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

Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Wrestlemania 4. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Wrestlemania 4. Sort by date Show all posts

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

In 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; Wrestlemania 3 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 the fourth annual Wrestlemania extravaganza.






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 Okerlund, we 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 up 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.'  I swear down announcers in the late 1980s made as many thinly-veiled references to Bruti's sexuality as JR would do with Pat Patterson a decade later.

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-hillarious Bob Uecker waffled on about finding Vanna White for so long that The Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart, both of whom had dne a terrible job of hiding off screen, interupted 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 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 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 matchup as Reed dominated most of the bout before eventually sucumbing 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)
Not a good match at all, which was surprising given that Bigelow was a particularly gifted big man and his popularity in the WWF at this time was off the charts.


Still, perhaps the bizare 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 recaping 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 / WWE WRESTLEMANIA 4: Andre The Giant battles Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania's first rematch
WWF Championship Tournament: Quarter Finals - Match 1
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ The Million Dollar Man and Virgil)
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) 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 which legitimately felt like a chore to watch.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania 5

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


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

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

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

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

Here's what went down.






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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Watch him do what?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was just weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He couldn't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, this promo was so insane it was brilliant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody. Shoot me. Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brooklyn Brawler beat up Rooster afterwards.

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

Then.

Finally.

It happened.

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

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

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

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

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





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

Saturday, 13 September 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania XI

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Event poster
April 2, 1995
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut 

Depending on who you speak to, the eleventh annual Wrestlemania was either among the best or the worst of the World Wrestling Federation's flagship event. 

Featuring a pro football player in the main event, and perhaps more focus on the celebrity guests than any of the actual in-ring competitors, Wrestlemania 11 certainly provided enough opportunity for criticism. Though by the same token, there was enough to enjoy here to prevent it slipping into Worst. Show. Ever. territory.

What went down? Let's find out.

Wrestlemania XI....staring a bunch of non-wrestlers
To cement the idea that tonight was less about the wrestlers themselves and more about the involvement of singers, actors, sportsmen and other celebrities, our opening video package told us that 'the revolutionary force in sports entertainment continues, with Wrestlemania.' whilst we were treated to a look back at some of the stars who had graced the World Wrestling Federation with their presence over the last ten years.






So we had shots of Cyndi Lauper running backstage with Wendi Richter, Muhamed Ali and Liberace from Wrestlemania 1, folks too vast and numerous to name from Manias two and three, Bob Barker and Vanna White's appearance at Wrestlemania 4, Run DMC busting out their Wrestlemania Rap at the fifth event, Donald Trump, Willie Nelson, Chuck Norris and others from six and seven and so on.

Since Wrestlemania 9 was so devoid of star power, our video here had Jim Ross and an elephant in place of any bonafide celebs.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Home Improvement's Jonathan Taylor Thomas with Lex Luger and British Bulldog
Then, just to hammer home what this event was really about, we were were informed that Wrestlemania 11 would be staring (not featuring, but staring), the likes of Royal Rumble 1995 beauty Pamela Anderson, Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, Jenny McCartney, and Nicholas Turturro. 

Salt-n-Pepa were our musical guests (shown backstage fawning over Bret 'The Hitman' Hart) and Lawrence Taylor's All Pro Team (including noneother than future WCW United States Champion Steve 'Mongo' McMichael) were also in the house.

Our stars of the show fully introduced, it was time to pan in to the Hartford Civic Centre and a haunting rendition of America the Beautiful by a Special Olympian whose name I couldn't quite catch and haven't been able to find since. Whoever she was, she did one of the best versions of the song ever heard at a pro wrestling event.

What is Wrestlemania?
It was a much more somber Vince McMahon who welcomed us to tonight's show along with broadcast colleague Jerry 'The King' Lawler. The trademark Welcome every-wan! growl was gone, replaced by Vince explaining just what Wrestlemania actually was.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon were our commentators for the show
Clearly appealing to the casual observers drawn to the show by the celebrity involvement, Vince told us that Wrestlemania was 'the standard of excellence in sports entertainment' rather than, you know, a pro wrestling event.

Lawler too hyped the show for -in McMahon's words- those joining us for the very first time, by likening the company's biggest event to a Broadway show.

With all that out of the way then, it was on to the ring for our opening match.

The Allied Powers (British Bulldog & Leg Luger) vs. The Blu Brothers (Jacob & Eli Blu w/ Uncle Zebekiah)
As far removed from his run as The Next Big Thing as he would ever get in the World Wrestling Federation, Lex Luger was about to see out his final days in the WWF in a makeshift tag team with Davey Boy Smith.

Sure, this team had promise, and could have added some much needed levity to the company's flailing tag scene had the Bulldog not soon turned heel and Luger gone back to WCW, but alas, it wasn't to be.

Tonight, The Allied Powers, complete with their admittedly awesome theme music, made their official debut in a match against The Blu Brothers, who later fans might better recall as Skull & 8-Ball, The Harris Brothers, or whatever they were called when they had Vince Russo's back in WCW.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Davey Boy Smith The British Bulldog celebrates after The Allied Power beat The Blu Brothers
As the Blu twins' manager Uncle Zebekiah (known today as the guy who manages Jack Swagger) looked on at ringside, all four men went at it in a decent, if hardly spectacular, opening affair.

Over in less than seven minutes, the bulk of the match saw the good guys take control before Davey Boy rolled up one of the twins for a quick three count.
Your Winners: The Allied Powers

As Bulldog and Luger celebrated a victorious debut, Jim Ross caught up with a frustrated Uncle Zeb and The Blu Brothers making their way backstage.

'Well, it looks like your plan backfired,' Ross goaded, prompting Zeb to say something about being hornswoggled before storming backstage.

Technical Difficulties #1
Vince and Lawler next told us we were going backstage where Nicholas Turturro was with Pam Anderson in her dressing room.

Instead, we got Turturro backstage in the Million Dollar Corporation's dressing room, (Gerald Brisco was there too for some reason). As the corporation laughed and joked among themselves, Jenny McCartney swooned on screen and wrapped herself around the guy from NYPD Blue.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Jenny McCartney and NYPD Blue's Nicholas Turturro backstage with The Million Dollar Corporation
The kicker? There was no sound to any of this, so we had no idea what was actually supposed to be happening or why Turturro and McCartney were hanging out with Ted Dibiase and his men.

That took us back to Vince and Jerry, who hyped the appearance of Lawrence Taylor and his football player buddies at tonight's event.

'Football,' explained Lawler. 'Is where eleven men spend a lot of hours trying to move a small object a hundred yards. It's just like the Post Office.'

All the while, The Allied Powers' theme music continued to play.

It's as this point that we should mention the sheer abundance of ringside photographers at this event. Not since King of the Ring 1993, when their presence was merely a gimmick in the Hulk Hogan/Yokozuna title match, has this writer seen so many snappers circling the ring. Clearly, the celebrity effect was working.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Roadie) vs. Razor Ramon
As reigning champion Jeff Jarrett and his Roadie made their way to the ring, McMahon reminded us just how the country music wannabe won the gold at the 1995 Royal Rumble.

That took us to a pre-match promo, again with dodgy sound quality, in which 123 Kid spoke on Razor Ramon's behalf. The Kid claimed that Razor was ready, and that if the Roadie got involved, the 123 Kid would be there to see him off.

Heading to the ring, The Bad Guy and his cornerman wasted no time in charging after the heels, clearning the ring long enough for Razor's trademark pyro before the match really got under way.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - 123 Kid and Razor Ramon prepare for Razor's Intercontinental title match against Jeff Jarrett
And it was, much as their initial Rumble encounter, a pretty solid contest.

The involvement of 123 Kid and the Roadie on the outside only added to the excitement generating between the ropes by both champion and challenger, who had the crowd eating out of the palm of their collective hand.

In the second longest match on the show, Razor took the fight to his opponent with a flury of aggressive tactics, only to be thwarted at every turn by The Roadie.

Jarrett was no slouch either, using skill and speed to counter the brash brawling style of his challenger.

Towards the end of this utterly enjoyable title match, The Bad Guy looked set to reclaim his title, setting up J-E-DOUBLE-F for the Razor's Edge. That was enough to prompt a Roadie run-in, and a disqualification courtesy of referee Tim White.

Ramon won the match, but Jarrett would live to defend his title another day.
Your Winner by Disqualification: Razor Ramon (Jeff Jarrett retains the Intercontinental Championship)

In the post-match, Jarrett and his lackey delivered an epic beatdown to Razor and The Kid until a gaggle of zebras broke it up.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Jim Ross interviews Jeff Jarrett following the latter's Intercontinental title match against Razor Ramon
Jarrett then made his way towards the back, but not before being railroaded by an antagonistic Jim Ross, who declared that Jarrett should be ashamed of himself.

On the contrary, a bloody Jarrett declared himself to be the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time, then marched off backstage, presumably to deal with a gimmick infringement lawsuit filed by The Honky Tonk Man.

Backstage we went once again, where finally the audio problems had been taken care of and Nicholas Turturro, still in the Corporation locker room, was able to explain that Pamela Anderson was nowhere to be found. Instead, he was hanging out with Jenny McCartney.

Even though McCartney must have clearly been in the room the whole time in order to come on camera at the right moment, Dibiase's goons acted like it was the first time they'd seen her. Almost immediately Kama The Surpreme Fighting Machine came over, standing so close to the MTV babe and ogling her in a way that cried out SEX PEST. He was soon joined by the likes of Nikolai Volkoff and King Kong Bundy, not that McCartney was pleased to see any of them.

A smile did fall across her face however at the sight of the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, who claimed that everything was fine, and that Pamela Anderson would be later walking to the ring with HBK, and walking out with the new World Wrestling Federation Champion.

Sid Justice, or just plain old Sid as he was known at this point, was there too. Michaels had introduced The Master and The Ruler of the World as his new bodyguard sometime between his Royal Rumble victory and his title shot tonight.

For his part, Sid basically yelled down the camera about Big Daddy Cool Diesel having nightmares. Quite.

The Streak Continues...
King Kong Bundy (w/ The Million Dollar Man) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - The Undertaker goes 'old school' on King Kong Bundy
As you may recall, Bundy and 'Taker had a staredown for the ages following the latter's battle with I.R.S at the Royal Rumble that January. It was this same event where Paul Bearer's urn had fallen into the hands of the Million Dollar Man.

That was enough to lead us to tonight, where the colossal Bundy made his first 'Mania appearance since Wrestlemania 3.

Most of the in-ring action here was your typical Undertaker vs. Big Dude affair, meaning it sucked pretty bad, but the story involving the urn was at least enough, for a couple of seconds at least, to prevent this from being a total dud.

Having beat up on his opponent a bit, 'Taker went outside and reclaimed the urn from the clutches of Ted Dibiase. Taking his time, he then strolled over to Bearer and returned the prop to its rightful owner, then went down on one knee and saluted Bearer, who raised the urn (complete with flashlight) high above his head.

Rather than take advantage of this distraction to, you know, attack his opponent or something, King Kong Bundy simply stood in the middle of the ring and watched on gormlessly.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Kama stole Paul Bearer's urn during the Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy match
Whilst this one going on, Dibiase stormed off backstage and returned seconds later with Kama The Surpreme Sex Pest. With The Phenom back in the ring trading sluggish offence with Mr. Five Count, Kama kicked Paul Bearer in the belly, took the urn back and stormed off again, telling Jim Ross that he was going to melt it down and make a chain out of it.

'That doesn't belong to you!' cried Ross, like a parent scolding a child, as Kama took his new toy backstage to go oggle over Jenny McCartney some more.

Back in the ring, absolutely nothing interesting happened. After a bit of kicking and punching, 'Taker delivered a clothesline to his opponent and went 4-0 at Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Backstage, the guy from NYPD Blue told us that the hot girl from Baywatch had fallen out with Shawn Michaels and was currently nowhere to be found. Unable to interview Pamela Anderson, Turturro gave us absolutely the next best thing, an interview with Mongo McMichael.

Of course, he wasn't Mongo here, just plain old football star Steve McMichael, The future member of The Four Horsemen claimed he was looking for Kama (or baby doll, as Mongo called him), then stood back as the rest of his football buddies talked smack about the Million Dollar Corporation. One guy, whose  name I'm unsure of, asked if anybody had seen Tonka Toy, better known to you and me as Tatanka.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Steve 'Mongo' McMichael and the All Pro Team were gunning for the Million Dollar CorporationThat out of the way, Turturro wondered into a darkened room where Johnathan Taylor Thomas was busy whooping Mr. Bob Backlund at a game of chess.

'How can you play chess at a time like this?' shrieked Turturro.

I'll give you one thing, this segment was actually laugh-out-loud funny.

'Who's Pamela Anderson!?!' Backlund cried when Turturro asked if either chess player had seen the missing beauty. A second later, Thomas declared checkmate.

'That's what's wrong with society today!' Backlund screamed in response. 'All these young people, taking advantage of their elders.'

In an attempt to save face, the former two time WWF Champion quizzed his young adversary on the name of the 34th president of the United States and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Unsurprisingly, the Home Improvement star answered correctly, further infuriating Mr. Backlund.

'That's what's wrong with the WORLD! They think they know it all!' he yelled, before heading off to see if he'd have any better luck in a wrestling match against Bret Hart later on in the show.

Speaking of  whom,The Hitman's younger brother Owen Hart was up next, with the unveiling of his mystery partner.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Owen Hart and Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji)
WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - WWF Tag team champions The Smoking Gunns react to the announcement that Yokozuna was Owen Hart's mystery partner
In the weeks leading up to tonight's event, The King of Hart's had been promising a mystery partner to aid him in his attempt to dethrone reigning tag team champions.

Who should he pick? None other than another two-time former champion, Yokozuna. Boasting a lot more weight, and facial hair, than the last time we saw him (at Survivor Series 1994) Yoko waddled to the ring to engage in a great tag team title match with Owen and the Brothers Gunn.

Before he did though, we went backstage, where the champions gave their reaction to Yoko's surprise appearance. Both men admitted that the sumo star was the last person they thought they'd be facing that night.

Regardless, they were ready for a fight, and headed to the ring as Jerry Lawler reminded us that it was six years to the day that Owen made his Wrestlemania debut as The Blue Blazer (against Mr. Perfect at Wrestlemania 5).

Owen had come a long way since then, and played his part perfectly here, adding speed and agility in short bursts between his larger partner's brute strength and power. On the opposite side, The Smoking Gunns certainly held their own, but it wasn't to be there night.

Following nine-plus minutes of engrossing action, Yokozuna flattened the future Mr. Ass with the Banzai Drop, then tug out to allow Owen to claim the victory.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Yokozuna and Owen Hart


WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Owen Hart and Yokozuna beat The Smoking Gunns for the WWF tag team titles
After such an enjoyable match, Yoko looked visibly worn out, and spent much of the team's post-match celebration hanging out on the ropes trying to catch his breath, leaving Owen to jump up and down like an excited school boy and parade the first WWF championship he'd won since coming to the company since his debut seven years ago.

After a spot of promotional consideration courtesy of the Stridex Blimp (prompting Lawler to claim that the 123 Kid had acne), we went backstage to Todd Pettengill and Bam Bam Bigelow.

Pettengil reminded Bam Bam about his confrontation with Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble, then insisted that most of the country were behind LT and had friends 'all over the arena.'

In response, Bigelow called LT 'a flash in the pan,' who wasn't going to make a fool out of him.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Todd Pettengill interviewed Bam Bam Bigelow about his match against Lawrence Taylor
See, even though this was 'one of the only times [He] has to look over [his] shoulder,' The Beast from the East wasn't worried. 'Mr. Dibiase' would take care of the All Pro Team, leaving him to care of, and defeat, the football player.

From there, we went -via McMahon & Lawler- to Howard Finkle, who gave us the rules of our upcoming submission match between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and the pyschotic Mr. Bob Backlund.

Finkle also introduced WWF legend Rowdy Roddy Piper who, for the second year in a row, put in an appearance as the special guest referee in a Bret Hart Wrestlemania match. (Piper officiated the main event of Wrestlemania 10)

Submission match
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Bob Backlund (Special referee: Rowdy Roddy Piper)
Your writer may  be in the majority when I say this, but the second Hart/Backlund wasn't half as memorable as their now infamous 'towel match.' at the previous years' Survivor Series.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart makes his way to the ring for a submission match against Bob Backlund
I'm not saying it wasn't as good (though to be fair, it wasn't), but it just seemed like two of the best technically-solid wrestlers on the roster at the time weren't given nearly enough time to really have the kind of match they were capable of.

As Bret got to work apparently trying to rip Backlund's face off, Jerry Lawler asked Vince McMahon who The Hitman had defeated for the Intercontinental Championship back at Wrestlemania 8.

After much goading, the owner of the World Wrestling Federation couldn't remember the match he himself had booked, and yelled 'BRITISH BULLDOG!' Lawler, naturally corrected the boss, reminding him that it was none other than our special guest referee for this match, Mr. Piper.

With that out of the way, we had a lot of time on our hands in which Bret basically dragged his opponent around the ring by the ankle and occasionally applied a submission hold.

That's all that seemed to happen for the longest time other than Piper thrusting the mic into Backlund's face to see if he wanted to quit.

Bob eventually made a comeback, and even went as far as to stalk The Hitman with his famous cross-face chickenwing, only for Hart to apply one of his own and get the win after Backlund garbled something into the microphone.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Bob Backlund told Jim Ross that he had 'seen the light' after his submission match loss to Bret Hart
Sure, this was fine for what it was, but with the majority of what little time they had spent on the mat, it was a far, far cry from their riveting Survivor Series match.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

As The Hitman celebrated, Backlund staggered, dazed and confused, away from the ring, where he told Jim Ross that he had 'seen the light,' whatever that meant.

From there, we rejoined Nicholas Turturro, who said that Pamela Anderson had in fact left the building, and that some 'celebrity changes' had been made for tonight's WWF title match.

Speaking of which, that was next, but not before we had a word from the champion. After a few audio difficulties, Big Daddy Cool told Todd Pettengill that he was going to walk out of Wrestlemania still the WW Champion, despite any involvement from Sid.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Todd Pettengill talks to WWF Champion Diesel about his title defence against Shawn Michaels
Back to the ring, the celebrities got their official introduction tot the live crowd. Jonathan Taylor Thomas was our special guest timekeeper, and Nicholas Turturro, who had enjoyed more screen time on this show than anybody else, was revealed as the special guest ring announcer.

World Wrestling Federation championship match
WWF Champion Diesel (accompanied by Pamela Anderson) vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Sid and accompanied by Jenny McCartney)
With his planned escort having apparently vacated the Hartford Civic Centre, Shawn Michaels went with Plan B, making his way to the ring arm-in-arm with Jenny McCartney as Sid followed close behind.

When the champion was announced, it turned out that he had found Pamela Anderson, and brought her to the ring with him.

Before Diesel's music had even finished playing, he threw HBK out of the ring, then brought Pam back between the ropes for a bit of pre-match posing.

The bell rang, the match was on, and oh, was it ever on.

In what would prove to be Nash's only Wrestlemania title match, and the first of several for his former best friend HBK, the two erstwhile tag team champions went at it in an absolute fantastic twenty minute barnstormer.

WWF / WWE: Wrestlemania 11 - Shawn Michaels was accompanied to the ring for his WWF title match by Sid and MTV's Jenny McCartneyThings started pretty slowly, with the champion tossing his smaller adversary around the ring and back over the ropes, where Shawn almost flattened one of the many ringside photographers before dragging him out of the way, presumably for the snapper's own safety.

Heading back to the ring, HBK took control, but not for long.

Both men went back and forth several times, dragging the crowd along for one hell of a ride that was halted only occasionally by big Sid jumping up on the apron to distract Big Daddy Cool.

As the match went on, more photographers took a mauling at the hands of HBK, but again, whenever he did, it was pretty obvious he was trying to move the guy out of the way before he got seriously hurt.

After one of the best matches we'd see from the WWF all year (which isn't really saying much), the challenger delivered a superkick to the champion, and looked to have the match won, only to find that his own bodyguard had injured referee Earl Hebner outside the ring.

By the time Hebner got back to the ring, Diesel was able to kick out of Michaels' pin attempt and regain the advantage, taking him down with some heavy impact moves before hitting the Jackknife Powerbomb.

A three count later, and Kevin Nash was the first man since Hulk Hogan at 1987's Wrestlemania III to walk into Wrestlemania as champion, and walk out the same way.
Your winner and still WWF Champion: Big Daddy Cool Diesel

Michaels was carried to the back by Sid, who told Jim Ross that Diesel had not seen the last of the Heartbreak Kid. Meanwhile, Diesel invited all the celebs into the ring for some post-match celebrations.


Backstage, Todd Pettengill caught up with an irate Shawn Michaels and Sid. HBK reminded us all that he had in fact knocked Big Daddy Cool down for a three count, even though the referee was unable to administer the official pin fall.

Sid, for his part, kind of ranted and raved a lot and again promised that his man would get his day in the WWF son.

Finally, it was on to our main event.

We first got the introductions of the Million Dollar Corporation and the All Pro Team, the latter of whom took over the ring and saw off a potential attack from the heels.

WWF vs. NFL
Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ The Million Dollar Corporation) vs. Lawrence Taylor (with the All Pro Team)
When the excitement died down, Bam Bam swaggered out, wearing a leather jacket which he then took off, waved at Salt-n-Peppa, put back on for about five seconds, then took off again once he got to the ring.

Yeah.

LT then made his way out to the ring with the same dude who so hilariously yelled out 'HE'S CRAZY THAT GUY!'  back at the Royal Rumble.  All the while, the girls from Salt-N-Peppa kind of just danced around, and at this point, I'm not even sure why they were there.

Let's be honest, this was not a technical wrestling classic, but then it was never supposed to be. As pure spectacle though, it was nothing short of thoroughly entertaining.

With Pat Patterson officiating, Taylor kept most of his offence to nothing more complex than a series of shoulder barges and flying forearms. Nor was he afraid to absorb a fair amount of punishment from The Beast from The East, most of which he sold believably.

Add in a few outside skirmishes between the Million Dollar Corporation and Taylor's All Pro Team, and what we had here was a fun main event.

Towards the finish, Bam Bam jumped off the top rope with a moonsault, only to 'hurt his knee' on impact, rendering him unable to make an adequate cover.

He tried again, this time with a flying headbutt, only for Taylor to kick out and mount a comeback with more fists and flying forearms, including one from the second rope that earned him the three count.
Your Winner: Lawrence Taylor

As Taylor's men (and his son), got the victor back to his feet, Ted Dibiase derided Bam Bam Bigelow all the way to the lockroom, calling him an embarrassment and a disappointment.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, my copy of WWF Wrestlemania 11 came to an end.

So, was this one of the best or worst Wrestlemania's of all time? It was hardly either. Though certainly not a show I'd recommend you run out and watch right this moment, it nonetheless had its moments, including the WWF Championship match, our football vs. wrestling main event, and that funny bit with Bob Backlund. I don't think the idea of an NFL star going over a pro wrestler was all that bad either, at least not the way it was executed here. Taylor took a good whupin' from Bigelow, and only narrowly emerged with his hand raised. 
One thing that does puzzle me, is that I clearly remember watching this show when it took place, and recall Salt-N-Peppa singing 'What a Man' as LT's theme music. I'm assuming that since that isn't on this WWE edited version that I have, it was a separate segment that they cut out altogether, or they simple couldn't get a license to use it beyond the big event.
And with that, I'll get on with tracking down the first In Your House event for our next review, but before I do, let me leave you with one more thing to consider:





Steve 'Mongo' McMichael was part of a Wrestlemania main event.

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.