Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: The Main Event III – 2/23/90

*** 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! ***


The Main Event III – 2/23/90

February 23, 1990
Joe Louis Arena
Detroit, MI
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

Fun Fact: The first three Main Event specials were all shown live. Following this broadcast, all future Main Events would air on a delay. When Saturday Night’s Main Event returned to NBC in 2006, they would broadcast the second of those specials live.

1) Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage to retain WWF Heavyweight Title with the  at 11:14

Fun Fact: This is a rematch of the main event from WrestleMania V. This was supposed to be the first time that we would see Mike Tyson in a WWF ring. However, that whole plan changed just two weeks prior to the Main Event taping.

Fun Fact II: Going into his fight on February 11 in the Tokyo Dome, Mike Tyson was undefeated and was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. This fight in Tokyo was seen by many to be just a warm-up fight before Tyson would take on Evander Holyfield, the #1 contender. Buster Douglas entered the fight with a record of 29-4-1. Douglas dominated the champ throughout the fight and in the 10th round knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career. Tyson was counted out and in one of the biggest upsets in sports history, Douglas became the heavyweight champion of the world.

Since Tyson has originally been scheduled to be the guest referee, the WWF had to immediately change plans to have Douglas involved in the match. This change definitely was a big loss for the WWF, but Tyson would eventually appear in a WWF ring.

Scott: The long awaited WrestleMania V rematch is finally upon us. Will the same thing happen tonight that happened two years ago. When was the last time we had a WrestleMania title rematch on The Main Event? First off, I need to digress and say that I watched the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas match live at my friend’s house and I was completely stunned. I was a huge Mike Tyson fan and was awaiting the eventual match with Evander Holyfield. That would happen years later, when both were past their prime. Another discussion for another day, so back to the subject at hand. Buster Douglas now is in the spotlight and will be the outside official for Randy Savage’s overdue shot to regain the title. Since the main event of WrestleMania VI had already been announced, the result of this match was easily predicted. I don’t think Hogan would be going to WrestleMania without the WWF Title. Even more so if the challenger of the next match would win the title. Then the Warrior/Hogan match would have no titles? In those years, that makes zero sense. The match went about the way you would expect, with Hogan gaining the early advantage but Savage (thanks to Sherri) would dictate the middle portion of the match. Douglas would stop Hogan and Savage from going outside a few times, but his biggest decision would be tossing Sherri out of the match. With an outside celebrity, you can anticipate a referee bump inside the ring and sure enough Dave Hebner gets knocked down. Hogan goes for a pin and Douglas slides in and gets the three count, even though it did look like Savage kicked out. Then we see Savage getting hot and wanting to start sparring with the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Savage slapped Douglas across the face, but in the end Hogan shoves Savage into him and Douglas pops him with a right hand. It was a fun moment and the Detroit crowd was red hot during the post-match segment. This to me is officially the match where Savage is shunted down the card for the next year. He was already getting into a weird phase, but now he really dives deeper. Hogan heads to Toronto as the WWF Champion, and I think popular opinion was he was indeed the favorite. Grade: **

JT: We are in the waning weeks before a giant WrestleMania in Toronto, but we have one last major stop on the road with our third annual February Main Event prime time special on NBC. As usual, we have a big two match show but for the first time we actually have our WrestleMania map drawn up and are just biding time until we get there whereas the past two years have used this show to set up the top Mania draw. Since Randy Savage dropped his WWF Heavyweight Title back at WrestleMania V, he has been chasing Hulk Hogan all over the country. They battled on house shows in singles bouts and on PPV in tags but Savage was set up for one last title match here on national TV. There was on catch: a special enforcer referee. And that enforcer was originally supposed to be the iconic “Iron” Mike Tyson but just two weeks before this show, Tyson was upset for his title by chronic underachiever James “Buster” Douglas. Thus, Tyson was out and the new champ stepped in to his spot here. One problem: Douglas didn’t have near the charisma of Tyson and wasn’t even close to as big of a draw. It was a tough break for the WWF for sure. The early highlight was Buster’s absurd manager giving him a big pep talk in a promo before the show started proper. Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura wasted no time justifying the referee switch, talking about Buster’s qualifications and reminding everyone of how he dropped the former unbeatable champ. There were also plenty of teases that either Savage or Hogan could tussle with Douglas if he didn’t play things down the middle. They gave Buster a hell of an entrance, coming in after Hogan and Savage and his theme rocking the arena as Fink really put him over. One of the downsides of running this show after the Mania direction was established is that it made it pretty unlikely to see a title change here. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior was such a big time, marquee matchup that it made this a super longshot when it could have been a match filled with some legit intrigue.

Buster would take his place on the outside as Hogan overpowered Savage to start the match. The tension was thick as the match reset and the two old friends felt each other out a bit. Douglas also set the tone early on, not allowing Hogan to follow Savage to the floor as he regrouped. Back inside, Savage landed a jab and went to work, snapping Hulk’s neck across the rope and then driving a knee into his back to send him to the floor. Douglas played things even, blocking Savage from coming off the top to the floor, which really pissed off Jesse. Hogan got back inside, knocked Sherri to the floor, which also aggravated the Body, and started to mow through Macho with punches, clotheslines and chops. Sherri again got involved and as Hogan went at her, Savage drilled him from behind and went to work on the champ. It has been so much fun watching this Savage and Sherri pairing evolve show to show. Although this time her interference cost her, as she was caught choking Hogan by Buster and the boxing champ ejected her from ringside as a result. After a break, we came back to see Savage with a sleeperhold locked on Hogan but the champ quickly fought to his feet and broke the hold. Savage eluded a comeback and pasted Hogan with a clothesline for a two count before pitching Hogan to the floor. This time Buster wasn’t around to block Savage and he was able to leap from the top with an ax blow. He tossed Hogan inside and hit a second for a near fall. Savage kept peppering Hulk, knocking him back outside and this time Douglas did prevent follow up. Macho didn’t let it get in his head and instead stayed focus, slamming Hulk and then hitting his flying elbow… but Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up. Not sure why they needed to wax Savage’s finisher in a Hogan match yet again. Hogan punched Savage to the floor but the King yanked him outside and raked his eyes. As Hogan came back in, he punched Macho, who rebounded into Dave Hebner. With Hebner down, Hogan hit the leg drop and covered Savage, drawing Buster into the ring to count the fall. Jesse flipped out and said it was a fast count and Savage didn’t seem much happier. Hogan egged on the two to fight as Savage stuck his finger in Buster’s grill and then mocked boxing mannerisms. Savage eventually went too far, slapping Douglas across the face and then flaunting it. Savage kept taunting Douglas and eventually Hogan shoved Savage forward and Douglas cracked him with a pair of right hands to drop the King for good. The match on its surface was just OK and a far cry from their Trump Plaza tilt, but all of the shenanigans with Sherri and the teases and hype with Douglas propped it up nicely. For as much of a flash in the pan as Buster was, WWF got him at his hottest peak and he honestly did feel like a big deal here. Having Savage, Douglas and Hogan in the ring together felt like some high level star power and that was a big deal for prime time. Hogan holds on to his gold, finally dispatches Savage and looks ahead to WrestleMania. Grade: **1/2

2) Ultimate Warrior defeats Dino Bravo with the big splash at 4:11

Fun Fact: After joining the Hart family in late 1989, Dino Bravo entered into a feud with the Ultimate Warrior over the IC title. They feuded for three months with this match being their final major match before Warrior turned his full attention to Hogan and their match at WrestleMania VI.

Scott: Now the other half of our WrestleMania VI main event will defend his title against the Canadian strongman. This might be the only singles title match I’ve ever seen Bravo get. The match isn’t much, as it’s mostly Jimmy Hart getting his pants pulled off, again. Earthquake tries to attack Warrior on the outside, but eventually the IC champion regains composure, hits his shoulder blocks and splash and retains his IC Title. The key part of this match is the aftermath. Bravo and Earthquake attack Warrior after the match and beat him down. Bravo is chucked but Earthquake was about to drop him from the second rope, when down the aisle comes WWF Champion Hulk Hogan to save his WrestleMania opponent, which Jesse is completely befuddled by. Warrior apparently doesn’t like the “help” and the two men start shoving and jawing with each other until they’re broken up by officials. Big time tension building to April 1 in Toronto, but the match was crap. On a secondary note, it was also evident that Earthquake was being pushed for big things, being shoehorned into this feud. Grade: *

JT: With Hulk Hogan’s place at WrestleMania officially locked in, his opponent needs to survive one last test to solidify himself as challenger for the World Title. The Ultimate Warrior has been on fire since mid-1989 and has quickly rose up the ranks and positioned himself as the future of the WWF. While he was mowing through the competition and setting himself up for Mania, Jimmy Hart’s newest import, Earthquake, had been making his mark as well. Wrecking dudes and sending them to the hospital left and right, it was clear he was going to be a force of nature for anyone at the top of the card at some point soon. For now, he has the back of his buddy Dino Bravo as he challenges for Warrior’s IC title. Warrior chugged right into the ring and they wasted no time as the bell sounded when Warrior took Bravo down with a powerslam. He hit the top rope and crashed into Bravo but when he tried it a second time, Quake tripped him up. When things reset, the two powerhouses rammed into each other but every time Warrior had some momentum, Quake got involved. Bravo would knock Warrior to the floor, but the champ resourcefully ducked under the ring to avoid Quake and then sucked Jimmy Hart into the abyss as well. Hart reemerged pantsless, followed by Warrior, who hoisted the Mouth up and chucked him into Quake. Bravo jumped Warrior from behind and Quake laid in a shot and a slam as well. Bravo would lock in a bear hug and work the back, however, it didn’t matter as Warrior shook it off and ran through Bravo with his shoulderblocks and splash to retain his strap. After the bell, Quake got in the ring and he and Bravo started to lay the wood on the champ until Hulk Hogan made the save. As Ventura questioned this strategy, Warrior made it clear he didn’t care for the assist. Tempers flared and the tension convention fired up as the heat for the Ultimate Challenge was reaching a fever pitch. The collision course is now official: Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan, title for tile: The Ultimate Challenge in Toronto. Grade: *

Final Analysis

Scott: The dark matches on this show all had unpredictable moments, such as Mr. Perfect actually losing clean to Dusty Rhodes? That’s perplexing. Demolition losing to the Colossal Connection prepped them for the big title match at WrestleMania. This show was fun but, with no disrespect to Buster Douglas, it would have had even more cache with Mike Tyson here. That’s ok, he’ll get his chance eight years later. I wish that NBC would have given the WWF more time so some of those dark matches could air, but it was what it was. We got the main stuff we really needed. The undercard of WrestleMania wasn’t totally put together yet, but the main event is what’s selling the show. This was fun, but I wished these Friday shows had more meat to them. Final Grade: C+

JT: While it lacked the important, meteoric storylines of the previous two editions, this Main Event episode had some really important stuff tucked into it and also brought the mainstream heat with the suddenly superstar level Buster Douglas in a spotlight position. Randy Savage is put to bed as a main event challenger for a while and Earthquake is set up as a potential title contender in the coming weeks, but this show was all about one thing: solidifying and hyping the Ultimate Challenge. And it did its job. The matches weren’t anything special but that didn’t really matter here at all. Buster Douglas was the mainstream draw and Hogan and Warrior got themselves prepped for a major money match in the Skydome. Final Grade: B