WWF WrestleMania IV
by Scrooge McSuck
- WrestleMania IV, to me, seems like punishment to sit through. It's not the fact it was nearly 4 hours long, or it was a one night Tournament, but the fact the booking was crap and the crowd was one of the worst ever for a WrestleMania other than their WONDERFUL trips to Anahiem, CA for WrestleMania XII and XVI... incase anyone couldn't tell, that was sarcasm. I guess I'm doing the review backwards now, since I pretty much did my Final Thoughts at the beginning of the review. No, I'm not going to do a backwards review, but I will admit I was thinking about it.
- Originally broadcasted from the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, on March 27th, 1988, and to repeat something already said, it's one of the worst looking settings for a WrestleMania I've ever seen. Commentary is one again handled by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura, and that's always a good thing. Bob Uecker joins the crew for the opening match, being one of the very few celebrities to make two appearences at WrestleMania.
20-Man Battle Royale:
(Participants: Bret "Hitman" Hart, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Paul Roma, JIm Powers, Sika, "Dangerous" Danny Davis, B. Brian Blair, "Jumpin" Jim Brunzell, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Jacques Rougeau, Raymond Rougeau, Ken Patera, "Outlaw" Ron Bass, The Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zhukov, Hillbilly Jim, King Harley Race, George "The Animal" Steele)
Again, until the ring is cleared out considerably, I'm not going to bother trying to do play-by-play, and will just note the eliminations and times. For everyone who was considered a "midcarder" or less, they were thrown into this match. I spot five tag teams in this, which was back when the WWF had too many teams... I laugh at that comment now, when there are only three REAL teams on two seperate shows with a combined roster of 70 active wrestlers. First off, George Steele never actually enters the match, despite hanging around ringside for most of it. Sam Houston gets treated like the jobber he is, being eliminated by Danny Davis of all people at 0:43. Sika follows soon after thanks to a bunch of people at 0:56. One notable exchange is Steele continously pulling at the ankle of Jim Neidhart. Steele eventually pulls Neidhart out by his goatee at 2:29. Blair is out at the hands of Jacques Rougeau at 2:48. Brunzell and Raymond Rougeau go out at the same time at 3:13. The Junkyard Dog dumps Ron Bass out at 3:40. Hillbilly Jim is eliminated easily by Boris Zhukov of all people at 4:26. Danny Davis is dumped out at 4:48 by Paul Roma, and Jim Powers is back dropped out by Brown at 4:53. Patera easily dumps out Volkoff at 5:41, and follows up dumping Zhukov at 5:50, but Brown dumps him out as well. Jacques Rougeau is eliminated by Race at 6:00, and then Race is ousted backwards by the Junkyard Dog at 6:11. Just as I finish typing that, Paul Roma is back dropped out by Brown at 6:23. Brown accidentally nails Bret with a clothesline, and the JYD connects the rolling headbutts on both men. JYD with a headbutt to Hart, but he soon gets doubled teamed at the former Stampede workers. JYD fights off both men for a little bit before Brown attacks from behind. Bret to the second rope and he comes off with a forearm to the face. The Dog blocks being eliminated momentarily, but he's soon ousted by both men at 8:40. Bret and Brown celebrate in the ring, until Brown blasts Bret with the Gheto Blaster! DOUBLE CROSSES ARE A MYSTERY! Brown hammers away at the fallen man, and whips him 100 mph into the opposite corner of the ring. Brown calls for the win, and casually eliminates Bret at 9:45 for the victory. Bret Hart, however, isn't too happy, and dropkicks Brown from behind, and then goes on to destroy Brown's trophy, like it was really a mystery that the trophy was going to be destroyed. I can't think of one time it DIDN'T happen. This would of course lead to Bret Hart (and eventually Jim Neidhart) turning face. No rating, although for a Battle Royale, this one wasn't too good, and was even more punchy/kicky than normal. (N/R)
- WWF World Championship Tournament; Opening Round Matches:
This tournament was set up with the famous angle from the first Main Event special, which saw Andre the Giant "pin" Hulk Hogan for the title, then forfeit the title over into Ted Dibiase's possession. Jack Tunney ruled a wrestler cannot give a title to another wrestler, so he declared the title vacant, and all the top contenders would be put into this tournament. NOTE: Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan recieved byes into the Quarter-Finals for various excuses. They will face off in the first WrestleMania ReMatch in the beginning of the next round.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Virgil & Andre The Giant) - Not too long ago in a state a thousand miles away, this probably would've headlined a promotion for several years. Jim Duggan was coming off a feud with King Harley Race, and Ted Dibiase was still just out spending money to humiliate people and try and win the title. Not a very good match, but both men try their best to work in front of a nearly dead crowd and with such strict time. Duggan sets up for his clothesline towards the end, but does it near the opponents corner, so Andre hooks the leg from under him, and Dibiase comes from behind with a running high knee for the three count at 5:04. This would lead to a Duggan/Andre feud throughout the spring and summer, but never really blew off on television. (*1/4)
"The Rock" Don Muraco (w/ Billy Graham) vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin) - I think this kind of shoots down the top contenders comment. Muraco was spending the first half of 1988 feuding with Butch Reed and the One Man Gang, and wasn't exactly winning every match, while Dino Bravo was working tag team matches until Johnny V left the company and Bravo took up Frenchy Martin as his new manager. Bad match with a shitty finish. Bravo pulls the referee in front of a Muraco forearm, then connects with his Side suplex, but the referee calls for the DQ at 4:54, giving the match to the Rock (not Miavia). (DUD)
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) - This match ended up being Steamboat's first swan song in the WWF, as he would leave the company not too longn after, and only returned for about 7 months in 1991 before leaving for good. To no ones surprise (except people too lazy to see something of Valentine pre-1991), this is a very good match, and is actually given enough time to make people give a damn. Too bad the crowd really fucking sucks. The story going into the end is the referee keeps ticking off Steamboat. The finish comes with Steamboat coming off the top with his cross body, but Valentine reverses and hooks the tights for the three count at 9:10. Steamboat gives a farewell salute to the crowd and wound up going to the NWA later that year. (***)
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. "The Natural" Butch Reed (w/ Slick) - Yes, they actually had it booked that the Tournament could have a Steamboat/Savage ReMatch in the Quarter-Finals, but that was flushed to hell with the last result. Reed surprisingly dominates most of the match, but he spends too much time yelling at Elizabeth while climbing up the ropes. Savage manages to slam Reed off, and the elbow drop finishes Reed at 4:08. This was probably Butch Reed's final high profile appearence in the WWF before heading back to the NWA. (3/4*)
Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. the One Man Gang (w/ Slick) - At this point in his run with the company, Bigelow's knees were pretty fucked up from what I hear. Or maybe Hulk Hogan snuck up on him and bashed him in both legs with a lead pipe, because in the 7 months he was in the company, Bigelow was so over he was threatening his spot. Anyway, this match sucks too, and the finish is beyond retarded: Bigelow is counted out at 2:59, despite being on the apron, and despite the Gang was hitting him on the apron. Common knowledge is that contact being made on the apron breaks the count... and yet they managed to have an even DUMBER finish at the next MSG Event. Bigelow would hang around for a few more months before leaving the company. (-*)
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan) - Rude was still rather NOT over at this point, despite his cheap heel tactics of running down the local crowd. This was also before the Cheryl Roberts feud, which began about 4 weeks after this PPV. Both men spend an incredible amount of time stalling and resting, so we all know what the finish is going to be. The crowd is even more dead than usual for this one. The match continues limping along at the pace of a crippled snail until the bell sounds at 15:13, resulting in a "15-Minute" Time Limit Draw. Thankfully, they managed to have better matches down the road, but still nothing to write home about. (DUD)
- Hulk Hogan Interview with Mean Gene Okerlund. I'm only mentioning this because, in my opinion, this has to be the MOST HILARIOUS and head scratching promo I have ever heard in my entire life. Now, Hogan rambles a lot, so not everything is 100% accurate, but it's still funny as hell.
" ... When I slam Andre through the Trump Plaza brother, from New York to Tampa, Florida, the line is going to break off, and as Andre the Giant falls into the ocean, as my next two opponents fall into the ocean when I pin, so will Donald Trump and all the hulkamaniacs. But as Donald Trump holds onto the top of Trump Plaza with his family under his other arm, as they sink into the bottom of the sea, thank God Donald Trump for Hulkamania, he'll know enough to let go of his material positions, hang onto the wife and kids, dog paddle with his life all the way to safety But Donald, if somethig happens, if you run out of gas, and the little hulkamaniacs run out of gas, just hang on to the largest back in the world, and I'll dog paddle us, back stroke us all the way to safety! (dog paddles off camera)"
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Filler match, since neither man was looked upon as a contender yet, or maybe they didn't want to job the Warrior out yet in a worthless tournament match. It's hard to keep track with the WWF booking from years past, since Warrior was barely over enough for a midcard push. This was "set up" from an episode of Wrestling Challenge where Hercules and Warrior had as tug-o-war with Hercules' chain, and breaking it in the process. As you would expect, this match also sucks and the crowd is once again dead. In a finish that was used way too much in Hercules matches, a pin attempt results in Warrior lifting his shoulder up while Hercules' are still down, giving Warrior the win at 4:36. Hercules tries a post-match attack, but the Warrior won't sell it (or maybe he can't, I can't tell the difference). This match was actually pretty good compared to the anti-classic they put on at the next MSG Show. (DUD)
- WWF World Championship Tournament; Quarter-Final Round Matches:
NOTE: Due to the Time Limit Draw between Jake Roberts and Rick Rude, the One Man Gang recieves a bye into the Semi-Finals, and will face the winner of the Randy Savage/Greg Valentine match.
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Ted Dibiase & Virgil) - The ReMatch to last year's WrestleMania Main Event. Andre has gotten so much worse since the year before that you can't blame people for trying to forget he was still wrestling at this point of his career. Although the WM III match was not very good, this one is even worse, and with a lame finish. Dibiase brings in a chair, so Hogan and Andre both use it. You would think the first person to use it, Hulk Hogan, would be Disqualified, but instead, both men are at 5:27. Then Hogan gets to beat up Virgil in the aisle and slam Andre after the match and poses for 6 minutes despite not winning. (-*)
"The Rock" Don Muraco (w/ Billy Graham) vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase - Because of the beating down of Virgil in the last match and Andre sucking wind in the locker room, Dibiase has to come out by himself. Muraco shows signs of a heel, attacking Dibiase before the match, a very un-babyface like manuever. Much like Dibiase/Duggan from the first round, this is an OK match, but with lack of time and a dead crowd (again), it's hard to get anything going. Muraco controls for the most part, but a stun gun out of nowhere allows Dibiase to pick up the win at 5:35, and gets a free pass in the Tournament finals. (*1/2)
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) - After Valentine had a good match with Steamboat, you'd probably expect this match to be just as good... too bad the crowd is REALLY dead now, and this match is once again given very little time to work anything. Another match limps around with very little direction until Savage counters a Figure-Four with a small package, and that's enough for the win at 6:06. Please end this show, God. PLEASE! (*1/4)
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Like the energizer bunny, this show keeps going and going and going... unlike the energizer bunny, this show is far from entertaining. Not much of a backstory here, other than the fact everyone else worth a damn is already occupied in the Championship Tournament. Even if this match was given some time to develope something, it probably wouldn't have been too good. Punchy-Kicky match for the most part until there's a ref' bump when Beefcake has the sleeper hold applied. The referee plays dead for a good 2-3 minutes until another comes out and officially declares the match a Disqualification in favor of Brutus Beefcake at around the 7:00 mark (no bell sounded, so huzzah). Beefcake, Sportsman of the Year, gives Jimmy Hart a minor haircut. I think Jimmy started wearing a berret/faggy french hat around for the next few weeks on television to hide the haircut. (1/2*)
The Honkytonk Man © (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake:
The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders & Bobby Heeenan:
This is the culmination of the Matilda Dognapping Angle, which electrified crowds and sold out arenas for months. I'm really tired of this show, and doing a review of this show is always the biggest chore since having to wash my underpants. The crowd is still dead, for those who care, and the Bulldogs were really not too good at this point of their run in the WWF. The only really notable point of the match is Heenan's dog protective suit. Stuff happens, no one cares, yada yada yada, and Heenan pins Koko after the Islanders slam him on top at around the 8:00 mark. I don't get the fucking point of that finish. Weird... this is the second straight year that the Bulldogs' 6-Man Tag lost by pinfall to a Non-Wrestler. (1/2*)
- WWF World Championship Tournament; Semi-Final Round Matches:
NOTE: Due to Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant wrestling to a Double Disqualification in the Quarter-Finals of the Tournament, Ted Dibiase recieves a bye into the tournament Finals and will face the winner of the upcoming match between Randy Savage and the One Man Gang. Oh yes, they actually brought Dibiase out to announce THAT. WASTE OF TIME!
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. the One Man Gang (w/ Slick) - I don't care anymore. This crowd is pure shit and it's impossible to get into any of these matches! Terrible match again and with a lame finish on top of that. While the referee is distracted with Elizabeth, the Gang grabs Slicks cane and attempts to hit Savage with it. He misses about 4 or 5 times before being disqualified at around 4:11, and finally connects when the match is over. Afterwards, Savage comes off the top with a double axehandle to the Gang, who in turn lands on top of Slick. (DUD)
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Strike Force © vs. Demolition (w/ Mr. Fuji):
(Tito Santana & Rick Martel vs. Demolition Ax & Smash)
Another match in a series of them with very little build up, since the entire focus of the PPV is promoted on the back of the championship tournament. Despite being the heels going into the match, Demolition had been getting pretty strong babyface reactions, while Strike Force was getting lukewarm ones for the top babyface team in the company. Good match for what the two teams are able to do with the rushed booking, but the crowd, as usual, just doesn't give a damn, since it's mainly a bunch of gambling junky bums who have nothing better to do than sit on their hand and gamble away their life savings. All hell breaks loose again, and while Santana is busy beating up on poor, defenseless Mr. Fuji, Ax smashes the cane across the back of Martel's head, and Smash covers for their first of three Tag Team Titles at 8:02. Good match, but they went on to have better on various arena shows and Prime Time Wrestling. (**1/4)
WWF World Championship Tournament Finals:
Funny how they gave this match away on free television on the last episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. That match was also about twice as good as this one, since this crowd FUCKING SUCKS. Both men go through a semi-decent wrestling match, but this crowd is long gone. After some constant cheating by Andre at ringside, Elizabeth heads back to the locker room and produces Hulk Hogan to even up the odds. Savage's last spark of energy ends up being useless, as he misses his signature elbow. Dibiase gets the Million $ Dream applied, but Hogan manages to sneak in the ring and give Dibiase a case of Karma retribution, bashing him good with a chair, and Savage finishes him off with his second attempt at an elbow drop at 9:17. Savage, Hogan and Elizabeth celebrate after the match as the PPV FINALLY comes to an end. It could've come a lot quicker, says I. (**1/2)
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre The Giant):
Final Thoughts: This show was a boring mess with one of the worst crowds ever since the opening match. I still don't know how this show is regarded so highly by some people. Only ONE match broke the 3-star barrier (1 out of 16), several matches were negative star bad, and everything was so fucking rushed to the point I wouldn't be surprised if everyone involved on the card half-assed it harder than they've half-assed before. Solid Recommendation to Avoid.
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