*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
Wrestlemania V: The Mega Powers Explode
April 2, 1989
Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Attendance: 18, 946
Closed Circuit Attendance: 175,000
Buy Rate: 5.9
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura
Fun Fact: A young Lance Storm and Chris Kanyon were in attendance at this event.
1) Hercules defeats King Haku with a Bridge Suplex at 6:57
Scott: This is a pretty rudimentary opener. Hercules has a limited repertoire, but Haku was able to carry Herc to a pretty good match. Herc also interacted with Heenan very well, which added to the story. Haku begins a pretty good run as a singles competitor, and will be a loyal Vince employee for the next couple of years. Hercules wins with a back suplex, and even remembers to lift one of his shoulders so as to leave no doubt who wins. Not much more to say, except it’s the start of a very long night. Grade: **
Justin: It is WrestleMania time once again and for the second straight year, we are back inside the Trump Plaza casino ballroom. Even though these crowds can be a bit rough, as we will see, it real is a cool look and with the way 1988 and 1989 weave together for many storylines, it was fitting to have both shows in the same home Before we can get to our opener, we have to suffer through Rockin’ Robin warbling through the National Anthem. Jesse Ventura can’t resist taking a potshot at the performance, setting his acerbic tone for the rest of the night. As we saw at the Rumble, Haku is now the King of the WWF, having dispatched Harley Race and sent him packing back south. I enjoyed how Bobby Heenan is also decked out in purple to help match the regal regalia of his charge. Hercules has been completely revamped now, brandishing powder blue tights and entering to some great Greek God themed horn music. This is a nice little opener as both men match up up well size-wise. Haku sets the tone for the night, jumping Hercules as he was jawing with Heenan while the bell rang. Herc fought him off and went right into a flurry of offense to fire up the fans. Jesse notes he is surprised how easily Herc was handling the King, and it was true as he was really dominant in the early minutes. The King finally turned the tide thanks to a timely distraction from the Brain and a thrust kick to the chest. The slave storyline is really pretty nuts when you think about it and the fact that Gorilla nonchalantly discusses Hercules being traded like a slave really makes you wonder what they were thinking. Haku snaps off two really crisp backbreakers, never letting go in between and then went to a bear hug to keep the focus on the back. Herc would land a move or two, but Haku would go back to his martial arts bag of tricks to cut him off at every turn. Jesse discusses the difficulty of being in the opening match of a show like this. Herc used his power to finally make a comeback and I must say these two built a tidy little match. Herc abandoned his game plan and went up top but ate a thrust kick on his way down. Not learning from history, Haku tried a headbutt from the middle rope but he came up empty and then walked into a Herc back suplex. Instead of releasing, Herc slightly bridged and rolled his shoulder up to grab the hard fought win. I liked that finish as it made Hercules look wily and Haku not weak in any way as both men were essentially pinned. Jesse notes that it is a big win for “The Slave” and indeed, Herc finally gets some revenge on Heenan. This was a solid way to kick off a long night, with a tight, quick match and a good win for the Mighty One. Grade: **
2) The Twin Towers defeat the Rockers when Akeem pins Shawn Michaels with a splash at 8:02
Scott: I wasn’t crazy about this match when I first watched it again a couple of years ago. I thought it was slow, plodding and dull. I watch it again, and I definitely changed my opinion of it. The Rockers were ingenious, creative, and exciting. The Twin Towers were two big, badass heels. Slick was now putting together a pretty impressive stable. Boss Man was very slowly losing the weight he had been carrying around for months. Akeem’s not losing his weight any time soon. This was of course the first WrestleMania for Shawn Michaels, and although we didn’t know it at the time, this was the first of many matches for ol’ HBK on the big stage. The match is solid, but the Rockers have to pay their dues, and the Towers have the heat from the feud with The Mega Powers. So Michaels does the job (can’t say that much as time progresses), but both teams put on a good show. Grade: ***
Justin: Next up on deck is our first tag team match of the evening and it’s one that features quite the dichotomy in size and style. The Twin Towers were pretty much at their peak here, coming off their long feud with the Mega Powers in which they played a pivotal role in their explosion. The Rockers are still climbing the ladder and making their WrestleMania debut here in Atlantic City. Jesse gives a lesson in tag psychology, using his own experiences, to set the stage. For the second time tonight, we get a quick attack off the bell, this time with the Rockers peppering the big men with right hands to knock them to the floor. Shawn Michaels opened things up for his side and kept the quick strikes coming, even landing a jab to Akeem, who was “daydreaming” on the apron as Gorilla noted. The good times ended quickly for the Rockers when Marty Jannetty got caught in no mans land and was squished by the Boss Man. The punishment built from there, with the Towers alternating between heavy blows and using their weight to lean and press on the smaller Jannetty. The pace slowed but there was a cool buzz in the crowd because you could tell there was some sort impending doom on the way with this size mismatch. Marty would finally escape and tag in Michaels and the double team attack was on. As things broke down, Boss Man gave the Rockers a golden opportunity to steal this as he ascended the top rope and ate the mat on a splash. He would recover and catch Michaels with a great powerbomb as Shawn was leaping off the top rope. An Akeem 747 splash later and this one was in the books. Man, I love that damn match. For two teams with polar opposite looks and styles, they blended perfectly and paced the match so well. Even when it slowed down, it felt dramatic because you were just waiting for that big splash or blow from the big men. The Rockers had a couple of believable glimmers of hope but they couldn’t overcome the size difference in this one. Great storytelling and a fun match overall. Grade: ***
3) Ted DiBiase and Brutus Beefcake wrestle to a double countout at 10:01
Fun Fact: This is the debut of the Million Dollar Belt. DiBiase had the belt made after his failed 1988 attempt to win the WWF World Title. In a 2004 interview, DiBiase said that the belt was $25,000, and he had to carry it around in a gold Halliburton. He said one time he lost the Halliburton at the Atlanta airport. He realized it going back to the airport from the hotel that he had forgotten it.
Scont: There’s no question that Ted DiBiase is one of the most technically sound wrestlers of all time, and one of the greatest heels. For some reason, though, his WrestleMania performances leave a lot to be desired. His matches in the tournament at IV are pretty solid, but this is the first of five straight WrestleManias that he puts a sub-par performance on. Beefcake was one of the hottest faces on the roster, but he also didn’t bring his best here. The pace is slow, and there’s too much outside posturing. There’s not enough action in the ring. Then there’s the lame double countout ending, which doesn’t help matters. I don’t remember the back-story on why this match happened, but if there was, why was there no decisive ending? It’s not like this feud went through the summertime. This was a sub-standard match with a lame ending. Grade: *1/2
Justin: Well, it has been an interesting, but inevitable, slide down the card for Ted DiBiase over the course of the last year. After being a fixture of the main event scene since his late 1987 debut, he was due for a reshuffling. After failing to wrest away the WWF Title, DiBiase simply went out and purchased his own Million Dollar Title belt, a gorgeous diamond encrusted strap that he would proudly wear around his waist. His opponent is Brutus Beefcake, who had a strong breakout 1988 but seemed ready for elevation in 1989. This almost feels like these two are passing each other going different directions on the ladder. Beefcake continues the trend of the night, popping a smack talking DiBiase in the mouth off the bell. Brutus had some interesting tights on here and I don’t believe he wore them much, if it all, again after this. In a nice touch, DiBiase had stopped to see Donald Trump on his way to the ring. I like to think they hang out in the Hamptons on the weekends. Beefcake kept DiBiase rocking, sending him whistling to the floor with a clothesline. Beefcake’s assault only came to an end when Virgil reached in and tripped him up, allowing DiBiase to deck him with a forearm to the jaw. The crowd has really started to flatten out here, showing very little emotion for Beefcake’s turn in fortune. DiBiase’s offense was targeted and well done, but it was nothing beyond basic leg work until a Beefcake small package finally got the fans out of their coma. Beefcake couldn’t take advantage of a double clothesline as DiBiase recovered first and hooked in the Million Dollar Dream. Beefcake fought his way out and followed a quick assault with a sleeper of his own. Virgil would run interference again, leading to DiBiase dumping Beefer to the floor, where he tussled with Virgil for a moment. DiBiase followed them out and the two started brawling in front of Trump until the bell rang to signify a double countout. Blah. As DiBiase recovered on the floor, Beefcake got some heat back by whooping on Virgil back in the ring. This was pretty disappointing and it felt like they were just playing things a bit safe to protect both guys, not wanting to hurt Beefcake’s momentum or further kill DiBiase. The finish is what it is, but even the lead up didn’t feel crisp. DiBiase meandered quite a bit and Beefcake’s spotty selling didn’t help matters. Factor in a dull fan response and this one just didn’t click. Luckily for both men, they were established enough to shake it off and move on. Grade: *1/2
4) The Bushwhackers defeat the Rougeau Brothers when Butch pins Jacques with a double stomach-breaker at 9:10
Fun Fact: This was the first significant tag team feud for The Bushwhackers since debuting with the WWF in late 1988.
Scott: This was another match that made no sense. First off, The Bushwhackers just annoy me in general. That’s probably due to the fact they were awesome heels in other promotions, and now they’re face-licking buffoons. Second, The Rougeaus seem off their game here. They’re doing much more posturing and jawing than they were wrestling. There is a funny spot where Ray lifts Luke up for a slam, and Luke starts massaging his balls while he’s holding him up. I don’t know if it was meant for a rib, or something else. It was disturbing, like this whole match. I don’t understand why the Rougeaus were never meant for at least a PPV win, much less the titles. They job here to the double stomach breaker, not the last time they’d job to these two jokers on PPV. Grade: *1/2
Justin: We are back to tag action up next with another interesting contrast in styles. The Rougeau Brothers are led out by Jimmy Hart and accompanied by their fantastic new theme music, “All American Boys”. That song is hard to top. Their opponents are the Bushwhackers, a team that had debuted towards the back end of 1988. Formerly a nasty, bloodthirsty duo around the world, the Bushwhackers had settled into kid friendly, fan licking, arm waving goofballs upon their arrival. Jesse gets off a couple of great lines early on, claiming he saw Gorilla marching around the casino like the Bushwhackers the evening before. He thinks the big guy may have been hitting the joy juice to get him to that point. He also thinks Luke & Butch may have imbibed some as well. That is followed by Jesse denying he was competing at the same time as Gorilla back in the day. Their chemistry is top notch at this point. More aggressive attacks to start matches here as the Bushwhackers try to tear up Jimmy Hart’s coat until he Rougeaus jump in and make the save. Hart didn’t completely get away scot-free, as he gets squashed by his charges while trying to grab his coat. More great commentary as Gorilla basically tells the Rougeaus to go screw and leave the country and Jesse retorts with “so in your opinion, we should tear down the Statue of Liberty…or only let your friends in, anybody you don’t care for can stay out?” Amazing. The Bushwhackers continue to double team here, clocking Jacques with a battering ram. Once the Rougeaus did take over, they started to punish the back of Luke, quick tagging and really laying it in. In one of WrestleMania’s greatest moments, we get an odd moment with Luke ribbing (or sexually assaulting) Raymond by rubbing his dick and balls during a bodyslam. That moment has made me laugh for 25 years and counting. Luke would finally make the tag and for some reason the Rougeaus decided to turn their backs and celebrate, allowing Luke and Butch to smash Raymond with a battering ram and double stomach breaker for the upset win. This was a pretty sloppy match that again had the crowd on their hands. The Rougeaus tried but even they seemed a bit off throughout. The Bushwhackers get the win, which was a bit pointless as I think the Rougeaus had more to gain with a win. Whoa? Yay. Grade: *
5) Mr. Perfect defeats the Blue Blazer with the Perfectplex at 5:38
Fun Fact I: This would be the final appearance of the Blue Blazer character until October 1998.
Fun Fact II: This match would be the debut of the signature wrestling singlet for Mr. Perfect.
Scott: Now this match was a definite hidden gem. Perfect debuts his now familiar neon singlet in this match, and his opponent shows us a sign of great things to come. Owen Hart makes his PPV singles debut here, and he makes the most of it. He and Perfect go move-for-move for close to six minutes. They should have hacked two minutes off that Rougeaus/Bushwhackers fiasco and put it on here. Perfect is just getting started. His character is just starting to grow. There was actually one moment where Perfect came up almost a millisecond before the three-count. You knew that Perfect realistically wasn’t going to lose this match, but at that moment you really didn’t know. The Blazer won’t be back for a while, as Owen goes back and forth on TV for the next couple of years. Solid, but it was too short a match. Grade: ***1/2
Justin: The matches keep on rolling as we head back to the singles ranks for a battle of perceived up and coming stars. Curt Hennig is officially just Mr. Perfect now and he has upgraded from his simple short trunks into the more familiar amateur style neon singlet. Jesse immediately pumps him up, talking about his perfect record and skill in the ring. His opponent is the masked Blue Blazer, a high flyer crowd favorite that had been bumping around the midcard since the summer of 1988. I said perceived up and coming stars above because Blazer certainly seemed like one, but in reality he would soon be gone from the promotion. Jesse comments that this match has sleeper potential to steal the show and I would agree that the elements are there. Perfect smacks Blazer around off the bell, but Blazer retaliates with a shot to the face of his own. Blazer would work the arm a bit, keeping the pace moving and Perfect on his heels. Jesse wonders if Perfect was prepared for Blazer because he has just gotten overwhelmed throughout. Blazer gets a nice Northern Lights suplex but, as we have seen many times tonight, he made a major mistake in heading to the top rope. As he came off with a splash, Perfect got his knees up and buried them deep into Blazer’s gut to turn the tide. As Perfect worked the back, Jesse takes a moment to do his usual hello to Terry, Tyrel, Jade and Jeremiah in Minneapolis. A true WrestleMania tradition. Blazer would catch Perfect with a shot to the mush on a missed charge and the high flyer followed up with a great overhead belly-to-belly suplex followed by a crucifix pin for a near fall. As Blazer argued over the count with the referee, Perfect decked him square in the mouth with a great right hand. He would quickly pounce, drag Blazer up and snap over the Perfectplex for the win. Ah, this needed more time but this just wasn’t the card to allow it. As is, it was a very fun and the last couple of minutes were great. The Blazer’s star is sputtering but Perfect is clearly on the rise as his record remains unblemished. Grade: **1/2
*** We kill some time as Jesse Ventura is introduced to the crowd so he can pose and bask in their love for a minute. Following that, we head back to yesterday morning, where Lord Alfred Hayes filed a report from the WrestleMania 5K Boardwalk Run. Mr. Fuji participated, in full suit and hat, to prove that he was in proper condition for his big match on Sunday’s card. Amazingly enough, we flash forward to the end of the race where Fuji completes the run in under twenty minutes, suit pretty much in tact. Amazing stamina by the Fuj. After that spectacle, we head back inside the ballroom, where a DJ table accompanied rap legends Run DMC as they performed the “WrestleMania Rap” which basically was them rambling a bit and asking the crowd to alternate between yelling “WrestleMania and “Ohhhh”. The acoustics did not come across well at all and it was really hard to make out anything they were saying for the most part. They then transitioned into a slower beat which was a bit easier to follow despite the bad audio setup. ***
6) Demolition defeats the Powers of Pain & Mr. Fuji in a Handicap Match to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Ax pins Fuji after the Decapitation Device at 8:20
Fun Fact: This feud began back at the Survivor Series 1988 when Mr. Fuji turned on Demolition and picked up his latest acquisitions, the Powers of Pain. They would continue to battle on TV, competing in singles matches and launching attacks on each other wherever they could.
Scott: The first big show for the tag champs as faces is a rousing success against their former manager and his new team. This was originally slated for a straight up tag match, but Fuji was added at the last minute. Typical match for two big power teams: big power moves, but with added psychology, as POP tries to only tag Fuji in when they have the advantage. Gorilla and Jesse debate this point, as Jesse says it’s an advantage for the wily veteran to be in there, whereas Gorilla says he is useless dead weight. It seemed a foregone conclusion that Demolition was going to win, but the POP were worthy challengers. Fuji gets caught trying to cheat with salt, but the Demos get the advantage and finish Fuji off to win the match. Nice little tag title match, as Demolition’s popularity continues to grow. Grade: **1/2
Justin: And we are back to the tag ranks for our first title bout of the evening as Demolition face off with their arch nemesis Powers of Pain, led by their former manager Mr. Fuji. This is the first match on the show with a real story behind it, and a good story at that. We have talked quite a bit about Demolition’s face turn, one that was much needed thanks to crowd sentiment. Now, they finally get their hands on Fuji and the POP. With the deck stacked, it seemed like the stars were aligned for a title change, one that would finally pay off Fuji’s bizarre scheme that he hatched back in November. Besides the baked in story, the tale of the match would be this: is Fuji a better asset on the outside of the ring or on the inside? Time would tell. My take: He sucks regardless of where he is. The champs worked Warlord over to start, busting out their great double team hammer blows to the back. Man, this crowd is great at popping for the big moments, but they just go straight into silence for the meat of the matches. Gorilla thinks the POP and Fuji are a “mongrel team”. Well then. Barbarian would fare no better as the power blows continued, including a nice stiff scoop slam by Ax. The numbers game finally added up as Ax got caught in the POP corner and was overpowered to the mat. Fuji even tagged in for a moment, landing some thrusts and a falling headbutt to the gut before tagging right back out. Barbarian would keep the pressure on but the challengers made quite the error by tagging Fuji back in. Their mentor would miss a dive of the top rope (running theme of the night rolls on) but they got lucky as Ax was unable to make the tag. The tag would be made moments later and Smash arrived to clean house. I always loved Smash’s attacks after hot tags as he just tosses clotheslines and scoop slams with abandon. Fuji would get involved again…and screw up again as he breaks out a bag of salt but it backfires and he tosses it into the eyes of the Warlord. Demolition would take advantage, scooping up Fuji and polishing him off with the Decapitation Device to retain their gold to a nice pop. Gorilla puts the bow on this one by wrapping the story, talking about how Fuji made the wrong call and should have stayed on the floor instead of trying to be in the match. I would agree. He fucked up. The match was just OK, some good power stuff cloaked in the silence of the crowd. Grade: **
*** Before the next match starts, Superfly Jimmy Snuka makes his WWF return. He is brought out and introduced to the fans. He then leaves the ring. Snuka had been gone since 1985. ***
7) Dino Bravo defeats Ron Garvin with a side suplex at 3:06
Scott: A little filler match between two singles competitors. Bravo is just Bravo, there’s not much more to say about him anymore. Garvin is just an annoying babyface who must play the foil here. The big point here is the unusually timed return of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. They announce him right after the intros of this match, before the bell rings. This is Snuka’s first PPV appearance since WrestleMania I. As for the match, it is quick and inoffensive. Bravo wins, and rightfully so. Grade: **
Justin: And as one useless manager leaves, the Patron Saint of Shitty Seconds, Frenchy Martin, makes his way out, wobbling his way down the aisle with his charge Dino Bravo alongside with him and the Quebec flag in hand. Bravo has been a steady force in the midcard and is still living off his weightlifting record as he squares off against relative newcomer Ronnie Garvin. Gorilla is pumped for this one, expecting quite the powerhouse tussle. And then, in one of the most random PPV moments to date, we pick now, after the entrances and before the bell, to introduce the return of “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka to the WWF. Snuka comes all the way down the long aisle, arrives in the ring, poses and then leaves. Really bizarre. He leaves and we are right back to the aggressive match starts as Bravo bashes Garvin from behind as he is tossing his towel to the crowd. The start really messed Garvin up as he couldn’t shake it off at all with Bravo just working him over right hands and a bear hug. Garvin started to use his slight athletic advantage to find an opening and turn momentum around. Garvin would lay in a tight punch and a series of chops around a near fall from a splash. Garvin throws some awesome punches, but I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. I don’t think Garvin’s Bart Simpson haircut helped his image much to newer fans that didn’t know his legacy. The pace is much quicker than you would expect with Garvin picking up a handful of near falls with unique pin attempts. With Bravo in the corner, Garvin ascended on top of him to lay in some punches, but Bravo caught him and landed an inverted atomic drop and side suplex for the win. Well, that was more fun than expected. It moved right along and featured some solid strikes throughout. After the bell, Garvin knocked Bravo to the floor and slugged that dope Frenchy in the face. He polished Frenchy off with the Garvin Stomp as Bravo just bails. Grade: **
8) The Brainbusters defeat Strike Force when Arn Anderson pinned Tito Santana after a spike piledriver at 9:17
Fun Fact I: Shortly after losing the tag team championships to Demolition at WrestleMania IV, Rick Martel suffered an injury (in storyline), splitting up the team for several months. In reality, Martel was taking time off to care for his ailing wife. The tag team reunites here at WrestleMania V.
Fun Fact II: This would be the only WrestleMania appearance for the team of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.
Scott: The first real swerve of WrestleMania came with a major push of ½ of the greatest heel faction in wrestling history. Strike Force, the former tag team champions, came back together to face Bobby Heenan’s prized tag team. Unfortunately, the chemistry from 1987 just isn’t there. Tito goes for his flying forearm, and whacks Rick Martel accidentally. Martel falls out of the ring, and it takes him what seems like hours to get back to the apron. Meanwhile, Santana’s getting the shit kicked out of him by Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. When Tito finally gets to his corner, Martel blows him off, then leaves. He walks out on him, officially turning heel. The rest of the match is Tito being systematic dissected by Anderson and Blanchard. Beaten down, shall I say…Horsemen-style? Allow me to say that again. Santana is systematically dissected Horsemen-style. A smile purses my lips as I type that sentence. All that’s needed is Ric Flair breaking Tito’s leg with the Figure-Four while Ole Anderson stomps on his head, and all is right in the world. Sorry, went on a tangent there. Martel’s interview after the match is priceless, as he calls Tito a loser, and claims that he had been carrying his sorry ass for a while. He does a complete makeover from happy-go-lucky face, to arrogant pretty-boy heel. Good swerve, an even better heel beatdown. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Following the pattern of the show so far, it is yet again time for a tag team match. The company’s ability to have this many tag bouts on the show is proof of their fantastic division depth here in early 1989. A year ago, Strike Force reigned atop the promotion as champions, but were unseated by upstart Demolition. The last twelve months have been quite the roller coaster ride for them. In mid-1988, Rick Martel injured his neck and was sidelined. He returned for the Royal Rumble and shortly after, he and Tito Santana decided to reunite the band for another run the straps. Here, they face the Brainbusters, a team still running strong since they jumped ship from the NWA later last year. This one really had a lot of potential to be an NWA style sprint with four superior in ring warriors going at it in a match that could steal the show. Right out of the gate, Jesse wonders if Strike Force were ready for this after missing so much time, something that could really affect their timing and teamwork. The Busters tried to double team Martel to start, but he showed great fire fighting off both men. That led to a breakdown and brawl capped by a double dropkick from SF to send the Busters to the floor. In a nice spot, Martel locked Arn into a Boston Crab, but it was too close to the opposite corner, so Tully was able to break it up with a thumb to the eye from the apron. Things would breakdown again, leading to a SF double figure four in the middle of the ring. The tags from both teams were great here, sneaking them in when their opponents can’t see or realize what happened. It feels like the Busters were brought in just for Strike Force, they mesh so well. The Strike Force momentum vanished swiftly when Santana accidentally smashed Martel with his flying forearm, sending his partner crashing to the floor. As the Busters went right at Santana like sharks, Martel stomped around ringside, nursing his head and smacking the ring apron in anger. Arn was so awesome at the little things. I love how he fights off a sunset flip, flailing his hands around, begging for a tag even if he is too far away. More sneaky quick tags would keep the Busters in control as Santana did his best just to survive until Martel was healed. Jesse and Gorilla would debate how long Santana could wait before tagging out and if allowing Martel time to heal would cost them the match. Martel kept shaking off the cobwebs as Tito found an opening by slamming Arn off the top rope. Tito would crawl over and go for the tag but Martel refused to tag and decided to bail on the match and his team. Martel would march up the ramp to a cascade of loud boos as Santana continued to be punished, including eating a vintage AA spinebuster. Tito showed some great guts, finding a small opening here or there, but the numbers were just too much as the Busters could stay fresh and double team at will, including a great spot where Arn hooked Tully during a monkey flip attempt, causing Tito to smash back to the mat. The end would come right after that thanks to a picture perfect spike piledriver by the Busters. They did a tremendous job weaving the breakup story into the match without it feeling overwhelming. It allowed them to still work an aggressive, well paced match despite the pathos at ringside. They even got to squeeze in some really fun double teams early on before the miscommunication. After the match, Martel buries the knife in deeper, calling Santana a loser that begged him to team back up and that Tito got off lucky. This was a great match and a great angle. Grade: ***1/2
*** As we edge towards the midpont of the show, the casino fans were treated to a special edition of Piper’s Pit, starring the returning Roddy Piper. Before Hot Rod comes out, Brother Love arrives, dressed as Piper. Love does a funny job hosting the segment for a few minutes, portraying both himself and Piper in an interview segment. After that lengthy bit, the official Pit guest, Morton Downey, Jr. arrived on the scene. Downey was a controversial TV talk show host at the time, known for his big mouth and cigarette smoking. After some sparring and homophobia, the real Roddy Piper finally showed up to a huge pop from the crowd. Piper would run off Love and then debate Downey until Downey kept blowing smoke in his face, pissing him off to the point that Piper sprayed him with a fire extinguisher to close things out. Piper had been off WWF TV since WrestleMania III. ***
*** We get a special sneak preview of Hulk Hogan’s new feature film, No Holds Barred. Afterwards, an angry Jesse Ventura cuts a bitter promo about Hogan overstepping his bounds into Hollywood. Sean Mooney also chats with Donald Trump about hosting the show for two straight years. ***
9) Jake Roberts defeats Andre the Giant by disqualification at 9:44
Fun Fact: On the November 26, 1988 episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Jake Roberts attempted to unleash his snake, Damien, on Andre following a match. Andre’s fear of snakes was exposed, which was something Roberts took advantage of for the next few weeks by walking to ringside during Andre’s matches, causing him to run from the ring in fright. Their match here at WrestleMania V is the culmination of their feud.
Scott: This feud has reached its zenith. After Andre pounded the hell out of Jake at the Survivor Series, Jake got revenge by driving him from of the ring out of fear at the Royal Rumble. However, Jake does have the wild card. That wild card is Damien, who Andre is deathly afraid of. Our guest referee is Big John Studd, who won the Royal Rumble. I don’t know why that makes him the ref here, but OK. The heat between Studd and Andre hasn’t been fresh for four years. You can tell it doesn’t add anything to the match. Speaking of the match, it’s not that great. Andre is losing his physical battle every day, and he just can’t get around the ring anymore. Jake for some reason can’t do much to make this match better. His quickness and basic offense doesn’t plug into an Andre match. Studd is calling it down the middle. In the end, Andre and Studd get into a skirmish which ends the match, and Jake goes to get Damien. Suddenly Ted DiBiase comes from out of nowhere and takes Damien. Jake chases him, grabs the snake and tosses it in the ring. This chases Andre off. I really think Andre should have turned face here. The whole year was a mess for him, as he really couldn’t do much. Now he’s afraid of snakes? That made no sense whatsoever to me. By the end of the year, they had to write matches around Andre not being able to move around. As for Jake, he wins this feud and moves on. This first shot over the bow by the Million Dollar Man begins a year-long feud. Grade: **
Justin: After an intermission to break the show up, we are back up with the culmination of a pretty hot feud. Jake Roberts has been torturing Andre the Giant since 1988, tossing his snake Damien on the big man whenever he had the opportunity. Here, they finally square off one-on-one, but because of the hate in this feud, Jack Tunney assigned Royal Rumble winner Big John Studd as the special referee. Andre was looking massive as always as Bobby Heenan led him down to the ring. As Jake made his way out, Studd and Andre got face-to-face and really got into it verbally, with Studd basically saying he won’t take any shit. As the bell rings, Andre smashes Jake into the corner and we immediately discover that the Giant had disposed of the turnbuckle pad. Studd is oblivious to it, which pisses off Gorilla. This always felt like such a mismatch on paper thanks to the size difference. Jake looked even tinier with Studd in there too. Andre started to choke Jake out and use his girth to dominate, swatting off any of the Snake’s comeback attempts. Jesse puts over the game plan of the Brain and praises Andre for executing it. Jake would find his opening with a series of punches and really got a boost when Andre fell backwards and got trapped in the ropes, which was some cool booking. In some nice selling, Jake had to stop punching Andre because he messed up his hand. That slight delay cost him, as Andre busted free and started taking the fight right back to the Snake. Jake would stay alive, peppering Andre with rights and then knocking him into the exposed buckle. As Andre knocked Jake to the floor and used headbutts to keep him there, Studd kept getting in the Giant’s face, giving him the business. Fed up, Jake grabbed Damien but while he was making his way to the ring, Andre decked Studd from behind. Before Jake could get in the ring, Virgil and Ted DiBiase showed up and clobbered the Snake from behind. They grabbed Damien’s bag and took off but Jake caught up to them and got Damien back. While that was happening, Andre started to choke out Studd, refusing to release the hold until Jake unleashed Damien in the ring. Jake would take the DQ win and this was fine what it was, with solid heat and a good storyline. Neither man was going to job, so at least this way they kicked off two new feuds as this one wound down. Grade: *1/2
*** Backstage, Sensational Sherri mocks Rockin’ Robin’s singing and then vows to regain her gold. She also dumps on Miss Elizabeth and the explosion of the Mega Powers. ***
10) The Hart Foundation defeat Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine when Bret Hart pinned Honky Tonk Man after a megaphone shot at 7:40
Fun Fact: After turning face in 1988, the Hart Foundation had been feuding with the Fabulous Rougeaus, managed by Jimmy Hart. The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine, had come together as a tag team in early 1989 to defend Hart, leading to this match.
Scott: This was just a filler tag match to give all four guys a paycheck. The pink and black attack continues to just float along one show at a time. The next year will have success and failure. As for Honky and the Hammer, this would be a test match for what would be a very cheesy gimmick in early 1990. Not a bad match, as the Hart Foundation always bring their ‘A’ game, Valentine’s always a solid worker, and Honky’s just, well there. This time, Honky can’t avoid the pin, as he ends up looking at the lights after heel miscommunication and a megaphone shot. The Foundation’s feud with Jimmy Hart has now reached almost eight months. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Next up, we continue to alternate through our card with another tag match on deck. Two of Jimmy Hart’s singles stalwarts team up to battle his former charges. The Hart Foundation had severed ties with Jimmy back in the summer of 1988 but that bad blood still lingered and the sides were constantly at war. Bret Hart and Honky Tonk Man would open things up and I think it was a shrewd move to team Honky with Valentine as both were a bit lost in the mid-card and were best suited for this sort team at this point. It wouldn’t last, but it was a good template to keep in mind. The Harts kept the pressure on, using some nice double teams to keep the Hart Family off balance. Once again here in Trump Plaza, a competitor makes a mistake by ascending the ropes. Here, Bret came up empty with a second rope elbow, which allowed Hammer and Honky the chance to catch a breather and start to control the action. Honky actually busted out a few nice moves here but I always wondered why he dropped elbow with his body facing the same direction as the man prone on the ground. I mean, in theory it is fine but it looks weird since nobody else ever did it. Honky would hit the Shake, Rattle & Roll but he didn’t go for the pin and instead tagged Hammer to set up the figure four, but Hart fought out of it. Gorilla was not impressed that Honky passed up a potential win. Anvil would get the hot tag and go right to work, overpowering both men. As things broke down, Anvil grabbed Jimmy’s megaphone and lobbed it to Bret, who decked Honky with it for the win. That was a solid little tag match and it was great to see the Harts get revenge but I feel they should have gotten their hands on Jimmy to really wrap things up. This was meaningless filler but well worked. Grade: **
11) Rick Rude (Richard Rood) defeats the Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) to win WWF Intercontinental Title after Bobby Heenan (Ray Heenan) trips Warrior and holds his foot during a suplex attempt at 9:36
Fun Fact: The battle between these two superstars began when Rick Rude challenged the Ultimate Warrior to a “Super Posedown” at the 1989 Royal Rumble to see who had the better body. During their posedown, Rude attacked Warrior with a metal pose bar, igniting the feud.
Scott: The crowd is rabid for this match, as this has been brewing since the pose down competition at the Rumble. Rude was reaching top notch heel status, and with Bobby Heenan as his manager he’s garnering even more heat. The Ultimate Warrior has captured the fans attention with his crazed entrance music and energetic way he enters the ring. This was his first real feud, and everyone expected Warrior to mow through Rude easily. Jesse was pumping up the possibility of an upset. He was also pumping up the chance that Heenan would finally win WWF gold. Alas, after Warrior pretty much dominated most of the match, Heenan makes his move. Warrior puts Rude up for a suplex, but Heenan trips him and Rude falls on him. Heenan holds the leg down, and the ref counts three. Rude is the new IC champ and the crowd is stunned. I was sure stunned when I saw it. Obviously most fans know this isn’t Heenan’s first title. He managed AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkel in the 70s. This is his first WWF gold. Warrior is outsmarted, but this feud only gets better as time progresses. Solid match between two guys you’d least expect to see be solid. Grade: ***
Justin: Our second title bout of the evening sees the Intercontinental Title up for grabs as the Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude continue their feud that kicked off to start the year. Warrior has held the title since August and nobody has come close to dethroning him, and while Rude certainly seemed like a threat, Warrior was still the heavy favorite. The other storyline crafted here centers around Bobby Heenan, a top flight manager that had never managed a champion at any level in the WWF. Rude made a major mistake early when he trying to bury a knee to Warrior’s gut but instead clanged it off the belt that was still on the champ’s waist. From there, Warrior just manhandled Rude, chucking him into the corner repeatedly as the crowd cheered him on. As Warrior clamped on a bear hug, Jesse discussed his confidence that Rude could survive the hold due to his superior abdominal development. Great analysis, Bod. Rude would do his best to stave off the champ but he had no chance as Warrior kept powering right through him while pounding the Ravishing One’s back repeatedly. Just when it looked like it could be a Warrior squash, the champ ate knees on a splash attempt and finally gave Rude the opening he needed. Once Rude took over, he slowly started to set himself up for victory. One of the best spots of the match was a super stiff Rude piledriver for a near fall. Jesse is completely pro-Rude here and it is great. He is legitimately just coaching and rooting him on. Rude’s offensive control was really short lived as the crowd rallied Warrior right back into match. Even after Warrior careened into the buckle and got trapped in the Rude Awakening, he was able to break the hold before Rude could snap it off. But before Warrior could polish Rude off, things all came crumbling down with one suplex attempt. As Warrior tried to bring Rude up and over the ropes and back into the ring from the apron, Heenan hooked the champ’s leg, causing Rude to collapse on him and pick up the three count. Bobby gets his gold! He also catches a shit kicking by Warrior as Rude bailed to the back. But still, Bobby gets his gold! This was an interesting match as Warrior really dominated almost all of the match but in the end, Bobby and Rude were able to cheat their way to victory. It was a fitting way for Rude to win since he just wasn’t positioned believable enough yet to pick up a clean win over someone like the Warrior. Plus, I liked how Bobby was directly involved in finally getting himself some gold. Good stuff here and the feud clearly will roll on. Grade: ***
12) Bad News Brown (Allen Coage) and Jim Duggan wrestle to a double disqualification at 3:49
Scott: I can’t imagine what the bookers were thinking when they put this one together. Bad News is part of the quartet of non-finishes (along with Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts and Roddy Piper), something we will track as we move along. Brown was settling into his role nicely as a loner and a mean motherfucker. Duggan continues to be a very popular character, except of course with me. The match is sloppy and rough to watch, and both men come into the ring with weapons to end with a double-DQ. Oh joy. Duggan chases Bad News off, and then one of many tirades of the night from Jesse. Duggan turns to the camera, and he has a gigantic snot hanging out of his nose. Jesse just rips into him, saying he’s a low class bum with snots hanging out of his nose. Absolutely awesome. Thank god the match was only about four minutes. Grade: *1/2
Justin: By this point in the card, the crowd just desperately wanted to get to the main event, and so did I. This card is so bloated and matches like this weren’t really needed to fill things out. Neither of these brawlers had much going on, so they get paired off here to batter each other on the big stage. Bad News jumps Duggan as he enters the ring (trend continues!) and hammers away until Duggan punches his way back into the match. Jesse and Gorilla speculate on Bobby’s potential injuries as he still has a match to come on this card. Bad News tried to work over the head of Duggan, but Jesse was all over that one, bashing Duggan’s intelligence and basically saying there was no point in targeting his dome. This was a straight up brawl with zero wrestling. They just alternated clubbing away until Duggan ate the post on the floor. Back inside, Bad News went for the Ghettoblaster, but Duggan dodged it and followed with his three point stance clothesline. The impact knocked Bad News to the floor and he emerged back in the ring with a chair in hand. Never above using a weapon, Duggan grabbed his 2×4 and the two clashed weapons to draw a DQ. This was the definition of nothing when it comes to wrestling. Duggan would swat Brown with the board after the bell and caps it off by sitting in the chair in the center of the ring with a huge snot hanging from his nose. Jesse mocking that snot was the highlight of this one. Grade: 1/2*
13) The Red Rooster (Terry Taylor) defeats Bobby Heenan (Ray Heenan) when Heenan goes shoulder-first into the ring post at :32
Fun Fact I: The Red Rooster lost to Tito Santana on the January 7, 1989 episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. Following the match, Rooster’s manager Bobby Heenan slapped him, resulting in a face turn for the Rooster. Following the face turn, Terry Taylor went all out to add to the Rooster gimmick, adding a chicken strut, spiking the center of his hair and coloring it red like a rooster comb, and crowing like a rooster during promos (yes, a grown man actually made rooster crowing sounds on TV…sometimes you can’t make this stuff up).
Fun Fact II: The Brooklyn Brawler was portrayed by perennial jobber Steve Lombardi. Lombardi was repackaged into the Brawler and hired by Bobby Heenan to take out the freshly turned Red Rooster. On one memorable Prime Time Wrestling, the Brawler assaulted the set and nailed Gorilla Monsoon with a chair, causing chaos to break out.
Scott: Just a quick filler before the main event, but even this match had a back story. Heenan berated Rooster at the Survivor Series after Rooster was the first man eliminated. He continued the berating on Superstars over the next couple of months until Rooster bolted. Heenan comes out with his one jobber family member, the Brooklyn Brawler. Bobby was a little sore after the Ultimate Warrior knocked him around earlier in the night. So in quick order the Rooster wins the match, but the Brawler beat the hell out of him afterwards. This is probably the biggest moment of Terry Taylor’s WWF career. How much of a raise did he get to have that red Mohawk anyway? Grade: DUD
Justin: So, since our last PPV outing, the Red Rooster transitioned into being…an actual rooster? Who the hell knows. He has a red mohawk and clucked his way around, seemingly believing himself to be an actual barnyard animal. The Brooklyn Brawler accompanies a severely banged up Heenan to the ring. The build here was actually pretty good, with Rooster being fed up with Heenan berating him and Heenan picking a random jobber to prove to Rooster that he could turn anyone into a star, topped by the great Brawler attack on Prime Time. Rooster would make really quick work of Heenan, who was nursing those damaged ribs from earlier. I get why they wanted to blow this off here, but it was just another waste of a few minutes on an already bloated card. The highlight here is Brawler’s great clothesline after the bell, almost wiping Rooster’s head off his body. Grade: DUD
14) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) defeats Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) to win WWF World Title with the Leg Drop at 17:54
Fun Fact: After what happened at the Royal Rumble, everything finally comes to a head on February 3 in Milwaukee. It was the second edition of the Main Event, and the big match was the Mega Powers against the Twin Towers. At one point, Savage is tossed over the ropes and lands on Elizabeth. Elizabeth is down and Savage gets back in the ring and gets the crap kicked out of him. Hogan leaves the apron and picks Elizabeth up and takes her to the back, leaving Savage in the ring alone. When Hogan comes back to the apron, Savage is ready to tag him. He does tag him, by pimp-slapping him right across the face and walking out on him. Hogan eventually wins the match. He goes backstage to check on Elizabeth and Savage berates him, saying if he wanted a shot at the title he should have asked, but “that would have been too easy.” As Hogan tells Elizabeth to reason with him, Savage pastes him with the title belt.
Scott: After months of teasing and posturing and question dodging, the Mega Powers finally explode. The commentary here is top notch as Jesse is slamming Hogan, calling him two-faced and “Lust Hogan” for going after Savage’s woman instead of asking man-to-man for a title shot. Gorilla does everything he can as the babyface announcer to try and defend Hogan. When you’re a kid and a full-blooded Hulkamaniac like I was, you fall for it. Now that I’m older and wiser, well, sorry Gorilla, but it doesn’t fly. This angle was written very poorly, as Hogan definitely looks like the greedy, selfish, and horny bastard. Unfortunately, it’s Savage that will forever look like the chump. He lays down in what is a pretty good match, as Hogan sells for most of Savage’s offense. Gorilla and Jesse continue to defend their guys. As for Elizabeth, it depends on your point of view. On the one hand, she’s a harmless manager torn between the two guys she represents. On the other hand, you can see her as a quiet, devious, goldigging slut as Jesse makes her out to be. The fact that she doesn’t go back to Savage in the long run proves some people’s point that she was made out to be a goldigger. If she wasn’t “Elizabeth”, with her beautiful gowns and squeaky clean image, the fans may have turned on her. In any event she really becomes an albatross in this match, and Dave Hebner finally gets rid of her midway through. The end is typical, as Savage hits his elbow, Hogan kicks out at two, finger wave, three punches, yadda yadda yadda, and Hogan is champ for the second time. This is where the more intelligent fans may see the holes in Hogan’s persona, and how it’s tough to write storylines for him without making him look like a wimp. As for Savage, he begins one of the worst 18 months of his career. He main events the next show, but it quickly shunted down the card and further embarrassed. Solid title match with a predictable ending. Grade: ***
Justin: After a long and winding road since one year earlier, we arrive back in Trump Plaza for the explosion of the once united Mega Powers. Twelve months earlier saw Randy Savage reach the pinnacle of his career, besting four men to win the WWF Title, with an assist from his best buddy Hulk Hogan. As we have chronicled, things have eroded between the two and the feud was at a fever pitch here. Miss Elizabeth was squarely in the center of this feud and she even gets her own entrance as she was set to be in a neutral corner as the former friends went to battle. Savage enters first, a point that does not go unnoticed by an angry Ventura. Jesse also laid it in hard on Hogan, calling him “Lust” for going after Savage’s woman in order to get a title shot. It was an interesting position to take. And it wasn’t wrong. It is very easy to have watched this feud and assumed it was Hogan that should have turned heel after everything that went down. Alas, Savage slowly went crazy and was so paranoid that he severed the friendship, seemingly for good. We would get some feeling out and back and forth early on with Savage bailing to the floor anytime Hogan took control. Jesse was really at his best here, goading Gorilla into a fight and unabashedly rooting for Savage. He also advocates Liz getting punched in the nose, but nobody bats .1000. Savage would turn a Hogan headlock into a nice back suplex and from there he started to work the arm. The AC crowd was at its best for this one, rallying Hogan throughout the match. Hogan would make a brief comeback but it wasn’t long before Savage hit a perfect running clothesline to slow him back down. As Savage wrenched him to the mat, it became clear that Hogan was busted open above his eye, putting his chances in jeopardy. Savage would keep targeting the eye whenever he had a clean shot at it and as things moved along you really got the feeling that Savage was wrestling the perfect match with Hogan struggling to generate any offense. When Hogan did finally get on track, he struck hard by chucking Savage down to the floor with a body slam over the top rope. Outside, Liz tried to help Savage, but he shoved her away and instead went right back to pelting Hogan’s eye with strikes. The fight would continue on the floor, with Liz causing more issues as she blocked Hogan from running Savage into the post, allowing Savage to wriggle free and post Hulk instead. By this point even Gorilla was agreeing that Liz had become a distraction at ringside. And the referee agreed as he decided to just toss her from ringside so things could even back out. Savage kept pouring it on, draping Hogan across the guardrail and slamming into his back from the top rope. He was feeling it by that point, working Hogan over with aggressiveness and confidence. By the time Savage ascended the top rope and crashed off with his big elbow, Jesse was about ready to wrap things up. To that point, Savage was booked like a real machine. And then it snowballed quickly as Hogan kicked out of the elbow, punched Savage a few times and dropped the leg for the win. And like that, in the blink of an eye, Savage’s one year run was over. And to be honest, it kind of seemed like a fluke as Hogan got virtually no offense in and his comeback was lightning quick and over before you realized it. It kind of sucked to see Hogan blow out of Savage’s finisher, but it was WrestleMania so we will let it slide. The match was really good and well worked thanks to Savage’s pacing and Hogan’s selling plus the built in story lent a good deal of heat to the proceedings. Hogan is back on top of the mountain for the first time in fourteen months and Savage has to head back to regroup. Grade: ***1/2
Scott: I feel this show is longer than Wrestlemania IV, and that I believe had more matches with shorter durations. The show had its share of forgettable fillers and we have a huge upset title change but in the end Hulkamania was back on top as everyone probably predicted. When we look back now on all the PPVs and live shows that have ever been executed, Jesse Ventura’s performance here could go down as one of the greatest in color commentary history. His sniping with Gorilla and subtle jabs at everybody is classic. Does the show stand the test of time? Well the main event is a classic as two icons go one on one, a huge upset has Rick Rude win the IC Title, and the epic heel turn of Rick Martel with his great “He’s a loser” in his French-Canadian accent. Otherwise, the undercard was average. It is a long show, so maybe pick out specific matches but otherwise sit back and maybe the Twin Towers strikes your fancy. Final Grade: C+
Justin: This is a weird show to grade, as it is jam packed with matches and is fairly entertaining to watch and had phenomenal commentary, thanks to the Jesse Ventura Odyssey. However, when you step back and look at it, there are a ton of longish filler matches and time wasters, pushing this show pretty close to four hours. It was nice to see the depth of the tag team division showcased, but they could have easily had Hart Foundation vs. Rougeaus (finally polish off that feud) and scrapped the two matches they had instead. They also could have lost Bad News vs. Duggan and no one would have cried. The show definitely has its fair share of memorable moments, but also has many parts that are flat out forgettable. The Mega Powers story ends the only way it realistically could and we are now left to hope Savage wouldn’t be shunted down into mediocrity following the match, similar to the way DiBiase was after Wrestlemania IV. This was a fun show to go back and watch and had all the heavy hitters of the era, but when you factor in a fairly blase crowd, the bloated card and the aimless segments blended in, you are left with a pretty down the middle, average Mania. The grade gets bumped due to nostalgia, so your mileage may vary, but the main event was really good and there were enough solid matches for me to justify where it landed. Final Grade: B-