Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIII – 10/14/89

*** 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! ***


Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIII – 10/14/89

October 14, 1989
Riverfront Coliseum
Cincinnati, OH
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Randy Savage defeats Jimmy Snuka with a roll up at 5:37

Fun Fact: On the September 25 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Randy Savage defeated King Jim Duggan to gain the crown as King of the WWF. The official coronation ceremony was broadcast on the 30th during WWF Superstars. His real-life brother, “The Genius” Lanny Poffo read a special poetic proclamation as he was crowned. A scepter was given to him by Ted DiBiase, which would come into play in numerous matches in the future.

Scott: We open the show with the new King of the WWF, as Randy Savage took the crown from that clown Jim Duggan. This is pretty much a consolation prize for Savage after not winning back the WWF Championship from Hulk Hogan, effectively ending that feud. Now as King he takes on the first Phenom of the WWF, the Superfly. Savage and Sherri worked perfectly in this gimmick as the promotion’s royalty. I think Savage and Sherri’s chemistry during matches was underrated, as they really worked well together as a heel team. Clearly Snuka wasn’t going to win here unless they were going with some weird Snuka as King angle. That wasn’t going to work since they already had an incoherent goof as King and it quickly ended. The match was solid enough, with Savage using the infamous “loaded purse” that’s been prevalent all summer to get the victory. After the match Savage tried to drop the big elbow for good measure but Snuka rolled out of the way. Snuka was going to hit the big splash but Sherri stood in front of him, defending her King. That was a decent enough opener to put over Savage’s new gimmick. Grade: *1/2

JT: It has been a while since our last Saturday Night’s Main Event, and here we are now, solidly into the fall of 1989. SummerSlam has come and gone and we are edging towards Survivor Series and while many of the faces are the same, much of the landscape and look of the promotion has changed. And we start here as Randy Savage is now royalty, having taken the crown and King title from Jim Duggan with some help from his Queen, Sensational Sherri back in September. If Savage was going to be hanging outside the main event scene, this was a good hook for him and it helped reinvent him and mix it up for this new stage of his career. We even get footage from the awesome coronation. Jimmy Snuka returned back in the spring but already has slid solidly into near jobber status, entering random feuds here and there but always coming out on the short end of the purse. Still, his name value counts for something and he was good to have around to help put over others as needed. Savage and Sherri getting carried to the ring on the sedan thrones just feels so right. He was also wearing some pimp purple and gold trunks and kneepads. Snuka avoided a Savage attack off the bell and rattled him with a leaping headbutt before sending him careening to the floor with a reverse atomic drop. Superfly followed him out and laid in some stiff chops but Sherri got involved by tying him up, allowing Savage to deck him from behind. This Sherri & Savage pairing is great and they have really developed it well, showing how much she gets involved and helps on the floor as a dichotomy to Elizabeth. Savage kept hammering away and then yanked Snuka over the top and to the floor. He followed right after him with an axe handle blow off the top rope and Sherri topped it off with some kicks to the gut. Both Savage and Sherri continued to lay in shots on Superfly but Macho couldn’t quite put him away. Snuka came back with some more headbutts and chops and then pasted Savage with a clothesline. He followed that by shooting Savage into the corner so hard that Savage flipped upside down and got tangled in the tree of woe. As Snuka was tied up with the referee and Sherri, Savage grabbed Sherri’s purse and drilled Superfly in the kidneys with it. Savage then rolled him up for the win. After the bell, Savage tried for a flying elbow but Snuka dodged it and then went for the Superfly Splash but Sherri stood tall in front of her man to thwart him. That was a feisty little match that, as usual for Savage, never slowed up. The Sherri stuff continues to entertain and Savage flew all around the ring when he was in control. Snuka looked good too. Fun, quick sprint of a match. Grade: *1/2

2) Hulk Hogan defeats Ted DiBiase to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with a small package at 8:00

Fun Fact: Shortly after WrestleMania V, Ted DiBiase and Jake Roberts entered into a feud. Following a victory over Virgil on the 5/6 episode of Superstars, Roberts was attacked by DiBiase and placed in the Million Dollar Dream. In kayfabe, this put Roberts out of action for several months to have surgery to repair the disc damage caused by the move. In reality, Roberts was facing aggravated battery charges after punching a man in the face and stomach following an argument over the quality of life and women in Daytona Beach, Florida. DiBiase continued to stoke the fire in their feud during Roberts’ absence by one week bringing out a gold neck brace for Roberts now that his career was over. The feud would kick back into gear in September when Roberts returned to action.

Fun Fact II: Following SummerSlam, the million-dollar champion Ted DiBiase opened up the purse strings again and acquired the services of Zeus to be his enforcer leading into Survivor Series with Hogan’s team.

Scott: The World Title on the line next as Hulk Hogan continues his schedule of (almost) alternating shows to defend his title. Ted DiBiase has almost been forgotten throughout 1989 but now with the Million Dollar belt, and now he has the transferred Zeus as his “insurance policy”. Zeus’ relationship with Randy Savage temporarily ended after their SummerSlam loss, but Zeus still has plenty of juice left since his pinfall was via the “loaded purse”. Zeus starts immediately, grabbing Hogan’s leg while both men lock up in the corner. DiBiase is probably long overdue for this title match, and won’t let the opportunity slip away. Zeus continues to interfere, as at one point both he and Hogan start choking each other. A moment later DiBiase distracts the referee and Zeus starts choking Hogan again but this time Hogan’s backup comes down in the form of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, another guy who hasn’t been on SNME in quite some time. DiBiase and Jake are feuding dating back to WrestleMania when DiBiase took Damien during Jake’s match with Andre the Giant. The match goes back and forth until Zeus comes in to grab Hogan from behind, and DiBiase (who isn’t disqualified) goes for a move but Hogan moves out of the way and he hits Zeus. Hogan rolls up DiBiase to get the victory. The important moment happens afterwards. Hogan and Zeus are in the ring alone. The early rumor was that this was going to be our main event for WrestleMania VI in Toronto. Before they start to brawl, DiBiase comes back in we get some double teaming until Jake comes in with Damien to clean house. Hogan keeps his title, but was the seed planted for our WrestleMania main event. Grade: **

JT: It has been a little while since Ted DiBiase was in the World Title mix, but he picks up a big title match here with Hulk Hogan, who is still reigning on top since winning the strap at WrestleMania. Also, Zeus is still here. We first saw him in May, when he was brought in by Slick and Big Boss Man. Over the summer, he was aligned with Randy Savage, leading to a big SummerSlam tag match. And now, he is on the payroll of the Million Dollar Man, acting as DiBiase’s muscle for his big showdown with the Hulkster here tonight. Hogan and DiBiase locked up to start and Zeus wasted no time getting in Hulk’s grill, trying to help Ted out. Hogan fought through it early on, keeping an eye on Zeus but also working a tight headlock on the challenger. The distraction would payoff momentarily as DiBiase caught Hogan looking away but the champ came right back with a clothesline and stiff elbow in the corner. DiBiase turned things around again and then tied up the referee as Zeus choked away at Hogan. That drew out Jake Roberts to even the odds and he now caused distraction for his arch nemesis DIBiase. Hogan would get a quick roll up but DiBiase broke free and went back to work with stomps. Hogan came back with some punches in the corner and as Roberts jawed with Zeus, Virgil grabbed Damien and sprinted to the back. Jake chased after him and that allowed DiBiase to clothesline Hogan to the floor. This has been a wild match. After the break, DiBiase had Hogan back in the ring and was wearing him out with clotheslines and elbows to the back of the head. The challenger hit a perfect suplex for a near fall and then cracked Hogan with an elbow off the middle rope for a two count. He followed up with a rear chinlock, looking to wear Hogan down a bit more. Hogan broke free but a moment later both men were on the mat following a double clothesline. It looked like Zeus whiffed on a spot there when Hogan hit the ropes because as soon as Hulk was back to his feet he awkwardly hit the ropes again and this time Zeus clobbered him in the back. DiBiase hammered away and then landed a big stomp off the top rope. However, that would be it as Hogan hulked up from there and punched away at the challenger. Zeus came in from behind and hooked Hogan but Hulk ducked and DiBiase clobbered the big man. Hogan then snuck up from behind and grabbed an inside cradle for the win. After the bell, Zeus and DiBiase went back to work as Zeus snapped Hogan’s neck with some sort of wrenching vise. DiBiase then hooked the Million Dollar Dream on until Roberts reemerged with Damien for the save. That was a surprisingly effective post match attack. And it was also a really fun match. I loved the early chaos with all the interference and shenanigans at ringside and the back end was well done with good near falls and some crisp offense. I also liked that Hogan won with the inside cradle instead of the usual. This was a pairing we don’t see a ton of on TV or PPV and I really enjoyed them going at it here. It also furthered along multiple storylines at once and sets up nicely for Survivor Series. Grade: **1/2

3) Roddy Piper defeats Haku with a belly-to-belly suplex at 3:02

Fun Fact: On the July 17 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Roddy Piper joined as the new co-host. The week prior, Bobby Heenan walked off the program to start his own show. This began a rift between Piper and the Heenan family. After weeks of verbal sparring between Piper and Heenan, the August 21 episode of Prime Time saw sparks fly as Piper and Heenan Family member, Rick Rude, had to be held apart after a verbal altercation. Piper showed up at SummerSlam where he mooned Rude during his Intercontinental Championship match against the Ultimate Warrior, causing him to lose the belt. On the September 9 episode of the Brother Love Show, Piper was the special guest. After being berated by Brother Love for sticking his nose in Rick Rude’s business, Piper gave a lesson on hygiene, stuffing dental floss, toothpaste and mouthwash into Brother Love’s mouth. Following the “lesson”, Rude attacked Piper from behind, throwing mouthwash into his eyes and hitting him with the lectern. Piper makes his return to SNME here as he continues his rivalry with another Heenan Family member.

Scott: We have the triumphant return of the HOT ROD to SNME, after making his big return at WrestleMania. There he humiliated Morton Downey Jr, and then at SummerSlam mooned Rick Rude, and eventually cost him the Intercontinental Title to the Ultimate Warrior. Now he sets his sights on taking out the entire Heenan Family, and he started here with Haku. As with most Piper matches, it’s a quick punch and kick fest that ends with a Piper victory. The Hot Rod is back but his feud with another Heenan Family member, Rick Rude, continues. Grade: 1/2*

JT: After returning to the promotion back at WrestleMania, Roddy Piper mainly just played an announcer role, co-hosting Prime Time Wrestling and staying out of the ring. At SummerSlam, that all changed as he inserted himself in Rick Rude’s Intercontinental Title defense against the Ultimate Warrior. Rude and Bobby Heenan would blame Pipe for the defeat, triggering a big time feud and drawing Piper back into active competition. So, here Piper gets a match against another Heenan Family member, the former king, Haku. Piper hadn’t competed on SNME since early 1987 and it was great to see him back in the ring on the show he helped build in the early years. And the Hot Rod wasted no time, peppering Haku with a wild flurry of punches that knocked him right to the floor. Piper dove off the apron and kept laying in the fists before finally popping up and sliding back inside to a round of cheers. Piper and Heenan would put on a little comedy act but before Piper could levy any damage, Haku made the save. Haku whacked Piper with a clothesline and then landed a shoulderbreaker for a near fall. Piper quickly made a comeback and polished off Haku with a random belly-to-belly suplex. Heenan seethed at ringside as Piper celebrated his comeback win. The match was nothing but the story was all about Piper chasing Heenan and his Family as he aimed his sights on Rude. Grade: 1/2*

4) Tito Santana wrestles Rick Martel to a double disqualification at 9:00

Fun Fact: This feud of former tag team partners began back at WrestleMania V when Rick Martel walked out on Tito Santana, turning heel in the process. Martel felt that Santana had been riding his coattails for too long. Martel took on the role of an arrogant model.

Fun Fact II: While this episode of SNME aired on October 14, it was recorded on September 21. Martel and Santana would actually be wrestling each other on October 14 as they met in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament in Providence, Rhode Island. Sanata would win the tournament that night.

Scott: It’s time for the long awaited battle between former Strike Force members. Rick Martel turned on Tito Santana at WrestleMania, cutting the historic promo where he proclaims that Tito “IS A LOOSER!” in the awesome French Canadian accent. Martel gets the upper hand at SummerSlam, winning that great six-man tag match against Tito and the Rockers but now here they go face to face, one on one. However to amp up the awesomeness of this segment, Martel brings down his Survivor Series team of the Twin Towers, Jimmy Hart and Honky Tonk Man. Tito, not to be outdone, brings out his Survivor Series team of Brutus Beefcake, Red Rooster and, making his SNME debut, the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Big Dust has Boss Man’s hat and nightstick, drawing the ire of Boss Man. Rhodes took the tools during the summer, igniting their feud. The match is a lot of fun with all the guys jaw jacking at each other at ringside, and even a second referee had to come in as both sets of guys were just going to go at it in the ring. After some really good action the match devolves into total chaos as both teams just start going at it in a free for all that ends the match as a double DQ. This war will culminate next month in Chicago at Survivor Series. Grade: **1/2

JT: In more fallout from WrestleMania, the former Strike Force goes to war here in the back end of SNME. After bailing on Tito Santana, Rick Martel went heel, got some powder blue trunks and picked up Slick as a manager. And along with Slick comes Jive Soul Bro, which is always just so fun and amazing to hear. In more hype for Survivor Series, Slick brought Akeem, Big Boss Man and Honky Tonk Man out with Martel to stack the odds against Tito. Martel dancing with Slick is so great, as is Tito’s theme music. And Tito would even the odds as he brought out Red Rooster, Brutus Beefcake and Dusty Rhodes to watch his back. Martel went right at Tito as Jesse said that due to the hatred flowing here what would have normally been a scientific affair is now likely to be a brawl. And that seemed to be the case to start as the two traded straight blows in and out of the ring. Santana got the first near fall of the match with a sunset flip and then kept pouring it on, landed kicks and then just grabbing at Martel’s face. He followed with a cross body block for another two count but Martel was able to catch him with a shot to the gut and then yank him into the middle buckle to put Tito on his back. Martel stomped away as his teammates rooted him on from the floor. After a spurt of offense from Martel, Tito punched his way back into it and hit the flying forearm but Slick jumped on the apron and drew Santana off the cover. That led to all eight men hopping on the apron and stopping the match momentarily. After a break things settled down as Martel went back to work with more punches and then eventually shoving Tito to the floor. Once Santana got back inside, Martel went to work on the lower back as Vince informed us that he calls himself the Model now. Santana elbowed out of a side headlock and got a backslide for a near fall but Martel popped up and spiked Tito’s head to the mat to maintain control. He would hook the Boston crab but Tito got the ropes to force the break. Martel tried to go up top but Tito was able to crotch him and punch him down to the mat. Tito slugged Martel down again and went for the figure four but Slick again jumped on the apron for the distraction. That brought Boss Man in and he was followed by everyone and that triggered a large brawl that lead to a double DQ. The faces eventually won the fight but we still don’t have closure on the Strike Force issue. The match was a good watch but mainly due to the atmosphere and chaos around the ring. Much of the action inside was strike based and didn’t have a great flow to it, but again that played off the hate filled storyline. I would like to see them get some real time to go one-on-one but the point of this outing was mainly to sell Survivor Series, and rightfully so. Grade: **

5) Bushwhackers defeat Fabulous Rougeau Brothers when Butch pins Jacques after a double gutbuster 3:15

Fun Fact: Fellow PTBN staffer, Dave Musgrave, has written a fantastic historical piece covering the history of the Bushwackers. You can read all about this unique team and their history at

Scott: These two teams were pretty much attached to each other for about 18 months, including three PPV matches. They also battle here but this one is nothing more than comedy fodder, with yet another SNME moment where Jimmy Hart gets his pants pulled off. This was a glorified squash win for the Bushwhackers, which surprised me as the Rougeaus were a solid heel team. I didn’t know at the time that they were out the door soon too. There’s not much more to say here. Grade: DUD

JT: Our WrestleMania fallout themed show continues as the Rougeau Brothers are looking to avenge their Mania loss to the Bushwhackers here tonight. The Whackers marched to the ring and attacked the Rougeaus immediately, knocking them to the floor and then chasing Jimmy Hart around the ring until they tore his pants off, revealing boxer shorts adorned by the Quebec flag. He was eventually saved by his boys and scampered to the back as the crowd cheered on the mayhem. The Rougeaus made the Whackers pay by nailing them from behind and double teaming Butch with a clothesline and a Boston crab/kneedrop combo. They kept the heat on Bitch as the crowd rallied him on. Another double team would backfire, allowing Butch to make the tag. Luke came in hot, rocking Jacques with a right hand and leaping clothesline. A moment later, the Whackers smashed Jacques with the battering ram and then polished him off with a double gut buster. Well that was a quick one and a real waste of the Rougeaus. They are too talented to be relegated to comedy matches and squash losses like this, but alas their time seems to have past. Nothing to see here, just a match to fill out the final few minutes of the show. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: This was the typical “in-between” episode of SNME, where debuts, returns and sustained mid-card feuds took up a majority of the time. Roddy Piper’s first SNME appearance in over two years is a success as well as the first guy to ever be on a SNME and a Clash of the Champions, Dusty Rhodes. The Santana/Martel stuff was a lot of fun with both teams going at it back and forth. The Hogan title match was fine and the tease was there for a Hogan/Zeus match but would it actually sell tickets? Maybe for the Royal Rumble, but not for WrestleMania. This episode wasn’t as strong as the previous two but it was still entertaining and 1989 is still an awesome year for wrestling. Final Grade: B-

JT: This episode was a pretty good snapshot of this era as it was filled with memorable characters, defined feuds, quick pacing and lots of storylines…but the in ring action was lacking. Hogan and DiBiase had a good little affair that ended up match of the night but it still wasn’t anything special. Martel and Santana could have delivered that signature performance but storyline dictated that match. That said, the atmosphere here was great and the show hummed right along, wrapping up some lingering issues and setting the stage for Survivor Series. The rest of the card was filled out with virtual squashes but each at least served some sort of purpose to set up the PPV. Also, it must have been abnormally hot in that arena because all these guys were pouring sweat, even those at ringside in the Santana/Martel bout. This was a step back from the last couple of shows, but it still moved quickly enough to make it an easy and enjoyable watch. Final Grade: C+