Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXXI – 11/14/92

*** 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! ***

wwef_37001139_th_64

Saturday Night’s Main Event XXXI – 11/14/92

November 14, 1992
Hullman Center
Terre Haute, IN
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan

Fun Fact: This will be the final SNME broadcast until NBC picked up the franchise in 2006. By that point, the entire wrestling landscape had changed. Monthly pay-per-views were the norm instead of just the “Big Four”. Prime time wrestling programs RAW and Smackdown provided 4+ hours of wrestling per week including matches between top stars, something that wasn’t seen back in the 80s and early 90s. While SNME would return in 2006, the feel and significance of the show was not the same and its second run on NBC would only last into 2008. The second run of SNME will not be covered in our Vintage Vault series at this time.

1) Ultimate Warrior & Randy Savage defeat Money, Inc by countout at 9:54; Money, Inc retain WWF Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact: The Ultimate Maniacs were a short-lived team made up of the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage. The two came together as a team after both of them were attacked by Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair during their SummerSlam ‘92 match.

Fun Fact II: The team was supposed to feud with Ric Flair and Razor Ramon, who had helped Flair win the belt from Savage shortly after SummerSlam, at Survivor Series ‘92. However, that would not happen. During this time, the government was cracking down on steroid use in wrestling. The Ultimate Warrior was caught using steroids and growth hormone and was suspended. Warrior would then skip dates in protest of how McMahon handled the situation. He left the company on November 21, 1992. Warrior would not return to the WWF until 1996.

Scott: A tear is rolling down my cheek as we begin the final episode of the first era of the weekend tradition since my childhood. I will say this is probably the first episode in ages where all three titles are on the line. There have been even more crazy changes in the company since our last episode way back in February. Where’s Hogan? Where’s Sid? Who are all these weird champions? Our opener is the tag team champions, who you wouldn’t have come close to expecting being the champions when 1992 started. Ultimate Warrior is back too? What happened between February and now? Since the last episode, Randy Savage has won and lost the WWF Title, Warrior returned and had a title shot, and this Money, Inc. team was put together and DiBiase has his first championship in his five-plus years in the company. The match was a frenzy of punching and kicking and Money, Inc. ducking out of the match. We get the typical heel “We’re done with this” walkout and they get counted out. The Maniacs follow them and we get a brawl in the aisle until Ric Flair and Razor Ramon come out to beat down their Survivor Series opponents. This was a throwaway melee to set up the tag team main event for Richfield. Other than that, not much here. Grade: **

JT: It has been a hell of a road, but here we are. After just our second episode of SNME on Fox, we are winding up the series. Big changes were coming to the WWF TV schedule and axing SNME was on the list. It has been a big part of storyline and character development since 1985 but with the new direction the company was heading in, it wasn’t really going to be ended anymore. So, in our final installment, all of the championships in the company are on the line, starting with the tag straps. Money, Inc. formed early in 1992 and have pretty much dominated the tag division outside of a small blip in the summer. They step up to the main event scene here to battle Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, the two men who battled over the WWF Title at SummerSlam but have since joined forces. The two were using this as an early tuneup for their Survivor Series showdown with Ric Flair and Razor Ramon. Warrior and Savage made for a cool team and it was neat seeing Macho sprint down the aisle with Warrior. They rushed the ring and went right at the tag champs, battering them all around and chucking them out to the floor with abandon. Things would settle down with Savage and DiBiase locking up with Savage taking control and grabbing a near fall before tagging out. Warrior blocked a DiBiase comeback attempt and hit a suplex for a two count but things turned when he whiffed on a shoulderblock attempt. IRS tagged in and started to work Warrior over with his base offense, including hooking in a sleeper. As Warrior faded, we heard from Flair, Ramon and Mr. Perfect, who talked shit about the Ultimate Maniacs in advance of Survivor Series. DiBiase would tag in and lock in the Million Dollar Dream but Savage made the save and eventually both men would tag out to reset things again. Savage came in hot, taking out both champs and heading up top and landed the flying elbow but DiBiase made the save. Things broke down from there with all four brawling until the Maniacs cleaned house. The champs had seen more than enough as they grabbed their straps and headed to the back, eating the countout loss to avoid more damage. The Manaics assaulted the champs in the aisle but Ramon, Flair and Perfect joined the fray and the Maniacs were left laying in the end. Very fitting that we get one last SNME style tag match featuring the top stars of the company. This flowed easily with a limited heat segment and saw lots of offense and brawling until the finish. The stage for Survivor Series is set for one half of the double main event but as we know, things get quite shaken up before we get there. Grade: **

2) Shawn Michaels defeats British Bulldog to win WWF Intercontinental Title when he landed on top of Bulldog during a superplex at 10:28

Fun Fact: The original plans were to have Bret Hart drop the IC belt to Shawn Michaels prior to SummerSlam, but these plans changed when they decided to hold SummerSlam in England. The decision was made to put the belt on Davey Boy Smith at SummerSlam and then have him drop the belt to Shawn later.

Fun Fact II: We say goodbye to the British Bulldog here after this event. Davey Boy was found to have been receiving growth hormone from England and was released along with the Ultimate Warrior. Smith would return to the WWF in 1994 after a brief run in WCW.

Scott:nAfter his epic win over brother in law Bret Hart at SummerSlam, The Bulldog takes on the Sexy Boy for the Intercontinental Championship. It’s been a little under a year since he threw Marty Jannetty threw the Barber Shop window and Shawn Michaels has slowly moved up the ladder with his girl Sherri at his side. He had what could have been a fantastic match with Rick Martel at SummerSlam if they didn’t have that annoying “no hit in the face” stipulation on top of it. Now he gets a shot at the IC Title, after already being booked for the WWF Title at Survivor Series against Bret Hart. Bulldog dominated early, and Shawn is bouncing around for him. Michaels settles down and works on Bulldog’s back with separate abdominal stretch segments. The one positive from the changes in the company is that we now have faster paced, more technically sound matches. Bulldog worked with Shawn on speeding things up and making the match more energetic. The Terra Haute crowd is on their feet as Bulldog gets the final spurt of momentum to take the challenger out. However, earlier in the bout Shawn loosened a turnbuckle pad and minutes later he Irish whipped Bulldog into that corner right into the steel ring. In the climax Bulldog tries a superplex but the back goes out and three seconds later, a legacy is born. Shawn Michaels wins his first singles championship and soon the Bulldog is out of the WWF as the company cleans out its muscular power guys. The match was a lot of fun and the best IC Title match on the show since Tito/Perfect two years earlier. Grade: ***

JT: The IC Title has long been considered the workers’ title of the WWF, with a rich bloodline of titleholders since its inception, it always helped prep the up and comers and housed some of the best matches in company history. That tradition continued at SummerSlam when Bret Hart fell to his brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith in an instant classic. The Bulldog’s reign has been fine since then but here he runs into another guy trying to make a name for himself as a singles star in Shawn Michaels. Michaels has had a nice year since breaking off with Marty Jannetty but he was ready to take that next step and elevate himself heading into 1993. As of this point he was set to challenge Bret Hart for the WWF Title at Survivor Series in a match that was originally non title when first announced. Now there was a chance it could be champion vs. champion. We got a bit of a stalemate early as Michaels tried to work around Bulldog’s power advantage where he could, knowing he couldn’t trade bombs with him. Michaels worked the arm and maintained control thanks to his quickness but Bulldog countered that with some power when, in a really cool spot, he hoisted Michaels high into the air and slammed backwards to break a cross armbar. Bulldog followed with a military press slam that rattled Michaels and a clothesline that sent the challenger to the floor. Michaels eventually found an in road and survived another Bulldog clothesline before dodging a charge that sent Bulldog hard to the floor. As the referee levied a count, Michaels removed the turnbuckle pad. After a commercial, we returned to see Michaels going to work on the lower back of the champion, punishing the area in hopes to really kill off that power advantage. He pressed on, really doing some damage and things were beginning to look dark for Bulldog’s chances. But that tide turned and Bulldog did whatever he could to drop some big blows and go for covers before his back gave out, including a hard duplex for a near fall. Michaels would reverse a whip and send Bulldog into the exposed corner, leading to him crumpling him to the mat in pain. Bulldog hobbled his way back up and went for a superplex but his back gave out during the hold and Michaels collapsed on top for the upset title win. A new champion has been crowned and Bulldog’s brief title reign has come to an end. I love that they did the switch here. Bulldog maxed out at SummerSlam and Michaels was clearly a rising the star so get the strap on him now and shoot him along up the ladder. The match was quite good with tons of focus on Bulldog’s back that all paid off in the end. I also liked how Michaels worked around the power disadvantage and pick apart Bulldog with his speed. We are now set up for champion vs. champion in Richfield. Grade: ***1/2

3) Bret Hart defeats Papa Shango to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with the Sharpshooter at 13:26

Fun Fact: Bret Hart won the WWF title at a Superstars taping in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on October 12. The match was not televised, but was taped as was included on future Coliseum and WWF Home Video releases. This would be Hart’s first title run with the company.

Fun Fact II: Charles Wright originally got into wrestling after being seen tending bar by some wrestlers during the filming of the movie “Over the Top”. He was trained by Larry Sharpe and eventually got a spot wrestling in the USWA as the Soultaker, based off of one of his tattoos. After touring in Japan and in other independent promotions, he was brought into the WWF at the suggestion of the Undertaker. He wrestled briefly with the promotion with the name Sir Charles before undergoing a full makeover and major push. In January 1992 he was given the new name, Papa Shango, a voodoo practitioner. His first big push began at WrestleMania VIII as he interfered in the Sid/Hogan main event. Originally he was scheduled to be in a feud with Sid, but Sid left the company before the feud could get started. Warrior took Sid’s place. The feud never went very far and was eventually dropped. The Papa Shango character would stick around until the middle of 1993 before fading away. We will see Wright in other roles with the company in the near future, so stay tuned PTBN Universe.

Scott:Is that true? Ric Flair was the WWF Champion facing Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania on our last SNME. Now, Bret Hart is the champion? Once again it’s the cleansing of the roster. All the big, muscular guys are being fleshed out with the Feds breathing down the WWF’s neck after Dr. Zahorian was pinched. So just like our previous match, we showcase a guy who has paid his dues since 1985 in low level singles and then with one of the best tag teams in WWF history. Now Bret Hart, a trusted employee of the company, is being handed the keys to the kingdom. So on October 12 in Saskatoon, literally out of nowhere Ric Flair tapped out to the Sharpshooter and Bret Hart became the first “small” WWF Champion since maybe Bob Backlund. In his first title defense he takes on big man Papa Shango. The match is similar to the previous match except in reverse. The heel Shango works over the babyface Hart with power moves, until the WWF Champion recovers, hooks up the Sharpshooter and retains his championship. So now it’s Champion vs. Champion at Survivor Series. We aren’t sure at this point which belt is on the line, but check out our Survivor Series 1992 review to find out what does happen. This match is solid enough and wraps up the in-ring portion of the show with three different endings to the title matches: A Schmozz, a title change and a successful title defense. Grade: **

JT: The final match of our original SNME run is fittingly for the WWF Title as our new champion Bret Hart squares off against the mysterious Papa Shango. Shango had spent most of 1992 torturing the Ultimate Warrior but his stock began to dip as the summer ended. Still, he was thought of well enough to be given a prime slot here. The Hitman unexpectedly won the title from Ric Flair back in October and was suddenly thrust into the spotlight as the ace of the WWF, a role he had been dying to play for years. Shango was aggressive in clobbering Bret off the bell but the champion took to the ropes and started doing what he could to get Shango off his feet. Bret landed a flurry but after a break Shango gained control and worked a power offense in dominating the champ. After a lengthy heat segment, Hart made his initial comeback but that was cut short when Shango broke up a sleeper by running the Hitman hard into the corner. After a little more punishment from the challenger, Hart found a crease and ran through his now standard offense before hooking on the Sharpshooter for the submission win. This was a rock solid TV title defense for the Hitman, something that would become a hallmark of his title reign. Shango took the fight to him and delivered a pretty good challenge but Hart survived and got the victory and can now look towards Richfield and his biggest challenge to date. Grade: **1/2

*** Paul Bearer hosts a special edition of the Funeral Parlor. The Undertaker was on set as well and Bearer basically used the time to hype their casket match with Kamala at Survivor Series. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels then have a confrontation backstage to argue over their WWF Title match in Richfield. Finally, as the show ends, Bobby Heenan teases that he has breaking news in that one of the Ultimate Maniacs will not show up to Survivor Series and the other will have a new tag partner by the event. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: The last SNME of the Federation Era still had that chopped down, cheap production look that Fox’s first one did. However at least we see the taste of the next chapter of WWF history. Gone are the bloated heroes of the 80s like Hulk Hogan and Sid. Warrior and Savage are in a throwaway opening match to saturate the Survivor Series build. But now we have smaller, more athletic risk-takers that will sacrifice to win the crowd over. It’s ok to still have our heroes of the past but at least they’re not clogging up the title picture anymore. A main event of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series didn’t seem like a ticket seller (at the time) but it needed to be done to hammer the point home that steroids were a big problem and that it was time to elevate the mid-card guys to main event status. On a separate note Fox as atrocious at these shows, slamming 90 minutes of stuff into 60 and with less than slick production values, it was a far cry from the NBC classics of the day. Farewell, Saturday Night’s Main Event. You entertained for many an overnight sleepover with the guys in West Haven for the second half of the 1980s. Final Grade: C+

JT: And now, the time is here… SNME officially goes to rest after a tremendous seven year run across two major networks. The success of the show is a real pride point for the WWF, to have taken on a network TV slot, with five coming in prime time on NBC, and delivering a strong ratings and chugging along for half a decade. We close up shop with a pretty fun episode that had some strong in ring action and lots of hype for Survivor Series. For the second straight episode, we had no frills or nonsense, just straightforward wrestling and it really clicked. I loved the Heenan tease at the end too. The promotion was going under major changes across the roster and within its general structure and presentation. This would be our final look at guys like the Ultimate Warrior and British Bulldog as the company was filtering them out due to the steroid scandal and turning their sights on smaller workers like Hart, Flair and Michaels. This was a great snapshot episode to catch you up on what was going on in the exciting Fall of 1992, but we also got three good title matches and one big time title change as well. It has been a fun ride ripping through these thirty one Saturday Night’s Main Events and five Main Events but the time has come to close the book on a storied legacy. Final Grade: B-

Author: Vintage Vault

Vintage Vault Reposts are a collection of reviews that Scott and JT have written over the years.