I’m a bit behind. I apologize. It’s been a busy week.
When we last left the WWF, Hulk Hogan was still champion, having beaten Andre the Giant in a literal “war of the gods”. Hogan would remain champion for the entire year following. A lot has been said about Hogan in recent years. As I look back, I remember cheering him on and being so excited to see him wrestle. Now, I see a great deal of ego and selfishness. I see a performer with no wrestling skill who likes to hog the spotlight. If you think I’m referring to the “storyline” Hogan, I’m not. I’m referring to the actual person.
As the story goes, in the days leading up to Wrestlemania IV, Hogan faced Andre the Giant on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hogan would be the victim of a “screwjob” (before the WWF would actually make that a real term) that night. As it turns out, the referee who was supposed to be calling the match, Dave Hebner, was attacked and locked in a closet, only to be replaced by a guy who looked EXACTLY like Hebner. This was his “twin brother”, Earl. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just say that Earl was Dave’s “Evil Twin” before going through this whole “this one guy got plastic surgery to look like Dave” crap.
Anyhow, Earl Hebner was bribed by The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (senior, not junior) to toss the match in Andre’s favor. After the screwjob was complete and Andre was declared champion, he immediately “sold” his title to DiBiase…but not before then-president Jack Tunney stepped in and vacated the title completely, saying that it could not be “bought or sold”.
Instead of Tunney handing the title back to Hogan, he declared Andre the winner over Hogan but that he lost the title by forfeit to DiBiase. The title would be fought for at Wrestlemania IV in a 14-man elimination tournament.
Two other titles would be defended that night.
In other bouts, The Honky Tonk Man would defend his Intercontinental Title against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. The Honky Tonk Man gained said title after defeating Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat by reversing a roll-up pin and cheating by using the ropes as extra leverage. HTM was only supposed to be a “transitional” champion, meaning he was to hold the belt for a short time before a popular “face” won it. Of all wrestlers, Jake “The Snake” Roberts was supposed to be that “face” wrestler. Unfortunately, months prior, the two got into a fight during an interview segment which ended with HTM hitting Roberts in the back with his guitar — a real one. The guitar didn’t break and Roberts went down in very real, unscripted pain. He was supposed to wrestle Roberts and cough up the title but, alas, that didn’t happen because Roberts was still having back issues (later claiming that his addiction to pain meds began because of this event) and HTM ended up in a match with Beefcake instead.
Meanwhile, the Tag Team Championship was also put on the line. Prior to Wrestlemania IV, The Hart Foundation defended the titles against Strike Force and lost. They, in turn, turned around and defended against Demolition, a tag team whose gimmick resembled something between guys running an S&M parlor and KISS. The two wrestlers, “Axe” and “Smash” were managed by Mr. Fuji.
The event would also feature a 20-man over-the-top battle royal.
The event would take place in Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The same venue would host Wrestlemania V, the very next year as well.
The great Gladys Knight would sing America, The Beautiful to kick things off.
The whole event feels “comfortable”. It has come a long way from being a performance piece and “show” and feels, at this point, like a true “event”.
The show would start with the 20-man over-the-top Battle Royal. Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon would announce for the fourth straight year. Bob Uecker, for the second straight year, would join the two ringside as well as throughout the evening, interviewing superstars.
MATCH #1: 20-Man Battle Royal
The 20-man Battle Royal would feature The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhardt), The Young Stallions (an up-and-coming Paul Roma and Jim Powers), Sika, Dangerous Danny Davis, The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell), Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond), Ken Patera, Ron Bass, The Junkyard Dog, The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov — The Iron Sheik was fired by the WWF for violating their drug policy), Hillbilly Jim, King Harley Race, and George “The Animal” Steele. The final four wrestlers left in the match were JYD, Paul Roma, Bad News Brown, and Bret Hart. After JYD eliminated Roma, Brown and Hart decided to team up to defeat JYD and, eventually, sent him over the top rope. Hart and Brown decided, at that point, that they would share the winner’s trophy, but when Hart turned his back, Brown hit him with The Ghetto Blaster and sent him over the top rope to win the match.
WINNER: Bad News Brown
GRADE: C+. Once again, these are just arbitrary. I get the feeling they wanted this to be annual but it never really took off. Several wrestlers featured in this thing were in their final Wrestlemania matches:
- The Junkyard Dog would leave the WWF shortly after this event and have a brief stint in WCW before his death ten years later.
- Blair (of The Killer Bees) would leave the WWF after being promised the tag team titles with no actual title reign resulting from the promises given.
- Brunzell would become a jobber, making younger wrestlers looking good until 1989. He would make various appearances throughout the early 90’s as a wrestler who put over other talent.
- Davis’s “Dangerous” gimmick would come to an end after this and he wouldn’t be in another Wrestlemania. In 1989, he was “reinstated” as a referee in the WWF and left about six years later. He would go on to compete in the World Wrestling Alliance, becoming their champion at one point, until it folded in 2010. Surprisingly, he would go on to win several matches, cheating his way to several victories.
- George Steele would retire in 1989 due to Crohn’s Disease. He would make small appearances here and there in the WWF after this as well as TNA.
- Harley Race, in a match with Hogan, would obtain a massive hernia due to a botched stunt outside the ring and would have to undergo surgery. He would leave in 1989.
- Roma and Powers would break up soon after this match. Off-screen, they didn’t get along. Powers would go on to be a jobber while Roma, after jobbing, would team with Hercules to form “Power and Glory”.
- Patera would leave the WWF shortly after Wrestlemania due a ruptured tendon in his bicep which greatly reduced his in-ring skills.
- Bass would continue to compete until early 1989 until he left the WWF and competed in independent circuits before retiring a couple of years later in 1991.
- Sam Houston had a volatile life and left the WWF in 1989. He would wrestle independently and even host some wrestling circuits in the deep south. His trouble with the law lead to a divorce. He has had several DUI’s and is currently in prison until 2014.
- Sika would move on after Wrestlemania IV and eventually form a successful wrestling training center with his brother, Afa.
Post-match, Hart threw a fit, attacked Brown and destroyed the trophy. It was, at this point, where Hart would become a MASSIVE face wrestler.
The first match of the WWF Championship Tournament would begin following this match with Robin Leach of “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” reading the rules and proclamation that the tournament was underway.
Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant would get a “bye” in the first round, being that they were former competitors.
MATCH #2: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/ Virgil & Andre the Giant)
DiBiase had just begun his career with the WWF and was modeled after the type of wrestler Vince McMahon would want to be if he were a wrestler. DiBiase is one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time. His skills were second-to-none. He was one of the finest wrestling technicians I’ve ever seen wrestle. Duggan was a pure thug and a fan favorite. He reminds me a LOT of Junkyard Dog in that the two men rely more on strength and brute force to win matches. At one point, Duggan actually hit a sunset flip to get a two-count. Ventura says, “Wow! I didn’t know that Duggan was capable of such a move!” I had to laugh because it’s true. The match ends when Duggan goes for the Three-Point Stance, only to get tripped by Andre the Giant. He goes after the Giant who punches Duggan at the same time as DiBiase kicks him. Duggan goes down and DiBiase gets the pin.
WINNER: Ted DiBiase via cheating.
GRADE: D+. A lot of these matches were for storyline purposes only. They weren’t particularly good.
Backstage, Mean Gene interviews Brutus Beefcake who has never looked more like a gay Chippendale in his life. By the way, Gene actually says, “Look at you! What a PACKAGE!” Then he admires Brutus’s fishnet tights and nearly touches his crotch. It’s kinda uncomfortable to watch.
MATCH #3: Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin) vs. Don Muraco (w/ “Superstar” Billy Graham)
Muraco, at this point in his life, was called “The Rock” and it’s very odd to hear that name being bandied about throughout the match. It’s funny that the name and gimmick didn’t catch on until Dwayne Johnson made it famous but the WWF’s marketing team wasn’t as huge as it is now. Bravo is a great competitor and so is Muraco. The two men are great in-ring technicicans who also have some great strength. It’s interesting to note that Muraco is a face in this match…but that he did not LIKE being a face. More on that in a moment. The end of the match comes when Don Muraco is tossed into the ropes and goes for a shoulderblock on Bravo. Bravo pulls the referee into the way and Muraco hits him instead. Bravo hits his side suplex but the ref disqualifies Bravo and Muraco advances.
WINNER: Don Muraco via DQ.
GRADE: D-. The match is too short and isn’t particularly well-worked.
Post-match, Bob Uecker interviews The Honky Tonk Man.
MATCH #4: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Gorilla starts listing body parts in this Wrestlemania IV, a trademark which was both amusing and intelligent. I can’t even pronounce what he called the back of Steamboat’s head. It’s pretty funny stuff. Even Ventura goes, “Can you REPEAT that, please?!” The match is great and pretty evenly-matched. Lots of traded slams, dropkicks, chops, a near Figure Four, and near falls. The end comes when Dragon goes for the Dragon Splash but Valentine reverses the pin and grabs Steamboat’s tights to get the win
WINNER: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine via cheating
GRADE: B- for the crappy finish. Looking back on all this, the heels never seem to win clean. The dark irony here is that Steamboat brings his son to ringside with him who he calls “Little Dragon”. Steamboat left the company for a little while, following his IC Title win over Savage at Wrestlemania III which did NOT sit well with the WWF. Steamboat did it so that he could be there for the birth of his son. He came back but the WWF would not push him into anything meaningful. This was the first match that mattered. It’s really a shame that Steamboat was buried like he was. He’s one of my all-time favorite wrestlers and McMahon should be ashamed. On the other hand, Valentine was no slouch. He had the skills, the power and Jimmy Hart with the Megaphone of Doom. Steamboat ran a series of promos before Wrestlemania IV, stating that he hoped that him and Savage could have a return bout but, alas, it would not happen. Steamboat deserved better than this. After Wrestlemania IV, Steamboat announced his retirement from the WWF, frustrated by his treatment. He would wrestle with WCW following this but leave in 1989 due to a contract dispute. In 1990, he would tour with a Japanese wrestling company before making his return to the WWF in 1991 as “The Dragon” with full on red, orange, yellow, and green colors as well as a gimmick where he would “breathe fire” before his matches. Still, the WWF refused to push him. His only Pay Per View appearance was at Summerslam. After that, he was booked in a dark match, where he lost to a weak heel named “Skinner” (better known as Doink the Clown). After this, Steamboat gave notice that he was quitting the WWF again. He would work for three more years for WCW (having pretty moderate success) before finally retiring as a working wrestler in 1994. He would come out of retirement in 2005 to help launch the success of TNA and made one more appearance at Wrestlemania with Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka. In 2009, Steamboat would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Backstage, Mean Gene talks with Koko B. Ware and The British Bulldogs who have Matilda in their grasp. Koko is the most happy jobber I have ever seen. I still cannot believe he was around so long.
MATCH #5: “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/ Slick) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth)
In 1987, following his famous match with Ricky Steamboat, the WWF decided to give him a major push and soften his image: he would win the King of the Ring tournament, stopped acting so hostile toward his real-life wife and manager Miss Elizabeth, and would feud against The Honky Tonk Man to get his Intercontinental Title back following the decision to bury Steamboat. The powers that be, however, decided that Savage was getting bigger than the Intercontinental Title, so they kept the belt around HTM’s waist (which I never understood – looking back on this now, HTM, while fun, wasn’t that good). Savage would, instead, be entered into this tournament. Savage takes a pretty good beating in this match. Butch Reed is a good heavyweight wrestler. Macho Man, however, is the best of both worlds: brawler with speed and good in-ring awareness. The end of the match comes when Reed goes to the top rope for a high-risk move only to get thrown to the mat by a resurgent Savage. Savage hits his flying elbow drop off the top rope and the rest is history.
WINNER: Randy Savage via Flying Elbow.
GRADE: C-. The two work great but the match is just an appetizer. Following Wrestlemania IV, Reed left the WWF and went to WCW. He would wrestle there before leaving in 1992. He would wrestle in independent circuits for the better part of his career and make one more appearance in the WWE in 2007.
Bob Uecker is backstage again and he’s bragging about talking to Vanna White. Uecker mocks Jesse Ventura about talking to Vanna White. Bobby Heenan is with The Islanders who Uecker interviews. Even fake, Uecker has the most balls I’ve ever seen.
MATCH #6: One Man Gang (w/ Slick) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Oliver Humperdink)
Neither of these men were particularly skilled. This was another “both rely on strength/big-guy” match. The match is comprised of OMG (OMG!) working over BBB in the corner, then punching him out of the corner before throwing him back into the corner, splashing him there. Bigelow hits a nice splash and actually nice cartwheel(!) at one point. The end of the match comes after Bigelow gets knocked from the ring by Slick. Bigelow hits a headbutt, then puzzlingly, the bell rings and OMG exits the ring. Apparently, Bigelow loses by countout. That was an odd one.
WINNER: One Man Gang via countount.
GRADE: F. Boring as fuck. Quick match, though. So, there’s that. The one side-effect to a “tournament” this large is that you have to shove 16 matches into 4 hours and deal with some guys that aren’t particularly decent wrestlers. That’s approximately 1 match every 25 minutes which is knocked down to about 5 to 10 minute matches depending on talent, promos, commercials, skits, Vanna, and breaks to show announcers talking about all of this.
Backstage, the Big Orange Menace, Hulk Hogan runs his promo, yelling about Andre the Giant. Hogan says he’s going to wipe all the controversy out and beat Andre fair and square. Hogan talks about his “little Hulksters” and how they fear Andre and then slobbers and screams about how he’s gonna slam Andre. He has more skill on the mic than he does in the ring.
After that promo, we see a VERY young Donald Trump at ringside, demanding Vince’s birth certificate.
MATCH #7: Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Rude gets on the mic and says he wants to show everyone why “the odds are in his favorite”. *Sigh*. Ladies man, great heel, terrible on the mic. Jake Roberts’ music hits and The Snake is on the way out. Leading up to this match, Rude hit on Roberts’ wife, even stenciling her image on his tights at one point. Roberts stripped him down to “nothing” (in real-life, Rude was blurred and wearing a skin-colored g-string). This was the final straw between the two and one of my favorite matches of all-time just due to the skill shown by both wrestlers and at how well-worked it is. It also helps that Rude and Roberts are so good selling their gimmicks and hatred that the crowd has no trouble buying the feud. The match is a knock-down drag-out affair with a lot of traded punches, locks, and reversals. At one point, Snake is propped in the corner and Rude is working him over. He goes for one shoulderblock, then another and another. He tries again and Roberts hits a knee right in the face. At one point, he tries a suplex but, almost effortlessly, Snake just “jumps” behind Rude and hits a move from there. He goes for another knee-lift and one point but misses and Rude slams him into the ring on his back. Great move. The match DOES slow down for a bit when Rude never seems to let go of a headlock, no matter what Roberts seems to do. The match ends with Rude trying to get a pin by propping himself on the ropes. He gets a two-count before the bell rings. The match goes the full fifteen minutes. It’s a draw and One Man Gang will get a bye.
WINNER: Draw. No winner
GRADE: D+. This was one match that could have been great. Lots of intensity but with no actual climax. Wonder if that’s what Roberts’ wife thought about Rude. HI-YO!
Backstage, Mean Gene interviews Vanna White. Not surprisingly, she likes Hulk Hogan and, whuddyaknow, picks all the other faces to win, too. (Is it me or was Vanna not that attractive? There were several other celebrity women who I thought were better. Vanna was like that PTA mom without the wild side. She just didn’t do it for me.)
MATCH #8: Hercules (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Warrior burst on the scene prior to Wrestlemania IV, immediately feuding with Hercules. Warrior, to me, was like Hogan. He was impressive-looking with a lot of energy (which made him such a favorite) but was just another unstoppable face with no real talent. Lots of punching, chops, clotheslines and shoulderblocks before he finally hits his signature moves. This match is more of the same. The two are such roid monsters so this was supposed to be the big wrestler ‘splosion. The end comes when Hercules goes for the Full Nelson which Warrior converts into a back suplex. At the last moment, Warrior lifts the shoulder and gets the pin.
WINNER: The Ultimate Warrior via Suplex
GRADE: D-. This was just terrible, despite the strength of the guys involved.
Post-match, Hercules thinks he’s won but Warrior is declared the winner. Hercules tries to choke out Warrior with his chains but Warrior breaks out and chases Hercules and Heenan from the ring with it.
We go to a promo about Hogan vs. Andre, which is the next match. It’s all the build-up. What I couldn’t understand was this: DiBiase asks Andre if he will “deliver” the championship to him. Wouldn’t the right kayfabe move be Tunney warning DiBiase that forfeiting the belt won’t be kosher?
MATCH #9: Andre the Giant (w/ Ted DiBiase & Virgil) vs. Hulk Hogan
So, out comes Andre with DiBiase and Virgil in tow. Andre, at this point in his career, was having some big time trouble with his knees due to his weight and had actually had surgery to correct the issue. The reason why he never got the championship was because of health reasons. I have to say that Hogan really lights up the crowd early. This match DOES work because of the popularity of the two wrestlers but pales in comparison with Wrestlemania III’s match. (Actually, the latter is true. The former isn’t.) There are moments where you can tell Andre is in a GREAT deal of pain. He gets the upper hand and really favors his back. I’m really surprised Andre went on as long as he did with such pain. Hogan goes for his punches and then clotheslines Andre into a corner. Virgil gets on the apron and DiBiase hits Hogan with a chair which he ridiculously no-sells. He grabs the chair and clubs Andre in the head with it. Now, HERE, it should be Hogan losing via cheating, but this is Hogan-Land and he can’t lose at all, even cheaply. Andre grabs the chair and clocks Hogan who goes down in a heap. The bell rings. Both men are disqualified.
WINNER: Double DQ. Nobody.
GRADE: D-. This match is terrible. No redeeming value. It’s slow and boring. Andre being in severe pain doesn’t help. He can barely walk.
Post-match, Hogan goes after DiBiase and ends up catching Virgil. He botches a suplex (did I mention Hogan is terrible at doing anything other than punching, kicking and running over people?) staying standing as Virgil practically breaks his neck, hitting the mat.
Then he goes after Andre and body slams him in the ring. His music hits and he poses like he’s won. Again, seeing past the glitz and glamor, this just makes Hogan look like an ego-maniac. Needs to be a winner all the time, no matter what. This is a running theme. Trust me. I’ll show several more instances of this. The posing and posturing in the ring lasts FOREVER. This is ridiculously stupid. Then he goes outside the ring and poses. Then he walks down to the aisle and poses. Then he walks down the aisle and poses. Then he gets to the entrance and poses. My god…
Backstage, Mean Gene talks to Savage about his Quarterfinals match.
MATCH #10 – “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs. “The (fake) Rock” Don Muraco (w/ “Superstar” Billy Graham)
The winner of this match gets a bye in the semi-final round. Muraco comes out first with “Superstar” Billy Graham. DiBiase comes out next and he has no help from Virgil OR Andre who were both injured by Hogan in the last match. Muraco, to his credit, is good in this match getting a great upperhand and a HUGE powerslam. Muraco gets a great standing dropkick. DiBiase wanders outside and nearly gets caned in the face by Graham until he begs off and re-enters the ring. Muraco tries to pull DiBiase out of the ring corner but DiBiase uses his lower body strength to slingshot Muraco into the corner. The end comes when DiBiase misses an elbow off the second turnbuckle. Muraco overtakes DiBiase, clotheslining him out of the corner. DiBiase gets hit by a shoulderblock and then tries another but DiBiase clotheslines Muraco by dropping him onto the ropes. DiBiase gets the cover for the win. DiBiase gets a bye.
WINNER: Ted DiBiase via rope clothesline
GRADE: C-. DiBiase gets no cheating help at all and still wins even though Muraco had help. The situation makes me think of Dark Helmet’s quote in Spaceballs: “Now you see why Evil will ALWAYS triumph: because good is DUMB.” Muraco left the WWE in late 1988. Despite his steroid abuse (which never mattered to the WWE), he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Mick Foley in 2004 and would also induct Mr. Fuji into the Hall of Fame 5 years later.
Backstage, Uecker is still obsessing over Vanna White until Demolition shows up with Mr. Fuji to talk about their Tag Team Championship match.
We are told that One Man Gang will go to the Semi-Finals. Yeah. We know.
MATCH #11: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Valentine gets an early advantage and Savage reverses. Savage’s “temper” and instincts show here and I love the back and forth between these two. Hammer has this great elbow drop that reminds me of a hammer coming down. He does this to Savage and it looks great. Then he gets a shoulderbreaker on Savage. Savage sells a lot of pain here as Valentine really takes over. At one point, Valentine tries for a Figure Four but Savage, instinctively, backs up and grabs the ropes. Savage comes alive and hits a double axehandle off the ropes and nearly gets a fall except Hart interferes. This match is well-worked. Both guys fight hard. There are some who are going to go after me for saying that Savage is a better wrestler. HE IS. Savage actually puts OVER the people he works with. AND he has skill – as demonstrated here: the end of the match comes when Valentine tries another Figure Four but Savage wraps him up in a small package to get the pinfall. Great match. The last two are better than Hulk and Andre.
WINNER: Randy Savage via small package pin
GRADE: B-. Match was good, not great.
Backstage, Gene is with Vanna White. Vanna White “enjoyed” Hulk and Andre…I just have no words. She “still likes The Hulk!” Gene says that him and Vanna work well together. Gene leering at Vanna makes me wanna throw up.
MATCH #12: Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake (challenger) vs. The Honky Tonk Man (champ) (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Back in the ring, it’s time for the WWF Intercontinental Championship to be defended. The Honky Tonk Man comes out to the ring first with Jimmy Hart and “Peggy Sue” in tow. Beefcake is a favorite and has some great skills and strength. Honky, I still don’t get. I mean, he’s a fairly good heel but that’s it. He has a good fist drop and a nice snap mare but he’s nothing special. Without Hart or Peggy Sue or Valentine, he’s just a cheap gimmick. He has Brutus ready for The Shake, Rattle and Roll but doesn’t do it. He tries again but Brutus grabs the ropes and stops it from happening. The end comes with Brutus hitting the Sleeper and, of course, Hart interferes and knocks out the ref with the megaphone. Brutus will win via DQ. Beefcake didn’t win the title here and I’m happy for that.
WINNER: Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake but HTM retains on DQ.
GRADE: C-. I didn’t like HTM. I don’t like Barber either. Crap finish, too. The match was decent but even the crowd wasn’t into this much. “Peggy Sue”, by the way, was Sherri Martel. Sometimes, Martel played her…but most of the time, it was Hart dressed in drag. This was a short-lived gimmick. Before that, she was Sensational Sherri and competing for the Women’s Championship Bit of trivia for you. Thank me later when you win $600 bucks on Millionaire.
Post-match, Hart runs for his life and tries to grab Brutus’s scissor bag. Brutus gets a hold of him and then cuts Hart’s hair. Love it. Inside, the ring, Peggy Sue tries to wake up HTM, then gets a jug of drinking water (How Monsoon dubbed it a “water bucket” is beyond me) and splashes it on him. The trio escapes before Brutus can get the shears on HTM. Not a great match, really, but works as a non-tourney match.
Backstage, Bob Uecker is STILL trying to find Vanna White. This is a major plot point, apparently. Andre shows up and he’s happy that Hogan is out of the tourney. That’s what DiBiase paid him for. Uecker nods and tries to bring up Vanna White again. He then chokes Uecker and walks away, smiling.
MATCH #13: The Islanders (Haku and Tama) & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) & “The Birdman” Koko B. Ware
The next match sees The Islanders with Bobby Heenan taking on The British Bulldogs with Koko B. Ware in a 6-man tag match. This is a great tag match to start. Both teams have such strength and agility. Since their bulldog, Matilda, hates Heenan, Heenan wrestles in a jacket that is dog bite-proof. Gotta love the humor. The match moves at a quick pace but I have to say that B. Ware and Heenan are not needed at all. They stick out with a sore thumb. Heenan actually shows a pretty good level of skill, however, and is a great sport. Him and Koko go at it and Heenan actually gets the upper hand once or twice. When you’re selling to Heenan, you know you’re on the decline. The end comes when the Islanders team up on Koko with the referee’s back turned. They drop Koko on the mat and then toss Heenan on top of him. Heenan gets the pin on Koko.
WINNERS: The Islanders via cheating
GRADE: C+. Koko must not have cared about anything at this point and probably would have jobbed to his parrot. After this, The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith would have one more major match as the Bulldog team at Survivor Series a few months later. It’s said that The Dynamite Kid was a pain in the ass backstage and would always argue with Vince McMahon on nearly everything. It all came to a head when, one night, Kid got into a real fight with Jacques Rougeau and was pretty much canned. After he left, he wrestled independently with Smith for awhile before Smith returned for a singles career in the WWF. In 1991, DK (Thomas Billington, his real name) would announce his retirement. It turns out he was on steroids and cocaine and he was falling apart. He would make brief independent wrestling appearances here and there but drug use got the best of him. He nearly died of excessive LSD use combined with Cocaine and had to be revived by paramedics. This caused major heart problems as well and wasted his body down to almost nothing. Billington is now wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life with a paralyzed left leg. In his autobiography, he keeps up his rather ignorant and standoffish attitude, insulting many a wrestler and people in the industry. He also says he regrets absolutely nothing. He’s lucky he isn’t dead from this attitude.
Post-match, the Bulldogs sick Matilda on Heenan.
Back at Wrestlemania IV, Mean Gene says that he would like to direct his attention to Jesse “The Body” Ventura. He takes off his jacket and poses. He gets some good applause here.
Back in the ring, Howard Finkel announces that Ted DiBiase has automatically advanced into the final round of the WWF Championship Tournament.
MATCH #14: One Man Gang (w/ Slick) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth)
Ventura, to his credit, lists all the opponents Savage has had to beat so far. Steamboat would have been great right here. If you’re gonna bury the guy, you could have given him one last great match. Savage takes full advantage of a slower Gang but Gang also utilizes his strength. Macho Man takes a helluva beating here and, for the most part, this isn’t a skilled match. OMG kinda runs over Savage for most of the match then misses his huge splash. Savage gets out of the way of a shoulderblock in the corner and then powers him out of the ring. He goes for a flying double axehandle on the outside, then tries to slam Gang but that doesn’t work. Gang picks up Savage and tries to choke him. He drops Savage. The end comes when Slick goes after Elizabeth and begins pushing her around. Savage sees him doing so, gets out of the way of a splash by Gang and goes after Slick. Slick tosses Gang his cane who nails him in the back with it. Instead of pinning Savage, he tries to hit Savage in the head with it, but the ref sees it. DQ. Savage wins.
WINNER: Savage via DQ.
GRADE: F. Nothing special.
Backstage, Gene is with Vanna again. She goes outside to ringside as Gene checks out her ass. Uecker arrives just as she leaves.
MATCH #15: Demolition (Ax and Smash) (challengers) (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) (champions) for the WWF Tag Team Championship
I’ve always liked Demolition. They’re just great wrestlers with such power and punishment. Strike Force is all skill and speed and technical smarts. You gotta love it. The match is mainly comprised of Axe and Smash getting some good lock-ups to keep them near their corner. At one point, Martel hits a nice hip toss on Axe. The two team up on Tito Santana in the corner. Smash has a bear hug and Axe clotheslines Santana out of it. The one thing I noticed here: Ventura has two AWFUL racist remarks. At one point, he calls Haku a “Chinaman” (in the Bulldogs match) and Monsoon is audibly uncomfortable with this. In this match, he remarks that “Chico (Tito) is probably wishing he was selling tacos back in Tijuana.” Then, when Tito hits a Flying Forearm, he says that “Chico learned that move in the Mexican Football League, the MFL!” Not classy, Jesse. Not at all. Demolition are masters of keeping the ref distracted and do it throughout the match. The end comes when Martel gets the hot tag and hits some great drop kicks on Axe and Smash. He goes for the Boston Crab on Smash and Axe tries to break it up. He fails and Tito knocks him out. Fuji gets on the apron and tries to distract the ref but Tito beats up on Fuji. The ref gets involved with that skirmish. The cane drops in front of Axe who uses it to knock out Martel with the ref’s back turned. The ref STILL doesn’t see anything and is still working on breaking up Tito and Fuji. Tito tosses the ref off of him and right near Smash, who is covering Martel. He counts three. We have new champions. Good match.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: Demolition via pinfall
GRADE: B-. Has one match ended clean? In any case, Demolition rocks. They were supposed to be heels but they were over with the crowd who couldn’t have given two shits about Strike Force which was way past its prime as a thing.
The final match is Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase. Robin Leach comes out with the belt. He meets Donald Trump. *Sigh*…seeing that old late-80’s title belt brings warm feelings to my heart. Uecker comes out next. He’s still looking for Vanna, I guess. Uecker meets Donald Trump. He’s the special ring announcer much like last year. He introduces Vanna White. I never got her appeal. I mean she’s pretty but…yeah. Nothing special. She gets in the ring and he puts his lecherous arm around him and they walk around the ring. Vanna kisses his cheek and Uecker practically jizzes in his pants.
Uecker says that DiBiase is “accompanied by himself”. Then he says, “Uh-uh…he’s got the big guy with him…” Boy…
MATCH #16: “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/ Andre the Giant) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth & Hulk Hogan) for the WWF Championship
DiBiase hits the ring with Andre at ringside. His opponent is, of course, Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth. Disturbingly, Ventura asks Gorilla who he “prefers” between Vanna and Liz. He picks Liz, to his credit. Savage immediately gets tripped by Andre. The crowd calls for Hogan but gets nothing. Andre trips Savage again and the ref doesn’t see it. Great match so far. I really wish that Andre wasn’t involved. It just cheapens things. The two men weigh about the same and use some great technical skills. Both men have such awareness and so many tricks, they should be wearing luchadore masks. At one point, Savage meets with Liz and tells her something. She agrees and goes to the back. The crowd cheers. They already know what’s coming and chant for Hogan. And here he comes because he has to be in the middle of everyone’s business and the center of attention. Hogan ruins everything and can’t let Savage win on his own. He comes in the ring and chairs DiBiase in the middle of it. Savage hits the flying elbow. New champion. Hogan, of course, GRABS THE BELT. He goes and gives it to Savage and then celebrates in the ring. I’m surprised they’re not playing HIS music.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Savage via Flying Elbow
GRADE: C+. Overbooking hell which just just gets worse with Hogan entering the fray.
Seriously, I’m really surprised that he practically booked himself in the middle of everyone’s big moment. The WWF couldn’t let somebody else have the spotlight.
Anyhow, decent Wrestlemania.
(Not really. Watching this, while nostalgic, was a chore. I give it a D+, at best, just because Hogan looked really out-of-sorts and just HAD to be injected into everything.)
I wish Steamboat would have been pushed. The Hogan-Andre match was a HUGE letdown. Savage wins. That’s cool. 🙂