August 23, 2004
Sheldon Kane III
Six-Man Elimination Tag Team Match
Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper & Billy Jack Haynes vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, & Hercules
Boston Garden, Boston, MA
March 7, 1987
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
The month of March 1987 was a month filled with anxiety and anticipation for the World Wrestling Federation. Later in that month, the organization would be presenting the biggest professional wrestling event of all time, at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The event, of course, was WrestleMania III, an event which would set a new North American indoor attendance record of 93,173. On this card, many historic matches would take place; three, in particular, had fans buzzing with anticipation. The main event: World Wrestling Federation Champion Hulk Hogan defending the title against his greatest challenge to date; the 7'4", 520-pound Andre the Giant. In what was billed as his "farewell match": Rowdy Roddy Piper would be facing "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, in a match in which the loser's head would be shaved clean. And a titanic battle of full-nelsons: Portland, Oregon's favorite son Billy Jack Haynes taking on Bobby "The Brain" Heenan's strong man, the mighty Hercules.
Fans attending the March 7 show at the Boston Garden (myself being one of them, as a 10-year old Hulkamaniac) would get a small taste of two of those three upcoming battles. While Piper would get a crack at Adonis and Billy Jack would have a shot against Hercules, the Hulkster was not as fortunate. Andre's manager Bobby Heenan decided to make Hogan wait until later to face Andre. Instead, Hogan would get a very familiar face from his past, his former friend-turned-enemy "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff. With Orndorff, the Immortal One had what was considered to be the hottest feud of 1986. Now, it seemed Hogan would have one last shot at his former partner before stepping into the Silverdome to take on the gargantuan "Eighth Wonder of the World."
The lines were drawn. The stage was set. Three weeks prior to WrestleMania III, six of the World Wrestling Federation's greatest names would go into battle, in a six-man elimination tag team war.
This match would be contested under what is known today as "Survivor Series Rules": when any man is pinned, forced to submit, counted out, disqualified, or deemed unable to continue, he is eliminated from further competition and must leave the ringside area. Of course, this would make for some interesting combinations; concievably, the match could end up three-against-two, two-against-one, even three-against-one! This process would continue until all three members of either team would be eliminated.
After all six men were introduced, the contest began right away. Hogan went after Adonis, Piper and Hercules slugged it out, and Haynes and Orndorff tussled. Piper immediately Irish whipped Hercules into a corner of the ring, and Hogan followed suit, whipping Adonis into Hercules. Soon, all three heels decided to head outside the ring to get themselves regrouped, and confer with managers Bobby Heenan and "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart (representing Adonis). Meanwhile, the Hulkster paid tribute to Piper, leading the fans in a wave of cheers, for this would be (what many fans at the time thought to be) the last time Rowdy Roddy Piper would wrestle at the Boston Garden. Haynes opened up the ropes, and Piper stepped through, ready to start off the match. Adonis seemed to want to face Piper, but Jimmy Hart was holding him back from getting into the ring. A loud "Roddy!" chant broke out in the Boston Garden, as Piper demanded for Adonis to get into the ring and take him on. Instead, the heel team opted to send Hercules into the ring to start off the match. Piper thought better of it, and decided to tag the Hulkster in to give Hercules a more evenly matched opponent. The two strongmen locked up in a collar and elbow tieup. Hercules snuck in a knee to the midsection, and started pounding the champion in the corner with a series of forearms. Hercules threw Hogan to the opposite corner, but Hogan reversed the move, and caught the mighty one with a clothesline. Hercules slumped down in the corner. Hogan grabbed Hercules and dragged him to the babyface corner, rammed his head into Piper's boot, and tagged in Billy Jack Haynes. Billy Jack went straight to work, with a series of kicks to the midsection. Billy Jack then dragged Hercules into the middle, and floored him with a kneelift. Hercules quickly scurried over to his own corner, and Orndorff tagged himself into the match. Both men circled one another, and locked up. Billy Jack ensnared Orndorff in a powerful side headlock. Orndorff shoved Billy Jack to the ropes, but caught Orndorff on the rebound with a shoulderblock. Billy Jack then ran the opposite ropes, Orndorff missed a clothesline, and Billy Jack caught him with a cross bodyblock, which registered the first two-count of the match. Billy Jack took a fighting stance, while Orndorff complained to referee Fred Sparta of a pull of the tights. Orndorff refocused on the Oregonian, and locked up with him once again. The two men remain locked in a struggle, until Orndorff took Billy Jack with a takedown, who countered with a headscissors. A frustrated Orndorff stared a hole through Billy Jack, and the two locked up yet again. This time, Orndorff trapped Billy Jack in another side headlock, and with Billy Jack still in his grip, "Mr. Wonderful" tagged in Adonis.
Adonis attacked immediately, pelting Billy Jack with a forearm blow. Orndorff snuck in an elbow to the back of the head and returned to his corner. Adonis mimicked the elbow to Billy Jack, and appeared to be going for a bulldog headlock, but Billy Jack shoved him to the ropes. Adonis caught him with a shoulderblock coming off. The Adorable One then ran the opposite ropes, but Billy Jack caught him with a back bodydrop. Adonis rose up, and Billy Jack caught him with a hard right. Adonis walked into a right hand from Hogan, then walked back into a series of rights from Billy Jack, who scoop-slammed the 295-pound New Yorker. Billy Jack tagged in Piper, and it seemed the fans would get a sneak-peek at WrestleMania III. Adonis instead headed for higher ground, and tagged in Orndorff, to the disapproval of the audience in Boston. Piper and Orndorff, no strangers to one another, stared one another down as "Roddy!" chants broke out. Piper dared Orndorff to try out a test of strength, which Orndorff accepted. The two men locked hands and Orndorff gained the initial edge, bringing Piper to his knees. Piper quickly countered and turned it into a twist and arm lock, and Piper reached out to tag the Hulkster, much to Orndorff's horror. Piper held out Orndorff's left arm for Hogan to climb the second rope, and come down with a double axhandle to the shoulder. Hogan then applied an armlock twist of his own, wringing Orndorff's arm around numerous times. Hogan then stepped out to the apron, jumped down, and wrenched Orndorff's arm across the ropes, almost appearing to tear the arm out of its socket. Hogan then slid back inside and continued to work over the left arm of Orndorff, before reaching out to tag in Billy Jack. Billy Jack worked on the same arm, applying another armlock and pounding away on the shoulder, before turning it into an armbar. Orndorff managed to make it to his corner as he was locked in the armbar, and tagged Hercules. Hercules began pounding the back of Billy Jack's head, and when referee Fred Sparta turned his back towards Hogan's and Piper's corner, Adonis and Hercules began to double-team Billy Jack. Adonis quickly stepped back out to avoid being caught by the official, and Hercules started to work on his WrestleMania III opponent with a hard knee to the side of the head and a series of stomps. Hercules then dragged Billy Jack to another corner, ramming his head into the turnbuckle and following it up with a series of stiff forearm blows. Hercules then went to ram Billy Jack into a turnbuckle in the opposite corner, but Billy Jack blocked, and rammed Hercules's head instead. After working him over with some chops, Billy Jack went to throw Hercules to the opposing corner, but Hercules reversed it, sending Billy Jack back to the same corner, and catching him with a hard clothesline which let out an "oooh" from the audience.
Hercules made it to his feet and pulled Billy Jack up, tagging in Adonis before slamming his adversary to the mat. With Billy Jack down, Adonis dropped an elbow across his throat. Billy Jack reached around for a tag, but Adonis locked his right leg and crashed down on it with his 295 pounds. As Adonis circled his fallen opponent, he managed to sneak in a cheap shot on his WrestleMania III opponent, Roddy Piper, who fell on the apron after taking the punch. Hogan warded off Adonis from further attacks, and the Adorable One refocused on Billy Jack, scoring a powerslam. As Adonis lifted Billy Jack for an atomic drop, which he completed, Billy Jack reached out and tagged in Piper. The fans in the Boston Garden went berserk, as Piper and Adonis started trading blows. Piper gets the better of the exchange and throws Adonis into the opposite corner. Adonis goes flying upside down and over the top rope, to the floor. A six-man brawl ensued, as everyone began fighting it out in and out of the ring. Ultimately, this caused the first two eliminations of the match: Piper and Adonis were both counted out of the ring at 11:25. Despite being eliminated, Piper brought a chair into the ring, and sat down in the middle, daring Adonis to come back in and fight some more. Adonis attempted to get in, but was held back by Hercules and Jimmy Hart. Before Piper could leave, Hogan reached out and raised his hand, as the fans cheered and Piper waved to the Boston Garden fans for what seemed to be the last time. Piper exited, and the match continued two-against-two.
Orndorff stood on the ring apron brandishing a chair, distracting the referee and allowing Hercules to ambush Hogan with a clothesline. Hercules then worked over the champion with a series of hard knees to the body. Orndorff snuck around the ring and caught Hogan with an elbow before being chased off by Billy Jack. Hercules brought Hogan to his feet and dropped him back down with a series of powerful rights, followed by a pair of elbow drops. Hercules then tagged Orndorff, who kneed Hogan below the waist as Hercules held him back. Orndorff attacked his former partner with a series of punches, followed by a series of elbows to the head. Orndorff went for one elbow too many, and missed his final two shots. The Hulkster was right back on his feet, and started pummeling Orndorff with several right hand shots. Hercules attempted to intervene, but Hogan grabbed him, and slammed his and Orndorff's heads together. Hogan then rammed Orndorff into the waiting boot of Billy Jack, as the champion worked over Hercules in the opposite corner. Hogan then turned his attention back to Orndorff, throwing him to the ropes and ducking down for a backdrop. Orndorff caught him on the rebound with a kick to the face, which dropped Hogan to the mat. Orndorff moved in quickly, dropping an elbow into Hogan's lower extremities. Orndorff stomped away at Hogan, and as soon as he was in the wrong corner, Hercules grabbed him and held him back as "Mr. Wonderful" charged off the ropes. Hogan ducked, and Orndorff leveled Hercules, allowing the Immortal One to catch Orndorff by surprise with a rollup. A three-count later, Orndorff was eliminated at 15:26. Orndorff tried to stomp Hogan after getting pinned, but Billy Jack fought him off, only to get jumped by Hercules. Meanwhile, Orndorff continued to assault Hogan, while the referee tried to tell Orndorff he had to leave. Orndorff responded by bashing the official with a right handed punch. Orndorff then snuck in a few more cheap shots on Hogan before leaving the ring. As he did, Hercules covered Billy Jack, and eliminated him by pinfall at 16:23. The match was now a one-on-one confrontation: Hulk Hogan taking on Hercules.
Hercules went on the attack, assaulting Hogan with a series of punches and forearm blows. With the champion seemingly weakened, Hercules moved in for the kill, and trapped the Hulkster in his backbreaker submission hold, similar to Lex Luger's "torture rack". Once before on an edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, Hercules had applied this hold on Hogan, and appeared to have won the title, but it was not to be. The mighty Hercules attempted to force a submission out of Hogan this time around, but Hercules released the hold and dropped him to the canvas, instead opting to pin the champ. Fred Sparta counted to two, but Hogan kicked out with authority, and the famous "Hulk up" began, with a sold-out crowd of Hulkamaniacs cheering their hero on with fervor. Hogan made a strong comeback, scoring two rights and ramming Hercules into the opposite turnbuckes numerous times. A clothesline and running legdrop later, it was all over by pinfall, at the 18:04 mark. For good measure, Hogan put a beatdown on manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, perhaps sending a message to Heenan's charge Andre the Giant, for their confrontation at WrestleMania III. Hulk Hogan emerged as the sole survivor on this night at the Boston Garden...but Hulkamaniacs in attendance still wondered if their champion would be as successful at the Pontiac Silverdome.
At WrestleMania III; Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules battled to a double-countout. After the match, Hercules bloodied Billy Jack with his steel chain wrapped around his fist. Rowdy Roddy Piper was successful in his "farewell" match with Adrian Adonis, winning the match with a sleeperhold. Brutus Beefcake had the honors of cutting Adonis's hair. The Hulkster successfully defended the championship, handing Andre the Giant his first stateside pinfall loss in 15 years, and bodyslamming him in the process. Paul Orndorff did not participate in WrestleMania III.
Unfortunately, two of the participants in the six-man elimination match, Adrian Adonis and Hercules, have since passed away. Adrian Adonis, born Keith Franke, died on July 4, 1988, after a mini-van driven by wrestler Mike Kelly went over a cliff and into a lake in Lewisporte, Newfoundland. He was 34. Ray "Hercules" Hernandez died on February 13, 2004, from heart disease. He was 47 years of age.