On February 5, 1988, Andre the Giant defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Title in a big of an underhanded way. This was part of a much bigger plan formed by newcomer Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man. DiBiase had stated his intentions to buy the title from Hogan but when that had fallen through, DiBiase decided to back Andre and then buy the title.
During the match, Andre suplexed Hulk down and Hogan kicked out at two but DiBiase’s master plan kicked in as referee Dave Hebner counted the pin while Hogan’s shoulder was clearly off the mat. Somehow Andre was declared the new WWF World (Tag Team according to Andre after the match) Champion and immediately tried to sell the belt to DiBiase.
Ted was named the new champion and celebrated as….Dave Hebner came out. There were two Dave Hebners with the theory being that DiBiase had paid someone to receive plastic surgery to look like Hebner and impersonate him during the match (of course this was Dave’s twin brother Earl). Somehow this decision stood and DiBiase was indeed the new WWF World Champion, ending Hogan’s four plus year reign.
Well for all of two days at least as WWF President Jack Tunney realized that everything was too screwy. His solution, instead of returning the title to Hogan as he should have, was to hold the title up and create a tournament at Wrestlemania IV for the vacant championship. Hogan and Andre would receive first round byes, making it a fourteen man competition. The tournament is almost the entire focus of the show but there are a few other matches along the way to fill the card up even more.
Here’s the very fast version.
[This post contains video, click to play]
Date: March 27, 1988
Location: Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Jesse Ventura
DiBiase’s master plan isn’t over yet and we’ll be seeing it put into effect as the night goes on. However, the tournament plans have been drastically changed since they were originally put together. We’ll take a look at what was changed and why as we move on but you should be able to figure most of it out already. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is a bit more modern this year as it’s a slot machine spitting out coins followed by the Wrestlemania IV logo. It’s very fitting in Atlantic City and a nice change of pace from the basic yet effective openings of the previous shows.
The roof has these really cool blue and red stripes as their main design. I always thought those looked awesome.
Gene brings out Gladys Knight to sing America the Beautiful. I’m not entirely sure why she’s covered in patches and looks like she has about a dozen sponsors but I’ve seen stranger things.
Bob Uecker is here again and is doing commentary on the first match. He’s probably the best celebrity commentator they’ve ever had so I have no issue with this.
Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Jim Powers, Paul Roma, Sika, Danny Davis, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, Jacques Rougeau, Raymond Rougeau, Ken Patera, Ron Bass, Junkyard Dog, Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zhukov, Hillbilly Jim, King Harley Race, George Steele
The winner gets a big trophy and you really should be able to see where this is going from here. Powers and Roma (the Young Stallions) are another pretty boy tag team, Sika is a Samoan, Brown is a tough guy and a legitimate bronze medalist in judo (never mentioned on screen), Houston is a cowboy, Patera is a strongman, Bass is an evil cowboy and Volkoff and Zhukov (the Bolsheviks) are evil Russians. Steele starts on the floor and never actually gets in so it’s not really clear if he’s eliminated or not.
Uecker is on commentary for this one and mentions that Vince McMahon called to ask if he wanted to be on the show. That’s not something you would expect to hear as Vince was just a commentator at this point. Houston, a smaller guy, is quickly put out and Sika, a much bigger guy, is gone soon after.
The fans go nuts at the prospect of Davis getting tossed. It’s rather impressive that he’s hung around so long with such a simple gimmick and so little skill. Steele pulls Neidhart to the floor and both Bees and Raymond Rougeau are quickly eliminated as well. Some cops walk in front of the first row as Dog eliminates Bass. Zhukov and others dump Hillbilly and Powers tosses Davis to the biggest pop of his career. Powers is eliminated a few seconds later and the ring is really clearing out.
Race and Dog go at it again and there go Nikolai and Patera. Jacques is eliminated a few seconds alter and we’re down to Hart, Roma, Race, Dog and Brown. Dog punches Race out almost immediately and Brown backdrops Roma to get us down to three. Brown hits Hart by mistake and the all fours headbutts have them in trouble. The villains take over with some double teaming and quickly toss the Dog. An agreement seems to have been reached but Brown gives him the Ghetto Blaster (enziguri) and tosses Hart for the win at 9:45.
Rating: D. This was a rather lame battle royal with almost no drama but it did accomplish a major goal by turning Bret face for the first time in his career. Neidhart would follow him to the good side soon enough and the Hart Foundation would become a force in the division all over again. Brown would soon feud with the new World Champion for a bit in some really good matches. I wouldn’t want to spoil the new champion for you though, in case you somehow haven’t heard about it in the last twenty seven years or so.
Brown comes back in for the trophy presentation but Bret jumps him from behind and destroys the trophy.
The Fink goes over the tournament rules but Gorilla and Jesse talk over him. They quiet down for a celebrity moment though as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ Robin Leech reads a proclamation about the tournament, which basically says “we’re having a tournament.”
Here are the brackets:
Andre the Giant
One Man Gang
Bam Bam Bigelow
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Jim Duggan vs. Ted DiBiase
DiBiase has bodyguard Virgil and Andre with him. Ted hides in the corner to start but Duggan fires off some right hands to take over. A big atomic drop sends DiBiase over the top and out to the floor with one of DiBiase’s perfect bounces. He’s known as a technician but he can tumble around very well. Back in and Duggan pounds away in the corner but he charges into a boot to give Ted his first control.
A sunset flip gets two for Duggan and Jesse freaks out that he knows a wrestling move. Duggan pounds him into the corner again and a slam looks to set up the Three Point Clothesline but Andre grabs his foot. The distraction lets DiBiase get in a knee to the back for the pin at 5:02. The replay shows Andre punching Duggan as well with the referee looking right at him. It would seem that DiBiase has bought off another one. Or that they screwed up and no one noticed.
Rating: C-. This is going to be a running problem tonight. These matches could be good but you can’t do much when you have so little time to work with. Five minutes is enough for a squash but you need more if you want to see something competitive. Duggan and DiBiase had some awesome matches in Mid-South but they were far different people at this point.
Brutus Beefcake threatens to cut Honky Tonk Man’s hair tonight after he takes the Intercontinental Title. Honky Tonk stole the belt from Steamboat just a few months after Wrestlemania III and has held it ever since.
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo
Bravo has Frenchy Martin with him while Muraco, now a good guy, has former WWF World Champion Billy Graham in his corner. Power vs. power here with Bravo taking him into the corner for some big right hands. Muraco comes back with a slam but is totally out of position for what looked like a Vader Bomb, meaning he has to just land next to Bravo and then cover him. A gutwrench suplex gets two for Bravo but he misses a knee in the corner to give Muraco a target.
Don starts working on the leg but gets kicked away so hard that his neck gets tied up in the ropes. Bravo follows up on the neck with a piledriver (Muraco’s move, though Muraco uses a tombstone) for two, followed by a double clothesline to put both of them down. Muraco takes over so Bravo pulls the referee in the way of a flying forearm for the DQ at 4:54.
Rating: D. Lame match here with an even lamer ending. They really needed to protect Dino Bravo in a World Title tournament at Wrestlemania? You can’t have him take a rollup loss to a former Intercontinental Champion? The ending didn’t do it any favors either and the whole thing was just messy. It could have been worse though.
Uecker, who will mainly be a backstage interviewer tonight, is looking for Vanna White but finds Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart instead. A few barbs are exchanged about Uecker’s abysmal batting average and Uecker thinks it might be time for some haircuts. Honky Tonk threatens to backstroke up the Mississippi. Wouldn’t that mess with his hair?
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine
Ricky has his son with him, who would wind up being Richie Steamboat in the early days of NXT. Steamboat runs the ropes to start and armdrags Valentine into an armbar as he is known to do. Some chops get two for the Dragon and he skins the cat before dropkicking Valentine in the back. In a rare botch, Ricky isn’t in the right place to roll Valentine up and has to cover him for two instead. Everyone can make a mistake every and then but it’s so strange to see it from Steamboat.
Valentine pulls Steamboat off the ropes for a big crash, giving me one of my all time favorite exchanges between Gorilla and Jesse. Gorilla: “Right on the back of the head! Right on the external occipital protuberance area!” Jesse: “The WHAT?” Gorilla: “That little bump on the back of your head.” Ricky flips out of a belly to back suplex and puts on another armbar. Greg gets back up with a big clothesline to knock Steamboat down. Gorilla: “Right on the external occipital protuberance. We talked about that Jess.” Jesse: “Ok. Back of the head for all your normal people out there.”
They slug it out as Jesse finally points out Donald Trump in the front row. Valentine can’t hook the Figure Four and Steamboat wins a slugout. Greg’s top rope chop sets up the Figure Four but Steamboat chops his way out again. Now it’s Ricky with a top rope chop to the head for two. After shoving the referee in a rare angry moment, Steamboat goes up for the cross body but Valentine rolls through for the clean pin at 9:11.
Rating: B-. Match of the night by far and while a lot of that is due to the talent in the ring, a lot of it is also due to the extra time they had. It let them build up a match instead of just getting all their stuff in, which is only a good thing when you have guys like these two out there. This would be it for Steamboat in the WWF as he headed back to the NWA after some time off.
The British Bulldogs have Matilda back after the Islanders (Heenan’s team) dognapped her. Dynamite says that Matilda has been trained for a weasel hunt (Bobby was known as the Weasel) and Koko B. Ware can’t wait for the six man tag tonight. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
Bobby Heenan receives a package and actually TIPS THE DELIVERYMAN! Someone get him to a doctor!
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Randy Savage vs. Butch Reed
Savage, now a full on face and the second most popular act in the company, and Elizabeth are in matching blue outfits. Reed shoves Savage down as the announcers debate whether or not Gorilla would buy a used car from Slick. Savage can’t suplex the bigger Reed so Butch suplexes him instead, followed by a hard elbow to the face. Savage’s elbows have little effect as Reed drops him again, only to spend WAY too much time yelling at Elizabeth as he goes up. Butch gets slammed down, setting up the flying elbow for the pin at 4:09.
Rating: D+. This did exactly what it was supposed to do as Savage is going to have a deep run in this thing so giving him a relatively easy first round match made sense. Reed was fine in this role as a power guy who posed a bit of a threat but ultimately had no chance. This would be his last match for the WWF before he headed for the NWA as well.
Heenan isn’t worried about the British Bulldogs or that mutt Matilda because he has the Islanders and a surprise to back it up. Uecker is offended and won’t speak at their outrigger dinner.
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. One Man Gang
Two monsters here as Gang is a big biker with Slick as his manager and Bigelow is a slightly smaller (6’4, 393lbs) guy who can fly around amazingly well for someone his size. He also has Oliver Humperdink (a pretty low level yet very colorful manager) in his corner. Gang jumps him from behind and splashes Bigelow in the corner as Monsoon talks about wrestling at 440lbs. Jesse is stunned and wants to hear about Monsoon’s diet back then in a funny bit that only the two of them could pull off.
Bigelow makes a quick comeback and hits a pair of headbutts, only to have Slick pull the rope down to send Bigelow outside, drawing a countout at 2:55. You would think that Bigelow being on the apron for about seven of those counts and having one foot in the ring at ten would be enough to save him but not quite. This was it for Bigelow for all intents and purposes as he needed knee surgery and would also be in the NWA by the end of the year.
Gene is in the back with Hogan, who talks about his rematch with Andre. After saying about what you would expect him to say, Hogan goes into a bizarre rant about slamming Andre and breaking America off from the fault line and causing everyone to fall into the ocean. Now things get even more insane and it has to be quoted for posterity’s sake if nothing else:
“So will Donald Trump and all the Hulkamaniacs. But as Donald Trump hangs on to the top of the Trump Plaza with his family under his other arm, as they sink to the bottom of the sea, THANK GOD Donald Trump’s a Hulkamaniac. He’ll know enough to let go of his materialistic possessions, hang on to the wife and kids, dog paddle with his life all the way to safety. But Donald, if somehow you run out of gas, and all those little Hulkamaniacs run out of gas, just hang onto the largest back in the world and I’ll dog paddle us, backstroke all of us to safety.”
So to recap:
1. Hulk Hogan basically just declared himself Jesus.
2. Wouldn’t everyone on his back drown is he backstrokes through the ocean?
3. What’s with the referencing to backstroking tonight?
4. Gene’s face during Hogan’s speech is bordering on terror as he tries not to let his jaw hang open and/or ask what on earth Hogan is talking about.
WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Rick Rude vs. Jake Roberts
These two would be about to start an awesome feud due to Rude trying to hit on Jake’s wife. Rude, with Heenan in his corner, is still a goofy ladies man here but he could be a heavy hitter when he needed to be. Feeling out process to start until Jake scores with some slams to send Rude into the corner. Jake starts cranking on the arm and even holds it when Rude punches him to the mat for a unique visual.
The wristlock stays on as they hit the mat, which sounds like the calling card of the fifteen minute time limit draw. Back up and a knee lift looks to set up the DDT but Rude bails to the floor. More stalling ensues until Jake slams him again but he misses another knee lift and crashes to the mat. The hip swivel and an elbow drop get a VERY slow two for Rude and we hit the chinlock. They’re not even hiding the impending draw. Even Jesse is wondering why Rude is doing something like this with such a short time limit.
Rude elbows him down for two and we hit yet another chinlock. Jake fights up with a belly to back suplex and Rude STILL won’t let go of the hold. Some stomps set up the fifth chinlock of the match and Jake looks asleep. The fans are loudly booing this until Jake finally escapes with a jawbreaker. It’s a remarkable improvement for the fans as they go from booing to just silent instead. Jake starts his comeback with a short clothesline but the DDT is broken up. A double clothesline makes the fans audibly groan. Rude is up first and grabs a rollup with his feet on the ropes but the bell rings for the draw at 15:13 (eh close enough).
Rating: F. Absolutely awful here as over five minutes of the match was spent in a chinlock. It’s easy to have a fifteen minute match go to a draw without boring the fans to death but they didn’t even try here. I know you don’t want to do another countout after the previous one, but what about a double DQ that eats up half the time or something like that? This was awful and just a way to waste time.
Here are the updated brackets:
Andre the Giant
One Man Gang
Gene is with Vanna White (of Wheel of Fortune) but she’s never heard of Bob Uecker. They give us a quick preview of the second round and praise Hogan a bit. Vanna likes Elizabeth as “a woman person” behind Savage. White may not have been a huge wrestling fan but she knew how to have a great smile and a lot of charisma here. As I said earlier: it helps when they sound like they want to be here and Vanna seemed like she was having a good time.
Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules
Warrior is relatively new (he debuted in October) and this is just a power vs. power match. They shove each other around to start until Warrior takes him into the corner for some hard chops. This is before Warrior had figured out the formula that made him a star so this is quite a different style. Hercules needs three clotheslines to put Rude down but Warrior pops up because they’re just clotheslines.
Ever the villain, Jesse suggests that Hercules choke Warrior out with the tassels on Warrior’s arms. It’s not a bad idea actually. They slug it out and don’t seem to know where to go next. I can understand that from Warrior but Hercules is a veteran at this point. An atomic drop puts Warrior down out of the corner and Heenan says slap it on him. There’s the full nelson but Warrior climbs the turnbuckles and falls backwards onto Hercules, raising his shoulder up for the pin at 4:36.
Rating: D. See, as boring as this one was, at least they kept it short and you had Warrior being all insane (character insane as opposed to real life insane) to keep things active. Like I said, this is completely different than the normal Warrior style and it was interesting to see something out of the ordinary.
Hercules comes in with the chain but Warrior takes it away and swings it around to clean house.
We see some Wrestlemania IV merchandise as we’re in an intermission.
Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard is here.
Long recap of Andre vs. Hogan, including the build up to Wrestlemania III, DiBiase paying Andre to bring him the title and the Main Event match which set up the tournament.
WWF World Title Tournament Quarterfinals: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
Andre has DiBiase and Virgil with him. Hogan charges right at the Giant but Andre is ready for him with a bunch of right hands. Some running forearms have Andre staggered and Hulk rams him into DiBiase for good measure. Andre gets tied up in the ropes but Hogan walks around forever, allowing DiBiase and Virgil to get Andre loose.
Even more right hands drop Andre and three straight elbows get two, only to have Andre grab Hogan by the throat to break up the cover. Andre sits on Hogan because he doesn’t like to make his offense that complicated. We hit the trapezius hold from the Giant but Hulk pops up with more right hands. A Virgil distraction lets DiBiase sneak in with a chair but Hogan takes it away and hits Andre. The Giant takes the chair and hits Hogan with it….and that’s a double DQ at 5:23.
Rating: D. Yeah the match sucked but my goodness how in the world do you call that a double DQ? Hogan hit him first and the referee was looking right at him but for some reason both guys are out. That sounds about as cut and dry as you can get but tournaments can cause some screwy results.
Hogan slams Andre and poses even though he’s out of the tournament. DiBiase runs and throws Virgil at Hogan to take the beating in the aisle. Gorilla turns into Yoda and says that “neither one of these men will be entitled to wear the belt of the champion.” As the posing ensues, Jesse thinks this was all part of the master plan. That’s because Jesse was one of the smartest commentators ever and gets common sense while Gorilla was a glorified Hogan fan. This goes on for WAY too long and feels like the end of the show while Jesse says we’ll know who the real greatest is in another hour.
Savage, now in pink to match Elizabeth again, says no one has ever defeated Hogan. Now that he’s out though, he’s going to make sure that the other half of the Mega Powers goes all the way.
WWF World Title Tournament Quarterfinals: Don Muraco vs. Ted DiBiase
The winner goes to the finals due to the double DQ. Muraco reaches through the ropes to get DiBiase (alone here) as the bell rings and Jesse freaks out because it’s not fair to Ted. Again, totally correct but Gorilla ignores him. A powerslam and a middle rope elbow get two each for Muraco so DiBiase rolls outside. That’s even worse as he has to run from Graham and his cane. Back in and DiBiase sends him hard into the buckle to set up some choking. That sweet falling fist drop gets two for DiBiase but he misses an elbow. Back up and Muraco charges into a stun gun to send DiBiase to the finals at 5:35.
Rating: D+. I find it interesting that DiBiase has won his first two matches without using his finishing hold. It’s always cool to see them mix things up like that instead of doing the same stuff over and over again. Muraco was a good choice to put DiBiase over here and the match was fine enough. Not good but fine.
Demolition says they’re going to hit Strike Force over the head with baseball bats to win the Tag Team Titles. Uecker is rightfully freaked out.
One Man Gang’s second round bye is announced to the crowd.
WWF World Title Tournament Quarterfinals: Greg Valentine vs. Randy Savage
This should be good. Savage goes for a quick rollup but Greg goes up top and drops a forearm to the back for two. Donald Trump is still in the front row and seems to actually be enjoying himself. They fight to the floor with Greg chopping even more, followed by some heavy elbows to the chest. Back in and Valentine starts in on the leg but opts for a suplex instead. Savage suddenly goes nuts and hits the top rope ax handle. He tries for a second but gets punched out of the air. Valentine can’t follow up but avoids a charge against the ropes. The Figure Four is countered into a small package and Savage advances at 6:07.
Rating: D. Quite the disappointing match here as you would expect far better chemistry from these two. Valentine barely touched the leg and was just going with the big forearms and elbows, which were normally only about half of his offense. Savage had one burst of offense and then won in the end on a fluke again, which is pretty standard for him. Not a good match here, which is a really bit surprise.
Here are the updated brackets:
One Man Gang
Vanna and Gene talk about the upcoming matches.
Intercontinental Title: Honky Tonk Man vs. Brutus Beefcake
This is one of Beefcake’s 283 or so shots at the titles over the year. Honky Tonk now has his girlfriend Peggy Sue with him (Sherri Martel as a dancing 50s girl). Jesse says he’s playing piano during Honky Tonk’s music. Unfortunately Beefcake doesn’t have his awesome music yet. The champ stalls forever so Jesse says hi to Terri, Tyrel and Jade (his wife and kids) back in Minneapolis as was his custom. A big atomic drop gives us the Honky Tonk selling and a right hand sends him outside.
Back in and Beefcake motions for a haircut before he sends Honky Tonk into the buckle over and over. Brutus finally misses a big elbow to give Honky Tonk an opening for his variety of stomping. Some choking looks to set up the Shake Rattle and Roll but the champ lets go. Jimmy Hart is confused but it turns out that they needed to move closer to the ropes so Brutus could block. I guess this is before backdrops were invented.
Beefcake grabs the sleeper but Hart knocks the referee cold with the megaphone. Instead of waking up the referee (why does that almost never happen?), Brutus goes for the scissors and cuts Jimmy’s hair instead. No one can wake Honky Tonk up so Peggy pours water over his face. Brutus tries to bring in the hedge clippers and the match is thrown out at somewhere around 6:00.
Rating: D. Another lame match here as Honky Tonk was all about the heat from the crowd and couldn’t have a good match to save his life most of the time. That being said, it made him more valuable than most of the roster as the people would pay to see him get beaten up every night because there was no way he could survive one more day as champion. Keep that up for over a year and rake in the money until you have someone to shoot to the moon as the new champion. Beefcake was never going to be that guy but he was an awesome repeat challenger.
There’s another major point to talk about here. Remember how I said the tournament we got wasn’t the original plan? Well that’s because of Honky Tonk Man. The original plan here was to have Savage beat Honky Tonk Man for the title but Honky Tonk talked Vince out of it/threatened to jump to the NWA with the title (depending on who you ask) and his reign continued.
Instead Savage was plugged into the World Title tournament and gets the major push as a result. The original World Title tournament saw DiBiase’s master plan paying off with him beating an exhausted Hogan to win the title, (the original brackets were aired on TV before they were changed to this version) setting up Savage winning it at Summerslam and going forward with history from there.
Andre puts his massive hand on Uecker’s shoulder to scare him to death while explaining the master plan. All he was supposed to do was get Hogan out of the tournament and he did his job perfectly. He chokes Uecker for fun, bugging Bob’s eyes out in a semi-famous bit.
And it’s a bit worth seeing again.
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Islanders/Bobby Heenan vs. British Bulldogs/Koko B. Ware
We get to see what was inside Bobby’s delivery earlier: a dog handler’s outfit, which Jesse calls a stroke of genius. Dynamite hiptosses Haku (formerly King Tonga) and Tama down to start before catapulting Tama over the corner and out to the floor. Off to Haku to face Davey in the power vs. power match. Davey gets two off a crucifix and we hit the chinlock on Haku. You don’t often see a heel in one of those.
Haku comes back with an eye rake and forearms. Jesse: “Heenan is saving himself Gorilla.” Gorilla: “Yeah for the senior prom.” Dynamite finally charges into a kick in the corner and it’s off to Heenan for some stomps. Jesse describes him as looking like “A Chinaman” and the cook from Bonanza.
A single right hand to the ribs sends Bobby running and it’s off to Koko for some meaningless headbutts. Thankfully the Islanders don’t sell because they respect racial stereotypes and it’s back to Heenan to work on Koko some more. Ware sends him into the corner though and everything breaks down with the Islanders slamming Bobby onto Koko for the pin at 7:31.
Rating: D+. So this was basically the Heenan Family replacing the Hart Foundation from last year. Heenan was funnier than Davis though and it almost made for a more entertaining match, but that beating that Davis took last year was a thing of beauty. Still good enough here and Koko continues to be the man you get when you need a filler.
Jesse is presented to the crowd again in another rather pointless segment.
DiBiase’s bye into the finals is announced.
WWF World Title Tournament Semifinals: Randy Savage vs. One Man Gang
Elizabeth is in black to match Savage’s robe but his trunks are purple. Savage gets smart and grabs the beard to start and snaps Gang’s throat over the top rope. That’s it for Savage’s offense though as the much bigger Gang drives him into the corner to take over. Gang gets two off a slam but Savage gets his foot on the ropes.
The big splash misses though and Savage ax handles him to the floor. A top rope ax handle to the floor has Gang reeling but Savage tries a slam like a schnook and fails miserably. Elizabeth gets on the apron for no apparent reason and Slick throws in the cane. Gang misses every swing but it’s a DQ anyway at 4:35.
Rating: D. They were setting up a fine match until the lame ending. How do you disqualify someone for failing to cheat? Then again this is the same show where there was a countout when someone was halfway in the ring and a chair to the head somehow setting up a double DQ. Savage should have won this off a missed charge and a quick rollup or something but instead they went with some botched cheating.
Vanna has to go to ringside for the final and Uecker shows up just a few seconds late. Gene says Vanna has no idea who Uecker is but he says she’s sent him a ton of letters. “Yeah some guy named Vance White.” I really hope there’s a joke I’m not getting there because that’s really not funny.
Tag Team Titles: Demolition vs. Strike Force
Demolition is challenging and has Mr. Fuji in their corner. Strike Force is the sequel to the Can-Am Connection with Martel teaming up with Tito Santana to win the Tag Team Titles from the Hart Foundation back in the fall. Smash pounds Martel down to start and the other two come in as everything breaks down. A double clothesline gets two on Smash as the crowd is quiet, likely due to exhaustion at this point.
Tito armdrags Ax down and Martel hiptosses Smash down for good measure. Smash is still strong enough to catch a charging Santana in midair and carries him over to Ax for a clothesline in a kind of prototype Hart Attack. Jesse gives tips on double teaming as Smash gets two off a suplex. Tito finally scores with the flying forearm, which Jesse says he learned in the Mexican Football League. It’s finally off to Martel to clean house but the fans just do not care. Martel gets the Boston crab on Smash but Ax sneaks in with the cane (a must have for any heel manager) to knock Martel out and give Smash the pin at 8:03.
Rating: D+. The fans reacted to the title change but there wasn’t much else for them to care about. The match wasn’t bad but it took a lot of time to get to the ending as this show feels like it’s been going on forever. Demolition would go on to have the longest reign in the history of the titles so this was quite the historic change. Strike Force was an underrated team and I was hoping to see them get back in the title change but it would never come.
It’s FINALLY time for the main event with Uecker as the ring announcer and Vanna as the timekeeper. Robin Leech is also here to present the World Title belt to the winner. Uecker gets a kiss from Vanna to wrap up the show long story.
WWF World Title: Ted DiBiase vs. Randy Savage
DiBiase has Andre with him but Virgil is probably still in the hospital after that one suplex. The final matching outfit sees Savage and Elizabeth all in white which feels appropriate for some reason. Savage is rightfully freaked out (freaked out freaked out) by Andre, who grabs Randy’s foot to make it even worse. The fans, proving that they are in fact alive, chant for Hogan.
They fight over arm control until Ted’s sunset flip is broken up by a right hand to the face. Some elbows to the back of Savage’s head changes control again but a knee to the back sends DiBiase outside. Savage goes up but Andre stands in front of him and says jump. If Savage jumps at him and gets attacked doesn’t that mean a DQ, which could mean Savage wins the title? Leave the planning to DiBiase Giant. Savage realizes something must be done and sends Elizabeth off to the back for help.
As Ted cranks on a chinlock, we get the obvious return of Hogan who sits down in the corner to keep an eye on things. Andre goes after Savage again but Hogan runs over with a right hand to even things up again. A suplex gets two for Ted but he gets slammed off the top, only to have Savage miss the elbow. DiBiase slaps on the sleeper but the referee goes to yell at Andre. Hogan comes in (wearing cowboy boots of all things) and chairs DiBiase in the back, setting up the elbow to make Savage champion at 9:17.
Rating: C. The match was fine but it came at the end of a far too long show. In their defense, the fans went nuts when Savage won, despite the blatant cheating from Hogan. As usual, Hulk continues to be really evil under the surface but to his credit Savage didn’t see what Hogan did. Good enough match but it came too late in the night.
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Savage, Hogan and Elizabeth celebrate in the ring to wrap up the show.
Overall Rating: D. This was LONG. The show felt like it went on for about nineteen days with so many worthless matches (Bravo vs. Muraco and Warrior vs. Hercules?) and stuff not getting enough time because we needed SIXTEEN MATCHES on one show. Savage winning the title was one of the two best options along with DiBiase so I can’t complain there, but this really needed to be cut down by an hour and minus about six matches. Or get a shorter ramp to cut down on the way too long entrances.
This is a show that really could have benefited from the modern pay per view style as there are regularly scheduled twenty minute matches on most pay per views. The problem here was you had all those matches, meaning a lot of entrances to eat up time. It made for a VERY long night and the show felt like it was never going to end. Do yourself a favor and watch the first Clash of the Champions, which aired on the same night and partially at the same time.
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Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the History of the WWE Championship.
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