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WrestleMania VII: Hulk Hogan Fights for America & A Legend Begins

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WrestleMania VII Sgt Slaughter Hulk Hogan

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.

 

Opener:

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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