Date: April 2, 1989
Venue: Atlantic City Convention Hall (Atlantic City, NJ)
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura
At WrestleMania IV The Mega Powers combined. Now one year later at WrestleMania V The Mega Powers EXPLODE as the dastardly Randy Savage defends the WWF Championship against Hulk Hogan. Also on the show ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper returns to host an in-ring Piper’s Pit, Run DMC performs a WrestleMania Rap, and The Ultimate Warrior puts his Intercontinental Championship on the line against ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude. Fingers crossed this one is a lot more interesting.
- WWF Champion: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
- WWF Intercontinental Champion: The Ultimate Warrior
- WWF Women’s Champion: Rockin’ Robin
- WWF World Tag Team Champions: Demolition (Ax & Smash)
- Hercules vs. Haku (**1/4)
- The Rockers vs. The Twin Towers (***)
- Brutus Beefcake vs. Ted DiBiase (**)
- The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (*1/2)
- The Blue Blazer vs. Mr. Perfect (**1/2)
- Handicap Match: Demolition [c] vs. Mr. Fuji & The Powers of Pain for the WWF WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (*1/2)
- Ronnie Garvin vs. Dino Bravo (**)
- Strike Force vs. The Brain Busters (**1/2)
- Jake Roberts vs. Andre The Giant (3/4*)
- The Hart Foundation vs. The Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine (**1/4)
- The Ultimate Warrior [c] vs. Rick Rude for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (**1/2)
- Jim Duggan vs. Bad News Brown (1/4*)
- The Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan (NR)
- Randy Savage [c] vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/4)
-Gorilla Monsoon welcomes the home audience, then takes it to Howard Finkel who introduces WWF Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin to sing America the Beautiful. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever heard but after getting Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight the past three years this is a definite downgrade.
Hercules vs. ‘King’ Haku [w/ Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan]
Haku became the new King in the WWF after defeating Harley Race and running him out of the World Wrestling Federation. He gets a most royal entrance, as 4-6 guys carry his royal throne to the ring. Hercules is now a babyface, as evidenced by his baby blue trunks, turning to the good side after his former manager Heenan tried to sell him off as a ‘slave’ to Ted DiBiase. Awkward. Hercules finally has theme music, trumpeting Olympic horns for an Olympic God. Hopefully my future wife will let me use this song for my own wedding intro.
Haku attacks Hercules from behind, Hercules reverses an Irish whip and connects with a hip toss followed by a scoop slam. One clothesline later and Haku finds himself on the floor. Herc ditches the offense to stalk Heenan around the ring, and he pays for it dearly when Haku belts him with a clothesline. Dummy. Haku takes over the match, hitting a tremendous backbreaker and dangling him over his knee for extra pressure, but Herc kicks out of the pinfall attempt. To the bearhug we go, Herc almost fades but instead forces his arms between Haku’s to break it; unfortunately for the big guy it leaves him open to a thrust chop and Haku stays in control. Hercules ducks a clothesline and catches Haku with a crossbody for the 1…2…the King kicks out. Hercules dodges a flying crossbody and lays into Haku with jabs followed by a pair of clotheslines. Hercules almost gets the pin with a powerslam but Haku manages to kick out. Hercules then heads to the top and he flies RIGHT INTO A CRESCENT KICK. Goodbye teeth. Haku tries his luck at coming off the middle buckle and eats nothing but canvas, and Hercules follows up with a belly-to-back suplex, bridging up for the 1…2…3. HERCULES IS THE NEW KI-just kidding that only happens when it’s convenient to a storyline.
Hercules defeated Haku via pinfall with a belly-to-back suplex (6:52)
- A fine opener that I probably like more than most people because I have a very prominent Hercules bias. Good back and forth action, and I loved Haku almost kicking Hercules head off with that crescent kick towards the end of the match. I like this show better than WrestleMania IV (**1/4)
-We go backstage where ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is standing by with The Rockers. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty are pretty confident considering they’re facing a team that’s like three times their size. They also look like they’re coming off a very long and probably fun night.
The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs. The Twin Towers (The Big Boss Man & Akeem ‘The African Dream’) [w/ ‘The Doctor of Style’ Slick]
Yay, Jive Soul Bro is back! Weird that it’s here but not on WrestleMania IV which got a WWE Network dub. Interesting. ANYWAY The Twin Towers are The Big Boss Man, former NWA suited thug Big Bubba Rogers turned EVIL COP, and Akeem, the former One Man Gang who was given the new gimmick through a pretty goddamn racist African ceremony (complete with a BOOM BOX). Honestly all they have in common is that they’re huge and they are both managed by Slick, but that’s all they needed I guess. The Rockers are an important from the American Wrestling Association, where they had a long series of classic bouts with Doug Somers & Buddy Rose (aka The Executioner from the first-ever WrestleMania) and were generally two of the more exciting performers in Verne Gagne’s longstanding (and slowly dying) Minnesota-based territory.
The Rockers use their speed early, escaping the grasp of the Towers and running them around the ring to get them winded. Boss Man seats Michaels on the turnbuckle and slaps him, Jannetty distracts him and Michaels hits him from behind with a dropkick. Akeem tries his luck but The Rockers keep him at bay by quick tagging and working on his left arm. Boss Man gets the tag and catches Jannetty mid-leap frog, Akeem splashing him from behind to squash their much smaller foe. Jannetty takes a load of punishment, including a double Avalanche in the corner as The Towers utilize quick tags to keep the momentum going. Jannetty dodges a splash, sending Akeem into his own partner and Michaels gets the hot tag. Count-a-long rights in the corner, Jannetty runs back in and The Rockers take him to the mat with a double flying shoulderblock, Michaels covering for two. Michaels dodges one clothesline but can’t dodge the other and almost gets decapitated for his troubles. Boss Man tags in but misses the top rope splash and Michaels covers for the 1…2…Boss Man throws him off. Jannetty trips Boss Man, The Rockers dropkick Akeem on the apron then head to the top. The Rockers try to hit a double dropkick but only Jannetty hits it and Michaels covers for the 1…2…Akeem breaks it up. Jannetty gets sent to the floor, Boss Man catches a flying Michaels with a power bomb. Akeem tags in and hits Air Africa (running splash) for the 1…2…3.
The Twin Towers defeated The Rockers when Akeem pinned Shawn Michaels following Air Africa (8:05)
- Fun match-up that played to the David vs. Goliath trope really well, making both teams look great in the end. The Rockers’ high flying and speedy attempt to outmaneuver the much bigger Towers was fun to watch, and I admit I popped huge when Boss Man caught Michaels with a power bomb out of nowhere to turn the tide. Worth watching, especially if you want to see a good Twin Towers match. I’m not sure if there are a lot of them. (***)
-We don’t get much time to breathe on that finish as we go to a pre-recorded locker room interview conducted by Tony Schiavone (NEVER NOT WEIRD TO SEE HIM ON A WWF SHOW). His guests are ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase and Virgil, DiBiase sporting the Million Dollar Championship he had custom made because the WWF was never going to pull the trigger and make him the actual World Champion. DiBiase, to the shock of no one, talks about wealth and is very confident of his chances in regard to his opponent tonight. Cut live where DiBiase shakes hands with Donald Trump, sitting at ringside for the entirety of this show.
Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake vs. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase [w/ Virgil]
Last year WrestleMania revolved around DiBiase’s attempts to shortcut his way into the WWF Championship. When that failed he had his Million Dollar Championship created, made of gold and diamonds and probably dipped in caviar or something, so now he shows that around instead of going for a real title. Fair enough, but that’s why he’s working the third match on the card this go around. Beefcake may not have a cool custom-built championship, but he’s decked out in gold ring gear so that’s pretty much the same thing.
DiBiase trash talks Beefcake, so Beefcake decks him and mounts a string of offense that forces The Million Dollar Man to bail from the ring to break the momentum. DiBiase chops Beefcake in the corner, Beefcake counters a corner Irish whip and hits a whole lot of scoop slams followed by a clothesline right to the floor. Virgil helps his employer up and DiBiase calls for a time out but this is RASSLIN’, SIR. Beefcake wins a shootout, Virgil grabs his leg to distract him and DiBiase goes on the attack with a whole lot of illegal choking. DiBiase drops a fist and covers for a two-count, then belts the Barber with a clothesline. DiBiase measures Beefcake and connects with a flying elbow from the middle buckle. Beefcake counters a suplex with one of his own, then both men take one another down with a double clothesline. DiBiase is up first and this time successfully connects with a suplex. DiBiase slaps on the Million Dollar Dream but ‘Beefer’ (Monsoon’s nickname, not mine) fights it and gets to the ropes. Beefcake starts mounting a comeback with a series of right hands count-a-long buckle shots. He signals for the Sleeperhold, DiBiase tries to beg off but The Barber will not be deterred and slaps it on. Virgil climbs the apron, Beefcake goes after him and gets clobbered from behind by DiBiase. Beefcake gets sent to the floor and distracts the ref so Virgil can get his licks in, but his attempts are ineffectual. DiBiase saves his employee by attacking Beefcake from behind. The two exchange right hands and the ref calls for the bell.
Brutus Beefcake and Ted DiBiase fought to a double countout (10:01)
- Good match that went just a hair too long, and I’ll admit I started checking out towards the end. Beefcake has gotten a lot better from the year before, showing marked improvement. Also helped that DiBiase is much better in the ring than Honky Tonk Man. (**)
Beefcake and DiBiase continue brawling, the former sending the latter shoulder-first into the post. Beefcake then chases Virgil into the ring and tries to put him to sleep. DiBiase runs in, Beefcake attacks him then grabs his garden shears. He rolls in and the heels IMMEDIATELY bail because they don’t wanna get their heads chopped off Clock Tower-style. Beefcake stands tall and gets his music played despite also losing the match. BUT HE WON THE WAR, or as Monsoon calls it a “moral victory”.
-We go to footage from earlier in the day of ‘Lord’ Alfred Hayes hanging out at the annual WrestleMania Brunch. The Bushwhackers chow down and Hayes tries to ask them questions about their upcoming match against The Fabulous Rougeaus, but he can’t understand them because their mouths are stuffed. COMEDYYYYY.
The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch) vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) [w/ ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart]
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers are amid their heel run, with the gimmick of immigrants who comically and sarcastically over embrace their new country. If there’s one thing TRUE AMERICANS hate it’s them goddamned immigrants, am I right? YEEHAW! The gimmick is fine and it works well enough but the true star of this whole package is their self-sung theme song ‘All American Boys’. WWF has a lot of memorable entrance themes but this one is top three for me. The Bushwhackers spent most of the 70s and 80s as the bloodthirsty Sheephearders, brawling their way around the world for various territories, but here in the WWF they’re fun loving dolts with a goofy walk and a penchant for licking people’s faces. Could you imagine someone trying to do that in current-day WWE? SO MANY LAWSUITS. Fans are no fun anymore. Bushwhacker matches tend to be bad, but goddamn me I love the gimmick.
Bushwhackers clear the ring and steal Hart’s jacket to the joy of the crowd. They try to rip it in half but The Rougeaus attack them to stop it. The Bushwhackers have the last laugh though and send Jacques and Raymond into Hart, flattening the heel trio and forcing them to regroup on the outside. Raymond leapfrogs Luke and dodges a fist drop, clapping in celebration instead of taking advantage. Jacques tags in, The Bushwhackers hit him with a Battering Ram. Luke covers then dodges a kneedrop from Jacques, who hits his brother instead. Back to the floor they go to reset and figure out these weirdo New Zealand dudes. The Rougeaus double team Luke behind the ref’s back and hammer throw him into the corner. That might be the biggest bump I’ve ever seen a Bushwhacker take in a match. Luke almost gets a tag, Jacques chops Butch to prevent it which he awkwardly sells. Jacques locks in an abdominal stretch and tries to start a ‘USA’ chant but they’re no Jim Duggan. Raymond flips into the ring to showboat and catches Luke with a crescent kick to the midsection. They turn their backs to celebrate and The Bushwhackers regroup, hitting Raymond with a Battering Ram and a double gutbuster for the 1…2…3.
The Bushwhackers defeated The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers when Luke pinned Raymond Rougeau after a double gutbuster (5:11)
- Well that happened. It was short so it never really got bad but I can’t say anything really stuck out to me. These two teams would meet again at Royal Rumble 1990 with the same result, but a longer match. (*1/2)
Cut to Sean Mooney who’s hanging out in the aisle. He tries to interview one of the kids but The Bushwhackers accost him and lick his face, taking him off his game. Poor guy.
The Blue Blazer vs. Mr. Perfect
Perfect makes his perfect WrestleMania debut…and immediately slips while walking to the ring. AMAZING. The Blue Blazer is also making his one and only WrestleMania appearance here, but he’ll be back without the mask under his real name: Owen Hart. Given the tragic way Hart lost his life, seeing anything Blue Blazer-related is heartbreaking but let’s press on.
Perfect slaps Blazer and shoves him into the corner, Blazer responds with a slap of his own and a drop toehold. Blazer flips through a hip toss and connects with pair of scoop slams and a dropkick that Perfect sells by flying out to the floor. PERFECT SELL. Back in the ring Blazer opts for an armbar, Perfect backs him in the corner and connects with a chop. Blazer floats over Perfect, Perfect blocks a hip toss but Blazer flips over him and hits it anyway. Blazer with a backbreaker but only gets a one-count. Perfect counters a Superfly Splash with a pair of knees and takes over on offense, driving his knee right into the ribs and applying a camel clutch variant. Blazer catches a charging Perfect with a boot and connects with a slam, following him down into a lateral press for a near-fall. Blazer rolls Perfect up with a crucifix for the 1…2…NOPE. Blazer argues the count with the ref and Perfect belts him from behind, finishing things with the Perfect Plex for the 1…2…3.
Mr. Perfect defeated The Blue Blazer via pinfall with the Perfect Plex (5:50)
- I would have been down for a longer match between these two; due to its short length it didn’t really manifest into a story or anything but it was fun, crisp wrestling from two of the greatest to ever step into the squared circle so I can’t complain too much. Perfect would shoot up the card in short order after this show and given how great he was at both wrestling AND selling it’s no surprise. The man really was…perfect. (**1/2)
-Jesse Ventura says it’s time for his surprise, which is Finkel announcing him on the house mic and Ventura soaking in the chants and cheers of the crowd. It’s no Gobbledy Gooker, but it’s a solid surprise nonetheless. No posing like last year though.
-Cut to footage of yesterday morning’s 5K Run, hosted by ‘Lord’ Alfred Hayes. Mr. Fuji shows up to be the last-minute entry into the race, complete with his suit and cane. Fuji sneaks a head start and supposedly finishes the race is under twenty minutes, proving that he’s in great shape heading into the handicap match at WrestleMania V. This is so dumb and I LOVE IT.
-We return to the arena where rap icons Run DMC perform the ‘WrestleMania Rap’. Trump can be seen in the audience slapping his legs to the beat like a total NERD and it’s hilarious. Did the rap community give Run DMC guff for this like they did with MC Hammer for being in commercials and having a cartoon?
-After a video highlighting the feud between Demolition and The Powers of Pain, we cut to ‘Mean’ Gene backstage with the Tag Team Champions. Smash says they’re in their war gear and ready for action, vowing to knock Fuji’s teeth in. Ax hopes ‘the three stooges’ are ready for them. Ax says ‘Fooj the Stooge’ a lot, he’s very happy with himself for being clever.
WWF World Tag Team Championship
Demolition (Ax & Smash) [c] vs. Mr. Fuji & The Powers of Pain (Warlord & The Barbarian)
Demolition won the Tag Team Championship at last year’s WrestleMania thanks to the help of Mr. Fuji, but the devious one turned on his team at Survivor Series a few months later in favor of The Powers of Pain (turning them heel in the process), leading to this feud. Demolition might have been considered a Road Warriors knock-off but The Powers of Pain really take the cake. They’ve got similar trunks, similar face paint, and they’ve even got the whole ‘mohawk/reverse mohawk’ dueling hairstyles. Amazing. I know I’ve brought that up before but this wouldn’t be a JVPW recap if I didn’t repeat myself all the time. Gotta keep that word count high.
Demolition take Warlord to his knees early with rapid-fire forearms, chopping the big man down to size. Warlord uses his power to bring Smash to the Powers of Pain corner and tags out to Barbarian. Smash fights out of the corner, tagging in Ax who belts Barbarian with a hard-ass clothesline. Smash back in with a back elbow, making sure to keep Barbarian out of his corner to stop a tag. Demo hit a double back elbow and Ax goes to the head wrench, a move they’ve made liberal use of despite only being four minutes into the contest. Barbarian catches Smash with a chop, sending him to the mat, and in comes the Warlord. Smash unloads on him and drags him back to the Demo corner, the duo hitting a double clothesline. Ax tries to go after Fuji like a dummy and Barbarian drops him with a kick, Fuji getting his revenge with an illegal choke behind the ref’s back. I think Ax is wearing glitter on his chest, how fancy. Fuji tags in and connects with a falling headbutt to the midsection, reminding everyone that he used to be a wrestler before he was a caricature of a manager. He quickly tags out to the Powers of Pain who continue to wear Ax down with power moves. Crowd is murmuring amongst themselves, I think this match lost them. Fuji tags back in and GOES TO THE TOP but misses a legdrop or something. He tags out to Warlord who clears Smash from the apron to prevent a Demo tag. Ax ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own and finally in tags Smash. Smash with slams and clotheslines for both Powers and the crowd is back into it. Smash with an assisted stun gun on the top rope but his cover gets broken up. Fuji accidentally throws salt in Warlord’s eyes and gets belted with a clothesline by Smash. One Demolition Decapitation later and it’s over.
Demolition [c] defeated Mr. Fuji & The Powers of Pain to retain the WWF WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP after Ax pinned Fuji following a Demolition Decapitation (8:55)
- A mostly dull contest with a lot of repetitive action but Demolition getting their hands on Fuji at the end was pretty great. Fuji is one of the best heel managers of all-time and seeing him get his comeuppance is always fun. Props to the guy to for still going out there and getting in the ring despite being broken down after a long career in the ring pre-manager years. I can’t help but feel for The Powers of Pain, an imposing tag team who just never really got the chance to run with the ball. (*1/2)
-We go backstage to Tony Schiavone who’s standing outside of the dressing room of Randy Savage. Schiavone tries to get an interview, an irate Savage shoves the cameraman and says he doesn’t want to talk to anybody, he just wants to get his hands on Hulk Hogan.
-Before the next match begins Howard Finkel introduces Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka to the ring, making his return to the WWF for the first time in over four years. Ronnie Garvin and Dino Bravo, the folks that are supposed to wrestle the next contest, just sorta stand around in confusion as Snuka briefly enters the ring to embrace the crowd. That…was weird.
‘Rugged’ Ronnie Garvin vs. ‘Canada’s Strongest Man’ Dino Bravo [w/ Frenchy Martin]
Garvin made his name in the NWA territories, including a short-lived (and surprising) reign as World Heavyweight Champion. I mostly remember him for dressing in drag as Miss Atlanta Lively during his feud with The Midnight Express though. Bravo is rocking a ‘strongman’ gimmick, and appears to be getting bigger every year I see him. I never really got Frenchy Martin since I’ve only seen him in brief WrestleMania appearances but apparently he was such a hated heel in Puerto Rico he would incite riots. Respect.
Bravo attacks early, driving multiple forearms into the kidneys and dropping Garvin with a chop. Bravo takes Garvin to the mat with a shoulderblock which Garvin sells hilariously by falling over like a drunkard. Bravo arrogantly covers with one foot and obviously doesn’t get the win. Garvin counters a backdrop attempt by leaping into his shoulders and driving Bravo to the mat with a series of rights. Garvin with a standing splash for a two-count. Garvin with count-a-long buckle shots that the crowd half-heartedly embraces and a roll-up for another two-count. Garvin slaps on a sleeperhold, Bravo escapes with a rope break. Bravo counters a piledriver with a backdrop, Garvin holds on and rolls him up with a sunset flip for the 1…2…nah. Bravo counters corner mount rights with an inverted atomic drop and follows up with a sidewalk slam for the 1…2…3.
Dino Bravo defeated Ronnie Garvin via pinfall with a sidewalk slam (3:58)
- A quick match but to their credit they didn’t waste a lot of time with restholds, opting instead to just clobber each other with as many chops and forearms as they could fit in. I appreciate that. Garvin was 44 at the time of this match but still moved around really well, so props to him. (**)
Despite losing clean, Garvin throws a classic babyface hissy fit and attacks Bravo and Martin, giving the latter the Garvin Stomp. Considering they introduced Jimmy Snuka for absolutely no reason at the start of the contest you would have assumed he would have saved Garvin from a two-on-one attack or something, but NOPE.
Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) vs. The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) [w/ Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan]
If you think seeing Tony Schiavone on a WWF PPV is weird, seeing two of the founding members of The Four Horsemen is a downright fever dream. I know it’s real and it’s been part of history for 29 years (as of this writing) but I’m still having a hard time believing it. Strike Force took a hiatus last summer after Martel was “injured” in a match against Demolition and are reuniting for the first time since Martel’s return at the 1989 Royal Rumble.
Martel and Blanchard trade holds at the beginning until Anderson knees Martel from behind. Martel fights out of the Brain Busters’ corner. All four end up in the ring, Strike Force clears it with a double dropkick. Martel counters a backdrop with a faceslam and covers Anderson for two. They lock knuckles, Martel trying to keep Anderson’s shoulders down, Anderson traps him in a bodyscissors and a light goes off in the heads of future MMA fighters. Martel manages to lock in the Boston Crab, but Blanchard breaks it with a thumb to the eye. Santana gets the tag and hits Blanchard with a bulldog. All four men enter the ring and Strike Force apply stereo Figure Fours. Santana bridges out of a pinfall attempt and rolls Blanchard up with a backslide but Anderson makes the save. Santana rolls Blanchard up with a small package but the ref stops counting to get Anderson out of the ring. Martel tags behind the ref’s back, Blanchard ducks and Santana accidentally belts him with a Flying Forearm. The Brain Busters work over Santana as Martel struggles to the apron. Santana escapes the corner but Blanchard quickly tags in Anderson to stop a tag. Santana tries a sunset flip and finally brings him over but Blanchard gets the tag and elbows him from behind. Santana catches Blanchard with a flying crossbody for the 1…2…kickout. Martel continues selling the forearm to the head as Anderson applies a reverse chinlock in a Camel Clutch position. Anderson belts a charging Santana with a knee and heads to the top. Santana slams him off (WOOOOO!) and both men are down. Blanchard tags in, Santana crawls over to his corner to make the tag but RICK MARTEL WALKS AWAY, GIVING UP ON HIS PARTNER. STRIKE FORCE IS DEAD. The Brain Busters sense blood in the water but to his credit Santana tries to keep fighting. The damned numbers game is too much though and The Busters put him away with the Spike Piledriver.
The Brain Busters defeated Strike Force when Arn Anderson pinned Tito Santana following a Spike Piledriver (9:17)
- The match itself was forgivably overshadowed by Martel’s turn, but that aside it was actually a pretty good contest in its own right. These two teams could have had a string of great matches up and down the circuit if they didn’t turn Martel heel. Alas it wasn’t meant to be. The Brain Busters feel so out of place in the WWF due to their roots being in a different style of wrestling but their greatness couldn’t be denied and they get a World Tag Team Championship reign out of their stay before Blanchard fails a drug test and Anderson hightails back to his home base. (**1/2)
Immediately after the finish we go backstage where ‘Mean’ Gene is standing by with the now villainous Rick Martel. Martel says he’s sick and tired of carrying Santana around and wants to no longer to be associated with that loser. LET THE ERA OF THE MODEL BEGIN!
In-Ring Segment: Piper’s Pit
Howard Finkel does an over the top introduction for the return of ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper but instead out comes Brother Love in a kilt! IIIIIII LOOOOOOVE YOOOOOU. Love welcomes everyone to ‘The Brother Love Show’ as the crowd pelts him with boos. Love introduces his guest Brother RODNEY Piper and proceeds to interview himself, doing a pretty spot-on Piper impression.
The bit ends and Love soaks in the boos of disappointment. Some lame 80s TV theme hits and out comes edgelord Morton Downey Jr., cigarette in mouth, as the next guest. For those of you who don’t remember this joker, he was the hot-headed conservative host of The Morton Downey Jr. Show, a yell-fest that was the precursor to dumb nonsense like The Jerry Springer Show as well as the current crop of conservative blowhards you can suffer through on Fox News and other awful outlets. Love says he doesn’t like Downey, Downey says he wouldn’t want a guy who wears a skirt to love him. Love says he’s running things, Morton says he isn’t running anything out here FAT BOY.
FINALLY, after all that, out comes the ACTUAL ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. He’s got one of those ‘I’m going to murder these two and play in their blood’ sneer/half-grin on his face. Piper compliments Love’s child-bearing hips and Bette Davis knees. Piper asks Love some douche questions and pulls the mic away when he tries to answer because he doesn’t actually care. Downey throws an unlit cigarette on Love’s shoulder, Love says Piper can’t scare him, Piper proves him wrong. Piper asks Love if he ever fights with anybody, Love says he’s a lover not a fighter. Piper asks if there’s anything about him that’s Scottish, Love says he’s a little bit ‘Scotch’. Downey keeps throwing cigarettes at them for some reason, Love tries to touch Piper’s kilt and Piper threatens to bite his face off. Piper shoots an annoyed glance at Downey and tells Love if he’s a real Scotsman he’s not wearing anything under the kilt. Piper grabs Love’s kilt, Love pleads with him but Pipe rips it off, revealing bright red underpants. An embarrassed Love bolts up the aisle. See ya, Brudda Love.
Piper turns his attention over to Downey, who’s enjoying a cigarette. Piper sits down next to him, Downey blows the smoke in his face. Downey does it again and says he tried blowing it out a different way. THIS IS GOING ON WAY TOO LONG. Piper stands, as does Downey who continues blowing smoke in his face like an arrogant dork. Piper asks Downey why he calls himself ‘Downey Jr.’ and Downey makes some joke about Piper’s mother. Downey is such a douche he’s wearing loafers without socks. MY WORD. Downey lights a new cigarette with an old one, Piper makes fun of Downey’s girlfriend or something. Downey angrily gets in his face and blows more smoke in his face. Downey lays out a Zip It’, his catchphrase, then alludes to having a similar guest to Piper who got arrested as a transvestite. Piper asks not to blow smoke in his face once again, Downey listens once but then does it again. Piper asks ONE MORE TIME, Downey does it anyway. Piper asks Downey for a cigarette. Downey turns around to light it up, Piper grabs a fire extinguisher and sprays the talk show host with it, finally ending this segment.
- THIS. REALLY. NEED. TO. BE. THIS. LONG. This joke got played out like three minutes in but it just wouldn’t end. I’m not sure how it came across in 1989 but for me right now I would have rather watched paint dry or done my taxes than sit through this nonsense.
-Cut backstage to ‘Mean’ Gene who introduces a trailer for No Holds Barred, Hulk Hogan’s first starring role in a major motion picture. Unsurprisingly this movie failed at the box office and people more or less hated it, but I’ll defend this movie as goofy fun until my dying days. ZEEEEEUUUUUUSSSSSSS.
-Cut to the arena where Sean Mooney is standing by with Donald Trump. Trump says having WrestleMania here over the past two years has been an honor, a real boon to Atlantic City. Trump creepily stares at Mooney as he wraps things up with a spiel.
-Cut to the announce booth where Ventura is INCENSED that Hogan is trying to enter his Hollywood domain, cutting a heated promo and walking off in a huff. Don’t worry Jesse, nothing Hogan makes will ever be as good as Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. Ventura decides to return because he has a job to do but HE’S NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. Hilarious. Best segment of the show.
-Monsoon segues into footage of Randy Savage’s WWF Championship win at WrestleMania IV, solidifying Savage’s alliance with Hulk Hogan. We then go to SummerSlam 1988 where The Mega Powers defeated The Mega Bucks in the main event, a reluctant Jesse Ventura forced to make the count. Next up is footage of Survivor Series 1988 where Hogan and Savage end up the sole survivors of their team after Hogan tags himself in. Next we get footage from the January 1989 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event where Savage saves Elizabeth from a Big Boss Man attack. Next up is footage from Superstars the next month where Hogan saves Savage from an attack by The Twin Towers. This leads into the February 1989 episode of The Main Event where Savage accidentally knocks out Elizabeth. Hogan leaves the match to take her to the back and when he returns he’s greeted with a slap by the jealous Savage before the champ leaves Hogan to fend for himself. Savage solidifies his heel turn backstage at the same show, attacking him while Liz helplessly looks on. Props to the package for catching up those of us who may have not seen any of this go down ourselves, I’m way more invested than I was going in.
-We go back live to ‘Mean’ Gene who’s standing by with Hulk Hogan. Hogan says he should have seen this betrayal coming and is mad that Savage made him believe The Mega Powers and their friendship were strong. Hogan says Savage couldn’t be the man his Hulkamaniacs wanted him to be, then goes into a spiel about Trump scared that the foundation of his towers could withstanding the EXPLOSION of the Mega Powers. Okay then. Are we getting any more matches, or…
Special Guest Referee: Big John Studd
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’ Andre The Giant [w/ Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan]
Studd made his return to the WWF as a babyface in 1988, winning the 1989 Royal Rumble and setting his sights on his former manager Bobby Heenan’s Heenan Family. Interesting note: Studd’s music is a less peppy version of ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan’s legendary theme. No claps or HOOOOOs or anything. Roberts and Andre are in the midst of a feud focused around Andre’s fear of snakes, a fear so intense he suffered a kayfabe mild heart attack when he came into contact with Damien. Andre and Studd still hate each other though and poke fingers at each other during the former’s entrance.
Andre attacks Roberts immediately, ramming him into the exposed turnbuckle. Apparently the pad got removed during Roberts’ entrance. Andre applies a standing chinlock/sorta-sleeperhold, Roberts escapes and goes for the snake but Andre pulls him back into a chinlock to prevent it. Roberts wants to go after his snake again and Andre stops him, squashing him in the corner and getting in Studd’s face. Andre repeatedly chokes Roberts and slaps him across the chest. Roberts unloads with rights and a clothesline and hooks Andre into the ropes. Roberts chokes Andre, Studd gets on his case about it like a good ref should. Roberts points to the snake bag, Studd says he’s not allowed so Roberts settles for right hands. Heenan releases Andre from the ropes and headbutts Roberts. Roberts gets to his knees, Andre slaps on a NERVE HOLD, gag me with a spoon. Andre works Roberts over in the corner, but gets rattled with some sorta shot and falls to his knee. Roberts keeps rocking Andre with jabs and rams him into the unpadded steel of the turnbuckle. Andre chops Roberts so hard he falls out to the floor and takes a breather so Studd can count. Roberts gets to the apron, Andre headbutts him and he falls back to the floor. Studd admonishes Andre for not letting Roberts back into the ring. Roberts grabs his snake bag but Studd stops him. Andre hits Studd from behind, Studd shoves him back as a warning. Suddenly out come Ted DiBiase and Virgil who steal Damien. Roberts attacks DiBiase and gets his snake back while Andre chokes the life out of Studd in the ring. Roberts returns and unleashes DAMIEN, scaring Andre from the ring. Studd calls for the bell.
Jake Roberts defeated Andre The Giant via DQ (9:40)
- The Andre/Studd conflict doesn’t interest me so I was checked out for most of this match. Andre is pretty much done in the ring at this point, leading to slow and plodding offense, and though Roberts tried to keep it entertaining it just wasn’t. Not to me, anyway. Dullsville. But at least it isn’t that awful Piper’s Pit segment. (3/4*)
-Sean Mooney is standing by in the balcony of Trump Plaza (called the ‘Bob Uecker seats’ which is pretty funny). A fan in a goofy sweatshirt repeatedly shouts that Jake’s the best. He’s the best. HE’S THE BEST. HEEEEE’S THE BEEEEST.
-We then cut backstage to Tony Schiavone, who’s standing by with Sensational Sherri. She cuts a promo on Rockin’ Robin, mocking her singing and vowing to take the Women’s Championship back from her. Sherri then throws shade at Miss Elizabeth for no reason. UNNECESSARY. NEXT MATCH PLEASE.
The Hart Foundation (Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart & Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart) vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine & The Honky Tonk Man [w/ ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart]
Honky & Valentine eventually get more coordinated, forming a team called Rhythm & Blues (you’ll see at WrestleMania VI), but for right now they’re just two singles guys thrown together in a tag team because they have the same manager. Valentine is rocking his ‘Hart Breaker’ shin guard that supposedly makes his Figure Four much more devastating. The Hart Foundation turned face after last year’s WrestleMania, partly because of the shady battle royal finish but mostly because Jimmy Hart screwed them in favor of The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers (POOR BET THERE, MOUTH), so the Foundation have been feuding with various members of Hart’s stable.
Honky with weak forearms to start, Hart counters a slam attempt with a roll-up for two. Hart ducks a right hand and hits a pair of atomic drops, one regular and one inverted. Valentine tags in and runs right into an inverted atomic drop followed by a dropkick. Neidhart tags in and hits a slingshot shoulderblock for two. Quick tags by The Foundation, Hart connects with a backbreaker but misses an elbowdrop from the middle buckle. Valentine punishes him for the mistake with repeated elbowdrops. The heels double team Hart as Neidhart gets too hot headed and accidentally distracts the ref. Babyfaces are so duuuumb. Honky and Valentine take turns wearing Hart down as Ventura joke buries Pat Patterson on commentary. Honky connects with Shake, Rattle, & Roll but tags in Valentine instead of going for the cover. Valentine goes for the Figure Four, Hart throws him off but can’t make the tag. Hart ducks a back elbow and hits Honky with a crossbody for the 1…2…Honky kicks out and Hart rolls to the floor. Honky pulls him back in and the attack continues. Hart escapes a slam from Valentine, Valentine blocks an O’Connor roll but can’t block the hot tag to Neidhart who goes HAM on everybody. Honky breaks up a pinfall attempt, Neidhart belts Valentine with a lariat and covers, Honky once again breaks it up. Valentine pokes him in the eye and tags out to Honky. Neidhart no-sells Honky’s offense, Hart tags back in and hits an elbowdrop from the middle buckle. Hart covers after a suplex, Valentine makes the save and belts Neidhart to boot. Neidhart chases Jimmy Hart away, then throws his megaphone to Hart who belts Honky with it for the 1…2…3.
The Hart Foundation defeated Greg Valentine & The Honky Tonk Man when Bret Hart pinned Valentine following a megaphone shot (7:40)
- Perfectly fine tag team match. The Hart Foundation winning by countering the heels’ attempts at cheating with cheating of their own was a nice touch. Hart Foundation deserve better than this though, I think. They seem lost in the shuffle at this point since Demolition are the champs and also on the babyface side. (**1/4)
Cut to footage of the pose-down between Ultimate Warrior and ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude at the 1989 Royal Rumble. God, Vince’s obsession with bodybuilders is INTENSE. Rude attacks Warrior with a steel bar during Warrior’s routine, Warrior wakes up and attacks everybody in sight then runs off.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior [c] vs. ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude [w/ Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan]
Rude’s perm game in ON POINT. It’s amazing that he was a sex symbol with that goofy hair and pornstache. Last year Rude stunk out the joint in a half-assed time limit draw with Jake Roberts while Warrior began his reign of terror with a quick win over Hercules. Let’s hope this is better than both of those. Rude is so confident he’s got the IC Title airbrushed on his tights already. I mark for psych-out tights.
Rude tries to knee Warrior but Warrior still has the belt on so he hurts himself instead. Warrior throws Rude into the corner repeatedly, launching the Ravishing one further than he’s ever gone. Warrior with hard corner Irish whips, begging for Rude to do something but all he does is fall over like a baby. AW MAN STANDING BEARHUG TIME I GUESS. Rude almost passes out but pokes Warrior in the eye instead. Nice. He follows up with a GODDAMN MISSILE DROPKICK but Warrior kicks out with force and goes back on the offense with a hard scoop slam. Warrior signals for ANOTHER BEARHUG and my missile dropkick high is gone. Maaaan. Rude tries to poke Warrior in the eyes again but the ref blocks it so he bites him instead. Warrior bites him back and connects with a backdrop but his Running Splash gets countered with a pair of knees. Rude follows up with a nice piledriver but is too out of it to immediately make the cover and Warrior kicks out when he finally crawls over. Rude tries to gyrate and show off but his back hurts so he can’t swivel the way he wants to. WARRIOR IS A MONSTER FOR THIS. Rude gets another two-count off a clothesline, more of a desperation escape than an emphatic kickout. Rude bends Warrior’s arms back to wear the big man down. Warrior gets to the ropes and starts shaking them, shaking Rude right off of him. Warrior mounts his comeback with a flying tackle and a pair of faceplants. Warrior connects with a backbreaker but can’t pick him back up and they fall into the ropes. Warrior’s muscles are merely cosmetic, I guess. Warrior misses a corner splash and gets stunned, Rude goes for the Rude Awakening but Warrior powers out and connects with a clothesline. Rude bails to the floor, Warrior brings him back in just to clothesline him onto the apron. Warrior goes to suplex Rude back in, Heenan grabs Warrior’s leg and trips him up, Rude landing on top with a lateral press for the 1…2…3!
Rick Rude defeated The Ultimate Warrior [c] via pinfall to win the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (9:42)
- RICK RUDE ENDS THE DOMINANCE OF THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR…for a few months. Match was marred early with stupid bearhugs but got better as it went on, Rude selling Warrior’s strength beautifully by getting tossed around every which way, not to mention that amazing missile dropkick which you barely saw in American pro wrestling back in the day. Much better outing for both men this year, thank god. (**1/2)
Warrior immediately attacks Heenan and carelessly throws him to the mat, then runs after Rude up the aisle.
‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. Bad News Brown
Bad News Brown opened last year’s WrestleMania with a battle royal win while Duggan ended up losing in the first round of the WWF Championship tournament. Duggan now has the pure blue get-up he’s most remembered for, but still doesn’t have his theme song yet. Gotta wait for Big John Studd to bail from the company first.
Brown immediately attacks Duggan, Duggan dodges a corner splash and makes with the exaggerated jabs plus a clothesline. Brown bails to the floor and teases leaving but decides not to. Duggan slingshots Brown back in, Brown counters a backdrop with a clubberin’ blow to the back of the head. Duggan no-sells a couple of buckle shots so Brown decides to rake the eyes instead. Duggan gets sent to the floor with a headbutt and Brown adds insult to injury by whipping him right into the steel post. Duggan ducks the Ghetto Blaster and hits the Three-Point Stance, but Brown bails to the floor before he can be pinned. Brown grabs a steel chair, Duggan meets him with a 2×4 and they clank weapons as the ref calls for the bell.
Jim Duggan and Bad News Brown fought to a double-DQ (3:47)
- Bad brawling bored your boy. As I’ll state probably every time he shows up in a recap, I love the Bad News Brown gimmick but he’s cold boogers on a paper plate when it comes to in-ring action. Duggan may not be much better but at least the crowd cares about him. He’s got them in the palm of their hands and would continue to do so for the remainder of his career in the WWF and WCW. (1/4*)
Duggan gets the last laugh with an atomic drop and a clothesline with the 2×4, forcing Brown to retreat. Duggan celebrates by sitting in his chair, HIS MUSTACHE COVERED IN SNOT. Ventura says it makes him want to puke but if I don’t fast forward I’m going to actually puke.
-‘Mean’ Gene is standing by with The Red Rooster. THIS POOR GUY. Rooster is going to teach his former manager how to lose and will take out all his frustration. Seriously THIS POOR GUY. Cut to the arena where Bobby Heenan makes his entrance, still hurting from Warrior’s attack earlier, and flanked by the goddamn Brooklyn Brawler of all people.
The Red Rooster vs. Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan [w/ The Brooklyn Brawler]
The Red Rooster just makes me depressed every time he pops up in a WWF recap. He was en route to becoming a big star in the NWA following their buyout of the UWF as Terry Taylor but took the big money and went to the WWF, where his gimmick was a guy who couldn’t wrestle without step by step instructions from Heenan. It got even more insulting after he turned on Heenan and became a face, as he KEPT the Rooster gimmick and going full-blast with it, prancing to the ring and making dumb ass farm sounds. It was explained as if he was owning what was initially a disrespectful name and making it his own but oh lord what a mistake that was. Let’s hear for it for the Brooklyn Brawler though; he would go on to arguably be the company’s most notable enhancement guy (Barry Horowitz notwithstanding) but at this point he’s got some relevancy and a bit of a push as part of the Heenan Family. I remember watching this show for the first time and being absolutely FLABBERGASTED that he was on this show and not at a jobber.
ANYWAY Rooster wins in 31 seconds after Heenan sends himself into the post on a corner shoulder attempt. The introductions and the opening paragraph were longer than the match.
The Red Rooster defeated Bobby Heenan via pinfall (0:31)
- Looks like Steamboat/Savage from WrestleMania III has a rival for best match in the event’s history. (NR)
Brawler immediately attacks Rooster, Rooster tries to fight back and Brawler bails, leaving with Heenan who probably wishes he could have ended WrestleMania V on the IC Title win.
-‘Mean’ Gene is standing by backstage with Miss Elizabeth. Liz says she’ll be in a neutral corner in support of both men and hopes neither man will be seriously injured. The solemn delivery was on-point but it felt like an eternity between sentence pauses. Still got her point across though so I can’t hate too much.
-Tony Schiavone is standing by in the locker room, saying all the wrestlers have vacated to the arena because they wanna see the Mega Powers EXPLODE.
-Sean Mooney is in the crowd. Crowd seems split between Hogan and Savage, and they almost crush him trying to get on TV. Poor guy.
‘The Macho Man’ Randy Savage [c] vs. Hulk Hogan
This is easily one of the best-built main events in WWF history, maybe even better than Hogan/Andre from WrestleMania III. WWF took their time over the past year, letting things simmer until it hit a fever pitch and they had a can’t-miss headliner for this show. Much respect to them. LAME that Savage was introduced first though, he’s the champion DAMMIT. Miss Elizabeth gets her own entrance after, using Savage’s music for obvious reasons and being flanked by like 10 security guards like Vanna White was last year. Can’t trust those scummy wrestling fans, I get it. Hogan’s theme starts almost halfway through the song which is weird. He also gets the heavy security treatment. Something tells me he didn’t like being touched by so many people so easily during last year’s show.
Savage bails from the ring, trying to psych Hogan out. Finally they lock up and Hogan throws him to the mat with ease, Macho Man bailing to the apron to prevent further damage. Hogan takes Savage down again, this time with a shoulderblock, and once again the champ bails from the ring so the challenger can’t build momentum. Savage brings Hogan to one knee with a side headlock, Hogan with an Irish whip and Savage AGAIN bails out. This time Hogan gives chase until Savage puts Liz between them, the crowd booing the lack of chivalry. Hogan brings Savage to the mat with a drop toehold and transitions into a front facelock, Hogan’s technical special. Savage escapes with a belly-to-back suplex but misses an elbow and Hogan belts him with a series of rights. Savage escapes a wristlock with a thumb to the eye and a double axhandle off the top for a two-count. Savage grabs an armbar and drives Hogan back to the mat, driving his knee into Hogan’s neck. ‘HOGAN’ chants almost wake him up but Savage brings him back to the mat by yanking the hair. Hogan gets to his feet so Savage tries to yank the hair again but Hogan fights it and pulls the tights, throwing Savage out to the floor. Ventura is INCENSED at Hogan’s cheating and Monsoon’s hypocritical acceptance of it. Jesse Ventura’s WWF run is really a masterclass in color commentary. Hogan takes control, dropping a couple of elbows and raking the champ’s eyes with the bottom of his boot. Savage counters a backdrop with a kick and brings Hogan to the mat with a clothesline, covering for the 1…2…kickout.
Savage settles into a seated sleeperhold, Hogan busted open above his left eye. Hogan starts fading as Savage switches into a reverse chinlock. Hogan tries to escape by grabbing the hair and the ref repeatedly puts a stop to it like a good ref should. Hogan escapes and catches a boot, spinning Savage around for an atomic drop but missing the follow-up elbowdrop. Savage sends Hogan into the buckles with a high knee to the spine and rolls him up, handful of tights, for the 1…2…nope. Savage focuses on the cut above Hogan’s eye, opening the wound further. Savage slaps Hogan, Hogan wakes up and buckle shots him as the crowd counts along, following up with a corner clothesline. Hogan picks Savage up and throws him right to the floor, clearing the top rope and the apron. NICE. Liz checks on Savage and Savage angrily swipes at her for getting involved. What a JERK. He pulls Hogan out and tries to ram his head on the apron but Hogan blocks it and sends Savage into the hardest part of the ring instead. Hogan picks Savage up to ram him into the pole, but Liz steps in front of it. This gives Savage enough time to escape and send Hogan into the post after Liz moves away. Liz checks on Hogan, Savage moves her away and putting his finger in her face. Savage shoves her away from ringside and she gets sent away by Pat Patterson and the rest of the security team.
Savage gets his head back into the game and catches him in the back with a flying double axhandle, sending Hogan throat-first into the guardrail. Back in the ring Savage focuses on the throat, clotheslining it across the top rope and hitting a seated splash against the middle rope. Savage connects with a scoop slam and kneedrop but Hogan manages to get his shoulder up during the pinfall attempt. Savage rips the tape off of his wrist and chokes Hogan with it behind the ref’s back. Savage chokes Hogan out and hits the FLYING ELBOW from halfway across the ring for the 1…the 2…the HOGAN KICKS OUT AND STARTS HULKING UP. Hogan goes into his whole routine: punch, punch, punch, Big Boot, and Big Legdrop for the 1…2…3!
Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage [c] via pinfall with the Big Legdrop to win the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (17:54)
- A good match that was a bit more even than expected; normally I assume the heel controls most of the contest but for the first ten minutes or so it was back and forth as they two former best friends jockeyed for dominance. I enjoyed that as well as Liz staying true and helping both men until being shooed away from ringside. I remembered it being better than this but it was still pretty damn good and a nice payoff to the year-long feud. Granted their feud continues for a few months after this, with Savage bringing Hogan’s No Holds Barred nemesis Zeus into things, but we’ll get there when we get there. Right now let’s just bask at a successful execution of storyline and payoff match. (***1/4)
An angry Savage bolts to the back, leaving Hogan to celebrate the beginning of his second reign as WWF Champion. Ventura is so sickened at the finish he wants to take Hogan out himself, but he never makes good on these threats sadly. I’m sure the WWF would have LOVED to have Hollywood star Ventura wrestle again in main events. Hogan finishes his posing and heads to the top of the entrance aisle to celebrate some more, then exits for real. Monsoon and Ventura close out the show and seventeen hours later this WrestleMania is officially over.
Overall Thoughts: Although this lasted longer than WrestleMania IV and featured a truly terrible Piper’s Pit segment that just wouldn’t end, WrestleMania V is a much more entertaining show to sit through. It still feels bloated, something WWF won’t rectify until WrestleMania VIII really, but there’s enough variety and decent matches to keep it going until the very good main event. I’d say it’s worth checking out, at the very least you’ll get a few good matches out of it plus the system shock of seeing goddamn TONY SCHIAVONE and ARN ANDERSON on a WWF show.
- Match of the Night: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage
- Moment of the Night: Rick Martel’s heel turn