The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WWE Wrestlemania V
(It’s another Wrestlemania anniversary today, with the fifth one occurring on this date in 1989 along with some other show on TBS at the time. And OH GOD IT’S A NEW FORMAT RANT FROM 2007. I’m sorry.)
For those who remember the fourth Wrestlemania as the WWE’s version of Heaven’s Gate in terms of length and money made, it’s got nothing on the fifth one for sheer length. It didn’t seem so long back when I first watched it, probably because I was only 15 and I had a much longer attention span for stuff like this back then. I originally ranted off the hacked-up Coliseum video version, which was missing an HOUR of stuff, so it’s nice to finally have the full PPV version in all its 220 minute glory. The length might be taxing the storage systems of 24/7, however, because there’s some pixellization every few seconds that’s kinda annoying.
By the way, if there’s formatting issues with this rant, it’s because I had to re-install OpenOffice when I upgraded to Vista this weekend, and I’m still working out the kinks and trying to get it back exactly the way I had it when I left it.
Live from Atlantic City, NJ, at Trump Plaza, owned by some guy who we probably will never hear from again.
Your hosts are Gorilla & Jesse
Opening match: King Haku v. Hercules
Haku gets an attack from behind to start and slugs Herc into the corner, but Jesse has no sympathy for him. Herc quickly comes back with a slam and faceplant, and a clotheslines puts Haku on the floor. Suplex back in and Herc drops elbows. Hercules, who was adopted by the MegaPowers shortly before they exploded, is like the poor kid left out in the cold in a divorce proceeding. I blame his eventual death on the angst caused by his abandonment. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE GREEK GODS? Anyway, Haku comes back with a cheapshot and gets a backbreaker for two. He goes to a bearhug that I know for a fact was edited out of the home video version, so already it’s like watching the director’s cut of Alexander, as I appreciate the true genius of what they were trying to say with it already. It’s like Hercules is life, and the bearhug is modern society, squeezing the breath out of us every day, man. Herc powers out and Haku chokes him on the ropes, although I’m not sure what the allegory is supposed to be there. Herc comes back with a crossbody for two, but Haku cuts off the comeback with an elbow, but then whiffs on a bodypress attempt of his own. Hercules slugs back and gets a powrslam for two, but goes up and lands on a superkick. Haku goes up and misses his own move, and Hercules finishes with a backdrop suplex.
(Hercules d. Haku, suplex — pin, 6:55, **) They actually bothered editing that down for home video? Not a bad opener, but this crowd is not wrestling fans, it’s gamblers and businessmen.
Backstage, the coked-up Rockers give their motivational interview before they get squashed. Shawn’s voice is so wasted from partying the night before that he can barely talk.
The Twin Towers v. The Rockers
For some reason, “Jive Soul Bro” is edited out. Were they dumb enough not to secure the rights to their OWN music? The Rockers run away to start, and opt for a sucker punch before Shawn starts with Bossman. Bossman puts him on the top and bitchslaps him, but gets dropkicked for his troubles and Shawn hits both of them and runs away again. Over to Akeem, as Shawn mocks his dancing and then the Rockers trade off and work on the arm. Shawn has said in previous interviews that he was so drunk that he could barely stand up here, so I’d say he’s doing remarkably well thus far. The Rockers keep switching off on the arm, but Bossman gets the blind tag and they sandwich Marty to take over. Bossman gets the running choke and Akeem avalanches him on the ropes, which is ugly but effective offense. And now the Towers are all about the tag team continuity, switching off and splashing Marty in the corner in tandem. Marty fights back, but Bossman clobbers him down again and it’s over to Akeem, who accidentally runs into Bossman to allow the hot tag to Shawn. He fires away in the corner and the Rockers team up for a nice double shoulderblock that gets two on Akeem. Shawn walks into a clothesline and does a 180 sell off it, as Shawn is out to single-handedly steal the show tonight. Bossman misses a flying splash and Shawn reverses a powerbomb attempt with the help of Marty, and the Rockers team up for a pair of missile dropkicks on the Bossman as well. Shawn goes up again, but this time he falls prey to the powerbomb on the way down, and Akeem splashes him to finish.
(The Twin Towers d. The Rockers, Akeem splash — pin Shawn Michaels, 8:02, **) Shawn may have been wasted, but even at 25% he’s still got enough to carry things by bumping for three.
Ted Dibiase v. Brutus Beefcake
Odd that they never did a full-on feud with these two, as they seemed like they’d have a good dynamic together. Brutus attacks and hiptosses Dibiase to start, and follows with a backdrop that sends Ted out of the ring to regroup. Back in, Dibiase opts for the cheapshot and throws some chops in the corner, but Beefcake comes back with slams and it’s another trip to the floor. Back in and Dibiase tries slugging it out with Beefcake, but quickly loses that battle, and it’s Plan C: Virgil trips him up and Dibiase chokes him down. Well, as Jesse would say, win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat. Dibase pounds away in the corner and elbows him down as the crowd dozes, and the fistdrop gets two. Elbow off the middle rope gets two, but Beefcake gets a quick cradle for two. They fight over a suplex and Beefcake gets that, and they clothesline each other for the double KO. Dibiase recovers first with a suplex and it’s time for the Million Dollar Dream, but Brutus makes the ropes right away. Brutus comes back and rams him into the turnbuckles, and now irony strikes Dibiase as he falls prey to a sleeper. Truly epic. Virgil distracts him and Beefcake gives chase, which results in a brawl on the floor until the inevitable double countout.
(Ted Dibiase draw Brutus Beefcake, DCOR, 9:58, **) Technically fine, but the crowd was dead and there wasn’t any real flow to the match.
Meanwhile, Lord Al Hayes interviews the Bushwackers at the annual brunch, and hilarity ensues.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Sheepfuckers
Jesse accuses the Bushwackers of being on “the juice”, although he’s referring to booze in this case. Still, there’s an out-of-context remark for you. Rougeaus attack to save Jimmy Hart’s jacket, but they get whipped into each other and bail. Raymond offers a handshake to Luke and then jumps him, so Butch runs in and returns the favor. Battering Ram for Ramond, but Jacques saves and they bail again. The crowd won’t even respond to the Bushwackers, which at least shows they’re intelligent. The Rougeaus get a quick double-team on Luke and Ray hits him with an axehandle off the middle, and we get a quick double-team clothesline for two. They do the abdominal stretch / superkick spot, and that gets no reaction from the crowd of corpses either. Bushwackers sneak in with a Battering Ram and double gutbuster while they celebrate.
(The Bushwackers d. The Rougeaus, Luke gutbuster — pin Raymond, 5:10, DUD) Wasn’t even much of a comedy match.
Mr. Perfect v. The Blue Blazer
Debut of the classic tights for Hennig here, as he had been wearing short ones up until this point. Perfect grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses the Blazer, and they trade slaps in the corner. Blazer reverses out of a hiptoss attempt and slams him, and dropkicks him to the floor, following with a baseball slide. To the floor as Blazer throws some forearms out there, and he works the arm back in the ring. Perfect tries his own hiptoss reversal, but Blazer does his classic block-and-reverse of THAT, and a dropkick and backbreaker gets two. Northern Lights suplex gets two. To the top, but a flying splash hits knees, and Perfect goes to work on the back. Perfect charges and hits boot, and Blazer follows with a powerslam for two and gets the nice belly to belly for two. Crucifix gets two. He argues with the ref, however, and Perfect clobbers him and finishes with the Perfectplex.
(Mr. Perfect d. The Blue Blazer, Perfectplex — pin, 5:51, **1/4) Not the classic I remembered as a kid.
And now, just because the show wasn’t going to run long enough as it is, Jesse stops to pose for the fans. I have no idea what the point of this was.
Speaking of pointless, let’s take you back to the annual 5K run, which Mr. Fuji cheats to win. Well, that’s why the good lord invented fast forward.
And speaking of fast-forward, here’s Run DMC, and there they go.
World tag team titles: Demolition v. The Powers of Pain & Mr Fuji
Oh good grief, we’ve apparently lost all the songs from the Piledriver record, as “Demolition” is wiped from history, too. OK, who sued and won this time? Ax pounds on Warlord to start, finally getting a teenie reaction from the crowd, and the Demos add a double-team beating and Smash chinlocks him. Ax adds his own chinlock. You know, they must have sweetened the video version’s crowd noise, because I don’t remember the show being this dead. I mean, this crowd isn’t popping for ANYTHING. Barbarian comes in and gets smashed by Smash, and axed by Ax. Smash elbows him down and they add a double-elbow, and Ax goes to the neck vice. Barbarian comes back with a chop to Smash, but Warlord can’t follow up, which results in the champs hitting him with a double clothesline. Ax goes after Fuji, however, and gets hit from behind to turn the tide. Fuji finally tags in and chops Ax down, then adds his falling headbutt. Over to Barbarian, who starts working the back and boots Ax down. Jumping clothesline and Warlord comes in and stays on the back, choking him down for two. Barbarian powerslams him into a Fuji flying splash, but it misses and it looks like the hot tag until Warlord cuts it off. Smash gets it anyway, although the crowd doesn’t care, and he clotheslines everyone. They clothesline him on the top rope and Smash gets two, but Fuji comes in, armed with salt. And maybe pepper, I’m not sure. However, it goes awry, and Demolition Decapitation ends it.
(Demolition d. The Powers of Pain & Fuji, Ax Decapitation — pin Fuji, 8:45, *) Well, this was watchable, I suppose. I can definitely understand the crowd apathy to the guys punching and kicking each other for 8 minutes, however.
Dino Bravo v. Ronnie Garvin
Jimmy Snuka makes an utterly pointless appearance after the introductions. Bravo attacks to start and chops Garvin down, and grabs a quick bearhug. Shoulderblock gets two. Garvin blocks a powerbomb attempt by slugging Bravo down, and a splash gets two. Sleeper and piledriver get two, and he throws chops in the corner. He slugs away in the corner, and Bravo brings him out with an atomic drop, and the sideslam finishes quick.
(Dino Bravo d. Ronnie Garvin, sideslam — pin, 3:55, 1/2*) Garvin seemed game, but this was going nowhere fast.
The Brainbusters v. Strike Force
Martel grabs a headlock on Tully to start, and then fights off a double-team attempt in the heel corner. Strike Force adds a double dropkick to put the heels on the floor, but Arn quickly regroups. Martel faceplants him for two and they fight over the knucklelock, but Arn catches him with a bodyscissors. Martel wisely tries to turn him over into the Boston Crab, but Tully pokes him in the eyes to break it up. Jesse’s all about that one. Tito comes in and it’s old double figure-four spot, which the Busters quickly escape from. Tully and Tito do a bridge/backslide spot, which gets two for Tito, and he cradles Tully for two. Blind tag, but Tito hits Martel with the forearm by mistake, and Tully dropkicks Tito to take over. Arn comes in and elbows him in the gut, but Tito fights them off and goes for a tag…but Martel is being a drama queen and selling the “injury”. Tito keeps fighting with a sunset flip on Arn for two, but Tully breaks it up and gets two. Tito gets a bodypress for two, but Arn slows him down with a rear chinlock. Tito fights out and goes for the tag again, but Martel isn’t feeling it and walks away from the tag. And the match. Typical Frenchman, running away from a fight. The Busters go to work on Tito. Tito fights them off, but goes for a monkey flip on Tully and gets splatted as a result, and it’s ye olde Spike Piledriver to end his comeback.
(The Brainbusters d. Strike Force, Anderson piledriver — pin Santana, 9:13, **1/2) This crowd is really bringing me down, man. This one actually seemed better in clipped form, with better crowd reactions dubbed in.
It’s late and I’m tired, so I’m skipping through the Piper/Brother Love/Morton Downey Jr. trainwreck. Hey, it’s my column. This was definitely 15 minutes that could have been excised quite easily from the show.
And now, a sneak preview of No Holds Barred. Thank god this is cut out of the video version.
Sean Mooney interviews Donald Trump, back when he was all wooden and couldn’t act. Oh, wait.
Apparently we’re in an intermission now, because we go into time-filler overdrive with a recap of the Megapowers angle and a rather lengthy Hogan interview.
Jake Roberts v. Andre The Giant
Special ref here is John Studd. Andre attacks to start and rams Jake into a conveniently missing turnbuckle, and quickly tries choking him out. Jake goes for the snake, but Andre grabs him in a chokehold again. Jesse has a funny line here, noting that David beat Goliath with a foreign object. That’s a wrestling mentality for you. Andre leans on Jake in the corner, which is about as lazy as you can get, offensively speaking. More choking and Andre uses his butt as a weapon, and chokes away again. Jake slugs back and Andre gets tied in the ropes as a result, which allows Jake to do his own choking. But not for long, because Andre is the master of choking. And choke he does! And did I mention the choking? Because there’s quite a lot of it. Jake comes back with punches and sends Andre into the bare turnbuckle, but Andre chops him right out of the ring. Andre won’t let him in, and the camera’s closeup of the ring apron reveals that they were so cheap as to recycle the skirts from Wrestlemania IV, simply by removing the “I” from the roman numeral. Studd and Andre get into a shoving match, while Ted Dibiase steals the snake, and Andre attacks Studd to draw the rather obvious DQ and set up the big feud that never happened. The recovered snake sends Andre fleeing.
(Jake Roberts d. Andre The Giant, DQ, 9:39, DUD) Studd’s face turn just didn’t work, and Andre was pretty far gone by this point.
The Hart Foundation v. Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine
Jimmy Hart’s team were not yet Rhythm & Blues, and this was just thrown together as yet another in the endless parade of matches to fill time before the main event. Bret starts with Honky and rolls him up for two, and follows with an atomic drop both ways to send him scurrying back to the corner. Hammer comes in and takes the atomic drop, and Bret dropkicks him, which sets up the pinball spot in the face corner. Nice timing as Bret whips Hammer and then slingshots Anvil in on the rebound for a shoulderblock, which gets two. Bret with the backbreaker and middle rope elbow, but it misses and Valentine drops his own elbows. They do some choking in the corner and Honk drops a fist and a series of elbows, and it’s over to Hammer for a top rope forearm and an elbow to the back of the head. He gets his own atomic drop and Honky adds Shake Rattle N Roll, but he allows Valentine to try the figure-four instead of pinning him. Bret thumbs the eye to block, so Hammer keeps coming with a gutbuster and brings Honky back in. Bret fights back with a crossbody for two, but lands on the floor when Honky kicks out, and it’s back to Hammer again. Bret tries a rollup, but actually just fakes him out and makes the hot tag to Neidhart instead. Shoulderblock on Valentine gets two. Nice clothesline gets two. Hammer thumbs the eyes to stop the offense, but Honky misses a fistdrop and the Harts go to work on him, as Bret drops his elbow and adds a suplex for two. Valentine saves and cleans house, but Neidhart steals the megaphone and Bret nails Honky Tonk with it to finish. Bret screwed Wayne Ferris!
(The Hart Foundation d. Honky Tonk & Valentine, Bret megaphone — pin Honky, 7:39, **1/2) This was actually quite a solid tag match in its uncut form, although the finish should have been stronger.
WWF Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Rick Rude
Common sense at the time said that Warrior squashes him like a bug, but in hindsight Rude needed to go over in order to get to the next level. Rude tries to knee Warrior in the gut on the way in, but Warrior is still wearing the belt and thus outsmarts him. Warrior tosses Rude around like a ragdoll as Rude is all about the bumps tonight, and the crowd FINALLY wakes up. Warrior smartly opts to whip Rude into the corners without following up by charging, and then calmly bearhugs him. He’s thinking for once. Rude goes to the eyes to break and then scoots up top with a missile dropkick, but Warrior no-sells and slams him instead. Man, Rude is just bouncing around out there like a superball tonight. Back to the bearhug, but this time the ref prevents Rude from going to the eyes,which offends Jesse on several levels. Finally Rude slugs out on his own merits, so Warrior bites him and adds a backdrop. Big splash hits knee, however, and Rude takes over. Piledriver gets two for Rude. Sadly, his back is so injured that he can’t even swivel. Clothesline gets two. Russian legsweep gets two. Rude goes to a surfboard, but Warrior fights to the ropes and hulks up. Shoulderblock and faceplant set up a backbreaker, and he follows with a clothesline after a weird blown spot in the corner. He goes back to whipping Rude around, this time following up with a charge, and missing as a result. Rude goes for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior powers out of it and clotheslines him again. Rude bails and Warrior sends him back in, then dumps him with a clothesline. He suplexes Rude back in, but Heenan grabs the foot for the famous finish, and we have an upset, to the delight of Jesse.
(Rick Rude d. Ultimate Warrior, outside interference — pin, 9:41, ***) They would have better matches, but this was the first sign that Rude was more than the pretty boy arrogant heel in the ring, as he more than carried his end of the match and actually got the crowd into it.
Bad News Brown v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
To put this in perspective, we are now at the three hour mark for the show, which is beyond all sanity for a crowd this dead with an undercard this meaningless. Brown attacks to start, but Duggan slugs back and clotheslines him out of the ring. Brown regroups and lays Duggan out with a forearm back in the ring, and slugs away in the corner. Duggan fires back with shoulders in the corner, so Brown slugs him down again. They brawl outside as Jesse notes that if one of them tries a hold, they might win it. Brown wins that fight and tries the Ghetto Blaster, but Duggan comes back with the three-point stance and they fight outside again, as Brown grabs a chair and Duggan grabs his 2×4.
(Jim Duggan draw Bad News Brown, DDQ, 3:46, 1/2*) C’mon, just get to the main event already.
Red Rooster v. Bobby Heenan
One last quickie before the match people actually paid to see. I think someone should sue and make them dub out the Rooster’s ridiculous theme song. Rooster whips Bobby into the corner and pins him.
(Red Rooster d. Bobby Heenan, corner whip — pin, 0:28, DUD) This was what it was.
WWF World title: Randy Savage v. Hulk Hogan
This of course was the biggest match in the history of history at that point, drawing millions of dollars on PPV after being built up for years. Savage dodges Hogan and plays some mindgames to start, and Hogan overpowers him on the lockup. Savage grabs a headlock, but gets overpowered again and bails. As any good man would do, he hides behind Liz, and Jesse approves. Back in, Hogan takes him down with a drop toehold to meet his wrestling quota for the night, but Savage suplexes out of his headlock. Hogan quickly recovers and slugs away, and starts working on the arm, so Savage goes to the eyes and drops the axehandle for two. Savage takes it to the mat with an armbar. Some really slick hair-pulling behind the ref’s back follows, but it’s wasted when Hogan dumps him to break the hold. That was some quality cheating by Savage. Back in, Savage eats turnbuckle and Hogan drops him with a clothesline, into the elbows, but Savage clotheslines him for two. Savage grabs a chinlock while Hogan bleeds, but he fights out and blocks a big boot with an atomic drop. Hogan misses the elbow and Savage sends him into the corner with a high knee, and that gets two. Savage goes to work on the cut and stomps on the fingers, but that just gets Hogan mad, and he comes back with some shots in the corner and the corner clothesline. Hogan, sportsman, dumps Savage over the top and Liz tries to assist him, but Savage is an independent guy and doesn’t want help. Hogan follows him out for the brawl, showing he was probably in cahoots with Liz all along, and she prevents him from sending Savage into the post, which allows Savage to turn the tables and give Hogan the same treatment. Liz keeps getting involved, so the ref sends her back to the dressing room as we hit a dead spot. With no more distractions, Savage gets down to business, dropping Hogan with the axehandle to the floor before they head back in. Necksnap and Savage goes to work on the throat, choking him on the ropes and adding an elbow to the throat. Kneedrop gets two. Savage goes for broke, choking him out with the tape, and things look bad for the challenger. He goes with the straight choke and heads up to finish with the big elbow, and really I can’t stand to finish the review because it just hurts every damn time I watch it.
(Hulk Hogan d. Randy Savage, legdrop — pin, 17:53, ***) It was somewhat epic, but the crowd was just so dead and they couldn’t live up to the hype no matter what they went with. This one was such a heated feud that it needed something more akin to the current main event brawling style, and really they just went out there and did a Hogan match. Of course, at the time it made perfect sense to put Hogan over clean and send Savage down a different path with Sherri, but my god, Savage was on such a hot streak as a heel that they could have drawn MILLIONS by screwing Hulk out of the belt here and building up the chase to the rematch at Summerslam. But hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
Wow, editing really is important, because the home video version is eons better than the ultra-dull and seemingly endless live PPV version, which stretches 3 hours and 40 minutes and feels like it’s never going to end. Still, bless 24/7 for at least giving fans to see the uncut version for themselves. Probably one of the worst Wrestlemanias in this form, although the shorter version that used to be more widely available is quite enjoyable for the most part.
Strong recommendation to avoid.