In this new weekly feature, the “Cowboy” Roger Morrissette saddles up and heads to school for a re-education about the wrestling business. Roger grew up a wrestling fan but faded away for nearly twenty years, only returning to his roots on brief occasions throughout the last two decades. Now, his professor, Justin Rozzero, will be doling out weekly homework assignments geared at educating Roger on everything he has missed. Roger will provide thoughts on the matches and angles he watches and will include grades on each as well. So, join the Cowboy as he heads to class, PTBN style.
Week One Assignment:
Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase, WWF World Title Match – WrestleMania IV
First I’d like to say that this is the best homework assignment I’ve ever received. If real school was like this I would have certainly made it a point to go more! In all seriousness, I was thrilled when Justin tapped me on the shoulder for this project. As a born again WWE fan, I have great memories of watching my heroes compete during my youth and having the ability to revisit these matches as an adult is simply fantastic. Allow me to provide a quick breakdown of how this will work before we get into the first match. Justin will be assigning me 2-4 matches per week from wrestling’s past. For a match to be selected it must fit simple, specific criteria: I must have either never seen the match or have watched it once before I turned 12 years old and have not viewed it since. I will give a review of each match and provide ratings in three categories: Crowd, Angle, and In Ring Action. I will use the one to five-star system to keep things easy. Without further adieu… let’s take a look at the WrestleMania IV clash between Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage!
While I remember watching this match live as an 8-year-old, I forgot that this was the culmination of a single elimination tournament to determine the champion. This is an important point to remember when putting this match into historical context. My first thought when the match ended was, “That was short.” Given that Savage and Dibiase had already fought in a combined five other matches on the card, I think the length was just fine. The match itself was nothing special but it served two very important purposes from a historical perspective. First and foremost, when Macho Man sends Miss Elizabeth (I loved her when I was eight and I can still see why today) back to the locker room, the crowd immediately recognizes what’s going on. Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man were joining forces! When the Hulkster made his way to the ring and subsequently won the match for Savage with an illegal steel chair shot to the Million Dollar Man it had the feel of something huge. It was clear this wouldn’t be a one time partnership. The second purpose was, of course, crowning Savage as champion. He was a huge fan favorite and he seemed genuinely moved in the ring clutching his newly minted title. Elizabeth cried tears of joy and her and Macho Man’s emotion seemed very real. I couldn’t help but be very happy for both of them. I also thought that Hogan did a great job of selling the pairing and Macho Man as the new champ. It was an awesome moment to witness. I think Gorilla Monsoon summed it up perfectly when he said “That is a great threesome!” – seriously Gorilla?!?!?
Crowd – ****1/2
Angle – *****
In Ring Action – **1/2
Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant – SummerSlam 1988
Immediately after watching the Mega Powers form at WrestleMania, the wonder that is the WWE Network allowed me to tune into this inaugural SummerSlam Main Event less than five minutes later. It certainly beats the days of ordering matches on VHS tape out of the back of a wrestling magazine! Anyhow, I was pretty jacked up to watch this one especially when it was announced that Jesse “The Body” Ventura would be the special guest referee. I thought the Mega Powers angle played great in this match. I especially liked the beginning of the match where the two alpha dogs, Hogan and Savage, had trouble deciding who would start first in the ring. You could see them building their chemistry together as the match went on. The in ring action was awesome with a bunch of near falls. When Hogan was getting put to sleep and then got all amped up (like he does), I thought the match was over. Instead of letting Hulk finish things with a leg drop right there, there was a brutal double clothesline between he and DiBiase that added some drama. My only gripe with the match was that I wish Heenan and Virgil were a bit more prominently involved. They ware basically window dressing and with the biased Ventura as referee, I feel that they could have gotten away with murder. Andre had slowed down quite a bit by this point in his career (think Big Show today), but had such a presence that every time he set foot in the ring there was an audible gasp from the crowd. I forgot what an imposing figure the Giant was. While I think the Mega Powers angle was great, I was not as thrilled with the MegaBucks. I just didn’t like the idea of Andre selling out and teaming up with the Million Dollar Man. What I did like about the angle was the notion that Ventura had been paid off before the fight. It definitely added some intrigue. The ending to this match is just perfect. With Ventura counting out both Hogan and Savage, the normally shy Miss Elizabeth gets on the apron and removes her dress bottom revealing some killer legs. Everyone was so stunned that the Mega Powers were able to take advantage and finished the match off with a Flying Elbow/Leg Drop finishing combo that is certainly one of the best in the history of the company. The Mega Powers get the win and all is right in the world.
Crowd – *****
Angle – ***1/2
In Ring Action – ****
Teacher’s Note: Off to a good start, Cowboy. Next week…the Mega Powers show some vulnerability as we continue through this year long epic storyline!