WrestleMania III, easily the most talked about WrestleMania in the history of the event. The show that sparked a lot of young fans become some of the legendary wrestlers younger generations still look up to. This show sealed WWF and WrestleMania as THE premier wrestling promotion and wrestling event. Whether your favorite match was Hogan/Andre or Savage/Steamboat, WrestleMania III has cast a long shadow over, to the point that it was cited twenty years later when WWE came back to Detroit for WrestleMania XXIII.
As with anything that’s hyped that much, it’s hard for someone who doesn’t remember WrestleMania III, like me, to really know if the show is as good as they say or if it’s just that great looking back.
So, does the fabled WrestleMania III live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
We open in Pontiac Silverdome with Vince McMahon in the ring. Vince looks very proud, as he should, and he welcomes us all to WrestleMania III! The crowd loves it. We are then introduced to the person singing ‘America, the Beautiful’, it is the Queen of Soul, the incomparable Aretha Franklin
Aretha sounds amazing, as always, and the video montage was wonderful and focused on blue collar Americans.
After the video is over, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura introduce us to our celebrity co-hosts: ‘Mr. Baseball’ Bob Uecker and the host of ‘Entertainment Tonight’ Mary Hart. We’re told that they will be joining us throughout the show, we are then sent to ringside
Comments: This opener was much better than WrestleMania 2’s. The video montage was beautiful and didn’t shoehorn Hulk Hogan into it, which was nice. Vince has said that he felt the spirit of his dad, Vincent J. McMahon while he was waiting to start the show. I know Vince looked very proud in the ring and he was right to be proud.
Match 1: Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) vs Bob Orton and The Magnificent Muraco (with Mr. Fuji)
Both teams are already in the ring when we get back to ringside. Can-Am are incredibly over as babyfaces. Orton, Muraco, and Fuji are loudly booed.
Muraco and Martel start us off. Muraco looks fantastic, but also like he’s spent too much time in a tanning bed. Martel quickly gets the upper and manages to knock Muraco down with a shoulder block. Muraco gets Martel into a corner and gets a few punches in whipping him into another corner, but Martel comes out and hip tosses Muraco. Martel then gets Muraco in a body scissors takedown for our first pin attempt, which only gets a two-count.
Muraco briefly gets the upperhand, but Martel manages to tag in Zenk. Can-Am hits a very sloppy looking double monkey flips on Muraco. Orton comes in to help his partner and gets a double hip toss for his trouble.
Orton tags in and locks up with Zenk. Orton manages to knock Zenk down, but Zenk comes back with a bodyslam before shooting Orton into the corner. Orton comes out into a hip toss and armbar on the mat.
Orton gets to his feet and takes Zenk into the corner and Zenk responds by ramming Orton’s head into the turnbuckle. Orton kicks Zenk in the stomach and goes for a Full Nelson, but Zenk counters with a Full Nelson of his own. Muraco tries to hit Zenk from behind, but Zenk moves out of the way and Muraco nails Orton instead, leading Zenk to get a two count.
Zenk tags in Martel and Martel works on Orton’s bad arm. Orton snap mares Martel but Martel keep a hold on Orton and pulls Orton down with him. Martel gets back to his feet and leg drops Orton before tagging in Zenk.
Zenk takes over, but Muraco whiffs in a tag and comes in. Zenk scoop slams Muraco and begin working on Muraco’s arm. Muraco whips Zenk into the ropes, Zenk begins to criss-cross, but Orton knees him in the back, and the heels have taken over.
Muraco hits Zenk with a neckbreaker before tagging in Orton. Orton hits a fist drop from the second turnbuckle and goes for a pin, but only gets a two-count.
Orton has Zenk in a headlock, but Zenk shoots him into the ropes, both go for a clothesline, but knock each other down. Both men manage to get to their respective corners and tag in their partners.
Martel is HOT and whips Muraco HARD into the ropes, sending him outside. Orton comes in, but so does Zenk, and the ref loses complete control of this match. A reverse whip leads to Muraco back body dropping his own partner. Can-Am send Orton outside with a double dropkick before turning to Muraco.
Martel, still the legal man comes off the ropes with a high crossbody, and with an assisting trip by Zenk, pins Muraco for a three count.
Winner: Can-Am Connection via pinfall.
Thoughts: This was a great opener to the show. Both teams looked great and there was plenty of team cohesion on both sides.
Next up, we’re shown a video recap about the feud leading to the match between Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules. In the video, we see Haynes responding to a challenge by Hercules over who has the best Full Nelson. Haynes exchanges words with Heenan and grabs him, only to be attacked from behind by Hercules before being trapped in Hercules’ Full Nelson.
We then join Mean Gene Okerlund, who is talking to Hercules and Heenan. Heenan insists on calling Haynes ‘Billy Jerk’. Hercules discusses his ‘history’ of strength and cites Greco-Roman mythology and the Bible, but sounds like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
We go to the ring as Haynes approaches to a nice pop and he looks amazing. Hercules and Heenan come out on the conveyance provided by the Silverdome to loud boos. The ‘Weasel’ chants have already started and get louder.
Match 2: Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules (with Bobby Heenan)
Hercules and Haynes have an intense staredown and the ref looks very nervous. The first collar-and-elbow tie up leads nowhere, but Haynes gets the upper hand in the next one. He gets Hercules into the corner, but when the ref gets in between them, Hercules uses the distraction to knee Haynes in the gut. Hercules clubs and punches Haynes into a corner before whipping him into the opposing corner. Hercules goes for an elbow but Haynes gets out of the way.
Haynes gives Hercules a knife-edged chop and press slams him. He then goes for the Full Nelson, but Hercules senses it coming and scrambles for the ropes. Haynes continues to punch and chop Hercules before whipping him into one corner and then another.
Hercules comes out of the second corner and nails Haynes with a clothesline. He follows up with punches and kicks before hitting Haynes with a back body drop. Hercules then proceeds to whip Haynes from one corner to another, repeatedly. Haynes sells being in serious pain. Hercules, feeling cocky, is slow to follow up on Haynes. He bodyslams Haynes and goes for a pinfall, but pulls Haynes up before he three, much to the annoyance of Heenan.
Hercules pulls Haynes to his feet and signals for the Full Nelson. Haynes fights back with several blows to the stomach. Haynes then goes for a suplex, but his back gives out and it looks like Haynes is in serious pain.
Hercules is back in control and focuses his attack on Haynes’ back, kicking him before hitting Haynes with a nice backbreaker. He continues to punish Haynes with punches and kicks before press slamming him. By this point, Hercules is looking pretty cocky and finally goes for the Full Nelson and locks it in.
Haynes seems to fade and the ref does the arm drop test, but Haynes keeps his arm from falling the third time and rallies, breaking the hold, but Hercules hits him in the back of the head before whipping Haynes into the ropes. Both men hit each other with a clothesline.
Hercules gets up first, but Haynes hits him with an inverted atomic drop before knocking Hercules down with a clothesline. Haynes whips Hercules into the ropes, kicking him in the gut and hitting him with another clothesline. Haynes hits a leg drop and a fist drop from second turnbuckle.
Haynes locks in his own Full Nelson, but Hercules struggles and gets into the ropes, sending both men outside. Haynes locks the Full Nelson on again, but they both get counted out, much to the crowd’s fury.
Heenan gets a cheap shot in on Haynes and Haynes rises to the bait. He chases Heenan around and into the ring, only to be stopped by the ref. Hercules uses the distraction to nail Haynes with a chain wrapped fist.
The ref tries to stop Hercules, but the assault is continued, Haynes is busted open and bleeding before Hercules and Heenan are satisfied and then Hercules adds insult to injury by slapping the Full Nelson on Haynes.
Winner: Both men are counted out, but Hercules was the last man standing.
Thoughts: This was a really good match. Haynes and Hercules looked great out there and the double count out protected both men and the assault by Hercules got sympathy for Haynes.
We go to the special interview center where Mean Gene is interviewing King Kong Bundy and his partners for the six man tag match. Bundy doesn’t look happy to be in a match where two of his partners are little people. Okerlund comments that big trouble comes in small packages, but Bundy corrects him and says that big trouble comes in 450lb packages. He also states that he wants Hillbilly Jim and if Hillbilly’s little people partners get involved that they’ll get squashed.
Bundy and company are out first to a loud round of boos.
We go back to the interview center for the interview with Hillbilly Jim and his partners. Hillbilly Jim’s worried about his partners, Haiti Kid and Little Beaver and promises to look after them during the match.
Hillbilly and company get a better reaction than Bundy’s team did, but it doesn’t seem like the crowd is into this match.
Before we get started in this match, we’re told that there are some extra rules outside of the usual ones for a wrestling match: The little people partners can only wrestle the opposing little people. Bundy and Hillbilly will be wrestling each other. If Bundy or Hillbilly does anything to one of the little people, their team will be disqualified.
Match 3: King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, and Lord Littlebrooke vs Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver
Haiti Kid and Little Tokyo start us off but between their size and speed, this match is hard to follow. Eventually, Little Beaver gets taken into the heel corner by Lord Littlebrooke and gets a cheap shot punch to Bundy’s gut, but Bundy looks annoyed and bored.
Bundy gets tagged in and Beaver seems to have more guts than sense because he squirts between Bundy’s legs and hits an impressive dropkick to Bundy stomach that doesn’t seem to register with Bundy, before finally seeing sense and tagging in Hillbilly Jim.
The crowd is more interested in Bundy/Hillbilly than the little people. Bundy clubs Hillbilly several times, getting him into the ropes before whipping him to the other side. Hillbilly ducks the clothesline and levels Bundy with a clothesline of his own, hits an elbow drop, goes for a pin. Little Beaver and Haiti Kid pile on to help, but Bundy manages to push them all off.
Bundy clobbers Hillbilly. Little Beaver keeps interfering, it’s like he doesn’t recognize that Bundy could really hurt him if he was mad enough. Thankfully, Bundy’s more annoyed than anything, but Little Beaver is pressing his luck.
Hillbilly feels the brunt of Bundy’s growing irritation. Bundy hits the big Avalance and pounds on Hillbilly. Little Beaver tries to help again, but Bundy catches him.
The ref is too busy checking on Hillbilly to see Bundy body slam Little Beaver, much to the crowd’s rage, but thankfully turns around to see Bundy hit the elbow on the little guy and disqualifies Bundy.
The other little people come to Little Beaver’s aid and move him before Bundy can hit the Big Splash. Hillbilly chases Bundy out of the ring, and after exchanging some words with Little Tokyo, Bundy leaves.
Winner: Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver, and Haiti Kid by Disqualification
Thoughts: What the heck was that?! The little people put on a pretty good match, but why was that on a WrestleMania card? Bundy looked mad the whole time and I don’t blame him. I’m mad I sat through it.
The ‘midget’ jokes were a little cringe-worthy, but at least Monsoon tried to act like he was taking this match and the little people seriously.
We go to the interview center where Mary Hart is wanting to do an interview with Elizabeth ahead of the afternoon’s huge Intercontinental Championship match. Mary barely gets to ask Elizabeth if she’s feeling any trepidation about the match when they are interrupted by Macho Man.
Macho Man says ‘trepidatious’ is the word of the day and assumes that Mary Hart wants to interview him. He says that Mary can ask him any question she wants and he’ll answer them one by one. Mary, annoyed, says that she wants to interview Elizabeth, and asks Elizabeth if Macho is always this way. Savage, seemingly annoyed that Mary didn’t want to talk to him, makes Elizabeth leave and follows her out, much to Mary’s irritation.
Thoughts: I’m not sure if Mary Hart was smartened up to Savage and Elizabeth’s backstage relationship beforehand or not. Given her reaction, I’m guessing not. I can only imagine what she was thinking during that interview.
We are then taken to a video package about the feud between Harley Race and Junkyard Dog. Harley Race declares himself the King of all wrestling and everyone will bow in servitude. Junkyard Dog counter with the statement that America has never had a king or queen and that he was taught that only person he should bow to is God. We see JYD trying on Race’s royal regalia, a clip of JYD getting him some of Heenan, only to be attacked from behind by Race. There’s a very uncomfortable clip of Race and Heenan trying to make JYD bow down.
Mean Gene is interviewing Harley Race, who not only has Heenan with him, but the Queen of Wrestling, the WWF Women’s Champion, the Fabulous Moolah. Harley Race says that the king is going to be re-coronated. Okerlund turns to Moolah who says it’ll be her pleasure to crown Harley Race king of wrestling once again and have Junkyard Dog bow to the king as he’s supposed to.
Heenan chimes in, and in a very condescending way, tells Moolah that he’s giving her the crown and tells her to take care of it and give it to the king when the match is over. Moolah looks ready to clock him.
Back in the broadcast booth, Uecker is excited by the prospect of Moolah and takes off to go see her.
Race and company are greeted with loud boos and we’re sent back to the interview center where Mean Gene is interviewing Junkyard Dog.
Mean Gene asks JYD if he thinks he’ll be wearing the crown when the dust settles. JYD says that he thinks he will and that Harley Race has been sitting on the throne too long and that it’s time for the Dog to sit on the throne, with the crown
We go back to ringside and JYD comes out to a thunderous pop.
Match 4: Loser Must Bow Match – Harley Race (with Fabulous Moolah and Bobby Heenan) vs Junkyard Dog
Race doesn’t seem to want to get in the ring, but they hook up and Dog gets the upper hand with some punches. Heenan grabs Dog’s leg, and Dog gets out of the ring to chase him. As Dog gets back in the ring, Race kicks him in the gut, followed by an elbow to the back of the head. Race pummels Dog into the corner, but Dog comes back with some punches of his own, followed by a headbutt.
Race gets a borderline low punch to the guy on Dog and tosses him outside. Race goes after him, but misses the flying headbutt out on the floor. Dog gets back in the ring, and Heenan help Race to his feet. Dog pulls Race onto the apron by the hair and reverse clotheslines him back into the ring.
JYD thumps Race and sends him back outside. Heenan again helps Race to his feet and Race gets back onto the apron, where Dog scoop slams him back into the ring. Dog gets Rack in an abdominal stretch, but Race counters with a hip toss. Race hits the falling headbutt on Dog, but nearly knocks himself out.
JYD sends Race outside for the third or fourth time and headbutts Race as Race climbs back in.
Heenan distracts JYD just long enough to allow Race to hit the belly to belly suplex. The ref counts three, despite JYD kicking out.
An ecstatic Heenan and Moolah climb in the ring to set up the coronation, but JYD isn’t happy. However, he abides by the stipulation…sort of, he curtseys, but bows when Heenan insists. When Race stands up to celebrate, JYD grabs ‘the throne’ and clocks Race with it. He then grabs the royal robes and takes off with them, putting the robes on in the ring, before climbing out and leaving the ringside area.
Winner: Harley Race by pinfall
Thoughts: This feud made me very uncomfortable. The idea that this storyline existed in 1987 astounds me. Add to that, Heenan’s treatment of Moolah, even if it was a work, also made me uncomfortable, especially since Moolah was one of the legit toughest women in wrestling history.
We go to Vince McMahon, who is interviewing Hulk Hogan. Much like Muraco earlier, Hogan looks like he’s spent too much time in the tanning bed. McMahon comments on the upcoming match with Andre. Hogan replies that people have been saying it’s his last ride. He then says that all he has to do is defeat a 7’, 500lb giant, but Andre has the tougher job. Andre doesn’t just have to beat Hogan, he has to defeat all of the Hulkamaniacs standing behind Hogan.
Hogan says the reason Hulkamania will beat Andre is that it’s the purest form of the truth and that he can’t wait to see Andre be defeated by the truth of Hulkamania.
We go to the ring for our next match, a tag team match. The babyfaces are already in the ring and it’s the Rougeau Brothers.
Back in the interview center, Mean Gene is interviewing the Dream Team, with their manager, Johnny Valiant, and a new friend, Dino Bravo, who will be at ringside with Johnny Valiant. Mean Gene asks why they need Bravo there, Johnny Valiant answers, but between his incoherent squawking, and my very bad French when Bravo pipes up, I have no idea what anyone said, so let’s get to the match.
Dream Team comes out to loud boos. Rougeaus aren’t happy about Bravo being there, but things get started okay.
Match 5: The Rougeau Brothers vs The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine) (with ‘Luscious’ Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo)
Raymond and Beefcakes start us off. Quick collar-and-elbow tie up leads to a hammerlock by Beefcake. Raymond first counters with a flip, then with an atomic drop. Jacques is tagged in and Beefcake eats a double dropkick before tagging in Valentine.
Jacques and Valentine trade punches before Jacques tags Raymond in. Rougeaus do a quick double team before Raymond hits a high crossbody for a two-count.
Raymond tags Jacques in and Jacques hits a reverse elbow for another two-count. Valentine whips Jacques into a corner, Jacques tries to come back with a high crossbody, but Valentine ducks out of the way
Valentine is in control and hammers Jacques with elbow drops. Valentine then body slams Jacques before tagging in Beefcake.
Beefcake stomps on Jacques several times before punching him and getting a two-count. Beefcake tags Valentine back in and they double team Jacques.
At this point, Heenan has joined the broadcast group. He’s in a good mood and declares that he’s 2 for 2 today in terms of his guys having success at WrestleMania. Monsoon points out that Hercules was counted out, and thus, didn’t win. Heenan makes excuses and blames Billy Jack Haynes, but points out that Harely Race DID win his match.
Back in the ring, Valentine has Jacques in the Figure-Four Leglock and Jacques successfully gets to the ropes. Valentine takes a cheap shot at Raymond before stomping Jacques a couple of times. Valentine then tries to set Jacques up for a piledriver, but Jacques counters with a back body drop, that Valentine tries to turn into a sunset flip. Jacque wavers for a minute before punching Valentine and tagging in Raymond.
Raymond lights Valentine up light a Christmas tree before slapping a sleeper hold on him. Beefcake tries to help his partner but Raymond moves so Beefcake hits Valentine instead. The ref makes Beefcake get out of the ring, which gives the Rougeaus time to double team Valentine and getting him in a pinning predicament. Beefcake tries again to help Valentine but is stopped by Jacques.
Bravo takes advantage of that distraction and breaks up the pinning predicament by hitting a flying chop into Raymond’s stomach, helping Valentine get the pin and the win.
Jacques and Beefcake are confused by what happened. Beefcake is even more confused when his partner refuses to come in the ring with him, choosing to celebrate with Valiant and Bravo out on the floor before leaving with Beefcake still in the ring.
Winner: The Dream Team
Thoughts: This was a great match. Both teams looked great out there. We got a tease of the Rougeau’s future heel run and got a face turn that didn’t involve one partner violently turning on another.
Up next is a video package about the feud between Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis. We’re shown Adonis, Muraco, and Orton attacking Piper in the ‘Flower Shop’/’Piper’s Pit’ segment. We next see Piper tearing the ‘Flower Shop’ set up with a baseball bat. Next we see Jimmy Hart slapping Piper and Piper losing his cool and choking Hart, only for Adonis to attack him again. Next is a clip of Piper getting his hands on Jimmy Hart, only to be sprayed with perfume by Adonis.
We go to an interview where Piper vows that in his final match, he won’t be embarrassed by a man wearing a dress that looks like something that was stolen from a Days Inn and that there’s no retreat or surrender.
Back at the ring, Adonis and Hart are on their way to the ring to a loud chorus of boos. Adonis isn’t in a dress, but he’s armed with some hedge clippers, the perfume sprayer, and a mirror.
Back in the interview center, we see a pre-recorded interview with Adonis and Hart. Adonis mentions that he’s named his hedge clippers ‘Irene’ and vows that no matter which cut Piper wants, he will be shaved bald at the end of the match.
In the arena, Piper comes out to a loud cheer and we are again reminded that this is Piper’s retirement match.
Match 5: Hair Match – Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis (with Jimmy Hart)
A slugfest starts this match off, both men taking out their aggression on each other. Piper takes off the belt he wore with his kilt and proceeds to beat Adonis around the ring with it. Jimmy Hart causes a distraction and Piper grabs him around the neck with the belt, giving Adonis time to recover.
Adonis hits Piper from behind and gets the belt from Hart and proceeds to beat Piper with his own belt. The ref does nothing to stop either man though this wasn’t announced as a No-Holds Barred Match.
Piper reverses the whip and Adonis does the inside out very badly, going to the outside. Piper drags Adonis in, and brings Hart in too, when he grabs Adonis to keep him from going into the ring. We are treated to a double noggin-knocker. Jimmy Hart is given an Irish whip, right into Adonis’ arms, sending both men outside.
Piper gets Adonis back in the ring and punches him in the corner several times before going for a whip. Hart gets on the top turnbuckle and is promptly launched into Adonis by Piper. Adonis shoots Piper into the ropes, where he is tripped up by Hart, giving Adonis the advantage. Adonis rakes Piper’s chest several times.
Adonis whips Piper into the ropes and hits him with a stiff clothesline. Hart has located the perfume spray. Adonis punches Piper a few times, Piper responds with a poke in the eye that angers Adonis. Adonis hits an elbow, knocking Piper down, and Piper goes outside.
Adonis rams Piper face-first into one of the tables and Piper is seeing stars. Seeing an advantage, Hart uses a distraction to hit Piper with the perfume sprayer. Piper is angry and climbs back into the ring, only to be hit by Adonis, who has some kind of weapon on his hand. The ref takes the weapon away, but Piper is looking dazed and angry.
Another slugfest ensues, and Adonis distracts the ref long enough for Hart to spray Piper with the perfume. Adonis slaps on the sleeper hold while Piper tries to fight out of it. With the adrenaline flowing, it doesn’t take long for Piper to start fading. He tries to break the hold by ramming Adonis into the corner but doesn’t have enough power left to do it.
Ref does the arm check and Adonis believes he’s won, even though Piper’s arm didn’t go down for the third time. While Adonis and Hart celebrate, Brutus Beefcake comes running out and tries to revive Piper, and Piper gets to his feet. Hart, realizing what’s happening tries to warn Adonis. When Adonis sees Piper, he tries to hit him with Irene, but only manages to hit himself.
Piper’s had enough and slaps a sleeper of his own on Adonis and Adonis goes down. While Beefcake chases Hart around the ring to keep him from interfering, the ref does an arm check and declares Piper the winner.
Now comes the fun part. Beefcake, for whatever reason, is given the honor of shaving Adonis’ head. When Hart tries to stop it, Piper knocks him down and keeps him on the mat with one foot while Beefcake works. The job is half-assed at best, but everyone not named Hart or Adonis is happy.
While Beefcake and Piper celebrate in the ring, Adonis finally comes around and Piper forces him to see his new ‘do. Adonis is furious and chases Piper, but Piper nails him with the mirror. To spare Adonis, Hart throws his jacket over Adonis’ head and they run to the back.
In the ring, Finkel announces the winner and Piper’s retirement. Piper leaves to a chorus of cheers, shaking hands with the ringside crew, being sure to kiss Finkel’s head.
Winner: Roddy Piper by submission
Thoughts: This was a fun match and a nice send off for Piper. Adonis actually looked like a credible threat. The arrival of the newly babyface Beefcake was interesting but needed a little more explanation. However, the crowd was happy and Piper got a really good moment to end his run in WWF.
Up in the broadcast booth, Mary Hart and Bob Uecker are back, but Ventura is gone. We’re told that Ventura has gone to ringside to be announced for our next match.
Finkel is announcing the upcoming Six Man Tag match and Ventura takes offense when Finkel calls him ‘The Man Who Allegedly Calls It Like It Is’.
The match being announced is a Six Man Tag Match feature the WWF Tag Team Champions, the Hart Foundation, but this time, the titles aren’t on the line. The third man for the Hart Foundation is ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, the corrupt referee who helped the Hart Foundation win the titles off the British Bulldogs. Monsoon tells us that due to his conduct, Davis has been suspended for life plus ten years as a referee.
The Harts and Davis come out to loud boos and we’re sent to a pre-recorded interview with the heels. Everyone’s excited about Davis joining the Hart Foundation and Jimmy Hart vows that there will be nothing left of the British Bulldogs or Tito Santana when the match is over.
Speaking of the babyfaces, when we go back to the ring, the faces are on their way out and Matilda the Bulldog is with them. Monsoon comments about Davis cost the Bulldogs and Santana the Tag and Intercontinental titles, respectively.
Match 7: Six Man Tag Match – The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis (with Jimmy Hart) vs The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana
The match starts with Matilda going for Jimmy Hart and the heels bailing out. Bulldogs and Santana go after them and things rapidly get crazy. Ventura leaves, and takes Matilda with him, probably a good idea, but no explanation is given.
Finally, order is restored, and we start off with Santana and Bret Hart. Bret tries to go for a body scissors takedown, but Santana counters with a body slam. Bret cheapshots the Bulldogs but Santana is in control, but not enough to keep Bret from tagging in Neidhart.
The Bulldogs and Santana demonstrate great teamwork with some quick tags, but Bret manages to distract Davey Boy long enough for Neidhart to nail him. Bret and Dynamite are tagged in and after a cheapshot by Neidhart, the Hart Foundation and Davis get to show their own phenomenal teamwork.
Davis is tagged in a few times, but only does a few kicks before tagging in either Bret or Neidhart. The tide briefly turns when an attempt to slingshot Davis into a splash is countered by Dynamite getting his knees up and buying enough time for him to tag in Santana.
Tito seems mad enough to spit nails, he cheapshots Bret and begins clobbering Davis, not trying to go for a pin when he easily could’ve gotten the win before tagging in Davey Boy.
Davey Boy takes his own pound of flesh from Davis, clobbering him before hitting a rough looking tombstone piledriver, but again, he doesn’t go for the pin, choosing to suplex, then powerslam Davis instead before going for the pin.
Bret breaks up the pin and gets a flying forearm from Santana for his trouble. The match again descends into chaos, give Davis time to clock Davey Boy with Hart’s megaphone and getting the pinfall. The faces, and the crowd, are furious, but it’s a win for the heels.
Winner: The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis
Thoughts: This was a really good match. Everyone looked good. Davis was used really well, only getting a few blows in before letting the ‘real’ pros do the work.
Next up, we go to the interview center, where Mean Gene is interviewing Bobby Heenan and Andre. Despite the fact that Andre is a heel, Okerlund admits to being honored to be standing next to Andre. It’s pointed out that Andre has never before tried to go for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Heenan cites Andre’s size and strength, as well as his ‘undefeated’ streak. Heenan speaks to Hogan, saying he knows that Hogan’s nervous, because he, Heenan, has huge butterflies in his stomach.
Next up is a match between the debuting ‘Natural’ Butch Reed and Koko B. Ware. Reed is already in the ring with his manager, Slick, who looks like a gilded grasshopper in an ugly gold houndstooth suit.
Koko, with Frankie the parrot comes out to a nice pop and the match begins quickly.
Match 8: ‘The Natural’ Butch Reed (with Slick) vs Koko B. Ware.
We start with a collar-and-elbow tie up that pushes Reed into the ropes, where he complains that Ware has grabbed his hair. Second tie up sends Ware into the ropes, where he’s pounded by Reed. Reed counters a flip attempt, but Ware lands on his feet and sends Reed outside with a dropkick.
Ware whips Reed into the ropes and punches him in the stomach. Ware punches Reed several times before whipping him back into the ropes, but Reed counters with a club to the back of the neck.
Reed is now in control and kicks Ware several times before taking Ware to the corner, slamming Ware’s head into the turnbuckle several times before going for another whip. Ware counters, coming back with a hip toss, several punches and then a dropkick, going for a cover, but Reed kicks out.
Blows are traded, then Ware goes for an inside cradle, but Reed’s a little too big for Ware to pull that off. More blows are traded before Reed whips Ware into the ropes. Ware hits a high crossbody, but Reed rolls through and, using a handful of tights, gets the pinfall. The crowd is furious and so is Ware, who attacks Reed. Slick comes to Reed’s aid, but Tito Santana, still sore from the loss earlier, comes to Ware’s aid and attacks Slick.
Santana tries to rip Slick’s ugly suit off of him before Slick gets away and runs for the back. Santana and Ware turn their attention back to Reed and dropkick him out of the ring.
Winner: Butch Reed by pinfal
Thoughts: This was an okay match. It seems to be more of a palate cleanser before the big matches.
Next up is the big one, the Intercontinental Championship match. We get a video recap showing the feud between Savage and Steamboat, including Savage hurting Steamboat’s throat and then hitting him with the ring bell. We also see Steamboat’s return, George ‘The Animal’ Steel kidnapping Elizabeth, and the viscious exchange of words between Savage and Steam boat.
In the interview center, Savage is cutting a promo on Steamboat. He vows to not only embarrass Steamboat at WrestleMania III, he vows to retire him. He also claims that Steamboat can’t beat him, because Savage was the lord and master of the ring.
Back at ringside, Savage and Elizabeth are coming out to a pretty good pop. Once they get in the ring, Savage makes Elizabeth move so he can have the spotlight to himself.
In the interview center, Okerlund is interviewing Steamboat and points out that this could be Steamboat’s last chance at Savage. In an interesting moment of premonition, Steamboat says that Savage’s day has come and that this is their moment. He warns that the Dragon is breathing fire and is going to scorch Savage’s back. He vows to leave as Intercontinental Champion and looking forward to new horizons.
At ringside, Steamboat and Steel come out to a loud pop and the electricity is popping.
Match 9: Intercontinental Championship Match – Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage (with Elizabeth) vs Ricky Steamboat (with George ‘The Animal’ Steel)
This match was so good, I didn’t take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything! Steamboat gets the win with a little help from Steel and Savage leaves the ring, despondent. Watch this match!
Winner: Ricky Steamboat via pinfall
Thoughts: This match has often been cited as one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history and it certainly was. Savage and Steamboat tore the house down, both men looked great and a good story was told.
Up next, Mean Gene sets up the Jake Roberts vs Honky Tonk Man match. Okerlund asks about Honky Tonk’s attack on Roberts during the ‘Snake Pit’ segment, and Roberts berates him for thinking that he’d forgotten about that. He then says that Alice Cooper is there to keep Jimmy Hart from interfering with the match. Roberts then says that Hart had to have planted the seeds for Honky Tonk’s attack because Honky Tonk doesn’t have the guts to do it himself. Roberts then tells Honky Tonk that he should’ve made that guitar shot on Roberts count because Roberts is coming for him.
Okerlund turns to Alice Cooper and notes that Cooper is wearing spurs before asking about keeping tabs on Hart. Cooper vows to be Hart’s worst nightmare. He also gives us the reason he’s part of this match: He’s from Detroit and Detroit is the birthplace of heavy metal.
Okerlund then interviews Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart. Honky Tonk says that all the fans, including Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel) are tired of waiting and that fans don’t want to hear Alice Cooper or heavy metal, they want to hear the Honky Tonk Man and he’s going to sing for them. Honky Tonk also says Alice Cooper won’t lay a hand on Jimmy Hart.
We go the ring, Roberts and Cooper come out to a loud pop, especially Cooper. As always, Jake has his slithery friend with him.
Honky Tonk and Jimmy Hart are out next to a chorus of boos.
Match 10: Jake Roberts (with Alice Cooper) vs Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart)
Roberts gets the jump on Honky Tonk and starts pounding on him before Honky Tonk can get his jumpsuit off. Roberts kicks Honky Tonk in the face, which sends him outside. Following him out, Roberts beats up Honky Tonk some more and strips him out of his jumpsuit.
Roberts throws Honky Tonk back into the ring, but Honky Tonk climbs back out and Roberts goes after him, giving him a scoop slam outside before throwing him back into the ring.
The punching continues until Roberts throws into the corner. Roberts follows, but Honky Tonk catches him coming in.
Honky Tonk kicks Roberts and applies an arm wringer. Honky Tonk punches Roberts and Roberts retaliates. Roberts hits a facebreaker and Honky Tonk rolls outside.
Following him outside, Roberts attacks Honky Tonk and goes after Hart. Honky Tonk tries to hit Roberts from behind, but Roberts counters. Honky Tonk reverses whip and sends Roberts into the ringpost, and he almost trips over Hart and falls into the barricade.
Cooper helps Roberts up, but Honky Tonk, now back in the ring, won’t let Roberts get back in the ring. After a few goes of this, Roberts is allowed back in the ring and is given a scoop slam for his efforts.
Honky Tonk goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a fist drop to the LOUD boos of the crowd, and begins working on Roberts’ shoulders. Roberts is so addled from the punches, he misses a punch and Honky Tonk hits him with a reverse elbow.
Honky Tonk goes for his finisher, but Roberts gets into the corner and Honky Tonk follows. Honky Tonk does some elevated punches, but Roberts counters with an inverted atomic drop, and both men go down.
Honky Tonk is up first and goes for an ax handle, but Roberts counters with a kick. Back in control, Roberts punches Honky Tonk while he begs for mercy. Roberts whips Honky Tonk in and hits a back body drop. Honky Tonk gets caught in between the ropes and gets punched a few times.
Feeling the end, Roberts signals for the DDT, but Hart grabs his leg before he can hit it. Taking advantage, Honky Tonk rolls Roberts up and uses the ropes for leverage and gets the pin.
Roberts is furious, grabs Honky Tonk’s guitar and tries to return the guitar shot, but Honky Tonk ducks and the guitar is destroyed, and Honky Tonk runs for his hair, leaving Hart behind. Cooper gets in the ring and Hart acts like he thinks he can fight Cooper. Roberts sneaks up from behind and gets Hart in a Full Nelson, while Cooper gets Damien out of the bag for some fun.
Hart struggles to get loose, looking ready to crap his white pants. He eventually gets free and runs for the back, aided by Honky Tonk.
Winner: Honky Tonk Man by pinfall.
Thoughts: This was a pretty good match. Both guys looked good. Alice Cooper was used really well here and Roberts was able to get a little revenge on Honky Tonk Man and Jimmy Hart.
Once the ring is cleared, Finkel gets into the ring and says that there’s going to be a special announcement. Mean Gene comes in and announces that everyone in the building has been a part of history because WrestleMania III has set a new all-time attendance record of 93, 173. The crowd is excited and gives a loud cheer.
Our next match features the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, with their new manager, Slick going up against the Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell).
Iron Sheik and Volkoff come out with Slick, who is still wearing his ruined suit, to loud boos. As usual, Volkoff sings the Soviet National Anthem, but they are interrupted by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who comes out with his 2×4, which has a little American flag. Volkoff and Sheik are angry with the interruption. Duggan gets on the mic and says that Volkoff can’t sing the Soviet National Anthem because this is the home of the free, and the home of the brave. The Killer Bees come out to loud cheers.
Match 11: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (with Slick) vs The Killer Bees
To be honest, I had a lot of trouble following this match and couldn’t tell one Killer Bee from the other, especially since the camera kept going to wide shot. Duggan costs the Killer Bees the match by hitting Iron Sheik with the 2×4 in the ring, so Sheik and company get the victory.
Winner: Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff by DQ
Thoughts: This was an okay match, but the use of Duggan bothers me. His attitude was very heelish and blatantly attacking Iron Sheik, who was about to make one of the Bees tap fair and square should’ve been the start of a turn.
Next up is the big one, the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant.
We are back for another interview with Andre and Heenan. Mean Gene asks for Andre’s thoughts about the upcoming match. Andre says that it won’t be long before he’s coming back with the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist. Heenan chimes in, saying that he’s excited, he can feel the adrenalin pumping and says that Andre’s going to make him famous as World Heavyweight Champion.
We see a video recap of the feud between Hogan and Andre, showing their friendship and how things broke down between them.
In the interview center, Mean Gene is interviewing Hogan and says Hogan has to be ready. Hogan replies that he hopes Pontiac recovers from WrestleMania and says that the people outside will in danger when the earth shakes when Hulkamania defeats Andre.
In the ring, Finkel introduces Uecker as the guest ring announcer. Uecker gets a great pop and introduces Mary Hart as the guest timekeeper.
Andre and Heenan come out to LOUD boos an Andre looks winded just getting out of their conveyance. Hogan comes out to an enormous pop. Instead of using the conveyance thing, Hogan walks to the ring. I have no shame in saying that I got chills watching this in 2018.
Match 12: WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match – Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant (with Bobby Heenan)
We start with the most infamous staredown in wrestling history. Shoves are exchanged, Andre goes for the punch and Hogan retaliates. Hogan goes to slam Andre, but gets squashed for his trouble and Andre nearly gets the pinfall.
It appears that Hogan has thrown out his back and Andre is given a target and focuses on it. Andre urges Hogan to get off while Hogan sells his back injury like his paycheck depends on it (which it probably did). Andre slams Hogan, but he’s looking winded and seems to be limiting his moves to things that require little movement. Andre stands on Hogan’s back and now Hogan looks like he’s REALLY in pain.
Andre picks Hogan up by the trunks and whips him into the corner twice and then shoulder blocks, before turning around and hitting a couple of butt bumps before nailing Hogan with a headbutt. Hogan manages to avoid the second headbutt and Andre headbutts the turnbuckle instead.
Hogan is hitting Andre with everything he’s got and Andre’s still not off his feet. Hogan starts ramming Andre’s head into the turnbuckle. Hogan goes for the clothesline, but eats Andre’s boot instead.
Andre looks ready to drop and we hear Heenan asking Andre if he’s okay. Andre chops Hogan and goes for the bearhug. Hogan tries to get out of it but he’s fading. The crowd is willing Hogan to fight. Marella goes to check Hogan’s arm and Hogan doesn’t let the arm go down for the third time. He starts Hulking up and punches Andre in the ear until Andre lets go. Hogan’s hit Andre’s head so many times, he hurt his hand.
Hogan tries to send Andre out, but Andre stops that with a chop. A whiffed kick by Andre sends Hogan through the ropes. The next kick by Andre seems to connect and he goes for a headbutt, but Hogan ducks and Andre’s head meets the ringpost.
While Andre seeing stars, Hogan pulls up the mats and tries to set Andre up for a piledriver, but Andre counters with a back body drop onto the concrete.
Hogan is thrown back into the ring and Andre whips him into the ropes, bounces off the ropes and hits Andre so hard, he FINALLY knocks Andre off his feet.
The crowd LOSES it, so does Heenan, who begs Andre to get up. Hogan is the most surprised, but seeing Andre flat on his back seems to give Hogan a third wind and he hulks up again. Getting to his feet, he FINALLY slams Andre, hits the big leg drop and gets the three count.
The crowd gets even louder, if that was possible. Andre and Heenan are arguing with the ref, while Hogan urges Andre to come back, but Andre and Heenan leave, vowing revenge. The show ends with Hogan posing for the crowd.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall
Thoughts: The verdict of this match seems to be it was either great or terrible. It was a good match. Hogan got the best he could out of Andre, but it was not match of the night by a longshot.
So, did WrestleMania III live up to it’s impossibly high hype? For once, the actual show exceeded the hype. This was a great show overall. Just about every match was great and was a great foundation for the main events. Even the palate cleanser matches were good.
I cannot overemphasize how great Steamboat/Savage was to watch. I was so entranced, I forgot to take notes because I didn’t want to miss anything.
The only match I didn’t really like was the Six Man with the little people. I still have no idea what was going on and if Bundy was really as bored and annoyed as he seemed, I wouldn’t have blamed him. He went from competing for the World Heavyweight Championship to elbow dropping a little person dressed like a Native American in the span of a year. I have to say that I even found something nice about that mess: Little Beaver. He truly seemed to have no fear and watching him go after Bundy was pretty funny.
Vince seems to have realized that celebrity guests are only worth booking if you keep the number small and use them correctly. There were only three celebrities in this show and they did the job they were supposed to. Uecker and Hart were a lot of fun, and Cooper and Franklin were great nods to the musical influence of Detroit (Motown, Soul, and Heavy Metal).
Overall, this was definitely a great show, and if the wrestling legends many of us look up to were inspired by this show, I think that’s the best verdict of all.
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Chairshot Classics: WWF King Of The Ring 1993
The nWo is reuniting next month for a very rare event where fans can see all three original members in the same place at the same time. So today, were looking back at another rare occurrence when Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were all apart of the same card before they “took over” with King Of The Ring 1993! ‘The Bad Guy’ takes part in the King Of The Ring tournament, meanwhile ‘Big Daddy Cool’ accompanies Shawn Michaels as he defends the Intercontinental Title, on top of Yokozuna challenging ‘The Hulkster’ for the WWF Championship!
Open: Vince McMahon voices over a video package highlighting tonight’s King Of The Ring Tournament, running down our Quarterfinal match-ups before we head to the arena.
Match #1 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Razor Ramon vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
The people chant “1-2-3” at Razor, they lock-up, Ramon using his power and pushes Bret away. Another collar & elbow, The Bad Guy powers The Hitman away again, a third lock-up now and Hart applies a side headlock. Razor pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders, Bret back to the ropes, ducks a couple of shots and scores with right hands before taking Ramon over with an arm drag. Hitman grounds him with an armbar, Ramon back to his feet, shoots Hart to the ropes for a hip toss, it’s blocked, Bret attempts one of his own, but that is also blocked and The Bad Guy floors him with a clothesline.
Follow-up elbow drop doesn’t find the mark, The Excellence Of Execution with another arm drag, targeting the left arm again with a standing armbar. Ramon throws him to the corner and charges in, Bret side-steps it, hits another arm drag and is persistent in applying the armbar. The Bad Guy attempts to body slam his way out, The Hitman maintains his grip, drives fists into the shoulder joint, Razor coming back with a thumb to the eye. He whips Hart to the ropes and scores with a back elbow for a quick 2 count, looks to hook on a rear chinlock, Hitman quickly counters out and utilizes a hammerlock, Ramon finding his way to a corner to force a break, but sneaks in a back elbow. Irish whip to the opposite corner is reversed, Hart charges in and is met by a knee to the jaw, Razor grabs him and drives Bret shoulder-first into the ring post.
The Bad Guy takes control and hammers The Hitman on the outside, throws him back inside to more loud “1-2-3” chants, starts to pummel Hart with heavy rights and boots, tosses him with a fallaway slam and hooks the leg for a count of 2. He lifts Bret onto his shoulders and plants him with a running powerslam for another near fall, drops a succession of elbows, then hits a side slam. He goes to the ropes for another elbow drop and misses, Bret avoids a couple more attempts, fires up with stiff right hands, splits Razor with an inverted atomic drop and levels him with a clothesline for a 2 count. He whips Ramon to the ropes, goes downstairs with a right hand, scores with a side russian leg sweep for another 2, The Excellence Of Execution cracking him with a backbreaker, but still can’t get a 3 count.
The Hitman off the 2nd rope now with an elbow drop that nearly gets 3, The Bad Guy swings with a wild right, Hart ducks under, rolls him up and Razor barely kicks out again at 2. Bret sets him for a running bulldog, Ramon pushes him away sternum-first into the turnbuckles, staggers to his feet and calls for The Razor’s Edge. He gets Hart up in the air, Hitman slips out of it for a backslide, The Bad Guy blocks it, but Bret uses his feet to scale the ropes and flips himself over, grabbing a small package for a near fall. The Excellence Of Execution can’t believe it and argues with the referee, Razor takes the opening to clobber him from behind, props Hart on the top turnbuckle for a super back suplex, Hitman counters and falls on top of Ramon and gets the pinfall.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Super Back Suplex Counter)
- EA’s Take: Tremendous opening contest and one of the better WWF pay-per-view matches since WrestleMania VIII, if not the best one. After losing the WWF Title 3 months earlier at WrestleMania, Bret was moved away from the championship picture for a few months and although Razor had been getting cheered at Mania, the people were clearly behind The Hitman tonight. Ramon was just getting into the start of his angle that would turn him face, recently losing in a major upset to 1-2-3 Kid on RAW, hence the “1-2-3” chants aimed at him.
Video: This past weekend on WWF Superstars, Harvey Wippleman masterminded a plan to punish The Undertaker, using Giant Gonzalez as a distraction and allowing Mr. Hughes to lay him out with Paul Bearer’s urn and take possession of it.
Match #2 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Mr. Hughes w/Harvey Wippleman vs. Mr. Perfect
They lock-up to begin and Hughes uses his raw power to shove Perfect down, they tie-up again with the same results, Hughes hits the ropes, The Perfect One drops down and scores with a hip toss. Irish whip back to the ropes is reversed, Perfect leaps over a back body drop attempt, comes back through with a dropkick, but it doesn’t take Mr. Hughes off his feet. Hughes powers Mr. Perfect to the ropes off the collar & elbow, doesn’t break clean and clocks Perfect over the top to the floor, The Perfect One staggering back into the squared circle.
Mr. Hughes with heavy shots, wrenches away at the neck, Mr. Perfect battles to his feet, hits the ropes, ducks a clothesline, but gets flattened by a big boot on the other side. Hughes shoots him back to the ropes and connects with a clothesline, snapmares Perfect back over and focuses his attention on wrenching at the neck again. The Perfect One uses Hughes’ tie to works his way up, tries to hit the ropes, Mr. Hughes with a handful of hair to prevent it and he buries a knee to the abdomen. Irish whip to the corner turns Perfect inside-out, maintains control with more heavy blows as Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart offers up his comments about the outcome of this match. Mr. Hughes sends Perfect hard into the turnbuckles again, whips him to the ropes and we have a badly botched spot before Hughes rakes at the eyes, then chokes him on the middle rope.
Hughes hits the ropes to gain a head of steam and land on The Perfect One’s back, he misses and gets crotched on the 2nd rope, Perfect taking the opening to send him to the ropes for a hip toss. He shoots him back in for a back body drop, snapmares Hughes over and hits the patented neck snap, Mr. Perfect then working him over in the corner with rights and lefts to the breadbasket. The officials steps in to force a break, Wippleman hands Mr. Hughes the urn and he clobbers Perfect right in front of the referee.
Winner: Mr. Perfect (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Short and a little bit rough, Perfect doing what he could to make this at least decent, Mr. Perfect moves on to meet Bret Hart in a semi-finals dream match. Also known as Big Cat, Mr. Hughes is most known for competing with sunglasses on. Hearrived in the WWF to join in with Harvey Wippleman in his rivalry with The Undertaker. He generally played more of a ringside enforcer and his in-ring career never really took off because he was sloppy at best. This stint with the WWF was very brief as this was his only PPV match. Interestingly enough, he was released not long after this match, ironically suffering an eye injury after his sunglasses shattered during a match against Tatanka.
Video: Gene Okerlund caught up with Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji earlier in the day in the locker room, Fuji reminding us that Yoko defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Title in a hard-fought match at WrestleMania. Hulk Hogan then cheated to steal the championship away, Yokozuna warning The Hulkster that tonight he and America will go down.
Match #3 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
Duggan starts the “U-S-A!” chants, they lock-up, Bam Bam with a side headlock, Hacksaw pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders and neither man budges. Bigelow goes back to the ropes to try again to no avail, hits the ropes for a clothesline on the third try, Duggan ducks it, scores with multiple clotheslines of his own to stagger the big man before finally dropping him. Bam Bam rolls to the floor to regroup, steps back inside and goes to the eyes, attempts right hands and Hacksaw fires back, forcing him to the corner.
Irish whip across is reversed, Hacksaw grabs the ribs, manages to avoid Bigelow running in and crumbles to the mat holding his midsection. He looks to deliver a body slam, can’t get The Beast From The East up, Bam Bam with big headbutts and he starts targeting the injured abdomen. He sends Duggan to the ropes and hooks on a bearhug, Hacksaw clubs his way out of it, but Bigelow goes right back to the breadbasket to stop any momentum. He bounces off the ropes to drop a headbutt, Duggan rolls out of harm’s way, gets Bam Bam up for a body slam, but can’t hold the weight, Bigelow falling on top for a count of 2 before going back to the bearhug.
Hacksaw resorts to biting Bam Bam to break the grip, he reverses a whip to the ropes, finally hits the body slam and goes into the 3 Point Stance, The Beast From The East side-stepping out of the way. Duggan goes crashing into the top turnbuckle and hits the mat, Bigelow heads to the top rope, connects with a Diving Headbutt and advances.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (Top Rope Diving Headbutt)
- EA’s Take: Not much excitement here, nothing really sloppy, but a pretty short one. Bam Bam is still being built as one of the top heels in the company, maintaining a status that was at the top of the mid-card with the ability to also work main events. Hacksaw had returned from a brief hiatus after an attack at the hands of Yokozuna, but the WWF’s youth movement put him in a position to help establish the new stars. This would be his final WWF PPV match until a nostalgia run in 2006, leaving the company just before SummerSlam in August.
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Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 12 – Best of the X-Division
This recap is going to be a little different from the usual. Since, at the time this episode was done, TNA was still looking for new investors after Health South withdrew its financial backing of the program, the decision was made to do a clip show of the X-Division for Week 12 to fill the timeslot. This was September 4, 2002, Week 13 wouldn’t air until the 18th due to being preempted by remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, which had happened the year before. So, let’s see what’s going on.
We start off with a RARE Lo-Ki interview with Goldilocks. Lo-Ki says there’s no bigger opportunity than this and that opportunities like him don’t get many shots like this on a national level. We also get some fan interviews stating that they keep coming back for the X-Division matches. A lot of TNA stars like Kid Kash, Ron Killings, Monte Brown, and the Flying Elvises sing the praises of the X-Division and how great it is that anyone can compete in it, despite the fact that the division is pretty much made up of cruiserweight size guys.
Jeremy Borash and Goldylocks, who seems to be in a very good mood, probably because Borash isn’t being a jerk to her. Borash and Goldy discuss how great the X-Division has been and how you never know what to expect. We get the explanation about how the X-Division is open to all kinds of athletes regardless of size or wrestling style. Again, I will point out that except for Sonny Siaki, all of the athletes in the X-Division fall into the Cruiserweight category. Also, Siaki had BARELY competed in the X-Division, at least as far as this episode.
ANYWAY, let’s take a look at the matches TNA has dubbed the best of the X-Division.
The Flying Elvises vs Lo-Ki, AJ Styles, and Jerry Lynn
Comment: I remember being very impressed with this match. It seemed like a good opening match for TNA. These six men are easily the best of the X-Division as they actually WRESTLE and do the high-flying stuff. Sonny Siaki stands out here, not only due to his skills, but because he’s easily the tallest and largest man in the match. This was such a good match that the fact that Styles took the pin doesn’t really seem to matter.
In the backstage interview, Estrada talks about how much pressure they were under because they were the first match. Yang says that his favorites to watch were Amazing Red, Lo-Ki, and AJ Styles. We also learn that Styles and Yang are great friends and started out together, which is a nice tidbit. Estrada talks again about paying their dues and working hard and wanting some changes. Yang talks about his WCW run and how he never felt like he’d be an impact player and that it feel different in TNA.
Tenay talks about how the Elvises were the first winners of TNA but that they’ve had communication issues and issues with Siaki’s ego, which prompts a clip of Siaki saying that he’s the best of the X-Division.
Borash and Goldy talk about the Elvises and Borash comments about Siaki thinking Goldy is sweet on him, to which Goldy says ‘Only in his own mind.’
With that settled, we are turning our attention to Lo-Ki, Styles, and Lynn who, along with Psichosis, competed to be the first X-Division Champion.
Double Elimination Round Robin Match For the X-Division Championship: AJ Styles vs Psichosis vs Lo-Ki vs Jerry Lynn.
Comment: This match is, for me, still the best match, not just X-Division, but overall match that TNA has put on so far. That said, I still think they should’ve had a tournament to decide who would compete for the title and brought it down to Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles because it felt like Lo-Ki and Psichosis were just there to take the pins, especially Psichosis.
Borash and Goldy discuss Styles and Lynn getting the Tag Team Championship and the issues the two men have had with each other during the show’s run so far.
NWA Tag Team Championship: Jerry Lynn and AJ Style vs Slash and Tempest (with James Mitchell).
Comment: First of all, I’m annoyed that they didn’t show us the Tag Team Championship Final between the Rainbow Express and Lynn/Styles, which is what it looked like they were going to show.
Anyway, I still think this was a pretty good match. Slash and Tempest, like many guys in TNA weren’t totally ready for prime time, but still did a really great job of keeping up with Lynn and Styles.
As I’m watching this, a scroll is going across the screen, announcing that TNA will be back in two weeks, so the partnership with Panda Energy must’ve happened pretty quickly.
Watching this back, I’m not totally buying Jerry Lynn’s excuse about Styles playing mind games and pulling ribs as the reason he turned on him. Lynn is clearly not happy about Styles tagging himself in the get the pinfall. Why not just stick with that instead of ret-conning it to make Lynn more sympathetic instead of a veteran being mad about a kid showing him up?
Borash and Goldy continue their discussion about the issues between Lynn and Styles, which has been the central story of the X-Division and how it was all about respect.
NWA World Tag Team Match: The Flying Elvises vs Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles.
Comment: This was another really great match from these teams. The five guys in this segment are the core of the fledgling X-Division because they consistently put on great matches together, though the Elvises tend to stumble when they work with other teams. I still don’t know who did the blade job on Lynn, but they overdid it for that little bump on the guardrail.
After this match, we get a clip of the Styles/Lynn backstage fight and them trying to work things out so that they can function as tag partners. I find it interesting that for all Lynn’s talk about respect, he goes out of his way to disrespect Styles and what Styles has done in his, then, short career. I guess no one told Lynn that the best way to get respect is to give it in return and that he should earn Styles’ respect instead of demanding it after jumping him from behind and beating him up. I guess this is why they had Lynn come up with the excuse of mind games and ribbing to justify him being the babyface despite being a jerk.
We see Styles and Lynn seeming to want to work things out and have the kinks ironed out, but that didn’t even last the one show.
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Chairshot Classics: WWE Survivor Series 2015
With all signs pointing to The Brothers Of Destruction teaming up at WWE’s Crown Jewel on November 2nd, today we’re looking back at another time The Undertaker partnered up with his brother Kane, Survivor Series 2015! It was a celebration of 25 years of ‘The Deadman’ on this evening, but The Wyatt Family looked to spoil the party. Could ‘The New Face Of Fear’ defeat The Brothers Of Destruction and take his place as WWE’s newest evil?
Kickoff Show Match – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Miz, Bo Dallas, Stardust & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. Neville, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von), Titus O’Neil & Goldust
- Gold & Stardust will kickoff the action, Stardust tries a boot, Goldust catches the foot and they slug it out, The Cosmic One falling back into his corner and tagging out. Viktor hits the ring, charges right into a powerslam, Goldust with the cover and he scores an early elimination. Viktor has been eliminated.
- Konnor steps in and has words for The Bizarre One, Titus calling for the tag and he gets it. Collar & elbow lock-up, Konnor backs O’Neil into the corner, doesn’t break clean and hammers away with right hands before celebrating prematurely, Titus turning the tables and unleashing a series of his won. Konnor reverses a whip across, charges in, O’Neil hops up and over and delivers a slam, following with a leg drop before tagging out. D-Von enters the match, connects with a couple of rights and brings in his brother, Bubba hitting a slam and calling D-Von to the top, hitting the Wazzup Headbutt. Bubba gives the orders for tables, Stardust and Miz charge the ring, only to get clotheslined to the outside. The Man That Gravity Forgot comes in, sees Dallas running in and elevates him out to the floor, hits the ropes and flies to the outside with a moonsault plancha as we go to a break….Konnor whips Bubba into the ropes for a back body drop when we come back, drops a big elbow and covers for 1. Bubba ducks a right hand and plants Konnor with a uranage out of nowhere, hooks the leg and gets a sneaky 3 count. Konnor has been eliminated.
- Stardust rushes the ring and runs into a hiptoss, D-Von tags in and takes a knee to the breadbasket, The Cosmic One tagging out and Miz pummels D-Von in the corner. Bo tags and does more of the same, quickly tags out and Stardust rips at D-Von’s face. The A-Lister re-enters the match, snapmares D-Von over and hits the ropes for a running boot that gets a count of 2. He goes to a front facelock, D-Von battles to his feet, Miz with a kneelift, hits the ropes and D-Von plants him with a spinebuster. Stardust gets a tag, climbs to the top for a double axe handle and catches a right hand to the midsection on the way down. D-Von crawls to a tag, The Man That Gravity Forgot spingboards into the ring over Stardust, takes down Dallas and Miz on the apron, then connects with a flurry of kicks to The Cosmic One. Neville scores with an enzuigiri, shoots him in for a back body drop and Stardust with a kick to the chest. He charges Neville in the corner, The Man That Gravity Forgot side-steps it, Bo makes a blind tag and plants him with the Running Bo-Dog, Miz with a blind tag, follows with the Skull Crushing Finale and finishes Neville off. Neville has been eliminated.
- The A-Lister runs his mouth at The Dudleys on the apron, Goldust slides in from behind with a schoolboy and gets the 1-2-3. The Miz has been eliminated.
- Miz can’t believe it and argues with the referees on his way out, Goldust is distracted and Stardust takes advantage as we go to another break….Bo has Goldust on the floor when we return, rolls him back inside and covers for a 2 count before going to a rear chinlock. The Bizarre One finds his footing, breaks the hold and hits the ropes, running into a dropkick by Dallas for another count of 2. Stardust tags, clobbers away at Goldust on the apron, feigns going for a table and changes his mind, stomping away at his brother in the ring. The Cosmic One grabs a crossface chickenwing, pulls Goldust up for a suplex, The Bizarre One counters to a small package for a count of 2, but gets immediately laid out by a clothesline. Stardust with some early celebration, Goldust takes advantage with a schoolboy for 2, The Cosmic One angrily pounding away and bringing Dallas back in. The Inspirational One continues the onslaught, levels Goldust with a short-arm clothesline for a near fall, then goes back to the rear chinlock to wear him out. Bo slams him to the mat trying to get to his feet, Stardust tags and they split The Bizarre One with a wishbone, then drops The Dudleys & Titus off the apron. The Cosmic One runs at Goldust in the corner, meets a boot to the midsection and The Bizarre One plants him with a sunset flip bomb. Bo gets the tag as Goldust reaches Titus, O’Neil with a shoulder to Dallas, squashes Stardust in the corner, then clotheslines Bo and shoots him in for a back body drop. The Inspirational One sees it coming and hits a kick, but gets dropped by a big boot, Titus turning around and catching Stardust coming off the top into multiple backbreakers. O’Neil stacks them in the corner, squashes them both and Goldust & Bubba enter the ring with synchronized Dusty tributes, Clash Of The Titus to Bo and we’re down to 4 on 1. Bo Dallas has been eliminated.
- Stardust realizes he’s all by himself, drops off the apron and tries to take a walk. O’Neil goes out to meet him, Goldust comes up from behind and catches a back elbow, The Cosmic One tries to run away, slides in the ring and runs into a 3D to finish it.
Winners & Sole Survivors: The Dudley Boyz, Titus O’Neil & Goldust
- EA’s Take: I think Renee Young is overblowing just how ‘good’ this match really was. To me it was just an appetizer, a time-filler, something to get the people in the arena a little more hyped up for the main show. The match was not bad by any means, but it was merely a bunch of thrown-together parts and the only significance was the return of Goldust.
Open: Everyone rises to their feet in the arena, as Lilian Garcia is in the ring to sing our National Anthem.
Video: “Once in a generation there comes a phenom. An individual not measured in seconds, days, weeks or even years, but by the legacy he’s built. A presence that’s risen above all challenges and gone head-first into the unknown. But, when a Phenom joins a Demon from the depths of Hell, only time will tell us what the future will bring.” Tonight marks the 25 year anniversary of The Undertaker in WWE, as he and his brother, Kane, look to cement their spot as the keepers of the darkness over The Wyatt Family. A change is coming, as tonight we crown a brand new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. “History is written, by the survivors.”
Match #1 – WWE Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Roman Reigns vs. WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio w/Zeb Colter
Collar & elbow tie-up to start, Alberto backs Roman into the corner and they break clean. Another lock-up, Reigns with a side headlock, Del Rio pushes him off into the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder, re-thinking his strategy. The champion with a leg kick, backs Reigns into the corner for more to the ribs, then fires off right hands from the 2nd rope. Roman powers out of the corner with Alberto on his shoulder, flipping him to the mat, Del Rio coming right back by pulling Reigns to the outside. The Big Dog drags Alberto out by the foot, looks to drive him into the barricade, Del Rio counters and Roman is sent into the wall, then rolled back inside.
Alberto comes off the top with an overhand chop for a count of 2, Roman reversing a whip into the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope with right hands, Del Rio pushes him off, charges in and gets planted by a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for 2. Roman drives the champion into the top turnbuckle, whips him hard into the corner, charges in and gets elevated to the apron, Alberto hanging him across the top rope and dropping him to the floor with an enzuigiri. Del Rio heads out and rams Reigns into the steel steps as Triple H watches from the back. Back in the arena, El Patron tosses Roman inside, heads up top for another overhand chop and goes to a rear chinlock.
The Big Dog battle to a standing position, whips Del Rio into the corner, rushes in and misses, hitting the ring post shoulder-first. The champion keeps the pressure on with kicks and right hands, charges for a running dropkick, Roman avoids it and Alberto flies through the ropes to the outside. Reigns rolls outside, catches Del Rio climbing up the apron with the Drive-By, bashes his head off the apron and announce desk, then rolls him back in the ring. Alberto tries a clothesline, Reigns ducks it and connects with one of his own, then clobbers the champion in the corner with a flurry more before hitting the ropes for a big boot. The Big Dog calls for the Superman Punch, El Patron ducks out of the way and scores with a Backstabber, makes the cover and gets a near fall.
Del Rio goes back to kicks in the corner, spikes Roman with a DDT for another count of 2, arguing with the ref about the count. The champion sets his sights on a superkick, The Big Dog ducks out of the way, plants Alberto with a Samoan Drop and gets 2. Reigns props Del Rio on the top turnbuckle, attempts a superplex, Alberto with headbutts, gets Reigns in the tree of woe and tries the double stomp. Roman avoids it, Del Rio’s knee buckles on the landing, Reigns coming back with a Superman Punch and positioning himself for the Spear, Alberto countering with a superkick for a near fall.
The champion thinks it’s time for the Cross Armbreaker, Reigns counters into a schoolboy powerbomb, Alberto kicking out at 2. Both men struggle to get to their feet, Alberto grabbing a Cross Armbreaker out of nowhere on the canvas, Reigns powers Del Rio up to a vertical base, but the champion hanging onto the hold in the ropes. The referee finally forces the break, El Patron heads to the top, jumps over Roman who’s getting to his feet, turns around and takes a Spear, Reigns covering to advance.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- EA’s Take: Del Rio clearly still hasn’t quite gotten his footing back yet, there were some mix-ups at the beginning of the match that were glaring, things were a bit choppy for a bit there. They were able to turn it around towards the end of the match, but I’ve had Roman as a lock for the finals since the tournament was announced. Nothing surprising here in a match that was similar to a Raw main event.
Backstage: Jojo brings in Roman Reigns for some words, Dean Ambrose coming right in and congratulating his friend on the victory. Roman tells Dean that all he has to do is win and it’ll be them for the title, Ambrose walking away. The Big Dog tells Jojo that once Dean’s done, it will be best friends fighting for the championship. Kevin Owens comes in to remind Roman that he’s not eliminated yet, telling Reigns he’s been close before and tonight, he’s the guy that will stop him. KO walks off, Reigns stating that Owens is about to get his ass whooped.
Match #2 – WWE Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens
Ambrose with a hammerlock to start, switches to a side headlock, Owens fighting out and grabbing one of his own. The Lunatic Fringe pushes KO into the ropes and gets dropped by a shoulder knockdown, Owens back into the ropes and Dean with multiple armdrags. The champion reverses whip into the ropes, Ambrose with a schoolboy for a quick 1, gets a waistlock and Owens with a back elbow, using a schoolboy for a quick 1 of his own. KO with shoulders to the midsection in the corner, shoots Dean across and charges in, The Lunatic Fringe hops up and over, hits the ropes and takes Owens down with a forearm.
He rakes KO’s face on the top rope, clotheslines him to the outside and flies with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. Ambrose sends the champion back inside, charges him in the corner with a forearm, follows with a running bulldog and covers for 1. The Lunatic Fringe heading upstairs, Owens hits the ropes and crotches Dean, dropping him to the mat with right hands and scoring with the Cannonball that gets 1. The Prize Fighter utilizes a rear chinlock, Ambrose gains a vertical base and breaks the hold with jabs and chops, Owens countering a whip into the corner and Dean goes in sternum-first.
The champion plants Dean with a torture rack neckbreaker for a 2 count, hits the ropes for a running senton and gets another count of 2. He chokes Ambrose on the middle rope, levels him with a short-arm clothesline, fires away with heavy rights, sends Dean into the ropes for a back elbow and gets another near fall. KO back to the rear chinlock, again Triple H is watching from the back as The Lunatic Fringe fights to his feet. Owens catches him in a sleeper, Dean counters to a back suplex, then avoids a running senton, hits the ropes and they double down off a double clothesline. The Lunatic Fringe tries Dirty Deeds, KO blocks it, they exchange right hands, Ambrose hits the ropes and Owens hangs him on the top rope.
He splits Dean with a gutbuster, heads up top for a moonsault and misses, The Lunatic Fringe scaling the corner to follow with a diving elbow drop and a near fall. Ambrose props Owens on the top turnbuckle, hooks for a superplex, KO blocks it and drops Dean back to the mat. The Lunatic Fringe fires back up to attempt a superplex, the champion counters and powers him into a 2nd rope fisherman’s buster, but still can’t get a 3 count. Owens yells at Dean to stay down, sends him into the ropes for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, Ambrose rebounds off the middle rope and scores with the Lunatic Lariat, KO rolling to the outside.
Ambrose flies through the ropes with a suicide dive, tosses the champion in, Owens rolls out the other side and Dean tries another suicide dive, but gets caught. KO drops The Lunatic Fringe on the announce table, tosses him back in for a Pop-Up Powerbomb, Dean avoids it and lands on his feet turning around into a superkick. Ambrose rebounds off the ropes for another Lunatic Lariat, walks into another superkick, the champion attempts the Pop-Up Powerbomb again, Dean counters with a hurricanrana, then spikes Owens with Dirty Deeds to head to the finals.
Winner: Dean Ambrose (Dirty Deeds)
- EA’s Take: A better match, a lot cleaner than our first semi-final. I had a hard time believing Ambrose wouldn’t win this, but figured the odds were greater than that of Reigns, so it definitely helped make the match more interesting. I’m hoping for something more interesting to happen in the main event, as everything thus far has been expected.