August 2, 2006
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
March 24, 1991
Los Angeles Sports Arena
Los Angeles, California
Attendance: 15, 000
Buy Rate: 2.8
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan; Jim Duggan, Alfred Hayes & Regis Philbin sit in as well
**Willie Nelson sings God Bless America, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes to ringside to commentate the first match with Gorilla. **
Koko B. Ware (James Ware) pinned the Brooklyn Brawler (Steve Lombardi)
1) The Rockers defeat Haku & the Barbarian when Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) pins Haku (Uliuli Fifita) with a high cross body at 10:32
Fun Fact: This is Bobby Heenan’s final PPV as a manager. Over the summer he would sell the contracts of Barbarian, Haku and Mr. Perfect to the Coach, who was portrayed by wrestling legend John Tolos.
Scott: Another hot opener involving the Rockers. After their fantastic match with the Orient Express at the Rumble, Michaels and Jannetty tangle with Heenan Family members. This crowd is crazy hot, and stays that way for practically the entire show. Barbarian is still on a big roll since being a solo performer, and Haku continues to be solid. I’m trying to enjoy the excitement of this match, but its difficult listening to that drooling moron Jim Duggan do commentary. In any event the opener is exciting, and is a good start to an exciting night of wrestling. Grade: 3
Justin: The Rockers continue on their smoking hot streak and put on another fun, fast paced PPV opener. And if the Rockers were red hot, than the Barbarian is five-alarm fire, because he is locked in and on a super hot streak as well. Mix in a motivated Haku, a hot crowd and heat machine Heenan at ringside and you have all the fixings for a great opener. This is just a well put together classic big vs. little tag match, only it has constant action instead of the usual big man, plodding style. The Rockers battle back and pick up the win after a pair of beautiful top rope moves. The crowd his rocking and the show is off to a great start. Grade: 3
**Duggan leaves and Bobby Heenan takes over on color commentary. **
2) Texas Tornado (Kerry Adkisson) defeats Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) with the Discus Punch at 3:11
Fun Fact: This is Dino Bravo’s final PPV appearance. He would float around the syndicated shows for the rest of the year before disappearing in early 1992. Unfortunately, he would be gunned down gang-land style in February 1993 due to some issues with the black market in Canada. His final PPV record is 4-9. he was 0-4 at the Royal Rumble, 1-3 at Wrestlemania, 1-0 at Summerslam and 2-2 at Survivor Series.
Scott: This is a very sad match to watch considering what happens to both men in the next few years. Since winning the Intercontinental Title at Summerslam, Kerry Von Erich has been on a slow downward slide. Now he’s in an afterthought filler match. As for his opponent, Dino Bravo’s shelf life was extended longer than it should have been when he latched onto Earthquake in 1990. This match wasn’t much, as Tornado hits his finisher and it’s good night Bravo. Grade: 1.5
Justin: A nothing match here for Bravo in his last-hurrah. Tornado had already fallen pretty far after his big I-C Title win in August of 1990, and things wouldn’t get much better. Nothing else here really, except this match is creepy to watch now, knowing what happened to these guys. This is the last Wrestlemania where Vince would throw matches together just to get guys on the card, and that is a good thing, as so many matches were pointless and bad and just an excuse to get guys like Bravo on the show. The crowd stays hot, and Tornado gets a big pop, but it must have been hard to give a guy with his reputation and penchant for drugs a serious push. Regardless, he gets a big win here, but I do not know if that is a good or bad thing that this is considered a big win for him at this point. So long Dino, we hardly knew ye. Grade: 1
3) The British Bulldog (David Smith) defeats the Warlord (Terry Szopinski) with a Powerslam at 8:13
Fun Fact: This show marks the PPV debut of Davey Boy Smith’s newest canine companion: Winston.
Scott: The debut of Davey Boy Smith as a singles competitor is a power versus power match with Slick’s big guy. Every time I see the Warlord I can’t help but think that this guy could have been a real main event contender. I’m not saying he could have been world champion, but he would have been a good opponent for Ultimate Warrior in 1990. Oh well, can’t dwell on it. Bulldog and Warlord put on a pretty good match for two former tag team specialists with limited move sets. The pace was quick, and the crowd stayed into it. Bulldog wins clean, which I thought was strange, as I thought this feud would go beyond this match. We see that it does as time goes on, but that makes this ending even stranger. Solid match. Grade: 3
Justin: A really fun power match here, as these two battle over who has the better finisher. Prior to this show, Bulldog and Warlord met up on Prime Time to if Bulldog could break the Full Nelson. He was about to, but was attacked instead. He then claimed that his Powerslam was better than the Full Nelson, and in the end, he was right, as he breaks the Full Nelson and then crushes the Warlord with a nice Powerslam that causes the two men to bounce about two feet in the air. As Scott said, Warlord could have been a great top level heel, but he never quite made it that far. Bulldog, on the other hand, will toil in the mid card for quite a while before finally getting a sizeable push. Also, I need to mention the two interviews that precede this match. The first sees Slick at his jivest, ripping on Bulldog and pumping up his man. That is followed up by a bizarre Bulldog promo where he talks to Winston. Just some classic stuff to build this match up right before it gets underway. Grade: 2.5
4) The Nasty Boys defeat the Hart Foundation to win the WWF Tag Team Titles when Knobbs (Brian Yandrisovitz) pins Jim Neidhart after getting hit with Jimmy Hart’s motorcycle helmet at 12:08
Fun Fact: The Nasty Boys jumped to the WWF from WCW in early 1991. They had been wrestling in WCW without a contract and Vince decided to snatch them up just as they were getting popular. They earned this title shot by winning a Tag Team Battle Royal on Superstars.
Fun Fact II: Jim Neidhart was moved to commentary duties shortly after this match, since Vince was set to push Bret, and he saw the Anvil as expendable. Shortly after this, however, Vince locked up Bret’s younger brother Owen to a deal and decided to rehire the Anvil to come and look after the youngest Hart and to form the New Foundation.
Fun Fact III: The Hart Foundation’s final tag team PPV record is 5-6. They were 1-0 at the Royal Rumble, 3-2 at Wrestlemania, 1-2 at Summerslam and 0-2 at Survivor Series.
Scott: The end of the road for one of the greatest tag teams in WWF history. One of the new teams on the block strikes gold in their first WWF pay-per-view match. Knobbs made his PPV debut in the Royal Rumble, but this is the debut for his partner Jerry Sags. The Anvil and The Hitman have been good champs, defending the title at house shows since August, but this is their first title defense on PPV during their reign. Once again we have a surprisingly good match. The Nasty Boys are consistently sloppy but aggressive, and the Hart Foundation is equal to the task. The ending gets chaotic, which usually signals the heels will get the last shot in, and sure enough Anvil is clocked with Jimmy Hart’s helmet, and we have new champions. Little did we know at the time, but this will be the last time Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart will team together for over 6 years. The long-awaited singles career of Bret Hart is about to begin. As for the Nasty Boys, they better enjoy their new found championships. One team in particular is out to get them. Grade: 3
Justin: At the time this seemed like a standard tag team defense for the hot champions, as the Nasties didn’t really seem to pose any sort of threat. But, little did we know back in 1991, that the belts were coming their way, Jim Neidhart was about to receive his walking papers and Bret was about to embark upon one of the greatest singles careers of all time. This was definitely a major upset at the time, and if you watch the match with that mindset, it does add some extra intrigue to the bout. The match gets a little sluggish at times, but the fast start and finish more than make for the lagging middle. Even though the heels were walking out as champs, it was always cool to see a title change in the early 90s, as they didn’t happen as often, so the crowd is pretty into the ending. The Harts have had a hell of a run, and were the dominant team of 1987 and again over the past eight months, but the time has come to pull the trigger on one of the most anticipated singles pushes of all time. Grade: 3
5) Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith, Jr.) defeats Rick Martel (Richard Vigneault) in a “blindfold” match with the DDT at 8:33
Scott: The finale of this psychology-driven feud is a psychology-driven match. I have to admit when I first watched this match and the few times afterward I was not crazy about it. They were standing around pretending to not see each other and it was quite dull. Then I just watched it again, and I have to say something. With a little more knowledge and objectivity, this is one of the most unique matches I’ve ever seen. It’s almost like an audience participation match. The crowd would give Jake his cues as to where the Model is, and he would go after him. There obviously wasn’t much action in the match since they didn’t touch each other much, which can’t raise the grade too high. However this match is not remembered for workrate, but a great case study in match psychology. Jake, who was the undisputed master of psychology finally got his hands on Martel and pastes him with the DDT. The psychology doesn’t end though, as Jake now needs to find Martel to pin him. Once he does, the feud is over and Martel has gotten his. The Snake wins another big Wrestlemania match, but the winds of change blow through Jake’s career as 1991 progresses. Grade: 2
Justin: I have read a good number of reviews of this match in the past and I think they are all a little harsh and unfair, as they all pan this match. I think you have to look at this match differently than regular matches and appreciate it for what it was: a psychological battle. I guess it could have a been a bit shorter, as the gimmick gets old fast, but the type of match is a fitting blow-off to the feud, as Martel had blinded Jake back in October of 1990 and he had just gotten his vision back fully right before this match happened. Jake suckered Martel into signing for this stipulation match to show him what it was like to live in the dark. To add to the intensity, Jake delivers another classic promo on the big stage to lead into his match. This feud has raged on for six months, and reaches its climax here, in front of a rabid crowd, mainly because they play a major role in the outcome. This is a fun match and cool moment for Jake before he undergoes some major changes. Grade: 2
**Marla Maples is backstage celebrating with the new Tag Team Champions, the Nasty Boys, and the rest of the Hart Family. **
6) The Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Jimmy Snuka (James Reiher) with the Tombstone at 4:19
Fun Fact: This is the PPV debut of Undertaker’s new manager, Paul Bearer. His real name is William Moody, but he’s more well-known by the name Percy Pringle. Pringle is well known in the World Class promotion managing heels like Al Perez and the Dark Patriot. Pringle also managed in Mid-South and a brief time in the AWA.
Fun Fact II: This is Jimmy Snuka’s final PPV singles match. He will appear in the 1992 Royal Rumble (included in this record) and make one or two other appearances in the future, but for all intents and purposes this is his final showing as an individual superstar. His final record is 0-8. He was 0-3 at the Royal Rumble, 0-2 at Wrestlemania, 0-1 at Summerslam and 0-2 at Survivor Series.
Scott: The legend begins here. The Wrestlemania debut of the man eventually nicknamed “The Phenom”. His ominous music and intimidating entrance silences the 20,000+ in the LA Sports Arena. The former Phenom, Jimmy Snuka, was really no match for the Deadman. Already he begins to get some face pops from the crowd. Not much more to say, but the legacy begins right here. Grade: 1.5 (Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Record: 1-0)
Justin: A quick match here that, similar to Earthquake vs. Hercules one year ago, exists solely to get the Undertaker a major win on a big stage over an established face. Just months into his WWF career, and you could already tell there was just something special about the Undertaker as a character. He had been established well and was gaining some serious momentum. On the flip side, Jimmy Snuka is quickly fading as this is his last singles PPV match. He makes a few more appearances over the years, but he makes sure to put the next big star over big time on the way out the door. Grade: 1
7) The Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) defeats Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) in a Retirement Match with three shoulder blocks at 20:46
Fun Fact: One memorable moment leading into the match was the demise of Brother Love. On Superstars leading into the show, Brother Love pissed off the Warrior during an interview. Well, Warrior finally gave Brother Love what many had been wanting to since he debuted in 1988. He beats the shit out of him, drags him to the ring, lays him out with a Press Slam and Splash, then goes back to the Brother Love Show set and decimates it.
Scott: The blow-off of one of the best feuds of the early 1990’s. After Savage had a lackluster 1990 feuding with Dusty Rhodes, he challenged Ultimate Warrior numerous times to a World Title shot. When Warrior wouldn’t hand it to him, he costs him the title at the Royal Rumble against Sergeant Slaughter. Now we’ve come to this, a match for a man’s career. You know, it’s easy to criticize Ultimate Warrior for his lack of charisma and incoherent interviews. However when it comes to the big match on the big stage, he always seems to bring his best. Here he goes move for move with the Macho Man, and the crowd is on the edge of their seats. Savage looks to have the match won after 5 elbow drops off the top rope, but Warrior kicks out, and Savage is stunned. Warrior hits his press slam/splash finish, and Savage kicks out of that. The crowd is off the hook, not sure what happens next. Warrior believes his powers are gone, and he almost walks away. Finally he shoulder blocks Savage 3 times in a row, and Savage’s career is over. This isn’t the end, however. Throughout the match the camera shows Elizabeth, his former manager and woman in the crowd. Elizabeth hasn’t been on camera since dancing with Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire one year earlier at Wrestlemania VI. Now she looks on as her former charge is humiliated and kicked by his current manager Sensational Sherri. Sherri has lost her meal ticket and she’s taking it out on him. Elizabeth runs from the crowd, down the aisle and tosses her out of the ring. Savage sees Liz and at first thinks it’s her that gave him the business. Then he sees Liz crying, he gets approval from the crowd, and gives her a big hug. The first couple of the WWF is reunited, and all the fans are crying and cheering. It’s one of the most emotional and well-thought out storyline endings the WWF ever did. Talk about a swerve. Unlike when he was a face in 1988, Savage is definitely more believable and more loved by the fans. However, the sobering truth is that at the moment Savage’s career is over. At the time, who would have thought if we’d ever see him on camera again? At that moment it was a fitting end. After watching that, did you forget Ultimate Warrior actually won the match? Grade: 4.5
Justin: An excellent match as Warrior goes three for his last three concerning awesome WM matches. Of course, it is Savage who does most of the work here, whether it be on offense, or selling when on defense. The story here also adds to the aura of this match, especially with Elizabeth in the crowd. My favorite unintentional comedy moment of this event is when Heenan spots Elizabeth (he just happens to see her before this match). You know, if they didn’t botch his reign and if he wasn’t such a whack-o, Warrior could have gone down as one the greatest wrestlers ever, mainly because he was involved in quite a few long, memorable and exciting feuds (Rude, Hogan, and Savage). More proof of the longevity of his feuds is that this feud picks up again in late-1992, similar to his feud with Rick Rude that re-started a year after the initial blow-off. This feud just reeks of continuity and they add a nice touch at the end when Savage refuses to let Liz hold the ropes for him like she used to, as he holds them for her instead. Man, this story and match had fans so wound up that many are CRYING at ringside. CRYING! Talk about telling a tremendous story, especially considering the Savage-Elizabeth story had been going on since 1986!! This is definitely one of the best Wrestlemania matches ever when you talk about the entire package, as it had true drama, great in-ring action, superb build-up and a killer payoff. Now, if only Warrior would have taken advantage of the big win and not self destructed…but more on that next time. Anyway, a superb effort all around, as usually rings true for these two at the big one. Grade: 4.5
8) Genichiro Tenryu (Genichiro Shimada) & Koji Kitao defeat Demolition when Tenryu pins Smash with a Power Bomb at 4:41
Fun Fact: The bastard version of Demolition is now once again managed by Mr. Fuji, who last turned on the Demolition name in 1988. Gone are the big pops, awesome theme music and respect from the fans, as we now have generic evil heel music, cheap mask tricks and nothing more the a glorified job team masquerading as one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
Scott: What a difference a year makes. At Wrestlemania VI Demolition was the top tag team in the WWF, winning the tag titles for an unprecedented third time. Now, they’re in a faceless mid-card match against a pair of Japanese no-names. Well no-names here in the US. Actually Genichiro Tenryu is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Japan. Ax is officially out of the picture as his heart condition was too severe to cover up. Crush and Smash just didn’t have the chemistry that Ax and Smash had before. Plus this recent influx of new teams just made Demolition dated. The highlight of this match is the hilarious exchange between Gorilla and Bobby concerning Kitao and the name “Fred”. Fred Kitao? Just pop the tape in and listen to the exchange. Unfortunately this would be Demolition’s PPV swan song, and they go out with a whimper. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Not much here besides Bobby and Gorilla carrying the match with their arguing (Bobby: “What’s his name? Kitowel? Gorilla: “Kitao! You’d have trouble if his name was Fred” Bobby: “Fred? That’s a funny name for a Japanese wrestler: Fred Kitao” Gorilla: “Will you stop!”) Some innovative moves from the Japanese contingent here, but nothing overly impressive, and it is quite sad to see Demolition’s run end here, but I guess they had overstayed their welcome. This match is here basically to spell the crowd after such an emotional roller coaster ride in the last encounter. So long Demolition, we hardly knew you. Grade: 1
9) Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) defeats Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) by disqualification at 10:26; Mr. Perfect retains WWF Intercontinental Title
Scott: Here was the crowning moment for the Cobb County corrections officer. This whole feud started when Rick Rude made fun of Boss Man’s mama. Well Rude left the WWF at the end of 1990, so the heat was siphoned to Bobby Heenan and his family. So he mows them down one by one: Haku on Superstars and the Survivor Series, Barbarian at the Royal Rumble, and now finally the crown jewel. The Intercontinental Champ, Mr. Perfect. Boss Man was on a nice roll in the ring, and this match showed. Perfect was one of the most clinically sound technicians in the ring, and although Boss Man wasn’t in his league in that aspect he made up for it in psychology. The crowd is still hot, and I’m surprised because A) I thought they’d still be spent from the Savage/Warrior match, and B) We’re at match #9. The crowd really gets going when they see their old friend and legend Andre the Giant coming down the aisle. Nice continuity here as we remember one year ago at Skydome, plus Andre had been antagonizing Heenan’s family in recent weeks leading up to the show. The end is lame though, as Perfect is disqualified. So Boss Man wins the match, but not the title. I don’t understand how with all the buildup leading to this that Boss Man doesn’t win the title. Maybe Vince thought Boss Man didn’t need it. It’s probably true, as Boss Man and Andre get a nice ovation after the match. Perfect remains champ, but Boss Man officially cleans out the Heenan Family. Grade: 2.5
Justin: After months of chasing, the Boss Man has finally reached the end of the road and received his shot at Mr. Perfect and the I-C belt. The crowd is hot for Boss Man as usual, but the ending leaves them a little flat. It looked as though Boss Man may eek out a victory after Andre comes down and wallops Perfect with the belt, but just as goes for the pin, Haku and Barbarian interfere to cause the DQ. Boss Man and Andre clean house and celebrate the hollow victory, and, honestly, make for an impressive pair in the ring. It was nice to see Andre be brought back for a little run as a face here, as the crowds got to see him one more time before he leaves for good. Perfect gets lucky and escapes with his title, and he would be rebuilt a bit over the summer in preparation for a major showdown at our next outing. The Boss Man would also move into a new feud, and it is equally as entertaining as this one has been. Grade: 2
10) Earthquake (John Tenta) defeats Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.) with the Earthquake at 3:16
Scott: Not much here, just a harmless squash of the newly-turned face Greg Valentine. There’s a small back story here as Valentine was a former charge under Jimmy Hart, and saw some tension with Valentine and other heels at the Rumble. Obviously we’re seeing the slow end to Greg Valentine’s WWF career. His run in Rhythm & Blues is over, and now he’s jobbed in 3 minutes at Wrestlemania. Not looking good for the former Intercontinental and Tag Team champion. Earthquake, now beyond his feud with Hulk Hogan, takes this one easy. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Not much to see here, so you can just move along. Earthquake is being rebuilt again after his long feud with the Hulkster, and Valentine is nothing more than cannon fodder at this point. I’m not sure why they turned the “Hammer” face, but I guess they just decided he had been heel long enough. He turned on Jimmy Hart at an MSG House Show and would hang around through the end of the year. The best part of the this match is when Gene interviews the celebrities in the crowd during the entrances and we hear Lou Ferrigno say “it’s like the circus, the super bowl and the world series all wrapped in one,” and Heenan then say “how can Ferrigno speak with 8 pounds of crackers in his mouth.” Classic Heenan and a classic Wrestlemania Moment. Grade: 1
11) Legion of Doom defeats Power & Glory when Hawk (Mike Hegstrand) pins Paul Roma (Paul Centopani) with the Doomsday Device at :58
Fun Fact: There actually was a story here, as Power and Glory cost the LOD a title shot by eliminating them from the Number One Contender Tag Team Battle Royal (the Nasties ended up winning) after they had already been tossed out.
Scott: Holy shit. The Wrestlemania debut for the greatest tag team ever is a “crisp, clean, no caffeine” squash of the forgotten heel tag team that slowly lost its steam by the end of 1990. Power & Glory were groomed to be a solid, maybe championship heel tag team. When the Nasty Boys arrived, they received the big heel push and as we saw earlier, the titles. No need for Roma and Hercules anymore. So, who better team to mop them up than the big bad Road Warriors? Not much more to say here, except one thing. Hawk and Animal are looking to do just one thing: Become the first team to ever be AWA, NWA, and WWF Tag Team Champions. Look out Knobbs and Sags. WHAT A RUSH!!!!! Grade: 1
Justin: Well, after a promising start, the Power & Glory experiment has officially ended. Sure, they stay together for a few more months, but this is the official burial of what could have been a special tag team. Speaking of special tag teams, as Hercules and Roma are careening down the ladder, Hawk and Animal are skyrocketing up it. After dispatching of Demolition in a less than spectacular “dream feud,” LOD had some unfinished business with Power & Glory stemming from the tag team battle royal incident. Here, they hand out the classic AWA jobber-murder beating and set themselves up as the new contenders for the newly crowned champions. One year ago, the tag picture consisted of long time teams dominating the scene, but just 12 months later, two new, fresh teams stand atop the WWF mountain. Grade: 1
12) Virgil (Michael Jones) defeats Ted DiBiase by count-out at 7:35
Fun Fact: After Virgil broke free at the Royal Rumble, Roddy Piper began training him and preparing him for his big Wrestlemania match. On the 2/17 Prime Time Wrestling, we saw the classic interview with Piper and Virgil, where Piper was screaming at him and then asked him to spell “MAN.” Virgil responded “V-I-R-G-I-L!” On the 2/23 Superstars, Virgil won a big singles match against Haku with help from Piper. Then Piper interviewed DiBiase on the Superstars and Stripes Forever special one week before the PPV. Piper made fun of DiBiase’s tear away suit, and when DiBiase began threatening him, Virgil came out and got in DiBiase’s face, driving him to the back. Finally, on Superstars the day before Wrestlemania, Virgil came down during DiBiase’s match with jobber Kevin Greeno, distracted DiBiase and got him counted out in an embarrassing loss.
Scott: The match many fans had been waiting for since Ted DiBiase arrived in the WWF. Virgil received one of the biggest pops at the Royal Rumble when he finally left his master by clocking him with the Million Dollar Belt. So their first match is here, and it’s not great. Virgil has some in-ring experience, but this is a big stage for him and he’s struggling to keep up with DiBiase. Of course DiBiase does some major stalling while jawing with Roddy Piper on the outside. Piper is struggling to move with his crutches, as he is recovering from hip replacement surgery. In terms of storyline he’s recovering from a motorcycle accident. I feel Gorilla, Bobby and the cameras are focusing too much on Piper outside and it’s hindering the flow of the match. DiBiase ends up jawing with Piper too much and gets counted out. Ugh. Virgil wins the match, but his side gets the short end of the stick at the end when DiBiase attacks Piper with his crutches, and is eventually helped by Sensational Sherri. Makes sense since she’s looking for a new meal ticket. Even though Virgil wins the match, this is far from over. Grade: 1.5
Justin: After months of solid buildup, the big moment was here. Virgil had been training with his new mentor, Roddy Piper, and was ready to make a statement on wrestling’s biggest stage. Unfortunately, the match never really get on track, and DiBiase is his usual sluggish-Wrestlemania self. It is a weird thing, in that DiBiase is an all time great, but he never really delivered at Wrestlemania. As Scott said, there was a lot of focus on Piper at ringside, which is OK since he was a major catalyst in the feud. Virgil hangs with his former boss, who ends up counted out due to Piper’s interference. Piper is then decimated after the match which sets up the new Sherri-DiBiase union. A great unintentional OWW moment happens after the match as well, as Piper is struggling to his feet and is fending off the referees trying to help him, he flings a crutch at Danny Davis and catches him straight in the junk, sending Davis down in a heap. DAMN. Anyway, it seems as if they knew they were just setting the stage for an even bigger showdown further down the road, and man, do they ever deliver that time. Grade: 1.5
13) The Mountie (Jacques Rougeau) defeats Tito Santana (Merced Solis) after shocking him with the Cattle Prod at 1:20
Scott: Typical Tito Santana match for this point of his career. He’s putting over a new heel. The Mountie, Jacques Rougeau with a Canadian Mountie outfit, made his debut at the Rumble with a win over Koko B. Ware (a match that was cut out of the Coliseum Video release). His weapon of choice is the cattle prod, and he jabs Tito with it and gets the win. This show is reaching 3 hours, so this one was on the express line. Mountie wins, Tito does what is asked. Grade: 5
Justin: Just a squash for the Mountie here, as everyone’s favorite Wrestlemania punching bag, Tito, falls again. This match was definitely rushed, as the show was nearing three hours, with the main event still to come. The Mountie will become a mainstay in the heel midcard over the next 2 years and will be in some entertaining feuds and matches. Here, he solidifies his willingness to cheat to victory and picks up the quick win. Grade: 5
14) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) defeats Sergeant Slaughter (Robert Remus) to win WWF World Title with a leg drop at 20:22
Fun Fact: This is Sgt. Slaughter’s Wrestlemania debut. He is the first wrestler to make his Wrestlemania debut as World Champion (not counting Hogan at WM 1, obviously).
Fun Fact II: The heat for this match was hitting an all time high, as Americana was in there air, and the American Hero Hulk Hogan was set to rescue the World Title from the evil Iraqi sympathizer. Slaughter did his best to weaken Hogan on the road to WM, as he would beat him down at any chance he had, with the biggest beat down occurring on the Superstars and Stripes Forever show. Hogan was facing General Adnan, when Slaughter interfered and beat Hogan down and locked him the Camel Clutch. Hulkamania was running hot and wild, and the crowds were rabid to see Hogan regain the gold that eluded him all year long.
Scott: The moment has arrived for all the little Hulksters around the world. After Slaughter won the title, he badmouthed America and Hulk Hogan at every turn. He even set fire to Hogan’s t-shirt on an episode of Superstars. Hogan went to various military bases and hung out with soldiers and kids, pumping up the red, white, and blue. Now in the City of Angels, Hogan and Slaughter finally duke it out. Now many insiders and analysts feel that if Desert Storm didn’t happen, this match would never have happened. In fact Slaughter wouldn’t have even been champion. Well, it did happen, and you know what? This was a really good match. Hogan really took a good beating from Slaughter, as the Sarge really dictated the pace for most of this match. I actually enjoyed the dynamic with Gorilla, Bobby, and Regis Philbin on commentary. Gorilla is the face rooting for Hogan, Heenan keeps talking about his big party in Vegas on the next episode of Prime Time Wrestling, and Regis is the geeky celebrity who knows nothing about wrestling and is rooting for Hogan because it’s the right thing to do. Hogan does not one, but two “hulking ups” in this match. Slaughter cuts off the first comeback, and goes right back to work. However, a bloody Hogan makes a second comeback, hits the big leg drop, and is now the first 3-time WWF Champion. The crowd is off the hook, as Hogan basks in one of his last clean triumphs at a Wrestlemania. Whether a rumored Hogan/Warrior re-match would have been better is second-guessing. The fact is this is the match we were given, and in my opinion it delivered the best it could. Fans were crying as Hogan was prone on the mat with the Iraqi flag laying over him, and then kicked out of a Slaughter pin and ripped the Iraqi flag in half. A great match, and a great ending for this very long, patriotic Wrestlemania. Grade: 3
Justin: A pretty solid match from these two, which I would say would be a bit surprising. Any time you have a World title change at a huge show, it always adds to the excitement of the match, so that helps here a bit, even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The story heading in here was done well, as Slaughter was great in his promo work to get everyone jacked for this match. I have no problems with Hogan winning the strap here (even though his pops were fading) because it MAKES SENSE. I am not anti-Hogan, I am anti-Hogan when he wins for no reason. Here, they needed a mega face win to take on the evil champion. Slaughter cheated his way to the title and then dominated for two months using cheap tactics and chicanery, and would finally get his comeuppance here. Despite being one of the main reasons Warrior’s title reign fell apart, Hogan did stay out of the title picture for the better part of the year, so him being back in it is sort of fresh at this point. Whether or not it would stay fresh is another question, but for now Hulk-Fever is running strong once again. The two work a really solid and smart matchup that gets the crowd pumped for Hogan’s big comeback. Hogan even bleeds and takes a chair shot to really get the match cranking. A fun Main Event with a hot crowd, smart booking and the right ending make the capper to this Wrestlemania a successful one. Grade: 3
Scott: For the second show in a row, we have a great crowd, compelling storylines, and some great matches. California, notorious for latte-sipping, hand sitting crowds, is really on top of every match and every moment. We do have a couple of dogs, and the time management aspect of this was poor, as 14 matches for the third Wrestlemania in a row caused for some major express line encounters. However, we had one 5-star gem, a touching reunion, some solid 3-star affairs, and a compelling title match with a great, uplifting ending. After a stale, boring last 6 months to 1990, the first part of 1991 has been very refreshing with new feuds, and a lot of emotion. The Gulf War was over by this point, so Sergeant Slaughter’s usefulness should have ended here. Unfortunately it doesn’t. Hulk Hogan is once again on top of the world, so that shows you what they thought of the Ultimate Warrior’s reign as champ. He wins a big match, but is forgotten in the emotional reunion of Randy Savage and Elizabeth. At this moment the Macho Man’s officially retired, but if this was his last match in the ring he gave us another gem. Of course we know whether the retirement lasted or not. Another solid Wrestlemania, and a good cache of storylines and feuds to get us through the summer. Final Grade: B+
Justin: A solid WM outing, with one stellar match, and another array of very good matches. I’m glad Vince finally stopped cramming 14 matches in every Wrestlemania, as half of them were throw-away matches that last under 3 minutes. By 1992, the matches would be streamlined, thus they could have more time to tell a better story, and a higher majority of the matches could have better storylines and meaning. I still think Warrior-Hogan II would have been the way to go here (with Hogan getting the strap back from Warrior), but then we would have been robbed of Warrior-Savage, so in retrospect I guess it was a good decision. I like the whole celebrity atmosphere at this show, as it adds to the Hollywood feel and even though there were a lot of them, they didn’t dominate the show like some other PPVs. They were used sparingly and smartly, I think (even Regis isn’t terrible on color in the Main). Anyway, a very good-send the fans home happy Wrestlemania. All the right guys went over (faces win to blow off feuds: Hogan, Virgil, Jake, and the heels that needed to be built up were: Undertaker, Mountie, and Earthquake). We also had some shocking moments, such as the tag title win, Andre the Giant’s appearance and the Savage/Elizabeth reunion. The patriotic feel adds to the specialness of the show as well, which is a major factor in a making a Wrestlemania memorable. This is definitely one of the better Wrestlemanias, as it had something for everyone and was entertaining from beginning to end. Grade: B+
MVP: Ultimate Warrior & Randy Savage
Runner Up: Hulk Hogan & Sgt. Slaughter
Non MVP: Demolition (sad exit)
Runner Up: Big Boss Man & Mr. Perfect (poor blowoff to a hot feud)