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.

Haku Wrestlemania
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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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

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:

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.

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

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

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

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.