1. Ricky Steamboat, The British Bulldog and Texas Tornado vs. Power & Glory with The Warlord
After a hiatus from the WWE, Ricky Steamboat makes his return. Sadly, this marks the start of his unfortunate run as “The Dragon”
He never hit the same level of popularity with this gimmick that he did as just plain ole’ Ricky Steamboat. This would mark his only PPV as he quit the WWE a few months after this match.
He also appears to be a bit rusty against the Warlord
The only other thing interesting about this match is in one year, all of these guys are gone from the WWE. Davey Boy lasts the longest, appearing in next years SummerSlam
Overall: This is a good match to start the event.
2. Intercontinential Match: Mr. Perfect vs. Bret the Hitman Hart
This is widely considered one of Bret’s best matches and often appears in lists for best matches of all time. At this point, Mr. Perfect is wrestling with a broken tailbone and herniated disks, so it’s incredibly impressive he managed to pull off this kind of match.
There’s a ton of great back and forth with very few obvious rest holds. You can really tell how much Perfect’s back is bothering him through the whole match, but he barely misses a step
The match ends with Mr. Perfect hitting a leg drop, Bret catches his leg (lying down) and converts it into a sharp shooter. Mr. Perfect submits and Bret gets the belt.
Overall: A fantastic match
3. The Natural Disasters vs. The Fucking Bushwhackers
I’m only watching this match in the hopes that the Bushwhackers just get absolutely demolished.
And sure enough, they get destroyed by those fat assholes. The Bushwhackers get a couple seconds of offense at the start, but it’s short lived.
4. Million Dollar Man vs. Virgil
The feud between Virgil and Million Dollar Man continues. While the storyline behind this match was very well done, the actual wrestling itself is nothing spectacular. The match goes on a little too long and ends with Virgil getting the pin and winning the Million Dollar Belt
Overall: Two very average wrestlers having a very average match that is elevated slightly by the over-the-top fan response to the action
5. The Mountie vs. The Big Boss Man
This is dubbed as a “Jailhouse Match” where the loser needs to spend 24 hours in prison. Because they’re both officers of the law? Sort of? So somehow, this makes sense.
This is another mediocre match with mediocre wrestlers. The crowd is still super pumped for the match, but I can’t generate any interest.
Boss Man wins with a power slam and the Mountie is taken to prison.
Overall: This SummerSlam is taking a real shitty turn for the worse
5. Tag Team Match: The Road Warriors vs. The Nasty Boyz
WWE had an incredibly shallow Tag Team pool in 1991. Demolition was on the way out, Hart Foundation split… the only other team of note was the Rockers.
Legion of Doom pretty effectively takes apart the Nasty Boyz, and wins the title, making them the only Tag Team to win the belt in all three major promotions (WWE, WCW and NWA).
Overall: I’m going to start skipping through this garbage PPV. This is as bad as Wrestlemania II
5. IRS vs. Greg Valentine
Aw, come on. I don’t need to watch this match again, I already watched Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham wrestle the Dream Team of Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake in 1985.
This is the introduction of Mike Rotundo as Irwin R. Schyster aka IRS – a wrestler-slash-accountant obsessed with paying taxes.
After 9 minutes of boring wrestling, IRS beats Valentine clean with a small package
Given the absolute horrible garbage most of this card is, I’d like to point out who the WWE chose to leave in the dressing room in favor of these matches – Undertaker, The Rockers, Tito Santana and Jake Roberts.
Overall: Please, just end this stupid PPV
6. Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa and General Adnan with Sid Justice as guest referee
This match is mostly remembered for the controversy that followed. As the story goes, Warrior had told McMahon if he didn’t get a raise, he was going to no-show this event. Having no choice, McMahon reluctantly agreed to his demands and Warrior wrestled the match. As soon as it was over, he was fired on the spot.
The Warrior has disputed this version of events saying he quit, but at the post-match celebration in the ring, Warrior is nowhere to be seen.
Anyway, obviously Hogan won this, and to celebrate he posed down with the officiator, which is standard at most sporting events.
Overall: This entire Summerslam was just a miserable, exhausting experience.
7. Bonus event: Macho Man vs. Miss Elizabeth
Summerslam 1991 was also remembered for the marriage of Macho Man to Elizabeth, even though they had already been married since 1984. But as my wife reminds me, a marriage isn’t official until Vince McMahon says so
Overall: A very strange end to a very uneven Summerslam
The Royal Rumble is easily my favorite of all big PPVs. I’m immediately excited to watch this and then immediately disappointing when I hear it’s Piper and Gorilla doing the commentating. They were… not an electric duo
1. The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
One of the Orient Express is in a mask and I have no idea why. What does Wikipedia say? Oh, it’s actually Paul Diamond who is very much not Asian. Hence the mask
The crowd immediately gets into the head of the Orient Express with a rousing chant of “USA! USA!”
Generally this decent match, that includes about 7 perfectly choreographed double team moves by the Rockers. Just when you think the Rockers have this in the bag, the Orient Express gets the assist from Fuji’s cane when the ref isn’t looking.
The momentum turns, but the Rockers manage to get the win with an out-of-nowhere sunset flip
Overall: Gotta love any PPV that starts off with the Rockers
2. Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian
Well I don’t care about this match at all. Let’s just skim through this one.
Most of the match is just punching and kicking, with the Barbarian on offense for most of it. My sense is that Boss Man does not enjoy being beaten for a solid 14 minutes.
The match ends with a bunch of power moves with both wrestlers barely on their feet. Barbarian hits with a clothesline off the top rope, but Boss Man kicks out. Boss man hits his side suplex, but Barbarian kicks out.
Eventually Barbarian goes for a flying press off the top ropes, but Boss Man roles it over and gets the pin
Overall: That was surprisingly a very, very good match. I think if I liked either wrestler, I would have enjoyed it more.
3. World Championship Title Match – Sgt. Slaughter vs. Ultimate Warrior
When the Warrior was first introduced he had a series of matches against Rick Rude that were actually pretty spectacular (See Wrestlemania V, and Summer Slam ’89 for examples).
I bring this up because Warrior is one of those wrestlers (see Ted Dibiase) who rises or sinks to the level of the person he’s fighting – meaning a great wrestler can get a good match out of him, but a shitty wrestler will get a horrible match out of him.
I suspect this is going to be horrible.
The match is mostly standard Warrior stuff, just him shoulder blocking and punching, until Scary Sherri interferes and Warrior chases her down the runway. Then Macho pops out!
Ha! Man, I forgot all about this. I could watch that gif all day.
With Warrior all beaten up, he barely makes it back to the ring. Slaughter mostly dominates for the rest of the match with the Warrior only offering up a very tepid offense
Eventually Warrior starts on his “John Cena 5 moves of doom” (shoulder block, shoulder block, shoulder block, press slam, body press) when Sherri comes in to interfere. While Warrior is busy entertaining himself by assaulting a woman, Slaughter uses the opportunity to blindside him and Macho Man then runs out and hits him with a giant stick. Slaughter gets the pin and the belt
Overall: This whole thing is a setup for Wrestlemania VII, so they can put the strap back on Hogan. Either way, I’m glad the Warrior’s run is over. He just didn’t work out
4. The Mountie vs. Koko B Ware
Why is this match even?
Overall: Beats me, I skipped it
5. Ted Dibiase and Virgil vs. Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes
Before this match starts, they cut to the announcers booth where Gorilla and Piper are recounting the events of the night:
I just want to point out that Piper always, always looks like he’s just finished having sex.
Anyhoo, onto this match. It’s really only notable for 3 things.
Right after this match, both Dustin and Dusty Rhodes left the WWE
This match set up the feud between Virgil and Dibiase
It’s barely, marginally interesting to watch Dustin Rhodes wrestle without the Golddust facepaint
The match ends when Dibiase gets the pin on Dusty Rhodes. After the match, Virgil attacks him and the feud is full force.
Overall: This match is nothing spectacular.
6. The Royal Rumble
The first 10 minutes: 1. Bret Hart / 2. Dino Bravo / 3. Greg Valentine / 4. Paul Roma / 5. The Texas Tornado / 6. Rick Martel / 7. Saba Simba
On to the Royal Rumble!
Bret Hart and Dino Bravo start the match off in what ends up being a very, very mediocre opening 10 minutes. There’s honestly not a ton to recap when your most electric wrestler in the group (next to Bret Hart) is the Texas Tornado.
Historians take note – Saba Simba, AKA Tony Atlas makes his first and only PPV appearance
Minutes 10 – 20: 8. One of the Fucking Bushwhackers / 9. Jake the Snake Roberts / 10. Hercules / 11. Tito Santana / 12. The Undertaker
Saba Simba gets eliminated by the Model, making him the second elimination in like 12 minutes. This is a sloooowwwww Royal Rumble. Jake comes out to a huge pop and goes right after the Model. It’s a moment of brief excitement
I yawn my way through next series of entrants and eliminations (Roma gets thrown out by the Snake) until the Undertaker (!!) comes out. He immediately eliminates Bret Hart which made me think he was going to go on a run, but nope. He gets caught up in a bullshit choking match against the Texas Tornado.
Minutes 20 – 30: 13. Jimm Snuka / 14. The British Bulldog / 15. Smash / 16. Hawk / 17. Shane Douglas (who?)
Undertaker eliminates One Of The Fucking Bushwhakers and then goes right back to his yawn-inducing attack on the Texas Tornado. Davey Boy runs in next (nothing happens), followed by Smash (nothing happens), Hawk (nothing happens) and Shane Douglas (nothing happens).
Without much fanfare, Model manages to eliminate Jake and Hawk throws out Snuka. There’s still a ton of guys in the ring, we’re 30 minutes in and this is shaping up to be an incredibly dull Royal Rumble
Minutes 31 – 40: 18. Macho Man (did not come out) / 19. Animal / 20. Crush / 21. Hacksaw Jim Duggan / 22. Earthquake
Entrant 18 was Macho Man but they decided to no-show him to make it seem like he was worried about the Ultimate Warrior. Now that’s excitement! An empty runway!
After Animal comes out, the combined Road Warriors team up to eliminate the Undertaker.
Huh. So that was it. That was Undertaker’s Royal Rumble debut. One elimination and then just… standing around. Yet Shane Douglas remains.
Minutes 41 – 50: 23. Mr. Perfect / 24. Hulk Hogan / 25. Haku / 26. Jim the Anvil Neidhart / 27. The Other Fucking Bushwhacker
Animal is quickly eliminated by Earthquake followed by Mr. Perfect eliminating Hacksuck. Hogan comes out and the crowd wakes up, finally having something to cheer about. Hogan quickly eliminates Smash before getting mired in Earthquake’s crotch
As Haku comes out, Valentine is eliminated by Hogan and Tito is eliminated by Earthquake. I had forgotten Tito was even in this match, he was so non-impactful.
In the highlight of the night, One Of The Fucking Bushwhackers gets immediately eliminated and walks right back out. It’s hilarious.
Minutes 51 – finish: 28. The Nasty Boys / 29. The Warlord / 30. Tugboat
Well, there’s only about 15 minutes left in this match, I don’t think the boys are going to be able to turn this one around. This was just a fundamentally boring and shitty Royal Rumble. Very quickly, here’s the remaining beats in no particular order to get to the final three
– Nasty Boy eliminates Hercules, Shane Douglas and Davey Boy
– Hogan eliminates Crush, Warlord, Tugboat
– Davey Boy eliminates Mr. Perfect, Haku and the Model
– The Model eliminates Neidhart
Earthquake and the Nasty Boy are left with Hogan and beat him up for awhile. Unsurprisingly, Hogan hulks the fuck out and wins.
Overall: This was a slow, boring Royal Rumble with tons of missed opportunities. Total, dull garbage
Before we start reviewing SummerSlam, let’s all take a moment to mourn the passing of Rowdy Roddy Piper. He is commentating on this one with Vince Mcmahon, and as they kick things off, Piper spends the entire segment eye-fucking the camera harder than anything. He’s the best.
Anyhoo, on to the matches
1. The Rockers vs. Power (Hercules) and Glory (Paul Roma)
So. Power and Glory, huh? At Wrestlemania, Hercules was a face, so I guess he turned. Or Roma for that matter. Well, whatever.
Before the bell, Hercules attacks Shawn Michaels with his chain and leaves him beaten outside the ring. Marty Jannetty is left to fight by himself.
This is the match that made me really start to respect Marty Jannetty and think he was dramatically under-rated in the WWE. Michaels never gets up from the Hercules attack, so Jannetty needs to wrestle in essentially a handicap match. He carries this whole match by himself and gives an unbelievable performance. This is one of my favorite, favorite matches. If Roma and Hercules were more dynamic or technical wrestlers, I really believe this would have gone down as a classic.
They beat Jannetty pretty quickly, unsurprisingly, but still. Good stuff. This starts to setup the inevitable Rockers breakup.
Overall: Great start to the event
2. Intercontinental Championship Match – Mr. Perfect vs. Texas Tornado
Wikipedia tells me that after Wrestlemania VI, the Ultimate Warrior vacated the belt and Perfect won it during some tournament.
Kerry Von Erich makes his WWE PPV debut here. I’m looking forward to a pretty good match. It starts off entertaining, with Perfect going on offense pretty quickly and playing with Von Erich.
If you can’t tell from the picture, that’s the Texas Tornado grabbing Mr. Perfect’s head. I don’t know what that move is called. I call it “Stupid, Dumb Head Grab”. After that garbage, he spin-punches Perfect and gets the pin. Texas Tornado is the new champion.
Overall: Not a perfect match
3. Sensational Queen Sherri vs. Sapphire
Well, I’m not actually going to dignify this match with a review. This is 100% a comment on the farce of putting an actual wrestler like Sherri against a nothing like Sapphire. Apparently Sapphire agrees as she refuses to come to the ring. After announcing her twice, she never shows up. Sherri wins by forfeit
Overall: That farce of an ending still beats an actual match
4. Tito Santana vs. The Warlord
I have a sinking feeling that Tito is again going to be used to put over another wrestler on his way to the top. Roddy begins the match by reassuring us that he’s not going to call Tito a bean eater. That’s… great to know Roddy.
Warlord takes control of this match really quickly. I expect Tito is very distracted by how much he looks like Stone Cold Steve Austin
Tito eventually manages to mount some offense and shit, we know what’s coming!
It’s not enough though. Warlord kicks out of the pin and gives him the ole power slam for the pin.
Overall: Ah Tito. Will you ever win?
5. Tag Team Title Match – Demolition vs. Hart Foundation
We now enter the phase when Crush joins demolition. Wikipedia lets me know that the reason they added Crush was because Bill Eadie had developed an allergy to shellfish (which he attributed to his frequent trips to Japan) which hospitalized him, and McMahon wanted to add a third member to the team just in case the illness put Eadie out of action for an extended period of time.
This is a 2 out of 3 falls match, always great to see them switch it up a little.
The match starts with a ton of great action. Neidhart ends up getting hurt outside the ring. Bret Hart does a great job of fending off Smash and Crush but eventually gets pinned after a double team, so Demolition takes the first fall.
Bret continues to get beaten up in the ring and nearly gets pinned a few times, but eventually makes the tag to Neidhart who comes in a house of fire. After some beatings, the Bret goes for the pin, Demolition throws the ref out of the way, and Hart Foundation get the pin by DQ. It’s tied at a fall apiece. During the melee, Ax runs out to the ring and hides under the apron.
Hart Foundation start the last sequence in control with Bret Hart dominating Smash. Pulling an old Killer Bees trick, Smash runs out outside the ring, Ax crawls out from under the apron and starts wrestling. The Ref can’t tell them apart. Ax is totally fresh, so manages to turn the tide on Bret Hart pretty quickly.
Then the Road Warriors…. oh wait, that’s the Legion of Doom. Sorry. The LoD come out to interfere and throw the right guy (Smash) in the ring. Or Crush. Or whoever. I can’t tell any of them apart. In the confusion, the Hart Foundation get the pin, the win and the belt!
Overall: Really good match with a great crowd pop when the Hart Foundation got the pin
6. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Bad News Brown with Big Boss Man as Guest Referee
I despise “guest referee” matches. You’re almost always guaranteed a fairly crummy match with a ref-based disqualification finish, where one guy ends up fighting the ref. Bleh.
I’d love to see this applied in any other sport. Because the implication of these matches is that the refs are so terrible at their jobs, you need an actual wrestler in the ring to keep control. They should have football players officiate NFL games and have Serena Williams ref every tennis match from now on.
Why even stop there? Why not have Bon Jovi as the first base coach at the world series and then you could have President Obama ref the Stanley Cup.
Oh look, while I was typing, Bad News Brown was disqualified by Big Boss Man and they ended up fighting. Surprise
Overall: This is a very up and down SummerSlam
7. Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Orient Express
Yeah, like I said in Wrestlemania VI, I refuse to cover Hacksuck Jim Fuckhead matches anymore. I don’t even give a shit why Nikolai is a good guy now
Overall: Don’t care
8. Dusty Rhodes vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a good match. Both these guys are great performers in the ring.
As a side spectacle, before the match starts Ted Dibiase comes out and grabs the mic. This whole thing is has a backstory where Sapphire was bought by Ted Dibiase, betraying Dusty Rhodes. For those keeping score at home on their racist-ometer, Ted Dibiase, a rich, white man, has a character where he buys black people and he now owns two.
Ah, WWE. You do make it hard to defend you.
Anyway, as all this stupid, stupid bullshit goes on, Macho Man attacks Dusty from behind to start the match. They go back and forth a bit and Sherri interferes, prompting Dusty to seize the moral high ground from Dibiase by threatening to assault a woman.
Well this match is certainly filled with just a metric fucking ton of moral ambiguity. Macho man hits Dusty with an iron-filled purse and gets the quick pin
Overall: Lots of feelings here
9. Earthquake (with Dino Bravo) vs. Hulk Hogan (with Big Boss Man)
This is literally the first PPV since 1984, that Hogan hasn’t headlined.
For anyone counting, that’s like 16 main event PPVs in a row. I wonder if that’s a record even John Cena beats? I think that’s pretty impressive.
Rather than recap this match, I’m just going to go back and watch Wrestlemania II and watch Hogan / Bundy. Because seriously, this is basically the same match. Lots of Hogan-can’t-get-Earthquake-down-oh-my-god-he-got-him-down followed by oh-my-god-Hogan-won’t-get-up-from-that followed by Hogan hulking the fuck out after two splashes. Honestly, really standard stuff.
The only part of the match that is a deviation is that Jimmy Hart interferes and the action spills outside and Earthquake gets counted out.
Overall: Of course he slammed Earthquake
10. World Heavyweight Championship Cage Match: Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior
I guess Vince McMahon agrees with what I said in my recap of Wrestlemania V and SummerSlam ’89. Rick Rude is one of the few people that can make Ultimate Warrior look like an actual wrestler.
So a cage match, huh? This is the 2nd cage match we’ve seen at a PPV, the first one being Hogan / Bundy in Wrestlemania 2.
Rude and Warrior get right into it and spend the first 5 minutes throwing each other into the cage. Rude gets busted open right away. I rewatched, but I couldn’t see the cut. The Warrior follows right after him with a cut of his own.
I feel like Rick Rude was trying to prove something in this match, but I don’t know what. For example, here he is jumping off the top of the cage, which is a level of acrobatics somewhat out of character for him
Warrior unsurprisingly pulls out the win after beating up Heenan for awhile and then climbing out of the cage
Overall:Third time’s the charm. I remain very impressed by Rude’s ability to pull an actual wrestling match out of the Ultimate Warrior
This is the first Wrestlemania to take place out of the US borders! Toronto, Canada at the Skydome hosts this one. Due to a recent corporate buyout, it’s now called the Rogers Center, FYI.
1. Koko B Ware vs. The Model Rick Martel
How. How is Koko B Ware in the leadoff match for Wrestlemania VI?
Is it possible that this whole match exists just to put over the Model? Koko starts off on offense really quickly with some bird-based moves – a few dropkicks (after the mighty ostrich), a back body drop (pigeon) and a clothesline (pigeon again).
Martel quickly regains the upper hand, and the two finish off a very serviceable match that ends with Koko submitting to a Boston Crab
Overall: I guess crabs always beat birds?
2. Tag Team Championship: Andre The Giant and Haku vs. Demolition
With Andre as immobile as he is, this match is basically Haku vs. Demolition with occasional assistance from Andre. As always, I am confused by the entrance theme, because Demolition enters to some generic rock music. A random Facebook page informs me that on Colosseum video DVD’s they sometimes overdub the music. Well, this match is ruined.
Unsurprisingly, Haku kicks off the match. He quickly gains the upper hand. Him and Ax mess around for about 8 minutes or so, and it’s all pretty slow and plodding.
Smash eventually comes in and goes nuts. Him and Ax double team the Colossal Connection for awhile, knock Andre over and get the pin on Haku. Demolition take the belts for the third time.
At the match close, Bobby Heenan yells at Andre for being a slow, fat giant, and Andre gives him the old Giant punch for his troubles and then beats up Haku as an added bonus. Andre is a good guy again! He leaves the ring to cheers and accolades.
It occurs to me that Andre’s Wrestlemania record is 0-3 since he turned heel.
Overall: Andre was in the match for maybe 10 seconds.
3. Hercules vs. Earthquake
Earthquake makes his Wrestlemania debut, while Hercules makes his 5th. A quick scan shows that Herc is 2-2-1; lets see if he can pull off a win. I doubt it, I think this was when they were building Earthquake up as an unstoppable monster
Earthquake does not have a ton of stamina, so this match ends pretty quickly. Hercules does an okay job of putting up a fight, but Earthquake sits on him and gets the clean win. A close up looks like Herc must have caught Earthquake with a decent punch at some point in the match as Earthquake is bleeding
Overall: These are really tame starting matches.
4. Mr Perfect vs. Brutus the Barber Beefcake
I’m looking forward to seeing Perfect make this match watchable.
Brutus gets the quick upper hand on Perfect, but the tide turns after some interference from Lanny Poffo. Perfect really takes his time and spends a lot of the match slapping and pushing Beefcake. Out of nowhere, Beefcake does a slingshot into the turnbuckle and knocks Perfect unconscious. Beefcake (ugh) gets the pin. Then he drags Lanny Poffo into the ring, slaps on the sleeper and gives him a haircut.
Overall: Another quick, fast paced match. At least there’s not as much time to get bored
5. Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown
This is the match set up at Royal Rumble 90. Piper paints his body half black and I’m not quite clear what the message is here. Maybe it’s just that he’s a huge fan of the original Star Trek?
Do you think the crowd understands whatever point he’s trying to make?
Anyway, there is nothing even close to wrestling in this match. They exchange a bunch of punches and kicks and bites. It’s a total street fight.
The match ends quickly with a double disqualification, and they brawl all the way back to the dressing room. Fun story – the body paint on Piper wouldn’t come off for three weeks
Overall: Meh. Interestingly, the longest fight has been just under 10 minutes. They are really keeping these bouts moving quickly. I wonder if they learned their lesson from the horrible Wrestlemania IV which seemed to last forever?
6. The Hart Foundation vs. The Bolsheviks
What I’m finding interesting about re-watching all these matches is how terrible my memory is. I really thought Bret Hart was a singles wrestler much earlier than this, but here we are 6 years after WM 1 and he’s still paired with Neidhart as a tag combo.
So while I was typing the above paragraph, the Hart Foundation won the match in like 17 seconds
Overall: Just when I thought the matches couldn’t get any faster…
7. The Barbarian vs. Tito Santana
Yes! Tito, my man! Against the Barbarian as a solo act – when did the Powers of Pain break up? I sure hope this match isn’t an excuse to put the Barbarian over as a singles wrestler. A wrestler of Tito’s caliber shouldn’t be used like that.
A quick scan shows me that while this is Tito’s 6th Wrestlemania, it’s actually only his 2nd singles match. He’s historically been with a tag team (JYD in WM2, Hart Foundation in WM 3) or in a Battle Royal (WM 4).
Tito starts off by teasing me with what I thought was going to be an awesome Flying Forearm….
.. but it turns out it was just a high cross body. But like three minutes later….
.. he nails it perfectly. Tito goes for the pin but Bobby Heenan interferes. Barbarian nails Tito with a flying clothesline off the top rope, nearly killing Tito and getting the win.
Overall: That was a great match, easily the best of Wrestlemania because it was Tito
8. Macho Man / King Randy Savage and Magnificent Sherri vs. Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire
Is this what Macho Man has been reduced to? A mid-card, co-ed match against Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire? Oh, how the mighty have fallen. As the match is starting, they announce Elizabeth and the crowd loses their minds. I guess she’s on the side of Dusty. Fine.
Just to be clear, any time the woman are in the ring, the match grinds to a screaming halt. Sherri (who is an actual wrestler) does a very admirable job trying to keep this looking like a real wrestling match, but this is what she’s dealing with:
The rest of this match is barely worthwhile recapping. It’s garbage and I’m sad for Randy Savage. Even the commentating is weirdly horrible for Jesse and Gorilla, they spend half the match arguing about who double teamed who first. Anyway, Dusty and Sapphire get the win with the help of the Elizabeth and the stupid crowd loves it
Overall: This match was the low point of Wrestlemania VI
9. The Orient Express (Sato and Pat Tanaka) vs. The Rockers
Well I have no idea who these two gentlemen with Mr. Fuji are. I’m sure the Rockers also have no idea, but gamely enter the match anyhow.
Lots of faced paced action to start off the match, with standard Rockers high-energy moves. They get the upper hand for a few seconds before Fuji interferes and the Orient Express have an offensive run on Marty Jannetty and then another one on Shawn Michaels. This match has so far been 100% Orient Express.
Eventually the Rockers get the upper hand and have another great run of high profile moves that the crowd is fairly apathetic to. Stupid, boring Canadian audience.
This one ends with a sweet hit of Fuji Dust. Man, I haven’t seen that in ages.
The Rockers get counted out after that. The Orient Express get the win
Overall: I’m generally underwhelmed by all these matches, but happy they’re so quick
10. Dino Bravo vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Okay, I’m at the point where I refuse to recap matches with Hacksuck. I’ve suffered enough I think. Watching these two clumsy morons wrestle is like watching two monster trucks smash into each other, but with less elegance.
Hacksuck manages to hit Dino with a 2×4 and gets the win. Jokes on him though as Earthquake comes into the ring to double team him. Him and Dino beat up Hacksuck for awhile and Earthquake gives him a bunch of fat splashes and it’s wonderful. I hope they turn his ribs to calcium powder
Overall: I sincerely can’t wait for Hacksucks last PPV
11. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Ted Dibiase
Jake and Ted. Ted and Jake. One likes money, the other likes snakes. You add a peppy 70’s era Billy Joel song and you’ve got a classic sitcom right there.
This match is “electrifying”. So much so, that the Toronto audience entertains themselves by doing the wave for about 2 minutes. Jesse and Gorilla stop commentating on the match entirely and actually start covering that action in the audience instead. The crowd is deafening and I’m pretty sure none of them are watching the match.
After some more routine back and forth, the match ends with Virgil interfering which results in Jake getting counted out. Jake comes in afterwards and nails the DDT, but it’s too little, too late.
Overall: Really unsatisfying ending
12. Akeem vs. Big Boss Man
Huh. Akeem vs. The Big Boss Man. Is… is this meant to give the crowd a breather so they’re not out of energy? Like just book the shittiest match you can think of so everyone has time to grab drinks and hit the washroom?
Why are we cheering for the Big Boss Man now?
Holy smokes, this is a super long Wrestlemania. As always, I’m impatient for the main event. Come on you fat assholes, wrestle faster.
And as I type this, Boss Man pulls off the clean win with a side slam.
Overall: Hogan! Warrior! Coming up next!
13. Rick Rude vs. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Nope, not Hogan and Warrior. There’s still one more match. Jesus, this never ends. Before this match started, they have Honky Tonk Man come in and sing a song with Jimmy Hart and Greg Valentine in a wig
Rude and Snuka to a pretty decent job in this match and keep the pace nice and quick, but it’s too much at this point. The matches are feeling pretty rushed as everyone impatiently waits for Hogan / Warrior to start. After about 5 minutes, Rude hits the Rude Awakening and gets the pin.
Overall: Good match, but there’s too many in this one
14. Intercontinental / Heavyweight Championship – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior
Here’s what you need to know about this match. Hogan wasn’t convinced that Warrior should get the belt and that Warrior “possessed even less wrestling ability than Hogan”. Most importantly, a very young Adam Copeland was live in the Skydome to watch this unfold
This ends up being entertaining on the strength of personalities. The early match is all posturing – tests of strength, pushing, etc. This entire match reminds me of the Warrior / Rick Rude feuds from earlier in the earlier PPV’s. Warrior does okay when he has someone more talented carrying him
The match is designed to play to each of their talents. Lots of big, high impact power moves, coupled with a ton of rest holds – reverse chin locks, bear hugs, etc. Hogan’s Charisma mostly keeps this one entertaining – on the wrestling alone it’s a pretty dull match. It’s a 22 minute match and about 12 minutes are holds.
Interestingly, both men were technically “faces” at the time and the crowd started pretty evenly split between the two. While Warrior was getting his cheers, as the match progressed, the crowd was cheering louder and louder for Hogan
The match culminates with a series of near pins and no-counts after the ref was knocked out. The most surprising part is the ending where Hogan lost clean. No tricks, no cheats, no interference, just a clean pin for the Warrior
1. Big Boss Man / Bad News Brown / Rick Martel / Honky Tonk Man vs. Tito Santana / Brutus Beefcake / Red Rooster / Dusty Rhodes
Well this sure is a murderers row of c-list talent. AND Tito Santana. And Tito is still wearing his strike force tights. He simply cannot let go of his breakup with Rick Martel. Listen Tito, Tom Zenk feels the same way
Tito starts things off. Him and Honky go at it, followed by a tag to Rick Martel. Because he’s fantastic, Tito keeps the pace up with a series of high impact movies. Next up, Dusty comes out to take on Big Boss Man. Some good back and forth and then they tag in Brutus and the match immediately shifts to low gear.
Fortunately the heat picks up once the goddamn ridiculous Red Rooster comes in. He gets off like two moves and then Honky Tonk tags in to start beating him up. I expect this beating to last awhile, so I settle in with some popcorn.
Tito and Martel eventually make it in the ring together and have a fantastic 4 minute run. Unfortunately the Model gets the pin and Tito is eliminated.
After Tito leaves, Rooster comes in and gets beaten by everyone for a solid 7 minutes. It culminates with Big Boss Man accidentally hitting Bad News Brown when Rooster ducks away from a move. Bad News ends up leaving. I wonder when we’ve seen this before?
Honky and Beefcake go at it next. It’s about 4 minutes of wrestling and then quite strangely, Brutus hits a high knee and gets a clean pin on Honky. It’s now 3 against 2. Martel comes in to face Beefcake and has all the momentum. Against all odds, Beefcake manages to hit a reverse sunset flip and gets the pin on Martel.
It’s just the Boss Man left by himself. Rooster comes in and Boss Man demolishes him in about 30 seconds flat and pins him quickly.
Dusty comes in next and hits Boss Man with a high cross body. He gets the pin and the match is over. Unfortunately for Dusty, Boss Man grabs his nightstick and beats everyone senseless.
Overall: Good start to the PPV
2. Macho Man / Greg Valentine / Dino Bravo / Earthquake vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan / Ronnie Garvin / Bret Hart / Hercules
Earthquake makes his debut in a PPV as the “Canadian Earthquake”. I’m going to predict this match somehow ends with Hacksaw hitting someone with a 2×4. The only reason I’m excited for this match is the potential to see Macho Man against Bret Hart. They never really faced off one on one, so this is my only chance to see them.
The action starts off with a ton of tags, and a bunch of guys in the ring, but no Macho against Hart, so I don’t care. Earthquake sits on Hercules and gets a fast pin. Garvin and Valentine end up in the ring together and because they’re having a feud it’s supposed to be exciting, but it’s not. Hacksaw gets a tag behind Valentine’s back, hits him with a clothesline for the 1-2-3. It’s now a 3 on 3 match.
Still no Macho vs. Hart.
More wrestling happens and nobody, anywhere cares because why isn’t Macho wrestling Bret Hart.
Then finally it happens and the crows goes absolutely insane. Literally just getting them in the ring together is enough to bring everyone to their feet.
They trade a few moves back and forth, and after about 45 seconds, Macho tags out. Well that was a bit of a tease. Dino Bravo ends up in the ring with Ronnie Garvin and nails my colleague’s favorite move, the side suplex. He gets an easy pin and Garvin is gone.
Another couple of tags and it’s Macho against Bret again! They exchange some moves, with Bret keeping the upper hand. Macho tags out and the momentum shifts against Hart. Bravo, Macho Man and Earthquake take turns against him.
Macho hits the flying elbow, and Bret is eliminated. It’s Hacksuck on a 3 against 1. Honestly, I barely care what happens now. Hacksuck wrestles for awhile, falls out of the ring when Sherri interferes and gets counted out. Then Hacksuck hits people with his 2×4. As predicted. The end.
Overall: Please, let this be Hacksaws last PPV
3. Ted Dibiase / Zeus / The Powers of Pain Barbarian and Warlord vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts / Demolition Ax and Smash / Hulk Hogan
Interesting that Hogan is not the main event for the first PPV since we’ve started recapping these events. It’s a measure of how ungodly popular the Ultimate Warrior was. And hey, it’s still Zeus!
We kick off with Hogan and Zeus and a complete repeat of SummerSlam with Zeus no-selling every move Hogan puts on him. Zeus starts to choke Hogan. The ref can’t get him off, so he disqualifies him. At first I think it’s an incredibly strange way to start the match, but then Jesse mentions that Hogan and Zeus are meeting in “No Holds Barred” a one-time PPV held in December. So it makes sense they wouldn’t spoil the match now.
This match is a pretty boring affair. The crowd is pretty quiet and even Jesse and Gorilla go blank on commentary for long stretches. Barbarian (or Warlord, whatever) gets a pin on Ax thanks to some outside interference by Mr. Fuji.
At this point my DVD goes kind of wonky. I wonder if this is fate telling me something about how dull this match is? I skip ahead just as Smash is getting eliminated by The Warlord (or Barbarian, whatever).
Hogan has a pretty decent run against the Powers of Pain, which culminates in double team and a spike piledriver, which is a move you don’t see to often.
The ref then disqualifies both of the Powers of Pain for the double team, which is something you never see. Now it’s Hogan and Jake against Dibiase. Dibiase manages to eliminate Jake with the help of Virgil, but Hogan hulks the fuck out and gets the win.
Overall: So so. Decent mid-card match
4. Mr Perfect / The Rougeaus / Rick Rude vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper / Jimmy Snuka / The Fucking Bushwhackers
I just realized that Rick Rude would be perfect to play OmniMan aka Nolan Grayson from the Invincible comics if they ever turned it into a movie
I gotta come clean gang. I’m not really going to pay attention to, or recap this match. I just hate the Bushwhackers too much and I’ve already sat through a match with Hacksuck. I’m going to be really factual on this one
Superfly eliminates Jaques
Piper eliminates Raymond
Perfect eliminates one of the fucking bushwhackers
Rude eliminates the other fucking bushwhacker
Piper and Rude get double counted out
Perfect eliminates Snuka
Overall: Despite not providing details, this actually wasn’t a bad match once the Bushwhackers were eliminated. The final run between Perfect and Snuka was actually quite exceptional and one of the highlights of the whole PPV
5. Andre the Giant / Haku / Arn Anderson / Bobby Heenan vs. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart / Shawn Michaels / Marty Jannetty / Ultimate Warrior
The match starts off before the Warrior even enters. Neidhart bravely attacks Andre the Giant and gets absolutely pounded for his problems, when Warrior runs in, knocks Andre over the top and gets him counted out.
Huh. It’s like 30 seconds into the match. So now we have Arn Anderson and Haku (and Bobby Heenan) against 4 guys. What a strange main event. Andre finally comes to and wants to discuss his elimination with the ref
While this action is going on outside, Haku takes advantage of the situation and gets the upper hand on Neidhart. A quick kick to the back of the head and Neidhart is eliminated
Jannetty comes in for some action and the momentum is all with Haku and Arn Anderson. Another quick kick to the face of Jannetty and they tag in Heenan to get the pin. It’s now 2 on 3.
Some things happen after that, but none of them matter because at around the 15 minute mark, Shawn Michaels uses Arn Anderson’s face as a vacuum cleaner
I’m not at all clear why or how that’s a move, but I don’t care. Eventually Michaels ends up on the top rope where Ultimate Warrior basically throws him at Haku for the high cross body.
Michaels gets the pin and it’s technically 2 on 2, even though one of those is Bobby Heenan. Arn and Michaels go at it for a really entertaining run, that sadly does not end with another Arn Anderson vacuum. It does however end with Michaels getting pinned and it’s now just the Warrior left.
Warrior makes pretty quick work of Arn Anderson and then it’s just Bobby Heenan against the Warrior. The crowd thrills to the excitement of a 280 pound body builder assaulting a man half his size with no fighting ability!
Ho hum, Warrior gets the pin
Overall: Not a bad little match and a very okay Survivor Series!
Christ, here we go. I am not looking forward to this one, as I recall WM2 is terrible. Will it have aged like a fine wine? Or soured like a fine ballsack?
1. Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff vs. Don Moraco
For Wrestlemania 2, they made a couple of terrible decisions, which, combined with the lackluster matches, conspired to sink the show before it began. Bad decision #1 – splitting the venue. Bad decision #2 – guest commentators. For this match we have the “electric” duo of Vince McMahon and Susan St. James. Unsurprisingly, they’re terrible together. He is still finding his rhythm and I don’t believe she has ever watched wrestling. She might think that it’s boxing – not sure. This match is a pretty quick affair – they exchange some moves and then get counted out. Meh.
Overall: I am too apathetic to provide a rating
2. Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele
First impression is that Macho Man was so lean and tiny compared to the last time I saw him as the Bone Saw guy in Spiderman 1.
Ugh. I do not like George Steele. The shtick really gets old fast, and it’s not entertaining enough to last a match. Macho does the best he can here, but he’s really working against a stacked deck. The entire thing is punches, bites, flowers, turnbuckles. The only bright side is this exchange:
Susan St. James: He may not be smart, but he has respect for women!
Vince: Indeed he does!
Way to set that bar pretty frigging low, gang. George’s respect for women has been to stare at Elizabeth like a piece of chocolate. His only advantage over Macho Man is that he’s not openly physically abusive. Note – at this point, Susan St. James was married to Dick Emersol. Is there a deeper meaning here?
Ho hum, Macho hits flying elbow, Steele kicks out, Macho gets pin using ropes. Dull, terrible match.
Overall: two crummy matches for two
3. George Wells vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
How is this the buildup match for the venue? George Wells is introduced to a tepid smattering of applause and Jake enters to no music to and complete, apathetic silence. The match itself has a decent pace to it, with both guys keeping the speed up….fjsoeirfslnfsouf9f9f999999999 Wow, sorry about that. I blacked out on my keyboard due to sarcastic boredom. The only highlight of this match is you can start to see some of the signature Jake the Snake moves that he’d incorporate into his routine:
A. Pointing to his head showing how smart he is after ducking a move
B. Sprawled askew on the ropes
C. Sexually uncomfortable and inappropriate pin technique
Overall: Vince refers to the DDT as a “oh no, he dropped him right on his head!”. Fuck this match and fuck George Wells . 1/20
4. Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Mr T
Here’s how I would assume the conversation went the day after Wrestlemania 2 in Long Island:
Guy 1: Hey man, how was that massive pile of shit you paid money to eat last night?
Guy 2: Long and horrible! But at least I got to hear the soothing, shrieking voice of Joan Rivers announce the ringside judges for the Piper / T match. And goddamn if she wasn’t drunk.
Apparently in boxing it is common to have ringside judges. For this match they had NBA star “Chocolate Thunder” Darryl Dawkins. Cab Callaway… Herb…. what is even happening right now?
She finishes by announcing “Our third judge, one of my favorite Watergate judges – G. Gorden Liddy”. What does that mean? What could that possibly mean? How drunk is she?
This match was a terrible idea. I am astounded this is the main event. Every single element of this match is handled terribly. Here is what Piper has to say about it. I have helpfully underlined the sentances where I do not understand one single goddamn word of what Piper is saying.
“It was one of the worst matches of my life. Why? In that match with Mr. T, they didn’t trust me. I had done some boxing. I trained for 5 weeks for this fight. They taped my fists up solid and then put it in the gloves. He was scared. At the end of the day it was my fault, let’s make that clear. Those boxing gloves are thumbless. Mr. T was supposed to throw a left-cross. They asked me for a little show-business. So when he threw the left, I was supposed to go through the ropes to the floor. But when he threw it, he missed. He was all tired. They really protected him. We got an old saying, I would rather you punch my teeth down my throat then throw a popcorn punch!”
Overall: I feel very sorry for Long Island. 1 out of a million
5. Velvet McIntyre vs Fabulous Moola
I don’t normally watch women’s matches. This one is no exception.
6. Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner
The rumor is that this match was originally supposed to be against Sargent Slaughter. As the story goes, Slaughter was scheduled to appear in a non-televised match a couple weeks earlier. Prior to the match starting he told Vince he was not going to wrestle without a raise. Vince agreed, the match happened and then he immediately fired Slaughter when the match was over. This left Vince with a hole for Wrestlemania 2, so Kirchner was a last minute stand in. What I think is fantastic is a Corporal is the literal rank below a Sargent. Presumably if Kirchner had not worked out, they would have gotten Specialist Mitchell, then PFC Fernandez, eventually topping out at Private Wrestler.
The match is boringly indifferent. Kirchner is not a talented wrestler, and Nickolai is only as decent as his opponent. The match ends quickly as Kirchner nails Volkoff with a cane thrown by Freddie Blassie. 1-2-3, another dull mid-card bites the dust
Overall: This match – Ha-Phooey!
7. Battle Royal
Lots of “classic” wrestlers in this match who were absent from Wrestlemania 1. King Tonga, Pedro Morales, Hillbilly Jim, Danny Spivey.. what a miserable group! But it’s the first Wrestlemania for Bret Hart! I have no idea what the thought was for adding football players to this. Did this decision somehow boost their attendance? Were Iron Mike Sharpe and Steve Lombardi booked and they couldn’t fill the ring?
I remember thinking this match was the greatest thing I’d ever seen when I first watched it as a kid. It does not really age well. It’s kind of an interesting affair, but mostly you’re just waiting for the ring to clear out to get down to the final four. There are some mildly interesting eliminations, specifically the Big John Studd putting the Fridge over the top. My favorite part of this match was seeing the Hart Foundation against Andre. It’s the only time we’d see that particular match up. Some great moves at the end, and it finishes with Andre throwing Bret Hart right onto Neidhart.
Overall: A great match for what it was at the time. 20 man / 40 man
8. British Bulldogs vs. Brutus Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
This remains one of my favorite tag matches of all time. This is to tag matches was Macho Man vs. Steamboat is for singles matches. This one event might single-handedly save all of Wrestlemania 2 and make the it worthwhile.
This match has incredible moves with really great back and forth between the teams. Brutus and Valentine were a great heel team and this was the Bulldogs at the top of their game. Dynamite Kid could really move for a dude his size. The teams pull out all the stops, both sides just coming up with some fantastic and unexpected bumps
Brutus does this fantastic move to Davey Boy where he puts him in a hammer lock and picks him up and throws him on his back. I had literally never seen that move before, and it was just incredible
The match has one of the all-time great endings, with Dynamite Kid perching on the ropes and Davey Boy ramming Valentine’s head against it. He falls on top of him for the pin, and the bell ringer goes insane, hitting the bell about 40 times in 3 seconds. The crowed loses their minds. Great end to a great match
9. Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
I’ve said it before, Steamboat can’t have a bad match. The match is generally fine, with some pretty decent moves Hercules noticeably has trouble keeping up with the pace Steamboat is trying to set. A few of the moves are visibly sloppy, with Hercules needing more time to lumber into the move setup. Steamboat dominates almost all of this match. Herc launches a little offense, but nothing too significant. Steamboat does a great job selling everything Herc is throwing at him. The match does was it’s supposed to and gets the crowd warmed up. It ends with Steamboats High Cross Body and a great start to the third venue. Shit, maybe this entire Wrestlemania is really starting to find its footing
Overall: Not a terrible followup to the tag match but really not a big match you would expect at WM2. 4.10
10. Uncle Goddamn Elmer vs. Adorable Adrian Adonis
I hate both these wrestlers, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this match. Adrian Adonis wasn’t that bad as a wrestler, but his entire shtick rings as grotesquely mean-spirited in 2015 and it’s pretty uncomfortable to watch. The match itself is a piece of shit. The only surprise is that Adonis wins clean without cheating. At least we’re back to completely horrible matches that Wrestlemania 2 is known for. God forbid it got decent for even a half second
Overall: 2 / 47
11. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog vs. Terry and Hoss Funk
Well okay, a couple things here. For starters, we’ve already had the best tag match of all time tonight, so these guys have a pretty high bar to hit. Secondly, thiswas the penultimate match of Wrestlemania 2? The Funking Funk brothers and JYD? I have incredibly low expectations for this match.
I can’t remember why they did it, but I feel like they just crammed JYD and Santana together in the hopes that their combined popularity would result in magic. Mission not accomplished. Part of the problem with this match is that Terry Funk and Santana are fantastic wrestlers. JYD is not. He fucks up the pace of the match every time he enters the ring. He’s overwhelmingly the more popular wrestler, but there is no accounting for the fans in 1986. They’re idiots. The match ends because time rolls inexorably forward, it’s relentless march making fools of all as we dance futilely in the hourglass of the years. For every season, turn, turn, turn.
Overall: Matches with JYD make me understand my own mortality. 7/12
12. Hulk Hogan Vs. King Kong Bundy
The Pre-match promos feature Hogan working out in his “private gym”
Not only that, the guy in the tank top is Hogan’s Doctor. The guy in the tank top. The implication is that Hogan, before receiving medical attention, forced his personal doctor to wear his branded merchandise.
The recap for this match features one of my favorite moments from wrestling of all time. In the workup, Bundy attacks Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event and avalanches him a bunch of time. Hogan collapses, pretending to be unconscious and leads to this exchange:
McMahon: He looks unconscious!
Jesse: (quiet, awed) I believe you’re right. I believe he is unconscious.
It is the best acting Jesse has ever done in his life…
..and led to years of me and my friends using that line whenever one of us failed at anything – “I believe you’re right. I believe he is unconscious”. Anyhow! This match is a pretty dull affair. It was pretty great at the time but after decades of Hell in a Cell and TLC matches it seems pretty tame. The biggest surprise is Bundy cutting himself open, it’s a nice touch for a Wrestlemania. I have to say, I’m pretty exhausted by this point. It was just such a shitty PPV, not even a Hogan match can save it for me. I’m just glad this is over.
And here we go. The very first match of the very first Wrestlemania. A very solid, standard work by both Santana and The Executioner to kick off what would would become the WWE’s signature Pay Per View event. The match itself is nothing special, with some very standard back and forth, but there are some elements of the match that just seem very quaint and charming compared to wrestling in 2015:
No entrance, both competitors start in the ring. They continued with this trend almost right through Wrestlemania 3. It took them 4 years to get the hang of the entrance and the understanding about how that component of the match is almost as fun as the match itself
They dub the executioner as “parts unknown, weight unknown”. The implication being he literally refused to participate in the weigh in and they couldn’t eyeball it. I guess he also got paid in cash if he wouldn’t reveal where he’s from? What does the “from” in wrestling signify anyways? Where you born, or where you currently lived? Why would the executioner be from parts unknown? I’d hazard a guess that he’s American, but couldn’t they take a stab at that either?
“I have not seen of late this particular executioner”. Man, Gorilla Monsoon is the best. After The Executioner headbutts Tito, he follows up with this comment: “Might we one of his forte’s, we really can’t tell at this time”. They are really playing up the angle that they have no idea who this wrestler is. It’s fantastic. How would that booking even realistically work? Did he show up backstage in the mask, just say “I’m one of several Executioners, I want to wrestle at your signature event.”? I guess they shrugged and said sure? This is why wrestling is the greatest sport on Earth.
Absolutely no room outside the ring. This carries through all of Wrestlemania – the action really stayed in the ring. There is almost no outside match to speak of.
Tito’s Flying forearm was a great finisher and he really sold the move. It just goes to show that you don’t need something absurdly complicated (I’m looking at you Sister Abigail) to have a great finisher. It also shows how a great wrestler can sell a really simple move and how terrible wrestlers can’t (I’m looking at you Superman Punch)
Overall: A very good start to both WWE Replay and Wrestlemania: 16 out of 22
2. Special Delivery (SD) Jones vs. King Kong Bundy
There is so little to stay about this match. The entire thing existed to put Bundy over as an unstoppable monster. Bundy wins in 8 seconds.
Here’s a fun fact (citation needed): after the match was over, SD Jones was so disillusioned by wrestling that he immediately quit the sport to play football as “Special Delivery” Eddie Jones – a white running back who played for the Chicago Bears in 1941. This required him to build a functional time machine, which he fashioned out of old watch parts and a calculator. This would eventually prove to be the inspiration for the hit show, Quantum Leap which aired just 4 years later. SD Jones was never credited with its creation.
Overall: Ultimately Quantum Leap was a brilliant series, marred by a very disappointing finale. 4 / 12
3. Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne
I don’t think it’s possible for Steamboat to have a bad match. I really don’t. What I find kind of interesting is when I was a kid watching this, I thought Steamboat was a “small” guy. But look at him! He’s jacked! I think it’s just a measure of how fast he was that he could be considered as one of the smaller wrestlers. Alternately I have a horrible memory. Either or.
Generally, nothing wrong with this match at all. It’s great to see some of the moves that you don’t see anymore, specifically the atomic drop. No one does those anymore, but why? It’s a great move!
Steamboat ends the match with what I thought was called a “high cross body” but that Jesse Ventura calls “A beautiful flying… tackle.. off the top rope, a la Jimmy Snuka” or “ABFTOTTRALJS”.
Overall: Fun fact: Matt Bourne is “Doink the Clown”! 18/21
4. Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino
Wow, what a total piece of garbage this match is, that I am completely not excited for. Here’s a question though – why did they list Brutus Beefcake as parts unknown? I thought they only did that for guys with masks.
This match is really, really slow. Just a lot of jockying for position, arm locks and a series of amateur takedowns. Sammartino is a plodding, slow wrestler. He moves with all the speed of an amateur screenwriter finishing a coffee in starbucks. If he was continental drift, I’d be typing this from Africa. His attacks are as gently ineffective as an occupy movement. Philosophy majors find meaningful employment faster than he can land a headlock.
The one bright light in this otherwise horrific match is that it ends
Overall: Obviously, I hated this match. 0 / 10
5. Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Gorilla calls him “The Juker”. Was that a thing we were ever doing in 1985? I can’t stress enough how much I dislike the Junkyard Dog. For example, if him and David Sammartino were forced into a kissing contest, I would not be turned on.
Here’s the challenge with JYD. His entire in-ring persona was based on his spectacular charisma. The crowd absolutely loved the guy, and he rose to be an insanely popular mid-card solely on the strength of his personality. His actual wrestling skills – at least to the extent they were displayed in the WWE – were virtually non-existent. So to be a fan of his, you have to fine him entertaining for himself. Which I don’t. <Shrug>. Different strokes I guess.
This match ends with Valentine putting his feet on the ropes for the pin. Before the match can end, Tito Santana runs out and sets the ref straight. The ref agrees with the random Mexican stranger who interrupts the match to explain what he saw from the dressing room 300 meters away and appropriately decides to change his own decision without going to the replay, the timekeeper, any of the photographers at ringside or the commentators.
6. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo
Here are some things I apparently cannot spell. Sheik, Nikolai, Volkoff, Windham, Rotundo. This match is a challenge to recap for me.
Volkoff singing the Russian anthem before the match has to be one of the best heel moves in the history of wrestling, followed by the Sheik’s cutting geopolitical punditry: “Russia! Number One! Iran! Number One! USA! Ha-phooey!”.
I love Windham and Mike Rotundo as a tag team, and I don’t know why. While they were not the most exciting duo, they ushered in an era of –
Wait, is their entrance version of “Born in the USA” a weird, elevator-music instrumental only version? Holy crap, it is. Why aren’t they using the real version? Also, why do half the pages list Mike Rotundo’s name as “Rotunda”? A Rotunda is any ground building with a circular floor plan, not one half of the (eventual) USA Express.
The point is – this is a pretty decent match. Sheik and Volkoff were a great heel tag team and Rotundo and Windham really did work well together. The arm drag by Rotundo on the Sheik is gorgeous. The crown pops through the whole match and it’s a lot of fun.
Overall: USA! USA!
7. Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd
It’s a shame that by the time the WWE really hit the mainstream in the 80’s Andre was already a few years past his prime. For anyone whose only impression of Andre is the Wrestlemania 3 matches, go back and watch some of his stuff from the 70’s. He could move for a guy his size.
Sadly, by the time WM1 came around we had this Andre – a poor man nearly crippled by acromegaly. He gives it his all in this match, but he didn’t really have many moves left at this point. A match consisting entirely of punches and kicks. John Studd does a great job with what he has.
The match ends with the slam and despite his condition, Andre scoops up Studd like a child.
Overall: Anybody want a peanut?
8. Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter
I don’t normally watch women’s matches. This one is no exception.
9. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff
Here we go, the main event! Hogan! Piper! S..Snuka? Funny, I thought in Wrestlemania 1 Hogan was still using Eye of the Tiger as his entrance music. For anyone who doesn’t remember this, before the days when the WWE commissioned all their songs (and thereby avoided pesky licensing fees) they used to use actual music. Hogan originally came into Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. While “Real American” has grown into it’s cultural significance, it really can’t compare to the pop he used to get. Check out the difference.
Well that’s interesting. Now thanks to Garfunkel and Oates, when I hear “Eye of the Tiger” all I can think of is “Sports, Go Sports”
Hogan and Piper are just filthy with Charisma. For the first minutes of this match it’s just Hogan and Piper posturing for the crowd and it’s literally the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen. The crowd agrees with me, they’re on their feet for basically the whole match. The first few minutes is all heat and it’s fantastic. Piper and Hogan were incredible in a way that wrestlers today just aren’t.
I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why Hogan works and Cena doesn’t. Because essentially they’re the same wrestler – big, good looking guys with incredibly limited repertoires of moves who win their matches by being indestructible. Same matches every time. Here’s what I’ve come up with, and it boils down to sweat. Bear with me.
In order for the Hogan / Cena match template to work, they need to create a suspension of disbelief with the crowd – namely that they might actually lose. We know they’re not actually going to lose, but they need to sell us on the concept, and the degree they’re successful doing that is how well they sell moves. Hogan is not necessarily better at selling moves than Cena, but within 4 minutes of any match, Hogan is just absolutely bathed in sweat. His hair is soaking wet and he’s actually glistening. This really helps give the impression that Hogan is struggling. Whereas with Cena – he’s too athletic and really in shape. He’s just a fantastic athlete who glides effortlessly through the matches. He never feels like he’s in any danger, so it’s tough for the crowd to really get invested. Whereas with Hogan you think “Christ, this 40 year old man might actually die of a heart attack”.
Anyway, this entire match is a fantastic end to to the show. Hogan, Piper and Orndorff are all at the top of their game. The match has great flow and the crowd is over the top for the whole thing. The match ends when Bob Orton misses Hogan with the cast off the top ropes and hits Orndorff instead. In the 80’s I would estimate that 75% of matches ended by either the heel hitting his own partner with a foreign object, or small package out of nowhere.