Hulk Hogan vs. Nikolai Volkoff (w/ “Classy” Freddie Blassie) for the WWF Championship
For as long as wrestling has been around in the USA, one of the constant themes that would be used in almost every territory was that of national patriotism. During the 1940s and World War II, the most hated heels at the time were German characters like Fritz Von Erich and the crowds would gather to see their hero vanquish the evil villain. After WWII ended, the USA was involved in another war of sorts and that was the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union as tensions between the two countries would be at an all-time high for the next three decades. Because of this, the hated heel went from being German to Russian and during the 1970s, Nikolai Volkoff was one of the most hated men in wrestling as he challenged the top faces for the WWF Title. As the 1980s rolled on and the Cold War was reaching its apex, Volkoff would still be one of the top heels which he would continuously amp up by singing the Soviet National Anthem before his matches to incite the crowd. His team with the Iron Sheik was despised by the fans and they reached their peak by winning the tag titles back in March at WM, and now Volkoff comes here to the second SNME to once again have a chance to become WWF Champion. On the flip side, you have Hulk Hogan who is Americana personified and was seen as a national hero by the fans especially after he dethroned the Iron Sheik to become champion back in 1984. He has continued to turn back all challengers since then including retaining against Bob Orton at the first SNME, and we will see over the years that this becomes his show as he would always appear on SNME usually in a title match.
This would begin a trend here for future SNMEs in that the WWF Champion would typically face random challengers while something else was focused on during the show, and we see that here as the main highlight of the show was the wedding between Uncle Elmer and Joyce Stasko. Both men cut good promos before the match to make it feel important and as mentioned Volkoff gets the crowd riled up by singing the Soviet National Anthem, and then Hogan gets a massive pop from the crowd as he is wearing his swank all-white attire. One other hook to this match besides the title being on the line is that the winner would get to wave his flag after the match, so Volkoff has the Soviet flag and Hogan brings Old Glory with him while he also uses the Star Spangled Banner as his theme. Both men hold their flags up high at each other and then Volkoff attacks Hogan from behind to start the match, and he rams Hogan into the buckle twice before ripping his shirt off and choking him with it. Volkoff stomps on him only for Hogan to block a ram into the buckle and he rams Volkoff into the buckle, and he pounds on Volkoff and whips him into the corner before splashing him. He pounds on Volkoff and hits a big clothesline before dropping an elbow on him, and he hits a pair of headbutts on Volkoff and knocks him down before hitting a big boot that sends Volkoff over the top to the floor. Hogan rams Volkoff into the apron and hooks a headlock only for Volkoff to send him into the post, and both men roll back into the ring where Volkoff pounds on Hogan’s back and stomps on him. Volkoff goes up to the middle rope and hits an axehandle on Hogan before pounding on him and he hits a headbutt, and then he hoists Hogan up over his head before hitting a big backbreaker and he taunts the crowd before going for the pin only to get a two count. He whips Hogan hard into the corner and stomps on him before setting him up for a piledriver only for Hogan to escape with a backdrop, and Hogan tries to battle back only for Volkoff to hit a double punch to the throat and he knocks Hogan to the mat. He stomps on Hogan and pounds on him before hitting a slam for a two count as Hogan starts to hulk up, and he no-sells Volkoff’s shots and pounds on him until Volkoff reverses a whip into the corner only to miss a charge and he hits the post. Volkoff falls to the mat as Hogan hits the legdrop which gets the three and he retains the title, and after the match Hogan grabs the Soviet flag from Blassie and rips it off the pole before spitting on it and using it to wipe his boots. He slams the flag down onto the mat and spits on it before grabbing Old Glory and waving it around as the crowd goes nuts, and he holds the belt up in victory before posing for the crowd.
The match itself was decent as both men worked hard and put on a good title match for TV considering they had just over 5 minutes to work with. This was an interesting situation in that this TV special would’ve been the best time to work a bit of a longer match, but with all the focus on the wedding it was weird for Hogan to not be the centerpiece of this show. He did get a lot of promo time on this show as he would involve himself in the wedding as well, but his match seemed like a bit of an afterthought though not too surprising given who he was facing. Even though he was still pretty hot as a heel, it was clear that Volkoff was no major threat to Hogan and this would end up being a token title defense for Hogan while having focus on the USA vs. Russia angle. But as mentioned, these shows were a good way to showcase Hogan as he usually didn’t appear on the regular TV shows and he would always be featured heavily on SNME either in a title match or a major anchor match. The match itself was decent as I’m sure both men faced each other on the house shows at times over the last years and had solid chemistry, and Volkoff did get some decent shine before putting Hogan over strong. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and popped big time for Hogan when he won. Hogan retains the title over Volkoff and the USA reigns supreme once more over the hated Soviet Union, and both men move on.
Final Grade: **