April 22, 2010
As you can tell I’ve had a bit more time on my hands of late. It’s mainly because I’ve been feeling a bit ill so I’ve been sitting around the house watching DVDs.
WrestleMania VII was the first Mania I saw after breaking into the business. I was living in Calgary at this point and got to watch this show on closed circuit at the Silver Dollar Action Centre. The Silver Dollar was the same building that CNWA (the company I was working for at the time) ran their weekly Friday night wrestling shows out of. PPV capabilities in Canada were still relatively poor so closed circuit was quite successful. The event was shown on a huge screen in the bar/lounge of the building and if memory serves there was a pretty good turn out.
For those of you who don’t remember much about WrestleMania VII this was the year that they were planning to run the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and draw more than 100,000 fans. They announced the venue and the goal of over 100,000 people at Mania VI, but plans obviously changed. The build toward Mania was the heat behind the first Gulf War and Sergeant Slaughter turning heel, becoming an Iraqi sympathizer and winning the World Title. The ‘Real American’ Hulk Hogan was making his big return to regain the Title for the Red White and Blue. This sounds like a good idea on paper but I remember that back then the Iraqi sympathizer angle ended up drawing the wrong kind of heat. WWE got “How dare you. This is in bad taste” kind of heat and ticket sales and interest in this show was not good.
Because of poor advance ticket sales WWE called an audible and moved the event from the Coliseum to the L.A. Sports Arena. In an attempt to spin the story and not look bad WWE claimed they made the venue change for security reasons and I think at one point even claimed they were worried about a bomb threat if they ran the Coliseum. In any event they ran the Sports Arena and drew a crowd of 16,000 a far cry from their predicted 100,000 plus.
Unlike the previous year where I though the show was pretty bad and then saved by a great main event this show started off pretty strong and then for the most part fell off a cliff. One of the big draw backs this year was the lose of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura who had been doing colour commentary with Gorilla Monsoon at all the WrestleManias up until this point. Jesse and Gorilla were awesome and his absence here hurt the show. Bobby Heenan took his place for most of the show and was pretty good, but when Bobby had to manage he was replaced by ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan or Lord Alfred Hayes, which was quite disastrous. I made match by match noted again for this show so let’s get right to it.
The Rockers – Haku & Barbarian: This was a good fun exciting opening tag match. The Rockers never failed to deliver good action. I doubt Shawn Michaels has ever had a bad match at Mania. On a funny note it looked like Marty forgot his black knee pads for this show because they had new predominantly black tights and Marty’s white knee pads looked ridiculous. I also remember commenting to Jericho when we watched this show that the Rockers beating Haku & Barbarian was undeniable proof that pro-wrestling was a work.
Dino Bravo – The Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich): I was never a Dina Bravo fan and this match was short and pretty awful, but watching it back now I’ve got to tip my hat to the late Dino Bravo for carrying Kerry through this match. Kerry looked really out of it, and appeared to forget everything including the set up for his own finish. Very Bad.
The Warlord – Davey Boy Smith: This was way better than I expected, and was real good and the crowd was totally into it the whole match. If anyone wants to say the WWE Wellness policy is a sham go watch this match, and see if you still think it isn’t making a huge positive difference. Wow these guys were huge. I noticed one other weird thing in this match Warlord always kept his eyes closed when he had Davey in a hold; even when he got on his full nelson finisher he had his eyes closed the whole time. I have no idea why.
Hart Foundation – The Nasty Boys: This was a real great tag match, which got a little clunky on the hot tag (when Bret wasn’t in the ring, go figure) but on the whole a real strong match. Tag Team wrestling was done so much better back then. Great crowd heat for the Title switch as the Nasty won the Titles from the Harts. 3 for 4 in good matches so far on the show.
Rick Martel – Jake Roberts (Blindfold Match): I remember this being so dumb but watching it again now I was very impressed with the care and thought they put into this match. History lesson for current creative team writers (especially those with the initials VR); they had this gimmick match, a blindfold match, because previously Martel (the heel) had sprayed his ‘Arrogance’ perfume in Jake’s eyes and BLINDED him. Jake’s vision had started to return for this match but the blindfolded gimmick put Martel in a position to get a taste of his own medicine by having to work blind and evened the playing field for the baby face. See how that MAKES SENSE. They were extremely creative in this match and I think I enjoyed it more this time round as I could appreciate the work that went into this match. Not much wrestling but I enjoyed it.
The Undertaker – Jimmy Snuka: This was pretty much just a long squash, and apart from being the start of the streak very uneventful. A short 4 minutes, which was neither good nor bad.
Randy Savage – The Ultimate Warrior: (Career ending Match) This match wasn’t as good as I remember it. I think the retirement stipulation added so much to it at the time, because stips generally still meant something back then. Still it was definitely one of Warriors best matches with one of the dumbest finishes I think I’ve ever seen. Savage hit like 4 or 5 of his top rope elbows in a row just to have Warrior kick out. Considering no one did big move false finishes back then this was so over the top it made me furious. After the kick out Warrior did his big come back and finish and Savage kicked out. At this point Warrior gets all confused and starts looking up… into the heavens I suppose, and starts talking to his hands like the Gods have somehow let him down and he doesn’t know what to do now that his finish didn’t work. He then goes to actually leave, like he’s quitting, allowing Savage to regroups and get on him leading to Savage taking a bunch of flying tackles leading to Warrior pinning him by just standing on his chest with one foot. I thought covering him like this was the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen and even now it bothers me. Thankfully they did the awesome post match angle to reunite Savage and Elizabeth which made everyone forget the shitty finish to the match and produced an amazing crowd reaction. With the angle and everything this was a big thumbs up.
Up next was Demolition – Tenryu & Kitao but before we had the match there of course needed to be the degrading, comedy, stereotypical make fun of the Japanese guys for not speaking English promo. This was so bad and Tenryu and Kitao had to stand there looking like idiots. The reason this match took place was because WWE and SWS (The promotion Tenryu had started in Japan) had just signed a talent agreement and SWS was going to start using WWE guys on there shows, so WWE was returning the favour and booking Tenryu and Kitao on WrestleMania. SWS eventually became WAR, which was the promotion I worked for in Japan for more than 2 years and I ended up working with both these guys, although Kitao had put on a lot of weight by the time I worked with him. The match with Demolition was quite bad continuing a string of weak Mania matches for Demolition.
Big Bossman – Mr. Perfect: (IC Title) Perfect was great here just bumping around like a fool. Bossman was quite thin and looked great. I enjoyed this match up until the clumsy DQ finish complete with Heenan family run in. Just a note Perfect kicked out after getting hit in the head with the Title belt by Andre.
Earthquake – Greg Valentine: This was really just a short nothing 3 or 4 minute match. Valentine as a baby face just didn’t work for me, then or now, but at least this was short. Quake’s gear improved greatly from last years WrestleMania.
The Road Warriors – Power & Glory: I remember liking Power and Glory as a tag team, and I thought it was the best thing either guy did in WWE, but this match was a 1 minute squash match and a complete waste.
Ted Dibiase – Virgil: I never liked Virgil back then or watching it now so despite Ted bumping his ass off and being a great worker this match did little for me. Virgil kicked out of a pile driver for no reason what so ever, which I thought was very odd considering how few big near falls were done back then. Crappy finish to boot but a good post match angle to get heat on Piper (who was at rings side with Virgil) and put Sherri with Ted. Sherri was awesome.
Tito Santana – The Mountie: Another 1 minute nothing match with The Mountie using a cattle prod to yap and pin Tito.
Sergeant Slaughter – Hulk Hogan (WWE Title): I did not like this match at all. With out the Iraqi heat they would have had at the time there wasn’t much left. Watching it, it seemed like they figured they’d have tons of heat because of the angle and didn’t bother putting any thought into this at all. From a psychology stand point this match made no sense what so ever. Early on there was outside interference and a chair shot, all in front of the ref and all no sold by Hogan anyway. After no selling a chair shot from Slaughter, Hogan fires back just to get cut off for the heat with an eye rake. After Hogan comes back and starts firing back he rakes Slaughter’s eyes for no reason and to serve no purpose (one of the reasons I never liked Hogan as a fan). Hogan did the dreaded back rake spot to Slaughter who was not only wearing a singlet but a T-shirt as well. Hogan bled and Slaughter got a near fall off a chair shot, despite no selling chair shots earlier in the match. For some reason they gave the visible pin, with the ref down, to the Heel. It was just so nonsensical but then Hogan hulked up and regained the title and the crowd went absolutely crazy. It pays to be over.
I’m really curious to watch WrestleMania VIII because I’ve been waiting to see when they started doing all the big move kick outs for near falls, because they didn’t do any in the very early WrestleMania and this year appears to be the start of it. Warrior and Savage both kicked out of each other’s finisher, Mr. Perfect kicked out of a belt shot, Virgil kicked out of a pile driver, and Hogan kicked out of a chair shot. This seems to be the beginning so we’ll see how quickly it picks up from here.
All in all a pretty poor show, that really dropped off towards the end. Hell if you remove the heat of the day (Iraq and the retirement stipulation) the best match on the show might have been Warlord and Davey, the third match on a 14 match show. We’re up to the 7th WrestleMania and if you just look at match quality I’d say there have only been 2 good Mania Events thus far, those being III and V.