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WrestleMania V—The Forgotten WrestleMania?

For every WrestleMania, there are a few moments that should stand out. Yet it seems that WrestleMania V is one with few memorable moments. Besides the Mega Powers exploding, and to a lesser extent the dissolution of Strike Force, very little appears memorable from this particular card although it followed the template of WrestleManias that preceded and followed it.

The show ran in opposition to the NWA’s Clash Of The Champions VI, featuring Ricky Steamboat against Ric Flair, showing that the NWA/WWF rivalry was still very much alive. Also of note is that the event took place at Trump Plaza (in actuality Boardwalk Hall) with the future president sitting in the front row. So, with that in mind, let’s revisit one of the less memorable WrestleMania cards in the history of the event. 

The National Anthem

Rockin’ Robin firstly comes out to sing the national anthem ‘America The Beautiful’, and Jesse Ventura comments that “she better stick to her daytime job.” It’s an alright performance but a very weird use of the Women’s champion, who does not even wrestle on the night. She has an ongoing feud with “Sherri” Martel but is relegated to the singing—a job itself normally reserved for the likes of Aretha Franklin or Ray Charles. 

Hercules vs. King Haku (w/Bobby Heenan)

Generally not the kind of match you would expect to open the show but nonetheless, King Haku takes on “The Mighty” Hercules. The match is not, however, for the king gimmick. 

 Haku is carried to the ring on his open-top palanquin by some guards prior to the match whilst Hercules does some chain-swinging; Haku jumps Hercules. The King gets the early advantage until Hercules takes control with a series of power moves. Heenan does nothing but causes enough of a distraction for Haku to regain the advantage. 

Haku hits a backbreaker on Hercules, who is bent nearly in half over Haku's ruthless knee.

In-ring, Haku wears down Hercules, including using a savage-looking prolonged backbreaker. There’s a very, very long bearhug from the monarch onto Herc; Gorilla Monsoon on commentary chastises the hold’s application to which Jesse Ventura snaps back, “What would a Gorilla know about bearhugging?” Hercules eventually powers out but his hope spot is cut off. 

Hercules tries a fairly rudimentary comeback until Haku counters a diving move with a thrust kick. He fails to hit a diving headbutt afterwards. Haku swings for a clothesline but Hercules lifts him high up and nails a back suplex, Hercules pins but does not bridge Haku. The chain-swinging face wins, having made sure to keep his shoulder up. 

Both men are in the mat, lying face-up with Hercules grabbing Haku's legs to pin.

It was a short match but not a bad one. Knowing that they were both stars of big stature, they wisely chose what they knew they were best at: power moves. Whilst this could have easily fallen into the boring technical match category, it utilised both hosses’ abilities well enough, although it would have worked better perhaps elsewhere on the card.  

 Star Rating: ** 

Twin Towers (w/Slick) vs. The Rockers

Having stayed true to his reputation and having partied hard the night before, Shawn Michaels was hungover on the day of the event, although it barely showed in his tag effort. 

Akeem starts jiving, to which Michaels performs a moonwalk, for which he is booed. In the early going, The Rockers manage to use their quickness to get an advantage over Akeem and The Big Boss Man. The quicker duo work on Akeem’s arm until the heels get the cut-off when Jannetty is squashed by The Towers. Jannetty is worn down by both men who hit hoss moves, until Marty avoids a collision, as Akeem runs into Boss Man. 

Shawn Michaels performs a wristlock on Akeem, who is writhing in pain.

Jannetty gets the hot tag to Shawn. Despite being illegal, Marty comes in to take down Akeem with a double middle rope shoulder block. Akeem then decks Michaels with a mammoth clothesline. Big Boss Man is tagged in and attempts a big splash but “HBK” moves, avoiding impact. The Rockers again work together to outpace the big men, including a failed double diving dropkick attempt in which Michaels misses, jumping too late. Monsoon claims “one missed and one caught”, although if both had hit as planned, it would have been seriously dangerous for The Big Boss Man, who would have got booted in the head from two sides. 

Akeem floors Michaels with an epic clothesline, Shawn's hair is already messed up prior to impact.
Akeem floors Michaels with an explosive clothesline.

Shawn tries a diving senton but in one swift motion, the man from Cobb County, Georgia catches him and dumps him with a huge powerbomb. Akeem is tagged in and hits his Air Africa big splash for the win. The result was never really in doubt but it was a whole lot of fun! 

 Star Rating: ***

Ted DiBease (w/Virgil) vs. Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake

Before this event, DiBiase had briefly debuted his Million Dollar championship, although it was not on the line here. Ted also debuts his black and gold suit at this show whilst Brutus arrives in a gold jacket with a bag with the USA flag on. Virgil and DiBiase shake hands with Donald Trump at ringside. 

“The Barber” knocks Ted out of the ring in the early stages and does it again a minute later. A very Beefcake match so far: a lot of tomfoolery, little noteworthy in-ring action. Virgil grabs the leg of Brutus, helping DiBiase get the advantage. 

DiBiase hits a fist drop but Brutus kicks out. Ted waits—for ages—for Beefcake to get up as he stands on the middle rope. Beefcake is too far away, out of position, and Ted cockily taunts; it is so obvious Brutus will move, yet he actually does not, and “The Million Dollar Man” actually hits an axe handle—I am shocked. 

Beefcake stands half the ring away from DiBiase, who is perched and ready to hit a middle rope move.

Brutus has a number of hope spots but DiBiase takes over, locking in the Million Dollar Dream but the future Booty Man gets to the ropes. Beefcake rams Ted’s head into the corner and applies his sleeper hold but is stupidly distracted by Virgil. On the outside, when the referee is distracted, Virgil and Brutus fight and then Ted jumps Beefcake and the bell rings—it’s a double count-out. Beefcake gets the last laugh, making the heels flea after attacking both and getting the garden shears. 

 

Virgil jumps on the apron after Beefcake slaps on a sleeper hold on Ted DiBiase.

This match was thoroughly uninteresting, with more stalling than action. No WrestleMania match should ever have a count-out or DQ finish unless strictly necessary and certainly not a non-finish—with a BS finish being a common match ending for contests involving Beefcake. That said, it is not even the worst Beefcake match; at least he was partnered with a capable worker like DiBiase.  

 Star Rating: *  

The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/ Jimmy Hart)

In a pre-match skit, The Bushwhackers stuff their faces during a promo as Lord Alfred Hayes tries not to laugh. In the midst of their anti-USA gimmick, the Frenchman come out to All American Boys, waving flags and face those American heroes…The Bushwhackers?!?

The match starts with a triple bump as The Bushwhackers steal Jimmy Hart’s jacket and imply they will tear it. These supposed ‘good guys’ then throw The Rougeaus into “The Mouth Of The South” in the ring, with the jacket flying into the air upon impact. 

The Bushwhackers walks around the ring, doing their distinctive alternating singular arm-raise walk.

This match is so very slow and lacklustre that commentary is barely calling it. It turns to talk about foreigners, with Gorilla slating the non-American Rougeaus to which Ventura asks “Didn’t your parents come from some foreign country?”; they were Italian. The crowd are completely silent before Jesse “The Body” comments: “I am yet to see those guys [The Bushwhackers} use a wrestling hold.”  

We have to mention the spot that everyone seems to pick up on where Luke gives a good rub of Raymond’s package during a body slam, it does look rather peculiar.  

The Bushwhackers deliver a double gutbuster onto Raymond, throwing his body into their knees.
The Bushwhackers hit their double gutbuster finisher.

The Frenchman hit a routine tag move but embrace in a hug until The ‘Whackers hit a battering ram headbutt followed by a double gutbuster for the win, with Jacques breaking it up just at 3, but the result stands.

Very few seemed to care for this comedy match and, although a win for Luke and Butch makes the younger fans happy, it was the wrong choice for the winner in my eyes. This was not pretty, so much so Dave Meltzer even rated it -****. 

Star Rating: -*  

‘Mr Perfect’ Curt Henning vs. The Blue Blazer

Mr Perfect makes his way to the ring, not only as the first heel of the night without a manager but also debuting his vibrant singlets, ditching the bog-standard tights he had worn up to that point. The Blue Blazer is, of course, the legendary Owen Hart.

Perfect starts on top as he slaps the young Hart around the ring. Hart shows defiance and is working with all his might to pull off acrobatic manoeuvres, at the risk of botching some with a slightly sloppy execution—which does happen a few times. Blazer delivers a dropkick that sends Perfect tumbling over the ropes in the most Curt Hennig bump ever! The Blazer hits a basement dropkick to Perfect on the outside that looks as if it hits him right in the face. 

Perfect applies a modified camel clutch, sitting on Blazer's back as he pulls back his neck but placing his interlocked open hands over Blazer's mouth and cranking backwards.

Back in the ring, The Blazer uses his speed to suppress Perfect for a short while before going up top. He attempts a splash but gets all knees and takes a huge bump from the momentum. Perfect applies a long camel clutch but Blazer gets out, with Owen Hart constantly adjusting the mask every few seconds. Blazer hits a crucifix and thinks he wins but Perfect kicks out just at 2. Blazer is momentarily distracted, questioning the referee’s count, and is hit with a vicious forearm. A “cradle suplex” is called by Gorilla Monsoon but Jesse Ventura has to correct him that it is the Perfect-Plex. Perfect wins. 

Perfect pins Blazer after hitting his Perfect-Plex finisher.
Perfect hit what Gorilla Monsoon called a “Cradle Suplex”.

Similar to the Twin Towers/Rockers clash, there was little doubt who would walk away with the win but the ride was fun whilst it lasted. The finish was out of nowhere, and Owen’s attempted agility and mask did hamper his performance a little, but it was a good bout, albeit not a WrestleMania calibre match. Not either man’s best work, as both have brilliant work elsewhere, but it was entertaining for as short as it was at just over five minutes.  

It is a shame both are no longer with us. 

 Star Rating: **½

(For reference, this means two and a half stars, not one and a half) 

Next, we go to a pre-shot WrestleMania 5K run, with which Mr Fuji tries to prove that he’s in shape. He gets an early head start but is quickly engulfed by all the other participants, although he still finishes at 19:30, which is very fast indeed. 

After, we get the Run-DMC rap. The crowd do not sing along at all and every other word seems to be “WrestleMania”. The audience seems deeply disinterested. There were no hands in the air because nobody cared. 

Mr Perfect then calls out Bret Hart, foreshadowing their match in a few years at 1991’s SummerSlam. Even when solidly within a tag team, the WWF clearly had big singles plans for Bret.  

WWF World Tag Team Champions Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain & Mr Fuji

For the backstory on this one, we have to go way back to 1988’s Survivor Series in which a double-turn took place. Then-heel WWF World Tag Team champions Demolition were double-crossed by Mr Fuji, their manager. After causing their elimination in the Survivor Series bout, Fuji managed The Powers Of Pain to a big win. The duos had turned the fans’ opinions of them respectively, with both fighting to non-finishes up to this point.  

 Prior to the match, Demolition cut a very shouty and hectic promo—the ‘80s was a different time! 

Demolition gets the early advantage, using constant tags whilst wearing down The Warlord. The Barbarian is tagged in and gets the same treatment. Eventually, Ax’s anger with Mr Fuji leads to the cut-off as The Barbarian takes down one-half of the tag champs. Fuji gets in cheap shots and tags in, hits a move and quickly tags out—taking no offence. Like Danny Davis at WrestleMania III, it only whets the appetite of the fans for the coward to get his comeuppance. 

Mr Fuji is about to lay in a chop on Ax, leaning back and about to attack.

The offence from The Powers Of Pain is very one dimensional; a lot of kicks, shoulder tackles and clobbering shots wear down Ax. Fuji goes to the top rope but misses a diving legdrop—bet Hulk Hogan was freaking out, brother! The tag-in is temporarily delayed but soon enough, Smash is in and clears the ring. The Barbarian just breaks up a pin after a rope hotshot and snake eyes combo from Demolition. Behind the referee’s back, Warlord holds Smash in position but Smash moves and Fuji accidentally throws salt in his own partner’s eyes, obscuring his vision. A Demolition Decapitation on the manager and a three count. Demolition retains the belts.  

Mr Fuji seems stunned as he accidentally throws salt in his own partner's eyes.
Fuji throws salt in the wrong eyes by accident.

A smartly-booked finish as Demolition get a strong win whilst The Powers Of Pain do not look weak in defeat, a non-active wrestler taking the loss for them instead. A feel-good win for the fans as Fuji gets his dues. The match was nothing to write home about, however, perhaps not fulfilling its months of build. 

Star Rating: *½ 

We get an attempted Tony Schiavone interview with Randy Savage, who is causing a backstage scene. Savage gets heated and freaks out when the camera gets in his face, pushing it away.  

Dino Bravo (w/Frenchy Martin) vs. ‘Rugged’ Ronnie Garvin

Bravo and Martin walk to the ring next to agent Rene Goulet, who is standing about halfway down the ramp in the Frenchest display you’ll ever see (although only French-Canadian). Ronnie Garvin gets no entrance—I only wonder who the WWF is trying to push here(!). Garvin is probably more annoyed that whilst he does not get an entrance in his own match, Jimmy Snuka does; “Superfly” comes out, taunts in the ring, walks right back up the ramp. He does an Abe Simpsons in The Simpsons—effectively walking in, placing his hat on the stand, walking in a circle, and exiting again in one swift motion. 

Abe Simpson grabs his hat to walk out of a building after having just put it down and entered.
Snuka’s entrance was reminiscent of a famous Abe Simpsons scene.

From the outset, Bravo gets the advantage after he jumps Garvin. Garvin struggles mightily to get out of the starting blocks, dominated by the speed and power of Dino. Garvin hits several strikes, manages to escape an attempted powerbomb, and attempts a number of pinfalls. Everything feels so fast in this match, with no time for settle or reaction and both guys doing all they can, cramming it into such a short period. 

Dino Bravo lifts Garvin about a foot above him and applies a powerful bearhug hold, wrapping his arms tightly around Ronnie.

“Hands Of Stone” tries a piledriver but it is blocked. Garvin works him over in the corner, hitting Dino from above with a series of punches whilst standing on the middle rope. Dino reverses with a reverse atomic drop that looks like it does not fully connect, followed by a sidewinder suplex. It ends in just over three minutes, from NWA World Heavyweight champion in late 1987 to just a year and a half later where he loses in an easily forgotten undercard ‘Mania match to Dino Bravo.  

To gain back some of the heat, Garvin beats up Frenchy Martin—absolutely smashing the monocle-wearing manager with a killer blow followed by a whole-body Garvin Stomp. Trump looks like he enjoys it very much, so good for him, I guess. 

Garvin viciously stamps on Martin's head, his boot connecting with his face in a camera close-up.
Garvin viciously stomped Frenchy post-match.

The match was so unbelievably short, but both tried to get something out of it, doing all they could to fill the match with as much as possible. For such a minuscule match, it told as well of a story as they realistically could have hoped to have done. 

Star Rating: * 

The Brain Busters (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Strike Force

A match featuring four of the top workers of not only their generation but of all time; the talents in this match are reflected by this match being the best of the night. Canadian Martel reportedly had visa issues, unable to enter the US for a while, which would have put the following events in jeopardy. 

After Strike Force arrive to their iconic Girls In Cars theme, the match seems to start technical but at the outset, “The Enforcer”—then the illegal man—delivers a knee to Santana’s back when bouncing off the rope. Initially, Martel fights off both men at a tremendous pace until he and Tito attempt dropkicks, but The Busters evade and flee the ring. 

Martel gets the early advantage, even locking in the Boston Crab on Arn before interference by Tully Blanchard breaks the hold. Soon enough, both members have locked the ex-Horsemen in Figure-Four Leglocks, although they escape. Santana counters a bridging pin, using his upper body strength to push up and reverse into a backslide, an always-impressive feat of strength that leaves the crowd in awe. 

Tito tags in Martel, but Blanchard avoids a flying forearm, meaning Santana accidentally smacks his tag partner. As Martel enters a lengthy recovery, Tito is in the role that fits him best and represents his whole career: the valiant and defiant underdog fighting against the odds. Tito attempts a sunset flip, to which Arn does some classic bombastic selling to stay on his feet. Fighting alone, the future “El Matador” has some hope spots, hitting a slingshot crossbody on Tully and preventing a diving move from Arn. Santana reaches for a tag but Martel walks off down the ramp as Monsoon yells “It was just an accident!” 

Tito reaches out, on all fours to tag in Martel who is still selling the injury and refuses to tag in.
Martel left his partner “high and dry”.

In the ring, Santana is hit with one of Arn’s beautiful spine busters. Tito continues fighting but inevitably falls to the numbers game and is hit with a sick-looking Spike Piledriver. A pin, a three count. 

Arn lifts Tito up for a piledriver, legs in the air as Tully is about to jump off the second rope.

This match was very entertaining, showing the tag psychology of The Brain Busters on top of the resilience and determination of Tito Santana. Yet the best part was the through-line between Santana and Martel, a perfectly-booked heel turn that would soon create the memorable character “The Model”.

In a short post-match promo, Martel says he carried Santana. Ventura even hints that Martel may have never wanted a tag partner but Santana needed one. The betrayal starts a multi-year feud in which there was no real significant singles bout, with a 6-man tag at SummerSlam 1989, a single house show match for the finals of the 1989 King Of The Ring, and a cancelled SummerSlam 1990 match (in which Tito instead faced The Warlord). 

Star Rating: ***1/2 

Moving on, we get a memorable in-ring segment as “Mean” Gene introduces Piper’s Pit. He announces that the host has his own talk show and is “Rowdy”: no, not him—it’s Brother Love! Love does a very impressive impersonation of Roddy Piper whilst dressed in a kilt. 

Out comes Morton Downey Jr., the host of his own trash TV talk show. The rebellious show host dishes up some insults to Love until Piper arrives. Piper goes on a long rant towards Brother Love, ripping off his kilt and sending him running backstage in just his tiny red briefs. 

There is a long exchange of roasts between Piper and Downey, including insults towards Downey’s girlfriend, Downey implying Piper is a “transvestite”, and Robert talking about the health benefits of smoking (he would die of lung cancer in 2001).

Ultimately not a lot of this segment has aged well. A recurring feature is that Downey Jr. keeps blowing smoke in “Hotrod”’s face until Piper knocks him down with a blast of a fire extinguisher. By Bruce Prichard’s admission, it went on for far longer than planned but good on Robert Downey for getting some rare comeuppance. 

Piper fires a fire extinguisher into the unsuspecting face of Morton Downey Jr.
Piper blows a different smoke into Downey’s face.

Sean Mooney interviews Donald Trump. Hulk Hogan’s No Holds Barred movie is announced, enraging Hollywood star Jesse Ventura who calls out Hogan for trying to enter “The Body”’s yard, proclaiming Hogan could be his “limo driver”. Ventura gets really hot over this, turning red in the face before walking off. 

We also get a video package for the main event as “The Mega Powers explode!” From tag team to heel turn, we get the buildup to the match of the year in a match built for well over a year.  

Hogan cuts a promo that is as crazy as ever. He insists the loser of the 2020 US general election should get some seismologists so that fans do not fall into the abyss made by the match’s unruly beefiness. 

Jake Roberts vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan)

This feud started over André’s fear of snakes, as he even eliminated himself from the Royal Rumble to escape Jake’s serpent. The special guest referee is Big John Studd, who has had issues with “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” going back years, which reignited when Studd returned in 1988. So in 1989, the Royal Rumble winner was not gifted a world title match but rather a guest referee spot. 

In the match, things look immediately dire for Jake as he is smashed into a pre-exposed turnbuckle pad. Obviously, by this point, André is very immobile, often holding onto the ropes or standing near the corner. Jake fights back, tying up the Frenchman (yes, there are a lot of those on this show) in the ropes—a spot that he seems to get himself into in every match he’s fought. 

Jake Roberts chokes Andre, who is tied up in the ropes as Big John Studd looks on.

Studd shows surprising fairness as he chastises Roberts for choking Andre and disallows snake Damien to get involved. The pace is slowed even more so as the seven-footer dominates until “The Snake” whacks his opposition into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Andre chops Roberts, which propels him out of the ring; he tries to get in a few times but is thwarted. Jake grabs the snake and tries to enter the ring but Studd stands in the way. André attacks Studd and the blonde big man shoves The Giant, who nearly falls ‘arse over teakettle’ over the top rope. 

Whilst this chaos is going on, Ted DiBiase jumps Roberts and tries to steal Damien, for some reason. A split-screen shows the mayhem unfold as Roberts regains Damien while Studd is being choked out by André. Jake re-emerges with Damien, forcing the Frenchman to evacuate and Studd disqualifies the former Monster Roussimoff. Roberts wins by DQ. 

During the two brawls, a split screen shows the action in and out of the ring. On the left, Roberts decks DiBiase with a punch; on the left, Andre is choking out Studd from behind.
A split-screen showed the chaos taking place both in and outside of the ring.

In the end stages, there is a whole lot of shenanigans and it still ends in a DQ. Yet this mayhem does fit into the storyline, progressing various feuds. The bout itself was very limited of course, with a talented worker like Jake trying to get something out of his unsteady opposition. It only adds to the bland WrestleMania repertoire of Roberts.  

Star Rating: ½ 

Schiavone is back and interviews Sherri Martel, who calls out Rockin’ Robin’s singing ability. She turns to an influencing factor in the main event: Miss Elizabeth. Sherri feels Elizabeth’s intentions as to if she is in her husband Savage or Hogan’s corner are in doubt. “Sensational” Sherri laughs at The Mega Powers of Hulk and Savage disbanding; Sherri is not yet aligned with the “Macho Man” but she soon would be.  

The Hart Foundation vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine & The Honkey Tonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart)

In the fifth and final tag match of the night, we also get the final Canadians—kayfabe or legitimate—on the card in this match. Honky and Greg are still pre-Rhythm & Blues as “The Hammer” still has his beautiful golden locks. 

The Harts start off on top, with Bret slingshotting Neidhart into the ring before “The Anvil” laughs in his maniacal way. “The Hitman” is cut off after missing a middle rope diving elbow—a move that has perhaps never been hit ever in the history of wrestling! The longest-reigning Intercontinental champion and Valentine work over Bret, whose selling ability makes him great for such offence against him.  

Honky Tonk holds his backside with his mouth wide open, selling the effects of an atomic drop form Bret Hart.
Honky sells an atomic drop with dramatic effect.

Honky hits the Shake, Rattle and Roll neck breaker but does not pin, instead tagging in Greg to lock in the Figure-Four. Yet this does not go to plan as Hart counters. Bret fails to get the tag despite some hope spots on Honky until finally Neidhart is allowed in and has a short comeback. 

Bret is tagged back in. Behind the referee’s back, Honky tries to grab manager Jimmy Hart’s megaphone but Jim grabs it and throws it to Hart. “The Excellence Of Execution” dinks Honky in the shoulder but HTM sells it as if it was his head, lying as if out cold. Greg interrupts with a shot but Bret pins anyway, not breaking up the pin. 

Bret hits Honky with the megaphone in the shoulder whilst Greg has the referee distracted in the background.

That was short. Fairly inconsequential, it felt very shoehorned and unnecessary on the card, just yet another tag match. There’s not a whole lot to say about this match; it was short and fine enough for what it was, but it wasn’t really a WrestleMania match. 

Star Rating: *1/2  

WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior vs. ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan)

Behind The Mega Powers rivalry, the IC title feud between defending champion The Ultimate Warrior and “Ravishing” Rick Rude was the hottest. It started at the Royal Rumble, when—after a posedown contest—Rude bludgeoned Warrior with a steel bar in the back of the head. 

The entrances themselves are something to behold. Rude unveils his robe to expose the IC title design printed on his tights. Warriors runs in with energy for days. Rude tried to deliver a knee to the ribs but, as Warrior was still wearing the title belt, all he did was injure his knee. 

From the off, it is immediately evident that Rude is doing about 90% of the work in this match, bouncing off Warrior like a pinball and making him look strong. After a series of impactful moves, Warrior goes about wearing down Rude, locking in a bearhug. After about a minute, the future Dangerous Alliance member breaks out of the hold after an eye poke, following up with a flawless diving dropkick, although Warrior kicks out before one. 

Warrior lifts up Rude in a scoop slam position in the ring.

The hapless wrestler applies another bearhug and the referee stops an eye poke, so Rude instead bites Warrior’s forehead. Warrior attempts a splash but Rude gets the knees up, with UW crashing ribs-first. In a brilliant bit, shortly after hitting a piledriver, Rick tries his swivel hips pose but sells his back, with it hurting too much to taunt. Genius. Rude hits a step clothesline followed by a stiff leg sweep, before applying a submission hold to the arms and back until Warrior gets to the ropes and pushes off with The Ultimate Warrior’s ultimate posterior. Warrior botches a backbreaker, trying to lift but dropping Rick near the outside of the ring—God, he just does not have a clue. Rude tries the Rude Awakening but his stronger opponent uses his muscle to overpower and escape. 

The end is a classic moment. Warrior attempts to pull in Rude from the outside with a suplex but Heenan grabs his foot so Rick drops on top of the champion, with Warrior held down by Heenan’s leverage. Rude gets the three, although the Warrior’s fall likely left him accidentally worse for wear as he drops right on his head. Nonetheless, a new champion. Afterwards, Warrior attacks Heenan, dropping him roughly and legitimately reaggravating the manager’s neck issues. 

Heenan holds the leg whilst dipping under the apron so the referee cannot see his cheating. Warrior is flat on his back as Warrior lays on top, pinning.
Rude scores the upset thanks to Bobby Heenan!

The match was fine enough by Warrior standards. He was never a great wrestler but could keep the crowd on the boil enough. That said, it was the right call to drop the belt here. Warrior did have a few noticeable mistakes and the rating for the match is dependent on Rude’s performance. 

Star Rating: ** 

Bad News Brown vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan

As soon as “Hacksaw” gets in the ring, he is jumped by Brown. After being knocked out of the ring, BNB seems to walk away from the match until brought back in by Jim. Brown hits a stiff headbutt and Duggan walks dazed, walking backwards across the ring and swinging for the hills with punches, even when Brown is not near. Things are brought outside where Jim is whipped straight into the ring post.  

Jim Duggan sets up Brown for a clothesline in the background as BNB gets to his feet, a little dazed.
Duggan charges up for the Three-Point Stance.

Brown attempts a Ghetto Blaster but Duggan avoids and hits his Three-Point Stance clothesline. Despite this, Bad News gets straight up on the outside to grab a chair. Jim grabs his 2×4. Both strike and effectively cancel each other out. The bell rings—it’s a disqualification. The two brawl continually until the first Royal Rumble winner gets the upper hand and knocks Brown down, getting the final laugh. Duggan also has a big accumulation of snot on his beard for the close-up, which Ventura calls “horrible”—it is the most noteworthy part of the match. 

Duggan's 2x4 hits Brown's chair, colliding at the same time.
The men clash weapons, resulting in a double DQ.

Sub-four-minutes, this match can be summed up in a word: pointless. This match feels, and probably was, just on the card to get both men a payday. Why did the bell ring when neither man had been hit by a weapon? These double DQs always have such contrived endings. Both men are protected but what is gained or lost? Nothing. This space would have been better spent adding minutes onto a different match on the card. The match itself too was full of nothingness, in my opinion. An all-around failure, neither man was keen to lose and rarely did on TV or PPV, and if one match personifies the negatives of 1980s wrestling, this would be a good candidate. 

Star Rating: -** 

The Red Rooster vs. Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan (w/ The Brooklyn Brawler)

One of the best workers at the time, Terry Taylor was hired by the WWF and repackaged under the tutelage of Bobby Heenan as The Red Rooster. A crowing, jiving fowl—apparently thought up after meeting with Vince McMahon, who saw Taylor as cocky and arrogant like a rooster. Yet this relationship soon became clucked up by Bobby Heenan after he caused a Terry Taylor loss at Saturday Night’s Main Event XIX (where he lost to Tito Santana). Heenan had brought out long-time journeyman Steve Lombardi as aid, now known as The Brooklyn Brawler. At the next SNME, Rooster beat The Yankee in the final match, ending that short programme after a match just over a minute. 

With that, Taylor only had one new opponent: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan himself. A rooster faces a weasel in the semi-main event, near the top of the pecking order of the card. 

Taylor cuts a backstage pre-match promo, notable as it lasts longer than the match itself. 

Red Rooster in a spangly red and white entrance jacket stares at Heenan in the ring, who cowers in the corner.

Heenan did use to be a wrestler but was not presented as such here. Rooster dominated, Heenan went shoulder-first into the post and was pinned. In 31 seconds, Rooster wins. Brawler attacks after the match, whoop-de-doo. 

Brawler attacks The Rec Rooster, lifting up his legs, opening up a target on the mid-section on Rooster to be attacked.
The Brawler ambushed after the bell.

There are many problems here. Firstly, Rooster only won because Heenan ran into the ring post, with the actual wrestler only beating the non-wrestler via fluke rather than by any actual move by Rooster, which makes him look like a weak coward in kayfabe. Secondly, 31 seconds? Those months of build were well spent(!)  

Star Rating: -***1/2 

WWF World Heavyweight Champion ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (Miss Elizabeth to Watch From a Neutral Corner)

Elizabeth has a pre-match promo, announcing that she will still be in either corner and hopes neither will get hurt. 

A quick summary of The Mega Powers feud goes as follows: Hogan saves Savage from a multi-man beatdown; the duo form an alliance; Hogan helps Savage to the WWF title, main event and win the SummerSlam main event; Hogan accidentally eliminates “Macho Man” from the Royal Rumble; Hogan injures and shows too much affection for Elizabeth; a perceived ‘overjealous’ Savage attacks Hogan and ends the relationship. 

Savage arrives in spangly and bombastic attire, with glittered sequins and the word “Madness” across it. The delicate Elizabeth is led to the ring by about 10 guards with Trump Plaza shirts on. Pat Patterson leads her down and I was pleasantly surprised there were no “she’ll be safe with Patterson” wink wink, nudge nudge jokes. Hulk’s entrance is no different to normal but it looks impressive on that ramp. It really does feel like the match of the century.  

Hulk Hogan points at Savage, himself decked out in his regal attire, whilst the referee tries to interfere trying to prevent an early brawl.

Things are stalled at the start as the paranoid Savage enters and exits and confronts Elizabeth. He even shoves her in the way to avoid a Hogan strike. Hogan starts with some surprisingly good chain wrestling, the likes of which we would only mostly see in his Japan era, and regains control until Savage hits a diving Bombs Away axe handle. Savage locks in a hold until Hogan himself uses a little cheating, grabbing the tights to throw Savage out of the ring. Hogan is bleeding, which Savage narrows in on for a while, but a slap re-energises Hogan, who body slams Savage out of the ring—Randy takes a safe legs-first bump but it still looks great.  

Elizabeth aids Hogan on the outside so Savage tries to move her away, causing a conflict.
An infuriated Savage moves Elizabeth away from Hogan, who she is helping.

On the ring exterior, Hogan tries to throw “Mach” into the post but Elizabeth intervenes. Savage gets control and chases her up the ramp. Ventura claims “a punch in the nose might not be so bad for her”—I would like to hear someone like Michael Cole or Excalibur say that today. Randy hits a diving Bombs Away on the outside over the barricade and focuses on attacking Hogan’s throat. Savage uses some wrist tape to strangle Hulk, which is a great bit of heat, and Jesse shouts “That’s a Jesse “The Body” move right there!”

Savage delivers his diving elbow. Hogan kicks out at one and Hulks up. Puffing and blowing, Hogan is sprung back into life. It’s all very formulaic: punches, big boot, Atomic Legdrop, bell rings.  

Hogan "Hulks up" by puffing and blowing with intensity to the fans.
Hogan huffs and puffs whilst “Hulking up”.

The finish was very basic, tedious, and basically the same as every other Hogan match ending: nothing special. In fact, it made the champion look a little weak. In all, the match had a clear story, with it performed well by both parties. Hogan, for what it is worth, did pull his weight, ending aside, to create, from an in-ring point of view, what was likely his best WrestleMania match up to this point in time. 

Star Rating: ***1/2 

Hogan wins the belt but seems to not know how to put it on, wearing it backwards then adjusting it. Hogan poses down for many minutes, as is ‘Mania custom. It is, admittedly, the right way for the event to go off the air. 

Hulk Hogan does his iconic pose with one hand flexing and the other pointing towards the sky with the WWF title around his waist.
Hogan poses with the title belt to end the show.

Epilogue

To conclude, this WrestleMania is firmly in the lower-level events. Whilst not at the levels of ‘Manias II, IX, or XI, it is likely in the lower ranking of all the WrestleManias overall. 

We’ve already established how insignificant the show is, with a large majority of impromptu or thrown together matches evident. Everyone is booked on the card, making for five tag matches and a grand 14-match card, which is far too many. This meant many of the matches were rushed, with only two over 10 minutes, one of which—DiBiase/Beefcake—was just 10:01.  

The show has very little reason for you to go out of your way to watch, with many short and thus forgettable matches including Bravo/Garvin, Duggan/Brown, and Hart Foundation/Honky & Greg. In addition, there were three matches with inconclusive results when the preferred number should be zero or maybe one in an extreme exception.  

There is nothing definitely worth going out of your way to see, except maybe Martel’s break-up which can be seen without witnessing the whole match, and perhaps the main event—both of which were good and the best on the card. An outsider pick of a good viewing is The Rockers/Twin Towers encounter.

If this card was to be rated, it would probably be around a D. It is better than the other card I have reviewed thus far—Starrcade 1994—with the majority of participants on both cards: Arn Anderson, Beefcake, and Hogan having better matches here, although that is not saying a whole lot. 

 PROS: 

– Martel break-up angle 
– The main event build and match 
– Twin Towers vs The Rockers 
– Rick Rude’s performance 
– The majority of Piper/Downey Jr. promo 
– Jesse Ventura’s commentary 
 CONS:
– Too many non-finishes 
– Red Rooster vs Bobby Heenan 
– Bad News Brown vs Jim Duggan 
– Jake Roberts vs André The Giant 
– Run-DMC rap 
– Bushwhackers vs The Fabulous Rougeaus 
– Too many short matches 
– No women’s matches 
– The Ultimate Warrior’s performance 

Written by Griffin Kaye

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