Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XIX – 1/7/89

*** 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 XIX – 1/7/89

January 7, 1989
Tampa, FL
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Brutus Beefcake defeats Ron Bass in a Hair vs. Hair Match with a sleeperhold at 7:40

Fun Fact: The Bass/Beefcake feud began on the 8/20/88 episode of Superstars. After defeating Jim Evans in a quick squash match, Bass went on to attack Evans more and was about the use his spurs on him when Beefcake came to the ring and stopped the attack. Beefcake used this hedge clippers to cut up Bass’ whip, “Miss Betsy”, and his cowboy hat. One week later, Bass interfered in one of Beefcake’s matches, attacking him and using his spurs, “Bret” and “Bart”, across Beefcake’s forehead. A big red “censored” X appeared on the screen during the broadcast as Bass continued his attack. Beefcake had been scheduled to face the Honky Tonk Man at the inaugural SummerSlam event two days later, but this attack prevented him from competing. Their feud would rage through the fall until finally culminating here at SNME in a hair vs. hair match.

Fun Fact II: We bid farewell to Ron Bass here from Saturday Night’s Main Event. He would participate in the 1989 Royal Rumble, which would be his final major event with the WWF. He would be used as a preliminary wrestler into March ‘89 before he left the promotion. He continued on the independent circuit until he retired in 1991.

Scott: We open the new year with a match that stems from a feud earlier in 1988. Brutus Beefcake was set to get a rematch at SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Title against Honky Tonk Man, but the Outlaw drove his spurs into Beefcake’s face and the spot was opened up, and we know who took that title shot at SummerSlam. So now things come to a head and follicles are on the line in this one. The opening of the show has Vince and Jesse there, but as the first match unfolds it sounds like they were in an audio booth laying the commentary down. Vince sounds like he has a bit of an echo. It’s very strange. Unless that opening shot was in front of a green screen. It’s hard to tell. The match seemed like a lot of punching and shoving around and not much of anything else. Brutus was a tough guy to watch because sometimes it felt like he really didn’t know what to do from move to move. Bass really worked him over in the middle of the match with punches and choke moves. He lifted Brutus up during a pair of covers, really wanting to humiliate the Barber. Bass lifts up a third time and this time it cost him as Brutus recovers to duck a clothesline, then cinch up the sleeper for the victory. Bass then gets a heavy trim, courtesy of the Bruti. The match wasn’t really much but Brutus gets his revenge and the Outlaw is buzzed. Grade: *1/2

Justin: We have arrived in 1989 and our first major show of the new year opens up with the culmination of a pretty hot feud from 1988. Ron Bass brutally attacked Brutus Beefcake back in August and it cost him a SummerSlam Intercontinental Title match. So he looks to settle the score here and both men’s hair is on the line to really help solidify a victor. Bass was a solid heel but outside of this feud with the Barber, he never really did much else during his stint in New York. The Barber was definitely on the rise, getting involved in these deeper feuds but also having been aligned with the Ultimate Warrior back at Survivor Series. Bass got the party started right away, hammering Beefcake as he entered the ring and then choked him with Miss Betsy. Brutus wriggled free and grabbed hold of the whip but Bass bailed until things settled down. Bass made it back in but ate a knee lift and got pelted right back to the floor by the Beefer, who was all fired up. Beefcake kept unloading with strikes, giving Bass no room to breathe and showing no interest in going for the win as he just pounding The Outlaw with right hands. Bass finally slowed his roll with an inverted atomic drop and a stomach breaker before draping him across the top rope and kicking him hard to the floor. Bass mixed in some kicks, focusing on the ab area as the crowd tried to rally Beefer back into it. The Outlaw followed that with a nice stiff piledriver but Bass didn’t cover and instead decided he wanted to render Brutus unconscious. He dropped Beefer with a hot shot but again pulled the Barber up ahead of a there count and decided to mock and humiliate him instead. Bass’ offense is really good here as he unloaded a huge clothesline on Beefcake for a close near fall. Brutus recovered, dodged a clothesline and hooked the sleeper for the win. Bass had that one and really blew it. Beefcake would chop Bass’ mullet to pieces and shave him bald, officially putting this feud to bed. The match wasn’t bad thanks to Bass’ offense and the built in hate but the finish was abrupt and Beefcake seemed a little off early on. Grade: *1/2

2) Hulk Hogan defeats Akeem by disqualification at 8:00

Fun Fact: At Survivor Series ‘88, Akeem and The Big Boss Man were captains for the heel team that took on the Mega Powers team. In that event, Hulk Hogan was handcuffed to the bottom rope by the duo, allowing them to double team Randy Savage. The Akeem/Boss Man team would play a vital role at The Main Event II in setting up the WrestleMania V main event, so stay tuned.

Scott: The Mega Powers/Twin Towers feud that started in the fall and was escalated at Survivor Series continues here as the Hulkster takes on the African Dream with plenty of action around ringside too. Elizabeth seconds Hogan to the ring while Slick and fellow Twin Tower Big Boss Man join the Dream. Hogan dominates most of the action until Akeem pushes the referee in front of a Hogan clothesline, knocking him out. Then in comes Big Boss Man with the nightstick and, with the referee out, the Twin Towers really start laying the business on Hulkster. Meanwhile backstage Randy Savage is rooting his Mega Power partner on, but then Elizabeth comes back to plead with the WWF Champion to come out and help. Savage stayed back and said Hogan would be fine. Indeed Hogan was starting to make his comeback but Boss Man ends the match with a nightstick shot in the ribs and a disqualification. Once again Hogan gets beat down by the Twin Towers, and still no Savage. Until Boss Man grabs Elizabeth and hooks her in hand cuffs, THEN the WWF Champion comes down with a steel chair and chases everyone off. Elizabeth looks after Hogan, which gets Randy a little rankled. That’s where Jesse starts smelling a rat within the Mega Powers. The match is standard TV fare but the seeds continue to grow towards April 2 in Atlantic City. We are a week away from the Royal Rumble in Houston and the Megapowers are still strong, sort of. Grade: **

Justin: My heart be still as my hero Akeem gets a big time, prime slot against Hulk Hogan here, continuing the ongoing Mega Powers/Twin Towers feud. The Towers have been booked very well and positioned as a dominant main event level team, having done a lot of damage to both Hogan and the WWF Champion Randy Savage. Akeem looks to dole out some more pain here and he has Boss Man with him at ringside despite Vince McMahon’s anger about it. However that was balanced out when Hogan revealed that Savage would back him up in this one by keeping his eyes on the actions of the Boss Man from the locker room. Elizabeth led the Hulkster out, which Jesse thinks is a mistake. Hogan started hot, grabbing Slick and shoving him into Akeem and covering them both for a near fall. He rattled Akeem to the mat and then slid outside where he wiped out both Boss Man and Slick. Back inside he punched away but Akeem blocked a bodyslam with a clubbing blow, followed by more. He also danced in between his strikes. He is the best. Hogan made a comeback, running Akeem from corner to corner and punching away before knocking the big man down with a pair of clotheslines. Boss Man was completely neutralized again as he hopped on the apron and got knocked back down when Hogan shoved Akeem into him. Hogan kept laying the wood with right hands but the referee would get knocked out in the midst of the attack, leading to Boss Man coming into the ring with the nightstick and smacking Hogan around. Backstage, Savage said he thought Hogan would fight through it and be OK and wasn’t going to head out just yet. The vicious double team continued with both men hitting big splash after big splash while Liz sprinted back to the locker room to find Macho. After a break, Boss Man was back outside and the referee was slowly recovering. Liz found Savage and begged him to come out but Savage said he was keeping the faith and staying put. Akeem headed to the middle rope but Hogan dodged a splash to earn a chance to catch his breath. Hogan hulked up and made a big comeback while Savage cheered him on confidently. He ran Boss Man into the apron, jacked up Slick with a reverse atomic drop and then looked to put Akeem away with a big boot, slam and legdrop but before he could finish things off, Boss Man nailed him for the DQ. The double teaming resumed, including choking and ramming Hulk with the nightstick. With Hulkster down, the Towers looked to cuff Liz and that finally drew Savage out for the save. The Towers really generated some great heat and came off like such dickheads. They deserved this slot for sure. Savage’s motives here have to be questioned as he played it off like he had faith in Hogan and left him hanging out to dry as a result. He was also seemingly annoyed that Liz kept checking on Hogan and was chirping at both of them the whole way to the back. Jesse said he had a feeling something was happening with the Mega Powers but left it at that. I dug that match as Hogan was really working hard, bouncing in and out of the ring to fight off both Towers. It also continued the story and feud very well and all of the Savage stuff was compelling. The Mega Powers seem to be having some issues for sure and time will tell just how deep those problems are. Grade: **

3) Ultimate Warrior defeats Honky Tonk Man to retain WWF Intercontinental Title with a flying shoulderblock at 5:07

Fun Fact: Following Brutus Beefcake’s injury at the hands of Ron Bass two days before SummerSlam, an opponent was needed for The Honky Tonk Man. He would be facing an unknown opponent for the belt. Once in the ring at SummerSlam, HTM got on the mic and called out to the lockeroom, “Give me someone out here to wrestle. I don’t care who it is.” A few short seconds later, the energetic tones of the Ultimate Warrior’s theme sounded in the arena as he sprinted to the ring and quickly pinned HTM to win the IC title. They would feud through the fall. This match at SNME is HTM’s final attempt to win back his title.

Scott: The long awaited rematch from the epic squash at SummerSlam where the Ultimate Warrior ended the long reign of terror of the Honky Tonk Man as IC Champion. Warrior skyrocketed up the roster ladder and now is the #2 guy in the company (well #2.5 if you count Hogan as 1A/1B with Savage). Now Honky gets his rematch here but anybody who thought the former champion was going to get his belt back were in for a rude awakening. Warrior really plowed through Honky in a five minute squash to put his reign over and get 1989 off to a great start. Soon Warrior gets himself in a feud that will define his career. Hey Honky, remember when you sold your soul to be Intercontinental Champion? Time to pay the debt. Grade: *

Justin: Our only title match on the evening features the Ultimate Warrior defending his Intercontinental Title against the man he defeated back at SummerSlam, the Honky Tonk Man. Honky was pretty confident about regaining his title and Jesse notes that the former champion has actually been able to prepare this time around and we will see a different result because of that fact. Warrior was really building momentum up as a burgeoning star as his presence was fantastic and the crowd loved him. Warrior was all over Honky early, knocking him to the floor and then kicking him in the face when they got back inside. Hart tried to get involved but Warrior smacked them together and kept the offense coming. After laying in some chops, Warrior charged Honky in the story and rammed his shoulder hard into the former champ’s gut. Honky found a window and after knocking Warrior down he grabbed Hart’s megaphone and bashed the champ with it while the Mouth tied up the referee. Honky worked Warrior over with some ax blows and knees to the back but his offense was really soft and pedestrian looking. Warrior quickly made a comeback and roughed Honky up but the challenger got his knees up on a big splash for one last gasp. That failed though, as the champ would duck a clothesline and finished Honky off with a running shoulderblock to retain the gold. Nothing much to see here, just Warrior finally putting Honky behind him for good. Honky’s offense was weak and Warrior seemed a bit off key as well. Grade: 1/2*

4) Tito Santana defeats Red Rooster with a roll up at 7:27

Fun Fact: In late 1987, Terry Taylor left the NWA and moved on to WCCW in Texas for a short stint before signing with the World Wrestling Federation in the summer of 1988. He debuted as a babyface, teaming with Sam Houston. In his TV debut, he turned heel on his partner and signed on with Bobby “the Brain” Heenan where he was rebranded as the “Red Rooster”. Despite his previous experience and success in the NWA territories, in the WWF he was billed as a novice wrestler who Heenan was having to coach to success.

Scott: A lower level storyline involved poor Terry Taylor, a solid worker in the territories, taking the second place gimmick. Bobby Heenan took a guy with no talent and made him something, although he still treated him like a piece of trash in the interview with Jesse. They totally mock Rooster as slow, weak and clumsy. I don’t remember it being this ridiculous in terms of Bobby berating him this much. The match was actually quite fun with two solid workers in the ring, but the added touch of Bobby being miked during the match makes the entire package even better. Rooster loses when he’s jawing with his manager and gets rolled up by Tito. Heenan is irate and gets in the ring, ripping into and slapping his manager. Rooster has had enough and starts beating Heenan down in the ring. This was a unique storyline because Bobby was almost forgotten throughout 1988 and was being reenergized as the top heel manager in the company. This storyline will continue, although Terry Taylor should have been allowed to go to his real name after this, but instead the gimmick gets even dummer. Grade: **

Justin: In mid-1988 Terry Taylor hopped up north after a run with the NWA but was instantly saddled with a very bizarre gimmick: The Red Rooster. It was a weird name and idea but basically Bobby Heenan wanted to prove he could take anyone to the top and a lot of their time together is spent with Heenan aggressively correcting and bitchng out Rooster. A real vote of confidence there. Vince keeps saying the Rooster is undefeated but he definitely took a loss back at Survivor Series. Regardless, the real hook of this match is that Bobby Heenan is miked up at ringside so we can hear him coaching on his protege. With his partner Rick Martel still on the shelf, Tito Santana hasn’t had much else going on so he just competes in matches like this against random challengers. Santana controlled early as Heenan chirped at the Rooster and also consulted with George Steinbrenner, who was sitting at ringside. Santana caught some knees to the gut on a splash attempt and the Rooster went to work. Tito punched his way back in, rook Rooster down and slugged away at him on the mat for a near fall. He would block a Rooster sunset flip and continue to rely on his fists to levy out damage. With every offense move from Tito, Bobby continued to fret and bitch out Rooster. Rooster would block a figure four but as he escaped, Heenan dragged him to the floor and berated him loudly, even shoving him in the chest. Rooster shoved him back as Heenan begged off a bit and the show went to break. When we returned, Tito took Rooster back into the ring with a suplex as Bobby gathered his bearings. Rooster did get more offense in but it was short lived again leading to a pair of near falls by Tito. Rooster recovered and spiked Santana with a nice piledriver but could only get two. He followed with a stun gun and went for the scorpion deathlock but Tito blocked that with a thumb to the eye as Heenan screamed more instructions. Tito knocked him to the floor with a clothesline but an angry Brain pitched him right back inside. As Rooster yelled down at Bobby, Tito rolled him up for the win to end his undefeated streak officially. After the match Bobby flipped out on Rooster in the ring, pushing and slapping him in the face. Rooster said he didn’t need Bobby any more and then punched him the face before whipping him hard into the corner and then slugging away some more. Rooster finally just let lose and unloaded all of his built up emotion there, solidifying his face turn. The match was marred by the storyline and never really got into gear with lots of starts and stops. Heenan was funny at ringside but that was about all we had going on here. Rooster is now on his own… but I am not sure if that is for the best, as we soon see. Grade: *1/2

5) Mr. Perfect defeats Koko B. Ware with the Perfectplex at 3:10

Fun Fact: This is Mr. Perfect’s first appearance on SNME. Perfect is set to debut a new move on his opponent, the Perfectplex.

Scott: We end the show with another fresh character plucked from another territory. Curt Hennig was a former AWA Champion with bloodlines in the business. His dad, Larry “The Ax” Hennig was an AWA mainstay in the 1970s. The money smelled good and Hennig moved east to New York, where he and Terry Taylor were in the running for a superb gimmick. Well as you can see above Terry Taylor didn’t get it, so Hennig got “Mr. Perfect”. With it a Hall of Famer was born. Here he takes out the resident SNME Jobber to the Stars, Koko B. Ware. Perfect still had his AWA tights and boots on, but by WrestleMania would have his signature neon singlet. Not much else here except yet another boost to the already burgeoning roster. Grade: *

Justin: Closing out the night we have the SNME debut of Mr. Perfect. Curt Hennig had jumped from AWA to the WWF back in the summer and had delivered a nice performance at Survivor Series to really get his career started well. His gimmick was fantastic and he took right to it out of the gate. Plus, with his execution and in ring ability, the name Mr. Perfect seemed to fit like a glove. He battles Koko B. Ware here, a formidable challenge but also someone that can make Perfect look good. Perfect slugged away off the bell but Koko hit a hip toss and bodyslam before dropkicking Perfect to the floor. Vince and Jesse called Perfect “Curt” and “Hennig” a lot here and I am curious when the finally phased that out. Perfect landed some stiff jabs but Koko hit another hip toss to kill his offense. After a really nice series of leap frogs and charges, Koko hit a big arm drag to put Perfect on the mat. Perfect bounced up and went to work on the abs before kicking him to the floor. Koko caught Perfect with a shoulder to the ribs as he came back in and landed another flurry that ended with a missed charge in the corner. Perfect quickly grabbed hold of him and snapped him over with the Perfectplex for the victory. And Mr. Perfect remains undefeated with a nice little victory. Koko looked good here too and they played up how Perfect can snatch a win out of nowhere. Grade: *

*** Mean Gene chats with the Mega Powers who proclaim their unity and are completely focused and ready to roll. No issues to see here at all. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: Not much here except the teased breakup and end of show reunion of the Mega Powers. There was some veiled tension at the end of Survivor Series and also some here as well as Randy Savage was “a little late” coming to Hulk Hogan’s rescue. The rest was mostly character development, like Ultimate Warrior as the top mid-card babyface and what seems like a reestablishment of Bobby Heenan as the top heel manager in the promotion. Mr. Perfect debuting doesn’t hurt either as Vince’s roster is looking better than ever. 1989 will see the best year of tag teams and mid-card feuds, proving that at this time, the WWF was the undisputed king of sports entertainment. This show is ok, but it at least shows off the promotion’s depth. Final Grade: C+

Justin: We are easily in the worst stretch of SNME offerings since the show kicked off in 1985. The campiness and levity has vanished, which is fine, because it has been replaced by important storyline plot points and character development. However, since WrestleMania IV, the shows have felt flat and uninspired with little in the way of strong in ring action. Even here, the crowd seems pretty dead and it was obvious that some of the noise was piped in as the fans were sitting most of the time. Even Jesse and Vince felt and sounded subdued and I think it was their weakest outing since the series began as well. The Mega Powers stuff was all well done and Hogan’s match with Akeem was the best of the night (faint praise) and it clearly is setting up bigger issues between the two in the near future. I still enjoy watching these shows but that electric energy of the early years has faded a bit. Hopefully the live Main Event can jolt that energy back into the program. Final Grade: C-