NFB Watches Wrestling #51: Wrestlemania V

The Granddaddy of them all, though perhaps it was more of a regular Daddy at this stage of its existence. It’s the 2nd April 1989 and we’re in the Trump Plaza Convention Centre of Atlantic City, New Jersey for Wrestlemania V: The Mega-Powers Explode! Your main event tonight: “Macho Man” Randy Savage defends the WWF World Heavyweight Championship against Hulk Hogan!

Ah, late eighties WWF. Where nothing was ever wrong, all of the shows were red-hot, and when giants roamed the Earth. At least if you are to believe some of the historical records that the Fed has come out with about this era. This edition of Wrestlemania had a lot to make up after the perceived weakness of IV, and decided to go all-in on what must have been the biggest possible confrontation that they could think of in the main event. This is a 3.5+ hour show with an astonishing 14 matches on the card, so lets get right down to it.

A thunder filled sky opens the show as Vince McMahon growls “The Mega Powers Explode!” Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are your commentators, and they promise that “all the questions will be answered”. Like, why does Hogan get to main event everything? The Fink introduces us to the WWF Womens Champion Rockin’ Robin to sing “America The Beautiful” with some attached still photos of ‘Merica. I hope you aren’t looking for any Women’s Title matches tonight, because this is all you are getting on that score. She’s a tad off-tune here, but given that she isn’t a singer I don’t think I can be too critical. Not Ventura though “Better not quit her day job”.

King Haku w/Bobby “the Brain” Heenan vs Hercules

Haku out with crown, cape, Jerry Lawler’s future theme music, and no reaction. You might think this means he’s a recent King of the Ring winner but this gimmick was handed to Haku after Harley Race got injured; he never actually won the tournament, but you try telling Meng he doesn’t get to wear the crown if he asks for it. Heenan on the mike urging the crowd to show respect to “the King of the WWF”, and he’s straining to get the crowd invested. Monsoon asks us to expect a big reaction to Hercules, which does not occur.

Haku waiting on the outside, which is hilarious to me given his real-life reputation. Attacks Hercules from behind, strikes, chops, but Herc back with a hip toss, then a Scoop Slam. Flapjack, awkward clothesline to send Haku out, and Heenan looks very upset. “He tried the Pearl Harbour thing there” says Monsoon, and man that phrase couldn’t die off quick enough. Back in, Hercules maintains the advantage with elbow drops and then goes out after Heenan. Naturally he doesn’t see Haku sneaking up behind him, and he eats a stiff-looking clothesline. Herc shoved into the ring apron a few times.

Ventura points out that Donald Trump is in the front row, isn’t that just dandy. Right on the hard cam, delightful. Haku hits a few backbreakers for two, then puts on a bear hug for a two whole minutes. Hercules eventually out, but Haku maintains the beatdown. Choke on the rope, Haku mouthing to Earl Hebner, and this allows Herc to hit a crossbody for two. Haku misses one of his own from the second rope, strikes from Hercules, then another terrible few clotheslines. Herc hits a powerslam for two, to the top, but eats a kick on a top-rope nothing. Haku to the top, nobody home on a splash, Hercules with a bridge on a reverse suplex, and that’s it in just under seven.

Winner: The “mighty” Hercules, who could do with learning how to hit a clothesline.

Verdict: Stiff enough opener, as you would expect from Haku. Nothing special otherwise, and the crowd was struggling to care. Hercules’ career took a nose dive after this as I recall.

Mean Gene is backstage with the Rockers, who are introduced as “Shawn Michaels and the Rockers”, because fuck you Jannetty. Michaels says they are going to show the people something they have never seen before, because they are grease lightning. Jannetty says “We’re ready” seven times, and away we go.

The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs The Twin Towers (Akeem & the Big Boss Man) w/Slick

Now that is an unfortunately named tag team. Thankfully Michaels doesn’t promise to fell them or anything. “Slick” I have no memory of at all. The future “Mr Wrestlemania” having his first go at the event here. Story here is little guys vs big, and the Rockers leap out of the ring on the bell, back in when the Towers pursue, and an ambush when the big guys come back. Boss Man and Michaels to start officially, lock-up, Michaels set-up on the top, slapped, but Michaels back with a missile drop-kick. Leapfrog chain, and Michaels hitting out at both opponents. Akeem in after some direction from Slick, he and Michaels exchange some terrible dance moves, and in comes Jannetty for a double team, with Michaels coming off the rope onto the outstretched arm. Double chop, both attack Boss Man on the apron. Are the Rockers playing heel?

Michaels with wrist-locks on Akeem, dodges a corner charge, in comes Jannetty to continue the wrist-lock. Tag to Boss Man, and he and Akeem hit Jannetty with a standing Trash Compactor. Headbutt from Boss Man, Jannetty hung up on the ropes to take charges from both Towers. Beatdown on the face-in-peril commences, with multiple corner splashes, stomps, rapid tags. Awkward moment where Boss Man hits a knee to the head, and Jannetty leaps to the heel corner unnaturally.

Eventually Jannetty gets some room, baits Akeem into hitting Boss Man, and Michaels gets the hot tag. Akeem whipped back and forth into the corners, double shoulder-block off the second rope gets two, before Michaels takes a brutal looking clothesline. Boss Man tagged, to the top, but nobody home on the splash. Looking for a powerbomb, Jannetty takes out the leg and Boss Man collapses. Both Rockers to the top to hit stereo missile drop-kicks, but Akeem breaks up the count. Jannetty thrown out, Michaels looking for a sit-down splash off the top, but countered by Boss Man into a Spinebuster. Akeem in, Big Splash he calls “Air Africa” – he was from South Carolina – and that’s it in just over eight.

Winners: Should have called themselves the Two Towers, and cosplayed as Sauron and Saruman.

Verdict: Alright tag, nice contrast of styles. Rockers not quite there yet. Akeem obviously limited, but BBM was good.

We cut immediately backstage, where Ted DiBiase is interviewed with Virgil by a very young looking Tony Schiavone. I loves me some Million Dollar Man, and he says the gentlemen of his club, like Donald Trump, are here to see him beat Brutus Beefcake tonight, and he’s as bright as the Million Dollar Belt around his waist.

Ted DiBiase w/Virgil vs Brutus Beefcake

Cut to DiBiase immediately at ringside, where of course he shares a handshake with Trump. Beefcake gets a decent reception, but looks strangely stiff looking on the way to the ring. We’re only a short while after DiBiase inaugurated his Million Dollar Championship, but it’s not on the line tonight for whatever reason.

Brutus awkwardly has to put away his shears into his bag after the bell has rung, and then get his gear off, so we cut to a large shot of the arena with Trump’s name plastered all over it. DiBiase jawing, and Beefcake floors him. Back body-drop, then another, and the Million Dollar Man skitters to the outside. He does a few leisurely laps of the ring, just long enough for the crowd to die, then back in. Lock-up, chops in the corner from DiBiase as Ventura opines on Trump bringing “the richest dudes on the planet” to watch this match. Beefcake with Scoop Slams, then dumps his opponent out of the ring. DiBiase spends another little while on the outside because things had gotten just too exciting. Ventura starts taking about bothering stewardesses on a plane trip.

Back in finally, Beefcake with shots, DiBiase staggered, but Virgil able to distract Brutus and lets Millionaire Ted take the advantage. Mounted punches, head smashes in the corner, elbow block, then an elbow drop for two. Slow offense it has to be said. Irish Whip into a clothesline, DiBiase to the second rope, Beefcake takes way too long to get into position and we get a double axe-handle. Monsoon tries to cover: “He saw it coming but couldn’t get out of the way”. Uh huh.

Beefcake gets two off a small package, then counters a suplex attempt with one of his own. Double clothesline spot sends them both down, but DiBiase looks like he got the worst of it. Up first all the same, hits a suplex, calling for the Million Dollar Dream, and he locks it in. “Beefer’s fighting it!” says Monsoon, and that is a bad nickname. Brutus gets to the ropes, gives DiBiase a few head smashes in the corner to get the crowd riled up for once, big punches and DiBiase collapses. Beefcake calling for the sleeper, and slaps it on. Virgil up to distract and Brutus goes after him, letting DiBiase off the hook.

Beefcake thrown out, Virgil with a beatdown on a ref distraction spot, but Beefcake shrugs it off and stalks Virgil until DiBiase attacks from behind. Some life in this one now, but psyche! The ref counts to ten as they exchange shots on the outside, and it’s called a draw in just over ten.

Winner: Um, the matches later on the card that will get a bit more time?

Verdict: Slow stuff that was only starting to get good when it ended. DiBiase has done much, much better. Felt like a nothing match which is odd given it is, you know, Wrestlemania.

DiBiase knocked out, Beefcake follows Virgil into the ring and delivers an Atomic Drop, clothesline, then the sleeper. DiBiase in, Beefcake knocks him down, Scoop Slam and Brutus goes for the shears. DiBiase and Virgil beat a hasty retreat.

Lord Hayes is with the Bushwhackers at the morning brunch earlier. He asks them a few questions, but their mouths are so full of food all that comes out is nonsense. Hilarious. Did you know that the morning brunch is a Wrestlemania tradition? So says Monsoon anyway.

The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond) w/Jimmy Hart vs the Bushwhackers (Butch & Luke)

It’s America’s Australian heroes vs America’s most hated enemy, French-speaking Canadians. Monsoon criticised for some anti-Canadian invective by Ventura, and I’m reminded about how two years from now it’ll be America vs Iraq in the main event. The Canadians run out of the ring at the bell, because that is just the theme of the night. The Bushwhackers have Jimmy Hart’s coat a the start, but get jumped before they can tear it up. The Bushwhackers turn the tables quick enough, and poor Jimmy gets splattered to the outside.

It’s hard to focus on the match as Monsoon and Ventura discuss the finer points of American immigration. Monsoon suggests, upon being asked if he wants to tear down the Statue of Liberty, “we already have all of the tired and poor”. He’s the face guys. Anyway, the Bushwhackers keep the Rougeaus down for a bit, but eventually Hart’s boys get the advantage off a ref distraction. Raymond with a great hard-whip on Butch, that Butch sells really well. Jacques in to continue the beatdown, then a terrible double shoulder-block that somehow is whiffed. How? They do a double chop then, that Monsoon calls a “Double Axehandle”. Not fillingme with delight tonight, is Gorilla.

Abdominal stretch to Butch, takes a crescent kick from Raymond, and the Rougeaus decide to hug it out for some reason, then get hit with a Battering Ram. Raymond takes a double stomachbreaker, and that’s it in just over nine apparently (from Cagematch, think that’s wrong). Felt shorter than it was.

Winners: The American ideal, the Bushwhackers.

Verdict: Nothing tag really, just an excuse to get some crowd favourites in the ring and get their hands raised. The commentary was something else though. Who would have thought Jesse Ventura would be Mr “Immigrants, they get the job done”?

Sean Mooney is with fans on the ramp, and of course gets accosted by the Bushwhackers. Licking ensues. I think that is the only reason he is here tonight. Replays of the Bushwhackers, and onto the next contest. Still ten matches to go .

Mr Perfect vs the Blue Blazer

Perfect out with no music at all, and to boos. Blazer to a good reception, and the crowd pops for his reverse somersault off the top. Haven’t seen much of Owen in this era, so looking forward to this. Lock-up, and Perfect chucks Blazer around. A slap in the corner, Blazer returns the favour, drop toe-hold and another slap from Blazer. Perfect with chops as Ventura states his belief that he might know who the Blazer is. Hart counters a hip-toss by somersaulting and landing on his feet, following up with slams and a drop-kick that sends Perfect out briefly. Very nice stuff.

Standing armbar, Perfect out of it, Blazer back with a hip-toss, Scoop Slam, drop-kick, basically just re-doing the previous section of the match. Suplex for one, another Scoop Slam and Blazer to the top. Perfect with the knees up on a splash, commences a beatdown, then a Camel Clutch. Blazer out after a minute, gets in a shoulder on a corner charge, then gets two off a powerslam. Belly-to-belly slam for two again, then two off a Crucifix Pin, where it looks like the ref pulled out of the count because Perfect didn’t kick-out fast enough. Monsoon and Ventura are covering for Perfect too, so must have been a mess-up. Perfect attacks from behind as Blazer remonstrates with the ref, Perfectplex, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over five-and-a-half.

Winner: Mr Perfect, who runs out of the ring straight away, no music, no reaction. Odd.

Verdict: Ref and Perfect almost messed up the finish of what was an otherwise short bang-average encounter. Owen Hart showing what he can do all the same.

Finkel introduces Ventura to the crowd after the Body spent the last match promising a big surprise for Monsoon. It amounts to him waving to the crowd. Surprise?

Cut to a pre-record with Alfred Hayes, who is with a load of 5K runners the day previously. What is happening here? Apparently this is another Wrestlemania tradition. Mr Fuji arrives to take part, warning that his “Powers of Pain” will soon be tag champs. Fuji starts the race early, before hilariously being swamped by everyone else. Cut to him “finishing” the race sometime later. He’s in a suit and bowler hat by the way. I’d assume this was meant to build to a revelation that he took a shortcut, but Hayes just acts like Fuji did this legitimately.

Back in the present, Run DMC is here to perform. Remember Run DMC? Their act seems to mostly involve them shouting “Wrestlemania!” repeatedly, being off-rhythm with each other and very obviously lip-syncing. The crowd politely applauds at the conclusion.

We take a look back at Survivor Series a few months before hand, where Fuji discarded Demolition during a Survivor Series-style match. Demolition responded by beating Fuji up, so not the best move from Fuji. Fuji and the Powers of Pain teamed up later to beat up Demolition. Four months later, we have a grudge match. Doesn’t exactly scream red-hot.

Ax and Smash are with Mean Gene. They are all made-up and ready to make history, being on the verge of becoming the longest reigning Tag Champs in WWF history (and, spoiler, would remain so until the New Day overtook them two decades later). More than that, they are ready to get heir hands on Fuji.

Demolition (Ax & Smash) (c) vs Mr Fuji & the Powers of Pain (The Warlord & Barbarian) (Handicap Match) (WWF Tag Team Championships)

Lot of tag matches already tonight, and there’s two more coming. Demolition get a good reception in the first of only three title matches at this event. Fuji spreading some ceremonial salt, as Warlord and Ax start out. Shots back-and-forth, Ax beating down, and in comes Smash so they can do it together. Demolition on top, just taking turns with the beatdown in the opening minutes. Barbarian eventually gets a tag, but Demolition are very quickly doing the same thing to him. Ax hits a stiff clothesline, Scoop Slam, then Smash with a hard elbow, then the two of them do the same thing. Rather dull, slow offence so far, as we go to a rest-hold.

Warlord comes in so he can be beaten up for a bit, and it’s only when Ax goes after Fuji that the Powers are able to get any kind of advantage. Fuji actually gets in and is able to floor Ax with a chop, so not exactly playing the cowardly manager. Ax the face-in-peril getting beaten down, as Ventura has to explain tag team tactics to Monsoon. Ax gets Scoop Slammed, Fuji in, to the top, but nobody home on a leg-drop. The Powers avoid a hot-tag, but only for a bit, as Smash comes in like a house of fire. Scoop Slams and clotheslines for all. Warlord hung up on the ropes, then Ax dumped out. Fuji looking for the salt in the eyes spot, but Smash ducks and Barbarian gets it instead. Who could have seen that coming? Demolition hit their assisted elbow drop finisher on Fuji, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under eight-and-a-half.

Winners (and still WWF Tag Team Champions): Demolition, and if this is the best they could do not sure they deserved that record.

Verdict: Hoss fight tag match that was way too slow for the event that it was part of, and that didn’t make good enough use of Fuji as a wild card.

To backstage, where Schiavone is outside Randy Savage’s dressing room. He isn’t taking interviews and says as much, knocking the camera man over. Looks pumped up for the main event.

Dino Bravo w/Frenchy Martin vs Ronnie Garvin

More French-Canadian heels, was there some beef between the US and Quebec at this time I am unaware of? Bravo a noteworthy wrestler, very much a “Could have been huge” kind of guy who seemed to have his moment pass him by, would retire in 92 and be murdered, probably in an organised crime killing, the year after. Garvin doesn’t even get an entrance for this one, with the “already in the ring” treatment. Before they can lock-up Fink is on the mike again to randomly introduce known murderer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. He hits the ring, waves to the crowd, then departs never to be seen again tonight. What the hell was that? Way to undercut the two guys in the ring.

Monsoon has to remind us that the bell has rung, and Bravo attacks from behind. Lands a few elbows, shots to the back, then floors Garvin with a high chop. Bear hug as the “USA” chants start, then stomps. Irish Whip into a block that is essentially Bravo just letting Garvin run into him. Repeats the spot, for some reason, then a cocky standing pin for two. Setting Garvin up for a powerbomb, but Rugged Ronnie out to put in some shots and Bravo collapses for two. “You won’t be seeing any flying head scissors in this one” says Monsoon, with a tone that implies we should be happy about this. Garvin firing back with chops, corner smashes so the crowd can count along, rolling cradle for two. Garvin with a sleeper, Bravo out, looking for a piledriver, countered into a roll-up, but only two. Suddenly got super quick there.

Garvin looking for mounted punches in the corner, but Bravo drops him on his knee. Follows up with a “side suplex” – a Sidewalk Slam – and that’s enough for the win in just over three.

Winner: America’s greatest enemy, Canada.

Verdict: Slow hoss fight that came to life for a minute right at the end. Nothing to really see here.

Garvin attacks both Bravo and Frency Marvin in the aftermath. Don’t mean to harp on about it, but the commentary dynamic is so weird tonight: heel Ventura criticising faces beating up defenceless people, while Monsoon tries to make clear that it’s A-OK for them to do so.

Straight into the next match.

The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) w/Bobby “the Brain” Heenan vs Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana)

Another contextless tag match, that is making Wrestlemania seem more like a house show. AA and Blanchard out with no music, no notice and not even a word from Heenan, criminal. Blanchard and Martel starting out, the Busters try to double-team but Martel back with lots of strikes. Things break down early, and Strike Force clear the Brain Busters out with stereo drop-kicks. Anderson and Martel when things re-start, and Martel gets two off a faceplant. Prone test of strength changes into an Anderson body scissors, countered into a Boston Crab, but Blanchard saves AA with a thumb to the eye. Santana into the ring to lock on a Figure 4, Martel does the same to an interfering Blanchard, and things break down again. Messy so far.

Santana gets two off a backslide on Blanchard, some awkward interference spots and tags, this one is just not so good. Santana accidentally hits Martel when Anderson dodges a charge, then Anderson “hits” a shoulder block which I think was meant to be a back body-drop. Not on the same page at all. They re-do the spot a minute later and it’s countered into a Sunset Flip for two, so I assume that was the original plan. Blanchard gets a second rope crossbody on Blanchard, Anderson in without a tag which the ref ignores, OK then.

Camel Clutch to Santana, beatdown offence, Anderson to the top but waits patiently for an intercept, and gets slammed to the mat. Stupid moment where Blanchard tags in, but waits on the apron for Santana to get to his corner, awful. Martel refuses the tag, and walks off. “I don’t understand this at all” says Monsoon, who has apparently never seen a tag team break-up before. Crowd not happy as the Brain Busters put on the beatdown.

Spinebuster from Anderson, Blanchard with strikes and an elbow, then a combined piledriver/top-rope spike, and that’ll do it in just under nine-and-a-half..

Winners: The Brain Busters, who have had better days at the office.

Verdict: Rubbish tag in most trespects, with the teams not on the same wavelength at all. Awkward break-up angle, the match lasted too long after, just bad all over.

Martel is with Mean Gene and gives a rubbush promo, full of nerves. The usual stuff, he’s been carrying Tito for too long, he’s a loser, his timing is way off (what is this, a shoot?) and a furious Mean Gene dismisses him.

Monsoon and Ventura argue about what they have just seen, like it was a major angle and not a thrown-together tag with no build. The crowd is so distressed by what they have seen that they cheer with wild abandon as the cameras pans across them.

Finkel introduces ” a very special attraction”: it’s Pipers Pit. Yes please. A glowing introduction for Piper, and the crowd is into it. But swerve! It’s not Piper, it’s Brother Love in a kilt. Takes a while for the crowd to realise they are being fooled, but there are boos eventually. Brother Love loves us, and has a special guest for us: Brother Rodney, which is just the empty seat next to him. Hello, President Obama! Love sits in the opposing chair and does a rubbish Piper impression. Love continues on, as the crowd begins to very much shit all over this segment.

Suddenly out comes talk show troll Morton Downey Jr, and I’m very confused. He takes a seat and says he doesn’t want any guy who wears a skirt to love him. Great, some gay panic. Anyway, Finkel interrupts to introduce the real Piper, who gets a strong ovation. What is the point of all this? Piper runs down Love and his “Betty Davis knees”, and suggests he go on “the Oprah Winfrey diet”. The crowd not into this devastating verbal offence. Piper goes “Boo” and Love retreats to the corner in spectacular fashion. This is torturous by Piper’s standards. Roddy runs down Love’s appearance while Downey sits quietly and smokes. Love makes some moves on Piper’s kilt, and Piper’s response is “I’ll bite your face off if you do that”. We go to the phase of events where Piper starts threatening to have a look under Love’s kilt, and this is -5 stars territory now.

Piper rips off the skirt exposing Love’s red tights, and Love runs off like the proverbial scalded dog, which is odd since every wrestler competing tonight is wearing similar. Piper is left with Downey. He blows some smoke in Piper’s face, makes some comment about Piper’s mother, Piper calls Downey’s girlfriend a homeless warthog. This is awful, and this segment is hitting the 25 minute mark. Downey calls Piper a transvestite, more smoke is blown in faces, Piper asks for a cigarette, and then blows a fire extinguisher in Downey’s face. The crowd goes mild, clearly uncaring. Piper walks off, bringing this awful, awful segment to a close.

After replays, like they were needed, Mean Gene introduces us to a trailer for No Holds Barred, and what follows for around two minutes is a good summation of that train-wreck. No “Dookie!” scene though. As I recall the following few months would be dominated by efforts to get that film over, with Tony Lister entering the ring as “Zeus”.

A worst train-wreck follows, as we get an interview with Trump at ringside, who is very happy to be hosting Wrestlemania for the second year in a row. Better this than a second term I suppose. Trump just looks bemused more than happy to be honest. In the commentary booth, Ventura is unhappy that Hogan is butting in to “my domain”, that being Hollywood, and I swear it looks like Ventura is trying to start a feud with Hogan here, and that’s a reach Jesse. Predator a better film than anything Hogan ever put out though!

A video package follows about the Hogan/Savage feud follows, with Savage winning the strap at Wrestlemania IV (“what a threesome! says Monsoon about these two and Ms Elizabeth), then the Mega-Powers winning at Summerslam and Survivor Series. But oh no! Dissension in the last few months over Ms Elizabeth at ringside, arguments in the ring, and a challenge for a match at Wrestlemania. Savage ambushed Hogan backstage, and hence main event. WWF had a long way to go when it came to these feud video packages.

Mean Gene is with Hogan. Says he should have seen it coming, because the Mania has always been ahead of the Madness. Savage hasn’t been behind Hogan, he put Elizabeth between them and he’s jealous of Hulkamania. 30 years on, Hogan giving out about people not being in his corner sounds real bad. He puts some effort into this promo, trying to make out that this is Wrestlemania III level, and promises that he and Hulkamaniacs will “destroy” Savage. Speaking of Wrestlemania III…

Andre the Giant w/Bobby “the Brain” Heenan vs Jake “the Snake” Roberts (Special Guest Referee: Big John Studd)

Andre not quite in the vortex just yet. This is a decent feud as I recall, though Roberts was not in the very best of health at the time, with back problems that would need surgery later in the year.

Andre attacks before the ball, and runs Roberts into an exposed corner. No idea who removed it, but I assume it was Heenan. Studd is oblivious. Andre with a sleeper. “Ever heard the story of David and Goliath?” asks Monsoon. “Yeah, he used a foreign object” answers Ventura, and that is the best wrestling terminology use for a Bible story ever. Jake trying, ineffectually to hit back, and stopped anytime he goes for Damian. Andre lays on Roberts in the corner for a few four counts, then a few chokes.

Crowd a bit dead for Andre’s slow offence, but wakes up for a stand spot. Jake coming back with strikes, and Andre ends up tangled in the ropes. Roberts takes the opportunity for a few shots, but fails to go for the snake and Andre gets loose. Headbutt floors Roberts, a few kicks, then a nerve pinch. Chops in the corner, but Jake back with a knee that winds Andre. A few shots, Andre sent into the exposed corner, and that is enough to send him down for the first time in the match. A punch sends Roberts out, and Andre stops him from getting back in the ring. Studd jawing with Andre, and Roberts grabs the bag. Studd tries to stop him, and Andre attacks from behind. Suddenly Ted DiBiase is here, grabs the bag and runs off, with Roberts in pursuit. With picture-and-picture Roberts and DiBiase brawl on the ramp while Andre chokes Studd in the ring. Jake gets his snake, heads to the ring, and Andre runs off. Studd calls for the bell in just over nine-and-a-half.

Winner (by DQ): Jake and Damian in a bit of an overbooked finish.

Verdict: Pretty slow affair, that livened up considerably in the last minute. Tailor-made to keep the feud going while setting up a few more, so I guess it was a success from that perceptive.

Schiavone is backstage with Sensational Sherri. She says she’s sensational, unlike Rockin Robin’s singing. When shes ready, she’s going to take the title back (but not on this card). She also has her eye on Mz Elizabeth and gloats about the Mega-Powers implooding. Terrible promo.

Greg Valentine & The Honky Tonk Man w/Jimmy Hart vs The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart)

Remembering Honky Tonk’s comments on Bret a decade or so after this, along with the 50 or so other reasons to hate the man, and hoping for a few potatoes. Just over an hour left, and still five matches to get through.

Hart and Tonk to start, Bret distracted by Jimmy and his bullhorn. Hart with the roll-up early for two, Atomic Drop, Inverted Atomic Drop and Honky tags out. Valentine takes an Inverted Atomic Drop, a drop-kick, and then a right hand from Neidhart. In comes the Hitman to help with an assisted springboard spear, that’s genuinely one of the moves of the night. Valentine getting beaten down, Hart with a backbreaker, but nobody home off a second rope elbow drop. The Hammer back with a few elbows of his own, the Biggest Prick In Wrestling in for a few shots, snapmare, and a falling fist. Elbow drops, Valentine tagged, to the top for a falling elbow. All elbows these lads.

Bret the face-in-peril as he takes an Inverted Atomic Drop from Valentine, who already looks out of breath. Tonk into hit the Shake, Rattle And Roll neckbreaker, Valentine in, but countered out of a Figure 4. Not enough for the hot tag yet, and Valentine back with a gutbuster. Hart hits a running crossbody for two, but dumped out on the kick-out. Bret able to get the tag a minute later off a failed roll-up weirdly. Neidhart clears house, getting two off Valentine on a charge. Nice discus clothesline gets him two again, but Tonky breaks it up.

Neidhart laying in shots to Honky, Hart in, Scoop Slam, second rope elbow, suplex, but Valentine breaks up the count. Very samey all of this now. Neidhart chases Jimmy off for a bit, throws Bret his bullhorn, Tonk hilariously gets a face of it, and that’s enough for the win in just over seven-and-a-half.

Winners: Is, was, will be,

Verdict: Amazing ending where the faces just shrugged and busted Tonk with a bullhorn makes up for a by-the-numbers tag.

The Foundation basically runs off in the aftermath, which is just great.

We cut to a replay of Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude at the Royal Rumble a few months beforehand, where Rude beat Warrior up with a steel bar. Warrior, incensed in the aftermath, beat up a load of refs and WWF officials. Amazing.

The Ultimate Warror (c) vs “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) w/Bobby “the Brain” Heenan (WWF Intercontinental Championship)

Heenan is all over this show isn’t he? This isn’t even his last appearance tonight. Rude on the mike to do his “sweathogs” thing. Warrior comes racing down to a big reception, and we get into it quick. Warrior with the early advantage, pelting Rude into the corner a few times. Crowd hot for this. Rude getting hard whips into the corners, then a bear hug. Rude fades, but keeps the arm up on the third drop from the ref. Out of the hug with a rake to the eyes, to the top, missile drop-kick, only two. Warrior back with a Scoop Slam, another, and then back to the bear hug. Switching between high-intensity and super-slow here.

At ringside, we can see the Brain fingering something in his pocket as the crowd chants “Weasel” at Rude. Rude looking for another eye poke, but the ref stops him. Rude out eventually, then the Warrior puts in a head bite. Back body-drop, but Rude with the knees up on a splash. Rude with body kicks, then nails a piledriver. Slow cover, and Warrior kicks out. Jawbreaker, some hip gyrations, but Rude’s back is hurt so he has to pull out of it. Stiff clothesline floors the Warrior, two, Side Russian Leg Sweep (Monsoon calls it a neckbreaker), two. Bow and Arrow resthold to slow things down, Warrior shakes it loose eventually, and comes back hard with a flying tackle. Facebuster, another, backbreaker, then Rude dumped into the corner. Warrior hits his own clothesline, hard whip into the corner, then a big shoulder tackle. Rude dodges another charge, looking for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior able to power out of it and hits a clothesline. Decent encounter this one now.

To the outside briefly for some reason, back in, and Warrior gives Rude a Cactus Clothesline to send him back out again. Now that was awkwardly paced. Warrior looking for a suplex from the apron back in, but Heenan with a trip, holds Warrior’s foot down, and Rude gets the 1, 2, 3 in just over nine-and-a-half.

Winner (and new WWF Intercontinental Champion): Rick Rude, who hilariously takes the belt and flees, leaving Heenan behind.

Verdict: Really good match for the era, these two complimented each other well and the crowd was as loud as they had been all night.

In the aftermath, Warrior beats up Heenan and gives him the Press Slam before taking off in pursuit of Rude. Heenan is supposed to be wrestling in the match after next, so I have a feeling he isn’t going over.

No waiting around because there is 40 minutes left for three matches, including the exploding.

Bad News Brown vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Brown out without music looking very unenthused. Duggan has no music either, but has a big enough crowd reaction that it doesn’t really matter. Brown attacks before Duggan is even in the ring, but Duggan back with big swinging strikes before too long. Brown floored on a clothesline, and takes a powder for a bit. Hacksaw gets him back in the ring, and Brown is struggling to get going, walking from an Irish Whip. Headbutt from Bad News, awkward strikes back-and-forth, dueling strikes in the corner, this is all very dull.

Duggan sent out from a head butt, then whipped into a post. Back in, falling forearm, Brown goes for his Ghetto Blaster kick, Duggan dodges and hits a running clothesline. Bad News grabs a chair from ringside, Duggan grabs his two-by-four. They swing at each other, and the ref calls it in just under four.

Winner: No-one, which seems apt.

Verdict: Nothing match between two nothing wrestlers.

They keep swinging, then Duggan hits an Atomic Drop. Brown gets nailed with the two-by-four, then walks off like nothing happened. Duggan takes a seat in the ring as the crowd cheers his yelps. “It certainly was exciting” says Monsoon. Really?

Mean Gene is with the Red Rooster backstage ahead of his match with Bobby Heenan. Rooster says he is going to teach the Brain how to lose and crows like a cockerel. Hmm.

Bobby “the Brain” Heenan w/the Brooklyn Brawler vs the Red Rooster

Heenan out in an Andre-esque singlet. Rooster of course is Terry Taylor in a very bad gimmick. He even has a little head-piece. With just over half an hour left, I imagine this is going to be short. Heenan cowers in a corner, takes some head smashes, then some strikes, but is able to reverse an Irish Whip. But then he runs into the steel post off a Rooster dodge, and that’s enough for Rooster to get the pin in just over 30 seconds.

Winner: Cawk-A-Cawk-A-Cawk-A-Caw

Verdict: It was a bathroom break ahead of the main event,

Brawler attacks Rooster in the aftermath, and he and Heenan stalk off. Rooster up pretty quick afterwards. Talk about pointless. We get some replays and all.

Mean Gene is with Mz Elizabeth ahead of the main event. She’ll be in a neutral corner during “the most difficult night of her life”. She’ll pray that neither man will be seriously injured. Elsewhere, Schiavone stands in an empty dressing room, because all the wrestlers have headed out to watch the match. We really needed to know that. Interviews with the crowd, who all think Hogan is going to win. They aren’t dumb, that’s for sure.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Hulk Hogan (WWF World Heavyweight Championship)

It says something that Savage is out first, against tradition. This hasn’t been a bad story at all, indeed it’s sort of the archetypal “tag team break-up” plot, but the whole thing speaks to the idea that Savage was a nothing champion really, who barely defended the strap (never on PPV as far as I am aware) and seemed to be on a countdown to handing it over the moment he got it. Ms Elizabeth gets a separate entrance in-between the two competitors. “Real American” and Hogan gets a hot reception. Ref has to keep the two apart as Hogan rips off the shirt. Boos for Savage as he holds up the belt, as Ventura reminds us of Macho Man’s “Pukesters” jibe.

Circling, and Savage suddenly vacates the ring, looking for love from the crowd and getting nothing. Back in, circling, lock-up and Hogan flings Savage back. Crowd popping big. Savage gets in a side headlock, Hulk out and nails a shoulder block. Savage takes another break on the outside, during which he glares at Elizabeth, then back in. Headlock again, Hogan shoves Savage off again, Savage outside again. Hogan in pursuit, and Savage used Elizabeth as a shield to escape the Hulkster’s wrath.

Back-in, now Hogan with a headlock, Savage out, Hogan dodges an elbow drop and lays in some strikes. Some dueling arm-locks, Savage to the top and hits a double axe-handle for two. Armbar for a while, Hogan to his feet and Savage can’t get Hogan back down even with a hair pull. Hogan eventually pulls Savage out with a trunk pull. Back in, clotheslines, a few dropped elbows, but Savage able to come back with his own clothesline, and Hogan is cut.

Savage with a headlock for a while, eventually Hogan up, shoulder-block, catches Savage’s leg, Atomic Drop, but nobody home on an elbow drop. Hogan shoved into the corner, roll-up for two with the tights held. Monsoon and Ventura having their own verbal match on commentary, and Ventura’s heel work getting a bit obnoxious. Hogan bleeding more as he gets whipped repeatedly into the corner, but now the hulking up is starting as Hogan begins to no-sell. Savage gets his head smashed in the corner a bit, corner clothesline, then Savage Scoop Slammed right out of the ring. Elizabeth goes to check on Savage, but the Macho Man rejects her. Hogan out after him, Savage with a rake to the eyes, but Hogan back at him. Looking to ram Savage into the ring post, Elizabeth stands in the way, and the delay allows Savage to get behind and shove Hogan into the post instead. Elizabeth trying to help Hogan, Savage jawing with her, starting to get a bit physical, and Earl Hebner steps in and orders Elizabeth out of here.

Hogan wobbling on the outside, Savage to the top and hits a double axe-handle that rams Hogan into the barricade. Back in, Hogan hung up on the ropes, sit-down splash, then an elbow to the head. Scoop Slam, jumping knee, two. Savage takes the tape of his wrists off so he can give Hogan a brief choke. Lock-up, Savage getting in another choke and then puts Hogan down. To the top, and Savage hits the elbow, but Hogan kicks out with authority. Hulking up in progress as Savage’s punches have no effect. Right hands, big boot, leg drop and that’s it in just under 18.

Winner (and the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion): Guess who, brother?

Verdict: Was pretty good I’ll admit, even with the frequent recourse to rest-holds. Only one winner though, and the ending as predictable as it gets. And of course Hogan kicked out of Savage’s finisher.

Savage remonstrates with the ref as Hogan celebrates, with the Macho Man eventually fleeing. Hogan poses in the ring and then makes his own triumphal exit after some replays. And that is it.

Best Match: I think Rude and Warrior was a cut above the rest of the card pretty obviously.

Best Wrestler: His match might have been forgettable, but Owen Hart showed why, even then, he was better than most other people on the card.

Worst Match: I mean, Rooster and Heenan wasn’t really a match, or an angle, so it’s an obvious choice.

Worst Wrestler: A lot of options here, but I’ll go for Bad News Brown, who seems capable of, or only interested in, doing strikes.

Overall Verdict: A tortuously long show with only a few highlights, and really only one match I would say you should go out of your way to see. This was an era when a lot of Wrestlemania’s could be described that way unfortunately. Pass.

To view more entries in this series, click here to go to the index.

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #51: Wrestlemania V

  1. Pingback: NFB Watches Wrestling: Index | Never Felt Better

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