*** 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 XXVIII – 10/13/90
October 13, 1990
Toledo Sports Arena
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper
Fun Fact: Following the departure/firing of Jesse Ventura from the WWF, a new color commentator was needed. Vince McMahon tapped Roddy Piper to bring his unorthodox style to that position. This is Piper’s first SNME in this role.
1) Ultimate Warrior & Legion of Doom defeat Demolition when Warrior pins Smash with with the big splash at 4:59
Fun Fact: The Road Warriors were a tag team made up of Michael Hegstrand (“Hawk”) and Joseph Laurinaitis (“Animal”). The duo began their tag team run in Georgia Championship Wrestling as part of the Legion of Doom, a stable that also included the likes of Jake Roberts, King Kong Bundy, The Iron Sheik and the original Sheik, led by manager Paul Ellering. While the stable did not last long, the moniker of the Legion of Doom became associated with the Road Warriors and the two names became interchangeable throughout their tag career. Their hard style and intimidating look made them feared competitors in every promotion they went to. Through the 80s they travelled through the AWA, Japan and the NWA territories, winning tag team championships in all of them. The group left the NWA/WCW territory for the WWF in 1990 due to issues with the head of WCW, Jim Herd. Upon entering the WWF, McMahon dropped the Road Warriors moniker and went with the Legion of Doom as their name.
Fun Fact II: Fans of both the NWA and WWF in the late 80s could easily see the resemblance between Demolition and the Legion of Doom. When LOD signed with the WWF in 1990, it was natural to have the two teams enter into a feud. At SummerSlam 1990, Demolition was trying to regain the tag titles from the Hart Foundation. During the match, Smash and Crush were the two legal wrestlers in the match. Ax came out during the match and tried to substitute himself in behind the referee’s back. LOD came out and stopped the deception and in the process started the feud between the two sets of face-painted warriors.
Scott: We open the Oktoberfest edition of SNME with the WWF Champion teaming with the hottest new team in the promotion against the old guard of the company. LOD joins Dusty Rhodes as the second talents to be on both a SNME and a Clash of the Champions. Jesse Ventura is gone (tear rolling down cheek) and Vince McMahon has the Hot Rod with him for this show. Piper’s performance at SummerSlam a few months earlier was not great, but he does work more and more to really hone down his color commentating and so far he’s not bad working this match. Demolition are clearly falling down the ladder further and further as this match only goes about five minutes and the babyfaces win pretty clean. Warrior’s World Title reign has been fairly average, as he’s really only feuded with Rick Rude and since dispatching him at SummerSlam he’s been in six-man tag matches exactly like this one. He’s pdefended the World Title at house shows but not often on any big stages. This match isn’t nearly as good as it could have been even a year ago. Ax is winding down as are the former three-time tag team champions as a whole. It also seems like the World Champion is an afterthought. Sure the Champion usually worked the opening match since the show started at 11:30 EST at night. Still, it felt like they won the match and the show was whisked right to commercial. Maybe the company realized he was sinking as champion? I’m not sure; they have no one to blame but themselves in that case. Grade: *1/2
JT: After a few months off, we are back on NBC for our fall edition of SNME and we have a few things to talk about. First off, our dear friend Jesse Ventura has departed and with him went a big chunk of the soul of the show. He added so much to each of them that nobody was going to be able to just step in and fill the gap. He was SNME. In his place is Roddy Piper, who does his damnedest to plug the hole but it just isn’t the same. Also, as has been the trend here for most of 1990, we have another theme show, just like back in the debut year of 1985. This time around, the gimmick is Oktoberfest so we get lots of skits of various stars hamming it up with drinking, sausage stuffing and general German themed fun. Our opener continues to exhibit the severe lack of depth in the main event scene as Ultimate Warrior is in a six man tag instead of defending his gold or queuing up his next big title match. He is merely backing up the Legion of Doom in their war with Demolition. LOD arrived on the scene over the summer and stepped into the void left by Demolition when they turned heel. Smash and Crush lost the tag straps at SummerSlam but their three man game continues on here in what many would have considered a dream tag team match for years. However, with Ax winding down his career and the team no longer the mega faces they were for the last two years, the shine had dimmed a bit by the time they began clashing. As Piper noted, this was basically a prelude for Survivor Series as these six men would be involved in a match there as well. Warrior still had his great energy and the crowd was into him and LOD. He also looked pretty cool in his back trunks. Piper also called out that Dustin Rhodes, son of Dusty, was sitting ringside and Vince responded by saying “all the luminaries” were in the house. Well then. Animal and Smash smacked each other around to start with Animal getting the first near fall on a powerslam. Ax came in next but he had to square off with Warrior, who kicked the piss out of him. The champ mowed him down with a pair of shoulderblocks and a clothesline and also ran right through Smash and Crush as they tried to get involved. Warrior went for the killshot but Ax dodged the big splash and tagged out. Demolition kept quick tagging and triple teaming as Warrior staggered around the ring. Crush would make it in and start choking Warrior and then shoved him back into his corner where all three choked away as well. Demolition is looking pretty crisp here. They would try for the Decapitation Device but Animal made the save, allowing Warrior to tag in Hawk. Hawk ran through Smash and Warrior recovered to join the fray as well. Things quickly fell apart but Warrior finished things off by dropping the splash on Smash for the victory. Poor Demolition. It was clear they were on fumes and that LOD were being set up to take their spot and they are basically treated as jobbers here. The Warriors win and loo towards Hartford and Survivor Series. Grade: *1/2
*** A series of Oktoberfest vignettes air throughout the night with Gene Okerlund narrating us through various superstars partaking in the fun. ***
2) Randy Savage defeats Dusty Rhodes by countout at 9:30
Fun Fact: This would be the end of the feud between Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage. The two battled through WrestleMania VI and SummerSlam before “the common woman” Sapphire left Rhodes, costing him the SS match. Following this match, Savage would turn his sights back on the ultimate prize, the WWF championship and the Ultimate Warrior.
Fun Fact II: Dustin Runnels (Dusty’s real life son) makes his first WWF TV debut here. Dustin had been wrestling on house shows for the company since April, but had not appeared on screen before.
Scott: This feud has been brewing since late-1989 but after Randy Savage defeated Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire ran off with Ted DiBiase at SummerSlam, things have pretty much cooled off. It seems they’ve been focusing on Savage challenging Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Title since he ripped up a Warrior poster before this match. As for the Dream, he’s changed his polka dots from yellow to red and speaking of DiBiase that feud also changes focus. During the match the Million Dollar Man and Virgil buy out everyone sitting in the front row. The only one who doesn’t take the money is Dusty’s son Dustin, who we caught on camera in the earlier match. So Virgil and DiBiase take a seat on either side of the Dream’s son and start cheering the Macho King on against Papa Rhodes. After a few minutes, well you know what’s coming. DiBiase and Virgil attack Dustin and throw him over the barricade to the outside area. They beat Dustin down while Dusty has his back turned in the ring. Eventually he turns around and protects his son from further damage while he himself takes kicks from DiBiase and Virgil. Due to that, Savage wins the match by countout. The match itself is forgettable as the focus was on the outside story with Dustin. Dustin is obviously here as a favor to his dad, so it’s interesting how long he will last here. Grade: *
JT: This feud has been raging since 1990 opened but took a new twist at SummerSlam when it was revealed that Ted DiBiase had bought Sapphire and taken here away from the American Dream. After losing that piece of his heart, Dusty turned to the dark side a bit and you could tell things changed for him. He even changed the color of his polka dots from yellow to red. However, there was one bright spot still: his son Dustin, who had been showing an interest in the business and was seated ringside here tonight. He may have lost his woman, but he still had his family. So, Dusty gives it one last go against the Macho King, who has spent most of 1990 either battling the Dream or piddling around the mid card, filling air time and doing his thing. He was, however, seemingly on the verge of moving back up the ladder as he had set his sights on Ultimate Warrior and the issue was being nudged along. Dusty grabbed hold of Savage and whipped him around the ring, picking up a near fall on a backslide and then cutting Savage down with a back elbow. As she often did, Sherri hopped on the apron and distracted the Dream long enough for Savage to drill him from behind. Savage and Sherri got down to business from there, running through their offense, which was basically a tag team routine at this point. Savage found his way into hooking on a sleeper but as that went on, Ted DiBiase and Virgil appeared in the crowd and paid off everyone in the front row, buying their seats and leaving just themselves and Dustin, who refused to sell, alone in those seats. Dusty broke out of the sleeper and hopped out to confront DiBiase but Savage nailed him from behind and got back to work. Dustin kept rallying his dad but the due of Savage and Sherri were relentless. Dusty tried to punch his way back in but Savage smacked him back down and maintained control…until he whiffed on a charge and flopped into the ropes and back to the mat. Dusty punched away and then cracked Savage as he came off the top rope. At ringside, Dustin stood up to cheer his dad but DiBiase yanked him into the seat. That was enough as Dustin drilled DiBiase, triggering a two on one beatdown that ended with a stiff chairshot to the head that busted Dustin wide open. Dusty went out to save his son but that allowed Savage to nail him with a top rope axe blow and win the match by countout. DiBiase and Virgil kept pouring it on until Dusty was able to cover up his son until officials separated everyone. The match was super basic but the angle was fire, especially Dustin’s blade job and the vicious beatdown by DiBiase. They have done a real good job building this one up. Savage finally breaks free from the Dream, picking up the win in their final tilt and sets his sights on a bigger prize. The Rhodes Boys are out for revenge. Grade: **
3) Hulk Hogan & Tugboat defeat Rhythm & Blues by disqualification at 7:20
Fun Fact: Fred Ottman began wrestling in 1985 in Georgia after having been trained by Boris Malenko, He also wrestled in Texas, the CWA and Florida through the mid-late 80s before coming to the WWF in the summer of 1989. Originally his character was Big Steel Man and he was paired with Slick as his manager. After only a few months with this name, it was changed to Tugboat Tyler, then Tugboat Thomas. Shortly after his TV debut in January 1990, his name was shortened to just Tugboat. He was a fan favorite for his colorful ring attire (red/white striped shirt and white pants) and his mimicking of the horn from a tugboat.
Fun Fact II: Before their stint together as Rhythm and Blues, Greg Valentine and the Honky Tonk Man were both members of the Hart Family and came together for a brief time as a team in 1989 known as Double Trouble. They were mainly brought together to defend Jimmy Hart against the now-face team of the Hart Foundation. They were not the primary tag team in the Hart stable at the time, but when the Rougeaus left the WWF in 1990, Hart brought the two back together and rebranded them as Rhythm and Blues. Valentine, who had been a blonde throughout his career, dyed his hair jet black and began wearing Elvis-like clothing and carrying a guitar. The team would stay together through the end of 1990.
Scott: The Hulkster’s feud with Jimmy Hart’s crew continues here. Since the bizarre countout win over Earthquake at SummerSlam, Hogan continues to battle with Quake, Bravo and all the other guys in the Colonel’s stable. It was so weird seeing Greg Valentine’s hair dyed jet black but the blue tights was a different look. Honky Tonk Man was clearly on his way out as he’s been relegated to gimmick tag teams. I didn’t think Tugboat was still involved in this feud as my memories were that Big Boss Man was transitioned into things before SummerSlam and stayed in that secondary role. Piper is getting a little bit better as the show was progressing. On a side note we have another themed episode as this is all about Oktoberfest, so we have lots of beer and wiener jokes, as well as the disgusting Bushwhackers shoving cheese in their mouth. The match is going about as you would think, and when Hogan gets the hot tag and starts working Honky over, down the aisle comes Earthquake and Dino Bravo. They go to commercial and they’ve been pushed down to the back during it. Tugboat was choking out Jimmy Hart and Honky pastes him with the guitar, but the referee sees it and there’s a disqualification. That brings Quake and Bravo back out and they work the Hulkster over. Tugboat saves him from another Quake shot when he waves Honky’s guitar around and smacks everybody. The feud continues, and another Hogan/Quake confrontation is on the horizon. Grade: **
JT: Best friends Hulk Hogan and Tugboat are back together here after they each recovered from attacks by Earthquake. Hogan defeated Quake by countout at SummerSlam, but their issue wasn’t quite done yet. In the prematch interview, Tugboat notes that they wanted to face Quake and Dino Bravo here tonight but Jimmy Hart made them face Rhythm & Blues instead before they could get that shot. R&B is a fun little veteran team featuring two guys that had stalled out as singles. This was a good spot for them to basically act as high quality JTTS but to do it the tag ranks to freshen things up a little. Plus Valentine with that black hair and “Suspicious Minds” tights was a sight to see. Tugboat had some fun energy but a real dopey gimmick and look and it is kind of farcical that this goof would be best buds with Hulk Hogan of all people. Hogan is as over as ever, even without his gold, and it was neat to see him in a match and feud like this, away from the big gold. Honky and Hogan opened up but R&B quick tagged and tried double team that failed when the Hulkster mowed through both of them. Tugboat tagged in and worked over the Hammer’s arm before giving way to Hogan, who did the same. Tugboat made his way back in but the Hammer landed a blow to rock him and tagged out. Honky came charging in but Tugboat caught him a bear hug that Valentine eventually broke up. Honky and Hammer alternated kicking and clubbing away at the big man but he eventually made the hot tag to the Hulkster, who wrecked Honky, Hammer and Jimmy Hart, who went sprinting to the locker room right after. Hogan was starting to put the finishing touches on Valentine but Tugboat stopped him and brought his attention to the aisle, where Earthquake and Dino Bravo were forcing their way towards the ring. After a break. Hogan and Tugboat went back to work on Valentine while Quake and Bravo were driven to the back. A moment later, Honky grabbed his guitar and slugged Tugboat to draw the DQ. That was an odd decision, why not just have one of them eat a pin? Quake and Bravo reemerged and the four Hart Family members laid a stiff beatdown on Hogan while Tugboat recovered on the floor and eventually made the save. The match was standard SNME fare until the soft DQ but the post match assault was pretty good and set up Survivor Series nicely. Hogan was aggressive and Tugboat was his usual self but R&B actually hustled and moved with purpose in this one. The crowd was hot for Hogan as always and his feud with Quake still had gas left in the tank. Grade: *1/2
4) Texas Tornado defeats Haku with the Tornado Punch at 3:10
Scott: Rewatching these shows, I never remembered that Tornado actually had a televised IC Title match other than the win and eventual loss to Mr. Perfect. After having a great 1989 with two of the three major champions, Bobby Heenan seems back to being in the background, except for Mr. Perfect. Perfect has this show off after the upset loss at SummerSlam. There really isn’t much to say about this match, as Haku is just a serviceable heel to put into a tv match. I thought it could have been longer than three minutes, but it seems all the matches were shortened to fit the Oktoberfest vignettes in between. Tornado lucked out as being IC Champion simply because they needed a face pop moment in Philly. Let’s move on. Grade: *
JT: Back at our last SNME, Texas Tornado made an impressive debut and was seemingly set up for a strong push. That manifested itself at SummerSlam when he upset Mr. Perfect to take home Intercontinental gold. He still has the title strapped around his waist here as he faces off with another Heenan Family member, the stalwart Haku. Tornado slammed Haku to start and teased the claw but Haku bailed to consult with the Brain. When he returned, Haku grabbed a chinlock, slowly wearing the champ down to his knees before breaking the hold and trading blows. Haku battled through the comeback attempt and unloaded some more punches and a headbutt before choking away. Haku has looked pretty good here. Tornado quickly came back, hooked the claw and pasted Haku with the discus punch for the win. Fine little semi-squash with a good little sequence by Haku before he ate the punch for the loss. Tornado rolls on but he has a return date with Perfect to deal with sooner than later. Grade: 1/2*
5) Sgt. Slaughter defeats Koko B. Ware by submission with the knuckle hold at 5:18
Fun Fact: Robert Remus was trained by Verne Gagne and made his wrestling debut in 1972. He would take on the ring name Sgt. Slaughter and initially wrestled in the NWA territories and AWA before making his first stop in the WWF in 1980. His career took off in 1984 during his second run in the Federation when he turned face and took on the hated Iron Sheik. During this time he signed a deal to have his likeness used as part of the GI Joe franchise. His third WWF run is where we find him here in 1990. Real life tensions in the Middle East caused McMahon to turn Slaughter into an Iraqi sympathizer and into the #1 heel in the company.
Scott: Our final match features the new heel on the block, and using very real news to push his storyline. Slaughter was a heel during the pre-PPV era in the early 80s, both in the WWF and in the Mid-Atlantic area. However this is very different. Just three months after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Vince decides to create the ultimate heel and have the GI Joe babyface of the 1980s turn into an Iraqi-loving heel. As has been with most new heels, they face Koko B. Ware in the final match of the night. And as usual, Koko gets some shots off, but in the end the heel locks in a submission and Koko’s done. Slaughter’s post-match salute is interrupted by new babyface Nikolai Volkoff, now a US supporter after the end of the Cold War. That holdover feud clearly won’t last long. The match is nothing, just a character showcase. Grade: *
JT: Over the summer, former WWF hero and GI Joe icon Sgt. Slaughter made his return to the promotion after over five years away. However, in a change from the last time we saw him, he was now a heel, one pissed off at his soft country and implying an allegiance to US rival Iraq. Those implications blew up to full on sympathizing when he picked up Iraqi General Adnan as his manager right as the Gulf War was about to get under way. It was good to see Koko B. Ware back as it has been a while since he popped up on SNME but was last seen on PPV at WrestleMania. He is still just doing JTTS duty, which continues here. Koko used his quickness off the bat, dodging Sarge and sending him flying around with arm drags. Sarge shook that off and stood steady as Koko tried a shoulder block but a dropkick from the Birdman took him off his feet. A moment later, momentum changed when Sarge avoided a leaping charge in the corner. He would spend the next few minutes methodically working through his offense, trying for pin covers along the way. Piper was big on the anti-Iraq stuff already, just outwardly shitting all over Sarge and rooting on Koko. Koko came back with a swinging neck breaker and pair of dropkicks but Sarge caught him with a stun gun to kill that comeback off. He followed that up with some sort of temple noogie submission to win the match. After the match, while Sarge and Adnan waved the Iraqi flag, Nikolai Volkoff appeared on the interview podium and waved the American flag back at them. Americana! There was some nice energy in this one as Koko is great at this stuff and Sarge was a good base for him. Slaughter definitely needed a better finisher and to clean up his look a bit before he got going as his hair was all messed up and he just didn’t look like he pieced it all together yet. Grade: 1/2*
*** The Ultimate Warrior officially accepts Macho King’s challenge, making him the official number one contender. ***
Scott: The matches on this show were all pretty bad, mere pieces of the bigger storylines for the winter into 1991. After a very solid 1989, these shows are definitely lacking in workrate and even in entertainment. That’s why I think the last couple of shows have gone back to the themes with long vignettes in between. Sergeant Slaughter as a heel is a shocker and fascinating at the same time. I don’t think at the time they had any idea what to really do with him other than a mid-card heel facing guys like Duggan. The Hogan/Quake feud seemed to lose steam after the non-finish at SummerSlam, but they tried to reignite it here. Our World Champion is in a feud with a faction, rather than facing top singles wrestlers. They are alluding to a feud with Randy Savage but that isn’t fully developed yet. I miss Jesse too, and Piper did his best but losing Jesse also took a little steam out of the show. It may recover after a few episodes but this one is lacking in a lot of things. Final Grade: D+
JT: Well this was a fun watch with the Oktoberfest stuff but in ring it may be one of our worst SNME offerings to date. And while we did get some solid Survivor Series build, there wasn’t much in the way of big angle or story developments to really hang your hat on either. The only top development that really went down was in the final moments when it was revealed that Macho King was now the number one contender. This one was just kind of there. Plus, the downgrade from Ventura to Piper was noticeable. Hot Rod wasn’t bad at all but he just isn’t Jesse and Jesse could carry even the most mediocre matches or shows. The lack of star power for the company is clear and while the roster still has quality performers on it, everyone seems just kind of shuffled into the mix just below the main event. If you like this era, this was fun to check out but definitely doesn’t touch the upper half of SNME. Grade: D+