May 22, 2009
Saturday Night’s Main Event #1, May 11, 1985, Taped May 10, 1985, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jesse “The Body” Ventura
Back in 1985, the WWF was gaining popularity by the day, and well on their way to establishing themselves as the top dog in wrestling on a national basis. NBC executive Dick Ebersol was aware of this and made a deal with Vince McMahon to bring pro wrestling back to network television for the first time in thirty or so years. Ebersol was producing Saturday Night Live at the time, and I believe was in charge of late night programming overall for NBC. The idea was that on occasional weeks where SNL would otherwise be airing a rerun, the WWF would instead take over the time slot for a special show called Saturday Night’s Main Event, which would feature the company’s biggest stars in major matches at a time when they rarely appeared on television. So here we are, about six weeks after Wrestlemania, with the major players from that show coming back together to tape what I guess could be considered a sort of pilot episode for the new concept.
They of course start out with the star power right off the bat, hoping to catch people who perhaps might not be familiar with wrestling. Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper cut a promo on Richter’s Title defense later on against the Fabulous Moolah, which is followed by Hulk Hogan and Mr. T getting hyped up for Hogan’s match against Cowboy Bob Orton. Then after the opening we get Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura to set up the rest of the show before getting underway.
Opening Match: The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, & George “The Animal” Steele (w/Fred Blassie) vs. Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo, & Ricky Steamboat (w/Lou Albano)
Back at Wrestlemania, Sheik and Volkoff defeated Windham and Rotundo to win the Tag Team Titles, so here we get sort of a rematch, but obviously with nothing on the line. Sheik and Windham start out with Windham taking immediate control. Sheik gets caught in the babyface corner as the make many quick tags and control him with some pretty basic stuff. Eventually Sheik gets Steamboat in an abdominal stretch, but Steamboat is quickly out of it. It then breaks down into a pier six, and the faces clear the ring as we go to commercial. We come back with Sheik and Steamboat still as the legal men and Steamboat maintaining control. He gets a powerslam, followed by a top rope dropkick and top rope bodypress for 2 as Volkoff has to save. Sheik finally gets the tag to Volkoff, but Windham gets the tag as well. Volkoff gets dropkicked for 2. Tag to Rotundo, who keeps up the offence with some legdrops, followed by a rollup for 2 and a backslide for 2. He tags Windham, who tries a sunset flip, but they get caught in the ropes. Volkoff tags Steele who engages in a slugfest with Windham, but when he goes to tag out, Sheik and Volkoff abandon him. There was no dissention teased or anything, so that really makes no sense. The ring results section shows that that these three teamed up on the 04/27 episode of Championship Wrestling against three jobbers, but if there was any issue between them developed there, it’s not mentioned. In all the confusion, Windham then rolls Steele up for 3 at 6:30 to a big reaction from the crowd. Sheik and Volkoff then attack Steele, again for no apparent reason, but he fights them off. Lou Albano, who was noted as being the former manager of Steele calms him down and he leaves as a new babyface. Seemed like kind of an odd match, not only for the out of the blue face turn, but also for the babyfaces total domination. I guess they were going for more of a feel good theme to the show or something. The match still gets *1/2 for some good work by Windham, Rotundo, and Steamboat.
Now we’re on to Piper’s Pit for the first confrontation between Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff since their breakup at Wrestlemania. Piper calls Orndorff a loser, while Orndorff takes exception to the fact that Piper and Orton abandoned him. This leads to an attempted attack by Piper, but Orndorff holds his own until Orton gets him from behind with the cast. Mr. T comes out to make the save and things are broken up from there. Gene Okerlund is with Hulk Hogan for his reaction to what just went down as well as thoughts on his upcoming Title match against Bob Orton. Hogan is happy about Orndorff’s change of heart.
WWF Championship Match: Hulk Hogan (w/Mr. T) vs. Cowboy Bob Orton (w/Roddy Piper)
Orton tries to attack, but Hogan sees it coming and nails him. Hogan gets a backdrop and three slams before Orton bails. Back in, Orton briefly takes over with a knee, but misses a charge to the corner. Hogan works over the injured arm, even ramming it to the post. Orton comes back with a high knee to gain control. Atomic drop gets 2, as does a couple of elbowsmashes. Eventually Hogan Hulks Up, but the formula isn’t quite down yet. He gets the clothesline and drops an elbow for 2. He mounts Orton for punches, but Orton atomic drops out of the corner. He sets Hogan up for the superplex, but gets knocked back. Hogan hits an elbow and connects with the legdrop, but Piper then nails him from the floor for the DQ at 6:54. All four guys end up in the ring with Piper and Orton getting the advantage, but then Paul Orndorff runs back in and the three of them clear the ring. Orndorff gives us our second face turn of the night as he poses in the ring with Hogan and T. As would become the trademark of SNME matches, this was short, but they kept a fast pace up which generally led to good results. **
Back to Mean Gene again who’s with Cyndi Lauper and Lou Albano. They talk more about the Richter/Moolah Title match later on and then we get to watch Lauper’s new video “The Goonies R Good Enough” which features Albano, Roddy Piper, Fred Blassie, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Fabulous Moolah, and Wendi Richter.
WWF Women’s Championship Match: Wendi Richter (w/Cyndi Lauper) vs. The Fabulous Moolah
But wait! Moolah has gotten an order from the WWF higher ups saying that Lauper is to be banned from ringside due to her repeated interference in previous matches. Although she doesn’t agree with the decision, Lauper leaves anyways and will be seen watching the match on a monitor backstage. Moolah controls early on, knocking Richter down and choking her on the ropes. She then tosses her outside and boots her off the apron. Moolah then stops to yell at the crowd, but that lets Richter recover and dropkick Moolah to the floor from behind. Back in the ring, Moolah gets a backdrop for 1. Richter fires back and drops her off the ropes for a 1 count. Moolah chokes her on the ropes and goes for a slam, but Richter cradles her for the 3 count at 3:26. Lauper returns for the post match celebration. This would be a case where length and pacing have nothing to do with quality since given who was involved, it was gonna suck anyways. DUD
Junkyard Dog (w/Bertha Ritter) vs. Pete Doherty
JYD has brought his mother with him tonight as it is Mother’s Day weekend after all. Gene gets a few words from her in the pre match interview, and she says that she hopes her son can come home soon. Is she shooting on the insane schedule the wrestlers were put on at this point? Anyways, JYD pretty much destroys The Duke at will, no selling the few weak shots he does take. Doherty tries going up, but gets slammed off. After a few more headbutts, the Thump Powerslam finishes Doherty off at 3:12. He dances with his mom in the ring afterwards. DUD
And to close things off here, Cyndi Lauper is hosting a Mother’s Day party. JYD and Hulk Hogan are there with their mothers. Sheik and Volkoff are there too, but not really happy about it. Blassie’s mother is apparently about forty years younger than he is. There’s also a giant cake there, so someone’s getting dirty. Indeed Fabulous Moolah crashes the scene and tells off Lauper’s mother which leads to Moolah and Gene getting shoved into the cake. Back over to Vince and Jesse who wrap things up with a recap of what we saw here tonight and that brings to an end SNME #1.
Well, this wasn’t really a great show, but certainly by the standards of the time, and for a show on free TV it was something special. Obviously it was successful, and so it got picked up as a regular show for the 1985-86 TV season and ran on NBC for the next six years. SNME was one of the elements that really put the WWF over the top as far as coming across as bigger than their competition and ultimately winning the war, so there’s also major historical importance here. Thumbs up for SNME #1 and a recommendation to make sure you see it at least once in your life.