Wrestlemania VIII Recap


1. El Matador vs. Shawn Michaels with Sherri


Well well well.  If it isn’t our old friend Tito Santana, once again called upon to put someone over at a Wrestlemania.  I’m excited for the match, because I just mentioned in the last Royal Rumble recap that I’d love to see these two wrestle.

This event takes place in the Hoosierdome and they have a very odd setup.  Basically, they have the ring on the floor with the seats surrounding it, but then a huge gap between the floor seats and stands.

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Should we sell an additional 9,400 tickets, or leave huge goddamn gaps in the floor?  Gaps you say?

Because of the setup and the impact on acoustics, I can hear individual comments from the crowd on the DVD.  It’s nuts.  It’s like they’re actually commentating the match, it’s so loud.  There are moments where it’s louder than Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan.

Aside from the very distracting, idiot crowd, this match is not the fast-paced dynamic wrestling that Tito and Michaels are known for.  It’s mostly headlocks.  The action picks up when Tito hits the sweet, sweet flying forearm…

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Oh Flying Forearm.  I can’t stay mad at you

..but Michaels rolls out of the ring.  Tito goes on a pretty great offensive run, but.. kind of trips when he tries to body slam Michaels, and Michaels gets the pin.

Tito Santana fans, take note: This marks his seventh straight loss at Wrestlemanias.

Overall: A barely better than average match with a Flying Forearm


2. The Undertaker vs. Jake the Snake Roberts


Before this match starts, let’s go see who is in the audience.  Well what do you know, it’s Alia Shawkat, inexplicably time-travelling backwards from the set of Arrested Development

Maeby WM VIII
Her?

It’s interesting to go back and watch early Undertaker matches.  His wrestling has really evolved.  His whole moveset is just chokes.  The entire excitement comes from watching him no-sell every move.

In this case, Undertaker sits up from 2 straight DDTs and it’s electrifying.  He then finishes off Jake with a quick and easy Tombstone.  This match did a great job of selling the Undertaker as an unbeatable monster

Overall: It’s an Undertaker match, so 10/10


3. Intercontinental Championship Match: Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Bret the Hitman Heart


Great story leading into this one.  As you might recall, Bret Hart won the belt from Mr. Perfect at the 1991 SummerSlam before losing it oto the Mountie at a house show.  Piper was in his corner at the time and took the belt from the Mountie at the 1992 Royal Rumble, three days later.

That set the stage for this match – the Hitman wanted “his” belt back and the feud was on.  What made this unique for the time, is that both wrestlers were babyfaces with the crowed pretty evenly split between the two.

If anyone ever asks what people mean when they refer to Hitman a great “in ring storyteller”, tell them to watch this match.  It has a ton going on.  It’s Piper the streetfighter vs. Hitman the technician.  Both guys are wrestling a really aggressive match, consistent with the story.

In another unusual twist, Hart cuts himself wide open – he barely cuts in his matches

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“anti-lol” – Bret Hart, presumably

The whole match is a complete back and forth.  The ref gets knocked out and Piper runs to the outside and grabs the ring bell with the intention of hitting Hart.  The crowd starts to boo and Piper remembers that’s he’s a “good guy” so he instead slaps on the sleeper.  Hart, showing his ring awareness, kicks off the ropes into a pinning combination.  He wins the belt!

Piper does the standard “gracious in defeat” and awards the belt to the Hitman.

Overall: What a great match.  So far this is a fantastic Wrestlemania


4. Big Boss Man, Virgil, Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksuck Jim Duggan vs. The Nasty Boys, Repo Man  and the Mountie


Since his last appearance in the ’92 Royal Rumble, Virgil has gained a new mask, apparently because his nose was broken

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“Here, wear this stupid, stupid mask to protect your nose” – No doctor, anywhere

So what to expect from this match?  8 wrestlers, none of whom are that technically accomplished, at varying phases in the sunset of their careers.  And Hacksuck.  I am weary with excitement.

There’s not a ton to recap in this one.  The match ends when the one of the Nasty Boys rips off Virgil’s facemask and tries to hit Virgil with it.  He misses, and instead hits his partner with a fist full of soft, cottony bandage.  Obviously, the Nasty Boy is knocked cold and the idiots with Hacksuck with the match.

Overall: I don’t like any of the wrestlers enough to genuinely care.


5.  World Heavyweight Championship Match: Mr. Flair vs. Macho King


This Wrestlemania was billed with a “double main event”.  This match, and the later one between Hogan and Sid Justice.

Originally, the main event was supposed to be Flair vs. Hogan, but Hogan was planning to leave the WWE in 1992 to pursue acting (or whatever) and McMahon didn’t want to put the belt back on him (more on that in the Hogan match later on in this post)

This match has a ton of great heat.  In the weeks leading to the match, Flair taunted Savage by telling him he slept with his wife (!!!).

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Costanza would have the perfect comback for that

Flair goes on an early, and prolonged offense against Savage.  It’s about the first 12 minutes of the match.  Savage eventually fights back to a nice pop from the crowd.  It’s been awhile since Savage has been in the ring and you can tell.  His moves are about a 1/2 beat off and some end up a little clumsy.

Eventually the match goes to the floor and Flair cuts himself.

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Right here

This is two blade jobs in one event, making this the bloodiest Wrestlemania in history.  The ref gets knocked out and Flair hits Savage with brass knuckles, but Savage manages to kick out.  During another distraction (jesus McMahon, hire some decent refs!), Perfect hits Macho in the leg with a chair.

Fed up, Elizabeth runs out from the back and the officials flaccidly try to stop her, primarily with wild gesticulating

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Someone do something!  She’s 105 pounds and very, very pretty!  We are powerless

When she gets to the ring, she essentially does nothing.  Meanwhile, Flair applies the Figure Four on Savage.  Savage barely manages to reverse it and wins with a very abrupt rollover pin.

Overall: Great match


6. Tatanka vs. Rick Martel


This Wrestlemania is the perfect mirror for how thin the WWE’s pool was in 1992.  They had some incredible talent (e.g. Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair) and then they had garbage.  This PPV alternates between the two.

The only bright spot of this match is how quick it is.  It’s mostly one-sided offense for Martel who eventually gets pinned by an out-of-nowhere high cross body

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As opposed to a completely expected high cross body, I guess

Overall: Would have been a fine warm up match, but not a latter-half of a PPV match


7. Tag Team Championship Match: The Natural Disasters (Tugboat and Earthquake) vs. Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase and IRS)


Why on earth are the Natural Disasters good guys now?  Wikipedia tells me it has something to do with Jimmy Hart arranging for Money Inc. to get the belt and not them.  Got it.

Have I mentioned before that I hate fat guy matches?  I find their limited arsenal of fat-based power moves very… well, limited.  And they’re usually pretty horrible wrestlers that miss a ton of spots

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Case in point

After a very serviceable match, the Natural Disasters are about to get the pin, but Jimmy Hart pulls IRS out of the ring and Money Inc. leaves the match.  Natural Disasters win by count out, but Money Inc. keeps the belt

Overall: Does this mean we’ll see this match again?  I hope not.


8. Skinner vs. Owen Hart


The apathy in the audience is just palpable.  I guess the crowd needed time to get a beer.  The match is about 58 seconds long, and Owen Hart wins with a rollup pin.

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Note to caption writer: Add a fart joke

Overall: Those last three matches have made for a very underwhelming lead up


9. Not at all a Championship match: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice


This just goes to show you what McMahon thought about Hogan at this point.  Doesn’t matter if he has the belt, he’s the main event.  If this was any other booking, this match would have been the mid-card and Macho / Flair would have been the main event.

I’ll let Buzzfeed describe the lead up:

Ric Flair showed up, newly defected from WCW, and looked to set up a storyline showdown of epic proportions between the Flair as the face of WCW and Hogan as the face of the WWF.  Then Hogan-Flair matches failed to inspire much interest at house (non-televised) shows and WWF management got cold feet about whether the match really worked as a main event.  Around the same time, Hogan decided to retire so he could pursue a career in acting.

For anyone counting (me) this makes 4 tag team partners who have turned on Hogan: Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, Macho Man, and now Sid Justice.  Hey gang, maybe Hogan is the worst?

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Look how happy Andre was choking him to death!

This match is nothing spectacular.  It’s a pretty by-the-books Hogan affair that is surprisingly quick, clocking in at just over 10 minutes.  Hogan gets beaten up for awhile and then hulks the fuck out after Sid gives him the power bomb.

The ending is odd as hell.  Sid kicks out of Hulk’s big leg thanks to help from Harvey Whippleman.  Sid is disqualified and then Papa Shango runs out for no goddamn good reason.  To add on to the randomness, the Ultimate Warrior runs out and clears house and saves Hogan.  The rumor is Papa Shango was supposed to interfere earlier, but missed his spot so Sid was forced to kick out of the leg.

Overall: This was a fairly terrible match, featuring people who were all mostly on their way out of the WWE.  Still not the worst Wrestlemania ever through

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Royal Rumble ’92


1. The Orient Express vs. The New Foundation


Lose your more popular tag partner?  No problem!  Just tap his brother on the shoulder and you’re back in business!

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The ridiculous puffy jackets are a “must”

Owen Hart finally starts his run in the WWE under his own name.  He starts off the match with some high flying moves that leave Kato disoriented

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So disoriented he can only stand there and watch while Owen punts gravity in the dick

Well that’s certainly a move you won’t see from Bret Hart!  This match is a lot of fun and it accomplishes what it was meant to – it’s a good introduction to both the New Foundation and Owen Hart.  Most of it is just Owen putting a bunch of moves on the Orient Express.

It goes on much longer than I ever expected.  There’s some great back and forth with the Orient Express going on quite an offensive run.  Owen Hart ends up getting the pin with his finishing move “the rocket launcher” (a splash off the top ropes).

Overall: Great start to the event


2. Intercontinental Championship Match: Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie


Right after Bret Hart won the belt from Mr. Perfect at Summerslam he dropped it to the Mountie.  This pissed off Piper (for some reason), hence the title shot.

The crowd obviously goes nuts for Piper and the match begins with him taking control before the Mountie gets his turn.

I don’t have much to recap on this.  It’s a very fast quick that ends abruptly when Piper slaps the Sleeper Hold on the Mountie

Piper Sleeper
It was this or force him to read “The English Patient”

It’s so jarring when someone actually wins with a clean Sleeper Hold considering how many people (*cough* Hogan) break out of it

Overall: A fine, quick match, and Piper is always entertaining to watch


Interlude: Hogan is in a bathroom


I don’t usually include the backstage stuff of these videos, but this one is special.  It’s an interview between Lord Alfred Hayes and Hogan in his dressing room.

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Just so we’re clear, that’s a piece of paper taped over a door.  Then when he enters the “dressing room”…

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that’s just clearly the men’s washroom.  I’m not clear why this was the best place they could come up with, but it’s fantastic.  Early 90’s wrestling was just an odd mix of hopeless optimism and insanity


3. The Beverly Brothers with The Genius Lanny Poffo vs. The Bushwhackers with some random guy


Yeah, I’m not going to watch this.  I hate the Bushwhackers.

Overall: Beats me


4. Tag Team Title Match: The Legion of Doom vs. The Natural Disasters


I never find these sort of matches too interesting.  While all wrestling generally follows a template, these matches are identical

Legion of Doom Road Warriors
What?  My move… didn’t knock down the giant fat guy? But… how?

The big guy is surprised he can’t knock down the giant fat guy and then he eventually knocks down the giant fat guy.

The Legion of Doom kind of plays with the template a little, but this match is pretty by the numbers.  Lots of power moves, followed by lots of rest moves.

The whole thing ends with a count out which is super unsatisfying (the crowd agreed with their immediate boos) and the Legion of Doom keeps the belts

Overall: So so match, nothing fantastic


5. The Royal Rumble


Here we go, the big one.  Rated by many, many, many, many people as one of the top 5 Royal Rumbles, if not the best Royal Rumble ever.  The stakes are much higher than normal as the winner gets the WWE belt

The first 10 minutes: 1. Davey Boy Smith / 2. Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase / 3. Ric Flair / 4. Jerry Sags (Nasty Boy) / 5. Haku / 6. Shawn Michaels 

Dibiase takes it right to Davey Boy at the start of the match, but gets cocky and gets eliminated right away.  That was a bit of a surprise.  And next up at number 3 – Ric Flair.

For context, Ric Flair was fresh to the WWE from the NWA and no one expected McMahon to put him over to the extent he did.  He threw just about everything behind Flair, it was nuts.

As I’m typing, Davey Boy eliminates Sags and goes back at Flair.  Next out is Haku – the dullest man in wrestling – and the crowd welcomes the breather.  He’s eliminated really quickly and next out is Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels Royal Rumble 1992
He starts off at a really slow place by kicking Ric Flair in the face

Tito Santana is out next.  I wonder if I’ll get an opportunity to screen cap the sweet, sweet flying forearm before he’s eliminated?

Tito Royal Rumble
Yes!

One of the great things about the Royal Rumble is you get to see some match ups that never had a chance to get booked as straight matches.   For example:

Tito Shawn Michaels
This one!

Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels.  I’d watch the shit out of that.

Minutes 10 – 20: 7. Tito Santana / 8. The Barbarian / 9. Texas Tornado / 10. The Repo Man / 11. Greg Valentine 

The next three guys come in with no eliminations.  One of them in the Repo Man, who I learn is Smash from Demolition.  Huh.   Wow, did his star ever drop.  Greg Valentine is next and they’re just stacking the ring with trash at this point.

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Flair, Davey Boy, Michaels, Santana and and just a whole giant mess of garbage

Volkoff is out next and the run of lower-mid card talent continues.  I guess they’re going to stack the later half of this.  Volkoff is eliminated pretty quickly by the Repo Man of all people.

Minutes 20 – 30:  / 12. Nikolai Volkoff / 13. Big Boss Man / 14. Hercules / 15. Rowdy Roddy Piper / 16. Jake the Snake Roberts 

The Boss Man runs in and attacks everyone, while the Repo Man (!!) throws out Valentine.  While he’s not looking, Big Boss Man whips him over the top.  Surprisingly, Flair then eliminates Davey Boy and Texas Tornado one after the other.  As I’m typing this, Shawn Michaels and Tito Santana eliminate each other as Hercules enters.

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Well that sure thinned out the crowd

Hercules and Barbarian eliminate each other and then it’s just Flair and Boss Man.  Flair ducks under a flying tackle from Boss Man and then it’s just him left!

That was actually a pretty good run.

Piper is out at 15, followed by Jake Roberts and Hacksuck.

Huh.  Hacksaw and Piper are indistinguishable from behind
Weird. Hacksaw and Piper are indistinguishable from behind

Minutes 30 – 40:  17. Hacksuck Jim Duggan 18. IRS / 19. Superfly Jimmy Snuka / 20. The Undertaker / 21. Macho Man 

IRS and Superfly come out and who cares really, because at #20 is the Undertaker.  His first move eliminates Superfly.

First Wrestlemania VII, now the Royal Rumble.  Eat a bag of dicks, Superfly
First Wrestlemania VII, now the Royal Rumble. Eat a bag of dicks, Superfly

Savage is out next and he immediately goes after Jake.  After a crazy attack, he throws him over the top ropes and goes right after him.  For some reason the Undertaker follows along and fights Macho on the floor

Minutes 40 – 50:  22. The Beserker / 23. Virgil / 24. Col. Mustafa / 25. Rick Martel / 26. Hulk Hogan

The action spills back inside and the Beserker enters to a resounding yawn.  Piper and Undertaker and Flair have an interesting exchange where they all try to choke each other in some kind of choke-stand off

Three way choke
This is where Tarantino got the idea for the ending to Reservoir Dogs

Col. Mustafa is next, followed by Rick Martel.  Nothing much happens.  I’m shocked Hacksaw is still in the ring.

Hogan gets 26 and comes in a house of fire.  He manages to eliminate the Undertaker and the Beserker one after the other.  At the same time, Hacksaw and Virgil eliminate themselves.  Mustafa was also eliminated at some point, but it was so quick I missed it

Minutes 50 – end:  27. Skinner / 28. Sgt. Slaughter / 29. Sid Justice / 30. The Warlord

The final four make their appearance we get to business throwing people out quickly so the match can move to the climax.  Piper eliminates IRS and the Warlord gets tossed out by Hogan.  Justice eliminates Slaughter by throwing him at the corner as hard as it is possible to throw another human being

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I have to assume Sgt. Slaughter died immediately after this?

It comes down to Flair, Hogan and Justice.  Just as it seems like Flair is gone, Justice turns on Hogan and tosses him out.  Because Hogan is horrible, he cheats and pulls out Justice from the outside.  Flair wins!!

Interestingly, Flair gets a massive cheer for winning the match.

Hogan and Justice get back into the ring and yell at each other to set the stage for Wrestlemania VIII.

Overall: A great Royal Rumble, and a great performance by Flair.

Wrestlemania VII

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.

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I’m a random heel!  Boo me! Or don’t, whatever

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.

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The only truly exciting tornado is made out of sharks

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.

Warlord Davey Boy
For example, after one move, the Warlord switches to a sweet, sweet non-exhausting chin lock

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.

Davey Boy Power Slam
“What the hell just happened” – The Warlord, 1991

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

Hart Foundation Nasty Boys
A dull, slow, 10 minute offensive run that includes 8 minutes of chin locks

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.

Jake horrible clothes
I must have been blind when I put this outfit together

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

– Pre-tattoo’s!

– I miss the Urn.  What a great, fun gimmick that was

– Ah Paul Bearer.  We miss you and your monstrously grotesque sea-monster face

Paul Bearer
I actually tried to freeze frame on a non-hideous picture, but it wasn’t possible

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.

This match reminds me of Hogan / Andre or Hogan / Macho or Hogan / Warrior.  The crowd is screaming through the whole thing and the entire match has this fantastic, epic feel to it.

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It also has a double clothesline!

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.

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5th times the charm

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.

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Horrible WWE writers of 2015 take note – this is how you do a fucking story

Overall: Easily one of the top 3 Wrestlemania matches of all time


8. Tenryu & Kitao vs. Demolition


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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

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I also stumble into a full goddamn front flip after I hit my back

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:

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A giant, screaming, face-painted man trying to tear his head off, 11 feet above the mat

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.

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Horrible WWE writers of 2015 take note – this is how you do a fucking story

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

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In all fairness, it is a very punchable face

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

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Finishing move to start off the match? Why the hell not?

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:

Flip Disk
Always a sign of a long PPV

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.

Hogan WM VII
If Rocky 4 ended the cold war, why can’t WM VII end the Iraq war?

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:

10 Most Blatantly Obvious Blade Jobs In Wrestling History

Drama!
Hogan only bleeds Red, White and Blue BABY!  Well, mostly, entirely red.

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.

Wrestlemania III


1. Rick Martel and Tom Zenk (The Can Am Connection) vs Don Muraco and Cowboy Bob Orton


Can Am Connection: Forever blurring the line between wrestlers and underwear models
Can Am Connection: Forever blurring the line between wrestlers and underwear models

I am super excited for this.  Wrestlemania III!  The big one!  Widely considered one of the top five Wrestlemania’s.  Almost impossible to be worse than Wrestlemania II!  So let’s get started!

At the time, Rick Martel was regarded as the best technical wrestler the WWE had ever signed, but had no tag partner who could keep up with his explosive speed and raw, animal power (citation needed)

Enter Tom Zenk.  Zenk was designed to be the ultimate WWE tag partner.  Under the direction of Gorilla Monsoon,  McMahon combed the tombs of the greatest evil leaders in history to find cells with DNA traces. These long-dead genetic blueprints were combined to produce a clone with the genius of Napolean, the ruthlessness of Julius Ceaser, the daring of Hannibal and the shrewdness of Attila the Hun.  He then cloned them and engineered Tom Zenk in a lab (citation needed)

All hail the mighty Zenk
All hail the mighty Zenk

The result was the Can Am connection, and this match.

Overall: Yo Joe!  And trust me, that recap was more entertaining than the match


2. Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules Hernandez


The Rock starring in 2014's "Hercules", based entirely on this match
The Rock starring in 2014’s “Hercules”, based entirely on this match

WM3 reportedly broke an indoor attendance record with 93,000 on hand to watch the event.  The great thing about this is that every match – no matter how theoretically terrible – manages to crank the excitement up to 11.

It’s great because all the wrestlers are bringing their best game to the table.  For example, this one should have been a really dull affair.  Neither of these guys are too technically interesting, but man, do they ever put on a solid show.

For example, this is 45 goddamn seconds into the match
For example, this is 45 goddamn seconds into the match

It’s a theme through the whole event.  Mediocre matches are elevated to fantastic matches.

This one ends with a double count out.  Shrug.  They do a decent job at keeping the energy high and Haynes gets cut after the match is over from repeated shots from Herc’s chain.  I looked pretty closely, but I couldn’t see the cut, but Haynes got himself pretty deep it looks like.

Normally with a post-match beating by a heel, a superstar would normally come out and save the babyface, but there is no one who wants to save Haynes.  I guess he is a loser?

Overall: Better match than it should have been.  3.5 / 5


3. Hillbilly Jim vs King Kong Bundy


Hey gang! Me again! Still perfectly goddamn round, just like a giant gobstopper
Hey gang! Me again! Still perfectly goddamn round, just like a giant gobstopper

I do not have high hopes for this match.  Neither Bundy or Hillbilly Jim are very talented wrestlers, so I’m going to imagine this will be pretty dull.  Also, has there ever been this significant a drop in booking from one wrestlemania to the next?  Bundy went from the headline event at Wrestlemania 2 to this filth

As expected, this is not a great match.  It ends with Bundy attacking one of the little people and a disqualification.  The first mis-step in an otherwise good PPV, if you don’t count the creation of the horrible, horrible Tom Zenk

All hail the mighty Zenk
None shall survive the terrible mercy of Zenk

Overall: Awful idea that provided one minute of amusement. 2/10


4. Harley Race vs Junkyard Dog


Fuck you so much, JYD
Fuck you so much, JYD

Oh god. Damn.  It.  My nemesis JYD against the septuagenarian Harley Race.  JYD is too terrible to wrestle well and Race is too old.  There is nothing to like about this one.

This isn't a move; just Harley Race randomly falling out of the ring
This isn’t a move; just Harley Race randomly falling out of the ring

Inevitably, JYD manages to get down to the mat for his patented head butts which allows for Gorilla Monsoon to unleash the quote of the PPV “Dog on all fours – that’s his favorite position”, I would have expected that from Jesse Ventura so well done Gorilla…well done.

Here's what you do Gorilla, you grab yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day...
Here’s what you do Gorilla, you grab yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day…

The match has everything you’d expect from a JYD match.  Shitty wrestling, headbutts, terrible selling of moves and dancing.  I am delighted that this is the Dog’s last Wrestlemania.  I am also delighted that Race beats him clean with a belly to belly suplex.  Fuck you Dog.

Overall: Ha ha Dog sucks.  3 /1 4


5. Dream Team Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine vs Rougeau Brothers


 

We get our strength from bags of milk and lays chips, eh?
Us Canadians get our strength from bags of milk and lays chips, eh?

I’m kind of confused, I really remember liking WM3 a lot more but I can’t think of why.  This is another match where I’m kind of “meh” on the participants.  I generally like a match with the Dream Team, but I never found the Rougeau’s very dynamic.  Having said that, I do enjoy their signature move, the Canadian Crotch Catch

Boom! Wiff that crotch. Wiff all of it
Boom! Wiff that crotch. Wiff all of it

The match ends with Brutus turning face because… for no real reason.  Like I can’t tell at all what happened.  It’s probably the clumsiest turn in in WWE history.  What do you think Tom Zenk?

All hail the mighty Zenk
That subpar heel turn enrages the mighty Zenk

Overall: Come on WM3, turn it around.  6/20


6. Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Adorable Adrian Adonis – Hair match


Here to turn this Wrestlemania around
Here to turn this Wrestlemania around

Piper!  Yes!  I cannot dislike a Piper match.  This has been billed as a retirement match and the crowd is fired up and on their feet.  For the first time, you really get how deafening it is when 90,000 people are on their feel screaming.  It’s a fantastic ovation and Piper loves it.

The match doesn’t have much actual wrestling, just a lot of punching and kicking and whipping with belts.  The crowd is on their feet and screaming for every move and it generates more excitement than the match deserves.  Ultimately Piper gets hit with a spray of perfume and Adonis slaps on the sleeper hold, or as he calls it “Good Night Irene”.  That’s… that’s actually kind of a great name.  Good work Adonis.

Adonis drops the move too soon and Brutus comes out of nowhere to revive Piper.  I guess this entire match was to set up Brutus as the Barber when he comes out to cuts Adonis’s hair.  What a weird character that was, although I guess no more odd than a magic wrestling Zombie who got power from bottled dust

Me. He's talking about me.
Me. He’s talking about me.

The best part of the match is the fan who comes out to hug Piper….

I wish this would last forever!
I wish this would last forever!

… and then gets immediately set on by security.

Oh god, why won't this end?
Oh god, why won’t this end?

I am stunned he made it to the ring

Overall: Piper!  Awesome!  89/10


7. Hart Foundation with Danny Davis vs British Bulldogs and Tito Santana


We're awesome and we love valentine's day!
We’re awesome and we love valentine’s day!

Finally!  A Hart Foundation match!  Why did we go three entire Wrestlemania’s before giving these guys their own match?  I love Bret Hart, and anything these two do against the Bulldogs is fantastic, so I’m ready to settle in for a great match

This is technically a six man bout, with Tito Santana joining up with the Bulldogs and disgraced Referee Danny Davis teaming with the Hart Foundation.  A professional wrestler and a 170 pound referee.  That seems fair and even.

Gorilla reminds us that Danny Davis cannot be a ref anymore, he’s been suspended for life + 10 years.  I guess Gorilla thinks Danny Davis is immortal?   I think this was foreshadowing that Danny Davis was originally supposed to be the Undertaker?

Nope
Nope

This match is a great combination of excellent technical wrestling and seeing Danny Davis being beaten within an inch of his life.  Davey Boy hits him with a jumping piledriver that would be literally illegal today.  Like, 10 different types of banned.

It is no longer acceptable to try to drive a mans head into his own torso
It is no longer acceptable to try to drive a mans head into his own torso

The match obviously ends with the old megaphone-me-do and the quick pin and the Hart Foundation chalk up the win.  Just a great match.

Overall: Davey Boy nearly killed a man!  8/12


8. Natural Butch Reed vs Koko B Ware


Hey everybody! It's me, Butch Reed! Inexplicably in a Wrestlemania!
Hey everybody! It’s me, Butch Reed! Inexplicably in a Wrestlemania!

What is it with Wrestlemania 3 screwing up the entrance music?  Isn’t Koko supposed to enter to “Love hits you like a piledriver“?  Why is he coming down to what sounds like a song that is “Wow!  Hallelujah!”?

Okay, Jesse is unbelievably racist in calling this one.  He starts with “You know Gorilla, the B stands for Buckwheat.  He told me he has another brother named Stymie.”  He continues with “And what’s with the glove?  I mean, Michael Jackson wears a glove, but Buckwheat don’t”.

Jesus Christ Jesse, you racist motherfucker.

The most interesting part of this match is the ending.  Butch Reed gets a contested win by grabbing a handful of tights and guess who is down there telling the ref he made a mistake and correcting the wrongs?  Tito Santana!  Dude loves jumping into matches!

Overall: Honestly Tito, mind your own business. 2/139


9. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat vs Macho Man Randy Savage


Ladies
Ladies

This is widely regarded as one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time, and I can’t disagree. It’s unbelievable.  The lead up to this match generated insane heat, with Savage fracturing Steamboat’s Larynx with a ring bell.

There has been about a million words written about this match, so I don’t have much new to add.  One thing I learned recently, apparently this isn’t Steamboats favorite match, due to how scripted it was.  Savage was known to be a very detailed planner, and both wrestlers spent 3 months leading up to this match planning literally every single beat.  The story goes that Steamboat preferred more fluid matches where you call the moves in real time.

Despite what Steamboat thinks about planning, this entire match is brilliant.  The excitement goes through the roof, especially around about minute 7 when they go for about 10 pins in a 2 minute period.  I don’t think there is one wrestler active today who could have pulled off this match.

Overall: No jokes, just a brilliant, brilliant match.  10/10

The Mighty Zenk also approves!
This match is kickass!  Also, kneel before Zenk!

10. Jake the Snake Roberts vs Honky Tonk Man


Sorry gals. Just by looking at this picture, you are now all pregnant
Sorry gals. Just by looking at this picture, you are now all pregnant

I didn’t remember this at all, but this match had quite a bit of heat leading up to it.  It was a result of Honky hitting Jake with a guitar in a segment of pipers pit.

What would be the draw to appear on Pipers Pit if you were a wrestler?  The chances of being randomly attacked were like 70%.  I guess it was no different than Jerry Springer.  So just counting, three matches in this Wrestlemania were as a result of Piper’s Pit: this match, the Andre / Hogan match and the actual Piper / Adonis match.

Did you get twosies?
Did you get twosies?

This match is a pretty tame affair, with some decent moments, but nothing too great.  Some standard back and forth that sees Honky winning with the ropes.  Jake Roberts and Alice Cooper pause briefly to throw a heavily drugged python at a small man with a megaphone.  That is the 4th time in my life I have written that exact sentence, but never once in the same context.

Overall: Ho hum: 6.4/11


11. Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs the Killer Bees


The Sheik and Volkoff against the Killer Bees!  I could not be less excited.  The match starts – as always – with the Russian national anthem being sung by Volkoff and oh god here comes Hacksaw Jim Shithead Duggan.    I was wrong, I can be less excited and now here I am.

The crowd is pretty mellow considering this is the next to final match.  There’s a couple decent pops, but nothing great.  The one nice this about this one is how quickly it ends.  The Sheik and Volkoff have the win pretty much clean when Hacksaw jumps in and shits all over everything and gets the bees disqualified.  The crowd barely, barely cares.

Overall:  Apparently I despised a great many wrestlers from the 80’s.  Weird.  2/16


12. Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant


Man, we should just keep getting high. What were we even fighting about?
Man, we should just keep getting high. What were we even fighting about?

Here we go, the big one.  Arguably the most famous match in all of wrestling history.  There’s so many stories about this one.  I like the mythology but I don’t buy some of them:

– Hogan said Andre was closer to 700 pounds than 500.  I call bullshit on that.  He’s not a fucking SUV, he’s a human man.

– Hogan said he didn’t actually know if he was going to win the match.  What I do believe is that if Andre didn’t want to be slammed, then Andre wasn’t getting slammed.   I think more what Hogan meant is he didn’t have pre-match commitment from Andre on the match, but I have trouble believing McMahon would have let the match go if he wasn’t sure Hogan was going to win

Anyway, the match is so lousy with mythology that it’s still entertaining to watch for the spectacle, although the match itself is nothing special.  Lots of great posturing and the actual moment when Hogan slams Andre is one of the biggest pops you’ll hear in wrestling.  Hogan drops the big leg and it’s 1-2-3 all over.  A great end to a great (although not that great, on re-watch) Wrestlemania.

Overall: 9/10 for the history, 2/10 for the match