â€œNothing capable of being memorized is history.â€ – R. G. Collingwood
The Opening Chapter
When you are only five years old, you probably donâ€™t remember a whole lot. But, you are also quite impressionable at that age as well. So when I was five years old and stumbled upon some WWF action on a February 1989 night I was immediately intrigued. It was my first wrestling that I ever remember laying my eyes on. I was hooked. It turns out I was watching an NBC prime time special put on by the WWF, dubbed â€œThe Main Event.â€
Nineteen years later I am still a professional wrestling fan. My love for wrestling has only grown through the years when friends and family assumed it was only a â€œthingâ€ and my enjoyment of it would pass. Here I am nineteen years to the month later to tell you all about it.
The Main Event
What I was watching was Hulk Hogan and â€œThe Macho Manâ€ Randy Savage taking Akeem & The Big Bossman. It was apparently The Mega-Powers versus The Twin Towers. A beautiful woman named Miss Elizabeth was in the corner of Hogan and Savage and a skinny black guy named Slick was in the Boosman & Akeem corner. Savage was the WWF World Heavyweight Champion at the time.
The story goes that Hogan and Savage had been friends and partners for a while but they had been getting into fights recently and werenâ€™t really on the same page. This ended up being their explosion and the set-up to their monstrous WrestleMania V pay per view.
From what I remember of the match from my initial viewing was that the Twin Towers were in control and ended up throwing Savage outside of the ring where he landed unintentionally on Miss Elizabeth. Savage came back into the ring to continue the match while Hogan jumped down to help Elizabeth. He ended up carrying her to the back for medical attention while Savage continued to get pounded by Akeem & Bossman. Hogan soon returned to ringside to help out Savage. When Savage regained his composure he went over to his corner for a tag. He slapped Hogan in the face and walked off. Hogan put himself into a rage and took out both opponents. I remember him bodyslamming both guys, which was incredibly impressive to me considering their size and my impressionable mind, and getting the win.
But that was only the beginning of the story. After the match Hogan went to the backstage area where Elizabeth was still being looked after. Savage was there as well and accused Hogan of trying to steal Elizabeth. The two men got into a brawl backstage with Savage getting the upper hand. This officially signaled Savageâ€™s return to being a heel and kicked off huge moneymaking angle for the pair.
Apparently what was left of the program was used for a Hercules-â€œMillion $ Manâ€ Ted DiBiase match that stemmed from when DiBiase apparently tried to buy Hercules as his â€œslave.â€ I guess DiBiase won the match and essentially the feud. I donâ€™t remember any of that, but the events before it are still etched into my mind.
At this point and time WWF was still riding high off the popularity of the â€œRock â€˜nâ€™ Wrestling Eraâ€ from a couple years previous and were still in good graces of NBC. Thus they were allowed a monthly Saturday Nightâ€™s Main Event as a replacement for Saturday Night Live and these Friday night Main Event broadcasts at random intervals. They made the most of this broadcast television outlet they were given and hit one out of the ballpark.
Looking back this program also featured some elements that were rarely used by the World Wrestling Federation at the time. Up until this point, Miss Elizabeth had never become physically involved in the action. She was always just a beautiful sight who stayed on the outside of the ring and stood by The Macho Man at every turn. So when she was taken down it was a big deal. She wasnâ€™t a trained pro wrestler and wasnâ€™t treated like one. Thatâ€™s what set herself from other females and managers in the WWF at the time.
Then after match when they showed Hogan and Savage brawling backstage it was another new convention for the WWF. Other than pre-match interviews, fans never got a glimpse of any sort of backstage area. So to see the two top guys at the time brawling in such a foreign location it stood out at something really special. Nowadays you canâ€™t turn on a wrestling broadcast without some sort of backstage brawl, but back then it was quite a treat. That type of brawl was only used in top card programs on special occasions, so as not to lose their luster. Perhaps thatâ€™s why it so memorable to this day.
Since this initial program, Hogan and Savageâ€™s careers have become intrinsically entwined, and have quite the love-hate relationship not only on television and but apparently behind the scenes as well. Even to this day people still talk about the Hogan-Savage rivalry that apparently is still simmering today.
This match and angle set off a huge rivalry. This was the type of money drawing program that the WWF and WrestleMania used to be known for. Itâ€™s been rumored that Vince McMahon used to book the top card of the next yearâ€™s WrestleMania and then book backwards for the next year. In this type of situation itâ€™s easy to see the credence in that theory. From the moment Randy Savage won the WWF Championship at the WrestleMania IV the seeds were sown for the eventual Savage-Hogan showdown a year later.
Nowadays itâ€™s virtually impossible to book like that thanks to the abundance of television, pay per view and intangibles that happen over the course of a year. I mean theyâ€™ve been rumoring Randy Orton-Triple H for WrestleMania for like four years now and it still hasnâ€™t happened.
Who knew that my first view of professional wrestling would have such a profound impact on the business at the time and produce lingering effects still felt today. Next year will be the twentieth anniversary of this historic match and angle. Could we perhaps see a Hogan-Savage bout at WrestleMania XXV, a rematch twenty years in the making? Oooh yeaahh!!
For this week the vault is closedâ€¦
Linked to the Pulse
David B. gives brief synopsis of the first couple seasons of Tough Enough.
Mikey F. drops in for a random review of WWF Beware of Dog from back in the day.
Blatt spends his time listing ECWâ€™s jobbers. If Stevie Richards beats James Curtis next week Iâ€™ll give him a dollar.
This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.
1986 – Jake Roberts defeated Dick Slater for the Mid-South North American Heavyweight title
1994 – Eddie Gilbert defeated Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified Heavyweight title
1994 – Brian Christopher defeated Doug Gilbert for the USWA Southern Heavyweight title
1996 – Brian Christopher defeated Tommy Rich for the USWA Southern Heavyweight title
1996 – Jesse James Armstrong & Tracey Smothers defeated PG-13 for the USWA Tag Team title
1999 – WWF St. Valentine’s Massacre was held at The Pyramid in Memphis, TN
1999 – Val Venis defeated Ken Shamrock for the WWF Intercontinental title
1999 – Bob Holly defeated Al Snow for the WWF Hardcore title
2001 – Randy Orton defeated Mr. Black for the Ohio Valley Wrestling Hardcore title
1948 – Big John Studd was born
1965 – Ken Shamrock was born
1968 – Tommy Dreamer was born
It’s important to know your history to know where you have come from and where you are going. Back when Nova was in charge of the WWE developmental system he implemented mandatory history assignments for the students of the developmental territories so they would know pro wrestling’s history and they would learn just how many moves Nova created and apparently the best ways to get on-line prescriptions. I feel Nova had a great idea there and every week I will assign a book or DVD for you to check out and learn from. They are not only educational but very entertaining.
I recently got Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling DVD sent to me via Blockbuster Total Access. Itâ€™s a documentary created in 2004 by director Ruth Leitman that highlights girl wrestlers from back in the â€™50s and profiles what they went through. Six women wrestlers are highlighted especially but the most well-known to todayâ€™s fans include The Great Moolah and Mae Young. The film is primarily filled with clips talking to these six women, recalling their times growing up, what it was like in the business those days and what they are up to now. The director said they are chosen because they all had connections to famed womenâ€™s wrestling promoter Billy Wolfe. All six had their comments about Wolfe, pretty much agreeing he was typical schyster-like promoter who would sleep with his wrestlers and take half their earnings. Moolah was also the topic of all the other women, as she became a top womenâ€™s wrestling promoter across the country. The others, save for Mae, also had strong polarizing feelings for Moolah in regards to her promoting tactics.
The documentary is fairly interesting for hardcore wrestling fans, but at some points I even felt bored or uninterested in the story. The DVD has some nice extras that I didnâ€™t expect, including some entertaining little deleted scenes and features. It was entertaining for a rental but I wouldnâ€™t put it on my must have list. Itâ€™s probably better suited for hardcore wrestling fans and big fans of womenâ€™s wrestling. It is a bit jarring to hear these old ladies still talking in some kayfabe, including one who said she never was told to lose a match during her twenty-something year career. Moolah also talked of pinning Wendi Richter for the WWF Womenâ€™s Championship as if it were either a shoot or a work Richter was in on, and not the planned screwjob it apparently was.