Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: The Main Event IV – 11/23/90

*** 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! ***


The Main Event IV – 11/23/90

November 23, 1990
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 
Fort Wayne, IN
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper

Fun Fact: The opening match on this show was supposed to be a tag team, best 2-out-of-3 falls contest between the Hart Foundation and the Rockers for the WWF tag team championships. The match did take place, with the Rockers winning falls one and three to become the tag team champions. During the second fall of the match, one of the ring ropes broke, taking away the ability for any high flying moves and causing disruption in the match.

The title win was never acknowledged by the WWF and it would get wiped out behind the scenes for two reasons. First, before the airing of the show, NBC wanted a one hour Main Event show instead of the 90 minute Saturday Night’s Main Event. At the time of the taping, viewers can tell it had been planned to be an SNME event by the banners in the arena and the microphone flags showing the SNME logo. The tag match was cut from the show and it was rebranded as The Main Event for broadcast.

Also, there are claims that the WWF had fired Jim Neidhart, which had originally caused the booking of the title change. However, after the match Neidhart came to an agreement with the company and was re-signed. The WWF gave the titles back to the Hart Foundation and nullified the change, indicating it was due to the ring rope malfunction in the second fall. Shawn Michaels makes the claim in one of his books that the Hart Foundation did some politicking to get the belts back.

1) Ultimate Warrior defeats Ted DiBiase to retain WWF Heavyweight Title by disqualification at 9:47

Fun Fact: During the month prior to the match, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior had begun a war of words over the belt, with Savage saying that he would easily take the title from Warrior. This aftermath of this match would serve as the beginning of the physical feud between the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage that would culminate at WrestleMania VII.

Scott: We have a special Friday night Main Event usually reserved for February, this time the day after Thanksgiving. I complained on the last episode that Warrior hadn’t defended the World Title much other than the two against Rick Rude. Here he defends the Title against perennial heel challenger Ted DiBiase. He’s in the midst of his feud with Dusty Rhodes that was amped up on the last episode in October. I was hoping a guy like DiBiase would bring the goods and give Warrior a great match, and indeed I think he did. This match really hit the gas early on and didn’t stop. DiBiase went right at the champion and took it to the limit and Warrior went right back at him with quick strikes and great storytelling. I didn’t think Warrior would lose the title but I did think Randy Savage would get involved somehow, and sure enough he did. DiBiase would get disqualified and Savage (who admitted later in the show he was paid off to help out) beat Warrior down and took the World Title belt and held it over his waist. These two were on a collision course to a big World Title match, perhaps at the Royal Rumble in January. The match was really a lot of fun and better than I remembered but it was really about the pending battle between Warrior and the Macho King. Grade: **1/2

JT: For the first time we have a second Main Event in one calendar year, with this one going down just days after Survivor Series. Coming off the last shaky SNME, the company was looking to deliver a big night of action to set the tone for what was to come in 1991. Ultimate Warrior is still reigning as WWF Champion and has entered into a feud with Randy Savage but that was still simmering, so he takes a detour here and takes on the always game Ted DiBiase. DiBiase had just shaken up the company a bit in Hartford when he debut the Undertaker as his mystery partner and was still tormenting Dusty Rhodes as well. Despite being out of the title picture for quite a while now, he always had the credibility to step right back in as a legitimate challenger. DiBiase’s sweating problem is really out of control as he was drenched in his prematch promo. Warrior always looked weird when he teased his hair back into a mullet but his white tights here were pretty cool. Warrior won a pair of early lockups and looked dominant until DiBiase buried a knee to the gut and unleashed a quick series of strikes. Warrior came back with a pair of clotheslines that sent sent DiBiase flying hard to the floor. The champ followed him out and pasted both him and Virgil before pitching the challenger back in and meeting with a sledge blow off the top. DiBiase is bumping like crazy as usual and it is leading to a fun little power beatdown to this point. Warrior would eat a knee on a charge and then get put down with a clothesline as DiBiase took over and went to work. DiBiase got a near fall but Warrior blocked a piledriver and made a comeback. However, Virgil would trip him up as he hit the ropes and the distraction allowed DiBiase to knock the champ to the floor and regain control. Nice payoff there as Roddy Piper kept claiming Virgil was the ace in the hole at ringside and he struck right on cue. DiBiase kept bringing the heat and picking up near falls in between wearing Warrior down. Warrior almost nabbed the win by blocking a suplex and getting a sunset flip but DiBiase survived and went right back on the attack. Warrior would block another suplex and hit one of his own but that was followed by a collision where both men got wiped out. Both slowly reached their feet but Warrior was the first aggressor, running right through DiBiase and having him beat until Virgil jumped in the ring to draw the DQ. Not a surprise they wanted to protect DiBiase with the dearth of credible heels but poor Warrior needs a win in here somewhere. Warrior put the beatdown on Virgil after until Randy Savage showed up and worked Warrior over with his scepter. This was an energetic tussle that DiBiase carried really nicely and Warrior even showed a little variance in his offense as well. I could take or leave the DQ but it is what it is in this era. The post match attack was really good added a bunch of heat on Savage as the top contender. Grade: **1/2

2) Nikolai Volkoff and Sgt. Slaughter wrestle to a no contest at 0:00

Scott: This match is a no-contest as Slaughter attacked the US supporter with his riding crop before the bell, until Jim Duggan comes out with his 2×4. Nothing more here, except Slaughter’s gimmick gets better. Grade: N/A

JT: As Sgt. Slaughter’s Iraqi ties strengthened, he continued to look to eliminate anyone that defended the country he once professed to love. At Survivor Series, Slaughter and Nikolai went toe-to-toe with Sarge eliminating his nemesis but falling to Tito Santana at the end. Volkoff wanted revenge and the big blowoff for their feud was set for this show. Unfortunately for Nikolai, the match never happened as Sarge beat the piss out of him with his riding crop until Jim Duggan made the save. This was officially a sign that Slaughter was done messing with guys on Volkoff’s level and was ready to be elevated to something bigger, starting with Hacksaw. Grade: N/A

3) Mr. Perfect defeats Big Boss Man by countout at 8:15

Fun Fact: During the summer, Bobby Heenan and Rick Rude had started making jokes about the Big Boss Man’s mother. This verbal assault infuriated Boss Man and he vowed to avenge this attack on his momma. After a four minute barrage of momma jokes by Rude and Heenan on the Brother Love show in October, President Jack Tunney took the unprecedented step of indefinitely suspending Rude (a way to write Rude out of storylines since he had left the WWF), censoring Bobby Heenan against any further comments about BBM’s mother and forcing Heenan to replace Rude in all singles matches that had been signed between Rude and BBM. The original plan prior to Rude leaving was a feud with Boss Man. With his departure, it became more of a feud with Heenan and the Family members instead.

Scott: Bobby Heenan insulted Boss Man’s mama. It does sound like a stupid way to start a feud, but the bookers give and the wrestlers accept. Boss Man and Perfect put on a striking clinic, as both guys really pounded the crap out of each other. Perfect was a perfect foil for Boss Man’s power offense, which is many strikes and big power moves like the sidewalk slam. I always loved when Perfect would hit an exposed turnbuckle and then flies in the air flipping over a million times. Perfect couldn’t turn Boss Man over for the Perfectplex and it turns into a small package for the big man. The battle continues with both guys beating on each other, until Boss Man turns his attention to Bobby Heenan, and he chases the Brain down the aisle. Unfortunately that gets Boss Man counted out and the Family wins again, outsmarting the Cobb County corrections officer. This feud is literally just getting started and more will come between now and March 24 in Los Angeles. Grade: **1/2

JT: Throughout the fall, Big Boss Man had been feuding with Bobby Heenan after the Brain had relentlessly started ragging on his mama. It was meant to be the beginning of a program with Rick Rude but Rude bolted the promotion after a disagreement and Boss Man instead transitioned into a program with the whole Heenan Family, with the end game being a chance to steal Mr. Perfect’s prized Intercontinental Title. However, Perfect wasn’t champion here, that belt was still around the waist of the Texas Tornado, so Perfect is out there fighting for his manager’s name while Boss Man wanted revenge. Perfect broke out his really cool bi-colored singlet here with the neon yellow and blue color scheme. A true classic. Heenan didn’t accompany Perfect here, staying in hiding away from his enemy. Perfect stuck and moved to open up, landing a couple of slaps before leading Boss Man around the ring in a foot race. Boss Man actually caught up and yanked Perfect hard to the floor and chucked him back inside where he mowed him down with a hard clothesline. He would torture the perfect one, dragging him around by his hair and then spiking him with a backbreaker. Boss Man got a little ahead of himself though as he went to the top rope and whiffed on a splash. It was the break Perfect needed and he made it count, cracking Boss Man’s head to the mat with a great reverse neck snap. He kept laying in the strikes, targeting the lower back with a focused attack that he never let up on. As the referee checked on Boss Man, Perfect yanked off the turnbuckle pad but it backfired as Boss Man blocked Perfect and then shove this head into the exposed steel. Perfect was woozy but Boss Man struggled to take advantage and as things reset a bit, Heenan jogged down to ringside to hopefully see the finish of the match. Perfect was up first and went for the Perfectplex but Boss Man turned into an inside cradle for a near fall. Perfect survived that and then did hit the Perfectplex but Boss Man kicked out as the degeneration of that move continued. Perfect and Heenan had some miscommunication that led to Perfect tumbling to the floor and Boss Man grabbing the Brain but Heenan met him with a slap and then sprinted to the back. Boss Man followed after but by the time he was back to ringside he was counted out, giving Perfect the win. Another fun match with a lot of energy here tonight. The storyline is crisp in this one and there was a lot of heat on Heenan for his actions. Boss Man and Perfect are a good fit too as both have fun offense and sharp bumping and selling. This one is far from over. Grade: **1/2

4) Rick Martel defeats Tito Santana with a Boston crab at 6:46

Fun Fact: This would be the end of the on/off feud between Tito Santana and Rick Martel that had been going on since their Strike Force breakup at WrestleMania V.

Scott: It is oft-forgotten that these two actually had a second match after their battle in late-1989. The feud is obviously over at this point and this was merely a filler match to finish the show out. Both guys are game workers as we know but Martel is the fresher character. He’s in the midst of the feud with Jake Roberts after spraying him in the eyes with “Arrogance”, leading to the iconic white contact lens that Jake had to wear for a few months. The match is pretty good as both guys have great chemistry with each other. I was surprised that Tito would job clean but this has become his role in the company. It pretty much was the case throughout 1990, putting over the Barbarian at WrestleMania and the Warlord at SummerSlam. Tito is a WWF mainstay and he made good money in his decade-plus in the company but his time as a top flight guy is past. He does get a rub at Survivor Series when he’s part of the final team with Hogan and Warrior, but after that he’s pretty much floating around the company doing what he can. Martel wins the match, but a showdown with the Snake is imminent. Jake actually has a promo to close the show where he still has the white contact lens on his left eye. Only Jake could really pull that off. Grade: **

JT: In a perfect world, Tito Santana and Rick Martel will feud until the end of times. It is a battle that should be waged for ever and ever just for pure comfort if nothing else. Martel is fully ensconced in his Model persona at this point, having switched to his purple attire and really pushing his Arrogance cologne. Of course, he was embroiled in a serious issue with Jake Roberts after he blinded the Snake by spraying the atomizer right in his eyes on the Brother Love Show. Martel got the last laugh at Survivor Series but Roberts wasn’t done with him just yet. Santana has had a really solid 1990 in the ring even though he has lost quite a bit. Martel jumped Santana off the bell and knocked him outside as McMahon and Piper discussed whether or not Martel’s blinding of Roberts was a mistake. Martel followed out but Tito caught him and worked him over with aggression. Back inside, he cracked him with a sledge blow off the middle rope and then worked over the arm. The two traded offense with Tito sneaking in a near fall on an inside cradle and continuing to focus on that arm. Martel finally found daylight when he shoved Tito hard into the corner and followed with some choking and stomping. Tito tried for a last ditch comeback, but Martel maintained control and landed a backbreaker before heading to the top rope. For the second straight match tonight, that strategy backfired as Santana met him with a big right hand and Martel fell hard on his crotch and collapsed to the mat. The crowd was hot for Tito’s wild flurry of punches that had Martel on his heels. Tito hit a second rope clothesline but couldn’t put the Model away. Tito blocked an atomic drop and went for the figure four but Martel turned that into an inside cradle for a close near fall. Martel held on tight and turned into the Boston Crab for the win. Whew, what a fun little sprint. These guys had such great chemistry each and every time they were in there. If this had another ten minutes to build it would have been one the best WWF TV matches of the year, it was that crisp and locked in. The finish was really good too. Martel gets a clean win over his former friend and turns his attention back to the Snake. Grade: **1/2

Final Analysis

Scott: After a stinker in October, this Friday night special was a fun sprint. Three matches that were all fun with quick paces and stiff strikes, with a no-contest thrown in that made sense for the USA vs. Slaughter feud. Randy Savage is clearly (at the moment) being positioned as the #1 contender for the World Title, and a title match should be on the horizon. As history dictates, they do not go that route. More on that in the next installment. The Boss Man vs. The Heenan Family feud is just getting started and will get more entertaining over the coming months. The Ultimate Warrior did show that he can bring a great match with the right opponent. The problem in 1990 was there weren’t many opponents to go around. The clock turns, and the players change, some new and some old. Final Grade: B

JT: Given the up and down nature of these shows throughout 1990, I was unsure what to expect here but this one really surprised me with how fun it was. All three matches were pretty limited from a time perspective but they all delivered within those constraints and you could argue that if each had another 5-10 minutes to really expand their stories it could have rivaled the July card for one of the best of the run. As is, we cleanse a bit post Survivor Series and did a lot of building for our big winter feuds heading into the New Year: Warrior vs. Savage, Boss Man vs. Heenan, Martel vs. Roberts, Slaughter vs. Duggan and of course Hogan vs. Earthquake, which was not featured here. A lot was accomplished in a very short time but we close out our sixth year of SNME with a good one. Final Grade: B