SuperStars and Stripes Forever
- Finally a WrestleMania I can enjoy! I'm sure everyone knows the story here... McMahon wanted to book the Coliseum which holds about 100,000+ people, but ticket sales were poor enough (tickets were on sale for the entire run of Warrior's title reign), that someone came up with the safety scare regarding Sgt. Slaughter's Iraqi-Sympathizer gimmick. With Warrior bombing as champion (and plans of Hogan/Warrior II out the window), the title was slapped on Slaughter at the Rumble, and Warrior was quickly pushed out of the title picture.
- From the Los Angeles Sports Arena, holding a mere 18,000 compared to the 100,000 WWF was shooting for, from Los Angeles, CA (duh!). Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan provide commentary for the first time on a Pay-Per-View, and it's easily one of the best PBP teams ever. Forget anyone who says otherwise. Coliseum Video clips out Willie Nelson singing the National Anthem.
- The Rockers vs. The Barbarian & Haku (w/ Bobby Heenan):
No backstory to this match. The Rockers were in the middle of doing nothing and were constantly teasing a break up which didn't occur for another 10 months. The Barbarian and Haku don't have anything to do either, and weren't exactly high on the card to pick them to go over the Rockers without much trouble. With Heenan occupied with his guys for this match, Jim Duggan decked out in a goofy Uncle Sam costume joins Monsoon... and he DOESN'T SUCK! To my surprise, a very good match, probably all thanks to the Rockers, who were putting on the best matches of their run in 1991. Jannetty gets to play the face-in-peril, and a nifty clip job cuts to the Barbarian missing something from the top rope and Michaels getting the hot tag. The Rockers clean house on the evil Samoans, and Michaels finishes off Haku with a cross body press from the top rope for the three count at 8:41. One year later, Shawn Michaels was a barely over midcard heel, Jannetty was under house arrest, and the Barbarian and Haku were both gone from the company. So many things change in such a short period of time. (***)
- Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with the celebrity guests, Regis Philbin, Alex Trabek, and Marla Maples. Philbin says he's afraid of Earthquake, and claims he saw him tip over a Pizza Hut Delivery truck and ate everything inside. Marla Maples was Donald Trump's squeeze at the time, and she is playing interviewer for the mens locker rooms, a thing Missy Hyatt was doing in WCW at the time (editor's note: and also a recurring national media storyline, after the New England Patriots had some controversy with female reporters in their locker room during the 1990 season). Alex goofs around with Gene and confuses him by talking in Jeopardy form.
- The Texas Tornado vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Jimmy Hart):
FILLER! Neither man was doing squat since Tornado dropped the IC Title to Mr. Perfect on the 12/15/90 episode of SuperStars and Bravo's meal-ticket in the Earthquake was no longer feuding with Hulk Hogan. Super quick match, as Bravo gets in some of his token offense before the Tornado makes the Super-Texan comeback and finishes him off with the VON ERICH CLAW and Tornado Punch at 2:47. I have no idea why the match was rushed, since I didn't notice any kind of clipping. Considering how bad Coliseum Video was at hiding their clip jobs, I'm pretty sure I'm right... for once. This would be the last PPV appearence of Dino Bravo, who would go into a semi-retirement, making a random appearence now and then for the next year. (DUD)
- Mean Gene is backstage with The British Bulldog and his newest mascot, Winston the Bulldog. Nothing much is said. I do remember a Warlord & Slick interview before their match, so I'm guessing it was clipped from the tape for time.
- The British Bulldog vs. The Warlord (w/ Slick):
It's time for everyone's favorite feud... two guys on steroids trying to find out who the stronger man is! Both men competed in such special matches like Arm-Wrestling and Full Nelson challenges, and both time, the Warlord kicked Davey Boy's butt because Davey Boy is stronger. As if anyone didn't see that coming. Coliseum Video thankfully clips this match down to nothing from it's original run time of nearly 9 minutes. Both men do some basic power stuff, electrifying no one, until the Warlord uses his muscle to take control... and... beat... on... Bulldog... very... slowly. The Warlord gets the Full Nelson on, but the Bulldog powers out, and a running powerslam later ends the Warlor'ds night at a heavily clipped 2:30. This feud would continue on and off for the next few months, finally "ending" at the Tuesday in Texas pay-per-view. (DUD)
- Mean Gene is backstage with The Nasty Boys (still quite fresh from arriving from WCW) and their manager Jimmy Hart. They obviously predict winning the titles, blow their noses in Mean Genes hanky and put it back in his pocket. Hart Foundation rebut their comments, but weakly since Bret Hart seemed to not be the most energetic interview giving guy.
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The Hart Foundation © vs. The Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart):
(Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart vs. Brian Knobbs & Jerry Saggs)
More of the never-ending Jimmy Hart vs. The Hart Foundation feud. The Nasty Boys won a Tag Team Battle Royale to earn the top contenders spot, and other than that, there's no backstory to this. Coliseum Video with a clip job to this match, too. Your basic formula tag match: the babyfaces control the first few minutes, then get beat for a few more, then make the comeback until everyone brawls without any control from the referee. The portions controlled by the Foundation are pretty good, but the Nasty Boys are one of the suckiest tag teams ever, so they quickly drag this baby down. A hot finish saves it though, as everyone brawls without much sense going on in the referee's mind until Saggs bashes Neidhart good with Jimmy Hart's motorcycle helmet, and Knobbs makes the cover for their first and only WWF Tag Titles at 8:53. The Hart Foundation would split up soon after, having their last match as a team challenging for the belts at the July 1st, 1991 show held at Madison Square Garden. That one was better than this, in my opinion. Weird story told on WrestleMania All Day Long: The Nasties partied with Willie Nelson after the show and gave him one of the tag belts, and showed up to the next TV taping with just one of the titles, probably pissing off someone who had to buy another one. (**3/4)
- Blindfold Match:
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Rick "The Model" Martel:
A long time ago, on a talk show that no longer exists, Rick Martel "accidentally" sprayed Jake Roberts in the eyes with his Arrogance cologne. Weird... Martel (and others) have shot perfume in their opponents eyes before, and I never heard of them going blind like Roberts did. Oh well, logic in wrestling I guess. Roberts would continue walking around blind for a few weeks, healing enough to be able to wrestle at Survivor Series '90. Since then, Martel had been doing his best to avoid getting his rump handed to him by Roberts, so now he's booked into a corner... a Blindfold match. The rules are both men have to wear hoods over their heads, so they have to walk around blindly. Obviously, the hoods are gimmicked so both men can see where they're going, in hopes they don't fall on their heads and kill themselves.
This match gets way too much gruff because of the gimmick. Rating this on the same scale as a normal match is really frickin' stupid. I guess if this goes on the same 1 scale, I guess cage matches don't have their own scale either, or any other gimmick match that has an item interfering with the wrestling. Good comedy match, with Roberts playing it straight and Martel goofing around a lot. Not much in term of action, but the crowd, A LOS ANGELES CROWD, is way into this, so already it gets bonus points. Real contact is finally made, with Martel applying the Boston Crab. Roberts manages to power out of it, and a DDT out of nowhere gives Jake the win at 6:11. After the match, Martel gets the Damian treatment, just because. Roberts would turn heel a few months after this, and Martel would be MIA until January '92. Really hard to rate, but on everyone's "normal scale", I'll probably go with * and leave it at that.
- Marla Maples is in the heel locker room where Jimmy Hart, The Nasty Boys, The Mountie, Dino Bravo, and Earthquake celebrate the winning of the tag team titles earlier in the night. Well that's 90 seconds that could've gone to another match.
- "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer):
MORE FILLER! Jimmy Snuka was nothing more than a JTTS at this point of his career, and the Undertaker was being booked as an unstopable monster who didn't feel pain. Just guess who is winning this one... here's a hint, it's not the guy in the leopard skin tights. The Undertaker gets pretty good face reactions for someone that's supposed to be the next top heel of the company. The character was so unique at the time, it was kind of hard not to get into it. Somewhat extended squash match, as Snuka gets very little offense and what he does do is promptly no sold by the Undertaker. The finish comes with Snuka springboarding into the ring, but Undertaker doesn't catch him properly, so he sets him down, punches him once, and scoops him back up for the Tombstone piledriver, and that's all she wrote at 4:20 (insert stupid stoner joke here). The Undertaker's "WrestleMania streak" has begun, and we''re A LONG WAY from the present day. This I believe was the final WrestleMania match for Jimmy Snuka, but we'll find out eventually. (3/4*)
- Career Ending Match:
The Ultimate Warrior vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage (w/ Queen Sherri):
Lots of history here, dating back to the Warrior's reign as World Champion. Randy Savage had been pestering the Warrior about getting title shots, but was shot down at every opprotunity. Things came to a head at the 1991 Royal Rumble where Savage constantly interfered during Warrior's title defense against Slaughter, costing him the title in the process. From there, the Warrior was, in short, pissed off, and Jack Tunney made this match as long as both participants were willing to put their careers on the line. Amazingly, the Warrior's promos were more coherent for this feud than for any other in his run as a professional wrestler.
In the first surprise of the match, the Warrior decides to walk to the ring rather than run at 336 miles per hour. Long feeling out process from both men, which is surprisingly cautious and detailed considering Warrior has no idea what ring psychology is, especially in a gimmick match such as this. Warrior starts going into his usual formula match though, with Savage selling his butt off to make him look good. Savage manages to avoid one of Warrior's reckless attacks, allowing him to take control for a while. We get a referee bump midway through the match, but both men are able to kick out of near falls. Savage takes control again, and comes off with not one, not two, not even three, but FIVE of his signature elbow drops from the top rope. And Warrior still kicks out. Warrior "Warrior's Up", hits his signature spots and the big splash, and now it's Savage's turn to kick out of a move that should've spelled doom. Warrior starts talking to his hand, contemplating walking out on the match. Savage helps make up his mind, which causes Warrior to snap, and whoop Savage's butt until pinning him with one foot following three diving shoulder tackles at 20:46.
Post-Match, Sherri throws a fit in the ring while Savage lay in a fetal position on the canvas, still selling the effects from the match. Sherri, to quote Gorilla Monsoon, is pissed off that her "meal ticket" is gone, and starts laying into Savage with kicks. From there, Elizabeth returns, hopping the security rail, and dumping Sherri out of the ring. After a long pause, Savage and Elizabeth embrace in the center of the ring, to the aproval of the crowd. Easily one of the best matches in WrestleMania history, and Savage once again delivers the goods to have a classic match. Easily the Warrior's best match ever, almost all entirely thanks to Savage's hard work. (****1/2)
- Coliseum Video clips out a bunch of interviews conducted by Alex Trabek and Regis Philbin, but here they are courtesy of the WWF Home Video release: First, Philbin tries to get an interview from the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, but they're too busy measuring Philbin for a would-be casket. We throw it to Trabek, who tries to Jeoparize Demolition and Mr. Fuji for a long and dull promo. Now back to Regis, who does his best to get an interview out of Tenryu and Kitao, but they just mutter stuff. Back to Trabek once more, as he interviews Jake Roberts, and gets scared by Damian. And now back to the action...
- Koji Kitao & Genichiro Tenryu vs. Demolition (Smash & Crush) (w/ Mr. Fuji):
To say the crowd is really dead now would be an under-statement. We have no reason to cheer for the Japanese guys, since they never appeared on the weekend shows to build up to this match, and the "New" Demolition were as heatless as you can get, since the crowds never took a liking to Crush, and they were basically part of the Job Tour '91 with the likes of Koko B. Ware, Tito Santana, and Tugboat. Lots of nothing happens, with Demolition controlling for the most part. Crush takes too long going for the Demolition Decapitation (WAY too long), and for some reason goes to the top rope for it. Kitao comes in and eaisly knocks him out of the ring, while Tenryu finishes Smash off with a Powerbomb at 3:02, and putting the final nail in the coffin of the Demolition legacy. Smash would hang around a few months more working solo matches, jobbing of course, while Crush was sent somewhere else until being brought back up the next spring as fun loving Kona Crush, who happend to be a little bit of a mischief maker as a little kid, thanks to some helpful flashbacks into the mind of Crush. (1/4*)
- Mean Gene is with The Big Boss Man. He says he will be the champion. After all the insults hurting his momma's feeling, you hurt his. Heenan sent family member after family member in his path, and he's mowed them all down, except for Mr. Perfect. Boss Man says he will make a perfect example that crime does not pay. Mr. Perfect & Bobby Heenan rebut that and Perfect says he is what he says he is, and thats Perfect. Eminem stole that!
- WWF-Intercontinental Championship Match:
Mr. Perfect © (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Big Boss Man:
This was more of a "Bobby Heenan vs. Bossman" feud rather than Perfect/Bossman. Since a few weeks after SummerSlam '90, Bobby Heenan was throwing insult after insult at the Bossman's momma. Bossman had enough and handcuffed Heenan to ringside to teach him a lesson. It didn't work, and now he's still pissed. Rick Rude was originally part of the feud, but was suspended indefinitely, and so Mr. Perfect was leading the Heenan Family instead. Coliseum Video with another brutal clip job, but once again, people blow this match for being great only since both men have died. SURPRISE! Really boring for what's shown, and out of nowhere comes ANDRE THE GIANT to save the day! He clocks Perfect behind the referee's back, but the Barbarian and Haku run in to draw a Disqualification in favor of the Big Bossman at 4:34. Bossman would drop his feud with the Heenan Family without warning and went on with a program with the Mountie soon after. (3/4*)
- Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs. Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart):
In one of the biggest surprise turns of the year (even if it meant nothing), Greg Valentine turned face after a little miscommunication with Jimmy Hart during a match with Saba Simba on the MSG card held on December 28th, 1990. Outside of a confrontation on Wrestling Challenge, I don't think there was much to do with this pairing. Also noteworthy is that it was before WrestleMania when the masked man kept running in to attack Earthquake. That idea sure went nowhere. Another super quick match, and even if it weren't, it would still suck, since 'Quake was never that good to begin with, and Valentine was already past his prime. Nothing much of note happens other than Valentine failing to apply the Figure-Four. Earthquake makes the fat guy comeback and squashes Valentine with the Vertical Splash at 3:17. the Valentine/Jimmy Hart feud never went anywhere after this match, with Valentine going on job duty and Quake entering an arena show feud with Jake Roberts over squashing Damian. (DUD)
- Legion Of Doom vs. Power & Glory (w/ Slick):
(Road Warrior Hawk & Animal vs. Hercules & Paul Roma)
During a Tag Team Battle Royale mentioned earlier in the show, Power & Glory were responsible for the elimination of the Legion of Doom, and this is the blowoff. I don't know how true it is, but I believe in a rumor that if the Rockers title reign went through in October of 1990, then this match would have ended up being for the Tag Titles instead of some filler crap with minimal build up. The pre-match promo from the LOD is actually longer than the match, featuring LOD calling Power & Glory "Sour & Gory." The LOD squash P&G and finish off Paul Roma with the Doomsday Device at the 59 second mark. This would mark the final MSG appearence for both Roma and Hercules, and the LOD's last WrestleMania match until WrestleMania 13. (DUD)
- Virgil (w/ Roddy Piper) vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase:
For years, Virgil was in a few words, Ted Dibiase's lap dog, much like Ed Leslie was to Hulk Hogan in real life. He did everything Dibiase told him to do, and even was taking an opponent's finisher on a nightly basis. Recently Virgil had begun to show a good side, a side Dibiase hated, and thus Dibiase become more of a jerk to him. After their match at the Rumble, Dibiase insulting Virgil a bit, and finally, after over 3 years of service, Virgil turned on Dibiase, bashing him with the Million $ Belt. From there, Roddy Piper took him under his wing to show him the ropes. Coliseum Video with more clip jobs, as this match is basically shown in a very basic style formula before Dibiase gets in Piper's face one-too-many times outside of the ring. Piper causes some distractions, allowing Virgil to pick up the win by Count-Out at 4:38. After the match, Sherri returns, now probably managing Ted Dibiase, and helps lay a whooping in on Piper, targeting his knee which was "injured" in a "motorcycle" "accident." I think I over-abused the quotes. Virgil/Dibiase would have a much better a match months later at SummerSlam. (3/4*)
- Sean Mooney introduces highlights from Superstars of Wrestling, where Sgt. Slaughter torched a Hulk Rules T-Shirt. Slaughter loves using the word puke to insult his opponents. This just drags on and on and on...Slaughter looks like a retard for some reason in this. Highlights of Slaughter beating up Duggan and Hogan on an episode of the Main Event from the beginning of February.
- Tito Santana vs. The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart):
MORE FILLER! The show is running low on time, so these two get to have a super-rushed match! Some quick action from Santana to start, but a helpful distraction from Jimmy Hart allows The Mountie to zap Santana with his cattle prod, and that's good enough to win the match at 1:21. Much like Akeem/Bossman from the previous WrestleMania, Santana/Mountie would have a rematch at the next Saturday Night's Main Event, which was a few minutes longer, and not much better than the WrestleMania match. Amazingly, despite pinning both Koko B. Ware and Tito Santana on PPV, the Mountie didn't get a World Title match against Hulk Hogan. (DUD)
- WWF World Championship Match:
Sgt. Slaughter © (w/ Gen. Adnan) vs. Hulk Hogan:
Poorly booked backstory to this, as it's basically USA (Hogan) vs. Iraq Sympathizer (Slaughter), and if the winner of the match is going to be a surprise to anyone reading this, you have no business calling yourselves wrestling fans! Regis Philbin joins the commentary team for this match, and isn't as annoying as Lord Alfred Hayes was during the Perfect/Bossman match earlier in the show. Five years earlier, this was probably a big dream match, but now, it's an overweight and out of shape Sgt. Slaughter versus a no longer more over than everyone in the world combined Hogan. Still, despite those problems and the limitations of both men in the ring, this is a very well booked match, although the "Slaughter cheats with weapons but doesn't get DQ'ed" spots tends to get annoying. Oh, and Hogan does yet another obvious blade job on camera. Slaughter eventually has Hogan down and out, but makes the mistake of putting the Iraqi flag over Hogan, and it's HULK UP TIME! Hogan tears up the flag, kicks Slaughter around the ring, and finishes him off with the big boot and leg drop for his 3rd World Championship at 20:19. Hogan goes through with his usual posedown routine to send the fans home even more happy as the 7th WrestleMania comes to an end. (***1/4)
Final Thoughts: Definitely one of the most underrated WrestleManias of all time. You have an all-time classic in the form of Savage/Warrior and several pretty good matches from Hogan/Slaughter, Foundation/Nasties, and Rockers/Faces of Fear. Roberts/Martel is fun for comedy purposes, and the Undertaker kicks off the streak by squashing a murderer while getting more cheers than most of the babyface roster. Everything else is stuff worth passing on, but the good stuff outweighs it enough for a Solid Reccomendation.
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