Date: March 14, 1987
Show: Saturday Night’s Main Event
Roster (20): Hillbilly Jim, Outlaw Ron Bass, Sika, Haku, Tama, Lanny Poffo, Hercules Hernandez, Butch Reed, Paul Orndorff, Billy Jack Haynes, Koko B. Ware, Nikolai Volkoff, Blackjack Mulligan, Demolition Ax, Demolition Smash, Honky Tonk Man, Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan
Our first battle royal is a bit of a surprise to me. This was before my time and while I vaguely recall seeing a brief clip of this during the hype video at Wrestlemania 3, WWF never really seemed to bring up this Saturday Night’s Main Event bout. Taking place about two weeks before Wrestlemania 3, the big storyline is that Andre the Giant has turned heel and is gunning for Hulk Hogan’s championship after years of friendship. The two are part of this match, making it the real first battle between the two in a WWF ring. What we get is Hogan vs. Andre with everybody else getting in the way.
I should note that Hogan is champ here. It was nice back in the day when people could have a battle royal just because. It didn’t push you into an automatic title shot or give you a role as GM or anything like that. It was all about bragging rights.
It begins with Hogan and Andre closing in and ready to go at it, but then they’re both swarmed by the other 18 guys. From there, the battle royal has four factions: Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, 9 faces and 9 heels. All the heels pile on Hogan while all the faces pile on Andre. For Hogan, he takes a bunch of punishment and occasionally has a spurt of energy that allows him to throw out someone like Honky Tonk Man. Andre, on the other hand, refuses to be overwhelmed and destroys everyone in his way. At one point he even takes Blackjack Mulligan and Hillbilly Jim and effortlessly clobbers them together. The biggest victim of his onslaught is poor Lanny Poffo, who eats a mighty headbutt that splits his head open. He’s tossed out and left on the mat, lying in a pool of his own blood.
Once nearly half of the competitors are done away with at the hands of Hogan and Andre, Orndorff and Hercules get their hands on Hogan. Whether they realize what they’re doing or not, they whip him across the ring and right into Andre, knocking the Giant back a couple feet.
Right there, the two begin to stare down and finally trade blows. Hogan seems like he might have an edge, but Orndorff and Hercules attack him. Though Koko does go after Andre during this, which is hilarious because Andre gives him no notice and smacks him aside. With Hogan distracted from fighting off two of Bobby Heenan’s goons, Andre pulls him in for a headbutt, flings him out of there and gestures a wave of disgust, as if to say, “Good riddance!”
As he taunts the leaving Hogan, who is pulled back by security, Andre is yet again attacked by Koko. Yet again, Andre gives zero fucks.
Once Hogan’s done with, the match loses its flavor because now all the remaining faces and heels join together and overcome Andre. They heave him out of there and it’s down to just a handful of midcarders. It whittles down to Koko and Billy Jack against Hercules and Smash. Koko’s done away with easy enough because he’s Koko, allowing Hercules and Smash to double-team Billy Jack. Ventura laughs at this on commentary because for once, heels are able to beat on the face 2-to-1 and Vince McMahon isn’t allowed to cry about it. Hercules sets Billy Jack up for a double-team attack to soften him up more, but he hops over Hercules and dives into Smash with a clothesline, sending him flying out of the ring.
That leaves it as Billy Jack vs. Hercules, who happen to have a Wrestlemania 3 grudge match set up. Their brawl is very short-lived as Heenan jumps onto the apron. Billy Jack makes a run at him, ends up empty-handed and Hercules uses the opening to flip him out of the ring. Hercules and Heenan celebrate his win, just as they’ll celebrate his eventual victory at the upcoming PPV.
It’s a definite fun match, although it really loses its steam once the main eventers are gone. It’s weird booking to see now, though. I can’t help shake the feeling that if this match happened these days, people would be crying all over about how WWF totally messed up their Hogan/Andre main event by having Andre lose. By showing him to be weak against eight or nine other guys, they’re totally burying Andre and ruining his mystique or some shit.
Tomorrow I’m going to keep it in 1987, only with a far shorter and less important exhibition.