Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event V – 3/1/86


*** 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 V – 3/1/86

March 1, 1986
Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Phoenix, AZ
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Mr. T defeats Bob Orton in a boxing match at 1:00 of Round Two

Fun Fact: On the 2/8/86 episode of Championship Wrestling, Roddy Piper brought out Bob Orton Jr. as his guest on Piper’s Pit. At that time, Piper began referring to Orton as “Boxing Bob Orton”, who challenged anyone who had wrestled in the WWF to a boxing match. Two weeks later, Hulk Hogan was a guest on Piper’s Pit and signed the contract on behalf of Mr. T, who had been his wrestling partner at WrestleMania I. The match would take place here at Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Scott: We begin perhaps my favorite SNME episode ever with a boxing match and lingering emotions from last March at Madison Square Garden. Roddy Piper took much pleasure from throwing his barbs at the star of the A-Team, and then we realized years later he really didn’t like him. Mr. T’s heckling and jaw jacking in his practice sessions reminded me of the iconic Clubber Lang in Rocky III. Mr. T borrows Hulk Hogan’s entrance theme, which we will get into later in the show, to come to the ring for the big boxing match. I remember Orton knocking out a few tomato cans on Superstars and Wrestling Challenge leading up to this one but this was his real first challenge. Of course Piper and Orton using every dirty trick in the book, including a cheap shot after the bell of the first round. The second round ends with a complete mess as T starts flailing at everything and Piper distracts the ref as Orton gets punched out of the ring. Mr. T gets the win but now the true memorable part of the match. Piper gets in the ring and spits in T’s face. T and Piper are about to go at it but Orton cheap shots T with a knee to the back and then with T held down Piper takes his belt off and starts whipping T in the back with his leather belt. At the time no one thought anything of it (nor did anyone say anything about Jesse’s “Roots II” comment, which he stupidly repeated too) but in today’s world that would never fly on television nor would Jesse’s comments have gone unpunished but from a wrestling perspective you’re talking big time heel heat and it leads to one of our big main events for WrestleMania II. The hatred between Piper and T in real life makes this one of mid-80’s greatest feuds. The boxing match was nothing but the after match beatdown was pure heel genius. Grade: *

JT: With the bad blood still lingering from WrestleMania I, Mr. T and Roddy Piper were still very bitter rivals nearly a year later. T resurfaced here against Piper’s lackey Bob Orton, who had issued an open challenge to anyone to box him one-on-one. Hulk Hogan answered the bell on behalf of his buddy, setting up this bout. Of course, the boxing gimmick was in place to play off of T’s turn as Clubber Lang in Rocky III. Before the match, Piper is his usual stuff, brandishing a paparazzi picture of T and Boy George and questioning if that was the type of man that should be a hero. We also got clips of T’s sparring session as he smashed a tomato can. T even borrowed Real American from Hogan for this one. I love all the detail they baked into this boxing stuff, with all the sparring, trainers and cornermen. They really bought into it all. Round one was pretty standard stuff with T looking crisp and landing more shots early in. Orton kept doing his best to force breaks in the ropes while also tossing some haymakers when he the opening. Orton got right in T’s grill after he shook off a shot to the eye. He also landed a big right hand sucker punch after the bell sounded for the end of round one. That was some great heel stuff, especially Orton’s nonplussed saunter back to the corner afterwards. Orton was aggressive to kick off round two, showboating a bit and stalking T, who was being a bit cautious. T started to land some blows, but Piper distracted the ref, allowing Orton to bury a knee. Piper again got involved, but T knocked him to the ground and then tossed Orton to the floor, leading to the Cowboy getting counted out. That was an odd finish, they should have just done a knockout. As T celebrated, Piper hopped in the ring and disrobed, looking for a fight. Orton jumped in as well and the two double teamed T, slugging him down and stomping away. Piper would also grab his belt and whipped T viciously. Jesse then lands the most racist comment of the night by saying this was like “Roots II”. That moved quickly and didn’t really linger. I really enjoyed Orton’s facials and aggression and T played his part well enough. The post match beat down continues to the feud and the whipping really built up some good heat. Grade: N/A

2) King Kong Bundy defeats Steve Gatorwolf with an Avalanche at :41

Scott: This squash is nothing more than a set up for later in the night and to show Bundy is a legit main event contender. He calls Hulk Hogan out after the match and wants a title shot anytime, anywhere. Steve Gatorwolf is a legendary jobber during the Federation Era, and he does his “job” very well. Grade: DUD

JT: The super push of King Kong Bundy has arrived and he has made it clear that he is gunning for the World Title of Hulk Hogan. He gets a prematch promo for him and Bobby Heenan to sell themselves and then a spotlight squash match on a big show like this shows the plans were serious for him. Bundy went right at Gatorwolf off the bell, smashing him with forearms and then plowing into him with an avalanche in the corner for the easy win, demanding for a five count as well. Nothing doing here, but a chance to showcase Bundy as a monster and get the point across that he was out for Hogan. Grade: DUD

*** With Mr. Fuji ill backstage, Magnificent Muraco reveals that Bobby Heenan will be managing him for his match tonight. ***

3) Hulk Hogan defeats Magnificent Muraco to retain WWF Heavyweight Title by disqualification at 6:53

Fun Fact: At the start of the show, Jesse Ventura announced that The Magnificent Muraco was the #1 contender to the WWF title, which somehow happens when you go on a near one month losing streak to Ricky Steamboat.

Scott: After floating around throughout 1985, the Magnificent Muraco has been shown prominently on these first few SNMEs, and now gets a rare World Title match. Bobby Heenan is replacing the “sick” Mr. Fuji as Muraco’s manager but that, as we see, has sinister overtones. This is our fifth SNME and our fourth Hogan World Title match which is why these early shows got great ratings for NBC as unless you were at live shows you didn’t see many World Title matches on TV. Hogan is in his familiar gold tights but they are accented with white knee pads instead of the usual red. Muraco starts the match off fast but Hogan regains control and puts Muraco in a bear hug but Muraco breaks it with headbutts. Muraco uses the awesome Asian spike to perfection as Jesse says it sets up the piledriver perfecly. Well worked match by Muraco as the heel to dictate with power strikes and with Bobby as his manager (who has ten times as much heel heat as Fuji does) is cheering Muraco on and helping out when possible. Hogan gets his momentum and is about to pin Muraco when Bobby Heenan comes in to break the pin attempt and cause the disqualification. Hogan grabs Heenan by the throat, but this is when the fun begins (if you’re a Hogan hater, or a lover of heels). As Hogan has Heenan by the throat, in comes King Kong Bundy to attack Hogan from behind. Then, in one of the greatest heel beatdowns in WWF history, Muraco holds Hogan in the corner and Bundy delivers one Avalanche after another. As Hogan slumps to the ground, Bundy delivers a couple of big splashes for posterity. Hogan is twitching on the canvas and eventually gets sent to the hospital. I believe we may have our main event for WrestleMania II on April 7. One of the most memorable SNME moments in history and a great starter for a blood feud. The match was average but everything else was awesome. Grade: **

JT: Hulk Hogan’s SNME match streak continues on here with his fifth straight bout. And yet again, the WWF Title is up for grabs as he defends against the heel stalwart Don Muraco. As mentioned above, Bobby Heenan is out with Muraco, never wasting a chance to potentially end Hulkamania. Muraco took control to start, raking the back of Hogan and hammering him with forearms and right hands. Hogan battled back with some back rakes of his own, only stopping to slug Heenan off the apron and to the floor. The match spilled outside with Hogan taking it right to Muraco. They would slug it out back in the ring, with Hogan winning that war and picking up a near fall. The champ would lock in a bear hug, which was interesting to see. Not sure I have ever seen a face use a bear hug as a control maneuver. Muraco headbutted his way out, rocking Hogan, who slumped down to the mat. Muraco started to kick Hogan in the ribs and then dropped a stiff knee to the head for a two count. The crowd tried to rally Hulk as Muraco slowly worked his offense, an assault that mainly consisted of ax blows and headbutts. He would follow with a Russian leg sweep and a thumb spike off the middle rope but Hogan wouldn’t stay down. In fact, right after that, Hogan made a quick comeback, running through his usual before hitting the legdrop. However, as he covered, Heenan hopped in the ring and kicked Hulk to draw the DQ. As Muraco worked Hogan over, Bundy showed up and laid a stiff beating on the champ, including a series of avalanche splashes in the corner and big splashes on the mat. It was a great beatdown and a major storyline for SNME. It certainly established Bundy as a very legit threat to Hogan’s title. The match was just OK as the pacing was sluggish while Muraco meandered through his offense. The open and close were pretty good but that middle stretch didn’t deliver much. Grade: *1/2

*** Hulk Hogan was carted from the ring and loaded into an ambulance. Gorilla Monsoon joined him for the ride to the hospital. ***

4) The Dream Team defeat The British Bulldogs to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Greg Valentine pinned Dynamite Kid after a double shoulderblock at 12:00

Fun Fact: Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid were both British wrestlers who started their careers in the 1970s. Bruce Hart scouted the two talents and brought them into Stampede Wrestling where the two were actually adversaries. The duo feuded both in Stampede and in New Japan before the feud was finally settled. Afterward, the two formed the tag team of the British Bulldogs. When the WWF bought out Stampede Wrestling, McMahon brought in the Bulldogs along with the Hart Foundation. Since the two teams knew each other from their Stampede days, they feuded with each other and were able to showcase both teams. Following this feud, the Bulldogs set their sites on the WWF tag team champions, the Dream Team.

Fun Fact II: After the British Bulldogs won their match on the 1/25 episode of Superstars of Wrestling, they issued a challenge on Piper’s Pit for the following week against the Dream Team. The next week, the Bulldogs defeated the champs in a non-title match. This leads to the rematch here with the titles on the line.

Scott: Yet another hot feud in the promotion pits the tag team champions against the hottest babyface team in the company. Valentine and Beefcake have been great heel champions, put together pretty much to give the Beefer a couple of mentors to help his early career after the debacle of a match at WrestleMania. The Bulldogs are graduates of Stu Hart’s dungeon and have quickly moved up the ladder in the division. The Bulldogs were always my dad’s favorite team because of their mix of speed and power with the two different types of wrestlers. Starting with this match, the next few years is a heyday of the WWF tag team division. The match is a lot of fun for a TV match, maybe the first SNME match that actually had a decent workrate middle of the match, one which included a commercial break. I loved this feud because these two teams have great chemistry and both teams really lay stiff shots into each other for twelve straight minutes. The heels win on a fluke as Valentine’s leg just happened to land on Dynamite Kid after a double shoulderblock. It’s evident this feud isn’t over and, like in the two previous matches, we could be talking about a rematch on April 7. I enjoyed this feud so much back in the day because these teams worked so well together and was looking forward to the rematch. Grade: **

JT: The Dream Team continues on with their stranglehold of the WWF tag team titles. The British Bulldogs were hot on their tail, having picked up a non title win over the champs back in January. Davey Boy and Greg Valentine opened things up and the Bulldogs started hot, rocking the Hammer with alternating headbutts. Smh grabbed a near fall off a nice suplex before tagging out to Dynamite, who kept the heat coming. Valentine was able to make the tag, but that didn’t change a thing as the Bulldogs pounded him relentlessly, smothering him with strikes and starting to work the arm. Valentine came back in and things got no better as Smith grabbed another near fall from a suplex. The champs are in some real trouble here and the Bulldogs look unbeatable a few minutes into this one. Valentine came firing back at Smith with some big right hands but Smith hammered back with some stiff blows of his own. Dynamite got the tag but Valentine rattled him with an atomic drop and made the tag to Beefcake. Things broke down a bit as all four ended up on the floor to keep Johnny V and Captain Lou separated. After a commercial, Beefcake was back in trouble, eating a dropkick and splash from Dynamite, who got another close near fall. These teams have fantastic chemistry as this match has been hard hitting and smooth at the same time. Valentine tagged in and locked in the figure four on Smith but Dynamite made the save. The Hammer kept control, picking up a two count with a shoulderbreaker and then tagging Beefcake, which led to some double team strikes in the corner. Dynamite thwarted another figure four attempt and hit a flurry of offense, including a dropkick off the top rope. The match fell apart again as Valentine hit another suplex. A moment later, Valentine and Dynamite collided hard in the middle of the ring, but when they fell to the mat, Hammer’s leg ended up draped across Dynamite as the referee counted three. And the champs retain despite the Bulldogs controlling the majority of the bout. That was a really fun match with stiff, fluid power offense and a quick pace kept up by all four men. As I mentioned, their chemistry was top notch and the Dream Team snagging the win was a good move to keep them strong as champs. Grade: ***

*** We get the world premiere of Hulk Hogan’s Real American music video. ***

5) Junkyard Dog defeats Adrian Adonis when Adonis collided with Jimmy Hart at 8:45

Fun Fact: The tough persona of Adrian Adonis began an overhaul in late 1985. He was traded by then manager Bobby Heenan to Jimmy Hart. During a Piper’s Pit segment on 1/11/86, Adonis came out with bleach blonde hair, pink tights and bows in his hair. He retired his old leather jacket and gave it to Piper, who wore it for years afterward. Adonis’ change in character to the more effeminate “Adorable” character also coincided with a large increase in weight, where he maxed out at over 350 lbs.

Scott: Our next match pits another SNME stalwart, the Junkyard Dog against the flamboyant former tag team champion Adrian Adonis. The pre-match interview with Adonis was hilarious, talking about fighting German Shepherds and being “Mrs. Adonis”. The JYD is wearing the same color tights as the Bulldogs, so I guess the official canine tights color is powder blue. JYD dominates Adonis throughout the early portion of the match, as the multi-show arc of the Dog torturing Jimmy Hart continues. That goes back to the early fall and the Dog’s battles with Terry Funk. For a grossly overweight guy, Adonis still has the dexterity and moveset to flop around the ring like a smaller wrestler. Adonis actually loses clean, which kind of surprised me but Adonis gets his heat back by cracking JYD in the back with Jimmy’s megaphone. Honestly I was very surprised that Adonis lost as the gimmick was relatively new. JYD was still the #2 babyface in the promotion and after what’s happened with all the babyfaces tonight the crowd I guess needed to go home happy. The match was crap but the crowd leaves happy. Grade: *1/2

JT: Another SNME fixture, the Junkyard Dog, closes out the show for us here this month. JYD has been featured heavily in these shows and has done some good work along the way. Here he gets the increasingly effeminate Adrian Adonis, who is now sporting makeup, a scarf and pastel knee pads. It was certainly an interesting character twist for the former leather clad bad ass. JYD was red hot to start, smacking Adonis around and then sending him flying back into the ropes, where the Adorable One got all tangled up. JYD kept up the pressure and Adonis did his usual wild bumping all across the ring. Adonis landed some thrusts and slaps but JYD reversed a whip and sent the big guy flying over the top and to the floor, where he hugged Jimmy Hart to regroup. JYD snuck over and headbutted them down and then pranced around the ring making fairy gestures. This creamy is a very “80s mentality” episode of wrestling we have had here tonight. Hart would end up in the ring with Adonis, but JYD slung them into each other, leading to both tumbling over the top and hard down to the floor. Jesse called JYD a bully as we took a break. When the show returned, JYD grabbed a near fall, but a moment later, the Dog got tripped up and then Hart tied his leg to the bottom rope with Adonis’ scarf. Adonis stomped away and eventually went for a piledriver, but Dog’s legs knocked the referee down, causing Adonis to drop him. Hart hopped on the apron with the megaphone, but things backfired and Dog ran him hard into his manager. Adonis would crash to the mat and Dog covered for the win. After the match, Adonis cracked Dog with the megaphone, knocking him to the floor. The match was a fun little tilt with some great bumping by Adonis, as always, and some spirited offense and selling by the Dog. Hart was active at ringside as always and that added to the wild feel of the bout. Based on the closing moments of this one, you almost would assume they may rematch at Mania. Grade: **

*** Gene Okerlund files a report from the hospital, where he interviews Hulk Hogan’s doctor. The doctor gives an update and says there may be some broken ribs but they had to wait for the x-ray results to confirm. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: This is one of the best SNME episodes in history. Sure there isn’t the goofy vignettes and themes we’ve had early on but I was fine straying away from that and getting down to creating new storylines and adding some realism to the product. I think the funniness of the early episodes was used to end current storylines and add some fun to the first few shows but now with WrestleMania around the corner we needed some fresh stuff to get the syndicated shows rolling with the build. Hulk Hogan needed a new, strong #1 contender and what a great way to establish that with a great heel beatdown. Ditto for Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper. The tag title match was solid and establishes the top two teams in the company. What it lacked in comedy, the show more than made up for in the building of storylines, oh and the iconic “Real American” video that I can watch over and over again. One of my favorite episodes of all time and a memorable show from my childhood. Final Grade: A

JT: This was an interesting installment in that it was the first not to feature a running theme or series of campy vignettes. It was definitely the most serious SNME so far and I would guess part of that was because of its close proximity to WrestleMania. The Bundy/Hogan segment may be the heaviest angle advancement we have seen so far. Toss in the Piper/T stuff and the continuation of the tag team feud, and this was a pretty important episode. However, outside of the tag match, there really wasn’t much to write home about from an in ring quality POV. And I did miss the thematic campiness that has characterized these shows to date. Since the storyline stuff was so heavy and important, it helps the grade a bit, but overall I thought this installment was missing the sizzle of its predecessors but again, the hard sell for some Mania storylines and the tag title match keep it afloat and in line with the other grades thus far. Final Grade: C+