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WWF "THE MAIN EVENT" REVIEW - 25 yrs. ago: Hogan's four-year title reign ends, plus Savage vs. HTM

Feb 6, 2013 - 11:36:03 AM
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WWF's "The Main Event" Retrospective Review
February 5, 1988
Taped in Indianapolis, Ind.
Review by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


The first episode of WWF/E's "The Main Event" aired as a Friday night special on NBC live from Market Square Arena. WWF drew a historical TV audience for this show that featured the end of Hulk Hogan's four-year reign as WWF champion. With that in mind, to the arena...

The first live Main Event opened with a crowd shot from high in the arena. Only crowd noise provided the sound before Vince McMahon introduced the show from ringside with Jesse Ventura. McMahon welcomed everyone to the "largest TV audience in WWF history" and a sold-out crowd in Indianapolis. Ventura then heeled on the "Hoosier losers" before predicting that Hulk Hogan is going down at the hands of Andre the Giant.

McMahon tried to send Main Event to Hogan work-out footage, but Ventura cut him off and complained about Hogan. They cut to footage of Hogan training in the gym, doing power squats, bench press, pull-ups, biceps curls, and every power work-out exercise you can think of. Hogan closed by flexing and laughing maniacally.

Back to ringside, where Ventura said Hogan appears to be in great shape, but he's no match for Giant.

Backstage: "Mean" Gene Okerlund brought in IC champion Honky Tonk Man, who was with Jimmy Hart to preview his match against Randy Savage. HTM told "Green Bean" that he's missing the "romance" story. Hart told HTM that Miss Elizabeth wants him bad. HTM said he has the title, the belt, and he's getting the lonely woman tonight. HTM vowed to take her down Lonely Street to the Heartbreak Hotel and love her tender.

In-ring: HTM was introduced as police escorted him down the aisleway to the ring. The Fink introduced the Intercontinental Hvt. champion as HTM danced in the ring. HTM's girlfriend, Peggy Sue, then danced down to ringside and joined HTM and Hart in the ring to dance. Ventura said this arena was where Elvis Pressley last performed, and HTM is a suitable replacement.

Backstage: Mean Gene brought in Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth as HTM's music played over their interview. Gene tried to ask Liz about HTM's proposal, but Savage cut her off and answered that the heat is on for Honky. They cut to a close-up of Liz selling concern as Savage guaranteed that HTM will pay for what he did to Liz.

In-ring: Savage's familiar music played to bring the crowd to their feet. Liz then led Randy Savage to the ring as lightbulbs popped in the arena. Epic ring entrance that made everyone look like huge television stars. Before the bell sounded, HTM tried to dance for Liz before Savage ran him off. The bell sounded to begin the bout.

1 -- IC champion HONKY TONK MAN (w/Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue) vs. "MACHO MAN" RANDY SAVAGE (w/Miss Elizabeth)

Lots of shenanigans early on. HTM blasted Savage in the gut with Hart's megaphone while Hart occupied the ref, but HTM was slow to follow up and Savage kicked out of a pin. HTM continued the assault before Hart choked Savage from the outside while HTM danced for Liz. Ventura was terrific as the delusional heel announcer justifying HTM's actions, which McMahon called him on. Savage teased a comeback, but HTM blocked and delivered repeated elbow drops.

HTM pointed to Liz again, then left the ring to get a closer look at Liz. HTM slowly approached Liz, then Savage got wind of this and smashed HTM from behind on the floor. Savage rolled HTM back into the ring, where HTM begged off. The crowd wanted Savage to eat up HTM, then Savage dumped HTM over the top rope. Savage to the top rope, and he came down on HTM's head with a double sledgehammer.

Back in the ring, Savage waved his finger in the air before delivering a scoopslam. Savage to the top rope again. Double axe-handle to the head, but HTM kicked out of a pin. Savage then flung Hart into the ring, grabbed him around the throat, and HTM accidentally kneed Hart in the gut to knock him to the floor. Huge pop for this sequence.

Savage had HTM in a sleeper, but he spotted Peggy Sue getting in Liz's face on the outside. Savage stepped in to defend Liz, then ran HTM into the ringpost when HTM tried to get involved. Suddenly, the ref reached a ten count and the crowd popped huge, not realizing that HTM still retained the IC Title.

WINNER: Savage via count-out at 8:26; HTM retained the IC Title.

Post-match, HTM retrieved his guitar and stalked Savage for a guitar shot, then Hart suddenly blasted Savage from behind with his megaphone. Liz then slipped into the ring to cover Savage. HTM teased hitting both with his guitar, but Savage came to his feet and grabbed the guitar from HTM. Savage tried to hit HTM with the guitar, but HTM got the heck out of the ring. Savage then destroyed the guitar on the ringpost, which Ventura was appalled by. Savage celebrated for the crowd, which was fine with seeing Savage win the match, even if he didn't win the title. Savage and Liz then celebrated in the ring - the iconic image of Liz resting on Savage's left shoulder.

[Commercial Break]

Ringside: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura were shown ringside hyping the imminent re-match of Hulk vs. Andre. Ventura said he felt that Andre won the match at WrestleMania III, then McMahon introduced footage from nearly one year earlier in March 1987 when Hogan beat Andre to retain the WWF Title. Ventura disputed a mid-match nearfall, then McMahon introduced more-recent footage of Andre choking Hogan on TV to set up this re-match.

Backstage: Mean Gene brought in Ted DiBiase and Virgil standing in front of Andre the Giant. DiBiase said Andre should be WWF champion because the referee screwed Andre and is obviously a Hogan fan. DiBiase told Hulk Hogan that his account is over-drawn and it's time that Andre closes it. Andre spoke that he's going to squeeze and twist Hogan's neck.

In-ring: To no music, Andre made his way to the ring with DiBiase and Virgil. Ventura noted that Andre blocks the entire screen out, then said Andre has received the best training money can buy to get ready for this match.

Backstage: Mean Gene brought in Hulk Hogan, who squeezed his hands together before saying he's tried to keep an open mind about what happened at WM3, but he's reviewed the footage and he knows it was only a two-count. Then, he pinned Andre for the one, two, three. Hogan said all of his Hulkamaniacs are going to watch his back and Hulkamania Lives Forever, brother.

In-ring: Hulk Hogan was introduced to the ring to a thunderous ovation. Ventura said he's never seen Hogan look any better, then Hogan stormed the ring and swung the WWF Title belt around before the referee - identified as Dave Hebner - held him back. Hebner then held the title belt in the air to give everyone a good look as Ventura noted he feels good about Dave Hebner refereeing this match, not WM3 referee Joey Marella. Hogan continued posing as "Real American" played, but Andre was unimpressed. Great close-ups on Andre's facial reactions no-selling.

2 -- WWF champion HULK HOGAN vs. ANDRE THE GIANT (w/Ted DiBiase and Virgil) -- WWF Title match

The bell sounded, but Andre made no movement from the ring apron. Hogan encouraged him to get in the middle of the ring, and Andre finally decided to enter the ring after milking it for a while. Andre stayed close to the ropes, though, for last-second instructions from Million Dollar Man, then Hogan had enough. Hogan yanked Virgil into the ring for a big-boot, then Hogan big-booted DiBiase over the top rope.

Andre tried to land a right hand, but Hogan blocked and rocked the Giant with right hands. Andre wouldn't go down, though. Hogan tried more right hands, then a corner turnbuckle smash. Andre, woozy, wandered around the ring before Hogan elbowed him in the head. Hogan tried a running clothesline, but Andre wouldn't go down. A corner clothesline rocked Andre, but Andre still remained on his feet. To the middle of the ring, where Hogan landed a punch, but Andre stayed on his feet.

Hogan then, yes, climbed to the top rope. But, Andre grabbed Hogan around the throat before bodyslamming him off the top rope to the mat. Hogan sold a major back injury, then Andre missed with a headbutt, putting Andre on the mat for the first time in the match. But, Andre came back with a chokehold, which drew a warning from Dave Hebner. "Hogan, Hogan, Hogan" chants as Andre rocked Hogan with right hands. Andre followed with a big scoopslam before kicking Hogan again.

At 6:00, Andre quieted "Hogan" chants with headbutts. Andre then awkwardly delivered a big foot to Hogan's face that sent the Champ to the outside. Virgil "helped" Hogan back into the ring, where Andre tried choking the life out of Hogan. Hogan suddenly came to life and reached his feet, popping the crowd. Hogan broke free, kicked Andre in the gut, slapped him around, punched him, punched him again, raked the eyes, and went to the second-rope, where he knocked down Andre with a flying clothesline.

Hogan tried bouncing the ropes, but Virgil grabbed his ankle. Hogan then delivered the leg drop and had the pin, but Hebner was too busy yelling at Virgil. After the visual three count, Andre grabbed Hogan and headbutted him before delivering an awkward suplex. Andre covered Hogan, Hogan lifted his shoulder at one-and-a-half, Hebner kept counting, and he counted to three. Andre is the new WWF champion as the crowd flipped out. Hogan also flipped out.

WINNER: Andre at 9:08 to capture the WWF Title. Poor Andre was moving slowly and struggled throughout the match. Hogan, DiBiase, and Virgil created plenty of movement around Andre to keep the match interesting leading to the Evil Twin Referees angle.

Post-match, Hebner retrieved the WWF Title belt as McMahon said he can't believe how stupid of a mistake that was. Hebner then presented the WWF Title belt to Andre as Hogan begged and pleaded with Hebner. Fink then announced Andre as new WWF champion. Ventura said the myth of Hulk Hogan is over, then Mean Gene interviewed Andre, who surrendered the WWF Title to Ted DiBiase. Hogan then grabbed the ref as DiBiase and Andre taunted him from outside the ring.

Suddenly, there were two Hebners in the ring. Hogan turned around and did a double-take as McMahon and Ventura tried to figure out what was happening. Hogan grabbed both by the throat and demanded to know what's going on. Hebner decked Hebner, then kicked him and fell down in the process. McMahon suddenly surmised that DiBiase paid off the fake Hebner, who McMahon said is not a legal official. Hogan surveyed the crowd on whether he should inflict damage to the ref, then Hogan lifted him in the air and chucked him clear over Virgil, who was supposed to catch him.

[Commercial Break]

Back from break, McMahon said Hogan is standing by backstage. In the locker room, Hogan was crying as Gene asked him what happened out there. Hogan asked how much money they spent on the plastic surgery. He said never in his wildest dreams did he think he would get ripped off by a penny-pinching referee. WWE went to a slow-motion replay of Hogan kicking out of Andre's pin before two, then the ref kept counting. Hogan continued freaking out before Gene sent it back to McMahon.

WWE cut back to the ring, where Hart Foundation vs. Strikeforce was underway. Hart delivered a piledriver to Rick Martel as McMahon signed off with the match just beginning. On-screen, the credits flashed for Titan Sports and Once A Month Productions. "So long from Indianapolis," McMahon said.

In the after-math, Jack Tunney stripped Andre/DiBiase of the WWF Title, vacated the title, and set up a WWF Title tournament at WrestleMania 4 two months later. In the tournament, Hogan and Andre wrestled to a Double DQ in the quarter-finals, Randy Savage won the finals of the tournament to become WWF champion, and Hogan waited another year before re-claiming the title from Savage at WM5.

[Torch photo credit Travis Beaven (c) PWTorch.com]


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