Arnold Furious: The more Coliseum Video home releases I watch, the more I feel the WWF simply didn’t know what they were doing. Often tapes contained absolutely weird selections. So it’s probably no surprise that eventually someone within the WWF felt the same way and Columbia House got to try its hand at a few comps. This is a collection of the best matches from Saturday Night’s Main Event.
Macho Man Randy Savage (c) vs. Andre the Giant
From November 1988 with Savage defending his WWF title. Savage’s title reign suffered from Randy’s inability to get out of Hogan’s shadow and this is the kind of match where that shows. Hogan would go toe-to-toe with Andre, even when Hogan was a heel. Savage has to use different tactics as striking and even grappling leaves him at a huge disadvantage. Savage, regardless of his disadvantages within this clash, feels he has to beat Andre by himself to measure up to Hogan’s previous title run. This being 1988, Andre is almost completely immobile and all the motivation in the world from Savage can’t drag anything good out the situation. Andre’s approach is to simply grab Savage and hold on so he can’t run around or hit the ropes or do anything interesting. It’s not that Andre won’t sell and he does struggle a bit as Savage jabs at him during his comeback. Jake Roberts strolls out here, which would be bad news for Savage in the future, although in 1988 he’s here for the Giant. He stashes Damien under the ring, which Andre finds distracting. The storyline becomes about Bobby Heenan searching for the snake bag while Andre clubs away distractedly. Jake runs Heenan into the ring and that’s a DQ. Heenan takes the best bump of the match at its conclusion. Painful, like the majority of Andre’s single matches after WrestleMania III. While the storyline was clearly important to the WWF, the title is surely more important and Jesse Ventura gets irate about the whole situation. And rightly so. Once again, Savage fails to escape Hogan’s shadow as he needed help to retain his title and his tactics were unable to get Andre into significant trouble.
Final Rating: ¼*
Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior vs. Mr. Perfect & The Genius
We flash forward to January 1990 ahead of the showdown between the babyface duo at WrestleMania VI. Given Genius’ lack of status it’s a borderline squash, albeit extremely extended. Perfect’s willingness to oversell at the drop of a hat makes the difference between the two teams even more obvious. At one point he bumps a back elbow in the corner over the top rope to the floor. A back elbow! It’s beyond overselling and into comical overselling, as if he wanted both faces to look like goofballs. Hogan gets wise to it after Perfect does a 360 flip bump off a shoulderblock, which is taking the piss, and decides to slam and punch him instead. Hogan gets picked off after taking the scroll to the face, but he’s never in any danger. He can’t muster the effort to sell hard for Perfect, perhaps regarding Perfect’s own selling as a mockery. The weird thing is; Perfect hits the Perfectplex and stops the ref’s count himself. Hogan didn’t look like kicking out. It doesn’t make sense to me. Perfect had ego issues; he would want to pin Hogan. The insinuation is that he wants Genius to get the pin. Warrior gets the hot tag and finishes off Genius only for Hogan to tag in blind for the glory legdrop (hitting it from completely the wrong angle in the process). If Warrior was any kind of storyteller he’d have given Hogan a funny look at the very least. Instead Warrior goes on a post-match clothesline rampage where he accidentally clocks Hogan along with the heels. Naturally the Hulkster takes exception and gets in the IC champ’s face about it. A good storyline, only partially well executed, although Perfect’s insistence on making fun of both babyfaces via his own unique brand on in-ring ribbing pretty much ruined the contest.
Final Rating: *¼
The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers
From April 1990 where the Harts were in line for a tag title shot at Demolition as babyfaces, but work slightly heel as they often did against smaller teams. Whenever Bret is in there the action is fast and frantic with the counters coming at pace. Bret vs. Shawn is particularly good, and it’s only the Rockers double teaming that isn’t clean. Shawn even gets a few jollies out of Anvil, slipping out of a slam to hit a dropkick in a lovely fluid counter. I’m sure I’m in the majority when I say I could watch Bret and Shawn all day long. The Harts take the double teaming, which might come as a surprise, but they do so by keeping it simple and not coming close to screwing anything up. Demolition come out to scout the situation, which gets Bret picked off. But then they remember The Rockers were more face than them, and switch to Shawn. Jannetty gets a wee bit cocky after the hot tag and points to Demolition before superkicking Bret (one of the finest superkicks Jannetty ever delivered). Shawn gets back in to try and oversell more than Perfect in the last match, but he only manages one excessive flip off an Anvil shoulderblock rather than a flip and a twist. Jannetty, ever the hothead, belts Ax in the back of the head for getting a bit close to Shawn and we get a double DQ. At around 9-minutes it was never going to be a classic but it’s certainly a strong match up. But then pretty much everything where Bret and Shawn collided was fried gold.
Final Rating: ***¼
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Mr. Perfect (c) vs. Tito Santana
From July 1990 and here Perfect’s selling is way better than against Hogan and Warrior. He does still oversell like flying into the air like a fish out of water on a chop. But other bumps are just epic without the flips and twists, like flying over the top rope in the early going or taking a shot to the jaw and staggering ever so slightly around the ring before collapsing in a heap. It’s just a pity he felt the need to go OTT on such a regular basis, but then people always remember Perfect for his outrageous bumping. It’s a signature. Tito gets a lot of sympathy spots before taking Perfect out with the figure four, but poor Earl Hebner drops, selling his knee. The bumping is so contagious that the ref is doing it! Tito gives up on that and hits the flying forearm, only for Perfect to kick out when Earl’s guppy knee allowed him to only make a two count. Earl’s writhing around between near falls is almost as epic as Perfect’s early bumps. Tito gets a succession of near falls off Earl’s slow counts and then a few more off a replacement ref. The crowd gets increasingly into the possibility of a belt change based on how Perfect is struggling to stay in it. Perfect takes a few shots to the groin for a little extra comedy to go with the tension. Tito sees the Perfectplex coming and rolls Perfect up, only for Hennig to switch his weight and score the pin in a tremendous finish. The teases and false finishes were ahead of their time and Perfect certainly busted a gut to make the veteran Santana look like IC title material. This match would not have been out of place at any point in WWF history. It’s timeless.
Final Rating: ***½
Hulk Hogan & Tugboat vs. Rhythm and Blues
From October 1990, during a truly awful phase in WWF history where the WWF’s top star, Hogan, started hanging around with a fat, useless sailor. Having Tugboat in the match is bad enough but R&B run heat on him too. The lengthy segment is only made slightly more bearable by Roddy Piper’s insistence at screaming “CMON TUGGER” on commentary. R&B run a business exposing missed double elbow drop before everyone starts selling like crazy for the Hulkster. The stupidity in the booking is downright sickening. Tugboat stops Hogan dropping the leg and, yanno, WINNING, to point out Earthquake is somewhere near to the ring area and might possibly, at some point in the future, cause a problem. Maybe. Or you could have waited three seconds to tell him that, you fat, worthless fuck, and just won the match that way. Tugboat is made to pay for his folly when Honky Tonk Man smacks him in the back with his guitar. Hogan beats up the heels for a bit until Quake runs in and squashes him, which you’d think he’d have been prepared for considering Tugboat’s earlier warning.
Final Rating: ½*
Summary: Some “interesting” choices for a best of comp. Two bad Hogan matches and one of Savage’s worst possible matches from SNME. Plus two matches that would actually qualify for a best of tape. It makes me think someone who knew workrate was involved in the selection process along with someone who didn’t. A real mix, but I was happy to see Harts vs. Rockers and Perfect vs. Tito, both are good stuff.