Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Monday, 25 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 4

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 4 Review - Event Poster

March 27, 1988

Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Back at Wrestlemania III, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation presented us with the biggest professional wrestling event of all time, the repercussions of which were still being felt a year later as Wrestlemania IV rolled into Atlantic City.

To recap, the previous year's show saw Hulk Hogan defeat a recently-turned Andre the Giant after a controversial nearfall early in the match.

It was this controversial fall, which Andre swore had won him the match, which led the two to a second encounter at the February 1988 installment of Saturday Night's Main Event. There, Andre pinned Hogan for a three count (despite Hulk's shoulder being off the mat), won the title, then promptly handed the World Wrestling Federation Championship over to The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.

This raised the ire of WWF President Jack Tunney, who then declared the title vacant, with a new champion to be crowned in a 14-man elimination tournament at Wrestlemania 4.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: The live Wrestlemania crowd

Throw in two title matches, a battle royal and a couple of other matches in between the tournament bouts, and wrestling fans were in for one long night in New Jersey.

Here's what went down.

Welcome to the show

Following the usual intro graphics and a welcome from Mean Gene Okerlundwe got a patriotic sing-a-long from Gladys Knight and a friendly greeting from everybody's favourite commentary duo, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura

With that out of the way, it was on to the action.

20 Man Battle Royal featuring: Bad News Brown, The Hart Foundation, Sam Houston, Junkyard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, Harley Race, The Killer Bees and more.

In a move typical of the 'get everybody on the card' mentality which usually leads fans to fantasy booking of seven multi-man matches on a single card (all of which would suck if they were to ever actually happen), we tonight's card got underway with a fairly pointless battle royal match.

Much like all battle royals, this one wasn't particularly interesting until the finish.

Bodies toppled over the top rope until only Junkyard Dog, Bad News Brown and Bret Hart remained. The latter two agreed to join forces to eliminate the former, then proceeded to celebrate as though both were co-winners.

However, in a dastardly heel move, Bad News double-crossed The Hitman and hurled him out of the ring.
Your Winner: Bad News Brown

Returning to the ring, an enraged Hart beat down on Brown and destroyed his trophy, making his long-awaited babyface turn in the process.

Cutting away from the commentator's table, Bob Uecker, in his second year as Wrestlemania-goofball-in-residence,  raced off to find fellow celebrity guest, Wheel of Fortune star, Vanna White

Much as he was at WM3, Bob Uecker was quite awesome here, and would continue to be so throughout the show.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 1
'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan vs. 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil and Andre The Giant)

And so the man who's greed-driven actions resulted in this whole tournament taking place took to the ring for the first opening round match against Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

Both men went through your pretty standard match without ever really raising the bar very high. Still, it was fairly entertaining for a throwaway match and resulted in a first round win for Dibiase.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Mean Gene Okerlund talks about Brutus Beefcake's "package"

Cutting to the backstage area, Mean Gene Okerlund had some pre-recorded words with the number one contender to the Intercontinental Championship, Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake. 

In his opening line, Okerlund literally pointed at Beefcake's crotch and said 'what a package.'  

Beefcake's impressive bulge aside, the man marked the first anniversary of his transformation into 'The Barber' by vowing to cut some hair and kick some ass.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 2
Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchie Martin) vs. Don 'The Rock' Muraco (w/ 'Superstar' Billy Graham)

Round one continued with another passable outing, this time between the man who sent everybody to sleep at the first ever Royal Rumble, Dino Bravo, and Mr. Fuji's former buddy, Don Muraco

This wasn't the worst match in the world, and was actually a pretty decent effort by the two musclebound combatants. That said, it won't make any difference in your life if you never see this match.

The whole thing ended on a DQ when Bravo pulled the referee in front of him to stop The Rock from hitting Canada's Strongest Man.
Your Winner: Don Muraco  

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Honky Tonk Man & Jimmy Hart torment Bob Uecker

Back in the interview area, the ever-hilarious Bob Uecker waffled on about finding Vanna White for so long that The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart, both of whom had done a terrible job of hiding off screen, interrupted the baseball legend to offer a response to Brutus Beefcake.

Honky, in the midst of his Longest Intercontinental Championship Reign Ever promised victory in his upcoming match against The Barber.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 3
Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

Yes, this is the one where Ricky Steamboat came to the ring carrying a young baby who would grow up to become Richie Steamboat.

Unsurprisingly given who was involved, this opening round contest actually evolved into the best in-ring encounter of the whole card.

A compelling contest from bell to bell, Steamboat and Greg Valentine made putting on a good math seem effortless, and did so right up to the point at which The Hammer scored the victory.
Your Winner: Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine

In a nice post-match moment, an NWA-bound Steamboat waved goodbye to the World Wrestling Federation fans.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: The British Bulldogs, Matilda and Koko B. Ware

Backstage once again, The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware told Mean Gene that the Bulldogs' mascot, Matilda was now a certified 'Weasel Dog' (which to this writer sounds like some kind of botched mutation) and that they would all be going on a weasel hunt when they faced Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The Islanders in six-man action later on in the show.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 4
'Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. 'The Natural' Butch Reed (w/ Slick)

Ah, so many matches, so few ways to say 'yeah, this wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special'

Alas, that was definitely the case with this final first round match up as Reed dominated most of the bout before eventually succumbing to the Macho Man a few minutes in.
Your Winner: Randy Savage

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: The Islanders hype their upcoming match against The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware

In the back, Bob Uecker caught up with Bobby Heenan and The Islanders ahead of their six-man outing later in the show. 

The only thing of note from this was that Heenan promised to bring a surprise to ringside with him.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 5
The One Man Gang (w/ Slick) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Oliver Humperdink)

This was not a good match at all, which was surprising given that Bam Bam Bigelow was a particularly gifted big man and his popularity in the WWF at this time was off the charts.

Still, perhaps the bizarre ending had something to do with it;

After Slick pulled the top rope down in front of the referee, Bam Bam toppled over the ropes and, when he tried to re-enter, was beaten down on the apron by OMG, leading to his count-out defeat.
Your Winner: The One Man Gang

Back in the interview area, Mean Gene caught up with former champion Hulk Hogan ahead of his much-anticipated Wrestlemania III rematch against Andre The Giant.

In one of the most demented promos ever, The Hulkster went from vowing to slam Andre the Giant to going swimming with Donald Trump (owner of The Trump Plaza) in a matter of seconds.

Honest to God, people make fun of The Ultimate Warrior's nonsensical promos, but I don't think many realise that Hogan was often even more insane than Warrior when it came to the microphone.

WWF Championship Tournament: Round 1 - Match 6
'Ravishing' Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: 'Ravishing' Rick Rude gets ready for battle against Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

When the announcers spend as much time talking about the 'short' (ie: 15 minute) time-limit of a match as Gorilla and 'The Body' did here, it's a fairly safe bet that they've just given away the ending.

Low and behold, they did. From the early moments of the match it was clear that we were heading for time-limit draw, and thus both men wrestled accordingly.

This was not the greatest match the two could have produced given a different set of circumstances. Indeed, the abundance of chin locks drew a noticeable 'Boring!' chant from the New Jersey crowd at one point mid-match. That said, it wasn't half as bad as some critics would have you believe and was -unlike a number of matches on the same card- at least captivating from start to finish.
Time Limit Draw

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Mean Gene Okerlund w/ Wheel of Fortune star Vanna White

Backstage, Mean Gene had better luck then fellow interviewer Uecker in catching up with the lovely Vanna White, as the Wheel of Fortune star assisted Okerlund in recapping the tournament results so far.

As nice as White may have been, she did some across as a little dimwitted, especially when Okerlund asked her for her pick between Hogan and Andre, and she merely pointed to Hogan's name and mumbled 'Hulk' with a perfectly stupid grin.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)

Making his pay per view debut, Ultimate Warrior 'treated' fans to a break from the WWF Championship tournament by taking on the mighty Hercules in a fairly dull affair which continued the Warrior's never-ending feud against various members of the Heenan Family.

Following several minutes of inaction, Warrior countered Herc's full nelson attempt by pushing off the middle rope, causing his aggressor to slam down with a German Suplex. With both men's shoulders pinned to the mat, Warrior got his arm up just in time to claim a victory.
Your Winner: The Ultimate Warrior

Prior to the next match, we got a great look back at the rivalry between Hogan and Andre.

WWF Championship Tournament: Quarter Finals - Match 1
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ The Million Dollar Man and Virgil)

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Andre The Giant battles Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania's first rematch

With both men getting a pass directly to the quarter finals for reasons which were never fully explained at this event, Hogan and Andre finally met in their much-hyped Wrestlemania rematch.

With much of the spectacle of their previous 'Mania outing diminished, what we had here instead was basically a bunch of stuff which killed time towards the finish, when both men struck each other with steel chairshots, earning a double DQ.
Double Disqualification

After the match, Hogan chased after Ted Dibiase and Virgil, suplexing Dibiase's bodyguard onto the concrete and ensuring that Virgil would not be seen again for the rest of the night (he would eventually turn up years later in a New York subway). Hogan then posed for the live crowd for the next thousand years as though he'd just won the match, the title, a million dollars and everything that could ever be won on the face of Planet Earth.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: 'Macho Man' Randy Savage cuts a promo en route to his championship tournament win

Out in the back, Randy Savage gave an interview to Mean Gene Okerlund. 

Curiously, Savage spent more time talking about Hulk Hogan in his promo than he did his own chances of winning the competition.

WWF Championship Tournament: Quarter Finals - Match 2
Don Muraco (w/ 'Superstar' Billy Graham) vs. Ted Dibiase 

With Virgil nowhere in sight, I'll admit I was expecting some kind of surprise run in from the man who would one-day be known as Curly Bill.

Alas, Virgil was nowhere in sight as his boss got his ass handed to him by The Rock before finally coming up with the goods to claim victory in a forgettable encounter.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase 

Backstage, Demolition interrupted Bob Uecker from pining over Vanna White by promising to beat up Strike Force in their upcoming match.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: One Man Gang is happy with getting a bye to the semi-final

Back at ringside, it was then announced that the One Man Gang would have a bye into the semi-finals as a result of the Roberts/Rude time-limit draw. Thus, 'Gang would face the winner between our upcoming contest.

WWF Championship Tournament: Quarter Finals - Match 3
Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Randy 'Macho Man' Savage

Not quite up to par with Valentine's prior effort against Steamboat, this was nonetheless a good match between two men who were arguably already considered veterans at this stage in the game.

After a seesaw battle, Savage snared victory from the jaws of defeat to advance to the next round and end another good Wrestlemania performance.
Your Winner: Macho Man Randy Savage

Out in the back, Mean Gene and Vanna White ran through the tournament standings to this point, informing us that Ted Dibiase now had a bye straight to the final due to the shenanigans in the Hogan/Andre match.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship 
WWF Intercontinental Champion The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) vs. Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake

For Peggy Sue, see Sensational Sherri in an awful blonde wig.

Anyway, in this IC title match, we basically had a great example of two men who were insanely over at this point in their career despite not being anything remarkable between the ropes.

The match they gave us here was thus typical of such a calibre of athlete, both champ and challenger doing their all to keep the crowd riled up throughout the match.

Towards the finish, the referee took a dive thanks to shenanigans from Honky, Bruti put the champion to sleep and gave Hart a haircut.

Finally, an official had the sense to end the match and gave the result, though not the title, to the flamboyant hairdresser.
Your Winner by disqualification: Brutus Beefcake

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Andre The Giant with Bob Uecker

You know that scene you've seen a thousand times in which Andre The Giant chokes out some old guy? That happened next when The Giant interrupted Bob Uecker (still worried about Vanna White's whereabouts), claimed that he'd done exactly what Dibiase had paid him to do (keep Hogan out of the tournament), and then choked out Uecker and yelled something incomprehensible at him.

Six Man Tag
Koko B. Ware & The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) vs. Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan & The Islanders (Haku & Tama)

For the second year in a row then, the Bulldogs found themselves in a part-comedy six man match. Much like last year's outing involving Tito Santana, The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis, this was actually a pretty fun, enjoyable outing by all involved.

Heenan's big surprise turned out to be an 'attack dog handler's outfit' to stop him being attacked by the rather docile Matilda (an actual Bulldog, who acted as the mascot of Davey Boy and Dynamite). It must have somehow worked for The Brain, as he was able to pick up the three count over Dave Boy following several fun minutes of action.
Your Winner: Bobby Heenan and The Islanders

Recouping pretty quickly, The Bulldogs, Matilda and Koko chased off the bad guys.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura

For absolutely no reason, Jesse 'The Body' Ventura was given a grand introduction from Howard Finkle before indulging in a pose down for the Atlantic City crowd. It may have been entirely pointless, but it's hard to deny that Ventura was insanely over in Trump Land.

The Million Dollar Man was then introduced to officially receive his pass in to the finals, before we went back to the action for our semi final match.

WWF Championship Tournament: Semi Final
'Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. One Man Gang (w/ Slick)

Despite a fairly short exchange, Savage and Gang managed to pull off a pretty entertaining match, though if you haven't figured it out already, the outcome was pretty inevitable.

Another disqualification came around when the referee caught OMG using Slick's cane on Savage.
Your Winner by Disqualification: Macho Man Randy Savage

In a brief respite from the in-ring action, Mean Gene looked back over the tournament brackets before Bob Uecker turned up once again looking for Vanna White. Even when this show began to sag at times, Uecker always came good with the entertainment.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel) vs. Demolition (Ax & Smash w/ Mr. Fuji)
This is one of those matches that, on paper, has 'dull' written all over it. Yet when these two teams met up to battle over the tag belts, what actually transpired was a pretty good match in which Martel & Santana used their speed and wrestling prowess to overcome the brute force of Demolition.

Alas, for the second match in a row, a walking cane led to the finish. This time, the weapon in question belonged to Mr. Fuji and allowed Demolition to counter a Rick Martel boston crab with a cane-shot. Smash made the cover and we had new tag team champions.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Demolition

And so began Demolition's dominance over the WWF tag ranks which would last for the rest of the 1980s.

Finally, with Uecker as our guest ring announcer and White as our guest timekeeper, along with some guy called Robin Leach (from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous) as the Guy Who Will Present the Title, it was on to our final.

WWF Championship Tournament: Final
'Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre The Giant) vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth)
WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Hulk Hogan and Elizabeth help Macho Man randy Savage celebrate his title victory
After what felt like an eternity then, we were finally down to our final match, in which a four-match weary Savage tried to hold his own against a two-matcher in Dibiase and Official Outside Interference Runner, Andre.

Unsurprisingly, Savage spent most of the match getting his ass kicked by Dibiase thanks to The Giant's interference before beckoning Elizabeth to go and fetch Hulk Hogan.

Dressed in red tights, The Hulkster made his way out to ringside to even the scores, and even helped Savage pick up the win by planting Dibiase with a chairshot behind the referees back.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion: Macho Man Randy Savage

Afterwards, Savage, Hogan and Elizabeth celebrated for several millennia.

And there goes the show you never thought would end. Seriously, there's probably nothing wrong with a wrestling pay per view running nigh on four hours, but when about three and a half of those hours don't actually feature much in the way of entertainment, it often feels like you've spent your entire weekend just watching this one show.
A good one for the historians then, though casual fans will get little enjoyment from an event that legitimately felt like a chore to watch.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 3

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 Review - event poster

Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan
March 29, 1987

The stars were aligned and shining down bright on Vince McMahon and his Sports Entertainment Revolution this fateful night in March 1987. With a record-breaking crowd, a commentary team unrivaled anywhere in the business, and a stacked card leading up to the biggest professional wrestling match of all time, Wrestlemania III looked set to live up to all of its hype and then some.

And boy did it ever.

Twenty-six years later, Wrestlemania III lives on as the first truly good Wrestlemania and the one against which all others were judged for years.


Let's find out, shall we?

Welcome, Everyone! 

Resplendent in a typical 1980s' tuxedo and with his trademark growl ringing out across Michigan, Vince McMahon took to the center of the ring to welcome everybody to Wrestlemania III before introducing soul legend Aretha Franklin to the capacity crowd for a rendition of America the Beautiful.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - Vince McMahon welcomes everyone to the show

Music out of the way, it was on to our commentary team for the evening, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, who were accompanied for our introductions by baseball legend Bob Uecker and TV beauty Mary Hart.

The Can-Am Connection (Tom Zenk & Rick Martel) vs. Don Muraco & 'Cowboy' Bob Orton (w/ Mr. Fuji) 

And so after spending the last two Wrestlemanias as Roddy Piper's lackey, 'Cowboy' Bob Orton finally got to see in-ring action at the big event.

Teaming with muscleman Don Muraco to take on the fresh young babyface duo of Tom Zenk & Rick Martel, Orton's first wrestling contribution to Wrestlemania was a great way to start the show.

Though hardly the longest match on the card, all four men worked hard within the time they had to deliver an entertaining opening bout which really kicked off the night's action in the right fashion.

Following a good burst of back-and-forth action, Martel splashed The Magnificent One to pick up a win for the good guys.
Your Winners: The Can-Am Connection.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 Review - Hercules cuts a pre-match promo with Bobby Heenan

Up next, fans were treated to a recap of the ongoing saga between Hercules and Billy Jack Haynes, a story largely centered around which man's full nelson submission hold was superior. This took us backstage to the Wrestlemania Interview Center, where Mean Gene Okerlund hoped to get a few words from Hercules and his manager, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

In a curious comment, the brutish grappler claimed that he wasn't just called Hercules, he was the Hercules. You know, son of Zeus, legend of Greek mythology? 

You've got to admit, Herc looked pretty good for being thousands of years old.

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)

When the two Full Nelson Masters finally met between the ropes, the result was a fun, enjoyable big-man brawl.

Both men (though Haynes in particular) looked like surefire headliners-in-the-making as they beat each other around the ring before toppling to the outside, where Haynes locked in the 'nelson and ignored the official as the ten count crept upon them.

Hardly the best professional wrestling match that ever took place, this was nonetheless great fun from start to finish.
Double Count-out

In the post-match shenanigans, Herc' used his trademark chains to bust Billy Jack wide open.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 Review - Hillbilly Jim holds up Haiti Kid & Little Beaver like they're his kids

Heading back to the interview center for more pre-recorded comments, King Kong Bundy -with pint-sized partners Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook by his side- threatened, quite typically, to squash his upcoming opponents, Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver.

Offering a response, Hillbilly claimed he wasn't scared of Bundy, but did worry about his 'two little buddies.' 

Throughout the brief interview, Jim treated his partners not as the adults they were, but as little children, even going so far as to scoop up both Haiti and Beaver as a mother would her young offspring. It was quite weird.

Six-Man Mixed-Tag Match:
King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver

The rules for this one were simple. 

As Gorilla Monsoon so eloquently put it 'the small guys will fight the small guys, the big guys will fight the big guys.'

Speaking of Monsoon, he and Ventura were joined on commentary for this one by Bob Uecker, who was arguably the best thing about the whole match.

That's not to say this was terrible (though to be fair it wasn't very good either), and for what it was, it was at least watchable, but your life won't be seriously ruined if you never see this match.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 Review - King Kong Bundy with Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook

The end came when Bundy beat up on Little Beaver, earning a disqualification as a result.
Your Winners by Disqualification: Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver

Cutting once more to the backstage area, Mary Hart attempted an interview with the ever-lovely Miss Elizabeth, only for Intercontinental Champion 'Macho Man' Randy Savage to interrupt proceedings and order Elizabeth to start making her way down to the ring.

The Wrestlemania Interview Center must have been based in a different city or something. After all, it would be at least half an hour before Savage's match against Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat took place. 

Either that or Liz was a really slow walker.

After a look at the feud between 'King' Harley Race and The Junkyard Dog over Race's reign as king, we returned to the Interview Center where Mean Gene caught up with The King, manager Bobby Heenan, and, for no reason that was ever made quite apparent, The Fabulous Moolah. 

Your standard heel promo ensued, with everyone declaring that JYD would bow to the king by the end of the match. It was decent mic work from all involved, though not nearly as entertaining as guest commentator Uecker's reaction to the sight of Moolah.

'Moolah's here? No wonder you guys are here all the time!' the baseball legend enthused, totally ignoring the fact that Monsoon and Ventura were probably there 'all the time' since that was their job.

'I gotta get with Moolah!' he continued, taking off to apparently go find the former women's champion.

That alone was hilarious enough to make watching Wrestlemania 3 worth it.

Loser Must Bow Match
The Junkyard Dog vs. 'King' Harley Race (w/ The Fabulous Moolah & Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 Review - The JYD Junkyard Dog has some choice words for 'King' Harley Race

Playing up the whole regency schtick, the laws here stated that whoever lost the match would be forced to bow before his victor.

Before that, however, we were treated to a decent little match in which Race bumped all over Michigan for his opponent before finally stealing a win with a release belly-to-belly suplex.
Your Winner: Harley Race

Afterward, Race took his rightful place on the throne (ie: a fold-up chair) and, as stipulated, JYD curtsied before the king. All was not finished, however, as the Dog beat up his rival some more to the delight of the record-breaking crowd.

Heading backstage once more, World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan spoke with Vince McMahon about his upcoming main event battle against Andre the Giant

 The Hulkster gave a fairly nonsensical promo in which, I think, he promised to beat the giant.

In yet another pre-taped interview, The Dream Team of Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, and Luscious Johnny Valiant were asked by Mean Gene Okerlund why they would need an extra man in their corner in the form of Dino Bravo. 

Johnny V replied, though I legitimately have no idea what he said apart from it having something to do with scrambled eggs.

The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) vs. The Dream Team (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/ 'Luscious' Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo)

Back in the days before Jacques and Raymond became 'Fabulous', we saw them here at their bland babyface best as they took the action to their larger foes in the early going.

For a four-minute match, this one turned out to be pretty decent with barely a dull moment in sight. After shenanigans involving Dino Bravo, The Hammer scored the pinfall to give his team the victory.
Your Winners: The Dream Team

Yet whilst the match itself was great, the post-match angle made about as much sense as Johnny V's pre-match promo. 

For reasons that this writer still hasn't been able to figure out despite watching this match four times (two of those with the sole purpose of trying to work this out), Johnny V, Valentine, and Bravo all took off, leaving Bruti alone in the ring. 

A face turn was approaching for Beefcake, while Valentine and Bravo would form The New Dream Team.

Prior to the next contest, we were given a recap of the rivalry between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Adorable Adrian Adonis.

This all stemmed from Adonis turning Piper's Pit into The Flower Shop, and the faux Scotsman not being very happy about it.

Piper gave his pre-match promo first, insisting that he wasn't afraid of 'a man in a dress' before Adonis blurted out something rather unintelligible (noticing a theme here anyone?) which seemed to swear that he would cut Piper's hair by the end of the match.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Adorable Adrian Adonis

Billed as Piper's last stand, Roddy would take off to make movies for a couple of years following this match.

However, as history has since proven, this wouldn't quite be the end of Hot Rod's in-ring career in quite the way it was advertised.

Nonetheless, Piper received the largest ovation of the night to this point as he took the belt from his kilt and began whipping his nemesis around the ring.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - The birth of Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake

Adonis soon returned the favor, and the two proceeded to entertain the fans with a riotous slap-stick brawl.

There was nothing good about this match from a technical wrestling standpoint, but for pure showmanship and a lesson on how to really work a crowd, this is a must-see match.

Six minutes from the opening bell, Piper slapped on the sleeper hold and won the match, thus 'retiring' on a high note and keeping his hair.
Your Winner: Rowdy Roddy Piper

As per the stipulations of the match, Adonis was forced to have his head shaved. 

Yet rather than Piper do it, Brutus Beefcake returned to the ring and took the sheers to Adonis' blonde locks as Piper held manager Jimmy Hart to the mat.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can all say we just witnessed the birth of one of pro wrestling's most memorable gimmicks; Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake.

In a quick, pre-recorded promo hyping the upcoming match, Jimmy Hart and The Hart Foundation put over Danny Davis as their new teammate. 

As The Mouth of the South did what he still does best, former referee Davis hung on the shoulders of Bret and Jim and smirked like a goon.

Six Man Tag Team Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret 'The Hitman' Hart & Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart) and 'Dangerous' Danny Davis w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) and Tito Santana 

This thrilling six-man tag team match came about as a result of Davis costing both The Bulldogs and Tito Santana their respective titles (The Bulldogs the tag belts to the Harts and Santana the IC strap to Savage).

Though they had less than ten minutes to do their thing, The Harts and The Bulldogs did what they did best and started to tear the house down. 

With the ever-reliable Tito also flying around the ring, this had all the makings of a classic, though instead, it became mostly about trying to get Davis over as a credible wrestler.

Indeed, the former official scored the pinfall over Davey Boy Smith to earn a victory for his team.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 - Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan with Andre The Giant and Mean Gene Okerlund

Heading to the back for more pre-recorded thoughts, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan claimed that the butterflies were in his 'stomachs' (all of them?) as he was looking forward to Andre the Giant defeating Hulk Hogan in tonight's main event.

'The Natural' Butch Reed (w/ Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware 

So yeah. This happened.

Both men traded the offense in a decent if entirely forgettable content which was over before it even really got started.

Following a few short minutes, Butch Reed put away Koko for a short, painless victory.
Your Winner: Butch Reed

Following the bell, Tito Santana ran down to the ring and started to tear off Slick's suit.

Up next, we got a review of the rivalry between Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage before both men exchanged words in anticipation of their upcoming Intercontinental Championship match.

WWF / WWE Wrestlemania 3 - Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat has some choice words for 'Macho Man' Randy Savage before their classic match

I will say one thing, the theme music WWE's production crew overdubbed for Steamboat gave the upcoming clash an altogether dramatic feel which was entirely fitting.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship Match.
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion 'The Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat (w/ George 'The Animal' Steele)

You know all about this match already, don't you? 

If you've been a wrestling fan for more than a day, you know about this match.

You've heard how great it was, how it still stands the test of time as a five-star classic, a moment for the ages, a battle which many have tried to match and few have ever surpassed, and you're thinking 'but was it really that good?'

In a word, yes.

Though modern indie fans weened on a diet of American Dragon vs. Samoa Joe may not agree, the Savage/Steamboat encounter was everything you could want in a professional wrestling match and then some. From bell to bell, both men grabbed your attention and kept you hooked all the way through, delivering an absolute gem of a match that saw Steamboat bag the pin, the win, and the title.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: Ricky Steamboat

Heading once again to the backstage area, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, flanked by some anorexic grandmother who looked a bit like shock-rocker Alice Cooper, promised to destroy The Honky Tonk Man when they met in the ring later that night.

In retort, Honky Tonk vowed to nail The Snake with Shake, Rattle and Roll. 

Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (w/ Alice Cooper) vs. The Honky Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart)

And so when all the words were spoken, the only thing left to do was brawl. 

And brawl they did.

By and large, this wasn't too dissimilar to many of tonight's bouts in that it was hardly a wrestling classic yet was still entertaining enough from start to finish. Nothing truly memorable happened, but this was at least a watchable contest that came to an end when Honky cheated his way to victory.
Your Winner: The Honky Tonk Man

Gaining a measure of revenge, Roberts and Cooper then ganged up on the far-outmatched Jimmy Hart and threatened to put Damian on him.

After the match, Mean Gene Okerlund announced that together, everybody in the building had set a new indoor attendance record of 93,000+, a record that wouldn't be broken until 2016.

The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Slick) vs. The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell) 

Slick, still in his Tito-torn clothes, led his foreign fanatics down to ringside before asking Howard Finkle to introduce Nikolai Volkoff for another heat-seeking rendition of the soviet national anthem.

Before the burly Russian could get more than a few lines in, however, 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan raced to the ring in his street clothes and claimed that Volkoff could no longer sing his country's anthem because America was the 'Land of the Free.'

So yeah, go work that one out. Being in the Land of the Free means you're not actually free to sing anything you like. 

Who knew?

When the action finally commenced it was fun yet entirely forgettable, with nothing of note happening until Hacksaw stormed the ring and cost The Killer Bees the match by taking out The Iron Sheik with his trusty 2x4.
Your Winners by Disqualification: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff 

Finally, the only thing we had left was our main event, the reason those 93,000 and something fans packed into the Silverdome, the biggest match in professional wrestling even today; Hogan vs. Andre.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 3 - WWF Champion has words for Andre The Giant before they met at WM III

Following a few last words from both champ and challenger, it was down to ringside.

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship Match
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)

Bob Uecker (yes, him again) was our guest ring announcer and Mary Hart was our guest timekeeper, but nobody cared about that.

Indeed, they were all here to see the biggest wrestling match that had ever existed. Even today, I can think of very few wrestling matches that generated the kind of fervent response that Hogan/Andre I did in 1987. 

Say what you want about Austin/Rock, Hart/Michaels or any other storied rivalry of the modern era, but they all paled in significance compared to this one.

It was the match upon which everything was focused the bout that built the foundations of today's WWE, and it was, well, your typical Hulk Hogan match.

The champion took the blows to the challenger in the early going, only for Andre to block a bodyslam attempt by toppling onto his former friend for a near fall. The Giant then beat Hogan around the ring until the champion Hulked Up, hit The Bodyslam Heard Round The World, and scored the three count.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Following the bell, Hogan celebrated by posing for the crowd for what felt like fifty years.

And so, that was the card of cards, the Wrestlemania of all Wrestlemanias, and even now, it was an awesome show. Hogan/Andre lived up to the spectacle, Savage/Steamboat stole the show with an incredible performance, and ever match before and in between entertaining in its own way. Indeed, you won't find a card full of technical wrestling classics here, but you will find as solid, complete a show as you're ever likely to see.
The first truly good Wrestlemania, this is essential viewing.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 2


New York, Illinois, Los Angeles
April 7, 1986 

The late, great Gorilla Monsoon had a saying at the early Wrestlemania events which went something like this: "That was/This is a happening!"

Sadly, that's about the best thing one could possibly say about the second 'Mania event: It happened.

The first, and indeed only, Mania to take place on a Monday, this was basically a terrible show laden with poor matches, poor booking, and even worse commenting, occasionally interspersed with a decent match.

Split across three different venues in three different time zones, here's what went down at the second annual Wrestlemania.

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York

It should be noted that the version I'm watching for this review is an apparently heavily-edited Coliseum Home Video release which begins with a bog-standard introduction and the voice of Vince McMahon, who sounded for all the world as though even he would rather be anywhere but at this show as he welcomed us to 'Wrestlemania 2, what the world has come to.'

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is what the world has come to. 

You see how low we've sunk?

'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff vs. 'Magnificent' Don Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - 'The Sinister' Mr. Fuji backs Don Muraco

As both men locked up in the center of the ring, we were treated to some pre-recorded audio clips in which Muraco claimed he could beat Orndorff because he had 'The Sinister Mr. Fuji' with him.

Orndorff replied by talking about how much he'd been to the gym lately.

Mr. Wonderful gained the early advantage in the match, even taking time out to racially insult Mr. Fuji before squaring up once again with the Magnificent one. 

The two locked up and Muraco gained the upper hand with what guest commentator Susan St. James referred to as 'ancient Chinese techniques' but was, in actual fact, a top wristlock.

Before long, the action spilled to the outside and both men were counted out in under five minutes, drawing a very audible 'BULLSHIT!' chant from the New York crowd.
Double count-out

If you thought that was a bad way to start the show, things were only set to get worse from there on in.

George 'The Animal' Steele vs. 'The Macho Man' Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth)

The story here was a simple one:

Savage was the dastardly heel who treated his pretty young valet Elizabeth like dirt. All the while, crazed madman George Steele had developed something of an infatuation with Liz, drawing the jealous ire of 'The Macho Man.'

That was good enough for the two to clash at the second annual Wrestlemania, though sadly not good enough to actually produce a decent match.

If watching Savage run away from Steele for a while before the two engaged in fairly bland combat wasn't dull enough, even that was ruined by Susan St. James who uttered one cry of 'uh oh' after another whenever either man went anywhere near each other.

At first, this was kind of comical but when Miss St. James had uttered her thousandth 'uh oh'  by the end of her time on the show, it just sounded bad. 

Things came to a close when Savage rolled up Steele and got a ropes-assisted three-count for the win.
Your Winner: 'Macho Man' Randy Savage

Afterward, 'The Animal' ate some turnbuckle and chased a referee away. It was rubbish.

George Wells vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts.

If you don't remember George Wells, he was a former Canadian Football Leaguer and professional wrestler who looked kind of awesome as he beat Roberts up and down the ring to yet more 'uh oh's from James and McMahon.

Not a good match by anybody's standards, but at least fun to watch  Jake Roberts sell like a trooper before picking up the win with a crafty DDT.
Your winner: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

Post-match, Roberts draped his snake over Wells, causing the defeated star to foam at the mouth.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - 'Rowdy Roddy Piper' promises to quit wrestling if Mr. T can knock him out

Following a recap of Rowdy Roddy Piper's involvement at the end of a Mr. T boxing match on Saturday Night's Main Event, we were taken to pre-recorded interviews with both men.

Speaking first, Piper first claimed that he was cute before going on to insist that he would retire from everything in the world if T could knock him out.

He then ended the interview by racially abusing his upcoming opponent.

In response, Mr. T, accompanied by Smokin Joe Frazier and The Haiti Kid, insisted that if Piper did some 'dirty stuff', T would also 'do some dirty stuff.'

Wanna see Mr. T and Roddy Piper do some dirty stuff together? Let's get to it! 

Special Attraction Boxing Match:
'Rowdy' Roddy Piper (w/ Lou Duva and 'Cowboy' Bob Orton) vs. Mr. T (w/  Smokin Joe Frazier and The Haiti Kid
As boxing matches go, this one was pretty terrible and looked absolutely nothing like an actual boxing match.

As Susan St. James continued to treat us with more 'uh ohs' both men traded the advantage through several rounds of nondescript inaction before the referee took a tumble and, in one of Wrestlemania's more memorable moments, Piper got himself disqualified by bodyslamming his opponent.
Your Winner: Mr. T

With the first main event of the show over with, we were finally spared any more of Susan 'Uh Oh' St. James as the show moved on to part two.

Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinoi

Our commentary team for this portion of the show consisted of Gorilla Monsoon, 'Mean' Gene Okerlund and some woman called Cathy Lee Crosby who Wikipedia informs me is an actress (hey, don't judge me, I wasn't even two years-old when this show took place).

WWF Women's Championship:
WWF Women's Champion The Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - The Fabulous Moolah celebrates her win over Velvet McIntyre

The saddest thing about this match is that even at less than a minute long, it was actually the best match on the card to this point.

McIntyre took control throughout the contest before missing a top rope splash, allowing Moolah to roll on top and gain the pinfall.
Your winner and Still WWF Women's Champion: The Fabulous Moolah

When a minute-long match is the best thing on the show so far, you know you're in trouble.

Flag Match:
Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Classie Freddie Blassie)

Whereas the rules in most flag matches involve capturing your opponent's flag or something along those lines, the rules here were...well, to be honest, they were never quite explained, so I'm assuming it was the same rules as Nikolai Volkoff's similarly-billed match with Hogan at the second Saturday Night's Main Event.

This was certainly billed as a flag match, with both the US flag and the flag of Soviet Russia resting in opposite corners, though what we actually got was a fairly nondescript encounter that ended when Freddie Blassie tossed his walking cane to Volkoff. 

Kirchner intercepted and struck Volkoff. The referee recovered from being knocked on his booty and made the three count.
Your Winner: Corporal Kirchner.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Atlanta Falcons NFL Star Bill Fralic confronts Big John Studd before they meet in a 20 man battle royale

Afterward, Kirchner raised the USA flag and waved it above his head. Apparently, the rules had been that whoever won would get to wave their flag about.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - The commentary team for the LA portion of the show included Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and TV star Elvira

Prior to the upcoming battle royal, Mean Gene moderated a debate between Big John Studd and NFL star Bill Fralic over whether football players or wrestlers were the superior athletes. In an interesting twist, Fralic easily outshone Studd on the mic.

20 Man Open-Invitational Battle Royale
Featuring: Big John Studd, Andre The Giant, The Hart Foundation, Dan Spivey, Bil Fralic, William 'The Refrigerator'  Perry, Russ Francis, Harvey Martin Bruno Sammartino and more.

Another of Wrestlemania's most memorable matches, and one which is included on lots of compilation tapes, let it be known that this one is memorable for the spectacle only, for it was far from a five-star classic.

OK, so few battle royals ever are, but apart from the appearance of Chicago Bears star William 'The Refrigerator  Perry who gained a huge ovation from the Illinois crowd, absolutely nothing interesting happened here.

A big, convoluted mess, this eventually ended with Andre The Giant eliminating The Hart Foundation to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Andre The Giant

Finally, we were given an out-and-out great match next in the form of Illinois' main event.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship: 
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dream Team (Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/ 'Lucious' Johnny Valiant) vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid w/ Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osborne)

Let's pretend rock star Ozzy Osborne wasn't present for this match since he does nothing and achieves nothing apart from standing around shaking in a salmon-colored suit.

His men, however, did a great job as they worked mostly with Greg Valentine to produce a compelling match that eschewed the usual tag formula and stood out by a mile as the best match on the card.

Following an entertaining performance, the Bulldogs captured the titles after Davey Both Smith pinned Valentine.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: The British Bulldogs

Finally, it was on to the Los Angeles portion of the show.

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California

For the last part of the show, we were led through the action by Jesse 'The Body' Ventura (looking like an Egyptian pharaoh in drag), sexy vampire TV host Elvira and Lord Alfred Hayes who, despite not saying much throughout the broadcast, at least came across as less nervous than he had the previous year

Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez

A relative newcomer at the time, Hercules Hernandez (still with his last name intact) went one-on-one in arguably one of the best patches he would have for the World Wrestling Federation.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Ricky Steamboat takes it to Hercules Hernandez

Of course, that had much to do with the always-awesome Ricky Steamboat, who probably never had a bad match in his life.

OK, so this wasn't the greatest match of all time, nor did it quite live up to the previous tag team title encounter, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable affair that reached its conclusion when Steamboat nailed Herc' with a body press for the three count.
Your winner: Ricky Steamboat

What happened next likely caused deep emotional scars for many who saw it.

Adorable Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Uncle Elmer

So yeah. Here with a big fat man in a granny dress and make-up getting the stuffing beaten out of him by an even bigger fat man dressed like a special needs kid on a day outing.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - Uncle Elmer vs. 'Adorable' Adrian Adonis..yep, this happened

Adonis bumped around for a while without a single blow of offense, before something happened that nobody cared about, and Adonis quite literally fell off the top rope, landing on Elmer and pinning him.

This. was. awful.

Honestly, I'm making some edits to this event almost ten years after I posted it, and it's worth mentioning now that Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer remains the standard against which all other bad matches are judged here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

The process goes something like this

Was it a bad match? If yes, was it as bad as Adonis/Elmer? No, then it's not the worst match ever.
Your Winner: Adrian Adonis
Your loser: Everybody who saw this match

Thankfully, things picked up with our next match.

Tito Santana & Junkyard Dog vs. Terry & 'Hoss' (Dory) Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Somewhere along the line, there was a decent backstory to just how this match came to be, but that isn't as important as the fact that this was all kinds of fun.

With Hoss Funk and Tito Santana taking on most of the actual wrestling work, JYD dealing with his usual smash-mouth offense, and Terry Funk (who actually didn't look like an old man in 1986) bumping all over the place in his usual crazy fashion, what we had here was a match that was enjoyable from start to finish.

Following an all-out riot of a bout, Terry Funk smashed JYD with Jimmy Hart's megaphone to win the match for his team.
Your Winners: Terry & Hoss Funk.

At last, it was down to our main event

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match
WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan)

The story came from Bundy interfering in Hogan's title defense against Don Muraco, the two heels destroying the champion in the process and injuring his ribs.

WWF / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2 - King Kong Bundy dominates WWF Champion Hulk Hogan in their WM2 Steel cage match

With said ribs all bandaged up, Hulk Hogan nonetheless stepped inside The Big Blue Cage to gain revenge on King Kong Bundy.

The result was a surprisingly entertaining brawl that ended an otherwise lackluster show on a high note.

Both men played their parts perfectly before Hogan predictably 'Hulked up' and escaped the cage.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

Following the match, Hogan dragged Bobby Heenan into the ring and beat him up too.

Whilst Wrestlemania I had the historical relevance thing working in its favor, and whilst future shows would have, you know, being decent shows on their side, Wrestlemania 2 had absolutely nothing going for it beyond a couple of decent tag matches and Elvira's boobs. 
Nothing important happened, there are no matches on the card that will change your life, nothing. Skip it, and go watch Wrestlemania III.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

EVENT REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania I

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 1 Review - event poster

Madison Square Garden, New York City

March 31, 1985

If somebody put a gun to your head and ordered you to name the most important pro wrestling event of all time...Well, it would be a bit absurd and overly harsh, wouldn't it? Though at least you could tell them with some certainty that such an honor can only go to the first ever World Wrestling Federation spectacular, Wrestlemania 1. 

Surely no other event quite changed the game like Vince McMahon's star-studded spectacular way back in 1985.

This was the event that created a legend still going strong over thirty years later. This was the event that ushered in a new era of professional wrestling, turning our beloved 'fake sport' into a multi-million dollar entertainment extravaganza, and this was the event, which, despite being historic, wasn't actually very good.

What did actually go down at WWE's first Wrestlemania? Let's find out, shall we?

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura welcome us to 'The Wrestling Extravaganza of All Time!'

Following your typical cheesy-80s introduction, complete with aching synth rock and terrible pictures of tonight's competitors, Gorilla Monsoon welcomed us to 'The wrestling extravaganza of all time.

Sadly, this wasn't to be the last awkward turn-of-phase to be heard this evening.

Gorilla and broadcast partner Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, then handed over to Howard Finkle, who introduced the one and only Mean Gene Okerlund for his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

Interestingly, neither Gene nor the majority of the MSG crowd seemed to know the words.

From Okerlund via Monsoon/Ventura and a bumbling Lord Alfred Hayes (who for all the world looked like he had no idea how he'd ended up there), we were at last sent to pre-recorded comments from our opening combatants.

Tito Santana told Okerlund that he had 'some goals' and that nothing would get in the way of such goals, not even The Executioner. 

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: The Executioner gives his tactics away to Mean Gene Okerlund

Then, before we had a chance to find out exactly what Tito's goals were (I have to believe becoming a matador wasn't one of them) The Executioner himself (Buddy Rose in an awful mask) fumbled his way through a retort in which he gave away his match strategy of attacking Santana's leg.

Tito Santana vs. The Executioner

'I tell ya, Gino. Wrestlemania has lived up to everything I thought it would be,' quipped Jesse Ventura before either man had even locked up in the first-ever Wrestlemania match. 

Clearly, The Body hadn't given the event much of a change before it had even begun.

Anyway, down to the action as Chico and The Executioner went at it in a fairly decent opening match.

Modern-day fans may not find much to get excited about here, but it was at least an enjoyable, textbook encounter that ended with a crowd-popping win for Santana.
Your Winner: Tito Santana

Once again we had an awkward link-up with a clearly-nervous Alfred Hayes. Quite possibly reading from some sort of auto-cue (or, if not, looking for one), Hayes handed us back to Mean Gene with more pre-recorded interviews from who he called the "super wrestlers."

This time round, Special Delivery Jones promised to 'Get Down' for us, before his opponent, King Kong Bundy promised to squash S.D

S.D Jones vs. King Kong Bundy (with Jimmy Hart)

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: King Kong Bundy (w/ manager Jimmy Hart) literally squashed Special Delivery Jones

If you were looking for excitement, adventure, and really wild things here, you'd be sorely disappointed. Instead, what we got was a push, a splash, and a pinfall for a quick squash match.

According to the WWF, the match was a 'record-breaking nine seconds' long. 

In actual fact, nine seconds was simply the amount of time it took Bundy to get from one side of the ring to another. The actual time was closer to half a minute, but let's not squabble over twenty seconds of nothing, shall we?
Your Winner: King Kong Bundy

Out in the back, 'Maniac' Matt Bourne told Mean Gene Okerlund that Ricky Steamboat was too nice and that he would beat up Steamboat. In retort, Ricky bumbled something about Wrestlemania being an 'extravaganza across the nation' (told you there was plenty awkward-turns-of-phrase on this show) and that he would be the one to emerge victorious in the following contest.

Ricky Steamboat vs. 'Maniac' Matt Bourne
In the best match on the card so far, Matt 'One Day I'll be Doink' Bourne was thwarted in his attempts to beat up Ricky Steamboat by the superior wrestling skills of The Dragon.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Ricky Steamboat vs. Maniac Matt Bourne

Moving at a decent pace, this was an enjoyable affair that stands out as one of the highlights of Wrestlemania 1. To be fair, this wasn't saying much given what else was on the card, but it did stand out in what was otherwise a card flooded with mediocrity.

Steamboat picked up the win thanks to a crossbody from the top rope.
Your Winner: Ricky Steamboat

Up next, Lord Alfred Hayes stumbled his way through another link, almost forgetting the name of Bruno Sammartino as Steamboat and Bourne tried to get around him to the locker room. 

It was unintentionally hilarious.

Cutting to more pre-recorded stuff, the retired Sammartino cut off his son, David Sammartino, by threatening to beat up Lucious Johnny Valiant. 

Offering a reply, Valiant claimed that his man, Brutus Beefcake would win the upcoming match and that Bruno Sammartino was a crazy person.

David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) vs. Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny Valiant)

Stealing yet more thunder from his son, Bruno Sammartino was given an even greater introduction from Finkle for his role as a ringside manager than David Sammartino who was, you know, the one doing the wrestling.
WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: David Sammartino grapples Brutus Beefcake

With the pressure of being his father's son resting heavily on his shoulders, young David tried in vain to offer us something decent between the ropes. 

Alas, the best he and Beefcake could produce turned out to be a long, drawn-out yawn-fest which resulted in a double-disqualification after Big Bruno once again hogged the spotlight and joined David, Beefcake and Valiant in a big ol' brawl.
Double Disqualification

"Still to come, the confrontation of all time!" said Gorilla Monsoon. 

One can only assume he was talking about tonight's main event, but first, we had our first title match of the evening in the form of Greg Valentine defending the Intercontinental Championship against the Junkyard Dog. 

This time, Alfred Hayes fluffed his lines so badly that he was actually cut off, the cameras going to Valentine and manager Jimmy Hart. 

Naturally, the champion promised to beat his opponent, whilst the challenger muttered something about having a bone.

Inter-Continental Championship Match:
Inter-Continental Champion Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Inter-Continental Champion, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine

Yep, back in those days, we still had the Inter-continental title as opposed to the Intercontinental title. Amazing how much difference a hyphen makes, isn't it?

That aside, this was a decent match which, like much of the card, has sadly aged badly.

The live Madison Square Garden crowd appeared to eat up every single blow here, but, watching this bout some 28 years later (as it was at the time of writing), it really isn't much to write home about.

After a seesaw battle, Valentine pounced on JYD and scored the three-count by resting his feet on the middle rope for leverage.

Enraged, The Hammer's arch-rival Tito Santana raced to the ring and informed the referee what had happened. Taking Chico's word for it, referee Dick Kroll continue the match, giving the victory to JYD via countout.
Your Winner: Junkyard Dog (Valentine retains the title)

'The title does not change hands on a countout,' said Monsoon for the thousandth time, 'So Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine is still the reigning Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship.' 

Yep, Greg Valentine was not only a wrestler, but a championship too.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: The Iron Sheik provided the comedy

More mic-based hilarity came next, first from  

Alfred Hayes introduced the next segment with this incredible verbiage:

'Both these teams had pointed opinions, let's hear some more about those opinions they had to express.'

We then heard some opinions from the always-outlandish Iron Sheik, who, in preparation for his upcoming tag-team title match alongside partner Nikolai Volkoff insisted that 'this is my best time of life for sharp-situation.'

Or something like that. 

Shieky was amazing here.

Offering the obligatory comeback, the WWF Tag Team Champions Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham (better known, with manager Captain Lou Albano, as The US Express), claimed that they were on their way to the ring 'right now.' This despite both still clearly wearing street clothes.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match
Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik (w/ 'Classy' Freddy Blassie) vs. The US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham, w/ Captain Lou Albano)

Undoubtedly the highlight of this tag team title match was the opening exchange which saw Volkoff infuriate the live crowd with a rendition of the Russian national anthem. 

Drawing the kind of heat today's stars can only dream of, it was a simple-yet-effective move that gave the crowds even more reason to cheer when the good guy team of Windham and Rotundo finally made their presence felt.

As for the match itself, it was, like everything on the show, fun if hardly spectacular.

A somewhat short affair for a title match, the end came when Sheik & Volkoff's manager, Freddy Blassie blasted Windham with his cane. The bad guys scored the pin, and we had our first ever Wrestlemania title change.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik

Post match, Blassie denied ever having a cane to Mean Gene Okerlund before the Sheik went off on another unintelligible, yet still highly comical, rant.

Prior to our upcoming $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge between Big John Studd and Andre The Giant, we were taken to some pre-recorded words from Studd and his manager Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Mean Gene Okerlund tries to steal Big John Studd's money

Holding a WWF-branded gym bag stuffed with crumpled one-dollar bills, John Studd promised that Andre (as per the match stipulation) would be retired when he failed to slam Studd. 

Heenan said some stuff too, but honestly the only interesting thing about this promo was Gene Okerlund's hilarious attempts to steal John Studd's money.

$15,000 Bodyslam Challenge
Big John Studd (w/ Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. Andre The Giant.

To clarify, the rules of this match were pretty simple: If Andre could slam Studd, he would win $15,000 dollars (or a gym bag stuffed with ones, as it were), if he couldn't, he would have to retire.

Nothing much happened, and though it was most likely a spectacle (or a 'spectacle of all time' if we're going by Gorilla's terms) at the time, there was nothing too exciting about watching Andre kick Big John around for a while and then bodyslam him.
Your Winner via bodyslam: Andre The Giant.

After the match, Andre gave some of his money away before Heenan stole the bag back and ran off. In post-match comments with Gene Okerlund, Andre insisted he didn't really care about the money anyway.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Cyndi Lauper and Wendy Richter

From there, MTV star Cyndi Lauper told us how she'd been trained to manage by Lou Albano, and knew exactly what she was doing by backing Wendi Richter in the upcoming Women's Championship match. 

Richter, for her part, claimed that it had taken two people (Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai) to strip her of her title, but that she would reclaim the gold tonight.

In an era when female wrestlers weren't exactly known for their glamour, it has to be said that Richter was something of a hottie.

Anyway, that aside, Moolah and Kai gave their comments, saying nothing of note before it was down to ringside.

WWF Women's Championship:
WWF Women's Champion Leilani Kai (w/ The Fabulous Moolah) vs. Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) 

Making their way to the ring to the sound of Lauper's hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (no doubt an appropriate song to play before two women proceed to knock the crap out of each other), Richter and Lauper raced to the ring to a huge ovation from the New York crowd and wasted little time in locking up with the Hawaii-based champion.

Modern-day sports entertainment fans used to the Age of The Diva will likely have something of a culture shock on viewing this encounter; after all, it was an actual wrestling match.

Not the greatest wrestling match of all time, that's true, but it at least was entertaining enough to keep your interest from bell to bell. To the delight of the audience, Richter countered the champion's flying crossbody with a pinfall attempt to regain her gold.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Women's Champion: Wendi Richter

The new champion spent some time celebrating with Lauper and Lauper's manager David Wolf, complete with another beat down on the villainous Kai and Moolah.

WWF (WWE) WRESTLEMANIA 1: Lord Alfred Hayes was perpetually perplexed throughout the show

Backstage, the girls continued to celebrate and Lauper told Gene Okerlund that she'd 'brought her towel' in case Moolah attacked her because, you know, when somebody's going to beat you up, having a towel really helps.

Finally, it was time for our main event.

Give Vince McMahon his due, even three decades later, the shenanigans which preceded tonight's headline attraction still come across as a grand spectacle and added a certain sense of awesome which was otherwise lacking from tonight's show.

Perma-smiled baseball manager Billy Martin was introduced first, receiving a huge ovation from the MSG crowd as he made his way to the microphone as our guest ring announcer.

He was followed by guest time-keeper Liberace, who came to the ring wearing something akin to the kind of thing your grandad might have worn back in the day, and kicking his legs around the ring with The Rockettes. 

Finally, Muhammad Ali arrived to take up joint officiating duties with Pat Patterson and we were set for a match.

Led to the ring by a clan of pipers, the team of Rowdy Roddy Piper & Paul 'Mr. Wonderful' Orndorff was escorted to the ring by Cowboy Bob Orton.

They were followed, to the roar of the crowd, by WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, and their third, Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka. 

Rowdy Roddy Piper & 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff (w/ Cowboy Bob Orton) vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka)

It's one of the most memorable, talked about professional wrestling matches of all time. It's the main event of all main events, it's the encounter upon which the whole success of Wrestlemania I, and thus in turn all subsequent Wrestlemanias was based and it was, wasn't bad I suppose.

The crowd were on their feet from the start of this chaotic main event to the very end. Purposefully overbooked, it was a fun, if hardly outstanding match which at least lived up to the big-match hype.

All four in-ring competitors played their parts perfectly whilst Snuka, Orton, and Ali all added to the spectacle.

The end came when Orton accidentally struck Orndorff with his cast, allowing Hogan to gain the three count.
Your Winners: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T

Afterward, just about everybody involved except for the losers celebrated in the ring and shook hands, before Hogan and Mr. T, surrounded by everybody in the world, gave a final backstage interview to Mean Gene Okerlund.

And so that was that then, the first ever Wrestlemania over and done with. Worthwhile checking out for historical purposes or simply to complete your collection, but from an in-ring standpoint, there's nothing here that is absolutely must-see stuff. 

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the awkward comments, teleprompter links, gaffs and general weirdness of the interviews and commentators were far more entertaining (albeit mostly unintentionally so than the matches themselves.

If we were talking about quality only, there's no chance in hell (pun intended) that Vince McMahon would've looked at Wrestlemania and said 'Hey! That was great! Let's do it again!'
Thankfully, he only looked at the bottom line, and some thirty years later, we still have 'the wrestling extravaganza of all time.' 

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.