The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania VII
– Live from Los Angeles, California and the Memorial Coliseum…oh, wait, that’s just in Vince’s dreams. It’s actually the much smaller Sports Arena. Bomb threat my ass… Original airdate: March 24, 1991
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, plus a host of others.
– Opening match: The Rockers v. Haku & Barbarian. Yup, the Faces of Fear actually got started as a team in the WWF. Wicked move as the Rockers double-team Haku, but Barbarian runs in with a clothesline on both guys that results in a double-somersault-oversell. Cool stuff. The Rockers must not be stoned tonight. Marty holds his own with Barbarian but gets caught in the corner and double-teamed, then stun-gunned while attempting a rana on Haku. Jannetty bumps like a madman to hold it together. A Barbarian flying headbutt misses, allowing Marty to hot tag Shawn, who does some nicely timed stuff to hold off the heels. Double dropkick on Haku and then a dropkick off the top from Marty leads to a bodypress off the top from Shawn for the pin. The Rockers could do no wrong at this point, and this is proof. ***
– Kiss-ass celebrity interview segment with Regis Philbin, Marla Maples and Alex Trebek.
– Kerry Von Erich v. Dino Bravo. Okay, this is just a little creepy, considering the current state of both guys. Nothing match as both guys had already outlived their usefulness to the federation, and there was a suicide watch on Kerry to boot. Bravo gets the side slam, but it oly gets two. He follows with something off the second rope, but gets caught with the clawhold, and Von Erich finishes it with the discus punch, possibly the worst finisher in history. 1/4*
– The Warlord v. The British Bulldog. There was some sort of issue here that I might have cared about in 1991 but I can’t be bothered to remember it now. The match ran about 8 minutes originally and is clipped to about two here, thankfully. Warlord wears down Bulldog and gets the FULL-NELSON OF DOOM, but Bulldog breaks it and powerslams him for the pin. 1/4*
– WWF World tag team title match: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys. Vince stole the Nasties from WCW a few months prior to this and I guess they wanted to justify the contracts or something. This marks the end of the first phase of Bret’s WWF career. Nasties have zero heat. Jimmy Hart just happens to be wearing a motorcycle helmet. The subtlety just boggles the mind. We get a shot of Macauley Culkin in the crowd and Gorilla completely misses the significance. The Harts are just amazingly over, and they do the impossible and carry the Nasties to a watchable match here. Bret works in the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM early on. Match slows down (waaaaay down) as Sags works on Bret with a rear chinlock. Nasties blow a move, and we get the false tag to Neidhart. Sags gets nailed with the megaphone by mistake and Neidhart gets the tag for real. Nasties get demolished and Hart Attacked, but Bret gets escorted from the ring, allowing Sags to nail Neidhart with that conveniently present motorcycle helmet and win the WWF tag team titles. Better than it had any right to be. **1/2
– Blindfold match: Rick Martel v. Jake Roberts. This one falls under “dumb ideas stolen from Kevin Sullivan”. The High Concept: Both guys are blindfolded, to symbolize Jake’s blindness at the hands of Martel. Jake encourages the crowd to cheer louder when he points to where Martel is. Not exactly much contact being made as they spend most of the match standing in the corners trying to figure out where the other guy is. Martel gets his hands on Jake, finally, and puts him in the Boston Crab, but Jake powers out, then gropes around long enough to find Martel and DDT him for the pin. There was maybe 5 points total where contact was made. Easily the worst-ever Wrestlemania match at -****
– Jimmy Snuka v. The Undertaker. Even in 91, the *Bong* got a good pop. Too bad it took another couple of years for them to figure out that turning out the lights made it even louder. This marks two years in a row that Snuka gets to be Designated Squash Victim. The flying clothesline gets a big pop. Undertaker manhandles Superfly with so little emotion that the fans don’t know what to make of him. Snuka slingshots into the ring, and was supposed to be caught and tombstoned, but someone messes up and UT has to put him down, then pick him up and tombstone him again. Either way, it’s an easy pin that actually gets a face pop for UT. DUD
– Retirement match: The Ultimate Warrior v. Randy Savage. Bobby Heenan points out that Elizabeth is sitting ringside. Geez, she couldn’t even get front row. Warrior wisely decides to not run to ringside. Savage takes his top off, showing that he means business. Doesn’t help, as Warrior methodically destroys Savage in a manner totally unlike him. Savage comes off the top but gets caught by Warrior, and then, in an Eddy Guerrero-like moment, Warrior simply puts him down and slaps him. Ooooo, you could get shot for doing shit like that in Mexico. Warrior paces himself nicely, slowly beating the hell out of Savage. He finally goes high-risk and misses a cross-corner charge, sending him flying out of the ring, where Sherri abuses him. Has Sherri been drinking “Ass Bulk 2000” or something? Savage sends Warrior to the post and Sherri lays in more punishment. Warrior calmly comes back in the ring and clotheslines Savage out of his boots. Flying shouldblock misses and Savage gets two. Sleeper, and Warrior fights out, but they do the double-knockout bit. Warrior with a small package, but Sherri is distracting the ref. Savage decks Warrior from behind, bumping the ref in the process. But Sherri’s interference backfires and she knocks out Savage. Warrior chases her around, and gets cradled for two. Savage with a stun-gun and the running necksnap for two. Savage drops the big elbow! But it’s not enough, so he drops…FOUR MORE! Seriously, the guy drops five flying elbows on Warrior, just to be a dick. And it only gets two, which didn’t really matter at the time because Savage was supposed to be retiring anyway, so who cared if his move was ruined. Warrior re-energizes and blitzes Savage with the THREE CLOTHESLINES OF DEATH, then the Gorilla Press and splash. *That* only gets two, and now Warrior doesn’t know what to do. He has an epiphanic moment, as he talks to his hands, looking for advice. He starts to walk away from the match, but Savage jumps him from behind. That’s apparently good enough an answer for Warrior, as he moves out of the way of the double-axehandle, sending Savage crashing to the steel railing. He tosses Savage back into the ring and spears Savage, which puts Savage onto the floor. He does it again, sending Savage out again. Finally he throws Savage back in one last time, hits the shoulderblock, and places a foot on his chest to win the match. Warrior’s best match ever. ****1/2
– Extra-curricular activities that lend this match it’s legendary status: Sherri is, shall we say, somewhat miffed at her money source being retired, so she takes out her frustrations on the beaten and helpless Savage. Big boos for that. And then, in one of the great moments of wrestling, Elizabeth finally takes an active role, running out of the audience to make the save and sending Sherri running. Savage wakes up and realizes what happened, then finally reconciles with Elizabeth after two years, bringing tears to every woman (and some of the men) in the arena. Unbelievably great booking as both Warrior and Savage go out on top with a face pop. As a symbolic gesture, Savage holds the ropes open for Liz before leaving, which is Savage’s way of apologizing for years of abuse. See, sometimes it *can* be Shakespeare, kids. Don’t ever let ’em tell you different.
– Demolition v. Genichiro Tenyru & Koji Kitao. Witness the last match for Demolition before Smash goes solo as Repo Man and Crush goes solo as Crush. No one knows or gives a shit about the Japanese faction, which makes me wonder about the point of this. Demos go for Decapitation, but Kitao pushes Crush off the top and Tenryu powerbombs Smash for the pin. This was nothing. 1/2*
– Intercontinental title match: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman. Heenan started insulting Bossman’s mother in mid-1990, and Bossman responded by mowing down every member of Heenan’s family, leading up to a title match with Hennig. Hennig and Heenan reference Rodney King in the pre-match interview. Bossman mops up with Hennig, but he misses a charge outside the ring and hits the stairs. Heenan lays into Bossman, and Andre the Giant suddenly strides out of the dressing room to help Bossman! Well, as suddenly as Andre moved at the time. Andre grabs the title belt from ringside, and when Hennig lips him off about it, Andre casually smacks him with it, knocking him out. Bossman covers for two, and the nWo…er…Heenan Family runs in for the lame DQ. Hmm, that’s a weird ending for a show with nothing but clean pins up to that point. All standard logic pointed to Bossman winning the title here, but it didn’t happen. Still, the face went over, leaving the fans happy. **
– Earthquake v. Greg Valentine. Valentine turned face as MSG to set this up, and it ends just as briskly. Earthquake absorbs punishment from Hammer for a while and then finishes it with the Quake splash. *
– The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory. The Parade O’ Squashes continues, as LOD wipes out Roma and Hercules in something like 8 seconds with the Doomsday Device. Next. DUD
– Ted Dibiase v. Virgil. I assume y’all know the story here. Virgil turns on Dibiase at Royal Rumble to go face, and turns to Roddy Piper for training advice. This was just after Piper’s first hip replacement surgery, which is covered by a “motorcycle accident” story. Virgil boxes with Dibiase to start, as he plays the role of a manager who is learning to wrestle, even though he really can wrestle. Dibiase gains control for a bit, then goes outside to shove the crippled Piper off his chair. Cheap but effective. Dibiase comes off the ropes and Piper hooks the ropes with the crutch, giving Virgil the countout win. I believe this was clipped. Dibiase puts Virgil out with the Million Dollar Dream and Piper limps in to make the save with his crutch, drawing Sherri out of the dressing room as Dibiase’s new manager. They destroy Piper’s knee for fun. Match is 1/2* if that. Danny Davis tries to take the crutch away from Piper and Piper lets him have it right in the nuts. EEEEEEEE-YOWCH!
– The Mountie v. Tito Santana. One last match before the main. You’d think Tito would have lost the Strike Force tights TWO YEARS after the breakup. Very quick match as Tito goes after Mountie in the ropes and Jimmy Hart gives Mountie the cattle prod to allow an easy pinfall. DUD
– WWF World title match: Sgt. Slobber v. Hulk Hogan. One year after the most interesting angle of Hogan’s career (to that time, anyway), he’s back to fighting the Evil Foreign Menace. Hogan hammers on Sarge for the first 6 or 7 minutes, but Slaughter catches him coming off the top rope (!) to take control. Hogan blades after a chairshot. This is a really, really long match for Hogan. I would just like to note right now that I would give good money to see Hogan come back to the WWF and win the World title right away, then defend it at the Survivor Series. Against Bret Hart. With Vince McMahon at ringside. I think that would be enough of an apology for Bret. I’d love just to see the look on Hulk’s face after being screwed. That would be so glorious. Anyway, the usual Hogan match follows here, as Slobber puts him in the dread REAR CHINLOCK OF HIDEOUS DISCOMFORT, but Hogan fights out, rips up the Iraqi flag, hits the big boot and legdrop, and gets the WWF title for the third time. And that’s that. **1/4
The Bottom Line: This show has a bad rap for some reason, but barring the main event it’s really quite good for a WWF show. All the faces went over in the important matches, and the heels went over where it was needed to build them up. And the bad stuff was short.