Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Wrestlemania IV

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre the Giant) for the vacant WWF Championship

So as we head into the fourth installment of Wrestlemania, there seemed to be a sense of uncertainty in the air as this felt like a much different Wrestlemania than the previous three years. With those previous shows, we always knew what the main event of the show would be which was Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Title against the big challenger at the time with last year’s showdown with Andre the Giant being one of the biggest of all time. But this year, they decide to do something completely different by having the biggest show of the year be based around a tournament to crown a new champion. Going into the tournament, it was pretty clear that the heavy favorites were Hogan, Andre, and Ted Dibiase who seemed to be tailor made to sneak away with the title after almost having it handed it to him by Andre back in February. However, there was one guy that was slowly working his way up and that was Randy Savage who seemed to be in a state of flux after the feud with the Honkytonk Man ended back at the Main Event. It was going to be interesting to see who of these four would end up being in the finals at the end of the night and who was going to walk away with the title.

Since Savage and Dibiase faced each other back at the last Saturday Night’s Main Event on 3/12, the two would stay apart on the house shows as Dibiase would continue his feud with Hogan while Savage would regularly team with Strike Force to face Honkytonk Man and the Hart Foundation in 6-man tags. They would also stay apart on TV as they would cut various promos going into this show, so again it would be very interesting to see how the tournament would end up playing out in the end.

By the time we get to the end of the show which was a very long show, it was clear that Dibiase was the heavy favorite as he got to the finals by defeating Jim Duggan and Don Muraco before getting a bye due to Hogan and Andre going to a double disqualification. On the other side of the coin, Savage had a much harder road as he defeated Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, and the One Man Gang and now he comes here for his fourth match of the night as the underdog. We get all the pomp and circumstance for this match as Robin Leach comes out with the title to present it to the new champion, and Vanna White and the great Bob Eucker come to be the guest timekeeper and ring announcer. On a side note, it is pretty jarring seeing Donald Trump in the crowd as a fan not knowing at the time where he would be in about 18 years. Dibiase was red hot as a heel as he comes out with Andre in place of Virgil and Savage gets a big pop from the crowd, and in a cool note Savage and Elizabeth had worn different outfits for all their matches including this one. The two men lock up to start with Dibiase backing Savage into the corner only for Savage to block his shots and get an elbow in, but Andre trips him up from the outside and Savage yells at him as the fans look towards the entrance thinking someone will come out. They lock up again with Savage hooking a headlock and he goes behind Dibiase as they trade momentum until Savage regains control, and he goes back to the headlock and knocks Dibiase down only for Andre to again trip him from the outside. Dibiase misses the elbow and Savage goes after Andre briefly as he regroups on the apron before returning to the ring, They lock up with Dibiase working on the arm only for Savage to turn it around and they trade momentum until Dibiase rams Savage into the buckle, and he pounds on Savage in the corner and knocks him down before hitting a clothesline for a two count. Dibiase hooks a headlock and knocks him down only for Savage to block a sunset flip by nailing Dibiase, and he hits a clothesline on Dibiase for a two count as Dibiase regroups in the corner and he confers with Andre. They lock up with Dibiase getting a knee in and he pounds on Savage before knocking him down and he stomps on him, and he hits a back elbow on Savage and drives the elbow into the back of the head before ramming him into the buckle. Savage ducks a shot and nails Dibiase with an elbow before leaping over the top rope as he hotshots Dibiase on the top rope, and he returns to the ring and hits a high knee that sends Dibiase over the top to the floor. Savage goes up top only for Andre to stand in his way and Savage comes down as Dibiase regroups before returning to the ring, and Savage has Elizabeth come up to the apron and he whispers something to her before sending her to the back. Dibiase comes from behind and pounds on Savage in the corner before hitting a slam, and he drops a trio of fists on Savage for a two count before hitting a snapmare and hooking a submission on. Just then, Elizabeth comes back down with Hulk Hogan by her side and he takes a seat at ringside as Dibiase flips out, and Dibiase rams Savage into the buckle and pounds on him in the corner as Savage tries to battle back. Andre pulls at Savage from the outside only for Hogan to come around and nail Andre before returning to his corner, and Savage catches Dibiase with an elbow and pounds on him until Dibiase rakes the eyes and he hits a clothesline on Savage. He drops an elbow on Savage for a two count and then he hits a suplex on Savage for a two count, and then he hits a gutwrench suplex for a two count before hitting a slam. He goes up top only for Savage to grab him first and toss him to the mat as he quickly goes up top himself, but he misses the flying elbow and Dibiase hooks the Million Dollar Dream on. Savage grabs the rope only for Andre to swat it off which distracts the ref, and Hogan gets in the ring with the chair and he nails Dibiase in the back with it to break the hold. Savage gets to his feet before going up top and hitting the flying elbow on Dibiase which gets the three and we have a new champion. After the match, Hogan takes the title and hands it to Savage before grabbing the chair and keeping Dibiase and Andre out, and they celebrate in the ring as Savage gives the belt to Elizabeth and holds her up on his shoulder in an iconic moment.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard for the 9 minutes they got and put on a solid match though it was a clear step down from their last match at SNME. In their defense, this match was considerably shorter than that one and it was clear that Savage was cooked after wrestling 3 tough matches earlier in the night while Dibiase had a fairly easy night since he only wrestled twice. The whole storyline of the tournament also led to this being a very long night of wrestling and the crowd was pretty gassed by the end of the night, but to their credit they tried to stay with it throughout the match. Even though Dibiase seemed primed to win the tournament and the title going into the show, this was still a great showcase for Savage as he wrestles four matches against four very different opponents and comes out like a major star. The ending was pretty interesting as Hogan gets the last laugh on Dibiase by costing him the title, but it did a bit forced seeing Hogan celebrate with Savage and Elizabeth as he probably should’ve left the stage to them since they deserved it. As mentioned, the crowd managed to stay into the match even after a long night and popped big for Savage when he won. Savage gets the win over Dibiase and is the surprising new WWF Champion after a long night, but this issue is not over yet.

Final Grade: ***

Author: Steve Riddle

I have been a wrestling fan since 1993 and that is probably my biggest love, with movies being a close second due in part to being employed at a movie theater for over 9 years.

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