Wrestlemania IX Recap

When I was younger, I remember thinking this Wrestlemania was fantastic. Will it hold up all these years later?


1. Intercontinental Championship Match:  Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka


Shawn Michaels debuts another Wrestlemania, this time against the lazily racist caricature that is Tatanka.  As usual, Sherri is hovering by ringside, watching him wrestle, but not actually in his corner.  That interaction has been going on for like a year now.

Shawn Michaels does his usual bit here – petulant complaining to the ref and over-the-top falls when he sells moves.   It’s a fun match.

…or so I thought.  22 goddamn agonizing minutes later and my enthusiasm has waned.  Opening matches should be quick and high energy to get the crowd immediately excited.

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It should not be 12 minutes of chin locks

On the mic, Bobby Heenan and Macho Man say what we’re all thinking:

Macho Man: “This match should have been over by now”
Bobby Heenan:”It should have been over 30 moves ago”

Michaels barely touches the ref outside the ring and gets counted out or something?  It’s out of nowhere and it’s a crappy ending

Overall: Not a great start.  Horrible booking


2. The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu)


Hoo boy.  Let’s get this over with.  Macho Man is more optimistic than me and says “This should be  a great match.  Even better than the last one”

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You think?

Scott and Fatu start in the ring and exchange some blows.  Scott gives Fatu a clotheline, which announcer Jim Ross calls a “Steiner Line”.  I  am briefly entertained by the thought that every move they do will be re-branded by Jim Ross to be Steiner-related.  An arm bar will become a Stein-bar.  A chin lock will be a Rick Lock.  A suplex will be a Stein-plex.

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A botched move will be a Steinicide

I am honestly not sure if Fatu fucked up there or not.  Generally the way that move works, you drop the guy on the top rope, not launch him right over the top.  Macho Man and Jim Ross actually comment on that for the next couple of minutes.

After that move, Scott is a destroyed mess and the Headshrinkers just lay on a pounding.  Eventually Scott makes the tag and Rick gets to play the hero rescue role.  Jim Ross refers to Rick Steiner as Dog Face, which is great.  Why not just call him “Fuc’t brow” or “Sea Monster”?

While I’m making jokes, Fatu puts Rick on his shoulders and when Samu goes for the clothesline, Rick catches him (on another guys shoulders) and power slams him.  It’s a very unexpected and very cool move.

Fresh on the heels of that, Scott hits a Frankensteiner and the match is over.

Overall: Not a horrible match.  It had 3 huge moves that were great


3. Doink the Clown vs. Crush


Look gang!  It’s Doink the Clown – in his SECOND Wrestlemania.  What’s that?  When was his first?  Glad you asked, hypothetical reader who talks to his computer.  He was in the very first Wrestlemania against Ricky Steamboat!

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Matt Osborne, wondering “What if Doink was one of us”

There is nothing spectacular to recap in this match.  Neither wrestler is that good, the moves are all telegraphed and clumsy and neither character is that interesting.

The ref gets knocked down, Doink gets knocked out of the ring and in the confusion a 2nd Doink comes out from under the apron.  The 2nd Doink interferes, clobbers Crush, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen and who cares.  Who.  Cares.

Overall: Two Doinks!


4. Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund


Yep.  This is an actual Wrestlemania match.  Ramon, ostensibly the heel, comes out to a huge pop, Bob Backlund comes out to what can best be classified as polite indifference.  The WWE has always been a little tone deaf when it comes to who the fans like.

I wish there was something entertaining to say about this match.  Bob Backlund goes on a tiny amount of offence and the crowd is stone cold silent.  Out of nowhere, Ramon hits a small package and gets the win

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If they can’t be bothered to come up with a match, I can’t be bothered to come up with a joke

Overall:  That was garbage


5. Tag Team Championship Match: Money Inc (Ted Dibiase and IRS) vs. The Mega Friends Powers Maniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake)


Money incorporated put their belts on the line in the second title defense of the night.  Hogan and Beefcake are sporting a black eye and stupid face mask, respectively

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It’s a toss up which looks worse

In real life, Hogan had been in a jet ski accident.  They worked the injury into the match by saying Money Inc attacked him in the dressing room backstage.

At this point of his career, Hogan has given up any pretense of actual wrestling and is just throwing haymakers.  Even Macho points out “not many wrestling holds from the Hulkster”

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Maybe I wasted my career by actually trying to be a talented wrestler?

Halfway through the match, Money Inc decides to bail on the match and go back to the dressing room.  Taking the mic, the ref lets them know that (contrary to the actual rules of WWE) “If Money Inc does not return to the ring, they will forfeit the belt”.

I think every professional sport would be improved if the ref had the ability to alter the rules of the game on the fly.

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Patriots – penalty, offside.  Also, if Tom Brady does not full-on make out with Drew Bledsoe on the 50 yard line, the Patriots are banned from the NFL forever.

The match continues and Ted Dibiase makes the cardinal mistake of putting Hogan in a choke hold.  Really surprisingly, Hogan doesn’t Hulk The Fuck Out.   Beefcake comes in and clears house, but Money Inc. regains the advantage.

Money Inc. takes off Beefcakes  mask and start punching him in the face.  Beefcake oversells every punch and I guess the gist is that his face bones are really soft and squishy now?  Because he’s healing or something?

Hogan gets the tag and then a bunch of weird things happen.  The ref is knocked out, Hogan hits Money Inc with the “titanium” face mask, the Mega Maniacs collectively pin Money Inc, Jimmy Hart reverses his jacket so it’s a referee stripes and then counts for the 3.  A new ref comes out and says Money Inc is disqualified so they keep the belts.

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Mega Maniacs triumphantly celebrate their technical loss

Overall: I think this match might have been the high point of this PPV which is really unfortunate


6. Mr. Perfect vs. Lex Lugar


The match hasn’t started and I’m already disappointed.  I’m pretty sure Perfect is going to put Lugar over.  Poor Mr Perfect.  He deserves better.

Lugar was still doing his “Narcissist” bit at this point so we are treated to 5 minutes of posing

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I thought Beefcake was in the last match?

At the start of the match, Macho Man calls Bobby Heenan “Camel breath”. I have no idea what that insult means in this context.   Normally, that’s something Jesse Ventura would say to the Iron Sheik or something.  It’s completely random.  Why not call him “Panda breath” or “Unicorn Breath”?

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Are camels even known for the quality of their breath?  While I continue to wonder about this, I guess there’s some wrestling going on in the background

Macho and Heenan basically bicker for the whole match.  They barely call the action.  I’m not sure if this is a bit or if they are genuinely irritated with each other.

More wresting continues in the background.  It’s pretty routine stuff, nothing that great.  Perfect is having trouble dragging a math out of Lugar.

It ends when Lugar reverses a back… slide… flip-pin?

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I don’t actually know what it’s called

Overall: This Wrestlemania is just dragging on and on


7. Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez


I have almost nothing to say about this match

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I’m going to let the disgusting flesh suit do the talking for me

Gonzalez is as much a wrestler as I am.  He quite obviously has no idea what he’s doing.  This entire match is a farce.  The whole thing is punch after punch.

It ends when Gonzalez chloroforms The Undertaker.  Sure.  Why the fuck not.

The booking in this event was abysmal.  There were so few clean wins.  We now have 7 matches and 3 disqualifications, 2 suspicious endings and 1 clean pin.  Fuck you, Wrestlemania IX.

Overall: I love the Undertaker, but this was embarrassing


8. Heavyweight Championship Match: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna


Did I say embarrassing?  I forgot about this travesty of a match.  Rather than bother with a recap, I’ll just let Bret Hart tell you about it

Bret Hart on the Controversy behind Dropping the Belt to Hulk Hogan via Yokozuna at Wrestlemania 9 and Hogan’s Flat-out Refusal to Put Him over in a Match

“On April 2, 1993, [I] went to my room just in time to answer a call from Vince, who asked me to come to his suite to talk.I knocked on his door and he answered it with that goofy grin. We sat down, and Vince said, “This is what I want to do. I want you to drop the belt to Yoko tomorrow.”

This was not what I had expected. I sat there dumbstruck as he went on to explain how Fuji would screw me by throwing salt in my face, blinding me. After Yoko was handed the belt, Hogan would rush to my aid and in some kind of roundabout way Hogan would end up winning the belt from Yoko right then and there!

Like I was handing Vince my sword, I told him I appreciated everything he did for me and I’d do whatever he wanted. Vince said, “Don’t get bitter. I still have big plans for you.” Sound bites flashed through my mind of Vince assuring me that I was the long-term champion, and not to worry about Hogan, who still hadn’t even spoken to me yet.

As I stood up to leave, I asked, “Did you take the belt from me because I didn’t do a good enough job?”

“Of course not! I’m just going in a different direction. It’s still onwards and upwards for you. Nothing is going to change too much for you.”

I was totally crushed

As I lay in bed that night, the more I thought about what Vince had in mind for Hogan, the more I felt that it would completely backfire on both of them. The hokey finish would stink, maybe not immediately, but in the weeks to come my fans, who were the biggest contingent in Vince’s paying audience at that time, would gag on it. There was something different about my fans. They really believed in me as a person.

By the time I got to the dressing room the following afternoon, word that I was losing the title had leaked out to the boys. Most of them were quiet and some were angry. The Nasty Boys, Shawn, Taker and several others expressed their utter disappointment. Knowing I was losing the belt didn’t stop me from planning on having a great match. I went over everything with Yoko and designed the match so that all the best moves were left for the final minute.

Hulk arrived with his entourage: his wife, manager, Beefcake and Jimmy Hart. Clearly he’d been in the know all along, probably from the first day he came back. Now he was suddenly acting like my long-lost old pal and wearing a big smile that rightfully belonged to me.”

Overall: This match was garbage and this was a terrible event

 

 

 

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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“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

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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.

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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

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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:

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-21h00m43s175
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.

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-21h08m22s164.png
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

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-21h11m46s151
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

vlcsnap-2016-01-03-06h41m34s56
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 VI

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?

As far as bird-themed gimmicks go, I'm barely better than the Red Rooster
As far as bird-themed gimmicks go, I’m barely better than the Red Rooster

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.

For example, this is actually a gif on a 30-second loop
For example, this is a gif

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

A sweaty, disgusting, unstoppable pie monster
A sweaty, disgusting, unstoppable monster made out of pie

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

Or I just ate an entire cow before this match started
Or, he just ate an entire cow before this match started

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.

Carol Burnett and Bob Saget's younger brother agree
Carol Burnett and Bob Saget’s younger brother, inexplicably watching from ringside, agree

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?

That feels right
That feels right

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.

Bad News is wearing the boxing gloves
Bad News is wearing the boxing gloves

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

This happened
This happened

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….

Ariba!
Ariba!

.. but it turns out it was just a high cross body.  But like three minutes later….

Ariba!
Ariba!

.. 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:

BAH GAWD KING! SHE ALMOST TOUCHED HER
BAH GAWD KING! SHE ALMOST TOUCHED HER

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.

Poof.
Ariba!

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

Maybe this is where Fuji dust comes from?
Maybe this is where Fuji dust comes from?

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.

Now on must-see Thursdays
Now on must-see Thursdays

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.

Dibiase actually stops in mid-match to yell at the crowd for ignoring him
Dibiase actually stops in mid-match to yell at the crowd for ignoring him

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?

Oh and before the match starts, Dibiase beats him up for some reason
Oh and before the match starts, Dibiase beats him up for some reason

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

Sadly, I had to watch the whole thing to get the perfect screencap
Sadly, I had to watch the whole thing to get the perfect screencap

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 guy
This guy

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

Holy crap this fat blonde bastard is heavy
Holy crap this fat blonde bastard is heavy

Overall: One of the great Wrestlemania matches

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

Wrestlemania II

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


Orndorff, pictured here in a rare instance of racial insensitivity in the WWE
Orndorff, pictured here in a rare instance of racial insensitivity in the WWE

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.

Humans are supposed to look like they're about to explode, right?
Humans are supposed to look like they’re about to explode, right?

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


Pictured: George Wells
Pictured: George Wells

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:

Jakeisms

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


Fan reaction to watching this match
Fan reaction to watching this match

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?

“No, even I don’t know who the frig Herb is” – sincerely, 1986

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?

Seriously, she confused him with this guy, which is like confusing Kenneth Lay for Sim Lake. Not one single person is going to get that joke.
Seriously, she confused him with this guy, which is like confusing Kenneth Lay for Sim Lake. Not one single person is going to get that joke.

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


Welcome to Chicago!
Welcome to Chicago!

I don’t normally watch women’s matches.  This one is no exception.

Overall: ??

 


6.  Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner


Sigh. Fine
Sigh. Fine

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.

Featured: Private Wrestler and his unexpectedly massive coin sack
Featured: Private Wrestler and his unexpectedly massive coin sack

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


No, not this one
No, not this one

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


Pre-crank days
Pre-crank days

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.

I'm terrible!
On the other hand….

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

Like this one, for example
Like this one, for example

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

Honestly, just a thing of beauty. Davey Boy's back may disagree
Honestly, just a thing of beauty. Davey Boy’s back may disagree

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

Overall: 10/10


 9. Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat


Sup ladies
Sup again, ladies

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

I'm terrible!
Nope

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


Uncle Elmer looks exactly like Louis CK, just fatter
Uncle Elmer looks exactly like Louis CK, just fatter

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

I'm terrible!
Not on my watch!

 Overall: 2 / 47


 11. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog vs. Terry and Hoss Funk


The Funktabulous Funk Brothers, Funking it up, taking no Funk
The Funktabulous Funk Brothers, Funking it up, taking no 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, this was 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.

So are the days of our lives
So are the days of our lives

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. And how did Hillbilly Jim get there, wasn't he in Chicago for the Battle Royale? How did he get to LA so quickly?
How did Hillbilly Jim get there, wasn’t he in Chicago for the Battle Royal? How did he get to LA so quickly?

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…

Literally
Literally

..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.

Overall:  Finally!  Bed time!  3/122

Wrestlemania I Recap


1.  Tito Santana vs. The Executioner (Buddy Rose)


I'm sad. So very, very sad.
I’m sad. So very, very sad.

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


Mere seconds before my destruction
Mere seconds before my destruction

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.

Edgar_Jones,_Cleveland_Browns_running_back,_in_1948
Him. He became this guy

Overall: Ultimately Quantum Leap was a brilliant series, marred by a very disappointing finale.  4 / 12


3. Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne


Sup ladies
Sup ladies

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


I'm a fat piece of shit
I’m a fat piece of shit

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.

The only mystery here is why he thought

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


Thump
Thump

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.

Fun fact about Greg Valentine – this entire page of insanity

Overall: Another match bites the dust. 2 / 72

 


6. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo


Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!
Teach us, magical wrestling icons, about complicated international politics!

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


Spoilers in the above picture I guess
Spoilers in the above picture I guess

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


You wouldn't know it, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf
You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but in real life Lelani Kai is not a dwarf

I don’t normally watch women’s matches.  This one is no exception.

Overall: ??


9. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff


Obvious, fool-pitying joke here
Obvious, fool-pitying joke here

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.

Overall: Sports, Go Sports!  9/5/11