This Smark Wrestlemania Rant by Scott Keith is part of a series of reposts counting down to this year’s Wrestlemania. They are re-published “as is” with relative commentary from when they were written. Enjoy!
The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania VI
– Live from Toronto, Ontario. Original airdate: April 1st 1990
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura.
– Opening match: Rick Martel v. Koko B. Ware. The crowd is huge, announced at almost 68,000 people. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ultra-cool carts that carry the guys to the ring ala WM3. Match is brutally clipped on the Coliseum video version, which is good because I saw it live on closed circuit TV and it sucked then. The version here sees a two minute Martel squash, as he finishes it with the Boston Crab. The announcers make note of a mistake made by Koko, which exposes the clipping. Oh well. Match was about 1/4*
– WWF tag team title match: Andre the Giant & Haku v. Demolition. A canned Demos interview is inserted before the match. The champs don’t even get an entrance, but the Demos do, and they get a mega-pop to boot. Once again a brutal clipjob, which is exceedingly good because this match blows too. Haku literally wrestles the entire match as Andre stands on the apron and Ax plays Ricky Morton. Smash gets the hot tag and destroys Haku (Andre takes one bump for old time’s sake). Andre grabs Haku from behind, but the THRUST KICK OF DEATH hits Andre by mistake and Demolition Decapitation follows on Haku for the pin and the final tag title reign for the Demos. Andre does the obligatory face turn after the match. Note to WCW: Sometimes it’s cool for the faces to win. DUD, although I was marking out for the last hurrah of Demolition at the time. Andre lays a hellacious beating on Heenan and Haku and leaves to the cheers of the fans.
– Hercules v. Earthquake. This was during the initial Quake buildup, which means Extra Squash with Cheese and a Side of Squash Fries. Up until now he was billed as “Canadian Earthquake”, but I guess they didn’t want any face heat for him here so they debuted the “Earthquake” name. I’m sure you know how this one goes. Herc does a stretcher job for good measure after two Quake splashes. DUD
– Rona Barrett interviews Elizabeth about her disappearance. Gotta love token celebrity appearances.
– Brutus Beefcake v. Mr. Perfect. Okay, if you’ll remember, at Royal Rumble 90 Beefcake fought the Genius in order to transfer the heat from Hogan to Beefcake, and it worked because this match was set up for Wrestlemania. Hennig is in full overselling mood, flying over the top rope on a punch. Mucho stallo results. Another mega-bump on a chest-first charge to the corner by Perfect. This would be the last appearance of the real Beefcake on PPV, before the boating accident turned him into the talentless Hogan kiss-ass you see today. Saturday Night’s Main Event booking as Hennig gets the METAL SCROLL OF DOOM from the Genius and bops Beefcake with it to take control. Another clip job as Hennig runs through his usual offense. He brings Beefcake to his knees and then slaps him around, but Beefcake grabs Hennig’s legs and slingshots him into the ringpost, a move which is guaranteed to kill Hennig, each and every time it’s used. Beefcake gets the huge upset and the crowd goes APESHIT. See, that way Perfect keeps his heat because the match was booked as a fluke. Beefcake ends up cutting Poffo’s hair. Decent enough match. * Here’s an interesting quote from Jesse at the ed, after Gorilla notes that the people want to see Poffo’s hair cut: “Since when is the World Wrestling Federation dictated by what you and the people want?” Of course, years later, Gorilla would become WWF President and the WWF’s whole direction would cater to the fans’ every whim.
– Roddy Piper v. Bad News Brown. This would be the match where Piper painted half his body black. He puts on a dance exhibition before the match, thus guaranteeing to offend EVERYONE in the audience, black and white. Total brawl, and a boring one at that. Piper pulls out a while glove (cf. Brown’s black glove) and they fight outside the ring for a double countount. Really disappointing non-match. -*
– Steve Allen rehearses the Russian National Anthem with the Bolsheviks. Har har.
– The Hart Foundation v. The Bolsheviks. Nikolai goes to sing the anthem and the Harts attack, then hit the Hart Attack for the pin. Bleh. DUD
– Tito Santana v. The Barbarian. This would be the debut of the Barbarian under the tutelage of Bobby Heenan. Total squash, as Barbie manhandles Santana, who comes back with the token offense. Flying Jalapeno, but Heenan puts Barbie’s foot on the ropes. Barbarian to the top and Tito takes the bump of the night with a somersault sell of the clothesline from the top, which finishes the match. Off-night for Tito. 1/4*
– Randy Savage & Sherri v. Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire. And wasn’t the world just waiting for this one? Jesse goes off on a hilarious rant about the fact that the Cow Twins are announced at 465 total, which he estimates is at least 100 pounds low. Dusty brings out Elizabeth before we start to a huge ovation. Sherri is actually looking pretty lithe here. Sapphire uses her huge ass to dominate Sherri, and Sherri actually sells. You can always tell when Jesse hates someone in real life because of how much he cheers against them. If that’s true, then he must HATE Dusty Rhodes. I mean, I would not want to be in the same room if they ever met, if his commentary here is any indication. This mess drags on and on, with Dusty playing Cow in Peril after a shot with the sceptre. Sappire and Sherri get into it, and Liz tosses Sherri back in, then grabs her by the hair and shoves her back into Sappire, which allows a rollup for the win. Really bad match. -** Better times would be ahead for Savage, thankfully.
– Hogan gives a really disturbing interview where he elevates himself to Christ-like levels by offering to “save” the Warrior and his fans by making Warrior a martyr.
– Warrior responds with an equally weirded-out interview.
– The Rockers v. The Orient Express. Let’s play “How much drugs did the Rockers use before the match” here. I’ll start the betting at 2 grams of coke and a shot of booze. Shawn Michaels plays Ricky Morton as the Express uses some nice double-teams to control. Marty gets the hot tag and the Rockers do their usual stuff, albeit slower than usual for some reason. Could it be…DRUGS? Even Gorilla notes the lethargy that Rockers seem to be experiencing. Jannetty ends up outside the ring and Fuji tosses salt in his eyes for the countout, a really weird ending that killed the crowd. This match was just screaming for a pinfall ending. Still, better than everything else tonight. **3/4 I never got the signing of the Orients. I assume Vince just wanted to steal Badd Company from the AWA, but couldn’t get DDP to come along, and didn’t think they’d be marketable without a gimmick, so he grabbed Tanaka and AWA jobber Akio Sato and left Paul Diamond to rot.
– Dino Bravo v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Not much fan response here, because Bravo is Canadian but booked as a heel so the fans were unsure how to react. And Duggan has never been really over in Canada, for obvious reasons. Kick and punch match that drags until Duggan hits three clotheslines and Quake makes a nuisance of himself. During the chaos, Duggan nails Bravo with the 2×4 and pins him. DUD Earthquake adds another body to the pile tonight by destroying Duggan for good measure. Works for me.
– Million Dollar Belt match: Jake Roberts v. Ted Dibiase. Roberts stole the belt from Dibiase on Superstars, and Ted wants it back. Speaking of drug-snorting degenerates, these two were among the worst offenders in the early 90s. We all know about Jake’s sob stories during his born-again Christian years, and Dibiase did the same circuit a couple of years ago, including a stop here in Edmonton where I got to meet him. He’s a great guy, btw, much more believable and likeable than Roberts. It should be noted that Dibiase continues to help charities and stay clean and sober, while Roberts is probably sleeping in a cardboard box in downtown Wichita with a bottle of cheap hooch as his only companion as we speak. Anyway, libellous comments aside, this match was about 20 minutes live and clipped down to eight or so here, and they even had the audacity to cut out the Skydome doing the wave during a headlock. The clipped version is actually better than the live one, because they clipped out the restholds. We cut to Jake making the big comeback, but before he can hit the DDT Virgil pulls him out of the ring for the countout. Since the match is unsanctioned, Dibiase wins the title back. Roberts gets the DDT on Dibiase after the match. The clipped version of the match is about ***, actually, a pleasant surprise after the boring match I remembered from years ago. Roberts hands out Dibiase’s money to the fans, which is really cool because each $100 bill is worth $150 up here. We never see Dibiase leave the ring, which becomes important for…
– Akeem v. Big Bossman. This would be the blowoff for the Twin Towers breakup that turned Bossman face. Bossman makes his entrance and Dibiase pops up from under the ring and attacks him on the floor. See, Dibiase tried to bribe Bossman, but since he’s an honest law-enforcement officer he wouldn’t take the bribe, presto, insta-feud. Dibiase’s beating doesn’t help Akeem much, as he gets caught with a fluke Bossman slam less than a minute in for the pin. DUD
– Rhythm and Blues debut their new single, “Hunka Hunka Honky Love” but the Sheepf*ckers interrupt, dressed as vendors, and attack them. Wow. “Blink and you’ll miss it” moment: Diamond Dallas Page driving the car that brings Honky and Valentine to the ring.
– Ravishing Rick Rude v. Jimmy Snuka. Steve Allen is doing color commentary here. This is the debut of the “new” Rick Rude, as he makes the transition from mid-card joke to main-event status. This is okay, as things go back and forth before Snuka misses whatever off the top and Rude hits the Rude Awakening for the pin. *1/2
– Main event, title v. title: Hulk Hogan v. The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior blows up running into the ring, seriously. This is the very definition of a divided crowd, as they are almost literally 50/50 for both guys. Staredown and shoving match to start, won by the Warrior, then Hogan. They do the test of strength: Warrior brings Hogan to his knees, then Hogan fights up and brings Warrior down. Crowd is absolutely rabid for every move. Hogan takes down Warrior and drops an elbow, then they do the CRISS-CROSS OF DOOM, which leads to a Hogan slam that is no-sold by Warrior. Another criss-cross, and a slam on Hogan, which Hogan sells. Warrior clotheslines Hogan to the floor, and Hulk injures his knee, and totally oversells it. Warrior stomps on it for good measure. Back in the ring and they poke each other in the eye and choke, to Jesse’s delight. Warrior jaws with the referee and Hogan takes the opportunity to clothesline Warrior in the corner and basically forget about the knee injury. Hogan drops an elbow for the first two-count and applies a facelock and a small package for two. Hogan…carrying a match? Considering how long this thing was rehearsed before this show, Hogan shouldn’t have to be carrying it, but whatever. Running clothesline gets two for Hogan. Backbreaker gets two. Hogan uses an ultra-weak chinlock, but drives some knees into the back to redeem it. Belly-to-back suplex gets two, then back to the chinlock. Warrior breaks free and they do the double-KO spot. Warrior shakes the ropes to hulk up, giving Hogan a taste of his own medicine by no-selling Hulk’s offense. THREE CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM! RUNNING SHOULDERBLOCK OF DEATH! Is the end of Hulk? Two cross-corner whips and a suplex gets two. Oh, no, it’s the dread BEARHUG OF EXCRUCIATING DISCOMFORT! Hogan breaks free and Hebner gets wiped out on the criss-cross. Warrior goes to the top with a pair of double axehandles, but Hogan drives him face-first to the mat when he tries the running shoulderblock. No ref to count, and Jesse is right on the ball as he notes the irony of this after all the times it happened to Hogan’s challengers. Warrior gets a belly-to-back as Hebner…crawls…over…for….two. Crowd is on the verge of a collective heart attack. Hulk rolls up Warrior for two. Hogan with rights, and an elbow that sends Warrior to the floor, where they brawl for a bit. Back in the ring and Warrior with a clothesline and then…the Gorilla Press! Big splash…and it only gets two. Hogan makes the comeback, hulking up. Hogan no-sells the punches, delivers some of his own, then hits the Big Boot of Death. Legdrop…MISSES! Warrior hits a weak splash and gets the pin. Half the crowd is delighted, the other half is in shock. Hebner f*cks up, handing the belt to the Warrior, and the camera cuts away as Warrior gives it back so Hogan can present it himself. Meltzer gave it ****, I wouldn’t go that high, but it was a definite ***. It was suitably epic for the show it was carrying, and even after seeing it 200 times or so it still got my heart pounding during the ending sequence when I saw it again. That’s all you can ask.
The Bottom Line: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllll….
On one hand, the main event was huge and the crowd was hot and the booking was great (FACES GO OVER!), but on the other 90% of the show sucked dick. I mean, WCW would get crucified for putting on his dog today. I think people have unreasonably boosted popular opinion of this one thanks to fuzzy feelings rather than actual enjoyment of the show. I mean, it was a very “send the fans home happy” show, but other than that there weren’t many redeeming qualities.
But maybe that’s just me.
Tags: Scott Keith, SmarK Rant, Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania, WWE