Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXII – 7/29/89

*** 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 XXII – 7/29/89

July 29, 1989
Worcester Centrum
Worcester, MA
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Hulk Hogan defeats Honky Tonk Man to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with the legdrop at 6:14

Scott: I almost forgot Honky Tonk Man was still in the company. He lost his IC Title rematch a while back to Ultimate Warrior and then he kind of vanished from the SNME scene while other, better mid card heels like Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect grab some screen time. But now he’s the “heel of the month” getting the World Title shot with Hogan. Now the past few shows I wasn’t totally sure if Vince and Jesse were actually at the arenas or were on a green screen doing audio after the fact. After seeing the crowd shift up and down during the open of the show, that pretty much clinches it for me. Hogan dominates the action early, including carrying Jimmy Hart around on his back while Honky was getting beat down. Then on the outside, with the referee not looking, Jimmy smacks the Champion with the guitar and Jesse now senses an upset. I never understood when Hogan was clenching his opponent’s foot when he was down. It looked so pathetic; I guess it was to tell the story. Honky actually hits his Shake, Rattle and Roll, but instead of going for the pin he postures around the ring and when he finally gets around to pinning Hogan, we get the strong kick out, hulking up, leg drop and three count. Hogan vanquishes another heel of the show, and poses afterwards. Average match, but not the last time we will see the WWF Champion. Grade: **

JT: We hit a rare summertime Saturday Night’s Main Event here and this bonus card was certainly loaded up to prep everyone for the second annual SummerSlam PPV. Things open up with the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan taking on an old stalwart of the promotion, the Honky Tonk Man. Honky has slowly slid his way down the ladder since he lost to the Ultimate Warrior back at SummerSlam but he gets a golden opportunity here with a high profile title shot. Hogan has his big SummerSlam match lined up for the Meadowlands but first he has to fend off the former Intercontinental Champion before he can truly focus on that tag team war. Honky tried to jump Hogan with his guitar during the entrances but the champ fended him off and punched away, taking the fight into the aisle. Jimmy Hart got involved and diverted the Hulkster back to the ring but Hogan swatted him off and still dodged another guitar attack. Hogan poured it on, hammering the challenger with right hands and a clothesline before rattling him with an atomic drop and running back elbow. Honky had zero momentum going on as Hogan tore his shirt off and then slammed the challenger and his manager together, sending them both out to the floor to regroup. Hulk followed him outside but that backfired as Hart smacked him from behind with the guitar. I have no clue how the referee missed that one as he was looking right at them all. Honky regained his composure and landed a double ax blow off the apron and then pitched Hulk back inside. Honky zeroed in on the neck and back, hooking on a rear seated chinlock but Hogan was able to power to his feet and run the challenger into the top buckle to breaking the hold. Honky hit a desperation clothesline and followed with the Shake, Rattle & Roll but instead of covering he danced and paraded around the ring like a jackass. He finally covered but Hogan blew out of the cover and powered up. Things spilled back outside where Hogan got revenge by bashing both Hart and Honky with the guitar before polishing off Honky with the legdrop for the win. Again, the referee was looking right at that one, but whatever. This was total paint-by-numbers with some good heat and a more aggressive style than you usually see from either man despite essentially being a squash. Grade: *1/2

2) Jimmy Snuka defeats Greg Valentine with a flying cross body at 3:14

Fun Fact I: Roger Barnes, known to wrestling fans as Ron Garvin, started his wrestling career in 1962 after being trained by Pat Patterson. He teamed with “brothers” Terry and Jimmy Garvin to win several regional tag team championships. After breaking away from the other Garvins, Ron gained popularity in the late 70s through the southern territories in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama in Southeastern Championship Wrestling and International Championship Wrestling. After a stint in Georgia Championship Wrestling Garvin moved on to Jim Crockett Promotions where he would have his most success. In September 1987 he would defeat Ric Flair to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He only held the title for two months before Flair regained the title. He moved on to the AWA in 1988 before signing with the WWF at the end of that year.

Fun Fact II: The story of this match was not a feud between the two competitors, but instead a feud between Greg Valentine and the referee for the match, “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin. Following his loss to Dino Bravo at WrestleMania V, Garvin entered into a feud with Valentine. After several battles with each other, on the April 29 episode of Superstars the two competed in a retirement match where the loser would have to retire from wrestling. Valentine defeated Garvin, sending Garvin into an early retirement. But Garvin wasn’t done in the squared circle. He signed on as a referee for the WWF. During his tenure he engaged in arguments with several heel wrestlers that would not listen to his instructions and was warned by President Jack Tunney about his behavior in the ring.

Scott: The actual feud is between Garvin and Valentine, as the Hammer retired Garvin in a match earlier in the year. So Garvin is in a referee’s position here and Valentine is very suspicious. The match (which was probably a barn burner at a 1984 MSG house show), was nothing more than a veiled blip in the Valentine/Garvin saga. After a couple minutes of worthless work, Valentine and Garvin are jawing, until Garvin throws his hand of stone and stuns the Hammer. Snuka goes to the top rope and hits a high cross body for the victory. The storyline continues, for before the match in a taped segment WWF President Jack Tunney said any further chicanery would lead to a long suspension for Garvin. Will he abide by it? We will see. Grade: DUD

JT: Greg Valentine was in the middle of a pretty interesting angle, having forced Ronnie Garvin into retirement due to a loss on Superstars, driving the Rugged One into becoming a referee. Of course, Garvin kept getting into physical altercations during the matches he worked and was given a final warning by Jack Tunney: stop fighting or be suspended. And as fate would have it, Garvin gets to ref this match here between his arch nemesis and Jimmy Snuka. Valentine jawed at Garvin right away, trying to bait him into a brawl that could end his career for good. The Hammer jumped Superfly off the bell and clubbed and chopped away, keeping him grounded with some stiff blows. Garvin called things straight down the middle as Snuka made a quick comeback, using his speed to dodge Valentine before pelting him with a chop. His offense quickly came to a close when he ate Valentine’s shin on a leap off the middle rope. Hammer would knock Snuka to the floor and Superfly almost beat Garvin’s steady count into the ring but Valentine kept kicking him back to the floor. Garvin finally had enough and shoved Valentine away. As they argued, Snuka scaled the top rope. Garvin finally snapped and slugged Hammer in the face as came flying off with a high cross body for the win. The Body didn’t like that one at all and it looks like Jack Tunney probably won’t either. Garvin decked Valentine to the floor and celebrated with Snuka as Jesse was very confident that Garvin would be cooked for a while because of the altercation. Nothing match here as it was all centered around the Garvin/Valentine storyline and had no flow or heat otherwise. Grade: 1/2*

3) Brutus Beefcake defeats Randy Savage by disqualification at 11:30

Fun Fact: Tensions between Randy Savage and Brutus Beefcake began back in April when Savage named Sensational Sherri as his new manager. Savage and Sherri interrupted Beefcake’s interview on the Brother Love Show. Throughout that segment, Beefcake referred to Sherri as “Scary Sherri”, which resulted in Sherri slapping him and Savage holding him down while Sherri cut off some of Beefcake’s hair. In early July, Savage issued a tag team challenge to Hogan. It would be Savage and Zeus vs. Hulk Hogan and Beefcake. This match is a precursor to their SummerSlam battle.

Scott: Continuing the feud between the Macho Man and the Hulkster, Randy Savage cut Brutus Beefcake’s hair on an episode of Brother Love and now they go at it here. Savage keeps reminding us that he is the #1 contender for the World Title (even though guys will get title shots before he does. Never understood that). That keeps the connection between Hogan and Savage while adding other things to the mix like Beefcake and Sensational Sherri. This is actually a very fun match as both guys are going a million miles an hour, and plenty of Sherri interference is tossed into the mix. She was no doubt the right choice to replace Elizabeth as Macho Man’s new heel manager. After Sherri takes a bump, Macho Man sends her to the back to get his SummerSlam tag team partner, ZEUS! The Human Wrecking Machine comes out and when Beefcake gets the sleeper, Zeus gets in the ring to attack Beefcake to draw the disqualification. Zeus puts Beefcake in the bear hug which brings Hulk Hogan out and a double axe handle to Zeus. Zeus smiles at him. All four men battle and eventually Hogan brings a chair into the ring and smacks Zeus in the back. Then, in one of my favorite SNME moments of all time, Zeus turns around with a shit-eating grin on his face and Jesse yells “IT DOES NOTHING…ZEUS IS SMILING AT HIM!” This was easily one of my favorite storylines of all time as Hogan looks legitimately scared holding the dented chair while Zeus is cackling. All four men are in the ring as we go to commercial. This was another great overall package of storytelling and psychology, and this time we actually had a pretty fun match to go along with it. The main event of SummerSlam had already been announced to this was just gas on the fire. It’s one of my favorite, if not absolute favorite segments in SNME history. Grade: ** (***** for the entire segment)

JT: While things were still simmering between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, Hogan’s new best buddy Brutus Beefcake has also gotten into the fray and become a top target of the Macho Man. Back in the spring, Savage and his new manager Sensational Sherri attacked the Barber and cut his mullet on the Brother Love Show, triggering a lengthy feud that would eventually set up the SummerSlam main event. This was a pretty highly anticipated matchup and a big test to see if Beefcake was ready for that move into the main event scene. Savage teased a major surprise during his prematch interview but wouldn’t reveal any details, just focusing on getting another crack at his championship. Savage tried to attack as Beefcake strutted around the ring but the Barber caught him and chucked him to the floor. He then chased Sherri around the ring until Savage smashed him from behind and pitched him back inside. Beefcake fired right back and choked Savage to the mat with his jacket before clobbering him with a double ax blow to the face for a near fall. Savage turned the ride with a kick to the gut and then started peppering the Barber with some punches. Macho would miss a charge in the corner and Beefcake kept him off balance by ducking any sort of strike and landing some of his own, including a leaping knee for a two count. Savage finally landed a punch but came up empty on another charge, this time getting caught up in the ropes and then knocked to the floor by another running knee. The Barber followed as Savage used Sherri as a shield for a momentary rest. Beefcake got around that but Sherri got involved again, hooking his leg and allowing Savage to smack him back to the floor. Macho followed with a double axe handle and Sherri got in the action again too, drilling Beefer with her high heeled shoe. Jesse really loves putting over Sherri as a manager vs. Elizabeth as far as effectiveness. And she was proving him right as she distracted the referee when Beefcake hooked a small package. Beefer again grabbed a near fall with a backslide, finding small windows for offense during Savage’s attack. Macho and Sherri would alternate punishing Beefcake, doing everything they could to keep him grounded. Savage headed to the top and flew off but Beefcake met him with a right hand to the gut. He has had an answer for everything Savage has tossed at him. More Sherri interference backfired as Savage collided with her, sending her crashing to the floor. Savage soon joined her courtesy a Beefcake back drop. As Savage recovered, he sent Sherri to the back for help. That was a cool nod to the old Savage/Liz/Hogan bits. After a break, Beefcake remained in control but Sherri eventually returned with Zeus, the not-so-secret surprise. Savage briefly took over but Beefcake ducked a clothesline and hooked on the sleeper. That was all Zeus needed to see as he hopped in the ring and hammered Beefcake to break the hold and draw the DQ. Zeus locked in a bear hug but Hulk Hogan arrived to break that up. Hulk laid in right hands but Zeus just no sold them and hooked Hogan in a bear hug. Savage got in on the action with a double axe handle to the back and threatened to cut Hogan’s hair before Beefcake made the save. Hogan would grab a chair and bash Zeus with it, but again it was no sold with a smile and defiance. Beefcake grabbed a chair too and eventually Savage convinced Zeus to walk away and save himself for SummerSlam. Well, that was certainly exciting. The match was really well worked and Beefcake looked awesome thwarting all of Savage’s offense as Sherri’s interference. The crowd dug it all too and I came away from this thinking the Barber easily fit in this main event scene. The post match stuff was really well done and added tons of heat for SummerSlam. The view of Hogan and Beefcake staring down Zeus with chairs is an iconic one and sets up for the Meadowlands perfectly. Grade: ***

4) Brian Busters defeat Demolition to win WWF Tag Team Titles in a Best of Three Falls Match at 12:33

Smash pinned Arn Anderson after a stun gun at 5:00
Demolition was disqualified for double teaming at 9:29
Arn Anderson pinned Smash after Tully Blanchard hit him with a steel chair at 12:33

Fun Fact: In a rematch from the last SNME broadcast, the Brain Busters defeat Demolition for the tag belts. With the win, the Brain Busters became the first team to win both the NWA and WWF tag team championships. This would be the beginning of their only WWF title reign. In losing, Demolition ended the longest WWF tag team reign in history, one that last through this writing in 2016, 478 days.

Scott: After the schmozz ending two months earlier on SNME, the champions and the #1 contenders have a rematch here. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen here, as Demolition actually lost the match in May by DQ so I thought the feud would end here with the Demos keeping the titles. For the second show in a row both teams really brought the goods with the titles on the line. I never totally noticed it in NWA but when they were in the WWF Arn & Tully really amped up the level of energy in their matches, as well as the level of chaos. They ran all over the ring both when they were in peril and in control. Ax and Smash went along for the ride and brought their own brand of chaos. Demolition dominated early on and got the first fall when Smash pinned Arn after a Stun Gun on the top rope. As the match progresses in comes Andre the Giant to keep things in line. After Demolition gets disqualified again like the last show, Andre finally makes his presence felt. Smash has Arn pinned, but the ref is distracted with Ax and Bobby. Andre slides a chair into the ring and Tully pastes Smash in the head with it. Three seconds later and the record breaking title run of Demolition come to an end in what at the time was a pretty big upset. The huge celebration of the entire Heenan Family after the match was so awesome and for the first time since he arrived in the WWF, Bobby Heenan is the undisputed #1 manager in the company. The match was great and wraps up a super episode. Grade: **1/2

JT: Up next we have a rematch from the May SNME, about that ended in a DQ loss for the tag team champions. Since then, the Brain Busters have continued to chase after Demolition in their ongoing quest for gold. This time around, we have a three fall match in place for the gold. Demolition was still super over and have become a steadying force in the tag division, having reigned as champions for well over a year now. Ax and Tully Blanchard opened things up and while Tully did what he could to outsmart the champion, brute force took right over as both Ax and Smash rattled him with right hands. Ax eventually got caught in the wrong corner but he hammered his way right out of it. The numbers caught up to him but Smash showed up and the champs continued to clean house. Heenan gathered his troops and helped them gather their bearings as the match reset with Smash and Arn Anderson hooking up. Arn landed a few shots but Smash choked him down to his knees and the champs continued to double team the challengers with their power advantage. Despite every step the Busters took to take control, Demolition just kept fighting through it like bulls in a china shop. Arn finally cut Smash down with a spinebuster but Smash kicked out at two. The Busters both came in the ring but Ax gave a hand from the apron and a moment later, Smash caught Arn with a stun gun to win the first fall.

After a break, the second fall got under way with Smash bringing the fight right back at Arn. Bobby Heenan fretted at ringside as Arn stood no chance and got no offense in at all. The champs just swarmed and dominated him until he found a way to break a neck vise and finally tag out. Tully came in hot, aggressively choking away and then slingshotting Ax neck-first into the bottom rope. The Busters tagged in and out and beat away at Ax’s back until he was able to swat away Tully and make the tag. Things broke down with a big brawl that included Heenan getting rammed into the ring post. The champs frenetically double teamed Tully and as they did Andre the Giant showed up to support his stablemates. Demolition nailed Tully with the Decapitation Device but the champs were disqualified for blatant double teaming, drawing the match even at one. Jesse clarified that the third fall must end cleanly and not by DQ, which of course goes against finishes we have seen on SNME previously, but I digress.

The third fall picked up after another break and Andre was now seated at ringside with a big smirk on his face. Ax kept bringing the fight to Tully and it is amazing that we are tied at one as the Busters have gotten very little offense in at all. They had to feel lucky to even be in this at this point, but it speaks to their style and goal of controlled chaos. They excelled at hanging around long enough to find the seam and sneak out wins. Tully was able to slam Ax into Arn, rattling both men but giving the challengers some hope. Even that fell apart quickly as Ax came right back with some clubbing blows. Arn and Ax smacked heads in the ring, wiping both men out. Eventually the match completely broke down again, playing right into the hands of the challengers. As they all brawled, Andre slipped a chair in the ring and Tully just blasted Smash in the back of the head. Arn crawled over and covered Smash to win the bout and the titles. The crowd was pissed as Andre, Bobby and the new champions celebrated their huge win. Andre was really fun here. The match was really damn good too with tons of mayhem and really sharp offense by both teams. I loved that we never really had a heat segment as it made Demolition look unbeatable but played into the strength of the Busters, who always found a way to pull wins out of clear defeats. Also, some of the offense looked damn great, including one of the best Decapitation Devices I have ever seen and a crackling chair shot from Tully for the finish. This is easily up there with the best tag matches we have seen on SNME and it was a really historical moment as Demolition’s dominant title reign officially comes to a close. The post match Heenan Family celebration was gold as well. Grade: ***1/2

Final Analysis

Scott: 1989 continues to roll with one great show after another and this one is no exception. We get our first title change in SNME history here, as well as great storyline advancement with the main event feud and Valentine/Garvin. We are on a one way course to SummerSlam with multiple feuds going. The only one that wasn’t advanced here that I thought would be was Rude/Warrior, but they were tearing it up on the house show circuit and on the syndicated shows. These and the shows in 1990 are really the vintage era of Saturday Night’s Main Event, the truly memorable moments that everybody remembers. This might be the best episode thus far. This is one that can be watched in a vacuum to see how NBC polished the show up and WWF was in the heyday of its production value, and with the loaded roster everything is working seamlessly. So grab this one off the WWE Network and watch it, because you will be thoroughly entertained. Final Grade: A+

JT: Well, this certainly was a pretty important installment of SNME. I love that they created a special bonus summer edition to help build to SummerSlam and they did just that, laying some pretty important groundwork for the tag team main event in the Meadowlands. The first two matches were nothing special but the back end of this show was rocking with two really good matches, a red hot angle and a historical title change. And even in the Valentine/Snuka match, we had good angle advancement with the Garvin stuff. You really can’t ask for much more from one of these shows, expect maybe a better contested World Title match, but a Hogan squash worked this time around. This is definitely one of my favorite episodes to date and has me hyped for SummerSlam all over again. Final Grade: A-