Mr. Perfect (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Tito Santana for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
As we move on through the summer of 1990 and continue the build to Summerslam, there was a lot of interesting developments that have gone on in the midcard since Wrestlemania. After winning the WWF Title, the Ultimate Warrior relinquished the IC Title and there was a tournament held in the following months to crown a new champion which would end up being Mr. Perfect. After having the feud with Hulk Hogan at the beginning of the year, you figured that Perfect was going to take a bit of a step away from the main event though he was still thought highly of that he would become the top stud of the midcard. On the flip side, Tito Santana has been a stalwart of the midcard for the last several years and has mainly been used to put other talent over as we saw back at Wrestlemania when he lost to the Barbarian. However, in what I’m sure was a way to show appreciation for what he has done for them, he was given one last push as he made it to the finals of the tournament and gave Perfect a tough challenge before putting him over. Now he gets one more shot at Perfect and the title here at Saturday Night’s Main Event which was a big spot for him especially considering Perfect was set for a major match at Summerslam.
On the 4/15 Wrestling Challenge, President Jack Tunney announced that the Ultimate Warrior had relinquished the IC Title and that a tournament would be held to crown a new champion, and the tournament began on the 4/28 Superstars where Santana defeated Akeem by countout. On the 5/5 Superstars, Perfect would defeat Jimmy Snuka to advance and the next week Dino Bravo and Brutus Beefcake wrestled to a double countout meaning both were eliminated. On the 5/13 Wrestling Challenge, Roddy Piper and Rick Martel wrestled to a double disqualification and were both eliminated meaning Santana and Perfect would go right to the finals, and on the 5/19 Superstars Perfect would defeat Santana to win the title. Perfect would continue his feud with Beefcake as they were set to face off at Summerslam while Santana would resume his feud with Martel, and it was announced that Santana would get his rematch here against Perfect for the title. This was a big spot for Santana to get such a high prolife title match here at SNME, and with two other title matches taking place this night you almost wondered if we might see a title change here.
Perfect and Bobby give a good promo before the match as Perfect shows great confidence, and Santana gets a good pop from the crowd while Perfect was red hot as a heel. The two men lock up to start with Perfect getting a knee in and he pounds on Santana who reverses a whip and he hits a hiptoss, and then he hits an armdrag on Perfect before hitting a dropkick that sends Perfect over the top to the floor. Perfect regroups on the floor and Santana chases him back into the ring as Perfect slides back outside to regroup again, and Santana goes out after him again and pounds on him before throwing him back into the ring. The two men trade momentum on the arm until Perfect gets a knee in and Santana reverses a whip, but Perfect catches him ducking with a kick and he hits a clothesline on Santana before hitting a kneelift. He pounds on Santana and hits a standing dropkick as Santana tries to battle back with kicks and he gets a shot in, but Perfect pounds on Santana and hits a slam before stomping on him and he hooks a submission on. Bobby distracts the ref which allows Perfect to choke Santana briefly as he keeps the submission on, but Santana gets a shot in to break the hold and Perfect pounds on Santana in the corner before whipping him into the other corner. Santana catches him with a boot to the face and he hits a big clothesline as Perfect begs off, and Santana picks Perfect up and winds up before nailing him only for Perfect to fall into the ref who hurts his leg. Santana kicks Perfect’s leg out from under him and then he hooks the Figure-4 on though the ref is still favoring his leg, and Santana breaks the hold and checks on the ref briefly before hitting the flying forearm though the ref is slow to count and Santana only gets a two count. Santana stomps on Perfect and yells at the ref before going up to the middle rope and hitting a clothesline for a two count, and Santana drops a knee on Perfect and again yells at the ref as he calls for a second ref to come out and one does as we head to a commercial break. Back from the break, Perfect gets a shot in on Santana and hits a side kick before pounding on him, but Santana ducks a shot and hits a high crossbody for a two count as Perfect gets a shot in. He pounds on Santana and hits a snapmare before hitting a neck snap as Bobby wipes his face with the towel, and he stomps on Santana and pounds on him as Santana tries to battle back only for Perfect to hit a superkick. Perfect sets Santana up for a piledriver only to snap his neck around and he pounds on him in the corner, but Santana battles back on Perfect and knocks him over the top to the floor before going outside himself and he throws Perfect back into the ring. He tosses Perfect to the mat by his hair and Perfect slides crotch first into the post as Santana hits a pair of atomic drops that sends Perfect into the corner, and he hits a clothesline on Perfect for a two count and Perfect catches him ducking as he sets up for the Perfect-Plex. Santana counters with a small package for a two count only for Perfect to turn it around as he gets the three and he retains the title.
The match itself was tremendous as both men worked hard and put on a really fun title match especially for Saturday Night’s Main Event. Considering that this was pretty much just a basic TV title defense for Perfect heading into Summerslam, this ended up being a great showcase for Santana as he gets plenty of offense in and at times looked like he had the title won. This was a great reminder to everyone as to how great Santana was in the ring even at this point in his career, and Perfect was also getting into his groove by this point as he looked to become a fixture in the IC Title division. It was a bit weird that they had the issues with the ref as it did hurt the flow a bit and you wished it would’ve went a bit longer than 11 minutes, but it is still a really great match nonetheless. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and Santana, but are not happy when Perfect gets the win. Perfect retains the IC Title over a game Santana and both men move on.
Final Grade: ****