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 SmarK Retro Re-Rant for Wrestlemania VII
– This is from an original Coliseum tape that I bought from a video store years ago, so it’s clipped. Fun fact: I’ve never seen the full version of this show, because they stopped showing Wrestlemania on closed-circuit after VI, and PPV didn’t come to Edmonton until Summerslam 92. This is also the last Coliseum version to be clipped, because from then on the PPV broadcast had to conform to the 2:40 standard.
– Live from Los Angeles, CA.
– Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and a rotating crew of color men.
– Opening match: Haku & Barbarian v. The Rockers. This was a weird time for the Rockers, because they were constantly trying to tease the breakup, but Shawn was having the best matches of his career up until that point. Common wisdom was the newly-pushed Haku & Barbarian getting the easy win here. Haku grabs a headlock on Shawn and then rams him backfirst into the corner and whips him around, but Shawn escapes into a criss-cross, and gets a shoulderblock to take him down. They trade wristlocks and Haku slugs away, but Marty comes in for a double elbow and Barbarian hits both of them with a clothesline, for a Double Jannetty Sell. They respond with a double superkick, and the heels bail. Good stuff. Back in, Barbarian chops on Marty and headbutts him down, but Marty uses speed to evade him and tries a sunset flip. Barbarian blocks it, so Marty goes up with a rana instead. That gets two. Barbarian headbutts him again and brings in Haku for more headbutts, but Marty tries another rana, which gets turned into a hotshot to turn the tide and make Marty YOUR alcoholic-in-peril. Haku with a back elbow and Barbarian adds some double-teaming, and then a press slam. He cuts off the tag by drawing Shawn in, and some shenanigans in the heel corner result. Marty & Haku collide, but Haku recovers first and stomps away. Marty takes another hard bump into the corner and Haku follows with a pair of backbreakers, and we’re clipped a bit to Barbarian going up and missing a diving headbutt. Hot tag Shawn and he hammers on Barbarian in the corner and hits Haku with a crossbody, and then follows with a neckbreaker for two. Haku goes to the eyes, but Shawn gets a sunset flip for one. It’s BONZO GONZO and Barbarian gets dumped, and the Rockers both go up with a missile dropkick from Marty to set up a high cross from Shawn that finishes at 8:40. Super hot opener, with the classic big man v. little man dynamic. ***1/4
– Kerry Von Erich v. Dino Bravo. Kerry was already nearing the end of his usefulness to the WWF at this point, less than a year into his run with them. Bravo attacks to start and dumps Kerry, and they brawl outside. Back in, Kerry comes back with an atomic drop and slugs away, but Bravo blocks the clawhold. Kerry charges and hits knee, and Bravo follows with an atomic drop and elbow for two. Bravo tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but Kerry fights him off, so Bravo gets the sideslam for two. Kerry comes back with the claw and finishes with the Discus Punch at 2:45. Real bad. DUD
– Warlord v. The British Bulldog. They fight over a lockup and Warlord gets a quick knee, but Bulldog overpowers him and he bails. Back in, Warlord counters a crucifix with a samoan drop, and we’re obviously clipped via a rant from Slick outside. Warlord tries the full-nelson, but Bulldog fights out and finishes with the powerslam at 2:30. About a million edits here, and that’s probably for the best. DUD
– WWF tag team titles: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys. Sags gets a cheapshot out of the corner to start and pounds away, but Bret comes back with a Thesz Press and an atomic drop on Knobs. We’re clipped to Knobs coming in and going with Anvil, slugging away in the corner and losing that battle. Hiptoss out of the corner and Neidhart sends him to the floor, and the Nasties regroup again. Back in, Neidhart works the arm, but gets caught in the heel corner and Sags pounds him with forearms, until Neidhart brings Bret back in. Bret fires away in the corner on Sags and gets the legsweep, setting up the second-rope elbow for two. Knobs sneaks in and catches him with a clothesline from the back to turn the tide, however, and Bret gets dumped. Back in, Sags whips Bret around and gets a backbreaker for two. Sags goes to a rear chinlock, but Bret has a nice reversal into a neckbreaker. He tries for the tag, but Knobs draws Neidhart in, thus cutting it off, and goes back to the rear chinlock on Bret. Bret powers out to escape, and again they sucker Anvil in, but their double-team backfires, as Sags whips Knobs into the corner and Bret makes a false tag to Anvil. The megaphone gets involved, but Knobs hits Sags by mistake, hot tag Neidhart. He cleans house and clotheslines both Nasties, and elbows Knobs down for two. Powerslam gets two. Bret comes in and it’s BONZO GONZO, as he chases Sags around, and into a collision with Knobs. The Harts get the Hart Attack on Knobs, but the ref escorts Bret out, and a helmet to the head of Anvil finishes at 8:55 and we have new champions. Solid stuff with all the tag team formula spots, although about 5 minutes was missing so the full version might have been better or worse, hard to say. ***
– Blindfold match: Jake Roberts v. Rick Martel. This is a legendary match, for all the wrong reasons, as Martel blinded Jake to set it up. Maybe it was just the cheap rotgut he was drinking at the time? So yeah, both guys are wearing hoods, which they can obviously see through in reality. The idea is that Jake points to where Martel is, and the crowd cheers to lead him on. They wander around the ring and Jake trips Martel up for two. Martel pounds him on the mat and tries a backdrop, but Jake just moves out of the way. Now, why wouldn’t someone do that all the time? Talk about exposing the inherent logic gaps of the business. They bump into each other again, but they can’t find each other. Nothing like non-contact to spice up a match. Martel finally gets a slam, but Jake just stands up to dodge an elbowdrop. Martel accidentally gropes Damian and retreats to the other corner. Jake finally finds him and grabs a headlock, but Martel dumps him. Martel follows like an idiot and grabs a chair, but of course can’t find him. Back in, Martel gets a backbreaker and the Boston Crab, but Jake powers out. Martel is dazed, DDT, goodnight at 6:09. There’s a reason why you don’t see many blindfold matches well ever, really. -***
– Jimmy Snuka v. The Undertaker. Despite still being a heel, the pop Undertaker gets for the opening “bongÃ¢â‚¬Â is pretty impressive. Callaway had the character down cold from day one. Snuka charges to start and gets hammered in the corner as a result. Taker chokes away and gets the flying clothesline, and then fights off a charge with a knee that sends Snuka to the floor. Suplex back in, but an elbow misses. Snuka tries to fight back with a headbutt, but misses a crossbody attempt and splats on the floor. Back in, Taker finishes with the tombstone at 4:18. The only purpose was to make Taker look a killer, and that’s what it did. Â½*
– Retirement match: Ultimate Warrior v. Randy Savage. In retrospect, the wrong guy went over. Thankfully, Warrior WALKS to the ring for once, conserving energy instead of blowing up in the first 30 seconds. They fight over a lockup to start and Savage actually gives a clean break, but Warrior powers him down. Savage knees him and goes to the eyes to gain the advantage, but Warrior overpowers him again and he bails. Back in, Warrior clotheslines him and gets a two-handed choke, into an atomic drop, both ways. See, Warrior can mix up the moveset when he needed to. Sherri tries running in, so Warrior tosses Savage into her and slugs Savage down. Savage gets tied in the ropes and Warrior stomps on him, then puts his head down and Savage hits him with the clothesline and goes up. Crossbody (!?) is caught by Warrior, but he just puts him down and slaps him. OOOOOOOO. Savage bails and tosses a chair in to distract the ref, then attacks Warrior from behind, but that gets him nowhere. This is cool because it’s about Savage losing his temper and Warrior not acting like a maniac for once, because it’s so important to him. Warrior stomps a mudhole in the corner and slugs Savage down, but misses a blind charge, his first high-impact offensive attempt, and Sherri gives him a shot on the floor. Savage follows with an axehandle to the floor, but Warrior shoves Sherri away, which again allows Savage to attack him. Again, when Warrior stays calm he’s in control, but when he loses it Savage takes over. Back in, Savage drops a knee for two. Gorilla then makes a ridiculous statement, that it’s the ‘largest audience in the history of PPV’, like they would know the buyrate an hour into the show. Warrior gets a backslide for two and Savage takes a powder, but Warrior catches him coming in with a clothesline. He misses the shoulderblock, however, and Savage gets two. We hit the chinlock and Warrior powers out, and they criss-cross into a double-clothesline, and both are out. Sherri distracts the ref while Warrior cradles Savage, and that gets two. Warrior loses his temper again and the ref gets bumped as a result, after a botched editing job, and Sherri goes in, hitting Savage with her shoe by mistake. Warrior goes after her again, again making a dumb mistake, and Savage rolls him up for two. Warrior slugs him down, but Savage sends him into the turnbuckle and necksnaps him. Another necksnap on the top and Savage clubs him down, slamming him for two. He goes up with the flying elbow, and then since it’s a special occasion, drops four more. You’d THINK would be enough to beat him, but it only gets two. Given that Savage was going to come back, they shouldn’t have done that, but it didn’t hurt the move in the long run, since Savage would start pinning guys with it again anyway. Warrior fights up, however, and slugs Savage down, setting up the THREE CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM and the gorilla press. Unlike the year before, he has enough strength left to actually pull it off correctly this time. The splash gets two. The crowd is a little shocked by that. Warrior gets all freaked out and talks to his hands (maybe Jake slipped him a little something before the match?) and apparently the answer is to walk away from the match, which allows Savage to recover. Savage knocks him off the apron and puts him on the railing, but misses the flying axehandle and knocks himself silly. And now it’s the big comeback for Warrior, as he tosses Savage back into the ring, hits him with three shoulderblocks, and ends his career (well, forever IS a short time in wrestling) at 20:47. Easily Warrior’s best match ever, and one of my personal favorites of all-time, as Warrior paced himself and they delivered a great storyline and Savage worked his ass off. ****1/2 This is THE reason to see this show.
– And then of course the big angle which followed, as Sherri turned on the fallen Savage and beat on him, drawing Elizabeth out of the crowd to make the save and thus reunite with Savage and turn him into the #1 babyface in the promotion, moments after his “retirementÃ¢â‚¬Â. It still works, no matter how many times, and they’d be well advised to try the same thing with Trish and Jericho on Sunday. Unfortunately, Savage’s descent into dementia in the real world and Elizabeth’s ugly end while shacked up with Lex Luger would mean that the storybook romance wouldn’t have a happy ending, but sometimes it’s nice to remember when it MIGHT have.
– Demolition v. Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao. This is the Bryan Adams version of Demolition. Crush starts with Kitao, but gets kneed and hammered on the ropes. Mr. Fuji hits him with the cane for good measure, and Smash comes in, but Kitao brings Tenryu in, a young and spry 40 or so at that point, and he goes up with the elbow, but misses. Crush gets a backbreaker and Smash gets a backdrop suplex to set up Decapitation, but Kitao breaks it up. Crush goes back up, but gets shoved off again, and Tenryu hits Smash with an enzuigiri and powerbombs him for the pin at 2:50. No idea what the point of this was, but it sure sucked. Crush & Smash went their separate ways after this. DUD
– Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman. This was the blowoff of the lengthy Bossman v. Heenan feud, with Bobby insulting Bossman’s mama for months, and Bossman running through the entire Heenan family to get revenge. Standard logic had Bossman going over to finish the job here. Gorilla again repeats the nonsense about the largest PPV audience. Just to clarify, VI did a 3.8 buyrate, and this one did 2.8. They exchange slaps to start and Perfect does a spinning sell of one, and Bossman gives him a hairtoss. He slugs Perfect into the corner and gets a clothesline that Perfect oversells with zeal, and then tosses Perfect to the floor. Back in, another shot puts Perfect over the top again. Bossman goes after the Brain, however, and that allows Perfect to send him into the stairs. However, Andre the Giant heads out to even things up. In the ring, Perfect hammers on Bossman, while Andre grabs the IC title. Perfect rams Bossman into an exposed turnbuckle and goes after Andre, and gets the belt in the face for his troubles. Bossman comes back and gets two, and Haku & Barbarian run in for the DQ at 4:35. This didn’t get going at all, which is a shame because Bossman was on a killer run at the time. *
– Earthquake v. Greg Valentine. Valentine had turned face by means which I don’t remember or care about. Quake attacks him in the corner and powerslams him for two. Blind charge misses and Hammer starts chopping and elbowing. Earthquake finally goes down and Valentine drops another elbow to set up the figure-four, but let’s face it, that’s pretty stupid. Jimmy Hart distracts him and Quake finishes with the butt splash at 3:14. Â½*
– The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory. The pre-match interview is longer and more entertaining than the match, as the LOD storm in, dispose of Hercules, and finish Paul Roma with the Doomsday Device at 0:55. This ended the usefulness of Power & Glory as a heel team, which was kind of a shame because they were really over and basically being used better than they had been in years. DUD
– Ted Dibiase v. Virgil. Roddy Piper was ‘training’ Virgil to build up to this and was in his corner, but had a motorcycle accident and thus he was on crutches. Virgil starts punching and Dibiase goes down, and bails. Back in, Virgil takes him down, so Dibiase responds with a drop toehold and chops him in the corner. Back elbow and gutwrench suplex get two. Dibiase tosses him and then shoves Piper down, and back in powerslams Virgil. Piper pulls down the ropes, however, and Dibiase is counted out at 4:36. Barely a match. Â¼* Sherri makes her return, now aligned with Dibiase
– The Mountie v. Tito Santana. Quick squash for the Mountie before the main event, as Tito gets a quick flying forearm, only to be shocked with the tazer and pinned at 1:19. DUD
– WWF title match: Sgt. Slaughter v. Hulk Hogan. It’s weird, because even six years earlier this would have been quite the dream match. They fight over the lockup to start, and Hogan powers him down. The show may have bombed, but the heat is huge. Hogan grabs a headlock and overpowers him again. They brawl outside and Hogan goes after Adnan, which allows Slaughter to hit him with a chair. Hogan no-sells that and tosses him back in, but Slaughter goes to the eyes and slugs away. Back elbow and Slaughter drops some knees to work on the neck, but misses an elbow. Hogan comes back with a clothesline and goes after Adnan, then hits Slaughter with an elbow in the corner. Atomic drop gets two. They brawl outside again and back in, where Hogan gets the Axe Bomber for two. He sends Slaughter into the post and backdrops him out of the corner, then whips him into the corner again. High knee into the corner and Hogan catapults him into the post , as the ringpost proves to be a more effective worker than Hogan. Hogan follows him into the corner with a clothesline and fires away with punches, then back into the other turnbuckle again for two. Hotshot and elbows, and Hogan GOES UP? Adnan trips him up and Slaughter slams him off, and they brawl outside, where Slaughter chokes him out with a cable. Back in, he goes to work on the back and gets a backbreaker for two. He keeps stomping on the back and goes into a Boston crab, using Adnan for extra leverage. Hogan makes the ropes. Back to the back, as he drops knees on it and comes off the top with a knee for two. Weird spot as Adnan stupidly distracts the ref while Slaughter had a clear pinfall on Hogan. Slaughter hits Hogan with a chair, drawing blood, and I assume THAT’S where Adnan was supposed to be distracting the ref. Short clothesline sets up the camel clutch, and only in THIS storyline could a rear chinlock be a deadly finishing move. At least it made sense within the context of the match, and Slaughter’s abuse of the back. Hogan powers out of it like in 1984 against Sheik, but Slaughter apparently saw that match and reverses him into the corner. He covers Hogan with the flag and gets two, and it’s Hulk Up Time. Hogan rips up the flag, which is actually a huge breach of international etiquette, and it’s punch punch punch big boot legdrop and he’s a 3-time champion at 20:23. This was actually quite good for a Hogan match, with Slaughter bumping a lot and carrying the pace and psychology. ***1/2 Taken out of the context of the horrible storyline and tasteless buildup to the match, it’s actually a fine main event.
The Bottom Line:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This show gets a MAJOR bad rap, as there’s four ***+ matches and one genuine classic in Warrior-Savage. Sure, the rest is junk, but the crowd was really hot and the main event delivered, so I think it’s a worthwhile show.
Tags: Randy Savage, Scott Keith, SmarK Rant, Ultimate Warrior