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A2Z Analysiz: WWF WrestleMania III (Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant)

WrestleMania III

Pontiac Silverdome – Pontiac, Michigan – Sunday, March 29, 1987

Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura are on commentary.

MATCH #1: The Can-Am Connection vs. “The Magnificent” Don Muraco & “Cowboy” Bob Orton

Muraco and Orton have Mr. Fuji in their corner. Rick Martel and Muraco start the match. Muraco uses his brute strength and Martel uses his impressive agility to thwart him. Tom Zenk tags in and the Can-Am Connection uses impressive double-teams on both Muraco and Orton. Everything Muraco and Orton try the Can-Ams have an answer for. Finally Orton drives a knee into Zenk’s back from the apron to take control but it doesn’t last long. Zenk and Orton knock heads together and then tags are made. Martel is a house afire and sends Orton to the floor. Zenk goes down on all fours to trip Muraco up as Martel executes a cross body block to get the pin at 5:38. That was a perfect choice for an opener, as the babyfaces were flying all over the place and got the crowd right fired up, which is exactly the goal.
Rating: **½

MATCH #2: Full Nelson Challenge – Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules

Hercules has Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in his corner. The two powerhouses come face to face at the bell as things are already heated between them. Haynes takes an early advantage and hits an impressive press slam. He goes for the Full Nelson but Hercules avoids it. Haynes continues to unleash fury, but Hercules cuts him off with a hard clothesline. Hercules is fully in control now, working Haynes over. He hits a vertical suplex and picks Haynes up at two for some reason. Hercules continues to work the back in preparation for the Full Nelson. Moments later he puts on the Full Nelson but he cannot lock the fingers. Haynes fights his way out of it and then they clothesline each other. Back on their feet Haynes hits an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline. Haynes hits another clothesline and hits a legdrop (on a show with Hogan!) He goes to the second rope and delivers a fist drop. Haynes locks on the Full Nelson and Hercules is able to use momentum to pull Haynes to the floor with him. Out on the floor Haynes puts on the Full Nelson and the referee counts both men out at 7:53. That’s an odd finish for WrestleMania, but the match was pretty okay for two limited power guys.
Rating: **¼

Heenan attacks Haynes and distracts him long enough for Hercules to attack. Hercules hits Haynes with the chain, busting him open.

MATCH #3: King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & The Haiti Kid

The big guys must wrestle the big guys, and the little guys must wrestle the little guys. Haiti and Tokyo start the match with some classic midget wrestling. It doesn’t take long for Beaver and Littlebrook to get involved. The good guys control the early going, so Bundy tags in. Beaver and Haiti run around Bundy for a bit to frustrate him before making the tag. Jim comes in and takes Bundy down with a clothesline. He follows with a big elbow drop and covers, so Beaver and Haiti pile on for a two-count. Bundy kicks out anyway. He takes Jim down and goes to work on him. Beaver comes in to make the save and continues poking the bear. Finally Bundy gets fed up and scoops Beaver up and slams him down to the mat. Bundy follows with an elbow drop and the referee calls for the disqualification at 4:24. Tokyo and Littlebrook take umbrage with Bundy’s actions and the four midgets and Hillbilly Jim run Bundy off. That was hardly a classic but I like my WrestleMania cards with variety, and this certainly provided that.
Rating: **

MATCH #4: Junkyard Dog vs. Harley Race

Race is accompanied by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Fabulous Moolah. If JYD loses, he is required to bow to the King. Race tries to avoid JYD at first, and when JYD goes on the attack Heenan interferes to give his man the advantage. Race throws JYD to the floor and attempts a headbutt off the apron but JYD moves out of the way. That’s quite a spot for 1987. JYD brings Race back in the hard way and quickly knocks him back to the floor. Back in the ring JYD puts on an abdominal stretch, which Race breaks with a hiptoss. Race tries a headbutt, which is terrible strategy. JYD throws Race to the floor once again. Race comes back in and JYD unloads with some headbutts. Heenan distracts JYD, allowing Race to hit a belly-to-belly supelx for the pin at 3:23. JYD is now supposed to bow to the King. He does indeed bow, but then hits Race with the chair! JYD then puts on Race’s robe and leaves with it. That’s pretty poor sportsmanship on display by the JYD. As for the match, these are two Hall of Famers and deservedly so, but this was kept short for a reason.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #5: The Rougeau Brothers vs. The Dream Team

The Dream Team is Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake, accompanied by “Luscious” Johnny V and Dino Bravo. The Rougeau Brothers are of course Jacques and Raymond. Beefcake and Raymond start the match. It’s interesting to see the Rougeau Brothers as babyfaces, as I don’t think that lasted too long. They control the early part of the match with their impressive high flying and double-team maneuvers. Jacques misses a turn-around cross body block off the second rope and Valentine goes to work on him. Beefcake tags in as well and gets his shots in. Valentine comes back in and puts on the Figure-Four Leglock as Bobby Heenan invades the commentary booth. Heenan brags about being two for two, since Hercules didn’t lose and Harley Race won his match. He doesn’t count Bundy’s loss because “I don’t deal with midgets.” I love Heenan. Meanwhile, Raymond gets a hot tag and locks Valentine in a sleeper. Beefcake tries to break it up but he hits his own partner. The Rougeaus hit La Bombe de Rougeau and while Raymond has Valentine covered the referee gets distracted with Beefcake and Jacques brawling. Bravo takes the opportunity for a cheap shot and rolls Valentine on top for the win at 4:04. Valentine, Luscious Johnny, and Bravo leave Beefcake behind for some reason. The match was a solid four-minute affair, but was made infinitely more entertaining by Heenan’s brief foray into the booth. Jacques and Raymond were incredibly underrated.
Rating: *½

MATCH #6: Hair Match – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis

Adonis has Jimmy Hart in his corner. This is Piper’s “last match” – win, lose, or draw. They immediately start to brawl and Piper uses his belt as a weapon, which somehow is not a disqualification. I guess the referee is going to be lenient here. Hart distracts the referee, allwoing Adonis to use the belt. Turnabout is fair play. Piper regains control and drags Adonis and Hart into the ring, and then throws them both back to the floor. Back in the ring Adonis cuts Piper off and goes to work. They head back to the floor and Adonis slams Piper’s head into the timekeeper’s table. Hart gets some cheap shots in where he can. Back in the ring Adonis wears Piper down and locks on Goodnight Irene. Hart and Adonis think that Piper is out and they prematurely celebrate. While the referee tries to tell them they haven’t won, Brutus Beefcake comes in the ring for some reason to revive Piper. Adonis tries to attack with a big pair of shears but Piper ducks and the shears bounce off the top rope and Adonis hits himself in the face! Piper then locks on the Sleeper and Adonis is out at 6:13. The crowd was insanely hot but the match was not so good. I don’t really understand Beefcake’s involvement. It is fun to see Piper as a babyface in the 80s though, so this match is not without its charms.
Rating: **½

After the match, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake is born, as Beefacke helps Piper shave Adonis’ head. I don’t recall if there was any sort of set up for Beefcake to help Piper, or to be a barber, but it reinvigorated his career and was his most successful gimmick by far, so it works. Adonis is embarrassed and hightails it to the back with Hart.

MATCH #7: Six-Man Tag Team Match – The Hart Foundation & Danny Davis vs. The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana

Danny Davis, Bret Hart, and Jim Neidhart are accompanied by Jimmy Hart. Hart and Neidhart are the current World Tag Team Champions, and this is Davis’ debut match. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid have Matilda with them. Matilda goes after Hart, and the Bulldogs and Santana follow suit, beating up their opponents before the bell. The match officially starts with Santana and Hart, which is a great combination. Several tags ar emade as the feeling out process continues, and the Hart trio is able to isolate Santana in their part of the ring. Santana leapfrogs over Neidhart and makes the tag to Davey Boy, who is a house afire. More tags are made and momentum shifts back and forth some more, and we wind up with Dynamite getting worked over in the wrong half of the ring. Davis tags in and tries a splash but Dynamite gets his knees up. Santana tags in and he unleashes fury on Davis, the man who cost him the Intercontinental Title over a year ago. He goes for the Figure-Four Leglock and Neidhart breaks it up. Davey Boy tags in and continues to dismantle Davis. He hits a Tombstone Piledriver and a vertical suplex. Davey Boy then executes the Running Powerslam but Neidhart breaks it up. Santana comes to the rescue and then Dynamite and Hart get in the ring as well. With the referee distracted, Davis hits Davey Boy with the megaphone and gets the pin at 8:52. That was certainly plenty of fun, but it felt very short. And, how awesome would a straight up title match between the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs have been with 15 minutes in front of this crowd?
Rating: **¾

MATCH #8: “The Natural” Butch Reed vs. Koko B. Ware

Reed is accompanied by his manager, “The Doctor of Style” Slick. Koko starts off hot so Reed tries to slow him down by stalling. It doesn’t work though, as Koko dropkicks Reed to the floor. Back in the ring Koko goes for a back body drop and Reed clubs him across the back of the neck. Reed gets a little bit of offense in but Koko isn’t done yet, and he fires back. Koko tries a cross body block but Reed rolls him over and grabs the tights to score the pin at 3:39. That was adequate for the time given. The crowd was hot for Koko.
Rating: *½

Slick attacks after the bell for some reason, so Tito Santana comes out to make the save. Santana and Koko run both Reed and Slick back to the locker room. I don’t remember what Santana’s issue with Slick was.

MATCH #9: Intercontinental Championship Match – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Savage has been the champion since 2.8.86. I’ve seen this match about a million times but I’ve never reviewed it. Steamboat cuts the best promo of his life before the match. Savage tries to stall early on, but Steamboat is undeterred, hitting a series of armdrags. He lifts Savage up by the throat and tosses the champion down. Savage gets Steamboat to chase him outside the ring and then hits an elbow when they get back in the ring. They trade control back and forth, both being aggressive with each other. Savage continually throws Steamboat to the floor, and the champion has finally gained a firm advantage. Back in the ring Savage hits an ax handle off the top rope and an elbow to the face for a two-count. Savage stays in control for a bit, until he charges at Steamboat up against the ropes, and Steamboat back drops him all the way to the floor. Ventura calls for a DQ, but that’s never bee against the rules in WWE as far as I’ve ever heard. Back in the ring Steamboat hits a chop to the head off the top rope and that gets two and the crowd is buying Steamboat right now. Steamboat throws some chops, which Ventura says are illegal since they’re in the eyes. How many rules is he going to make up tonight? Savage tries to bail but Steamboat is able to catch him with a series of pinning combinations for a bunch of near falls. The referee inadvertently gets bumped and Savage looks to take advantage. He hits the Macho Elbow but with no referee there is no count. He goes outside and grabs the ring bell, and that’s how this whole thing got started. George ‘The Animal’ Steele stops him from using it though. Savage tries a bodyslam but Steamboat rolls through to get the pin at 14:35. Like there’s any mystery what rating this match gets.
Rating: *****

MATCH #10: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Honky Tonk Man

Honky has Jimmy Hart in his corner. Jake of course has Damien, as well as Alice Cooper. Honky isn’t even able to get in the ring before Jake goes after him. Jake is a house afire and he sends Honky to the floor. Honky wasn’t even able to get his Elvis jumpsuit off, but Jake is happy to help him with that. Back in the ring Jake charges into the corner and Honky gets his boot up. That gives Honky the advantage but Jake quickly cuts him off and hits the Short Clothesline. They head back to the floor and Honky is once again and to claim the advantage. Honky takes Jake back in the ring and works him over with his basic offensive attack. He tries the Shake Rattle N’ Roll Neckbreaker but Jake backdrops his way out of it. Jake hits an inverted atomic drop and follows up with punches. He hits another back body drop and more punches. Jake goes for the DDT but Honky avoids it. Hart grabs Jake’s leg, and Honky capitalizes with a rollup and a handful of top rope to get the pin at 7:05. That was pretty basic but they had a good feud going so the crowd was into it.
Rating: **

Honky bails to the back right away, leaving his manager to get double-teamed by Roberts and Cooper, who introduce Hart to Damien up close and personally. Hart quickly slips out under the bottom rope and Honky comes back to help Hart get away.

MATCH #11: The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Killer Bees

Sheik and Volkoff have Slick in their corner. Volkoff tries to sing the Russian National Anthem, but Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes out and runs them both of with the 2×4. Hacksaw says this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sheik and Volkoff attack before the bell, as Duggan lurks around at ringside. The Bees use their double-team skills and their agility to send Volkoff and Sheik regrouping to the floor. Blair and Brunzell focus on the Sheik, keeping him in their half of the ring. The powerful Sheik and Volkoff are able to recover and now they work on Brunzell. After a few minutes Brunzell is able to catch Sheik with a high knee. Tag is made but the referee was tied up with Volkoff so he didn’t see it. Sheik goes to the second rope to gloat. Duggan chases Slick and Volkoff around the ring, and then he actually gets in the ring. Sheik has Blair locked in the Camel Clutch, so Duggan comes in the ring and waffles Sheik with the 2×4, getting the Bees disqualified at 5:39. The matchw as pretty pedestrian and the finish was stupid. It was a decent way to get Duggan on the big stage though.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #12: WWF Championship Match – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant

Hogan has been the Champion since 1.23.84. Ventura is not exaggerating when he says “this is the biggest match in the history of professional wrestling.” Hogan and Andre have an epic stare down to start. They trade a few punches and Hogan tries an early slam but Andre falls back on him for a very close near-fall. Hogan has injured his back early on and Andre takes advantage. Andre has no trouble slamming Hogan, and he does so multiple times. He works the Champion over for several minutes, looking dominant. Hogan eventually fights back with a series of strikes and backs Andre into a corner. He charges in and eats nothing but boot. Andre then locks on a bearhug. After a while Hogan punches his way out of it. Hogan tries a few shoulderblocks but Andre slices him right back down. Andre boots Hogan to the floor and follows him out. He goes for a headbutt but he misses and hits the post! Hogan moves the ringside padding and foolishly attempts a piledriver. Andre reverses to a back body drop and Hogan takes the sissiest bump ever. Back in the ring Hogan ducks a boot and knocks Andre down with a clothesline! Hogan then hits the most famous bodyslam of all-time and follows with the Legdrop to get the pin and make history at 12:09. I know people dump on this match, and while it pales in comparison to Savage versus Steamboat, it’s really not that bad. Sure, Andre was not all that mobile but they worked a good David versus Goliath formula and the crowd heat was off the charts. It also is the biggest match of all time and that counts for something. I rather enjoy this match.
Rating: ***½

BONUS MATCH: Intercontinental Championship Match – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele, Saturday Night’s Main Event, 1.3.87

Steele attacks right away and starts throwing Savage around. Savage quickly fights back and begins to methodically wear Steele down. He goes up top and some familiar music hits as Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat makes his way to ringside! Savage is distracted and Steele slams him off the top rope. Steele then hurls Savage over the top rope, almost wiping out The Fink! “The Animal” then grabs Ms. Elizabeth and carries her back to the locker room. Savage and Steamboat argue while officials try to corral Steamboat away from ringside. Time for a commercial break, and when we come back Steamboat is still trying to get at Savage. Finally Steele makes his way back to the ring (how did he not get counted out?) and rips apart one of the turnbuckles. He rubs it in Savage’s eyes and then goes after more turnbuckles. Steele goes for a bulldog but Savage shoves him off. Mometum continues to shift back and forth, so Steele bites Savage’s arm. Savage clotheslines Steele to the floor, and Steele gets back in the ring and throws Savage out. The referee gets into an argument with Steele and gets shoved down. Savage takes the opportunity to hit Steele with the ring bell and gets the pin at 8:07 (shown). Savage goes to the top rope but Steamboat makes the save and Savage bails. The match was not great, and it makes no sense how Steele was neither counted out nor disqualified. However, it put a great deal of heat on Savage versus Steamboat, which turned out to be one of the greatest matches of all-time so who’s complaining?
Rating: *¾

BONUS MATCH: Battle Royal – Andre The Giant, Ax, B. Brian Blair, Billy Jack Haynes, Blackjack Mulligan, Butch Reed, Haku, Hercules, Hillbilly Jim, Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Jim Brunzell, Koko B. Ware, Lanny Poffo, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Orndorff, Ron Bass, Sika, Smash, and Tama, Saturday Night’s Main Event, 3.14.87

Hogan and Andre stare each other down, so Orndorff takes the opportunity to attack Hogan to get the match underway. No matter, as Hogan is able to score the first elimination by dumping Honky Tonk out. Andre gets rid of Sika next. Haku goes next via the Giant. Andre headbutts Poffo, splitting him open before throwing him to the floor. Hogan is able to send Bass to the floor. Andre responds by throwing out Mulligan. Hogan tosses Volkoff. Andre dumps Blair. Finally Hogan and Andre come face-to-face, but the other participants quickly break that up. Hogan gets mad and dumps Orndorff out. Andre grabs Hogan and headbutts him before eliminating the WWF Champion! That’s awesome. The referees have to force Hogan to the back, even though he got eliminated fair and square, as we take a commercial. Back from the break Andre eliminates Brunzell. Then Hillbily, Koko, Demolition, Hercules, Butch Reed, Tama, and Haynes join together to eliminate Andre. Hercules gets rid of Tama, Hillbilly eliminates Ax, Smash eliminates Hillbilly, and Koko elimiantes Reed. We’re down to the Final Four: Hercules, Smash, Billy Jack Haynes, and Koko B. Ware. Plenty of brawling ensues. Hercules says goodbye to Koko, and Haynes gets rid of Smash. That leaves two heated rivals in the ring, and Heenan jumps up on the apron to distract Haynes, and it works. Hercules then sneaks up form behind and eliminate Haynes to get the win at 11:23 (shown). This was okay for a battle royal , but it quickly lost steam when Hogan and Andre were eliminated. Still, it was there to build heat on Hogan/Andre and to a lesser extent Hercules/Billy Jack Haynes and it worked.
Rating: **

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