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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard on Saturday Night’s Main Event 3/12/88: Harley Race’s WWF run, follow-up to the Main Event “evil twin” angle, notes on Jesse Ventura, Killer Bees, Slick, prison advise Ken Patera gave Bruce (Ep. 91)

Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard – Episode 91

Recap by: Jeff Rush

Air Date: 3/10/18

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

 Saturday Night’s Main Event 3/12/88

This was a hot time in the company, as Hulk Hogan was on his way towards a hiatus and the Macho Man was on his way to the top.

The company was still tweaking with green-screen technology, so there were some issues along the way.

Conrad points out that Harley Race and Bobby Heenan are the same height. Bruce counters that Harley is taller when he wears the crown.

Bruce says the NBC crew would take over on the production end of things which gave him and others who were typically running around like crazy, more of a night off.

Vince and Jesse were on commentary that night. Bruce points out that Jesse memorized lines ahead of time and would often mouth Vince’s words as he was saying them.

Conrad notes that Vince and Jesse have similar dimpled chins. This kind of blows Bruce’s mind and inspires him to cut a Vince impression on the matter.

We reflect on the Main Event angle with the twin referees that led us to this show and into WrestleMania IV.

Conrad likes Greg Valentines robe and Bruce notes that they were made by the same person who did Ric Flair’s robes.

The show opens with a battle between the former Dream Team, as Valentine squares off against Brutus ‘The Barber” Beefcake.

Vince laughs and comments on Brutus’s revealing attire.

Earl, the evil twin from the Main Event, is now in the mix, officiating this match with no mention from the announcers.

Regarding the team of Vince and Jesse, Conrad feels they were the best. Bruce says the original often is.

Wait a minute, it turns out the ref is Dave Hebner after all.

Honky Tonk Man comes to the ring and cuts a mid-match promo on Beefcake. Bruce thinks an angle where Brutus shaved Honky’s head would have been off the charts, but Honky didn’t want to do it. He notes that Vince never really got the “Hair match” gimmick either.

When Honky first came in, Vince wanted him to play a babyface, but Bruce feels there was no way for him to be anything but a heel.

The match is actually pretty good, which leads Bruce to talk about how great Valentine was in his heyday.

Vince requests some “side ass.”

Valentine defeats Beefcake, even though Brutus’s right shoulder was up at the two count. Conrad mentions this finish was used a lot back then.

Brutus cuts a snip of Valentine’s hair after the match. Bruce says the guys never minded having a little hair snipped as long as it wasn’t too much.

Heenan and Harley cut a pre-match promo prior to Race’s infamous match against Hogan. Conrad points out that Harley Race reminds him of Bad Santa, and Bruce pops huge, saying Harley has been ruined for him now.

Harley Race can walk down any street in the world knowing he’s the toughest.

Hulk Hogan only bows to Vince McMahon, dude.

Bruce catches a weird Hulk edit, and Bruce says the show was probably taped a week or more in advance. Bruce also notes Hogan-Race would’ve been a dream match a few years back, Conrad surmises possibly just three years earlier.

Hogan begins choking out Harley with wrist tape, and Conrad points out he’s the babyface. He mentions that Hulk looks a bit lost in this match.

Conrad does a bit of research and determines the date this show was taped. Turns out it was Bruce’s birthday, which surprises Bruce. I could think of a lot of worse ways to have spent my 25th birthday.

Though his stint in the WWF is regarded as being the twilight of Race’s career, he brought his working boots to this match and was a bump machine. It was a small glimpse during the age of Hulkamania of what once was.

Harley suffered a hernia from the table spot in this match that expedited the end of his in ring career.

Hogan must pose.

Conrad notes that this is the first time in the three year run of SNL at this point where Hogan was not the champion.

Hogan-Race ran in the middle of the show because they worried viewers would go to sleep by the close of the show at 1am.

Macho Man growls a little about the Million Dollar Man.

The next match is Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase. A few weeks later, the same match would headline WrestleMania IV.

Andre comes to ringside to back up Dibiase, and Conrad notes that he’s wearing the same plaid blazer he always seemed to wear. Bruce jokes, or maybe not so much, that it was the only outfit Andre had. This leads to a discussion about how wrestlers care for their clothes on the road.

At this point, Conrad gets into a subject he’d been attempting to discuss since the previous match, about the WWF running a show in a territory Harley Race was running. Harley did not take too kindly to the move and, according to Hogan, approached Hulk while he was in a bathroom stall and pointed a gun at him. Harley threatened to shoot Hogan’s knees out and Hogan claims he immediately shouted out Vince’s phone number. Ironically, the call Harley would then make would lead to his being hired by the WWF.

Bruce doesn’t dispute how Harley came to work for the WWF, but does say that Hogan’s story is likely a bit embellished.

Back to the in-ring action, Bruce says they were aware at this point that Savage-Dibiase was going to be the final match of the title tournament. They just wanted to give the audience a sneak peak to leave them wanting more at Mania.

Earl Hebner, who was the evil twin in the angle that lead to the WrestleMania IV tournament, is refereeing this match and the guys discuss how ridiculous this is.

Savage and Dibiase are working their asses off in this match. Bruce says this took place during a time when Dibiase was trying to get Randy to trust him, as they not only had a Mania main event approaching, but they would have a lengthy house show run through the spring and summer as well.

Conrad says everyone listening to the show used to jump off their couches at home, pretending they were the Macho Man delivering his famous double axe handle. I can attest to this. Bruce notes when they would arrive early to the arenas, Savage used to make him get in the ring, climb the ropes and stand on top, just like Save did. Pat Patterson would kick back with a cigarette and enjoy the show. Great stuff.

As Elizabeth runs to the back to get Hogan to help save Savage from the double team by Andre and Dibiase, Conrad suggests this is the earliest seed planted in the Mega Powers explosion. Bruce agrees, but notes the point here was also to sprinkle a little Hogan dust on Savage.
Vince calls Hogan’s run in.

Conrad notes how many people on this show have since passed away including Savage, Elizabeth, Andre, and Bobby Heenan. This makes Bruce feel old.

Up next is the Killer Bees vs. the Islanders.

In a pre-match promo, Heenan is with the Islanders, wearing a hat with a mesh mask on it. You know, to prevent bees from stinging him.

Bobby had a seamstress in Tampa who made his trademark sequined jackets.

Conrad asks why the Killer Bees didn’t take off more in the WWF. Bruce says their gimmick was bad. He thinks the gimmick where they would don masks and switch places during a match was great, but notes that Blair and Brunzell didn’t like using the masks.

There is a different referee officiating this match and Conrad wants to know why they couldn’t have used him in the Hogan or Savage matches, since he wasn’t associated with the ongoing angle. Bruce points to this refs slovenly appearance and says he wasn’t fit for national TV, let alone working a main event match.

Haku was one half of the Islanders and their run was coming to an end. The following year, Haku would become the new king after defeating Harley Race. Race was happy to be rid of the crown.

One Man Gang and Slick cut a promo for Gang’s upcoming match against Ken Patera.

One Man Gang says “Roll Tide.”

Around this time, Jerry Lawler filed a lawsuit against the WWF in an attempt to prevent them from having Harley Race where the king apparel in the state of Tennessee. He won the suit, but WWF ignored the ruling.

Ken Patera was returning to the ring following several years in prison. He never took off in this era. Bruce says it was because he was a natural heel, and the redemption story they were attempting to tell just didn’t work.

Also, his gimmick was the World’s Strongest Man, but he didn’t really look the part at this time, as he’d gotten older.

Conrad asks if Patera ever discussed his stay in prison with Bruce. Bruce says Patera’s take away was if you are nice to the guards, they’ll give you extra bananas.

The show closes with a backstage promo from Hogan and then a cut back to Jesse and Vince in the arena. The guys discuss familiar names spotted in the closing credits. They were put together by NBC, and Bruce notes that WWF’s production company didn’t get much love from them.

Twitter questions close out this episode. Bruce’s responses:

– Brutus was a highly trained professional barber.
– No one ribbed Harley Race, but Jesse Ventura did get ribbed quite well at this taping. A former wrestler turned local sheriff served Jesse with a warrant for his arrest, handcuffed him and led him from the building before revealing the prank.
– There was never serious consideration given to putting the title on Harley.
– Nashville and St. Louis were great wrestling towns. During the early years of expansion, Kansas City was surprisingly not a great town for the WWF.
– Harley joining WWF was great business, in Bruce’s opinion.
– Bruce knows Slick had some kind of a tie to the wrestling business, but doesn’t know how.
– The Islanders are definitely on of the top five all time tag teams.
– Bruce won’t give you a good Hulk Hogan story.
– Savage was stiff, Virgil didn’t know better, but there was no heat between the two.
– The Savage-Dibiase match on this show did not ruin the Mania main event.
– Phil Collins music was used a lot during this time because Collin’s people would offer them up for promotion as opposed to charging a high fee.

Review: This was awesome. The previous watch-along’s Bruce and Conrad have done are probably the only episodes of this show I haven’t listened to. I don’t always have the time to actually watch the show they’re covering, so I skip the episode, assuming it won’t work strictly as an audio experience. Well, I’ll be going back to watch them soon. It was really cool to listen to the guys relax and shoot the breeze with minimal preparation by Conrad. He has his notes and bullet points he wants to hit, but it’s a big departure from the usual format. It’s great if you can watch along, but definitely not required.

This very well could be considered a Harley Race in the WWF episode, since they pretty much left no stone unturned – how he came to join the company, his king gimmick and the burden it became, and of course, the fallout from the serious injury he suffered on this show.

That aside, we got some interesting notes on the Honky Tonk Man and Ken Patera, and even closed things out with the story of a rib played on Jesse Ventura. If you grew up with or are a fan of 80’s WWF, this is the show for you.

I leave this episode wishing Conrad and Bruce would offer a pay subscription for watch-along episodes on the network. Rating: 10/10

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