As we count down the days to the biggest show of the year, I’ll be looking back at how WrestleMania has changed since it debuted in 1985. Instead of doing recaps of all the shows, I’m looking to create a Top 10 WrestleMania matches and see how that list changes over the years. We’ll also discuss some other highlights and lowlights of each show.
WrestleMania IV – March 27, 1988
How do you top WrestleMania III? The arenas don’t get any bigger than the Silverdome. The main events don’t get bigger than Hogan-Andre. So much like they’ve done every year at this point, they tried something new: a tournament to crown a WWF Champion. The 14-man tournament blew the show into a 16-match, three-and-a-half hour show.
Of the 11 matches in the tournament, the longest was a 15-minute draw in the first round between “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. The eventual winner of the tournament, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, wrestled four matches for a total of less than 25 minutes. Workrate was clearly not a priority here.
Best Match: British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan. My love of late 1980s WWF tag team wrestling comes through again, as the British Bulldogs and the Islanders pull out an enjoyable match centered around Heenan being afraid of Matilda. The protective suit The Brain wore was also top notch comedy.
Worst Match: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. One Man Gang. In a battle of two big men nobody in the crowd cared about, the best part is that it’s the shortest match on the show, at just under 3 minutes.
Missed Opportunities: The tournament is, as we frequently point out, too long with too much filler. Cutting the field to 8 men and letting these guys go a little longer would have gone a long way to help the quality of this show. Make it Steamboat-Valentine, Savage-Gang, DiBiase-Duggan and Hogan-Andre. Steamboat beats the Hammer, The Savage-Gang match goes the same way, as do the last two matches in the first round. This allows for the DiBiase bye and a possibly classic Savage-Steamboat rematch to showcase the eventual new champion’s skills.
Six tournament matches plus the five non-tournament matches sounds like a perfectly manageable card.
No Heat In Atlantic City: The matches on this show aren’t terrible. Mostly the matches are middle of the road and with a better audience, some of these matches would have seemed a lot better. But the reported 18,000 people in the audience seemed to care about nothing on the show but Hogan-Andre, which went on in the middle of the card. You can hear crickets for way too much of the show. I also wish they had Bob Uecker do some more match commentary like he did the previous year. The backstage vignettes were great, but Uecker was a natural calling matches with Monsoon and Ventura.
The Top Ten
Not a whole lot of movement here, as very little stands out over the course of the show. Most matches from WrestleMania IV are around the middle of the pack.
1 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
2 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
3 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
4 – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – WWF Title Match (WrestleMania III)
5 – Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs. British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (WrestleMania III)
6 – Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania I)
7 – Terry and Hoss Funk vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WrestleMania 2)
8 – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter – Women’s Title Match (WrestleMania I)
9 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis – Hair vs. Hair Match (WrestleMania III)
10 – British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (WrestleMania IV)
Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrities
1 – Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
2 – Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
3 – Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
4 – Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
5 – Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
6 – Elvira – WrestleMania 2
7 – Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
8 – Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
9 – Joan Rivers – WrestleMania 2
10 – Joe Frazier – WrestleMania 2
Top Five WrestleMania Musical Performances
1 – Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
2 – Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
3 – Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
4 – Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet National Anthem – WrestleMania I/WrestleMania 2
5 – Gladys Knight, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania IV