James Dixon: The version being reviewing here is the UK release known as The Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event, but the US version was called More Saturday Night’s Main Event. They are exactly the same tape. I guess they changed the name of the UK one, because the first SNME comp tape didn’t come out over here. Sean Mooney is our host, as ever, and there are lots of random SNME clips to start. One of them appears to be Mean Gene next to Moolah, both covered in semen… A disturbing start! Ventura is wearing some simply outrageous outfits in these.
Hair vs. Hair Match
Brutus Beefcake vs. Ron Bass
These two had a memorable feud, with Bass busting Beefcake open with his spurs, leading to the famous big red “X” censored footage at SummerSlam ‘88. This comes from December of that year (though it aired in early January), in Tampa, Florida. Bass starts by choking Beefcake with his whip, Miss Betsy, but Beefcake fights him off. Cake gets hold of the whip and is just having the time of his life cracking it. You know in his head he is pretending to be Indiana Jones. I know I would be! Beefcake dominates the early going, refusing to let Bass back in the ring, nailing him every time he tries, and he throws in a few struts here and there for good measure. Y’know, I think Bruti gets a bad rap sometimes. At the very least he was charismatic and over when he was doing the Barber gimmick. Ok sure, he is indecisive and wooden in the ring, and his execution can be questionable, but he isn’t the worst. I mean, he was in WCW, but here he is just about decent. Bass finally mounts some offence, with some nasty kicks and knees to the abdomen, before using his power to control the tempo. A big piledriver looks to have it finished, but Bass stops the referee’s count, saying he is not satisfied with that. He wants to publically humiliate Beefcake, though you could argue that he had already done that to himself with the tights he has on! The Outlaw disputes a very close near fall, but allows Beefcake to recover. Bass misses a clothesline and Beefcake catches the sleeper, which gets the win. Beefcake now gets to cut Bass’ hair to end this feud. Vince McMahon on commentary is positively orgasmic watching Beefcake shave Bass’ hair off.
Final Rating: *¼
The Rockers vs. The Brain Busters
This should be great. All of these guys can really go. We are in Philly and it is February 1989, and there is a furious pace to start here. Anderson tries to gain the advantage with a knee to the gut, but Michaels nips up and press slams him off the top, in a very tidy sequence. The Rockers are in control and they slide through the Busters’ legs and hit stereo superkicks, though it was far from Michaels’ finisher then! Michaels suplexes Blanchard back in and hip tosses him across the ring, before catching a flying headscissors. This has been belting so far. Michaels’ timing and execution was almost flawless even then and Anderson is one of the all-time best for consistency. The Busters take over thanks to Heenan pulling the top rope down, and the crowd don’t like that one bit. Back in, and Jannetty manages to mount some offence, but he doesn’t see the blind tag to Anderson, who wipes him out with a line, doing a superb sell off of it. The Busters’ teamwork is so solid and realistic. They are one of the best tag teams of all time, no doubt about it. Arn Anderson’s desperation to reach the ropes to avoid being caught with a sunset flip is immense. Jannetty and Blanchard work a beautiful pinfall sequence, but a big inverted atomic drop prevents the tag to Michaels. It is like watching fine art come to life seeing the Busters work. The trademark Anderson Spinebuster is followed by an attempted Vader splash (?), but it meets knees, and Michaels gets the tag. He is on fire, at SPEED, but it spills to the outside, and tragically ends after about 9-minutes with a double count out. Still, this was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish, and would have probably been one of the all time greats if it had been twice as long. The perfect sub 10-minute match. You will probably never see one better.
Final Rating: ****½
The Red Rooster vs. Tito Santana
Sean Mooney calls the Red Rooster a “great superstar” as his credibility rating drops below zero. This is from the same show as the Beefcake match. Heenan is miked up tonight, so the audience at home can hear everything he is saying. Everyone on this tape appears to be wearing their working boots, because this one starts out furiously too. Rooster dominates the early going, but when Santana takes over, Heenan is incredulous. That is pretty much the story of the bout. Random musing: Tito has superb punches. I have never really appreciated them before. Rooster on the other hand… I feel sorry for Terry Taylor actually, because he was given this awful gimmick, but he could work. He was always solid. At least he doesn’t have the red mohawk here like he did as a babyface. Heenan loses it with Rooster and starts shoving him because Tito is winning. Rooster says he is doing the best he can, but Heenan tells him it is not good enough. They shove each other and then we are clipped, and rejoin the action with Rooster taking over. Heenan is distracting Rooster, but he still manages to hit a perfect piledriver, but only for two. I think Heenan is actually being a little harsh on the Rooster, because he has been the aggressor for much of this. Santana buys some time with a clothesline over the top, which majorly winds up Heenan, who throws Rooster back in. Tito rolls Rooster up for the three, ending his unbeaten record and Taylor and Heenan confront each other after the match. The end result is Rooster beating the shit out of Heenan and turning babyface. Heenan bumps for him like a king; he is absolutely wild, like Mr. Perfect! He even tries to moonsault sell on a punch. The thing is; if that was anyone but Heenan, Rooster would come off as the heel there. Good match though.
Final Rating: **½
The Blue Blazer vs. Ted DiBiase
As if anyone was unaware of it anyway, but Blazer is of course Owen Hart. This is from the same show as the Rockers-Busters match, and I bet that was a corking show to be at live, with some awesome workers on the bill. Elsewhere on this card they did Beefcake vs. Rude, Rooster vs. Brawler and Hogan vs. Bad News, and most of that sounds pretty good. Anyway, back to this match, and DiBiase lays Blazer out before the bell with a brutal clothesline. I think Blazer is distracted by his cape being wrapped around his legs. DiBiase looks good here, as he always does. Like Arn Anderson, he is one of the most consistently solid and realistic working guys of all time. Though, he did fall off a cliff for his Money Inc run with the insufferable IRS. DiBiase hits a nice double axe handle from the middle and a suplex, but Blazer impressively lands on his feet from a back body drop. He dropkicks DiBiase out of the ring and then follows with an amazing tope from out of nowhere. Back inside and a crossbody from the top gets a near fall, and Blazer lands a backbody drop. DiBiase takes that move better than anyone else in the world, before or since. DiBiase fights back with a desperation gut shot and catches a perfect powerslam from no-where to win it. Like the Busters-Rockers match, it was tragically short. Still, it was very, very good. That is one of the best four minute matches I have ever seen! Thinking about it, Owen did the same thing with 1-2-3 Kid at King of the Ring 94 too. I can’t think of any other matches of such quality that are so short.
Final Rating: ***¼
Macho Man Randy Savage (c) vs. Andre the Giant
We go back in time to November 1988 in California. Savage was WWF champion and Andre very much in the twilight of career, being used to get the next generation over. I don’t think even Randy Savage can keep the tape’s workrate level up working with Andre. Andre overpowers Savage as expected, and uses the clever trick of wrapping his singlet strap around Savage’s neck in a chinlock, which the ref can’t see. Elizabeth tries telling the ref, but he is having none of it. Andre’s next “move” is holding the arm and leaning on his head. Ok, I know Andre is a legend and drew a lot of money, but by ’88 he was the pits in the ring. His offence is literally, doing nothing. Now he is just holding Savage’s arms. The champ catches an opening and fires back on Andre with a series of double axe handles, and then tries to choke him out with a headlock. Jake Roberts skulks to the ring, and Andre and Heenan spot him. Both look worried, because Andre is scared of snakes. Savage convinces Jake to leave, because he wants to win this for himself. Big chops from Andre as we continue, but Andre is preoccupied with the snake still being somewhere at ringside. Savage still can’t get an advantage on him, and Andre continues to club away, and then just gives up trying and has a sit down… On Savage. This is pretty drastic. Andre’s offense is kayfabe killing bad, it’s like a rib. Savage as usual is distracted by that Albatross, Elizabeth, when he notices Heenan getting too close. Liz is often a massive detriment and distraction to Savage, and gives him a huge disadvantage in every match. Heenan finds the hidden snake and Jake returns. Heenan escapes to the ring and it’s a DQ. Savage throws Heenan into Andre, who does his trademark trapped in the rope spot. Andre is shitting it, because of his snake phobia. This is pretty cruel behaviour actually, the man has a fear! That was a pile of shit.
Final Rating: DUD
Jim Powers vs. The Big Bossman
This is further back, from October 88 in Baltimore. I have always like Bossman, he is a good big man. As noted in the past, Jim Powers upsets me as a face; he is bland and boring, but Bossman makes him his bitch here. Bossman with a nice knee lift, which is a move that has faded away somewhat as the years have advanced. Powers is yet to hit an offensive move here, and he flails around too much in a bear hug for Bossman’s liking, so he just drops him to the mat. Powers finally mounts some offense with two dropkicks, but the Bossman Slam ends this quickly. Talk about a squash! Afterwards, Bossman handcuffs Powers to the ropes and beats him up some more. He was in a programme with Hogan at the time, so they were making him a monster. He fits the role well. Still, a nothing match that. I don’t get why it is even on here.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)
The Brother Love Show
We cut to footage of Hogan being attacked by Bossman in a famous angle. Hogan cuts a promo with Mean Gene to respond. Hogan is still wearing the handcuffs, some weeks later. Backstage, Hogan says his biased Hulkamaniac jury will be behind him when he puts Bossman on trial. Come on, surely that’s a miscarriage of justice! There is nothing worse than watching Brother Love; he rambles on and on! He introduces Slick as his guest and we cut backstage to Hulk Hogan, who is apoplectic with rage, because he was supposed to be the guest. Geez man, let someone else have the spotlight. He makes sexual grunting noises and says he will show Brother Love what love is all about. Hmm, maybe Linda Hogan’s claims were true… Hogan does get his way and takes all of Slick’s spotlight on the show. Slick says Hogan looks like a criminal and Love tells Hogan not to lose control. Love wants to know how it felt to be beaten within an inch of his life by Bossman, but he doesn’t let Hogan respond or speak at all. This is great! Hogan can’t take it anymore and grabs the mic, telling Love: “The kind of love you give is equal to the kind you receive, and so far, the love you been giving isn’t the kind you wanna receive big boy”. Right, that’s it, there is definitely something in the closet here. Hogan now asks Slick if he wants to be tied up and beaten with a stick! He then turns the tables and doesn’t let Love speak. He says if he was a judge, he would pass the execution on Brother Love. Unsurprisingly, the crowd doesn’t know how to respond to what is essentially Hogan saying he wants Brother Love to be killed. He then asks Slick if he thinks he is the only one with a pair of handcuffs… Hogan can’t take the verbal abuse in return and throws Slick out of the ring. Ventura is rightly pissed. Love tries to attack Hogan, but he is never selling for him. Hogan slams Love and rips off his shirt with rage. Out come the handcuffs, and things are about to get sexy. He cuffs Love to the ropes, with Jesse rightly pointing out that he is a bully. He clotheslines Love over the top while he is still cuffed to the rope. Worst. Face. Ever.
We join Akeem vs. Hogan midway through, and then cut to Savage and Liz backstage. Liz wants Savage to help Hogan, but he says he will be ok. He is rooting for him at the monitor. Elizabeth decides to come out and help Hogan anyway, though what the hell use she will be I don’t know. 1Hogan Hulks Up in the ring and hammers away on Akeem. A clothesline drops him, and Hogan nails Bossman and Slick too. Savage says he told you so. What a wise gentleman. Elizabeth needs to start listening to her man! The big boot doesn’t take Akeem down, so Hogan slams him impressively. Bossman uses the nightstick to prevent the legdrop, which obviously results in a DQ. Bossman comes in and he chokes out Hogan. Liz gets in the ring and just stands there cowering in the corner. If anyone has ever played Goldeneye on the N64, she is goddamn Natalya! Inevitably the Towers go for Liz. Good! She deserves it for being so dumb. Savage finally makes the save with a chair.
Steel Cage Match
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. The Big Bossman
Hogan is WWF Champion as this is from April ‘89 in Des Moines, Iowa, just after WrestleMania V. Bossman and Slick do a promo backstage with Ventura, and Slick promises a big surprise. And here he is: Zeus! Hogan’s nemesis in the film No Holds Barred, and his next big feud. Zeus blocks Hogan’s path to the ring and he hammers away on him, leaving him for dead. Well, all he actually did was a few clobbering shots to the back, but Hogan sells it like death! The crowd are pissed off about it and just boo continuously. It is quite the atmosphere. Bossman brings the danger, by booting the cage door open and nearly decapitating the referee! Jesus. Bossman has a big advantage here with Hogan weakened, and it shows in the early going, until Hogan rallies with a clothesline, and then he rakes the eyes, because he is a terrible babyface. Hogan looks to escape, but Bossman is far too fresh. You could usually tell when Bossman had been in a gruelling match, based on how many buttons his shirt had lost. He is already exposing full belly here! Maybe he was forced to rip them all off in order to sell enough for Hogan’s satisfaction. Ventura makes a good point; why would Bossman try and climb out over the cage rather than use the door? It makes no sense. He does get pretty far though, until Hogan grabs him by the throat through the bars. Superplex off the top of the cage! Wow. Ok, that was impressive, especially for two guys that size. Kudos indeed! Both guys are out cold. The ref comes in and raises their arms to see if they are fully out, and starts the ten count. I wonder if a cage match has ever ended in a double knockout like that? It would be shite booking if there has I guess. Though, a Luger-Flair cage match in WCW ended in a DQ! Anyway, Hogan crawls for the door… Like a coward… But Bossman holds onto his ankles. This match has only been going a few minutes, but they are moving, selling and doing spots like they are twenty minutes in. Slick throws in a chain, which Bossman chokes Hogan with. Hey it’s fair, there are no rules in a cage. Both are out again after they simultaneously ram each others’ heads into the cage, but they are up much quicker this time. Now Hogan has the chain, and he wraps it around his first and knocks Bossman out. He is busted open, and Hogan throws him back and forth into the cage. Hogan goes to climb up the cage, but Slick attacks the ref and goes through the door to stop Hogan. Hogan kicks him off, and stops Bossman trying to escape, crotching him on the ropes. He takes the handcuffs out of Slick’s pocket and cuffs Bossman to the ropes. Bossman tries to get out of the door anyway, but he can’t quite reach. Slick tries desperately to unlock the cuffs before Hogan reaches the floor, but Hogan gets out just in time. That was a good, hot finish. But see, why is he attacking Bossman after the match and throwing Slick into the cage? He has already won. There is no need for that. Anyway there was an awful lot of effort there and a very strong story. A good, memorable blue bar cage match for the era. I enjoyed it.
Final Rating: ***½
Summary: That was a cracking tape. There was a far too often forgotten genuine classic between the Brainbusters and the Rockers, and a few belters in between. The bad stuff was short, and it wasn’t offensively bad, there was just nothing to it. This comes very highly recommended and ranks right up there with the best Coliseum compilation tapes.