Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Saturday Night’s Main Event #14
Date: January 2, 1988
Location: Capital Center, Landover, Maryland
Commentators: Jesse Ventura, Vince McMahon
It’s a new year and Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant is the only story of note at the moment. We’re getting very close to the rematch and the contract will be signed in just a few weeks on a free television special called the Royal Rumble. Getting King Kong Bundy out of the way is little more than a formality so let’s get to it.
Jake Roberts invites Sika and Mr. Fuji to a New Year’s party with Damien and Jake himself as guests.
Greg Valentine promises to scramble Koko’s bird brains.
Strike Force is going to strike.
Slick promises a Russian revolution.
Heenan, wearing a neck brace, officially names Andre as Bundy’s manager. He starts a Bundy chant because Bundamania is running wild.
Hogan doesn’t care who he has to go through because Bundamania isn’t going to live forever.
Here’s an excerpt from the intro:
Vince: “Happy New Year!”
Jesse: “Hey don’t you speak for me!”
Vince: “Oh I’m sorry Jesse.”
Jesse: “Happy New Year!”
Hogan is doing Hindu squats but stops to yell at Gene. He’s ready to swim the deepest sea and climb the highest mountain to destroy Bundamania and get his hands on the giant.
Slick says his Bolsheviks (Volkoff and fellow Russian Boris Zhukov) are being depressed by Strike Force’s capitalistic propaganda. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has flown in to talk strategy with Slick over the last week.
We get a clip of Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) taking the Tag Team Titles from the Hart Foundation back in November.
Strike Force believes in each other and are ready to fight tonight.
Tag Team Titles: Strike Force vs. Bolsheviks
Two out of three falls again. Tito slams Boris down to start before grabbing an armbar. It’s off to Martel vs. Volkoff with Rick getting a fast two off a rollup. Zhukov comes in with some clubbing forearms to Tito’s back but Nikolai has to break up a near fall off a cross body. The Russians take over on Tito and chokes away on the apron. Boris slaps on a chinlock for a bit until Tito crawls over for the hot tag to Martel. Things speed up again and a quick Boston crab (the same move that won Strike Force the titles) makes Boris submit for the first fall.
Back from a break with Boris still holding his back and the champs double dropkicking him down. The Boston crab is on again but Nikolai makes a quick save. Volkoff’s gorilla press backbreaker gets two on Martel and he drops a big knee for good measure. Back up and they hit heads to give us a breather. Boris comes in off the tag but shoves Martel into the corner for the real hot tag to Tito. Everything breaks down and Slick hands Nikolai the cane, only to have him nail Boris by mistake, giving Tito the easy pin.
Rating: D+. The Bolsheviks were known as being worthless over the years and this match makes that very clear. They were just big guys that could hit other people hard, but there wasn’t much besides that. Granted, that made them perfect targets for a speed team like Strike Force who could force the Russians to make mistakes and capitalize. It’s not a horrible match but the ending was a matter of time instead of a question.
Mr. Fuji has a jar of mustard and Sika brings in a huge roll of bread. They’re planning on having Damien for dinner.
Jake Roberts isn’t worried about Damien being someone’s meal because the DDT will take care of him. He isn’t going to go face to face with Sika either. If you were going to rob a bank, you wouldn’t go through the front door would you? Those little lines like that made Jake all the more amazing.
Sika vs. Jake Roberts
Jake goes after the arm to start and ducks some right hands. The arm doesn’t seem to be an option so the next option is a series of shoulders to the ribs in the corner. Sika easily takes him down with a shot to the face though and Fuji adds in some cane shots to the ribs. Canes were very popular back in the 80s if you couldn’t tell. A nerve hold has Jake in trouble but he comes back with a series of right hands to the head. I’m surprised it works on the Samoan stereotype as that was a fairly protected idea back in the day. A few seconds later, Sika misses a charge into the corner and gets rolled up for the pin.
Rating: D. This was a pretty worthless match but at least Jake finally won something on this show. Sika is a great choice to lose to Jake here as he was in a World Title match recently, meaning the fans who watch this show will see him as a fairly big deal. The match was nothing special though, especially given the lack of a DDT.
Post match Jake plants Fuji with a DDT, not even moving the bowler hat in a great bonus. Damien winds up on Fuji as well.
Heenan reiterates that he can’t be at ringside tonight but Andre will be there, meaning the two men that have beaten Hogan will be there at the same time. Okerlund suggests that Heenan is scared but Andre and Bundy yell at him.
We get a two second clip of Hogan throwing Heenan around to injure his neck.
Hogan says he was struck by lightning last time but he’s talked to President Ronald Reagan and is ready to take out Bundamania. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his hands on Andre again. I’m pretty sure he covered that in the opening promo montage.
WWF World Title vs. King Kong Bundy vs. Hulk Hogan
Andre is in Bundy’s corner to replace Heenan for tonight only. Rematch from last time where Hogan lost by countout. They start with the power showdown and Hogan sends him into the corner. Bundy comes up with the idea of running straight at Hogan and SHOUTING VERY LOUDLY, only to be sent into the corner and punched out to the floor for a meeting with the Giant. You would think a 400+lb monster running at you would have been sneakier. Back in and a clothesline puts Bundy right back on the outside.
We reset again and Hogan cranks on the arm, which isn’t the most common thing to see him do. Bundy comes back with an armbar of his own as this really isn’t the best path for these two to take. Hogan fights up again but eats a back elbow to the jaw, allowing Bundy to go right back to the arm, complete with a hair pull to take Hogan down. It’s bizarre to see these two having a logical match full of psychology as these two are power brawlers most of the time.
Hogan gets all fired up (different from Hulking Up) and slams Bundy, only to reinjure the arm. Then, because it makes sense in this match only, he tries an elbow drop with the left arm but crashes again. Both guys get back up and the referee gets crushed between Hogan and Bundy in the corner. Another referee comes out to pull the referee’s body away as Hogan punches Bundy out to the floor.
We take a break with the referee being taken out on a stretcher (Vince: “Just like you used to do in your wrestling days Jesse.”). Bundy takes over with a clothesline and drops a knee for a near fall. A chop knocks Hogan out to the floor for a quick five count before Bundy slaps on a chinlock. The Avalanche connects in the corner and Hogan is down but bundy picks him up for a second Avalanche. Bundy demands a five count but hits a running splash for good measure, only to have Hogan kick out at two. He Hulks Up, whips Bundy chest first into the buckle and drops the leg to retain.
Rating: D+. It picked up near the end and got rid of Bundy (he was gone from the company almost immediately after this), but the match really didn’t work that well. This was kind of two matches in one, with the arm stuff going nowhere after the break and a standard Hogan match starting up instead. Actually this makes sense though, as the real Hogan formula for making money was to have a monster built up and then Hogan via countout or DQ in the first match, setting up a big rematch a month or so later. It worked for years in the 80s, this series included.
Hogan posts but Andre sneaks in from behind with some huge headbutts. With an EVIL look on his face, Andre chokes Hogan down with ease. The British Bulldogs come out but can’t get Andre off Hogan, only to be dispatched with ease. The Junkyard Dog, Jake Roberts and Strike Force have the same luck, so here comes Jim Duggan with the 2×4. He blasts Andre in the back with the board (clearly cut in advance) but it doesn’t break. The distraction lets the rest of the guys get Hogan out, as Duggan smashes the board onto the apron to finally break it, sending a piece flying into the crowd.
Jesse talks to Greg Valentine and his new manager Jimmy Hart. Valentine has never been happier now that he’s away from the mental midget Brutus the Barber Beefcake.
Koko B. Ware says he’s a featherweight and says Beefcake has teaching him how to clip wings.
Greg Valentine vs. Koko B. Ware
Valentine starts fast by dropping Koko throat first across the top rope. The energy isn’t exactly high in this one. Some chops have Koko in trouble in the corner and a middle rope ax handle drops him down again. The chinlock keeps Koko down and Valentine sends him outside, likely out of boredom. Back in and Greg holds Koko’s shoulders to the mat as Brutus Beefcake comes out for a distraction. A backslide and small package get two each for Ware as the referee ejects Beefcake.
We take a break and come back with Valentine dropping an elbow for two. Greg accidentally crotches himself on Koko’s feet but pops back up before Koko does anything. He takes too long getting up top though and gets slammed down, allowing Koko to make a quick comeback attempt. A headbutt gets two but Valentine gets in a quick shot to the leg and the Figure Four is good for the submission.
Rating: F+. When you manage to be worse than Danny Davis vs. George Steele, your match is an absolute disaster. This was so boring and felt like it just kept going. It was clear that they were just wrestling to kill time here and that’s not the kind of thing you ever want to see, especially on a big show like this.
Koko takes Valentine out, allowing Beefcake to come out and cut some of Jimmy’s hair.
We recap Andre choking Hogan down earlier.
Andre loved choking like that and thinks he should do it again to get the belt. Heenan promises to hand Andre the belt on a platter. The Giant chokes Okerlund to celebrate.
Jesse is thrilled with tonight’s events. Gene tells us that Hogan has windpipe damage but he’s breathing on his own. This makes Ventura even happier because he doesn’t have to listen to Hogan talk anymore.
Vince wraps us up.
Overall Rating: D-. This was a big fall from what the shows had been doing in the recent months. Other than Andre choking Hogan, nothing of note happened here. Yeah Hogan vs. Andre officially being set is a big deal, but it’s not like that was a big surprise. Everyone knew it was coming eventually, but the question was when. It’s a good moment and needing about seven guys to make the save was a nice touch, but it’s the only good thing on a boring show.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!