Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XIV – 1/2/88

*** 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 XIV – 1/2/88

January 2, 1988
Capital Centre
Landover, MD
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura
Attendance: 13,000

1) Strike Force defeat The Bolsheviks in a Best of Three Falls match to retain WWF Tag Team Titles in 7:55

Rick Martel forced Boris Zhukov to submit to the Boston Crab at 4:23
Tito Santana pinned Boris Zhukov after Nikolai Volkoff accidentally hit him with a cane at 7:55

Fun Fact: Why isn’t Nikolai Volkoff wrestling with his traditional partner The Iron Sheik here? Well, in May 1987, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik were pulled over by a police officer in New Jersey. The officer suspected Duggan of DUI and when they searched the car they found Duggan under the influence of marijuana while Sheik was high on cocaine. The story made news across the country and was an embarrassment to the WWF since the two were feuding on-screen at the time. The feud came to an immediate end, they were taken off of television and both left the company for a period of time.

Fun Fact II: Once The Iron Sheik was released, Volkoff was left without a tag partner. The WWF brought in James Harrell as Boris Zhukov, a character he had taken on during his time in the AWA. The two “Russians” were paired together in late 1987 as The Bolsheviks. They made their PPV debut one month earlier at Survivor Series 87 and their SNME debut here. The team never made their way out of the mid-card and never had the success that Volkoff and Sheik had together.

Scott: A breath of fresh air for new tag team champions, but let’s not discount the great run for the Hart Foundation as champions. But with some new teams on the horizon it was time to switch things up and have a hot babyface team at the top right now. After his loss to Randy Savage almost two years earlier Tito Santana seemed to have floated around aimlessly, hooking up with other guys’ feuds like Junkyard Dog. Rick Martel was a tag team champion in the WWF earlier in the decade and more recently was AWA World Champion. Now he’s returned east and is wearing the gold around his waist. With the Iron Sheik gone, Nikolai Volkoff needed a new tag team partner and he gets another alumnus of the AWA, Boris Zhukoff. Now the new heel communists take on Strike Force here with the straps on the line. The first fall is almost a squash as the champs dictate all the action and Martel gets a submission on his Boston crab. The second fall is a little more even as the challengers start to use their power moves and even with a hot tag the Russians keep control, until Slick attempts to reenact the end of the tag title match from WrestleMania I when he tries to use his cane, although this time Tito ducks and Boris is smacked with the stick and three seconds later the champions win two straight falls to retain their titles. That was a fun quick match with a hot DC crowd and a good showing for the new tag champions. Grade: **

JT: We open up 1988 with a big Saturday Night’s Main Event that is headlined with a big rematch from our last installment. Right out of the gate we have some change here in the new year as our new tag team champions open up the show. Strike Force was born from the ashes of the Can-Am Connection, with Tito Santana replacing Tom Zenk, and the duo knocked off the Hart Foundation in a surprising upset late in 1987. Here they square off with the Bolsheviks in a SNME standard: two out of three falls tag team title match. When Iron Sheik was turfed, Boris Zhukov was imported from the AWA to team with Nikolai Volkoff and while the team was presented as threats, they certainly took a step back in overall effectiveness when that switch went down. The Bolsheviks logo during their preshow promo was really top notch. The had a funny little angle going where they kept wishing peace and saying they were goodwill ambassadors which I loved as I always dig the heel false sincerity gimmick. And of course Strike Force had the epic Girls in Cars as their theme music, which is a GOAT contender for sure. Santana started off with Zhukov and corralled him to get things underway, working the arm a bit The champs would double team and quick tag as they worked over the big Russian until Boris jabbed Martel in the face and made the tag. Nikolai laid the lumber but Martel nabbed a near fall with an inside cradle and then fought away and made the tag to Tito who almost got the first fall with a cross body. Volkoff got a two count of his own with a clothesline and then kept hammering Tito with knees and boots. The Russians would then work the quick tag game as they tried to use their weight to wear down Tito. Martel would get the hot tag and clean house as the crowd cheered him on. After a hot little sequence, he would trap Boris in the Boston crab and pick up the first fall via submission.

The second fall started with some double teaming and Martel locked Zhukov right back in the crab but Nikolai made the save before he submitted. Nikolai went to work at a pretty urgent pace, knowing they were in must win more now. He hit a gut-wrench suplex and a gut buster for near falls, using his power to his advantage. They kept getting close to evening up the match but couldn’t quite get it done and eventually Martel was able to tag out after he and Nikolai wiped each other out with clotheslines. In a funny bit of commentary, Vince McMahon called out that “idiot Zhukov” because he inadvertently pushed Martel into the tag. Santana came in firing and pasted Boris with the flying forearm but Nikolai made the save. A moment later, Volkoff grabbed Slick’s cane but accidentally nailed his partner with it, allowing Tito to cover for the win. Good tag opener to get this show going and having the champs sweep was a smart decision. The Russians worked a much quicker pace than usual and it led to a fun match. Martel and Tito were really good at both selling and showing fire in their offense and it helped keep the crowd into things until the finish. Grade: **

2) Jake Roberts defeats Sika with a roll up at 3:35

Scott: Sika continues to do his job, which is to…job. Jake Roberts is trying to kick start his year with a bang after slowly moving up the ladder as a babyface he’s set to be a top flight guy. The match isn’t much as Sika worked Jake over but the Snake would recover, and after some heel chicanery Jake wins with a roll up which I found weird. I’m surprised that he didn’t win with a DDT, even as he delivered one to Mr. Fuji after the match. The Snake gets the throwaway win on the show with a seasoned veteran. The weird promos with Sika ripping heads off chickens is pretty funny. Grade: *

JT: As 1988 opens up, Jake Roberts is seemingly a man without a feud. His face run has been a success but ever since the switch he hasn’t had much of a program to sink his teeth into once he moved away from Honky Tonk Man. Here he tussles with the glorified Samoan jobber Sika, who is seconded by Mr. Fuji, natch. The Snake peppered Sika in the early going until Samoan caught him with a back drop to take control. Fuji would get involved, pelting Roberts with his cane, and allowing Sika to keep Roberts grounded. Sika locked in a lazy looking nerve hold that Jake eventually fought out of before coming back with some right hands. Fuji would trip him up to slow his offense but a second later, Roberts dodged a charge and rolled up Sika for the win. That was very blah and all of Sika’s offense was basically Fuji interference. After the bout Jake smashed Fuji with the DDT which was easily the highlight of the bout. He would then dump the snake on the Fuj for one last laugh. Sika is useless, Fuji needs a better heavy to employ. And Roberts needs a legit feud to get him up and running once again. Grade: DUD

*** Bobby Heenan reveals that he is allowing Andre the Giant to take his spot at ringside with King Kong Bundy for on evening only. Heenan claims that doctor’s orders due to the neck injury he suffered at the hands of Hulk Hogan are keeping him in the locker room. ***

3) Hulk Hogan defeats King Kong Bundy to retain WWF World Title with a legdrop at 12:09

Fun Fact: Following their match at SNME XIII, King Kong Bundy made a challenge to Hulk Hogan for a rematch with Andre in his corner. Hogan later accepted that challenge in an interview with Gene Okerland. Their rematch takes place here in Landover.

Fun Fact II: This would be the last major show for King Kong Bundy in the WWF for quite a while. During 1987, Bundy was not being paid well by the company, so he decided to do an ad for a Dutch computer company for extra money. McMahon did not like his wrestlers working outside of the company and was livid when he saw the ad. In later interviews, Bundy indicates that McMahon began treating him differently and admits the ad was the “kiss of death” to his career in the WWF. In early 1988, Bundy left the WWF and stepped away from wrestling until his return to the ring in 1994.

Scott:We have a rematch from our last SNME as Hogan meets the condominium with legs from Atlantic City. Bundy won by countout in the first encounter thanks to Bobby Heenan, but this time Andre the Giant is the side man for Bundy and Jesse says that changes the dynamic of this match completely. Bundy got more title shots since Wrestlemania II than I thought he did. Hogan and Bundy really had chemistry by the time they got to this match as they’ve wrestled quite a bit in 1987. I bet if you check house show results throughout the year, you’ll see Bundy and Hogan worked the house show circuit and not Hogan and Andre. At this point Andre was probably picking his spots on the schedule, only working TV and PPV’s. Bundy dominated the middle portion of the match until the referee got knocked out by a Bundy avalanche. Hogan got the advantage and pitched Bundy out of the ring but Bundy was able to recover as Dave Hebner became the ref while they scraped up the other one and got him out. Bundy again took control, and I have to say after his loss to Hogan at Wrestlemania II I thought he pretty much vanished from the main shows and was relegated to fighting midgets and mid-card. However the end of 1987 saw him re-ignite his feud with the World Champion and now back to back World Title shots on SNME. Andre was a great manager, barking things at the referee and setting Hogan up for a loss. Bundy hits Hogan with back to back avalanches and a splash but of course at 2 Hogan gets up, does what he does best and gets the three count to retain his championship. Jesse kept saying that Bundy’s foot was touching Hogan and that there should have been a three count. Jesse was awesome, but he was even more excited post-match. Hogan was taunting Andre to get into the ring but he wouldn’t. Then when Hogan was posing to his music, the Giant came in and attacked Hogan. He head butts him, and then chokes him out. A myriad of babyfaces from the back try to stop him but Andre just won’t let go of the choke. Finally Jim Duggan cracks Hogan with the 2×4 but it only pissed Andre off. He does let Hogan go and leaves the ring in anger. Hogan is out, and we are prepared now for what will be the biggest network television match in wrestling history. The rematch. I liked the match and the post-match a lot, because it sets up the most anticipated rematch in wrestling history. Grade: ** ½

JT: Our highly anticipated rematch from our last SNME is upon us. Back in November, King Kong Bundy defeated Hulk Hogan by countout, earning him a rematch here. And just like last time, he will once again have Andre the Giant in his corner, this time for the entire bout as it is officially sanctioned. We discussed the strong chemistry between Hogan and Bundy last time and we will see if that rolls into this showdown. We started fast as Bundy came charging at Hogan but whiffed, giving Hulk the chance to run him from corner to corner and bang him with right hands in between, eventually knocking him hard to the floor. A clothesline would end with the same result a moment later, each time ending with Bundy consulting with Andre. The champ started to work the arm of the King of Bundamania but Bundy used the hair to switch leverage and hook an armbar of his own. Hogan landed a few shoulderblocks but ate an elbow on a charge and Bundy went right back to work on the arm with a long armbar. Hogan punched out of it and scooped and slammed Bundy but missed an elbow drop, rattling his injured appendage off the mat. Bundy would slam Hogan but then he missed an elbow drop as well as Jesse noted that Hogan was relying on his speed in this one. In a weird spot, the referee got all mixed up in the action, somehow leap frogging Hogan and then randomly yelling in his face as Bundy slammed into him from behind, knocking him out cold. Bundy would come up empty with a wild big splash and Hogan came up firing as a new referee came down to take over. As the old referee was stretchered out, the match paused, giving Bundy time to regroup and chat with Andre.

When the match resumed, Bundy choked away on Hogan and then drilled him with a clothesline and knee drop for two. A Bundy chop would knock Hogan to floor and when he rolled back in, Bundy really leveraged his size by standing on Hulk and powering him to the mat. After a chinlock wrenched Hogan’s neck, Bundy rocked Hogan with an Avalanche in the corner and then hit a second one as Andre cheered hm on. He followed that with a big splash but Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up… and a moment later it was over courtesy a legdrop. Jesse was going nuts as he claimed Bundy’s foot was touching Hogan’s while he pantomimed a three count, saying that should have been a legal fall. Can’t agree with you on that one, Jess. After the bout, Andre teased getting in the ring and then walked away. But, once Hogan started to pose, Andre snuck in from behind and choked Hogan out from behind while also whacking him with a headbutt. As Hogan’s music blared, he buckled to his knees in agony, just about passing out. The British Bulldogs came out to help, but Andre swatted them away like flies and went back to choking the champ. Eventually. Roberts, JYD and Strike Force came out but it wasn’t until Jim Duggan showed up and battered Andre with his 2×4 that the hold was broken. And even then Andre wasn’t hurt, just annoyed. Hogan was pulled to safety but Andre looked like a monster here as he held the WWF Title high over his head and laughed. Well, that match was fine but a step behind their November tussle. It felt a little more formulaic and relied more on rest holds than in the past. The finish was a bit rushed too as Hogan got barely any offense in at all before the finish. However, none of that mattered as the post match was what was important and that was really fantastic. Andre looked lethal and poised to finally take the gold home from Hogan, who was left laying in shambles. Whenever their rematch is going to be, the heat and build is going to be fantastic. Also, a sad farewell to Bundy, who exited the promotion shortly after this show. I have enjoyed watching him evolve through these episodes and come to appreciate him much more than I ever did before. Grade: **

4) Greg Valentine defeats Koko B. Ware with the figure four at 7:30

Scott: We close the match portion of the show out with a standard bout with two mid-carders. We haven’t seen Valentine in a singles capacity for quite a while, as he’s been in both pairs of dream teams with Brutus Beefcake and Dino Bravo. Now he has acquired Jimmy Hart as his manager and takes on the maestro of Piledriver. Speaking of the Beefer, the Barber comes down to ringside to rekindle their feud from 1987 when Valentine (with Bravo and Johnny Valiant) left Beefcake in the ring at WrestleMania III. The match was pretty stiff as Valentine really brought all the goods to Koko but the Birdman makes a big comeback with dropkicks but Valentine squashes the comeback with a knee to the shin. Valentine ratchets the figure four and Koko surprisingly submits. I wasn’t expecting that but a well-deserved win. Valentine then puts the move back on which brings Brutus Beefcake back (he was ejected by the referee during the match). However we need Jimmy Hart to get his and the Barber gets a hunk of Jimmy’s mullet. The match was standard TV fare and a big win for the Hammer. Grade: *1/2

JT: We close out this month’s show with a midcard showdown between the always reliable Greg Valentine and the highly energetic Koko B. Ware. Jesse brings the racism out immediately, saying Koko “looks like Buckwheat and sings like Kingfish from Amos & Andy”. Hammer landed the first blow, dropping Koko across the top rope with a stun gun and clubbing him in the head for a near fall. He would try for the figure four but Koko kicked free and avoided the hold. Valentine stayed in control, grinding Koko to the mat and hooking in a chinlock. As he was trapped, Jimmy Hart yelled at Koko to sing some Piledriver which made me chuckle. As the Hammer worked over Koko, his former tag partner and current nemesis Brutus Beefcake marched out to ringside and distracted him, allowing Koko to pick up two quick near falls and get back into the match. Joey Marella would hop to the floor and demand Beefcake leave, which he eventually did after a brief argument. After a break, Valentine had regained control of the bout, rattling Koko with a chop and sending him down with a back drop. Koko finally made a comeback, getting his first sustained offense of the bout with a dropkick and some right hands. However, Hammer caught him with a shinbreaker and locked in the figure four for the win. Wow, that was pretty much a squash. I expected more from Koko but it did made Valentine seem really quite strong and seemed to be setting him up for something substantial it would seem. Valentine hooked the hold again after the bell and Beefcake reemerged to make the save. The Barber was able to trap Jimmy Hart and actually shear some of his locks before the Mouth escaped. Looks like Beefer’s feud with the Hart Family is kicked up a notch here. The match was fine, but nothing special. Grade: *

*** Gene Okerlund chats with Bobby Heenan and Andre the Giant who promises that he closing in on the biggest deal in sports history and that at the end of it all, Andre would be very successful and eventually win the WWF World Title from Hulk Hogan. Okerlund also notes that Hogan has suffered damaged to his windpipe as a result of the earlier attack. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: We begin 1988 with another jam packed episode with storylines and character development galore. The Hogan/Andre feud is reignited as the WWF prepares for the biggest Network event in wrestling history. Jake Roberts gets a win to keep his ascension going as well as a win for the tag team champions, Strike Force. That Bolsheiviks graphic was pretty awesome though wasn’t it? The only guy surprisingly missing from the show was Randy Savage but that’s ok, we will get much more of him as 1988 commences. Final Grade: B

JT: I really wasn’t much of a fan of this episode as a whole. The Hogan/Andre stuff was epic and lit the powder keg that would explode soon enough but outside of that there really wasn’t much else going on here. The tag opener was fine bit nothing that stood out, Roberts/Sika was nothing and the Valentine/Koko match was basically a squash with the highlight being Beefcake cutting Hart’s hair. Hogan/Bundy II was a step back from their first tilt so no matches here really were that captivating. The Andre attack saves it but overall I think this is one of our worst outings in a while. Final Grade: C-