Today, I embark on a journey not so dissimilar to what our own Chris Mullet is attempting with every Pay-Per-View on the WWE Network. In fact, he’s the one that tapped me to give this a shot.
I was reluctant at first to accept this mission, but the more I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that this could help bring about a sort of closure to the wrestling fandom of my childhood.
As a kid, I was only ever exposed to WWF Superstars, WCW Saturday Night, and PPVs taped on VHS and mailed down from Baltimore from my uncle. My tender age forbade me from staying up late enough to watch Saturday Night’s Main Event, and I thought the only thing on TBS was Atlanta Braves games . . . and I sure as hell wasn’t going to bore myself watching those.
Now looking back at the big picture, I can see just how much I missed. Sure, there were story recaps in between matches on PPVs, and that sufficed just fine as a child. But now as a full grown adult (that is also about to watch a few hundred, maybe thousands, of hours of wrestling and write about it), I intend on seeking out all of the nuance that I missed. I look forward to memorizing the entire guest list to Uncle Elmer’s wedding. I will be delighted to learn Diamond Dallas Page’s recipe for cooking Evad Sullivan’s bunny, Ralphie, into Rabbit Stew.
It’s time now to throw ourselves right into the middle of the Rock ‘N Wrestling Connection with the first ever episode of WWF’s Saturday Night’s Main Event!
#1 – SATURDAY NIGHT’S MAIN EVENT: MAY 11, 1985
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE: A two-shot of Cyndi Lauper (a pop star) giving Wendi Richter (a professional wrestler) notes on how to beat The Fabulous Moolah later in the evening.
-“Keep ya trunks stroyng, remembah, we come from our stomachs,” said Cyndi Lauper, providing the most in-ring psychology in women’s wrestling until about, let’s say, 2001.
-Hulk Hogan and Mr. T cut a promo against “Cowboy” Bob Orton and Roddy Piper while a random red-singleted jobber walks across the background.
-This is the WWF’s version of Saturday Night Live’s cold open, but instead of ending with “LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!” Hogan encourages you to “kick back, relax for Saturday Night’s Main Event.”
-CUE THE SYNTHISIZERS! We’re shown an opening full of clips from the last big (and first big) show, WrestleMania.
-Vince McMahon welcomes us to the Nassau Coliseum and introduces us to Jessie “The Body” Ventura, who never disappoints by looking like The Energizer Bunny tonight. That’s my second bunny reference already. I hope that doesn’t become my thing.
-Vince teases (warns) later on Cyndi Lauper’s Mother’s Day Party will be later on just as The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, George “The Animal” Steele, and “Classy” Freddie Blassie make their way to the ring.
-Vince throws it to Mean Gene Okerlund with Barry Windham, Mike Rotundo, Ricky Steamboat, and Captain Lou Albano. Captain Lou has a cigar and optometrist glasses in his hands.
-I just kind of want to Volkoff to sing any other song.
MATCH NUMBER ONE: SIX MAN TAG MATCH – The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff & George “The Animal” Steele w/ Classy Freddie Blassie v. The U.S. Express & Ricky Steamboat w/ Captain Lou Albano
-Iron Sheik with a leapfrog in 1985. Iron Sheik would shit himself playing Frogger in 2014.
-What began as a very well-paced and good opening to the match was thwarted when Steele and Volkoff had to take two hip tosses back-to-back. The scales of athleticism are tipped heavily in favor of one team in this match.
-Did someone just throw a tennis ball into the ring??? Yeah, they did. I have so many questions nowhere near pertaining to wrestling now.
-Yeah, Ricky Steamboat—we get it. You were a superior athlete in 1985. No need to show off and make the fat guys look bad.
-Nikolai Volkoff was definitely of his time, his time being that of standard definition and Technicolor. Thanks goodness for everyone involved.
-The U.S. Express had really damn good chemistry together. It’s like they were brothers-in-law or something.
-Steele’s partners say, “Fuck this, we’re gonna go smoke some pot” and abandon him of course leading to . . .
WINNERS: The U.S. Express & Ricky Steamboat via Barry Windham roll up on Steele.
-Animal eats a turnbuckle and gets jumped by Sheik and Volkoff. He fights them off with back hair power.
-I think it’d be really fun to be a man in your 40s and act like how The Animal did every once and a while.
-Times were simpler when a manager could also look like an eccentric substitute teacher.
FINAL WORD: Match was a decent showcase for the Windham, Rotundo, Steamboat & Sheiky Baby. Oh yeah, and Volkoff is the LVP so far because of, well, tradition.
-On our way now to an incredibly bare-bones set of Piper’s Pit and ANOTHER FUCKING TENNIS BALL!! Who sees someone walk into an arena with a canister of tennis balls and says to themselves, “Yeah, that’s kosher”?????
-Piper and Orton are out and welcome Paul Orndorff to sit and chat about what happened at WrestleMania.
-Orndorff obviously just came from coaching a softball game, as indicated by his shorts and socks.
-The biggest pop Orndorff ever got on the mic was stealing a Clint Eastwood line by telling Orton, “Go ahead . . . Make my day.” Currently, he tells kids to get off his lawn on a daily basis.
-I am so excited for all of the full-length Roddy Piper segments I’m going to watch for this diary.
-Orndorff looks like he’s cut from marble. His voice also sounds like it’s also cut from marble. I don’t know if that even makes sense, but if you listen to him in this segment, I think it will.
-Orton sets Piper up for the piledriver (guuhhh) to reveal Piper isn’t wearing wrestling trunks like normal, but actual briefs. Kayfabe shattered.
-Mr. T comes down to save Mr. Wonderful. How did they not tag together as Mister Mister? That is the first ever RICH'S RICHEST IDEA OF THE SHOW!!!
-CUT TO: Mean Gene with the Hulkster. Hogan should have worked more Mother’s Day matches just to get more use out of the phrase, “For my mother, brother.” It rings.
MATCH NUMBER TWO: WWF Heavyweight Championship Match - “Ace” “Cowboy” Bob Orton w/ “Rowdy” Roddy Piper v. Hulk Hogan w/ Mr. T (Champion)
-I never noticed it until later in life, but for the entirety of his time at the top, Hulk Hogan used heel tactics and maneuvers in his matches. For every babyface Hulkster match, I’m going to keep a running count of how many he uses per contest. Hogan bites Orton. Hogan Heel Tactic #1.
-Bob Orton is wearing his kneepads around his boots like they’re kickpads. If Orton starts throwing kicks like he’s KENTA, I’m leaving.
-Is that Erykah Badu’s grandmother at the timekeeper’s table?
-I think someone just tried to rush the ring because about eight security guards just ran to the bottom left of the screen. In other news, this match is very engrossing, obviously.
WINNER: Hulk Hogan via Disqualification after Piper punched Hogan during the pin to retain the title.
-All hell lets loose and Orndorff runs out to give the big ‘ol babies the three-on-two advantage.
FINAL WORD: That had the feel of something that would be booked today. The more things change . . .
-Okerlund is with Moolah, who is holding a scroll. Literally. This proclamation (their word) is from Julius Caesar and says Cyndi Lauper is banned from ringside.
-Okerlund now with Lauper, Richter and . . . that . . . other guy. Lauper doth protests too much and claims to have been choked at “WrestlingMania.”
-Between Lauper’s New York-ese and Richter’s thick southern drawl, that’s a whole lotta accent right there.
-People in the ‘80s were fucking grabby.
MATCH NUMBER THREE: WWF Lady’s Championship Match – Wendi Richter (Champion) v. The Fabulous Moolah
-Moolah looks ready for adult swim at the Rosedale Cabana Club.
-Moolah takes a nasty bump to the outside from a Richter dropkick to the back. She bounces back like she’s 23 years old.
-I was in the middle of writing a cheap early-bird dinner joke when Wendi Richter counters a suplex into a . . .
WINNER: Wendi Richter pins The Fabulous Moolah with a small package to retain the title.
FINAL WORD: See Cyndi? SHE DOESN’T NEED YOU.
-Vince throws to Mean Gene with The Junkyard Dog and his mother, Bertha.
-MATCH NUMBER FOUR: “The Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty v. The Junkyard Dog w/ Bertha
-Pete Doherty, you ugly fuck.
-Doherty’s chickenshit facial expressions, screaming, and over-exaggerated style of selling is actually pretty entertaining.
WINNER: JYD hits a powerslam into a pin.
-Mom hits the ring and proceeds to get down dancing with her son. It’s a moment.
FINAL WORD: I would have felt bad for Pete Doherty’s mom, but she probably hated him anyway. A quick and fun holiday squash match.
-We’re back from commercial and the party is underway!!!
-The Iron Sheik drinking probably-not-punch out of a pink cup just earned him the first MVP of the on the inaugural Saturday Night’s Main Event!
-Freddie Blassie’s “Mother,” Laura, is half his age, and he hired her personally to be there. Love it.
-When I get drunk, I want to be just like Captain Lou Albano.
-I had to rewind the tape, but yes, we have confirmation that Hulk Hogan is wearing cowboy boots.
-Wendi Richter’s mother couldn’t be bothered to make the trip to be on national television.
-The Fabulous Moolah crashes the party dressed like she’s in the final scene of The Rocky Horror Picture Show!!! My own mother showed me that movie when I was eight years old, which is way too early, and I may have never recovered. Just for bringing back those wonderful memories, Moolah is the new MVP of this SNME! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
-Uh-oh. I see a cake ominously looming in the foreground.
-Mean Gene takes the brunt of the cake while Moolah takes some collateral damage.
-Back to Vince and Jessie recapping the show and signing off. CUE THE SYNTH AND THE CLOSING CREDITS.
-I encourage you to read these credits like it’s the end of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Or perhaps these names in the voice of a certain reoccurring guest on the podcast . . .
-Music Consultant: Cyndi Lauper! What kind of backdoor dealing, insider trading, “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” shenanigans is this??
-This was a co-production of Titan Sports Inc. (yeah, OK, I figured that) and Once a Month Productions, Inc. (OHHH, COME ON! With all the dirty fucks in the wrestling industry, they knew exactly what they were doing with that name).
THE LAST IMAGE: Hulk Hogan on the apron pointing into the ring.
THE WRAP UP
FINAL MVP OF THE SHOW: Moolah’s outfit was great and insane, but I’ve got to go back to The Iron Sheik for heavily carrying his team in the opening match of the show. And the pink cup.
FINAL LVP OF THE SHOW: Fuckin’ Nikolai Volkoff.
MY FAVORITE SEGMENT: Piper’s Pit.
MY LEAST FAVORITE SEGMENT: Hulk Hogan v. Bob Orton
WWE HALL OF FAMERS ON THE SHOW: 17* (Hulk Hogan, Wendi Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, Mr. T, Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, George Steele, Freddie Blassie, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Captain Lou Albano, Bob Orton, Paul Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, Jessie Ventura, and Mean Gene Okerlund)
*The only non-HoFers on this show were Cyndi Lauper, Mike Rotundo, Vince McMahon, and “The Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty.
DEARLY DEPARTED ON THE SHOW: 4 (The Fabulous Moolah, Freddie Blassie, Lou Albano, and Junkyard Dog)
FINAL THOUGHT: Watch this show for the same reasons you would watch the first WrestleMania. The pacing and staging of the show seems disjointed, but there’s enough in that first half to have definitely made an impact. I also feel like I really underrated The U.S. Express and Ricky Steamboat simply because they met expectations, which they shouldn’t be punished for, but they were just as good as they always are. Which is really good. RICH RECOMMENDS.
NEXT TIME: S01E02 of Saturday Night’s Main Event, and what’s that in the thumbnail on the Network? I see a wedding vaaaaaaiiiiillllllllll!