Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Saturday Night’s Main Event 31

The British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

We move on through the fall of 1992 and we come officially come to the end of an era as we have the final Saturday Night’s Main Event until 2006, and it has been a pretty great run as we have had a lot of great matches and moments since the show debuted in 1985. While it was cool to see FOX pick the show up after NBC dropped it and we got two more shows out of it, there was a feeling that the show had run its course and needed to be finished off for the time being. There was a clear feeling of change throughout the company as we head to Survivor Series and after seeing Bret Hart become WWF Champion a month ago, you wondered if Shawn Michaels would take the next step here or if Bulldog’s reign as IC Champion would continue even though he seemed to be treading water despite his huge win at Summerslam.

Following Summerslam, Bulldog would begin a feud with the Mountie on TV and worked against numerous opponents at the house shows while Michaels feuded with Virgil on the house shows, and on the 10/25 Superstars it was announced Bulldog would defend the IC Title against Mountie and Bret Hart would face Michaels at Survivor Series for the WWF Championship. On the 10/31 Superstars, Marty Jannetty made his return and went after Michaels though Sherri would end up being hit by Michaels’ mirror, and it was announced that Bulldog would defend the title at SNME against Michaels. Given that Michaels was set to challenge Bret for the WWF Title at Survivor Series, it was going to be interesting to see if Michaels wins the IC Title here or if Bulldog would retain even though his match at Survivor Series had been quietly dropped.

Bulldog gets a good pop from the crowd while Michaels was pretty hot as a heel as he doesn’t even get an entrance which is interesting. The two men lock up to start with Bulldog shoving Michaels to the mat and they lock up again with Bulldog again shoving Michaels to the mat, and they lock up a third time with Michaels hooking a headlock and Bulldog whips him off as neither man goes down when they collide. They collide a second time with neither man going down and Michaels slides under Bulldog before pounding on him, and Bulldog blocks a hiptoss attempt and Michaels rakes the eyes before flipping over Bulldog and he hits the hiptoss. He hooks a short-arm scissors on Bulldog who rolls through and deadlifts Michaels onto his shoulder before hitting an electric chair drop, and he hits a press slam on Michaels and then he clotheslines him over the top to the floor. Michaels regroups before rolling back into the ring as they lock up with Michaels backing Bulldog into the corner, and he gets a shot in and hits a back elbow on Bulldog before whipping him into the other corner only for Bulldog to avoid going into the corner and he slides under Michaels. Michaels trips Bulldog up and Bulldog flips him over as Michaels trips him up again only for Bulldog to flip him over again, and Bulldog hits an armdrag and works on the arm as Michaels gets a shot in and he pounds on him in the corner. Bulldog reverses a whip into the other corner and Michaels leaps over him only for Bulldog to knock him down, but Michaels sidesteps Bulldog and sends him through the ropes to the outside as he loosens the padding on the buckle. He kicks Bulldog back to the floor and continues to loosen the pad as we go to commercial break, and back from the break Michaels pulls Bulldog back into the ring and hits a snapmare before stomping on Bulldog. He drops a pair of knees on Bulldog’s back and continues to stomp on him before hooking an abdominal stretch on, but Bulldog escapes the hold with a hiptoss only to miss an elbow as Michaels gets a two count and he pounds on Bulldog’s back. He drives the knee into Bulldog’s back and goes back to the abdominal stretch only for Bulldog to escape again with a hiptoss, and he drops an elbow on Michaels who reverses a whip and Bulldog catches him ducking by slamming his head into the mat. The loose pad falls off the buckle as Bulldog whips Michaels inside out in the corner and hits a clothesline, and he slingshots Michaels into the corner and hits another clothesline for a two count before hitting the delayed suplex for a two count. Michaels reverses a whip and sends Bulldog back first into the exposed buckle though Bulldog reverses a whip into the corner and Michaels lands on the top rope, and Bulldog kicks at him and crotches him on the top rope as he goes up top and attempts a superplex only for his back to give and Michaels falls on top which gets the three and we have a new champion. Later in the night, Michaels interrupted an interview that Bret Hart was giving and bragged about being IC Champion as he vowed to leave Survivor Series a double champion.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid title match. Bulldog was pretty much at his peak at this point while Michaels was continuing to get into a groove as a singles star, and they had some pretty good chemistry here as they went all out for the 11 minutes that they got. It does seem pretty unusual that Bulldog lost the title so quickly after his great moment back at Summerslam, but he was on his way out the door due to the steroid issues so it made sense for him to lose the title here. On the flip side, Michaels was clearly someone that the company was fully behind as not only was he getting a main event spot at Survivor Series, but it was for the WWF Title and now he was going in as IC Champion so there was a good possibility that he could have both singles titles in the span of a month. The crowd was into the match and Bulldog, but are not happy when Michaels wins. Michaels gets the win over Bulldog and is the new IC Champion as both men move on.

Final Grade: ***