Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Saturday Night’s Main Event 8

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

One of the things that has become very unique when it comes to professional wrestling is how one guy can come in and become one of the top heels of the company, but then he ends up getting over with the fans and as a result becomes a face. We have seen this happen multiple times over the years where a guy can be one of the biggest assholes ever and the fans hate him, but then they start to like him because of his attitude or character and he goes from being hated to being loved. As we head into the end of 1986, we have already seen this happen with Roddy Piper as he went from being one of the most hated men in the company to one of the most beloved and now two other guys were starting to trend that way. Randy Savage and Jake Roberts were both hated heels for two very different reasons, but as 1986 was coming to an end you could tell the writing was on the wall that both men were probably going to be turned face at some point. This dynamic is what makes it very interesting that these two were set to face off for the IC Title at Saturday Night’s Main Event as it was the first time in the show’s short history that two heels would face off on TV. It was very unique to say the least and it would be interesting to see which way the crowd went and who they supported, because that most likely would dictate who would be turned first.

Since the last SNME in October where Roberts lost to Ricky Steamboat in a Snake Pit match and Savage wasn’t even on, Roberts would conclude his feud with Steamboat on the house shows while Savage defended the title against different opponents though it was mainly still George Steele. On the 11/22 Superstars, Savage made a big impact during a title match against Ricky Steamboat where he would crush Steamboat’s throat with the ring bell and put him out of action, and Roberts would have a brief feud with the Junkyard Dog when it was announced on TV that he would face Savage for the title at this show. It definitely seems pretty random to have Roberts get an IC Title shot, but he was pretty hot at the time and it would be interesting to see if he and Savage can put on a solid match.

Both men give pretty solid promos before the match as Savage tries to play it cool though he is clearly freaked out by the snake, using Elizabeth as a shield as Vince and Jesse discuss who will get the support from the fans. Vince makes an interesting point in that he thinks the fans will side with Savage due to Roberts’ character, but he couldn’t be more wrong as Roberts was clearly more over with the fans when they chant “DDT”. The two men square off to start and they lock up with Savage working on the arm and Roberts tries to turn it around, but Savage yanks him to the mat by his hair twice until Roberts returns the favor. They lock up again with Roberts hitting an armdrag on Savage who backs into the corner with the bag in it which freaks Savage out, and they lock up again with Roberts hooking a headlock and he takes Savage to the mat. Both men try to use the hair to their advantage until Savage escapes the hold only to miss the elbow, and Roberts looks for the DDT only for Savage to escape and he slides outside to regroup. Roberts chases Savage back into the ring and he catches him with a kick before attempting the DDT again, but Savage rams Roberts into the corner and he pounds on Roberts in the corner. Roberts reverses a whip into the other corner only for Savage to catch him with a knee to the face for a two count, and he rams Roberts’ head into the mat for a two count and he stomps on Roberts for a two count. Savage hits a snapmare and drops a knee on Roberts for a two count as Roberts tries to battle back only for Savage to nail him with an elbow, and Savage drops an elbow on Roberts for a two count before choking him on the ropes and snapping him to the mat for another two count. Savage drops another elbow on Roberts for a two count as Roberts again tries to battle back only for Savage to nail an elbow, and he ties Roberts in the ropes and goes outside before grabbing the bag and tossing it under the ring. When we come back from the commercial break, Savage taunts Roberts on the apron as Roberts is set loose from the ropes and he catches Savage coming in with a kneelift, and Roberts goes outside and pulls the bag back out before putting it in the corner. He rolls back into the ring only for Savage to get a shot in and he works on the arm, but Roberts gets a kick in and he winds up the arm before hitting a short clothesline on Savage for a two count. He hits a front suplex on Savage and taunts Elizabeth on the outside as he gets a two count, and he pounds on Savage and knocks him down only for Savage to catch him ducking with a kick. He hooks a headlock only for Roberts to block a shot and he knocks Savage down before attempting another DDT only for Savage to grab the ropes to block it, and Savage rolls outside to regroup as Roberts follows him out and Savage uses Elizabeth as a shield. Roberts goes for the bag only for Savage to knee him in the back and send him into the post before rolling back into the ring, and Savage goes up top and hits an axehandle on Roberts before throwing him back into the ring. Savage goes up top again and hits another axehandle on Roberts for a two count, and Savage goes up top again only for Roberts to nail him coming in with a shot and he pounds on Savage only for Savage to get a knee in and he knocks Roberts to the outside. Roberts trips Savage up and pulls him out of the ring before pounding on him and he throws him back into the ring, but Savage drops an elbow on Roberts as he crawls back in and he stomps on Roberts before tossing the ref to the mat. Roberts blocks a shot and pounds on Savage before throwing the ref to the outside as he lands on the timekeeper’s table, and Savage knocks Roberts down before going outside and tossing a chair into the ring as the ref calls for the bell and the match ends in a double disqualification which means Savage retains the title. After the match, the ref tries to take the chair away from Savage as Roberts takes Damien out of the bag and puts it on Savage who quickly retreats from the ring, and Savage and Elizabeth head to the back as Roberts stands tall in the ring with Damien.

The match itself was a lot of fun as both men went all out and put on a fast-paced, solid IC Title match for SNME. As I mentioned earlier, this was a very interesting match since you rarely saw two heels face each other on TV like this and it was pretty refreshing to see as it created a really fresh matchup for the fans. You could tell that both men were on a mission to put on a match that would be memorable and you wished they got at least 10 more minutes to really put on an epic match, but for a match that was less than 10 minutes they did a lot of action and never slowed down at all. This was a good showcase for both men as they each got plenty of shine during the match, but as the match went on you could tell that Roberts slid into the face-in-peril role with the fans solidly behind him. I thought Vince and Jesse did a great job in calling the match with Jesse getting in some great lines about how both guys are great rule-breakers though can wrestle as well, and they seemed legit shocked when the crowd sided with Roberts instead of Savage. Unfortunately, the only thing that hampers the match is the ending since obviously Savage wouldn’t drop the title though they didn’t want Roberts to lose clean either, so they had to do a double DQ which was pretty weak especially since we probably wouldn’t see a rematch anytime soon. The crowd was into the match and clearly behind Roberts, but they are not happy with the ending of the match. The match ends with no winner and Savage escapes with the title as both men move on.

Final Grade: ***

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