WrestleMania VII: Hulk Hogan Fights for America & A Legend Begins
WrestleMania VII came to us in the midst of the first Iraqi war, so patriotic feelings were running high. Entering on the stage is Sgt. Slaughter, once a proud supporter of the Red, White, and Blue, but he seems to have changed his stripes, voicing his support of Saddam Hussein as a conqueror, not an invader. Even worse, he beat WWF Champion, the Ultimate Warrior, and is walking around sporting the gold! So, who will save us from this injustice? Who will defend the glory of the Red, White, and Blue while our Armed Forces are away? Hulk Hogan, the symbol of all that’s good in the USA, that’s who!
At least, that’s the line WWF fed us in 1991. WWF is known for having over-the-top patriotic storylines, and anything with Hogan involved is going to be even more over-the-top than usual. Overshadowed by all that rah-rah patriotism, is a retirement match, a reunion, a bizarre blindfold match that has to be seen to be believed, and the beginning of a legend that will span almost three decades.
So, how does WrestleMania VII do with all this going on? Let’s find out.
We start with drum beats and flags. Everything is covered in flags. Willie Nelson sings ‘America the Beautiful’ as only Willie Nelson can, offkey and behind the beat. That said, he sounded so good, for Willie Nelson, my mother commented on it and asked what I was watching.
Monsoon welcomes us and tells us our color man for the first match is Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who comes out dressed like Uncle Sam, with a 2×4 decorated with stars and stripes.
The Rockers vs The Barbarian and Haku (with Bobby Heenan)
Heenan and company are already in the ring to loud boos. The Rockers get a huge pop.
This is one of those odd match ups that actually works really well because both teams are very athletic, but the contrast of styles and size just worked.
Winner: The Rockers.
Highlights: HBK is still the terrier that believes he’s a Rottweiler, which is always fun to watch.
Comments: HBK is starting to look and act like the HBK I remember.
After the match, Heenan joins the broadcast table, marking the first time he does color commentary at WrestleMania.
Mean Gene introduces us to our guest hosts: Regis Philbin, Marla Maples, and Alex Trebek. Everyone seems very nice and happy to be there.
The Texas Tornado vs Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart)
Bravo and Hart are already in the ring to loud boos. Texas Tornado is out to a huge pop
This match started awkward and ugly. Bravo really sold fear of the Von Erich Claw, but these two didn’t really mesh that well.
Winner: Texas Tornado by pinfall after leveling Bravo with the Discus Punch.
Highlights: Bravo selling the claw.
Thoughts: This was an ‘eh’ from me. This wasn’t a good outing for Von Erich or Bravo.
The British Bulldog vs The Warlord (with Slick)
Warlord are already in the ring to loud boos. Davey Boy and Winston get a huge pop
This match was good on paper but a little awkward in execution. The style of Davey Boy and Warlord are too alike to really work effectively for either of them, though Davey Boy has some aerial moves in his arsenal. It wasn’t a bad match though.
Winner: Davey Boy Smith. Davey brings Winston in to celebrate.
Highlights: Davey Boy talking to his new mascot, Winston the bulldog, in his promo. Winston wanting to come in the ring too. The crowd reaction when Davey Boy broke the Full Nelson
Comments: I liked this match, even with the awkward spots.
WWF Tag Team Championship: The Hart Foundation vs The Nasty Boys (with Jimmy Hart)
Nasty Boys and Jimmy Hart are out first to boos. Jimmy Hart is wearing a motorcycle helmet for some reason. Hart Foundation gets an amazing pop. No question who the crowd wants to win. We see Macauley Culkin in the audience, just being a fan.
This was a reasonable match. The Nastys have a well-earned rep for being stiff and they certainly were that, but the Hart Foundation was about to give them just as well back, especially with Neidhart in the ring.
Winner: The Nasty Boys after Neidhart was clocked with the helmet because the ref was too busy chasing Bret out of the ring to count the pin.
Comments: This was a really good match. There was a swerve where it looked like the Hart Foundation was going to pull out the win when one of the Nasty Boys got clocked by Jimmy Hart’s megaphone.
We get a recap of the feud between Martel and Roberts and why we’re having a blindfold match.
Blindfold Match: Jake Roberts vs Rick Martel
Martel is already in the ring to lukewarm boos. Roberts is out to a loud pop and he has Damien with him.
This match was weird on paper but surprisingly good. Both guys were good sports about this and it worked. It was fun to watch, and I got a good laugh. The crowd was into it, which made it bette
Winner: Jake Roberts by DDT, even blindfolded.
Highlights: The crowd helping Roberts find Martel. The ref nearly getting beat up by the participants.
Comments: This is one of my hidden jewel matches. Very good.
The Streak: Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs Jimmy Snuka
Snuka’s already in the ring and he gets a good pop. Undertaker and Paul Bearer actually get a really good pop despite being heels.
This was an okay match that was to build up Undertaker and it did that. The pop he got surprised me, especially since he hadn’t been in the WWF very long.
Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. Streak stands 1-0
Comments: I’m actually ‘eh’ on this match. It was okay, but I wish Snuka had gotten a little more offense in.
We get a recap about the issues between Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, leading up to a retirement match.
Retirement Match: The Ultimate Warrior vs Randy ‘Macho King’ Savage (with Queen Sherri)
As Finkel is doing the introductions, Heenan is astonished to see something. He asks the director to pan around and they realize that Miss Elizabeth was in the audience.
Savage and Sherri are out first to a mixed reaction and we go back to Elizabeth, who looks worried. Warrior gets a huge pop and he comes out in an odd outfit, with his and Savage’s pictures on his kneepads. For once, Warrior, isn’t running. It’s so unusual, Heenan expresses doubt that it’s the real Ultimate Warrior.
This was a great match. This had a main event match feeling, even though it was smack bang in the middle of the card.
During the match, Monsoon announces that they’ve got the largest audience in PPV history watching the show.
Winner: Ultimate Warrior by pinfall. Afterwards, Sherri attacks Savage, but Elizabeth runs to the ring and throws Sherri out. Savage comes to and sees her there, not realizing what had happened. After explanations from the crowd, Savage and Elizabeth reunite for the first time since before WrestleMania V. The crowd loves it and they leave together, Savage opening the ropes for Elizabeth, like a gentleman.
Highlights: Sherri taking it to Warrior was really cool, especially for that time period. Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion.
Comments: I really liked this match. Warrior and Savage really gave us a great match. Even knowing how it would end for them in real life, Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion was wonderful.
Tenyru and Kitao vs Demolition (with Mr. Fuji)
Demolition is out first to boos and their entrance music is not what I’d expect from Demolition. Tenyru and Kitao get no reaction.
This was…okay. I’m not sure what else to say about it since I’m not sure why they had a match to start with.
Winner: Tenyru and Kitao by pinfall
Comments: That happened, I’m not sure why it happened, but it did.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Mr. Perfect (with Bobby Heenan) vs Big Boss Man
Boss Man is out first to a great pop. Mr. Perfect and Heenan are out next to loud boos.
About halfway through the match, Andre the Giant comes out to ringside, apparently to neutralize Heenan. Andre grabs the IC belt and levels Perfect with it while the ref wasn’t looking.
This was a really good match, both men were great athletes and meshed really well together. The partnership of Mr. Perfect and Heenan was magical. It’s too bad Heenan had to retire from managing within a year or so and Perfect’s back problems got too bad.
Winner: Boss Man by disqualification after the Heenan family storms the ring. Andre levels Perfect while Boss Man takes care of business in the ring. Mr. Perfect retains the IC belt.
Highlights: Boss Man swinging Perfect by the hair. Perfect’s selling of everything. Boss Man whipping Perfect with the belt.
Comments: Perfect and Heenan were one of the best wrestler/manager partnerships. Boss Man was a great athlete, especially for such a big man. Andre’s addition was nice, as was his visible rub of Boss Man. However, Andre was visibly declining.
Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart) vs Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine
Earthquake and Jimmy Hart are heading out to the ring to loud boos.
Mean Gene is talking to some of the celebrities at the show, including Chuck Norris and Henry Winkler. Chuck Norris is impressed with WWF superstars and has been watching wrestling all of his life. Winkler is glad for the Ultimate Warrior’s win. Lou Ferrigno (original Incredible Hulk) is there, but I couldn’t quite understand what he said.
Back in the ring, Valentine is in the ring now, back to being blond, thank God and ready to go.
This match wasn’t awful, but it was forgettable. It was one step up from a squash and Valentine didn’t seem to want to be there.
Winner: Earthquake by pinfall
Highlights: Valentine rolling out of the ring before Earthquake could hit the Splash again.
Comments: This was a definite ‘eh’. It was a time filler.
The Legion of Doom vs Power and Glory (with Slick)
Power and Glory are already in the ring to boos. The Road Warrior pop is in full force for the Legion of Doom.
There’s not a lot to say about this one, it didn’t even last a minute.
Winner: Legion of Doom by pinfall
Highlights: Legion of Doom’s promo was pretty good.
Comments: It was short and to the point, LOD didn’t even break a sweat.
We get a recap over the feud between DiBiase and Virgil and how Piper was involved.
Virgil (with Roddy Piper) vs Ted DiBiase
DiBiase is out first to a loud round of boos. Piper is out next, on one crutch, but he’s there. Apparently, he was in a motorcycle accident, but had promised Virgil he’d be there and he was keeping his word. Virgil comes out to a really good pop.
This match was okay. There was no real resolution to DiBiase and Virgil’s feud, but the crowd got to see Virgil get some revenge on DiBiase.
Winner: Virgil by countout after DiBiase spent too much time harassing Piper. Afterwards, DiBiase attacks Virgil and slaps on the Million Dollar Dream. Piper crawls into the ring and nails DiBiase with his crutch. Sherri runs to the ring and stops Piper from hitting DiBiase again and they attack Piper some more. Virgil finally gets to his feet and chases DiBiase and Sherri away.
Highlights: Piper keeping his word to Virgil, even on one crutch and coming to his aid. Virgil and the crowd urging Piper to his feet after the attack.
Comments: This was an ‘eh’ match overall, but the story was good.
We get a recap of the Slaughter/Hogan feud, including the infamous burning of the Hulkamania shirt. According to Slaughter, they wanted him to burn the flag, but he refused, so they burned the Hulkamania shirt instead and he got more death threats for that than if he’d actually burned the flag.
The Mountie (with Jimmy Hart) vs Tito Santana
Mountie (Jacques Rougeau) is already in the ring to a chorus of boos. Tito comes out to a great pop.
This match was so fast that looking away to check my emails caused me to miss the ending sequence.
Winner: The Mountie after hitting Santana in the gut with the Mountie stick thing
Highlights: Santana ramming Mountie and Jimmy Hart’s heads together.
Comments: This was definitely a time filler match.
Finkel introduces Regis Philbin, Marla Maples, and Alex Trebek as the guest co-hosts. Trebek will be the guest ring announcer, Ms. Maples will be the guest timekeeper, and Regis will be the guest commentator.
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sgt. Slaughter (with General Adnan) vs Hulk Hogan
Sgt. Slaughter is out first a loud round of boos. I’m honestly surprised Slaughter doesn’t have security with him in some form, this crowd is hot. Slaughter admonishes Trebek to stand up straight, or I think that’s what he was telling him to do.
To no one’s surprise, the pop for Hogan is deafening. I think this is the loudest pop he’s gotten at WrestleMania in a couple of years.
This was a really good match. It told a great story. Slaughter and Hogan worked really well together and brought out the best in each other. Hogan became the only man, at that time, to hold the WWF Title three times, breaking the record of Bruno Sammartino.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall. Afterwards, Hogan brings the flag into the ring and celebrates with the crowd.
Highlights: Hogan getting out of the Camel Clutch.
Comments: The outcome of this match wasn’t a surprise, what did surprise me was the amount of blood involved. Hogan bled like he had nothing better to do. The tearing up of the Iraqi flag would never fly today, but it got a huge reaction then, and that bothers me a little.
Overall Comments: So, did WrestleMania VII measure up to the history that was happening on its card? In my opinion, yes. This was a really good card and had a lot of good or great matches. There were a few ‘eh’ ones, but no out and out stinkers.
Celebrities: I’m not sure if any of the celeb guest hosts were actual wrestling fans, but they were all great sports. Watching these guys try to do interviews was honestly hilarious because they looked so out of their depth.
Snoozers: Tenyru/Kitao vs Demolition was just an ‘eh’ for me, I have no idea why that match happened.
Match of the Night: Ultimate Warrior vs Macho Man. It was a great match and gave us a happy ending. I will give an honorable mention to Roberts vs Martel, simply because it was so much better than it sounded on paper.
Promo of the Night: Undertaker and Paul Bearer measuring Regis Philbin while he tries to interview them. It was an unexpectedly funny moment, especially so early in Taker’s WWF career.
Final Thoughts: This is the first WrestleMania that I honestly remember hearing about. I have some VAGUE memories about the Mega Powers implode on Saturday Night’s Main Event, but I don’t know how I would’ve seen it, as I was only six at the time. I was eight in 1991, and do remember hearing about Hogan/Slaughter, so it made this WrestleMania a little more special than the previous six. It was a really good card and had a lot of great moment in it.
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Attitude Of Aggression #277- The Big Four Project Chapter 4: Summer Slam ’88 & Survivor Series ’88
The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 4 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave is again joined by the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more huge events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Summer Slam and Survivor Series’88. However, the guys are also joined by the debuting DJ of The Mindless Wrestling Podcast to join in the festivities. Summer Slam ’88 was a key event in the story of the rise, and eventual fall, of The Mega Powers. But it also saw a different kind of explosion as The Ultimate Warrior burst upon the scene like few had before him with an iconic dethroning of The Honky Tonk Man. The fellas look at how the events of that night in MSG nearly 35 years ago redefined an industry. From there, Dave & DJ recap the second Survivor Series. While not as unique or good as the first Survivor Series, there were still many key moments that took place that night. The Mega Powers would be the sole survivors of their match that night,,,,but they would not survive as a united force for much longer. What changed that night in Richfield, Ohio so long ago? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 4 of The Big Four Project!
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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!
Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?
ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!
What I Watched #16
ECW Guilty as Charged 1999
Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL
Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)
Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)
- Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
- Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
- Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
- Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
- Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
- Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
- Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15
Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)
Super Crazy vs. Tajiri
Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)
John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent
So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)
Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley
Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…
The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)
TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm
Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.
The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)
Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer
The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of.
As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)
Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz
So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent.
The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)
THE FINAL REACTION
- Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
- Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
- Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
- MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.
It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.
So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.
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