WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event #21 Review – 05.27.1989

Welcome everyone to my review of the 21st edition of SNME, this one featuring the famous cage match between Hogan and Bossman. The wrestlers will be given points in this show as usual.

Before starting, here is the list of champions in the WWF heading into this show:

  • WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan
  • Intercontinental Champion: Rick Rude
  • Tag Team Champions: Demolition (Ax & Smash)
  • Women’s Champion: Rockin’ Robin

Enjoy the review!

The hosts are Vince McMahon & Jesse Ventura

Taped in Des Moines, Iowa

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Rick Rude(c)(w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. King Jim Duggan

Duggan became the new “king” of the WWF a week or two before this show aired, having defeated the then King Haku on TV. Hard lockup gets things going, as Rude immediately does his best to make JIM DUGGAN look like King Kong. Duggan runs wild with a suplex, clotheslines and knees as Rude bumps all over the ring for him. Duggan drops Rude with three consecutive clotheslines, and when Rude gets up to his feet for what would be a fourth one, he immediately goes back down in a front bump. What a wrestler Rick Rude was. Duggan ends up missing a charge in the corner, though, and Rude drops a fist for two. However, in typical Rick Rude fashion, his celebration ends up costing him as Duggan gives him an atomic drop while he shows the young ladies what a ravishing man looks like. And Rude sells the atomic drop like death. Duggan follows it up with a piledriver, but Haku comes out to distract Duggan as we take a break.


We return with Haku already gone from ringside, but with his distraction being felt as Rude takes advantage to hit a dropkick for two. Duggan escapes a chinlock but his comeback ends up going nowhere. Rude drops a flying fistdrop off the top, and immediately slides to the camera in the opposite corner and starts blowing kisses. Spectacular timing, in-ring presence and character work all in one move. That ends up giving Duggan enough time to make his big comeback, though, and the Three-Point Clothesline dumps Rude. Rude is more than happy to keep his title, and apparently so is Duggan since he counts along with the ref instead of wanting to become a champion. Rude gets officially counted-out to retain at 07:15.

  • Analysis: Rick Rude is probably the most generous professional wrestler ever. Not only did he do what he did for Warrior in all of their bouts, but also doing everything he could to make Jim Duggan look like a credible contender here. He was determined to make this memorable, and it’s probably the best Jim Duggan match I have ever seen. I know that doesn’t say much, but you get the point! It was enjoyable and the crowd was into it. **

Randy Savage(w/ Sensational Sherri) vs. Jim Neidhart

Savage has just replaced Miss Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri a month or so prior to this on the Brother Love Show. Meanwhile, Anvil and his Foundation partner Bret Hart were involved in singles feuds at this point for some reason. Neidhart was feuding with one of the Powers of Pain while Bret was starting a feud with… Mr. Perfect! It didn’t last long, though, as they were back together shortly after this and would win the tag belts again before the split really happened. Hard lockup to start, much like in the opener, with Sherri already getting involved and grabbing Anvil’s legs. Savage tries a sunset flip but Neidhart puts his weight on him to block it for two. Savage cheats his way out of an Anvil bearhug, and it’s time for some Macho choking. Once the ref forces Savage to break, Sherri does it as well behind his back. Sherri was a fantastic heel manager, particularly with Savage, and especially once he becomes the Macho King. If you’ve seen their work with the Warrior at WrestleMania VII, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, just keep following the reviews as we’ll hopefully get there one day! Double axehandle gets two. Savage makes the mistake of trying a slam, however, allowing Neidhart to start running wild with some shoulderblocks. A pretty good dropkick dumps Savage. Anvil meets him on the outside and gives him another one there. Back in, he hits the running powerslam gets a nearfall. Yes, Jim Neidhart just got a nearfall on Randy Savage! Neidhart ends up missing a charge, though, and Savage puts him away with the flying axehandle followed by the Macho Elbow at 05:54.

  • Analysis: Some would probably say it should’ve taken less time for Savage to beat Neidhart, but I didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, this was actually a very important match to establish this “new” version of Savage as well as Sherri. Showing everyone she isn’t afraid to get involved in Savage’s matches, this match put them over as a dangerous duo that should be taken seriously. *****

…for Sherri’s legs… ** for the match.

Steel Cage Match – WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan(c) vs. The Big Bossman(w/ Slick)

But wait! Before the match even starts, we get the massive debut of……. Zeus. Oh no. As he slowly walks down the ramp I remember how shitty No Holds Barred is. Then, as he gets in Hogan’s face, I remember how Randy Savage was thrown into this feud so he could A) carry the matches and B) eat pins on each one of their matches because GOD FORBID an actor does a job. Finally, as he knocks down Hulk Hogan with the lamest “punches to the back” ever, I remember Brutus Beefcake is going to be main-eventing PPVs going forward and instantly I feel like slapping myself in the face. Zeus leaves while the announcers talk about how Bossman has a giant advantage and he’s the champion already. There’s just no way he can lose, right? Bossman headbutts Hogan repeatedly to start, probably for producing such a horrible film, but Hogan responds with a clothesline. Hogan hits the big boot and starts climbing, only for Bossman to bring him back down and splash him. Hogan grabs Bossman’s ankle to prevent him from leaving through the door, though, so Bossman gives him a spinebuster and climbs instead. He actually makes it to the other side of the cage before Hogan grabs him by the throat at the last second and brings him back inside with a massive superplex for a double KO spot. The ref actually has to open the door and get in to count both guys down, but Hogan is up at eight and Bossman prevents him from escaping through the door shortly afterwards. Slick throws a chain at Bossman, who chokes away with it. Hogan ends up sending Bossman into the cage and using the chain himself, though, to set up his big Hulk Up comeback. He sends Bossman’s face into the cage followed by the Legdrop. Finally, Hogan actually handcuffs Bossman to the rope to prevent him from getting up, later escaping to retain at 10:01.

  • Analysis: Despite absolutely hating the Zeus feud and everything that comes with it, they still delivered a pretty good cage match here. Even though I don’t agree with those who consider this an all-time classic, it was pretty good for a free TV match. And better than Hogan’s cage match with Bundy at WrestleMania 2, for example. ***

WWF Tag Team Championship: Demolition (Ax & Smash) vs. Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard)(w/ Bobby Heenan)

Blanchard wants to start and he’s quite confident before running away from Demolition in typical Blanchard fashion. Arn gets in instead but he finds himself in the champs’ corner until Blanchard comes in for a cheapshot. Smash no-sells an Arn suplex, though, and slams him. Everyone gets in as IT’S BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA… but Heenan gets the Busters out of there to think some strategy. Back in, Blanchard with a knee to Ax, who no-sells it before beating him up. Blanchard runs away again like the great chickenshit heel he was, but Smash presses him all the way to the ring. Blanchard bails again, though, and we take a break.


We return with the Demos dominating Blanchard before AA attacks Smash from behind to finally give them the advantage. Blanchard kneedrop followed by the AA Spinebuster gets two. Blanchard is now having the time of his life mocking Ax while AA is working over Smash. The legal guys get into a slugfest in the ring that is won by Smash, but Blanchard knocks Ax off the apron just before he can get taggen in! Ax finally has enough of these pricks and starts beating up everything that moves, including the ref, giving the heels the win (but not the belts) at 09:15.

  • Analysis: This match was only there to set up their eventual two-out-of-three-falls rematch, but it was still good despite the finish. Good tag wrestling, and Blanchard just makes you want to punch him in the face! With that said, I can buy Ax finally losing it and say that the finish was psychologically justified. **3/4

Main-Event: Jimmy Snuka vs. Boris Zhukov(w/ Slick)

Poor Zhukov is such a geek at this point that he even does jobs regularly on Prime Time Wrestling. He is pretty much playing Nikolai Volkoff’s role, but he doesn’t draw 1/10 of the heat Volkoff did. Anyway, the match: Snuka no-sells his jobber offense before putting him away with the Superfly Splash at 01:11.

  • Analysis: Snuka wins his first televised match back. As far as the match itself, how can I describe it? Squash City, population Boris. That sounds accurate. DUD


Final thoughts: This show was really good. The matches weren’t spectacular, which is fine, but a lot happened here. Rick Rude is on fire at this point. Sherri established herself as someone who will do anything for her meal ticket to win. Hogan can put on good matches on TV. Demolition are interesting again after that horrible never-ending feud with the Powers of Pain. Jimmy Snuka is back. Pretty good show to set up future feuds and stories. I’d recommend it. Zeus aside… 6/10

The points for this show:

  • Hulk Hogan: 5 points (3 for star rating + 1 for winning + 1 for successfully defending a title)
  • Demolition Ax & Smash: 3.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for successfully defending a title – 0.5 for DQ loss)
  • Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard: 3.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win)
  • Randy Savage: 3 points (2 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Rick Rude: 2.5 points (2 for star rating + 1 for successfully defending a title – 0.5 for CO loss)
  • Jim Duggan: 2.5 points (2 for star rating + 0.5 for CO win)
  • Jimmy Snuka: 2 points (1 for pinfall win + 1 for main-eventing)
  • Big Bossman: 2 points (3 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • Jim Neidhart: 1 point (2 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Boris Zhukov: 0 points (1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss)

Until next time. Thank you for your time.