June 15, 2006
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
April 1, 1990
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura
1) Rick Martel (Richard Vigneault) defeats Koko B. Ware (James Ware) with a Boston Crab at 5:30
Scott: Our opener is a simple affair designed to help the Model get over and give the Birdman a pay-day. Martel spent the second half of 1989 slowly building his arrogant character. He gained a nickname, changed the color of his tights, and gained a new ally: his atomizer filled with “Arrogance.” It wouldn’t play a role in this match, as both men play it pretty straight. Koko continues to play his role pretty well; getting the crowd going with his ring entrance and high risk moves, but eventually putting his opponent over. He misses a cross body block and Martel takes advantage with his Boston Crab finisher to win the match. Both men get the payday, and for five and a half minutes it wasn’t a bad opener. Grade: 2
Justin: The sixth Wrestlemania kicks off with a solid match between two mid-card veterans. Rick Martel was best known for his tag team success, but exactly one year earlier, he finally broke out on his own and turned heel. The 12 months that followed saw a lot of changes for Martel, and, after briefly being managed by Slick, he created a whole new character for himself: the Model. Vignettes began airing of Martel at various high class events promoting his brand new cologne: Arrogance. The gimmick was pretty good, and Martel played it perfectly and would settle into his role as a solid mid-card heel player. On the other side of the coin, Koko is just rolling along merrily in his role of jobber to the stars. 1990 would be a good year for him appearance wise, as he is on 3 out of 4 PPVs. Here, he puts up a valiant fight before being forced to tap out to the vaunted Boston Crab. This was a solid match that got the crowd going out of the gate. Grade: 2
2) Demolition defeats the Colossal Connection to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Smash (Barry Darsow) pins Haku (Uliuli Fifita) after the Decapitation Device at 9:13
Fun Fact: Haku and Andre the Giant defeated Demolition on 12/13 in Huntsville, Alabama to win the titles. It’s the first known championship Andre has ever won in his illustrious career (not counting the 20 seconds he was WWF Champion in early 1988).
Scott: This is the first match where you can really feel the unbelievable size of Skydome and the excitement of the crowd. Demolition is off the charts over, and they win their unprecedented (at the time) third Tag Team Championship. Andre is really done, as he doesn’t even get in the match. Haku wrestles all nine minutes, and gives and gets a beating. In the climax, Andre tries to help out but Haku accidentally kicks him in the face and Andre is tied in the ropes. Bobby Heenan tries to untie him, but Haku is locked in the DD and its goodnight Colossal Connection. When that crowd saw the 3-count, it was maybe the loudest I had ever heard a crowd on television. It was the crowning moment in Demolition’s career. Then, the moment I had been waiting for in almost a year. Heenan bitches out Andre for not helping out in the match. Andre’s trying to explain himself but Heenan slaps him. Well we all knew where that was going. Andre smacks him around, then smacks Haku around. The cheers were deafening. Finally, in a poignant moment, Andre pushes Heenan and Haku off the cart, and Andre rode out alone. The way he should have. An awesome moment for one of the greatest superstars of all time. This would be Andre’s final PPV match. Grade: 4.5 (mostly for the ancillary aspects than the workrate)
Justin: The pop Demolition receives here is downright scary, and puts the one at WM5 to shame. A great story carries this decent match. The wrestling isn’t too bad, as Haku has some solid offense, and the commentators did a good job of building the heat on him, so when they lost, Andre couldn’t be blamed (Haku never tagged him in). The end of this match is one of the best finishing sequences of all-time. The crowd is going ape shit in anticipation and Jesse’s call is fucking awesome (“Heenan’s trying to untie the Giant, can he make it in time??”). Sadly this match is the swan song for Demolition and Andre. This was Andre’s last official WWF match and he goes out in style, receiving the huge ovation he always deserved. This is a bittersweet moment for Ax and Smash. It is clearly their peak as a team, but, despite 2 years of great success, their fall from the top would be a quick one, as they undergo numerous changes over the summer. This was a great moment in Wrestlemania history, but it also spells the end on the line for one of the all time great legends and one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history. An awesome match due to the spectacular atmosphere. Grade: 4.5 (same reasons as Scott)
3) Earthquake (John Tenta) defeats Hercules (Ray Fernandez) with the Earthquake Splash at 4:52
Scott: This was another simple heel squash. Earthquake dropped the “Canadian” from his title, probably to avoid face pops. Hercules would wrestle his last match as a face. By the summer he would turn heel and gain a tag team partner. Earthquake’s night isn’t through, as one of my highlights of the night involves him later. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Not much here besides some solid character progression and angle advancement for the massive Earthquake. Quake had been crushing guys left and right since his debut, sending many to the hospital on a stretcher. The bodies were piling up, and on the grand stage of Wrestlemania, he adds Hercules to the pile. The Quake march would continue on into the summer, and he would destroy his biggest victim to date in mere months. Hercules’ year and a half run as a face has come to an end, but his career would receive a 9th inning boost over the summer, as he is given a fresh role and push. Grade: 1
4) Brutus Beefcake (Ed Leslie) defeats Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) when Beefcake slingshots Mr. Perfect into the corner and his head bounces off the post at 7:48
Scott: This was good in theory at the time, as Beefcake was slated to face Perfect later on in the year for the Intercontinental Title. Perfect had been on a pretty good run up to this point, but Beefer was on the roll of his career. He was big time over with the fans and was slated for an IC title run two years earlier, but it was held off in favor of the Ultimate Warrior. The match was ok, as Beefcake was bringing it big time and Perfect is, well perfect. He gives it and definitely takes it with the best of them. Perfect does his customary ring post shot, and the Perfect streak is over. As I have mentioned Beefcake and Perfect were slated for an IC title match later on in the year, but we’ll elaborate in our next review why it didn’t happen. Grade: 2.5
Justin: This is one of my all time favorite Wrestlemania matches. While it isn’t a technical marvel or huge title match, it just had a great aura around it and featured two of my favorite wrestlers from the old school. Beefcake was on the best roll of his career at this point, as he was putting on really good matches and had great crowd support. Despite still having his “Perfect Record,” Mr. Perfect has really dropped into a rut as the year progresses. He was red hot to start the year, and was poised for a Royal Rumble win and a possible World Title feud, but instead, he ends up laying down at the biggest show of the year. He would receive a consolation prize a few weeks after the show, but his year would never reach the heights it was at when the decade changed. Perfect does save some face here, as the win is played off like a fluke: a key plot point in the continuation of the feud. Unfortunately, the feud never concluded, but more on that next time. Beefcake gets a great pop from the hot Toronto crowd, and engages in some fun extracurricular activities with the Genius after the pin, sending Jesse into more classic hysterics. All in all, this is just a fun match and the last truly great moment of Beefcake’s career. Grade: 3
5) Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) and Bad News Brown (Allen Coage) wrestle to a double countout at 6:38
Fun Fact: During Roddy Piper’s entrance, Jesse Ventura makes some weird comment about he and Piper being tag team partners. Well, around the time of this show, Piper and Ventura had actually filmed a pilot for a TV show entitled “Tag Team,” where they played two cops.
Scott: This feud started at the Royal Rumble when they eliminated each other. This matchup could be a complete gem, or a complete disaster. On the one hand, you had two excellent talkers and two excellent brawlers. On the other hand, you have two guys who are the kings of non-finishes. Well, we got a lot of one, and not much of the other. Piper comes out with his body half painted black. He was half Hot Rod, and half Hot Scot, whatever the hell that means. His promo was typical Piper: insane and incomprehensible. The match was a big disappointment, as the brawling didn’t reach levels it could have. Both men were quite tame in their fighting abilities, and for the most part the match flopped. They fight outside, and guess what? A NON-FINISH!!! Yuck. This feud ends, and both move on. A feud that could have reached great levels was underwhelming. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Man, what a friggen mess this match was. After a solid build up, two of the “Non-Finish Kings” fail to deliver on the big stage. After a awe-inspiring bizarre promo, Piper comes to the ring with half his body painted black, trying to play some sort of psychological advantage. He also pulls out a white glove halfway through the match and pounds Brown with it, leading to a never ending discussion between Monsoon and Ventura over the legality of it. The match ends with a weak brawl to the back, and was never settled afterwards. We have come to expect this from Brown in his WWF career, but this wasn’t the best way for Piper to follow up his last Wrestlemania match, which was the classic against Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III. This was a disappointing affair between to veterans who should have brought more to the plate. Grade: .5
6) The Hart Foundation defeat the Bolsheviks when Bret Hart pins Boris Zhukov (Jim Barrell) after the Hart Attack at :18
Fun Fact: This match was preceded by one of my favorite celebrity Wrestlemania moments. Prior to the match, Steve Allen was sitting at a piano in the shower, prepared to play the Russian National Anthem as Nikolai sang. Well, Allen keeps playing various other ridiculous songs, pissing off the Russians. The whole thing comes to a climax when someone flushes the toilet as Allen was about to play the Anthem. Funny stuff.
Scott: Another squash, except this time is was a face beatdown, and a much needed one at that. For the past year the Hart Foundation was pretty much over with the fans, but they seemed to have been in a holding pattern. They lose an awesome match to the Brainbusters at Summerslam, and then split up to be on separate teams at Survivor Series. Bret Hart actually tussled with Randy Savage in his match, giving many hope. Alas they’re reunited at the Rumble, and now the new push is on. They squash the jobber Russians in less than 20 seconds, which correlates to what Gorilla said during the Demolition/Colossal Connection match. He said that the Hart Foundation challenged the winner to a title match. Now with Demolition winning and the Harts winning convincingly, the seeds may have been planted for a heel turn by one of the teams, but more on that in our next review. For now, the Hitman and the Anvil win easy and stroll into the summer as #1 contenders. Grade: 1
Justin: Not much here besides pure domination by the Harts, which, after a year of aimless floating was refreshing to see. The Harts are immediately positioned as the next number one contenders to the Tag Titles, setting up a great tag feud for the summer. On the opposite side of the ring, we witness the end of the road for a long standing tag team: the Bolsheviks. They may not have won many matches during their PPV tenure, but they were around for nearly 3 years, and have been present on most cards. Things would go sour for them over the upcoming months, and as Communism fell apart, so did the Bolsheviks. Also, this is the final time we would see Nikolai sing the Russian National Anthem on PPV. Grade: .5
7) The Barbarian (Sionne Vailahi) defeats Tito Santana (Merced Solis) with a Top Rope Clothesline at 4:32
Fun Fact: Just before Wrestlemania, Mr. Fuji decided to split up the Powers of Pain and sell off their contracts. Fuji sold the Warlord to Slick and the Barbarian to Bobby Heenan. Both would receive makeovers, but Barbarian is still sporting his Powers of Pain look here.
Scott: Yet another squash, but we are more subtle this time around. Tito continues his role of pumping up new heel singles stars. The Powers of Pain are officially broken up after 2 ½ years together. The Warlord is taken off camera for a refreshing, so the Barbarian makes his singles debut here. Not a bad match as Tito puts on a good offensive show, and the Barbarian has a nice cache of power moves. He was the more mobile of the POP, so alone he carries himself well. Tito even gets his forearm finisher off, but manager Bobby Heenan puts Barbarian’s foot on the ropes. Barbarian hits his big clothesline and gets the win. Not a bad little match. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Nothing much here besides another heat builder for a repackaged heel. After a fairly successful run as a team, the Powers of Pain have been split up and turned into two solid mid-card heels. Bobby Heenan leads his new charge into the Skydome to take on the ever-present Tito Santana. And, as usual, Tito busts his ass and makes the Barbarian look pretty damn good, especially putting over his finisher with a sick back flip sell off the Top Rope Clothesline. A pretty fun four minute squash that sets up Barbarian to look like a monster, which was exactly the goal. Grade: 2.5
8) Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Runnels) & Sapphire (Juanita Wright) defeat Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) & Sensational Sherri (Sherri Martel) when Sapphire pins Sherri after a School-Boy Roll-Up at 7:27
Scott: This is the apex for one wrestler’s career, and the lowest of lows for the other. Since Dusty Rhodes made his return to the WWF in August, after almost 13 years, he was living large. He won his matches at Summerslam and Survivor Series, and put on a good showing at the Rumble. The Macho Man, on the other hand, is a mess. After losing to Hulk Hogan one year ago his character became delusional and somewhat nuts. He ditches Elizabeth and picks up Sensational Sherri. Her character is just as delusional as he is. He still looks good in the ring, but his promos were reaching Jimmy Snuka levels of incoherence. This feud started before January and was intensified in a confrontation between the four on the Brother Love Show at the Royal Rumble. The match is OK, but is carried by the excellent commentary of Jesse Ventura, in what would be his final PPV performance. His total ripping of Rhodes and Sapphire’s girth plus their constant cheating almost put him over the edge. Sapphire didn’t have to do much, and I applaud Sherri, a much more capable wrestler, for lying down. Savage still looks good in the ring, but this type of character was disturbing. As for Rhodes, things wouldn’t get better from here on out. Grade: 2
Justin: As I write this, I just got extremely sad when I realized this is Jesse’s last PPV. I am a huge Bobby Heenan fan, but Jesse had an uncanny ability to actually CARRY a match with his commentary, and this an example. Everything out of his mouth is pure gold, as his true hatred for Rhodes shines through here. One of my favorite exchanges happens when Rhodes and Sapphire are coming to the ring and the Fink announces them at 450 lbs. Jesse keeps asking Gorilla if Fink really said 450, and when Gorilla says he doesn’t know, Jesse goes “no way Rhodes and Sapphire are only 450…are you telling me Rhodes only weighs 200 lbs…because I know DAMN well sapphire is at least two and a half…550 maybe, no way 450.” He is friggen man, especially when he says Sapphire should go on a diet “weight watchers…anything…sardines and oatmeal!” To cap it off, anytime the camera catches a shot of Sapphire’s ample backside, he yells at him to change the angle. Before the match, Dusty brings out his surprise “crown jewel,” Miss Elizabeth, to be in the Dream Team’s corner. The match itself is OK, and is actually the first ever mixed tag team match in WWF history. The bout is carried by Jesse and Savage’s enthusiasm and the unreal crowd heat for Rhodes and Elizabeth. Jesse steals the show again at the end when goes apocalyptic over Rhodes and Sapphire cheating to win and then dancing with Elizabeth…”sure, bring her in the ring too, she helped you win the match!” This was just a great moment for one of the best play-by-play guys in the business in his swan song. As for the competitors, Dusty is riding high right now, but things fall apart over the summer, and his final months in the WWF are not very good ones for Big Dust. Savage, on the other hand, would finally get things together by our next PPV and would regain his Main Event status by the end of the year. It has been a trying year for Macho, but he hung in there and made the best out of some sub-par storylines and bizarre antics. Grade: 2.5
9) The Orient Express defeat the Rockers when Marty Jannetty (Marty Oaks) was counted out at 7:38
Fun Fact: The Orient Express is comprised of longtime AWA tag specialist Pat Tanaka and Japanese import Akio Sato. After Mr. Fuji sold off the Power of Pain, he decided to bring in a new tag team to replace them, and on the 3/3 Superstars, Sato and Tanaka made their WWF debut (taped 2/13).
Scott: The debut of Mr. Fuji’s new team to replace Powers of Pain defeats the Rockers through nefarious means. Even though The Rockers were way over with the fans, they seemed to always come up short in the big match. Here they put on a good show, but then Marty Jannetty is baited by Mr. Fuji and Tanaka throws salt (at least we think it’s salt, remember it’s Marty Jannetty) in Jannetty’s eyes. He can’t see, falls over the railing and is counted out. A big win in the Orient Express’ debut. These two have a good match here, but they re-match at the following year’s Royal Rumble. I won’t go into too much detail, but it’s a gem. This one’s not quite that. Grade: 2.5
Justin: In what could have been a show stealing match, we instead receive a pretty disappointing bout between two solid tag teams. The Rockers continue to float around the tag division, having good matches and good feuds, but not getting that run as the top team. Here, however, they look very lethargic or, to be blunt, strung out, as they sleepwalk their way through this match. They look so out of it that even Gorilla notes how lethargic they look. The Orients try their best to make their PPV debut a good one, but it just wasn’t clicking here. A quick note on the Orients; many wrestling writers always question why Vince broke up the great AWA team of Badd Company after he signed them. Badd Company was comprised of Tanaka and Paul Diamond. Instead, Diamond was made into a jobber, who occasionally donned a mask or two, while Tanaka was teamed with the much less interesting and less polished Sato. Anyway, this was a disappointing match and another major loss for the Rockers. Grade: 2
10) Jim Duggan pins Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) after Duggan uses the 2X4 at 4:14
Scott: After a pretty good Royal Rumble match against Big Boss Man, Duggan goes back to his typical yelling, punching half-selling bullshit. Dino Bravo’s shtick still hasn’t gotten old yet, but now’s he is part of a bigger storyline. Jimmy Hart’s newest acquisition makes his presence felt. Earthquake, who rolled over Hercules earlier in the night, lays out Duggan after the match with 2 Earthquake Splashes. This accomplishes 3 things: 1) Makes Earthquake a big time heel, taking out a major face, 2) Builds face sympathy for Jim Duggan (like he needs it), and 3) Made me jump out of my seat and yell in appreciation of Earthquake taking out that drooling boob. Earthquake is in the big time, and in a couple of months will make a big “splash” in the WWF landscape. Grade: 1.5
Justin: A paint-by-the-numbers Jim Duggan PPV match: pointless brawl ending in DQ, count-out or a cheap pinfall. Dino Bravo now enters a period where he gets pushed due to be being with Earthquake, but never wins a major match, a position he remains in for the next year+. The most notable part of this match was Earthquake continuing his destruction by decimating Duggan after the match and sending Hacksaw home on a stretcher. Once again Jesse strikes, by calling out Duggan for chanting “USA” to rally the Canadian crowd against a Canadian wrestler. Dumbass. Grade: 1.5
11) Ted DiBiase defeats Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.) by countout at 11:52
Fun Fact: This PPV marks the debut of one of the most beloved and recognizable wrestling theme songs of all time: Ted DiBiase’s “It’s All About the Money.”
Scott: Once again, a great feud with a lot of awesome psychology ends with an underwhelming blow-off. This feud started back in the spring of 1989, and as it built slowly throughout the rest of the year and into 1990 we knew this final match was going to be a doozy. Well, the match was building nicely as DiBiase did his typical pace of hit a few moves; walk around outside; hit a few moves, etc. Jake takes a good beating, makes a comeback, and misses a few DDT attempts. Finally the fight goes outside, and Jake is counted out. Huh? What was the point of that? The feud didn’t continue, as DiBiase actually took Summerslam off in terms of a match and Roberts feuds with Bad News Brown. Why not just end it with a win? To keep DiBiase’s Million Dollar Belt? Why put it up then? As you can see, there were many questions with no answers. If they wanted to keep the title on him, fine. Have Roberts win by countout then. This ending ruins a good feud. Bookers shouldn’t paint themselves into a corner like that. Roberts is fairly bulletproof, but a win would be nice. Grade: 2
Justin: A great match that was hindered by restholds in the middle and a very weak ending. The crowd is jacked for this match, even doing the WAVE during it, when the hell do you ever see that? A really hot story here, as DiBiase put Jake out of action in the summer of ’89, and Jake returned and stole DiBiase’s Million Dollar Belt, giving him some of his own medicine. The icing on the cake is the great pre-match interview by Jake, which really sets the scene (the interview is shown in Beyond the Mat) and has a great closing line: “…and how ironic, that the money you will be groveling for will be your very own, wallowing in the muck of avarice.” It was just a bone chilling promo that really set the stage for what should have been an epic match. The bout itself tells a good story, as Jake is obsessed with hitting the DDT, and DiBiase is trying like hell to avoid it. I really wish this match had a better ending, because the feud and match definitely deserved one. They make up slightly for it by having Jake drill DiBiase with the DDT post-match and hand out his money to the delight of the crowd. I guess they figured Jake could take the loss and still be over, but DiBiase needed to be protected. Either way, the feud lasted nearly a year and was a classic angle and perfect illustration between good and evil. Grade: 2.5
12) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) defeats Akeem (George Grey) with the Boss Man Slam at 1:54
Fun Fact: On the February 3rd Superstars (taped 1/2), Jake Roberts was facing Ted DiBiase (who had Virgil and Slick in his corner). A few minutes into the match, Big Boss Man came to ringside, beat Roberts down, handcuffed him to the ropes and stole back the Million Dollar Belt for DiBiase. Immediately after the match, Slick, DiBiase and Boss Man appeared on the Brother Love Show. Boss Man was about to present DiBiase with the belt, but he then realized DiBiase had paid Slick for Boss Man’s services. Boss Man freaked out, informed the world that he stood for law and order and could never be bought. He took the belt, returned it to Jake and walked off a new man. The battle of the former Twin Towers was then set up for Wrestlemania, and would mark Boss Man’s first PPV as a face.
Fun Fact II: Sadly, Wrestlemania VI would be Akeem/One Man Gang’s final PPV appearance (not counting the Gimmick Battle Royal at WM X-7). His final record is 2-7-1. He was 0-3 at the Royal Rumble, 1-2-1 at Wrestlemania, 0-1 at Summerslam and 1-1 at Survivor Series.
Scott: The now crazy-over babyface Boss Man wins against his former tag team partner in short time. Akeem was a pretty good heel, but loses here, and is not on PPV again until 2001, and that was in a comedy role. The strange thing was the timing of Boss Man’s face turn. He wrestles as a heel at the Rumble against Duggan, in fact beats him up after the match. Next big show and he’s a big time face, which is very strange. Boss Man is immediately thrust into higher profile matches and by Summerslam is part of the main event picture. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Well, as the era of the Twin Towers ends, a brand new era begins; that of the face Big Boss Man. And, as much as I love Akeem, I must say the face turn was a great idea, as Boss Man gets into great shape and remains one of the most over faces over the next 3 years. Before the match, DiBiase sneaks out from the under the ring (he hid there after his match) and beats the shit out of Boss Man before the match. Boss Man recovers however, and dismantles his former teammate in under 2 minutes. The Boss Man/DiBiase feud could have been a hot one, but it sort of tapered off over the summer and was forgotten by Summerslam. Boss Man picks up his first major win as a face and would move into a pretty major storyline come our next PPV outing. Grade: 1
13) Rick Rude (Richard Rood) defeats Jimmy Snuka (James Reiher) with a Rude Awakening at 3:42
Scott: A simple face-heel match to spell the crowd before the main event. Rude was coasting since losing the IC title the previous August. Now to prepare for his big push over the summer, he beats the popular Snuka in a decent match. Not much more to say here, as Rude wins the match, then begins to prepare for his big moment this summer. Grade: 2
Justin: Not much here, as we get yet another heel squash match to establish a new major player. Rick Rude had a great 1989, but most of his dominance took place in the mid-card. Now, with the heel side lacking major names, Rude is pushed up a level and into the upper echelon over the summer of 1990. After making his big WWF return one year ago, Jimmy Snuka has settled into his Santana-esque role of jobber to the stars, as he wins squash matches on TV, but always puts over the major heels when need be. Steve Allen is on commentary here and is pretty entertaining during the match. Grade: 1.5
14) WWF Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) defeats Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) to win WWF World Title in a Title vs. Title Match with a Big Splash after a missed Leg Drop at 22:47
Fun Fact: This started at the Royal Rumble on January 21, when at one point in the Rumble, Warrior and Hogan were in the ring alone. It was obviously a test to see how this would go over with the fans. Well, it went over big so the hype machine started. On the January 27 Saturday Night’s Main Event (taped from January 3) Hogan and Warrior defeated Mr. Perfect and the Genius in a tag team match. Eventually, Hogan was out of the ring and Warrior was double teamed. Hogan came back in the ring to help, but when Hogan grabbed Warrior’s shoulder to help, Warrior thought he was Perfect or Genius and clotheslined him. The miscommunication led to a nose-to-nose confrontation. On February 14 in Tucson on Wrestling Challenge, Hogan came in to save Warrior from an attack by Earthquake. On an edition of The Main Event February 23 in Detroit, Hogan again saved Warrior from Earthquake after a match against Dino Bravo. There was also an edition of Superstars when Warrior saved Hogan from Earthquake, including almost clotheslining him again. A special show called Ultimate Challenge Special aired on March 26 (taped from March 7) which had the official Wrestlemania VI contract signing for the biggest PPV match since Hogan squared off with Andre the Giant three years earlier.
Fun Fact II: According to wrestling lore, every move of this match was planned out in great detail, and they actually ran through the match several times before the big event.
Scott: This was unprecedented for the time in the wrestling landscape. Two men who had just about equal popularity. Two men with prestigious singles titles. The winner walks out of Skydome with both titles, and on top of the wrestling world. I remember the buildup to this match almost matching the Hogan/Andre buildup 3 years earlier. Back then, Hogan was the obvious favorite of the fans. This time around, the fans couldn’t lose. It was a tough call. In 1987, it almost seemed expected that Hogan was going to win. Here you really weren’t sure how this was going to go. Was Warrior going to turn heel? Was Hogan going to turn heel? Probably would have worked for him at that point. So this was really a main event of mystery. At this point in the show the excitement really reached a crescendo that needed to explode. Finally, when both men were in the ring the tension was off the charts. How would it go? Who would be the face and who would be the heel? The match was well-paced, as both men are obviously limited in what they can do. At one point Hogan falls outside and lands funny on his knee. You could hear him telling the ref “My knee’s gone”. That scared my friends and I because what would happen then? I loved how Gorilla covered it up by saying he dislocated his kneecap and it snapped back into place. Speaking of the commentary, it was awesome. In what would be the final main event for Jesse Ventura on commentary, he and Gorilla were right down the middle. In fact Jesse seemed to be swaying for Hogan. When did you ever think you’d see that? The match was building as it went on and the climax is unforgettable. Hogan is hulking up and hits the big boot on Warrior. He’s about to hit the Leg Drop, but he misses it. I was stunned. Warrior gets up, hits the splash, and it was over. I looked at the screen with my mouth open in shock. My best friend at the time was jumping up and down (a big Warrior mark). We couldn’t believe it. The Ultimate Warrior became the first man in WWF history to hold the World and Intercontinental Titles at the same time. Hogan, in tears, grabbed the World Title belt. He comes into the ring, hands Warrior the title and raises his hand in victory. It was one of the greatest moments in wrestling history. Warrior would stand in the ring with both titles and fireworks, while Hogan quietly got on the cart and wheeled into immortality. My brother hates babyfaces, but for one night he was the biggest Ultimate Warrior fan. I, being an obvious Hogan mark, continued to stare at the screen in total shock. This was just an awesome match and an unbelievable Wrestlemania moment. Grade: 4
Justin: Well, this is the absolute definition of mega money blow-off match. Two wrestlers at the peak of their careers, both beloved by the fans, both viewed as two of the greatest of all time squaring off with two championships on the line at the biggest show of the year. It just doesn’t get much bigger than this. The build up was incredibly well done, as they didn’t tip their hat either way as to who would be victorious. The Skydome crowd, despite having already sat through 13 matches, was at a fever pitch and stays fired up for the entire 23 minutes, making them one of the greatest crowds in wrestling history. This match epitomizes this show and would bridge the gap between the end of the initial boom Rock ’N’ Wrestling era and the beginning of the downward slide the WWF would experience over the next 6 years. After the match, Hogan would take a few months off to film his next movie, Suburban Commando, and would give the Warrior a chance to run with the ball he had been carrying for 6 years. For the first time since January of 1984, we have a face that could actually outshine Hogan and steal some loyal Hulkamaniacs away. Sadly, with as much promise as Warrior’s title reign seemed to have as Wrestlemania comes to an end, bad booking and poor planning would mar his entire run, but we will save that for later. For now, we will focus on the greatness that is the Ultimate Challenge. Grade: 4
Scott: This Wrestlemania didn’t have the real meat and potatoes undercard that III had, as most of the matches were short and average. However the crowd, the unbelievable size of Skydome and the atmosphere for this Wrestlemania made this show off the charts. The main event truly lived up to the big blow-off match billing, and Demolition’s pop after winning the tag titles an unprecedented third time is unforgettable. My other favorite moment is the swan song for Andre the Giant. His turning face and popping Bobby Heenan is one I’ll never forget. Vince had reached the pinnacle 3 years earlier, and this one was truly the last big one for the Rock ’N’ Wrestling era. Hogan’s popularity would continue to dip slightly, and with a newcomer as champion, there was an air of uncertainty. We’ll get into more detail over the next few reviews the success of the Ultimate Warrior’s reign, but let’s say it wasn’t what it could have been. As for Jesse Ventura, this will be his last appearance at a WWF PPV until August 1999. It would take a few months before Vince would be able to fill his seat with a solid, capable heel color commentator. Jesse’s opinions and words made everything so legit, that world title matches really mattered. He will be missed on WWF TV. There’ll be better Wrestlemanias in terms of actual cards, but this one does much more to make up for it. For now, we’ll soak in the moment and bask in the glow of one of my favorite Wrestlemanias of all time. Final Grade: A+
Justin: This is definitely my favorite Wrestlemania of all time as well. Sentimentally, it was the first PPV I was a true fan for, so it brings back a lot of memories. It was a great show where all the right people went over (the faces in the matches to blow off feuds and the heels that were being built up to start new storylines) and had a real Main Event that had a big match atmosphere surrounding it. This show definitely feels like one of those end one era, start another shows as the Warrior era began and the first Hogan era came to a close. Vince and company reached its peak, and things were slowly coming back downhill. It would be a long time before the WWF would have the mainstream popularity and big event feel that it had here, which makes this show the true end of the Golden Age of the WWF. It also ends the Jesse Ventura era, as Piper, Heenan, Perfect, Lawler, Heyman and Tazz would all follow in his footsteps, but all come up short when trying to capture his enthusiasm, knowledge, humor, presence and flat out ability to SELL the match. Jesse definitely made every show he was at better and he will be missed. It’s funny, because there is no stand-out WRESTLING match, as all of the great matches on this card are carried by storyline and crowd heat, which makes it a very unique show. Many Wrestlemanias will come and go, and many would feature a lot better matches than we see here. BUT, none would match the big time feel of the Ultimate Challenge. Grade: A+