The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania V
– Live from Atlantic City, New Jersey, just like the year before, original airdate April 2/1989.
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura.
– Opening match: King Haku v. Hercules. Haku was still being semi-pushed and Hercules was in his eternal state of limbo. It goes back and forth for about two minutes and then Herc hits a belly-to-back for the pin. This was severely clipped because I remember it being longer and more boring while watching it live in 89. The clipped version was pretty watchable. **1/2
– The Rockers v. Big Bossman & Akeem. The Rockers were hungover like shit here, and Jannetty was stoned. Rockers stay out of the way with quick moves until Jannetty gets caught with a bearhug and pounded by the Towers. Michaels gets the hot tag and the Rockers double team Akeem with a double shoulderblock. Akeem catches Michaels with a deadly clothesline that draws “OOooohs”. Rockers come back with a double dropkick from the top on Bossman, but Michaels takes another shitkicking and gets powerbombed off a rana attempt, then splashed and pinned by Akeem. Fun big v. little match. **
– Brutus Beefcake v. Ted Dibiase. Stalling to start, then a slugfest and Dibiase takes over and destroys Beefcake. Beefcake escapes the Million Dollar Dream and comes back, hooking his own sleeper. Virgil baits him out of the ring, Dibiase chases, and we have a double-countout. Standard PrimeTime Wrestling main event. *1/4 Virgil gets beat up after the decision. This really had no place on PPV except to remind everyone that both guys are still around.
– The Fabulous Rougeaus v. The Sheepwhackers. Case in point, this match. Gorilla and Jesse have a hilarious discussion about which of them was retired first. Rougeaus double-team Luke right off the bat and control for most of the match. Luke does something vaguely resembling selling. Jacques tries to start a “USA” chant but the crowd isn’t buying. Rougeaus celebrate after their abdominal-stretch/superkick combo and Butch sneaks in and they do the battering ram and stomach breaker on Jacques for the upset win. 1/4*
– Curt Hennig v. The Blue Blazer. This was the debut of the style of tights Hennig still wears to this day. Hennig pulls out the first MAN-SIZED bump, going over the top on a dropkick, then Blazer baseball slides him. Back in and Owen with some more wrestling sequences to keep control. Nasty spot as Owen goes for a Money Shot but lands, unsupported, right on Hennig’s knees. Match is clipped to Owen getting a crucifix for two, but Hennig gets the Perfectplex for the win. Good match. ***1/2
– Gratuitous washed-up celebrity appearance: Run DMC does a song. I’ve got that damn DX remix stuck in my head yet again now.
– WWF World tag team title, handicap match: Demolition v. The Powers of Pain & Mr. Fuji. The Demos were at the height of their power and popularity here. The match itself was set up by the Demos getting double-crossed by Fuji at the Survivor Series. Standard Demos-Powers match, with Fuji of course getting cheap shots in now and then. Crowd doesn’t care about this one. Fuji misses a big move off the top ad Ax makes the hot tag to Smash. Chaos erupts and Fuji goes for the CEREMONIAL SALT OF DOOM, which misses, and Fuji is left alone with the Demos. Mr. Fuji, RIP. Demos retain. 1/4*
– Dino Bravo v. Ronnie Garvin. After the intros, Finkel introduces Jimmy Snuka, who wanders out, takes a bow, then leaves. Well, that was pointless. Much like this match, as Bravo proceeds to squash Garvin. Garvin comes back with some token offense but Bravo inevitably gets the side suplex for the pin. Not horrible or anything. *
– The Brainbusters v. Strike Force. Martel had his ass kicked by Demolition so severely that he was put on the shelf for 10 months, and this is his comeback match. Fantastic little NWA-style match to start, as Strike Force pulls out some great double-teams and get their finishers on the Busters early. Santana accidentally hits Martel and knocks him off the apron, and Rick proceeds to do a 5-minute melodramatic oversell of a shot to the head. But there would be a point. Tito takes an absolute shitkicking from the heels as they cheat outrageously. Tito slams Arn off the top and crawls over with his last breath to tag Martel…who promptly walks out on him, drawing a huge heel pop. The result is academic, as the Busters finish Tito with a SWEET spike piledriver for the pin. Bitchin match. ***3/4
– Piper’s Pit with Brother Love. Piper is introduced first with a huge introduction from Finkel, but Brother Love comes out wearing a kilt, and proceeds to do the best Piper imitation I’ve ever heard, “interviewing” himself. Morton Downey Jr. comes out next and runs down Brother Love while puffing on cigarettes non-stop. If you don’t know who Downey is, don’t worry, you’re not alone — his fifteen minutes of fame were up faster than John Wayne Bobbit’s. Piper finally comes out and takes over, humiliating Love and ripping off his kilt, which sends him scurrying back to the dressing room. That leaves Downey, who has been throwing cancer sticks at Piper the whole time. Downey gets a wicked verbal jab in at Piper. Piper: “Why do you call yourself Morton Downey Jr.?” Morton: “That’s the name your mama gave me.” More sparring, and after a bunch of smoke being blown in Piper’s face, Piper finds a fire extinguisher and sprays it on Downey. Pretty funny stuff.
– Jake Roberts v. Andre the Giant. This was during the “Andre is afraid of snakes” period. John Studd is the special referee. They lumber around for a while and then overbooking takes over as the snake gets pulled out and Ted Dibiase runs in. Studd brawls with Andre and Dibiase brawls with Roberts and the whole thing is a big wash. DUD
– The Hart Foundation v. Greg Valentine & Honky Tonk Man. Another filler match. Things go back and forth aimlessly for a bit and then a pier-six erupts, during which Bret gets the megaphone and bops HTM for the pin. Bleh. 1/2*
– Intercontinental title match: The Ultimate Warrior v. Rick Rude. Longer than usual match for Warrior, as he misses a splash and hits Rude’s knees, giving Rude control. BEARHUG OF DOOM bores the crowd before Warrior makes his superman(iac) comeback, clotheslining Rude over the top rope. He suplexes Rude back in, but Heenan pulls out the most cliched cheap screwjob in history (although I’d never seen it at the time), hooking Warrior’s leg and resulting in a Rude pinfall, much to the disgust of the crowd. Who would have EVER thought that Warrior would lose at that point? Heenan gets clobbered by the Warrior after the match, which comes back to haunt him later. 1/2*
– Hacksaw Duggan v. Bad News Brown. The infamous “snot hanging out of his nose” match, so named because Duggan has, well, I’m sure you can guess. A typical Duggan brawl, once again to fill time in an already bloated PPV, which ends in both guys grabbing weapons for a double DQ. Whatever. DUD
– Bobby Heenan v. Terry Taylor. Because Heenan was beat up by Warrior, the match lasts 10 seconds as Heenan misses a charge and gets pinned by Taylor. DUD. The Brooklyn Brawler attacks Taylor after the match.
– WWF World title match: Randy Savage v. Hulk Hogan. Miss Elizabeth is in a neutral corner. And one year after winning the title in his building, it all comes full circle as Savage defends against Hogan. Btw, the champion should NEVER enter first. Jesse points that out, too, a couple of minutes after I typed that. Savage is just drawing unreal heel heat. He’s my hero. Chase erupts during the feeling out period, and Savage hides behind Liz. I’m surprised Hogan didn’t hit her. Hogan tries some wrestling (!) and Savage cheats like a motherf*cker to take over. Hairpulling, thumb to the eye, you name it. Scott Steiner, take note, that is the proper way to work it in. Savage works on the arm until Hogan tosses him out of the ring to break. Hogan comes back with his limited offense but puts his head down and Savage clobbers him, and Hogan blades. Another mini-comeback by Hogan fails and Savage knees Hogan into the corner. Jesse is in his glory cheering for Savage. Hogan hulks up and does the corner comeback, but his arm is still hurting. Savage takes a MAN-SIZED bump as Hogan slams him over the top to the floor. Liz helps him up and Savage takes a swing at her. Hogan and Savage brawl on the floor, and Hogan tries to do a battering ram job on Savage into the post. Liz blocks his path and Hogan ends up getting shoved into the post. Savage starts jawing with Liz, and Hebner finally has had enough and sends her back to the dressing room. Savage drops the double-axehandle to Hogan, ramming his head into the barricade. Crowd is getting into Savage. Necksnap and elbow on the apron throatfirst to work on the neck, then a kneedrop. Only gets two. Back to the Memphis stuff as Savage chokes Hulk out with the tape. Again, if used in moderation, it works. Savage chokes Hulk out, and then drops the big elbow…but Hogan no-sells. Hulk up. THREE PUNCHES OF DOOM, then the big foot, and the STINKY GIANT-KILLING LEGDROP and Hogan has his precious title back for a second time. “The crowd goes nuts” is putting it mildly. I was totally upset by this match the first time I saw it, but the more I watch it from a distance, the more I like it. I think it stands as one of Hogan’s best matches. **** Jesse goes off on a shoot-like rant during the posedown about what an egomaniac Hogan is and how he’ll stoop to any level to get his own way. Amen, Jess.
The Bottom Line: Hey, cut out the filler and you’ve got three killer matches and some fun stuff. A truly epic show to end the year-long Megapowers storyline and send everyone home happy. Hogan *had* to go over, no other ending would be justifiable. I liked the show, others disagree. I’m sure I’ll get disagreement for my Wrestlemania VI rant, which is coming up in the next few days, too.