Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXVII – 7/28/90

*** 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 XXVII – 7/28/90

July 28, 1990
Omaha Civic Auditorium
Omaha, NE
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

Fun Fact: This will be the last SNME with Jesse Ventura on commentary. Ventura would leave the WWF over a disagreement with McMahon over a video game contract. Ventura was in negotiations to sign with Sega to use his likeness in a game. McMahon had recently signed a contract with Nintendo and told Ventura he couldn’t sign. Ventura, who has stated in interviews he was not under contract at the time, told McMahon that he did not own him and he was fired in August 1990.

1) Ultimate Warrior defeats Rick Rude to retain WWF Heavyweight Title by disqualification at 9:43

Fun Fact: At the time, Rick Rude had been the only person to pin the Ultimate Warrior when he cheated to win the IC title from him at WrestleMania V. He resumed his feud with Warrior during the summer of 1990 as he pursued the WWF title.

Scott: We fire this episode up with a World Title match right out of the gate. To this point, the Ultimate Warrior’s landmark feud is reignited. Rick Rude defeated Jimmy Snuka back at WrestleMania but then he seemed to vanish into thin air. Well he returned, complete with a haircut as the bookers try to push that Rude is the only guy to beat Warrior in a match. That was back at WrestleMania V when Bobby Heenan held Warrior’s foot and Rude won the IC Title. One year later and with no real strong heels in the company that aren’t already occupied, they had to repackage Rude somewhat. I thought that perhaps this match should have been set for SummerSlam, unless they needed a first match so they can book a gimmick rematch. The match was a fun back and forth affair, similar to their 1989 wars. Rude cinches the sleeper and Warrior is slowly fading. Perhaps they will have Rude win again, and then Warrior wins the rematch? Warrior recovers and hits the jaw jack reversal. Rude comes back with right hands to soften him up, and then tries to hit the Rude Awakening, but Warrior again attempts to power out of it. Unlike 1989 Rude actually hits it, but Warrior kicks out. Warrior makes his big clothesline comeback and when he hits the splash to attempt the pin, Bobby Heenan throws Warrior off him. All three men brawl to the outside and Warrior wins by disqualification. According to Vince, the SummerSlam match was already announced, which begs the question: Why are they wrestling now? I thought that was bizarre. In any event, the match ends in a schmozz, which adds the steel cage stipulation to next month’s PPV in Philadelphia. This match was paint by numbers for these guys. Grade: **1/2

JT: For the second straight year we have a very special summertime episode of SNME and once again it is really loaded up with big time title matches. We also have our second straight themed show, as we go inside the Wild Kingdom. The WWF is around a month away from SummerSlam and in an interesting twist, the main event slated for Philadelphia opens up our show here. Following Wrestlemania, Rick Rude was transformed into a serious main event heel. Gone was the curly mullet and he spent weeks training intensely to be rebuilt as a credible challenger. There was backstory here and Rude certainly looked like he could be a threat but the real question was whether true intrigue was there after they spent all of 1989 feuding. Warrior still had great presence and energy but there was a real lack of direction for him and it showed in the house show attendance numbers and general malaise with the company. The Rude feud would be a good litmus test of whether or not he could carry a big title program with a fairly tepid opponent. Rude attacked off the bell but Warrior swatted him off and rattled him with early offense. Ventura claimed this one could be determined by brain not brawn, but a moment later Warrior viciously launched Rude into the corner and pummeled him with kicks. Warrior punished the midsection before charging into his challenger with a clothesline that knocked him to the floor. The champ continued to press Rude, keeping him all off kilter with a manic attack that featured a good variance of offense. That crashed to a halt when Rude dodged a big splash, finally giving the Ravishing One a chance to catch his breath. He gained his bearing and landed a big blow by smashing Warrior in the head with the title belt. Rude took a risk after that but got caught coming off the top by Warrior, who went right back to the midsection. However, Rude caught him with a knee on a charge and went to work for a bit. The strategy and format of this match is interesting so far because they need to keep Warrior strong but they need to also present Rude as viable of SummerSlam. Rude would lock in a sleeperhold but Warrior survived and the two began trading hammering blows. Warrior would block an attempt at the Rude Awakening but Rude was able to finally snap it off… but Warrior kicked out. That seems ill advised at this point. Warrior got hot and started mowing through Rude, hitting the big splash but right before he picked up the win, Bobby Heenan smacked him in the head. Warrior chased after him, as did Rude but Heenan landed another blow and hopped in the ring to Warrior to finally draw the DQ. That was a fun match but also a really bad booking decision. This was already slated as the main event of the second biggest show of the year and they had Warrior fight off Rude’s best, kicking out of his finisher and had him beat before Rude got saved. This made no sense in establishing Rude as a threat in Philly. Rude should have won this by countout or something to at least tease the possibility. Anybody that watched this bout would have no true fear that Rude could steal a win at this point. Good match, poor booking. Grade: **

*** Gene Overland and Lord Alfred Hayes kick off a series of vignettes that see them traverse through the jungle, happening upon various WWF superstars and animals. ***

*** A dramatic video package airs, chronicling Hulk Hogan’s glory days and subsequent injury at the hands of Earthquake, setting the stage for their co-main event match at SummerSlam. Hulk Hogan then makes his official return to WWF TV as he hits the ring for a special interview with Vince McMahon. At the end, Earthquake and Dino Bravo came down looking for a fight but Tugboat made the save and the segment ended in a stand off. ***

2) Demolition defeats The Rockers to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Smash pinned Shawn Michaels after an Ax clothesline at 9:31

Fun Fact: Following WrestleMania VI, Demolition began a slow heel turn. Following a segment on the Brother Love show they attacked the Hart Foundation from behind. They also began to cheat to win during the matches. Finally, they added a third member, Crush, and began using the “Freebird Rule”, where any two of the three members of the team could defend the titles. In reality, Crush was brought in due to a shellfish allergy that Ax had developed. Crush was brought in to fill in while Ax was recovering.

Scott: Demolition is in full heel mode now, as they’ve added a third member to their team in Crush. Now they swap guys in and out and the fans turned on them. In reality it was that Ax was having heart issues and had to ease back his schedule. The heel turn was based on the fact that another leather-studded team has arrived in the WWF and they would be overwhelming babyfaces. The match was pretty solid, as the Rockers opened with their speed moves and bobbing and weaving, but Demolition takes control with their power and one thing I applaud them for is they changed the way they wrestled when they went from face to heel. They did obviously wrestle as heels in 1987-88 but with the added chemistry over the past couple of years they really worked as a cohesive unit. Crush is working the majority of the match with Jannetty as the face in peril until the late hot tag to Shawn Michaels who cleans house on the champions and perhaps we are heading to a Harts/Rockers tag title match at SummerSlam, which I think no one would have a problem with. In fact Shawn had a pinfall attempt, but with the referee distracted Demolition wins when Ax comes in and attacks Shawn, then takes the pin himself. The Hart Foundation comes out to argue with the referee, followed by the new tag team on the block, the Legion of Doom! Yes my beloved Road Warriors have arrived in the WWF and they will make a huge impact over the next year. The match was a fun tag team affair on what is turning out to be a great night of wrestling. Grade: **1/2

JT: Since our last SNME, our tag team champions have undergone a major change. First off, they have turned heel for the first time since late 1988. And with Ax ailing physically, a younger third member of the team was imported from Portland: Crush. Very green but very big, Crush started competing in the majority of the matches alongside Smash with the champs utilizing the Freebird rule. They were set to battle the Hart Foundation at SummerSlam, but first they need to get through the energetic Rockers, who are getting a rare big time title match. Ventura has done a quick 180 on the champs, destroying them in April but putting them over here, claiming the Rockers are way overmatched due to the size. Ax was again on the floor here as Smash and Crush would defend the straps. Smash and Jannetty opened things up and Marty used his speed to set the tone, finishing with a dropkick that sent Smash to the floor. A quick double team later and the champs were all out of synch before finally slowing down and getting their sea legs back. The challengers hit a blind tag and used another double team but Crush changed the mood with a vicious clothesline on Michaels. The power display continued with Crush working over Jannetty but the green showed through when the big man was out of position leading to a sloppy sunset flip by Marty. The challengers went back to their quick tag offense but Ax would get involved to twist momentum and put the champs back on top. The match has been pretty good so far but it is really noticeable how raw Crush was to be in a spot like this. Demolition took a big time hit with that swap. Although after a lot of sloppiness, he would hit a nice move like a swift chokeslam on Jannetty that showed you the potential the company saw. Smash came in and locked in a tight bearhug but Marty punched his way free. Jannetty would wriggle free and make the tag to Michaels who came in and ducked and dodged his way through a flurry of offense. Things broke down from there with the challengers hitting the double top rope fist drop but that led to another botch as Crush was too far out to make the save and the referee had to slow his count way down. As the brawl continued, Michaels rolled up Smash but Ax popped in and mauled Michaels with a clothesline and then covered to steal the win. Nice heel work! After the match, the Hart Foundation and newly arrived Legion of Doom came out to bitch at the referee for what happened. Jesse took them all to task saying they were afraid to face Demolition and wanted things overturned. The match was really good but got slowed down due to Crush. If Ax was in there this could have reached have really popped even more as the Rockers were clearly game as always. The tag division continues to be red hot with four top flight teams at the top and others simmering underneath. Demolition is under fire from all sides but they survive here and get themselves ready for Philly. Grade: ***

3) Mr. Perfect defeats Tito Santana to retain WWF Intercontinental Title with an inside cradle at 10:11

Fun Fact: Following the Ultimate Warrior’s WWF title win at WrestleMania VI, the Intercontinental title was vacated and a tournament was held from April 4-23 to crown a new champion. Mr. Perfect won the eight man tournament, defeating Jimmy Snuka and Tito Santana to win the title. Others in the tournament were Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Dino Bravo, Brutus Beefcake and One Man Gang.

Fun Fact II: During the summer leading up to SummerSlam, Mr. Perfect and Tito Santana feuded on the house shows. This would be a rematch from the April IC tournament final.

Scott: Perfect won the IC Title tournament after Ultimate Warrior had to vacate the belt when he won the World Title at WrestleMania. Perfect defeated Tito Santana in the finals of that tournament, and Tito gets the rematch here. This match has an interesting wrinkle, because usually with ref bumps matches end fairly quickly. Well Perfect hits Tito a few minutes into the match and Earl Hebner’s leg is rolled up. He spends the next few minutes writhing in pain around the ring, even as Santana is dominating the action and getting numerous pin covers that if the referee was healthy would have made him the new IC Champion. Instead the counts are slow and Perfect is kicking out. The match was so much better than anybody probably thought it was supposed to be. Tito goes for pin after pin until Perfect goes for the Perfectplex. Tito reverses the attempt into a small package, but Perfect reverses that into a small package of his own and gets the three count to retain his title. That could be the best SNME match ever to this point as both guys really went at it as the storytelling went beyond a regular TV match and ventured into PPV/house show quality where they had time to build psychology. Not to be forgotten is that Perfect has retained Bobby Heenan as his manager, giving the Brain his third titleholder in his WWF career. Grade: ****

JT: Following WrestleMania, Ultimate Warrior was forced to vacate his Intercontinental Title, which was then put up for grabs in a tournament. Mr. Perfect had been depushed out of the main event scene but to help keep him in the mix, he was given the win in the tournament and took on the IC gold with pride. He also dumped the Genius and picked up Bobby Heenan as a manager and that was a match made in Heaven. In that tournament final he knocked off the stalwart Tito Santana in the finals but Tito gets lined up for a rematch here tonight in our last title match of the evening. The veteran Santana was all fired up and got off to a scorching hot start that caught Perfect off guard. He wasn’t taking this match for granted at all. He unloaded with fists and chops and followed Perfect all around the ring and floor. Perfect cut him off and hit a nice standing dropkick as Jesse fired off as many racist comments as he could in his final SNME appearance. Perfect hooked on a chinlock as he slowed the pace and reset himself a bit. He also made sure to slip a choke in there when Bobby would distract the ref. Perfect released the hold and slugged away but Tito caught him with a boot to the face and a big clothesline. As Perfect begged off, Santana stalked and crushed him with a winding right hand that knocked Perfect back into the referee, who twisted his ankle in the process. As he writhed on the ground, Santana locked Perfect in the figure four, which he kept locked on for a while until he finally broke to check on the referee. Perfect got to his feet but Santana decked him with the flying forearm. Unfortunately, the referee was slow to crawl over which allowed Perfect to barely survive. A pissed off Santana stalked the referee and then regained his focus and hit another forearm off the middle rope but the ref again was too slow in coming over, giving Perfect the chance to slip free. Santana’s frustration was palpable as a second referee finally emerged to help out. However, Tito turned around and walked right into a stiff right hand. Santana shook it off and hit a cross body for two. The pacing here has been great, especially for 1990 WWF. The crowd rallied Tito as Perfect smacked him around and racked him with a neck snap. Perfect kept focusing on the neck and head with a side kick and another stiff right hand. Tito came back with his own punches, knocking Perfect over the top rope and to the floor. He chased him out an back in, where he chucked Perfect across the ring and into the post crotch first. Tito was fired up and picked up a real close near fall as Heenan freaked out. The challenger blocked a Perfectplex attempt and wrapped him up with a small package but Perfect reversed momentum and rolled through to grab the hard fought win. What match! One of the best in SNME history for sure. These two went toe-to-toe and Santana looked amazing, reminding us all of how great he really was. I also loved how Perfect got the win in a clean way but still did it in a manner that made Santana look strong. Great booking and the match of the night for sure. Grade: ****

4) Texas Tornado defeats Buddy Rose with a Tornado Punch at 3:09

Fun Fact: This would be the television debut of Kerry von Erich, aka The Texas Tornado. For a full bio of Tornado, see PTBN Vintage Vault Volume 1 – SummerSlam 1990.

Fun Fact II: This would also be the only SNME appearance for “Play Boy” Buddy Rose. For a full bio of Rose, see PTBN Vintage Vault Volume 1 – WrestleMania 1, where he wrestled as the Executioner. In his second run with the WWF, his physique has undergone quite a change from that inaugural WM match, something he would turn into a comical gimmick. Rose was mainly used as enhancement talent during this time into 1991.

Scott: Our final match is nothing more than a showcase match for the debuting Kerry Von Erich. With World Class crumbling in the Dallas area, Tornado went for the pay day and came to the WWF. Buddy Rose had the infamous “blow away diet” storyline (if you can call it that) but he was easy fodder for the newcomer to the promotion. Not much more to say here, except that Tornado probably was going to get a smooth transition into the WWF. Instead, as we see at SummerSlam, he’s thrusted right into the spotlight. Grade: DUD

JT: We cap off a night of hot title matches with the SNME debut of a big time star. Kerry Von Erich was a legend in Texas and a superstar around the world. With a gap in star power in WWF, the company finally came calling and brought Von Erich in for a run as the Texas Tornado. You could tell they planned on giving him a quick push by the way he was put over and there definitely a spot for him to fill. Here he faces off with Playboy Buddy Rose, a great wrestler that was fully into JTTS duty at this point in his career. In 1990 he was most famous for the Blow Away Diet skits that aired on TV but he had a resume that was nearly as sparkling as Von Erich’s. Tornado put his power on display, tossing around the rotund Rose and slamming him with ease. He continued to punish Rose, sending him tumbling to the floor and barely breaking a sweat as the match edged along. Rose went to the eyes and then actually headed up top but Tornado caught him coming off and then finished him with the discus punch for the win. Nothing doing here besides a chance to showcase the Tornado. Grade: 1/2*

*** Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude deliver promos that confirm the SummerSlam main event will take place inside a steel cage. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: After a fantastic year of episodes in 1989, this one may trump those. We have a full blown theme episode for the first time since 1985 and not only do we have all three championships on the line but we actually have a great IC Title match that wasn’t booked as a TV sprint but a house show mini-marathon. It would probably be one of Tito Santana’s last great TV matches in WWF history. Hulk Hogan’s huge return from the Earthquake beatdown caused one of SNME’s all-time pops, and hell we even had a Buddy Rose appearance! Sure the Rude/Warrior match before their…other match may have been a little illogical but they do have great chemistry. To this point, for me it’s the best SNME episode of all time and that includes the great run of 1989 episodes. There’s everything you need for a great network TV special. Final Grade: A+

JT: Well, hard to ask for much more out of a show like this. You could tell they really hyped up these summer specials and saw them as a major stepping stone for SummerSlam as well as a chance to hook in an audience bored with network TV repeats. Loaded with three title matches and some big angle development, this one definitely delivered. Perfect/Santana was an all time SNME classic and a WWF MOTYC. The opener was fun but quite a mess from a booking perspective and that just really spotlighted the issues with Warrior’s title reign and general lack of legitimate challengers. Beyond that, this one cruised along, filling the gaps between matches with the quick hit comedy bits and a couple of key interviews, specifically the one with Hulk Hogan. Finally, this is our sadly our final chance to hear Jesse Ventura on commentary as he came to issues with the company over his contract and royalties and departed the WWF a few weeks after this show. It was a tough loss to take, especially with SNME where he was the true voice of the show. We have more of these shows to look at but some of the soul will certainly be missing as he brought so much to the presentation, both in the booth and with his interviews that drove so many angles. Top to bottom this was a strong outing, perhaps falling just short of the July 1989 offering and a couple others for a top spot in the SNME pantheon. Grade: A-