finally dodged the last one. Lots of energy and really good action so far in this one. Bundy slowed things down a bit with a rear chinlock but the crowd rallied Orndorff through it. Bundy came up empty on an Avalanche attempt and Orndorff made one last effort to put this away. However, he got too close to Andre, who yanked him back into the corner and allowed Bundy to squish him for the win. What a really fun outing by these guys. Orndorff had lots of fire and charisma as a face here and Bundy oscillated between leaning heavily on him and bumping around for his offense. They also timed everything really well and I loved the Andre stuff too as the Heenan Family works together and tortures any friends of Hulk Hogan. This match certainly exceeded my expectations. Grade: **1/2

4) Hart Foundation defeat Young Stallions to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Bret Hart pins Paul Roma after the Hart Attack at 4:35

Fun Fact: Paul Roma & Jim Powers were placed together as a team in March 1987. Initially the duo was being served up to higher ranking tag teams both on TV and on the house show circuit. The team got their first big victory in May when they upset Bob Orton and Don Muraco in Madison Square Garden. Roma and Powers would begin getting a push from the company in August 1987 when they faced off against the Hart Foundation in a non-title match. In that match, the duo pulled off a major upset in their non-title defense. The team continued winning, defeating Orton and Muraco in several matches. On August 30, the team yet again defeated the Hart Foundation, this time via DQ. A team name was finally given a name, the Young Stallions.

Fun Fact II: Due to their earlier victories over the Hart Foundation, the Stallions were provided with a title match here at Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Scott: Our final match of the night has the tag team champions’ second appearance after working over the company’s top faces at the top of the show. This is a glorified Prime Time or Superstars match as the champions really dominate the action until the faces get their token flurry of hot tags and comebacks but in the end The Hart Attack is too much and the champions retain. This was nothing more than a filler to the ending interviews and the music video. Grade: *

JT: Wrapping up a fairly eventful evening is a WWF tag team title match with the arrogant Hart Foundation defending against the upstart Young Stallions. The Stallions had recently joined forces and actually knocked off the champs in a non title match to set up this tilt here. Jim Powers and Jim Neidhart kicked things off with Powers using his speed to control. Bret Hart tagged in shortly after but Powers brought the fight right to him, grabbing a near fall in between working the arm. The tide turned when Hart caught Powers in a backbreaker and tagged in the Anvil, who started raining heavy blows down across Powers’ back. The champs continued to tag in and out while dominating Powers, who has spent the whole match in the ring to this point. Roma would finally get the hot tag and things quickly broke down into a brouhaha. The Stallions knocked Anvil to the apron and Roma caught Hart with a powerslam but Neidhart made it back in time to break up the near fall. With Powers tying up the referee, the champs hit the Hart Attack on Roma to win the bout and retain. That was a very abridged version of a potential great match between two teams that had nice chemistry. It was the ultimate time fill to get us to the end of the show and a nice little win for the Harts. Grade: *

*** Gene Okerlund interviews Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan backstage. The two officially solidify their friendship with a classic handshake and talk about how their worlds are now aligned. That is followed by the world premier of the Piledriver music video. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: This is yet another historic episode for a few reasons. The expected babyface turn of Randy Savage, the birth of the Mega Powers and the Piledriver music video. The matches were ok, mostly to fill the gaps of the Hogan/Savage stuff as that feud with Honky was the hottest in the promotion next to Hogan/Andre. Both men were on this episode but had no interaction. Survivor Series was around the corner and the feud was still raging even as Andre hadn’t wrestled much after WrestleMania. This episode was meant to get Randy Savage over as a top babyface, perhaps usurping the fading Junkyard Dog as the #2 fan favorite. The last two matches weren’t much which drops the grade but the first match and surrounding action makes up for some of it. Final Grade: C+

JT: This was an interesting premier episode for the fall season with a real major angle unfolding at the top and bottom of the show and then a bunch of filler in between. I really liked Bundy/Orndorff but enough to say it was a great anchor match or anything and Hogan/Sika and the tag title bout were throwaways. Of course, the forming of the Mega Powers is massive and it was really well done as the heat on Honky Tonk Man in the opener was off the charts, especially when he shoved down Liz. The iconic handshake to close the night launches one of the greatest angles in company history. This was a breezy enough watch but not enough meat to call it one of the best installments. Final Grade: C