Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Saturday Night’s Main Event 17

Jake “The Snake” Roberts (w/ Cheryl Roberts) vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)

As we continue on into the fall of 1988 and our first Saturday Night’s Main Event since April, there was a lot going on within the WWF as we have seen throughout the summer with the red hot main event scene. We have also seen the tag division take shape with a few new teams come in and help that division become loaded, and the midcard was also seeing some new faces pop in as well as the continue development of the Ultimate Warrior as IC Champion. There were some other feuds that were going on within the midcard that were helping carry the house shows over the summer and one of them was the feud between Jake Roberts and Rick Rude. They had been thrown together to face each other in the tournament at Wrestlemania IV and they went to a 15-minute draw, and I guess the company thought they had good chemistry to have an extended feud. Obviously, the feud would have a personal tinge to it when Roberts’ wife Cheryl was added in and it helped make the feud feel a lot more real and heated which was quite unusual for the time. However by the time we get to this show here at the end of October, it was fairly clear that the feud was starting to run its course and it would be interesting to see if it ends here or if they manage to drag it out to Survivor Series.

The feud between the two started as mentioned when they faced each other in the WWF Championship tournament at Wrestlemania IV which ended in a time limit draw, and after that Rude began inviting women into the ring to give them a kiss after his matches. On the 4/23 Superstars, he invited a woman into the ring who refused to come in and she revealed herself to be Jake Roberts’ wife, and Rude insulted her and she slapped him in the face which led him to grab her arm and Roberts came out to make the save. They would cut promos on each other on TV while facing other guys on the house shows before having their first match at the Superstars taping on 5/10, and on the 6/11 Superstars Roberts officially introduced the world to his wife Cheryl while cutting a promo on Rude. They would begin their house show feud in June with their matches usually ending in a double countout while mainly cutting promos on each other on TV, and Rude would taunt Roberts by wearing a pair of tights with Cheryl’s face on them. The two men would face off at Wrestlefest in July which ended in a double countout and they would face different opponents at Summerslam, but Rude would again break out the tights with Cheryl’s face on them which led to Roberts attacking him. Roberts threatened Rude by vowing to rip the tights off if he wore them again and on the 9/10 Superstars, Rude would again wear the tights and Roberts stayed true to his word as he came out and ripped the tights off while a big “Censored” sign appeared on screen. They would continue to cut promos on each other as it was announced they would face off here and on 10/24 at MSG, Roberts would defeat Rude in a match which could only end when someone hit their finisher. This has been a pretty interesting feud in that they kept the heat up on TV without actually having a match, and there was a lot of intrigue to see how this match would end up going.

We see a nice video package on the buildup of the feud and both men would cut good promos on each other, and Rude was red hot as a heel as he once again wears the tights with Cheryl’s face on them and Roberts gets a good pop from the crowd as he comes out with Cheryl by his side. Rude taunts Roberts by showing off the tights and they quickly lock up to start the match with Rude backing Roberts into the corner and ramming the shoulder into him repeatedly, but Roberts catches him with a kneelift and goes for the tights only for Rude to pound on him. Rude grabs the arm only for Roberts to get a shot in and he works on the arm as Rude goes over the top to the apron, but Roberts pulls him back into the ring and continues to work the arm until Rude whips him off and leaps over him only for Roberts to get a shot in. Roberts goes for the DDT only for Rude to escape and he rolls outside to regroup with Bobby, and Roberts pulls Rude onto the apron only for Rude to rake the eyes and he gets a shot in before going back to the arm. Roberts gets a shot in as he goes back to the arm only for Rude to duck a short clothesline and he hits a clothesline of his own, and he pounds on Roberts and rams him into the buckle repeatedly before pounding on him while avoiding Roberts’ shots. Rude drops an elbow on Roberts and taunts Cheryl before pounding on Roberts’ back and he whips him hard into the corner, and he taunts Cheryl again and pounds on Roberts in the corner before whipping him into the other corner only for Roberts to hit a clothesline. He pounds on Rude and knocks him down before hitting a gutbuster and he slams Rude’s head into the mat, and he holds Rude on the ropes as Cheryl taunts him before slapping him in the face. Bobby demands that Cheryl be thrown out and the ref decides to eject her from ringside, and Roberts tries to argue it only to agree and he escorts Cheryl to the back as we go to a commercial break. When we come back from the break, Rude tries to go after Roberts only for Roberts to pound on him and he drags him back to ringside before hooking a headlock only for Rude to send him into the post. Rude pulls Roberts into the post twice and gets back in the ring before posing for the crowd, and Roberts rolls back into the ring and pounds on Rude before knocking him down as Rude begs off. He hits a backdrop on Rude and goes for the DDT again only for Rude to escape with a backdrop, and he drops a pair of elbows on Roberts and goes up top before dropping a fist on him for a two count. Rude sets up for the Rude Awakening only for Roberts to escape by biting Rude’s hand and Rude rakes the eyes, and he gets a shot in only for Roberts to fake him out twice and he hits the DDT. Bobby gets on the apron and calls for someone to come out as Roberts tries to take the tights off of Rude, but Bobby gets in the ring and kicks at Roberts which draws the DQ and Roberts wins the match. After the match, Bobby kicks at Roberts and stomps on him as Andre the Giant comes down to the ring and Roberts grabs at Bobby’s leg, and Andre gets in the ring and pounds on Roberts before hitting a headbutt that sends Roberts out of the ring. Bobby and Andre check on Rude as Roberts takes Damien out of the bag and gets back in the ring, and Bobby rolls outside and pulls Rude out as Roberts stalks Andre with Damien and Andre begs off while calling for Bobby to help him. Andre continues to beg off as Roberts teases him with Damien and then he tosses Damien onto Andre, and Andre struggles with Damien wrapped around him before collapsing to the mat and appearing to suffer a heart attack. Andre passes out on the mat and Roberts poses over him before heading to the back as Bobby comes back out with officials to help Andre.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard for the 7 and a half minutes they got and put on a solid match. Given the fact that they were on TV and not at either a house show or PPV where they didn’t have 15 to 16 minutes to fill, they were able to work a solid pace with no slowing down and I think it made the match better. Rude put forth a solid effort without having to slow things down with restholds while Roberts had plenty of energy, but it did seem that the match should’ve felt more chaotic given the heat going into this match. However, it was pretty clear that this feud was going to end here and that Roberts would be transitioned to Andre which we see after the match, and it was interesting they were going with the angle that Andre was afraid of snakes. The only issue is that if this was going to be the end of the feud then Roberts should’ve won clean as Rude could’ve taken the loss to officially put this feud to bed. The crowd was hot for the match and popped for Roberts when he won as well as when he took out Andre with the snake. Roberts gets the win over Rude by DQ and both men move on as Roberts has a giant task ahead of him in Andre.

Final Grade: **1/2

Author: Steve Riddle

I have been a wrestling fan since 1993 and that is probably my biggest love, with movies being a close second due in part to being employed at a movie theater for over 9 years.