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WWF Saturday Night's Main Event episode 28 review: Ultimate Warrior/Legion Of Doom vs. Demolition, Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter's Iraq character debuts

WWF Oktoberfest

By Josh Nason, Wrestling Observer

The times, they are a changin’.

Over the course of watching 20+ editions of WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event, I can now say that we’re officially on the back nine when it comes to quality and enjoyment level. The 28th edition did feature some classic camp, but the wrestling quality was akin to the talent in the ring: big and bloated.

The impending Survivor Series was a focus with nearly all tag team matches on the show. We also got the next chapter leading toward a major Wrestlemania match in addition to the SNME debut of a figure that tried to play off the U.S./Iraq war to less than optimal results. This, my friends, is the end of the good times.

If you’re new, welcome! This is the latest edition of our 41-week journey through every edition of SNME and The Main Event on the WWE Network. With no star ratings and little snark, these are the musings of a 37-year-old with a dream assignment: to relive my childhood 66 minutes at a time.

(For those returning, you may be saying, “Wait, I thought it was 36 weeks?” My bad on the math: there were 36 SNMEs and five TMEs. Just like that, the final 10 begin next Saturday. I’ll bring the tissues.)

  • Airdate: October 13, 1990
  • Taped: September 18, 1990
  • Runtime: 66 minutes
  • Location: Toledo, OH | Toledo Sports Arena

Interestingly, they never bothered saying they were in Toledo, likely because Vince McMahon thought it made them seem too small. A jubilant McMahon tells us it’s Oktoberfest and we open with several wrestlers enjoying the festivities off-site. He was in his glory throughout the show with German references. Give it to WWF at the time: when they had a theme on SNME, they went all in.

Gene Okerlund

Vince is back in front of the green screen and gives a heavily German-themed intro to Roddy Piper who is wearing no shirt and lederhosen. Yes, Jesse Ventura is no longer in WWF, having left the organization in August 1990 due to a dispute with McMahon over video game money. We didn’t even get a chance to say good-bye. Remember that up to this point, Ventura had only missed one show leading to Bobby Heenan filling in.

Roddy Piper Oktoberfest 

WWF World Champion Ultimate Warrior/Legion Of Doom vs. Demolition (Ax/Smash/Crush)

All the talents were told about the theme as during this promo, Ax says they’re “in a real partying mood”. We flip to the LOD. Animal explains they “are the original party animals.” Hawk says that while the Dems blamed them for costing them the tag titles, what are they doing to do? “...Cry in your beer? Sob in your schnitzel? Whimper over your weiners?” Warrior then appears out of the bottom of the frame and starts yelling, “Blitzkrieg! Blitzkrieg! Blitzkrieg!”

My guess is the technical prowess isn’t going to be too high in his one.

I remember watching this match as a kid and being fascinated that all six men had painted faces. Warrior is still rocking the Warrior symbols on his cheeks rather than the full face. He’s also in black trunks and kneepads which looks pretty cool if I do say so myself.

We get a glimpse at ringside and see Dustin Rhodes. Piper says, “Oh, do you know who that is?” McMahon: “Nope.” Piper says he recognized him as he and Dusty both have blonde hair. Poor Dustin had no idea what was coming.

Dustin Rhodes

Back in the day, the Dems vs. LOD was a dream match but similar to when WWF could finally do Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair, they just kinda had them fight and didn’t build up to it as a big deal. I was always annoyed by that mentality. Why weren’t they excited as we were for it? Instead of waiting for a big Mania match, I believe this was their first official tangle. What’s up with that?

After Warrior took most of the match, Hawk got the hot tag and ran roughshod over everyone. Warrior then got tagged in again and suddenly regained his energy. A clothesline and shoulderblock on Smash later, Warrior got the pin and win for his team. I wouldn’t call this a squash, but Demolition didn’t look that strong here at all. I think Animal may have got in the ring for about 35 seconds.

McMahon sends it to “Mean” Gene Okerlund who is at Oktoberfest. This is going to be good. I can feel it already. They’re playing “Roll Out The Barrell” and I think I spot Gladys Gibson in the background somewhere.

The Genius, SNME MVP runner-up Mr. Fuji, the Orient Express, Slick, Akeem, Jim Duggan, the Hart Foundation, and the Bushwackers are all there and all decked out in the traditional garb. Okerlund then sends it to “Lord” Alfred Hayes who is drinking with one of the brewmasters.

Mr. Fuji

“Macho King” Randy Savage (w/Queen Sherri) vs. Dusty Rhodes

We’re back from break and Savage is nearly in the ring. Piper starts talking about kings and mentions Don King, Martin Luther King, Larry King, and a king he has in his house that is a dog. He then starts barking like a dog. Can we get Jesse back?

McMahon and Piper talk about how Savage wants to challenge Warrior for the title and how recently, Sherri slapped him in the face three times. Thus, the build toward the Mania 7 retirement match is in full motion. Out comes a non-dancing serious Rhodes, rocking a top hat and leather polka dot poncho that would have Zac Brown nodding his head in approval. McMahon: “I have a thing for polka dots. What can I say?”

Sapphire isn’t with Rhodes as apparently he lost her to Ted DiBiase. He hugs Dustin at ringside while Savage rips up a poster of Warrior that a fan waves in his face. Savage is in full steroid power down sleeveless shirt and tights.

As Sherri gets up on the apron, Piper opines, “Try to kick her out of the Patriots locker room!” -- a nod to the NFL scandal of the era where female reporter Lisa Olson was harassed in the New England Patriots locker room in a much different era than today.

DiBiase and Virgil make their way through the crowd and pay the fans at ringside to take a walk. Then, they make their way over to Rhodes who tears up the $100 bill and throws it in Virgil’s face. They sit next to him and DiBiase yanks him down as he cheers for his dad. Meanwhile, action is going on in the ring but no one is paying attention.

Dustin Rhodes

I remember Rhodes vs. Savage being a decent feud back in the day, but this match didn’t do much for me. The focus was on DiBiase and Dustin at ringside with the match acting as a backdrop. DiBiase yanks Dustin down again, which leads to him punching Deebs and Virgil. The two then kick Dustin’s ass on the outside of the ring, busting him open with a wooden chair, but Dusty doesn’t see any of it. Dusty then comes outside to save his son and gets distracted, leading to Savage connecting on a double axehandle and a lackluster countout win.

Deebs and Virgil attack the Rhodes men, and Dusty covers up Dustin to save him from further damage. Dusty was screaming, “My son! Noooooo! My boy!” This whole angle would end in a few months as the four men would battle in a tag match at the ‘91 Royal Rumble with the Rhodes men leaving for WCW afterward.

Dustin Rhodes 

We go to Sean Mooney with Hulk Hogan and Tugboat. Hogan talks about the Autobahn and makes some additional German references that nearly make Mooney break up laughing. Hogan is still focused on Jimmy Hart, Earthquake, and Dino Bravo, and notes that they want to send a message to the other team in Hart’s family in Rhythm and Blues. To no surprise, Tugboat gives a promo that is forgettable.

Hogan then closes with “Whatcha gonna do when Air Hogan and Air Tugboat Bavarian cream you?” Yes, he actually said that.

Back to Oktoberfest and Gene is with the Bushwhackers who are cutting up cheese. We get such classics as “We’re cutting the cheese, mate!” Butch is wearing a baseball cap made to look like swiss cheese. Butch then cuts “toe cheese” and gives it to Luke who eats it. Luke then gives Butch some “From Under” cheese. Butch takes a bite of his hat, and says it’s “head cheese”.

Your newest WWE Hall of Fame inductees, ladies and gents!

Bushwhackers

I’m glad my wife was out of the room while this was on or else I might be looking for a new place to live.

Back to Oktoberfest and Gene sends us to Hayes who is doing a gimmick of not being able to hear anyone as his earpiece is out. He is still drinking and talking off the ear off the brewmaster. He’s supposed to be drunk, you see, but isn’t slurring his speech.

Hulk Hogan/Tugboat vs. Rhythm & Blues (Honky Tonk Man/Greg Valentine) w/Jimmy Hart

HTM and Valentine (wearing blue trunks with “Suspicious Minds” written on the back) are already in the ring with Hart, but thankfully, we do get Tugboat’s entrance. As Hogan enters, I feel obliged to let you know the backstage bandanna to in-arena headband streak continues. The fans were still into Hogan despite him tagging up with a man called Tugboat dressed up in a ridiculous outfit. This whole angle has felt very cartoony.

As Valentine and HTM work over Hogan, I wonder how the conversation went with Valentine about dying his hair black. As Tugboat later works over Valentine’s arm, McMahon flips to the “boat references” part of his script and starts talking about sterns, bows, portside, etc. He was something else tonight, perhaps emboldened by Ventura’s absence. Honestly, this match could have used some Ventura.

Hogan was running wild, sending the diminutive manager Hart scurrying to the back to get Quake and Bravo who were stopped in the aisleway by various officials. I like that Hart had to go to the back to alert them as to what was going on. The end mercifully came when HTM hit Tugboat in the back with a guitar for the DQ.

Bravo and Quake then came out (after the match, all rules go out the window) and all five heels attacked Hogan as Tugger was still reeling on the outside of the ring. I was hoping Quake would wear his feces brown singlet, but he stuck with his light blue deal with the word ‘Earthquake’ and the seismic reading graphic instead. Just as Quake was going for his finish on Hogan, Tugboat nailed him with the guitar and cleaned house. The shot looked to have hit Quake’s head which must have felt good.

So far, the match quality on this SNME has not been great.

The Genius

We go back to Oktoberfest and Gene is with a blonde wig wearing Genius, a “member of the sausage stuffers Hall of Fame”. Alright, then. He is presiding over a sausage stuffing competition between Duggan and the Hart Foundation vs. the Orient Express and Fuji.  As time winds down on this contest, Fuji nefariously brings out two giant filled sausages, throwing everyone into a tizzy.

Mr. Fuji

“We’re not going to be able to pick a weiner...I mean winner,” says an exasperated Gene. COMEDY!

Hart Foundation 

We go back to an increasingly drunk Hayes who is telling fisherman jokes as the collection of steins racks up behind him.

44:10

WWF Intercontinental Champion “Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich vs. Haku (w/Bobby Heenan)

Since we last saw KVE, he’s now wearing WWF gold. We are told that Heenan accepted KVE’s challenge on 10 days notice to battle Mr. Perfect which resulted in a new champion. McMahon puts over the claw hold saying that when KVE clamps it on, he has “five times the average man’s strength.”

KVE clamps on the aforementioned claw on Haku, but because of his head, he doesn’t submit. This isn’t actually given as a reason, but I know my history, folks. KVE then hits him with the discus punch for the pin. The focus was on Heenan for most of the match, but that didn’t end up turning into anything.

Hogan and Tugboat are with Mooney. Hogan is now making nautical references like “aye, aye captain” and “steady as she goes”. Mooney says, “Looks like you’re ready for a war at sea.” Hogan builds up their Survivor Series match by calling Quake and Bravo “little tuna fishes”. I can see why the NWA was seen as a safe haven for those wanting more adult-focused wrestling.

Sgt. Slaughter (w/General Adnan) vs. Koko Ware

In our SNME Death Spot Match Of The Night, we get our first SNME look at the Iraqi sympathic Slaughter. We’re told Adnan grew up with Saddam Hussein as Slaughter looks amazingly uncomfortable with this whole deal. McMahon gives a rant on free speech that he worked on for two weeks.

As Slaughter claims a hair pull, Piper quips that he has one three foot strand that he coils around the top of his head. Like in Mr. Perfect’s SNME debut against him, Ware stands even with Slaughter for much of the match. The end comes when Ware gets dropped throat-first on the top rope and Slaughter does a knuckle rub into his temple for the submission win. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that.

The fans suddenly start cheering as Nikolai Volkoff appears on the interview podium, waving the American flag. Slaughter then waves the Iraq flag and we’re apparently heading toward a showdown between the two. If only Jim Duggan wasn’t at Oktoberfest...

Speaking of, we go back to Oktoberfest and a dance-off between Neidhart and Slick which is quite tremendous, made better by Neidhart wearing his wrestling boots. Gene sends us to Hayes who is more drunk and still telling fishermen jokes. A food fight breaks out because that’s what happens when wrestlers are around food on WWF TV. The other attendees at this event must have been mortified.

However, it did lead to this amazing graphic:

Mr. Fuji Food Fight

Mooney is with Warrior, now in full face paint. Mooney asks him about the Sherri challenge on behalf of Savage which he accepts. We flip to Piper with Savage and Sherri. Piper asks about the slaps which “excuse the pun, started quite a furor”. Somewhere, McMahon was chuckling. Savage is wearing all neon and nothing that indicates he’s the Macho King. As Sherri leaves, Piper slaps her ass and says, “Farfegnugen.”

McMahon and Piper send it back to Oktoberfest one last time where the food fight is still kind of going on. Gene and Hayes are arguing about why Hayes didn’t put the earpiece in his ear. Gene then grabs a cake and throws it at Hayes’ chest, blowing the spot. He then retrieves it and puts it in Hayes’ face as Hayes is smiling ear to ear. Thus ended a very odd edition of SNME.

Historically, where does this show put us? Warrior was between feuds but heading toward a collision with Savage. WWF didn’t believe in the LOD vs. Demolition as a hot feud. Hogan vs. Earthquake was still a thing for some reason. KVE was our I-C champion but not presented as major force. It was a transition into an era that wasn’t known for a plethora of great WWF matches but heavily reliant on cartoonish characters and older talent.

The final SNME of 1990 awaits. See you next Saturday!