Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF WrestleMania V (1989)

The World Wrestling Federation returns to Atlantic City for WrestleMania. Meanwhile, TBS fails to properly promote the fact that they have a Clash of the Champions card going on at the same time, headlined by WrestleMania IV participant Ricky Steamboat taking on Ric Flair. Like before, I’ll note where able the Crockett Collective Influence on this card.

Some other things before I get to that.

Aside from Ricky Steamboat, two other competitors from WrestleMania IV, Junkyard Dog and Butch Reed wrestled each other at Clash of the Champions VI: Ragin’ Cajun with JYD getting the win.

Run-D.M.C. performed their “WrestleMania Rap” at the event. Later on in the year, they would put forth a “Ghostbusters” Rap for Ghostbusters 2. Donald Trump is seated in the same spot he was the previous year’s WM and to show how good he is at taking direction, when Run-D.M.C. and Jam-Master Jay encourage the fans to put their hands together, the fans do so… and Trump puts his hands on his knees.

Roddy Piper also made his return to WM to host a Piper’s Pit segment in the ring in which he embarrassed Brother Love and then had whatever it was he had with Morton Downey Jr.

Downey had a TV talk show at the time and I remember it coming on at 10 pm weeknights. Lots of yelling, lots of shouting, lots of namecalling. It was fascinating in its own right and had Downey wanted to, he could’ve been a great shithead manager guy. Piper ends the segment by attacking Downey by way of fire extinguisher.

Also, something I usually ignore with these things, but will note here. The WWF Ladies’ Champion, Rockin’ Robin performed “America The Beautiful.” This marks the first time an active competitor has done this at WM. This is also the Ladies’ Division involvement for the entire card. The following WM will feature a mixed gender tag match, but there won’t be another title match in the division at WM until WrestleMania X in 1994 sees Alundra Blayze defend the WWF Women’s Championship against Leilani Kai. In any event, Trump doesn’t appear to grab Robin’s pussy.

Oh, and Jimmy Snuka showed up to say hi… and that’s about it. Onto the matches.

Something about watching these shows one after the other is after a while I start to notice certain patterns. One of them is Hercules Hernandez always coming up short on the big stage. At Survivor Series 1988, he got to celebrate being part of the winning team, but even then he had to suffer being eliminated. Then comes this match against King Haku. The King’s Crown is not on the line, but seeing as the opponent is calling himself “the mighty Hercules” I guess royalty might not necessarily be a concern. For some crazy reason I found myself incredibly happy the moment Hernandez scored the pinfall victory over Haku. After suffering year after year of WM futility, Herc finally gets a win. It’ll turn out to be his only WM win as he’ll go winless the next two years.

A man who for some reason has been tabbed “Mr. WrestleMania,” Shawn Michaels makes his WM debut, teaming with Rockers teammate Marty Janetty against the Twin Towers of Big Bossman and Akeem. To my knowledge this is the first WM match in which a former World Tag Team Championship duo (Rockers; AWA) take on a pair of former World Heavyweight level Champions (Twin Towers; both UWF). The Towers win and it’s gonna take a while for Michaels to find his footing on the big stage.

Brutus Beefcake continues his string of weird karma at WM, fighting Ted DiBiase to a double count out. Beefcake’s WM history up to this point includes a Double DQ against David Sammartino, losing the WWF World Tag Team Championship with Greg Valentine to the British Bulldogs, he and Valentine beating the Rougeau Brothers only to break up immediately after the match before returning to the ring to cut Adrian Adonis’ hair, getting a DQ win over WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion the Honky Tonk Man… and now a double count out. Beefcake’s weird karma at WM will finally take a turn for the better next year.

The Rougeau Brothers have picked up Jimmy Hart as their manager and even with that, they’re still unable to win on the big stage, this time losing to the Bushwhackers who make their WM debut.

Another pair of debuts occurs in the next match as Owen Hart, competing under a mask as the Blue Blazer loses to “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig.

Demolition improve to 2-0 at WM, scoring a win over the Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji in a 2-on-3 WWF World Tag Team title defense. Fuji’s switch from Demolition to the POP has not worked out and never does.

Ron Garvin, who apparently was never the same after his off-camera fight with Dusty Rhodes and his AWA rivalry with Greg Gagne, sees his once hands of stone fail him as he loses to Dino Bravo.

Our next match is something of an historical curiosity as a couple of wrestlers who competed at last year’s Clash against WM, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard aka the Brain Busters team up for their only WM match against a team that had largely split up, Strike Force. Here we have a battle of former NWA World Tag Team Champions and former WWF World Tag Team Champions. Santana and Martel, with Martel nursing an injury and missing much of 1988 had started wrestling as singles competitors again, but came back together for this match. WM in Atlantic City has been kind to Demolition, but to the team Demolition beat the previous year, Strike Force it’s a nightmare. It all culminates in a moment of accident, where Santana unintentionally blasts Martel with the Flying Forearm. Martel finally has enough and walks away from the match, making it easier for the Busters to get the win.

John Studd, the winner of the Royal Rumble back in January gets to serve as referee for Andre the Giant against Jake Roberts. Roberts gets the win by DQ with Andre going after Studd. This turns out to be Studd’s last WM and PPV appearance before leaving the WWF later in the Summer.

The Hart Foundation defeat the Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine, before that duo would fully embrace the Rhythm & Blues idea. This match is remarkable on a number of levels. First there’s the Hart Foundation scoring a win over a team managed by their former manager Jimmy Hart. There’s the fact that this is the HF’s fourth WM and only the first time they’ve competed in a regular tag match. Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart will spend the next two WM’s competing in tag matches for a grand total of 3, 2 of which are against Jimmy Hart managed teams.

Rick Rude, with a little cheating help from manager Bobby Heenan defeats the Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Intercontinental title. Something to understand about Rude and Warrior is that their rivalry spans back to the days of World Class when Rude was dealing with the then-named Dingo Warrior. This rivalry will continue onto SummerSlam, in fact the next two SummerSlams.

Bad News Brown, last year’s WM battle royale winner begins a 2-year streak of scoring a draw at this event, here against Jim Duggan in a double DQ. Next year, it’ll be a double count out against Roddy Piper.

One of the shortest matches in WM history sees Terry Taylor aka the Red Rooster defeat Bobby Heenan, who has Steve “Brooklyn Brawler” Lombardi in his corner. In retrospect, Heenan probably should’ve cut his losses, thrown Brawler to Roberts and had Andre in his corner instead. Terry Taylor has a WM win. Say whatever you want about his gimmick and how ridiculous it got over the next several months, but here, he got to have his moment on the big stage. That can never be taken away from him.

Finally, we have the main event match which was not only for the WWF Heavyweight Championship, but had become insanely personal. Randy Savage, Champion since winning last year’s WM tournament for the then-vacant title is pitted up against Hulk Hogan. Miss Elizabeth, still contractually obligated as manager for both decides to stay in a neutral corner. From 1989 to 1990, managers being in a neutral corner usually meant going with the winner (Heenan with Haku over Harley Race) or simply choosing a side at a key moment in battle (Jim Cornette with the Midnight Express over the Dynamic Dudes). That bit of history will eventually repeat itself with Jimmy Hart between the Natural Disasters and the Nasty Boys.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Elizabeth, true to her word actually manages to stay neutral. By the way, this marks the second consecutive WM main event where the competitors are future NWO members. Last year it was Savage and DiBiase, this year Savage and Hogan.

The match is a classic, but also serves as another prime example of Hogan’s superhero-like ability to absorb an opponent’s best shot, in this case the Top Rope Elbow Drop by Savage, and bounce back to deliver the end of his opponent’s chances. Savage, shocked and suddenly blistered by strikes and the big boot was unable to avoid the atomic leg drop which leads to Hogan getting the pinfall victory and the start of his 2nd WWF Heavyweight Championship reign. Avoiding the legdrop when Hogan is in Beast Mode like that is crucial as the Ultimate Warrior will prove next year.

For Hogan, this is his first PPV singles victory since WrestleMania III over Andre a couple of years prior.

Other fun stuff.

About that Crockett Collective Influence…

Hercules Hernandez (as Assassin #2)
Big Bossman (as Bubba Rogers)
Akeem (as One Man Gang)
Shawn Michaels
Marty Janetty
Brutus Beefcake (as Ed Boulder/Dizzy Hogan)
Butch Miller
Luke Williams
Ax (as Masked Superstar)
Smash (as Barry Darsow/Krusher Kruschev)
Barbarian
Warlord
Dino Bravo
Ron Garvin
Arn Anderson
Tully Blanchard
Tito Santana (as Richard Blood)
Jake Roberts
Andre the Giant
Special Guest Referee John Studd
Honky Tonk Man (as Wayne Farris)
Greg Valentine
Rick Rude
Ultimate Warrior (as Bladerunner Rock)
Jim Duggan
Red Rooster (as Terry Taylor)
Hulk Hogan (as Terry Boulder/Sterling Golden)
Randy Savage (as Spider/Randy Poffo)

Of the 14 matches, only 1 is sans CCI and that’s Perfect’s win over Blazer as Perfect was more of a Portland and AWA product and Blazer was a Stampede and Japan product. The rest of the matches, all involve competitors who are part of the CCI history up to this point.

The future WCW’s New World Order is also represented here by 10 competitors and ringside participants.

This card also includes 8 current or former World Heavyweight level Champions including an all-WWF Heavyweight Champ alumni main event for that same title. Future World Heavyweight level Champions during the Classic Era include Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and the Ultimate Warrior. Of those 3, only Hart is victorious at this event.

Next up, the Age of Zeus is upon us with WWF SummerSlam 1989.
Seen by Kace Box at Sunday 2:31am

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