(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
March 24, 1991
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
Los Angeles, California
This blog moved to www.classicwrestlingreview.com
It’s time for the 7th annual WrestleMania from the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Wait, what? This isn’t the L.A. Coliseum! For years, the WWF claimed that the event was moved due to a bomb threat. The truth is that ticket sales were so low that they moved to avoid embarrassment. The Sgt. Slaughter storyline had driven away viewers. People didn’t want to see a real-life war exploited for cheap heat. However, the WWF pushed ahead and booked a WWF Title Match between Sgt. Slaughter and Hulk Hogan for WrestleMania. The build for the match saw Slaughter burn a Hulk Hogan t-shirt because even the WWF wouldn’t go as far as to burn a flag. The symbolism was still there.
The other major storyline was the heated feud between the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage. After Savage cost Warrior the title, the feud escalated until they realized this town ain’t big enough for the both of them! A Retirement Match was booked for Mania, which means the loser’s career will end.
I have a few other interesting tidbits before we start. Bob Costas was originally supposed to be one of the celebrity guests, but he backed out due to being disgusted by the Sgt. Slaughter storyline. I don’t think Vince ever forgave him for this because they’ve had a tense relationship ever since. Also, it ended up being a cold and rainy day in Los Angeles, so it was probably for the best this show wasn’t held outdoors in the Coliseum. Finally, according to Bruce Prichard (take that for what it’s worth), Tugboat was originally going to be the Iraqi sympathizing turncoat who took the Sgt. Slaughter role. Imagine if they had gone with that plan. They might not even have filled the Sports Arena, let alone the Coliseum.
The show opens with stars flying over an American flag. Vince McMahon burns his throat by yelling about Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan while the classic WrestleMania theme plays. Then, they pan across the crowd and we get a shot of that Hulk Hogan fan who shows up in the front row for a lot of Hogan matches. You’d probably recognize him as the guy who dresses like Hogan but looks like Dave Sullivan. The Fink then introduces Willie Nelson to sing “America the Beautiful.”
Willie looks like he stopped by the merchandise stand and bought one of everything. Rumor has it that he and a few others had a party the night before where everyone partook of Willie’s favorite pastime. I imagine that Willie woke up wearing all that merchandise and couldn’t remember buying any of it. He sings a pretty good rendition of the song before Gorilla Monsoon welcomes everyone to the show. He’s alone, for the moment. Bobby Heenan will be his primary co-host, but there are guest commentators for the matches where Heenan is managing.
Jim Duggan joins Gorilla for the first match and he’s dressed like Uncle Sam. They talk about the matches and Gorilla calls the Retirement Match unprecedented. I’m pretty sure there have been retirement matches before in wrestling. Duggan says that Warrior is better trained and conditioned than Savage. I vehemently disagree. Then, they talk about the main event and Duggan says that Hogan will bring the belt back to the USA.
Sean Mooney is with the Rockers and he says they’re preparing for their biggest match yet because of the size of Haku & Barbarian. I think the Twin Towers were bigger, but I guess we’re not supposed to remember them. Marty replies that they’re big dudes, but the Rockers have been defying odds since the beginning and they’re tag team specialists. Are they going to open up their own tag team private practice clinic? Mooney then brings up the fact that Haku & Barbarian are members of the Heenan Family. Shawn replies that they may be the biggest and baddest, but what will that make the Rockers when they put them away? He then says they will turn heads, turn on crowds, and come out on top. Why would they turn on the crowd? Wouldn’t that make them heels? Oh—oh I get it.
The Rockers vs. Haku & The Barbarian (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Haku & Barbarian are already in the ring because they were never given music. Barbarian is wearing his antler hat and throw rug, but Haku is wearing what looks like comfy pajamas. The Rockers enter next to a great reaction and pose on the turnbuckles. Gorilla says Heenan predicted this match wouldn’t last a minute, but Duggan disagrees because the Rockers are in better condition. This time, he is correct.
Shawn and Haku start the match and Haku catches him on a couple of leapfrog attempts. Shawn does manage to hit a shoulder tackle before they trade arm wringers, but Haku catches him with a headbutt. Shawn makes a tag and the Rockers hit a double hip toss and double elbow drop, but Barbarian takes them both out with a clothesline. The Rockers answer back with double superkicks on both men, so Haku & Barbarian regroup. Barbarino returns and beats on Marty for a bit. He even blocks a sunset flip attempt, but Marty eventually hits an assisted hurricanrana. However, Marty falls victim to some headbutts and chops. He tries another hurricanrana, but the ref stops Shawn from assisting. They hotshot Marty and Barbarian press slams him before luring Shawn in for a distraction. They double team Marty and cut off his attempts to comeback, so Haku hits a pair of backbreakers. Barbarian follows up by clotheslining Marty right in the face and locking him in a bear hug. Then, he catches Marty on a cross body and hits a powerslam, but he misses a flying headbutt. Marty finally makes the hot tag and Shawn hits a shoulder tackle on Haku. He goes for 10 punches in the corner, but he spots Barbarian in the ring and hits a cross body. Shawn continues with a swinging neckbreaker and an assisted sunset flip. Barbarian tries to stop the attack, but the Rockers send him to the floor with a double dropkick. Finally, they hit a back-to-back missile dropkick and flying cross body on Haku for the win.
This was a fun opener, but it dragged slightly when Haku & Barbarian were in control. With that said, a tag team is the best use of Barbarian. It can hide his poor conditioning because he can take a break from time to time. He didn’t get gassed in this match like he did at the Rumble.
Winners: The Rockers (10:41)
Mean Gene is backstage with the celebrity guests, Regis Philbin, Marla Maples, and Alex Trebek. Regis says it’s an incredible experience and talks about all the wrestlers he’s had on his show. He also talks about hanging out with them backstage, but he says he’s scared of Earthquake. He jokes about Quake tipping over a Pizza Hut truck and eating everything inside of it. Gene likes the joke so much that he calls Regis beautiful, but he says Regis’ beauty is no match for Marla. Gene calls her a fair-haired maiden and asks how she feels about being a backstage reporter and guest timekeeper. She says she’s excited, so Gene replies he has that effect on women. I highly doubt that. She quickly explains that she’s excited because she’s never conducted an interview in the men’s locker room. I see someone in the WWF was watching WrestleWar ‘91. Let’s hope Marla doesn’t run into Stan Hansen. Marla says she will call them like she sees them, so Gene jokes there will be a lot of cold showers tonight. Geez, Gene! Take it easy! Gene then introduces Alex Trebek, whom he calls a close personal friend. Alex proves him wrong by calling him Jim, so Gene corrects him. Then, Alex says, “The answer is, guest ring announcer.” Gene replies, “I’ll bite. Who is our guest ring announcer?” Alex tells him that’s the answer, not the question. Gene is confused, so Alex tells him he didn’t phrase it as a question. Yes, he did. I think someone messed up their line.
The Texas Tornado vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Dino Bravo is already in the ring, but his music is playing. It’s not quite the jobber entrance, but it’s close. Heenan has joined Gorilla on commentary and he jokes that the WWF didn’t want him to interview the celebrities because he would outshine them. Bobby calls them, “Ham and eggers.” Tornado enters next and high fives the fans, but Bravo jumps him as he enters the ring.
Dino clotheslines Tornado out of the ring before ramming him into the apron. He then rolls him back inside, but Tornado ducks a clothesline and hits an atomic drop. He follows it with his own clothesline and whips Dino into the corner. Tornado goes for the claw, but Bravo blocks it and chops him. Tornado reverses a whip, but Bravo gets his boot up on a charge and hits an inverted atomic drop. He then hits a couple of elbows on Tornado, but Kerry ducks some clotheslines, only to be caught in the side slam. Dino surprisingly only gets a 2 count and complains to the ref. Bravo tries to follow up with a jumping forearm, but Tornado catches him in the Iron Claw. Heenan tries to accuse Kerry of pulling hair, but Gorilla is having none of it. Bravo manages to make it to the ropes, so Tornado hits him with the discus punch for the win.
This match was filler. It would have been more at home on Superstars. I get that they want to put as many people on the show as they can, but there was no point to this.
Winner: Texas Tornado (3:11)
Sean Mooney is with the Warlord and his manager, the Doctor of Style, Slick. Sean says that Warlord claims he’s going to collar the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. Slick says it’s not a claim. It’s a guarantee because it takes more than one dog to put down the Warlord. He says it takes a pack of dogs and tells Bulldog to pack it in because he’s going to be fixed. Then, he says, “When you gotta go. You gotta go!” The Warlord speaks next and says that no wrestler has escaped his full nelson and Davey is no exception to that rule. Slick has to get in the last word, so he tells Davey it’s a dog eat dog world and Davey is about to be devoured. Slick somehow turns the word devoured into three syllables.
Next, Gene is with the British Bulldog and his pet, Winston. Both men are kneeling down to pet the dog and Gene says, “They say every dog has his day. Is this the day for the British Bulldog?” Davey replies that it is and brings up Warlord’s claim he can’t break the full nelson. He says he can and will and also says there isn’t a man he can’t powerslam and beat. Then, Davey begins hearing voices from his dog. He bends down and asks Winston to repeat himself. Davey then tells Gene that the dog said there’s no bull in the British Bulldog. That was bizarre.
The British Bulldog (w/ Winston) vs. The Warlord (w/ Slick)
The Warlord is already in the ring with Slick. He poses while Fink introduces him and we get a close shot of Warlord’s Kano mask. He looks utterly ridiculous and it’s great. Bulldog enters next with Winston in tow and Heenan says you can see the fleas jumping off the dog. Gorilla replies, “Will you stop,” for the first time tonight.
Warlord begins by shoving Davey into the corner and flexing. He then continues with knees and forearms before the two men shoulder block each other. Bulldog wins the exchange, so Warlord regroups with Slick. The Warlord then attempts a clothesline, but Davey hops onto his back for a crucifix takeover. Warlord blocks it and hits a Samoan drop and some elbows for a 2 count. He then whips Bulldog into the corner so hard that you hear the turnbuckle shift. Warlord follows that with a bear hug, but Davey punches out of the hold. Bulldog attempts a body press, but Warlord turns it into a hotshot. He also hits a modified belly-to-belly suplex before grabbing a loose rear chinlock. Even Heenan calls him out for not doing it properly. Bulldog fights back and rams Warlord into the corner 10 times. Davey even attempts a piledriver, but Warlord back drops him. However, Davey turns it into a sunset flip. Warlord sits on him, but Bulldog flips him for a 2 count. The Warlord then fights back with a boot on a corner charge and grabs the full nelson. Gorilla says, “There’s no quit in the British Bulldog. There’s no quit in Davey Boy either!” I’m pretty sure those are the same. Warlord can’t lock his fingers, so Bulldog breaks the hold. Warlord looks at his hands in confusion before attempting a slam, but Davey drops behind him. He then lifts the Warlord and hits the running powerslam for the win.
This was surprisingly good. These two have chemistry you wouldn’t expect, so it’s no surprise they’re matched up again throughout the year. They did a good job of telling a story with the match and they never lost the crowd.
Winner: British Bulldog (8:15)
Gene is backstage with the Nasty Boys and Jimmy Hart. He tries to introduce them, but Jimmy says he wants to do the honors. Hart says they’re mean, nasty, and they’re going to be the next WWF Tag Team champions. Then, Sags says the time is now and the Hart Foundation’s time has come. He also says it’s time to find out what nasty sensation is all about. I think you would need to consult a doctor for that. Knobbs speaks next and points a lot while saying it’s time to end the stink and pink. He talks about cracking the foundation and everything crashing down, but he doesn’t say if it hurts inside. Knobbs claims they will be the new champs, but Gene says he doesn’t know about that. The Nasties take offense, so they grab Gene’s handkerchief and blow their noses on it before yelling some more.
Next, they go to Sean Mooney with the Hart Foundation. Anvil appears to be laughing at the Nasty Boys’ promo. Sean says they paid close attention and the Nasty Boys were blowing a lot more than hot air. OH, MY! Anvil then yells about the Nasty Boys rocking, moving, and cracking the foundation. He says to crack the foundation, you have to be right at the bottom and that’s where the Nasties belong. Bret agrees and says they’re at the bottom of the barrel. He also says he doesn’t think they’re nasty. He thinks they’re scum and they don’t have the heart to take the titles. Anvil then ends the promo by laughing like a madman.
Tag Team Title Match: The Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation (c)
Gorilla and Bobby talk about how the Nasty Boys won the title shot in a battle royal. They eliminated the Legion of Doom because Power & Glory interfered, but Heenan claims they earned it. The Nasty Boys enter first with Jimmy Hart, who is wearing a motorcycle helmet. He’s not riding a motorcycle, so it’s rather suspicious. The Hart Foundation then enter and the camera pans to Macaulay Culkin in the crowd. Gorilla calls him, “That youngster.” Someone must have informed Monsoon who it is because he soon adds, “He doesn’t want to be home alone with the Nasty Boys!”
Sags and Bret start the match and Sags gets an early advantage until Bret hits a Thesz Press. Knobbs comes in, but Bret fights them both and slingshots Sags back inside from the apron. Knobbs eventually tags in and demands Anvil before getting him. Neidhart quickly gains the advantage and knocks the Nasties to the floor to regroup. The Nasties try to double team, but Bret tags in and hits Sags with rapid 10 punches and a Russian leg sweep. Bret then hits his diving elbow, but Knobbs attacks from behind. The Nasties send Bret to the floor and Anvil chases Jimmy Hart. Bret re-enters the ring and the Nasties take turns working over his back with a reverse chinlock. This continues until the Nasties miss an assisted corner splash, but referee Hebner misses Bret’s tag. The ref is distracted in getting Anvil out of the ring, so Jimmy throws his megaphone to Knobbs. He tries to hit Bret, but accidentally clocks Sags instead. Bret finally makes a tag and Anvil cleans house with slams, clotheslines, and a powerslam, but Sags breaks up the pin. Bret ends up fighting Sags to the floor and back into the ring before the Foundation hit the Hart Attack. Hebner is distracted again by trying to get Bret out of the ring, so Sags hits Neidhart with Jimmy’s motorcycle helmet and pins him for the win.
The match was slow at times, but it was pretty decent. However, the crowd was deflated by the ending. They reacted with stunned silence. The Nasty Boys weren’t that over at the time. This match would also mark the end of the Hart Foundation as a tag team. The WWF would finally pull the trigger on Bret’s solo push and Neidhart wouldn’t do much of note until Owen returns.
Winners: The Nasty Boys (New champions) (12:10)
Next, they recap the Jake Roberts/Rick Martel feud. They show a clip of Martel spraying Jake in the eyes with “Arrogance” and clips of Jake at the doctor. They also show Martel mocking a blind Jake on the Brother Love Show. Martel slaps Jake, who blindly grabs Brother Love and hits a DDT. Then, they show Jake trying to attack Martel and accidentally grabbing Tito Santana.
A short Jake Roberts promo follows the recap. He talks about the blind leading the blind and says even a fool knows a man only has five senses, but a snake has six. He concludes by saying, “We always do it better in the dark,” as the camera zooms in on his eye.
Blindfold Match: Jake the Snake Roberts vs. Rick the Model Martel
Martel is already in the ring and poses for the camera. He says the fans love him, despite the booing. Jake enters next and the cameraman gets one of those great running shots down the aisle. He enters the ring and the refs put the blindfolds on both men. Jake nearly ruins the entire thing by reaching under his hood to scratch his nose. You can see his hand, which reveals that the hoods are see-through mesh.
The two men fumble around and Jake begins pointing. The crowd reacts to whether he’s hot or cold, so Martel motions for them to be quiet. He has to point a few times, so Martel begins crawling on the mat. Jake almost grabs him, but Martel stumbles and falls over him. Rick manages to grab Jake and whip him to the ropes, but Jake smartly runs to the side to avoid him. Jake begins pointing again and both men bump into each other, but they miss when they attempt to charge. Martel comically bounces off the ropes and then begins randomly kicking at the air. He eventually finds Jake’s arm and slams him, but Rick misses an elbow drop. They fumble around some more and Martel thinks he’s found Jake, but it’s the ref, who warns him. Martel then starts crawling again and Jake can’t find him. Roberts decides to start clapping to lure in Martel and it works. However, Martel ducks between the ropes for safety. They lose each other again and Martel ends up crawling over to Damien’s bag. He recoils in terror and Jake grabs him in a headlock, but Martel pushes him to the floor. Heenan yells that Jake is on the floor, so Martel joins him and grabs a chair. Rick nervously backs into the post, so he turns and swings the chair, which hurts his hands. Both men head back inside and Martel manages a backbreaker followed by the Boston Crab, but Jake breaks the hold. The next time Jake finds Martel, he hits the DDT. He has to crawl around to find him, but he covers for the win.
This was never going to be a technical marvel, but I think it was done about as well as possible. It was a neat spectacle, but it should have never been done again. There have only been a couple more of these in various promotions and they’ve been pretty bad. I’m especially looking at you, TNA.
Winner: Jake Roberts (8:34)
After the match, Jake grabs the “Arrogance” atomizer and smashes it before grabbing Damien. He drapes the snake on Martel, who high-tails it out of the ring and down the aisle.
Meanwhile, Marla Maples is in the men’s locker room. Stan Hansen isn’t there, but she doesn’t fare much better than Missy Hyatt. She’s with the Nasty Boys, who are celebrating their win. They attempt to kiss her and pour champagne everywhere. She tries to speak, but they’re too loud. The Mountie, Quake, and Dino Bravo join the celebration, so Marla gives up trying to conduct an interview.
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Jimmy Superfly Snuka
The Undertaker now has a new and much better manager, Paul Bearer. He used to be a manager in WCCW under the name, Percy Pringle. He had a legitimate mortician background, so he was given this gimmick. He’s basically an evil, pale, mortician with a voice like a maniacal Mickey Mouse. He’s an endless source of amusement because he plays the role with such perfect gusto. With the arrival of Paul Bearer, we also get the addition of the mysterious urn. It’s never stated whose ashes are inside. It simply seems to be a source of motivation for the Undertaker.
Snuka is already in the ring when they return from the Marla Maples segment. Gorilla calls Jimmy a phenom, which is ironic considering who he’s facing. The Undertaker enters next and the camera gets shots of scared children in the crowd. Heenan then speculates that someone close to either Bearer or Taker is in the urn. The camera focuses on Undertaker as he disrobes, so Heenan says, “Look at this man!” The focus then moves to Paul Bearer, who is making an odd face, so Heenan adds, “Look at THAT man!”
Undertaker hits some throat chops and chokes Snuka in the corner before hitting a jumping clothesline. He then grabs a fistful of Snuka’s face, while Heenan speculates about why Taker wears the rubber gloves. Snuka manages to reverse a whip, but Taker kicks him when Jimmy charges. Taker then knocks Snuka to the floor while Paul Bearer cackles and lifts the urn. Taker suplexes Snuka back into the ring, but he misses an elbow. He sits up immediately, but Snuka hits some headbutts and chops. They’re ineffective, so Jimmy tries a running body press, but Taker ducks and Snuka tumbles out of the ring. Jimmy hits some headbutts and a shoulder block at the ropes before attempting a springboard cross body, but Taker catches him. He can’t quite lift him off the catch, so he places him down and then lifts him again for a nasty looking Tombstone. Taker then covers him with his signature pin for the 3 count.
So, it begins! This was win number one in the famous WrestleMania streak. It was a squash, but it made Undertaker look like a monster and it has historical significance.
Winner: Undertaker (4:20)
Next, they show a recap of the Savage/Warrior feud. They show Savage attacking the Warrior on Saturday Night’s Main Event and they also show Sherri asking Warrior to give Savage a title match at the Rumble. They finish the video package by showing Savage costing Warrior the WWF Title.
Retirement Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho King Randy Savage (w/ Queen Sherri)
Gorilla and Heenan talk about the match, but Bobby is distracted by something in the crowd. He says he sees Miss Elizabeth and asks the director to get a shot. Sure enough, they show Elizabeth sitting a couple of rows back from the aisle. You would think the WWF would give her better tickets. Heenan calls her low because he says she’s there to rub defeat in Savage’s face. Gorilla tells him to stop as Savage makes his entrance. Savage and Sherri are carried to the ring on a double throne, which has to be exhausting for the indie wrestlers carrying them. They pass by Elizabeth, but Savage doesn’t see her. The Warrior enters next, but he doesn’t run to the ring like usual. He walks and Heenan is surprised. Warrior is wearing an airbrushed jacket with his and Savage’s pictures on it. He also has their faces on his knee-pads. He takes off the jacket to reveal a picture of the WWF title on the back of his tights. The words, “Means much more than this,” are written around it.
Savage stalls to begin, but the Warrior soon takes control. Randy bails and comes back, but Warrior gives him both variations of the atomic drop. Sherri enters the ring, so Warrior throws Savage onto her. Savage tries to fight back, but Warrior catches him on a cross body. He feigns slamming him but chooses to set him down and slap him instead. Randy bails and loses his cool. He begins throwing chairs into the ring, but the ref removes them. Warrior’s flurry continues until he misses a charge and falls out of the ring. Savage starts distracting the ref while Sherri attacks Warrior. Randy then follows up by posting Warrior and sending him into the ring for a slam. Savage tries more ref distractions, but Warrior clotheslines him. He then builds up a head of steam and goes for a shoulder tackle, but Savage side-steps him. Savage tries a sleeper hold, but it doesn’t work and both men end up going down to a double clothesline. Warrior manages to get a roll-up, but Sherri distracts the ref. Warrior complains, so Savage sends Warrior crashing into referee Hebner. Sherri uses the opening to jump off the top with her shoe, but she accidentally hits Savage. Sherri continues distracting Warrior until Savage hits a hotshot and a neck snap on the ropes before hitting five straight flying elbow drops!! Savage makes the cover, but Warrior kicks out at 2!! Savage is in shock and complains, but the Warrior starts hulking-up. He hits rapid-fire clotheslines, the press slam, and the running splash, but he too only gets a 2 count. Warrior is confused and looks to the heavens for answers. He questions his gods about his destiny and looks at his hands in confusion. He even starts to leave, but Hebner warns him to stay. Savage attacks and Sherri holds Warrior on the guardrail for a flying axehandle. Warrior moves and Savage crashes, so Warrior takes him back inside. The Warrior then hits three straight flying shoulder tackles, but Savage keeps trying to roll to the floor. However, Warrior pulls him back inside and places a foot on his chest to pin him for the 3 count.
This was easily the Warrior’s best match. Savage was known for meticulously planning all his matches and it showed. This was a perfect blend of good wrestling and great storytelling. That storytelling isn’t over because something memorable happens next.
Winner: The Ultimate Warrior (20:48)
After the match, Warrior dons his jacket again and poses before walking away in triumph. After he leaves, Sherri enters the ring and throws a fit. She yells at Savage and calls him a loser while kicking him in the gut. The ref tries to stop her, but she keeps kicking Randy. Miss Elizabeth finally has enough and jumps the guardrail. She runs to the ring and pulls Sherri away from Savage. He crawls around the ring and brushes off her attempts to help him, but when he sees who it is, he recoils. He becomes defensive because he’s not sure if Elizabeth was the one attacking him, but then he notices an irate Sherri. Savage becomes conflicted on how to react. He questions why Liz is there and she starts crying. Savage realizes she still has feelings for him, so he hugs her and the crowd goes crazy.
They show people in the crowd crying and Heenan says, “This is better than Love Story—if you like that mush.” Heenan also says that the woman crying is wearing shoes that are too tight. Savage then lifts Elizabeth onto his shoulder like he used to do. Then, Liz offers to open the ropes for him, but Savage says no. He opens the ropes for her instead and then the two of them leave together. I won’t lie. This reunion still makes me a little misty-eyed.
The show then goes to intermission and comes back to Gorilla and Heenan talking about the remaining matches. They talk about the Intercontinental Title Match between Boss Man and Perfect. Heenan says they know how to handle law and order in Los Angeles and then makes fun of Boss Man’s mom, as he had been doing for weeks on Superstars. They also talk about the main event and Heenan says Slaughter is playing with an all-new set of rules. He tells Hogan to be prepared. Then, they talk more about Savage’s retirement and reunion with Liz. Heenan replies, “I’d rather have money than a skirt.”
Next, Regis is with the Undertaker and Paul Bearer. He asks them if they’re enjoying the show, but they ignore him. Undertaker is too busy measuring Regis for a coffin. Regis asks them if they’re serious, but they don’t answer. Regis then jokes about the segment dying and playing to dead crowds before sending it to Alex Trebek and Demolition.
Alex sends his condolences to Regis before introducing Demolition and Mr. Fuji. Smash yells at him that it’s Master Fuji, so Trebek corrects himself. Alex then talks about how contestants on his show have to draw on their knowledge, be cool under pressure and have cat-like reflexes to signal-in for the answer. He says those are good qualities for WWF Superstars. Smash accuses him of thinking he has all the answers, but Smash says only Fuji has them. Crush then says that Fuji knows all about pain, torture, and suffering. Fuji speaks next and says, “Soon, our Jap opponents will know all about pain, torture, and suffering!” Trebek seems uncomfortable at the comment, so he ends the interview.
They go back to Regis, who laughs at Trebek’s discomfort before introducing Demolition’s opponents, Tenryu & Kitao. He welcomes them to America and WrestleMania, but they don’t respond. He then asks them for a game plan or strategy, but they still don’t speak. He also asks if they speak English, but gets nothing in return. He finally resorts to saying words like Toyota and Isuzu, which finally gets a reaction. Tenryu & Kitao start asking about Kathy Lee, but Regis says she’s at home. Regis starts stereotypically talking to them before sending it back to Alex. These segments have not aged well.
Trebek is now with Jake Roberts, who is holding Damien in Alex’s face. He seems even more uncomfortable than before, so Jake asks why he’s so nervous. Trebek says he’s scared of snakes, but Jake replies that Damien is a big fan of Jeopardy. Jake asks if Damien can be a contestant and holds the snake closer to Alex, who has enough and leaves.
Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao vs. Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Since WCW struck a deal with NJPW, the WWF decided they could play that game too and made a deal with Super World of Sport (SWS) in Japan. This would include doing a show in Japan, as well as Tenryu & Kitao appearing here at Mania. Sadly, this means we don’t get the Legion of Doom/Demolition match that was teased.
Demolition enters first to their new creepy heel theme song. I know it will never hold a candle to the Derringer theme, but I like it. Tenryu & Kitao enter next to almost no reaction. They show a couple of Japanese fans in the crowd cheering, but I have a feeling they’re plants. Gorilla says that Kitao is a sumo grand champion, which means he’s probably a real Yokozuna, unlike the future WWF wrestler. Demolition jump both men immediately before Crush and Kitao begin the match.
Crush clubs Kitao into the corner, but Koji fires back with kicks and forearms. However, Demolition uses a ref distraction so Fuji can hit Kitao with his cane. Smash tags in and hits a back suplex before clubbing him. Then, Demolition uses frequent tags to keep Kitao subdued. There are moments where Crush doesn’t seem to know what to do before tagging out again. It’s awkward until Kitao fires back with clotheslines and tags Tenryu. He hits chops and dropkicks to both members of Demolition before slamming Smash. Then, he goes for a falling elbow off the top, but Smash moves and tags Crush. Demolition hit a backbreaker and a back suplex on Tenryu before going for the decapitation, but Kitao stops it. Crush sends Koji to the floor and tries again, but Kitao pushes him off the top rope. Smash tries to fight back until Tenryu hits an enziguri and then powerbombs Smash for the win.
This was not great. It wasn’t Tenryu & Kitao’s fault. Crush is still green and awkward. It also didn’t help that this was a heatless filler match. It existed only to promote the WWF’s partnership with SWS. Sadly, this would also be the end of Demolition. Both men would be repackaged into new gimmicks over the next year.
Winners: Tenryu & Kitao (4:44)
Gene is backstage with Big Boss Man, whom he calls a champion of justice. He also says that Boss Man could be the Intercontinental champion by the end of the day. Boss Man replies that Bobby Heenan and Mr. Perfect’s belt is on the line. Are they co-champions? He says he will be champion and then brings up Heenan’s insults towards his mother. Boss Man says when you hurt his mom’s feelings, you hurt his. He then talks about going through all of the Heenan Family members, but he says that Mr. Perfect doesn’t get any more appeals. He finishes by saying that Mr. Perfect is the perfect example that crime doesn’t pay. This was a pretty good Boss Man promo, but I’ll be sure to remember what Boss Man said about insulting parents when we get to late 1999.
Next, Sean Mooney is with Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Heenan calls Sean shorty and then talks about the LAPD. He talks about how someone filmed the LAPD’s misdeeds, but Heenan says they’ll give the fans the same thing for free. He talks about them giving out their brand of justice to Boss Man. Perfect then says he won’t be on his back, giving Boss Man 56 free swipes at him. He calls himself cool as a cat and says he’s not on edge because he has all the tools to be champion. He finishes by saying he is what he is and that’s—he doesn’t finish. Heenan says the fans are saying it for him. I’m impressed. Mr. Perfect went the entire promo without saying the word perfect!
Intercontinental Title Match: Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect (c) (w/ Bobby Heenan)
Since Heenan is managing, Lord Alfred Hayes joins Gorilla for commentary. He says there’s so much electricity that he’s getting shocked all over. Boss Man then enters first. He’s finally gone through all of the Heenan Family, so now he gets his title shot. Mr. Perfect then enters and the Fink makes up for Perfect’s promo by calling Heenan the perfect manager. Mr. Perfect poses in the corner and then throws his towel at Boss Man, who catches it and wipes his butt with it. He throws it back at Perfect, so Perfect slaps him.
Perfect bails outside, but Boss Man follows and slaps him so hard that Perfect takes a 360 bump. Boss then takes him inside and swings Perfect around by the hair. Perfect reverses a whip, but Boss Man slides in and out of the ring and hits a clothesline before throwing Perfect to the floor. He returns and Boss misses a corner charge, but Boss reverses a whip and Perfect bounces off the turnbuckles. Boss Man then hits a running knee attack on the ropes and removes his belt to whip Perfect. The ref finally takes it away, but Perfect grabs it and wraps it around his fist. He punches Boss a few times and whips Boss around before grabbing a chinlock. Soon, he changes to an abdominal stretch and Heenan tells the timekeeper to ring the bell. Is Heenan trying to conduct a screwjob? Boss Man tries to fight back, but Perfect hits a neck snap. He then follows up with a Perfect Plex attempt, but Boss turns it into a cradle for 2. Perfect answers with a reverse neck snap and then tries a jumping—something off the top, but Boss lifts his boot into Perfect’s face. Boss then whips Perfect around and crotches him on the post, which somehow isn’t a DQ. He then knocks Perfect out of the ring, but Perfect sends him into the steps and distracts the ref so Heenan can attack. This draws out Andre the Giant to the ring. Heenan sees him and panics, while Perfect removes one of the turnbuckle pads. Perfect rams Boss into it, but he spots Andre, who has the IC Title in his hands. Perfect demands he give it back and sticks his head through the ropes, so Andre clocks him with the belt. Both men are out cold, but Boss recovers to get a 2 count. However, Haku & Barbarian arrive to attack and the ref calls for the bell.
This was shaping up to be a pretty good match until the lame finish. It was nice to see Andre again, but it’s obvious he can barely move. I guess this was a good way to continue the feud, but I hate seeing non-finishes on Mania.
Winner: Big Boss Man (by DQ) (10:47)
Andre and Boss Man fight off the Heenan Family, while Fink announces Boss Man as the winner. Perfect retains his title since it was a DQ, so he collects his belt and stumbles over the ring steps. Boss Man then shakes hands with Andre and thanks him for his help before they leave together.
There’s a weird edit, that will be explained in a moment, and then Earthquake makes his entrance. Lord Alfred says goodbye and they go to Mean Gene in the crowd. He’s with Donald Trump and Gene says he’s going to try the interview again. I’m guessing the edit was to remove the failed attempt. Gene asks Trump for his thoughts on the show. Donald says it’s unbelievable and he loves it. Gene then brings up the idea of doing another Mania at Trump Plaza, but that never happens. Then, Gene turns to interview some other celebrities in the crowd. He talks to Chuck Norris, who talks about being a life-long wrestling fan. He also talks to Henry Winkler, who is happy that the Ultimate Warrior won. Finally, Gene talks to Lou Ferrigno, who talks about attending the show with his wife and kids.
Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Greg the Hammer Valentine
Believe it or not, Greg Valentine is a babyface now. After Honky Tonk Man left the WWF, Valentine broke free from Jimmy Hart. Now, Jimmy will seek payback through Earthquake. The entrances for this match happened during the celebrity interviews. Valentine has a new theme and it sounds like it’s a Mark VII production. Before the match, Heenan makes a comment about Lou Ferrigno talking with crackers in his mouth. Gorilla seems legitimately offended. Heenan apparently didn’t know Lou is deaf.
Quake backs Valentine into a corner and throws some forearms into his gut before hitting a powerslam. He then gives the fans the gun show before covering for a 2 count. Valentine fires back with elbows after Quake misses a charge, but Quake reverses a whip. Valentine fires back with more elbows and chops and finally takes Quake down with a clothesline and axehandle. He then drops a headbutt into Quake’s gut and goes for the Figure Four, but Jimmy distracts him. Quake catches him with a headbutt and an elbow drop before jumping around the ring. He then hits the Earthquake Splash for the quick win.
This was nothing more than a filler match. There was a light storyline behind it, but not enough to matter much. It was another one that felt like it belonged on Superstars.
Winner: Earthquake (3:14)
After the match, Quake goes for an Aftershock, but Valentine rolls out of the ring.
Then, Sean Mooney is with the Legion of Doom and says that tonight will be a night of reckoning for THE Power & Glory. I guess he didn’t want them to be confused with those other Power & Glory teams. Animal replies that everyone knows they should have had the title shot against the Harts. He says Power & Glory interfered where they didn’t belong and now they’ll go down by the hands of the Legion of Doom. He also warns the Nasty Boys they’re coming for them. Hawk then says that when they’re done with Power & Glory, they’ll be sour & gory. He finishes with his trademark line, “OOH, WHAT A RUSH!”
Legion of Doom vs. Power & Glory (w/ Slick)
Power & Glory are already in the ring. Roma’s elbow is heavily taped because he had a legitimate injury. The doctor had told him not to wrestle and he had tried to get the match canceled, but Vince promised him the match would be kept short, as you will see. Legion of Doom enter next to a great reaction and Heenan acts like he can’t hear Gorilla speaking. They take off their shoulder-pads, but Power & Glory jump them. Fink has to bail out of the ring, much to the amusement of Gorilla and Bobby.
Roma and Herc knock Animal out of the ring and try to double team Hawk until he hits a double clothesline. All four men then brawl until Herc and Hawk fight to the floor. Roma tries a flying cross body, but Animal catches him and hits a powerslam. The LOD then hit the Doomsday Device on Roma for the win.
This match shouldn’t have happened for multiple reasons. Roma was injured. Plus, this should have been LOD/Demolition. I realize that Demolition wasn’t the team they used to be, but it would have been fitting to have them lose to the LOD since Demolition was done. It would have been a much better ending. This match was simply a squash that only put Roma in danger of aggravating his injury.
Winners: Legion of Doom (0:59)
Next, they recap the DiBiase/Virgil feud. They show the clips of DiBiase mistreating Virgil and clips of Virgil turning on DiBiase at the Rumble. Then, they show Virgil beating Haku on Superstars, with Piper’s help. They also show Virgil causing DiBiase to lose by count out to a jobber. Finally, they show an interview where Virgil says you spell man, “V-I-R-G-I-L.” I’m fairly certain that’s not correct.
Virgil (w/ Roddy Piper) vs. Ted DiBiase
DiBiase enters first, while Heenan jokes about Virgil finally being able to spell his name. Piper then gets his own entrance. He’s on crutches because of a motorcycle accident. DiBiase sees him and pretends to play the violin in mock sympathy. Roddy then invites Virgil to join him and Virgil enters to no music. The fans give him a great reaction and even chant his name.
Virgil begins the match with a flurry of punches and keeps knocking DiBiase down to the mat. Ted keeps bailing outside and eventually complains to the ref about the closed fists, so Virgil takes DiBiase to the mat with holds instead. DiBiase fires back with a drop toe hold and rams Virgil’s head into the mat a few times before ramming him into the turnbuckles. He follows it up with elbows, a clothesline, and a piledriver, but Virgil kicks out at 2. Ted continues with a vertical suplex and gut-wrench suplex for another pair of 2 counts. DiBiase then throws Virgil to the floor and attacks him before rolling him back into the ring. He stops to shove Piper to the ground before re-entering the match. DiBiase then hits a powerslam while Heenan jokes about Piper by saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Piper finally struggles to his feet and uses his crutch to low bridge DiBiase, so Ted falls to the floor. DiBiase knocks Piper over again, but Ted can’t make it back into the ring before the count, so Virgil wins.
They told a good story, but that finish was disappointing. The fans were into the match and it was on its way to being pretty good, until the end. Thankfully, this isn’t the end of this feud, so we will get something better.
Winner: Virgil (by Count Out) (7:41)
DiBiase re-enters the ring and attacks Virgil before locking him in the Million Dollar Dream. Piper struggles to enter the ring and hits Ted with his crutch, but Sherri runs to the ring, for some reason. She’s changed into a white dress since the Savage match. She helps DiBiase attack Piper and kicks him while he’s on the mat. That seems to be her go-to move tonight. Sherri then holds Piper’s leg while DiBiase hits it with the crutch, but Virgil recovers and sends them packing. Piper starts freaking out and throws his crutch at a ref. It hits the poor guy right in the crotch. Piper then tries to stand, but he can’t make it. Virgil grabs a mic and says, “Do what you told me to do and get up!” Piper finally stands, so Virgil supports his weight. Isn’t Virgil just making Piper’s injury worse?
Then, Sean Mooney recaps the Hogan/Slaughter feud. He shows a clip of Slaughter burning Hogan’s t-shirt before Slaughter and Adnan join him. Gen. Adnan yells for a bit and Sean asks Slaughter for a translation, but Sarge calls Mooney human waste. He then tells all the Puke-amaniacs to listen and tells Hogan to listen. Slaughter calls himself the new ruler of the WWF. I’m sure Jack Tunney is pleased about that. He then tells Hogan there’s nothing he can do because they’re playing by his rules. Sean replies they’re going to look at some of Slaughter’s rules and shows a clip of Sarge attacking Hogan with a chair. Slaughter replies that it makes him feel good to see the immortal slime face down on the canvas and says he will see it again when he beats Hogan. Then, he threatens to get himself disqualified or counted out to keep his title. He finishes by saying he will still be laughing when it’s over.
The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Tito Santana
They come back from the Slaughter promo to the Mountie already in the ring. Heenan talks about the night Jimmy Hart has had, while Santana makes his entrance. Heenan then says he’s surprised Tito is there since they’re so close to the border.
They lock-up and the Mountie shoves Tito to the ropes before leapfrogging him. He tries again, but Tito hits the flying forearm and knocks the Mountie out of the ring. He regroups with Jimmy Hart and hugs him, but Tito grabs them and hits a double noggin’ knocker. Tito then rolls him back inside and tries to pull the Mountie away from the ropes, but he holds on for dear life. The ref tries to back Tito away, so Jimmy Hart passes the Mountie the shock-stick. He zaps Tito and covers him for the win.
That was a waste of time. It was over so quickly that no one will remember it. I guess it’s good that these guys got a Mania payday, but this was pointless.
Winner: The Mountie (1:21)
Gene is backstage with Hulk Hogan and he brings up Slaughter’s comments. Hogan says he heard everything Sarge said and tells him he won’t get the last laugh. He also says it wasn’t a laughing matter when Slaughter burned his banner. He then says that, as far as Slaughter’s rules, all he knows is ground warfare and hand-to-hand combat, but Hogan claims he has the new technology. He says this is the Hulkster of 1991 and Sarge doesn’t know about his secret battle plans. Gene then asks him if he’s the same man he was a week ago, while they show clips from Superstars of Hogan facing Gen. Adnan. Slaughter attacked him and put him in the Camel Clutch while Adnan mocked Hogan with the belt. Hogan replies he’s not the same man. He says he’s done a 360. Oh, Hulk. You never cease to amuse me. That would put you right back in the same place. Hogan then says that Slaughter would have to rip out the heart of both himself and America to remain champion. He follows that up by saying, “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light that I’ll be the new WWF Champion?” Finally, he tells Slaughter that he will be the victim of the twilight’s last creaming. That sounds gross.
The Fink then introduces the celebrity guests. Trebek, Marla, and Regis make their way to the ring and bow to the crowd. Gorilla tells Heenan that Regis is joining them on commentary, but Heenan says they don’t need him. He says Regis is used to working with that loudmouth, Kathy Lee.
WWF Title Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (c) (w/ Gen. Adnan)
Alex Trebek introduces Sgt. Slaughter and Gen. Adnan. I see that Hogan insisted on being introduced second, despite being the challenger. Slaughter taunts the crowd while Heenan says, “You know, Marla’s been ringing my bell for quite a while.” Gorilla sounds disgusted, so Heenan says he was talking to Regis. Hogan enters next and he waves an American flag on his way to the ring. He gets into the ring and tears his t-shirt before posing for a bit. Come on, Hulk. We will have enough of that after the match. Hogan then chases Slaughter and Adnan into the ring, but the ref separates them while Slaughter removes his entrance gear. While Slaughter prepares, Gorilla says that Mania has the largest PPV audience in history. You can’t know the buyrate in the middle of a show. I call foul!
The two men keep fighting into the corner and ignoring the ref until Hogan shoves Slaughter to the mat. Sarge complains of hair-pulling and Gorilla points out that he barely has any hair. Hogan keeps getting the better of Slaughter, who bumps around like a pinball. Sarge eventually grabs a padded chair and uses it, but Hogan no-sells the weak shot. Even the ref knows it’s not worth calling for the bell. Slaughter almost gets the advantage with an eye-poke, but Hogan ducks an elbow and hits a clothesline. He then fights Sarge in and out of the ring and whips him into the corner and the post. He hits 10 punches in the corner and then climbs to the top, but there’s an awkward moment where Adnan messes up his cue to interfere. They try the spot again and this time Sarge slams Hogan off the top. Adnan distracts the ref, so Slaughter hits Hogan with a chair and chokes him with a cable before focusing his attack on Hogan’s back. He locks Hulk in a Boston Crab, but he’s too close to the ropes. However, it still takes Hogan a while to realize he can simply reach to the side. Sarge continues the attack on Hogan’s back and hits a flying knee, but Adnan foolishly distracts the ref at the wrong time. Sarge uses the opening to hit Hogan in the head with a chair and Hulk doesn’t even try to hide his bladejob. He’s bleeding from the head, so Slaughter punches the cut and locks Hogan in a Camel Clutch. Hogan eventually raises to his feet with Sarge on his back and tries to break the hold, but Slaughter shoves him into the corner. He then drapes the Iraq flag on Hogan and covers him, but Hogan kicks out and hulks-up. He tears the flag in half and hits the big boot and leg drop for the win.
This wasn’t very good. It was an oddly structured match. The first half was Hogan basically squashing Slaughter and then the second half was Sarge slowly working on Hogan. Adnan couldn’t get his cues right and there were awkward moments. This entire storyline has been awful and this was easily the most disappointing Mania main event, so far. Sadly, this storyline will continue until SummerSlam.
Winner: Hulk Hogan (New Champion) (20:26)
Hogan collects his belt and celebrates with an American flag. He waves it around for the fans while Gorilla says, “Now, the war is officially over!” Hulk then poses some more with blood running down his face. Bobby Heenan sounds dejected, but he claims he will still throw a Mania party on Prime Time Wrestling. Gorilla responds, “Who cares?” Then, someone throws Hogan another American flag and Hogan wipes his brow without thinking. I don’t think that’s okay. I’m willing to bet Vince gave him guff for doing that. Gorilla then says goodnight, as Heenan asks who is going to be at his party.
– There were some memorable moments.
– Warrior/Savage was awesome.
– There was some good storyline work, other than the main event.
– It was great to finally get the Gorilla/Bobby commentary duo on PPV.
– The main event.
– There were too many filler matches.
– We didn’t get LOD/Demolition.
– Some of the backstage segments haven’t aged well.
Performer of the night:
Randy Savage, for putting together that great match with Warrior and his acting in the post-match segment.
I think this was overall a good show. The main event might have been lackluster, but it didn’t ruin the event. There were enough memorable and good moments to keep it entertaining.
My next review will be WCW Superbrawl. Look for it next Saturday.