What the World Was Watching: WWF Prime Time Wrestling “The Ultimate Challenge Special” – March 25, 1990

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan host tonight’s show, which aired on USA Network on March 25.  Instead of doing the show from the studio, though, they are on location from the Sparkles Nightclub in the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The matches on this broadcast were taped in San Francisco, California on March 7 as part of the Wrestling Challenge tapings that took place in the same location.

Heenan is anxious about being in CN Tower, telling Monsoon that the building is swaying.  They renew their gag about Heenan needing tickets for WrestleMania VI and when Monsoons says he has secured them, Heenan demands to know if they are in the front row.  Monsoon asks Heenan why he agreed to have the Colossal Connection face the Rockers a week before WrestleMania.  Heenan responds that he arranged the match because Andre the Giant wanted to send a message to the Hart Foundation.

Opening Contest:  Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) (6-1) defeats the Red Rooster (3-1-1) via submission to the Million Dollar Dream at 7:15 shown:

This match debuts DiBiase’s theme song “Money, Money, Money.”  Jesse Ventura, doing commentary with Vince McMahon, is a fan, unlike Dave Meltzer.  The Rooster puts up a good fight, frustrating DiBiase with a headlock, scoring a few near-falls, and breaking a Million Dollar Dream effort with a jawbreaker.  His momentum is brought to a halt when DiBiase catches him with a stun gun and finishes with the Million Dollar Dream.  After the match, DiBiase stuffs a $100 bill in the Rooster’s mouth.  Rating:  **½

Gene Okerlund’s Update segment recaps the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan promos on Superstars.

The Big Bossman (6-1) pins Boris Zhukov after a spinebuster at 5:44:

After some early stalling, a blind charge from the Bossman sends him shoulder-first into the ring post and Zhukov works over the injured body part.  He abandons that work for no reason as the Bossman makes a comeback out of nowhere and finishes with a sloppy spinebuster.  After the match, the Bossman cuffs Zhukov and hits him with a nightstick.  That ritual should be expunged from the Bossman’s act because it is a legacy from his heel days.  Rating:  *

Monsoon talks about how there will be a full-page poster in Friday’s edition of USA Today.  There will also be a special 900 number for fans to call for WrestleMania VI results.  This would be the start of the WWF Hotline.

The Rhythm & Blues squash match from Superstars airs, which includes the team’s beatdown of the Bushwhackers.

Dusty Rhodes (w/Sapphire) (6-0-1) defeats Randy Savage (w/Sensational Sherri) (2-1) via disqualification when Sherri interferes at 6:58 shown:

In a sign of how much the WWF had abandoned its women’s division by 1990, McMahon and Ventura do not bother to point out that Sherri is a former WWF Women’s champion as they hype her credentials for WrestleMania.  Sapphire freaks out when Savage almost gets to her shortly after the bell rings, causing a viewer to question how well she is going to fare in the mixed tag next week.  One would think Savage and Rhodes could play well off each other, but that is not the case in this match as Savage’s quicker pacing is slowed by the more methodical Rhodes.  There is also a nonsensical spot where Savage hits Rhodes with the timekeeper’s bell, only to have Rhodes kick out at one and start a comeback.  Fans pop when Sapphire pulls Sherri off the apron and triggers a four-way brawl, but even that creates awkwardness since Savage and Rhodes roll back into the ring, only to have Sherri quickly jump on Rhodes’ back and cause a disqualification.  Rating:  *

After the bell, Sherri gets torn apart by Rhodes and Sapphire.  Savage teases going after the babyfaces with a chair but tosses it into the ring instead of holding on it and is thwarted when Rhodes picks it up.

There is a replay of the Brother Love segment from Superstars that featured Earthquake and Jimmy Hart.

The telecast shifts to the office of WWF President Jack Tunney, who moderates the Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior contract signing for WrestleMania.  Hogan is dressed in his ring gear whereas the Warrior sports an odd look of a leather jacket and striped shirt.  As Hogan signs, he tells the Warrior that Hulkamania will remain the strongest force in the universe.  The Warrior responds by saying that his fans are leaders, not followers, and he will combine the powers laden in the WWF and Intercontinental titles when he wins them at WrestleMania.  The camera zoomed in on the Warrior’s face during the promo, which was strange and unnecessary, but the segment put over the “business” side of the WrestleMania and made it a big deal.  Not as good as the WrestleMania III contract signing between Hogan and Andre, but that was an all-time great segment.

Heenan tears apart a copy of USA Today looking for the WrestleMania VI ad, so Monsoon has to correct him about how it is in Friday’s paper, not Sunday’s.  When Heenan talks about how there is going to be a great party for his stable after WrestleMania, Monsoon calls it a “baloney blowout.”

Okerlund does the WrestleMania VI Report.

Earthquake (w/Jimmy Hart) (7-0) pins Ronnie Garvin (4-2) after the Earthquake Splash at 4:59:

Although ignored by the announcers, this match is Garvin’s effort to get revenge for Earthquake putting him on a stretcher at the end of the January 27 Saturday Night’s Main Event episode after Garvin lost to Dino Bravo.  Garvin has a good game plan, upsetting the big man’s equilibrium with a slap to the ears and stomping his feet.  The crowd digs Garvin’s hope spots, like when he avoids an elbow drop and goes for a cover, but size overcomes all at the end when Earthquake catches Garvin’s flying body press effort, powerslams his opponents, and finishes with the Earthquake Splash.  This was a fun big man-small man match that protected Garvin’s fighting spirit, put over the Earthquake as a dominating force going into WrestleMania, and gave Earthquake his first win against a name opponent.  Rating:  **

After the bell, Earthquake gives Garvin two more Earthquake Splashes and Garvin does his second stretcher job in three months.

Monsoon gives Heenan the thirty-one tickets he requested for WrestleMania and Heenan refuses to give Monsoon four of them.  Heenan tells fans if they want WrestleMania merchandise they need to bring $29.95 to a blue van near Skydome and ask for a woman named Connie.  After the break, Monsoon accuses Heenan of taking advantage of Haku by making his wrestle most of the Colossal Connection’s matches.

Non-Title Match:  The Colossal Connection (WWF Tag Team Champions w/Bobby Heenan) (3-0) beat the Rockers (5-0) via disqualification when Demolition interfere at 3:38:

The Rockers whiff on a double dropkick in the early going on Andre, who still sells it like a champ and gets tied in the ropes.  Referee Joey Marella is unconcerned with this as he just lets Haku wrestle the Rockers for a short time until Andre frees himself.  The bout’s focal point is getting Andre over as a finisher as Haku is bailed out several times by Andre headbutting one of the Rockers or taking joy in butt splashing Marty Jannetty in the corner.  Near the end, Andre throws Shawn Michaels out of the ring, hold Jannetty in place for a Haku thrust kick, and then decides to throw Michaels back into the ring for more punishment.  This cues a run-in from Demolition, who draw the disqualification and force the Connection back to the locker room.  More angle than match here, but it was fun seeing Andre toss the Rockers around.  Rating:  *½

Monsoon and Heenan discuss the WrestleMania main event, with Heenan reminding viewers that the Ultimate Warrior has to beat Hulk Hogan and not the other way around.

The Last Word:  While the show did not blow away the star ratings, the matches still provided a good deal of entertainment, especially the opening match and the Ronnie Garvin-Earthquake bout.  The main event is also one of the few times fans can see Shawn Michaels interact with Andre the Giant, so from a historical standpoint this show contains a gem.  It is also good to see some more interactions between the WrestleMania participants after weeks of talking.

Just before WrestleMania the WWF made a trip back to Madison Square Garden.  Here are the results of that show, as well as others on the house show circuit for the week of March 19.  These results are courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com:

New York City, New York – Madison Square Garden – March 19, 1990 (9,500):       Jim Powers pinned Mike Sharpe with a powerslam at 13:00…Hercules beat Black Bart via submission to a torture rack at 12:06…Koko B. Ware pinned Frenchy Martin with the Ghostbuster at 12:40…The Orient Express defeated Demolition via count out at 10:58 after Sato threw salt into Ax’s eyes when Ax tried to attack Mr. Fuji…Earthquake pinned Hacksaw Jim Duggan with an avalanche and elbow drop at 6:30 after Jimmy Hart interfered.  After the match, Earthquake dropped another elbow on Duggan and then tossed Jim Powers and Koko B. Ware from the ring when they tried to interfere.  Duggan then recovered and chased Earthquake and Hart to the locker room with his 2×4…Bret Hart (substituting for Roddy Piper) wrestled Rick Martel to a time-limit draw at 21:36…Dino Bravo beat Brutus Beefcake via count out at 11:27 after Earthquake interfered.  After the match, Earthquake elbow dropped Beefcake twice until two WWF officials made him leave the ring…Tugboat pinned Pez Whatley with a splash at 5:51…Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior pinned Mr. Perfect after a gorilla press slam and splash at 10:02.

Miami, Florida – The Miami Arena – March 19, 1990 (5,100):  Al Perez pinned Bob Bradley…Greg Valentine beat Sam Houston…Bad News Brown defeated Paul Roma…Jim Neidhart pinned the Genius with a powerslam…Hulk Hogan & the Big Bossman beat the Powers of Pain when Hogan pinned the Warlord with a leg drop…WWF Tag Team Champions the Colossal Connection defeated the Rockers when Andre the Giant pinned Marty Jannetty after an elbow drop…Jimmy Snuka beat Rick Rude via disqualification after Rude shoved the referee.

Flint, Michigan – IMA Arena – March 22, 1990 (2,500):        Koko B. Ware pinned Tom Stone…Tugboat beat Pez Whatley…Al Perez pinned the Red Rooster…Bret Hart pinned Al Perez (substituting for Greg Valentine)…Demolition defeated WWF Tag Team Champions the Colossal Connection via count out…Brutus Beefcake pinned Rick Martel in four minutes…Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior pinned Earthquake in three minutes.

Auburn Hills, Michigan – The Palace – March 23, 1990 (5,000):        Bret Hart wrestled Rick Martel to a draw…Koko B. Ware pinned Bob Bradley…Tito Santana beat Buddy Rose…The Red Rooster defeated Pez Whatley (substituting for Barry Horowitz)…The Bushwhackers beat the Bolsheviks…The Big Bossman (substituting for Roddy Piper) pinned Rick Rude in a steel cage match after intercepting a chain that Bobby Heenan tried to toss to Rude…The Ultimate Warrior & Jake Roberts defeated Ted DiBiase & Akeem when the Warrior pinned Akeem with a splash.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The Philadelphia Spectrum – March 25, 1990 (10,238):  Al Perez beat Paul Drake (substituting for Paul Diamond)…Earthquake beat Ronnie Garvin…Koko B. Ware pinned Buddy Rose…Bad News Brown defeated Hillbilly Jim…The Bushwhackers beat the Bolsheviks…Dusty Rhodes beat Randy Savage via count out…Hulk Hogan & the Big Bossman defeated the Powers of Pain.

Los Angeles, California – The LA Sports Arena – March 25, 1990 (11,000):  Roddy Piper & Jesse Ventura defeated the Orient Express in a bout that was taped and aired as a pilot for Piper and Ventura’s television show Tag Team…Akeem beat Paul Roma…Rick Martel defeated Brutus Beefcake…Tugboat beat the Brooklyn Brawler…Dino Bravo defeated Jimmy Snuka…Jake Roberts defeated Ted DiBiase…The Hart Foundation wrestled the Rockers to a double disqualification…Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior beat Mr. Perfect.

Backstage News*:        Even though the WWF heads to Japan for the Wrestling Summit show in two weeks there continues to be disagreement between the WWF and All Japan Pro Wrestling over who Hulk Hogan will wrestle in the main event.  It still seems like it might be Hogan against Terry Gordy, but Vince McMahon is pushing for the show to be headlined by Hulk Hogan against Dusty Rhodes.  Ticket sales have been slow, with only 30,000 purchased for the 63,000-seat Tokyo Dome, and Japan’s slowing economy has been blamed.

*Another piece of news about the Wrestling Summit is that Vince McMahon’s son, Shane, will be making his debut as a referee.

*Like the United States, closed circuit locations in Canada are not selling well for WrestleMania.  

*Hulk Hogan will be filming a new movie after WrestleMania, but the project is still undetermined at present time.

*The WWF will be launching a hotline and bodybuilding magazine this week, with the hotline hyped during Prime Time Wrestling.

*In talent relations news, Paul Diamond is doing house shows and will probably get a permanent roster spot after WrestleMania.

*Backstage news is provided by Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for April 2.

Up Next:  WWF Superstars for March 31!

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