August 18, 2009
March 29th, 1987
Guests in order of appearance: Aretha Franklin, Bob Uecker, Mary Hart, and Alice Cooper
We see the opening intro for Wrestlemania III. Vince McMahon welcomes us to Wrestlemania III. Aretha Franklin performs “America the Beautiful”.
Your announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura and they introduce Mary Hart and Bob Uecker.
1. The Can-Am Connection defeated The Magnificant Muraco and “Cowboy” Bob Orton (w/ Mr. Fuji) when Rick Martel pinned Muraco with a crossbody at 5:36.
Debuts: The Can-Am Connection are the team of Tom Zenk and Rick Martel. Zenk started in the Pacific Northwest and the AWA and has been a solid tag specialist. Martel had success in the WWWF in the 80s as a tag team champion with Tony Garea. He would move on to the AWA and won the AWA World Championship in 1984.
Farewells: Zenk would have a contract dispute with Vince and leave later that year. He claimed Martel betrayed him and led to his departure. He would move to the NWA and team/feud with Brian Pillman. Also bowing out is Bob Orton. He would bounce around the AWA and NWA before retiring in 1999. “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 by his son, current WWE star Randy Orton.
Analysis: A good opener to the event. The Can-Am Connection is a fresh team and was on the fast track to the titles, but Zenk’s departure stopped that. However, Martel would get a new partner and resume that push. On the other side, Orton is done and Muraco would go a new direction with a little help on the side. All four men put forth a good effort and begin what would be a historic night. Grade: 2.5
We see the history of the next match. Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Hercules and Bobby Heenan.
2. Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules (w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) wrestle to a double countout at 7:54.
Debut: Haynes was trained in Stu Hart’s Dungeon and wrestled for Stampede, WCCW, and Championship Wrestling from Florida. His greatest success came in Crockett Promotions teaming with Wahoo McDaniels. This is his only WWF PPV appearance and he would leave shortly afterwards. He retired in 1996.
The Buildup: Both men claimed to have the better Full Nelson submission, so this match was set.
Analysis: A slow, sloppy match that is best remembered for the end. Both men were focused on the using the Full Nelson that it led to a boring match that also ended in a lousy schmozz. Afterwards, Herc grabs his chain and beats the dog out of Billy Jack, busting him open. Herc leaves a badass and Haynes is punked out and eventually is shown the door. Not a great match. Grade: 1.5
Mean Gene interviews the participants of the next match. Bob Uecker joins Gorilla and Jesse.
3. Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver defeat King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, and Lord Littlebrook by disqualification when Bundy drops an elbow on Beaver at 4:26.
Analysis: After main eventing last year’s event, Bundy is in a six man tag match with four midgets. Actually, these little guys are legends in the world of midget wrestling. But by this point, I think it should have been one on one with Bundy and Jim. The midgets won’t be seen again until the mid-90s and Bundy and Jim move on. Bad match. Grade: 1
Mary Hart interviews Randy “Macho Man” Savage. We see the history for the next match. Mean Gene interviews the participants of the next match.
4. “King” Harley Race (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and The Fabolous Moolah) pins The Junkyard Dog with a belly to belly suplex at 3:23.
Debut: Harley Race is argubly one of the greatest wrestlers of the 70s. He would hold the NWA Title 8 times throughout his career and feud with all the top names, including facing WWF Champions in champion vs. champion matches. He would lose the NWA Title for the last time in 1983 at the first Starrcade to his successor, Ric Flair. In 1986, Race jumped to the WWF and won that year’s King of the Ring.
The Buildup: These two fought on Saturday Night’s Main Event with the JYD winning by disqualification, but Race and Heenan got the last word. This was the rematch.
Stipulation: The loser had to bow and kneel before his King.
Analysis: Man, had this match happened a few years earlier, it would have been a classic. Instead, it’s 1987 and both men are certainly on the end of great careers. Harley Race, one of the greatest of all time, is now King and is slowing down. JYD is getting worse and worse by the year. Damn shame really, because both men still tried their hardest to work a good match. Race wins, but JYD leaves with the robe and a standing ovation. A nice moment for him, but the match was not a nice moment. Grade: 1.5
Vince McMahon interviews Hulk Hogan.
5. The Dream Team (w/ “Luscious” Johnny V. and Dino Bravo) defeat the Rougeau Brothers when Greg Valentine pins Raymond at 4:02.
Debuts #1 and 2: Jacques and Raymond Rougeau are the sons of wrestling legend Jacques Rougeau Sr. The brothers began at home in Montreal before coming to the WWF in 1986.
Debut #3: Dino Bravo began in the NWA and WWWF, winning the Tag Team Titles in the latter promotion with Dominic DeNucci. He also held the WWWF Canadian Heavyweight Championship. He quit in 1985, but returned a year later to team with Johnny V.
Farewell: This is Johnny Valiant’s last PPV. He would be the first manager of Demolition before leaving for the AWA, where he managed the Destruction Crew to the AWA Tag Team Titles. Johnny Valiant, along with partner Jimmy, were inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996 by Owen Hart and the British Bulldog, becoming the first tag team inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Analysis: A solid match more focused on the eventual split of the Dream Team. The Rougeaus impress here and would only get better. The Dream Team are finished as Beefcake is left alone after his partners abandon him when he almost cost them the match. Bravo and Valentine would form the New Dream Team while Beefcake would get a new persona, as we will see in the next match. Good match here to set up the next. Grade: 2.5
We see the history of the next match.
6. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper forces “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) to submit to the sleeper at 6:55.
The buildup: Adonis would transform Piper’s Pit into the Flower Shop during Roddy Piper’s absence. Piper would return and the two feuded, with Adonis injuring Piper’s leg. It was also announced this would be Piper’s retirement match.
Stipulation: The loser would have his head shaved.
Farewell: This is Adonis’s last PPV. He would move to the AWA, but his time there was short too following an ankle injury. Sadly, Adrian Adonis was killed in a minivan accident on July 4th, 1988 at the age of 33.
Analysis: An average match best remembered for the end. Adonis was in terrible shape, but pulled it together for one more hurrah before his tragic death. He almost gets the win, but gets beat by Piper. After the match, Brutus Beefcake, left by the Dream Team in the previous match, does the honor of shaving Adonis’s hair, officially becoming “The Barber” and turns face. I give props to Jimmy Hart who got his ass kicked during this match, but kept on coming. Piper ends his career for now on a high note, but wouldn’t be gone for long. Decent match, great crowd pops and ending for the Hot Rod. Grade: 3
Mary Hart and Bob Uecker join the broadcast booth and Jesse Ventura is introduced in the ring.
7. The Hart Foundation and “Dangerous” Danny Davis (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeat the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana when Davis pins Davey Boy Smith following a megaphone shot at 8:52.
Debut: Danny Davis began as a wrestler before becoming a referee. He started as a neutral ref, but in 1986 became a biased ref, favoring the heels. He was suspened as a referee and became a wrestler again.
The buildup: Davis was the referee when Tito lost the Intercontinental Title to Randy Savage and also cost the Bulldogs the Tag Team Titles to the Foundation on Superstars on January 26th. After the latter event, President Jack Tunney would suspend Davis as a referee for life, and Davis would become a wrestler.
Analysis: Great 6-man tag match. The Harts and Bulldogs weren’t afraid to be stiff with each other, as evident in their feud throughout the last few years. The big issue here is Davis getting his beatdown due to his shady officiating. He gets his licks, but gets the last word thanks to the megaphone. The crowd doesn’t like it, but that’s the way it goes. The Bulldogs are running on fumes, as Dynamite’s back gets worse. Tito continues to float along and the Foundation move on to new challengers. A really good match that got the crowd going. Grade: 3.5
Mean Gene interviews Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan.
8. “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) pins Koko B. Ware with a roll-up and a handful of tights at 3:39.
Debut #1: Koko began his career in the NWA and gained fame as part of the tag team Pretty Young Things. He came to the WWF and was named “The Birdman” and given a macaw named Frankie as his sidekick.
Debuts #2 and 3: Butch Reed began in Mid-South feuding with the Junkyard Dog. He would also wrestle in the NWA territory in Kansas City before coming to the WWF in 1986 with his manager. Slick began in Texas moving to Kansas City. He came to the WWF in 1986 with Reed and took Freddie Blassie’s place as manager of the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff.
Analysis: A simple squash to establish the new heel. Koko was in the same boat as Tito Santana and the JYD, always there to put over the new talent. Santana comes out ot assist Koko and assult Slick. Reed was on the verge of a major push, but would screw himself on that and never come close again. Koko rolls on as well. A small soid affair as we prepare for the gem that was the nexr match. Grade: 1.5
We see the history of the next match.
9. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (w/ George “The Animal” Steele) pins “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) with a small package at 14:33 to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
The buildup: During a match between the two, Savage would injure Steamboat’s throat with the ring bell. This was the anticipated rematch and it didn’t disappoint.
Fun Fact: This match was named PWI’s 1987 Match of the Year and voted by the WWE superstars as the fourth greatest match in Wrestlemania history.
Analysis: As we know, Hogan and Andre drew the crowd for this show, but this was the match that stole the show. Savage and Steamboat go hold for hold and move for move for 15 minutes and leaves the crowd on the edge of their seats. Both men came into the match with high expectations and left with their careers better than they were. Savage became a bonafided star and had bigger goals for his future. Steamboat gets his revenge and the strap, but sadly it would go downhill for the Dragon from here. If you have not seen this match, go watch it. It is truly what a Wrestlemania match should be. Grade: 5
Mean Gene interviews the participants of the next match.
10. The Honkytonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart) pins Jake “The Snake” Roberts (w/ Alice Cooper) with a rollup and using the ropes for leverage at 7:16.
Debut: HTM is the real life cousin of Jerry Lawler. He started in Memphis as a solo and tag wrestler moving to the different territories before coming to the WWF. He started as a face under the Elvis impersonator gimmick, but turned when the fans rejected him.
The buildup: On an episode of The Snake Pit, HTM smashed a guitar over Roberts’s head, resulting in a legit injury to Jake’s neck. In his DVD, Jake mentions the guy who got the guitar was unaware of what it was to be used for, so the guitar brought back was one inch thick. Both Jake and HTM dispute that this was when Jake’s addictions began.
Analysis: A nice little match to spell the crowd after the classic they witnessed, but not too much to take them out of the main event. Honky was a very entertaining character, but was never one to be taken real seriously. Here, he gets a surprise win over the Snake, but Jake and Cooper get the last laugh by unleashing Damien on Jimmy Hart. Roberts would move on to a more personal feud, while Honky would shock the whole world in about three months. Grade: 2.5
Howard Finkel introduces Mean Gene Okerlund who announces a new indoor world attendence record of 93,173.
11. The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff (w/ “The Doctor of Style” Slick) defeat the Killer Bees by disqualification when “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan nails Shiek with the 2x4 at 5:41.
Debut: Duggan began his career in Mid-South. He wrestled as both a heel and a face, the latter which drew record crowds in Louisiana. He jumped to the WWF in January.
Farewell: This is the last PPV for the Iron Shiek. He was set to feud with Duggan, but the two were pulled over in New Jersey and arrested for being under the influence of marijuana and cocaine. Both were released, but Duggan would return later in the year. Shiek would not return until 1991.
Analysis: One more short filler match before the main event. I feel bad for the Bees as they were always a solid tag team, but were never champions or even a contender for the straps. Here, they are just fodder for the feud between Shiek/Volkoff and Duggan. But that feud would not take off when Duggan and Shiek were both released for driving under the influence, though as mentioned Duggan would return. Volkoff would leave Slick and get a new partner by November. We breeze through this and go on to the main event. Grade: 2
Mean Gene interviews Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan. We see the buildup to the main event. Mean Gene interviews Hulk Hogan. Howard Finkel introduces Mary Hart and Bob Uecker.
12. Hulk Hogan pins Andre the Giant (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) after a legdrop at 11:58 to retain the WWF Championship.
The buildup: Both Hogan and Andre were presented trophies for their accomplishments, though Andre’s was smaller than Hogan’s. Then, on an episode of Piper’s Pit, Andre, flanked by Bobby Heenan, challenged Hogan to a title shot, then sealed the deal by ripping off Hogan’s shirt and cross. The stage was set for the biggest main event in history.
Analysis: This is what a Wrestlemania main event should be. The buildup was amazing, with the shocking heel turn, and the crowd was at a fever pitch. The two biggest stars in wrestling at the time face to face. The match itself is what you would expect. Hogan is not one to carry anyone and Andre is getting worse and worse as the years take their toll on his body. The heat was awesome, with the early almost 3-count where Hogan got out at about 2 and 15/16. Andre would dominate until the end, when Hogan pulled out a true “Holy Shit” moment when he slammed Andre, bringing one of the biggest pops ever. A legdrop later, and Andre is no longer undefeated. Legend has it that Andre could have been a jerk and squashed Hogan if he wanted, but gave up his legacy for the greater good of the company. He deserves a lot of credit for that. Also it was cool to see Bobby in his all white suit. Bad match, but the buildup, heat, and energy more than makes up for it. Grade: 3
Gorilla and Jesse recap the night and thanks us for joining them at Wrestlemania III. We close the event with the still photos of the event set to the music of Aretha Franklin singing “America the Beautiful”.
Final Analysis: There have been many debates as to which Wrestlemania is the greatest, but it always seems like this is always close to the top of the list, and for good reason. Everything worked on this given night, although it almost didn’t happen. Legend has it the promoters of the Silverdome didn’t want the event on this date, as the Rolling Stones and the Pope sandwiched it, and the promoters were worried that there wasn’t enough money for the events. But Vince pushed through with the event, and it drew more people than the other events. Vince deserves a hell of a lot of credit for this event. It would be a while before he would put on an event that had the heat, crowd support, and energy this event had. If you have not seen this event, track it down and watch it, as it is a must see for any true wrestling fan. Final Grade: A+