March 27, 1988
From the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ
Your hosts are Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon
Gene Okerlund is in the ring and welcomes Gladys Knight, who sings “America the Beautiful.”
The Battle Royal trpohy is being carried down to the ring as the announcers run down the card. Bob Uecker surprises them in the booth as he is all smiles while joking around.
20 Man Battle Royal: Hart Foundation, Young Stallions, Sika, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, Killer Bees, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Rougeau Brothers, Ken Patera, “The Outlaw” Ron Bass, Junkyard Dog, Bolsheviks, Hillbilly Jim, King Harley Race, and George “The Animal” Steele
Steele does his routine of standing on the floor as his name is being announced. The bell rings as everyone starts going after each other. Uecker makes a joke about this looking like the final cut down day of Spring Training. Sam Houston is the first one eliminated, courtesy of Danny Davis. Sika gets tossed by JYD shortly after that as Steele remains outside of the ring. The fans cheer as Davis almost gets tossed by Blair. Not much going on until Steele pulls the ropes on Neidhart as he is eliminated. Jacques assists Bad News Brown in eliminating Blair. Raymond gets eliminated by Brunzell, who then gets dumped by Jacques. Steele refuses to leave and almost goes after Bass, who was eliminated by JYD. Zhukov dumps Hillbilly Jim then Roma drops Davis to the floor. Bad News eliminates powers as the referees have finally got Steele to go away. JYD and Race have a brief staredown as they faced off against each other last year at WrestleMania. Patera dumps the Bolsheviks individually but Volkoff pulls him down, allowing Bad News to toss him out. Race eliminates Jacques via backdrop then JYD sends Race to the floor with a clothesline as we are down to the final four: JYD, Bret Hart, Bad News Brown, and Paul Roma, who is promptly backdropped over the top rope by Bad News. JYD hits a double clothesline then uses his crawling headbutts as the crowd cheers that a bit. Bad News and Bret start to team up and take care of JYD as Bad News tells him his plan. They surround JYD and eventually eliminate him then they slap hands a taunt the crowd. However, Bad News double crosses him with an enziguiri from behind. Bad News stomps away then rams Bret into the corner before tossing him over, winning the Battle Royal (9:48) 1/2*. Bad News celebrates as he is presented the trophy but Bret sneaks in from behind and dropkicks him to the floor. Bret then proceeds to smash the trophy as the Bad News yells at him from the outside. Uecker then tells us he is leaving the booth as he’s off to find Vanna White.
Thoughts: This was bad even by battle royal standards. The only time it was interesting was towards the end, with Bad News turning on Bret. Another thing of note, was how Jacques Rougeau assisted Bad News Brown in eliminating Brian Blair. A face helping a heel was quite rare at this time, no matter what the situation. This was also Sika’s last match with the company. It was also Race’s last match of note for several months as he needed surgery as the result of his “Saturday Night’s Main Event” match against Hulk Hogan.
Robin Leach, host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” reads the proclamation that read how the WWF World Heavyweight Championship will be decided tonight in a 14-man tournament. Seeemed unnecessary to me but they really wanted to showcase all of the celebrities on the show.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase w/ Andre the Giant & Virgil
Gorilla is shocked that Andre is out here with DiBiase. Match starts with DiBiase ducking underneath the ropes before they fight over a lockup. Duggan blocks a punch then lands a few of his own. Duggan hits an atomic drop that sends DiBiase over the top rope as even the crowd seems tired of chanting along with Duggan. DiBiase enters a fights back with chops. Duggan comes back with a clothesline then mounted punches in the corner. Duggan eats boot on a charge as DiBiase is now in control. He hits an elbow smash from the middle rope for a nearfall. Duggan comes back with a sunset flip for two but runs into a knee after that. They fight over a suplex as Duggan wins that battle. DiBiase gets up first and comes off of the top but Duggan catches him in the midsection. Duggan hits a cltothesline and a slam then sets up for the Three Point Stance. However, Andre trips him up and Duggan yells at him, allowing DiBiase to hit a knee smash from behind. DiBiase then hits a fist drop and that gets the win (5:02) *1/2.
Thoughts: The match was fine for what it was, even if the finish was a bit lame. Protecting Duggan by having Andre trip him was a good idea but losing to a fist drop is really weak. I did like how they established DiBiase as a threat, especially with Andre & Virgil standing ringside. This did lead to an Andre/Duggan feud.
Okerlund is with Brutus Beefcake, who is playing with his hedge clippers. Beefcake tells us that he will beat The Honky Tonk Man and if Jimmy Hart gets in the way, he will get a haircut.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: Dino Bravo w/ Frenchy Martin vs. “The Rock” Don Muraco w/ Superstar Billy Graham
Match starts with Bravo beating on Muraco, who quickly turns the tables. Muraco botches a Vader Bomb as he landed well short but covers and gets two. Bravo runs into a backdrop but dodges an armdrag. Bravo hits a pair of elbow drops followed by a gutwrench suplex. Bravo misses a running knee smash in the corner as Muraco starts going to work on the leg. Muraco uses a spinning toe hold as Graham backs Frenchy away. Bravo kicks Muraco away as Muraco ends up getting choked in the ropes. Bravo hits a piledriver then taunts the crowd before covering and only gets two. Muarco blocks a second piledriver attempt then both men clothesline each other. They get up as Muraco wins a slugfest. He hits a flying forearm and a slam but accidentally hits the referee with a second forearm attempt. Muraco checks on the ref as Bravo hits him from behind then uses a side slam. He covers as the ref taps his shoulders three times and awards the match to Muraco (4:54) 3/4*. On the replay, we clearly see that Bravo pushed the referee in front of him to take the forearm as Muraco moves on to face DiBiase in Round Two.
Thoughts: This was not too good at all. Both guys seemed gassed towards the end and lumbered through the entire match. Muraco was drenched with sweat not even halfway through the match himself. Anyway, Bravo being eliminated was a good thing so it could have been worse.
Bob Uecker is backstage and tells us he found Vanna White. Jimmy Hart and the Honky Tonk Man come in and make fun of Uecker, who reminds them they are going to get haircuts tonight courtesy of Brutus Beefcake.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Steamboat comes down to the ring holding his son (former WWE Developmental talent Ritchie Steamboat) as they have matching gear. He passes him off to his mother. Steamboat catches Valentine with an armdrag after an Irish whip sequence. Steamboat works the arm before chopping Valentine down. Steamboat skins-the-cat and dropkicks Valentine from behind but was unable to catch him with a rollup so he covers him instead for a nearfall. That looked terrible. Valentine comes back with some forearm smashes as he takes control of the match. Steamboat floats over on a back suplex attempt and takes control of the match. He works an armbar until Valentine breaks that up with an inverted atomic drop. Valentine methodically goes after the neck and throat of Steamboat. Valentines lands a few shots as we see Donald Trump sitting in the crowd. Steamboat comes back with a chop for a nearfall but fails on a slam attempt as Valentine falls on top for two. Valentine hits a gutbuster then teases a figure four but Steamboat fights him off. They trade strikes until Valentine flops down. Valentine uses a thumb to the eye and hits a shoulderbreaker for two. Valentine then hits a flying chop and almost has the figure four applied but Steamboat fights him off. Steamboat slams Valentine’s head off of the mat a few times before delivering a back elbow smash. Steamboat heads up top and hits a flying chop for two then hits ten turnbuckle smashes in the corner. Steamboat gets pissed and tosses the referee down by his head when he stepped in between them as that is apparently not a DQ but what Dino Bravo did earlier cost him the match. Steamboat heads up top for the flying body press but Valentine rolls through and gets the win (9:11) **. After the match, Steamboat waves to the fans before leaving.
Thoughts: This was was far too sloppy considering the talent. You can say at least they weren’t stalling the whole time but neither guy was on the same page and Valentine did not seem able to keep up with Steamboat during his faster-paced sequences. This was Steamboat’s last match with the WWF three years later. According to Steamboat, he was originally supposed to beat Valentine then face Savage in the second round. However, the day of the show Chief Jay Strongbow, a road agent at the time, informed Steamboat he would be losing in the first round. After that, Steamboat’s wife informed him he did not have any of his merchandise available for sale at the concession stands. Steamboat then felt Vince was making an example out of him when he asked for time off following the birth of his son and decided it was time to leave.
Okerlund is with Koko B. Ware and the British Bulldogs, who are holding Matilda. Davey tells us that Matilda is a certified “weasel dog” while Koko tells the dog to eat Bobby Heenan for lunch. About as lame as it reads.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: “The Natural” Butch Reed w/ Slick vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth
Reed overpowers Savage to start. Savage blocks a turnbuckle smash and lands a knee smash. Reed hits a suplex after a struggle before dropping an elbow for two. Savage is tossed outside as Reed slaps hands with his manager. Reed stomps Savage before connecting with a back elbow smash. Reed hits a fist drop off of the top rope but Savage comes back after Reed ducked his head. However, Reed comes back with a clothesline then yells at Elizabeth before climbing up top but that allows Savage to get up and slam him off. Savage then climbs up top and drops the elbow for the win (4:09) *1/2. Jesse accuses Elizabeth of distracting Reed, leading to Savage winning.
Thoughts: Short but the action was fine. Savage’s win did seem a bit out of nowhere though. This was Butch Reed’s last match with the WWF. According to Reed himself, he asked for some time off and if he could change his appearance, specifically the dyed hair as he felt the chemicals were causing hair loss, but Vince said no then Reed gave his notice.
Uecker is backstage, flipping through the official WrestleMania program while talking about how he has been writing Vanna White letters as Bobby Heenan and the Islanders enter. Uecker reminds Heenan that Matilda is back tonight as Heenan tells us he is not going to let some dog ruin his plans. The show-long Uecker gag isnt all that funny to be honest. Its not his fault though. Uecker was a lot funnier in the booth.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: One Man Gang w/ Slick vs. Bam Bam Bigelow w/ Oliver Humperdink
Gang attacks Bigelow before the bell. He misses a charge as Bigelow knocks him down. He can barely do a cartwheel then gets two with a splash. Bigelow hits a crossbody for a nearfall then hammers away. He hits a falling headbutt and bounces off of the ropes but Slick pulls down the ropes as Bigelow crashes to the floor. Gang lands a few punches as Bigelow is on the apron. Bigelow finally enters then the referee signals for the bell as we learn that Bigelow had been counted out (2:25) DUD.
Thoughts: This match was awful and the finish really came off terrible as well. The main reason why the match was a mess due to the fact Bigelow was suffering from a knee injury and could barely walk. Bigelow also said that Vince would not let him take time off to recover and that led to him eventually leaving the company in July. He also said he was glad to lose this match due to the pain he suffered from.
Okerlund is with Hulk Hogan, who tells Andre the Giant that he has been scared for a whole year and that his time has come because all of the controversy will be wiped away today as he proves to the world he can beat him. Hogan then tells us he will break off the “fault line” from New York down to Tampa, FL then it gets more insane as he talks about Donald Trump hanging off of the Trump Plaza, holding his family, and letting go of his materialistic possessions in order to “dog paddle” them all to safety and if he struggles to just jump on his back as the Hulkster will dog paddle all of us to safety. Hogan then backstrokes his way out of the interview. One of the most insane promos I have ever heard in my life.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round Match: “Ravishing” Rick Rude w/ Bobby Heenan vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Rude shoves Roberts into the corner then flexes. He tries it again but Roberts sidesteps him as Rude falls flat on his face. Rude comes back with a pair of scoop slams but Roberts returns the favor. Rude retreats to the corner then becomes frightened when Damien moves in his bag. Roberts works the arm as he works a wristlock for a while. Rude backs Roberts into the corner then places him on top and hammers away. Rude charges and runs into a knee as Roberts signals for the DDT. Rude is able to escape and takes a breather outside. Back inside, Roberts goes back to working the arm. He catches Rude with a slam after a criss-cross but whiffs on a knee lift as Rude is in control. Rude gyrates after hitting a clothesline then works a chinlock. Roberts breaks out but walks into a flying chop as Heenan yells at Rude for wasting time by gyrating. Rude gets two with a clothesline then goes back to the chinlock. Rude pancakes Roberts then heads up top and connects with a fist drop as that gets two. Again, Rude goes back to the chinlock and maintains the hold even when Roberts hit a back suplex. Rude puts the boots to Roberts as we hear “boring” chants from the fans as Rude went back to the chinlock. Roberts tries to fight out as the crowd rallies behind him and he escapes with a jawbreaker. Roberts is firing away then connects with a backdrop. Roberts hits the short-armed clothesline as the crowd wants to see the DDT. Roberts sets up for the move but Rude shoves him into the corner. Rude charges and gets kneed as Roberts hits a gutbuster for a nearfall. Rude comes back with a back suplex as both men are down as the announcers talk about how the 15 minute time-limit is almost up. Both men clothesline each other then Rude rolls up Roberts with his feet on the ropes for leverage but the referee signals for the bell as the time-limit has been reached and both men are eliminated as the One Man Gang now has a second round bye (15:15) *.
Thoughts: This was a major disappointment and a dreadfully boring match. It played out like a house show match with two guys who have been on the road for two months straight and just wanted to kill time before going home. The last two minutes were filled with action but the rest was a Rick Rude resthold exhibition. And, to my knowledge, this was the first ever WrestleMania match to receive a “boring” chant. Hell, even the announcers were behind the ball here, barely stressing the 15 minute time-limit draw until less than two minutes to go. And so was the timekeeper, as this went on fifteen more seconds than needed. Rude also debuted his tights that featured women’s lips and eyes on the back. This was a terrible way to cap off a bad first-round of the tournament.
Okerlund is with Vanna White as they go over the second round of the tournament.
Hercules w/ Bobby Heenan vs. Ultimate Warrior
These to start by flexing then shoving each other. Hercules cheap shots Warrior as the ref stepped in between but Warrior shoves the ref aside and chops away. Hercules needs three clotheslines to take Warrior down then tries it again but Warrior hits one of his own. Warrior drops Hercules on the top rope and hits a chop. Hercules dumps Warrior to the floor but gets pulled out as they brawl outside of the ring. They re-enter the ring where Warrior bounces off of the ropes a few times then stands there as Hercules lands some punches. Warrior comes back with a forearm to the back of the neck then lands mounted punches in the corner but Hercules breaks that up with an inverted atomic drop. Warrior misses a charge in the corner then Hercules applies a full nelson. Warrior tries to break the hold by putting his feet on the ropes then Hercules turns that into a bridging suplex but Warrior gets his shoulder up just before the three count and gets the win (4:36) -*. After the match, Hercules attacks the Warrior then chokes him out with his chain. Warrior breaks free then clears the ring as he recklessly swings the chain around.
Thoughts: Good lord. Warrior was absolutely clueless out here. He honestly looked like a guy who had no business wrestling a match on TV, nevermind a PPV. Anyway, the fans at least somewhat cared about Warrior here but overall, the match was a disaster.
Gene Okerlund and model Linda Hart are sporting all of the WrestleMania IV official merchandise as we get the address where we can write-in to purchase the items. How times have changed.
Sugar Ray Leonard is sitting in the crowd with what appears to be his kids.
We get a video package chronicling the entire Hogan/Andre feud, including the events that lead to the WWF World Heavyweight Title becoming vacant.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament Second Round Match: Andre the Giant w/ Ted DiBiase & Virgil vs. Hulk Hogan
Andre attacks Hogan before the bell. He headbutts Hogan before firing away. Hogan come back with a few forearms. DiBiase jumps up on the apron and Hogan chokes him out then uses the double noggin-knocker with Andre. Hogan chops away as Andre is now tied up in the ropes. Hogan finally tears off his shirt as DiBiase and Virgil get Andre out of the ropes. Hogan knocks Andre down, first to one knee as Andre fell over after that. Hogan drops an elbow but went for it again as Andre grabs Hogan by the throat. Andre works a nerve hold that Hogan eventually escapes from. Hogan knees Andre then fires away. Hogan clotheslines Andre into the corner then Virgil distracts the ref, allowing DiBiase to hit Hogan with a chair. Hogan is pissed as DiBiase leaves then grabs the chair and whacks Andre with minimal effect. Andre takes the chair and hits Hogan, who takes it back and hits Andre as the bell rings. Hogan chases DiBiase halfway up the aisle and DiBiase tosses Virgil in front of him. Hogan suplexes Virgil in the aisle as we learn both men have been disqualified (5:23) 1/4*. Hogan runs back inside and slams Andre after that then poses for a few minutes, to the delight of the fans.
Thoughts: Well, the match itself was really brief. It paled in comparison to their match at “Main Event” and really, was just used to further along the tournament storyline. Plus, Andre seemed in really poor shape here and they did about the best they could have given his limitations but it really was a stinker. Before the plans were switched from DiBiase winning to Savage, Hogan was supposed to go over here. The fans seemed shocked and disappointed by this finish.
Okerlund is backstage with Elizabeth and Randy Savage, who tells us that Hogan is a “cheated” man, not a “defeated” man. Okerlund then asks him about his chances to win the tournament as Savage tells us nothing will stop him as the camera zooms in on a worried Elizabeth. Okerlund asks Elizabeth if he believes Savage will win and she believes he will as Savage tells us he is “going all the way, yeah!” I think its clear to everyone Savage is winning here.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament Second Round Match: “The Rock” Don Muraco w/ Superstar Billy Graham vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
Jesse notes that the winner of this heads straight to the finals as both Hogan and Andre have been eliminated. DiBiase comes out here by himself. Match starts with Muraco yanking DiBiase up on the apron. He then pulls him inside and hits an elbow drop then a powerslam for a nearfall. Muraco catches DiBiase with a back elbow smash before getting two with a flying chop. Standing dropkick gets two then DiBiase rolls outside, where Graham almost hits him with his cane. Back inside, Muraco fails to slingshot DiBiase out of the corner and gets sent into the post. DiBiase stomps away before hitting a clothesline. DiBiase continues to beat on Muraco until he drops his head and gets booted in the face. DiBiase then rakes the eyes but misses a falling back elbow drop as both men are down. Muraco comes up swinging and connects with a clothesline but DiBiase catches him with a hotshot and gets the win (5:35) *3/4.
Thoughts: The match was fine but the real story was the crowd. After Hogan/Andre, they were pretty much dead the rest of the night. Muraco looked a lot more motivated in this match than in round one.
Uecker is worried about Vanna White as he has not seen her. Demolition comes in as they tell us all that Mr. Fuji ordered them to put Strike Force down. They taunt Uecker a bit, who jokes that it must be Halloween before saying he will never eat sushi again. This gag should probably just end as soon as possible.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament Second Round Match: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth
Before the match, One Man Gang was announced as being in the semifinals due to the draw between Jake Roberts and Rick Rude. Match starts with Valentine attacking Savage, who quickly turns the tables. Savage gets two with a knee drop but gets hit after the referee stepped in-between them. Valentine drops an elbow for two as Hart barks out instructions. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Valentine lays into Savage with chops outside of the ring before he tosses him into the guardrail as Elizabeth looks worried. Valentine continues to rough up Savage then begins to work the leg. Savage reaches the ropes but Valentine ends up hitting a suplex for two. Backbreaker gets two. Savage fights back and hits a back elbow smash. Savage slams Valentine then hits a flying double axe handle for two as Hart provided a distraction. Valentine hits a throat thrust but Savage blocks a suplex and hits one of his own. Valentine catches Savage with a punch coming off of the top yet sells like he got hit too. Savage tries to hit Valentine with a knee but he moved out of the way as Savage gets caught up in the ropes. Valentine pulls Savage into the center of the ring and tries the figure four but Savage pulls him down and puts Valentine into a small package for the win (6:07) **1/4.
Thoughts: The match was fine but once again, the crowd was not too involved here. They protected the Hammer a bit with this finish I thought, which was odd when you look ahead at how the rest of the year played out for him.
Okerlund is with Vanna White. She asks him about hiding out from Uecker as she has no clue what he is talking about. Anyway, they go over the tournament results as we have one semifinal match: Savage vs. One Man Gang.
WWF Intercontinental Title Match: Honky Tonk Man (c) w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Match starts as they fight over a lockup. Beefcake blocks a kick attempt and hits an atomic drop. Beefcake then messes up Honky’s hair as the champ regroups outside. Honky comes back in and stalls then Beefcake gets the crowd going by making a scissor gesture. Beefcake uses turnbuckle smashes then hits a high knee. Honky bails then Beefcake brings him back in with a snapmare. Honky rolls away from an elbow drop then puts the boots to Beefcake. He hits a fist drop then taunts the fans before hitting a few punches. Hart chokes Beefcake behind the ref’s back then Honky teases the Shake, Rattle, and Roll but opts for a knee lift instead. Honky tries his finisher but Beefcake grabs the ropes as Honky falls down. Beefcake hits Honky with a backdrop then after that locks on the sleeper. Honky begins to fade then Hart jumps up on the apron for the distraction and ends up knocking out the referee with his megaphone. Honky is out cold on the mat right next to the ref then Beefcake runs to grab his scissors but Hart grabs his back. Hart tries to crawl underneath the ring as Beefcake drags him out and gets the bag as he cuts Hart’s hair. A few other referee’s check on the ref as Peggy Sue dumps a bucket of water on Honky. Beefcake has his hedge clippers but the other refs back him off as the heels retreat. After that, we learn that Beefcake won via DQ (6:50) 1/2*.
Thoughts: Another match that stunk. They had some heat early but this was all entertainment and ended up quickly losing the attention of the fans. Even though the face lost, the fans got to see Beefcake cut some hair, which they appreciated. The Honky Tonk Man himself said he would have offered to get his haircut if it meant more money. He also said his payoff for this match was $8,000, while Hogan received one million dollars.
Uecker is worried about not seeing Vanna as Andre the Giant enters. Andre lets us he is still undefeated and how DiBiase paid him to keep Hogan out of the tournament. Andre laughs about Hogan being the ex-champion and tells Uecker to not worry about Vanna White. Andre places his hand on Uecker’s shoulder then as Uecker asks him to remove his “foot,” Andre briefly chokes out Uecker before he walks away laughing. Funny stuff and easily the best Uecker segment of the night. Andre was great here too.
The Islanders & Bobby Heenan vs. British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware
Heenan is wearing clothing that will prevent Matilda from biting him. Heenan runs out of the ring when Matilda approached. Dynamite starts things off by attacking Tama. He slingshots him in the corner and over the post to the floor. Davey is in but misses an elbow drop as Haku tags into the match. Davey hits a crossbody and a crucifix for nearfalls before applying a chinlock. Haku escapes and tags out but Davey catches Tama with a press slam. Haku tags after Tama went after the rope and goes to work. Koko tags and hits a dropkick then goes after both Islanders. He takes them down with a headlock/headscissor combo. Dynamite is in and clotheslines Haku but runs into a kick in the corner. Jesse notes that Heenan looks like a “Chinaman” as he tags in and puts the boots to Dynamite. Heenan tags out as Dynamite fought back as Tama is in control. Dynamite gets his knees up on a splash attempt then tags Koko, who is on fire but the crowd is just dead at this point. Haku is now gauging Koko then Heenan tags and hits a knee smash. Koko fights back then starts flapping before firing away. Heenan gets rammed into the corner then dropkicked into the post. The Islanders run in to beat on Koko as the whole match breaks down. The Islanders pick Heenan up and splash him on top of Koko behind the ref’s back and that gets the win (7:35) *1/2. After the match, Davey chases Heenan to the back with Matilda.
Thoughts: Man, the crowd was absolutely dead for this. And the match itself felt disjointed and dragged in the middle. The comedy spots with Heenan were not working and this feud stunk anyway, despite Heenan’s best efforts.
Finkel introduces us to Jesse, who stands up for the crowd to see as he poses for the fans. They liked that a lot.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament Semifinal Match: One Man Gang w/ Slick vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth
Winner faces DiBiase, who has a bye, in the finals. Savage ducks an attack then fires away. Savage uses a neck snap as he grabbed onto Gang’s beard. Gang gets a hold of Savage and roughs him up in the corner……..slowly. Gang gets two with a slam as Savage was able to put his foot on the ropes. Gang then drops an elbow but Savage kicks out. Gang tries a splash but Savage rolls away. Savage dodges a charge then fires away. He knocks Gang through the ropes then flies out with a double axe handle. Back inside, Savage fails to slam Gang and gets choked. Slick begins to harass Elizabeth on the outside. The ref checks on her as Gang has Slick’s cane and sees him use it as Savage rolls out of the way and signals for the DQ (4:35) 1/4*. Gang then breaks the cane over Savage’s back and hugs Slick in the ring. However, Savage climbs up top and hits Gang from behind with a double axe handle, sending him on top of his manager.
Thoughts: Bad match with a terrible finish. It just looked awful. Anyway, this at least saw Savage go to the finals to face DiBiase and you might think the fans would be going nuts for that but this crowd checked out a long time ago.
Uecker is with Okerlund. Vanna White is unfortunately not there at the moment as this ends with a joke of Uecker saying she wrote him letters, stating a “Vance White” has been writing him for months. A really bad payoff to a gig that was not funny to begin with.
WWF Tag Team Title Match: Demolition w/ Mr. Fuji vs. Strike Force (c)
Match starts with Smash beating on Martel, drawing some cheers from the crowd. He catches Martel but Tito comes in with a dropkick then the match breaks down. Strike Force double teams Smash as the announcers do not believe that Strike Force can beat Demolition with a Boston Crab. Strike Force use quick tags as they work the arm of Smash. Tito gets caught and then Ax clotheslines him from the apron as Demolition takes control of the match. They beat on Tito for a while as they cut off the ring. Tito rolls away from an elbow drop but Smash was able to cut off a tag. Tito drops an elbow on Ax as he dropped his head but Smash drags Santana to their corner. Tito comes back and hits Ax with the flying forearm as both men are down. And the crowd is dead. Both men tag out as Martel is a house of fire. He puts Smash in the Boston Crab then Fuji jumps up on the apron. Santana hits him and the cane goes flying. Ax grabs the cane and hits Martel on the back of the neck. Santana shoves off the ref then stomps on Fuji but Smash covers Martel and the ref is able to make the three count as Demolition are the new champions (8:02) **1/4.
Thoughts: This was a solid house show match but again, the crowd was dead, making the few cheering for Demolition seem like it was louder than in reality. Strike Force were not really lighting the world on fire as champs and Demolition had eclipsed them anyway so the switch made a lot of sense.
Robin Leach comes down the aisle with the WWF World Heavyweight Title as he tries to prevent all of the fans trying to touch it before bringing it over near Trump. Uecker comes out next as the guest ring announcer and introduces Vanna White, who is the guest timekeeper, and they pose in the ring for a minute.
WWF World Heavyweight Title Tournament Final Match: “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase w/ Virgil & Andre the Giant vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth
Savage elbows DiBiase but gets tripped up by Andre, causing the crowd to chant for Hogan. They now fight over a hammerlock as Andre ends up tripping Savage again. They now fight over an arm wringer as DiBiase wins that by shoving Savage into the corner. He chops Savage then drops an elbow. DiBiase gets two with a clothesline but Savage blocks a sunset flip and follows with a clothesline of his own for two. DiBiase rolls out to huddle with his guys briefly before re-entering the ring. He chops Savage down then boots Savage in the face. DiBiase roughs up Savage, who comes back with a running elbow smash. He snaps DiBiase’s head off of the top rope before sending him to the floor with a knee. Savage sets up for the flying double axe handle but Andre stands in his way. Savage then tells Elizabeth something as she heads to the back. Back to the match as DiBiase attacks Savage from behind as the crowd chants for Hogan, who comes out as the crowd goes mental. DiBiase has Hogan in a chinlock then breaks the hold when he sees the Hulkster, who is sitting on a chair he brought with him. Andre attempts to drag Savage outside but Hogan runs over for the save. DiBiase then catches Savage with a clothesline and a suplex for a nearfall. Gutwrench suplex gets two. DiBiase heads up top but Savage slams him off then heads up top for the elbow drop but misses. DiBiase locks on a sleeper but from behind Hogan hits him with a chair as the referee was tied up. Jesse is outraged on commentary as Savage gets up then hits the flying elbow drop for the win as Savage is the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion (9:17) **1/2. The show ends with Savage hosting Elizabeth on his shoulders as he celebrates in the ring with the Hulkster.
Thoughts: The title change got a decent enough reaction but Hogan was still the most over wrestler in the building. And the crowd essentially predicted Hogan would run out to even things off as well. The match itself was fairly solid but seemed more like the beginning of a long house show match. These two had a much better match on the 3/12/88 edition of “Saturday Night’s Main Event.” And, DiBiase, who was originally scheduled to win the tournament but got changed when the Honky Tonk Man refused to drop the Intercontinental Title to Savage, which led to Savage getting the belt here in an attempt to pacify him, was told that his character would not care about the belt any longer and make one of his own. That later turned out to be the “Million Dollar Title.”
Final Thoughts: Well, this show was just not very good at all. In fact, I claim this as the worst WrestleMania of all-time. Going into this, the TV for the past several weeks consisted of hyping up the first-round matches and Andre vs. Hogan III, an actual feud. Once Hogan/Andre ended, the crowd died. And the rest of the non-tournament matches did not have enough momentum behind them. Even the show-long gag with Uecker became tough to watch.
The show itself dragged and the first round of the tournament was absolute garbage. In fact, the entire tournament was filled with awful finishes. After so many bad finishes in a row, and I mean truly atrocious finishes, it got tougher and tougher to enjoy the show.
The company really changed after this show as well. A few guys departed after the show and in the coming months, several others guys left. Plus, Hogan left to film “No Holds Barred” for the rest of the Spring and that left Savage as the top star of the company.
The WWF’s competition, the NWA, ran the first-ever “Clash of the Champions” show for free this same day and that was a lot better to watch. And likely revenge for the WWF airing the Royal Rumble for free on USA the night of the NWA “Bunkhouse Stampede” PPV. According to JJ Dillon, the PPV executives were really pissed about another wrestling show running for free opposite them.
Overall, I do not recommend watching this show. If you are intrigued, read about it but this is far too long of a show with bad wrestling and little to enjoy.