As Wrestlemania VII starts, I’m relieved that it’s Gorilla Monsoon and Heenan doing the commentating. I couldn’t handle another PPV with Piper on the mic. He just wasn’t that great in the commentator booth
1. The Rockers vs. Haku and The Barbarian
Man, they loved starting off PPV’s with the Rockers back in the 90’s didn’t they? I guess why not, you’re always guaranteed a good match.
By this point the WWE is running out of ways to use Haku, so they keep sticking him with random tag partners and hoping it will stick. But nope! He’s a reliable worker, but just not dynamic enough to do anything with.
Of course this match is great, because it’s the Rockers and the Rockers are great. Marty Jannetty continues to show how talented he is which is a reminder of how disappointing it is he flamed out after splitting with Shawn Michaels.
After the Barbarian and Haku go on a lopsided beating of Jannetty, the Rockers rally and get the pin with a series of high-flying moves
Overall: Who doesn’t love the Rockers?
2. Dino Bravo vs. Texas Tornado
Ugh. Ugh. What a garbage pairing. Neither of these guys are exciting enough to watch in an entire match. I also find this match a little weirdly gruesome in retrospect given that these two guys ended up dying within one month of each other. Life is all about timing.
You know why I didn’t like the Texas Tornado? It’s his finishing moves – either the Claw or the Spinning Tornado. Both are terrible and dull.
While I was typing, he beat Dino Bravo.
Overall: Just a terrible, boring match
3. Davey Boy Smith vs. The Warlord
This entire match is just an extended advertisement for steroids. It will be interesting to see how long the Warlord can last. Guys his size don’t normally have a ton of stamina.
I’ll give some credit to these big bastards, they try keep the excitement high with some decent back and forth, but anytime the action gets to intense, the Warlord slows it down with rest moves.
Then, very unexpectedly, the Bulldog power slams the Warlord and gets the pin.
Overall: Given the match was so quick, it was fine
4. Tag Team Championship Match: The Nasty Boys vs. The Hart Foundation
It’s 1991 and Bret Hart is still wrestling in tag matches. I completely mis-remembered how long he had a solo career for. I thought he went solo way before this
Going back to watch these early matches, it’s striking how much the crowd just loved the Hart Foundation. As much as the crowd was on their feet for the Rockers, they are losing their minds for Bret and the Anvil.
Not a whole ton to recap in this match. The Nasty Boys go on a 10 minute offensive run against Bret Hart
Eventually Neidhart gets the tag and he cleans house. Unfortunately, while the refs back is turned, Neidhart gets clocked with the helmet Jimmy Hart was wearing and the Nasty Boys get the pin and the title
Overall: It was a so-so match with a couple minutes of excitement
5. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel in a blindfold match
This match was universally regarded as one of the stupidest ideas in the history of Wrestlemania. As the story goes, Martel sprayed perfume into Jake’s eyes and Jake was blinded. To make the match fair, they covered both their heads in black bags.
Meh. The match is about as eventful as you’d suspect, which is to say not at all. Mostly because they can’t see each other. They just flop around until the end, when Jake slaps on the DDT
Before the match, they show a clip of Jake on the Brother Love show.
A mullet, a hand-knit sweater, black sweat pants and leather cowboy boots. Welcome to wrestling fashion everyone.
Overall: Terrible match
6. The Undertaker vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka
Here’s where it all started. The Undertaker’s legendary undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. This match is a really quick affair that only exists to put over the Undertaker, so I’m not going to bother much with it, except to point out a few things:
– The Undertaker gets a huge pop from the Audience even though he was a heel. He was immensely popular from day one
– I miss the Urn. What a great, fun gimmick that was
– Ah Paul Bearer. We miss you and your monstrously grotesque sea-monster face
Overall: I love any match with the Undertaker. 10/10
7. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man – Career Match
The gist of this match is that both guys put their careers on the line and the loser needed to retire. I think the story is that Macho legitimately wanted to quit (or at least take some extended time off) and this was supposed to be his swan song.
Both wrestlers go all out through the whole thing and it’s easily one of the Warrior’s top 3 matches.
Closer to the end, Macho hits Warrior with five flying elbows and it’s fantastic.
When Warrior kicks out you basically can’t hear anything, the crowd is screaming so loud. It’s easily equivalent to Hogan slamming Andre in terms of crowd reaction.
The ending is a bit odd – Warrior looks like he’s going to quit because he can’t seem to pin Macho, but then he changes his mind (for no apparent reason) and hits him with three shoulder blocks and pins him with one foot.
What makes this match especially memorable are the events after it’s over. Queen Sherri (who was in Macho’s corner) starts attacking him and who should come to his defense? Elizabeth!!! The crowd collectively looses their minds as Macho and Elizabeth are reunited, the culmination of one of the greatest storylines in WWE history.
Overall: Easily one of the top 3 Wrestlemania matches of all time
8. Tenryu & Kitao vs. Demolition
This match has a couple things working against it. It’s following one of the best matches in Wrestlemania history and it’s against 2 wrestlers that literally no one had ever heard of prior to this exact moment.
What even more odd is that unknown guy 1 and unknown guy 2 actually won the match clean. What the hell? Demolition lost to this?
Overall: What the hell?
9. Intercontinential Championship Match: Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect
The lead up to this match had Boss Man feuding against the entire Heenan family and this was the culmination of that feud.
Boss Man and Perfect do a pretty good job in this match with Perfect doing his measured, non-exaggerated falls that he’s known for
After about 15 minutes of back and forth, things are looking pretty grim for the Big Boss Man. Shockingly, Andre the Giant saunters down to ringside so help him out.
This Wrestlemania is just full of surprises!
The Heenan stable comes down to help out, all hell breaks loose and Big Boss Man wins when Mr. Perfect is disqualified
Overall: This was a slightly better than average match, elevated by the surprise appearance of Andre
10. Earthquake vs. Greg Valentine
I guess they wanted to give people a chance to get a beer? Valentine was on the sunset of his career at this point
Overall: I’m not sure, I mostly skipped through. It was fast
11. Legion of Doom vs. Power and Glory
This match is over before it even starts. Animal hits Roma with a powerslam and as he’s recovering he runs into this:
Overall: There’s nothing to like or dislike. Blink and the match is over
12. Ted Dibiase vs. Virgil
I have no interest in this match whatsoever. As I’ve said many times before, Dibiase is only as good as the guy he’s wrestling and Virgil is not a very good wrestler.
However, I will give credit to the storyline. Virgil’s turn on Dibiase built for like a year, so by the time this match happened, the crowd was just insane to see Virgil beat Dibiase. This match was made even more intense because Piper was in Virgil’s corner.
This match is a great example of what a really compelling storyline can do. Watching this match just on its own technical merits, it’s… not great. I mean, it’s not some nice back and forth I guess, but it’s nothing spectacular. However, you have the crowd screaming with delight every time Virgil punches Dibiase
Eventually, with some help from Roddy, Dibiase gets counted out and Virgil wins the match
Overall: Just an average match, elevated to something fairly exciting by a great story.
13. The Mountie vs. Tito Santana
This match gets off to a great start when Tito pulls the flying forearm out of nowhere
He doesn’t get the pin, and then when the refs back is turned the Mountie hits him with a cattle prod.
Overall: What did I just watch?
14. World Championship Belt Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Before I can get to this match, I apparently have some DVD housekeeping to take care of:
The special guest celebrities for this match are Alex Trebek (ring announcer), Marla Maples (timekeeper) and Regis Philman (guest commentator). It’s always entertaining to see what kind of C-list talent the WWE can get for their events.
Some context about this entire event that I haven’t mentioned before, but this is an overwhelmingly jingoistic PPV. In the early 90’s, the US, under Bush Sr, had just launched “Desert Storm” – the US-led attack of Iraq. The war was massively popular with the public and pro-US sentiment was at an all time high.
Against this background, you had Sgt. Slaughter who was a “defector” to the Iraq army. Hogan was the sole protector of US patriotism. It’s a variation of the match the WWE has been running for decades and the crowd was really into this match – more than they would have been otherwise, I suspect.
The match itself is nothing spectacular. There is one small point of note – Slaughter hits Hogan with a chair and busts him wide open. It took me about 3 watches to see when Hogan cuts himself, he kind of roles over and drags the blade across his forehead. There’s a decent recap here:
Anyhow, aside from this change to template, the rest of the match unfolds as expected. Hogan eventually hulks the fuck out, gets the pin and takes back the title
Overall: This was a surprisingly good Wrestlemania, maybe one of my favorites.