50) The Brain Busters
We literally were able to watch the rise and fall of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard on SNME. They defeated The Rockers, feuded (and won the WWF Tag Team Titles) against Demolition, and then were fired by Bobby Heenan after failing to listen to him in a rematch with The Rockers.
When SNME returned in 2006, Batista was one of the most consistent WWE superstars, appearing on four of the five return episodes. Interestingly, all of his appearances were tag team matches, teaming with the likes of Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Kane, John Cena, and Cryme Tyme.
One may be surprised to see the Rooster on this (or any other) Top 50 list, but he literally saw the peak of his WWF career on this show. After manager Bobby Heenan was fed up with his losing record, Red Rooster attacked him and declared his independence.
Rick Martel was all over SNME. He appeared as part of The Can-Am Connection and Strike Force. Then in later years, he feuded with Tito Santana when he was "The Model". Plus they had a series of advertisement-style vignettes for his line of cologne known as "Arrogance".
47) Red Rooster
48) Rick Martel
While he didn't appear as many times on the show as his partner Davey Boy Smith, The British Bulldogs (no relation) had some of SNME's best matches - two clashes with The Hart Foundation, a two-out-of-three falls match with Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik, and contests against Demolition and The Dream Team.
While Marty's SNME run coincided with the success of The Rockers, he still managed to put in five stellar appearances over the years, including matches against Demolition, The Brain Busters and The Hart Foundation. He was also one of the scrubs Hulk Hogan shoved in the hallways while looking for Randy Savage.
Although he had only one match on SNME as The Gang, his alter ego Akeem had five others, including the famous MegaPowers/Twin Towers match in 1989 when Randy Savage abandoned and then turned on Hulk Hogan.
When Sarge returned to the WWF in 1990, he used SNME as a platform to display his new attitude. He faced off against the likes of Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff, all while hyping his eventual WrestleMania 7 showdown against Hulk Hogan.
43) Dynamite Kid
45) Akeem/One Man Gang
46) Sgt. Slaughter
Davis started out on Main Event as a controversial referee, constantly being criticized for his decisions by commentator Vince McMahon. Eventually, he turned full-out heel as part of The Hart Foundation and even struck out on his own once in a losing effort against Brutus Beefcake.
Although she never wrestled a match on SNME, Scary Sherri was a highlight of the show, appearing mostly alongside "Macho Man" Randy Savage as his Macho Queen and causing trouble. She was also in the corner of "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase during one of his efforts against Bret "Hit Man" Hart.
What I'd like to have right now, is for all you fat, out-of-shape, inner city sweathogs to keep the noise and look at a man who had six matches on Saturday Night's Main Event, against such future Hall of Famers as Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ultimate Warrior, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Koko B. Ware and Dusty Rhodes.
The Iron Sheik was in the very first SNME ever on the losing effort of a six-man tag match. He's also challenged the likes of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and The British Bulldogs. Plus he dressed up once as Batman for the Hallowe'en show, so there's that.
42) Dangerous Danny Davis
41) Sensational Sherri
40) Ravishing Rick Rude
39) Iron Sheik
George was also in the aforementioned six-man tag match, surprisingly on The Sheik's team as a rulebreaker. Later, he would compete against "Macho Man" Randy Savage for the affections of Miss Elizabeth an amazing FOUR different times on SNME, which definitely has to be some sort of show record.
The Devious One represented a wide range of rulebreakers on SNME, including Magnificent Muraco, Demolition, Sika and the mysterious Super Ninja. He also wrestled twice on the show, against Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and the team of Steamboat and Junkyard Dog.
Haku was kind of an unheralded staple of the SNME years. While he only won one match among seven appearances (a tag team vs. The Killer Bees), he was a warm-up opponent in losing efforts against future Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, The Ultimate Warrior and The Texas Tornado.
As "Leaping" Lanny Poffo, he competed in an a few SNME matches, most notably when he was nearly headbutted to death by an angry Andre The Giant. Then he became The Genius, a manager for Mr. Perfect and two-time SNME opponent of Hulk Hogan, in one match beating The Hulkster by countout!
38) George "The Animal" Steele
37) Mr. Fuji
35) Lanny Poffo / The Genius
"Mr. Wonderful" was on the first Saturday Night's Main Event in a non-wrestling role, but perhaps his most famous moment was a steel cage bout with then-WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan, where both men appeared to exit the cage at the exact same time, prompting slo-mo video footage to be shown.
After an amazing run as one-half of The British Bulldogs (see # 43), Davey Boy later returned as a singles star and continued competing. He came close to winning a 1991 battle royale, won by Mr. Perfect, and later dropped the Intercontinental Title to Shawn Michaels.
"The Guiding Light" was all over the earliest editions of Main Event, managing his tag team champions The U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo) and The British Bulldogs. But he also represented George "The Animal" Steele and Andre The Giant for several outings and defeated King Kong Bundy in a pie-eating contest.
While Neidhart wasn't as successful as his Hart Foundation partner Bret "Hit Man" Hart, he managed to get his share of memorable tag team moments against the likes of Demolition, The Killer Bees, The British Bulldogs and The Young Stallions. He also competed against "Macho Man" Randy Savage one-on-one.
34) Paul Orndorff
33) Davey Boy Smith
32) Captain Lou Albano
31) Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
Everyone's favorite autograph huckster was constantly in the corner of "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase during SNME, helping his boss get an unfair advantage over the likes of The Ultimate Warrior or attempting to pay off Dustin Rhodes to vacate his ringside seat. He also wrestled once in a losing effort to Hercules.
Whether on his own or in tag team action with The Iron Sheik or Boris Zhukov, Nikolai didn't seem to have many wins (apart from a victory over Corporal Kirchner and a no-contest with Sgt. Slaughter). However, he did have nine matches and clashed with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Koko B. Ware.
The Hammer started out as a WWF Tag Team Champion early in the show's run, but later became a utility player, mostly there to lay down for the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. However, he did score a singles victory over Koko B. Ware.
King Kong Bundy's career was literally made on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in 1986, when he attacked Hulk Hogan following a match with Magnificent Muraco and injured The Hulkster's ribs. Beyond that, Bundy took on the likes of Hogan, Andre The Giant, Uncle Elmer and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
29) Nikolai Volkoff
28) Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
27) King Kong Bundy
Mr. Perfect began building his name on SNME against the likes of Red Rooster and Koko B. Ware, progressing to the Intercontinental Title and Tito Santana and challenging WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan. Famously, he and The Genius once destroyed Hogan's title belt with a hammer.
John Cena was more or less Hulk Hogan for the 2006 run of Saturday Night's Main Event. He was in five of the top matches during the show's five-episode revival, facing the likes of The Great Khali, Edge, Randy Orton, Carlito and John Bradshaw Layfield in both singles and tag team action.
Ricky Steamboat became a sympathetic character on SNME as he fought overwhelming odds against the likes of The Magnificent Muraco and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Part of his feud against "Macho Man" Randy Savage was played out here, too, as he returned from injury to assist George "The Animal" Steele.
How can one forget Gene Okerlund's contributions to Saturday Night's Main Event? His iconic pre-and-post-match interviews with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and "Macho Man" Randy Savage stand the test of time, and he was center ring as Andre The Giant gave up the WWF World Championship.
Most of Hacksaw's Main Event moments were defending the U.S.A. from foreign threats, including The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (Duggan was in the corner of The Can-Am Connection), Boris Zhukov and Sgt. Slaughter. He also battled Randy Savage and Rick Rude in singles matches. Hooooooo!
The Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time has had several big Saturday nights. He dressed up as Kim Chee in order to mess with Jake "The Snake" Roberts. He shoved Miss Elizabeth and nailed Randy Savage with a vicious guitar shot. And he challenged for Hulk Hogan's WWF Title and Ultimate Warrior's I-C Championship.
Slick was a manager whose career evolved over the period of Saturday Night's Main Event. Among the talent he managed were The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zhukov, Rick Martel, Big Boss Man and One Man Gang/Akeem. He also (along with Brother Love) attempted to outsmart Hulk Hogan one SNME.
For many wrestling fans, Jesse Ventura was one of the top stars of Saturday Night's Main Event. His constant put-downs of his fellow announcers, Hulk Hogan, The Hillbillies and others were constant highlights of the show. And during one episode, he teamed with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Cowboy" Bob Orton.
Check out how many times Demolition has been mentioned prior to now; that should tell you just how successful a team they were during the SNME era. Among their seven appearances, they tangled with The Rockers, British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, The Brain Busters, The Legion Doom and Ultimate Warrior.
Big Boss Man started out as a mid-card competitor, squashing the likes of Jim Powers on SNME. Later, he took Hulk Hogan to the limit in a steel cage limit and attempted to dismantle The Megapowers with Akeem. He eventually opposed his Twin Towers partner in a 1990 episode of the show and got the win.
The Heartbreak Kid is the only wrestler to be featured on both the original and renewed Saturday Night's Main Event. He teamed with Marty Jannetty and, as a single, won the Intercontinental Title from Davey Boy Smith. In 2006, he battled both Shane McMahon and, as a member of DX, The Spirit Squad.
Almost all of Hercules' biggest WWF moments were on Saturday Night's Main Event. He won a battle royale in 1987 that had everyone from Hulk Hogan to Andre The Giant. He challenged Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental Title and, for a few moments, it looked like he'd defeated Hulk Hogan by submission!
Although he lost on Saturday nights far more than he won, Tito Santana faced a wide range of opponents over the years, including The Hart Foundation (with both Dan Spivey and Rick Martel as partners), Mr. Perfect, The Bolsheviks, The Red Rooster, Rick Martel and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
Piper was originally cast as Saturday Night's Main Event's top villian as he terrorized Hulk Hogan in the corner of Cowboy Bob Orton. However, he'd later save Hogan from an attack by Paul Orndorff and Adrian Adonis and years later, after retiring for the first time, defended his newly-won Intercontinental Title against The Mountie.
The Snake started on SNME as a vicious heel, DDT'ing Ricky Steamboat on the concrete floor and legitimately injuring him. Soon he was matched against fellow heels such as Randy Savage and King Kong Bundy before turning into a babyface and again turning heel towards the end of the show's initial run.
The Barber made nearly a dozen appearances on Saturday Night's Main Event, between being a member of The Dream Team, facing off against his former Dream Team partner Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, shaving the head of Outlaw Ron Bass and being in the corner of his buddy Hulk Hogan.
Don't laugh! Vinnie Mac's over-the-top introductions and commentary were definitely a little cheesy. But by the same token, Vince McMahon helped shape what we watched every episode, breaking down every character, rivalry and storyline - an art form that isn't used as masterfully even today.
"The Mouth of the South" appeared on more Saturday Night's Main Events on more than any manager - and more than all but one wrestler, in fact! Among the charges he managed were The Honky Tonk Man, The Hart Foundation, Danny Davis, Terry Funk, Adrian Adonis, Earthquake and The Rougeau Brothers.
The Hit Man spent much of his SNME career as a tag team specialist with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart as they pursued and lost the tag team belts. But eventually, he became a top singles star tangling with the likes of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Papa Shango.
If Saturday Night's Main Event followed a traditional plot a la Breaking Bad or House Of Cards, then Elizabeth would have been a primary character. She was fought over, defended, shoved to the ground and almost bludgeoned by a chair - all while Vince McMahon and Mean Gene fawned over her.
DiBiase was another top villian during the SNME years. Who can forget how he paid off Earl Hebner to help Andre The Giant win the WWF World Title in 1988? Or his matches and out-of-ring clashes with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes, Bret Hart and Hercules?
Heenan appeared on most episodes of Saturday Night's Main Event, either as a manager or commentator and excelled at both. His Heenan Family, including Andre, Paul Orndorff, Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, The Brainbusters, Harley Race and Haku were well-represented on the show, often in direct opposition to Hulk Hogan.
In the early 1990's, Ultimate Warrior was brought in to SNME to replace Hulk Hogan. And while that never happened, Warrior had 11 matches on the show, facing off against the likes of Super Ninja, Honky Tonk Man, Haku, Andre The Giant, Rick Rude, Demolition and Money Inc.
From his first appearance (a random tag team match with Tony Atlas) to his last match against Ultimate Warrior, Andre always managed to convey his larger-than-life persona. And let's not forget he defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title in 1988 on The Main Event - no small task at a time when The Hulkster rarely lost.
25) John Cena
26) Mr. Perfect
23) Mean Gene Okerlund
24) Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
21) The Honky Tonk Man
22) "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
19) Jesse "The Body" Ventura
17) Big Boss Man
15) Shawn Michaels
13) "Rowdy" Roddy Piper
14) Tito Santana
11) Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake
12) Jake "The Snake" Roberts
9) Jimmy Hart
10) Vince McMahon
7) Miss Elizabeth
8) Bret "Hit Man" Hart
5) Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
6) "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
4) Ultimate Warrior
3) Andre The Giant
"Macho Man" had an incredible 21 matches on SNME, defending his Intercontinental Title against the likes of Tito Santana and George Steele, the World title against Ted DiBiase, One Man Gang and Andre The Giant and as "The Macho King" against Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes and others. He was even knocked out by James "Buster" Douglas in one bout!
He's that last person you see in the show's opening credit and he's headlined almost all of the SNME episodes in its first run, so his position here is a no-brainer. Opponents over the years included Bad News Brown, Haku, Terry Funk, The Honky Tonk Man, Ted DiBiase, Big Boss Man, Andre The Giant, Mr. Perfect, Paul Orndorff and many more. Brrrrrother!
2) "Macho Man" Randy Savage
1) Hulk Hogan
From 1985 to 1992 (and again from 2006 to 2008), Saturday Night's Main Event was a prime time special that WWF (later WWE) used to showcase its biggest draws, top rivalries and marquee matches. It was the home to more than 200 wrestlers, managers, announcers, etc., spread over 41 episodes.
Canadian Bulldog's World has put together the Top 50 superstars of the SNME years (including the most recent run and the Friday night "Main Event" spinoff), using the following criteria:
How many appearances did said wrestler/manager/announcer make?
Were they generally involved in top matches? Or only the squash matches that aired at 12:20 a.m.?
Did their appearances have a profound impact on wrestling history?
How much did Saturday Night's Main Event enhance their overall persona?
Ready? Here we go!
Any names missing or misplaced? Leave your feedback in the Comments section below...