The fourth installment of Wrestlemania is very different to any of the previous events. This show is based around a 14 man tournament for the vacant World Heavyweight title. But why is it vacant? Well, Andre the Giant beat Hulk Hogan in their match for the title at The Big Event but only because “The Million Dollar Man”Ted Dibiase paid the referee a lot of money. Hogan clearly had his shoulder up but the ref counted it anyway. When Andre won he handed the title over to Dibiase, relinquishing the belt. Due to the devious tactics the title was stripped from Dibiase and vacated. Hence the tournament to crown a new champion.
There are clear favourites to win the tournament in the form of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant but what about near outsider such as Ted Dibiase, Macho Man Randy Savage, Jake The Snake Roberts & Ricky Steamboat? I don’t think we have to look as far as Don Muraco, Dino Bravo and Greg Valentine but how about Royal Rumble winner “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan? It’s going to be a thrilling ride that’s for sure.
Besides the tournament itself, there are two big title matches with Intercontinental champion Honky Tonk Man defending his belt on PPV for the first time against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. And Strike Force defend their belts against Demolition. There is also a six man tag match between The Islanders and Bobby Heenan and The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware. Much like Wrestlemania II there is also a 20 man invitational Battle Royal. So let’s press play.
There’s a cheesy opening package on the beach with quick flashes of wrestlers between placid pictures of a beach. I love the 80’s music. We then go to Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura who are going to be calling the action tonight. 19 Thousand people in attendance is nearly one hundred thousand less than last year. This year we’re in the Trump Plaza. Donald must have paid Vince a lot of money for the pleasure. Gladys Knight is out to sing America the Beautiful. Very nice but I won’t review that.
Invitational Battle Royal featuring Bret “Hitman” Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Ken Patera, Jacques Rougeaus, Raymond Rougeaus, “The Outlaw” Ron Bass, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Roma, Jim Powers, Sika, Boris Zhukov, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, Jumping Jim Brunzell, B Brian Blair, Junkyard Dog, Hillbilly Jim, George “The Animal” Steele & Harley Race.
Down comes the trophy followed by the participants. A battle royal is a good way to get the roster on the show and they are quite entertaining. The participants are announced and here we go. A good mix of old schoolers and new blood in there. Sam Houston is the first out there and Sika follows. Steele cleverly stays outside of the ring to being with. No managers at ringside for this one, just George Steele who pulls out Neidhard by his beard. Both the Bees are out now and Raymond Rougeaus is gone. It’s never a tag team wrestler who wins these things. Nor is it Ron Bass who is thrown out.
Hillbilly Jim is history and we’re about half way through. It’s not Danny Davis’ night or Jim Powers who are thrown to the outside. JYD and Harley Race go at it renewing their old rivalry. Ken Patera eliminates both Bolsheviks before being thrown out by Bad News Brown. Jacques Rougeaus and Harley Race are next out, quickly followed by Paul Roma and we’re down to Bad News Brown, Bret Hart and JYD. The Dog manages to take down both guys but they soon turn the tables and it’s two on one. The two heels eliminate JYD and then Brown turns on Bret Hart and throws him over the rop rope to win the match! The Hitman then destroys the trophy, could this be the start of a face turn for The Hart Foundation?
Ted Dibiase is backstage in his plush locker room selling his class. He’s confident about going winning the tournament and looking past “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan already. Dibiase is in with a good shot after mixing it up with the main eventers for the last few months.
Next up is some chump reading the rules of the tournament from a script.
“Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan World Title Tournament First Round Match
This is quite a big first round match. Like I said before, Ted Dibiase is one of the favourites whilst Jim Duggan won the Royal Rumble a couple of months ago so must be hot in the writers eyes. I almost think both of these guys could’ve got to the second round. Duggan is out first to no music and likewise with Ted who is accompanied by both Virgil and Andre the Giant. There are a lot of “Hoooooooo” chants for Duggan who takes the early advantage. Ted sells like a pro, flopping around the ring. It’s nice to see him in action after not fighting at the last two pay per views.
It’s Dibiase with the advantage now much to the crowds dislike. That doesn’t last long though and we;re back and forth. A sunset flip from Duggan was out of the ordinary. He signals for his finisher the three point stance but Andre grabs his leg causing the distraction allowing Dibiase to attack him from behind and get the win after a falling fist. A good start to the tournament with Ted Dibiase advancing.
Brutus Beefcake backstage now all in pink and looking tanned. Now I quite like Beefcake but his promo here is fairly terrible. He’s putting on an stupid accent. He faces Honky Tonk Man later on.
Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco – World Title Tournament First Round Match
Unlike the last match, both of these guys come out to entrance music. Bravo has his manager Frenchy Martin with him and Don Muraco is accompanied by “Superstar” Billy Graham. He’s even got Muraco wearing Tie Dye. Two big men in this match both have main event experience. It’s a suprisingly quick start to the match that starts back and forth. Bravo in green for this one. The winner of this one takes on Ted Dibiase so you’d think Muraco would take the victory here. Muraco locks in a leg lock and you can see the sweat dripping off him already. Bravo manages to kick him into the ropes and Don gets his head stuck between them, it looks painful.
Bravo then hits a piledriver which apparently is Muracos finisher now. A double clothesline and both guys are down. Honestly, I’m not a fan of either of these. They’re both veterans and don’t really fit with where the WWF is going at this point. Muraco gets the advantage but as he goes for a flying forearm, Bravo pulls the referee in the way. He then hits his finisher, the side suplex and pins Muraco but as the referee seemingly counts one, two, three on Bravo’s back it is of course because he’s disqualified the French Canadian. Muraco wins by DQ and goes through to face Ted Dibiase in the quater final.
We go to Ricky Steamboats home now and he’s sat with his rather attractive wife and his little baby boy. Everything he does in the future is dedicated to his son. Very strange.
Bob Eucker backstage now and in comes the Honky Tonk Man and has some very quick words for his opponent tonight Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
Greg” The Hammer” Valentine vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – World Title Tournament First Round Match
Valentine is already in the ring as Steamboat comes out to new entrance music with his son in his arms! Two former Intercontinental champions in this one. You’ve got to fancy Steamboat as the favourite. He’s the only man to have fought on all 8 PPVs so far and he is over. Valentine is out there with Jimmy Hart. Steamboat starts off very quickly. And we have our first deep arm drag! Steamboat out powering Valentine now and he goes for a schoolboy but Greg falls to the mat in a moment that looks ridiculous. Ricky loves a submission, I do not. Both of these guys wrestled at the very first Wrestlemania and have wrestled at every Wrestlemania since.
Valentine now has the advantage and gets a near fall. But as Ricky takes the advantage, Valentine sells like Flair. Big clothesline now from The Hammer. These two are in the second half of the bracket/ We already know two quater final matches in Hogan/Andre & Dibiase/Muraco. I’m really not a fan of Valentine. I don’t know what it is, I just don’t like the look of him. The match continues to be back and forth and Valentine goes up top and hits a big single axe handle then attempts the figure four but fails. Ricky now goes up top and hits a single axe handle of his own and gets a near fall. Steamboat throws the referee out of the way as he comes between them, rather out of character that.
Steamboat then goes up top and tried for a high cross body but Valentine uses his momentum and rolls him over, getting the three count! Greg Valentine advances to the quater finals much to the suprise of everybody.
Backstage now to the British Bulldogs and Koko B Ware who haven’t been on PPV since the last Wrestlemania. A placid promo from the Bulldogs is followed by a high energy one from Koko. They’ve got a big 6 man tag match coming up.
A big package is delivered to Bobby Heenan. Heenan isn’t happy with the cameras being around. Bobby is awesome whatever he’s doing. But what’s in the box? I’m sure we’ll find out later.
“The Natural” Butch Reed vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – World Title Tournament First Round Match
Butch Reed and Slick have a good dance in the ring as they wait for one of the tournament favourites, Randy Savage who is accompanied by his valet, Miss Elizabeth. Butch Reed hasn’t won on PPV since the last Wrestlemania so he’ll be looking to redeem himself. The winner of this one takes on Greg Valentine. This one should be a no-brainer. Butch Reed starts off well, out powering the smaller Savage. This continues for a while, with Reed throwing Savage from pillar to post. He makes the mistake of going up top though and Randy throws him off before hitting the big elbow for the victory. It was quick one but Savage goes through to face Valentine in the quater final.
Heenan and The Islanders backstage now with Bob Eucker. Bobby gets in a dig on Eucker and then the Bulldogs in a quick interview.
One Man Gang vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – World title Tournament First Round Match
Bigelow has the cheesiest music I’ve ever heard. He should not be coming down to camp jazz. Maybe it’s because of his camp manager. This is quite a big first round match with two guys who are on the cusp of the main event having been in volved in the main event of Survivor Series. Gang starts off well, throwing Bam Bam around like a cruiserweight. Doesn’t last long though as bam Bam gets the advantage after a couple of clumsy moves. As he goes for a big running splash though, Slick pulls down the ropes sending the big man to the outside. In a bizarre situation though Bam Bam does a cartwheel. Even more bizarre, he gets counted out. Apparently being on the apron means you can still get counted out. And a count of nine is enough to get counted out. Horrible finish.
Hulk Hogan backstage with Mene Gene. The first time ever he’s been on PPV without the World Heavyweight title. Could he win it back tonight? He’s got to be the favourite. Intense promo as he talks about Andre falling to the bottom of the ocean. Then he turns his attention to Donald Trump and his family drowning but Hulkster saves him. Strange.
“Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts – First Round World Title Tournament Match
The final first round match is between two guys who are good enough to carry the belt. Rude is Bobby Heenans only man in this tournament. Rude is hoping for third time lucky in terms of winning on pay per view. The winner of this one takes on One Man Gang. Jake in red tights and Rude in pink for this one. A back and forth start. One guy in the crowd chants “DDT”. I’m sure we’ll get more of that later. A “Weasel” chant now. Roberts locks in an armbar that goes on for a long time. This match has a much slower pace than the previous first round matches. Another arm bar from Roberts and then a criss cross! Then a sleeper from Rude. Rude uses the hair to keep the sleeper in tact. Love the heel tactics. Finally Jake gets out of the sleeper but Rude takes him right back down and into the sleeper.
“boring” chants begin to echo around the Trump Plaza. The fans aren’t happy with this one at all. And I can see why, Rude locks on his third sleeper in a row. And Roberts gets out of it and hits some of his trademark jabs. The crowd have woken up now as Roberts signals for the DDT. Rude backs him into the corner though. Rude gets a pin with his feet on the ropes and Rude thinks he’s won but as the bell rings it’s actually because of a time limit draw. One Man Gang advances to the semi finals as a result.
Backstage to Mene Gene who’s standing by with the brackets. Vana White also shows up to join him. Bob Eucker is on the lookout for her. So the quater finals look a little like this. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant. And the winner of that will face the winner of Ted Dibiase vs. Don Muraco. Then we have Greg Valentine vs. Randy Savage with the winner of that going up against One Man Gang. On paper you’d fancy Hogan/Dibiase and Savage/Gang in the semi finals.
Hercules vs. The Ultimate Warrior
A non tournament match now between new-comer Ultimate Warrior and the more experienced Hercules. Warrior gets his big entrance and the crowd are into it. Two big power houses in this one with Warrior getting his first singles match on PPV. They take it in turns to clothesline each other down. They take it to the outside. Please don’t give us a double count out. Bobby Heenan is with Hercules for this one. Not a lot in the way of wrestling moves in this one. An atomic drop is about as good as it gets. Hercu attempts a full nelson but can’t lock it in. Warrior then flips over the top and both mens shoulders are down. Warrior manages to flick his shoulder up at the last second and wins the match as a result. Forgettable.
Match Rating: 2.75/10
We go to a recap for Andre/Hogan III. This is the big match of the night. It main evented last years Wrestlemania, carried on through Survivor Series, The Royal Rumble and could this be the end of it tonight? We’ll have to see.
Andre The Giant vs. Hulk Hogan – World Title Tournament Quater Final Match
Andre comes out with fellow quaterfinaler Ted Dibiase and bodyguard Virgil. I can’t imagine Virgil being much of a bodyguard to Andre. The crowd erupt for Hogan who comes out to Real American without the World title for the first ever time on PPV. Hogan slides in and Andre attacks him before the bell. Hulk soon gets the advantage though and takes down Dibiase too. Andre loves the tied up in the ropes spot. His friends on the outside get him free though. Hulk hasn’t won on PPV since last years Wrestlemania which is quite interesting. Andre uses a choke to get Hogan down to his knees. The crowd chant for the Hulkster and the former World champion gets back up to his feet.
Hogan then goes to slam Andre but with Virgil distracting the referee, Dibiase attacks him with a chair! Hogan no sells then grabs the chair and hits Andre with it right in front of the referee! Surely a disqualification? No? Andre then hits Hogan with the chair! And then the bell rings and it’s a double DQ. Garbage finish. Hogan then slams Andre and Real American plays as Hulk poses to the fans. The winner of Dibiase and Muraco goes to the final!
Match Rating: 3.25/10
Randy Savage backstage now saying Hogan was cheated. But now the other half of the mega powers is going to go the whole way. He stands a bloody good chance too.
Don Muraco vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase – World Title Tournament Quater Final Match
With respective wins over Jim Duggan and Dino Bravo it now means that the winner of this match will go on to the final. No Virgil for this one after Hogan took him out in the last match but Billy Graham is present for Muraco. Muraco starts it quickly, dragging Dibiase into the ring and hitting him with some big power moves. It’s got to be Dibiase & Savage in the final. Or maybe Muraco and Valentine? I think not. “The Rock” dominates this match for quite a while. His win in the last match was his first ever win on PPV. Ted takes advantage of the match now. He slingshots Muraco onto the top rope for the win.
Backstage now to Demolition and Mr Fuji. The first mention of their match with Strike Force for the tag titles. Smash cuts an awesome promo, Ax then has a few words. I love real tag teams so I’m looking forward to that bout.
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – World Title Tournament Quater Final Match
We’re reminded that One Man Gang gets a bye to the semi final to take on the winner of this match. Valentine comes out to no music and Savage follows with his big entrance. He’s got different entrance and ring gear for this one and Elizabeth has changed too. Again we have two former Intercontinental champions in this one. Jimmy Hart just has Valentine left in this tournament and stands at ringside. Randy starts quickly. Savage got to the final of the Wrestling Classic tournament in 85 so has the tournament experience. Valentine slows the match down and takes Savage to the outside, throwing him into the steel barricade.
Valentine works the leg and goes for the figure four but Savage gets to the ropes. He hits a suplex and Randy doesn’t land cleanly. One of the Hebners is the referee for this, controversial after his involvement at the The Big Event. Back and forth for a bit with Jimmy Hart also getting involved. Greg once again goes for the figure four but Savage rolls him up with a cradle for the three count! Randy goes through to face One Man Gang in the semi finals.
Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake – Intercontinental Title Match
Next up is the first title match of the evening and the first PPV Intercontinental title defence since last years Wrestlemania. Honky comes out to the ring with Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue (Sensational Sherri in sunglasses and a wig). Beefcake then comes out to the ring without any ring music which is rather underwhelming. In my opinion this is the biggest match of Beefcakes career so far. Interestingly it was Butch Reed that was originally suposed to beat Steamboat for the belt but he’d gone missing so they went with Honky instead. It’s Beefcake that dominates this in the early going as Honky Tonk tries to escape on multiple occasions. The man from Memphis does eventually capitalise on a mistake from Brutus. This is Beefcakes first singles match on PPV since the very first Wrestlemania.
Honky Tonk Man goes for his finisher, The Shake, Rattle and Roll but Bruti grabs into the ropes and takes control of the match before locking on the sleeper. The champion fades and it looks to be over but Jimmy Hart nails the referee with the megaphone! Brutus celebrates like he’s won but then spots the ref on the floor. He motions for the sheers but has to wrestle Jimmy Hart for them and then grabs some scissors and starts cutting Jimmy Harts hair! Brutus grabs the big shears as Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue scarper from the ringside area with Honky Tonk Man. The Fink then announces that Brutus Beefcake wins the match by disqualification!
Match Rating: 3.75/10
Backstage Andre The Giant tells the world that Ted Dibiase paid Andre to keep Hogan out of the tournament. He ends the segment by strangling Bob Eucker in a very comedy way. Dibiase is in the final, he meets the winner of One Man Gang and Randy Savage.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan & The Islanders (Haku & Tama) vs. Koko B. Ware & The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid).
Bobby Heenan in action for the first time since The Big Event in 1986 comes out wearing a big padded jacket so not to get bitten by Matilda the dog. The Islanders stole Matilda a few months ago which kicked off this feud. Not sure what Koko’s involvement is but he makes up a team that haven’t been on PPV since last years Wrestlemania. Dynamite Kid and Tama starts the match off quickly. Koko gets the tag and hits a pretty sweet dropkick. His team control the match in the early going. No sign of Heenan yet, I’m sure he’ll stay out of the match for as long as he can. When The Islanders do get the advantage, Heenan does get tagged in and lays a few stomps on Dynamite.
The crowd don’t seem too into this one and even a hot tag to Koko doesn’t get much of a reaction. Heenan gets tagged in once more and Koko beats him down until it all breaks down and all six men are in the ring. The Islanders then lift up Heenan and throw him down on Koko for the win! A big win for the heels that should put the Islanders up in the tag title picture. After the match Matilda does get her paws on Heenan after chasing him up the aisle.
The Fink turns our attention to Jesse Ventura who stands high posing for the fans to a “Jesse” chant. Very strange. It’s then announced that Ted Dibiase gets a bye into the final of the tournament.
One Man Gang vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – World Title Tournament Semi-final Match
The Gang comes out to no fanfare with his manager Slick and they are followed by Savage, now in black, with Miss Elizabeth. Savage is the first man tonight to wrestle three matches due to the bye One Man Gang got in the last round. It is Savage that starts the better of the two in this one though. One Man Gang soon takes control with some big power shots. Nothing too fancy from the big man. He eventually makes a mistake, missing a splash allowing Savage to take control. Randy hits a double axe handle to the outside which I mark inside for. Randy’s turn to make a mistake now as he goes for a bodyslam.
With Elizabeth up on the apron distracting the referee, Slick gives One Man Gang the cane and he beats Savage down with it. The referee turns around and watches it all happening so the result by DQ goes to The Macho Man. Its Dibiase vs. Savage in the final.
Strike Force (c) (Tito Santana & Rick Martel) vs. Demolition (Ax & Smash) – Tag Team Title Match
It’s worth noting before this goes down that every time the tag titles have been defended on PPV they have changed hands. Demolition come down to badass music, Strike Force come out to really cheesy 80’s synth pop. I love proper tag teams with matching ring gear so this match really appeals. Especially Demolition. It’s a quick start to the match with all four men jumping in. Strike Force then use quick tags to keep the advantage over the challengers. Demolition look a bit like Kiss in bondage gear. Some double teaming allows Demolition to take control of the match. They keep Santana away from Martel until the Mexican hits his trademark flying forearm and the hot tag is made.
The crowd get behind Strike Force who are squeeky clean babyfaces. Martel locks in the Boston Crab, the move that won them the title. Fuji manages to chuck his cane though and Ax smashes Martel with it behind the referees back. Smash covers Martel and gets the three count. We have new tag team champions, Demolition!
Match Rating: 5.5/10
“Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – World Title Tournament Final
Well the whole night has been building up to this one. Bob Eucker is the special guest ring announcer, Vana White is the special guest time keeper. Randy is now wrestling his fourth match of the night after beating Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang whilst Dibiase is wrestling his third after going through Jim Duggan and Don Muraco. Dibiase doesn’t have theme music which is mad considering his spot. He has Andre the Giant with him though. I’d love to see Savage/Andre at some point. Some good chain wrestling to start this match off. Andre grabs Randy a couple of times causing a “Hogan” chant from the crowd. The match has a back and forth start with both men getting some good moves in. Savage goes for his double axe handle but Andre stands in the way.
Randy has a word with Elizabeth, sending her to the back and as she does, Dibiase attakcs him from behind. The crowd continue their chant for Hogan showing just how over he is at this point in time. And the crowd erupt as Elizabeth returns with the Hulkster! As Andre tries to get involved again, Hogan makes sure that he doesn’t. It’s nice to see some actual wrestling moves in this match, courtesy of The Million Dollar Man. As he goes up top though, Savage throws him off and then goes for the big elbow! But he misses and Dibiase locks in the sleeper! Andre gets involved which distracts the ref and Hogan smashes Ted with a chair. Savage then goes up top and lands the Big Elbow for the win! Hogan and Savage celebrate in the ring with Elizabeth and World Heavyweight championship belt.
Rating: 6.75/10* Match Of The Night
Well that was an interesting evening. The match quality wasn’t great but that seems to be the case in this tournament style pay per views. Luckily, it ended on a high note with Savage and Dibiase. Randy is a big fan favourite and goes forward with the belt, it’ll be interesting to see how he does with the gold and if he can keep his ego in check. Demolition were also the big winners of the night, taking home the tag team championships. Notable wins for The Ultimate Warrior, Bad New Brown, Honky Tonk Man and The Islanders also. There seem to be a lot more characters in the WWF now as opposed to a couple of years prior where there was still a lot of old school talent. This PPV was enjoyable in a lot of ways and with the Hogan/Andre curveball, the tournament could have gone in a number of ways. Not the best Wrestlemania but as a tournament mark, I enjoyed it a lot.
Overall Rating: 43/100 (Ranked #5 out of 8)