October 7, 2008
Alexander Settee

Wrestlemania V, April 2, 1989, Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, NJ
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse “The Body” Ventura

So to follow up last week’s review of Wrestlemania IV, I move on now to Wrestlemania V, with WWF Champion Randy Savage returning to the very building where he won the belt one year ago, to defend it against the very man who helped him win it. I’ve always remembered this as one of the better show of the time period, so I’m hoping that it holds up.

Opening Match: King Haku (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Hercules

Hercules is seeking revenge on the Heenan Family after The Brain tried to sell him as a slave to Ted Dibiase, and Haku was the only guy available, so here we are. Haku jumps him right off the bat and works him over with chops and kicks. Irish whip is reversed and Herc gets a hiptoss and a slam. He then gets an Irish whip and flapjack type move. Herc clotheslines Haku out, and then suplexes him right back in, followed by dropping a couple of elbows. Herc then makes the mistake of going after Heenan which allows Haku to sneak up with a clothesline on the floor. He runs Herc’s back to the apron a couple of times and gets him back in where he holds him in a backbreaker. 2 count for Haku off of that, and now he goes to the bearhug, but Herc soon breaks it. Haku still manages to kick him and choke him on the ropes. Irish whip, Herc ducks and comes back off with a crossbody for 2. Corner whip by Herc is reversed, and Herc jumps up and comes back off with a bodypress, however Haku is able to avoid it. Herc wins a slugfest and follows up with a kneelift and a couple of clotheslines. Powerslam gets 2, and he goes up top, but Haku catches him coming down with a crescent kick. Splash from the 2nd rope misses and allows Herc to get a back suplex, lift his own shoulder at 2 and keep Haku down for 3 (the same tactic he fell victim to last year against the Warrior) at 6:53. Not as intense as the feud would have called for, but it was a decent opener. *

The Twin Towers (w/Slick) vs. The Rockers

The Rockers use speed to avoid the Towers and knock them off the apron. Shawn, making his Wrestlemania debut here, starts off with Boss Man. Boss Man powers him back to the corner and slaps him. Marty takes a shot at him and that provides enough distraction for Shawn to get a dropkick off the 2nd rope. Irish whip is reversed; Shawn leapfrogs and gets a shot in on both Akeem and Boss Man. Tag to Akeem now and he and Shawn have a dance off, with Shawn doing a moonwalk. Now Shawn grabs a wristlock, and the Rockers work off that for a bit with several tags and the use of the speed advantage to stay in control. That can’t last forever though, and Akeem is eventually able to tag Boss Man with Marty getting caught in the ring and squashed between the Towers. Boss Man gets a rope straddle and tags back out to Akeem, who gets a splash against the ropes. Now the Towers use quick tags and double teams to dominate Marty, including a double splash in the corner. Boss Man holds Marty for a charge by Akeem, but Marty moves and the Towers collide allowing the hot tag to Shawn. He works over Akeem, and Marty is soon back to join him. They whip him back and forth from corner to corner. Double shoulderblock gets 2 as Marty is finally put out of the ring. Irish whip is reversed, Shawn ducks, but coming back off he gets nailed. Tag to Boss Man, who goes up, but misses a splash and Shawn gets 2 from that. Off the ropes, Shawn jumps up on Boss Man’s shoulders and punches away, then Marty comes in to help knock Boss Man over. Double dropkick on Akeem and then they both go up for top rope dropkicks on Boss Man. That gets 2 as Akeem makes it back to save. Marty gets dumped outside. Shawn goes up and tries a rana on Boss Man, but gets powerbombed. Tag to Akeem, who nails a splash and that gets 3 at 8:07. Decent match as Shawn and Marty did a good job of keeping the pace up. *1/2

Ted Dibiase (w/Virgil) vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake

Dibiase shows off his brand new Million Dollar Belt to Beefcake, but as he hands it off to Virgil, Beefcake cheapshots him, and follows that with a backdrop and hiptoss. Off the ropes and Dibiase gets backdropped again so he bails. Back in, Dibiase gets a knee and hammers away. Corner whip is reversed with Dibiase hitting, and Beefcake gets a couple of slams. He then clotheslines Dibiase outside. He regroups again and when he comes back in he loses a slugfest, but Virgil grabs Beefcake’s leg and trips him allowing Dibiase to take control. He gets an Irish whip and elbow followed by a fistdrop for 2. Clothesline is next, and then a double axhandle off the 2nd rope for 2. Another Irish whip, but he puts the head down and Beefcake rolls him up in a small package for 2. Dibiase is up quickly and stomps him down. Suplex is blocked and reversed by Beefcake. Irish whip leads to them clotheslining each other. Dibiase gets a suplex and hooks the Million Dollar Dream, but Beefcake makes the ropes. He recovers and rams Dibiase repeatedly to the buckle. Dibiase begs off, but Beefcake has none of that and hooks the sleeper. Virgil gets on the apron, so Beefcake stupidly goes after him which allows Dibiase to come from behind and send Beefcake out. Virgil attacks on the floor, and even though Beefcake no sells it, the distraction still allows Dibiase to come from behind. They brawl on the floor and are both counted out at 10:01. Lame finish, as they wanted to keep both guys looking good, but they were just in holding patterns until their new feuds would begin following this show. *

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Bushwhackers

The Whackers manage to steal Jimmy Hart’s coat, and they get permission from the fans to destroy it, but the Rougeaus jump in and put a stop to that. Jimmy comes in to retrieve the coat, but the Rougeaus end up getting whipped into him, and they all bail to regroup. Raymond and Luke start out for real now, with Luke avoiding a few shots and then having Butch come in so they can nail the Battering Ram. Jacques attempts to save but ends up dropping a knee on his own partner. Raymond then hooks a Boston crab briefly as the Rougeaus keep Luke in their corner. Slam and double axhandle off the 2nd rope hit before Raymond tags Jacques. They maintain control in their half of the ring with a few quick tags and double team moves. Jacques gets him in an abdominal stretch and tags Raymond who comes in with a crescent kick to the gut. They celebrate, but in comes Butch and they get the Battering Ram on Jacques. Double stomachbreaker gets the pin for Luke to give the Bushwhackers the win at 4:12. Not much going on here. DUD

Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer

Perfect grabs a side headlock. He gets fired off, and the Blazer leapfrogs him and then gets a hiptoss. They lockup, with Perfect backing him to the corner and slapping him, and then taking him down with a single leg and slapping him again. Irish whip sees Blazer flip through a hiptoss attempt and come back with a slam, followed by a dropkick to send Perfect out. Baseball slide hits, and then Blazer gets some uppercuts on the floor. Back in a corner whip leads to a series of reversals that ends with Blazer getting a hiptoss. He now gets a slam and a dropkick followed by a backbreaker for 1. Suplex also gets 1, and then a slam sets up a top rope splash which hits knees. Perfect hammers him and goes to a rear chinlock. Blazer makes it to his feet, but Perfect chops him. Corner whip sees Blazer get the boot up on the charge and the nail a powerslam for 2. Corner whip by Blazer sets up a belly to belly suplex for 2. Blazer then gets a crucifix for a close 2.5 count. He argues that with the ref, but that allows Perfect to nail him and hook the Perfect Plex for the pin at 5:50. For the short amount of time they were given they packed a lot of hot action in there. *** I’d like to see a 15-20 minute Hennig-Owen match from this time period, because if this is any indication, they could have torn the house down.

WWF Tag Team Championship Handicap Match: Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain & Mr. Fuji

This is the blowoff for the big double turn that took place back at Survivor Series where Fuji cost Demolition the match and sided with the Powers instead. Warlord starts out with Ax and they trade shots with each other before Ax tags Smash. Warlord powers Smash to his corner and tags Barbarian, and again they just trade shots. Tag to Ax who gets a clothesline and slam before tagging back to Smash. He nails an elbow, tags Ax again, and they hit a double elbow. Ax then holds a rear chinlock briefly before tagging out once more. Barbarian gets in a shot to the throat and tags Warlord, but Smash fights him off and tags Ax. No one can accuse these teams of not keeping the fresh man in, that’s for sure. The Demos get a double clothesline, and Ax goes after Fuji but gets nailed by the Barbarian. Fuji steps on his throat in the corner and then gets tagged in himself. He hits some chops and drops a headbutt before tagging right back out to Barbarian. Irish whip and big boot hit, followed by a shoulderblock and a tag to Warlord. He hammers Ax down and gets a 2 count before tagging again. He picks Ax up and tags Fuji. Slam by Barbarian sets up a top rope leg drop by Fuji, which misses, although Fuji is able to tag Warlord. Warlord misses a clothesline, which allows Ax the chance to get one of his own and tag Smash. Barbarian comes in, but Smash takes on both Powers with little trouble. He drops Warlord on the ropes for 2 with Barbarian saving. Everyone is in now and Warlord holds Smash so Fuji can salt him, but Smash ducks and Warlord takes it instead. Ax has disposed of Barbarian, so the Demos hit the Decapitation on Fuji (who I’m not sure is the legal man unless I missed a tag there) and get the 3 count to retain the titles at 8:56. Cheap finish, pinning the manager and all, and the match itself wasn’t really anything special. ½*

Dino Bravo (w/Frenchy Martin) vs. Rugged Ronnie Garvin

After the introductions, we get a special surprise: the return of Superfly Jimmy Snuka. He takes a lap and waves to the crowd before leaving so we can get the match underway. Bravo jumps Garvin, nailing a slam, and dropping an elbow. He gets some shots to the back, followed by a clothesline. Bearhug is hooked, but not held for long. Bravo whips him off the ropes and gets a shoulderblock, and then does it a second time for 2 using a one footed cover. After some stomps, Garvin is finally able to turn it around and pound Bravo down for 2. Off the ropes, and he gets a forearm for 2. Cradle also gets 2, and next he hooks a sleeper, but Bravo makes the ropes. Garvin can’t get a piledriver and Bravo gets a backdrop, but Garvin holds on and gets a rollup for 2. Garvin mounts for punches in the corner, but Bravo atomic drops out of there. Side suplex hits and Bravo gets 3 at 4:00. Garvin gets his heat back by attacking and hitting the Garvin Stomp on Frenchy. DUD

The Brain Busters (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Strike Force

Rick Martel was injured shortly after Wrestlemania IV, and since coming back has gone into singles competition, but Santana has insisted on getting the old team back together. This is their first match together in about ten months taking on the Brain Busters, who even as good as they were, really seemed out of place in the WWF. Tully and Martel start out with Martel getting a side headlock takedown. Tully gets up and fires him off the ropes and Arn gets him with a knee to the back. Martel nails both of them, and now all four are in. Strike Force gets dropkicks on both Busters to assert their dominance. Arn takes over now with an Irish whip, but Martel rams him to the mat for a couple of pin attempts. From the mat Arn hooks a bodyscissors, but Martel manages to grab the legs and flip him over to the Boston crab. Tully reaches in and thumbs him in the eye to break it, and then takes the tag from Arn. As Tully fires Martel off, Martel gets a blind tag to Santana who comes in with a bulldog from behind and hooks the figure four. Arn is in, so Martel gets his own figure four on him. Arn goes to the eyes on Santana and both holds are then broken. Tully gets a cover on Santana for 2, but Santana bridges out and then gets a backslide for 2. Busters try a double team, but Santana gets a small package for 1 on Tully. Melee ensues and in the confusion Santana inadvertently nails Martel with the Flying Jalapeno. Martel goes to the floor and sells it big time. Tully gets a dropkick and tags Arn. The Busters work over Santana while Martel recovers on the outside, perhaps selling it a bit too melodramatically. Tully gets a kneedrop for 2, followed by a corner whip, but Santana leaps up ad comes off with a crossbody for 2. Tag to Arn, who hooks a rear chinlock. After holding it for a bit, he tries a corner whip, which is reversed, but he gets the knee up when Santana charges. Arn goes up top, but Santana slams him off. He goes to tag Martel, but Martel won’t take it while Arn makes the tag to Tully. Martel walks out as the Busters continue to destroy Santana. Arn gets the spinebuster and tags Tully, who struts in confidently. Santana tries to fight back, but Tully blocks his attempt at a monkey flip. Tag to Arn and the Busters hit a spike piledriver on Santana for the win at 9:17. Good angle, which led to an on again off again feud between Santana and Martel over the next couple of years, and puts the Busters over strong. Match itself was solid as well. **

Piper’s Pit segment is up next. There are a couple of good zingers exchanged between Piper and Downey, but for the most part it’s just lame, and runs on far too long.

Andre The Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Big John Studd is the guest referee here to further his feud with Andre. And of course, what’s the one thing Andre is afraid of? Shouldn’t even have to tell you. Andre attacks right away and rams Jake to a turnbuckle which has already had the pad removed. He just dominates Jake early on, with Jake looking to go for the bag, but Andre cuts him off. Jake gets some punches that have no effect, and Andre responds by just squashing him in the corner. He chokes Jake for a bit, and then sits on him. Jake fires back with chops, kicks, and punches, followed by a clothesline that gets Andre tied up in the ropes. Jake starts choking him now, but Studd pulls him off and Andre is able to get loose. Andre takes the advantage back with more choking and a headbutt. He shoulders Jake in the corner and then suddenly stumbles back allowing Jake to hit a kneelift. He rams Andre to the exposed buckle now, but Andre nails a chop and sends him to the floor. He keeps knocking Jake back to the floor, so Studd gets on his case about it. Jake goes for Damian again, but Studd prevents that. Andre picks this time to attack Studd for some reason, while Ted Dibiase runs in and attacks Jake. He tries to steal Damian, but Jake chases him down and gets the snake back. He throws Damian into the ring, which sends Andre running in terror. Studd declares Jake as the winner by DQ at 9:40. Match was nothing, but it did serve to setup the great Dibiase-Jake feud, and reignite the not so great Andre-Studd feud. DUD

The Honky Tonk Man & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. The Hart Foundation

This is part of the continuing saga of the Foundation looking for revenge on Jimmy Hart for selling the out to the Rougeaus. Why they aren’t wrestling the Rougeaus here, I couldn’t tell you. Bret and Honky are in first with Bret getting a rollup for 2 off an Irish whip. Couple of atomic drops hit so Honky tags out to Valentine, who walks into an atomic drop of his own. Dropkick hits and Bret tags Anvil. Bret whips Valentine off the rope and brings Anvil in with a slingshot shoulderblock. Anvil bits him and tags back to Bret who comes in and gets a backbreaker, but misses a 2nd rope elbow. Valentine drops some elbows and tags Honky allowing them to work Bret over in their corner. Honky uses a snapmare and drops a fist. He the drops some elbows and tags Valentine who comes in with a shot off the top rope. He then nails an inverted atomic drop on Bret, and drops a headbutt to the gut. Tag back to Honky who goes for Shake Rattle and Roll, and indeed hits it, but instead of going for the cover, he tags back out to Valentine. Valentine tries the shinguard figure four, but Bret blocks it. He still can’t tag Anvil though as Valentine is able to get a stomachbreaker for 2. Tag to Honky who sends Bret off the ropes, but misses an elbow which allows Bret to get a crossbody for 2. Honky controls and rams Bret to Valentine’s boot before tagging him. Irish whip sees Bret go over, and although his rollup attempt fails, he still manages to get over and tag Anvil. He comes in with a couple of dropkicks and a shoulderblock on Valentine for 2. Clothesline gets another 2 as Honky saves. Valentine uses a thumb to the eye and a snapmare to take over and tags Honky. Anvil fight back and tags Bret, who gets a slam and 2nd rope elbow. Suplex gets 2 with Valentine making the save. Anvil chases Jimmy Hart on the floor, who leaves the megaphone behind. Honky crawls for it, but Anvil gets it first, and tosses it to Bret, who nails Honky with it and that gets the pin at 7:40. Another cheap finish, but the match leading up to it was alright. *1/2

Intercontinental Championship Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Ravishing Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan)

Jesse is particularly stoked about this match as Rude was always one of his favourites. Warrior charges at Rude, who gets a knee, but Warrior still has the belt on and Rude just hurts himself. Warrior hammers away and tosses him back in to the buckle a few times. He goes to a bearhug, which he holds for a bit before Rude rakes the eyes to escape. Rude gets a dropkick off the top for 1 with a big kickout by Warrior. Warrior slams him a couple of times and goes back to the bearhug. The ref prevents the eyerake by Rude this time, so Rude bites his way out. Warrior still manages to get a backdrop, but a splash attempt hits the knees. Rude gets some punches and hits a piledriver for 2, followed by a jawjacker. He tries to pose, but he’s just in too much pain, the poor guy. Irish whip and clothesline get 2, as does a Russian legsweep. Rude then stretches him, but Warrior makes the ropes and starts Warrioring Up. He ducks a clothesline attempt by Rude and gets a flying shoulderblock. Backbreaker hits, but when he tries to lift Rude up and do it again, he can’t and they go tumbling into the corner. Irish whip lead to a clothesline, and the another leads to a shoulderblock. He sends Rude to the corner, but misses a splash. Rude sets up for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior powers out and twists him around to a short clothesline. Rude rolls out, but Warrior gets him back in, just so he can clothesline him right back out again. He goes to suplex Rude back in this time, but Heenan grabs the leg and holds it down putting Rude on top for the 3 count and the IC Title at 9:43. Rude was definitely one of the better opponents for Warrior, and although their Summerslam rematch was better, this was still pretty good as well. **

Bad News Brown vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

News attacks right away and punches Duggan down. He whips Duggan to the corner, but misses a charge which allows Duggan to land some punches and a clothesline. News takes a walk, but Duggan chases and gets him back in. Irish whip, but he puts the head down and gets nailed. News sends him to the buckle and uses a headbutt before Duggan slugs back, but News counters by going to the eyes. News punches away in the corner, but Duggan reverses position and lays in some shoulders. News returns fire and uses a headbutt to send Duggan outside where he sends him to the post. Back in, he drops an elbow, but misses a try at the Ghettoblaster. Duggan hits the Three Point Stance, but it knocks News outside. News grabs a chair, so Duggan grabs his 2x4 and when they go at it with the weapons the ref calls for a double DQ at 3:49. Pretty weak brawl, and a really lame ending. DUD

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (w/The Brooklyn Brawler) vs. The Red Rooster

Heenan is still hurting from the earlier attack by Warrior, so his already slim chances look to have disappeared completely. He tries to back off, but Rooster rams him to the buckle and whips him to the corner. Second corner whip is reversed, but Rooster avoids the charge, Heenan hits the post, and that’s it for Bobby at 0:31. DUD Jesse’s OK with it though because Heenan is still manager of the Intercontinental Champion. Brawler attacks Rooster after the match to further their feud, but quickly gets chased out.

Main Event, WWF Championship Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan

I already reviewed The Main Event II, so no real need to recap the storyline here. Since that point, the big issue has been over how Elizabeth will fit into the match considering that she manages both guys. After drawing it out a bit, she has announced that she will be in a neutral corner, and offer support to both of them. Savage goes right back to his Memphis style chickenshit heel roots by running away right off the bat. They finally lock up, and Hogan shoves him down, so Savage takes another walk. Back in, Savage grabs a side headlock, but gets fired off the ropes and nailed with a shoulderblock, so he bails again. Back to the side headlock, and fired off again, Savage doesn’t wait to get hit, he just holds on to the ropes and slides out once more. This time Hogan chases, but Savage hides behind Elizabeth. Finally we get going in the ring, where Hogan takes him down into a front facelock, before switching to a side headlock. Savage suplexes out of that, but misses an elbow. Hogan knocks Savage down with punches and goes to a wristlock, but Savage thumbs him in the eye to break it. Savage goes up and gets a double axhandle for 2. Next he uses an armbar, pulling the hair to take Hogan down and keep control, so Hogan retaliates by pulling the tights to toss Savage outside. Hogan gets him back in and rams him to the buckle a couple of times, then nails a clothesline and drops a couple of elbows. Irish whip, but Hogan puts the head down and gets kicked, followed by Savage getting a clothesline for 2. Savage applies a rear chinlock as we see that Hogan has been busted open. After maintaining the hold for a bit, Hogan gets to his feet and elbows out. He comes off with a shoulderblock, then catches a kick from Savage and hits an atomic drop. He misses an elbow, followed by Savage coming from behind with a high knee, and then getting a rollup for 2. Savage starts working over he cut, and then, just because, he stomps on the hand. Hogan recovers and rams Savage to the buckle ten times, hits a clothesline in the corner, and then dumps him over the top to the floor. Elizabeth checks on him, but he brushes her away, and drags Hogan to the floor. Hogan blocks attempts by Savage to ram him to the barrier, and then is able to ram Savage to the apron. He goes to post Savage, but Elizabeth prevents it. The delay allows Savage the time to slip off and post Hogan, with Liz just getting out of the way. Liz now helps Hogan up, and Savage gets on her case about that, stalking her up the aisle. The ref has had enough of this, so he just bans her from ringside, which allows us to get back to the match. Hogan is still hurting on the floor, so Savage drops the double axhandle from the top down on to him. Back in, Savage drops him on the top rope, and then hits a rope straddle. Slam and kneedrop get 2, and Savage then chokes him down with his wrist tape. He gets rid of the tape, but keeps up with the choking until Hogan is out. He goes up and nails the Reviving Elbow, but that only gets 2 and it’s Hulk Up time. 3 punches, Irish whip, big boot, followed by the legdrop and Hogan gets the pin to regain the WWF Title at 17:55. Great, epic main event, and the culmination of a storyline that began about a year and a half earlier. Started a bit slow with all the stalling by Savage, but one we got going it turned into one of the best matches Hogan has done outside of Japan, and it’s a really good one for Savage too. ****

Now this was a really good show, especially compared to last year’s one. While a tournament with a guaranteed new champion might be intriguing, this show has a main event that you can really sink your teeth into. That great feud carries the show big time and really makes it a memorable one. The rest of the card, with a few exceptions, holds up surprisingly well for a late 80’s WWF show too. My biggest complaint here would be too many cheap finishes. I mean, it’s the biggest show of the year so I want to see something more special than a non-decisive finish in a meaningless match. That minor issue aside, this is still a good show to watch over again, even nearly 20 years later. Thumbs up for Wrestlemania V.

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