April 18, 2010
Much like the year before, plans for attending WrestleMania were fairly last minute. After two straight years of making a long road trip we had all pretty much decided that we didnít have another long trip in us. Then they announced that WrestleMania VI was being held and Sky Dome in Toronto and our plans changed quickly. Toronto was less than an hour up the road from Waterloo, so after two long ass road trips to Atlantic City we couldnít skip Mania the year it was in our back yard. My buddy Dennis spent the morning tickets went on sale on the phone with ticket master and managed to get us floor seats right on the aisle, which I think cost us $150 a piece.
Some time between when we bought tickets and when we attended the event a strange thing happened; I decided to quit University and pursue pro-wrestling as a career. I enrolled in the Hart Brotherís Pro-Wrestling Camp, withdrew from University and moved back to North Bay (3 hours north of Toronto) to work, save money and train. This gave me a different perspective on Mania this year because I wasnít just watching as a fan, I was watching as a prospective wrestler, so I was looking at this trip as a bit more of an educational experience.
WWE didnít do huge fan fests back then but many of the guys did do appearances and autograph sessions through out the city leading up to WrestleMania. I think the 4 of us who made the first Mania trip (Mania IV) attended this year and we went to one personal appearance in Toronto the Saturday before. The Rockers were doing an appearance at a Mall somewhere in Toronto and we went to check it out. None of us liked the Rockers (We hated the gimmick) but we enjoyed their matches, and I wanted to attend just for the chance to compare my size to theirs. When we got to the Mall the line was huge and so we just got as close as we could so I could make the size comparison.
I was just a ľ inch shy of 6 feet and weighed about 218lbs at the time and I figured I measured up not too bad with the Rockers which gave me hope that I was big enough to be a small man in the wrestling business. The Rockers were facing the Orient Express the next day and I even joked about getting in line so I could ask them: ďwhich one of you guys is getting hit with Fujiís cane tomorrow?Ē I was of course a smart ass mark at the time who thought he was brilliant for figuring out their finish ahead of time. Iím glad I decided against it, because that is the kind of thing that annoyed the hell out of me after I broke in. Turns out it was salt in the eyes not a cane in the back but I did peg the finish.
If you remember from my WrestleMania IV commentary the pictures we took were from so far away none of them were very good. At Mania V I donít think we even had a camera, because I canít find any pictures from that trip. So this year I decided we would get some good pics. We had floor seats right on the aisle and I borrowed my step-Dadís camera which not only was a real good one it had a big telephoto lens. With a camera this good, we decided I would take all the photos and we could just do multiple prints, so everyone else left their cameras at home. When you scroll to the bottom of this commentary you will see all the great photos we took. Are you back? Yeah there arenít any!!!!
This really pissed me off. You see WWE was big on keeping photos of their events exclusive to WWE magazine, and when we got to the building we found out that there was a ban on cameras with telephoto lenses for people with floor seats. I guess they didnít want anyone other than their photographers getting good close up shots of the action, in fear they would end up in Pro-Wrestling Illustrated. I was so amazingly pissed off, you wouldnít believe it. I wanted to kill someone. Three years in a row Iíd bought WrestleMania tickets to support this company and when I was finally going to get some good pictures of the event, for my own personal use, they were telling me I couldnít. What pissed me off the most was they didnít tell us about this ban when we bought tickets. My step-dad had other lenses for his camera; I could have brought one of those and still gotten good shots. As it was we had to go to a special camera check area and hand over our camera in order to be allowed to our seats. So we didnít get any photographs of the event.
Once our camera was checked we made it to our seats and man they were awesome seats. We were right on the aisle about 1/3rd of the way up from the ring. I was excited because my shoulder was literally against the railing where everyone would be making their entrance so I figured I would have a good chance to size everyone up. Then of course everyone came to the ring on those carts and sizing people up wasnít that easy either. Oh well at least I enjoyed the show, and for the first time I noticed and paid attention to the people running cables and operating cameras. I spent a lot more time watching how the show was run than I did the show itself, I guess viewing it now as my future career and not just a show I enjoyed. Most of the matches were very short and thus not very good; a much weaker show than Mania V. There were 14 matches on the show10 of which featured managers (boy I miss those days) and 7 of them did jump starts, I guess because they were so short on time for their matches. 7 of the 14 matches were less than 5 minutes, and only 2 broke 10.
Koko B. Ware Ė Rick Martel: This match went less than 4 minutes and is about a basic and bare bones of a match as you can do. Absolutely nothing to this match but what can you do in 4 minutes.
Andre & Haku Ė Demolition (Tag Titles): This match went almost 10 and if there was a match that didnít need the extra time this was it. Andre was never even in the match legally (I think his health was real bad at this point) so Haku worked the whole match and wow was it bad. For offense Demolition only punched and did clotheslines for their comeback so as baby faces, wow were they dull. Crowd was totally into it and they popped huge when Demolition won the belts, but I hated this match. I never liked Demolition because I just saw them as Road Warrior rip offs, so this was a complete failure for me as a fan. They turned Andre face in the post match I guess to send him off as a hero rather than a villain.
Earthquake Ė Hercules: This was another sub 5-minute match and was kept as basic and simple as can be. This is the kind of match people would complain about being boring if it were on RAW today and it was WrestleMania match. Wow times have changed. They just wanted to get Quake over which I guess it did.
Beefcake Ė Mr. Perfect: This was the first decent match on the show because they got a little more time and Curt Hennig was awesome. Ton of great bumps by Perfect and then Beefcake with a surprise win out of nowhere that he almost screwed up. Finish was out of a slingshot move, which Beefcake almost botched. I never liked Beefcake and was a huge Mr. Perfect fan so this finish annoyed me. Curious if Beefcake getting the win was a bone thrown to Hogan for putting over Warrior.
Roddy Piper Ė Bad News: My God this match was bad. This was the match were Piper painted half his body Black and these two just brawled and no sold stuff until they did a double count out; just dreadful. I was told after I broke in to the business that News didnít know Piper was going to do the Ĺ black Ĺ white thing and was furious when he saw him. Bad News was very racially sensitive so Iím surprised this match didnít just turn into a real fight, which I would imagine would have turned out very badly for Piper. Bad News really was Bad News.
Hart Foundations Ė Bolsheviks: I was a huge Hart Foundation fan as was most of the crowd in Toronto so this match going 19 seconds was a big disappointment. Itís not like our expectations were high considering the opponents but I think we all wanted more out of this match. We are 6 matches in and only had one decent match so far. I imagine Bret was as disappointed as the fans were with the 19 sec. Match.
The Barbarian Ė Tito Santana: I wasnít much of a Tito fan so this brief encounter didnít do much for me either. Another stripped done 4 minute match, wow this show is sucking.
Dusty & Sapphire Ė Savage & Sherri: This match was pretty entertaining and considering the limitations put on it with the mixed tag stip, it was pretty good. Savage and Sherri worked really hard to salvage this thing. Savage stole the show the 3 previous Manias, so Iím curious if this mixed tag was designed to make sure he didnít upstage Hogan and Warrior.
Orient Express Ė Rockers: From a wrestling standpoint this was the best match so far but they only had 7 minutes and a crappy count out finish, but still the most exciting wrestling on the show so far, because all 4 of these guys could move and bump their asses off.
Dino Bravo Ė Jim Duggan: Remember what I said about bumping their asses off in the previous match? Not so much here. This match was really bad with some of the worst bumps ever taken. Highlight for me was Duggan trying to get a USA chant going in Canada and getting booed. This would be a toss up for worst match between this one and Piper and News.
Dibiase Ė Jake the Snake: This was the second longest match on the show at 11:50 and they may have only broken 10 minutes because they had to pause during the match because the entire Sky Dome was doing the wave. This match was solid and Jake was super over so Iím not sure why the crowd lost interest and started the wave. They may have just fallen victim to following an endless line of bad matches.
Boss Man Ė Akeem: This match was less than 2 minutes, so it was nothing but to their credit, for the size of these guys they could move and bump very well. Bossman just sold for a minute and then hit his finish. I assume the show was running long and these guys got their time cut.
Next up we had Rhythm & Blues (Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine) singing a song. They got more time than every match on the show except the main event. This was so God awful. This gimmick had to be just one big rib on Greg Valentine. An atrocious waste of time!
Rick Rude Ė Jimmy Snuka: I donít think these guys even had an angle setting up this match. I think someone screwed up the finish, and then Snuka completely no sold Rudeís finisher and just stood up and walk away. Another in a long line of bad matches on this show.
Hogan Ė Warrior: This was the match everyone paid to see, and I remember at the time thinking it was a real pick em. Nobody knew for sure who was getting the win, and my buddies and I were in constant debate over who would walk out the double champion. Yes for those of you who werenít around back then or donít remember this match was Champion vs Champion, World Champ vs. IC Champ. This doesnít sound like much today because there are so many bloody champions and they do champion vs. champion all the time but back then this was HUGE. I think I was predicting Warrior but to be honest Iím not positive, I know I preferred Warrior to Hogan back then (I was never a Hulkamaniac) which may be clouding my memory.
It was really cool watching this match with the knowledge I have now. Technically it was not a great match and today it would likely get booed out of the building, or at least elicited a ton of boring chants, but back then and even watching it again it was really great. This match was all about emotion and drama, which was perfect back then and they did it very well, but I doubt it would work today in the smarter wrestling environment. This match was also twice as long as the longest match on the undercard so it really felt epic. They did a great job of making this feel like the proverbial clash of the champions. Crowd reactions for this match were absolutely incredible, one of the hottest crowds Iíve ever seen.
The crowd came unglued for the finish and I remember thinking at the time that it was the end of the Hogan Era. Seriously after the finish of this match and Hogan and Warrior did their post match deal, I thought that I had just seen Hulk Hoganís last match. I naively thought this was the passing of the torch and Hogan was riding off into the sunset. Boy was I wrong, it was 1990, and Hogan was only 37 years old. It is 20 years later and Hogan is now 57 and heís still a featured performer on television. If that isnít odd enough I was at this show as a fan, right before I broke into wrestling, and as I type this 20 years later, Iím the one who is retired, not Hulk Hogan.
One other cool note, I never would have imagined as I sat there at Sky Dome watching this show that 12 years later WrestleMania would return to Sky Dome for WrestleMania 18 and I again would be in the building but this time as a performer rather than a fan.