Saturday, 26 October 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 5

April 2nd, 1989
Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, New Jersey



WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Event poster
In 1988, Wrestlemania IV happened. It was an overly-long show emitting from the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Fast forward a year, and the World Wrestling Federation gave fans a serious dose of Déjà vu with Wrestlemania V, an overly-long show emitting from the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Headlined by the much-hyped explosion of The Megapowers, the fifth annual installment of the WWF's flagship PPV was to be the culmination of a year-long story which began the previous year with Randy Savage capturing the WWF championship.

Yet fans looking forward to seeing The Macho Man finally get what was coming to him would have to earn such a treat by sitting through no less than three hours of wrestling that ranged from fairly decent to completely bloody awful.

Here's what went down.

What the world is watching
Having finally decided that What the world has come to was quite a depressing strapline, Wrestlemania 5 opened with the classic 'The World Wrestling Federation, what the world is watching.' You know, this:


After this came your typical late-80s WWF Jazz Music Intro, complete with the trademark Vince McMahon growl telling us all, for the first of 500 times that night, how The Megapowers were going to explode!

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Rockin Robin sings America the Beautiful
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura then welcomed us tonight's show before introducing Rockin' Robin for a tuneless rendition of America the Beautiful

God bless her for trying and all, she wasn't terrible, but there's probably a reason why this sort of thing would be left to professional singers in the years that followed Wrestlemania 5.

Finally, after all the opening shenanigans were out of the way, it was on to some honest-to-goodness pro wrestling.


King Haku (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. Hercules
Led to the ring by Bobby Heenan, the King of the WWF, Haku was carried to the ring on his platform-with-a-throne-on-it by several young chaps, ready to do battle with Heenan's former charge, the mighty Hercules.

The babyface Herc' was out for revenge against the Heenan Family in this enjoyable, if instantly forgettable opening contest.

As power-based battles go, your reviewer has definitely seen worse, though this was certainly no five-star classic, and if you die tomorrow having never seen Haku vs. Hercules, you can rest in peace forever knowing that your life was no worse off.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Hercules battled King Haku in the opening contest
That said, it was fun while it lasted, and came to an end with a Herc-induced back suplex for the win.
Your winner: Hercules

Heading to the back, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke to The Rockers who gave their promo with their usual weird blend of forced delivery and excited energy. In essence, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty promised to beat The Twin Towers in their upcoming tag clash.

The Twin Towers (Akeem & The Big Boss Man w/ Slick) vs. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty)
So it turns out that your writer is watching a badly edited, post-lawsuit version of Wrestlemania 5, which means that generic stock music is obnoxiously dubbed over Slick's wonderful Jive Soul Bro theme, yet doesn't really hide it at all. The result is that we get two completely contrasting pieces of music playing at once as The Twin Towers make their way to the ring.

Anyway, that aside, the two teams engaged in a pretty fun big guy vs. little guy match up. 

Y'know, it strikes me that, since starting this wrestling reviews blog, I've yet to see a bad Rockers pay per view match. No matter the opponents, Michaels and Jannetty always managed to come up with something good, and this 'Mania bout was no exception.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - The Rockers spoke to Mean Gene Okerlund before taking on The Twin Towers
Unfortunately for your writer, the thousands in attendance at Trump Plaza and everybody who would ever watch Wrestlemania 5, either live or years down the line, this was just about the last good match on the card for a while.

In the end, Shawn Michaels got killed and lost the match for his team.
Your winners: The Twin Towers

Out in the back, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, flanked, as ever, by Virgil, told the incomparable Sean Mooney that he was looking forward wrestling in front of Donald Trump and his friends since they were 'his kind of people.' He also insisted he would take care of business when he met Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil) vs. Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
'You know, Gorillia' said Jesse Ventura, 'I understand that Donald Trump brought along five or six of the richest men in America just to watch The Million Dollar Man.'

After what felt like the longest pause ever, Gorilla turned to his broadcast colleague and quipped:

'Watch him do what?'

Call me easily amused, but that simple line really made me chuckle, especially when Ventura snapped back with 'Wrestle,' as though Monsoon had gone insane.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - The Million Dollar Man (with Virgil) gets ready to battle Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
Sadly, the commentary was the best thing going for this otherwise bland, unmemorable contest between Dibiase and Beefcake.

Again, it wasn't a bad match per se, just bland, uninspired, the kind of match that requires real effort to stay interested in. 

Much like with the opening contest, if you die having never seen Dibiase versus Beefcake, you won't have missed anything.

The end came thanks to a miserable double-countout, after which Beefcake chased after both The Million Dollar Man and Virgil hoping, yet failing, to do a little haircutting.
Double count-out.

The show next went to a pre-recorded clip of the annual pre-Wrestlemania brunch where, in a failed attempt at comedy, Lord Alfred Hayes attempted to interview The Bushwhackers.

The supposed comedy came from the fact that the 'Whackers were busy chowing down on some grub, and every time His Lordship asked them a question, they would speak with a mouth full of food, rendering their answers unintelligible. 

Oh the hilarity! Or not, as was the case in this instance.

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond Rougeau w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Bushwhackers (Luke and Butch)
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - The Bushwhackers celebrate their victory over The Fabulous Rougeaus
We're all American Boys...If the commentary was the best thing about the Dibiase/Beefcake, the Rougeau Brothers' theme music was about the only good thing this otherwise horrible tag team contest.

That, and the fact that it was thankfully over pretty quickly with a win for The Bushwhackers thanks to what Ventura called 'A...erm....Double stomach breaker, I guess.'
Your winners: The Bushwhackers

Afterwards, Luke and Butch celebrated by licking Sean Mooney's head.

Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer
Had this match taken place just year or two later between a post-IC title Perfect and a post-Blazer Owen Hart, you'd have to imagine that the two men could have delivered an all-time classic.

Instead, what we got was a fairly short yet thrilling encounter which only hinted at what could have been.

Looking at other pro wrestling review blogs, it seems like some reviewers give this match far too much credit based simply on the assumption that a match between Curt Hennig and Owen Hart would be naturally incredible.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Mr. Perfect gets ready to face 'The Blue Blazer' Owen Hart
Don't get me wrong, it was good, one of the best matches of the night by a long mile, but it was just a little bit too short to be five-star amazing.

The end came thanks to the Perfect plex.
Your winner: Mr. Perfect

Intermission time next, as Jesse Ventura kept the crowd's happy by posing and showboating and generally being the all-round legend that the body was, and yes, still is.

This was followed by more pre-recorded footage, this time of Mr. Fuji completing a WWE-sponsored 5K run as part of the Wrestlemania Weekend festivities.

Run DMC showed up, performed a God awful Wrestlemania Rap then left again. Nobody cared.

There was then a recap of Survivor Series 1988 when, for no logical reason, Fuji turned on Demolition (making Ax and Smash, formerly heels, now babyfaces) and sided with Powers of Pain (making Warlord and Barbarian the bad guys).

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Mr. Fuji is interviewed by Lord Alfred Hayes about his participation in the Demolition vs. Powers of Pain WWF Tag Team Title match
Still enraged by such events months later, Ax and Smash had a pre-match promo with Mean Gene, in which they refered to Mr. Fuji as 'Fooj' the Stooge' half a dozen times in two minutes and claimed they would demolish their opponents, because they were on top of the mountain.

Three-on-two handicap match for the WWF Tag Team Championship:
World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions Demolition (Ax & Smash) vs. The Powers of Pain
Another dodgy overdub job, with what sounded like a demo version of Big Boss Man's heel theme replacing the classic Rick Derringer Demolition theme as the tag team champions marched on to ring side in full bondage gear.

This painfully slow, beyond boring contest saw Demolition win 'against the odds' (hey, to his credit, Mr. Fuji did look good) and retain their titles.
Your winners: Demolition

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Demolition talk about their upcoming tag team title match against The Warlord, The Barbarian and Mr. Fuji
Out in the back, Tony Schiavone tried to get an interview with 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, only for the World Wrestling Federation champion to storm out of his locker room, push over a camera man and storm off screaming after Hulk Hogan. Typical savage, then.

Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin) vs. 'Rugged' Ronnie Garvin
As it turned out, the most memorable moment in a match between Dino Bravo and Ronnie Garvin had nothing to do with either man.

Both men were introduced, made their way to the ring and then just stood there, like a couple of jobbers as, for apparently no reason whatsoever, Howard Finkle introduced 'one of the all-time greats' Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka

Snuka (who in this post-dubbed world didn't have his Super-Super-Super FLY theme) made his way to the ring, posed, and then left, never to be seen or heard of again for the rest of the show.

It was just weird.

Anyway, after that, Garvin and Bravo had a match, Dino Bravo won, and nobody cared.
Your Winner: Dino Bravo

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin) celebrates his win over Rugged Ronnie Garvin
Afterwards, Ronnie Garvin showed himself to be a sore loser by beating up Frenchy Martin.

The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson &  Tully Blanchard w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
'You're gonna see some great wrestling in this one,' promised Jesse Ventura. 

And we did. This match between The Brain Busters and Strike Force was almost as good as you'd imagine. The first couple of minutes were by far better than most of the dross on this card, then it essentially became another handicap match as Chico Santana accidentally nailed Rick Martel with the flying jalapeno, causing Martel, after hanging around on the apron for a while, to leave the ring.

Left to the mercy of Anderson and Tully, Tito Santana quickly ate a pin.
Your winners: The Brain Busters

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund was absolutely outraged by Martel's betrayal. Martel, for his part, simply said that Santana was a loser. 

Brother Love's Pit
If it was ever possible to die from boredom, it would be whilst watching the next segment. 

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - The show came live from Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey
In a nutshell, it was a Piper's Pit segment at first hijacked by Brother Love in a kilt, featuring some guy called Morton Downey Junior and with Roddy Piper desperately trying to save the thing by being his usual brilliant self.

He couldn't.

This long, boring segment achieved nothing, went nowhere and simply served to send the already quiet crowd completely to sleep.

No Holds Barred
When the horrible Piper's Pit segment was over, Gorilla Monsoon promised us some "Very exciting news." from Mean Gene Okerlund. Unfortunately, Okerlund revealed Monsoon to be a liar, and instead of exciting news, introduced us to a trailer for No Holds Barred.

This was followed by a unusually nervous Sean Mooney interviewing Donald Trump about nothing in particular, and an awesome promo from Jesse Ventura, scolding Hogan for venturing into Hollywood which was, of course, Ventura's domain.

It says something when one of the best bits of mic work on the whole show comes from  your commentator.

Hogan in the House
A lengthy video package came next, highlighting the year-long friendship-turned-rivallry between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. 

It started at Wrestlemania 4, continued at the first ever Summerslam, rolled on through Survivor Series '88 and on into 1989 on the road to Wrestlemania.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon were our commentators for the evening
This took us nicely into a Hogan promo. With Mean Gene pointing the mic at his face, The Hulkster gave his usual wild, half-crazed interview in which he claimed that Savage 'couldn't handle the load' and 'twisted this whole beautiful thing around.' indeed.

Things got even more crazy when Hogan claimed that he was ready...like Donald Trump, insisted that Trump had 'hired a team of seismologists' to measure the impact of Hogan and Savage colliding, then told Trump himself not to worry about the Hulkmaniacs. 

I'm sure trump felt better after Hogan put his mind at rest about that one.

Seriously, this promo was so insane it was brilliant.

Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (w/ Big John Studd as special guest referee)
If you've read any of my past wrestling reviews and are starting to think that this Wrestlemania 5 review is far from my best work, I do apologise.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Hulk Hogan talks to Mean Gene about his WWF title match against Macho Man Randy Savage
Truth is, watching this show is making me lose the will to live, and matches like Jake Roberts against a barely mobile Andre The Giant are hardly helping things.

The match itself was dull and forgettable and far too long. It got kind of interesting when Andre and special referee Big John Studd got into it, and Roberts' other rival, Ted Dibiase, came down to ringside to steal Roberts' snake, Damian.

A split-screen gave us a view of all the action, leading to Studd regaining control and disqualifying Andre for putting his hands on the referee.
Your winner by disqualification: Jake Roberts

Afterwards, Sean Mooney interviewed some excitable guy in the crowd who clapped his hands and repeated 'JAKE IS THE BEST' over and over. Yeah.

Backstage, Sensational Sherri said what we'd all been thinking a couple of hours ago, Rockin' Robin was a terrible singer.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Bobby Heenan leads Andre The Giant to ringside for a match against Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
In a sign of things to come, Sherri also had some harsh words for Miss Elizabeth.

Rhythm & Blues (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & The Honky Tony Man w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart)
So, here's something to think about. When I watch this event on my computer, it gives me a total running time of three hours, thirty eight minutes and thirty seconds.

It already feels like we've been watching Wrestlemania 5 forever, and part way through this decent exchange between the Harts and the Ryhtym and Blues, we're at two hours, thirty five minutes.

Somebody. Shoot me. Now.

Not the worst match in the world by a longshot, but the amount of crap on this card had rendered your writer, and everybody in attendance, so full of fatigue that it was hard to care.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Tony Schiavone interviews Sensational Sherri
The end came when Bret Hart botched a megaphone shot, hit Honky Tonk Man in the arm with it, and scored a victory.

I'll remind you that The Hart Foundation were the good guys here.
Your winners: The Hart Foundation

A recap of the Super Posedown at the 1989 Royal Rumble between Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior led us nicely into an Intercontinental Championship match between the two men.

WWF Intercontinental Championship match:
World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. 'Ravishing' Rick Rude (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Finally, something to get excited about. Yes, this match is as good as you've heard.

There's not an awful lot to talk about here, it was just  really fun Intercontinental Championship match in which both champ and challenger traded the offence until Rude's manager, Bobby Heenan helped him win his first, and only, WWF title.
Your winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Ravishing Rick Rude.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Ravishing Rick Rude stalks The Ultimate Warrior in their classic Wrestlemania 5 match
After the bell, Warrior got some kind of revenge by planting Heenan with a gorilla press slam, then running off after Rude. 

Bad News Brown vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
If the last match as as good as you'd heard, then this match is just about as blah as you can imagine.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan didn't have theme music because Big John Studd was still using it at the time, but it didn't matter. The hairy patriot still did his best to entertain to wake up the dead crowd whilst at the same time killing them further in a boring match against Bad News Brown.

As with every Jim Duggan match ever, this one ended when Duggan brought his 2x4 in and got disqualified. The only difference here was that Brown also brought a chair in the ring, so both men got disqualified.
Double DQ

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed The Red Rooster about his upcoming match with Bobby Heenan. The Rooster cut a cringe-worthy promo in which he promised to sink his claws into Heenan.

Bobby Heenan (w/ The Brooklyn Brawler) vs. The Red Rooster

This was over in 30 seconds. It was crap.
Your winner: The Red Rooster

Brooklyn Brawler beat up Rooster afterwards.

Just to drag this thing out further, Miss. Elizabeth gave an incredibly forced promo in which she said that she hoped neither Savage nor Hogan got seriously injured, Tony Schiavone stood in an empty locker room for no reason, and Sean Mooney said the fans were split on who they wanted to win.

Then.

Finally.

It happened.

After hours and hours and hours of bad, boring matches, we finally got to our main evennt.

WWF Championship match:
World Wrestling Federation Champion 'Macho Man' Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (w/ Miss. Elizabeth in a neutral corner)
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 5 - Hulk Hogan regained the WWF title from Macho Man Randy Savage
Apart from the Intercontinental Championship match, this was the only other bout that seemed to matter on the card, and indeed one of only a handful of matches that felt as though the men involved actually had an issue to settle.

It was this animosity between champ and challenger, this high level of passion and emotion that made Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 5 such an enthralling, memorable encounter.

Both men battled for their lives in what turned out to be  one of the best Wrestlemania main events ever. 

A true classic which, if you haven't figured out already, came to an end with a win, and a second championship, for The Immortal Hulk Hogan.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

And so it was finally over. An overly-long show crammed full of nothing matches. Definitely get your hands on the main event, and if you can check out the IC title match, but on the whole, give Wrestlemania Five a wide berth. For the most part, this was long, dull, boring and not worth your time.

===============
WWE WrestleMania - The Complete Anthology, Vol. 1 - 1985-1989 (WrestleMania I-V) 
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Retro Pro Wrestling

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