I made the decision not to cover Clash of the Champions next. I will cover all of the Clashes, as well as Saturday Night’s Main Event, at a later time. If I started adding all of the Clash events into my reviews, then it would take even longer than it already will. I will focus on covering the PPVs.
(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
March 27, 1988
Trump Plaza (Atlantic City Convention Hall)
Atlantic City, New Jersey
After the WWF held their Royal Rumble event on the USA Network the same night as Bunkhouse Stampede, JCP decided to return the favor by holding the first ever Clash of the Champions live on TBS the same night as WrestleMania IV. This would be the last time this would happen, as the cable companies finally put their foot down and said enough. I will cover the Clash at a later date, but today I am covering the fourth annual WrestleMania. The main focus of this event is a single elimination tournament to determine who will hold the now vacant WWF Title. Vacant title?? Whaaaaat happened!?
On February 5th, at The Main Event, Hogan and Andre had their rematch. Virgil got involved, which opened the door for Andre to hit a couple of headbutts to the back of Hogan’s head and then suplex him. He covered Hogan and referee Dave Hebner counted 3, but Hogan’s shoulder was clearly off the mat. The ref ignored Hogan’s complaints and handed the title to Andre, who immediately surrendered it to Ted DiBiase, as he promised. Hogan protested, but it was too late. DiBiase left with the title, but a second ref entered the ring. This ref was identical to Dave Hebner and was yelling at his doppelganger. Hogan turned to see this startling sight and couldn’t believe his eyes. The commentators speculated that the impostor ref was someone who was paid off by DiBiase. The impostor was actually Dave’s identical twin, Earl Hebner, who was formerly a ref in the NWA. Earl, realizing the gig was up, attacked Dave, so Hogan attacked him and tossed him onto DiBiase. The story was supposed to be that it was an evil twin ref, but someone forgot to inform Hogan of this. He would hilariously cut a promo where he implied that DiBiase paid someone to get plastic surgery. DiBiase was allowed to carry the title around for about a week before President Jack Tunney finally declared that the title would be vacated due to the controversy. A tournament was set for WrestleMania to determine the new champion. Hogan and Andre would both be given a bye in the first round, since they both had claims to the title, originally.
The show opens with a slot machine. The lever is pulled and the WrestleMania logo appears on the screen, as the machine starts spitting out WWF coins. Mean Gene Okerlund is in the ring and he introduces singer Gladys Knight to sing “America the Beautiful”. She’s wearing a jacket that’s covered in advertisements, like a race car. She does a fairly good rendition of the song and manages to sneak one verse of “My Country tis of Thee” into the performance. Gorilla says that the song gave him goosebumps. After she finishes, officials carry a trophy to the ring, as participants for the opening battle royal walk down the ramp.
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura welcome everyone to the show. Jesse says that he’s pumped because he doesn’t have to work with McMahon tonight. I agree. I was glad to see Gorilla back after the Rumble. They talk about the tournament a little bit and then talk about the celebrity guests, which brings Bob Uecker to the booth. He’s back for the second year and talks about his contract being renewed. He greets Gorilla and gives Jesse a dirty look, so Jesse shows him his fist.
20 Man Battle Royal
This match is basically to get everyone that isn’t involved in the tournament or championship matches a payday. Uecker joins commentary for this match. He makes a comment about how Vince called to invite him and Gorilla quickly changes the subject. The WWF was still trying to keep it a secret from the fans that Vince McMahon was the owner of the WWF.
Participants: The Hart Foundation, The Young Stallions, Sika, Danny Davis, The Killer Bees, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, The Rougeaus, Ken Patera, Ron Bass, Junkyard Dog, The Bolsheviks, Hillbilly Jim, Harley Race, & George the Animal Steele.
One last side note before I start, The Hart Foundation are wearing a variation of their gear that looks like ballet leotards. It’s not important to the match. I just found it amusing. Everyone breaks into fisticuffs to start. Sam Houston and Sika are the first two eliminated. George Steele is on the outside and apparently never entered the ring. The refs keep trying to convince him to enter, but he simply wanders around ringside and gets involved. Meanwhile, the Killer Bees keep evading near elimination. Steele ends up grabbing Neidhart by the arm and pulls him over the top rope. For some reason, the refs count this as an elimination. Ray Rougeau and both the Bees are eliminated next and Ron Bass quickly joins them. Boris Zhukov dumps Hillbilly Jim and Danny Davis gets dropped over the ropes. Soon, Jim Powers is tossed out the other side of the ring. Harley Race attempts to headbutt JYD, but it’s ineffective. Volkoff gets thrown out by Ken Patera and Patera also dumps Zhukov, but Nikolai pulls Patera out with him. Jacques Rougeau and Harley Race are the next to go, which leaves the final four. (Final Four: Bad News Brown, Bret Hart, Junkyard Dog, & Paul Roma) Bad News throws out Roma and then teams with Bret to attack JYD. The Dog fights back with headbutts, so Bad News and Bret regroup. They both manage to dump JYD out of the ring and it seems like the two of them will share the victory, but Bad News hits the Ghetto Blaster on Bret. He then beats him down and throws Bret over the top rope to win the match.
As far as battle royals, I only like the Royal Rumble. A regular battle royal tends to be uninteresting until the closing moments. This was no exception. They once again did a good job of making Bret Hart look strong. You could tell they already had an idea that he would get a singles run. This also did a good job of building Bad News’ character.
Winner: Bad News Brown
After the match, Brown is presented with his trophy. Bret Hart reenters the ring and attacks Brown from behind. He then proceeds to destroy the trophy and throw the pieces at Bad News, as he retreats to the back.
Bob Uecker leaves the commentary booth. He claims he’s looking for Vanna White because he’s in love with her. At least his tastes have gotten better since Mania III. Jesse asks if he’s after her vowels and Bob replies, “Just a letter here and there.” He leaves and Jesse says that he knows where Vanna is, but he’s not telling. Next, Fink explains the rules of the tournament, but the commentators speak over him. He then introduces Robin Leach to read a proclamation. Robin opens a scroll and says that the WWF has experienced extraordinary circumstances surrounding the championship. They sought a fair and just way to diligently determine a new champion and WrestleMania IV was the selected site for the tournament. 14 competitors have been selected and paired and are ready to compete. So, he proclaims that the tournament should begin with champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
First Round Match: Ted DiBiase (w/ Virgil & Andre the Giant) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Duggan and DiBiase both come to the ring with no music. Neither man has gotten their theme songs yet. Jesse tells everyone that only the winners advance. You don’t say!? Gorilla then says that the 1st round will have 15-minute time limits, the 2nd round will have 20 minutes, the 3rd will have 30 minutes, and the finals will have no limit.
Duggan backs DiBiase into a corner and we get a series of clean breaks and attempted cheap shots before it turns into a slug-fest. An atomic drop sends DiBiase tumbling over the ropes and he regroups with his entourage. When he heads back inside, he gets in some offense, but Duggan keeps coming back with clotheslines and 10 punches in the corner. DiBiase comes back with a clothesline that Duggan bumps terribly for and a jumping back elbow, but he only gets a 2 count. He then ducks for a back drop and Duggan does a wonky sunset flip for his own 2 count. Duggan starts countering more of DiBiase’s offense, such as a suplex and a flying axehandle. He slams Ted and goes for the three-point stance, but Andre grabs his foot and punches him. DiBiase then hits a running knee strike and a fist drop, which gets him the 3 count.
This wasn’t much of a match, but it sets the tone for how DiBiase’s night will go. Since they chose to have so many matches tonight, I understand why some of them will be short. I was okay with this being one of the short ones.
Winner: Ted DiBiase
Mean Gene is backstage with Brutus Beefcake, who pretends like he’s going to cut Gene’s hair with his garden shears. Gene introduces Brutus and points at him while saying, “What a package!” Whoa! Easy there Gene! Beefcake tells everyone his name and says that Honky Tonk Man won’t forget it. Then, he gives everyone a poem. “After tonight’s all over with and done, I will be the new champion!” He has to draw out the word “champion” to make it work. Gene then asks about Jimmy Hart and Brutus says he has his shears sharpened. If Jimmy gets involved then he might get his hair cut.
First Round Match: Don Muraco (w/ Superstar Billy Graham) vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin)
Dino Bravo is already in the ring and Fink calls him “Canada’s Strongest Man”. Jesse corrects him to say that he’s the world’s strongest man. Muraco comes out next with Graham and they dubbed over his theme on the network. It was originally the theme from Jesus Christ Superstar. Both men are wearing tie-dye shirts and Jesse claims that he was the originator of tie-dye.
There is a lot of shoving to start and fighting back and forth in the corner. Muraco botches what looks like an attempt at a Vader bomb and tries to turn it into an elbow drop. He arm drags and back drops Bravo, but Dino fights back with a gutwrench suplex. Muraco does some leg work for a while, including a step-over toe hold. However, he ends up getting shoved into a hangman spot in the ropes. Bravo then hits a piledriver, which is Muraco’s move and gloats to the crowd. His hesitation causes him to only get a 2 count. Both men go down to a double clothesline, but Muraco fights back to hit a running forearm. He goes for another one, but Bravo pulls the ref into his path. Bravo hits his side slam and goes for a cover, but the ref taps him on the shoulder. Bravo thinks he’s won, but Fink announces that Muraco wins by DQ.
There were shades of good stuff in this match, but it’s another one that was hurt by time constraints. I was surprised to see them using a hangman spot in the 80s. I thought that was something that Mick Foley made popular.
Winner: Don Muraco (by DQ)
Bob Uecker is backstage. He claims that Vanna White is waiting on him, but he has to do an interview first. The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart join him. Honky says that Uecker isn’t looking for Vanna, he’s looking for something else if you know what he’s talking about. I…don’t. What is he talking about? Uecker says that they will meet Brutus Beefcake shortly and Jimmy is going to lose some locks. Honky says that if he wants to make jokes then they should talk about Uecker’s batting average. He then says the Intercontinental Title is serious business and Honky will give Brutus the Shake, Rattle, & Roll, even if he has to backstroke up the Mississippi.
First Round Match: Greg Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky Steamboat
Valentine is already in the ring, with Jimmy Hart. Steamboat comes out next and he has little baby Richie Steamboat with him. The baby looks confused and a little upset. He carries him to the ring and waves to fans. Gorilla says that it will be the bigger dragon who is wrestling, as Ricky hands the baby to his wife, who is ringside.
This match starts with some shoving, as well. Then they do a criss-cross spot, which leads to some arm drags by Steamboat, as well as some chops. Ricky gets some shoulder blocks for 2 counts and then gets thrown out of the ring, but he skins the cat back inside. He goes for a roll-up next, but Valentine falls over too early. On commentary, Jesse mentions his friend Barry Blaustein has picked Steamboat to win the tournament. Is that the same guy who made Beyond the Mat? Meanwhile, Steamboat attempts some arm work, but Valentine takes control with forearms. He drops Ricky on the back of his head, which Gorilla calls the “external occipital protuberance”. This confuses Jesse. The two men fight back and forth with reversed holds and chops. Valentine attempts a Figure Four but gets shoved into the corner. They then show a shot of Donald Trump in the crowd. He’s with Ivana and some mobster looking fellow. Jesse claims that Trump is his friend. I wonder if that’s still true. A chop-fest breaks out, between Valentine and Steamboat, not Jesse and Trump. Valentine ends up hitting a shoulder breaker and attempts the Figure Four again, but to no avail. Steamboat hits his flying chop and even rams Valentine into the turnbuckles 11 times. He then goes for his flying cross body, but Valentine reverses it and pulls the tights for a 3 count.
This was probably the best match so far, but that’s not saying much. I feel like it would have been better if given more time. I’m kind of surprised Steamboat didn’t win here. They could have set up another Savage/Steamboat match in the next round, but alas it didn’t happen.
Winner: Greg Valentine
Mean Gene is backstage with The British Bulldogs, Matilda the dog, and Koko B. Ware. They’re all petting Matilda, whom they just recently reclaimed from the Islanders. Gene says that the Bulldogs have had her in special training. Davey claims she’s now a “weasel dog” and they’re going to take her weasel hunting. An overly excited Koko says he smells a weasel hunt. I wonder what that smells like. He says he’s fired up and the Bulldogs are fired up. He tells Matilda to eat Heenan’s lunch.
First Round Match: Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Butch Reed (w/ Slick)
Reed and Slick are already in the ring. Slick is dancing and Butch is doing some posing. Savage and Elizabeth come out next and they’re wearing matching blue outfits. Or, are they purple? I’m color blind, so I can’t tell. Gorilla calls Elizabeth lovely and Jesse accuses him of drooling more than Matilda.
Reed struts and kisses his bicep, as the match starts. They lock-up and fight into the ropes, but Reed misses a clothesline. He does manage to back Savage into a corner and hits some knee strikes, but Savage blocks an attempt at another. Reed then reverses a suplex attempt and hits an elbow drop, while grunting quite loudly. Savage rolls to the apron, but he gets dropped neck-first across the rope. Reed hits a back elbow and a flying fist drop, but he spends too much time taunting the crowd. He ducks for a back drop, but catches an elbow. He manages to fight back and hit a jumping clothesline, but then he gets distracted by taunting Elizabeth. He goes to the top rope, but he keeps jawing with Liz, which allows Savage to slam him to the mat and hit the flying elbow drop for a 3 count. Jesse claims that Savage won because Elizabeth distracted Reed on purpose.
I was surprised by how much offense Reed got in this match. I guess they’re trying to paint Randy is an underdog, now that he’s babyface. This was another short one, but the action was decent enough.
Winner: Randy Savage
Uecker is backstage again. He has the WrestleMania program and points out that his picture is next to Vanna’s. He says that he signed a copy for her and she’s just around the corner waiting for it. Bobby Heenan and The Islanders interrupt him. Uecker says that Matilda is back, so Heenan is in a jam. Heenan taunts Uecker and accuses him of voting for himself for the baseball hall of fame. Heenan then says that he has a surprise for everyone and he has The Islanders, who proceed to bark like dogs. He says they can take all of their opponents, put them in one package, and get rid of them. He then says he has to get ready and leaves, as Uecker tries to get one last taunt.
First Round Match: One Man Gang (w/ Slick) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)
Gang and Slick are already in the ring and Bam Bam makes his entrance. He comes down to the ring to what sounds like an old Saturday Night Live theme. I have to ask, did Slick stay at ringside after the last match? It would be silly for him to go backstage only to come out again.
Gang jumps Bam Bam to start the match. He clubs him into the corner, whips him to the other side, and splashes him. However, he misses another corner charge and Bam Bam knocks him down before doing a cartwheel in celebration. He then splashes Gang for a 2 count. Everyone in this match is incredibly grunty, including the ref. Bam Bam then punches and headbutts Gang down, before hitting a falling headbutt. He goes to bounce off the ropes again, but Slick holds them down and Bam Bam falls outside. The ref saw this and did nothing. They fight at the ropes, but the ref keeps counting. Wouldn’t that constitute a break in the count? Apparently, it doesn’t because Bam Bam is counted out before he can re-enter the ring.
This was showing signs of possibly being a fun big man match, but then that stupid ending happened. It didn’t make any sense.
Winner: One Man Gang (by Count Out)
Mean Gene is backstage with Hulk Hogan. Gene says that it’s odd to introduce him without saying “WWF Champion”. Hogan says, “Fee fi fo fum, Andre! It’s been one long year, but your time has come!” He says there are no blemishes on him, but inside he’s scarred. Fans have asked him if there really was a controversial count and if he really did press Andre over his head. He says they will wipe away all the controversy tonight and prove to the world that he can beat Andre. Gene tells him that Hulkamaniacs are watching all over the world and Hogan agrees, but he says there is fear in their eyes. This is because when he slams Andre the entire east coast will break at the fault-line and Andre will fall into the ocean along with Trump and all the Hulkamaniacs. He says that as Trump holds onto the top of Trump Plaza, with his wife and kids under his arm, thank god Trump is a Hulkamaniac. He will know to let go of his worldly possessions (Okay…sure he will) and he will dog-paddle to safety. However, if Trump runs out of gas he can grab onto Hulk’s back and Hogan will dog-paddle them to safety himself. Hogan then backstrokes off camera. I think Hulk has officially gone off the deep end.
First Round Match: Jake the Snake Roberts vs. Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Rick Rude makes his way to the ring and Jesse reminds Gorilla that Rude is the winner of the “Jesse the Body Award”. This leads Gorilla to compare Rude to the Ultimate Warrior. Are they foreshadowing that feud already? Rude gets into the ring and gets a mic. He tells the men in the audience that they’re taking a gamble by letting their women see his body. Jake is out next and Gorilla mistakenly says that the winners are already chosen. He meant to say that the brackets are already chosen.
The two of them fight back and forth, as a small “DDT” chant starts. Rude ends up getting tossed into the corner with the snake bag. He doesn’t notice at first, but the second time he sees it and freaks out. Jake then starts working on Rude’s arm for a while. He eventually goes for the DDT, but Rude slips out and bails to the floor. He gets back inside and Jake goes back to the arm, but they fight back and forth some more. Rude takes control and Heenan tells him not to waste any time, so he almost immediately pauses to swivel his hips for the crowd. Rude then further ignores Heenan’s advice by going to a headlock. No matter how much Jake fights back, Rude keeps going back to the headlock. The fans start becoming restless because of the lack of action. The ref checks Jake’s arm, but he keeps it up on the 2nd drop. Eventually, he hits a jawbreaker and goes for the DDT, but Rude rams him into the corner. Jake hits a gutbuster for a 2 count, but Rude fights back and hits a back suplex that nearly drops Jake on his head. The two men go down to a double clothesline and Rude goes for a pin with his feet on the ropes, but the bell rings. Fink announces that the match is a time limit draw and the fans boo. Jake tries to salvage the fan reaction by getting Damien out of the bag, but it’s not enough. Gorilla informs everyone that this means One Man Gang gets a bye in the next round.
This match was thoroughly disappointing. I expected more from these two and I hate the draw finish. You could tell that they were eating up time to go to a time limit ending and it made the match boring.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
Mean Gene is backstage with Vanna White. They’re standing in front of a board with the brackets on it. Vanna says it’s all very exciting and she’s having a great time. Gene asks her if she’s seen Uecker and she replies, “Who?” Gene then asks who she picks between Hogan and Andre and she says, Hogan, because he’s been really nice to her. He then asks her about DiBiase/Muraco and she says she doesn’t like Ted because he tries to buy his way to victory. Then, he asks about Valentine/Savage and she picks Savage. Gene realizes they’re running out of time, so he glosses over the rest.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Hercules is already in the ring. I feel like I’m saying that about all the heels on this show. Warrior comes out next and he runs down the long ramp. He’s lucky he didn’t trip on that thing. Gorilla talks a little about Warrior snapping Hercules’ chain and I’m 99% sure that wasn’t a euphemism.
The two men attempt ineffective shoulder blocks and then shove each other before taking turns flexing. Warrior chops him into a corner, but Herc fights back and has to do three clotheslines to take him down. He then tries a short-arm clothesline, but Warrior clotheslines him first. They fight back and forth and even brawl on the outside. Then, we get a shot of Heenan playing pocket pool, for some reason. He reacts awkwardly when he sees that he got caught. They go back inside for some more back and forth and Warrior hits 10 punches in the corner. He stops to pose, which allows Herc to hit an inverted atomic drop. Warrior then misses a corner charge and Herc goes for the full nelson. He can’t clasp his fingers and Warrior ends up pushing off the turnbuckles. They fall into a pin, with both men’s shoulders down. The ref counts 3, but Warrior gets his shoulder up at the last second. Herc thinks he won, but the ref tells him he lost. Herc attacks after the bell and chokes Warrior with his chain, but Warrior gets the chain away from him. He sends the heels running, by swinging the chain around in a wide arc.
This was a bit sloppy. Warrior is still new, but he never completely loses that sloppiness. The ending was kind of inventive. It’s a decent way to keep both men looking strong. I figured they would have had Warrior get a more decisive victory, but I guess they’re not heavily pushing him just yet.
Winner: The Ultimate Warrior
Next, they recap the Hogan/Andre feud. Most of it is footage that was shown at Mania, as well as clips from the first Hogan/Andre match. Then, they show clips of DiBiase trying to buy the WWF Title and Hogan’s response. They also show Andre attacking Hogan and DiBiase buying Andre’s services. Then, they show clips from the Hogan/Andre match on The Main Event.
Quarter Finals Match: Andre the Giant (w/ Ted DiBiase & Virgil) vs. Hulk Hogan
Andre makes his way to the ring, with DiBiase & Virgil. The crowd lightly boo him, but they pick up for Hogan’s entrance. Hogan poses his way down the ramp and then quickly slides into the ring. Andre immediately attacks him, before Hogan can even take off his bandanna or t-shirt.
Andre chops punches and headbutts Hogan, but he fires back with forearms. DiBiase climbs onto the apron, so Hogan attacks him and ends up giving him and Andre a double noggin’ knocker. He then attacks Andre, who falls into the ropes and becomes tied up by the arms. Virgil and DiBiase free him, but Hogan meets him with punches. Andre ends up falling over, so Hogan drops some elbows, but Andre grabs a choke. He then drops a headbutt and sits on him, before choking him from behind. He keeps breaking the choke at the ref’s 4 count but goes directly back to it. Then, he turns it into a nerve hold, so the ref will stop giving him crap. The ref checks Hogan’s arm, but he keeps it up on the 3rd drop. Hogan fights back and signals for a slam, but Virgil distracts the ref. DiBiase runs into the ring and hits Hogan with a chair, so Hogan chases him away. Hogan gets the chair and hits Andre with it, but Andre wrestles the chair away from him. Andre then hits Hogan with the chair and the ref has had enough. He calls for the bell and disqualifies both men.
This was a bit more mobile than their Mania match, but it still wasn’t great. Since they weren’t going with Hogan winning this tournament, it makes sense to get him out early. Of course, he wasn’t going to job, so the DQ finish makes sense. I’m just confused as to why Hogan wasn’t disqualified the first time he used the chair. If they’re going to do a double DQ, then the attacks need to come around the same time.
Winner: Double Disqualification
After the match, Hogan chases DiBiase and Virgil away. DiBiase throws Virgil into Hogan and makes a run for it, so Hogan suplexes Virgil. However, Hulk wasn’t about to take a bump. He simply releases Virgil and drops him to the floor. It looked nasty. Hogan then spends an ice age posing in the ring and on the ramp. I guess he had to get his hot doggin’ in at some point.
Mean Gene is backstage with Savage and Elizabeth. Savage says that Hogan is a cheated man but not a defeated man. Gene asks him about his next match with Valentine. Randy says that nothing is going to stop the Macho Man now. Nothing is going to stop one-half of the Mega Powers. He says he’s going to take it all and then asks Elizabeth if he’s going to take it all. She says that she believes he is. Gene tells her that her smile will inspire Savage and Randy yells, “ALL THE WAY, YEAH!”
Quarter Finals Match: Ted DiBiase vs. Don Muraco (w/ Superstar Billy Graham)
Muraco heads to the ring and I notice that his dubbed theme sounds more like something Hercules would use. It sounds like gladiator music. DiBiase is out next and he hasn’t bothered putting his suit back on for this match. Virgil and Andre aren’t with him because of what happened in the last match.
Muraco takes control immediately by pulling DiBiase into the ring. He slams and powerslams him for a 2 count. He hits him with back elbows and a forearm smash for another 2. Then, he hits a neck whip and chases Ted into the corner, where he pulls him out and drops him on that external orbital protuberal thing, or whatever Gorilla calls it. DiBiase tries to bail, but Graham threatens him with his cane, so he heads back inside. Muraco tries to pull him out of the corner again, but DiBiase pulls him into the turnbuckles. He then starts choking him and hits him with clotheslines and fist drops, but Muraco gets a foot on the ropes during the pin. Ted ducks for a back drop and gets kicked, but gets an eye rake. He slams Don and goes for a falling elbow, but Muraco moves. He clotheslines and shoulder blocks DiBiase, but Ted catches him and hits a stun gun onto the top rope for a 3 count.
This was decent for a short match. It’s nice to show that DiBiase can get a clean victory. It’s a good way to show he’s a threat with or without the cheating.
Winner: Ted DiBiase
Uecker is backstage again. He’s nervous because he still hasn’t found Vanna. He’s also nervous because Demolition joins him. Smash mugs for the camera, before asking Bob if he remembers what it’s like to be hit in the head with a baseball bat. I don’t think that’s how you play baseball. I can’t blame Smash. Golf is really more his thing. Smash says that Fuji has ordered them to hit Strike Force over the head. Oh, come on Smash. You should have said you would strike them over the head. Ax then says they will get into brutal contact with Strike Force and all they have to do is reach up and ring their necks to bring home the gold. Uecker jokes that it must be Halloween already. Ax gives him a dirty look, so Bob mumbles something about sushi.
One Man Gang is in the ring, but it’s simply so Fink can announce that he has a bye. Did they really need to bring him out there for that?
Quarter Finals Match: Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Greg Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Valentine and Hart enter the ring, once Gang is gone. Savage and Elizabeth are out next and they’ve changed outfits. Now, they have matching pink (I think) outfits.
The two men fight back and forth, with Savage gaining the advantage. He hits a snap mare and a knee drop for a 2 count. They fight into the ropes and the ref wants a clean break, but Valentine hits a forearm. He drops another one off the turnbuckles and does an elbow drop for a 2 of his own. A shoulderbreaker also gets 2, before he throws Savage over the ropes. He attacks him on the outside with an elbow and rams him into the guardrail. He even attacks him at the ropes with elbows to the throat. He works the leg and he hits a suplex and a backbreaker for another couple of 2 counts. Savage fights back and does a couple of flying axehandles, but gets punched in the gut on the second one. Randy then misses a running knee and Valentine goes for the Figure Four, but Savage rolls him up for a 3 count.
This was another decent short match. It did a good job of showing that Savage was becoming tired and showing a sense of urgency.
Winner: Randy Savage
Gene is backstage again with Vanna. They’re at the bracket board and Gene says Uecker is driving him nuts. He asks if Vanna is hiding from him. She says she doesn’t even know who she’s supposed to be hiding from. She says she liked the Hogan/Andre match. Gene talks about DiBiase getting a bye and Savage advancing. Vanna says she like seeing Savage and Elizabeth working together. Gene tries to compare it to him and Vanna working together.
Intercontinental Title Match: Brutus Beefcake vs. The Honky Tonk Man (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue)
Honky comes to the ring with Hart and Peggy Sue, who is Sensational Sherri in a wig and sunglasses. Hey, wait a second. Peggy Sue was Buddy Holly’s thing, not Elvis. Honky is mixing up his gimmicks. Jesse says that what Honky lacks in skill, he makes up for in luck. That’s a backhanded compliment. Beefcake is out next and he hasn’t gotten his theme yet. He walks down the ramp while opening and closing his shears. That always makes me nervous. I keep waiting for a fan to stick a finger in there.
They lock-up and struggle into the ropes. Honky clubs him instead of making a clean break, but Brutus fights back. He catches Honky’s foot and hits an atomic drop. He then feigns going for a headbutt and messes up Honky’s hair instead. There is some back and forth and Brutus hits a high knee, so Honky bails outside. Brutus pulls him onto the apron by the hair and they fight back into the ring. The two men take turns missing their moves until Honky takes over with a fist drop and dances a little. He even distracts the ref, so that Hart can interfere. Then, he acts like he’s going for Shake, Rattle, & Roll, but kicks him instead. The commentators are confused by this. He goes for it again, but this time Brutus hooks the top rope. Beefcake takes control and gets the sleeper, while Honky’s arms flail around. Jimmy Hart decides to clock the ref with his megaphone before Honky can pass out. Beefcake lets go, thinking that he’s won, but notices the ref is out cold. Beefcake then threatens to cut Jimmy’s hair, so Hart grabs the bag of clippers and tries to run. He ends up going under the ring, but Brutus catches him. He holds Hart down and starts cutting his hair. He throws pieces of it into the air. Officials come out to check on the ref, so Peggy throws water on Honky to wake him up. Honky bails out of the ring and saves Hart, as Fink announces that Brutus has won by DQ.
There were parts of this match that was entertaining, but it was mostly a backdrop to Jimmy Hart getting his hair cut. The plan was for Honky to have a long reign with the title, so he wasn’t losing it here. I guess cutting Hart’s hair counts as a small victory for Beefcake.
Winner: Brutus Beefcake (by DQ)
Uecker is backstage, for what is one of the more iconic segments in WrestleMania history. He’s nervous again, but this time it’s because Andre the Giant is next to him. Andre claims he’s still undefeated and says that DiBiase paid him to make sure Hogan was out of the tournament. He wants Hogan to remember that he’s now an ex-champion. Andre then says that Hulkamania is over. Uecker tells Andre to get his foot off of his shoulder. Andre tells him to shut up and starts choking him, while Uecker hilariously over-sells it.
The Islanders & Bobby Heenan vs. The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware (w/ Matilda & Frankie)
The Islanders and Heenan come out and Heenan is wearing one of those thick attack dog handler outfits to protect him from Matilda. I noticed that the Islanders music is ridiculous. It’s stereotypical jungle music, with the sounds of screeching monkeys over the top of it. The Bulldogs and Koko are out next with a small zoo in tow. They have Matilda the bulldog and Frankie the parrot.
The match starts hot with Dynamite throwing Tama around the ring and even out of it. Davey and Haku end up entering the match and Davey gets some near falls off of a cross body, slam, and crucifix takeover. The two teams fight back and forth until Davey tags out to Koko. He takes down both Islanders with a head scissors/headlock takeover combo and tags Dynamite. He ends up getting in trouble, so Heenan comes in to get some cheap shots, but he tags out again at the first sign of a comeback. There’s some more back and forth until Koko is in trouble. Then, Heenan comes back in again. Bobby hits a knee lift and some forearms. Koko tries to fight back, but Heenan’s thick suit protects him. He starts choking Koko, who tries to rally himself by flapping his arms. He does fight back and takes Heenan down in the corner, so the Islanders come in to double team. Everyone gets into the ring, which distracts the ref. The Islanders use the opportunity to press slam Heenan onto Koko for a 3 count.
This was a fun little match. I liked the ending. It’s different to see Heenan actually get one over on someone, for once. The stuff with Heenan’s attack dog suit was amusing, as well.
Winners: The Islanders & Bobby Heenan
After the match, Davey brings Matilda into the ring and she chases Heenan away. They follow up the aisle and Davey has to lift the dog onto Heenan because she doesn’t want to cooperate.
Next, Fink introduces Jesse Ventura to the audience, for some reason. He climbs up onto the announce desk and poses for the crowd for a moment. Gorilla dares him to jump, as a joke. Fink then announces that Ted DiBiase, who is in the ring, has a bye. This show is long enough without pointless segments like this.
Semi Finals Match: Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. One Man Gang (w/ Slick)
This is the only semi-finals match because of the byes. Gang and Slick come to the ring, but they don’t play Slick’s theme, for some reason. Savage and Elizabeth are out next and now they’re wearing matching black outfits. Finally, a color I don’t have trouble with! Poor Elizabeth has to fend off fans trying to touch her. Savage threatens Slick, as he enters the ring.
The two of them fight into the ropes and the ref has to break them apart. Savage ends up grabbing Gang by the beard and snaps his head against the top rope, but Gang fights him into a corner and clubs him. He elbows him and squashes him in the corner, as the ref warns him. He then slams Savage, but Randy gets a foot on the ropes during the pin. Gang gets a 2 count off some elbow drops and then slams him, but he misses both a splash and a corner charge. Savage then hits axehandles both inside and outside the ring. Slick helps Gang back inside and then starts threatening Elizabeth. Savage goes after Slick, which distracts the ref, so Slick tosses his cane to Gang. Gang hits Savage with it and then starts trying to jab the cane into him, but Savage keeps rolling out of the way. The ref turns and catches Gang, so he calls for the bell.
This wasn’t much of a match. It got the job done, but there wasn’t much substance to it. I guess it’s a good way to have Gang lose without looking too weak.
Winner: Randy Savage (by DQ)
After the match, Slick consoles Gang, so Savage does a flying axehandle that sends both men crashing to the mat.
Gene is with Vanna again at the bracket board. Vanna excuses herself because she has to go to ringside, so Gene discusses the results himself. Uecker finally arrives and Gene tells him that Vanna just left. He says that he doesn’t think Vanna wants to see Bob, but Uecker says she wrote him letters. Gene doesn’t believe him, so Uecker backtracks and says the letters were from Vance White.
Tag Team Title Match: Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. Strike Force (c)
Demolition comes out to their awesome Rick Derringer theme, as some fans bat a beach ball around. I see that isn’t a recent problem at WWF shows. Strike Force come out next to their theme, “Girls in Cars”, which isn’t as awesome. Jesse says that he always gets Ax and Smash confused, which is odd since they don’t look that alike.
Smash and Martel start and Smash…smashes him with axehandles. Wait, shouldn’t axehandles be Ax’s thing? Smash catches Rick on a cross body, but Tito dropkicks them over to the mat. All four men end up in the ring and Strike Force do some double teaming to get a 2 count. Strike Force maintain control on both Ax and Smash with some arm work, but Smash fights out and holds Tito up so Ax can clothesline him. Demolition then uses quick tags to keep Tito in their corner and work him over for a while. Ax gets a 2 count off a powerslam and then Smash gets another one off a suplex, but Jesse accuses the ref of hesitating on the count. Tito fights back with a back drop and elbow, before hitting the flying forearm. Jesse jokes that Tito learned it in the MFL, the Mexican Football League. Tito finally makes the hot tag to Martel, who dropkicks both men and grabs a Boston Crab. Tito comes in to fend off Ax, but this distracts the ref. Fuji tosses his cane into the ring and Ax hits Martel with it, before covering for a 3 count.
This was pretty good, but even this match felt shortened by time constraints. I would have liked to have seen a longer match between them.
Winners: Demolition (New champions)
Fink announces that it’s time for the finals of the tournament. He then introduces Robin Leach, who comes to the ring with the WWF Title on a red cushion. It’s the famous “winged eagle” belt, which had recently debuted. The fans reach out to touch it, as he makes his way to the ring. He shows it to Donald Trump, before showing it to the camera. Next, Fink introduces the special guest ring announcer, Bob Uecker. Bob comes out to a tuba version of “Take me out to the ballgame”. A fan, with a cigarette in his mouth, jumps the guardrail and hugs Uecker, who looks confused. Bob then introduces Vanna White to be the guest timekeeper. He says he’s been dying to meet her. She makes her way to the ring and they’ve dubbed over the Wheel of Fortune song, on the network. She greets Donald Trump at ringside and he kisses her on the cheek. She then enters the ring and greets Uecker, who looks ready to pass out when she hugs him and kisses his cheek.
Finals of the WWF Title Tournament: Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Ted DiBiase (w/ Andre the Giant)
Uecker stumbles over the word “federation” during his introduction, as Ted DiBiase makes his way to the ring. Andre is with him, but Virgil is still hurt from earlier. Savage and Elizabeth are out next and this time they’re in matching white outfits. Savage gets in DiBiase’s face when he gets into the ring. I noticed that Dave Hebner is the ref. Did someone make sure it’s not Earl?
They fight into a corner to start and Andre keeps grabbing Savage by the leg. Savage warns him and tells the ref, but there’s nothing he can do about it. They then fight back and forth on some arm wringers and DiBiase fights him into a corner. He chops, punches, and elbows Savage to the mat and then clotheslines him for a 2 count. He then tries a shoulder block and sunset flip, but Savage punches him. Randy hits a clothesline of his own for a 2 count. DiBiase then takes a moment to regroup with Andre, before hitting a clothesline and back elbow, but Savage fires back with the same. Savage ends up knocking Ted out of the ring and goes for a flying axehandle, but Andre steps into the way. Savage climbs down and whispers something to Elizabeth, who retreats to the back. DiBiase takes control of the match, with three fist drops, but Elizabeth soon returns with Hulk Hogan in tow. DiBiase spots Hogan, as he takes Savage into the corner. Ted distracts the ref, so Andre can grab Savage, but this draws Hogan around the ring. Hogan punches Andre, as DiBiase hits an elbow drop, suplex, and a gutwrench suplex for three 2 counts. He then goes to the top, but Savage catches him and slams him into the ring. Savage then goes for the flying elbow drop, but he misses. DiBiase locks in the Million Dollar Dream and Savage tries to grab the ropes, but Andre swats his hand away. This distracts the ref, so Hogan runs into the ring and hits DiBiase in the back with a chair. Savage then hits the flying elbow drop and gets a 3 count.
I realize it’s at the end of a long show, so the match wasn’t going to go long. I would have loved to have seen a longer match between these two because what we got was pretty good. I just don’t understand why they would have Hogan so blatantly cheat. Something tells me that spot was Hogan’s idea. It was decent for what it was and it’s nice to see Savage win the WWF Title.
Winner: Randy Savage (New WWF Champion)
Hogan grabs the belt and presents it to Savage, while Jesse is complaining about Hogan’s interference. Jesse says his adrenaline is pumping so much that he might come out of retirement. I don’t know why he keeps teasing that match when he knows he’s not actually going to do that. Savage continues celebrating, as Hogan lifts his arm and Elizabeth cries. Savage sees this and places the title on Elizabeth’s shoulder, before lifting her onto his own shoulder. The celebration continues and Gorilla wishes everyone a good night. The show closes with a still shot of Savage carrying Elizabeth.
I’m not as negative about this show as some people are. I know it’s not a great one and it’s way too long, but it has some enjoyable moments. It’s far from the worst WrestleMania, but it certainly won’t be at the top of anyone’s list either. I think they should have trimmed down the tournament to one less round and it would have been better. The Clash of the Champions that aired on this same night was a far better show, but I will cover that at a later time.
As always, thank you for reading. Be sure to check out the new Facebook page I started for both of my blogs by clicking here. You can also check out my Monday Night Wars blog by clicking here. Also, follow me on Twitter @PaulDMatthews78. You can also leave any comments in the comment section at the bottom (below the article links).
My next review will be The Great American Bash ‘88.