*** 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 XX – 3/11/89
March 11, 1989
Hershey Park Arena
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura
1) Brutus Beefcake defeats Rick Rude by disqualification at 5:45
Fun Fact: Apart from some house show matches, Rick Rude and Brutus Beefcake were not feuding at this time. Rick Rude was in a feud with The Ultimate Warrior which had begun at the Royal Rumble. Beefcake had recently finished his feud with Ron Bass, but was not in a new program with anyone. Heenan claimed during the pre-match interview that he would rid the WWF of the Barber and his bad haircuts. This match served mainly as a tool to advance the Jake Roberts/Andre the Giant feud, as both would get involved in this match.
Scott: We open the SNME leading into WrestleMania V with the #1 contender for the Intercontinental Title against the former #1 contender for the IC Title. Beefcake has slid into the best buddy role for Hulk Hogan on TV, replacing Randy Savage in that role. Rude attacked Ultimate Warrior after their posedown at the Royal Rumble, and Warrior is on Rude’s tights here. That means that at this point either the IC title match either is about to be or is already booked for Wrestlemania V. The match was a back and forth between the two as they battled to see who could hook a sleeper in. A few minutes into the match Andre the Giant comes down the aisle. Bobby Heenan (who has a busy night ahead) says everything’s ok. Then Rude occupies the referee while Andre starts choking out Beefcake with his strap. That of course brings Jake Roberts out to continue their feud but Rude attacks Jake and all chaos breaks out. Beefcake wins by disqualification but that doesn’t end things. Rude and Andre double team Jake and then Andre works over Beefcake. Then out of nowhere, Royal Rumble winner Big John Studd comes down the ramp and he and Andre go nose to nose. That is weird considering four years earlier Studd was the heel and Andre the face. The match was average but the post-match stuff was fun and really fired up all these guys for April 2. Grade: **
JT: With just weeks to go before WrestleMania, we stop in for one more SNME to help set the stage. The Mania card was pretty filled up and featured just about everyone on the roster, so it will be interesting to see how the stars are all utilized here and if any last minute storylines are pushed along. And it was clear from the start that there would be a ton of focus on the Mega Powers exploding. In our opener, the surging Brutus Beefcake lines up with the stalwart heel Rick Rude. This was quite the tuneup for Rude as he would be challenging to win his first ever singles title at Trump Plaza. Both of these guys were in very similar positions on the ladder and it was cool to see them randomly cross paths here. The crowd was hot for the Beefer as he and Rude circled around the ring before locking horns. The Barber took early control with a series of right hands a big back body drop that rattled Rude’s back. Rude continued to be kept on his heels, unable to get any offense going as Beefcake rammed him into the corner. He finally turned the tide with an inverted atomic drop, allowing him to regain his bearings and then drill Beefcake with a stiff right hand. He gained a near fall off a snap suplex and was feeling good as he clamped on a reverse chinlock. Beefcake broke the hold with a jawbreaker but as he did Andre the Giant stalked to ringside to join his manager. Beefer gave Rude some of his own medicine with a deliberately executed inverted atomic drop of his own. Rude fought back and dumped Beefer to the floor where Andre met him by sitting on his back and then choking him out. Jake Roberts finally emerged and threatened to unleash Damien until Andre scooted away. The referee finally called for the bell as Rude and Andre worked over Roberts. I love the touch there with Jake’s two most bitter rivals working together to wreck him. Brutus eventually made the save but Andre mowed through him as well. This postmatch fight was fantastic and it made Andre look like a monster. That ended when John Studd strutted to the ring and squared off with the Giant, staring him down to a stalemate. Roberts showed back up with Damian and Andre finally bolted. The match itself was pretty fun and with more time could peaked higher, but despite the DQ, the brawl after was great and pushed along a big Mania storyline. It also drew lines in the midcard with Beefcake and Roberts being aligned at the top of the division. Grade: **
2) Hulk Hogan defeats Bad News Brown with the legdrop at 9:44
Fun Fact: Allen Coage, known as Bad News Brown in the WWF, was initially a judo competitor and champion. Coage trained for nearly two decades in judo, earning a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal for the US team. In 1978, Coage decided to try professional wrestling and began training under Antonio Inoki. He took on the persona of Bad News Allen in short tenures in New Japan and the WWF before settling into a role in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary where he wrestled from 1982 to 1988, with quick stops in Australia and Florida during that time. When Vince purchased Stampede, Coage came along and had his character name changed to Bad News Brown.
Fun Fact II: After walking out on his team at Survivor Series 1988, Brown got on the mic with Sean Mooney and indicated that the Survivor Series didn’t mean anything to him, but the WWF title did. He stated that he was undefeated in the WWF and didn’t know why he had not gotten a championship match against Randy Savage. Here at SNME, Brown indicates that he will go through Hogan to get his title shot.
Scott: Seeing Hulk Hogan coming out alone with Elizabeth seems so sleazy it makes me sick. Of course we have to forget all this logic and call Savage a piece of trash. Meanwhile Bad News Brown is accusing Elizabeth of giving “favors” to Jack Tunney to give Randy Savage preferential treatment while WWF Champion. So in other words, Elizabeth is a whore. I’m stunned that this is even being alluded to on television. It’s amazing how different 1989 television is. Well until the Attitude Era anyway. Hogan is on a different level of angry going into this match, which is probably a good thing since Brown is a brawling bad ass. This match is a crazy brawl with no flow to it but that’s fine considering the guys in the ring and the state of Hogan’s character at this point. Brown made his character known back at Survivor Series when he walked out on his teammates. He was definitely a revolutionary character that was not the perfect fit of the Federation Era. Bad News heads back to the entrance and grabs a shovel (which Vince couldn’t recognize). Brown then took control and worked Hogan over, even almost getting a legit three count if Hogan didn’t put his foot under the bottom rope. Brown grabs the mike and starts awesomely taunting Hogan while he was down, but then he misses the Ghetto Blaster and Hogan makes the obligatory comeback. High knee, leg drop, three count. The match was actually a lot of fun with crazy brawling. Hogan sets himself up for the big match April 2 in Atlantic City. Grade: **1/2
JT: The feud between Bad News Brown and Randy Savage had burned through the back end of 1988 with much of Brown’s atteck focused on allegations of Elizabeth performing favors on Jack Tunney to help protect Savage’s title. Hulk Hogan is now in the mix as well as Bad News has set his sights on him as a target because Hogan is defending Liz’s honor when Savage just ignored the claims. This was some pretty good stuff that probably deserved a more high profile program. Bad News’ prematch promo was great too, especially with Jesse egging him on throughout it. On the flip side, Hogan was kind of creepy in the way he lurched over and spoke about his concern for Liz and thoughts on Savage. With Liz smiling while leading Liz out, Jesse assumed that meant she had already made her decision as to which corner to be in at Mania, but the decision was yet to officially be made. Bad News was locked in from the get go, jumping Hulk off the bell and laying the wood right away. Hogan dodged an elbow drop and came back with a quick flurry that knocked Brown to the floor. Now Hogan stayed aggressive, following him out and slinging him right back inside where he unloaded with a shoulderblock, clothesline and some elbowdrops. Brown made a comeback but Hogan cracked him with a boot on a charge and knocked him back outside with an atomic drop. He again followed out and smashed Brown into the guardrail. Aggressive Hogan is always fun, especially when he mixes it up with a pure brawler like Brown. They kept trading control and both would hit the post before Hogan blocked a chair shot and popped Brown in the head with it instead. Brown shook it off and searched for more weapons before stalking to the locker room. Hogan kept stopping the count and Brown eventually returned with a giant shovel that Hogan yanked away after a commercial break. Back inside, Brown regained control with a big clothesline and then started to stomp away. On the floor, Liz protected Hogan, leading to Brown chasing her around the ring. That gave Hogan the chance to recover and run him down but Brown threw him into the post and chucked him back into the ring, where Hogan barely got his leg on the rope to break a cover. In a great bit, Bad News grabbed a mic and shit talked Hogan as Hulk dragged himself up off the mat. Brown announced that he was going for the Ghetto Blaster but that backfired as Hogan was able to time and duck it once he knew it was coming. A fatal mistake as noted by Jesse. Hogan quickly hulked up, hit a running knee and dropped the leg for the really hard fought win. This was a hella fun match with tons of anger and brawling and all sorts of aggression. They also kept the Liz stuff to a minimum which was nice. Brown looked like a legit player here and Hogan was on his game too, keeping pace with his fired up rival. A bit of a hidden gem in the SNME canon. Grade: ***
3) Ted DiBiase defeats Blue Blazer with a powerslam at 3:57
Fun Fact: Owen Hart was born to Stu and Helen Hart in May, 1965. He was the youngest of the 12 Hart children. He was an experienced amateur wrestler in high school, but wrestling was not what Owen wanted to go into as a career. He tried different options before deciding to give pro wrestling a shot. He was trained in his father’s Dungeon and was a popular figure in Stampede Wrestling before 1987 when he took some time away to wrestle in Japan. When he returned in 1988, he signed on with the WWF. Instead of billing him as Bret’s younger brother, he was given the masked character, The Blue Blazer. He would leave the WWF shortly after WrestleMania V to wrestle on the independent circuit before returning in 1991.
Fun Fact II: On February 15, 1989, a vignette is run showing Ted DiBiase enter Betteridge Jewelers in Greenwich, CT to discuss the making of the Million Dollar belt. Over the next two weeks, additional segments are run showing DiBiase giving instructions on how he wants the belt to look. On the 3/4 edition of the Brother Love Show, the masterpiece is unveiled, the only championship money could buy. The belt makes its in-ring debut here at SNME and will make its PPV debut at WrestleMania V only a few weeks later.
Scott: The legendary Million Dollar Belt makes its SNME debut here against the baby Hart brother. Blazer gets in the ring with the best workers in the company (he faces another great worker at Wrestlemania), but sadly they never let these matches go longer than a few minutes before Blazer is looking at the lights. Unfortunately the thinking in the company back then was putting over the top talent instead of putting a great match on per se. That was the major difference between the WWF and say NWA/WCW/Crockett at that time. It was a great four minutes sprint where Blazer went all over the ring and gave DiBiase everything he could offer, until he ran right into a DiBiase power slam for the three count. That was a great little sprint that showed how great a wrestler Owen Hart was even that early in his career. DiBiase survives, barely. Grade: **
JT: Despite revealing his brand new Million Dollar Title belt before the match, Ted DiBiase was really aimless at this point, ambling around without much a feud and set for a random battle with Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania. After being a major part of the main event picture in 1988, it was clear they were resetting him and planning to wait until after Mania to fire him back into a top angle. So here he faces off with the exciting Blue Blazer, who had mainly been showcasing his wares on TV and around the house show circuit. DiBiase wastes no time drilling Blazer as he flipped into the ring and hammered away at him in the corner before pasting him with a back elbow. Blazer got a flash backslide but otherwise this was all Ted working him over and showing lots of pissed off aggression. Blazer got a burst after eating a suplex, dropkicking DiBiase to the floor and then diving out after him. Blazer stayed on the attack outside before pitching Ted into the ring. He followed with a high cross body for a two count and kept the pressure on, grabbing two more near falls. However, a moment later DiBiase caught Blazer on a whip and took him down with a nice powerslam for the win. That was a really good little match, worked at an efficient pace and filled with good energy. Another 10 minutes tacked on and that could have been a classic. Grade: **1/2
*** Gene Okerlund welcomes Miss Elizabeth to the podium so she can reveal which corner she will be in at WrestleMania V. Liz says her decision is difficult because she cares for both men and hoped it never came to this. She announced that she wouldn’t be in Hulk Hogan’s corner and with that Randy Savage bolted out and celebrated, saying when the smoke clears, she would still be standing with the champion. Liz then clarified that she would not be in Savage’s corner either and that drew Hogan out. He threatened to take Savage’s head off but said he had too much respect for Liz and that he would wait until Mania to take his title back. ***
4) Rockers and Brainbusters wrestle to a double countout at 9:00
Fun Fact: These two tag teams first squared off at Survivor Series 88 where both teams were eliminated by double disqualification. This sparked a heated feud that lasted into the spring of 1989. Following their double DQ, the teams met numerous times on the house show circuit including a match on January 23, 1989 at Madison Square Garden (Anderson and Blanchard’s first appearance at the Garden) that was rated as one of the top 50 matches in PWI’s 10th anniversary issue.
Fun Fact II: Bios of both The Rockers and The Brainbusters can be found in PTBN’s Vintage Vault, Volume 1 ebook (cheap plug} available at BN.com, Smashwords.com and in the iBooks Store) under Survivor Series 1988.
Scott: Now we are talking. Two expert tag teams that have instantly jacked up the tag division work here on the big stage. These two teams were having workrate wars on the house show circuit at this time, including two memorable house show battles at MSG and the Boston Garden. They work so well together and this match is no different. So much great controlled chaos which is the hallmark of Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard matches. They know how to keep the match contained yet make it feel so out of control. Bobby Heenan gets thrown out after he pulled the top rope down and Shawn Michaels hit the deck on an Irish Whip. In the end all four guys just brawl like crazy until the referee counts everybody out. I loved this feud and it was a great way for both teams to be introduced to the WWF crowd. Ric Flair always considered Bobby “The Fifth Horseman” and managing the Brain Busters seemed a perfect match. This match was so much fun but again I feel cheated by the length, although for TV I shouldn’t complain about nine minutes. Grade: ***
JT: Up next is a highly anticipated tag team bout between two teams new to SNME. Both of these teams debuted back in the fall and have been battling across the country ever since. The Busters had a great NWA legacy behind them and were a real coup for the WWF, immediately adding a high level of class to the company. The Rockers were party animals from the AWA that captured the hearts of young women with their looks while dazzling other fans with a high flying style. It was fitting that both teams make their SNME debuts against each other since they have been married to each other for around six months to this point. The Busters stuck first, knocking Shawn Michaels to the floor and trying to pick up a quick pin on Marty Jannetty, but things backfired and the match erupted into a four way brawl won by the Rockers. Michaels and Arn were in there after the dust settled and Shawn slammed Anderson off the top rope before everything broke down again. This time the Rockers cracked both Busters with superkicks, knocking them to the floor to regroup again. Michaels continued to outwork Anderson until he ran into a kneelift that swung momentum around. Bobby Heenan got in on the action too, yanking down the top rope, causing Michaels to careen to the floor. Heenan would get thrown out by the referee and after a break the Rockers were back into the match as Jannetty had tagged in. The Busters quickly reestablished control with a stiff clothesline. From there, the Busters picked Marty apart with quick machinelike double teams. Jannetty came close to tagging out, but the Busters kept him trapped, ratcheting up the attack with a nice Anderson spinebuster. The crowd was really rallying Marty and he was able to get his knees up to counter a splash from the middle rope by Anderson. Marty finally made that tag and the crowd cheered on Shawn as he exploded through both opponents. The brawling continued, including a Busters near fall, until all four men spilled outside and fought into a double countout. Super fun tag match even with the finish. These guys all had great chemistry and this was an effortless nine minute outing that was super crisp and had a hot crowd pushing it along. Smooth work across the board and you could tell they had wrestled many times before this. Grade: ***
5) Red Rooster defeats Brooklyn Brawler with an inside cradle at 1:05
Fun Fact: After slapping Bobby Heenan at the SNME in January, the Red Rooster (Terry Taylor) was ambushed by Heenan’s new protege on Prime Time Wrestling, Steve Lombardi, who Heenan repackaged as the Brookyln Brawler.
Fun Fact II: Following this match and Heenan’s loss to the Red Rooster at WrestleMania V, the Brooklyn Brawler would be phased out of the Heenan Family. Heenan would say in commentary that the split was amicable. The Brawler will return later in an enhancement talent role.
Fun Fact III: A short bio piece on the Brooklyn Brawler can be found in PTBN’s Vintage Vault, Volume 1 ebook under WrestleMania V.
Scott: This was a quickie match to keep the feud going between Rooster and Bobby Heenan. On an episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Heenan apparently wanted to make amends, but when they shook hands Heenan smacked him across the face and then the Brooklyn Brawler (former jobber Steve Lombardi) smashed him with a chair. Then out of the blue he hits Gorilla Monsoon with the chair! That was shocking for those days because Gorilla was almost considered untouchable at this point, but he was still durable enough to put an angle over and he sure did there. This entire storyline seemed beneath Bobby Heenan, considering what was coming on the horizon for him throughout the rest of 1989. On top of that, Terry Taylor went from being called Red Rooster, to actually LOOKING like a Rooster. Poor bastard. Losing the Mr. Perfect gimmick is one thing, but now it feels like he’s being punished. The match isn’t much, just a warmup to set up Rooster/Bobby at WrestleMania. Grade: *
JT: Back in January, the Red Rooster turned on Bobby Heenan and decide to strike out on his own, tired of being abused by his manager. Heenan wanted to prove that the Rooster was a nobody when he found him, so to get that point across he dug up jobber Steve Lombardi and turned him into the Brooklyn Brawler. It was a neat angle for Heenan but due to the caliber of what was going on, it was clear it would never really take off. The attack on PTW was pretty good though. Also, the Rooster now officially has his rooster hairdo in place and is acting like a chicken, further solidifying his descent into gimmick hell. It was announced here that at Mania, Rooster and Heenan would officially be squaring off so this was a bit of a warmup. Brawler jumped Rooster at the bell but his offense was short lived as Rooster avoided a charge and started peppering away with right hands and a dropkick. Rooster kept on him before finishing things off with an inside cradle. Well, this surely proves Brawler is indeed a nobody. Brawler and Bobby jumped Rooster after the match and worked him over but the chicken man came back and knocked Brawler to the floor as Heenan bailed. Rooster gets his first taste of revenge and looks to Mania to complete the quest. Grade: DUD
*** Gene Okerlund confirms that Miss Elizabeth will be in a neutral corner at WrestleMania and we see Randy Savage tear up a locker room out of anger, saying he will always be the champion. The show then ends with a video on the rise and fall of the Mega Powers. ***
Scott: Everybody had their working boots on here, from the wrestlers to the announcers to the camera crew. We had come pretty solid matches and a decent amount of storyline advancement. It was dominated by the Mega Powers as we are on the road to one of the biggest WrestleMania main events in history. The company needed a big main event after the tepid tournament the year before, but what’s also helping is the roster is really filling up with great tag teams and top flight mid-card talent. This begins a run of really exceptional SNME shows throughout 1989 to showcase all this talent, before and after WrestleMania. In a year where there is only four major PPV shows, the SNMEs in the middle really filled the gaps nicely and this one is a great example of that. Final Grade: A-
JT: Now this is more like it. After a pretty shaky run of shows, we are back on track with a solid outing filled with good matches and a red hot through line that carries us from beginning to end. It was Mega Powers overdrive here, and rightfully so as it is a mammoth storyline leading to one of the most anticipated matches in company history. Hulk Hogan was great on this show, bringing all sorts of aggression and emotion in his fun match with Bad News Brown and the Elizabeth announcement segment. Savage was equally as good, as were McMahon and Ventura. Add in a crisp tag match, a solid opener and a real good semi-squash and this may be our best in ring SNME offering in quite some time. With the excitement of WrestleMania blended in it made this a really fun and entertaining watch that is well worth checking out. Final Grade: B+