On This Day: May 27, 1989 – Saturday Night’s Main Event #21: A Very Famous Cage Match

Saturday Nights Main Event 21
Date: May 27, 1989
Location: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa
Commentators: Jesse Ventura, Vince McMahon

This is actually kind of a famous show if nothing else for one match. It’s the first big show after Mania 5 so Hogan is world champion once again, I believe for only the second time actually. He’s defending the title against Boss Man in a cage match that I’m sure a lot of you have seen. It’s famous for one big bump and not much else. This should be fun though as we’re in a transitional period around this time with Hogan being champion but Warrior on the rise. It’s a new beginning really so let’s get to it.

We open with a promo from Hogan inside a cage. Generic but fine. Pretty sure there’s only one cage wall there and he’s in front of a green screen.

Cue theme song.

Who would have believed that at the end of the day, Vince McMahon would win more WWF titles than Jesse? That’s just amusing. We run down what sounds like a decent card.

We get a clip of Mania where Rude won the IC Title from Warrior with the famous finish of Heenan holding the leg. Heenan says win at any cost. This is his first title? Really?

Intercontinental Title: Rick Rude vs. Jim Duggan

Oh and Duggan is now King. It’s by far the least remembered of the reigns with that, including King Haku. The belt looks extra shiny here. Duggan with the crown looks hilarious. It’s Memorial Day Weekend if nothing else so there’s a point to the patriotic gimmick if nothing else. He comes out to what would become Lawler’s music. I always loved the jobbers carrying the throne to the ring.

It’s like “do your job people before I squash you.” Jesse mentions that he used to be a Navy SEAL. That’s just awesome. Duggan uses the robe as a bull cape which is kind of funny I guess. Duggan takes over early as you would expect him to. Rude gets a boot up to stop though and we go into something a bit more traditional. The tights Rude wore were completely awesome. Duggan is RIDICULOUSLY over.

We get a false finish as Duggan gets the pin but Rude’s foot is on the rope. Here’s Haku who Duggan beat for the crown. Rude makes a comeback but rams Duggan’s head into the buckle which of course doesn’t work at all. Duggan gets a normal comeback for him but a hot crowd is helping a lot. The clothesline hits and Duggan wins by countout. His music changes when he wins for some reason.

Rating: C-. Not terrible for what it was. This definitely got the crowd into things to say the least. It was a TV match and that’s all it was supposed to be. On Memorial Day, this is perfectly acceptable. Not great, but it was certainly watchable.

Jim Neidhart is with Gene. He has….RANDY SAVAGE tonight? HUH? Anvil vs. Savage? Why? According to Neidhart to get to Hogan, Savage has to go through Anvil. WHAT?

Vince thinks Anvil will win. I want some of the cocaine he’s on to say that.

Savage says he’s looking to the future and wants Hogan again. Sherri is his new manager too. That went on for about two years which is far longer than I would have thought.

Jim Neidhart vs. Randy Savage

Ok seriously, who is Savage fighting tonight? This joke has gone on long enough. Who is Savage really fighting? Nothing against Anvil as he’s fine, but dude, this is RANDY SAVAGE and it’s less than 2 months since his year long title reign ended at Wrestlemania. Why is Anvil out there for this? It just doesn’t make anything resembling sense at all.

They’re making this out to be Savage vs. Bret circa 1992. When did Anvil and Hogan become buddies? Sherri grabs the leg of course and it does nothing of note. Neidhart hooks a bearhug as I’m not even sure what I’m watching. Again, it’s not bad. It’s just odd. We get a great piece of insight from Vince: Sherri is a different human being than Liz.

You mean, they don’t just put different wigs and outfits on them and hope we don’t notice? THANK YOU OWNER OF THE STUPID COMPANY! Sweet goodness she’s freaky looking. Anvil gets a BIG kick out, likely throwing Savage high enough in the air that he could have hit the top rope. That’s borderline Yokozuna levels. Anvil gets a slingshot shoulder block which would freaking HURT.

Notice the cameras always getting shots of Sherri’s back. It’s clear Vince was running the company back then given what we know now. This is more or less ALL Anvil here. Sherri unhooks Anvil when his arms are tied up and it lets Savage reset the universe to its natural order as he takes over. Wow that was a long sentence. The elbow finishes soon after.

Rating: B-. This was WAY better than it had any right to be. I don’t think anyone was idiotic enough to think that Anvil was going to win, but still it was nice to see him get in such a long stretch of offense and have time being in control. This was a decent enough match and it got Sherri over as a threat to Savage’s opponents, which was the point here. Not bad at all.

Slick and Boss Man say they’re ready for Hogan. Slick is Jesse’s height. That’s very odd indeed. Boss Man is just pure fat here. In 90-91 he would drop about 90 pounds and become freaking lethal. Slick says there’s a surprise for Hogan.

WWF Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Big Boss Man

This is in a cage remember. Slick says that the surprise is Zeus. He stands on the steps and slams the cage door, blocking Hogan’s entrance. Dang it I was hoping I was done with this guy. Ok here’s the concept of Zeus. Hogan made a movie called No Holds Barred.

The main villain in that movie was named Tom Lister, playing the character of Zeus, a monster fighter that was a crazed wrestler. Hogan played a character that more or less was himself named Rip. At the end of the movie, Rip beats Zeus as you would expect him to. So what this would be is Zeus the character coming after the actor that played the character Rip.

In other words, a character played by an actor is coming after a character played by a character played by Terry Bollea. Now here’s the big problem: LISTER CANNOT WRESTLE. Vince of course contemplated putting him vs. Hogan in SkyDome at Mania 6 for the title. Yeah around this time WWF was in REAL financial trouble until Mania saved the freaking company. Anyway, this is Zeus’ debut.

Remember, this is a movie character going after an actor that played a character that beat his character up. Yeah it was idiotic but oddly enough few got the problem, mainly because most kids were so freaked out by Zeus, including me, that they didn’t get how stupid this was. Oh and remember Hogan hasn’t even come to the arena yet.

We get a clip of No Holds Barred, showing Zeus beating up a street fighter. That movie needs to be on DVD. It just does. Hogan comes out and can’t get in. Zeus beats Hogan down as you would expect. Remember, this would be like Christian Bale claiming to be Batman beating up Liam Neeson. Not Ra’s-as-Ghul, but Liam Neeson. Boss Man dominates early but here comes the champion as you would expect.

See here, the fans are cheering and money was coming in. BIG difference to today. He hits what would be called a spinebuster on Hogan but doesn’t have a name other than “look at that maneuver!” Boss Man gets over the top of the cage but since Boss Man can’t climb down with any kind of speed, Hogan gets there in time. We then get the mega spot of the match, which really isn’t much by today’s standards.

With Boss Man on the top of the cage and Hogan on the top rope, Hogan suplexes Boss Man to the mat. I think it’s because of the size and era that this is considered such a great bump. They’re up about 45 seconds later and everything is fine. Boss Man has handcuffs which don’t work of course. Ah never mind it’s just a chain. Both guys get rammed into the cage and they’re both down.

This time it’s just for a few seconds though. Boss Man is bleeding a bit. The usual stuff ends it as Hogan goes over the top to get to the floor. For those of you that don’t remember, Slick is more or less Pope minus wrestling. I forgot to mention that Slick runs in and there’s a mix up, causing Boss Man to get cuffed to the rope. Hogan beats Slick up afterwards.

Rating: B-. It’s a Hogan cage match. That’s all there is to it. The bump is nice, but other than that there just isn’t much here. Hogan vs. a monster was where he was at his best and this came off just fine. It’s no classic or anything, but for a TV match this was quite good.

Jesse is with the Brainbusters and Heenan who says he’s getting the tag belts tonight. The wrestlers, shockingly enough, agree. Seeing Anderson in a WWF ring is always just weird to see.

Demolition say their usual awesome stuff.

Tag Titles: Brainbusters vs. Demolition

Dang that Demolition music is awesome. The red tongues were always a nice touch too. Tully and Smash start. I wonder if Darsow as Krusher Khrushchev ever fought the Horsemen. I wouldn’t think so. Arn gets the tar beaten out of him. Jesse talks about how often Demolition tags in and out. THAT is what an analyst is supposed to do. So far this has been a total squash.

In what I think was a mistake, Tully gets knocked over the top and lands on Bobby. I think that was a mistake. Ah there we are as the Busters take over for once. Tully is a master of getting people riled up. Smash is the…..whatever the heck you call Demolition, in peril here as we hit the double knockdown.

In a very unique move, Tully sneaks to the floor and pulls Axe down so Smash can’t make the tag. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Smash throws the referee across the ring for the DQ. There would be a rematch on the next SNME.

Rating: C. Formula stuff and it worked just fine. The ending was weak though, although it set up a rematch so I can’t complain there. This wasn’t a classic or anything, but it came off pretty well. Me liking both teams likely has something to do with it though.

Savage says he wants Hogan.

Boris Zhukov vs. Jimmy Snuka

This is your run of the mill “we’ve got like 4 minutes left and no one major other than Hogan hasn’t been interviewed yet so here’s a worthless match for you” match to close the show. The splash ends this in MAYBE a minute.

Rating: N/A. The description of the match I wrote sums this up perfectly.

Hogan yells about Zeus and every word he says makes this whole angle seem all the more stupid. Vince is listed as the Executive Producer in the credits. How did we never catch onto that?

Overall Rating: B+. That’s higher than any of the matches, but this was a VERY good show. There’s nothing bad on here and everything came off really well. For a free TV show, this was freaking great. Three title matches, a better than it should have been Savage match and a squash with a cool finishers makes this great. Loved it.


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