Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event IV – 1/4/86


*** 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 IV – 1/4/86

January 4, 1986
Tampa, FL
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura

*** Hulk Hogan and Gene Okerlund make protein shakes by the pool to prep for Hulk’s big match tonight. The Hillbillies hang in the pool while Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura sunbathe with babes and make fun of them. ***

1) Roddy Piper, Bob Orton & Jesse Ventura defeat Hillbilly Jim, Cousin Luke & Uncle Elmer when Piper forced Luke to pass out in a sleeperhold at 8:00

Fun Fact: James Janos, aka Jesse Ventura, was born in July, 1951 and was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ventura served in the US Navy as a Navy Seal from late 1969 through 1975, during the Vietnam War period. Following his military service, Ventura turned to bodybuilding and wrestling. He made his wrestling debut in 1975 and wrestled in the Central States and Pacific Northwest territories before making his way home to Minneapolis and the AWA. He tagged with Adrian Adonis in the AWA and won the World Tag Team Championship, a title the team would hold for nearly a year. After losing the titles, the pair moved to the WWF. Ventura’s in-ring career came to an abrupt end in 1984 when he developed blood clots in his lungs. He would take on a commentary role with the company where he would primary back the heels, although he would give a babyface his due for a good performance.

Fun Fact II: This match came about as a result of the events from SNME #2 and the wedding of Uncle Elmer. During the wedding, Piper interrupted the ceremony and Ventura continually ridiculed the couple on commentary. In between these two shows, Cousin Junior was replaced by Cousin Luke.

Scott: I think that Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper may be one of the top five most awesome heel tag teams of all time. Two of the greatest talkers of all time and whether you question their in-ring work is completely irrelevant. Ugh, even the Hillbillies’ theme song makes me sick. Jesse back in the ring is pretty cool since most of us that were just becoming wrestling fans at that time didn’t see him wrestle before being forced into retirement due to clots in his lungs. Bobby Heenan replaces Jesse in the broadcast booth with Vince, which is pretty much lateral awesomeness anyway. Well played there. The heels dominate the early going against Cousin Luke, who not only looks stupid wrestling barefoot with overalls but sucks in the ring. Piper cuts the ring off as he and his teammates dominate the early going until a missed face tag becomes a tag to Uncle Elmer. In some twisted way Elmer seems to be the highlighted guy on this team and seems to be getting the legit push. This is the first SNME to be outside the confines of the Northeast and the crowd is red hot for this one. Hillbilly Jim then takes control of Piper until he’s sent into the corner and then the triple-teaming begins. I kind of thought the Hillbillies would win but no, Ace’s cast gets the job done and the awesome heel team gets the win, and perhaps the only time in my wrestling fan infancy that I rooted for WWF heels. Grade: **1/2

JT: Our opener was set up at the end of the last SNME and really it was one that was brewing for even longer than that. The Hillbillies have been going about their business but happened to cross paths with noted assholes Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura and all hell broke loose. Before the match, Ventura pops in to talk to Vince McMahon and lays out some wisdom, calling Luke “Cousin Mud Pie” and then saying he is the only announcer willing to step into battle and back up his words. He then brings in Bobby Heenan to fill in for him during his match. Jesse hadn’t been involved in much action over the last year or so due to blood clots in his lungs, but it was cool that he could step into the ring on occasion for angles like this. I should note that Cousin Luke has stepped in for Cousin Junior and somehow they managed to find someone even stupid and more dense looking. He also seems really lost. At least Junior had some spunk. Elmer and Jesse opened things up and the Body went right to the eyes before clubbing away. Elmer came back with some choking and tagged in Jim. Jesse cut him off with a knee to the gut and tagged in Piper. Luke was tagged in and Hot Rod played some mind games by trying to get Luke to shake his hand but the dope didn’t bite. It didn’t matter as he got trapped in the corner and worked over by the machinelike heel team for the next few minutes. They kept quick tagging and keeping the pressure on until Luke stumbled back and tagged in Elmer, who was finally going to get his hands on Piper. They have done a good job building this up and keeping them apart physically until now. Elmer would lock in a bear hug but everyone else crashed the ring and brawled as things broke down. The heels eventually bailed to the floor to regroup as we took a break. When the show returned, the brawl reignited until it boiled down to Piper and Jim trading headbutts and right hands. Piper also paintbrushed Jim a bit and used his anger to twist him back into the heel corner for a gang up. Luke would get tagged in again but he walked right into a sleeper from Piper. The other four battled in the corner and Luke broke free. However, as he hit the ropes, Orton smashed Luke in the back of the head with his cast. Piper reapplied the sleeper and picked up the win for his team. Well, I enjoyed this more than I expected to. The heels were great and very effective in their execution, seamlessly weaving in and out of the ring and working over the hillbillies. And speaking of, I will begrudgingly give them credit as well for having good energy and hanging in with their selling and comebacks. Also, keeping Elmer on the apron for most of this helped as well. The right team won and this multi-episode arc has seemingly come to an end. Grade: *1/2

*** Back at the pool, we get a water slide race between Jimmy Hart and Junkyard Dog. Hart was looking for revenge for Dog humiliating him at the last SNME, but his plan failed as Dog won the race easily. Terry Funk is also there and claims he wants a nice tan so when he defeats Hulk Hogan tonight he will look good for Sports Illustrated. ***

2) Hulk Hogan defeats Terry Funk to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with a lariat at 8:30

Fun Fact: Terry Funk was announced as the #1 contender to the WWF Championship leading up to the match. Funk’s primary adversary during the time, the Junkyard Dog, is at ringside to even the score and keep manager Jimmy Hart in check.

Fun Fact II: Despite Hulkamania being in full swing by this point, Hulk Hogan was still not locked into the classic yellow and red combo that he is known for. In this match, Hogan breaks out the rarely seen light blue tights and boots. Thank goodness he did not stick with this combo.

Scott: We get a rare televised Hulk Hogan World Title match, and the even more rare blue alternate tights/boots combo on the WWF Champion. This match actually does have a backstory, as during a World Title match in Denver, Funk drilled Hogan in the head with the branding iron, then branded the prone champion. With no live TV shows or PPVs, the SNMEs were the place to be for the big feuds early on, and they load this match with the highest level talent, as the equally over Junkyard Dog seconds Hogan to the ring. Jesse is back in his commentary seat, ripping into JYD for bullying Jimmy Hart, but of course the Dog and Funk have issues, and those issues would persist throughout the early part of 1986. I’m guessing that the steroids were part of it, but Hogan seemed more bloated than he normally does for this match. Funk had some early momentum with chops and kicks but Hogan gains momentum with some right hands, although Jimmy Hart distracts him and Funk regains control. It’s evident that Jimmy Hart is the #1 manager in the company, with Bobby Heenan at #2 but that would change over time. Funk comes very close to winning after a piledriver but Hogan eventually gets to hulking up and then the Funk distraction with the referee leads to Hogan retaining his title. Funk beats on Dave Hebner and chases him off to the back. This was a fun match with a lot of crazy interference and action. The crowd was hot as well, so all around a thumbs up. Grade: **1/2

JT: The Sun Dome would erupt as Hulk Hogan marched to the ring, decked out in his light blue tights, World Title strapped around his waist. Hogan has competed on every SNME so far and that certainly helps add to the importance of the show. He also has JYD in his corner to help neutralize Jimmy Hart. This was a great use of Funk, a big name and the perfect type of wild bumper to blend with Hogan’s style. Hogan starts in control, beating on Funk and knocking him to the floor a pair of times as the crowd went nuts. Whenever Hart tried to help Funk, JYD forced him to sit in a chair and watch innocently. I really like these ongoing feuds that weave from SNME to SNME. Funk tried to take control when he got back in but after a long back and forth bouncing off the ropes, Hogan simply kicked Funk to the floor again. The wild man tossed a chair in the ring but that was quite ineffective as Hogan again wailed on him when he made it back inside. The champ chucked him into the corner and then took him down with a back suplex for a two count. Funk came back with some headbutts and a low blow and finally stopped Hogan in his tracks. He quickly relented control as Hogan slammed Funk down and dropped a big running elbow. Hulk is looking spry here, flying around the ring and keeping a great pace. As he hit the ropes, Hart popped up and grabbed Hogan’s leg. The Hulkster came out and he and JYD chased Hart right under the ring. When Hogan slid back in, Funk jumped him and choked him with some tape from his wrists. He followed that with a piledriver for a close near fall, in fact it was so close that Ventura lost his mind yelling about how slow the referee was to make the count. Hogan quickly hulked up and pummeled Funk, drilling with the big boot and kicking him to the apron. As he went to suplex Funk back in, Hart jabbed Hogan with the branding iron, giving Funk a close near fall before Hulk got his foot on the rope. JYD would knock down Hart as Hogan smacked Funk with a running lariat to nab the win. That was a really fun sprint with a hot crowd backing it. They never slowed down and Hogan kept chugging along as Funk bounced around the ring. The JYD/Hart stuff was good too and never got overbearing. Possibly my favorite SNME match so far. Grade: ***

*** At the swimming pool, George Steele is flailing around and playing with a rubber duck as Lou Albano informs Gene Okerlund that there will be no ring rust on Steele. Jesse Ventura then catches up with Randy Savage and Elizabeth and Macho vows that he is not afraid of an Animal and then throws Liz off a ledge into a pool as a swimming lesson. Tremendous. ***

3) Randy Savage defeats George Steele with a double axe handle at 4:06

Fun Fact: This match would be the beginning of a love triangle feud that would last far longer than the two months it was originally expected to last. George Steele would become infatuated with Randy Savage’s manager, Miss Elizabeth, which would cost him many matches due to being distracted. The feud would continue into 1987 and WrestleMania III (see the PTBN Vintage Vault website or Volume 1 ebook for full details).

Scott: Watching this episode made me realize how much I totally underappreciated the WWF heels in 1985-86. Asshole Savage throwing Liz in the pool when she can’t swim may be one of the coolest douche heel moves ever. George Steele was used for nothing more than comedy babyface stuff as his better wrestling days were obviously behind him. Savage was only in the company for about seven months but it’s evident he was a superstar in the making. This match was no great shakes for a couple of reasons. First, Steele is a terrible wrestler, and having useless sloppy pig Lou Albano around doesn’t help either. Second, Randy Savage really hadn’t tapped into his real workrate yet and was still working the Memphis running around and stalling style. Steele would get the upper hand multiple times but his being smitten with the lovely Elizabeth constantly distracts him and eventually Savage hits the double axe handle and gets the victory. Unfortunately this feud isn’t over and continues for the next few months. Ugh. Grade: *

JT: Ah, angry douchebag Macho Man. Tough to beat. Of course, like so many of us, George Steele was infatuated by Elizabeth’s beauty and that seemingly kicks off here as he comes over and pets her while looking at her longingly. Albano would finally back him off just before Savage realized what was going on. As Ventura mentioned at the pool, Steele hadn’t been in action too much lately but now was getting back into the swing as 1986 dawned. Savage stalled and took his time as Steele kept lunging at him. They would finally lock up and Steele grabbed Savage in a wristlock and then chucked him over the top to the floor. Steele followed him out and got distracted by Liz yet again, but he finally snapped out of his trance and got back inside. A moment later they were back on the floor with Steele chasing Savage, who finally ducked behind Liz for cover. When the reset the match, Steele tossed Savage away and tore into the turnbuckle, which Vince said was a fetish for him. Steele continued to be smitten by Liz and it finally cost him as Savage hit an axe handle off the top for the win. Macho would hoist up Liz and stomp to the back as Steele looked on confused. Match was nothing but it kicks off a fairly infamous angle. And regardless, this era of Macho Man is a treat to watch across the board, with in the ring and with his character work. Grade: 1/2*

*** We get a WWF 1985 Year in Review music video, showcasing all the highlights and stars of promotion. ***

*** Back to the pool, where Corporal Kirchner shows off his army training tactics as he rides a zip line over a pool before dismounting for a splash landing. ***

4) Nikolai Volkoff defeats Corporal Kirchner in a Peace Match with a knee to the chest at 4:32

Fun Fact: In early 1986, the US and Soviet Union had just completed a successful summit in Geneva, Switzerland, creating better communication between the two superpowers. In that same spirit, Nikolai Volkoff issued a challenge to Corporal Kirchner for SNME. In a press release issued before the event, Volkoff was quoted as saying, “In the spirit of the Geneva Summit, I am challenging this American warrior to wrestle, using only scientific techniques. It is my hope to show the superiority of the Soviet athlete using only peaceful means as opposed to the Star Wars brutality of Cpl. Kirchner.”

Fun Fact II: Michael Penzel, aka Corporal Kirchner, was a real US Army paratrooper in his late teens to early twenties. After serving his country, he became a mechanic in Minnesota, where he met Hulk Hogan, who was in the AWA at the time. Hogan introduced Kirchner to Verne Gagne who began training Kirchner. He began his wrestling career in 1980 in the AWA before moving to the WWF in 1985. The Federation had just recently lost Sgt. Slaughter and was looking for another American hero. He was given the military character by Vince McMahon after learning about his military background. 

Fun Fact III: Future WCW and WWF star Dean Malenko is the referee for this match.

Scott: After Sgt. Slaughter left to go back to the AWA, the WWF needed an All-American military presence to fill the gap so in comes Corporal Kirchner. The Corporal was younger and in better shape than the Sarge but it’s evident he’s way over his head and needed to be lower down the card to get some seasoning. Instead he’s pushed right into a feud with the evil tag team of Sheik and Volkoff. A peace match apparently means no cheating, which I guess is supposed to be every match anyway? Well they go through the motions with mediocre to bad chain wrestling but really we were waiting for the Russian to obviously cheat to win the match. Well it seemed like every once in a while during the match he would be ready to brea the rules but then doesn’t. Eventually we get the cheating finish as Volkoff drops the Corporal’s throat on the top rope and then finishes the rookie off with a knee to the chests. Kirchner is fuming and attacks the former tag team champions before storming off. This feud has some legs left but the matches will never reach any kind of great levels. Kirchner always looked like he was a deer in headlights most of the time and was probably over his head for a feud of this magnitude. This match will probably be the best these two will do, but the feud isn’t over. Grade: *1/2

JT: With Sgt. Slaughter long gone from the promotion, the WWF felt there was a glaring need for an All American military character to continue their jingoistic angles when needed. Enter Corporal Kirchner. Not nearly as polished or beloved as the Sarge, Kirchner always seemed a bit in over his head. Across the ring is known America hater Nikolai Volkoff as this bout was dubbed a “Peace Match”. In a prematch interview it was revealed that Iron Sheik would be backing Nikolai to lend his “moral support”. Sadly Nikolai is not rocking his awesome winter coat. Also, according to Jesse, because of the stipulation here, combat tactics wouldn’t be allowed and that could affect Kirchner. For the first time on SNME, Nikolai’s singing gets interrupted by an opponent as Kirchner and his army crew march down to the ring to the Halls of Montezuma. Kirchner did have a pretty good look so I can see why they got behind him so strongly here. Things certainly did get off to a peaceful start with both trading some wrestling holds and avoiding strikes. The Corporal showed off his power by winning a battle over a top wristlock as things remained clean. Kirchner got the first cover with a roll up but Nikolai kicked out at one. After another lock up, we got another clean break and a handshake, much to the shock of Jesse. Kirchner controlled the arm and got a small package near fall. Nikolai finally tossed in the towel on the rules, cracking Kirchner in the chops during a break and then slugging him down and dropping a hard knee to the chest for the win. Kirchner attacked by Sheik and Volkoff after the match and successfully ran both men off. That was a pretty neat finish with Nikolai baiting him all match before finally getting dirty and taking the win. Kirchner hung in OK here and I liked the psychology and stipulation more than expected. Do it for Mother Russia! Grade: *

*** At the pool, we see Don Muraco surfing in a wave pool and then being mobbed by ladies in bikinis. ***

5) Junkyard Dog & Ricky Steamboat defeat Magnificent Muraco & Mr. Fuji when Junkyard Dog pinned Fuji with a headbutt at 5:19

Fun Fact: This is a continuation of the feud between Ricky Steamboat and Mr. Fuji & Don Muraco. To even the score, Steamboat is paired with another fan favorite babyface, Junkyard Dog.

Scott: They really loaded this show up with great vignettes and five full matches. We conclude the show with a feud that dates back to before the last SNME episode and now after Steamboat took care of Fuji in a singles match he grabs his buddy the JYD (who’s all over this show) to face Fuji and his evil charge the Magnificent Muraco. Muraco was left off WrestleMania but is really back on TV quite a bit. It’s also clear that the Junkyard Dog is the #2 most popular wrestler in the company behind Hogan as his presence has been all over these first four episodes of the show. The match isn’t much (again due to time constraints) but Fuji obviously is on the back end of his career and can’t do much but he takes a majority of the face comeback beating while keeping Muraco and Steamboat away from each other, since they have plenty more business to do together on the house show circuit. Fuji eats the pin and after some rough and tumble interference we are finished. This match wasn’t much other than to showcase the JYD again and to further the Steamboat/Muraco feud. Grade: *

JT: Ricky Steamboat’s issues with Mr. Fuji and Don Muraco continue to roll on here. We saw Steamboat beat Fuji in a Kung Fu match at our last show, but the feud has raged on. Steamboat picks up Junkyard Dog as  tag partner this time, leading to a strong babyface superpower team. In a funny prematch promo, Fuji talks about all the gross things people in his country do to dogs, including boiling them. We got off to a fast start with Muraco and Fuji jumping the faces off the bell. Steamboat got dumped to the apron by Fuji and then slammed on the floor as Muraco drilled JYD with a knee to the face back in the ring. Interesting start. JYD battled back in the ring, taking Muraco over with a back body drop but whiffed on a falling headbutt. Fuji tagged in for the first time and landed some of karate thrusts on JYD but the Dog came back and slammed the Fuj hard to the mat. Fuji escaped, but Dog kept in control of Muraco with a slam and some right hands. Muraco regained his composure and took back over, tagging in and out with Fuji as the crowd chanted for JYD. Muraco would make a big mistake with a whiffed charge in the corner, ending with him careening into the post and JYD making the tag. Steamboat was on fire, pelting Muraco with chops and then nailing Fuji as well. Steamer landed some kicks and thrusts and then slingshot Muraco into Fuji. A moment later, he hit a perfect high cross body on Muraco but Fuji made the save. A moment later, JYD tagged back in and cracked Fuji with a headbutt for the win. Steamboat gets his revenge. He would brawl a bit more with Muraco after the match, leading to another stalemate. These SNME matches certainly do allow for a good pace due to their abridged lengths and that certainly benefits them greatly. Again, there was nothing that stood out in this one, but it kept moving and the quick tags and short heat segments ensured it never lagged. Grade: *1/2

Final Analysis

Scott: This was an average outing with positives and negatives. The Hogan/Funk match was really entertaining and the water slide stuff was fun. We see the early greatness of Randy Savage not only with the skit with Elizabeth but with the match he had with Tito and what was coming from the future there. I loved the Muraco/Steamboat feud back then but this wasn’t the best template of it, as it was just used to showcase Junkyard Dog, who at this point is still the #2 babyface in the promotion after Hogan. A decent episode that thankfully finished all the hillbilly crap (and rightfully too as the heels won) but from here we see some fresh feuds develop and a new year of WWF wrestling. Final Grade: C+

JT: This was a pretty middle of the road offering, buoyed by the really fun Hogan/Funk title match. The skits were fine but not nearly as fun as the Halloween bits. As I mentioned above, I do like how they keep various storylines running from show to show and it was nice seeing the payoff to the Hillbilly fiasco that kicked off back in October. We also saw some new feuds start to brew here as well in the middle of the show and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed both Steele/Savage and Kirchner/Volkoff. For the first time, we don’t have a mach set up for our next installment, but I am sure some of these angles will continue to boil over there. Until then, hit the pool and enjoy some fun in the sun! Final Grade: C