Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XVIII – 11/26/88

*** 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 XVIII – 11/26/88

November 26, 1988
Arco Arena
Sacramento, CA
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Ultimate Warrior defeats Super Ninja to retain WWF Intercontinental Title with the big splash at 2:11

Fun Fact: Super Ninja was portrayed by Rip Oliver, a wrestler from the Pacific Northwest territory. During his time in the Pacific Northwest, Oliver set the record for holding the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight title the most. He also held numerous tag team championships during his career. He left the northwest to wrestle in the WWF. Oliver had one house show match with the WWF in September, 1988. This match on SNME was his only on-screen appearance for the promotion.

Scott: The Intercontinental Champion that won the strap at SummerSlam defends his title against a mysterious challenger that Mr. Fuji brought from the Far East. A masked worker who apparently has incredible fighting skills and can give the champion all that he can handle. Well Super Ninja came into the ring and proceeds to get pummeled in two minutes. A quick, effective TV squash to put over this crazed fan favorite who won the title in similar fashion. My buddy Tom was an immediate Ultimate Warrior fan, but I was just lukewarm to him at that time. 1989 would completely change my opinion of him. Honestly there’s not much more to say here, as it’s nothing more than an effective squash to put over a new fan favorite quickly. Grade: DUD

Justin: The winds of change continue to blow as we wrap up the year 1988 with one final SNME, a show happening on the heels of the second annual Survivor Series. By this point, much of the old guard in the promotion was quickly being whittled out with the new fresh faces quickly ascending up the card to completely shake the fabric of the promotion up. In our opener, our still freshly minted Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior is set up for a title defense against Mr. Fuji’s mysterious Super Ninja. It is also Warrior’s first ever SNME match. Once he dethroned Honky Tonk Man, Warrior has just been mowing through random challengers and contenders, building up his credibility and resume as the new year dawns. The prematch Ninja & Fuji promo was pretty funny with Gene Okerlund saying he is well versed in “Western Scientific” style and Fuji saying he has secretly trained for seven years on seven continents in seven arts. The Ninja also had some weird 80s pop synth music of some sort, I wish it was a bit louder so we could hear more clearly. Warrior charged to the ring a ball of energy as always and the crowd was pumped to see him. Ninja attacked off the bell but Warrior just shrugged off all his offense and literally dumped him on his head. Ninja tried some lame martial arts strikes but Warrior mowed through him as Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura took turns dumping on the situation. A few moments later, Warrior polished Ninja off with the press same and big splash, ending this quick squash. I like that they tried to build up this guy as a challenge and let Warrior wreck him as it gives more credence to the win than just a jobber. Quality squash to build Warrior up. Grade: DUD

2) Hercules defeats Virgil with a powerslam at 3:20

Fun Fact: One month prior to this match, Bobby Heenan sold the contract for Hercules to Ted DiBiase. In this match, Hercules battles for his freedom from DiBiase. Since DiBiase did not want to dirty his hands against his “slave”, he has sent his bodyguard Virgil to take care of business.

Scott: This entire storyline would never happen today. Ted DiBiase said over and over that Hercules was his “slave”, after being sold by Bobby Heenan to the Million Dollar Man. All the alluding to selling people and Herc’s chain and Jesse’s referring to Kunta Kinte. Yeah, none of that would fly in today’s world. Ted DiBiase says he doesn’t touch “the help” so he sends his bodyguard Virgil out there to put their “property” in his place. The match is the usual power stuff and Virgil gets put in his place. Hercules starts whipping that chain around and DiBiase bolts. This storyline continues on but in all honestly even Dick Ebersol had to be a little uncomfortable with all the innuendo during this feud, and I think as time progresses it starts to fade. We are 0 for 2 in matches tonight, with back to back stinkers. Grade: DUD

Justin: Before we even got to the match, Vince McMahon positions this feud as “owner vs. slave”, which is pretty insane to think about. I do like how Bobby Heenan and Ted DiBiase are hooking up for another business deal here in 1988, that is a nice touch. DiBiase tried to buy Hercules from Heenan, but the Mighty One didn’t like that idea and smacked around The Brain, turning face in the process. Before the bout, DiBiase was adamant about his ownership of Hercules and said he would settle it in the ring instead of the court, officially taking ownership of his slave via Virgil. That whole promo should probably be stricken from the record for the sake of everyone involved. I do think a face turn for Hercules made sense as he had pretty much hit a wall as a heel mid carder. He has been much more solid and reliable in the ring than I had remembered as his energy and offense in many of these matches we have watched was higher level than expected. Why not take a shot at him breaking through? And, sigh, Jesse wastes no time comparing Herc and his chains to Kunta Kinte. Not a good look here at all. It was unfortunate that Herc had the chain gimmick in place because it really makes the slave stuff look even worse, even though it wasn’t add in just for this angle. Virgil and DiBiase jumped Herc as the bell rang but he ran through both guys with a clothesline and knocked Teddy to the floor. Virgil gave it a go, but Herc recovered and dumped the bodyguard to the floor as well. Herc slid outside and chased DiBiase around before turning his attention back to Virgil. Herc hammered away, thwarting any attempts at offense from Virgil before burying him with a kneelift. Herc finished things off with a powerslam, making an emphatic statement that he can’t be bought, capped when he chucked Virgil down into DiBiase on the floor. DiBiase would smack Virgil around angrily as they stumbled to the back, adding even more fuel to the absurd fire that was burning here. Another squash, but another entertaining and effective one. Despite the very questionable material, Herc showed good aggression and fire here in destroying Virgil and at this point you would think he is set up for a good face run. Grade: 1/2*

3) Randy Savage fought Andre the Giant to a double disqualification at 8:51; Savage retains WWF Heavyweight Title

Scott: After taking the past show off the WWF Champion gets a big title defense here against the former champion. Jesse is starting to complement Macho again as a guy who’s a fighting champion that takes on all comers. When Jesse starts changing his opinion on a babyface, you know something could be coming down the line. Now this was taped BEFORE Survivor Series but aired after the PPV where some Megapowers tension had started. Savage is still a whirling dervish, going at Andre with all his strength but early on the challenger worked Macho Man over with power moves and illegal chokes with his strap while Bobby Heenan ran interference with the referee. Then all of a sudden down the aisle comes Jake Roberts with Damien in the bag and suddenly the entire match changed. Andre is petrified of snakes (as we saw in the last episode) and his attention is not on the match but on where the bag with Damien is around the ring. The match continues on until more chaos leads to a double disqualification and then back is Jake while Andre is tied up into the ropes and as Damien is released Andre is loosened from the ropes and escaped without dealing with the snake. We see a big feud continuing and one that will likely culminate April 2 in Atlantic City. As for Savage, it’s a disappointing double DQ and a sign (since he mentioned in the promo that Hogan beat Andre when he was champion, so will he) that perhaps there is a change coming. Savage is a great champion, who’s fought everybody throughout the year, but Hulk Hogan is back and perhaps things are changing. Grade: *1/2

Justin: Our World Champion and one of the faces of SNME is back at it as Randy Savage defends his WWF Title against Andre the Giant. Despite slipping down the ladder a bit, Andre is still a very credible and legitimate challenger and a top level heel. The formula of Savage against big men is a strong one as he built sympathy so damn well. His reign has been really good overall, tusseling with a swath of opponents while also working alongside Hulk Hogan in the Mega Powers. Andre was still having his issues with Jake Roberts based off the snake attack last month, he he steps away to take another shot at the gold here. Before the match, Savage mentions that if Hulk Hogan could beat the Giant, so can he as they are both great champions. Indeed. Savage went right on the attack but Andre swatted him away and laid in some headbutts. Savage tried to stick and move but Andre caught him and clubbed him down hard to the mat before burying him in the corner with knee lifts. Every time Savage landed a shot, he kept getting caught, drawing the ire of Jesse, saying he wasn’t wrestling a smart match at all. Andre choked Macho with his strap but Savage just kept coming even though he was making no progress at all. The structure of this has been kind of cool with Andre just playing defense, allowing the stubborn Macho Man to come at him and then pelting him with strikes while shoving him away. Savage finally found a seam and a burst of energy and he was able to rock Andre with some shots, including an axe blow off the ropes. Andre recovered but as he did, Jake Roberts showed up at ringside and hid Damien under the ring. I should mention Jake is also wearing a leather coat and pants set. Andre and Heenan freaked out as the referee forced Roberts to leave, but not before Savage consulted with him leading into a break. The match was a bit more balanced after that, mainly because Andre was preoccupied with Damien’s whereabouts. Jesse was not happy with the snake distracting Giant during such a big time match that he was in control of. Heenan frantically searched for Damien as Andre demanded he find it. That gave Savage a chance to drill him from behind but Andre kept fending him off in between lumbering around and giving Heenan orders. Bobby finally found the sack but Jake met him and the referee finally just threw the match out. Andre would get knocked back into the ropes as Savage chucked Heenan to the floor. With Andre trapped and tied up, Roberts unleashed Damien but Heenan freed the Giant in time to escape. I actually really enjoyed the style and presence of the match until it devolved into the weak finish with all the interference and nonsense. I get they were building that feud up and also didn’t want Andre eating pins, but just as I was really getting into it, it was cut off prematurely. Savage retains and rolls on as champ. Grade: *1/2

4) Jim Duggan defeats Boris Zhukov in a Flag Match with a running clothesline at 2:27

Fun Fact: The Cold War continues to be fought in the squared circle as the American flag waving Hacksaw Jim Duggan feuds with his Russian counterpart, Boris Zhukov. Prior to this, Duggan had been feuding with Dino Bravo and indicated that he would not allow flags other than that of the United States to wave in arenas, including Bravo’s Quebec flag. This winner of this flag match would get to wave their flag following the match.

Scott: Here’s another throwaway match involving one of the most popular guys in the company. I’m starting to get concerned that the show is becoming a glorified Superstars or Wrestling Challenge episode, with bad squashes except instead of jobbers in low mid-card guys. The premise of the match is that the winner gets to raise their flag and hear their national anthem, like the Olympics. Boris gets no offense in and Duggan wins with the three point tackle. By now the WWF has that core group of top flight babyfaces (Hogan, Savage, Duggan, Warrior, Roberts). The heels are slowly starting to galvanize themselves as more talent comes from the territories. So we have another character-enhancing squash. Where’s Barry O for these? Poor Boris. Grade: DUD

Justin: Next up we harken back to the early SNME days with a good old fashioned USA vs. Russia flag match. All American Jim Duggan defends the US against that evil Boris Zhukov, who is waving a flag “from a hardware store” as Duggan claimed before the bout. Zhukov has very little legitimacy as a singles competitor in the WWF so this didn’t have much intrigue on the surface. Duggan started off 1988 hot but has started to peter out here and has began settling into the mid card jingoistic character that he would best be known for. Duggan rattled Boris with an atomic drop and a clothesline, sending him to the floor to regroup right away. Back inside, Boris landed a few basic strikes but Duggan battled through them and dodged a charging Boris. Duggan missed an elbow and Boris laid in some offense, but it was short lived as Duggan slammed the big man and hit his running clothesline for the victory. This is a rough night of in ring action. Basically another squash here but the crowd did love that Old Glory got to fly high over the ring as the National Anthem echoed in the arena. Grade: DUD

*** We get a special edition of the Brother Love Show, with special guest Hulk Hogan. Before that begins, clips are shown of the last time this went down, when Big Boss Man attacked Hogan on the Brother Love set and viciously beat him down with his nightstick. Love then swerves Hulkster by bringing out Slick instead. No complaints about hearing Jive Soul Bro from this review. Hogan was backstage with Mean Gene and wasn’t amused at this okie doke but Love brought him out next and he entered to a raucous ovation. Love would do his usual shtick of pumping up and chatting with Slick while also cutting off Hulk anytime he went to talk. This went on for a bit until Hulk finally grabbed the mic away and unloaded on both guys, saying his Hulkamaniacs would all get in line to beat on Slick and then called out the Brother for spreading his phony love and he would be guilty and executed if Hulk and his fans were judges. None of this made much sense. Slick would eventually put his hands on Hogan but Hulk swatted him away and chucked him over the top rope. Love landed a shot from behind but Hogan then slammed him down hard, cuffed him to the ropes and posed to end the segment. ***

5) The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers defeat The Young Stallions when Raymond pinned Paul Roma after the Bombs Away at 3:05

Scott: This isn’t an enhancement match as much as the others. The Stallions were built as a lower mid-card team but they got some wins on TV, mostly against teams like the Shadows and other masked jobbers on Prime Time Wrestling. I mean it seemed very likely that the Rougeaus were going to win, especially after they interfered in the tag title match on the last episode of SNME. Although the match was painfully short it was definitely a more back and forth match than the others tonight. The megaphone led to the victory as Jacques cracked Paul Roma over the head with the megaphone and Raymond gets the three count. The Rougeaus get the win to move up the tag team ladder but by the start of the year it seems like they get lost in the shuffle. Grade: *

Justin: One last squash to close things out. Before the match, Jimmy Hart reveals that the Rougeau Brothers have officially moved to the USA…Memphis, TN to be exact. So tremendous. The Young Stallions were on their very last legs as a team here as they would go their separate ways soon enough. The Rougeaus turned heel over the summer and it was very much needed to help freshen them and the division up a bit. Adding in the “All American Boys” stuff was great heel character work as well. Jacques and Powers opened things up and Jacques landed the first big blow with a dropkick to the mush. Powers made a little comeback but Jimmy Hart smacked him in the knee with his megaphone, allowing his charges to take full control and use teamwork to batter Powers. Powers would duck a blind cross body block and make the tag just as Jacques tagged out to Ray. Roma squashed him with a powerslam and hit a forearm off the middle rope followed by a missile dropkick for a near fall. Everything broke down from there, leading to the Rougeaus hitting the Bombs Away for the win. That was a spirited little affair and if given another five minutes or so, it could have been pretty good. Grade: *

Final Analysis

Scott: For the second episode in a row we get a lot of quick squashes designed to put over characters, with the Brother Love/Hulk Hogan segment taking up a big hunk of the show. Even the WWF Title match with Savage and Andre seemed to take a back seat to the Andre/Jake drama. That’s fine in one aspect but clearly the WWF Title doesn’t get the shine when someone else holds it as when Hogan held it during the first three years of the show’s run. I’m really disappointed that we aren’t getting better matches on really the only show where top flight guys face each other in better matches. This one may be one of the lowest I ever grade. Final Grade: D

Justin: This was a second straight disappointing SNME to close out 1988, and honestly may be one of the worst we have seen. And honestly it wasn’t a tough watch or down right bad but it is just that nothing really stood out as must-see or can’t miss. The match quality was all very low as we didn’t even get one good anchor workrate match. The WWF Title match was fun for a while until it crumbled towards the end. Otherwise it was a parade of showcase squashes, which is fine for syndicated TV but using them here makes it feel like SNME isn’t as special or unique as it used to be. It also didn’t help that the Brother Love Show segment fell flat too after eating up a good chunk of time. A lot of good stuff is in place heading into 1989 but we finish off 1988 with a very soft offering. Final Grade: D