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, starting today. 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 #19
Date: January 7, 1989
Location: USF Sun Dome, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura
Maybe the Rumble can spruce things up a bit as the company is in a bad place right now. There just isn’t anything of interest right now as the feuds just aren’t doing much. Savage is still good as the champion but he needs someone to come after his belt. Back in Hogan’s time he had a solid rogues gallery, whereas Savage is just fighting some random opponent of the month. Let’s get to it.
The Warrior promises victory because it’s the only way to keep the belt. Along with countout and disqualification losses of course.
Honky Tonk Man says he’s the ultimate challenge because all of the fans in the beautiful audience wants him to get the title back.
Brutus Beefcake is going to get back at Ron Bass for costing him a title shot at Honky Tonk Man back in August.
Slick tells us that brotherhood and fair play are important, which is why they’re here to get rid of Hulk Hogan.
Hogan says Slick doesn’t know anything about honor. Slick and the Boss Man couldn’t get rid of him so now it’s Akeem. He doesn’t know where Slick is going but the 24 inch pythons will show Slick the way.
Vince, with a deeper voice for some reason, and Jesse intro the show with Ventura hoping Hogan gets worse beatings this year.
Ron Bass rants about the Maverick Brothers (the spurs of his boots) and his whip named Miss Betsy. Do all cowboys name things like that?
We recap Bass vs. Beefcake. Brutus had cut up Bass’ whip and hat and you just don’t do that to a Texan. Bass retaliated by jumping Brutus from behind and cutting his head open with the spur from his boot. It cut Brutus open so bad that there was a bit red X with the word CENSORED in the middle of it over Brutus’ head. Ignore the fact that the cut was off to the side and the X covered nothing. The injury cost Brutus a title shot at Summerslam 1988, which wound up going to Ultimate Warrior instead.
Beefcake doesn’t want to forget anything about the night Bass cut him, but he wants Bass to remember everything that happens to him tonight. The loser gets a haircut.
Ron Bass vs. Brutus Beefcake
Bass wraps the whip around Beefcake’s throat to start but Brutus takes it away from him, sending the cowboy out to the floor. Back in and a few punches send Bass running again. Ron finally gets back in and Beefcake fires off about twenty punches in a row with nothing to mix it up. The fans eat it up with a spoon though, which is better than them sitting on their hands for a varied offense.
Bass finally scores with an atomic drop before going after the stomach of all things with a gutbuster and kick to the ribs. He simplifies things again by just hammering the ribs and planting Beefcake with a piledriver. Like any villain worth his keep though, Bass takes forever to cover and only gets two. An argument with the referee over a slow count allows Beefcake to slap on his sleeper for the win.
Rating: D+. This is a good example of a match that doesn’t need anything more than punching and kicking for the most part, plus a bit of psychology from the veteran Bass. All they were going for here was a quick match that gave the fans a reason to be worried and they did it well enough, but just well enough to pass instead of blowing anyone away.
Bass is out cold and gets his head shaved with electric clippers. This was it for Bass save for a quick appearance at the Royal Rumble.
Slick says the beating Boss Man gave Hogan before is nothing compared to what Akeem is going to do tonight. Boss Man is here to make sure law and order prevails. Okerlund isn’t quite convinced.
Hogan talks about the insurmountable odds he’s faced before and promises that Elizabeth will be on his shoulder after the match. Macho Man pops in to say he’ll have Hogan’s back, which means he’s watching from the back with Gene while Hogan is out there with Boss Man, Slick and Akeem while having to keep an eye on Elizabeth. For some reason Gene and Savage are in some horribly lit locker room where the only light seems to be the TV set.
Hulk Hogan vs. Akeem
Jesse asks the obvious question: why didn’t Hogan bring Savage out here and leave Elizabeth in the back? Hogan starts fast by throwing Slick at Akeem and hammering away. The punches make Akeem do some funky gyrations but Hogan isn’t warmed up enough yet for the slam. Instead it’s back to the right hands but he can’t drop the 500lb monster. He can however punch Boss Man off the apron and keep hammering away on Akeem.
Some hair pulling has Hogan in trouble for about eighteen seconds before it’s back to the right hands. The Twin Towers are whipped into each other but Boss Man gets back up on the apron, allowing Akeem to pull the referee in the way of a splash. It’s beatdown time with the double teaming and nightstick, but Savage is shown saying that Hogan will be ok. Some partner he is and Elizabeth runs back to yell at him after about the fourth big splash from the Twin Towers.
After a break we’re told Elizabeth can’t find Savage, which I kind of like as Savage was supposed to be in some remote part of the arena. She finally finds him but he keeps saying Hogan will be fine. Gene does some ridiculous over the top expressions about what he’s seeing on the monitor and we come back with Akeem apparently having missed a middle rope splash. Again, I like that because something had actually happened instead of the guys standing in the same place.
Hogan Hulks Up and cleans house as Savage says he told us so. Well to be fair he was actually right on that one and Jesse gets to gloat about Savage, a favorite of his for years, being right. Boss Man and Slick take their beatings as well before Akeem gets slammed, only to have Boss Man hit him with the nightstick for the DQ.
Rating: C. Obviously this was all story but they did a good enough job of putting Hogan in jeopardy before they got to the comeback. The wrestling here can be excused for the most part, because what else is Hogan supposed to do against someone that big other than punch him a lot? In yet another little thing I like here, I’m glad Akeem didn’t get pinned. You can see the big tag match coming and it’s a nice touch to have everyone staying strong going in. This was a major step forward for the main event story and it was a very refreshing change.
The Towers go after Elizabeth, FINALLY drawing out Savage with a chair for the save. Elizabeth checks on Hogan instead of Savage though and Macho doesn’t know how to handle that.
Honky Tonk Man says he’s still the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time and Jimmy says Warrior sneak attacked him at Summerslam. That’s classic heel logic: it doesn’t matter what really happened. All that matters is what they believe happened and as long as they keep saying that’s what happens and people know the truth, everyone is going to hate them all the more.
Warrior says he denies himself no victory. Honky Tonk Man only knows defeat and Warrior will not deny him.
Intercontinental Title: Honky Tonk Man vs. Ultimate Warrior
Warrior is defending of course but the challenger tries to run away as the match starts. That’s fine with Warrior who easily picks him up and throws him back into the ring as the beating begins. Warrior nails Jimmy Hart for good measure but misses a charge into the buckle. The referee somehow doesn’t see Jimmy throw in the megaphone for some shots to the ribs and Honky Tonk Man takes over. He wasn’t bumped or anything and didn’t notice Hart throwing it into the ring?
Honky Tonk slowly walks around and shakes his hips in between shots to the head and kicks to the chest. That’s about the extent of his offense though as Warrior just shrugs it off and hammers away but the splash hits knees. Vince correctly brings up that the ribs may have been hurt by the megaphone, but Warrior’s power kickout at two ends whatever threat Honky Tonk Man may have been. A big shoulder block is enough to retain the title.
Rating: D. Total squash here which basically ended Honky Tonk Man as any kind of threat to anyone. At the end of the day there just wasn’t enough offense to threaten anyone and it badly showed. Honky Tonk was fine when he came into a match or feud with the champion’s advantage, but once he was like this it all downhill.
However, what people overlook is how valuable Honky Tonk became as a loser after Warrior beat him. Now, after that year and a half of sneaking away with the title, all those guys he beat can destroy Honky Tonk and get their revenge on the house show circuit for a very nice bonus attraction. It’s smart business and the side of a run that people tend to forget.
Slick thinks the Mega Powers are having problems. The Twin Towers are just like family though and he isn’t sure how many beatings Hogan can take.
Jesse is in the back with Bobby Heenan and new protege the Red Rooster. Yeah he’s a walking rooster (thankfully without a costume) and he never got over. I’m shocked too. Anyway, this is an interesting idea for a character. Heenan talks about how the Rooster is limited with not much speed, strength or wrestling skills. He’s undefeated, but Heenan takes 100% of the credit for the success, much to Rooster’s annoyance. Heenan tells Rooster not to embarrass him tonight like he’s talking to a child.
Red Rooster vs. Tito Santana
Heenan has a microphone on him so we can hear everything he says. Strike Force is on hiatus at this point as Martel is injured. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is in the front row, allegedly as Jesse’s guest. You can also see several empty yellow seats behind George, which really isn’t a good look. Rooster looks fairly hopeless without constant coaching from Heenan, though he does block a splash and nails a jawbreaker.
Tito double legs him down though and hammers away, drawing complaints from Heenan to the referee (ECW mainstay Bill Alfonso). The Figure Four is blocked but Heenan pulls Rooster to the floor to yell at him even more, triggering a shoving match. We take a break and come back with Tito suplexing Rooster in from the apron for two. A backbreaker gets the same for Rooster and Heenan just lets him have it for not getting a pin.
Rooster nails a piledriver (to Heenan: “IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?”) for two but Tito breaks up a Sharpshooter attempt. A clothesline sends Rooster to the floor but Heenan throws him back in out of frustration, allowing Tito to grab a quick rollup for the pin to end the unbeaten streak.
Rating: D+. Again this was almost all story but that made the match as good as it was. The theory was that Rooster couldn’t do anything on his own, yet his best success came when he stopped listening to Heenan. Bobby’s tirades made it even better, but the wrestling was totally secondary here, just as it should have been.
Heenan gets in Rooster’s face post match but Rooster beats him up.
Another newcomer named Mr. Perfect insists that he is, well, perfect. He has something called the PerfectPlex and Koko B. Ware will get to see it in action next.
Mr. Perfect vs. Koko B. Ware
Perfect is in trunks here instead of his signature dual color singlet. He’s also called Curt Hennig on occasion here, which would eventually be dropped for years. Koko sends him out to the apron to start before taking Perfect down with a nice armdrag. That’s fine with Perfect as he comes back with an appropriately perfect dropkick. A missed charge in the corner sets up the PerfectPlex for the easy pin.
Rating: C-. Perfect would get a huge push soon after this and almost won the Royal Rumble. He was the kind of fresh heel that the company needed as they had been relying on big guys for so long. Things actually changed a bit with some more average sized guys out there as villains and it made things feels fresher. Koko continues to be the jobber that he always was.
Hogan has no problem with what Savage did tonight because he was out there when Hogan needed him most. All that mattered was keeping Elizabeth safe and that’s what they took care of. Savage says it was like being in an electric chair every time Hogan got splashed. He hurt with his partner but the pain went to his neck when they went after Elizabeth. Hogan: “I FELT IT TOO!” They shake hands again and everything is fine.
Jesse doesn’t buy it to end the show.
Overall Rating: D+. It’s still not a good show, but this was a great setup for the Main Event II in early February. Hogan and Savage are good on the surface but it’s clear that things aren’t as perfect under the hood as they seem. The wrestling here was somewhat better here and the introduction of Mr. Perfect made things a bit easier. The show had nowhere to go but up after last time so this was better almost by default.
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. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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