November 15, 2006
Matt Peddycord

WWF WrestleMania III: Bigger, Badder, Better
March 29, 1987
Pontiac, MI
The Silverdome

The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (1/23/1984)
Intercontinental Champion: Randy Savage (2/8/1986)
World Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation (1/26/1987)
Women’s Champion: The Fabulous Moolah (7/9/1986)

FINALLY! After three tries, Vince McMahon creates a formula that works and is a possible reason for the success of the great wrestling PPV generation.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura!

The Can-Am Connection vs. Don Muraco & Bob Orton Jr. (w/Mr. Fuji)

Interestingly enough, Orton made appearances on the first three Wrestlemanias, but this was his only match. Muraco and Orton were both hired by Adrian Adonis as henchmen to take out Piper. They ended up staying together as a tag team until Muraco turned face. On the face side, Rick Martel & Tom Zenk were known as the Can-Am Connection. After a contract dispute later on in the year, Zenk left the WWF, leaving Martel without a partner. Since Tito Santana wasn’t doing anything better at the time, he took Zenk’s place and they became known as Strike Force and won the World Tag Team champions until Demolition-MANIA took over the tag team scene in 1988. Zenk starts off with Muraco who Ventura points out looks bigger than usual. Zenk puts Muraco down with a shoulderblock, but Muraco backs Zenk into the corner and buries a knee into Zenk’s gut. Zenk flips out of the corner off a whip and gets a two-count off a torso flip. Zenk blind-tags Martel for a double-monkey flip on Muraco. Meanwhile, Orton comes in and takes a double-hiptoss. The heels regroup and Muraco tags in Orton. He gets ping-ponged between the faces and gets caught in an armbar. Orton reverses a full-nelson, allowing Muraco to come in and nail Zenk. Zenk moves and Orton gets decked for 1, 2, NO! Martel tags in and works Orton’s arm. Both men tag out and Muraco takes a slam from Zenk. Orton nails Zenk coming off a whip to give Muraco control. The crowd HATES that. The heels deliver a swinging neckbreaker/top-rope fist drop combo to Zenk for 1, 2, NO! Double-KO spot leads to a HOT TAG TO MARTEL! Orton gets dumped and Muraco gets tripped up, allowing Martel to get the quick three-count for the win. (5:36) Decent, fast-paced little match that seemed to be a passing of the torch so to speak. **½

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules (w/Bobby Heenan)

It’s the battle of the full-nelsons! Hercules gets in some dirty moves out of the corner, but Billy Jack fights back with a press slam. Billy Jack is already going for the FULL NELSON, but Hercules gets away. Billy Jack whips Hercules in the corner, but he explodes out of it with a clothesline. He stomps away on Billy Jack and then gives him a back drop. Herc hits a suplex to soften up Haynes’ shoulders for the Full Nelson. He covers, but lifts Billy Jack up off the mat at two. Billy Jack fights back, but Hercules hammers him down and then delivers a backbreaker. Hercules hits a press slam and hooks on the FULL NELSON! Billy Jack’s arm falls once, twice, but not three times! As Billy Jack breaks free, Hercules nails him in the back with a forearm. Double-KO! Billy Jack blocks a punch and gives Herc an inverted atomic drop, followed by a clothesline. Billy Jack hits a pair of fist drops and now he has the FULL NELSON locked. Herc gets to the ropes and they both fall out to the floor. For some ridiculous reason, Billy Jack hooks on the FULL NELSON out on the floor and they both are counted out. (7:50) Terrible finish, but I did like the psychology of the full nelson used here. Post-match, Billy Jack gets busted open by Hercules’ big chain! *

King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo vs. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and the Haiti Kid

Bundy has definitely been given the “Orndorff WrestleMania Treatment” here. Bob Uecker joins Gorilla and Jesse on commentary for this match. Bobby Heenan is still managing Bundy at this point, but he’s MIA. The midgets do their thing for a while until Beaver back elbows Bundy in the gut. Bundy tags in and Beaver tries a dropkick. Bundy doesn’t budge, so Beaver tags in Hillbilly Jim. Bundy pounds him on his way in, but then gets nailed with a clothesline and a jumping elbow drop. Jim, Beaver and Haiti Kid dog pile on Bundy to try for a pin, but he throws them all off of him. Bundy comes back with a reverse elbow and hooks a front facelock. Beaver comes in and breaks the hold, but then Hillbilly Jim takes an AVALANCE in the corner. Beaver comes in again, and this time he gets slammed by Bundy. Not just a slam, but an elbow drop as well for the DQ. (4:22) BABY DADDY! WEEEE! Bundy wants to splash him too, but then all the midgets ban together and pull Beaver out of harm’s way. CRAP

King Harley Race (w/Bobby Heenan & Fabulous Moolah) vs. Junkyard Dog – “Loser Must Bow” Match

Harley Race won the 1986 King of the Ring tournament and then let it get to his head. Hmm, where have I seen this since then? At least he didn’t pick up an English accent. With Race’s raspy voice, he would’ve been TERRIBLE at it! They trade blows to start and end up out on the floor. Race tries a diving headbutt from the apron, but JYD moves out of the way. Back in, JYD delivers a head stomper which puts Race back out on the floor. JYD brings Race back in with a slam and then applies an abdominal stretch. Race hiptosses out and hurts himself by giving JYD a diving headbutt because ALL black people have hard heads! Race does his corner flip spot and comes back in and has JYD giving him headbutts on all fours. JYD gets distracted by Heenan and then turns around into a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX for the win. (3:22) JYD bows, but then nails Race with a chair and runs off with his robe! What a jerk! ½*

Jacques & Raymond Rougeau vs. The Dream Team (w/Johnny V & Dino Bravo)

Raymond flips out of a hammerlock and then gives Beefcake an atomic drop to start. Jacques tags in for a double-dropkick. Beefcake has had enough and tags out to Valentine. They trade blows into the Rougeau corner, allowing Raymond to tag in and deliver a high crossbody for two. Jacques tags back in and hits a nice jumping back elbow, but then misses a splash coming out of the corner. Beefcake comes in and stomps away, but then tags back out to Valentine. Haha, Bobby Heenan joins us to gloat while Valentine hooks on the FIGURE-FOUR, but Jacques reaches the ropes. He tries a piledriver, but Jacques backdrops out and makes the HOT TAG TO RAYMOND! He applies the sleeper on Valentine! Beefcake comes off the top to break it up, but he nails Valentine instead. LE BOMBE DE ROUGEAU on Valentine! While Raymond has him pinned, Jacques gets into a scuffle with Beefcake. That distracts the ref long enough for Bravo to come off the middle rope and nail Raymond. Valentine covers for the 1-2-3. (4:02) Odd booking considering this was the end of the Dream Team. Valentine, Bravo and Johnny V head for the dressing room and leave Beefcake all by himself to form the NEW Dream Team. It’s one of those matches that could’ve been great if they had just given it more time. *½

Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart and HEDGE CLIPPERS!) vs. Roddy Piper – Hair vs. Hair Match

This is Roddy’s first retirement match so he can leave and go star in classic movies like “Hell Comes to Frogtown” and “They Live”. Never heard of them? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Piper whips Adonis with the belt from his kilt to start. He even wraps it around Jimmy Hart’s throat, but Adonis nails him from behind and uses the belt against him. Piper reverses a whip into the corner and sends Adonis out to the floor. Piper pulls both Adonis and Jimmy Hart into the ring. He whips Jimmy into Adonis and they both go out to the floor. Back in they go, and Jimmy ends up on the top turnbuckle. Piper grabs him and throws him on top of Adonis! Piper gets thrown into the ropes and Hart trips him up for Adonis to take control. Adonis hits some of his usual offense before heading out to the floor where Piper gets sent head first into the timekeeper’s table. Back in, Adrian pulls the ref aside while Jimmy Hart sprays Piper in the face with the spray can of perfume and then hooks on GOOD NIGHT, IRENE. Adonis has Piper out cold, but he releases the sleeper before the third drop of the arm. He and Jimmy celebrate, but this match isn’t over. Brutus Beefcake runs down and revives Piper with the ref’s back turned. Piper nails Jimmy Hart and slaps the SLEEPER on Adonis for the win. (6:54) Beefcake hands Piper the hedge clippers and assists in the balding process of Adrian Adonis. Immediately, Beefcake is turned face and earned the nickname Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. Piper celebrates and receives an amazing ovation from the 93,000+ crowd. The match was fun and included some great booking and a great send off to a true legend of wrestling. *½

The Hart Foundation & “Dangerous” Danny Davis (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana (w/Matilda the Bulldog)

Former ref Danny Davis was suspended for LIFE plus ten years for screwing both the Bulldogs and Tito Santana out of their title belts. Just like most stipulations in wrestling, they don’t last. I say that to say this; it wasn’t long before Danny Davis was a referee again. Mary Hart and Bob Uecker join us for commentary because Jesse Ventura was at ringside so he could run off with Matilda! Tito starts off with Bret, who takes a nasty bump out of the corner. DBS comes in as Bret tags in Neidhart and gives the Hart Foundation a double-noggin knocker. Tito tags in, but gets caught in the Hart corner. He quickly escapes and tags DBS in to give the Bulldogs the advantage. They dominate the Harts for a while, including a Diving Headbutt from Dynamite for two. Dynamite goes for the SNAP SUPLEX, but Neidhart breaks it up. Neidhart tags in and hooks on a reverse chinlock. Davis tags in and stomps Dynamite and then quickly tags out to Bret. The Harts keep Dynamite in their corner and give Davis another try. He attempts a slingshot splash, but Dynamite gets his knees up in time and tags in Tito! He cleans house on the Harts and hits the FLYING JALAPENO on Davis! He goes for the FIGURE-FOUR, but Neidhart breaks it up. DBS comes in to put Danny Davis away with a Tombstone Piledriver. Stalling suplex is followed up by the RUNNING POWERSLAM. Now all six men get in the ring! During the confusion, Davis nails DBS with Jimmy’s megaphone for the win. (8:50) A good match to keep the hot feud going strong. **¾

Butch Reed (w/Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware (w/Frankie the Parrot)

This is the “bathroom break” match. Koko controls until he ducks low off a whip to slow things down. ALOT. Koko reverses a whip and puts Reed down with a hiptoss followed by a dropkick for two. Koko gets a small package for two, but then Reed rolls through a crossbody and pulls the tights for the three-count. (3:38) Slick attacks Koko after the match, but Tito runs down for the save. CRAP

WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. Ricky Steamboat (w/George “The Animal” Steele)

In late November, Steamboat challenged Savage to an IC title match on Superstars. As the match progressed, Savage became desperate and afraid that he would lose to Steamboat. In his moment of desperation, he draped Steamboat on the guardrail and came off the top turnbuckle with a double-ax handle! This crushed Steamboat’s larynx and put him out of action for several months. The WWF wisely kept all physical contact between Steamboat and Savage on TV from happening to give this match such a HUGE build, which is a major detail that seems to left out of wrestling these days. Steamboat counters a waistlock to start, and then sees that Steele is too close to Elizabeth so he climbs out and takes her over to the other side of the ring. Back in, Steamboat delivers a pair of armdrags and gives Savage a quick chokelift. Savage bails, but Steamboat chases him into the ring and gets nailed. Savage chokes away in the corner and then charges, but Steamboat moves out of the way. Steamboat works an arm wringer, but Savage whips him into the ropes and gives him a back elbow. Steamboat gets dumped and then Savage elbows him in the throat on the apron. Savage snapmares Steamboat back in and delivers a knee drop to the throat for two. Steamboat blocks a head to the buckle and returns the favor to Savage. Steamboat chops away and connects with a crossbody for two. Steamboat gets an armdrag and a couple shoulderblock near-falls. Savage sidesteps the third shoulderblock and catches Steamboat with a running knee to the back. Savage tosses Steamboat over the top rope, but Steamboat skins the cat back in the ring and then takes a clothesline out to the floor. Savage sneaks up from behind Steamboat and sends him into the front row with another running knee! Savage KNOWS he can’t beat Steamboat by a pinfall or submission, so he’s trying to get the countout win. I LOVE that. Steele tries to revive Steamboat and helps him out by picking him up and placing him back into the ring. Savage tosses Steamboat out AGAIN and heads up top for the dreaded double-axe handle and he connects! Instead of allowing the ten-count to happen, Savage gets impatient and tosses Steamboat back in the ring. He heads up to the top again and delivers another double-axe handle, then gives Steamboat a running elbow for two. Hotshot from Savage gets two. Atomic drop from Savage gets two. Suplex from Savage gets two. Haha, poor Dave Hebner. Steamboat comes back with chops, but Savage goes to the eyes and delivers a gutwrench suplex for two. Steamboat flips out of a back suplex and then back drops Savage out to the floor. CRAZY BUMP! Steamboat brings Savage back in the ring and goes up top. He LEAPS over Dave Hebner and catches Savage with a Judo chop! (Possibly the most poetic moment in wrestling history) Steamboat covers for a close near-fall! The crowd even thought it was over. Double-arm chop from Steamboat gets two. Savage rolls out onto the apron and gets knocked out to the floor. Steamboat chases Savage back into the ring and delivers a sunset flip from the apron for two. Steamboat gets several near-falls from various rollups and then sends Savage headfirst into the ringpost with a catapult for another two! Steamboat rolls him up again for two, but then Savage pulls him back by his tights into a rollup for two. Steamboat fires away on Savage, but then gets yanked shoulder-first into the ringpost. Hebner gets bumped and Savage sets up for the MACHO ELBOW! He connects, but there’s no ref! Since there’s no ref, Savage goes out and grabs the ring bell! He heads up top, but Steele snatches the bell away from him. Savage kicks him in the head and grabs the bell back and climbs up top again, so Steele shoves him off. Savage goes for another slam to possibly set up for another Macho Elbow, but Steamboat counters it into a small package for the three-count to win the WWF Intercontinental title. (14:35) If there ever was a perfect match, this was it. From top to bottom, start to finish, there’s none better even to this day. Psychology, booking, workrate; it’s all done to perfection. *****

Jake Roberts (w/Alice Cooper) vs. Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart)

Roberts got KABONGED by Honky and now he wants REVENGE! Roberts beats Honky Tonk inside and out of the ring to start. His offensive flurry ends when Roberts runs into a knee out of the corner. Honky works the shoulder of Roberts, but then gets caught with a short-arm clothesline. Roberts attempts the DDT, but Honky escapes out to the floor. Roberts follows him out and gets whipped shoulder-first into the ringpost. Roberts tries to get back in the ring, but Honky Tonk sends him back down into the guardrail. Back in, Honky hits a middle-rope fist drop and then connects with a bunch of elbows. He goes for SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL, but Roberts backdrops out of it. Honky jumps back up and shoulder charges Roberts in the corner. He heads up for the ten-count corner punch, but Roberts comes back with an inverted atomic drop. Roberts fires away and Honky Tonk begs off. Roberts hits a backdrop and goes for the DDT! Jimmy Hart grabs his foot to take away his attention so that Honky can roll him up by using the ropes for the three-count. (7:02) This was a big upset considering Honky Tonk Man wasn’t even a consideration for the IC title at this point. *

Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (w/Slick) vs. The Killer Bees

Hacksaw Jim Duggan runs down and stops Volkoff from singing the Soviet national anthem. Because hey, this is America, buddy. The communists attack before the bell, but then Volkoff gets dumped to bring things to order. The Bees tag in and out while working on Sheik’s arm for a bit. Brunzell hits his DROPKICK and covers for two. Sheik and Volkoff use the same strategy that worked for the Bees by tagging in and out while isolating Brunzell. Volkoff catches him for a BEARHUG, but Brunzell punches out. Sheik tags in and delivers a gutwrench suplex for two, followed by a suplex for another two. Sheik whips Brunzell into the ropes and gets caught with a high knee. Volkoff comes in to prevent the ref from noticing Brunzell making the tag to Blair. The commies deliver a double back elbow to Brunzell to send him rolling out to the floor. Once Brunzell gets back in, Sheik applies the CAMEL CLUTCH! Duggan runs into the ring while chasing Volkoff on the outside and nails Sheik in the back with the 2x4 to give the communists the DQ win. (5:42) It accomplished what it set out to do: establish Hacksaw Jim Duggan as an overly-patriotic man who hates communism. Evidently he didn’t love America as much as he loved drugs and hanging out with the evil communists, because he and the Iron Sheik would be fired later on in the year for driving around with dope and coke in their car. I guess he’s a “hate the sin, not the sinner” type of guy. Match was going along pretty well until the finish. **

WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan)

Because of Bobby Heenan’s ongoing obsession with destroying Hulkamania, he whispered in Andre’s ear so that he would turn on his best buddy Hulk Hogan and challenge him for the WWF World title at WrestleMania 3. This is it, folks. It’s because of this match that the world indoor attendance record was shattered. The guest ring announcer is Mr. Baseball Bob Uecker. The guest timekeeper is the host of Entertainment Tonight, Mary Hart. HUGE staredown to start. Hulk fires away and goes for a slam, but Andre falls on top for a CLOSE near-fall. Andre pounds on Hogan’s back and then slams Hulk down to the mat. Andre picks Hogan up and slams him down again. Andre then decides to walk across Hogan’s lower back while the crowd chants “Hogan”. Andre whips Hulk from corner-to-corner to set up for the Big Thump. Andre tries a headbutt in the corner, but Hogan moves out of the way and Andre hits turnbuckle. Hogan staggers Andre back into the corner with a stick-and-move strategy. He rams Andre’s head into the buckle TEN times, which had probably never been done at that point. Hogan charges in the corner, but Andre catches him with a boot. BIG chop from Andre sets up a bearhug, which lasts for nearly three minutes. Hogan punches out and connects with two shoulderblocks, but Andre drops him with another big chop. Andre boots Hulk out to ringside and tries to headbutt him up against the ringpost, but Hogan moves out of the way of that as well. You’d think he would’ve learned from the last time. Hogan begins to fight dirty by lifting up the protective mat around ringside to try and give Andre a piledriver on the exposed floor. What was he thinking? Andre easily backdrops out of that before they head back into the ring. Andre tries to boot Hogan again, but he avoids it and takes Andre off his feet with a clothesline. He HULKS up and slams Andre to cause the biggest pop EVER. Hulk comes off the ropes and delivers the LEG DROP for the biggest win of his career. (12:00) Okay, so maybe the three-count caused the biggest pop ever. This was a definitely a case where the build and the anticipation overshadowed the actual in-ring work, so you don’t really care that the match was terrible because of the emotional connection with the wrestlers. ½*

Final Thoughts: What can I say that has not already been said about Wrestlemania 3? If you do not have this event on tape or DVD, you need to buy it now. By now, I mean grab your credit/debit card and click the Amazon.com link towards the top of this page to BUY this event. Thumbs WAY up for this show.

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