August 28, 2009
Steve Riddle

Wrestlemania IV
March 27th, 1988
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Guests in order of appearance: Gladys Knight, Bob Uecker, Vanna White, and Robin Leach

Actual Show:

Mean Gene Okerlund welcomes us to Wrestlemania IV. Gladys Knight performs “America the Beautiful”. Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura and they are joined for the first match by Bob Uecker.

1. Bad News Brown wins a 20-man battle royal at 9:48.

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

Debut #1: Sika was one half of the legendary Wild Samoans with his brother Afa. Both are members of the legendary A’noai family out of Samoa. The team would hold the WWF Tag Team Titles on three occasions. This is Sika’s only PPV. He and Afa would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 by their sons, Samu and Rosey.

Debut #2: Bad News Brown began as a judo player for two decades, even competing for the US at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. He became a wrestler at the end of the 70s. He would wrestle mainly in Stampede Wrestling in Calgary and over in Japan before coming to the WWF earlier in the year.

WM Debuts: Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Ken Patera, Young Stallions, Boris Zhukov, Sika, Ron Bass

Farewells: A couple of farewells in this match. This is B. Brian Blair’s last PPV. The Killer Bees would be split up later in the year and Blair would bolt shortly after. This is also Hillbilly Jim’s last PPV, aside from his being the Godwinns’ manager in the mid-90s. Also bowing out is George Steele. He would also reappear in the mid-90s as the manager of the Oddities. George “The Animal” Steele was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995 by Doink the Clown.

Analysis: A good battle royal to get these guys a nice payday. One of the weird things is Steele doesn’t get in the ring, but then leaves ringside without participating, although he does toss out the Anvil. A cool moment was Bob Uecker returning for the second year to join the booth for this one match. He would spend the rest of show throwing jabs at the heels and Jesse and searching for Vanna. Back to the match, it comes down to Brown, Hart and JYD. JYD is double teamed and tossed out, then Hart, who made a pact with Brown, gets double crossed. But Hart gets the last laugh by smashing the trophy, starting his eventual face turn. Nice match to kick off what would be a very long night of wrestling. Grade: N/A

Bob Uecker leaves the booth to look for Vanna White. Howard Finkel introduces Robin Leach, who issues a special proclimation for the tournament.

The Buildup for the tournament: Hogan and Andre had their rematch on the Main Event, which Andre won, despite Hogan’s shoulder being up at one. Andre would then surrender the title to Ted Dibiase. After it was revealed that the wrong referee was in the match (the ref was to be Dave Hebner, but it turned out to be his twin brother Earl), Jack Tunney declared the WWF Title vacant and announced this tournament to determine the undisputed WWF Champion.

WWF Championship Tournament- First Round

2. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre the Giant and Virgil) pins “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan with a fistdrop after a knee to the back at 5:02.

Debut #1: Ted Dibiase is a second generation superstar. He was trained by the Funks and debuted in Mid-South. He came to the WWWF in 1979 and was the North American Champion (the precursor to the Intercontinental Title) before returing to Mid-South, performing there, in the NWA, and Japan. He returned in 1987 with promises of a serious push and great gimmick, which he didn’t find out until he came in.

WM Debuts: Ted Dibiase and Virgil

Analysis: Because of the amount of matches, some of these first round matches had to be short and sweet. Here, Dibiase gets 5 decent minutes out of Duggan, and wins with some help from Andre who was in his corner. Duggan had gained a big following, but would never come close to the WWF Title. Dibiase moves on and meets the winner of the Muraco/Bravo match. Grade: 2

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.

3. “The Rock” Don Muraco (w/ “Superstar” Billy Graham) defeats Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin) by disqualification at 4:54.

Debut #1: Frenchy Martin started in Stampede Wrestling and also wrestled in Puerto Rico. He came to the WWF in 1987 as Bravo’s manager.

WM Debuts: Billy Graham and Frenchy Martin

Analysis: A weird match, as Bravo was on the rise following his Rumble performance, but wouldn’t win because he would’ve faced Dibiase, but couldn’t be jobbed either. So he gets DQ’ed and Muraco moves on. Speaking of Muraco, he was big back in the early 80s, but now looks huge. He is running on fumes as well, but wins here and moves on to face Dibiase in the quarter finals. Bravo is not hurt by the loss, and moves on to other things. Grade: 2

Bob Uecker interviews the Honkytonk Man and Jimmy Hart.

4. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) pins Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat with a rollup after reversing a crossbody off the top at 9:11.

Farewell: This is Steamboat’s last PPV until 1991.

Analysis: Clearly the best match of the first round. One year after winning the IC Title in until now the greatest WM match in history, Steamboat has fallen considerably. Here he jobs out to the loyal Valentine in what many considered an upset. I say that because since the winner of this meets the winner of the Savage/Reed match, many thought we would see the ultimate rematch. But alas, it was not meant to be as Steamboat loses and is on his back to Crockett Promotions. Valentine moves on the the quarterfinals. Grade: 3

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews the British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware.

5. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) pins “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) with the elbow off the top at 4:09.

Farewell: This is Butch Reed’s last PPV. Reed would head back to Crockett Promotions just as they became WCW. He would team up with Ron Simmons as the tag team Doom. He would bounce around the Indy circuit before retiring in 2002. Reed made an appearance on Friday Night Smackdown in 2007 for Teddy Long and Kristal’s wedding.

Fun Fact: Savage was to win back the Intercontinental Title from the Honkytonk Man at The Main Event (the same night Andre won the WWF Title). We will see later why Savage doesn’t have the strap.

Analysis: A fun match to keep the show going. This time last year, Reed seemed like a major player, but after not taking his chance to be IC champion, he has fallen by the wayside. Meanwhile, Savage has been cruising since turning face and wins here in a short time, considering what is in store for him throughout the night. Reed eats the pin and is on his way back South. Savage moves on to meet Valentine in the quarterfinals. Grade: 2

Bob Uecker interviews the Islanders and Bobby Heenan.

6. The One Man Gang (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) defeats Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink) by countout at 2:55.

WM Debuts: One Man Gang, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Oliver Humperdink

Farewells: This is Bam Bam’s last PPV until 1993. This is also Oliver Humperdink’s last WWF PPV. He returned to NWA to manager several stars before retiring in 1993.

Analysis: A really bad match. Talk about the promise Reed had, Bigelow probably had just as much promise, but he gets shafted too before he even gets started. Gang tries, but with the size of both men, it led to a slow match that thankfully is very short. But the countout is very cheap as Bigelow is practically back in the ring by the count of ten. Oh well, can’t grieve forever. Bigelow is also on his way back South for now, and the Gang moves on to the quarterfinals. Grade: 1

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan.

7. Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) wrestle to a 15-minute time limit draw.

WM Debut: Rick Rude

Analysis: A much better match than many give it credit. I think because they had to go to the time-limit it caused the match to drag a little, but it is still very entertaining. Rude continues his rise to the top while the Snake remains bulletproof. What started as a simple feud between these two would get much more personal as Rude made advances at Roberts’ wife, Cheryl. But that’s for later in the year. For now, both men are out and the One Man Gang gets a bye to the quarterfinals. Grade: 3

End of First Round.

Mean Gene Okerlund and Vanna White recap the first round and give predictions for the quarterfinals.

8. The Ultimate Warrior pins Hercules (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) with a back suplex bridge at 4:36.

WM Debut: Ultimate Warrior

Analysis: A pretty bad match involving two men with identical styles, although Herc had a little more athletic ability. Warrior had been gaining momentum and Herc had started sliding down the heel ladder since debuting two years ago. Warrior wins here in short time and takes the chain from Herc. Hercules moves on and Warrior will make history later in the year. Grade: 1.5

We see a recap of the story behind the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant feud.

WWF Championship Tournament- Quarterfinals

9. Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant (w/ “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase and Virgil) wrestle to a double disqualification at 5:23.

Fun Fact: Since they were the last two recognized champions, Hogan and Andre received byes to the quarterfinals and would face each other.

Analysis: A bad match that ends in a shocker. Going in, many thought strongly that Hogan was going to breeze through and win the strap back. But no one knew he was preparing to film “No Holds Barred”. But back to the match, when you take away all the hype, energy, and excitement of last year’s Wrestlemania, it leads to a really poor match. Andre continues to fall apart and Hogan gets no better. Both men ended up getting DQ’ed for using the chair, and both are tossed from the tournament. Andre later reveals that was the plan all along, to give Dibiase a quick pass into the finals. Anyway, both Hogan and Andre are gone and the winner of the Dibiase/Muraco match goes to the finals. Grade: 1

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Elizabeth.

10. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase pins “The Rock” Don Muraco (w/ “Superstar” Billy Graham) after a Stungun at 5:35.

Analysis: After the double elimination of Hogan and Andre, the winner here got a free pass to the finals. Muraco had garnered a strong following, but was not seen as a legit contender by this point. Dibiase, who was going alone because Andre was resting and Virgil was destroyed by Hogan, defeats Muraco in short order. Muraco was on his last legs while Dibiase was now the clear favorite to win, as he now had a bye to the finals. Grade: 2

Bob Uecker interviews Demolition and Mr. Fuji. Howard Finkel announces the One Man Gang has received a bye to the semifinals.

11. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) pins Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) with an inside cradle at 6:07.

Analysis: Another tough match for the Macho Man. Valentine was also not a real threat for the title, but could always bring a good match when asked. He beats the tar out of Savage for 6 minutes before getting shocked for the pin. It would have been cool to see these two in a title match, but it would never happen. Valentine moves back down the ladder, while a beaten up Savage heads to the semifinals to face a rested One Man Gang. Grade: 2.5

End of Quarterfinals.

Mean Gene Okerlund and Vanna White recap the quarterfinals and make predictions for the semifinals.

12. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake defeats The Honkytonk Man (w/ “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue) by disqualification at 6:50. Honkytonk Man retains WWF Intercontinental Title.

WM Debut: “Sensational” Sherri

Fun Fact #1: As mentioned above, Honky was to drop the IC Title to Randy Savage at the Main Event. However, Honky’s contract had expired and during talks, he threatened to leave for the NWA with the strap in tow if he couldn’t keep it. Pissed, Vince had to give in to his demands, so he retaines the belt at the Main Event and here while a new deal was finalized.

Fun Fact #2: Peggy Sue is actually then-WWF Women’s Champion “Sensational” Sherri in a blond wig.

Analysis: An ok match to take a break from the tournament. One word about Honky, many criticize that he was given this long run when he didn’t deserve it, but like it or not, he had great heat with the fans and played the lucky champion to the hilt. It’s a shame he felt he had to blackmail Vince in order to keep the strap. He will pay for that later in the year. Back to the match, Beefcake has greatly improved over the year and seemed like a great contender to take the belt, but doesn’t. He does get to cut Jimmy Hart’s hair, so he is slighty satisfied. He was to get a rematch, but is moved aside for another. Decent match, but not the ending the fans were looking for. Grade: 2

Bob Uecker interviews Andre the Giant.

13. The Islanders and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan defeat The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware when Heenan pins Koko after a triple team at 7:35.

WM Debut: Tama

The buildup: The Islanders kidnapped the Bulldogs’ mascot Matilda. Facing threats of suspension, Matilda was returned before this event. The response was massive, as thousands of get well cards were sent in. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs were looking for revenge.

Farewell: Tama would leave the WWF shortly after this event, breaking up the Islanders. He returned to the NWA and wrestled there until his retirement in 1992.

Analysis: A good six man brawl between five guys who could bring it and a great manager. Heenan busts out another classic moment, wrestling in an oversized attack dog suit for the match. The Islanders hit their peak as a team, but Tama would leave and Haku would start a successful solo run. The Bulldogs are on borrowed time. Dynamite’s back continues to get worse, so any push for the team is pretty much out the window. Koko continues his role as putting other talent over. All six men give their all and Heenan gets the shocking pin on Koko, the easiest one to job. After the match, Matilda gets at Heenean, but the Islanders and Heenan get the last word with the win. Grade: 3

Howard Finkel introduces Jesse “The Body” Ventura to the crowd. He gets a great ovation, including a few “Jesse” chants.

WWF Championship Tournament- Semifinals

Howard Finkel announces Ted Dibiase as received a bye to the finals.

14. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) defeats the One Man Gang (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) by disqualification at 4:11.

Analysis: After two tough matches, Savage has another huge challenge in the rested Gang. Gang dominated, but would then get foolishly DQ’ed for using the cane. There were a lot of disqualification endings at this show, but I’m sure they were needed. Savage survives again, but could he really win four matches in one night? For now, the finals for the WWF Championship is set: Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase. Grade: 1.5

End of Semifinals.

Mean Gene Okerlund and Vanna White recap the semifinals and Vanna heads out for the main event.

15. Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji) defeat Strike Force when Smash pins Rick Martel after a cane shot at 8:02 to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

WM Debuts: Demolition

Analysis: A nice match to prepare for the main event. Demolition was slowly growing in popularity, but were still heels for this match. Strike Force were a good prototype babyface team, but their time as champs was at an end. They did a good job to put over Demolition as dominate champs. They would get a rematch later in the year, but lost and during the match, Martel was injured and would not be seen on PPV until the next year. For now, Demolition win the straps and begin what is still today the longest title reign in WWF history. Grade: 3

Howard Finkel introduces Robin Leach, Bob Uecker and Vanna White.

WWF Championship Tournament- Finals

16. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) pins “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre the Giant) after the elbow off the top at 9:17 to become the Undisputed WWF Champion.

Fun Fact: Dibiase was to win the WWF Title here and have a rematch with Savage at Summerslam. Savage would have passed the IC Title to someone else prior to Summerslam. However, after HTM was allowed to keep the IC Title, Savage was given the WWF Title instead. Dibiase would never again come close to the WWF Title again.

Analysis: After a long night, we come to our main event for the vacant WWF Title. Going in to the event, many thought the title would go to either Hogan, Andre, or Dibiase as they were the main ones surrounding the title. Savage had garnered a great following, but it seemed unlikely he would win after wrestling three times. Not to mention, Dibiase had Andre in his corner to help him. In the middle of the match, Savage sent Elizabeth to the back and she brought out Hogan. That move changed the whole dynamic of the match. Hogan would then get involved, hitting Dibiase with the chair, getting his revenge for losing the strap and aiding Savage. Looking back, you feel bad for Dibiase, but he was more of a victim of circumstance. But let’s not discount what Savage did. Winning four matches in one night was a very impressive feat and had not been done before that and has not been done since. Either way, Savage is the champ, but Dibiase and Andre would continue to be a thorn in his side. Grade: 3.5

Savage, Hogan, and Elizabeth pose for the crowd as we go off the air.

Final Anlysis: A very long PPV, but a fun one. It takes a lot of patience to watch this and the Wrestlemanias following this, as they would top double digit matches. The biggest highlight was clearly Savage’s impressive run to the WWF Title. The crowd also saw Demolition take their place in tag team history and saw the rise of the Ultimate Warrior. As mentioned, you do feel bad for Dibiase, but again his demise was more the fault of the Honkytonk Man. In the end, Savage is the champ, the Mega Powers were born, and the stage was set for a new PPV in August, an event that would become the biggest party of the summer. As for this show, it is a good show, but it is a long one. Final Grade: B

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