Thursday, 7 November 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF - Wrestlemania 6

April 1st, 1990
Toronto Skydome, Toronto, Canada

In 2013, we are all used to the WWE's Wrestlemania event being a spectacular beyond compare. Yet, looking back over the first several years of its existence, it hardly seemed like the company's flagship show was anything more than your slightly-more-important-than-average WWF houseshow.

In this writer's mind, all that began to change with Wrestlemania VI. The first WWF Wrestlemania to be held outside the United States of America, the sixth installment of the pay per view came across as something really larger-than-life, a true spectacle if ever there was one.

Maybe it was the arena (Toronto's Skydome seemed enourmous), maybe it was the return of the motorized wrestling rings driving the combatants to the ring, or maybe it was the idea that this show was headlined by the two biggest stars of the time.

Whatever it was, Wrestlemania 6 came across as a bonafide BIG DEAL.

Here's what went down.

Hogan and Warrior are STARS
The first thing anybody watching Wrestlemania 6 saw was a graphic of the constellations in the night sky, with Vince McMahon growling about how those stars might have been big, but they were nothing compared to Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. 

Don't believe me? Here, watch this.


After this, our commentators for the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura welcomed us to the show, and to Robert Goulet singing Oh, Canada.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon welcomed us to the show
Koko B. Ware vs. Rick 'The Model' Martel
Our opening contest saw two perennial midcarders going at it in an enjoyable, if instantly forgettable battle. 

Both men traded the advantage several times before Rick Martel hooked in his Boston Crab for the win.
Your winner: Rick Martel

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke to The Colossal Connection and Bobby Heenan.  Poking fun at the heels, Okerlund introduced his guests as The Colostomy Connection, much to the chagrin of Heenan and his men. Still, the tag team champions brushed off Okerlund's childish antics and vowed to destroy their upcoming challengers, Demolition.

Offering a retort, Ax and Smash told Sean Mooney exactly what they would do to Haku and Andre The Giant, mainly beating them up a whole bunch and taking their titles back.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - The Colossal Connection (Andre The Giant and Haku w/ Bobby Heenan) are interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund
World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Colossal Connection (Andre The Giant & Haku w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Demolition (Ax and Smash)
For the second Wrestlemania in a row, the WWE overdubbers have attacked the footage and Demolition head to ringside without the classic Rick Derringer theme. 

When they arrived, they were thrown right into what was effectively a two-versus-one handicap match pitting Demolition against Haku.

Indeed, you only need to know a little bit about wrestling history to know that, by the end of his WWF run, Andre The Giant''s in-ring mobility was quickly and quietly slipping away.

With that in mind, Andre spent the majority of this fairly decent match stood on the apron, chipping in with dodgy heel shots whenever possible, but basically leaving Haku to pick up the slack until late on in the match, when he stepped into the ring and straight into the oh no, Andre's tied up in the ropes spot that the big man did in every single WWF match he was ever involved in. 

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Demolition are interviewed by Sean Mooney about their tag team title shot against The Colossal Connection
With Andre tied up, Ax and Smash were able to 'decapitate' Haku and pick up their third WWF Tag Team Championship.
Your Winners and NEW World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions: Haku

Afterwards, an irate Bobby Heenan berated Andre and even dared to slap his long-time charge. Standing for none of it, Giant struck back, then turned his attentions to beating up his now-former partner, Haku.

With the crowds roaring their approval, a babyface Andre The Giant rode out of the ring alone, ready to wind-down his in-ring career copletely.

A word with Earthquake
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Andre the Giant turns on Bobby Heenan, becoming a crowd favorite once again
Backstage, Mean Gene spoke to Earthquake and Jimmy Hart about the former's upcoming battle with Hercules. 

A fat, hairy and seemingly very sweaty Earthquake bounced up and down as Jimmy Hart promised big Herc' that he would fall victim to the mighty Earthquake.

Hercules vs. Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart)
Ah the athleticism on display in the late 80s/early 90s WWF. That said, Hercules nomally came up with the goods on pay per view, and Wrestlemania VI was no exception. 

As it was, this was good, entertaining four minute match which saw Hercules succumb to Earthquake, though not before busting 'Quakes nose.
Your winner: Hercules

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart) speaks to Mean Gene Okerlund about his upcoming match against Hercules
Cutting to a a pre-recorded segment, some woman called Rona Barrett conducting an appallingly awkward interview with Miss Elizabeth, who claimed that she had been working for the WWF in an advisory role since we last saw her, but that she would be returning to ringside before we knew it.

Barrett ended the interview by saying 'Back to you, Sean'

Sean Mooney then completely ignored her,  and instead went straight into his backstage interview with Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, who promised to end Mr. Perfect's 'perfect record.'

Mr. Perfect (w/ The Genius) vs. Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Miss Elizabeth gives an interview in which she suggests she'll return to the ring
We rejoined the action in the arena as The Genius was finishing up with an ode to Mr. Perfect (at least, I assume that's what his poem was about) before Perfect himself made his way to the ring to face Beefcake.

Following the trend of this particular show, Perfect and Beefcake engaged in a short, enjoyable battle which was fun to watch without being actually blowing you away. 

After taking a battering from Perfect for the bulk of the match, Beefcake eventually struck Perfect with an incredibly clumsy catapult into the corner. 

Perfect hit the post with his chest, then got his leg tangled in the ropes as he fell to the mat, yet somehow this was enough to knock him out, and Brutus Beefcake handed Mr. Perfect his first loss.
Your winner: Brutus Beefcake

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Brutus Beefcake gets crazy about his upcoming match against Mr. Perfect
In the post-match shenanigans, Beefcake had planned on giving Perfect a haircut yet, being the sneaky, devious little heel that he was, The Genius attempted to steal Beefcake's hedge clippers, only to receive his comeuppance and be the one to get a haircut courtesy of The Barber.

Sadly that would be the Barber's last pay per view match for a long while. After suffering an injury, he was out of action for a long time, and wouldn't return to WWF PPV until Wrestlemania 9.

Roddy Piper 'blacks up' 
Yup. First, we were shown clips of how Rowdy Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown first took a disliking to one another at the 1990 Royal Rumble, after which Bad News Brown told Piper to shave his legs on an episode of WWF Superstars (or Wrestling Challenge, I forget which).

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Mr. Perfect beats up Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake
We were then taken to a backstage promo in which Piper revealed that he had painted one entire side of his body black, apparently as some kind of unspoken racial taunt against his adversary.

Bad News Brown vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Piper began the match by stripping out of his kilt and t-shirt and dancing like he was in Saturday Night Fever.

Honestly, only in a pro wrestling review (or possibly porn) would you ever read something so random and ridiculous.

As for the match itself, it was less a match and more an out-and-out brawl. 

Both men threw caution to the wind as they traded lefts and rights, battering one another inside the ring and out until referee Danny Davis (remember when he wrestled?) counted them both out.
Double count-out

Undeterred, Brown and Piper both brawled their way backstage.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 6 - Rowdy Roddy Piper painted half his body black to fight Bad News Brown. Nobody asked why.
Whatever the point in all that was, it was certainly lost on this fan.

Sing-a-long with the Bolshevieks
In another pre-taped segment, some doofus called Steve Allen messed with The Bolshevieks, promising to play the Russian national anthem, then playing something else instead. It was dull.

The Hart Foundation (Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. The Bolshevieks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zhukov)
Carrying on the tradition of Wrestlemania matches which were over before they really began (the one that started with King Kong Bundy vs. Special Delivery Jones at the first Wrestlemania), this one was over in less than 20 seconds.

The Russians began to sing their national anthem, only to be attacked from behind by the Canadians. Zhukov, still in his ring jacket, then fell to the Hart Attack, and was put away by The Hitman.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and his partner Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart defeated The Bolshevieks
Afterwards, they announced that Wrestlemania VII would take place the following year at the Los Angeles Memorial Colliseum. Jesse Ventura was very excited about this, especially as all his Hollywood friends would be in attendance.

Tito will SURVIVE!
After his opponent The Barbarian had already made his way to the ring, Tito Santana gave a backstage interview to Mean Gene Okerlund. As enthusiastic as ever despite his epic Wrestlemania losing streak, Tito promised that he would survive against The Barbarian. 

He didn't say he would win. He didn't say that he would kick some ass or beat up The Barbarian or anything like that. He simply vowed to survive. Hardly the most confident pre-match promise in the world, is it?

Tito Santana vs. The Barbarian
Having broken away from former Powers of Pain partner, The Warlord, the big Barbarian went at it with Chico in a fairly forgettable contest which could have been so much better.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Tito Santana didn't think he could beat The Barbarian, but he did promise to SURVIVE
After all, Tito was a solid performer, and the Powers of Pain were a decent team capable of having good matches. Yet for some reason this didn't seem all that fun, and though not necessarily bad, was by far the most boring match on the card so far.

The Barbarian won when he took Chico's head off with a top-rope flying clothesline.
Your winner: The Barbarian

Prior to our next contest, we got a recap of the feud between Dusty Rhodes & Saphire and Randy Savage & Sensational Sherri. It started when the two tussled at the 1990 Royal Rumble, continued on an episode of Wresting Challenge and would culminate in the upcoming mixed tag team contest.

Before any actual wrestling took place however, we got a barely comprehensible promo from Rhodes and Saphire in which Rhodes promised that they would deliver 'the crown jewel', a fairly obvious hint at what was to come.

Mixed tag team match:
Randy 'Macho King' Savage and Sensational Queen Sherri vs. Dusty Rhodes and Saphire (w/ Miss. Elizabeth)
For whatever reason, Rhodes' Common Man theme had been overdubbed here much like Demolition's theme earlier in the show. Unlike Demolition however, Rhodes' theme had been replaced with, I kid you not, the theme from the UK version of Wheel of Fortune.

I'm not making that up, look:


Anyway, after getting their funk on to the Wheel of Fortune theme, Rhodes and his partner then revealed their crown jewel to be none other than Miss Elizabeth, who rode to the ring to back them up in this weird mixed tag team  match.

It was weird because, whenever Rhodes was in the ring, either against Savage or Sherri, things were actually entertaining. Not good in a technical, five-star classic kind of way, but entertaining, in a 'this is putting a smile on my face' kind of way.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Dusty Rhodes and Saphire faced Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri. Rhodes' face says it all
Add Saphire into the mix, watch her do nothing more than smash her big butt into Sensational Sherri, and the results were pretty terrible.

Speaking of results, the end came when Sherri reached through the ropes to attach Elizabeth, only for Liz to push Sherri backwards into a Saphire-sized roll-up, giving the win to the good guys.
Your winners: Dusty Rhodes and Saphire

As if watching Rhodes and Saphire dancing to the Wheel of Fortune theme wasn't weird enough, watching Miss. Elizabeth join in during the post-match celebrations was even weirder. Still, that happened.

Intermission
Taking things into intermission, we first had Bobby Heenan losing his mind over the fact that Andre the Giant had cost The Colossal Connection the tag team titles, Ronda Barrett claiming to have x-rated footage of Jesse Ventura and an irate King and Queen of the WWF venting their frustrations to Sean Mooney.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Randy Savage was irate about the return of Miss Elizabeth and his loss to Dusty Rhodes and Saphire
Demolition then gave a post-match interview with Gene Okerlund, talking about how good it felt to win their third tag team championship, then the show went back to Monsoon and Ventura. Monsoon told us the show was going 'back to ringside,' by which he meant a backstage promo from Hulk Hogan, who promised to destroy The Ultimate Warrior.

Offering a retort, Warrior sent Sean Mooney packing before cutting a promo on 'Hoke Hogan,' promised that his Warriors and Hoke Hogan's Hokamaniacs could come 'together as one.'  and insisted they would feel the strength of 'The Wari-ass and the Hokamaniacs' combined.

The Orient Express (Sato and Pat Tanaka w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels)
If there was ever a trully bad Rockers match, this writer has never seen it. Though they would certainly have better matches, this textbook tag bout against Fuji's men that was just great to watch.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Hulk Hogan had some harsh words for the Ultimate Warrior before they met in the main event
With a masked Paul Diamond in the place of Sato, The Rockers and The Orient Express would have an ever better match at the 1991 Royal Rumble show, but still, this was a good midcard bout indeed.
Your winners via countout: The Orient Express

Wasting no time in getting right back to the action, we were next presented with one of Wrestlemania's more awkward moments.

Dino Brao (w/ Jimmy Hart and Earthquake) vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan
Heading into the Skydome in Toronto, Canada, Jim Duggan waved the flag of the United States of America and chanted 'USA! USA! USA!'
90% of the crowd stared back at him in dead silence. The other 10% roundly booed him. 'Listen to this ovation for Hacksaw Jim Duggan' swooned Gorilla Monsoon, clearly listening to a different crowd altogether.

At least the crowd (who, to be fair, were hot all night) eventually cheered up when the action got underway, even if that action was nothing to write home about.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: The Ultimate Warrior called the WWF Champion 'Hoke Hogan' in his reply promo
This pretty sloppy brawl ended with a 2x4-assisted win for Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
Your winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Afterwards, Duggan was beaten down by Earthquake and a ticked-off Dino Bravo.

Backstage, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts cut a compelling promo against arch-rival Ted Dibiase as the two prepared to do battle over theMillion Dollar Title.

Million Dollar Championship match
'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
Having been at war since the previous summer, Roberts and Dibiase finally clashed in a match every bit as good as you'd imagine it would be.

Moving at a steady pace, the two waged war in an intense, psychological battle that was entirely captivating from bell to bell.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Shawn Michaels watches over Pat Tanaka in the Rockers/Orient Express match
After a lengthy fight, the two men brawled on the outside, only for Virgil to help his man back into the ring to break the count of ten.
Your winner and Million Dollar Champion: Ted Dibiase

Following the match, Jake Roberts chased off Virgil then nailed Dibiase with the DDT, grabbed several $100 bills that Virgil had left lying around, and handed them to members of the crowd, including Mary Tyler Moore. 

Backstage, Akeem The African Dream and his manager, Slick talked about their rivallry with Akeem's former Twin Towers partner, The Big Boss Man.

Apparently, none other than Ted Dibase himself had attempted to pay the Twin Towers to help him out with something, only for Boss Man to refuse the money.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Dino Bravo battled Jim Duggan in a terrible match
This was reason enough for Boss Man and Akeem to fight, and for 'Keem and Slick to say 'mon-ay' a lot in the promo. yeah.

Not to be outdone, The Big Boss Man gave a reply. First, he insisted that he didn't mind being poor (because we were supposed to believe that a police officer who moonlighted as a professional wrestler had no money), then he said he was proud to be an American, apparently hoping his patriotism would endear him to the Canadian crowd.

Because clearly that worked so well for Hacksaw Duggan.

Akeem (w/ Slick) vs. The Big Boss Man
WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts cut an awesome pre-match promo on The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase
Before the match could even get underway, Boss Man was attacked by Ted Dibiase, who apparently had hidden at ringside after his losing effort and lain in wait for the Boss Man's arrival.

Regaining his composure, the Law Enforcement Officer overcame a beating from Akeem and put his former partner away in an unremarkable match lasting less than two minutes.
Your winner: The Big Boss Man

What happened next was the biggest pile of awkward ever seen in professional wrestling.

Rhythm & Blues
First up, Sean Mooney attempted to interview Mary Tyler Moore. Moore, who clearly didn't know much at all about professional wrestling, was constantly cut off by Mooney, probably because she had almost nothing to say for herself.

Rhythm & Blues (Honky Tonk Man & Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine) rode to the ring in a pink Cadillac driven by a pre-fame Diamond Dallas Page. They were accompanied by Jimmy Hart and two women known as the 'Honkyettes.'

Entering the ring, they tried to sing a song called Hunka Hunka Burning Love, with Honky on lead, the girls and Jimmy Hart on backing and Greg Valentine on shuffle-around-looking-awkward-and-completely-out-of-place duty.

This was beyond terrible.

Things got even worse when Valentine and Hart attempted to share lead vocal on a verse yet found their microphone wasn't working properly.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts cut an awesome pre-match promo on The Million Dollar Man Ted DibiasePoor Greg Valentine. There are no words in the English language to describe how utterly uncomfortable he looked in this abomination of a segment.

When the song was over, Honky Tonk spotted The Bushwhackers flogging merchandise at ringside and yelled at them to go away.

Instead, Luke and Butch entered the ring and cleaned house, ending this skit to the delight and relief of everyone who would ever have to watch it for the rest of time.

Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Jimmy Snuka at least got his own match this year, much better than randomly walking in at the start of somebody else's match for no reason, such was his fate at Wrestlemania 5.

Sadly (perhaps) for Snuka, the match he had was one nobody really cared about.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: The Ultimate Warrior prepares to face Hulk Hogan
To be fair, he and Rick Rude did have a decent little match, but the crowd, who had been pretty vocal throughout the show, were finally starting to wain, and this came across as exactly what it was: A little bit of filler before our main event.
Your winner: Rick Rude

Finally, it was on to the one we'd all been waiting for, champion vs. champion, title vs. title, Warrior vs. Hogan, The Ultimate Challenge.

Title vs. Title match 
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. WWF Champion Hulk Hogan
From the moment The Ultimate Warrior raced to the ring, eschewing the ring-carts used by his colleagues throughout the show, the intensity surrounding the Wrestlemania 6 main event grew to such a fever pitch that you have to wonder how anybody in the Skydome could contain themselves.

Hogan followed suit, the bell rang, and this match between the World Wrestling Federation's two biggest stars was underway.

And what a match it was.

WWF / WWE - Wrestlemania 6: The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan stare down before making history in a classic main event

Undoubtedly one of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time, Warrior vs. Hogan was a dramatic, emotional affair between two superstars who made every single thing they did count.

Both men were shown to be equal to one another as they fought valiantly towards the conclusion, which saw Warrior land his big splash and capture the World Wrestling Federation title.
Your winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion, The Ultimate Warrior

Post-match, Hogan handed the title to Warrior and sulked away looking very upset. Of course, the cameras were still on him, so Hogan looked as important in defeat as he ever did in victory.

Then, as the arena darkened and fireworks errupted, The Ultimate Warrior celebrated winning the WWF Title.

And so after several years of slog, Wrestlemania finally delivered a fun show. Wrestlemania VI didn't drag half as much as Wrestlemania's V and IV did, and though there was still an awful lot on this card, most of the matches ranged from watchable to decent. Then you add in that main event, that dramatic, emotional, incredible main event, and what you have is a show that's very much worth checking out. Providing of course, that you can fast-forward past the Honky Tonk Man stuff.


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

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