Rock Star Gary reflects on…WrestleMania IV

Live from Atlantic City, NJ

Airdate: March 27, 1988

Attendance:  18,165 (17,000 paid)

Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse “The Body” Ventura

Due to the chicanery and shenanigans perpetrated by DiBiase and André, the WWF title was declared vacant by WWF President Jack Tunney. Hence, a tournament will crown a new WWF champion tonight.

In the ring, “Mean” Gene Okerlund welcomes everyone to the show, and introduces Gladys Knight who sings an excellent acapella rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

As the battle royal contestants fill up the ring, Bob Uecker joins Monsoon and Ventura to begin the show.

Match 1 (battle royal):

Participants:

Bad News Brown, B. Brian Blair, Boris Zhukov, Bret “Hitman” Hart, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, George “The Animal” Steele, “King” Harley Race, Hillbilly Jim, Jacques Rougeau, “Jumping” Jim Brunzell, , Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Jim Powers, Junkyard Dog, Ken Patera, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Roma, Ray Rougeau, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, Sam Houston, Sika

Highlights:

  • While the rest of the participants fought in the ring, Steele remained on the outside.
  • Houston and Sika were eliminated early. Somewhere Baby Doll was crying.
  • Volkoff then almost eliminated Blair, but the latter snuck back in below the bottom rope.
  • After the Hart Foundation double-teamed Ray Rougeau, Steele eliminated Neidhart using the beard. OUCH!
  • Ventura and Uecker then made a Miller Lite joke involving Vanna White. I’ll let you guess the details.
  • Both Killer Bees and Ray Rougeau were eliminated.
  • JYD then eliminated Bass.
  • In the meantime, Volkoff gave Roma an atomic drop.
  • The heels then ganged up and eliminated Hillbilly Jim.
  • Next, Roma used a fireman’s carry to eliminate Davis.
  • Powers exited immediately afterward.
  • After Volkoff missed a haymaker, Patera eliminated him.
  • As Volkoff assisted Patera’s exit, Zhukov joined the exodus.
  • We’re down to six.
  • Race then backdropped Jacques Rougeau out.
  • JYD and Race renewed their rivalry then JYD knocked Race over the top rope with a big right hand.
  • Final four: JYD, Paul Roma, Bad News Brown, and Bret.
  • Brown then gave Roma his walking papers.
  • As Bret held JYD, Brown came off the ropes but nailed Bret instead.
  • Head butts by JYD woke up the slumbering gamblers.
  • Meanwhile, Bret and Brown discussed strategy to eliminate JYD.
  • While Brown held JYD, Bret mounted the second turnbuckle and delivered an elbow smash.
  • Bret and Brown then eliminated JYD together.
  • After Brown raised Bret’s hand seemingly to split the winnings, he double-crossed Bret by delivering the Ghetto Blaster (enziguri).
  • Upon giving Bret a head butt, Brown cross-corner whipped him sending Bret sternum-first into the corner.
  • Brown won.

Rating: NONE

Summary:  Not a very eventful battle royal whatsoever since the double-cross by Brown was the main highlight.

After the battle royal, the trophy is presented to Brown, but Bret re-enters the ring and dropkicks Brown out. He then smashes the trophy into smithereens. Hmmm…it’s early into 1988 and Hebner’s already screwed Hogan while Bret’s been double-crossed.

Ring announcer Howard Finkel introduces Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ Robin Leach who will present the new WWF champion with the championship belt. Leach proclaims the beginning of the 14-wrestler tournament—seven first-round matches and Hogan faces André in the second round guaranteed.

Match 2 (first round): The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/ André the Giant & Virgil) versus “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

Highlights:

  • Are tuxedos and coal miner’s gloves allowed in this match? No? Dammit!
  • After DiBiase missed a haymaker, Duggan gave him an atomic drop sending DiBiase over the top rope to the floor.
  • Shortly after, Duggan delivered a clothesline followed by the ten-punch count-along.
  • He then gave DiBiase a cross-corner whip but ate boot on his follow-through.
  • DiBiase then gave Duggan a cross-corner whip and a clothesline.
  • Next, he mounted the second turnbuckle and delivered a double axe handle to Duggan.
  • After a fist drop, he got 2.
  • On the other hand, a sunset flip by Duggan got 2.
  • Upon giving Duggan a knee to the midsection, DiBiase delivered fist drop #2.
  • Afterward, he attempted a vertical suplex, but Duggan blocked and gave one to DiBiase instead.
  • DiBiase then mounted the second turnbuckle but got caught in the midsection on the way down resulting in a somersault.
  • Duggan then gave DiBiase a cross-corner whip followed by a clothesline.
  • After a slam, Duggan signaled for the three-point stance clothesline.
  • However, André grabbed Duggan by the leg.
  • Seeing the distraction, DiBiase put a knee into Duggan’s back as André knocked Duggan silly.
  • DiBiase then pinned Duggan after fist drop #3.

Rating: **1/2

Summary: The odds were definitely not in Duggan’s favor here with André in DiBiase’s corner.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Beefcake who cuts a promo on Honkytonk Man.

Match 3 (first round): The “Rock” Don Muraco (w/ Superstar Billy Graham) versus Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin)

Highlights:

  • Wow! Muraco was definitely on the Superstar diet if you catch my drift.
  • To begin the match, Muraco reversed a cross-corner whip and gave Bravo a corner clothesline.
  • He then slammed Bravo and mounted the second turnbuckle.
  • Methinks Bravo was out of position because Muraco tried a Vader bomb, but Bravo was closer to the middle than to the corresponding corner.
  • Regardless, Muraco got 2.
  • Bravo escaped an arm drag and delivered a pair of elbow drops.
  • After a gutwrench suplex, Bravo gave Muraco a cross-corner whip.
  • Upon giving Muraco a second cross-corner whip, Bravo came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Muraco then applied a spinning toe hold until Bravo kicked Muraco who got his head tied up in between the ropes. Yikes!
  • With Muraco dazed, Bravo delivered a piledriver but only got 2.
  • He then attempted piledriver #2 but received a back drop instead.
  • A subsequent double clothesline put both men down on the mat.
  • Muraco then hit a flying forearm followed by a slam.
  • Next, Muraco hit flying forearm #2 but took out not only Bravo but also the anonymous referee.
  • Bravo then hit the sidewalk slam, but the referee called for the bell.
  • Just like Ventura, I ask “Why?”
  • Muraco won by DQ. The replay showed that Bravo pulled the referee into the line of fire. Ah, now ya’ tell me.

Rating: **

Summary:  Poor finish to a match that had some momentum to it. Muraco will face DiBiase in the quarterfinals.

Backstage, Uecker interviews Honkytonk Man with Hart.

Match 4 (first round): Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat versus Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Highlights:

  • Steamboat brought his son Ritchie in his arms to the ring. Steamboat’s then-wife Bonnie then brought Ritchie back to her seat.
  • At the onset, a hip toss by Steamboat was followed by an arm drag.
  • After a reverse crescent kick to the midsection, Steamboat chopped Valentine down to the mat and got 2.
  • Valentine then used Steamboat’s momentum to shove him over the top rope. Unbeknownst to Valentine, Steamboat skinned the cat back in then gave him a dropkick in the back for another 2.
  • Ventura then name-dropped Barry Blaustein who later created Beyond the Mat.
  • In the meantime, Valentine came back with elbow smashes then lowered the boom on Steamboat for 2.
  • To counter an arm bar, Valentine gave Steamboat an inverted atomic drop followed by a clothesline.
  • As future Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his wife Ivana looked on, Steamboat unloaded some chops that made Valentine fall like a California sequoia. TIM-BER! That got 2.
  • Steamboat then attempted a slam, but Valentine fell on top for 2.
  • After a gutbuster by Valentine, he delivered a head butt to Steamboat’s abdomen.
  • Next, Valentine attempted a figure-four leg lock, but Steamboat kicked him sending him head-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • LOUD chop by Steamboat resulted in a Valentine flop and a 2 count.
  • Upon giving Steamboat a shoulderbreaker, Valentine only got 2.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a forearm smash.
  • Following that, he attempted figure-four #2, but Steamboat nailed him resulting in Valentine flop #2.
  • After a series of face plants, Steamboat hit a flying back elbow.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle and gave Valentine a chop for 2.
  • Afterward, he gave Valentine the top-turnbuckle count-along.
  • Upon mounting the top turnbuckle again, Steamboat gave Valentine a flying body press, but Valentine used momentum to land on top.
  • 1-2-3. Valentine won.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Good match that either wrestler could have won. Additionally, both wrestlers sold each other’s offense very well.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews the British Bulldogs and Ware along with Mathilda. They’re ready to go “weasel hunting.”

Match 5 (first round): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus the “Natural” Butch Reed (w/ Slick)

Highlights:

  • Clad in blue, both Savage and Elizabeth made their entrance.
  • Early on, Savage attempted a vertical suplex, but Reed blocked it and gave Savage one instead.
  • After an elbow drop, Reed got 2.
  • Upon guillotining Savage using the top rope, Reed gave him a back elbow.
  • He then mounted the second turnbuckle and delivered a fist drop.
  • After a brief flurry by Savage, Reed reversed a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • He then reversed an Irish whip and delivered a flying clothesline.
  • While talking trash to Elizabeth, Reed mounted the top turnbuckle.
  • Noticing Reed was taking too much time, Savage caught and slammed him down to the mat.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit the big elbow, and got the pin.

Rating: **1/2

Summary:  Very brisk match for Savage who will face Valentine in the quarterfinals.

Backstage, Uecker’s talking about Vanna White until Heenan and the Islanders interrupt him.

Match 6 (first round): One Man Gang (w/ Slick) versus Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

Highlights:

  • Will the Jersey boy (Bigelow) get a victory near his hometown?
  • After a cross-corner whip by Gang, he came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Following a forearm, Bigelow did a cartwheel before splashing Gang for 2.
  • Cross body block by Bigelow got another 2.
  • After giving Gang a head butt, Bigelow delivered a clothesline.
  • A standing head butt by Bigelow was followed by a diving one.
  • But when he attempted to bounce off the ropes, Slick pulled the top rope down spilling Bigelow down to the floor.
  • Surprisingly, Bigelow stayed on the apron too long and got counted out.

Rating: *

Summary:  Waste of Bigelow’s talent here, but Gang advances.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Hogan who cuts a delusional promo on André. Bartender, I’ll have what he’s having.

Match 7 (first round): “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) versus Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Highlights:

  • As Rude made his entrance, he grabbed the microphone to show off his mouth, perm, well-developed abs, and fascinating tights.
  • Rude gave Roberts a pair of slams, but Roberts came back with a pair of slams of his own.
  • As Roberts held a wristlock, the Trump Plaza faithful chanted “weasel” at Heenan.
  • After Rude placed Roberts on the top turnbuckle, Roberts came back with a knee lift.
  • However, when Roberts attempted the DDT, Rude exited the ring to regroup.
  • At the culmination of a criss-cross, Roberts slammed Rude.
  • Next, he tried knee lift #2, but Rude evaded him nicely sending Roberts down to the mat.
  • After a clothesline, Rude swiveled and posed.
  • He then delivered a forearm smash and got 2.
  • While Heenan distracted the anonymous referee, Rude choked Roberts.
  • After Roberts escaped a reverse chin lock, Rude mounted the second turnbuckle and gave Roberts a flying forearm smash.
  • Another clothesline by Rude got 2.
  • Roberts escaped another reverse chin lock but fell victim to a face plant.
  • Rude then mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a fist drop and got 2 thanks to a nonchalant cover.
  • A better pin attempt netted Rude another 2 count.
  • Afterward, Roberts tried to escape a third reverse chin lock with a belly-to-back suplex, but Rude hung on.
  • Meanwhile, a tremendous BORING chant emanated from the Trump Plaza faithful.
  • To wake up the crowd, Roberts countered the reverse chin lock with a jawbreaker.
  • He then gave Rude a back drop and a short-arm clothesline.
  • Roberts attempted the DDT again, but Rude backed him into the corner instead.
  • He then gave Roberts a cross-corner whip but ate knees on his follow-through.
  • Roberts then gave Rude a gutbuster for 2.
  • Rude came back with a belly-to-back suplex and got 2.
  • A subsequent double clothesline put both men down on the mat. This was NOT what this match needed.
  • Rude then executed a double leg sweep and tried to pin Roberts with his feet on the ropes, but the bell rang.
  • Time-limit draw. Both wrestlers were eliminated from the tournament.

Rating: *1/2

Summary:  Waste of fifteen minutes where neither wrestler looked good. The intentionally deliberate pace gave the finish away too. Due to the draw, Gang advanced to the semifinals.

After the match, Roberts opens the bag and chases Rude and Heenan from the ring with Damian.

Backstage, Okerlund indirectly gives away the finish by mentioning a “new” WWF champion being crowned tonight. What if Hogan wins? Regardless, Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White assists Gene with the brackets. When Okerlund asks her about Uecker, White’s response was “Who?” Damn! Someone close the door! It just got COLD in here! When Okerlund asks her to pick the winners, she picks Hogan, DiBiase, and Savage.

Match 8: The Ultimate Warrior versus Hercules (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)

Highlights:

  • As you would expect, Warrior sprinted to the ring during his entrance.
  • It took three clotheslines from Hercules to take Warrior off his feet. C’mon, Warrior, Sell!
  • Warrior then responded with two clotheslines of his own.
  • He then tried to guillotine Hercules using the top rope, but Hercules side-stepped it.
  • After Hercules ducked a haymaker, he backdropped Warrior over the top rope to the floor.
  • Next, Warrior pulled Hercules outside the ring and rammed him face-first into the steps.
  • Back in the ring, Warrior gave Hercules the ten-punch count-along, but Hercules came back with an inverted atomic drop.
  • Warrior then reversed a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Hercules then attempted the full nelson, but Warrior used the top turnbuckle as leverage to put both men down.
  • As Hercules held a waist lock, Warrior lifted his left shoulder while Hercules got pinned.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  If Warrior was supposed to be Hercules’ understudy here, Hercules did a poor job of leading him. Warrior definitely needed more seasoning at this point in his career. This match had NO business being at WrestleMania.

After the match, Hercules attacks Warrior then chokes him with the steel chain. However, Warrior breaks free and swings the chain around recklessly. Wisely, Hercules heads for cover.

Sugar Ray Leonard, wearing a Hugo Boss pullover and Washington Bullets cap, is shown in the crowd.

We then revisit the history of André and Hogan from late ’86 up until this show. Hogan won the first match while André “won” the second. Who will win the rubber match? What are the odds?

Match 9 (quarterfinals): Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant (w/ the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Virgil)

Highlights:

  • Will Hogan maintain his aggressiveness from the previous SNME?
  • André ambushed Hogan early with a pair of head butts.
  • Hogan came back with a series of forearms but then grabbed DiBiase who had jumped up on the apron.
  • He then gave both DiBiase and André a double noggin knocker.
  • Next, Hogan chopped André until the Giant was tied up in the ropes.
  • Hogan then ripped his t-shirt to a HUGE ovation.
  • As DiBiase and Virgil freed André, a series of rights by Hogan knocked André down to the mat.
  • After Hogan gave André a series of elbow drops, André responded with a choke.
  • André then applied a nerve hold as the Trump Plaza faithful tried to rally the Hulkster.
  • Hogan then broke the hold and nailed André with a clothesline.
  • As Hogan signaled for the slam, Virgil got up on the apron to distract referee Joey Marella.
  • Following that, DiBiase entered the ring and WALLOPED Hogan in the back with a chair.
  • However, Hogan no-sold it and chased DiBiase from the ring.
  • With the chair left behind, both Hogan and André fought over it.
  • Hogan got control and nailed André with it.
  • Immediately afterward, André got ahold of the chair and hammered Hogan with it.
  • Marella then called for the bell.
  • His ruling was a double-disqualification that eliminated BOTH wrestlers.
  • BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Rating: *

Summary:  Aggressive match? Yes. Overbooked match? Yes. Bad finish. You betcha!

After the match, Hogan comes off the ropes and annihilates André with the chair. DiBiase and Virgil try to remove André from the ring but are unsuccessful. Hogan then chases them backstage. Following that, DiBiase sacrifices Virgil to save his hide so Hogan delivers a suplex to Virgil in the aisle but doesn’t go down with him. OUCH! Upon Hogan’s return to the ring, he slams Andre to a big ovation then poses despite the double-DQ.

Backstage, Okerlund interviews Savage with Elizabeth. Savage is ready to take it “all the way.” Is he trying to appeal to high school students with that reference?

Match 10 (quarterfinals): Don Muraco (w/ Superstar Billy Graham) versus the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/o Virgil)

Highlights:

  • According to Ventura, the winner of this match advances to the finals.
  • As the bell rang to begin the match, Muraco slammed DiBiase from the apron into the ring.
  • After a clothesline, Muraco delivered an elbow drop.
  • A subsequent powerslam got 2 for Muraco.
  • Upon giving DiBiase a back elbow, he mounted the second rope and delivered a fist drop for another 2.
  • Next, a standing dropkick by Muraco got yet another 2.
  • Following that, Muraco gave DiBiase a HARD cross corner whip.
  • When Muraco tried to pull DiBiase from the corner, DiBiase used momentum to send Muraco face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • After a clothesline, DiBiase got 2.
  • Upon giving Muraco a knee to the midsection, DiBiase delivered a pair of fist drops for only 2 since Muraco’s foot was on the bottom rope.
  • Following a slam, DiBiase mounted the second turnbuckle but missed an elbow drop.
  • After another cross-corner whip, Muraco gave DiBiase a clothesline.
  • DiBiase came back with a stungun and got the pin.

Rating: **1/2

Summary:  DiBiase advances to the finals with a clean finish over Muraco. Now he has a long break before the final match.

Backstage, Uecker’s still looking for Vanna. In the meantime, Mr. Fuji and Demolition join him and are ready for Strike Force to “go down.” Uecker fears that Halloween has come early.

Officially, Gang advances to the semifinals.

Match 11 (quarterfinals): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Highlights:

  • Clad in pink, Savage and Elizabeth made their entrance. After they entered the ring, a Savage impersonator appeared in the crowd.
  • Having survived the initial flurry of Valentine, Savage gave him a cross-corner whip sending him sternum-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • A subsequent knee drop got 2 for Savage.
  • After a forearm, Valentine mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a forearm smash.
  • Upon giving Savage a pair of elbow drops for 2, Valentine delivered a shoulder breaker and got another 2.
  • He then tossed Savage over the top rope to the floor.
  • Valentine then leaped from the apron and gave Savage an elbow to the back of his head.
  • He then made Savage taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the veal rollatini alla Tiana at Café 2825.
  • After a couple of chops, Valentine did it again. Waiter, can you please give the guy in the orange tights a Grandma Cappellini as well?
  • Nevertheless, Valentine laid Savage on the apron and gave him a pair of elbow smashes.
  • Back in the ring, Valentine attempted the figure-four leg lock, but Savage made the ropes before the hold was secured.
  • Valentine then gave Savage a vertical suplex for 2.
  • Afterward, a backbreaker got another 2 for Valentine.
  • Savage came back with a back elbow followed by a slam.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a double axe handle for 2 as Hart got up on the apron.
  • After giving Savage a back elbow, Valentine attempted another vertical suplex but received one instead.
  • Savage then mounted the top turnbuckle again but got caught with a shot to the midsection.
  • Next, he tried a running guillotine, but Valentine moved sending Savage into the ropes.
  • Valentine then made attempt #2 of the figure-four leg lock, but Savage countered with an inside cradle for the pin.

Rating: ***1/2

Summary:  Best match of the tournament thus far. Valentine gave Savage a run for the money here but came up short.

Backstage, Okerlund runs down the status of the tournament with Vanna.

Match 12 for the Intercontinental title: The Honkytonk Man (champion w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) versus Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake

Highlights:

  • I’d comment on Peggy Sue’s extra-long pearl necklace, but this is a family show.
  • As Honkytonk Man jawed with the crowd, Ventura felt that Beefcake’s wardrobe survived the Three Mile Island disaster. HA! He then gave his family a shout-out. What a guy!
  • Nonetheless, Honkytonk Man tried to boot Beefcake in the midsection, got his leg caught, then suffered an atomic drop.
  • Next, Beefcake messed up Honkytonk Man’s hair. I’m surprised the champ didn’t submit.
  • Honkytonk Man exited the ring to regroup, returned, but ate a ten-top-turnbuckle count-along.
  • Beefcake then followed with a leapfrog and a high knee.
  • Once again, Honkytonk Man exited the ring to regroup. Beefcake pulled him back onto the apron where he delivered a series of elbow smashes.
  • He then attempted an elbow drop but missed.
  • Upon giving Beefcake a snap mare, Honkytonk Man delivered a fist drop.
  • While Honkytonk Man distracted the anonymous referee, Hart gave Beefcake the business on the apron.
  • He then attempted the Shake, Rattle, and Roll, but Beefcake grabbed the top rope to block.
  • After a back drop, Beefcake hooked the sleeper.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • Hart got up on the apron and blindsided the referee with the megaphone.
  • With both the Honkytonk Man and the referee OUT COLD, Beefcake wasn’t able to win the match at this point.
  • As he went for his bag of scissors, Hart grabbed it and tried to escape under the ring.
  • Beefcake caught Hart, pinned him against the ring steps, and cut a few locks of hair from Hart’s head. Bye-bye mullet!
  • In the ring, officials tried the revive the referee while Peggy Sue tried the same for Honkytonk Man.
  • She then grabbed a pitcher of water and doused the champion with it to wake him up.
  • Beefcake grabbed his shears, but officials kept him away from Honkytonk Man.
  • According to Finkel, Beefcake won by DQ.

Rating: *1/2

Summary:  Sports-entertainment finish aside, the Honkytonk Man found another way to keep his title. Methinks something ingenious will need to happen to dethrone him.

Backstage, a worried Uecker still can’t locate Vanna, but André puts his hand on his shoulder to comfort him. André still claims to be undefeated and that DiBiase paid him to knock Hogan out of the tournament. When André states that “Hulkamania is over,” Ueckers asks him to remove his “foot” from his shoulder. André responds with a choke as Uecker provides the best facial expression.

Match 13 (six-man): The Islanders & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan versus the British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware

Highlights:

  • While I enjoy Heenan’s shenanigans, this match was WAY too high on the card for this show. Popcorn, anyone?
  • As Heenan and the Islanders made their entrance, Heenan was wearing an attack-dog trainer’s outfit. SMART!
  • Collectively, “Rule Britannia,” Mathilda, and Frankie led the British Bulldogs and Ware to the ring.
  • At the onset, the Kid brought Tama in the hard way then hiptossed Haku.
  • Upon giving Tama a hip toss, the Kid delivered a back drop.
  • He then gave Tama a catapult over the top turnbuckle down to the floor. Alley-oop!
  • Smith tagged in, slammed Tama, but missed an elbow drop.
  • Haku tagged in but fell victim to a Smith cross body block for 2.
  • After a slam, Smith got another 2.
  • Next, Haku reversed an Irish whip, but Smith hooked a crucifix and got yet another 2.
  • Tama came back in but received a military press slam from Smith.
  • Haku tagged in and gave Smith a back elbow.
  • Following that, Smith countered a backbreaker with a flip and tagged in Ware.
  • After Smith gave Haku an Irish whip, Ware delivered a dropkick.
  • He then gave both Islanders a combination leg scissors/head lock takedown.
  • The Kid tagged back in and gave Haku a clothesline.
  • He then gave Haku a cross-corner whip but ate foot on his follow-through. No shoes allowed for the Islanders tonight.
  • Heenan then tagged in and put the boots to the Kid.
  • Tama tagged back in and gave the Kid a back drop.
  • After a slam, Tama mounted the second turnbuckle, attempted a Vader bomb, but ate knees. OUCH!
  • Ware tagged back in and gave Tama a back drop.
  • Haku came in illegally, and Ware gave him a head butt.
  • Next, he whipped Haku into Tama knocking both of them down.
  • Haku then clotheslined Ware and tagged in Tama who mounted the top turnbuckle and lowered the boom on Ware.
  • Heenan tagged back in and gave Ware a knee lift.
  • As Heenan applied a nerve hold, Ware waved his arms like a bird.
  • Ware then reversed a cross-corner whip from Heenan who hit the top turnbuckle sternum-first.
  • A subsequent dropkick by Ware sent Heenan shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • Both Islanders came in to protect their partner/manager, but the Bulldogs nailed them.
  • All six men were in the ring.
  • After Tama tossed Smith outside the ring, he slammed Ware as the Kid distracted referee Joey Marella.
  • Double-Islander-assisted splash of Heenan pinned Ware.

Rating: **

Summary:  Creative finish to a lackluster match. I would have rather seen Bulldogs versus Islanders straight-up instead.

After the match, Smith leads Mathilda on a chase of Heenan. She catches him, but Heenan ultimately gets away.

Finkel then acknowledges the presence of Jesse “The Body” Ventura to a HUGE ovation. Upon removing his jacket, Ventura poses for the Trump Plaza faithful.

Officially, DiBiase has advanced to the finals via the double-DQ of Hogan and André.

Match 14 (semifinal): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus One Man Gang (w/ Slick)

Highlights:

  • Clad in black, Savage and Elizabeth made their entrance.
  • Once again, the Savage impersonator was seen in the background.
  • Savage grabbed a handful of beard and guillotined Gang using the top rope.
  • After getting SQUISHED a couple of times in the corner, Savage fell down to the mat.
  • Upon slamming Savage, Gang got 2 because Savage put his foot on the bottom rope.
  • A subsequent elbow drop got another 2 for Gang.
  • Gang then slammed him but missed the 747 splash.
  • He then charged at Savage in the corner but came up empty.
  • Next, an elbow smash followed by a double axe handle sent the Gang down to the floor.
  • Savage then mounted the top turnbuckle and nailed Gang with a double axe handle on the floor.
  • Back in the ring, Savage unsuccessfully slammed Gang then fell victim to a standing choke.
  • After Slick intimidated Elizabeth, Gang missed “something” according to Ventura.
  • With Slick on the apron, Elizabeth occupied the anonymous referee’s attention. Savage then grabbed Slick, but Gang nailed him from behind.
  • Having Slick’s cane in hand, Gang tried to puncture or skewer Savage with it.
  • The referee saw the chicanery and called for the bell.

Rating: *1/2

Summary:  In spite of his long break between matches, Gang didn’t have what it took to beat Savage who advances to meet DiBiase in the finals.

After the match, Gang nails Savage with the cane sending Savage to the floor. While Gang and Slick share a hug in defeat, Savage mounts the top turnbuckle and gives Gang a double axe handle SQUISHING Slick.

Backstage, Okerlund and Vanna update the tournament bracket, but Vanna hightails it before Uecker can catch up to her. Speaking of Uecker, he states that he received letters from “Vance White.” Oh, brother.

Match 15 for the WWF tag team titles: Strike Force (champions) versus Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji)

Highlights:

  • Along with Mr. Fuji, Demolition came to the ring to their awesome music.
  • Similar to Hogan, this was Santana’s fourth WrestleMania
  • Smash began the match by, ahem, smashing Martel with a series of double axe handles to the back.
  • Martel then attempted a cross body block, but Smash caught him.
  • Recognizing his partner was about to be crunched, Santana dropkicked Martel atop Smash.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • A double cross-corner whip resulted in Ax receiving a cross body block.
  • After Martel shooed Ax from the ring, Strike Force gave Smash a double clothesline for 2.
  • Santana tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Smash’s left arm.
  • Shortly after, Martel gave an incoming Smash a hip toss.
  • Santana tagged in, leapfrogged over Smash, but fell victim to a bear hug/clothesline combo from Demolition. While these shenanigans took place, Fuji distracted referee Joey Marella.
  • Ax then gave Santana a powerslam but only got 2.
  • While Martel distracted Marella, Ax guillotined Santana using the top rope.
  • Smash then gave Santana a vertical suplex and got 2.
  • After a slam, Smash missed an elbow drop.
  • Ax tagged in but fell victim to a SWEET flying forearm from Santana. Ventura mentioned that Santana learned that move in the MFL. HA!
  • Hot tag Martel.
  • After giving Smash a back drop, he dropkicked both members of Demolition.
  • Upon nailing each with a double axe handle, Martel applied the Boston crab to Smash.
  • As Ax came in, Santana prevented him from disrupting the submission hold.
  • He even gave Ax a flying forearm sending him between the ropes to the floor.
  • Fuji got up on the apron, but Santana hammered him. In the process, Fuji dropped his cane in the ring. Cue ominous music.
  • While Santana and Fuji occupied Marella’s attention, Ax WALLOPED Martel with the cane.
  • Smash made the cover as Santana kept his focus on Fuji.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: **1/2

Summary:  The positive reaction to Demolition by the Trump Plaza faithful showed which direction each team would be taking going forward.

Finkel then introduces Robin Leach again who carries the WWF championship belt with him. The Trump Plaza faithful try to steal the belt from him, but Leach was too SNEAKY for them. Finkel then introduces Uecker to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Taking the microphone, Uecker then introduces the guest timekeeper, Vanna White. They walk a lap around the ring as Uecker’s dream comes true. When Vanna kisses him, Uecker almost faints.

Match 16 (final): “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) versus the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/ André the Giant)

Highlights:

  • Clad in white, Savage and Elizabeth made their entrance.
  • After he blocked a couple of haymakers from DiBiase, Savage gave him an elbow smash.
  • André then tripped him.
  • In response, the Trump Plaza faithful chanted “Hogan.”
  • As Savage came off the ropes, André tripped him again. How dastardly!
  • Upon giving Savage an elbow smash, DiBiase delivered a clothesline for 2.
  • DiBiase then tried a sunset flip but ate a knuckle sandwich instead.
  • Savage followed with a clothesline and got 2.
  • Upon giving Savage a back elbow, DiBiase jawed with the Trump Plaza faithful and received a round of jeers.
  • Savage came back with an elbow smash and a guillotine using the top rope.
  • He then gave DiBiase a high knee sending him to the floor.
  • As Savage mounted the top turnbuckle, André blocked his ability to deliver a double axe handle.
  • Having finally had enough of the 2-on-1 disadvantage, Savage told Elizabeth to obtain some reinforcement.
  • When DiBiase returned to the ring, he gave Savage a slam and series of fist drops for 2.
  • As the Trump Plaza faithful knew what was coming, they got their wish as Elizabeth brought Hogan with her to the ring.
  • Hogan then grabbed a chair and sat in Savage’s corner.
  • As DiBiase distracted referee Earl Hebner, André grabbed Savage, but Hogan ran over and nailed André.
  • After giving Savage a clothesline, DiBiase delivered an elbow drop for 2.
  • Next,he gave Savage a vertical suplex for another 2.
  • Following that, he delivered a gutwrench suplex for yet another 2.
  • DiBiase then slammed Savage and mounted the top turnbuckle. Conversely, Savage caught and slammed him down to the mat.
  • Immediately, Savage mounted the top turnbuckle but missed the big elbow.
  • DiBiase then applied the Million Dollar Dream as André distracted Hebner.
  • Seeing an opportunity, Hogan brought his chair in the ring and SMASHED DiBiase in the back with it.
  • Savage saw his opponent down, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hit the big elbow.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: ***1/2

Summary:  Now THIS is what the Trump Plaza faithful paid to see as they leap to their feet in support of the Macho Man. While this match isn’t as fluid as their match at SNME XV, it is truly historic and worth seeking out.

After the match, Hogan presents Savage with the WWF championship belt instead of Leach. Hogan, Savage, and Elizabeth then celebrate the victory. Savage even puts the belt on Elizabeth’s shoulder and hoists her on his shoulder.

Conclusion:  While the WWF thought it might be a good idea for DiBiase to win the title here by some form of chicanery, a bigger plan was put in place according to DiBiase.

Let me sum up the show with some pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Great atmosphere with excellent presentation.
  2. The main event, Steamboat-Valentine, and Savage-Valentine are noteworthy matches worth a second look.
  3. While it was extremely hokey, the running gag with Uecker had a proper pay-off both with Vanna and André.

Cons:

  1. Although the atmosphere and presentation were top-notch, the crowd was filled with mostly casual and/or non-wrestling fans. They only popped for the main event players.
  2. This was an exceedingly long show. While some of the first-round matches were good, they shouldn’t have taken place here. In addition, the positioning of the six-man match was awful. I’ll also reiterate that Warrior-Hercules had no business being on this show.
  3. Some of the finishes were atrociously bad. For example, the countout in the Gang-Bigelow match could have been clearer, and the draw between Rude and Snake was unnecessary. If Roberts and Rude are programmed for a feud after this show, why not showcase it with a fiery double countout?

Nevertheless, since the Savage match is meaningful both to his career and longtime fans of his, this show is a must-see for all wrestling fans. As a former resident of Sarasota, I tip my hat to the “Macho Man” as his career in the main event began here.

See you for NWA Clash of the Champions!

Buyrate: 6.50

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