Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIV – 11/25/89

*** 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! ***

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Saturday Night’s Main Event XXIV – 11/25/89

November 25, 1989
Topeka, KS
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Ultimate Warrior defeats Andre the Giant by disqualification to retain WWF Intercontinental Title at 7:46

Fun Fact: The Ultimate Warrior began a feud with Andre the Giant following his SummerSlam Intercontinental Championship win. On the 8/26 episode of Superstars, following the Warrior’s victory, Bobby Heenan came out and distracted Warrior while Andre came up behind him and choked him out. On the house show scene, most of their matches were very short, well under one minute squash matches booked to build Warrior into a main event superstar.

Scott: After Warrior’s win over Rick Rude at SummerSlam, the IC Champion continues his war against the Heenan Family. They show highlights from the summertime when Andre attacked Warrior after a match on Superstars. That at the time was to soften him up before the title match with Rick Rude but now Andre goes after the championship here in Topeka. It’s very clear as I’m watching these that the SNME shows were part of roster cycles. We haven’t seen Warrior in the past few shows but as we end the year and begin the new WrestleMania season, it’s obvious the IC Champion is big in the plans. Just how big we’re not sure yet. Although taking on Andre is a big step up the ladder, even if he doesn’t defeat him clean it’s still Andre. The match goes back and forth until both men give each other almost simultaneous bear hugs. Of course the 500-pound Giant has the more effective one until Warrior battles back with chops and clotheslines. Andre gets tied up in the ropes but that is only momentary as Andre boots Warrior in the face. As the referee tries to untangle Andre, Bobby Heenan comes in and tries to attack Warrior with the title belt. Jesse actually questions the thought process of the Brain here, but Warrior has his way with the Brain until Andre is unhooked. Warrior tosses Bobby into Andre and they fall to the floor. The referee DQs Andre for Bobby being in the ring and the Warrior retains his gold. The match is typical TV fare but it shows that the Ultimate Warrior is clearly on the main event radar. Grade: **

JT: Our final Saturday Night’s Main Event of 1989 comes on the heels of the third annual Survivor Series and on paper it is a pretty unique card. The company was in somewhat of a status quo and was blending feuds together all over the place, especially at the top of the card. And one man that was rapidly solidifying a place in the Main Event scene was the Ultimate Warrior. Warrior had been the sole survivor over Bobby Heenan’s Family a few days earlier and as part of that win he had cracked Andre the Giant with a quick clothesline and caused him to be counted out. The two had been warring all over the country with Warrior usually picking up quick wins, mainly due to the deteriorating condition of Andre’s back. So, here we get the big blowoff to what could be looked at as a passing of the torch type of feud. It was also kind of cool that Andre was challenging for the IC strap as the title has really been elevated through Warrior’s reign. Even in this advanced age and fragile state, Andre still had such an awesome presence and came off like the star he has always been. Warrior charged the ring and Andre went right into stalking the champ, who seemed a bit hesitant early on. Andre went on the attack, chopping and choking away at Warrior with anger. Warrior quickly came back and viciously choked away at Andre, getting some neat revenge. However, Andre got a respite when Warrior wildly charged and ended up tumbling to the floor. Warrior slowly climbed back in but Andre met him with kicks and punches to the gut before hooking in an inverted bear hug/surfboard combo. The champ broke free and knocked Andre out to the floor, where the big man was rattled as we went to break. After the commercial, Andre was still slowly trying to pull himself back in, but he was just baiting Warrior as he clobbered him with a right hand and choked him with the bottom rope when he got too close. Andre kept the chokes, trap submissions and bear hugs coming, doing whatever he could to sap the energy from Warrior. The champ wailed his way out of the bear hug and then laid in some heavy chops but Andre again cut him down with a headbutt. Warrior battled right back, drilling Andre with a clothesline that led to the Giant getting tangled in the ropes. Warrior went for the kill with a charging dive but Andre met him with a boot. As the ref untied Andre, Bobby Heenan grabbed the IC title and tried to spike the champ with it, but Warrior dodged him and started beating him around the ring, eventually chucking him into Andre. The referee finally caught on and called for the DQ and in a rare moment, Ventura actually questioned what Heenan was doing as Andre was very much in this match and he possibly cost him a strong shot at the gold. This was way more fun than I expected and Andre was moving around fairly well. Warrior kept bringing the energy too and all of the various comebacks were well timed. The power strikes were really laid in and the rest holds never lingered. The fans were into it too and the match felt like a really big deal. Warrior defeats Andre and retains but the Giant still came out looking strong as always. Grade: **

2) The Genius defeats Hulk Hogan by  at 7:34; Hogan retains WWF Heavyweight Title

Fun Fact: In March, “Leaping” Lanny Poffo underwent a change from the poetry reading face into the arrogant and intellectual character, The Genius. While he continued to read poetry, his verses were now berating of the fans and his upcoming opponents. He came to the ring dressed in an academic cap and gown and carrying a clipboard that he would write mathematical equations on during his matches. On the 10/7 episode of Superstars, The Genius would introduce Mr. Perfect as his new protege during his appearance on the Brother Love Show.

Scott: In one of the more unusual title defenses in WWF history has the Hulkster taking on the eccentric Genius. Perhaps this is also a shock as, since Randy Savage keeps saying he’s the #1 contender that his real life brother actually got a title shot before he did. Genius frustrates Hogan with his histrionics and his stalling tactics until Hogan snaps and starts clotheslining him all over the ring. This looks like another ho-hum title defense until Mr. Perfect comes down to ringside and puts his gum on the WWF Title belt. Hogan comes out and is “perfectly” distracted so the Genius attacks from behind. The rest of the match is back scratching and eye gouging. To be honest there was probably about six moves in the entire match. Perfect then grabs the WWF Title belt and smashes Hogan in the head with it. Hogan falls out of the ring and is counted out. Yes, Hogan is counted out. So even though no belt changed hands, the record book will say shockingly that the Genius defeated Hulk Hogan in a match. So what one Poffo brother couldn’t do, the other did. Genius and Perfect then run off with the World Title belt in tow. The match was garbage but Perfect is becoming more prevalent of a heel on the roster. Just like the first match, with the beginning of WrestleMania season around the corner, the major players start getting more TV time. Grade: DUD

JT: Earlier in 1989, longtime fringe jobber Lanny Poffo transitioned into a new gimmick: The Genius. He had always been into poetry but now he took it all to a new level, focusing on his intellectual side and utilizing it both in and out of the ring. Heading into the fall, Genius had hooked up with Mr. Perfect, serving as his manager and occasional tag team partner. With Perfect being lined up to challenge Hulk Hogan in the near future, having Genius grab a SNME title match helped kick those wheels into motion. In the prematch interviews were pretty funny, especially Gene’s line about Genius blending aerial acrobatics and Machiavellian tactics. This was a really neat match on paper as Hogan rarely seemed to get into matches or feuds with guys like the Genius, and SNME was the perfect place for it. I also enjoyed Jesse pushing Genius and saying he is the most intelligent challenger that Hogan has ever faced. Off the bell, Genius went right into his usual shtick, skipping around the ring, offering a left handed hand shake and then gingerly stretching in the corner. When they finally locked up, it ended poorly for the Genius as Hogan just shove him all the way to the floor. Hogan followed up with a slam but Genius landed a quick shot and bailed to the floor, where he did some math equations on his scroll board. He really had this gimmick nailed down and executed it perfectly, right down to his exaggerated skin the cat into the ring. Jesse was on point as usual, talking about how Hogan always battles power guys and he is taken off guard by the tactics and plan of the Genius: pure frustration. After more machinations, Genius slapped Hogan across the face and then did cartwheels around the ring while showing off for the booing crowd. Hogan finally had enough, mowing Genius down with clothesline and whipping him from corner to corner and the mimicking Genius’ prancing. As Hogan kept pounding on his contender, Mr. Perfect sauntered to ringside to take a look at the proceedings. Perfect grabbed the WWF Title, said it wasn’t a perfect belt and jammed his gum on it. That drew Hogan to the floor to chase Perfect, allowing Genius to chase from behind and dropkick Hogan into the ring post. He whipped him in a second time and slid in the ring. Hogan crawled back in but Genius met him with a moonsault off the middle rope for a near fall. Hogan hulked up and hammered away and landed the big boot but Genius went to the eyes and a back rake to slow the champ down. Hogan returned the favor as Genius flailed all around the ring and then capped things off with a nasty bodyslam over the top to the floor. That was a heck of a bump by the Genius! Hogan went to the floor as well and shoved Perfect away. He pitched Genius back inside but Perfect bashed him with the title, allowing Genius to win the bout by countout in one of the biggest upsets in modern WWF history to this point. What a well booked match with some comedy, storyline advancement and a wild bump at the end. Perfect and Genius escaped with the WWF title in tow as Hogan stalked after them. We are two for two with matches surprising me on this show. This one was a lot of fun and seeing Hogan in a different type of battle definitely made it unique. Genius was a great character and knew how to build heat with his absurd stalling tactics and mannerisms. The angle at the end was really well done too and sets up Hogan’s feud with Perfect…perfectly. Grade: **

3) Dusty Rhodes defeats Big Boss Man with a roll up at 4:47

Fun Fact: Dusty Rhodes, a mainstay in the NWA territories, was fired in November 1988 from Jim Crockett Promotions following a match with the Road Warriors where he booked Animal to take out a spike from his shoulder pads and jammed it into Rhodes’ eye causing lacerations and lots of blood. Turner Broadcasting had issued a “no-blood” policy when they purchased JCP earlier in the year. Rhodes went back to Florida for a while before making his way to the WWF in mid-1989. He was given a “common man” gimmick and wore black and yellow polka dotted gear to the ring.

Fun Fact II: On the July 22 episode of Superstars, the Big Boss Man was about to attack Jim McPherson after he had beaten him. Rhodes came out to the ring and stole the nightstick from Slick before BBM could make the attack.

Fun Fact III: During the match, an African-American woman was seen yelling at Slick and cheering for Rhodes. Following the match, Rhodes would bring her into the ring to dance with him. While she was not named at the time, we would soon find out more about her. Juanita Wright, known in the WWF as Sapphire, was a big wrestling fan in St. Louis. She would become the first woman in Missouri to get a wrestling referee license. Before appearing in the WWF, she would wrestle under the name Princess Dark Cloud. 

Scott: This feud goes all the way back to the summer when Dusty Rhodes stole Nig Boss Man’s handcuffs and nightstick. Rhodes officially becomes the first superstar in TV history to be on both a Clash of the Champions and a SNME. He was on the last episode but not in an official match. Boss Man has been a prevalent heel in 1989, feuding with the Mega Powers early on and then transferred to the American Dream. The match is a lot of kicking and punching, as well has histrionics with Slick on the outside. Many thought Rhodes was being degraded in the WWF having to wear polka dots after his big main event runs in Florida and the Carolinas. However the WWF crowd is truly a different type of animal and colors and shapes help. I don’t know, I’m trying to justify it myself. Slick goes after the nightstick and is about to pass it off to Boss Man when he stops to jaw with a Dusty Rhodes fan at ringside. While that happens, Dusty rolls Boss Man up for the three count. Boss Man and Slick are chased off, while Dusty and his #1 fan at ringside start dancing at ringside. She doesn’t have a name yet, but she will soon. Jesse talks about the building shaking while they bump. This begins the hilarious quips the Body will have pertaining to Rhodes and his #1 fan throughout the next few months. Grade: **

JT: Since the legendary Dusty Rhodes debut in the summer, he has been embroiled in a hot feud with the evil Big Boss Man. He confronted him and stopped him from abusing a jobber and stole Boss Man’s nightstick, cuffs and hat to help prevent him from further brutalizing opponents. Boss Man has been on the chase ever since. The two clashed at Survivor Series, with Rhodes winning the match but Boss Man beating the piss out of him afterwards. Boss Man has had a great year in 1989 and this was a perfect feud for him, and for knowledgeable fans as they had history dating back to their NWA days a few years earlier. Dusty is making his SNME here and is fully ensconced in his polka dots regalia. Before the bout, Gene asked Dusty how he would handle Slick, who often abets Boss Man in attacks and Dusty basically said he would handle both of them. Jesse stayed hot here, singing his own version of Dusty’s theme, calling him a thief and a criminal. Before the bout, Dusty ask the referee to send Slick to the back but the Doctor produced his manager’s license and was able to stick around. Dusty thwarted an early attack with right hands but a distraction by Slick allowed the Boss Man to clobber him from behind and go to work, both in the ring and out. Both Boss Man and Slick jawed with an enthusiastic Dusty fan at ringside but that didn’t deter them from laying in more punishment as Boss Man spiked Rhodes into the post. Back inside, Boss Man worked over the arm and shoulder until Dusty punched his way free. Rhodes ran into a sharp kneelift and Boss Man started wrenching the arm again. Dusty got back into things after dodging a Boss Man charge in the corner. He peppered him with right hands but missed an elbow that allowed Boss Man to jump on him as he was draped across the middle rope. Boss Man called for Slick to grab the nightstick but on his way back to the ring, he got held up arguing with the fan. Boss Man for distracted by that and Dusty took advantage with a roll up for the win. After the match, Boss Man shoved and yelled at Slick, who was blaming the fan for everything that went down. The match was not very good at all with some bland brawling and slow action, a step down from Boss Man’s last SNME match for sure. Dusty would dance with the fan after the bout and it sure seems like it isn’t the last we will see of her…sweet dance moves. Grade: 1/2*

4) Mr. Perfect defeats Red Rooster with a Perfectplex at 4:13

Fun Fact: Earlier in the evening during the Hulk Hogan/Genius match, Mr. Perfect came to the ring, hit Hogan with the championship belt and then took the belt with him. Following his match, Perfect would be seen smashing the belt with a hammer. While many believe this broken belt would go on to later become the Hardcore title during the Attitude era, this is not true. The belt along with as many of the broken pieces that could be found were put into the private collection of ring announcer Mel Phillips until it was sold in 2007. The winged eagle belt was dual plated nickel and gold while the Hardcore belt was all gold.

Scott: In the battle of the “Mr. Perfect” gimmick, the guy who got it versus the guy who, well didn’t. I never understood why poor Terry Taylor had to have a red Mohawk. Poor bastard. This should have been an expert technical match as Taylor was exceptional in the ring but he never seemed to get his fair shake. After he and the Genius swiped the belt earlier in the show, Perfect takes on the Rooster and is having his way with him. Rooster makes the obligatory face comeback but it gets squelched and after the Perfectplex, Curt Hennig gets the victory. Perfect starts jawing with Hogan on camera. I wonder if this was the match that the bookers were possibly thinking of as a singles match at the Royal Rumble? It did seem like they were leaning that way. The match was crap, and now we wait for what Perfect and Genius have in store of the World Title belt. Grade: *

JT: Mr. Perfect has already had a great night. And he looks to pile on some more success with a win in this big SummerSlam rematch. Before the bout, Ventura asked Perfect what his plans were regarding the WWF Title but he vowed everyone would find out his plans as soon as he picked up another win to keep his perfect record in tact and prove to everyone he should be the next top contender to Hogan. The Genius was back out as well, welcoming Perfect to the ring with a poem as Red Rooster looked on in anger. To go along with this high level push, Perfect also had his brand new theme music to escort him out as well. Times sure are changing. Rooster got off to a quick start and even pecked around in excitement as a result. The two traded some holds on the mat with Perfect narrowly escaping the chicken wing and then landing a back suplex to take control. Perfect picked Rooster apart, landing a stiff right hand to the face after surviving a near fall on a desperation sunset flip. Perfect’s in ring arrogance and precision offense is really on display here and you can tell how locked in he is for this push. Rooster battled back with some right hands and a boot to the face, followed by a bulldog. Rooster kept spiking Perfect’s face into the mat and sent him flying with a back drop for two. Perfect would block a hiptoss with a vicious clothesline and then finish the bird off with the Perfectplex. A good, hard fought win for The Perfect One. The added bonus of Perfect’s acknowledged perfect record being on the line in these matches definitely helps add some nice intrigue regardless of opponent. It has been a good night for Perfect and Genius so far… but is it over yet? Grade: *1/2

5) The Rockers defeat The Brain Busters in a Best of Three Falls match

Marty Jannetty pinned Tully Blanchard with a sunset flip at 1:50
Tully Blanchard pinned Shawn Michaels with a stun gun at 3:59
Shawn Michaels pinned Arn Anderson with a high cross body at 7:32

Fun Fact: This would be the final match of the Anderson/Blanchard team, not only in the WWF, but in any promotion. The team was already looking to go back to the NWA, which is the reason for the breakup angle at this show. On the day of Survivor Series, Blanchard would be fired from the WWF for failing a drug test. Heenan would fill in for Blanchard in the Survivor Series match. Anderson would leave the promotion after the event and would make his way back to the NWA, but Blanchard wouldn’t be as lucky. The NWA would not rehire him after finding out about the failed test. He would continue to try to negotiate a contract with the NWA, but was never given one close to the salary he previously had with them.

Scott: After losing the tag team titles back to Demolition, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard have some dissension with Bobby Heenan. Three months ago the Brain was on top of the world holding the Tag and Intercontinental Titles. Now he has neither and there is dissension with the Brain Busters as evidenced by their bickering during the pre-match interview. This feud raged throughout the house show circuit in 1989 and here is their first SNME match against each other. Speaking of the Rockers, they have had a solid first year in the company and will have a great 1990 too. As for Arn and Tully, since this was taped before Survivor Series and aired two days after Survivor Series, it was set up that Bobby Heenan was ready to cut them loose. At Survivor Series Tully was not there, in real life because of a failed drug test. After the Heenan Family lost the match to Ultimate Warrior’s team the Busters were cooked. So they treated this match like Arn & Tully’s swan song. In fact the Busters lose the first fall on a sunset flip very quickly. Bobby argues with and then walks out on them. The Busters recover to get the second pinfall and now we go down to the rubber fall. I wonder if it was already known that Tully was fired and Arn’s one year deal was up and decided to leave and head back down to the Carolinas. The Rockers get the third fall and the Busters are out the door. A big win for the Rockers and a sad farewell for perhaps 1989’s Tag Team of the Year. Grade: **

JT: In a big rematch from a previous SNME, the Rockers and Brain Busters are looking to end their ongoing feud once and for all. There has been recent turmoil within the Heenan Family and that was fully on display at Survivor Series when Bobby Heenan had to step into the ring to replace Tully Blanchard, who had been fired right before the show. This SNME was taped before that, so Tully is still around for this one. Before the bout, the three of them argue backstage, mainly centered around how the Busters had lost the tag team titles back to Demolition. Heenan was adamant about his boys listening to him and keeping the Family in focus and the Busters seemed to be tiring of listening to his direction. Marty and Tully opened the first fall with Marty thwarting some offense and landing a slam, dropkick and arm drag into an armbar. Marty kept pouring it on, running through both Busters and picking up the first fall with a sunset flip on Tully. That was a hell of a two minute flurry  and the crowd was loving it. Lots of energy. Heenan was flipping out, yelling at both Busters before the second fall kicked off. All four men tussled as the bell sounded and that ended with a double superkick that knocked both Busters to the floor. And with that Bobby Heenan finally had enough as he stormed to the back, abandoning the ship. Michaels and Anderson traded blows back in the ring and that devolved into a four way great melee with a Shawn head scissors takeover and dropkick that knocked Tully to the floor. The crowd is eating this all up and the pacing has been tremendous. The Rockers continued to double team, flying around the ring with wild energy and keeping both Busters reeling. Michaels’s first mistake cost the Rockers a fall as he leapt up on Tully but got caught and Arn yanked him across the top rope with a stun gun to even the match up. That is tough to swallow for the Rockers as they have dominated the whole bout but now sit even at a fall apiece. As the third fall opened up, Jesse caught up with Bobby backstage and the Brain officially severed ties with the Busters, telling them to go hit the road and beg on the street for all he cared. Back in the ring, Tully mauled Michaels with right hands and the Busters seemingly have steadied the ship as they tagged in and out and kept on the pressure. Michaels got a near fall on a cross body but it wasn’t enough until he and Arn cracked heads, which allowed him to tag in Jannetty. Marty wiped the mat with both opponents until he got caught with a knee to the back. Shawn yanked Tully to the floor but Blanchard posted him hard. He would climb to the top but Shawn knocked him to the floor. With Arn trying to piledrive Marty, Shawn flew off the top and hit a cross body to win the match. What a great finish. Jesse talked about this happening because the Busters refused to listen to Heenan. I am really intrigued with where this was going as this was filmed before Tully was fired. Did they know they were leaving and shot this angle to explain their departure? It sounded like were angling for it but it didn’t seem official. Was there a face turn in the works? Interesting stuff. Either way, the match was really fun with a wild pace and good storytelling. The Rockers looked awesome throughout the whole match and came off as real stars that the crowd loved. The Busters have had a hell of a run but it ends just as quickly as it started, sadly. Grade: ***

*** Backstage, Mr. Perfect is smashing up the WWF Title with a hammer as Genius pranced around and sang a victory song. He vowed to smash every title Hogan had made to carry around until he received his title shot that he so deserved. The WWF Title would not be perfect until it was around his waist. That was followed by a Hulk Hogan interview as he cradled the busted title belt in his hands and talked about how much it bothered him to lose to the Genius. However, Perfect wrecking his championship cut him to the bone and desecrated everything Hulkamania stands for. He claimed Hulkamania couldn’t be destroyed by trashing a materialistic object and that the Hulkamaniacs were still in tact. He accepted the challenge and vowed a perfect defeat for his challenger. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: The final SNME of the year was a crazy show with weird results. The Genius’ win over Hulk Hogan is probably the biggest upset in the show’s history, compounded by him and Mr. Perfect destroying the belt at the end. The dramatic moment of Mean Gene and Hogan holding the destroyed belt was a bit over the top but it was the Federation Era. The breakdown of the Brain Busters was a heartbreaker but they were due and more teams were on the horizon. Mr. Perfect seems to have jumped ahead of Rick Rude in the heel department after Rude’s SummerSlam loss but that’s fine. It was nice to see Dusty Rhodes make his historic debut, in defeating the fading heel Big Boss Man. The company is cranking on all cylinders and a new decade is upon us. Will this show continue to dominate? We shall see. This one was another home run. Final Grade: B+

JT: We close out 1989 with yet another really fun installment of SNME. The whole year has been packed with entertaining shows that had good matches sprinkled in and lots of major angle development. This was easily the best year for the show since the early going. The first two matches were unexpectedly very solid with great heat and both closure for one feud and a jumpstart of another. The middle bouts were quick and painless and we close with a molten hot best of three falls tag with major character implications throughout. The show closed with a high level, memorable angle that moved Mr. Perfect directly into a main event program. There was a lot happening on this night and makes it one of the more important shows we have had. Final Grade: B+