Back in 1986, the WWF did not have mats around ringside. Actually, few – if any – promotions put in those mats to help wrestlers break their falls doing moves on the floor, which in most cases are concrete or wood.
Those exposed floors had come into play during prior angles with memorable results, such as when Ray Stevens gave Jimmy Snuka two piledrivers on the concrete or Greg Valentine delivered a vertical suplex on the floor to Pedro Morales.
But perhaps no other incident at ringside could match what Jake “The Snake” Roberts did to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in May 1986. The two were scheduled to compete on Saturday Night’s Main Event, which was an NBC show that stood in for Saturday Night Live a few times a year. Usually, Saturday Night’s Main Event was taped anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks beforehand. This particular show was taped on May 1 at the Providence (RI) Civic Center and broadcast on May 3 (thanks to The History of WWE website for the stats).
The match between Roberts and Steamboat hardly even occurred. Roberts was first in the ring, and as Steamboat came out, he climbed onto the outside apron to greet the fans. Jake the Snake suddenly nailed Steamboat with a pair of clotheslines that knocked him to the floor (about 2:30 into this clip).
Then Roberts, who was still a newcomer with a cool move called the DDT that many of us had never seen before, delivered it to Steamboat on the concrete floor. As always, Steamboat took a solid, realistic bump.
“Oh no!” screamed announcer Vince McMahon. “Oh my goodness. Steamboat is unconscious.”
Robert proceeded to lift a limp Steamboat into and then dump his huge python onto Steamboat’s body and face, which again elicited a great reaction from McMahon: “He’s jamming it in his mouth! Oh, I can’t believe that.”
Usually I liked Bobby Heenan as a color commentator, but in this case, Heenan kind of wrecked the segment by telling constant, lame jokes during what was supposed to be a serious angle.
By the way, for old-school fans, note the ref is Fred Sparta, who refereed many matches during house shows at the old Boston Garden, which was about 70 minutes away from Providence.