Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XVI – 4/30/88

*** 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 XVI – 4/30/88

April 30, 1988
Civic Center
Springfield, MA
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura
Attendance: 9,000

1) Jim Duggan defeats Hercules by disqualification at 8:00

Fun Fact: This match with Jim Duggan is more a match with the Heenan Family than with one individual. At WrestleMania IV, Andre the Giant tripped Duggan during his match with DiBiase which led to DiBiase winning the match. On the April 2 episode of Superstars from Winston-Salem, NC, Duggan came out following Andre’s match to challenge him. Andre began choking Duggan, but Duggan fought back, hitting Andre with his 2×4 and knocking him out. Following the altercation, Bobby Heenan would again become Andre’s manager, purchasing his contract back from DiBiase, and would vow revenge for attacking a Family member.

Scott: Well the moment has (sadly) arrived for me. We now get the endless SNME appearances for the drooling dope Jim Duggan. Duggan is still in his Mid-South black tights and white knee pads. Jesse calls Duggan “a wounded water buffalo in heat.” I knew Jesse was my favorite journalist. All the matches tonight stem from the results of WrestleMania IV and that includes this one. Andre the Giant cost Duggan his first round match in the World Title tournament against Ted DiBiase and revenge could come here against fellow Heenan Family member Hercules. We know that this won’t be a technical display and certainly it’s a lot of power moves and posturing. Bobby goes for the cheap shot and Duggan goes for the 2×4 and waves it all over the ring. That’s what always bugged me: The lack of logic involving this idiot. All the other heels in the WWF get lambasted by the babyface announcers for foreign objects but whenever Duggan brings the 2×4 in the ring he’s “defending himself and AMERICA!!!” Even in the years of kayfabe that pissed me off. Duggan hits Hercules with the three point stance but the Family comes in to stop the pin and cause the disqualification. Duggan clears house as well as an assist from the run-in by the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior is slowly moving the up the babyface food chain, and with no Hulk Hogan on this show we need some fresh faces to boost the crowd and the ratings. The match wasn’t much but seeing Warrior was very cool. Grade: *

JT: With WrestleMania in our rear view window and a brand new WWF Champion not named Hulk Hogan leading the charge for the first time in the SNME era, we have an interesting card ahead. And an interesting time ahead for the company as a whole as this was a whole new world in many ways. In our opener, Andre the Giant has finally been transitioned off his long running feud with Hulk Hogan and onto an issue with Jim Duggan. Here, his stablemate Hercules is looking to put a beating on Hacksaw on his behalf. The build of their feud was pretty good as Duggan cracked Andre with his 2×4 and knocked him unconscious, which was a very rare sight. Of course that stemmed from Andre costing Hacksaw his WrestleMania tournament tilt with Ted DiBiase. I never tire of the buzz that fills the arena when the Giant enters on these shows. Jesse Ventura laid into Duggan’s wrestling ability immediately as the two powerhouses traded blows. Hacksaw rattled Herc with a clothesline and a back drop but came up empty on a knee drop. Herc clubbed away, dodging a comeback before dealing stiff punches to Duggan’s grill. Hacksaw would knocked to the floor but on his way back in, he grabbed his 2×4 and chased both Hercules and Heenan into hiding. After a break. the referee yanked away the board, allowing Herc to drill Duggan from behind and go back to work with his fists before hooking in a bear hug. Duggan fought free but Herc buried a knee, cutting off another comeback. Herc has been really aggressive here and looks sharp. Duggan finally found an opening and a minute later he cracked Herc with a running clothesline but the cover was broken up by Heenan to draw the DQ. Andre climbed in as well and they triple teamed Duggan until Ultimate Warrior made the save to a huge pop. That was a fun little power match with a lot of energy and aggression by both. Toss in the Andre stuff and this was a solid opener. Grade: *1/2

2) Brutus Beefcake defeats Danny Davis with a sleeper at 3:10

Fun Fact: This is another stable revenge match from WrestleMania IV. At that show, Brutus Beefcake got to do a little handy work on Jimmy Hart’s hair. Danny Davis and Hart are out for revenge for Jimmy and his stable in this match.

Scott: 1988 was the first year in the Federation Era that we saw an extended stretch without Hulk Hogan, so the company needed to really boost the other babyfaces in the company for the fans to clamor for while the former WWF Champion does “No Holds Barred”. We’ve already seen two of them in Ultimate Warrior and Jim Duggan, now we see another one in the Bruti, facing the fading Danny Davis. After WrestleMania IV when Beefcake got hosed out of the Intercontinental Title, he goes after Jimmy Hart and cuts his hair. So the Mouth of the South comes out with a beret on his head to cover Brutus’ chop job. The match itself isn’t much as Brutus wins easily with the sleeper and then not only cuts Danny Davis’ hair but paints it as well. Another nothing match but it served its purpose to give the fans another favorite to cheer for. Grade: ½ *

JT: Back at WrestleMania, Brutus Beefcake came up short in his quest to capture the Intercontinental Title but he did get a consolation prize when he cut Jimmy Hart’s hair. Hart is with Danny Davis here and is carrying a pair of shears as he looks for revenge. Davis is really on his last legs as a gimmick and is pretty much just a jobber to the stars by this point, his heat pretty much dissipated for good. Davis stalled off the bell but Beefcake caught up to him and chucked him around the ring. Davis landed a cheap shot and choked away the Barber but his offense was short-lived as Beefcake came back and hit a knee to the head that really shook Davis up. In fact he may have caught him square because Davis looked out on his feet and Brutus protected him through the rest of his offense until he hooked the sleeper and grabbed the win. After the bell, Brutus gave Davis a trim while Hart flipped out at ringside. He followed that by spray painting his head and whipping him across the ring and to the floor. Match was nothing but this was all about reestablishing Beefcake and continuing his issue with the Hart Family. Grade: DUD

3) Randy Savage defeats One Man Gang to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with the flying elbow at 6:03

Fun Fact: This would be Randy Savage’s first televised title defense against one of the people he defeated during the title tournament. During their tournament match, the One Man Gang would get disqualified for using Slick’s cane on Savage. At the beginning of the event, Vince McMahon indicates that the One Man Gang is the #1 contender to the title.

Scott: Continuing the trend of filling the Hulk Hogan void, no one had bigger shoes to fill than this man did. The new WWF Champion had the top stage all to himself after his epic four-match victory performance last month in Atlantic City. Tonight he takes on one of the guys he vanquished in the tournament, Slick’s One Man Gang. Gang got DQ’d for using Slick’s cane at WrestleMania but he vowed there would be no cheesy ending. This match is one of the examples of why, for me, Savage was the hardest working guys in the Federation Era. Whether he was on the offensive or he was the face in peril he worked literally every second of the match. He was always moving around and always keeping the match moving regardless of who the opponent is. Jesse (who loved Savage) found it hard to criticize him when he was a babyface but in the end he always gave Macho Man his due. Slick was stalking Elizabeth all match long which will continue being a detriment over time but he always overcame it like he did here. There will be more opponents for Savage as the year continues and for him it’s vital he stay hot with the fans while holding the World Title. I think he’s doing just fine right now. Grade: **

JT: Up next is our first televised WWF Title defense for our brand new champion, Randy Savage. En route to his big win, he knocked off the One Man Gang by disqualification but since Gang dominated a lot of that match, he is set up here to challenge Macho out of the gate. Having Savage as champ and the new man definitely adds a new, fresh feel to the program as a whole. It is such a radical change and one that really was needed to help bring someone else up to Hogan’s level and Maco was so damn over it made perfect sense. Gang tried to overpower early but Savage ducked and moved, even shifting his weight on a slam attempt to grab a near fall. He followed with a high cross body off the top for a two count and then snapped Gang across the top rope for another. Savage is fast as he darts around the ring at a frenetic pace. Gang finally did use size to put Savage on the mat and got an assist from Slick, who choked away with his cane. In a great spot, Savage rebounded off an Irish whip, dodged Gang and slid to the floor, where he chased Slick around the ring. Slick baited Savage right back into the ring, where Gang met him with an elbow. Gang kept pouring it on, slamming his forearms into Savage’s chest in the corner before grabbing a near fall. Savage recovered and clotheslined Gang to the floor and then crashed into him with an axe blow off the top rope, knocking Gang into a cameraman. Gang shook off the cobwebs and made it back inside but he caught Savage coming off the top rope and put the champ on the mat. Gang went for the killshot but missed a 747 splash off the middle rope. As Savage pulled himself up, he saw Slick stalking Liz and made a beeline for him. Jesse went off here, saying Liz is a detriment as he has to constantly protect her in addition to wrestling. With the ref tied up with Liz, Slick hopped on the apron but accidentally popped Gang with his cane. Savage scurried to the top and hit the elbow to pick up the win and retain his title. For the second straight time, they made it like Gang could beat Macho but beat himself. Helps protect Gang but not sure it does a ton for Savage. As they continue to make him the top dog, they need to ensure he grabs some good, clean wins and not always luck into victories. The match was just OK with a few nice spots and a good pace mixed in. Grade: **

4) Demolition defeats British Bulldogs in a non-title match by disqualification at 5:00

Fun Fact: This is a matchup between the new tag team champions (Demolition) versus a team of former champions, the British Bulldogs.

Scott: We have the SNME debut of the new Tag Team Champions, as Ax and Smash won the titles at WrestleMania and here take on the former champions in a non-title match. Demolition was the WWF’s version of the Road Warriors and many wrestling fans drew a line in the sand about both teams. Demolition reminds me about the fact that starting in 1988 we really started to see the pre-PPV era wrestlers like George Steele and Tony Atlas and guys like that and we are starting to see really the faces of the Era that we as fans in our childhood latched on to. Demolition always reminded me of that fact. The tag team division is getting bigger and bigger and more talented all the time. Demolition is a great brawling team with face paint and leather studs. The match wasn’t that great with lots of distractions from Mr. Fuji to Matilda. The Bulldogs chase Fuji off and eventually are disqualified for using Fuji’s cane. The match shows the Bulldogs are pretty low on the pecking order and the Demos are at the top of the tag team mountain. Grade: *

JT: We waste no time rolling right into our next match, this one featuring the brand new tag team champions, Demolition, battling the former champs The British Bulldogs in a non-title tilt. Demolition quickly caught fire in late 1987 and shot to the top of the pile at WrestleMania when they knocked off Strike Force to take the gold. They had a fantastic look and presence and, of course, theme music and just looked like stars as they marched to the ring. The Bulldogs were both really juiced here, looking the biggest they have been since they showed up in the promotion in 1985. Smash and Smith opened things up and after a quick criss cross, Dynamite tagged in and pelted Smash with a clothesline. Ax headed in right after but the Bulldogs quick tagged and double teamed to control him. Dynamite tried for a snap suplex but Smash snuck and clubbed his back to give the champs control. Dynamite tried to wriggle free and landed a shot, but Smash hooked his legs and tagged out, showing great awareness and teamwork. Smash came back in but ate a boot on a charge, allowing Dynamite to tag out. Davey Boy came in hot, cleaning house and landing a nice dropkick. Smash eventually slowed him up and then chucked Dynamite to the floor, where Fuji kicked away at him. Smith grabbed Matilda and chased Fuji to the back with Dynamite in pursuit as well. They eventually returned, Fuji’s cane in tow and they used it to punish the champs for the DQ. That was a really lame finish that made the Bulldogs look like stupid hotheads. Demolition easily outworked them throughout and the Bulldogs are starting to feel like relics in many ways. A clean win here could have been a good change of the guard but we get a pretty blasé match with a schmozz ending instead. Grade: *

5) Ted DiBiase defeats Don Muraco with a bodyslam at 4:12

Fun Fact: This is yet another rematch from the WrestleMania IV title tournament. Ted DiBiase and Don Muraco wrestled in the quarterfinals with DiBiase pinning Muraco in just over five minutes.

Scott: We have another WrestleMania tournament rematch as the Rock takes on the Million Dollar Man. Muraco was a big but slightly out of shape heel, and suddenly he wears tie-dye and is jacked to the gills. Oh wait, his manager is Superstar Billy Graham so that’s not a surprise. DiBiase fell just short of becoming WWF Champion and now will have to work his way back to the top of the ladder. The match is ok as Muraco has some (although limited) mobility and takes it to the Million Dollar Man for a few moments but then some, chicanery? Or maybe not. DiBiase goes for a pinfall but the Rock’s leg is on the ropes. The referee doesn’t see it and DiBiase gets the three count for the victory. The match, like most on this show, was not great but it did keep storylines going and keep DiBiase at the top of the heel food chain. Grade: *

JT: In another WrestleMania tournament rematch, Don Muraco squares off with finalist Ted DiBiase. Muraco turned face late in 1987 and picked up the legendary Billy Graham as an advisor. And also took a metric ton of steroids as he is just massive at this point. I am not sure how can even move at that size. DiBiase’s hook at this point is that he was robbed of the WWF Title twice in 1988 so far, once by Jack Tunney and once by Randy Savage. DiBiase was locked in, dodging Muraco and then blasting him with chops until Muraco caught him with a back drop and and shot him head first into the buckle. DiBiase would regroup outside but nothing changed when he returned as Muraco continued to overpower him, taking him over with a powerslam for a near fall that saw Virgil make the save at the last second. DiBiase took advantage of the confusion with a clothesline and kept the heat on but again made a big mistake by dropping his head, giving Muraco the chance to hit a neckbreaker. Muraco hit another powerslam but again could only get a two count. DiBiase came back with a bodyslam and covered for the win…however Muraco’s foot was on the rope, but the referee missed it. Vince immediately wondered if he was paid off, a comment Jesse shouted down. A feisty little match and a solid win for DiBiase. Muraco looked good too and the finish seems to set up a rematch at some point. Grade: *1/2

6) Rick Rude defeats Koko B. Ware with a Rude Awakening at 3:44

Fun Fact: Koko B. Ware has in the middle of a minor feud with the Heenan Family at this time. Back at WrestleMania IV, he was tagging with the British Bulldogs against the Islanders and Bobby Heenan. The heels got the win when the Islanders slammed Heenan on top of Ware for the pinfall. Following WrestleMania, Ware found himself involved with Rick Rude, another of Heenan’s stable. This would be the first of their encounters.

Scott: Ah, another awesome heel makes his SNME debut, the great “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Rude was a great heel all over the territories from World Class to Memphis to Jim Crockett Promotions and now he has arrived in New York. His awesome tights and his promos cutting down the crowds become Federation staples and incenses crowds all over the world. He takes on jobber stalwart Koko here and it’s probably the best match of the night. Rude had very basic workrate but he meshed ok with Koko’s fluid high flying style. Rude would get better over time, as for the most part during his early territory run he faced guys not exactly workrate marvels. Now in the big time he will have to step his game up, although he’s already dominated the tights and promo skills. Koko had the comeback but missed a flying cross body and Rude hits the Rude Awakening for the victory. It was an ok match but another character advancer. Grade: **

JT: The showcasing of newer stars continues with our final match as Rick Rude continues to work his way up the card. After debuting late in 1987, Rude has built up a nice resume for himself. Koko B. Ware continues his role as a quality enhancement player and spots like this are perfect for him. Rude caught Koko at the bell, smacking him with some forearms but Koko slugged right back into it. Things would reset with a lockup that Rude won but Koko kept using his speed to fire back at Rude. The Ravishing One finally landed a tight fist to the face over the referee to bust Koko down and then started to target the lower back with authority. Rude landed a suplex and headed up top, landing a nice leaping fist drop to the head. He followed that up with a dropkick, really showing off his arsenal and impressing Jesse along the way. He tried for another dropkick but Koko dodged it and unloaded with some fists and a back drop. Rude survived the comeback, calmly drilled Koko and then snapped him down with the Rude Awakening for the win. That was basically a squash, but an effective one for sure. Grade: 1/2*

Final Analysis

Scott: This is the first episode where I can honestly say the in-ring stuff was not great at all. Savage/Gang was as good as its going to get considering Savage’s opponent but the rest of the matches were crap. There were a lot of fresh faces as they tried to give the fans missing Hulk Hogan some other fan favorites. I was surprised Jake Roberts wasn’t on as he’s one of the top three or four guys in the promotion of the face side. It was a great showcase for new WWF Champion Randy Savage as well as new tag champs Demolition and Rick Rude, but if you’re looking for workrate, this episode is lacking. Final Grade: C-

JT: Our final SNME of the season was just OK. They really expanded the card this time, squeezing in more matches while slashing the times and other antics and vignettes. As a result, the show hustled but nothing had much time to breathe. The roster overhaul is in full effect and everything had a pretty fresh feel to it overall. It will take time though as they try to churn things up and phase out much of the old guard that has taken us to this point. Many of those old SNME stalwarts are gone and the show as a whole definitely has evolved to a much different spot than those early editions. We didn’t really get much in the way of an anchor match or major angle advancement and it felt like they were mailing this one in a bit with the Mania rematches and knowing they were off NBC until the fall. Final Grade: D+