WM PPV Countdown: #22 – WrestleMania VII

In the early days of WrestleMania it has been speculated that Vince McMahon used to book the major rivalries for the next year’s show and then work backwards a year in order to make it a reality. So after WrestleMania VI it seemed as if things would build to a rematch at WrestleMania VII between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Unfortunately real life intervened and plans changed.

Ultimate Warrior wasn’t drawing in crowds like the company had hoped and then the first Iraq war happened in 1990. It gave the company the bright idea to turn American Hero and real life G.I.Joe Sgt. Slaughter into an American turncoat and an Iraqi sympathizer. Slaughter beat The Warrior for the WWF World Championship at Royal Rumble and Hulk Hogan won the Royal Rumble match setting the stage for the big feel good moment. While Hogan versus Slaughter would have been a money match for the first WrestleMania, by WrestleMania VII Slaughter was past his prime and the war was already done, making the main event quite flat.

McMahon had high hopes for WrestleMania VII after selling out the SkyDome in Toronto the year previous and booked WrestleMania VII for the outdoor Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which could’ve drawn nearly 100,000 people if sold out. But the WWF claimed that due to death threats against Slaughter they moved the event to the adjacent indoor and much smaller LA Memorial Sports Arena. Analysts claim the real reason for the change was due to poor lead up ticket sales.

In addition to Hogan-Slaughter the card was stacked with a staggering thirteen other matches, with nearly half being short filler match between opponents with no real rivalries. It was a way for the company to say thank you to the talent for their work over the year by giving them a big WrestleMania payday, but it made for a long show.

WrestleMania VII featured a lot of duds, probably most notably the terrible Blindfold Match that blew off the long-standing feud between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Rick “The Model” Martel. While on paper it seemed like a good idea to use a blindfold match to end a rivalry that started over Martel blinding Roberts with cologne, the match just failed in an in-ring sense.

Amidst the filler there were a few bright spots. WrestleMania VII featured the debut of The Undertaker, as the company’s new Phenom beat the company’s resident Phenom Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka in a passing of the torch moment. No one knew it at the time but that seemingly nothing bout would start Undertaker on the path to his now famed 17-0 WrestleMania winning streak. Plus “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase’s long time bodyguard Virgil had broke free of DiBiase’s tutelage and beat DiBiase to start his own singles career. Also Andre the Giant made his last appearance at WrestleMania as he aided Big Boss Man in taking down Mr. Perfect and The Bobby Heenan Family.

But the true memorable moment of the night was the Retirement Match between The Ultimate Warrior and “Macho King” Randy Savage. The two men put on a 20-minute classic, easily one of Warrior’s two or three best matches of his career. After an exhaustive and intense match, Warrior stood tall and pinned Savage with one foot on his chest. As Warrior left the ring in celebration, Savage’s manager Sensational Sherri starting verbally and physically berating Savage, realizing she had just lost her meal ticket. Then from the crowd here comes Miss Elizabeth, the former in-ring valet for The Macho Man and his real-life wife. She jumped the ringside barricade and threw Sherri out of the ring. As Savage rose to his feet he looked as saw Elizabeth staring back at him, with tears in her eyes. They soon embraced as Savage apologized for all the drama and turmoil he put her through while she served as his manager. Savage then lifted her onto his shoulder like he done so many times in the past as the crowd came to their feet and came unglued with their appreciation. Then in a moment almost more poignant than anything else, Savage held the ropes open for Elizabeth, allowing her to leave first, which was a stark throwback to all the days of Elizabeth holding the ropes open for Macho Man. Savage entered the ring that night as one of the most reviled men in the WWF, but left more popular than he had ever been in his lifetime. That match and moment saved WrestleMania from being the worst ever.

Match Results:
– Koko B. Ware beat The Brooklyn Brawler in a dark match before the pay per view went on the air.
– The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) beat Haku & The Barbarian.
– “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich pinned Dino Bravo.
– “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith pinned The Warlord.
– The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) beat The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) (c) to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships.
– Jake “The Snake” Roberts beat Rick Martel in a Blindfold Match.
– The Undertaker pinned Superfly Jimmy Snuka.
– The Ultimate Warrior pinned “Macho King” Randy Savage in a Retirement Match.
– Tenryu & Kitao beat Demolition (Smash & Crush).
– The Big Boss Man beat Mr. Perfect by disqualification in an Intercontinental Championship match.
– Earthquake pinned Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.
– The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) beat Power & Glory (Hercules & Paul Roma).
– Virgil beat “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase by count out.
– The Mountie pinned Tito Santana.
– Hulk Hogan pinned Sgt. Slaughter (c) to win the WWF World Championship.

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